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This Is Reality
Marco: You know, [Cassie] is just not getting the whole superhero thing. Would Wolverine look things up in the phone book?
Rachel: Yeah, well, Wolverine has a big advantage over us. He's not real.

One character tells another; this is reality, this is not a movie, or any variation thereof, most often the stock phrase "This isn't a/an X, you know"; in order to get them to divorce themselves from an unrealistic notion — only, little do they know, their whole world indeed isn't reality! This phrase is often used when defying a trope. In other words, this trope is a Lampshade Hanging affirmation of the Fourth Wall, with a subtle joke and a bit of dramatic irony rolled in.

It is a message to the viewers that "Hey, this show/movie is more grounded in reality than average." This message is not always true. Sometimes it's done for reconstruction purposes where a trope is played realistically but still works in real life.

It's somewhat common in sci-fi and comedy which feature wildly varying levels of realism and can be used to help the audience get a feel for what the limits are. Beyond the Impossible is when these limits are established and then deliberately broken.

Contrast Not a Game, which (usually) does not invoke the Fourth Wall. May be subverted by an Aside Glance. Another possible twist is to have the characters object to an "unrealistic" idea that is in fact perfectly realistic and sensible within that fictional universe.

When inverted, this is Leaning on the Fourth Wall.

Closely related to Wrong Genre Savvy, although the consequences of the latter tend to be much more dire. See also Where Do You Think You Are?, Arbitrary Skepticism, You Watch Too Much X, Real World Episode, Literary Agent Hypothesis, Daydream Believer, Trapped in TV Land. Contrast with Medium Awareness and Reality Is Unrealistic. Reality Ensues is the exact opposite of this trope.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ had an opening theme titled "Anime Ja Nai", or "It's Not Anime", whose final lyric is "Honto no koto sa" ("It's the real thing!"). In this case, it was used to signify a lighter tone than the Darker and Edgier Zeta Gundam — at least for the first half of the series.
  • The original Mobile Suit Gundam had a scene where Char Aznable is showing Lalah Sun battlefield footage as part of her training.
    Char Aznable: "Look closely, Lalah. This is what a real battle looks like - wild and unpredictable - not carefully scripted like a movie. And there's nothing glorious about it."
  • Danced around in the final episodes of Martian Successor Nadesico, in which several characters point out that reality isn't as black and white as anime.
  • On Yu-Gi-Oh!, upon seeing one of Pegasus' Toon monsters, Kaiba exclaims, "This isn't some lame-brained after school cartoon!"
  • In Digimon Frontier, Koji once chastises Takuya for recklessness: "It's not a game! If we lose, we cannot just start from scratch, we are dead!"
  • A military officer (who is Envy in a disguise) in Fullmetal Alchemist scolds Edward for his overly dramatic behavior by saying "Stop acting like you're in a manga!"
  • As they're preparing for a dance contest in Rave Master Lazenby tells Elie "If this were a manga the last man standing would be the winner"
  • Full Metal Panic!. Trapped Behind Enemy Lines and surrounded by a hostile army searching for them, Kaname is reminded of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and suggests that such movies should have a happy ending instead. Her voice startles some birds, bringing down an immediate hail of fire. "Oh I get it, this is reality, right!" But Kurz and Sousake like the idea of the "cool" Bolivian Army Ending and the three of them prepare to go out in a blaze of glory. Fortunately, help choses that moment to arrive.
  • Invoked in the opening skit of Daily Lives of High School Boys: Tadakuni, Hidenori and Yoshitake are attacked by Zakus and embark on a heroic fantasy quest on their way to school before Tadakuni complains there aren't meant to be any mobile suits or heroic tales in a Slice of Life. In fact, the anime goes to great lengths to reinforce this trope.
  • In Macross II, Hibiki's mentor tells him off for only wanting the "good parts" of the battle reported on, stating that "they're not making some series to get ratings." Which is all well and good, since Macross II had disappointing sales.
  • Lucky Star does this all the time. It's a pretty consistent source for jokes involving Konata.
  • In one episode of Pokémon, Ash confidently declares that he's not a "cartoon character".
