Just as the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism determines the 'mood' of a series, this scale determines how much a particular series is unlike reality in relation to the natural laws, general conditions, and probabilities of RealLife. Stories also vary greatly in their realism concerning human behavior, but that trope has yet to be created.

There are cases where the writers believe in something which most of the audience consider unrealistic; these should be judged according to the audience' standards, for no one knows exactly what a writer believes. There are cases where they got their facts wrong. If it's obviously deliberate laziness, the work deserves a place at the fantastic end, even if it's unintended.

There are also stories in which the precise cause of things is never delineated: both a naturalistic (positivist) and a supernatural explanation is possible.

Not to be confused with MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness - a time-travel story with [[MinovskyPhysics rigorous rules]] can be fairly Hard but decidedly Fantastic, for example. SlidingScaleOfLikeRealityUnlessNoted charts the degree to which a work of fiction set in what is ostensibly a "modern", Earthly environment departs from RealLife.

A story's way of dealing with BackFromTheDead can often be a very good - but not the sole or final - indicator:

* Mundane: Death is final. No one ever comes back from the dead.
* Unrealistic: If anyone comes back, it's from NotQuiteDead or from improbably surviving events that should have killed them (but, of course, they NeverFoundTheBody).
* Unusual: People can outright come BackFromTheDead, somehow, but it's a very rare occurrence.
* Fantastic: It's difficult to come BackFromTheDead and it has certain requirements.
* Surreal: Death lasts about a minute.

The existence or non-existence of [[AlienTropes sentient extra-terrestrial life]] is another indicator of where a work might belong on the scale:
* Mundane: Since neither sentient nor non-sentient extraterrestrial life has been proven to exist in real-life as we know it, the issue is moot and completely irrelevant in this work.
* Unrealistic: Works in this category mimics real-life as we know it, and any indication on the existence of extra-terrestrial life is deliberatively left vague.
* Unusual: Sentient extra-terrestrial life can decidedly exist, but if so it is not common knowledge.
* Fantastic: The existence of sentient extra-terrestrial life, and the far-ranging implications it brings with it, could be a center pillar of the work.
* Surreal: Non-undercover aliens are commonplace and there's probably one in your workplace.

Some works can rank one or two steps up or down this basic scale.

Please list examples in an alphabetical order.




There is nothing that cannot be explained by contemporary science and nothing ever happens that could not conceivably occur in RealLife as we know it. A DreamSequence is the only way in which the otherwise hyper-realism in the work can be [[SubvertedTrope subverted]]. The irrevocable and often [[TrueArtIsAngsty brutal nature of mortality is often emphasized]], if not the center-point of the story. The depiction of social injustices, such as exploitation of the poor on behalf of the rich, is another common thematic element. Films in this category may often be [[TrueArtIsIncomprehensible pretentious creations]], often trying to be TrueArt. About the most 'fantastic' thing that happens here is a ContrivedCoincidence or two designed to bring as much bad luck (or good luck) to the characters as possible. ScienceFiction and {{Fantasy}} are by definition ruled out from belonging to this category.


* {{Kitchen Sink Drama}}s typically fall into this category as does WarMovies, [[WarIsHell particulary when depicting real-life wars from the perspective of those who either fought in it or the civilian population affected by it]].
** NonFiction works by definition. (though some could be [[RealityIsUnrealistic considered as Unrealistic or even Unusual)]]
** Many {{Soap Opera}}s and {{Sitcom}}s.
** Movies by KenLoach and many other European directors.
** ''Film/EightAndAHalf''
** ''Series/BandOfBrothers''
** ''Film/{{Dogtooth}}''
** ''Literature/TheGrapesOfWrath'' (and other works by Creator/JohnSteinbeck)
** ''Film/TheGreenElephant''
** ''Film/MyDinnerWithAndre''
** ''Literature/OutOfTheDust''
** ''Film/{{Platoon}}'' and ''Film/BornOnTheFourthOfJuly''
** ''Film/SavingPrivateRyan''
** ''Film/RagingBull''
** ''Film/ThisIsEngland''
** ''Film/{{Titanic 1997}}''
** ''Film/VaseDeNoces''
** ''Voces Inocentes'', a Spanish-language film about a boy named Chava in UsefulNotes/ElSalvador during their civil war.
** ''Series/TheWire''
** ''Series/FreaksAndGeeks''
** ''Series/SixFeetUnder''
** ''Series/TheSopranos''
** ''Series/{{Girls}}''
** ''Series/MySoCalledLife''


