Refugee From TV Land

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Still, a good use of Medium Awareness.

Kryten: Ah, Mr Charles, sir! My name is Kryten. I'm a fictitious character from the television series Red Dwarf, and we really need your help.
Lister: You're the only one who can help us, man!
Craig Charles: I've heard about these! They're called flashbacks! I know you don't exist!
Cat: OK, no need to rub it in!

Red Dwarf: Back to Earth

Due to some Applied Phlebotinum, a character is pulled or travels from literature or screen into the real world. Possibly you let your Bungling Inventor fix your remote, or maybe the Fantasy adventurers found a Portal Pool to a strange new world. Either way, they're here, and they're gonna cause trouble.

Whatever the circumstances, as well as possibly being the ultimate Fish Out of Water, they'll likely be from a land riddled with cliched tropes, and have Contractual Genre Blindness. Their world works on well established rules but This Is Reality, in all its chaos, and it doesn't even seem to have a coherent storyline! Usually Hilarity Ensues.

Then of course, there are those things that stories conveniently skip over like finding parking space, breakfast, feeling tired, irrelevant conversations, bathroom trips, car insurance. The character is often from a highly sanitized storyline where things like that just don't happen.

Oh, and there's a fair chance you'll have to get them back home somehow.

A Refugee From TV Land is a good way to show up fictional differences between fiction and reality, and play up tropes as it does so. The fact that the "real" characters never seem to go to the bathroom either is one of those things you're not meant to think about.

When the characters come from the past or the future, this trope overlaps with Fish Out of Temporal Water.

Will probably overlap with Batman in My Basement. Can be paired with a "Reading Is Cool" Aesop. The opposite, and often connected plot, is Trapped in TV Land. See also Real World Episode and Roger Rabbit Effect. Compare The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You.

Examples of Refugee From TV Land include:

Anime and Manga

  • Tamahome and Nakago from the book in Fushigi Yuugi briefly appear in present-day Tokyo to fight over Miaka and Yui... and even more fantastic monsters from the book get summoned.
  • There is a 3 episode Mega Man anime where in each episode, Wily escapes from the video game he is in and Mega Man has to go into the Real World to stop him.
  • Video Girl Ai, while more Genre Savvy than the usual version of this trope, did jump out of the TV.
  • In Haunted Junction the ghost of a mangaka who worked himself to death conjures up his comics characters: giant robot warriors, magical girls and, worst of all, some mind-numbingly boring historical characters from an educational comic he made.

Comic Books

  • A Simpsons Comics storyline involved Kang and Kodos bringing Itchy and Scratchy into the real world, as the two were worshipped as gods on Rigel IV. To stop them, Bart pointed a camcorder at a Radioactive Man comic and used the aliens' device to make his favorite superhero real.
    • Also, a Futurama comic had Simpsons characters (and later, non-Simpsons fictional characters) being pulled out of comics into the Futurama world.
  • In the Nightveil Special spun off from Femforce, a comic book superheroine named Thunderfox is brought into the regular world, and even became a Femforce member for several issues.
  • We musn't forget Earth-Prime, the corner of The DCU standing in for the real world, where superheroes are fiction. Superman and the Flash traveled there with some frequency.
    • Until it got destroyed. So, not quite our world.
      • Unless we are just retroactively existing after it was retconned back into existence.
  • X-Men: Longshot is from the Mojoverse, which is sort of like the background of TV land: this is where the characters are created (to be exploited by the sometimes-hilarious-sometimes-Nightmare Fuel Evil Overlord/media mogul Mojo.) Longshot has incredibly good luck only so long as his motives are absolutely pure, and, like all denizens of the Mojoverse, has Four Fingered Hands.
  • Loony Leo is a cartoon lion brought to life in Astro City.
  • A Justice League of America story arc featured a villain called the Queen of Fables, who could manifest any fictional character into the real world. She also came out of a story book.
    • The Queen of Fables started off as an evil sorceress who got Trapped in TV Land (a magical story book). This, we are told, made her fictional, and since fictional things are per definition not true, her reign of terror in Dung Ages Europe never happened.
  • In an early Hellblazer story, a character escapes from the world of fiction and ends up running across John Constantine, who witnesses as authorities from the world of fiction keep trying to drag the refugee back. He's eventually knocked out and taken back by Winnie-the-Pooh, of all people.
  • In one Cherry Comics story, the characters of a soap opera come out of the television to have sex with Cherry.

