Reality Ensues

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

So the hero has defeated the Evil Overlord's army. They've disarmed The Dragon using The Power of Friendship. The superweapon is destroyed. The hero is facing the Evil Overlord in the final showdown... and takes out a gun, shoots the Evil Overlord in the head, and walks away.

Reality Ensues.

Maybe Your Vampires Aren't Quite So Different After All. Maybe the villain is Dangerously Genre Savvy, or the Mooks can actually shoot straight. Perhaps the Love Interest is not Immune to Bullets, or perhaps talking is not, despite what you may have been led to believe, a free action. Or maybe the protagonist should have been better about cleaning up his/her loose ends, because Offscreen Inertia is actually not in effect and those Butt Monkey Mooks are angry. Or the plucky La Résistance has beat the Empire despite being technologically inferior, only to realise too late that Admiral I.N. Sane hasn't forgotten his orbit-to-surface nukes. Or... Whichever, it's that moment when the audience goes "that makes logical sense but our tropes don't cover..."

This can sometimes be seen on the hard end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, though it isn't necessarily so. See also Twist Ending, Mood Whiplash, Ascended Fridge Horror and Nice Job Breaking It, Hero. Defied Trope may lead to this, as may Deconstructed Trope. May cause Negated Moment of Awesome. Commonly found in the company of Wrong Genre Savvy. Not to be confused with Hilarity Ensues, although they can overlap, depending on usage. Compare Magic A Is Magic A; it's very important that these instances are consistent with the setting. Contrast This Is Reality, where a character believes that reality will ensue, but it doesn't. Reality Ensues may also be defined as forgoing Genre Consistency in favor of External Consistency.

No real life examples, please; it's redundant as we all know that reality is not a work of fiction, Wild Mass Guessing notwithstanding. Reality already ensues all the time in Real Life.

WARNING! There are unmarked Spoilers ahead. Beware.

Examples of Reality Ensues include:


  • Sprite did a series of commercials based around subverting Cereal-Induced Superpowers by invoking this trope. One features a kid spotting NBA player Grant Hill drinking Sprite, and thinking Sprite will make him a basketball player—which he quickly disproves by drinking Sprite and then attempting a slam dunk, failing, and falling on his ass.

Announcer: If you want to make it to the NBA... practice. If you want a refreshing drink, obey your thirst. Sprite.

    • An even harsher one had a visibly preteen boy thinking that drinking Sprite would transform him into a professional wrestler. He then challenged WCW's Sting to a match - and was promptly battered from pillar to post as his parents just stood by and laughed. It's probably the darkest soft drink ad ever filmed.
    • In one Sprite commercial, a mom takes out some Sun Fizz to give to her children. The sun logo comes to life to sing the drink's praises. The mom and kids respond by doing what a real life mom and kids would do: freak out and run away, screaming. This troper recalls that commercial winning some kind of award.
  • One depressing European ad against child abuse had a man beating a cartoon kid for a while before cutting to a real, unconscious kid on the floor and the legend "Real children don't bounce back".

Anime and Manga

  • Black Lagoon:
    • So, it turns out that taking on a heavily-armed unit of former Russian Commandos armed only with an ax isn't that good of an idea. I'm looking at you, Hansel.
    • Rock's kindness to Gretel appears to do her some good and she leaves the Black Lagoon (the vessel) amicably. Then she gets shot In the Back by some guy and dies, because there's still a contract on her head by a mob boss who isn't into the whole mercy for the killers of her men thing, and a Badass is just as vulnerable as anyone else when caught off guard.
    • While Blitz Stanford, an enormous neo-Nazi is extolling the virtues of his enormous Luger, Revy takes the time to reload before promptly shooting him.
    • There's also Lotton The Wizard, who gets shot out-of-hand while attempting to make a big entrance. Luckily, he was the only one who thought to wear a bullet-proof vest.
    • The Roberta's Blood Trail OVA deviates from the original manga by applying this. One woman, even an experienced Terminator-level ex-guerilla with traps and terrain advantage, is not going to walk away unscathed from a battle with US special forces.
  • In Black Cat, Train is falling off a building and Rinslet jumps off to catch him, ending when Rinslet comes to a sudden stop at the end of the rope - and actually does tendon damage to her arm. Turns out inertia matters after all...
  • In One Piece during the Thriller Bark arc, Chopper points out that the zombies' inability to feel pain is actually a weakness. Even if they can keep getting up from normal damage, they don't know what's really hurting them. Oz's limbs all end up broken, and he can't understand why he can't move anymore.
    • Similarly, in the same arc, Zoro suffers grave injuries that put his life in danger- as usual. But, unlike the other times where he has an Unexplained Recovery and the injuries are usually never mentioned again, one arc later Zoro tries fighting and his wounds cause him to be temporarily paralyzed. And then two arcs later, even after resting and being treated (by Perona, believe it or not), his wounds actually re-open when he tries to fight and move, resulting in him getting his ass kicked by Apes.
    • Luffy himself once tried fighting a man who could produce and attack with deadly corrosive poison. Seeing as how only Mooks had been poisoned by Magellan (the man in question) at this point, the audience and Luffy himself thought he stood a chance from the moment Luffy launches a Jet Bazooka that actually DROPS the hulking Magellan... but no. Touching him with that attack and many more poisons launched at him nearly kills Luffy within just 2 measly episodes of starting the fight.
  • Checkmate from Ultimate Muscle has a similar problem. While injuries that don't affect his body mechanically don't slow him down, he has an unfortunate tendency to collapse from his wounds at the worst possible moment because he never knows when he's too hurt to keep fighting.
  • Also happens in a minor part of the Dark Tournament arc of Yu Yu Hakusho; the giant robot that can't feel pain can't tell that it was actually damaged...until it's under the opponent's control already.
  • Also used in Rurouni Kenshin, where Gein's super Iwanbo gets destroyed because he couldn't tell it was damaged.
    • Another example from the series is Sanosuke's ultimate technique, which involves putting so much force into a punch that it tends to fracture the bones in his own hand. His doctor is not amused.
    • Kyoto Arc's Big Bad Shishio Makoto basically immolated himself because he couldn't sweat and he overheated.
    • And Kenshin's smaller stature means that, once he learns the Hiten Mitsu Ryu ultimate technique, he accumulates minor muscle damage. By the end of the series he's told that he won't even be able to wield a sword in five or so years.
  • Early in Outlaw Star, the crew blast their way out of a spaceport to evade space pirates, presumably causing hundreds of thousands of wongs in damage. Towards the end of the series, the crew returns and Gene is immediately arrested and thrown in jail for property damage and other laws he broke, and only gets out at all because the traffic controller had been found to be taking bribes.
  • In The World God Only Knows, Keima notices that unlike in a game, when an idol confesses their love to you, other people are generally not happy. In fact, they're pissed.
  • Any Hentai where the girl gets pregnant after unprotected sex when it's not explicitly (heh) their "safe period".
  • Freezing features beautiful girls who attack each other with sharp weapons. When their clothes get ripped apart, so do their bodies.
  • Holyland:
    • Gangsters often don't respect the results of Combat by Champion but instead beat the victor down anyway.
    • Katou may be a tough cookie because he's drugged up to the point that he can Feel No Pain, but he's still human and thus subject to the same biomechanics and needs as anyone else. He gets beaten when one of King's MMA fighter bodyguards twists him into a pretzel and then chokes him out.
    • In the penultimate chapter, after two climactic battles, Yuu gets stabbed out of nowhere by a nobody. He doesn't die, but it leaves his fate in doubt long enough that people start asking questions. No matter how good one is at powering through blunt force trauma, getting stabbed is a whole different matter, not something that can be shrugged off.
  • Subverted in Bakuman。. After Kosugi does a Get a Hold of Yourself, Man! punch to Nanamine when he essentially gives up on manga following losing to the main characters, Nanamine threatens to report Kosugi for assault and cause him to lose his job. Nanamine doesn't go through with it, though, thinking it would make him more of a laughingstock than he already is.
  • In Azumanga Daioh, Osaka, of all people, pulls this when she wonders what Chiyo would do if she was kidnapped. Chiyo suggests that Tadakichi-san could come to her rescue, and Osaka mimes shooting him. This leads to this exchange:

Chiyo: So what should I do?
Osaka: If this was a TV show, you'd use your genius brain to think up somethin'...and fight back against incredible odds...
Osaka: ...and get killed.

  • In episode in Soul Eater where Death the Kid first starts attending the DWMA, Black Star climbs up near the top of the academy building to deliver a Badass Boast to Kid...who's standing near the front entrance and can't hear a word he's saying because he's so far away.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Pretty much the entire first season was spent establishing The Major as a nigh-unstoppable badass, so, when she picks a fight with Gayle and his military mech suit while armed with nothing but a pistol, you'd expect her to win handily. She does not. In point of fact, she gets outright curbstomped until Saito shows up with his anti-tank rifle. Rock Beats Laser clearly does not work in that universe.
  • Your Lie in April:
    • The series subjects Kousei to Amusing Injuries too often for some viewers' liking, but Saki hitting him hard enough to cause bleeding is treated with the dead seriousness it deserves.
    • Just because your abuser dies or otherwise leaves your life doesn't mean that the trauma she caused disappears at the same time And There Was Much Rejoicing. Kousei is still struggling two years after Saki's passing.
    • On the flipside, Saki may have been an abusive piece of shit, but she was still Kousei's mother, and the death of a parent can be badly traumatising. Kousei has little emotional support; friends, no matter how close, can only be so much help, and Kousei's father is away at work almost all the time while he has no siblings. Whatever one thinks of Kaori's methods, this rut wasn't something Kousei could have gotten out of by himself.
    • Kaori is an Ill Girl with a terminal degenerative illness. Late in the series, some hope appears in the form of a high-risk surgery. You'd think that since she's the love interest and made a promise to play together with Kousei again, everyone is going to work out, right? It doesn't, because reality doesn't load the dice even though you check the boxes of narrative convention.
  • In Fireworks, it quickly becomes apparent that Nazuna doesn't have a plan for running away. Unlike a more traditional story where convention would have her and Norimichi getting into shenanigans and still managing to slip through the fingers of the opposition, here she gets caught almost immediately. If not for the time-reversing bauble, the film would have ended right there. Even so, her lack of foresight continues to bite her in the ass a few more times in the course of the film.
  • 5 Centimeters per Second is something of a self-rebuttal to Shinkai's earlier works, which had the Star-Crossed Lovers hold on despite the fantastic obstacles in their way. Here, Takaki and Akari's Long-Distance Relationship fails, not because of some exotic cause or a romantic antagonist's sabotage, but out of the depressingly mundane cause of physical distance leading to emotional distance and the both of them not doing enough to fight for it.
  • Your Name:
    • Despite how much Taki's built it up in his mind, Lake Itomori is not in fact the household name of an iconic landmark he'd been expecting, and random passersby in its vicinity aren't much good where actually finding it is concerned.
    • Mitsuha learns the hard way that finding someone in a big city is not, despite her hopes, a quick and easy thing to do.
    • Even extraordinary events will be forgotten after enough time. Three years after they happened, Taki has forgotten both Mitsuha being the one to give the braided cord to him on the train and the news of the fragment of the comet Tiamat destroying Itomori.
    • Taki's plan to save Itomori is entirely focused on evacuating the townspeople and doesn't even broach the topic of trying to stop or divert the incoming comet fragment. What, did you think this was some heroic fantasy tale? Even then, the townspeople initially don't go along obediently with the spoofed evacuation orders, but instead mill around in confusion.
  • Weathering with You:
    • Hodaka quickly discovers that surviving as a runaway is harder than he had expected; his money runs low after just a few days, despite using the cheapest possible accommodation of a manga cafe and subsisting on instant noodles. Also, no one is willing to take the risk of employing a student without a valid ID. Later on, the attempt to find accommodation while on the run from the police encounters a similar problem.
    • Free-Range Children is not in play; people ask questions on seeing what's clearly a teenage boy in places and at times he isn't supposed to be around.
    • He also doesn't benefit from the expected results of David Versus Goliath, especially since he is not established at any point to have fighting skills. Unlike other cases, where the David might be able to use agility and quick thinking to defeat physically superior opponents, Hodaka is quickly subdued once bigger adult men get ahold of him, and he needs an ally's intervention or some other way of evening the odds.
    • Hina gets caught by a news crew clearing the sky for a major festival from the rooftop of a famous landmark, and orders rise sharply as a result of the newfound fame. In a normal story, this would be the time the scrappy crew gets down to brass tacks, goes through a Hard Work Montage, and comes out more successful than before. In reality, though, a sudden surge in demand is something that can be hard to handle, especially for small operations, and that is exactly what happens; they get overwhelmed and need to call for a timeout.
    • Teenager: Hardly a model of rationality and long-term utilitarian thinking. Teenager who's just suffered a big loss and now sees a way to undo it: Even less so. In hindsight, it should have been obvious that Hodaka was going to choose to get Hina back and to Hell with The Needs of the Many, but that's not what heroes in stories are supposed to do, right? Right?
    • At the end, Hodaka hurries back to Tokyo after graduating from high school. Even if those who mistreated you Took a Level In Kindness after your return, as the novel suggests, that doesn't undo the damage done from the preceding years or the very understandable desire to get away from them again as soon as possible.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: A depressing example. Even though social services are called, that doesn't mean Satoko will be removed from her abusive uncle. Especially since Satoko is quite stubborn about it and she falsely called child services on her step-father beforehand, making them wary to investigate this very real case.

