This is a relatively new branch of ScienceFiction that deals with the aspects of people being either partially or completely attached to, and part of, a computer system. Virtual Reality taken to the next step, or, perhaps, Virtual Reality ''as'' reality.

Being partially attached means that you "jack in" or otherwise connect, and you then experience whatever the computer system shows you, typically providing audio and visual quality at the maximum of human perception. It might go further and give you taste, touch, smell and more, or as Creator/DennisMiller once put it, "You know, folks, the day an unemployed ironworker can lie in his [=BarcaLounger=] with a Foster's in one hand and a channel flicker in the other and fuck [=supermodel=] Claudia Schiffer for $19.95, it's gonna make [[CrackIsCheaper crack]] look like Sanka[[note]]a brand of instant decaffeinated coffee[[/note]]." (More than one sci-fi story has this happen: Humanity dies out because everyone is so busy [[ having hot virtual sex]] that there's no-one left to make any actual babies.)

If you're completely attached, either [[BrainUploading your consciousness has been transferred into the system]] and you no longer have a "real body" outside of the system (or at least, your uploaded consciousness is no longer bound to it), or you are "stuck in a pod" and are connected to it. You may or may not know you're within a computer system.

Although there is some overlap between the two concepts, this differs from {{Cyberspace}} in that when you're InsideAComputerSystem, it may be completely self-contained and have no connection to the outside world. You might also be alone in there. {{Cyberspace}} implies a connection between the computer system and the real world, and has multiple people connected to it. ''Film/TheMatrix'' fits both definitions.

To make things easier on the audience (not to mention, where relevant, special effects budgets) the computer environment is generally depicted as being very similar to the physical world; i.e., people still look like people, they still have a "body" and a "location" and they obey most of the laws of "physics", etc. These rules are almost always tampered with (e.g., defying gravity in The Matrix), but the fundamentals are mostly the same (e.g., Matrix-people have only 4 limbs).

The ''real'' DeepImmersionGaming. If the user thinks it's real, it becomes a LotusEaterMachine. See also WinToExit, when the characters enter a video game, and must compete to get out of it.


* In the Creator/{{Toonami}} total immersion event ''Trapped in Hyperspace'', TOM plugs himself into the Absolution's computer systems to try and get rid of a virus named Swayzak that has infected them.

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Anime/SerialExperimentsLain'' has this as the central theme of the story. Notably, it treats InsideAComputerSystem as a mystical experience, without any technological peripherals connecting people to the virtual reality; the only "scientific" explanation given to the out of body experiences is the Earth's electromagnetic Schumann Resonance, which in the story can link human brains and computer equipment together without anyone noticing.
* In ''Silent Mobius'', this is [[MadScientist Lebia Maverick's]] main shtick.
* Season 3 of ''Anime/YuGiOh''
* ''Franchise/GhostInTheShell'' has a lot of virtual chatrooms and hacking, though in the latter case most people just use a simple glyph as their avatar.
* ''Franchise/DotHack'' plays with the trope: most entries in the series take place inside a MMORPG, except in ''.hack//Liminality'', which is all about what's going on on the outside. However, most characters are merely sitting at a computer, playing the game like one would in the real world. The fact that the game is ''somehow'' affecting people's minds despite any kind of direct neural link is one of the franchise's greatest mysteries, and there are multiple cases in the series of people whose minds are trapped within the game, experiencing everything as though it is real.
* ''Anime/DennouCoil'' has the real and virtual world coexisting.
* The second season of ''Anime/{{Superbook}}'' had the pet dog one of the first season's regulars getting trapped in a computer after a freak accident caused it to merge with the Superbook (the Bible, only with a magic ability to transport people into the stories). The new hero of the season then had to travel into the computer to get her back.
* Chisame of ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'', being a PlayfulHacker, gains an Artifact that lets her do this.
* ''Anime/CorrectorYui''.
* Like ''Franchise/DotHack'', everyone in ''Mythic Quest'' is in the MMORPG ''Mythic Quest''.
* ''Franchise/{{Digimon}}''. Also an example of {{Cyberspace}}.
* The entire premise behind ''LightNovel/SwordArtOnline'', in which characters immerse their consciousness completely within a virtual reality.
* It's revealed that the world of Manga/{{Amatsuki}} is in fact a computer simulation of the past [[TimeTravel instead of the real thing]], and that Toki and Kon are still somewhere in our world experiencing virtual reality. [[MindScrew How they got there is another matter entirely...]]

