From Trope Repair Shop thread.
. Rolling Updates
The idea that all fictional universes really exist somewhere out there in the Multiverse
: for any given ficton
, there is an alternate universe in which it happened for real (giving a whole new meaning to the Fiction Identity Postulate
This setting, by its nature, is used almost exclusively in Crossovers
, although you'll sometimes see it restricted to Shows Within Shows
A Massive Multiplayer Crossover
tends to imply this, as does a Refugee from TV Land
or Trapped in TV Land
plot--usually they'll take it for granted without fully exploring the ramifications of supposedly-fictional universes coexisting with the real one. Two universes may be Mutually Fictional
. Not to be confused with All Myths Are True
, which applies to just one
- The basic premise of the fanfic My Little Denarians: After it turns out that the Outside can be used to access fictional universes, Harry Dresden must travel to Equestria, to stop the Denarians from bringing Discord to Earth.
- This is the premise behind the Back to the Future fan fiction Interactive BTTF Story #2. In a twist, Doc and Marty arrive in time periods where the movies are still in production, and interfering with said production in some way alters their own reality. It also implies King Kong, Jaws, and Ghostbusters are all in the same continuity.
- The Star Trek fanfics "Visit To A Strange Planet" and "Visit to a Strange Planet Revisited" have the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise and the actors in the Star Trek: The Original Series show meeting each other.
- Discussed in the collaborative fanfic Becoming Ponies - after Discord comes to Earth and a number of people are transformed into ponies (with a corresponding pony's mind stuck in their heads alongside their own) a pair of fanfic authors turned into Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy discuss the concept; namely, whether all worlds exist somewhere in the multiverse or whether they really bring worlds into being by writing. They find the second idea too horrible to accept.
- The basis of Protectors of the Plot Continuum is that all works have their own reality, and writing fanfiction disrupts them, especially fanfics with Mary Sues. Thus, the eponymous organization sends agents disguised as background extras to set things right.
- In Last Action Hero, characters cross between movies and the real world. The villain's evil plan is to assemble an army of movie monsters and villains and bring them into reality to Take Over the World.
- Robert A. Heinlein used this trope in several of his works starting with The Number Of The Beast, coining the term "The World As Myth" to describe it.
- In Inkheart, every book is apparently its own world, and characters can read themselves in or out of them.
- The very premise of The NeverEnding Story is that every single story, setting, or character a person in our world imagines becomes reality within Fantastica (which is a single world but it is effectively an endless patchworks of smaller "worlds"). When a "real" character enters Fantastica and discovers any story he tells comes true, he gains delayed Power Of Creation, experiencing guilt over inadvertently creating monsters or making things too hard for heroes.
- Jasper Fforde runs with this idea in the Thursday Next series, where Thursday is part of the literature police, policing the events in the literary continuum.
- Discworld: In Pyramids, our narrator notes that in an infinite universe, everything that can be imagined exists somewhere.
- Used in the Illuminatus! trilogy.
- In Roger Zelazny's Book of Amber, basically anything imaginable can be found in Shadow, which is a multiverse of infinite parallel realities. At one point several characters travel to a place that's quite like Lewis Carrol's Wonderland, in which elements of the poem Jabberwocky also manifest.
- In L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt's Compleat Enchanter, Harold Shea and his friends go hopping about fictional universes. The question of whether the authors created them, or they influence the authors, is brought up to go unanswered; at one point it's called meaningless.
- In Stephen King's Dark Tower series, the characters actually get to meet and interact with the author, even if it is hinted that King is not the true source of their creation.
- Poul Anderson wrote several stories based on this premise, notably A Midsummer Tempest, which is set in the world where all Shakespeare's plays actually happened; it explicitly sets out the premise in two sequences that feature cameos by people from other worlds/fictions.
- Ray Bradbury's short story "The Exiles" opens with the three witches from Macbeth, and reveals that not only are fictional characters alive and well on Mars, but also their creators: The Bard, Dickens, etc. When the last copy of books referencing them are burned, they vanish.
- In Red Dwarf: Back to Earth, Kryten says it's "quantum mechanics 101" that all stories, dreams, and so on are real in parallel worlds, including the world where Red Dwarf is a TV show (and where the characters have just been in a squid-induced hallucination.)
- Hinted at in Doctor Who: In the first Doctor story "The Chase", the Doctor takes seriously the possibility that they might have traveled into an alternate reality where Dracula was real (although that turned out to be a mistake). And in the second Doctor story "The Mind Robber", the Tardis and crew are forced to jump out of reality as we know it and find themselves in the Land of Fiction (although by some interpretations, they're inside a simulated universe created by a hyper-advanced computer).
- This may to an extent be true in Sliders, particularly in the more far-fetched universes Quinn Mallory and his friends travel to.
- Implied in Once Upon a Time; most of the European fairy tale characters came from a single Alternate Universe, and there are other worlds that include settings like Neverland and Wonderland.
- Boppin' features this as part of its story.
- The Hero of Three Faces, a Massive Multiplayer Crossover webcomic by Paul Gadzikowski, uses the idea of alternate fictional universes to permit crossovers between works with incompatible continuities. A recurring plot point is that the "real" universes aren't always exactly like their fictional counterparts, which have been affected by budget restrictions, network broadcast standards, copyright issues, etc.: for instance, in the universe where Lois and Clark is real, Superman has met the Doctor several times, but in our universe the TV series shows him meeting H. G. Wells instead.
- Variant: in South Park's "Imaginationland" arc, there is an alternate dimension where all imaginary characters are real.
- In the Series Finale of Spider-Man: The Animated Series, after solving the conundrum of Spider-Carnage, the central Spider-Man is told by Madame Webb that he must follow the Spider-Man who has no powers to his native universe to meet a certain person: Stan Lee. Of course, the big guy's reaction to a creation of his meeting him in the flesh sparks a whole new sense of awe in the man, as well as giving some sort of closure on Peter's own emotional turmoils.
- Cf. Modal Realism, the view promoted by philosopher David Lewis that all possible worlds are "real" in some sense.