Comic Books

  • This trope could be called "The Kick-Ass Principle". It subverts almost all superhero trends, and replaces it all with how it would work being a hero in real life. It's painful to watch it.
    • Until an 11-year-old girl starts tearing apart the mob singlehandedly. But even then, reality finally catches back up with her when she fights the boss, who has trained in martial arts. Also, the Batman of the movie uses guns and armor instead of impossible crimefighting skills.
  • A common situation with superheroes since the end of the Silver Age. And it has resulted in some great stories, but fails in others. The problem being that some of the basic tenets of superheroes have to be kept in order for the genre to work.
  • This is probably one of Garth Ennis's favorite tropes, and is probably the reason why he has such a devoted Hatedom among certain hardcore superhero fans.
    • Hence why Garth Ennis was perfect to write Midnighter, since this trope is basically Midnighter's weapon of choice. (How do you stop a supervillain with a big ol' clone army guarding his palace? Crash your 50-mile long transdimensional ship on the thing.)
    • Early on in Hitman, there's a wannabe superhero/anti-hero who is introduced kicking some people's asses, and then a few issues later he is simply shot to death by some mafia guys like he was a joke.
  • Ultimate X-Men's Colossus ended Reality Warper Proteus' reign of terror by... slamming a car down on him.
    • Similarly, the villain in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers event. Time-travelling jellyfish-totem Gothic Queen versus runaway car. And it rocked.
  • Every time Wonder Woman and Batman go up against each other. You expect Batman to pull out one of his special contingency plans or gadgets to take her down, because that's what Batman does, right? He's after a criminal under her protection! Here they go, this will be good, talking has failed! Epic hero vs hero will ensure. But she just blocked his batarangs and punched him off the roof. Wonder Woman is taking down all the members of the Justice League to save them from a prophecy, and Batman has caught on to her! He figures out she is doing this because of a prophecy (by analyzing a hair or something, it's Batman) from an ancient Greek Oracle. Batman does not believe in pre-destined fates; Wonder Woman thinks this is the only way. Batman tries to get her to make a mistake by insulting her; he escapes from her unbreakable lasso! But she just throws a rock at his head and punches him out. That's what you get when a normal person goes up against a Super with no Kryptonite Factor.
    • It might also have to do with the fact that Batman and Wonder Woman have a similar tactical mindset, and with Wonder Woman's superior abilities, she of course has the advantage.
      • They have similar fighting skills. Only the Manhunter is in Batman's league as a tactician. But it's still enough.
  • Famously, when Gwen Stacy was thrown off a bridge and Spider-Man caught her. The sudden stop made her neck break. Word of God says that the long fall into the water would have killed her just as well, averting Soft Water too.
  • In Common Grounds, Let's You and Him Fight situations between people with superpowers end up with at least one corpse, along with a subsequent trial and lengthy prison term. You do not get a free pass because you were a hero, you do not escape prison every other week to wreak your vengeance or operate as an outlaw vigilante, you do spend several years behind bars and, once released, have to scrounge in the trash for food because an ex-con fresh out of jail for murder has plenty of trouble finding gainful employment. However, on the upside, the death in that fight will inspire the foundation of an international chain of coffee shops where Heroes and Villains can chat amicably over donuts.
  • Black Orchid doesn't just lampshade this, a mook gives a half-page Character Filibuster on the subject. Then he shoots the Decoy Protagonist in the head and sets her corpse on fire to make sure she's really dead.
  • In Irredeemable, the Ax Crazy superhero-turned-supervillain titular character, in a flashback from his early teens, hears his foster mother is about to commit suicide. He gets here in a fraction of a second. But sound takes almost ten seconds to travel two miles. She was already dead before he left his school desk.
  • Amusingly one of the first times Empowered comes across as actually being badass. She points out, quite effectively, that driving an SUV at 75 miles an hour into a villain's back is much more effective than hitting him with a thrown one at about 5 miles an hour. This allows her to defeat a villain that the entire superhero squad she's a Butt Monkey for was defeated by. Unfortunately, the car is totaled, leaving her tied up and unable to brag, and her superhero squad walks off, assuming they and the villain knocked each other out. (Forgetting about Empowered in the process.)
  • In the first Sam and Max Freelance Police comic, they're tied up on top of an active volcano and a husky cult leader intends to kill them. The large amount of heat from the volcano causes the cult leader to spontaneously combust. However, the comic decides to play it off as a Deus Ex Machina for the sake of humor.
  • This is pretty much the central premise of Watchmen: what happens to superheroes when Reality Ensues? What becomes of people who dress up in costumes and take the law into their own hands in a world as full of political and social complexities as the real world? They die. They go insane (presuming they weren't insane already). Or they become monsters.
  • Similarly to Watchmen, The Boys works on a decidedly more realistic take on Superheroes. They have PR agents and are fighting over defense contracts, among other things. It's shown that The Seven (DC analogues) spend most of their time being faces for the Mega Corp, doing very little, if any, actual hero work, since there are no villains to fight. The one time they actually try to fight evil, The Seven find out very quickly that having superpowers doesn't automatically mean they know how to fight crime. Cue September 11th.
  • In the Zatara story found in the original Action Comics #33, a villain attempts to steal a platinum idol so that he can sell it and become rich. More then one person notes that putting the statue on the market would cause the price of platinum to plummet.

Fan Works

  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic The Night Of Days (in which American Airborne troops and German defenders are teleported from Normandy into Equestria by a reincarnation of Nightmare Moon) has her luring scattered German soldiers to her castle ruins, where she then tries to manipulate them and gradually take them over, in order to make them fight for her and put her on the Equestrian throne. The German commanding officer is... not amused. He nods at first, but then he pulls out his sidearm and nonchalantly guns her down, injuring her severely. Then he declares that the soldiers under his command would be serving no one but "Führer and Vaterland" and leads them on a campaign to colonise Equestrian territory for Nazi Germany.
    • Word of God says that he wanted to avert exactly what another fanfic he once read did; having the Germans comply with Nightmare Moon without as much as a question. He said he disliked it exactly because it would have been completely unrealistic.
  • The Lord of the Rings fanfic The Game Of The Gods is thirty-three instances of this. Morgoth fashions Mary Sue after Mary Sue; Varda carefully imposes reality and lets their own impossibility do them in. Reality Ends Sues?
  • In Tiberium Wars, reality doesn't so much ensue as it ambushes you in an alley, beats you over the head with a lead pipe, and then rifles through your pockets for more characters to viciously and mercilessly kill.
    • It's worth pointing out that the most noble and heroic death thus far (Lieutenant Wallace's Last Stand against the oncoming Nod army) ends up being subverted.
  • The Firefly fic Forward has River facing off against a rival pirate crew's Arrogant Kung Fu Guy. The battle begins with them sizing each other up, and with the martial artist declaring River as a Worthy Opponent, who might be able to truly test his skills, and he rushes at her with his bo staff. River shoots him twice in the head. Then she demands chocolate.
    • Later on, River is facing a group of vengeful pirates. She's on the ground, and they're in their ship. She starts running for cover behind some boulders where they can't shoot her, only to get hit by the backwash of their engines and get thrown into said boulders, breaking her legs and back.
  • Like the Fic above, a very old Latin Fanfic called Strata (deleted since 2003) had this premise with a Ranma ½-Sailor Moon crossover. An elite army of very Genre Savvy black ops end in their Universe and by a series of hi-jinks ended targeting martial artists for the government agency. They break every loophole in battle, using ambushes, snipers, heavy weapons, reinforced vehicles and even bioweapons, mowing down and nearly killing the main characters. It doesn't get truly brutal until Kuno gets shot in the middle of his rambling. He deftly avoids it and brutally beats the entire team to within an inch of their lives while explaining that, shockingly, the fact that he was talking doesn't make him blind, deaf, or stupid; and that he's a not worthless opponent just because he doesn't use a gun or have military training. Then he congratulates them for pissing off every single fighter on the planet and making very sure that no rules will ever apply to the black ops. It gets very dark from there, very fast. The people of the "unreal" universe show the "professionals" how and why they were feared in their world. (What Mars does to the sniper ambush and Mercury's house defense are undiluted awesomeness) and Saffron's revenge... holy crap. In the end... the world didn't change all that much, except for a Footnote of some insane assholes from a silly dimension in the Saotome scrolls.
  • Frequently Played With in Hunting the Unicorn -- lots of tropes show up naturally, but everyone who actively tries to invoke a trope will end up just failing at best, or running into consequences at worst. Most notable is Blaine's past attempt to invoke Sex Equals Love, which... didn't work.
  • Played with, though also straight, in the 1983 Doomsday Stories, which has Austria hoping against hope that Hungary survived Doomsday. She doesn't. Though it doesn't stop her from looking after him even after death.
  • Subverted in Mikami Vs. the Cybermen. After eight days straight of writing, he mentions how surprised he is that he hasn't run out of ink. Double Subverted right afterwards, when he dies of thirst.
  • In the Death Note fic Markings of The Mind Teen Genius Light Yagami is placed in solitary confinement for fifty days... and goes stark raving mad.
  • Kimi no Na Iowa:
    • A small town in the middle of nowhere with less than a percentage point of its country's population just isn't going to be missed by the world at large, no matter how exotic the cause of its disappearance or affected the former inhabitants are.
    • Some of the difficulty conventional forces have combating abyssals arises from the fact that normal antiship weapons aren't meant to hit human-sized targets whose Super Toughness means direct hits are needed.
    • Shipgirls don't just take Clothing Damage, but also real injury that needs medical or mechanical treatment.
    • Ayaka doesn't magically become a stone-cold Badass just because her true nature has been activated. Having had less than two months of admittedly intensive training by the time of her first mission and no prior experience with fighting, she takes quite badly the suffering of what would have been serious wounds for a normal human.
    • Averting Rock Beats Laser, anti-abyssal guerillas are not having a good time; unlike normal human invaders, even the weakest PT Imp is Immune to Bullets and retaliates with heavy weapons that will tear a tree in half, never mind a man. Anything that does work, the abyssals have the numbers to push through, and their not having a civilian populace to be Slave to PR to means that they have no rules of engagement forcing them to play nice with humanity.
    • William D Porter being a clumsy, fratricidal The Jinx is not Played for Laughs like in most other Kantai Collection stories, but instead results in her being The Millstone, The Friend Nobody Likes, and developing suicidal ideation from the guilt of her repeated wrongs however accidental.
    • People don't universally react to an Inhumanly Beautiful Race with attraction or desire. Some have Uncanny Valley reactions.
    • A Man Is Always Eager? No. When Ayaka turns out to be an Insatiable Newlywed whose newfound postmarital hunger drives her into Making Love in All the Wrong Places, Uileag is more than a little disturbed and reluctant.
  • The Greatest Generation: Shipgirls get a lot of leeway as Bunny Ears Lawyers; being the most effective means of combatting abyssals means they get a pass on Mildly Military and Military Maverick behaviour that would get any regular soldier in trouble. Then Tenryuu engages in gross insubordination and threatening an allied foreign officer - admittedly in defense of her subordinates who said officer had been speaking less than kindly of - and quickly learns that there are still lines, the crossing of which will not be tolerated, special ability notwithstanding.
  • There are several Miraculous Ladybug fics that do this:
    • Some fics have the characters (not just Chloé) judged or ostracized for their actions as akumatized villains. Sometimes they're able to evade it (mainly the child/minor ones), but others (older and/or more dangerous ones) typically aren't so lucky.
    • Marinette finding proof to reveal Lila's lies (Alya's bad journalism, Adrien taking the high road, and the whole class being dumb and rude are typically also called out). Nicer fics just knock the Idiot/Jerkass Balls out of their hands and have everyone have common sense.
    • There also several fics where Ms. Bustier is punished or fired for her need to turn the other cheek towards her students' clearly harmful behaviors/actions.
    • Mayor Bourgeois notices Audrey's harmful attitude towards him and Chloe and divorces her.
    • There are fics where all the girls' think Marinette's Stalker with a Crush tendencies towards Adrien are concerning, not just Alix and Mylene. They actively try to get her to stop/help. If that doesn't work, they typically stop being friends with her.
    • Speaking of which, that infamous scene in 'Puppeteer 2' typically has Adrien creeped out at what Marinette did.
  • A few My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan works that do this:
    • The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well: Rainbow Dash either resents her friends for either forcing her self-esteem down the drain or runs away to be a hero somewhere else. Nicer fics will have the mane 5 admit that while they had a point to take Rainbow's ego down a few pegs, they did go too far with it.
    • One Bad Apple: The CMC ignore Babs' bluff and tell an adult, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon ditch Babs Seed when she's done their dirty work for them, or Applejack and the CMC aren't nearly as forgiving as they were in canon.
    • Ponyville Confidential: The CMC run away, the mane six get a massive earful by someone for ostracizing three fillies (including their own families), and/or Featherweight and Diamond Tiara get karma for causing the conflict in the first place.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug fanfic series, Smart Adversaries AU, not only are the baddies smarter but reality seems to come down harder.
    • In Copycat Cops It and Darkblade and the Diary, Adrien finds out about Marinette breaking into his locker, is very disgusted with her and breaks off their friendship. In the latter fic, it also makes her lose the election, due to everyone (save for Sabrina) also being disgusted with her.