Fan Works



  • The book Inkheart is actually about a man who reads a character, Dustfinger, out of a book also called Inkheart. Dustfinger goes on to complain about the chaos of the Real World and tries to get read back into the book. Along the way he discovers the general unkindness of the human race and the uncaring offhandedness of fire. During the story, he also meets Inkheart's author, who is glad to meet him, but who does not offer that feeling to Inkheart's villain, Capricorn.
  • The Stephen King short story "Umney's Last Case" has a writer switch places with his Private Eye character. The PI wets himself as he's never gone to a toilet before.
  • The Thursday Next novels have various characters traveling both ways. Most notable is Something Rotten, where Thursday explains the real world's lack of certain tropes to Hamlet, and where Intergalactic Emperor Zhark threatens his own author with a laser when it sounds like he'll be Killed Off for Real.
    • In the sixth book, the written Thursday enters the real world and, for the first time, has to experience breathing, a heartbeat, learning to walk and turn while walking, and the fact that some things happen for absolutely no reason.
  • The Tom Holt novel Open Sesame has Akram The Terrible escape to the real world, where he gets confused by people having discussions that don't further the plot.
  • The children's book It's New! It's Improved! It's Terrible! features a commercial-based TV refugee.
  • The early Terry Pratchett short story Final Reward has a barbarian hero, following his death, arriving in the hall of his "creator"; that is, the fantasy writer who invented him.
  • Kir Bulychevs Alice books are a borderline example - the "Fairy Tale" creatures live in contained bio-dome and mostly obey Fairy Tale conventions, but apparently they were imported into the future from a time when All Myths Are True.
  • "The Kugelmass Episode" by Woody Allen sees Madame Bovary transported to modern New York. Initially thrilled by the experience, she soon becomes jaded -- "I want to get a job or go to a class, because watching TV all day is the pits"—and demands to be returned to 19th Century France. Conversely, Kugelmass himself becomes Trapped in TV Land.
  • In Paul Robinson's Instrument of God, the main character, 246, ends up crossing over into another universe where his life is actually being recorded and is part of a major TV show that a lot of people watch, so he visits a fan convention where he answers questions about the show, but nobody there is aware of the fact it's not really a show, the life he's being filmed is really what happens to him, not a TV show.
  • In the book version of Howl's Moving Castle, the door's fourth (black) destination is the present day Wales. Both Refugee From TV Land and Trapped in TV Land come into play, because Howl originally came from the present day and also takes several people back there at one point.

Live-Action TV

  • In Charmed, magic brought a character from a 1950s romance film to reality. Oh, and some slasher horror monsters.
  • The sitcom Hi Honey, I'm Home! was based around a 1950s sitcom family, whose show had been canceled, moving next door to a fan to await being put back on the air.
    • Additionaly, a series Couch Gag would have a different classic tv character come visit Honey, for example in one episode Ann B. Davis drops in as Alice Nelson.
  • The short-lived series Once a Hero had the comic book superhero Captain Justice crossing over from Pleasantville into the real world, and befriending his creator. Captain Justice decided to stay to get people believing him him again.
  • Used a couple times in the various Star Trek series. This was always done by having simulations of famous people (fictional and real) from the holodeck. One notable episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Elementary, Dear Data" has a simulation of Professor Moriarty, who ends up becoming self aware and trying to find a way out of the simulation. A few seasons later, he tries it again in "Ship in a Bottle."
  • In the famous Czech fairy tale TV series Arabela (1979–81) (Western Germany title: Arabella, die Märchenbraut, Eastern Germany title: Die schöne Arabella und der Zauberer), not only do characters and villains from the Fairy Tale reality enter the Real World and spread chaos there with their magic and strange ways, the sorcerous villains even take modern inventions (and ideas), like cars, back into their own reality which runs on fairy tale tropes, install themselves as new rulers, and start a reign of tyranny by banning, on pain of death, all things magical, including racism against non-human "magical" races. With hilarious results.
  • In Red Dwarf: Back To Earth, the crew try to jump to another dimension, and seemingly end up in a reality where Red Dwarf is a TV show. Interestingly, it's made quite clear this isn't our world; it's a reality where Seasons IX and X were made, and the series still has loads of Merch available. (Because they don't end up in "our" world, this doesn't quite count as Welcome to The Real World.
  • In Lost in Austen, Elizabeth Bennet somehow comes to modern-day London. The serial focuses on the woman unwittingly taking her place in the fictional world, though.
  • One softcore porn short story on TV featured a man zapping a woman out of a porn movie. However, she turns out to make his life miserable since she is unable to do anything but having sex. He ends up zapping her back - into an episode of Leave It to Beaver, where she starts seducing the main character...
  • Butch, a 50s film character from two episodes of Big Wolf on Campus. In his first episode, Merton attempts to Techno Babble up an explanation, only to realises that it makes no sense even by the standards of the Fantasy Kitchen Sink they live in.

