Created By: Unknown Troper on April 20, 2010 Last Edited By: AngelusMortuis on August 7, 2015

Fake Reality Is Better

Up For Grabs: Character prefers the fake reality to actual reality

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Trope

Up for Grabs

Needs a Better Title

A Character knows that they are in a false reality and that nothing around them is real. Once they have discovered this, the only thing that can keep them there is themselves, and they know it.

Yet they choose to stay.

It may be because life is good in the Matrix, and the character realizes that they were happier not knowing what they know now. Maybe they prefer madness to harsh reality. Or it could be that to them the false reality seems more real than the alternative, and it's impossible to tell the difference between what is real and what isn't. Who's to say that something isn't true, if they choose to believe it is?

Often this is a Downer Ending as there's the sense that the character has made the wrong choice in choosing to stay in the fantasy rather than accept reality. In contrast, I Choose to Stay is usually a positive choice, and in those stories the "fantasy" is usually more real or more suited to the character than their original reality.

Not to be confused with I Reject Your Reality, which is more about stubborness.

Examples:

Community Feedback Replies: 45
  • April 20, 2010
    randomsurfer
    The end of The Reality Bug, Pendragon book 4.
  • April 20, 2010
    BlueIce-Tea
    • The ending of the Buffy episode "Normal Again" is kind of a variation on this theme.
  • April 20, 2010
    ElementX
    Quote to use possibly:

    Cypher: You know, I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? [Takes a bite of steak] Ignorance is bliss.

    See also Lotus Eater Machine.
  • April 20, 2010
    Earnest
    One of the possible endings of Brazil has the protagonist retreat permanently into his Happy Place as a means to escape his torture. Oddly, this isn't as heartbreaking as you'd think considering the Crapsack World he lives in.
  • April 20, 2010
    Mozgwsloiku
  • April 20, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    The ending to Drawn To Life 2 had this. The villain, Wilfre, had discovered that the whole world was All Just A Dream created by a boy in a coma. Rather than allowing the boy to wake up (thus ending the world as they knew it), he conspired to keep him in his coma and continue their existence. He also briefly convinced Mari to help him, but she later decided it'd be more noble to sacrifice their entire world so one boy could wake up back in his. The fans were not pleased.
  • April 20, 2010
    Clevomon
  • April 20, 2010
    LeeM
    There's a Witch World short story by Andre Norton in which the protagonist, severely disfigured and disabled in a magical accident, eventually chooses to live in a permanent dream and forget his harsh reality.
  • April 20, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Red Pill Blue Pill is about the choice itself. This is about choosing the blue pill.
  • April 20, 2010
    highcastle
    • In the second Dragon Age novel, The Calling, all of the Wardens and Maric are trapped in the Fade, within separate dreams designed to keep them from wanting to leave. One by one, they break free of their prison. Except for Nicolas, who chooses to stay in his little cabin in the woods, reunited with his recently killed lover, Julien. Tearjerker for sure.
  • April 20, 2010
    ElementX
  • April 21, 2010
    Dealan
    One of the three endings of The Way
  • April 21, 2010
    randomsurfer
    In a What If episode of The Simpsons Homer is shown what his life would have been like had he won Student Council President in high school. He's shown this in a pot of magic spaghetti sauce. At one point he shouts "I want to live in the sauce!" and tries to jump in. He is restrained, and the chef who prepares the alternate-universe-showing sauce says, "If you could live in the sauce, don't you think I'd live in the sauce?"
  • April 21, 2010
    Cidolfas
    Ritz and (to a somewhat more insane extent) Mewt in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.
  • April 21, 2010
    Deboss
  • April 21, 2010
    Bisected8
    ^^^ Shouldn't that be Eating The Lotus?
  • April 21, 2010
    ElementX
  • April 21, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    I'm rather fond of my title, partially because it's nearly a direct quote from the movie, but I'm willing to consider other options depending on what you guys think.
  • April 21, 2010
    Jordan
    I was thinking of another Simpsons episode, which parodies The Prisoner. They end up on The Island in the end, and besides the random druggings, find it an idyllic place.
  • April 22, 2010
    Nobodymuch
    Total Recall apparently ends with the hero having rejected reality in favour of his fantasy.
  • March 10, 2011
    AmazinglyEnough
    Any more input before I launch this?
  • March 10, 2011
    Clevomon
    Umineko's Battler and Beatrice would probably count. What reality is and/or isn't reality is basically the center of the plot.
  • March 10, 2011
    Glucharina
    Protagonist of Life On Mars jumped from the roof to return back into world of the past, or so I heard.
  • March 10, 2011
    Speedball
    How about I Choose To Stay?
  • March 10, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
    I think it's related to I Choose To Stay, but it's pretty different in connotation and portrayal. I Choose To Stay is looked at positively as making a good choice, usually by finding where you belong or choosing to help the people there, not to mention it's an actual place with actual people. This is usually looked at as making a selfish/deluded choice by knowingly choosing a fake reality over a real one, essentially choosing pleasing lies over the truth to escape pain or hardship. So while the basic concept might be similar the portrayal is incredibly different, easily enough to make it a different trope. And I know we don't really like naming things after actually stuff, and I'm usually all for that. But I think the name comes across really well that you have. Most people have a pretty good idea what The Matrix itself is even if they haven't seen the movie, it's so prevalent in pop culture. I think it's one of the few works you can say that of.
  • March 11, 2011
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
    • A rare happy ending in the Star Trek The Original Series episode "The Menagerie". The severely disabled Captain Pike and Vina decide to remain on Talos IV and experience the Talosians' illusions where they can be healthy.
  • March 11, 2011
    FalconPain
    Someone more familiar with The Silver Chair could help with this, but this reminds me of a recent Slacktivist Left Behind rant focusing on the scene where Puddleglum essentially says "if this cave is the only true reality, then I'd rather go looking for a fantasy".
  • March 11, 2011
    JoieDeCombat
    ^ Puddleglum's speech is rebutting the Lady of the Green Kirtle's attempts to enchant the heroes into believing that Underland is the only reality that exists and that they have only imagined the surface world, Narnia, Aslan, and England. He replies that if that's the case, the Lady's reality sucks and the dream was much more important, and that he'll go on believing in Aslan and Narnia even if they don't exist. I'm not sure in what way it's related to the described trope, since Narnia and Aslan are quite real and the Lady is a lying liar, but there you are.
  • February 18, 2012
    Catbert
    Bumping. Anyone want this?
  • February 19, 2012
    Arivne
    Just remember to change its current dialog title to something else before it's launched, or Fast Eddie will push it off the edge of a cliff to its death.
  • February 19, 2012
    KeithTyler
    One of the alternative theories for Shutter Island -- while it appears that the doctor's efforts at curing the main character of his massive defensive delusions have ultimately failed, the final line may imply that it didn't fail, but he deliberately maintained the act in order to be lobotomized, and forget everything anyway.
  • February 19, 2012
    KeithTyler
  • February 19, 2012
    Catbert
    I already ditched I Choose The Matrix so that this will not be a dialogue title. Also, we don't really need more troper namer names.

