A work or series that starts out with many more ties to the real world than it later has. This is especially jarring if it is set in another world or universe
. As the series goes on, re-viewing/reading/playing the oldest installments becomes disconcerting (if the reader is more familiar with the more recent installments) as a result of similarities to the real world being more frequent. Usually happens as a result of the work's mythology not being fully defined, or a Schrödinger's Gun
that left a few traces of the original plan.
May not necessarily require the real-world references being in older
works. This trope can still apply when you find a real-world reference in a newer installment and find it odd.
Subtrope of Early-Installment Weirdness
and typically a result of Continuity Drift
. Related to Old Shame
, Art Evolution
and Characterization Marches On
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- For those who have only seen the special editions of Star Wars, it's weird seeing English writing on things like the tractor beam instead of the Aurebesh that later replaced it. It's also a little weird hearing Han Solo say things like "I'll see you in hell" in The Empire Strikes Back without the "nine Corellian hells" backstory. Of course, you can file such things under Translation Convention. Justified in canon according to the Hyperspace Article "The Written Word" this is the High Galactic Alphabet. As for use of the Greek Alphabet that is also justified as the Tionese writing system.
- Even in the remastered versions, A New Hope still contains standard numerals on screen as the Death Star nears Yavin IV. Although they don't match up with the numbers the characters are saying.
- The original Marvel Star Wars tie-in comic run had many of these, with mentions of "Sunday school" by Han Solo, Jaxxon talking about "space carrots" (implying that there were places not considered to be from space — which would be assumed to be Earth), and so on.
- The Ewok Adventure live-action TV movies had real-world horses and animals.
- The Star Wars Holiday Special (which, thankfully, didn't directly reference Christmas, unlike the [thankfully non-canon] album pictured) had many examples of 20th-century Earth technology, ranging from eyeglasses, which are usually a rarity in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, to what appears to be a commercially available personal computer from the late 1970s.
- The Thrawn Trilogy starts off by mentioning hot chocolate, of all things, referring to it as "exotic" and something Lando found in his travels.
- American football is shown in the officer's club in one of the Rogue Squadron books. Corran Horn notes it as a strange sport he'd never seen before.
- Real world locations and events are mentioned in the first generation Pokémon games and anime:
- Games: A model of Space Shuttle Columbia and an NPC who discusses travels to the moon are present. Lt. Surge is, oddly enough, referred to as the "Lightning American." Also, a Silph scientist mentions being transferred to a branch in Siberia as his reason for defecting to Team Rocket. Most such real-world references are retained in the FireRed/LeafGreen remakes, though the Columbia becomes an unnamed spaceship, likely in response to its destruction in 2003, about 1 year prior to their release.
- Gastly's Pokedex entry in RBYFRLG states that it can knock out an Indian Elephant. While the original Pokedex was made before Generation 2 Pokemon Donphan, it's still bizarre that this specific animal is mentioned at all.
- Anime: Early episodes had several references to real world animals like worms and fish; references which are not made elsewhere. Several first season episodes also had Japanese Festivals such as Princess Day.note Apart from a local festival in Pastoria City celebrating Croagunk which could be placed anywhere on the calendar, there have not been any references to holidays in post-Johto seasons outside of Pokemon-featured shorts.
- In one episode they go see a premiere of a movie filmed in the previous episode. When they get their invitations Ash's mom specifically states it's being held in Hollywood, California.
- Also, in Pokémon: The First Movie, Mew is explicitly said to have been found in the rainforests of Guyana. Real life countries have never again been mentioned in the anime Pokeverse.
- Ash also mentions the Minnesota Vikings.
- In more recent years, the Pokemon games have turned this trend back around again, explicitly mentioning real world locations and having characters who speak real-life foreign languages. The general implication seems to be that the Pokemon world is an alternate version of our world, with various places having different geography and names.
- BIONICLE was never set on Earth at any point, however the early years were heavily influenced by Polynesian Mythology and used several names from it. LEGO got into some legal trouble when they tried to trademark these names, and subsequently the Polynesian themes were toned down significantly, and most of the names were changed as a result.