Merton: Okay, now if we can maintain a constant level of emulsion, uh, y'know, and there would be celluloid and protons would converge in a, in a, diverge, in-in - I don't know where I am right now, I'm, I'm, this, I'm lost.

  • There is a Yeralash episode about a bicyclist from a school mathematics textbook who chases down two boys and makes them finally solve the problem.
  • Played with in the Supernatural Season 6 episode, "The French Mistake" where Balthazar sends Sam and Dean into an alternate universe very similar to ours where they are actors named Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles starring on a cult TV show called Supernatural.
  • In an episode of Eerie, Indiana, Simon's younger brother zaps himself into a monster movie on TV by biting the remote control. By zapping himself in, though, he also zapped the monster into the real world. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Ace Lightning[context?]


  • The video for Jack Conte's "Yeah Yeah Yeah" contains Jack portraying a man who buys a magical painting and brings the girl in it into reality.


  • Adventures in Odyssey: Sir William, Earl of Marshall, a Knight in Shining Armor in an Imagination Station adventure, comes out of the Imagination Station with Isaac and accuses Eugene of being a "student of darkness", tries to rescue Mr. Barclay from being eaten by his car, and tries ice cream before Isaac realizes The Game Never Stopped.

Tabletop Games

  • Within the Freedom City setting of Mutants and Masterminds, the Toon Gang are these, miniature cartoon gangster brought to life by one of Doc Otaku's devices and refusing to go back.

Video Games

  • The new Spyro the Dragon game, Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure has a gimmick involving actual toys of the characters, having the player place the toys on a "portal" peripheral to use them in the game. Storywise, the characters were banished from the Skylands and into our world by the the evil Portal Master Kaos, being frozen into little figures in the process, and the player uses the portal to send them back home.

Web Comics

  • A Real Life Comics storyline had Tony accidentally transported to "our" world (represented via superimposing Tony on real photos) and meeting Greg Dean. With Real!Greg's help, he manages to return to the comic's universe. And what are Tony's first words as soon as he gets back?

Tony: Save that dimensional code...and mark it as "leverage"!

Western Animation

  • In an episode of The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police, "It's Dangly Deever Time", they bring a character from an old kid's TV show to reality (the titular Dangly Deever, an obvious parody of Howdy Doody). In this case, however, the problem wasn't the character—for some reason, this also created a murderous evil duplicate. The good Deever ended up having to go back too for Sam and Max to be able to get rid of the evil one.
  • In one of The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror Halloween specials, Bart and Lisa are sucked into an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon by a magic remote. They manage to escape, but Itchy and Scratchy follow...only to find that the "real world" is quite a bit different from a cartoon world, where the rules are quite different—for example, pets with all their bits aren't very tolerated.
    • Another Treehouse Of Horror episode ended with Homer being teleported to the real world with no visible means of returning. Thank goodness for the healing power side of Status Quo Is God and Canon Discontinuity.
    • The Halloween episodes are all non-canon.
  • In one episode of Freakazoid!, the titular character pursues one of his nemeses into... a fancon. While trying to find or avoid one another, they deal with over-eager convention-goers, fans dressed up like them, and being forced to sit on a panel regarding their cartoon.
    • In a last laugh move, at the end of the segment Freakazoid informs several cast members with minimal screen time that, due to budget cuts, they've been reduced to washing his car.
  • An episode of Darkwing Duck has the titular character and Psycho Electro Megavolt transported to the "real world" by means of a Trapped in TV Land device made by Megavolt. It turns out that the guy who owns the rights to Darkwing Duck gets his ideas by means of a radio helmet that is tuned to Darkwing's world.
  • There's an episode of the Bill and Ted animated series where the booth is used to retrieve a character from a TV show. As a result, the show never ends and nothing else can ever be shown on TV, so they have to put them back.
  • The 1994 Spider-Man: The Animated Series finale featured Spider-man teaming up with various Spider-men from alternate universes including a powerless Spider-man who played the character on TV. This culminates in the main Spider-Man of the series visiting the real world and taking Stan Lee webslinging.
  • The My Little Pony and Friends episode "Through the Door" had a group of fairy-tale characters (including Prince Charming, Robin Hood, and a genie) escaping into Ponyland from behind a magical door that leads to the "Land of Legends".
  • The Fairly OddParents had the Crimson Chin taken out of his comic. This results in him discovering he is imaginary he grows giving him depression resulting in his series almost getting canceled.