Created By: SchrodingersDuckFebruary 2, 2008
Troped

Truman Show

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Trope
How Did We Miss This One? Usually a variant on the Tomato In The Mirror, where it turns out that the lead character is in fact the main character on a reality TV show - how much of their life is controlled varies (in some cases, every little detail of their life is controlled by the network, while others basically let the main character do whatever they want). It can be a twist ending, or it can be established right at the start of the show.

Examples:
  • The Truman Show - the Trope Namer, and one of the few to fully consider the massive levels of subterfuge needed to make this work.
  • Year Of The Sex Olympics - after "The Sex Olympics" get disappointing ratings, a family is taken to a remote Scottish island and then murdered in "The Live Life Show!".
  • The Simpsons - Homer's murder trial in "The Frying Game" turns out to be an elaborate reality TV hoax, which is only revealed when the switch is pulled on the electric chair.
  • Nebulous, where it turns out that they have spent the past 6 years trapped in a time loop, which is actually the weekend omnibus of an alien reality TV series.
Community Feedback Replies: 9
  • February 3, 2008
    StarBright
    I'm pretty sure South Park did it.
  • February 4, 2008
    Ununnilium
    I remember reading a book of short stories based off a never-completed revival of The Twilight Zone; one of them was very like The Truman Show, but on a much smaller scale; they'd only been watching the guy for the last few years, the house was filled with cameras but the town wasn't, and so on. At the end, he discovers it and the show shuts down, but one of the workers moving stuff out notes to him that, hey, they fooled him once...
  • February 4, 2008
    Arivne
    The New The Twilight Zone had a 3rd season (April 8, 1989) episode called "Special Service" that used this trope http://www.tv.com/the-twilight-zone-1985/special-service/episode/34418/recap.html. It preceded The Truman Show (1998) by almost ten years.
  • February 4, 2008
    Ununnilium
    That's the one. Written by JMS, too. I guess they did complete that revival.
  • February 4, 2008
    JethroQWalrustitty
    I propose this would be called Truman Show Twist, to tie in with Twilight Zone Twist and Outer Limits Twist, though, in the original Truan Show, it wasn't so mucha twist than the basic premise...
  • February 7, 2008
    SchrodingersDuck
    It's not necessarily a twist, but otherwise the name works well. Could do with a couple more examples if possible, though.
  • February 10, 2008
    YYZ
    It isn't normally used as a twist per se. The protagonist's discovery of the setup is usually a major part of the focus of the plot -- either that or we're in on the twist from the beginning and just waiting for the protagonist to get a clue.
  • February 15, 2008
    SchrodingersDuck
    Any more examples? Or can I launch?
  • February 15, 2008
    Micah
    Wouldn't it be better to have a name that didn't invite confusion with the The Truman Show page? Truman Show Plot or something?

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