- The Spirit was originally set in New York, but the location soon became Central City (ironically, at about the same time the less realistic objects like flying cars were removed).
- Despite being a basically realistic police procedural in its early run, Dick Tracy began introducing more and more devices out of Speculative Fiction after the Second World War ended, starting with the two-way wrist radio. Eventually, the strip got so far into science fiction that a Dork Age ensued, and it was later brought back to Earth. Many of the gadgets stayed ahead of real-world technology until recently, though, with the heroes having miniature, internet-capable wrist computers decades before Blackberries and iPhones became commonplace.
- The earliest Superman stories had him living in Cleveland, Ohio (the hometown of Siegel and Shuster). This disappeared within a few stories, and later stories had him resident in Metropolis ever since he came of age.
- The first Judge Dredd story was set in New York, as opposed to Mega City One (which, to be fair, in The Verse's continuity absorbed New York, Washington, Boston and most of the eastern seaboard as far south as Miami until The Apocalypse War arc). Then again, the first story also included regular police within the justice department.
- The first Redwall book has horses, dogs, references to most likely human harbors, and Portugal. All of those are gone in the subsequent books.
- The first Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories by Fritz Leiber took place on Earth, before the world of Newhon was written into the series, with the result that when collected, some lines had to be added explaining why they were on Earth.
- The first two books in the Kushiel's Legacy series are basically political thrillers with a bunch of HistoricalInJokes and bondage sex. Gods are an acknowledged presence throughout, but until the third book, they aren't much more than flavor to the backstory. This escalates, however, through the second trilogy, culminating with the heroes of that trilogy founding a university to study magic, and the heroine of the third trilogy being quite explicitly magical.
- The original version of The Gunslinger by Stephen King contains numerous hints that the book is set on Earth After the End, but later books in The Dark Tower series established that Roland's world was distinct from ours, and most of these hints were removed in the revised edition.
- Early drafts and editions of The Hobbit included references to policemen, lampposts, and China, which were eventually removed. The Hobbit still, however, includes a clock on Bilbo's mantlepiece; clockwork seems increasingly out of place as The Lord of the Rings progresses.
- Not to mention the existence of the sport of golf.
- Golf actually has an in-universe explanation. It was allegedly invented at the Battle of Greenfields, where Bullroarer Took killed the goblin leader Golfimbul by using a club to send his head flying off and down a rabbit hole. I'm not sure whether this was a premeditated alternate explanation or Ass Pull, but it is explained.
- Magic: The Gathering currently has a defined multiverse setting, but it originally didn't. The first sets took place in Dominaria, but then there was an Arabian Nights-themed set, which was later retconned as taking place on the world of Rabiah. Also, older cards were more likely to have quotes from real-world sources such as William Shakespeare for their flavor text. This is still occasionaly done, but only in core sets, which don't have a storyline of their own.
- Exalted was originally the prehistory of the Old World of Darkness. Second Edition suggested it was the prehistory of our world. Since most players ignore this piece of fluff, it remains to be seen what the upcoming Third Edition will do with it.
- Crusader Kings 2 games tend to end up like this. Since you can start your game at any point in time between 1066 and 1337, everything will be pretty much historically accurate for about the first year (to the point where the majority of characters have links to their wikipedia pages in their profiles), after which you enter a sort of alternate continuity where England is absorbed into Scandinavia, the Holy Roman Empire disbands about six centuries too early, Jerusalem has become part of Ireland, and there's inexplicably been 26 popes in a row called Pascal.
- The Elder Scrolls series has this as a Cyclic Trope. The first two games in the series, Arena and Daggerfall, while set in an unearthly world, were also similar to most fantasy RPG settings. Morrowind, the third game in the series and arguably better known than the previous two, is set in an entirely unconventional land, with nary a knight in sight. The fourth game, Oblivion, is set in Cyrodiil, home of the very Earth-medieval Empire. It can be strange going from seeing bizarre wildlife and random giant bug things in Morrowind to seeing realistic deer and wolves bounding across meadows filled with real-world plants. Even the mudcrabs become real-world crabs. Skyrim swings back, yet again, into a more fantastical setting with random dragon encounters and draugrs, the Nordic equivalent of zombies.
