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Anime and Manga
- Level E: Episode four, up to The Reveal in the last two minutes, is the plot of a script Prince Baka is trying to sell to television.
- Love Live! has a Cold Open in season 2 with a scene that's half this and half All Just a Dream - the girls are around the computer, waiting for the results of the recent preliminary competition. The results come in, and after a few "almost"s ("Mi...Mi... Midnight Cats! Mi... Myu... Myu... Mutant Girls!"), they aren't on the list of teams that made it. Cut to Honoka saying, "And that was the dream I had!", to which the rest of the team reacts along with the audience.
- At some point in The Invisibles we find out that a future version of Dane, the main character, is recounting the events of the comic to his dying friend. One possible interpretation of this is that it's all just a story made up by Dane to cheer up the friend before his death. Later on, the series also suggests that its story might be a case of self-insert fanfic written by Ragged Robin, or a massive virtual reality video game where various characters are roles the players can choose. Let's just say The Invisibles is fond of this trope.
- In Tank Girl, several stories turn out to be the characters spinning tales to each other.
Film — Animated
- After his Heroic Sacrifice, Emmet and the audience learn that the events of The LEGO Movie up to that point have been a game played by a young boy using his father's Lego set, with the central conflict mirroring his relationship with the father. Played With in that Emmet remains aware in the real world, and with great effort is able to move to get the boy's attention, inspiring him to return him to the story.
Film — Live-Action
- The Adventures of Baron Munchausen does this, though it also suggests the Nested Story might've been real after all.
- A common interpretation of The Fountain is that the "Conquistador" subplot actually comes from a book written by the protagonist's wife. It's also possible the "Astronaut" subplot is something the protagonist added to the book later on. But since the movie is very much a Mind Screw, it's hard to tell.
- The first scene of Desperado is a story being told in a bar by Steve Buscemi. The viewer knows that at the time, but what they don't know (until it's revealed moments later) is that the story is fictitious. It's never revealed exactly how much of it was false; the Broad Strokes of the hero massacring a Bad-Guy Bar are later confirmed as accurate, especially judging by what he does to another Bad Guy Bar later on in the movie.
- The ending of The Housemaid reveals that the whole film, a dark tale of adultery and murder centering around a man who sleeps with his maid, is actually a hypothetical story that the man tells his wife. She is not amused.
- Inception falls somewhere between this trope and All Just a Dream. The events of the first story (and possibly the whole movie) are revealed to be a dream, but unlike with a typical All Just a Dream scenario, most of the characters know they're within a fictional story, since they're the ones who created it. Also the events in the dream are in the same continuity, with the characters' interactions carrying over.
- Most of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus can be interpreted as the dream or hallucination of a homeless man.
- The last scene of the goofy drug comedy The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (1916) reveals the story to be an idea that star Douglas Fairbanks is pitching to a writer at the studio. The writer tells him to "go back to acting".
- The second half of Next is this, being revealed to be a precognition of what would have happened has the protagonist taken a different action.
- Twixt starts with Baltimore Hall deciding to write a book about the murders in the small town he stopped in. After many alternating dream scenes and fantastic events that reflect the dream and involving vampires, the film cuts to his agent saying that he loves the story, implying that the events of the story were merely the plot of a fictional book.
- Atonement was supposedly completely truthful and written by Briony, but she gave it a happy ending instead of writing down what actually happened: that is, that her sister and Robbie both died before they could reunite. Then you start to wonder how much else she made up, and whether she could really have known the whole truth anyway.
- Cloud Atlas: Each story cuts off halfway through to jump to another. All the stories are "real" but the protagonist of each story only has access to half of the previous story. After the final story this is reversed, with the second half of each story being presented in reverse order as each protagonist finds the rest of the previous story.
- In Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, the dialogue "Contrafactus" involves a "Subjunc-TV", which is a television that can tune into channels that show events under various hypothetical circumstances (illustrated by the characters watching a football game and seeing "subjunctive instant replays" showing how a play would have gone if, say, footballs were round, or if it were baseball instead of football). The Crab mentions that he got the Subjunc-TV in a contest, but eventually reveals that he didn't actually win; the whole story is then revealed to be a Subjunc-TV broadcast of what would have happened if he had won.
- The Hildegunst von Mythemetz/Optimus Yarnspinner novels by Walter Moers can be a bit confusing to keep track of. In the opening, the author Walter Moers claims to be a translator who is also called Walter Moers, who had made this translation of a book by the Zamonian author Hildegunst von Mythemetz. The author Hildegunst is also the narrator of the story he is telling in his novels, while often mentioning and referencing his own life as a Zamonian author during breaks in the story. To make things worse, the City of Dreaming Books novels are also autobiographical, which makes Hildegunst also the main character. And being a series about writing and storytelling, characters in the story are also telling each other stories, extending the nesting to five levels, if one includes the real world author Walter Moers as the first one, and still four levels if not.
- The third episode of the 2014 Cosmos shows an elderly man watching William Herschel walking along the beach, teaching his son John about astronomy. At the end, it's revealed that the old man is John, and the scenes were his memories.
- One episode of the The Dead Zone had Johnny bump into a woman in a bar. He sees various visions which snap back to him bumping into her in the bar. He avoids all the visions by calling his friend the sheriff and asking him to wait outside for the woman's future murderers.
- Doctor Who: The majority of "Extremis" takes place in the latest of many computer simulations created by the Prophets of Truth in preparation for their invasion of Earth. The Doctor, Bill and Nardole that we see for most of the episode are simulacrums in this virtual reality. This time, however, the simulated Doctor manages to send the real one an email with his memory-print of the last several hours, alerting him to what's going on. Most of the episode is just that — the Doctor watching the recording.