  • In Kung Fu Panda 2, Po thinks he can use kung fu to make his ordinary straw hat into a disc of destruction to cut the chains holding the furious five from half a mile away. He ends up looking like an idiot.
    • Prior to that, Po tries to heroically tell Lord Shen about how he's going to rescue the Furious Five and stop him, only to show that Shen can't hear a word of it thanks to Po being so far away.
  • The first Pirates of the Caribbean film ends with Will rescuing Jack from being hanged, in dramatic and public fashion. The second film opens with Will in jail.
    • As is Elizabeth. Being the daughter of a governor does not give you the right to aid and abet a known felon.
    • The second movie has Jack and Will engaging in an epic fight inside of a turning mill wheel. When the wheel falls over, both men climb out and nearly fall over from dizziness.
  • In the animated film Wizards, good wizard Avatar confronts his Evil Twin Blackwolf. At first everything seems to set up for a Wizard's Duel. Then Avatar, who up to this point has been a pacifist, suddenly pulls a gun and shoots Blackwolf dead, adding "I'm glad you changed your name, you son of a bitch!"
  • Although less violent than most examples, this ends up happening in Ratatouille -- after everything seems set for a Happily Ever After, it gets derailed into more of a Bittersweet Ending. Despite everyone's efforts to revive Gusteau's, it's shut down for good when the Health Inspector is entirely unmoved by the fact that the rats in the kitchen are perfectly sanitary and are cooking the food. Remy, Linguini, and Colette do bounce back and open up another restaurant, though, keeping it from falling into a full Downer Ending.
    • There was also one earlier, where Linguini reveals his secret to the kitchen, only to have everyone, even the waiter and his girlfriend, walk out.
    • Linguini and Colette's "Falling in Love" Montage is rudely interrupted when Remy falls off Linguini's head, and is abruptly faced with the very real danger of being a rat in the middle of the street.
  • In the Final Battle of the first live action Kekko Kamen film the title character is fighting a very butch mook who is revealed, with much gloating from the Big Bad, to be immune to all of her powers. The heroine then picks up a gun from a fallen mook and uses it.
  • In the Macaulay Culkin movie Richie Rich, the Big Bad spends the entire movie trying to break into the Rich family vault so he can steal their money. By the time he actually makes it in, however, he finds that is full of nothing but keepsakes and photo albums, leading to this:

Van Dough: But where's the gold... the diamonds... the negotiable bearer bonds? The money! [points his gun at them] Where is the money?!
Richard Rich Sr.: In banks. Where else? And the stock market...real estate...

  • Shooter is kind of in love with this, with the climax basically being about four or five stacked up. Do not. Mess. With Bob Lee Swagger.
  • The entire film of The Departed runs on this trope- deaths are abrupt and meaningless, there are no last-minute speeches, and it all happens so damn fast for the characters that they have no time to react.
    • Infernal Affairs (the source inspiration) is even more so in that the one death in The Departed that actually has meaning to it never happens in the original.
  • Something of a meta-example from X-Men: Apocalypse; Olivia Mum has always been a fan of the comic, so was rather insistent that the Psylock costume be as loyal to the source material as possible. She may have regretted it. As she stated in an interview, the one-piece was a nightmare simply to get on, and she needed two wardrobe assistants and a lot of lube just to get into the thing.
  • The costume designers for the Vampirella movie had a similar problem. They wanted an accurate adaptation of the heroine's iconic costume, but not surprisingly, it tended to fall off a lot when used on a real actress, forcing them to switch to a more practical form. The original version only appears in some promotional photographs.
  • The famous scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy shoots the swordsman.
    • Although, the script did originally call for a more dramatic swordfight, but supposedly, Harrison Ford was sick the day it was intended to be filmed, so they changed it to something easier.
    • And in The Last Crusade, when Donovan shoots Henry Jones Sr. to force Indy to bring back the Grail
  • At the end of Ip Man, after beating General Miura, Ip Man stands around and thinks of the cost of war. Then, as promised, he is shot for not throwing the match. He survives, but it's still a very striking moment.
  • To Live and Die In LA has the protagonist Chance abruptly shot dead in a fight with the Big Bad's henchmen. Like deaths in The Departed, it's very abrupt and there is no last-minute speech. With still ten minutes left to go before the film ends, Chance's partner chases after the Big Bad and eventually kills him. The film's creators did film another ending where Chance lived, but chose the one where he died because it fit the story and the characters better.
  • Sonny's death in The Godfather. No My Name Is Inigo Montoya moment, no final speech, just getting shot and shot again until he's dead. Similarly, the four other Dons don't get any final speeches, any epic fight scenes, just simple assassinations.
    • This even holds true in the video game adaptation; all except one, who barely has time to gasp, "I knew it would be you," before you blow him away.
  • Serenity:

Operative: I want to resolve this like civilized men. I'm not threatening you. I'm unarmed-
Mal: Good. [draws his gun and shoots him]
Operative: [leaping back up and grabbing Mal from behind] I am, however, wearing full body armour. I'm not a moron.

