A TV show set in a mostly Real Life - like setting has one episode featuring something paranormal.
Say you have this show who has been airing for a while. The show may take some liberties with the rules of reality, but for the most part it takes place in the "real" world at the present day. Then you spontanously get one episode that deals with the Paranormal. Maybe you get a Psychic who shows up and makes creepily accurate predictions, only to vanish and have the writers make you wonder if he was the real deal or a fraud? Maybe an opponent shows supernatural powers. Whatever it is, expect this to last the rest of the episode and never be mentioned again once the episode is over. Almost inevitably, the viewer will be left to wonder if it was Real After All, or an elaborate scam played on the main characters. Expect the main cast to be divided on the issue, with some believing it is true, while others insisting there must be a rational explanation. A variation can be a show with no scifi elements suddenly dealing with the appearance of aliens, time travel or interstellar travel. Supertrope to Cryptid Episode.
Examples:Anime And Manga
- Patlabor is, at its heart, a Slice of Life, Cop Show/Police Procedural, with Humongous Mecha. But, during the 27th episode of the TV series, the SVU2 encounter ghosts, while holding indoor training execrcises in an abandoned building. It turns out that the ghosts were the spirits of earthquake victims, who once lived there. Their spirits couldn't rest because of an undiscovered burial site, which contained the remains of slain samurai, directly beneath the building SVU2 was training in. The spirits were lain to rest, once it was discovered, and rites were performed on the site.
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex has no fantasy aspects at all, except for the 2nd Gig episode "Kusanagi's Labyrinth - AFFECTION". Major Kusunagi finds herself cut off from outside contact and seemingly alone in an empty city. She finds The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: a store that somehow has stored memories and cyberbodies from her own past. The owner who tells her a story very similar to what happened to her when she was a child.
- Even James Bond had a run of this in Live and Let Die where he faces off with a henchmen claimed to be Baron Samedi. He's seemingly killed, but shown alive at the end of the film, hinting he may have been the genuine article.
- CSI had an episode with a psychic helping the CSIs. He died before we could find out if he was a fraud, though all his predictions did come true.
- CSI also had 'Toe Tags', which had the stories told from the corpses' perspective, like they were ghosts.
- NUMB3RS also had an episode with a psychic helping the FBI, much to Charlie's annoyance, who got rather jealous of the psychic's performance.
- Magnum, P.I.
- Friends had an episode where Phoebe says she has been possessed by the ghost of an old woman, who will only leave her body after she has seen "everything". The ghost apparently leaves her body after Phoebe goes to Carol and Susan's lesbian wedding.
- In an episode of Night Court Harry used his magic hobby to convince another character that he was exorcising some evil spirits, at one point using a book gimmicked to shoot flames when you open it. After it's all over, Art (the janitor) comes in saying "sorry I'm late" and gives Harry the prop burning book. So...what was up with that other book?
- CSI NY Mac going into the Afterlife Antechamber in Near Death and seeing his late wife.
- Bones had one, The Gravedigger trapped Booth in an old submarine and he saw his late friend, Parker. Brennan seemed to see him too at one point.
- Castle dives into this from time to time. One episode had them investigate the death of a ghost hunter in a supposed haunted house. Another episode presented the possibility of aliens, including what might have been an abduction. Castle is the Mulder while Beckett is the Scully, and usually all of the elements are explained by the end. However, one element will be left hanging with the hint that it just might have been Real After All.
- An episode of Rookie Blue had a man claiming to be a psychic help the cops find a kidnapped witness. In the end the cops conclude that it was just a clever scheme to provide them with evidence against a mob boss. Since the cops are not gonna call the 'psychic' as a witness in court, the mob boss will not find out where the evidence really came from. However, the man made quite a few predictions that come true including one that is fulfilled a couple episodes later in a very unexpected and tragic way. A wedding is called off not because the bride has cold feet but because the groom is killed.
- Quantum Leap episode "The Boogieman". The episode apparently has Sam going up against the Devil himself. However, it might have been All Just a Dream.
- The Wild Wild West episode "The Night of the Man-Eating House". Jim and Artie must deal with a haunted house. Again, the end makes it possible that it was All Just a Dream...Or Was It?
- Green Acres:
- The episode "The Ballad Of Molly Turgiss" dealt with Oliver trying to get the denizens of Hooterville to tell him about the legend of the eponymous ghost woman. Every time Molly's name was mentioned, strange things happened, such as things getting thrown through the air, pickle barrels falling apart, Mr. Haney's truck starting up on its own, etc. In the end, Molly promises not to do those things anymore after Lisa had a talk with her and made her beautiful, though she does manage to break the promise for a few seconds by smashing Oliver's guitar over his head, because she did not like the song that he wrote about her.
- Another episode "The Saucer Season" involved Eb apparently having interacted with some aliens, which led to him becoming a celebrity about it, much to Oliver's chagrin. However, when an airforce lieutenant tried interviewing Eb about his encounter, Eb's attempts to tell the lieutenant about what he saw are censored by having him say "Bleep" repeatedly, to keep the facts in the dark.
- Of all shows, The Waltons had an episode about one of the kids being haunted by a poltergeist. It was the seventies, after all.
- Mad About You had an incident like this where the place the couple met, had burned down. As the episode goes on, the pair start to forget about each other for an unexplained reason.
- On Perfect Strangers there was an episode where Larry and Balki discover a ghost in their new house. There was also an episode where Balki turned out to be an alien, but in that case it was All Just a Dream.
- Inverted in The X-Files episode "Irresistible". In a show where every other episode revolves around paranormal weirdness, this is the gritty realistic one with zero fantastic elements--and one of the creepiest episodes overall.
- Arthur: Francine & Muffy plan to scare Arthur, Buster, Binky and the Brain at a "Scare-Your-Pants-Off" themed party. Arthur et al. plan to do the same to Francine & Muffy. But both groups get scared by what is apparently a real ghost.
- The alien invasion variation is apparently the plot point of the Mr. Bogus episode "The Bogus Invasion".
- The My Little Pony Tales episode "Up, Up, and Away", notable for being the only episode featuring unicorn ponies - who were otherwise absent from the show as this iteration had removed most fantastic elements.
- The Flintstones had a handful of such episodes, such as the time they traveled to the present day on the world's first Time Machine, or when aliens cloned Fred as part of an invasion plot. Then in the sixth season they introduced the Great Gazoo, and every episode became this.
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