- In one episode of Frasier, the eponymous doctor is seriously doubting whether he should help strangers in need. While driving his car, he sees a woman standing in the rain, and decides to give her a ride. The woman turns out to be a transgender prostitute, and Frasier soon gets arrested by the police, who mistakenly think he's soliciting for her services. The whole event ends up being publicized in the media, making Frasier a laughing stock. Just before the episode ends, it cuts back to the scene with Frasier in the car and the woman standing in the rain. Turns out everything that happened was just a worst-case scenario Frasier had been considering in his head. He gives the woman a ride anyway.
- In the season 2 finale of Roseanne, Dan builds Roseanne an office in which she can realize her dream of becoming a writer. In the final episode, it's revealed that the entire series has been based on a semi-autobiographical story she's been writing in the office. In the story, she's changed a number of details about her life that she didn't like, while in reality, Dan actually died from his heart attack during Darlene's wedding; Darlene actually married Mark, while Becky married David; her sister, rather than her mother, was a lesbian; and Roseanne didn't win the lottery.
- In the play A Madhouse in Goa by Martin Sherman, the second act reveals that the first act was a fictionalized account of events written by a character in the second act; in the second act a Corrupt Corporate Executive wants to make the story into a movie musical. (Production notes say that the first act may be performed separately, under a different name).
- The ending of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge is usually interpreted as this, though The Curse of Monkey Island retcons it so that everything was real after all.
- However, series creator Ron Gilbert had no involvement in the series after LeChuck's Revenge (aside from minor, early story advice on Tales of Monkey Island, which was still part of the continuity created by the third game), having left LucasArts a year after it was released, and he said that the reveal in Curse wasn't what he had in plan for the story, so it might be a nested story after all.
- The Interactive Fiction game Photopia switches back and forth between two plots; the first is a slice-of-life story centered around a teen girl named Alley, and the second starts with an astronaut exploring Mars and gets stranger from there. The latter turns out to be a story that Alley is telling to Wendy, who she's babysitting.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Over thirty years later, Word of God (from Miyamoto himself) confirms that the events of Super Mario Bros. 3 were all just a play Mario and friends were performing. This was heavily hinted at in-game, though, with the game beginning with a curtain opening and the blocks being bolted to the background, for instance.
- Super Mario Galaxy 2 is either this, or a Cosmic Retcon of the first game.
- The ending of Mass Effect 3 reveals that an old man was retelling the events of the whole trilogy to his grandchild under an Alien Sky; the child then asks for another story about "the Shepard".
- Completing Sonic Mania in the unlockable & Knuckles mode while playing as Knuckles reveals that the events of the mode are actually a story called Sonic Mania & Knuckles that Knuckles reads to some animal buddies.
- The interactive fiction game Broken Legs is about a Villain Protagonist named Lottie who sabotages all her rivals to get selected for a prestigious singing job. Until you learn at the end that it's a story made up by Mary, one of Lottie's rivals, to convince the school board to fire Lottie so that she can get the coveted job instead. This is cleverly foreshadowed by Mary being the only character portrayed in a flattering light in Lottie's narrative.
- The ending to Umineko: When They Cry reveals that the repeating time loop is actually Toya Hachijo's attempt to recreate and speculate on the events of Rokkenjima 1986 by writing mystery novels based on the two original message bottles (Legend and Turn of the Golden Witch).
- The entire premise to the Kinetic Novel One Thousand Lies reveals is that the prologue and conclusion were in fact, what actually happened, while the entire main story, the "One Thousand Lies," was actually a story penned by the main character, Ciaran.
- In Opplopolis a brief sequence about an alien race is apparently revealed to be a fantasy of Marvin's. Later, the same aliens reappear and discuss future events of the comic, in the process implying that Opplopolis is actually the nested story (one told to the aliens by something called "the marvedyne").
- This strip of Drawing Board is a rather extreme example of this trope.
- This video by Cyanide & Happiness.
- The Adventure Time episode "Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake" seems to be a pure Gender Flip Alternate Reality Episode, then makes a sudden right-turn at the end to reveal everything was Ice King's fanfiction read to a frozen Finn and Jake. Later "Fionna and Cake" episodes establish that Ice King, Marceline, or some other character are the ones telling the story.
- There's that two-part episode of Family Guy called Stewie Kills Lois and Lois Kills Stewie where Stewie tries to kill Lois, then tries to take over the world when he realizes she survived, then she tries to stop him by any means necessary, but at the end of the second episode it turns out that Stewie was just running a virtual reality simulation to see what would happen if he finally tried to kill Lois. The use of this trope is Lampshaded by Brian, who comments that anyone who were "watching" the simulation and found out at the end it didn't happen would feel like they'd been given a "giant middle finger".
- In the later episode "Forget Me Not", the entire plot is revealed to be an experiment by Stewie to test Brian and Peter's relationship.
- In the first "Anthology of Interest" episode of Futurama, the Professor invents a Fing-Longer (a glove with an extended index finger), which leads the crew to discover his What-If machine. The rest of the episode is a series of shorts played out on the What-If machine based on questions that the others ask it. At the very end of the episode there's a cut to the Professor watching the What-If machine alone, and he says "So that's what things would be like if I'd invented the Fing-Longer."
- Exaggerated in The Simpsons's episode "The Seemingly Never-Ending Story": Lisa tells a story while the family is trapped in a cave, which turns into a series of stories within stories. As she finishes all the events from her story come together to have Burns, the rich Texan, Moe, and Snake all trying to steal gold hidden nearby. When the story concludes it turns out the whole thing was Bart explaining to the principal why he hadn't been able to do his homework.
- The South Park episode "Woodland Critter Christmas" is revealed to be a story narrated by Cartman near the end when Kyle objects to "Kyle" agreeing to host the Antichrist.