  • American History X: After learning the error of his ways, a former member of a Neo-Nazi gang is shot dead by the black boy he pissed off at the beginning. In real life, Easily Forgiven is very rare, and requires at the very least some attempt to make amends to the people you wronged.
  • In Ninja Assassin, the ninjas easily kill their way through their many opponents... until they lose the advantages of darkness and surprise and have to fight soldiers with automatic weapons.
  • In the fourth Rambo film, we meet a group of pacifistic missionaries who travel into Burma hoping to offer aid to the viciously persecuted Karen people. Nearly all of them are dead by the end. Some may count this as Unfortunate Implications by suggesting that pacifism doesn't work, but keep in mind that in Real Life, the Burmese monks who tried passively resisting the S.P.D.C. have been all but wiped out.
    • Kinda proving the point...
  • At the end of Inglourious Basterds, Zoller makes hostile advances on Shosanna, who shoots him. After a while, it turns out that Zoller is not dead, and Shosanna has second thoughts, so she goes to him - and gets shot dead in return.
  • Possibly the most delightful moment from 1980s Eddie Murphy vehicle The Golden Child is when the Big Bad Sardo Numspa attempts to have Murphy's character Jarrell arrested, claiming that Jarrell stole a dagger from Numpsa, because Numpsa needs the dagger to kill The Messiah. Numpsa believes that either Jarrell will give him the dagger to avoid arrest, or that the police will simply hand it over to him after arresting Jarrell if he refuses. Jarrell gleefully agrees to be arrested, then takes a moment to explain the rules of evidence handling to Numpsa: Jarrell will be arrested, and the dagger held in police custody as evidence for his trial, which might not happen for months or over a year. Since Numpsa has to kill the child within a specific time frame, instead of having to fight his way past one or two unarmed guardians he'd have to storm police headquarters to get ahold of the dagger. Numpsa is forced to publicly back off of his accusations and let Jarrell go free rather than risk it.
  • Ghostbusters ended with a triumphant victory for the heroes, but the sequel shows the aftermath. The defeat of Gozer calmed the psychic dimension, allowing the ghosts to rest at peace once again and putting the ghostbusting services out of business. On top of that, the amount of property damage, code violations, and other offenses committed throughout the first movie have come back to haunt them in the form of multiple lawsuits suing them into bankruptcy. At the start of the second movie, they're working odd jobs from TV show hosts to children's parties.
  • In Werner Herzog's remake of Nosferatu, Van Helsing kills Dracula. He is then arrested for murdering a foreign dignitary. End of film.
  • The generally lighthearted comedy The Men Who Stare at Goats takes a dark turn when it references the real MK-ULTRA experiments: A soldier is driven into psychosis with LSD and disorienting lights. He goes on a rampage and is Driven to Suicide. Later on, it revisits the theme when the protagonists discover a working application of all that "research": sleep deprivation torture via loud nonstop music and strobe lights.
  • The Matrix ends with Neo running to escape the Agents and make it to a hotel room so he can log out. He opens the door, and Smith is there waiting with his gun out at point-blank. He unceremoniously shoots Neo through the chest many times. Neo comes back, though, to fit with the whole Kung Fu Jesus theme.
    • In fact, the whole return from death thing is really the ultimate engagement of reality, since the whole movie is based around the concept that nothing in the Matrix is really occurring. As such, reality kicks in and he simply starts re-writing the world around him.
  • The A-Team: The team clears their name, and the bad guy, a rogue CIA agent, is taken away by his employer to a nonspecific future. Then the team is arrested for breaking out of jail, and because the Government needs someone to blame for all the damage they've done. They should have bought Wrongful Accusation Insurance.
  • The Empire Strikes Back: When the AT-AT first appears, it looks intimidating, fearsome, unstoppable... and it is - right until a rebel snowspeeder demonstrates the drawbacks of long, ungainly legs.
    • Its main weapons were forward-facing and rather slow. AT-AT's long legs and cheek light turrets could protect from clever infantry with limpets, and that's all. Siege artillery / APC should not fight everything alone - keeping away maneuverable vehicles is a task for escorts. In battle on Hoth they were escorted by AT-ST scout walkers (without e.g. better armored and armed AT-AR), but those were destroyed or chased off by heavy guns, leaving AT-AT on their own. If AT-ATs stopped until P-Towers are dealt with, low escorts around them would remain behind the horizon, safe from line-of-sight weapons. They rushed on because they were winning and wanted to not only destroy the generator (primary objective), but overrun the base before it evacuates and get information, too. Yet unarmored artillery won't delay them if they cared to bring in fast attack vehicles of their own or mass driver artillery to do the job beyond visual range. So in the end, the Imperials tripped on their own overconfidence and impatience, as usual.
    • To a lesser extent, the AT-ST in Return of the Jedi. It may have two legs and a rotating cockpit, but it can also be tripped. Generally, when they use it as anything but recon / light support vehicle it is, this leads to some or other embarrassment, like letting a wookie hijack it by ripping the hatch open.
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, after Scott manages to knock Gideon away, he stops for a chat with Ramona and Knives. Only for Gideon to stab him through the chest. Lots of gaming tropes are played straight in this setting, but Talking Is a Free Action is apparently not one of them.
    • An alternate ending that was never filmed would have had it be revealed that Scott and Ramona were arrested for murdering seven very famous people in the entertainment industry.
  • In Kick-Ass when Dave gets his first try at superheroism and gets stabbed in the gut for the effort, just to be run over by a car mere seconds later.
    • There's also the other would-be superhero at the start of the film who seems to think he can fly. Gravity doesn't agree with him.
    • When Big Daddy gets killed.
    • Hit-Girl spends much of the movie being awesomely lethal. Then in the climatic battle, she finally runs out of ammo and throwing weapons and we remember that she's an eleven year old girl in a somewhat realistic state of panic and the only thing keeping the bad guys from destroying her now is their uncertainty about whether she's still armed. Also in an earlier scene, she tries to engage in hand to hand with the boss only he's a full grown man who also knows martial arts and promptly drops her forcing her to resort to weapons again.
  • In The Awaken Punch, a 1970's Kung Fu movie, the hero tracks down the leader of the gangsters responsible for murdering his family and kidnapping his love interest and kills him after a brutal fight. S.O.P., right? Well, then he gets arrested for nine major offenses, including the deaths of six other gang members. The End!
  • The Pixar movie Up has an instance of this. Young Carl, determined to impress Ellie, attempts to walk across a wooden beam to retrieve his balloon. He takes a single step. The beam promptly breaks.
  • In The Incredibles, there's an in-universe example of Elasti-girl explaining to her children that the bad guys they're facing are not like the ones on TV, that they Would Hurt a Child if given a chance.
    • "NO CAPES!"
    • Really, the central premise behind the movie itself is somewhat similar to Watchmen: the real-life consequences of superhero activities. Mr. Incredible saves a suicidal man, who promptly sues him for the injuries he caused. He stops a runaway train, and is sued for damages. Holding superheroes responsible for the collateral damage they inadvertantly cause is the reason they disappear.
  • Bodyguards and Assassins: The final assassin is a highly-skilled martial artist. Death in close quarters, he mows down a lot of bodyguards, including several named characters. One of the last survivors gets his hands on a pistol and pumps the assassin full of lead, ending his streak.
  • Escape From L.A. Snake goads some mooks to see how fast they can shoot, by getting them to put their guns and not fire till his can hits the ground. When he flips it he shoots them all before it hits the ground.
  • In Wild Wild West, when West is up against a mook, said mook fights with elaborate kicks and punches, saying "I learned that from a Chinaman!" West simply hits him over the head with a shovel, stating "I made that up."
  • Kung Fu Jungle ends similarly to Bodyguards and Assassins above, both of which star Donnie Yen. The Big Bad, who has been killing martial artists across the length of the film, has defeated the hero and is about to finish him off when Inspector Luk catches up and aims her gun at him. He starts advancing on her, bobbing and weaving, hands moving like they can parry bullets, and when her first few shots miss, it seems that martial arts will beat guns. Then three later shots connect, killing him, showing that no, they don't.
  • While The Suicide Squad dives back into the tropes later on, its opening scene harshly shows that merely being a super is not an "I Win" button against mooks; for every one able to stand with or against the Justice League, there are many more C-Listers who die to goons with guns as easily as any normal.
  • Deadpool 2: X-Force dramatically do a paradrop into a city. Most of them die in embarrassing ways from running into the mundanities of urban life, like power lines.
  • Shazam!: Sivana makes a speech to the eponymous hero, but because they are floating in the air high up and far apart, it can't be heard.
  • Top Gun: Maverick:
    • Maverick has thus far avoided getting kicked out of the Navy despite his antics thanks to Iceman covering for him, but even then there's only so much that can be done. Iceman hasn't even been dead long before Cyclone pulls him off the training with the admittedly reasonable pretext that he hasn't given the desired results. Later, when he takes a plane on an unauthorised flight to show that the low-level ingress in the required timeframe is actually possible despite the other pilots' hitherto failure, Cyclone makes clear to him that he should by right be facing a court martial, and that even if he's spared that, he will still be reaching the end of his career in this mission one way or another, whether it's through dying in enemy airspace or getting grounded permanently after his return.
    • This film performs a Happy Ending Override on the previous one, hitting the viewer with the fact that no, just because Maverick received a pep talk and powered his way through his grief to fight doesn't mean that his issues from Goose's death are magically resolved. 30 years on, he still misses Goose, and the man's son still blames him for his role in the death.
  • The Other Guys: A criminal gets away from Highsmith and Danson - two swaggering supercops who would be the protagonists of a more stereotypical story - by ziplining from the roof of a tall building. To save time on getting to ground level, the two of them do a big heroic jump off the roof, saying to aim for the bushes. There are no convenient bushes to break their fall. They go splat on the ground far below, and the camera lingers on their corpses for extra black comedy value.


  • Madame Bovary did this in 1856, making it Older Than Radio. The eponymous madame reads way too many romance novels, and is convinced the world works that way. Naturally, it doesn't. The love affairs she has ultimately go nowhere, because the men she's seeing aren't the type to drop everything and whisk her away. The extravagant lifestyle she leads is done just to delude her from sadness. And when she finally can't take it anymore, she takes poison, expecting it will kill her quickly and romantically... and that doesn't go so well either. The whole novel was a Deconstruction of tropes associated with Romanticism that the bourgeois classes loved to read, and ended up paving the way for Realism.
    • There is a having Portugal as the setting version of Madame Bovary named Primo Basílio,[1] written by Eça de Queirós, that has almost the same plot. But the ending is very different: the Madame Bovary's expy, Luísa, is blackmailed by her own servant who threatened to reveal to her husband and is driven to get a stress-induced disease. She deeply regrets having betrayed her husband, has to shave her head, which in an Brazilian TV-adaptation was considered one of the most tearjerking moments of the history of Brazilian TV, and ultimately dies. There is no Power of Love to save her, there is no Black Comedy like the original, only pure Tear Jerker. In the last scene, Basílio, the eponymous adulterer is shown that he didn't care with Luísa and he should have brought "Alphonsine", making him the biggest Jerkass Karma Houdini of the entire Portuguese-language literature.
  • Happened pleasingly often in the Redwall Series. For instance, in the climax of Martin The Warrior, where the Big Bad slams the Lancer Chick Rose into a wall when she attempts to jump him. She is immediately dead as it broke her neck. Likewise, when Martin disarms said Big Bad, he wastes no further time on him and kills him while he is still on the ground.
    • However, the original novel also has its moments, like when the Anti-Villain Sela The Vixen comes to sell intelligence to the Redwallers outside the castle walls. She is, however, not greeted by the Abbot coming out of the side gate with the required payment, but by his aide-de-camp, Constance The Badger. The transaction is over right and there, with Constance nonchalantly knocking Sela out and taking the papers with her. Have I mentioned that Constance and the Abbot are the good guys (which is subverted quite a few times for reality's sake, especially considering that they caused Sela's death)...
    • Or in Mattimeo, where a gang of slave traders disguise themselves as entertainers to sneak into Redwall Abbey and abduct the children (for underground mining labour). At an ensuing festival inside the abbey grounds, they manage to spike all of the partygoers' drinks, and get them to drink them at the same time by calling out a toast. All seems to be working according to plan.
Or does it?!
Actually it turns out that the cooks and kitchen aides naturally didn't drink anything, and try to stop the slavers by themselves. The slavers, on the other hand.. simply slaughter them and calmly proceed with loading the unconscious onto their cart. Two 'Reality Ensues' moments in one.
  • In Retribution Falls the heroes find the legendary pirate port Retribution Falls to be exactly what a city built by pirates would be like: a badly built Wretched Hive.
  • In War of the Dreaming, there is an scene where a Beatrix-Potteresque Mouse shows up to rescue one of the heroes. Then the setting changes back and Mouse promptly gets stepped on.
  • James Patterson has this as a side effect of the Author Tract in Cross Country, Alex Cross's ex girlfriend gets brutally murdered by an African mercenary. He heads to Africa. The second he gets out of the airport, he's kidnapped. By the police. Then it gets worse. You could basically cut out several hundred pages from the middle of the book, and all you'd miss would be the Author Tract and Reality Ensuing, over and over again.
  • Pretty much the entire reason for the Three Worlds Trilogy is Reality Ensues plus Deus Angst Machina. The protagonist fails at everything and a whole bunch of people die because he's just an ordinary person up against insurmountable odds. Grimdark only begins to describe it.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 novel Brothers of the Snake, Apothecary Menon wanders around a village with suspected Chaos cultists with his helmet's faceplate up. For a good reason, mind, as the daemon his squad is hunting is invisible to helmet sensors and can only be seen with the naked eye. Unfortunately, when he gets into a fight with said cultists, he takes a bullet in the face and dies.
  • Mansfield Park: Prince Charming Wannabe Henry Crawford ultimately doesn't love the heroine enough to give up his lady-killing ways and crushes everyone's hopes of their marriage when he runs off with her (married) cousin. What, you were expecting the Handsome Lech to completely change his ways because of the influence of a girl he couldn't control and to deserve the heroine because the more she tried to get rid of him, the more he harassed her? Not in Jane Austen!
  • Used numerous times in the Dresden Files book Changes, nearly always as yet another way to horribly torture Harry. Example: the Red Court sends in assassins to take him out. Rather than attacking him directly the way that, say, the gruffs did, they pay lesser thugs to try to kill him over and over, then set his house on fire. He barely manages to get his elderly neighbors out... then falls off a ladder and breaks his back, leaving him paralyzed. He has to make a Deal with the Devil Fair Folk to fix it.
    • In the short story Day Off, Harry goes home to find a group of weak-talented wizard wannabes waiting outside his home. Apparently, Harry dispelled a bad luck curse they'd placed on some lady (which was so weak that Harry was mostly convinced wasn't real, and dispelled it to give her peace of mind). They sneer and threaten him, with the leader demanding that Harry prepare to defend himself, before he and his posse begin gathering their power to attack him. Harry responds by shrugging, drawing his .44 revolver, and pointing it at them. At their shocked disbelief, his response is "I'm a'fixin' to defend myself."
  • In the Gaunts Ghosts novel His Last Command, this is how a scout takes down a stalker, an Implacable Man that can soak up ridiculous amounts of damage and keep coming. Chaos-enhanced beastie or no, it's still an animal that can be paralysed by hamstringing and slain by getting shanked in the brain through the base of the neck.
  • In The Witcher Saga Geralt tells a story about when he was young, he wanted to pose as a knight when dealing with thugs mugging a merchant and his daughter. The downright brutal method he used to dispatch the thug's leader ended in daughter fainting from horror, and merchant running away from him along with the bandits.
  • In Wearing the Cape, Hope/Astra is given a lesson in momentum and force and why it's a good idea to know how tough something is before you fly yourself into it like a missile. The book is actually full of little reality-checks, like superheroes getting warrants before going after supervillains, villains who's lawyers get the charges dropped, and strangers committing random acts of badness.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series does this to the standard Fairy Tale Tropes. Sometimes it takes a story apart so thoroughly you wonder how it could ever have worked, but other times it retrieves what was nice and shows how it could still function.
  • At the end of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn, they kill the Big Bad who betrayed the hero of ages past, stole the power of the Well of Eternity for himself, dislodged the Earth from its proper orbit, brought up volcanoes that constantly choke the air with ash, created a permanent underclass of slaves, and turned HIS OWN FRIENDS into monsters. Good riddance, right? Well, no. The second book then details the political consequences of such a sudden power vacuum, and trying to go from a totalitarian dictatorship directly to a constitutional monarchy (hint: a lot of people die.)
  • In the Honor Harrington novel On Basilisk Station, the Bronze Age-tech Medusans manage to brutally kill some Manticorans by swarming them. Then, the Manties bring out the heavy weapons and air support. The aliens die. And die. And die some more.
  • The Discworld books play this for equal parts comedy and drama. Among other things, characters frequently react realistically to outlandish situations (in Going Postal, after tricking a banshee into getting killed by a malfunctioning sorting machine, the protagonist is too busy being ill to shoot off a Bond One-Liner), and the narrative often points out that happy endings in "real life" are never as simple as they are in stories (at the end of Monstrous Regiment, the protagonist and her companions end up stopping the war between Borogravia and Zlobenia, but some months later in story-time the ruthless ruler of Zlobenia just tries to start another war). Complicating things is the influence that narrative causality has on the Discworld, making the line between "reality" and "fiction" as blurry as it gets.
  • In the Harry Potter series, there are a number of points where the protagonists forget basic things as a result of their panic at a situation. A prominent example is in the first book, when Hermione is so freaked out at the sight of Harry and Ron being strangled by the Devil's Snare that she forgets that she can use magic to save them. This is given a callback in the last book, when they are trying to get into the Shrieking Shack via the tunnel by the Whomping Willow. Ron panics because there's apparently no way to freeze the tree, prompting Hermione to remind him that they can use magic.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Touma might be the main protagonist with an Anti-Magic fist... but he's still one person without formal combat training. Against multiple opponents, people who actually know how to fight, or people with proper weapons, he's at a clear disadvantage.
    • Mikoto tries to take down the Level 6 Shift Experiment on her own, refusing to let anyone else know about it. But even a Level 5 esper with power over electricity can't do much against a project with the resources of an entire city behind it.