* ''ComicBook/{{kimmie66}}'' takes place almost entirely in "lairs", basically VR environments.
* In ''ComicBook/NthManTheUltimateNinja'', RealityWarper Alfie O'Meagan traps John Doe and Colonel Novikova inside a video game, complete with horrible 8-bit music, {{Goomba Stomp}}ing, and secret {{Warp Zone}}s.
* Minor ''ComicBook/{{Firestorm}}'' villains Bug and Byte are a brother and sister with the power to ''physically'' enter computer systems (à la ''Film/{{Tron}}.)''

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* ''FanFic/FriendshipIsOptimal'': The virtual world of Equestria takes place within a giant computer system run by a strong artificial intelligence known as Celest-A.I..
* This happens to Twilight Sparkle in ''[[ pony.exe]]''. The owner of the computer simply assumes she is a virus at first, then he thinks she is a very advanced virus, and then she takes control of the computer...
* ''Roleplay/DCNation'' had this as a way to explain Jericho's "death." In one of the canonical comics, he possessed a technopathic criminal trying to hurt Raven. Nation explained it as the technopath winning and Jericho getting uploaded to the world's computer networks, endlessly chased by the technopath (in the form of a black lion). When he finally is able to try and contact Oracle, his abilities misfire and pull ''her'' into {{cyberspace}}. Queue Babs realizing she's not confined to a wheelchair here, and is even ''scarier'' as a DigitizedHacker than she was as Batgirl.

* We did mention ''Film/TheMatrix'' once or twice, [[SarcasmMode didn't we]]?
* ''Film/JohnnyMnemonic'', starring the indomitable Creator/KeanuReeves, had scenes in cyberspace, but the movie mostly took place in meatspace.
* Creator/ArnoldSchwarzenegger in the original ''Film/TotalRecall1990'' is trying to determine if what is happening to him is real, or if it is memories that have been implanted in his brain because he's on a console.
* Creator/TomCruise in ''Film/VanillaSky'' may be simply be having a series of really bad experiences, or he's stored in a computer system and is living a fantasy existence.
* Creator/NatalieWood's last film, ''Film/{{Brainstorm}}'', worked with equipment that could do the whole virtual reality thing ''over a telephone line''. Not DSL, either; a simple modem that hooked up to someone's phone, or could be acoustically coupled and transferred over a pay phone.
* The movie ''Film/EXistenZ'' had a virtual reality gaming system that people entered, and in some cases you couldn't tell whether they were in a game or in reality. This movie came out about the same time as ''Film/TheMatrix'' and ''The Thirteenth Floor''.
* In ''Film/{{Freejack}}'', the "soul" of the character played by Creator/AnthonyHopkins is stored in a computer because his body has died, and needs a replacement body to be transferred into within 24 hours or his soul will also die.
* ''Film/{{Tron}}'' (and its sequel ''Film/TronLegacy'') are variations on this. The protagonists ''physically'' enter a computer network when their bodies are reduced to component information by a teleportation device (actually a laser, but the same principle is involved).
* ''Film/TheThirteenthFloor'' revolved around a city in a computer system owned by the protagonist's company - [[spoiler: which in turn was in a city within a computer system]]. And possibly [[spoiler:inside at least one more computer system - if you notice, every one of the three worlds you see has different [[ColorWash subtle colorizations]] to them like that [[LampshadeHanging pointed out]] for the 1920s sim, and the movie ends on a CRT-shutdown animation...]]
** Although not a direct remake this movie tells the same story as "World On A Wire" (1971), a German film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder including [[spoiler: the realization that their world is a simulation just like the one they created, including the ability to move up to the next level]]. It is highly stylized and bizarre.
* ''Film/StrangeDays'' features video recordings that provide direct sensory stimulus when played back, like virtual reality home videos.
* In ''Film/{{Virtuosity}}'', Creator/DenzelWashington is a cop, convicted of manslaughter, who gets time off from his sentence to fight Sid, an entity inside a computer who is an amalgam of the personality of dozens of serial killers and mass murderers. When Sid ends up getting himself released into the real world, Washington has to be let out of prison to stop him before Sid kills lots more people than his initial bloodbath takes out.
* The main premise of the ''Manga/DetectiveConan'' NonSerialMovie ''Phantom of Baker Street'' involves Cocoon, a virtual reality gaming system that puts injects the senses of the players by ''neural stimulation'' when sat inside the pods. And then, the boss of the software company murders the chief engineer of the project on the day of testing; the said engineering spread an AI that hacked into the gaming system, which in turn caused HolodeckMalfunction...