The trappings of realism are there. The technology and the settings depicted do have their counterparts in, or are based on, RealLife as we know it, but the [[HollywoodStyle presentation is over-the-top]]. On very, very, rare occasions there may happen what would reasonably seem to be supernatural events, but we are never given a full explanation of [[MaybeMagicMaybeMundane what actually did transpire]]. Depending on the genre, expect either lots of crazy stunts and polished dialogue, and the notion of realism will almost certainly take a back seat to the RuleOfCool, RuleOfFunny, or the RuleOfSexy. American {{Soap Opera}}s also fit, because reality makes a ''lot'' of exceptions for the RuleOfDrama.


* Most mainstream Hollywood movies/television series, and the overwhelming majority of action movies and comedies.
** ''Series/TwentyFour''
** ''Film/ApocalypseNow''
** ''Series/{{Baywatch}}''
** ''Bourne'' series
** ''Film/TheChroniclesOfRiddick'', in contrast to the Death is Final setting of its precedent, ''Film/PitchBlack''.
** ''Series/CriminalMinds''
** ''Series/{{CSI}}'' [[Series/CSIMiami and all]] [[Series/CsiNy its spinoffs]].
** ''Series/{{Dallas}}'' and ''KnotsLanding''
** ''Series/DesperateHousewives'' is a cross between Unrealistic (most of the actual plots) and Unusual (narrated by a deceased character).
** ''Series/EverybodyLovesRaymond''
** ''ForrestGump''
** ''Series/{{Friends}}''
** ''Series/{{JAG}}'', ''Series/{{NCIS}}'' and ''Series/NCISLosAngeles''
** ''Film/TheDeerHunter''
** The [[Film/JamesBond ''cinematic'' James Bond]], with few exceptions, belong here.
** ''Franchise/LawAndOrder'': [[Series/LawAndOrder in its]] [[Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit various]] [[Series/LawAndOrderCriminalIntent incarnations]] [[Series/LawAndOrderTrialByJury is]] [[Series/LawAndOrderLA borderline]] mundane.
** ''Series/TheMentalist''
** {{LawProcedural}}s, such as: ''Series/LALaw'', ''Series/ThePractice'' and ''Series/{{Shark}}''
** ''The Film/LethalWeapon'' series firmly belongs in this category.
** [[MedicalDrama Medical Dramas]] often belong in this category but they often differ in terms of realism: e.g. while ''Series/{{ER}}'' is borderline mundane, ''Series/{{House}}'' is at the higher end of unrealistic.
** ''Literature/TheMillenniumTrilogy''
** ''Series/MurderSheWrote'', and a lot of similar shows
** ''Series/{{Oz}}''
** PoliceProcedurals, such as : ''Series/HillStreetBlues'', ''Series/NYPDBlue'' and ''Series/TheCloser''
** ''Manga/ThePrinceOfTennis'' (at least at the beginning ; it becomes more and more fantastic after)
** ''Series/PrisonBreak''
** ProfessionalWrestling
** ''Series/{{Seinfeld}}'' and ''Series/CurbYourEnthusiasm'', where the plots are generally realistic, just [[ContrivedCoincidence contrived.]]
** ''Series/TheWestWing'', although it has mundane plots and settings, and thus is borderline realistic, the main characters are portrayed as over-the-top know-it-alls and the processes in which the federal government works is extremely simplified for dramatic purposes.
** ''Yamakasi'', a French film about LeParkour, borders between unrealistic and mundane.
** ''Series/{{Undeclared}}'' borders on this and "Realistic."


The world is mostly semi-realistic, but it does contain more than just a few minor fantastic hiccups. It may be TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture or contain some AppliedPhlebotinum which doesn't quite fit into conventional science. Supernatural events may occasionally happen, though they may fall under MaybeMagicMaybeMundane. Some 'hard' science fiction shows that are based on extrapolations of existing technology may fit on the upper end of this.