Live-Action TV

  • Angel: Lindsey has a big showdown planned with the eponymous hero, only to be outraged when he's shot and killed by sidekick Lorne. "Goodnight, folks."
  • The whole point of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was to present a heroine who could avoid the (often avoidable) mistakes that doom the victims in typical Slasher Movies, so this occurs a lot:
    • Season 5 finale: Buffy approaches The Dragon atop a tower. He gears up for a fight, and she just knocks him off the tower.
    • In the season 3 premiere, the Monster of the Week knocks The Chick down and does a speech about how his realm is inescapable. Then the girl gets up and pushes him off the edge.
    • Midway through season 2, a demon is hyped throughout the two-part episode as being so strong, that no weapon forged by man could defeat him. He is blown apart in one shot by an anti-tank missile. The mankind forged a lot more in the past six hundred years. Besides, while some components of the delivery system are arguably "forged by man", the part that hurts isn't.
    • Season 6 episode Seeing Red: The villain's plot is thwarted, the heroes have their denouement with the talking about their feelings, and Tara is shot dead by a stray bullet when the villain comes back with a gun.
  • Firefly "The Train Job":

Huge Mooks: ...and the last thing you see will be my blade!
Mal: Darn. *kicks him into an engine*

Wash: They're not behind us anymore!
(Looks up and sees that the other ship simply flew over)
Wash: I didn't think of that...

    • In the pilot episode someone takes a cremember hostage and starts making demands. Malcolm just shoots him.
  • In the Doctor Who episode, "Last of the Time Lords", the Doctor talks one minor character out of shooting the villain, then he gives a speech about how there are better ways to do things than kill people. While he's giving the speech, another minor character picks up the gun and shoots the villain anyway. Talking Is Not A Free Action, and not everyone is as pacifist as the Doctor.
    • And then there's "Midnight", which savages the Doctor's usual bluster and approach to problem-solving. Instead of managing to get the people's trust, they view him with suspicion and think him very arrogant. It's all part of the Monster of the Week's plan.
  • In Torchwood, Tosh and Ianto find themselves confronted by three hooded, scythe-wielding men who spout fire and brimstone, then ominously start walking towards them as the music swells. They gun them down without a pause.

Ianto: There we are then.
Tosh: Sorted.

    • Torchwood: Miracle Day uses this as its premise: Having everlasting life in the real world creates horrific problems.
  • This happens in Jericho in the episode "Termination for Cause" when Jake and Russell were arguing what to do with Goetz, then Stanley drove up and shot Goetz in the head for killing Bonnie
  • The pilot for True Blood goes for this one. Girl saves cute vampire boy from crooks, cute vampire boy shows interest, girl is alone in car park... and gets the crap kicked out of her by the crooks, who ambush her.
  • In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cameron does this all the time. She makes it a routine habit to simply and bluntly execute anyone who poses a threat to the Connors, refuses to let loose ends remain untied, and generally acts in what can best be described as the most brutally logical manner possible.
    • And then there's Derek's death. He gets in a gunfight with a terminator at close range and no advance warning. And just to really drive the point home, the camera then follows the terminator, effectively making it little more than a background incident. Which, in this world, it kind of is.
    • FBI agent Ellison finally tracks down Cromartie and has more or less concluded that the target is some sort of combat machine. He even goes out of his way to secure an FBI Hostage Rescue Team for the assault. Unfortunately, antitank weapons are not included in the team loadout and thus it goes exactly the way of every other police versus Terminator fight in the universe.
  • HeroesSubverted Trope: Near-invulnerable superpowered serial killer Sylar, who's been by far the most powerful character on the show for a whole volume, is dropped mid-monologue by a sudden knife in his weak point from a man he turned his back on...and just gets back up again, because he'd used his new shapeshifting powers to move his weak point.
  • The pilot episode of Bones has one where Brennan confronts the killer, who is dousing a room with evidence in gasoline. When Brennan says she can't let him destroy evidence, he pulls out a lighter and does the whole "try and stop me and we both burn" thing. Brennan immediately whips out her revolver and shoots him in the leg. And in even more ensuing reality, she is promptly arrested for it. By Booth. And later fails to get a gun-carrying permit, because of this incident.
  • CSI: Miami:"Guerrillas in the Mist". The bad guy has a weapon that's basically a Metal Storm with the Serial Numbers Filed Off. In The Teaser, it actually vaporizes three men. Horatio tracks the baddies down at the airport and comes riding in in his Hummer, which the bad guy destroys. Caine gets out of the burning car and takes aim at just outside of point-blank range. A staredown ensues.

Bad Guy: You're on the losing side of this one, Lieutenant. I could fire a thousand rounds before you get a shot o--
Caine: (shoots him, shoots his accomplices. Walks over to the Big Bad's body and removes his glasses) Apparently, it only takes the one.

  • Blake's 7 gives us a single ship—admittedly the most advanced in the galaxy—crewed by approximately seven people—admittedly very talented—trying to bring down a gigantic evil bureaucracy (The Federation). They manage to survive for four years, then reality catches up.
  • The series 16 and Pregnant deals heavily with this, as the young mothers-to-be face the reality of their decisions. Turns out that babies do NOT, in fact, make everything better.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode Blaze of Glory, Sisko and a wounded Michael Eddington have rescued several surviving members of the maquis from a planet controlled by the Dominion. Due to his wound Eddington asks to be left behind to hold off the Dominion soldiers in order to give the others time to escape. However, as he gets up for the last stand (even joking if anyone knows a rousing song to play) he is promptly shot at least half a dozen times in the chest and thrown against a wall.
  • In the Miami Vice episode "Glades", The Dragon is holding a shotgun to a little girl's head as Sonny Crockett approaches with this pistol drawn and aimed. The Dragon begins threatening to shoot the girl if he's not let go, saying "If I so much as twitch, she's go--" BLAM Sonny shoots him right between the eyes, with the Bond One-Liner, "Maybe you won't twitch."
  • In the first episode of Battlestar Galactica's second season, Starbuck tries to shoot Sharon for being a Cylon, and then Starbuck and Helo have a tense confrontation where Helo convinces her not to shoot Sharon because Sharon is pregnant and different from the other Cylons. Just in time to hear the engine noise as Sharon high-tails it out of there in Starbuck's stolen Raider - because, of course, when your baby's life is at stake, you're not going to stand around and wait to see if the crazy lady with the gun changes her mind.
  • Justified is based around this trope. Raylan has been cautioned about killing people after the first episode because he has earned a reputation for it, which doesn't make the police look good, and besides, every time he kills someone it involves more paperwork for him and his boss. As a result there are many situations where he could kill somebody but can't because of his position, so has to find more intelligent ways around it. In a later episode, Loretta really wants to kill Mags, but Raylan (who is behind her), points out that the police are in the room next to her and they will arrest her if she does it (even though the killing is justified by her - and the audience's - standards).
    • In season 3 Raylan has gotten used to bullying the local criminals for information because none of them want the trouble he can bring on them and it would be utter stupidity to kill a US Marshall. However, he does this one too many times with Limehouse who points out that Raylan is alone in a remote mountain community where everyone is utterly loyal to Limehouse. Raylan could shoot Limehouse but then he will be shot down himself by the dozen armed men surrounding them. They can then make his body disappear without a trace and with all the enemies Raylan has, they probably will not be even the main suspects in his disappearance.
  • Chappelle's Show : "When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong" skits are all about this.
  • The Saturday Night Live "Hero Song" features Andy Samberg as a businessman singing about how he's distressed by crime in the city and donning a superhero cape and mask to clean up the streets. Until he finds a Damsel in Distress played by Amy Adams being menaced by a mook played by Jason Sudeikis. In mid-line, the singing hero takes a punch to the face, at which point the mook proceeds to beat the hero. Brutally. For over a minute.
  • Blue Mountain State is a comedy series built firmly upon the Rule of Funny. The acts committed by the team shown in the show would get a real NCAA team in serious trouble with the NCAA but hey, it's a comedy, so that kind of talk is brushed aside. Then comes the end of season 3. It turns out that the NCAA has been investigating BMS and the Goats are in serious trouble.
  • The series two finale of Sherlock hinges on the police no longer implicitly trusting Sherlock on the basis that he's Just That Good, and the reaction of their superiors to a PI being given access to classified information (repeatedly).
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia uses this trope often for comedic effect. In one episode Mac and Charlie attempt to fake their deaths by blowing up a car. Their attempts to do it by invokeing various action movie tropes result mostly in the duo injuring themselves. Later it turns out that their attempt to fake their demises failed naturally and that no one but Frank thought they were dead.
  • A short commercial parody (of Snuggle brand fabric softener) on MTV's The State features a woman discussing how her fabric softener has improved the quality of her laundry. Then when she sees a plush bear extolling the virtues of the product, she promptly begins screaming and beats the unnatural thing to death.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe usually glosses over the consequences of normals fighting supers, but The Falcon and the Winter Soldier shows in unflinching detail what happens when a normal gets Punched Across the Room into a pillar. He dies instantly, or at least near enough to it that he doesn't get to say any last words.
  • In Hawkeye, Clint's hearing has suffered from being close to too many explosions over the course of the previous works and now needs a hearing aid. He and Kate, being merely human, are also shown needing to patch up wounds and rest multiple times.