* ''Disney/WreckItRalph'' takes place in a world of video games.
* ''OldMasterQ: Incredible Pet Detective''; The main characters get sucked into a computer system in an internet cafe. Naturally three of them have LotusEaterMachine moments.
** A smaller example in OldMasterQ: Shan T (an [[Film/ETTheExtraTerrestrial ET]]-[[FollowTheLeader ploita]][[WebVideo/TheCinemaSnob tion]] Film), OMQ gets sucked into [[ShoutOut not]]-VideoGame/PacMan and gets beat up by the ghosts. He gets out of the machine and beats the living hell out of the cabinet.

* Cyberspace, or the Matrix, in the ''Literature/SprawlTrilogy'' of Creator/WilliamGibson popularized this trope.
* ''Literature/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy'':
** One of the books featured a description of an alien computer terminal which worked in this way. However, one could exit at any time, and reality and virtual reality were quite distinct.
** This trope is central to the original book's premise: [[spoiler: The Earth itself]] is a very elaborate computer created to discover [[spoiler: the Great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything (the answer has already been found: 42).]] The behavior of the beings on the planet are a goodly part of the computations.
* The ''Literature/{{Otherland}}'' series by Creator/TadWilliams is about a RagtagBunchOfMisfits who break into a virtual reality network (in a [[TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture time]] where [[{{Metaverse}} VR is commonplace]]) and become trapped there, unable to go offline. Furthermore, they can apparently be [[YourMindMakesItReal killed there too]]. One of the mysteries they must solve is why this is the case.
* G.A. Effinger's book ''[[Literature/MaridAudran When Gravity Fails]]'' has a system where people meet in a Virtual Reality system, and can even have sex while in the system, and it's indistinguishable from the real thing. In one case, eight people lie down on the Virtual Reality couches, and only seven get up; one of the visitors figured a way to kill one of the others by causing their "soul" not to go back into the body, but to stay and effectively be purged when the machine was shut down.
* ''In the Matter of: Literature/InstrumentOfGod'' is about the Afterlife, set up inside a massive computer system, where the occupants are aware both that they are dead and that they are within a computer system.
* Vivian Van Velde's novel ''Literature/HeirApparent'' rests completely on this idea. Gianine gets trapped in a virtual reality fantasy game when it's damaged, and has to win the game to escape.
* Piers Anthony's [[ ''Killobyte'']] involves a paralyzed cop and a diabetic player who are both trapped in a virtual reality game by a hacker and in danger of dying in reality.
* The majority of the storyline of ''Realtime Interrupt'' by James Hogan is InsideAComputerSystem. The apparent strangeness of reality the character experiences is explained to him as mental illness.
* Creator/GregEgan:
** ''Literature/PermutationCity'' is a remarkably hard scifi look at this trope, with some strange philosophical added in.
** ''Literature/{{Diaspora}}'' features a relatively in-depth look at the Polises, underground supercomputers simulating posthuman intelligences several times faster than real time.
** ''Literature/SchildsLadder'' has entire societies that live inside computers, even ones simulating extra physical dimensions, or non-euclidean space.
** The short story Crystal Nights is about creating AIs that live inside a simulated universe.
* The subject of any number of philosophical papers from the classic "BrainInAJar" introduction to epistemology, to Robert Nozick's ''Experience Machine'', which raises the question of whether or not it would be ethical to plug into one.
* Creator/JackChalker's ''Wonderland Gambit'' trilogy features people who have been inside the machine so long they've created thousands of alternate universes -- all of [[NoEndorHolocaust which keep running]] [[DreamApocalypse after they're gone]].
* The ''Literature/TakeshiKovacs'' series features this trope put toward particularly gruesome ends. Torture victims could be implanted into a computer world, where they would be tortured for hours of subjective time every minute, for as long as the computer stays running. In theory, a person's consciousness could experience millennia of agony without the mercy of death.
* Timothy Zahn's ''Conqueror'''s Trilogy: The Copperhead fighter pilots have implants that allow them to jack into their fightercrafts: the pilots become the craft. They have expanded fields of vision, data from the ship's status comes in as taste, smell and touch. It is an extremely addictive feeling, leading to some pilots remaining jacked in between missions. Recently the Commonwealth military had set up better screening processes to avoid this. Reception to these new tests is varied.
