Created By: DragonQuestZ on July 11, 2012 Last Edited By: DragonQuestZ on July 21, 2012
Troped

Cannot Tell Fiction From Reality

A character thinks some fictional work(s) is reality.

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"Jesus Christ, Joe. You've been playing way too much Skyrim, haven't you?"

A character starts to be unable to tell the difference between fiction and reality. Often it's thinking a TV show is real, or thinking one is actually in the show.

This trope can either be Played for Laughs or Played for Drama. The dramatic versions can often come with a moral about not watching too many shows or not thinking stuff in shows is safe to do.

A Super Trope to But I Play One on TV (can't tell an actor from the role played).

A Sister Trope to Daydream Believer (thinking the fiction is real but separate from our reality), Lost in Character.

Compare The Tetris Effect (but people can tell they aren't in a game; they just see things as a game), Longing for Fictionland (knowing it's not real, but really wanting it to be), Loony Fan.

No Real Life Examples, Please!.

In-Universe Examples Only


Community Feedback Replies: 40
  • July 12, 2012
    TheHandle
    Isn't this a Daytime Dreamer?
  • July 12, 2012
    randomsurfer
    ^You mean Daydream Believer?
  • July 12, 2012
    Duncan
    It seems Daydream Believer is not this; that's when someone believes that their favorite media exists in an alternate universe somewhere. If I understand it correctly, this is more when a character goes crazy and believes they're actually living in their favorite media.

  • July 12, 2012
    moriwen
    The classic example: Don Quixote!
  • July 12, 2012
    Duncan
    Yes, Don Quixote is perhaps the Ur Example. This should totally go on that page, right now it seems that Ascended Fanboy is their synonym.
  • July 12, 2012
    Tiiba
    So this Joe found the Broom Dungeon?
  • July 12, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    • Galaxy Quest, the Thermians think that the Galaxy Quest episodes they found in Earth's transmissions are "historical documents" of an actual space crew travelling the galaxy. When the crew tries to explain this to them and mentions Gilligans Island, the aliens simple murmur sadly "those poor people".
    • Friends, Joey had to deal with a fan who thought he was actually Dr. Drake Ramoray, the character he played on Days of Our Lives.
  • July 12, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Noted Daydream Believer in the description.

    But I'm not sure Don Quixote is an example. Did he think fiction was real, or was he just delusional?
  • July 12, 2012
    Earnest
  • July 12, 2012
    Bisected8
    Often a trait of a Loony Fan.
  • July 12, 2012
    chicagomel
    Though the "No real life examples" is warrented, it might be worth noting that it can be Truth In Television unfortunately.

    Buffy The Vampire Slayer had a season 2 ep that might count...the one where the vampire groupies were convinced all vampires were nice and friendly and refused to believe what they really were until Spike and his cronies broke in. But I'm not sure.
  • July 12, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ 1. Even then, some can accuse this of someone simply for really liking a show.

    2. They think what is really in that universe is different than what it is, not thinking that something fictional is real.
  • July 12, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Family Guy: When Peter crashes his car into the Quahog cable station, shutting down all TV, he goes a little crazy and straps a cardboard TV shaped box to himself to look at the world through. He then starts to think that everything he's seeing is a TV show.
  • July 12, 2012
    Duncan
    Don Quixote believed he was in a Chivalric Romance, so yes, he is an example.
  • July 12, 2012
    Duncan
    In the movie Nurse Betty, after a woman sees her husband murdered she has a brain snap and believes she's a character from her favorite soap opera, moving to California to work at the fictional hospital she now believes she works in.
  • July 13, 2012
    triassicranger
    Kim Possible episode "The Fearless Ferret" features both the actors who played the hero and a villain believe the show they used to act in was for real.
  • July 13, 2012
    LeeM
    Literature: Poul Anderson and Gordon R Dickson's Hoka series. The teddy-bear like Hokas are an intelligent alien species who love human literature but tend to treat it as real by acting it out. Whether they actually believe it's real is debatable, but they sure act like they do.
  • July 13, 2012
    Hello999
  • July 13, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ That's a situational form of this. It might even be a Sub Trope.
  • July 13, 2012
    Kossmeister
    In Blackadder, Prince George believes that the actor in ''Julius Caesar' is about to be killed and says "Look Out Mr Caesar".
  • July 13, 2012
    oztrickster
    In The IT Crowd, Douglas Reynholm believes that Sherlock Holmes was a real person.
  • July 14, 2012
    emeriin
    The Nostalgia Chick gets upset when films don't acknowledge her Fridge Logic questions.
  • July 14, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ That is not confusing reality with fiction. That is calling out a film for having plot holes.
  • July 14, 2012
    emeriin
    ^ No, see her review of Hercules again. She's getting all teary about why the film isn't listening to her questions.
  • July 14, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Even In Universe, that was still her getting bombed from the Drinking Game more than this.
  • July 14, 2012
    emeriin
    ^ It was before the drinking game.
  • July 14, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ I'll watch that episode again, and see if the context fits this trope then.
  • July 14, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    How about WarGames, where a computer doesn't know the difference between playing war and fighting a real one.
  • July 14, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^ Okay, watched it, and it really is her just getting annoyed at the plot holes, not thinking that the movie is actually real.

    ^ Not really. It confused a program for another program.
  • July 15, 2012
    TBeholder
  • July 15, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ That's a stock phrase (which is already problematic) claiming someone is falling into this. This trope is someone actually falling into this.
  • July 15, 2012
    LordCirce
    Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story sort of suffered from this, until he saw the commercial at Sid's house advertising for Buzz Lightyears. Zerg and the Toy-Barn Buzz Lightyear suffer from this in the second movie.
  • July 16, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • Family Guy: Stewie decides to run away from home to England in order to live on Jolly Farm Revue, not realizing until he gets there that it's just a TV show.
    • Arthur: When Mary Moo Cow visits Elwood City, D.W. fantasizes that they will become best friends and she will live with Mary Moo Cow during the summer.
  • July 18, 2012
    mdulwich
    Father Ted: Father Dougal apparently needs to keep a chart explaining what's real and what isn't.

    Flight Of The Conchords: The Prime Minister of New Zealand has trouble distinguishing fiction from reality. When he sees two people dressed as Elton John at a party, he believes that it's a glitch in The Matrix.
  • July 18, 2012
    Duncan
    Not sure if this would count, but in the first season of Two Guys A Girl And A Pizza Place, there was a Running Gag of a restaurant patron with a Crazy Memory, who would tell stories about his past, all of which were plots of movies.
  • July 18, 2012
    Tzintzuntzan
    About Quixote, he's mainly Wrong Genre Savvy, in that he doesn't think he can go meet any of the people in his chivalry books -- but he does think those books are an accurate reflection of how the world works.

    Is the proposed trope only about people who literally think they can go meet Superman etc, or is it also about people who think something is possible because it happened in any episode of Superman? (I think the latter is closer to Wrong Genre Savvy.)
  • July 18, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ It's closer to "think they can go meet Superman".
  • July 19, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of South Park the guys all get ninja weapons and see themselves in an Anime style.
  • July 20, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ That's Art Shift. They are still aware that it's pretend.
  • July 20, 2012
    scripttease
    Family Guy; Mayor Adam West sends Quahog's police force to save fictional Joan Wilder's sister from 'Romancing the Stone'

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