    • In the early episode "The School of Hard Knocks", a student claims to have learned Pokemon strengths and weaknesses from using a battling simulator, to which Misty remarks "this is real life!" and challenges him to a face-to-face battle, beating him with ease. Oddly, in the first scene of this same episode, Brock's line just before the title card is "we've gotta start the show", though the context is ambiguous regarding whether he might have meant it metaphorically.
  • The introduction to Haruhi Suzumiya is exactly this; Kyon begrudgingly accepts the fact that he lives in the real world, where aliens, time-travelers, and espers don't actually exist. They do.
  • In the second episode of Shakugan no Shana, the title character says this. It's actually an inversion, since he says this to make him face facts, after explaining the Awful Truth.
  • In Episode 10 of A Certain Magical Index, Touma tells Mikoto, "This isn't a Shoujo manga!"
  • In one issue of Bleach, Karin says about Ichigo, "He's a normal guy. He's not some anime character." True, this was in the manga, but he is an anime character.
  • In Durarara!!, a Blue Square member complains about Kadota and Chikage teaming up after a fight on the basis that "this isn't a fucking manga." He's right. It's a Light Novel.
    • Erika and Walker, as well. They're both complete Otakus and theorize on "if this was a manga" and "I'd like to go to the 2D world."
  • Kaze no Stigma episode "Pandemonium":
    Vesalius: When will the climax of our little play take place? When will all three of you come together and meet up for the last time in your final scene together? The main characters miraculously discover the secret hideout of the sinister magic user. But then suddenly fall into a trap and get separated, and each of them encounters a formidable enemy. What do you think, quite an exhilarating story, isn't it? And obviously an unexpected plot twist is needed to crown the climax and bring our drama to its bloody conclusion.
    Ren: This isn't some kind of play, this is real life!
  • In You're Under Arrest! Full Throttle, in episode 10, Natsumi and Miyuki have to operate robots designed for dangerous rescues. Upon being introduced to them, Nakajima points out that one of them doesn't feature a face nor legs to which the creator answers that robots are designed that way only in anime and manga.
  • Campione!: When Godou's male classmates hear he hooked up with a hot Italian noble they exclaim, "That couldn't even happen in an anime!"
  • Tenchi Universe:
    Washu: Because its range is only 800 meters. It doesn't work like it would in a cartoon!
  • At the beginning of Magic Knight Rayearth, the girls compare their adventure—magic, a quest to Save the Princess, items to fetch—to a Role-Playing Game. When they're attacked by a very powerful sorceress shortly after, Fuu immediately says that it's not like an RPG because they don't have nearly enough Character Levels to deal with it. They get an even harsher lesson at the end of the series when they realize they aren't there to save the princess, but kill her before her inner turmoil destroys the world.
  • In one chapter of Sakura Trick, Yuzu insists that they're not in a shoujo manga, and thus Haruka wouldn't lick food off of Yuu's face despite the two are a pair of Schoolgirl Lesbians. She's right on both counts; Sakura Trick is a seinen manga, and Haruka only ate the scrap after wiping it off.
  • Heavily wounded and facing a lethal attack from Vanilla Ice, the handsome Polnareff has three options: escaping by himself, being suddenly saved by his friends or... just dying there, for "reality is cruel".
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: In the first episode, Sayaka complains that Homura is acting like some anime character when she learns of her cryptic warning to Madoka. She says it again (about Madoka, to Madoka) when she says that she did meet Homura before - in a dream.
  • In Sailor Moon, episode 21, Usagi is watching the trailer of the new anime of "Sailor V" that is soon to air on TV. Depressed, she wishes that someone would make an anime about her as well. Luna drops a comment about how the idea is too silly to even think about.

    Audio 
  • The Firesign Theatre uses this trope extensively in almost their entire body of audio comedy work. The layers of trope-play become extremely confusing and interesting. See the quotes page for one example.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes audio drama "The Abergavenny Murder", Holmes announces that if a client doesn't come through the door soon, he'll go mad from boredom, then pauses hopefully.
    Holmes: Oh, how disappointing. I was rather hoping the doorbell would ring. It would have been like a moment from one of your lurid adventures.
    Watson: Unfortunately, this is reality.
    Holmes: Is it? Sometimes I wonder.
    *doorbell rings*