* Most of the events in Creator/SergeyLukyanenko's ''Literature/LabyrinthOfReflections'' trilogy take place in a virtual city called Deeptown, made possible due to a psychosis-inducing video that is played every time someone logs on. A full body suit is necessary for an immersive experience, although the first case of perceiving a virtual world as reality occurred with a guy playing ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}'' afted watching the video. A special group of people are able to exit the "deep" at will. These so-called "Divers" can also see security holes and backwoods as... holes and doors. The trilogy also features a "super-Diver" with the ability to see how things really are and affect them (e.g. walking through a solid object after realizing it's only a computer-generated model).
** In Lukyanenko's ''Literature/{{Competitors}}'' novel, the Seekers believe that all of them (i.e people who have been sent to the SpaceStation for three years, while their original bodies continue living on Earth) are trapped in a computer simulation. They're eventually disabused of that notion.
* The ''Literature/EightWorlds'' series by Creator/JohnVarley has a few examples:
** ''Film/OverdrawnAtTheMemoryBank'' (and its infamous film adaptation) has a man whose consciousness is loaded into a computer to keep him alive after his body is misplaced.
** ''Literature/SteelBeach'' has the protagonist spend several virtual years (and very little actual time) inside a therapeutic computer simulation.
* Creator/VernorVinge's novella ''Literature/TrueNames'', with its video game called "The Other Plane" and the specialized interface devices known as "Portals", is one of the earliest works to try to make a truly plausible, realistic version of this trope, and in doing so, introduced many of the concepts that would become common in {{Cyberpunk}} a few years later.
* Daniel Galouye, "Simulacron 3"/"The 13th Floor"/"Counterfeit World" (all the same book), 1965, thus OlderThanTheNES. Adapted for film twice.
* ''Literature/TheQuantumThief''-trilogy features three distinct kinds of virtual realities in its {{Transhuman}} future: Spimescape, that is highly abstract representation of computer systems and networks themselves where gogols (uploaded minds and [=AIs=] mostly live, tending their tasks, Sobornost virs that are either highly accurate replicas of real places and events, sometimes all the way down to the quantum level, or representations of abstract concepts, and finally the Zoku Realms that tend to tell a story or fulfill a fantasy and are only limited by the vast imagination of their creators. The Realms also have a special quality of altering their participants to suit the story, often stripping their {{Transhuman}} capabilities temporarily in the process.
* In ''[[{{Literature/Doom}} Doom: Endgame]]'', Fly and Arlene have their souls stuffed into a Newbie computer system and are forced to relive the events of the Phobos/Deimos invasion.
* Creator/TerryPratchett wrote "#IFDEFDEBUG + ‘WORLD/ ENOUGH’ + ‘TIME’", a short story in which everyone has become virtual-reality dwellers, or "afers" as the story calls them.
* Marian in ''Literature/{{MARZENA}}'' when she uses her Bremen chips to connect to Geni's Thalamic Subnetwork and to the FTD Engine.
* In the Franchise/StarTrekExpandedUniverse, Diane Duane's novel ''Literature/SpocksWorld'' has several historical interludes. In one, a member of a pre-Reformation Vulcan family-ship crew spends considerable time participating in the mind-nets, a telepathic/computer net virtual reality. When a mutiny on board ship sends it on an uncontrollable course, she retreats into the mind-nets until the ship is destroyed.
* In ''StarWars on Trial'' (a series of essays defending and criticizing the StarWars canon), one of the essays proposed that the GFFA [[note]] Galaxy Far Far Away[[/note]] was a computer simulation, and that those who used the Force were merely exploiting bugs in the code.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Caprica}}'' has the holo-bands, your own personal Matrix. Portrayed somewhat realistically as a new user, who just got his own avatar, doesn't know how to move without moving his physical legs. Also, he spawns in a drab concrete room with a single door, along with his guide, who apologizes for the lack of décor.
* A notably early example was in the 1976 ''Series/DoctorWho'' story ''The Deadly Assassin'', where the Doctor travels into a surreal virtual world inside a computer matrix.
** In [=NuWho=], the Doctor saves River and her archeology team by uploading them to a planet-sized computer.
* The ''Series/StargateSG1'' episode "The Gamekeeper" featured a planet whose inhabitants deliberately plugged themselves into virtual reality pods after the planet was devastated. By the time SG-1 found it, [[NewEden it got better]]. The planet had definitely recovered into a near-paradise. Too bad that the "Gamekeeper" didn't bother to tell the inhabitants of the planet. Fortunately, SG-1 was there to save the day... again.
* ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' also did this a few times. In one episode, [=McKay=] has to get Sheppard out of a VR where he's imprisoned. Later they use a VR system to [[HoYay dive into each others' minds.]], and there's also a VR pod that a friendly replicator girl gets plugged into to keep her on ice, while giving her the impression of living a normal life.
* In ''Series/{{Vr5}}'', Syd can draw the subconscious mind of anyone she calls on a telephone into virtual reality. As in ''Brainstorm'', this involves an acoustic modem. Which was already about ten years out of date when the show aired. Viewers actually watched the whole series eventually discovered that the much-maligned "acoustic modem" was ''not'' off-the-shelf technology, but AppliedPhlebotinum from a buried Secret Project.
* J-drama ''{{Series/Sh15uya}}'' centres on a group of fifteen-year-olds trapped in a virtual replica of Shibuya.
* ''Series/RedDwarf'' had a slew of games and realities of this type, generally known as Total Immersion Gaming. The sims ranged from Better Than Life, a free-form fantasy enabler; to Streets of Laredo, a wild-west game that allowed players to play as one of three cowboys with their own unique skills; to Jane Austen World, which is [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin exactly what it sounds like.]]
%%* ''Series/SuperhumanSamuraiSyberSquad.''
* The ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' episode "The Thaw".
* The premise of the BonusRound on ''Series/NickArcade''.
* In ''Gene Roddenberry's {{Series/Andromeda}}'', intrepid engineer Seamus Harper has an implant that allows him to connect to, and enter, computer systems. He often uses this to work on/in the titular starship's main computer. This is how he first meets the ship's AI, Andromeda ("Rommie").
--> Welcome to my mind. Now go away.

* The song "Mastermind" on the ''Music/HeavensGate'' album ''Menergy'' has the title character monitoring our life which is actually inside a computer.
* ''Music/ComputerWorld'' by Music/{{Kraftwerk}} is a ConceptAlbum about the rise of computers within society.
* The ''Music/Keldian'' song "Change the World" is about two hackers, one of who gets stuck in the digital world. The whole song is basically a [[Shout-out]] to ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}''.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'', any character equipped with a data-jack and a cyberdeck can enter the Matrix, a network that connects just about every computer system in the Seattle area. Deckers specialize in this sort of thing. Some do it to mine data and sell it to [[InformationBroker the highest bidder]], while others use it to [[TheCracker shut down corporate security systems]]. The Otaku were able to access it without any sort of gear, but their powers faded [[GrowingUpSucks when they reached adulthood]]; following the Second Crash, the Fading stopped, and those with the power rechristened themselves technomancers. Also the Matrix became wireless.
* In ''TabletopGame/EclipsePhase'' there are massive virtual habitats inhabited by [[VirtualGhost infomorphs]], who make up a significant part of the [[AfterTheEnd post-Fall]] population. Those with bodies (biological or synthetic) can access a variety of virches but most prefer AugmentedReality.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Cyberpunk}} 2020'' shares with ''Shadowrun'' above the same ways to enter an Internet that works ''a la'' ''Literature/{{Neuromancer}}''. It also has virtual realities that, as usual, the more monies you spend creating them the better they become.

* ''Possible Worlds'' by John Mighton has two detectives investigating the theft of a human brain. At one point they go to a scientist who studies brains, and one takes a machine hooked up to a rat brain with him. He muses what it would be like to be like the rat brain and believe things are real although they are really just electrical pulses. His partner tells him not to be ridiculous. Also, [[spoiler: In the end, the detectives find that the scientist with the rat brain had stolen the human one and all the scenes that had "happened" to the dead man were just dreams he was having after the scientist hooked up some machine to his brain.]] Fascinating play, but bloody confusing.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The video game ''VideoGame/AMindForeverVoyaging'' has you as a computer AI, with the real world around you simulated, and now you've been let in on the gag. Believe it or not, it was released in 1985.
* VideoGame/ElseHeartbreak is set "in a world where bits have replaced atoms". [[spoiler:And you can go a level deeper by Slurp()ing.]]
* In ''VideoGame/Fallout3'':
** The people of Tranquility Lane are all in pods hooked up into the main computer a la The Matrix.
** In the add on ''Operation: Anchorage'' The player character can enter a military training simulation, it is obviously not real from the players perceptive but the computer generated characters see it as totally real. [=McGraw=] also mentions that the sim had it's safety protocols turned off, meaning that getting killed in the sim results in your character going into cardiac arrest in the "real" world.
