Alternate Existence Failure YKTTW Discussion

Alternate Existence Failure
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(permanent link) added: 2011-04-18 17:30:48 sponsor: pureWasted edited by: Arivne (last reply: 2013-06-17 21:54:07)

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Alternate Universe trope.

Alice has somehow stumbled across an Alternate Universe. Before she can find her way back, she meets her best friend Bob, who jumps at the opportunity to help her, good friend that he is. But just then, Alice's will begins to falter. Bob doesn't understand and Alice is forced to explain:

"You've been dead for years."

Unlike every other alternate character who is nothing more than a superfluously fun re-interpretation of the ones we really care about, Bob is truly the Last of His Kind. And the moment Alice re-enters her world, he will be gone again.

There are three versions of this trope:

An Independent is the least traumatic for everyone involved. In fact, it might even give Alice a chance to say goodbye which she missed the first time around. Bob won't be overly affected by the news.

A Full Replacement doesn't end well. As soon as Alice sets right what once went wrong, Bob will disappear forever. Expect Bob to have a hard time coping with this revelation, but ultimately accept the necessity of returning things to their natural state, and even convince Alice that it must be done. The story is usually dark enough without forcing Alice to kill Bob against his will.

An Only A Dream affects Alice much as a Full Replacement, but has a different effect on Bob, who doesn't really exist at all. Seeing as how this Bob is likely the result of someone tampering with Alice's mind, he may begin acting out of character if Alice's will strengthens and she decides to leave the dreamworld. Bob will rightfully remark that Alice does not want to leave, and suggest that even if the world isn't real, it's real enough as far as Alice's feelings are concerned. Despite this, the decision will weigh on Alice as much as if he really were alive.


  • In Fringe, we learn at the end of S2 that in the red universe Olivia's partner and best friend Charlie is still alive.
  • In the Star Trek The Next Generation novel "Q-Squared", Jack Crusher is seen alive in one of the alternate universes shown in the book, and finds out from Trelane that it's the only universe in all of cosmic existence where he wasn't killed during Picard's command. He doesn't take the news very well at all.

Full Replacement

Only A Dream
  • Supernatural episode What Is And What Should Never Be. Under the djinn's spell, Dean dreams of a world where Sam's girlfriend Jessica and their mother Mary are still alive. He has trouble letting go even when he's sure the world is fake, and reveals later how close he came to staying.
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