  • Swedish songwriter Lars Winnerbäck tells us what really happened to some of Astrid Lindgren's characters in his "Balladen om Konsekvenser" (The Ballad of Consequences).
  • The song "Scalp" by Atmosphere features the narrator describing his night. He goes to the bar and meets his friend Sonny, who offers to pay him for retrieving a package from a tattoo parlor. One expects the protagonist to follow through with his task, possibly finding something surprising in the package along the way, but instead he is killed in a car crash pretty much immediately after leaving the bar. Which is what happens when you drink $50 worth of alcohol and then drive at night.
  • What "Weird Al" Yankovic does with this trope in the video for "Trapped in the Drive Thru" needs to be seen to be fully appreciated.
  • Will Smith had a hit song in the 80s with "I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson." ("One punch, that's all it took (oooh), He hit me in my ribs and my insides shook.")

New Media

  • This picture.
    • This is averted by way of more reality: the reason Batman's enemies don't work together to beat him is because they're a bunch of sociopathic murderers and backstabbers who don't play well with others.

Tabletop Games


  • Act one of The Fantasticks ends happily, with the couple together and the "feud" between the families ending. Act two opens up with "This Plum Is Too Ripe", which is all about the characters realizing that everything isn't so great after all.
  • Into the Woods is all over this trope. Not only does it show the realistic consequences of fairy tales (particularly in regards to Fourth Date Marriage and Parental Abandonment), it also shows just how dangerous some fairy tale characters can be in a more realistic setting. When a giant comes down from the beanstalk, the audience goes "hey, cool!" at first, until she starts actually stepping on people. It's not played for laughs.

Video Games

  • The Final Boss of The Darkness, Uncle Paulie, is built up as the catalyst for all of the misery in Jackie's life, from the death of Jackie's girlfriend to getting blown out of a window by a bomb. Jackie finally makes it to Paulie, and Paulie goes down just as easy as the Mooks Jackie had been slaughtering to reach him. After all, Paulie's a normal human being, and a rather overweight one, at that. Jackie has the personification of all evil living inside of him. If anything, it's more of a Curb Stomp Battle Cutscene Boss than a final boss fight.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog, with the addition of the Sonic Boost in recent games we see a more realistic take on what happens when an object gets hit by another object moving at the speed of sound.
  • Most strategy games would make missions where you cause an enemy commander's Final Death to be long base sieges. Dawn of War sees the Imperial Guard's General Sturnn off in the middle of the Disorder campaign, at the start of a mission that gives the player only a standing force and no base to rush him with. There's a longer part of the mission afterwards, and his passing is barely mentioned subsequently. Only in a Crapsack World Half Empty like Warhammer 40,000. Then again, it may be Justified; this is, after all, a setting where there are enough ranks above a "mere" General for even them to be open to the Commissars' field executions - in the fluff at least.
    • It's not even a particularly spectacular fight. Fight can be summed up as Gorgutz picking up Sturnn and beating him into bloody pulp. Then again, what you do expect from fight between beefed up Ork and normal human?
    • In a similar case is in Dawn of War II: Retribution in the Tyranids campaign Sgt Merrick is faced with the Hive Tyrant, and the Nid just hacks him in less than three seconds.
  • Played around with the Metal Gear Solid series a few times, although it's much more into CMOAs.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater there's a point where you see one of The Cobra Unit out in the open and defenseless. If you're quick you can shoot him in the head, averting a boss battle with him later. Or since he's old, you can just wait a week (according to the PlayStation 2 internal clock) and he'll die of natural causes. On the other hand, the area is then manned by twenty guards instead of one boss character.
      • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots's difficulty settings qualify for the trope: Even though one of the game's "features" was an expanded arsenal of firearms and associated controls, only on Liquid Easy (lowest difficulty) can he take enough damage to get away with anything approaching a stand-up or run-and-gun fight, as he's still one operator against however many enemies, whether human or GEKKO.
  • In Halo: Reach almost everyone gets an over the top Heroic Sacrifice death with Jorge blowing up a Covenant super-carrier, Carter crashing a dropship into a Scarab, Emile falling over a ledge with the Elite who just impaled him with an energy sword, and Noble 6 getting a Last Stand and taking as many Covenant with him as he can. Only Kat gets shot in the back of the head by a sniper in mid sentence as the team passes a hole in the roof.
  • In Fable II you can shoot the villain as he is doing his Motive Rant. If you hesitate, one of your companions (Karma Houdini Reaver) will pull the trigger.
  • Deus Ex, a minor patron saint of deconstruction, lets reality happen quite a few times. At one point, The Dragon decides that it's much, much smarter to just order his troops to kill you, rather than actually having to go through the complicated business of waiting for the Explosive Leash to kick in. (Notably, he also activates the Explosive Leash- which for newer models like you is a relatively slow and seemingly natural death rather than instant death by explosion.) At another point, you confront an enemy Obstructive Bureaucrat who realizes that trying to shoot the Super Soldier might not be such a good idea, so he waits until you turn around and leave, whereupon he shoots you in the back. At the "Realistic" difficulty level, there's a quite high chance that this will kill the player character in one shot. Of course, you can silently pick off the guards before he chance to sick them on you, resulting in a "You win this round, Denton."
  • The agility and tenacity of the Game Breaker QAAMs' from Ace Combat may be what happens when you put a real-world (nigh-)undefeatable heater, a la Python 4/5 or AA-11/R-73 or AIM-9X, against planes that usually encounter missiles sloppy enough to be outflown without needing countermeasures. Also seen when Captain Bartlett in Unsung War draws a missile away from Nagase and the missile stays firmly on him despite his weaving here and there... and it proceeds to splash him. Must have been a QAAM. He gets better.
    • The Xbox 360 game Over G Fighters is essentially what happens when Reality Ensues on Ace Combat. Did you know that afterburner in the presence of heat-seeking missiles is a BAD thing? On the other hand, unlike Ace Combat, the player (though also enemies) can sometimes break missile locks by turning enough to reduce their plane's radar cross-section.
  • Shadow Complex: The writers go through the trouble of fleshing out a personality for the evil quasi-Nazi Mad Scientist who has kidnapped your girlfriend...and instead of an epic boss fight or the scientist pulling out ninja moves or something to get away, he is Killed Mid-Sentence in one shot by the hero, right in the middle of saying that the hero "doesn't look like a killer".
  • The "good" ending of the recent[when?] reimagining of The Bard's Tale ends with the Bard saving the world from an ancient and terrifying evil. However, as nobody aside from a small cult who don't really like him know this, he's soon back to hustling inns for free booze and sex.
    • The various "Chosen Ones" encountered during the game are victims of this. Bright, bold lads setting out to meet their destiny, they're quickly murdered by everything from wolves to trow to zombies. One sheriff even took to locking them up for their own safety.
  • Mass Effect 2:
    • You can ignore the loyalty sidequests, but what do you think will happen when you take a team of people who aren't properly motivated to fight servants of millenia-old Eldritch Abominations? Or if you ignore the upgrades, what do you think a mere frigate with little in the way of weapons and armor is going to do against a race of aliens that cleaved your not-much-worse original ship in half at the beginning of the game? Or, if you're feeling extra stupid, make dumb choices about the roles each of your teammates have during the final mission?
    • Transformation Is a Free Action? No. When Harbinger ASSUMES DIRECT CONTROL of a Collector, the possession and transformation takes time, and you can take a big chunk of health out of the new threat before it can even start attacking.
  • Mass Effect 3:
    • Fail to gun down Eva Core before she gets in range and Shepard catches a Hot Blade in the face... and dies. No Heroic Second Wind or other trope will conveniently kick in to bail the player out.
    • The Extended Cut DLC adds one. The whole game has been drilling into your head the fact that while small victories are possible, the Reaper war machine as a whole cannot be beaten conventionally, which is why the galaxy has to resort to building the Crucible. When you finally get to it at the end, you are presented with three choices from a suspect source, all of which will reshape the galaxy but have some downside. The Extended Cut adds a fourth: Refuse to use the Crucible after all. If you take it, though, the galaxy loses, and all it can do is Fling a Light Into the Future in the form of a message to the next cycle. Did you really think that this was some kind of Secret Test of Character and that you would be rewarded for defiantly sticking to your principles instead of picking any of the poisoned chalices with a Deus Ex Machina leading to a Golden Ending?
  • In Seiken Densetsu 3, Angela's prologue has her trekking through the aptly named Sub Zero a highly Stripperiffic leotard. She doesn't get ten minutes in before she starts coming down with hypothermia.
  • Used wonderfully in Rudra no Hihou. A few days after the other protagonists have already received their magical Power Crystal, Surlent is still lacking his. Being a scholar, he finds it inside an ancient artifact he's set out to research. It promptly flies towards him to merge with his body... and the impact kills him. Instantly.
  • Used amusingly at the beginning of Resident Evil 4. How is the evil Umbrella corporation finally destroyed? Through a daring black-ops raid with soldiers fighting its myriad monsters in one final battle? Nah. The U.S. government freezes its assets in retaliation for the destruction of Raccoon City (though they hadn’t intended for the city to be destroyed, it could have been avoided if they had not been experimenting on people), and the highly publicized disasters plaguing the company cause its stock prices to drop, sending it into bankruptcy. Killing Alfred and Alexia Ashford likely helped though, and the two decided to betray Alexander Ashford, another researcher.
  • In Minecraft's Survival Mode, you need to gather natural resources to build into weapons (among other things). Swords can be made of (in order of ascending rarity) wood, stone, iron, gold, and diamond. For the most part, the rarer starting materials result in stronger weapons, except golden swords are functional identical to wooden swords. It came as quite a surprise when the players realized the second-rarest material made the weakest weapon, and a lot of people thought it was a bug... until they remembered gold is one of the softest metals in the world. Just like in real-life, gold weapons are only good for decorative purposes.
    • This was initially true of all items made of gold, but this made gold so worthless that it was changed for balance reasons. Although gold tools still count as wood for purposes of durability and what they can actually do (a Gold Pickaxe can only harvest the same materials as a wood pickaxe), they work incredibly fast—a golden pick or axe can chew through materials in no time flat, outclassing even the diamond tools of the same type.
  • The huge material properties overhaul in the latest[when?] release of Dwarf Fortress resulted in a few of these, as a simple damage multiplier for each metal was replaced with actual stats for tensile strength, shear and compressive yields and so forth. Adamantine turned out to be incredibly strong and lightweight, making for excellent edged weapons, but when players forged warhammers and maces from it the results were disappointing.
  • In Utawarerumono, the rabbit-people bring out their ultimate weapon: Humongous Mecha. The best anyone else has basically amounts to pointy sticks. They slaughter their enemies en masse, and are completely invulnerable to you, the player, fighting spirit be damned. Well, until you become a giant divine monster yourself.
  • In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Sam is facing down Shetland on the rooftop, with their guns drawn. Shetland goes on a Motive Rant, ending it by saying that Sam "wouldn't shoot an old friend" and putting his gun away. Sam can, at this point, opt to put his gun away, triggering an I Surrender, Suckers moment where Shetland draws his gun and catches a bad case of knife in the heart for his trouble. The other option is to just shoot him in the face the moment he puts his gun away.
  • Many of the cutscenes in Dynasty Warriors 7 invoke this with Annoying Arrows—In one scene, Pang Tong succumbs to a wound that resulted from taking an arrow intended for Liu Bei, Zhou Yu dies in a similar fashion, and another cutscene has the famous Eye Scream scene with Xiahou Dun (at least as much as can be shown in a T-rated game). To say nothing of Wu.
  • For Max Payne, not so much. But reality ensued all over poor Vinnie, a mob lieutenant with more enemies than friends and such an incurable fanboy for a cartoon Kid Hero that he'll cosplay without hesitation. Doing so straps him into explosives, and since that puts him in an Enemy Mine situation with Max, you figure The Hero should be able to save his life. And he did. Temporarily.
  • In Grand Theft Auto IV, the game's Final Bosses (which differentiate depending on which ending you take are hardly any tougher than any of the other random Mooks you've been killing. They have slightly more health thanks to body armor, but other than that, they're no tougher, and will likely go down quickly.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, Batman can take out dozens of prisoners with delicate uses of flips, jumps, punches, and Batarangs. But try to take on a group of gun wielding goons head on, and Batman will quickly be turned into Bat-paste. Especially true in the sequel, where he fights mooks with high-powered sniper rifles.
  • In the backstory of Portal 2, Cave Johnson is the Crazy Awesome Pointy-Haired Boss of Aperture Science, who has no qualms whatsoever about working with hazardous experimental substances, and wildly misapplies potentially revolutionary scientific breakthroughs because he doesn't realize what they could do. Unfortunately, it's not a cartoon, and these practices have the same result they would in real life, i.e., he dies slowly and agonizingly from exposure to dangerous chemicals while his company collapses into financial ruin.
  • In Peasant's Quest, the humble peasant hero Rather Dashing goes through a bunch of trials to prepare himself to fight Trogdor the Burninator. When he finally reaches Trogdor's cave he's immediately flash-fried, because he's one ordinary guy trying to fight a giant fire-breathing monster. The knight standing outside the cavern would have stood a better chance.
  • In Ghost Tricks, making a hard hat hit a guy in the face with the force of a moving bullet leads to exactly what you think will happen happening. Also, if you trick an item in front of Yomiel, he will notice and respond.
  • This ends up happening in We Happy Few. While it is understandable that the town would want to be happy given what they went through in the past, they ended up designing a drug that caused people to take happiness for granted. So it’s only a matter of time before the whole town begins to fall apart. And it’s unfortunately too late to fix things, since the joy drug has a rebound effect that results in depression.
  • Red Dead Redemption: By lategame, John has brought down his old gang and won multiple scraps with superior forces. Then Edgar Ross decides that You Have Outlived Your Usefulness and brings the army to his front door and quickly proves that even if you're a major league Badass, you aren't winning this kind of stand-up fight.
  • Alpha Protocol: For most of the game, Take Your Time is in effect and you can go freely between the three hub cities in between missions as often as you like with no penalty. Get to the end of the Moscow questline, though, and the mission "Prevent Surkov's Escape" appears. If you go somewhere else instead of taking it immediately, it becomes Lost Forever, because a guy who's trying to get out of dodge isn't going to politely sit around and wait for you to finish other business first.
  • In Infernax, if you act like you're still playing Castlevania and eat chicken that falls out of the walls... you promptly vomit it back up.