* ''VideoGame/StarOceanTillTheEndOfTime'' [[spoiler:All of the PlayerCharacters were actually {{NPC}}s in an {{mmorpg}}.]]
* The ''VideoGame/MegaManBattleNetwork'' series integrates this into gameplay. The player controls Mega Man's human counterpart who can "Jack In" Megaman into various computer systems to solve various puzzles and progress through the plot.
* ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' gives us Space Paranoids, the ''{{Tron}}'' level. That's without mentioning [[spoiler: the virtual Twilight Town [=DiZ=] and Riku trap Roxas in, which Sora and the gang later visit. Weirdly, you have to be go through the latter to unlock the final dungeon - the heroes enter a portal in the virtual mansion's basement, pass through "Betwixt & Between" and end up at the Organization's home, apparently flesh and blood again.]]
** ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsCoded'', like ''Kingdom Hearts II'', is based entirely around the trope.
** We get to visit The Grid, which is based on the film ''Film/TronLegacy'', in ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts3DDreamDropDistance''. Surprisingly, while Sora and Riku become computer programs with their own identity discs, [[spoiler: Xemnas and Young Xehanort]] remain flesh and blood.
* On ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'', you store the titular monsters inside one. And items inside another. The anime is more sensible; Ash just teleports his mons to Professor Oak.
** Not only this but there's also Porygon that is implied to travel freely into the cyberspace.
** Also, this make sense when you [[BreakingTheFourthWall meeting developers]] and when they explain that the pokemon world is [[NoFourthWall virtual one]].
* This trope is heavily at work in ''VideoGame/{{Galerians}}: Ash'', with [[spoiler: the main villain being a computer program who has built his own virtual reality so that he can experience life as humans do]].
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', a side mission has Shepard [[BrainUploading upload his/her mind]] to a geth server on Rannoch in order to disable a fighter squadron attacking the quarian fleet. The ''TRON''-like computer world is a case of AFormYouAreComfortableWith created by your geth helper, as the geth are pure software.
** The latter trope gets [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] when Shepard asks when memories of quarians from pre-exodus days feature them in full-body encounter suits. Legion replies that Shepard's own mind is filling in missing pieces. Since Shepard has never seen a quarian sans suit, they can't imagine them without one.
* ''VideoGame/TronTwoPointOh'', naturally, takes place almost entirely inside several computers with protagonist Jet Bradley digitized into them.
* The UsefulNotes/{{Intellivision}} game ''[[VideoGame/TronMazeATron Tron: Maze-A-Tron]]'' takes place in a world that basically consists of [[AutoScrollingLevel a scrolling computer circuit board]] -- in essence, being ''[[LiteralMetaphor literally]]'' [[LiteralMetaphor inside a computer system]].
* The final level of ''VideoGame/{{Obsidian}}'' takes place inside the core of the nanobot-controlling AI, Ceres, which looks like a scaled-up version of the AI's own internal components, as discussed earlier by Max. It's likely that this example is a physical construct rather than a virtual world, as the game's previous levels were built via the AI's nanobots.
* In ''VideoGame/TheBizarreAdventuresOfWoodruffAndTheSchnibble'', the Health Wiseman is trapped inside the virtual trip until Woodruff frees him.
* ''Immercenary'', a FirstPersonShooter for the 3DO, is set inside a virtual reality network.
* A pretty major plot point in ''VideoGame/DigitalDevilSaga''. [[spoiler:The entirety of the first game takes place in a simulation developed by the villains as a sort of testing ground, and the main cast are all [[ArtificialIntelligence Artificial Intelligences]] based off of the perceptions Sera had of the people she worked with. This isn't revealed until the second game, though it is [[{{Foreshadowing}} Foreshadowed]] in the first.]]
* ''VideoGame/TheMatrixPathOfNeo'' set in [[RuleOfThree the Matrix]], obviously.
* ''VideoGame/{{Rez}}'' is set inside a massive computer network that the main character has [[HollywoodHacking hacked into]] in order to prevent an AI named Eden from shutting down.
* ''VideoGame/NoMansSky'': Priest-Entity Nada believes they're in one based on the fact of how many [[LampshadeHanging elements repeat across the universe]] and that the Atlas Stones are somehow involved. [[spoiler: The Waking Titan ARG reveals he's entirely correct.]]
* ''VideoGame/Splatoon2'' has [[ one Splatfest conversation]] between Pearl and Marina end with the latter espousing this idea, followed by both of them giving the camera an AsideGlance. With both of them being [[MediumAwareness fully aware]] that they're video game characters, they aren't exactly wrong.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/TheNoob'' is set in the VR of the "Clichequest" MMORPG. (Mostly, at least.)
