Created By: Kayube on November 14, 2011

Alternate Universe Normal Life Scene

Something weird's going on and everyone thinks it's totally normal! We must be in an alternate universe!

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A frequent method of introducing an alternate universe, changed timeline, Fake Memories situation, or the like is to begin by showing normal life in this different world. Various strange things might go on but most of the characters will treat them as being normal. If we're following characters from the normal world, the weirdness might not even be noticed until it's staring them in the face. It's the kind of situation in which someone offhandedly saying hi to the main character can be given the same weight as a dramatic cliffhanger reveal (probably because the person saying hi is supposed to be dead, or something.)

...Hmm, this might need more description/clarification actually. I know exactly the sort of thing this is about but right now it sounds more like "characters living in alternate universes don't know anything's weird about their universe" which is just common sense really. Anyway, here are the examples I have:

Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • November 14, 2011
    Doctor Who also gives us Pete's World, an alternate universe visited throughout Series 2. It's nearly identical to the Earth of the main series, except Britain's got a President and they have zeppelins in the skies. Oh, and Cybermen. All seen as completely normal (save perhaps the Cybermen) by the inhabitants, but it's just enough to throw the Doctor and his associates slightly off their stride.
  • November 14, 2011
    The Star Trek The Next Generation episode "Remember Me", where people keep disappearing with only Dr Crusher remembering them, while everyone else insists that it's completely normal for a ship the size of the Enterprise to have a crew of 230 ... or 114 ... or, eventually, two. Subverted, in that it turns out the whole thing is being generated by Beverly's mind.
  • November 14, 2011
    Every section of The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror based on A Sound Of Thunder, with Homer continually going into the past and changing random things.
  • November 14, 2011
  • November 14, 2011
    • The normal opening sequence for Fringe is in a blue background with words that indicate fringe science. For the episodes based in the alternate universe, the opening sequence is on a red background, and contains words that would be considered fringe science in the alternate universe. Also, when they do a transition from normal universe to the alternate, they show blimps flying around in lieu of planes.
  • November 15, 2011
    Many of Fringe's teasers that are set in the alternate universe are this. Everything seems normal until The Reveal.
  • November 15, 2011
    The first chapter of the Animorphs Megamorph book, 'Elfangor's Secret', has the Animorphs meeting in Cassie's barn, having a tactics discussion that could easily have taken place in one of the regular books...except that someone else has taken Rachel's place and it's quite obvious that slavery is still legal. It's revealed that someone used a time machine to go back and change the past, resulting in this alternate timeline that the "normal" Animorphs team has to try to prevent.
  • November 15, 2011
    Could be related to Lotus Eater Machine perhaps?
  • November 15, 2011
    That's another one of the situations where this sort of thing might happen, yes.
  • November 16, 2011
    The pilot episode of Sliders had a scene like this to establish that Quinn was in another world. He was driving along when he sees a red light, so he stops. Someone pulls up to him and starts honking and yelling at him, so he reluctantly runs the light. Then, he sees a green light. He drives through the interection and narrowly misses a collision; cue more people honking and yelling at him for "running a green light". Eventually Quinn figures out that the traffic lights are reversed.
  • November 16, 2011
    • One Nodwick comic has this happen to the entire world (with Nodwick being chewed out for wearing trainers at a Renaissance Fair). It turns out that an evil wizard messed things up with a spell and spends the comic putting things right so he can take over again.
  • November 16, 2011
    Is this trope an important part of Magic Realism and Slipstream?
  • November 21, 2011
    Magic Realism, probably not, since from what I can understand of that genre the weird things are inherent to the original setting of the world. It can be like this with respect to the real world though. I don't know if that makes it an example...

  • December 3, 2011
    Not In Kansas Anymore, but performed for the audience.
  • December 4, 2011
    ^^^^^ IIRC, an even subtler example was also used in the pilot episode of Sliders. The dimension-hoping heroes thought they'd come back to their own version of San Francisco, but it was actually a parallel world in which the Golden Gate Bridge was painted blue. They overheard the "Azure Gate" being mentioned in passing, but didn't realize its significance until they actually saw the bridge.