- In Ratchet & Clank, Captain Qwark becomes a bizarre holdover, being the only human-like character in any of the games.
- Super Mario Bros. ended up losing many connections to Earth or Earth-like locations as the series went on. Note the 'realistic in comparison' settings of the original arcade Donkey Kong and Mario Bros.. games, then those of the later platform game series; then note how, after Yoshi's Island, the whole fanon/manual-led Brooklyn thing got slowly pushed into obscurity and almost entirely ignored for the rest of the series so far, only occasionally being brought up in passing.
- Warcraft I had references to God, hell and churches with crosses. Now they have been retconned into "the Light" and "the Twisting Nether".
- In the original The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Link has a cross on his shield, which according to Word of God was added because the series was originally going to be based in the religion of Christianity rather than the three goddesses in later games. A Christian-esque sanctuary appears in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past; the NES original makes reference to a Bible ("Magic Book" in English translation) and a cross appears as a magical artifact in Zelda II. And as late as A Link To The Past, there is artwork of Link bowing down before a cross with Jesus clearly carved on it (especially weird because that was the game that introduced the Golden Goddesses). The only remnant Christian image is the Triforce itself, originally a symbol of the Holy Trinity that can still be seen on some churches; this use has become obscure enough to be eclipsed by the Zelda franchise in fame.
- Though such real world links were generally done away with by the time The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time came around, that game still features one notable example: the use of the star-and-crescent as the symbol of the desert-based Gerudo. Both newer versions of Ocarina Of Time and subsequent games replaced the star-and-crescent with a symbol that looks like the head of some insect.
- The "Adult Timeline" games (The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks) seem to follow real-world technological progression. The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass have technology like that of Europe in the 1700s, while Spirit Tracks, which takes place almost exactly 100 years later, has technology like that of Europe of the 1800s, complete with references to trains, electricity, and motion pictures, all of which were invented in the 1800s.
- Grand Theft Auto, over the course of the III era. Grand Theft Auto III had a reference to the city of Miami and to the then-newly elected president George W. Bush; later installments had almost no real life persons (barring figures like Ronald Reagan that are intrinsically tied to the setting, and Phil Collins' cameo in Vice City Stories), and Miami was replaced with Vice City in the next game. Then Grand Theft Auto IV comes out, which does away with even more real-life stuff — the FBI is replaced with the FIB, SWAT is replaced with NOOSE (which is also based on the Department of Homeland Security), all guns are A.K.A.-47 now, and the president in 2008 was Joe Lawton, who is stated to be a buffoon whose father was also president several decades prior.
- Zig Zagged with Sonic the Hedgehog. Depending on the game, the franchise either takes place on a fantastic looking world, that may or may not be Earth; explicitly take places on Earth, with realistic looking humans and locations (Bizarrchitecture notwithstanding); or a No Communities Were Harmed combination of the two.
- Further complicated by a localization that dubbed the planet "Mobius", establishing that it is indeed a different world, which is often made canon in various alternate continuities such as the comic or the cartoon.
- The first game in the Zork trilogy features such things as Poseidon's trident and the coffin of Ramses II. Later installments in the Zork 'verse are plainly in a different reality to our own.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002) never mentioned Earth, despite one of the original series' characters, Queen Marlena, being a human astronaut.
- One preview for Cars actually showed Mater accidentally running over a bumblebee. Not a car colored to resemble a bumblebee, an actual bumblebee. In the final film, all animals in the Cars universe are also portrayed as vehicles.
- In the original Ice Age, the animals lived in a very realistic world. Humans (Neanderthals) were present, and the animals were just animals to Neanderthal eyes. The entire plot was saving a baby human named Roshan from Soto. The second film does not contain humans, and the animals are a little more humany. By the time of the third film, animals use weapons, wear some degree of clothes, and are the main inhabitants of the world. However, a modern human appeared in the Christmas special.
- Sonic mentions Axl Rose in the pilot of Sonic the Hedgehog. This is a case of Early-Installment Weirdness and these are averted for the rest of the show's run.