* {{Horror}}, LowFantasy, MagicRealism, [[MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness "Hard"]] ScienceFiction ("Softer" science fiction with only a few unrealistic elements may also qualify.).
** ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' (because of spirit mediums, channeling and the like)
** ''Franchise/AceCombat''
** ''Series/TheAdventuresOfPeteAndPete'' (the show anyway, the original shorts were definitely surreal.)
** ''Anime/ArmoredTrooperVotoms''
** The ''Franchise/BackToTheFuture'' trilogy
** ''Anime/GraveOfTheFireflies'', narrated by a dead character. Take out the narrator, and the film would have been in the Mundane territory instead.
** ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}''
** ''Franchise/IndianaJones'', semi-realistic with the addition of some supernatural elements.
** ''[[Franchise/JurassicPark Jurassic Park and its sequels]]'': Would obviously be ''Unrealistic'' if it weren't for its core premise of scientists extracting dinosaur DNA from amber and thus the ability to clone dinosaurs, which is clearly super-science in real-life.
** ''Literature/KarlssonOnTheRoof'' is another Creator/AstridLindgren character who should fall into to this category as well. Much like Pippi, he lives in a mundane world where his ability to fly thanks to a propeller on his back is about the only unusual thing occurring.
** ''Manga/KotouraSan'' is very realistic except that PsychicPowers actually exist, but they are so rare that they are not recognized as scientific fact within the setting. While the culture itself is mundane, the narrative does follow the life and hardships of a {{Telepath|y}}ic main character thus putting the story at this level.
** ''Franchise/MetalGear''
** ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion''. TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture plus forty meter tall EldritchAbomination clones disguised as HumongousMecha fit this category rather snugly. ''End of Evangelion'' and ''Anime/RebuildOfEvangelion 2.0'' however take it to the next level '''at minimum'''.
** ''OrionsArm'' borders unusual and fantastic. Everything in it is possible though, albeit just, within known physics.
** ''Film/PacificRim''
** ''Literature/PippiLongstocking'', only the title character (save her father to a lesser extent) does possess any fantastic abilities while the rest of the characters and the world in which they inhabit seem to be rather mundane.
** ''PushingDaisies'' may fit here since aside from the protagonist's power to bring people BackFromTheDead, the world is generally realistic.
** ''Series/PowerRangersRPM'', unlike the original ''Go Onger'' below, falls between fantastic and unusual while bordering more on the unusual side.
** ''VideoGame/RedDeadRedemption'', aside from the DLC [[ReddeadRedemptionUndeadNightmare Undead Nightmare]], which moves straight into fantastic, is realistic enough storyline-wise (Unless you think there's no possible way [[ItsPersonal so]] [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge much]] [[CrapsackWorld crap can]] happen in one guy's life.) Dead-Eye may be explained away as John Marston just being a damn good shot, but what can't be explained are such things that are optional encounters, like carrying a rabbit's paw to increase the amount of loot gotten off of killed enemies, a possible blessed object reducing the chance of enemies shooting at you, and of course[[spoiler: [[AngelUnaware The Strange Man,]]]] who only responds to questions with answers that provide more questions.
** ''Literature/TheHungerGames'', while containing futuristic technology, is apart from that fact, fairly realistic.
** ''Film/TheSeventhSeal'', is set in an otherwise realistic medeival CrapsackWorld of BlackAndGrayMorality haunted by the plauge, and in which [[AnthropomorphicPersonification Death is personified]].
** ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''
** ''TheSuiteLifeOnDeck'': Was Mundane to start with, but then you get plotlines like sentient robots who created themselves trying to take over the ship, having to travel into the future to prevent the ship from an alien invasion, and having to fend off an ancient curse put on you by a dead queen's crown.
** ''Watchmen'': Almost anything fantastic, futuristic or supernatural, can be (directly or not) brought down to Dr. Manhattan's powers - though they're huge. The rest is slightly unrealistic AlternateHistory.
** ''Manga/YamadaKunAndTheSevenWitches'': The witch powers are an important part of the story, but they're a [[{{Masquerade}} hidden]] part of the daily life on an otherwise mundane high school, and the story generally relies on SliceOfLife humor and conflicts even though a lot of the characters use magic. Furthermore, magic only seems to exist on this specific high school - the rest of the world is completely normal.
** ''Film/TheDarkKnightSaga'' fits here because of some slightly futuristic technology and being explicitly not set in our world. But save for a very few elements, ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' would have been unrealistic instead.