Visual Novels

  • Despite passionate pleas, Masayuki in A Profile is ultimately completely unable to make Miou's parents reconcile. As he says to Miou, it's not like a kid like him can do much to convince adults of anything serious like that. On the other hand, it's not completely without results in that it made her father approve of him, whereas until then he was judging Masayuki as the street punk he used to be.

Web Comics

  • This page of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. Make sure to read the Alt Text.
    • Later on, Dan McNinja has to hunt down the last surviving member of the Belstein family, whose bloodline is the only thing that can defeat a powerful demon. It turns out that the Belsteins had to engage in massive inbreeding to keep the bloodline "pure" so someone could fight the demon....and the last living Belstein is a crippled invalid thanks to that.
  • This comic on the Penny Arcade forums.
  • A common occurrence on Shortpacked. Rule of Funny will be enacted, then in the next comic the serious results will hit the characters.
  • In El Goonish Shive this is how Susan's uniform crusade arc ended. Didn't help she was blatantly ignoring nearly half the school, and misreading almost the entirety. She was rather surprised when it turns out that the decisive factor here was parents sharing with the principal their opinion on having to wash and repair more clothes just for the sake of his loonie ideas.
    • After Grace's brothers are freed from Damien, they are informed that they will have to take psychological tests to make sure that they're of fit mind to live in society. Grace realizes that she underwent similar tests after living with Ted, but Ted's dad was just sneaky enough to be very subtle about it.
  • In Friendly Hostility, Collin gets a part time job as a funny kids show host. When he's publicly outed as being gay, it's shrugged off as a joke at first, until he realizes it will cost him his job. He becomes severely depressed and ends up breaking off his relationship with Fox, and although they try to work it out with a therapist, later canon shows that they never get back together. End of comic.
  • In Sinfest, there's an entire Reality Zone. Inside it, characters are drawn with a much more realistic style, and all the normal rules like Rule of Funny or Rule of Cool no longer apply, with characters instead being forced to face reality. The Devil and other supernatural characters all avoid the place like the plague, for example, and Squig (an anthropomorphic pig) turns into an ordinary pig when he enters.
  • This Buttersafe comic.
  • Xkcd had Breakout: Don't Try This At Home.
  • In Nip and Tuck the Show Within the Show Rebel Cry opens with La Résistance getting its head handed to it by The Empire, because it consists of two systems.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Vaarsuvius succinctly deals with Kubota's plans to Take Over the City:

"Disintegrate. Gust of Wind."

    • The kicker here is that Vaarsuvius didn't know that he was dispatching a threat. He was just removing a distraction from his research. Of course, this garners him a What the Hell, Hero? from Elan.
  • Occurs in The Dreadful, for a given value of "reality". A posse shows up at Kit's hideout. Their arrogant leader threatens and insults Kit while flipping his gun around Revolver Ocelot-style. It looks like an epic gunfight is about to ensue, but Kit simply shoots the hammer of his gun mid-flip, causing it to shoot him in the head.

Web Original

  • One transformation-fetishist rewrite of The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde had Jekyll as the Unlucky Childhood Friend of a woman he knew, after she becomes engaged. This gives him the inspiration to complete a potion that brings out his subconscious desires. Turns out his subconscious desire is to be a large, strong, well-endowed possibly bisexual sociopath named Hyde. After assaulting and killing his beloved's fiance, he forces himself into his beloved's home, forces the potion down her throat, and her already comely form turns into a loose-moraled sex goddess. After they're...done, they try and dose the rest of the city. The first person turns into a bisexual sex-goddess and they have a threesome. Then the story goes "no, wait, she really dies peacefully, since she had smallpox, as previously mentioned, and didn't want to live". The second one we see turns into a fireproof pyromaniac (with a gigantic moustache and super-strength) trying to "purge" the world, and accidentally destroys the lab and the remaining stock of potion. Since the potion wears off eventually, once they're back to normal, their hosts obviously aren't going to make any more. The story ends with the city in flames from the pyromaniac.
  • The New Adventures of Captain S has the hero constantly beating up enemies inside the world of videogames. When he punches someone in the real world he hurts his fist.
  •'s If Movie Characters Didn't Make Terrible Decisions lists a number of humourous hypothetical examples, imagining what sort of films fictional characters would watch.
    • "An ex-con coach and a team of misfits... No one thought they'd have a chance. They were right."
  • Building Code Violations For The Love Shack
  • How It Should Have Ended frequently combines this with Fridge Logic and/or Cutting the Knot in derailing various movies and such. A few examples include Star Wars A New Hope, where instead of going around the planet between them and the rebel base, the Death Star just blows up the planet then immediately follows it up by blowing up the base too, how in The Empire Strikes Back Vader could have caught Luke with the force rather than doing nothing when the kid jumped off the catwalk, or Batman running over the Joker with the Batpod in The Dark Knight, which resulted in putting the Joker in traction but not killing him. And the Twilight parody, where Belle gets vamped at the end of the first movie.
    • The problem with the Death star example is that Yavin is a) A gas giant, and therefore can't be destroyed by the Death Star, and b) The Death Star has a very long recharge rate, so it would have to wait for a long while to destroy the base.
  • The Prolecto series, at Episode Two and later, falls into this, and at first balances hilarity with reality, but moves towards reality later on. For instance, at the end of the first one, they decide to start converting everyone! At the beginning of the second one... They're in prison for, amongst other things, public nudity!
  • The Salvation War runs on this. One of the core themes is that Biblical depictions of the powers of angels and demons, quite simply, are not all that impressive compared to modern weapons. Sure, a demon may be nine feet tall, run thirty KPH without getting tired, regenerate from most injuries in a few hours or days, can rip through human beings like tissue paper, and throw lightning bolts, but all of that is terribly useless when the demon's most advanced weapon is a pitchfork and the humans are sitting twenty kilometers away launching missiles and firing artillery that rips through demonic flesh as easily as it does human.
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: Near the beginning of Act II, Dr. Horrible gloats about his unstoppable plan to commit a heist using his Freeze Ray. Cue Gilligan Cut and a bruised Dr. Horrible explaining how he needs to be careful about what he says on his blog because both Captain Hammer and the LAPD watch it.
  • Dark Simpsons takes certain segments of The Simpsons and makes them realistic. For example, in "Flintstones Parody", much like in "Marge vs The Monorail", Homer decides to imitate the Simpsons. However, instead of being uninjured when he breaks through his car window, he ends up having to go to the hospital instead, and is faced with the possibility of being unable to walk again for the rest of his life.
    • In "Homer Is Dumb as a Mule and Twice as Ugly", Homer decides to start a new life under the sea. There's just one small problem...he can't breathe underwater. Inevitably, he drowns.
    • In "Homes Goes To College", Homer cheats on a test so he could keep his job as a nuclear safety inspector. Unsurprisingly, he doesn't know what to do during a nuclear meltdown and he ends up blowing the entire town to smithereens when he presses the wrong button.
    • "In Seymour Butts", while it's fairly unlikely that he would shoot Bart with a shotgun simply for prank phone calling him, he immediately recognizes him as the person who keeps prank phone calling him by the sound of his voice.

Western Animation

  • Family Guy loves doing this and it is almost like the writers flip a coin to determine if a specific action will play out according to cartoon logic or will generate realistic effects. It's actually a good way to keep the audience guessing as they can never assume how things will play out based on genre conventions. Examples include:
    • When Peter "goes to" Peter-Copter and the Hinden-Peter he promptly crashes them into Joe's house causing substantial damage.
    • When Joe manages to tackle the robbery suspect and severs his spine in the process Peter jokes about the man's resulting paralysis, but Joe informs him that the man died.
    • When pretending to be the The A-Team, Peter and friends expect the workers demolishing the park to flee in panic, crashing their vehicles in the process and then slinking off in shame, defeated. The foreman educates them how even if they weren't killed outright by the reckless shooting or vehicle crash, even a minor fender bender can result in serious neck injury and partial numbness.
    • Stewie forgets about his babysitter's boyfriend whom he locks in the trunk of Brian's car. When he remembers after 3 weeks it is clear that the person has died.
    • There's also the clown that Peter has kept in the ceiling somewhere in order to pop up when Lois admitted Peter was right. Unfortunately, this hasn't happened for years. So when it finally does, all Peter gets is a skeleton in a colorful wig.
      • Which is a throwback to an earlier gag involving Peter having bought Meg a pony in preparation for his screwing up.