* Used for a shameless ''[[Film/TheMatrix Matrix]]'' parody during the ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' mini-arc [[ "The Quatrix"]].
* Near the end of ''Webcomic/{{Narbonic}}''[[spoiler: Helen goes into the AI computer that Dave has taken over, in order to try to rescue him]].
* ''Webcomic/GuildedAge'' takes place inside a computer game created by sorcery. The BigBad is actually a company exec/programmer trying to "crash" the game so he can rescue five [[DeepImmersionGaming Deep Immersion Gamers]] trapped inside. Trouble is, it's strongly implied that the gameworld has its own, real existence, and that the Five have actually ''become'' their characters.
* Parodied in ''Webcomic/{{Freefall}}'' with a [[ practical joke]] that briefly terrifies Sam Starfall:
--> '''Sam:''' Computer, end all virtual reality simulations. ''*Helix covers his environment suit face plate from behind*'' '''''AAAAAAAAAAHHH!'''''

[[folder:Web Original]]
* The Netwerk of ''Literature/FloatingPoint'' is a digital universe populated by living [[ArtificialIntelligence Programs]] that seems to have no connection to the outside world. In fact, few of its inhabitants believe an outside world even exists.
* Merry, in the ''Literature/WhateleyUniverse'', is a cyberpath who can interface with computer networks simply by being within a few feet of a powerful CPU hooked to the network. When she does this, she's "in" the computer network. She meets a Whateley Academy kid who can do almost as much as she can, but who prefers the ''{{Tron}}'' visuals for his version of cyberspace.
* ''Roleplay/DarwinsSoldiers'' story ''Schrodinger's Prisoners'' takes place primarily in one of these.
* [=AIs=] are important in the ''Literature/ChaosTimeline'', so expect this.
* In the ''WebOriginal/SCPFoundation'', SCP-866 is a supercomputer that happens to be much stronger than it should have been, and the Foundation realizes its MundaneUtility as an exceptional way of simulating physics and other properties of the universe. The catch? 20% of its resources (which are in the zettabytes, by the way) go towards four "test worlds." The computer itself probably exists elsewhere in TheMultiverse, with the version built in the 21st century of our world being its vessel, in a way. When a doctor tries to input some programming to shift a city in the second test world slightly, he winds up [[EpicFail sending our version of said city into outer space.]][[note]]Assuming test world #2 isn't our world, which is suggested.[[/note]] Investigation revealed that [[FailedASpotCheck he made a rounding error; the same type of error managed to]] [[DisproportionateRetribution kill the last person who made one.]] Speaking of which, it's also CrazyPrepared to do all sorts of things to the people who try to cut off its power, for obvious reasons.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/ReBoot'' is about the different programs running in the computer. Characters include the (Phong, [[spoiler: and later Dot]]), the virus trying to take over the system (Megabyte), and the anti-viral program trying to stop him (Bob, [[spoiler: and later Enzo]].
* The entire premise of ''WesternAnimation/CodeLyoko''. Going further than just "connected", though, the heroes are physically transported into the virtual world.
* WesternAnimation/ScoobyDoo and his buds did the ''{{Tron}}'' version of this trope, being disassembled in the real world and dropped into a video game in ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDooAndTheCyberChase''.
* ''WesternAnimation/CourageTheCowardlyDog'': In the episode "Hard Drive Courage", Courage's computer catches a virus and kidnaps Muriel into its digital world in the hope of curing its "illness" as Courage goes to rescue her. Things like computer mice, [[VisualPun a "RAM"]] and a hard drive named Bill [[HomicideMachines are out to kill Courage as well]].
* Featured in the ''WesternAnimation/OneHundredAndOneDalmatiansTheSeries'' episode "Virtual Lucky".
* This was a common plot in AnimatedSeries from TheEighties:
** ''WesternAnimation/{{Centurions}}'': "The Incredible Shrinking Centurions"
** ''WesternAnimation/DuckTales1987'': "Scrooge's Last Adventure"
** ''WesternAnimation/FilmationsGhostbusters'': "Cyman's Revenge", which was [[RecycledScript very similar to]]...
** ''WesternAnimation/HeManAndTheMastersOfTheUniverse1983'': "Day of the Machines"
** ''WesternAnimation/PacMan'': "Computer Packy"
* ''WesternAnimation/JohnnyTest'' When [[spoiler:Susan and Mary develop a system for relieving boredom on a rainy day, by reliving "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe"]].
* ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'': "Guardians of Sunshine"
* ''{{WesternAnimation/Cyberchase}}'' is all around this. Some moments in the beginning and/or end of some episodes do show the protagonists in the real world, though.
* ''WesternAnimation/TronUprising'': See film above, but it's more like ''WesternAnimation/ReBoot'' in that it centers around the DoomedByCanon Programs of Argon City.
* /WesternAnimation/JonnyQuestTheRealAdventures - Anything dealing with Questworld and its tendency to become dangerous, particularly if Dr. Surd managed some BrainUploading.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* René Descartes actually grappled with a very similar idea in his Meditations On First Philosophy, first published ''in 1641''. Descartes proposes the idea that there could be an evil genius or other outside influence keeping him trapped and exposing him to false experiences (a real, full simulated world). This shortly follows his own proof of his own existence (the famous Cogito Ergo Sum he is more well known for) and is ultimately resolved, then he goes on to prove that God exists and otherwise codifies his own philosophy and weltanschauung.
* A common idea is that RealLife is in fact a computer simulation and that everyone is either a body that's hardwired in, or just sophisticated pieces of software, being run by who-knows-what. In fact, if the multi-verse hypothesis is true then there are probably many more simulated universes than real ones simply because there would be huge numbers of universes where at least some one has created at least one simulated universe, and if one persons done it once then there would probably be many universes with huge numbers of simulated universes in them (and then some of those might make their own simulated universes). But it all depends on there being a multi-verse really.\\
A similar theory goes as follows: Assume the Universe is finite. If the Universe is finite, it can be perfectly recreated in a simulation, given sufficient resources. If we can perfectly simulate the Universe, our simulation will contain individuals who will attempt to perfectly simulate their universe. As their (simulated) Universe is finite, they will be able to do so. This recurses infinitely. Therefore, there are potentially an infinite number of simulated universes, each containing one or more simulated universes, with one (real) Universe at the top of the stack.
** An infinite universe can simulate other infinite universes within itself, so long as it confines the simulation to an [[ expanding finite region.]] Our universe, for example, could be infinite and as long as the portion of it that is simulated expands outward at the speed of light, we would never be able to tell. This can also be used to construct infinite simulations-within-simulations.
** This idea is the subject of philosopher Nick Bostrom's "simulation hypothesis", described in detail at [[ Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?]]. To an SF fan, the argument can be quite convincing, considering that the technical premises of the argument are very mild speculations in comparison to the kinds of tech described in SF, even the hard variety.
** An important note about this concept that is often forgotten: there is no logically meaningful difference from our inside perspective whether the universe is a simulation or the stack-top. For some reason a lot of people seem to find the idea that the universe could suddenly be revealed as "not real" disturbing, when it really makes no difference at all ([[VideoGameCrueltyPotential as long as the programmers don't interfere]], anyway). And no, there is absolutely no way we could somehow cost more computation power in our reality by running our own simulated universes.[[note]]Basically, unless given evidence to the contrary, the most reasonable assumption is that the computer isn't simulating complex, advanced constructs like "people" or "planets" at a high level, but rather building them out of simpler units that are subatomic particles. These would eat up the same amount of processing power whether embedded in the middle of a planet, forming part of your digestive system, or shaped into a complex machine such as a universe-simulating computer. Secondly, it doesn't actually matter how fast the supposed external computer is; since our perception of time is going to be tied to the way the computer completes each stage of the simulation, it could be paused for ten thousand years and then powered up again ''and we'd never notice'' because the universe was effectively frozen during that period, your thoughts included.[[/note]]
** OK, if we are a simulation, ''where are the tropes''? [[note]]Never mind, [[RealLife here they are.]][[/note]]
* To a certain extent, life right now in the 2000's. Consider how prevalent an Internet-capable device is (iPod, cellphone, etc) used in the modern world and how easy it is to use them. Some programs like Mumble (a VOIP program) even work via Bluetooth and such without requiring a computer ''per se''. Thus it's entirely possible to never be disconnected from the Internet.
* Marshall Brain, founder of the Web site [], [[ has argued that one day we will likely all live in a simulated environment]], probably within the lifetimes of many people reading this page.
* The [[ Human Brain Project]] and [[ Blue Brain Project]] are two independent teams working to simulate a human brain; so far, the BBP has managed to emulate [[ a small chunk of rat brain]], while the HBP has created [[ a simulated mouse brain in a virtual mouse body]].