The rules of the [[RealLife real world, as we know it]], no longer takes precedence, or may in some cases no longer be applicable at all. Divine intervention, magic or superscience are the prevailing paradigms by which a world in this category functions. Creatures exist that shouldn't exist in RealLife, and the setting might not take place on Earth at all. What ultimately sets ''Fantastic'' apart from ''Surreal'' is that these paradigms do have a certain [[MagicAIsMagicA internal consistency]].


* Most SpeculativeFiction, including most ComicBooks, [[FairyTale Fairy Tales]], HeroicFantasy and "soft" ScienceFiction.
** ''Manga/AttackOnTitan''
** ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' and its spinoff ''Series/{{Angel}}'' are on the far end of Fantastic, approaching Surreal territory.
** ''Manga/CardcaptorSakura''
** ''Franchise/GhostInTheShell''
** ''Franchise/CrashBandicoot''
** ''Manga/DeathNote''
** ''Franchise/{{Digimon}}'' borders between fantastic and surreal.
** ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' is bizarre enough to be surreal, but its internal rules and logic keep it in the Fantastic realm.
** Most of the ''Franchise/DisneyAnimatedCanon''. ''Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast'' is a (if not the) prime example of internal consistency in a fantastic story where the background and the basic rules concerning the magic spell which transformed the prince to a beast (and his servants to house objects), and how it can be undone are disclosed in the opening narration.
** ''Series/DoctorWho'' is probably between Unusual and Fantastic on the definition, because while some stuff is semi-realistic in a few episodes, the effects of half the alien technology and generally setting may as well be magic as explained by TechnoBabble.
** ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongCountry'' is borderline fantastic and surreal. There is no explanation why the apes and crocodiles can walk and talk or why they wear clothes.
** ''FrankenFran''
** ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'' is possibly between fantastic and surreal.
** The ''Literature/HarryPotter'' series.
** ''LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya'': Haruhi's powers are borderline surreal, but it's at least based on Haruhi's mood so it's not completely rule-less; Nagato, Asahina's and Koizumi's are Fantastic; and Kyon is Mundane.
** ''Comicbook/{{Hellboy}}''. Both the comics and movies.
** ''Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob''
** ''WesternAnimation/JackieChanAdventures''.
** ''JohnnyTest''.
** ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' has game rules and [[StandardFantasySetting a pretty typical fantasy background.]]
** ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' and other works by Creator/JRRTolkien, which are set in a vaguely defined mythical past include (relatively uncommon) magic and fantastic creatures.
** The Franchise/MarvelUniverse and Franchise/TheDCU. In fact, most superhero comics (and other superhero fiction, such as TV and films) where the hero and villain are explicitly powered.
** ''VideoGame/MegaManZero''
** ''Franchise/MortalKombat''
** ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic''. Except for Pinkie Pie. She lies in Surreal.
** ''Literature/PeterPan''
** ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' has a lot of elements of surrealism, but ultimately falls around here.
** ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'', which blends realistic elements with magic ([[AppliedPhlebotinum and technology that might as well be]]).
** ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica''
** ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf''. There's just way too many fantastic elements for it to be merely unusual, but there are some rules (e.g. the cursed springs), so it's not completely surreal.
** ''WesternAnimation/RickAndMorty'' focuses on the titular duo travelling to bizarre alternate universes and planets using unrealistic, ambiguous science, but the show's internal logic generally remains consistent.
** ''{{Webcomic/Roommates}}'' It's weird enough to be Surreal but has a defined rule-set (meaning it runs on [[TheoryOfNarrativeCausality story]], {{trope}} and [[ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve belief]]) to bind it all together.
** ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' starts out at the low end of the scale, but progressively becomes more and more fantastic over the course of the books.
** ''Series/SesameStreet''.
** The ''SonicTheHedgehog'' series lies squarely here. Arguably not VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2006.
** ''Series/StargateSG1'', and its spin-offs ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' and ''Series/StargateUniverse''. Although some episodes in the early seasons of SG-1 could be classified as ''Unusual''.
** ''Franchise/StarTrek'' in its various incarnations, although it varies by series ([[DependingOnTheWriter and episode]]).
** ''Franchise/StarWars''
** ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse'' is set in a mostly normal world, with the exception of the Gems. However, because the show focuses on a race of creatures that don't exist in real life, it qualifies as fantastic, though definitely leans closely towards unrealistic.
** ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros'' and ''VideoGame/WarioLand'' have internal rules, else they wouldn't be playable, but these rules make no logical sense and the background is pretty surreal so they're borderline. The earliest games can also be considered surreal, but later games start to establish moderately consistent rules.
** ''WesternAnimation/ThomasTheTankEngine'' is somewhere between unrealistic and surreal. Somewhere.
** ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}''.
** ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'': Of course, the Toon World is mostly surreal, but there are rules regarding the interactions of the "real" and toon worlds.