Peter: Oh... oh right ponies like food, don't they?

    • In one episode, the family wins the lottery, and one of Peter's decisions is to buy a giant room full of gold coins and dive into it a la Scrooge McDuck.

(cue the room, Peter dives into the coins, only to bloodily hit them hard)
Peter: Aaahhh!! It's not a liquid! It's a great many pieces of solid matter, that form a hard floor-like surface! Ahhh!!

  • Mighty Max: In one episode, a barbarian has recently rampaged through a village, killing everyone. Max the Kid Hero goes inside a house to check the carnage and immediately hops out, vomiting. He's seen gore all the time on television, but realizes it didn't prepare him for this.
  • G.I. Joe: Resolute had this, when Storm Shadow asks why his uncle/sensei won't teach him his famed Seventh Step, which is basically instant death for anyone it hits. His uncle says he is not ready, and Storm Shadow pulls off his mask dramatically, symbolically divesting himself of his attachment to the dojo. It's actually a signal for an assassin to snipe his uncle, so Shadow can take over the dojo. When he sees the assassin, Snake Eyes runs forward, and the assassin shoots him first. The sensei turns around, puzzled, and since he's standing still, it's much easier for the killer to hit him. And the miniseries was written by—wait for it--Warren Ellis.
  • Beast Wars had a scene seemingly parodying the one from Raiders of the Lost Ark: Optimus is going all over the place showing off his sword moves, and Megatron just shoots him.
    • This Megatron is a Combat Pragmatist. He'll do anything if it means his goals are met. Hell, when his plan to simply kill off the proto-humans fails and he later finds the Decepticon battleship Nemesis, the first thing he does with it is try to blow all proto-humans off the face of the Earth.
      • Even when Dinobot II (who has regained the originals' memories) tries to tell him that it's an overkill to use giant ship-to-ship lasers to kill a primitive tribe of organics, Megatron pretends to consider it for a second, and then pushes the button anyway.
  • Played for laughs in Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! when the Sun Riders (who at this point are evil) have taken over the Super Robot and forced the Hyperforce to flee. Chiro suggests that they instead use the Sun Riders' old fighting mecha and they head to where they've been told it's stored... only to find out that it is only 20 feet tall (compared to the Super Robot skyscraper) and is in disrepair, at which point the following exchange takes place:

Chiro: * Slams his fists into the ground* That's IT! I give up!
Sprx: If this was just some TV show, kid, we could give up. But THIS is the REAL WORLD!

    • After being faced with all the odds, Chiro, the main protagonist in the show, is actually ready to give up, whereas normally in this sort of show they would immediately start looking for another way.
      • Either that or the fact that the TV superheroes didn't actually use a Humongous Mecha while on set.
  • A magnificent example from The Spectacular Spider-Man. During their first tête-à-tête confrontation the crime boss Tombstone offers Spider-Man a chance to work for him. Spider-Man refuses and calls him out to "finish this". "Very well," sighs Tombstone... and then calls the cops and accuses Spidey of invading his personal space, attacking his guards and threatening him. Spider-Man probably suffered cognitive dissonance at that point from the fact that the villain was legitimately siccing cops on him, the hero!
    • Perhaps even better was his fight against Sandman and Rhino , where Spidey uses Rhino's weight against him rather than fighting him directly (the relevant part is at 1:52). Also a Crowning Moment of Awesome and a Crowning Moment of Funny at the same time.
    • Speaking of the Rhino, Peter attempted to use the old cartoon clitche of knocking over a shelf and tripping him the the contents. Rhino just steps on them.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: After two episodes of turmoil, Aang finally unleashes his Avatar State. The assaulted army stops, watching in awe as the Avatar prepares to unleash his spiritual wrath upon them- and then gets shot down immediately. With Azula, transformation is not a free action.
    • One flashback sequence revealed that Avatar Roku tried to use The Power of Friendship to prevent Sozin from taking over the world. To say that it didn't end well would be a HUGE understatement.
      • Interestingly, it almost worked. Roku had gotten Sozin to halt his plan. Later, a volcanic eruption threatened the village Roku lived in. Sozin showed up to help his old friend, who was rescuing the villagers...then Sozin had the sudden epiphany, that if he just left and let Roku die, he could resume his plans of world conquest.
  • A rather jarring example on The Powerpuff Girls: after moving into the gritty, more realistic Citiesville, the girls' attempts to fit in are all met with either laughter or cold dismissal. The final straw was when the mayor of Citiesville called them in after they had stopped some bank robbers - not to congratulate the girls, but for blowing up a bridge to stop their getaway:

Mayor:Let me tell you some words. At what point did it seem like a good idea to blow up the Citiesville Bridge?
Blossom: Uh...
Mayor: NO! Do you realize the two crooks that you caught stole approximately four hundred dollars? Do you realize that you did over three MILLION DOLLARS IN PROPERTY DAMAGE TO THAT BRIDGE?! IT'S NOT REPLACEABLE!

    • An even better (worse?) example was when Rainbow the Clown suffered an accident that turned him into the sound-and-color-hating "Mr. Mime." He almost succeeds in turning Townsville into a silent, monochromatic wasteland, but the girls set everything right with The Power of Rock. Rainbow's mind is freed from the evil and he thanks the girls for saving him - at which point they beat the tar out of him and have him carted off to jail, because... well... he broke the law.
  • Sym-Bionic Titan fights the first Monster of the Week in the city and causes major damage. For the rest of the series, the city is shown being rebuilt, while the team tries to draw away future monsters out to the country where they're less likely to do harm.
  • In Gargoyles, the eponymous heroes always have to explain to their human allies that they can't actually fly; they can only glide, meaning there are often situations where their wings are of no use, like falling into pits and having to climb out.
  • On The Simpsons in the episode "The Homer They Fall", Homer Simpson has a condition which renders him largely impervious to the effects of head trauma, which he uses to gain success in amateur boxing by tiring his opponents out. He winds up getting set up in a fight with an Expy of Mike Tyson, who pummels him so hard that he forgets where he parked his car. Just because Homer can't fall down doesn't mean he can take on a well-trained boxer.
    • Another example would be when Lisa befriended a beached whale, and Homer came to the rescue with helicopters to save it...But it turned out that it was just Lisa's Hope Spot, and the whale died like many beached whales do.
    • And in "Bart Vs Australia" where Homer tries to get in a kangaroo's pouch only to realize it's not a pocket, and actually full of mucus.
    • In "The PTA Disbands", a tour guide in Fort Springfield is giving a lecture on a "fully restored and in ready to fire condition" Civil War cannon aimed directly at the base of a manned lookout tower. She mentions that these cannons are "very sensitive and that the "slightest jolt" can set them off as the Springfield Elementary bus starts swerving towards the cannon. The bus hits it of the cannon's wheels falls off.

Tour Guide: Of course for safety reasons, we don't keep the cannon loaded. That's just common sense.

    • When Homer builds a church in an island, he believed in the Flintstones by using a pelican as a cement mixer, as he gives it a pat, the bird just falls on the ground.
    • In "A Milhouse Divided" Kirk and Luanne get divorced due to their fighting at the Simpson's dinner party being the final straw. At the end of the episode, Kirk tries to sing a romantic song (really badly) to her at Homer and Marge's second wedding and asks her to marry him again. She coldly refuses because neither were happy in their marriage and one song can't fix years of misery. It also helps that her new boyfriend is an American Gladiator.
    • In "Homer to the Max" Homer sues the creators of Police Cops for improper use of his name when they made their Homer Simpson character a moron and pretty much Homer as a cop. The judge finds in favor of the creators instantly because no one has an exclusive right to their name.
    • Homer assumes college is nothing but Wacky Fratboy Hijinks and partying and picking on nerds in "Homer Goes to College." In reality the jocks are studious and not the idiots they seem, the Dean Bitterman is actually friendly and the nerds while intelligent in their studies, have no grasp of life outside college. Naturally this flies over Homer's head and he learns nothing about from the experience.
  • Teen Titans
    • Many villains like Mad Mod and Warp have treated Starfire as the damsel that Robin has to rescue, thinking she's the weakest link in the team. As Starfire cheerfully reminds Cinderblock in the pilot, being nice doesn't mean she's helpless. She's a Tamaranean princess trained in hand-to-hand combat in a culture where it's tradition to fight for the throne if you don't like the leader. Starfire knows how to fight, use her massive strength with control, and shoot Starbolts with extremely accurate aim. Oh, and she escaped from a Gordanian prisoner warship when she was still a teenager and unable to use most of her powers due to her handcuffs. She just would rather if an opponent would surrender before she has to resort to violence but if you get her angry, watch out! Starfire has beaten her older sister twice in combat, four times if you count the spinoff comics, and shows that when she fights, she means business.
    • "Fear Itself"
      • Control Freak seems to have the Titans on the ropes, weaponizing a video store's merchandise and standee displays against them with a remote that brings inanimate objects to life. Robin finds a simple solution: set off the fire sprinklers. Water shorts out electronic devices, and dissolves cardboard as well as sugar from the candy that was biting Cyborg. Control Freak is left helplessly pushing buttons on his useless remote as Robin arrests him.
      • On a similarly humorous note, Beast Boy thinks after the fight is the best time to check out the latest horror movie. He takes the video to the checkout where the poor cashier has been hiding from the fracas and digs in his pockets for his membership card. She tells him, "Just take it" and it's on the house; the Titans saved her life, and she wouldn't be able to process a rental anyway with all the machines shorted out from the sprinkler.
    • Raven normally emphasizes that she cannot lose control of her emotions. As she tells Starfire during their body-switching episode, even the slightest tinge of excitement or joy can cause her powers to go haywire. There are some exceptions, like crushing on Aqualad, but in general Raven keeps tight control of her composure. Then in "The Prophecy," she finds out that the last safe place that could hide her, her home Azarath, didn't survive an onslaught courtesy of Trigon, and he killed her mother Arella. The most Arella could do was leave a piece of herself behind in the ruins, along with an illusion that Azarath was fine but deserted, so that she could properly say goodbye to her daughter. Grief-stricken that she was too late to save her mother or her teachers, Raven returns to Earth, rescues her friends from a firepowered Slade because she can't lose anyone else that she loves, and vents her emotions on Slade by beating him up. With complete control this time! There are some traumas that a little bit of meditation can't regulate.
    • Another humorous example from "X"; Red X's attempt to hit on Starfire in the middle of a battle doesn't get him any reaction from her other than Eye Beams to the face.
  • Archer often plays the various injuries encountered in Spy Fiction realistically:
    • Whenever a character is exposed to explosions or gunfire, they suffer temporary deafness, sometimes accompanied by a loud ringing noise. It's happened to Archer so many times he mentions that he thinks he's developing tinnitus.
    • When Ray gets knocked out via a Tap on the Head, he has to see a neurologist.
  • In Frisky Dingo, Killface and Xander run against each other for presidency for most of the second season before it's pointed out that neither of them are eligible, as Killface wasn't born in the US and Xander is under 35.

  1. Cousin Bazilio
  2. After all, what do you expect to happen when a 3rd level illusionist receives TRIPLE damage from stone-digging claws of a rampaging umber hulk? Not to mention the damage an arrow through the throat can do, the horrific effects of the various kinds of dragon's breath, the many venomous/poisonous beasts, the long term effects of getting hit with a psionic attack, and let's not even get started with The Undead and the many ways they can kill a PC in one turn or less. While we're on the subject of creatures of the night, getting mauled by a werebeast will more likely end in a bloody death; becoming a therianthrope is a rather remote possibility.