  • February 20, 2012
    OmarKarindu
  • February 20, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    • In the Star Trek The Next Generation episode, "Homeward", a group of relatively primitive people are tricked into thinking that they are still on their home planet when in fact they are inside a holodeck, and are the only survivors of a cataclism that destroyed their world. When one of them discovers the truth he's offered a chance to remain on board the Enterprise. Instead, he commits suicide.
  • February 21, 2012
    Chabal2
    • There was a Dilbert book where the author explains that the holodeck will be humanity's final invention. After all, if the machine can create a perfect world, where every single one of your desires can be met, why the hell would you want to leave?
    • The ending of La Quete De L Oiseau Du Temps. It turns out the Action Girl was a kind of holographic projection created by the Small Annoying Creature. The hero, who had been led to believe she was his daughter, prefers to keep the creature (and therefore his daughter) alive rather than face the fact that her mother manipulated and betrayed him.
  • March 2, 2012
    TBeholder
    This Illusion Is Tasty?
  • March 3, 2012
    Mozgwsloiku
  • March 4, 2012
    chico
    This was addressed in the "Hollow Pursuits" episode of Star Trek The Next Generation. Introvert Lt. Barclay uses the holodeck to interact with his crewmates according to his fantasies. {{It Gets Better He gets better)) eventually.
  • March 4, 2012
    Khorgar
    Choosing The Matrix sounds good to me.
  • February 23, 2014
    madgodzulcan
    add compare Send Me Back
  • February 23, 2014
    DAN004
    I like current title better.
  • February 24, 2014
    Chabal2
    One Franken Fran story has a murderer target people with a highly specific genetic condition (that she has) until she finds one that's an organ donor so she can be cured (it's shown she had Abusive Parents, which didn't help at all, even murdering and eating her mother). At the end, she's seen as popular and successful, until we see she's dreaming it while in a coma (due to the cannibalism).

  • February 24, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^^ seconding. it's bad. but the suggestions are far worse.
  • August 7, 2015
    eroock
    Can this be covered under Longing For Fictionland?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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