The world has (almost) no rules or internal logic whatsoever. Anything can (and frequently does) happen, often with little or no explanation. Expect things to [[ItRunsOnNonsensoleum run on nonsensoleum]]. Anything set in the afterlife falls to this category.


* A few comedic SpeculativeFiction settings
** ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime''
** ''Literature/AliceInWonderland'' and ''[[Literature/AliceInWonderland Through the Looking Glass]]''--justified since it's AllJustADream. TimBurton's film was even criticized for being closer to "simply" Fantastic.
** ''WesternAnimation/TheAmazingWorldOfGumball''
** ''Anime/AngelBeats'': It's set on Purgatory where many things are left vague, even after the finale.
** ''AsurasWrath'': Asura comes back from Naraka (Budhhist Hell) after being killed at least THREEE times!
** ''Webcomic/AxeCop''
** ''BettyBoop''
** ''WesternAnimation/CelebrityDeathmatch''
** ''Anime/{{Doraemon}}''
** ''Manga/DragonBall''
** ''Danger 5''
** ''Dr. Seuss''
** ''WesternAnimation/EarthwormJim''
** ''Film/ElTopo''
** ''Series/EngineSentaiGoOnger'' is way over the top into this territory.
** ''Film/{{Eraserhead}}'', and most of Creator/DavidLynch's movies.
** ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents''
** ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy''
** ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}''
** ''Anime/{{FLCL}}'' on the more extreme end of surreal.
** ''Franchise/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy''
** ''WesternAnimation/InsideOut'': The inside worlds. The outside world is pretty mundane.
** ''WesternAnimation/JimmyTwoShoes''
** ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes''
** ''Franchise/TheMatrix''
** ''Webcomic/{{minus}}'' is about the day-to-day life of an omnipotent being. Of course it falls here.
** ''Series/MrYoung''
** ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000''
** ''Franchise/OnePiece'', though it has a stronger sense of {{Continuity}} than most examples in this category. The first 100 chapters probably came closer to "Fantastic" than "Surreal", but then the main characters entered the sea stretch called Grand Line where only few things are impossible (this is even [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] at a point).
** ''WesternAnimation/{{Pingu}}''
** ''WesternAnimation/{{Popeye}}''
** ''Webcomic/ProblemSleuth''
** ''WesternAnimation/RegularShow''
** ''WesternAnimation/RockosModernLife''
** "Literature/TheSnowQueen"
** Animation by Creator/TexAvery
** All movies by SeltzerAndFriedberg
** ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark''
** ''VideoGame/SpaceHarrier''
** ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants''
** ''WesternAnimation/{{Spliced}}''
** ''WesternAnimation/{{Superjail}}''
** ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'' literally has the universe run on this in the form of spiral energy.
** ''Manga/TsubasaReservoirChronicle'', originally ''Fantastic'', eventually steps into this category.
** ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}''
** WidgetSeries (e.g. ''Manga/ExcelSaga'', ''Anime/PaniPoniDash'', ''Anime/PuniPuniPoemi'' and ''Manga/BoboboboBobobo'')
** ''Series/XenaWarriorPrincess''
** ''VideoGame/YumeNikki''