    Comic Books 
  • In the Archie Comics story "See You in the Funny Papers" (no longer online?), Veronica says to Betty when the latter shows Medium Awareness, "We live in the real world, girl! Not comic books!"
  • In Watchmen, the Big Bad dismisses the idea that the plan he's describing can be stopped by stating that he isn't some "Republic serial villain." No... he's the villain of a superhero comic.
  • More or less the point of Superman Secret Identity is Clark comparing his life and powers to his comic book namesake.
  • Don Rosa's Once and Future Duck uses this when a time-travelling Donald Duck is about to get executed by King Arthur's men, and begs his nephews to use the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook and predict a Convenient Eclipse. Image.
  • In an issue of JLA, Batman, in his guise as Bruce Wayne, is trapped in an elevator with several of his subordinates by a madman with a bomb. The other characters vainly search for an escape hatch, to which Wayne drily points out that "Interior escape hatches on elevators are a thing of movies and television. Those on modern elevators can be accessed only from outside the car." He said this as he was preparing to kill the lights, so presumably he had some sort of plan.
  • An issue of Animaniacs has a subtle, almost-subverted example. Dr. Scratchansniff has to babysit Yakko, Wakko, and Dot on a day when he would rather read comic books. He decides he might as well combine the two activities and gives the kids a lecture about how comics are put together. He compares a comic to an unborn baby, pointing out that just as with a baby, it takes many steps for a funny idea to "gestate" into a funny comic book. (At one point, Yakko turns to the audience and asks: "Is anyone else getting tired of this metaphor?") The ironic thing is, Dr. Scratchansniff and the Warner siblings are themselves in a comic book, so the doctor's pregnancy metaphor is actually quite apt where they are concerned.

    Fan Works 
  • Tsuruya dismisses using their prodigious anime collection as a basis for a confession, reasoning that real life is more complicated than that in Kyon Big Damn Hero.
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality has Dumbledore compare the war against Voldemort (which he thinks has restarted, thanks to a badly calculated action on Harry's part) to The Lord of the Rings, and then state that Tolkien has no idea how a wizarding war would really go, and that Gandalf should have taken Frodo and the Ring to Rivendell immediately, as soon as he suspected Frodo might have the Ring, as even if Gandalf was wrong, the magnitude of the danger he suspected Frodo and Middle-Earth were in outweighed the inconvenience to Frodo, and the potential massive embarrassment to Gandalf. He also states that that wasn't Gandalf's only mistake, just his worst.
    • Several times, Harry reflects that Dumbledore apparently believes he lives in a world that runs on the Law Of Narrative Causality, doing things like keeping Snape employed because he believes there as to be an Obviously Evil Potions Master. Harry, who is sure he lives in the real world, is rather terrified by this revelation.
    • But then it turns out he's Obfuscating Insanity, and actually has much better reasons. Maybe.
  • There's a Neon Genesis Evangelion fanfic where someone, upon hearing a song from Megumi Hayashibara, notes that for some reason, she sounds like Rei.
  • Used several times in With Strings Attached:
    • Right at the beginning, when John and Paul have to pee, Paul mentions that it seems “a bit crass” to have to pee when they never do in Star Wars or whatever. To which John replies: “Maybe they don't water the crass in fiction, but they do in real life.”
    • Later, after Paul has become super-strong and realizes that he never dare have sex with anyone ever again, he wonders how Superman has sex, and immediately answers himself: Because his writers let him. (Actually, as the book is set in 1980, he also notes that Superman simply never had sex at all.)
  • A Tumblr user who participated in a roleplaying game based on Watchmen once posted a cap of the aforementioned quote by the Big Bad as adjusted for the game: "I'm not the villain of some over-hyped action film."
  • In Connecting The Dots, Beast Boy, while showing the internet to Kiba, explains to him the concept of fanfiction. Beast Boy is shocked when Kiba asks him if there's fanfiction about HIM, because obviously, fanfiction doesn't deal with reality.
  • Anthropology: After explaining all about Discord and what he's up to, Lyra tells her father that “This isn’t one of your books. This is real life.” Hilarious in Hindsight, seeing as Discord has just turned Lyra into a pony.
  • Chapter 3 of The Rest Of The Pieces includes the following line:
    Phoenix: Stupid Edgeworth. Where does he get off being so cool, whipping out lines like that and then disappearing off into the sunset. That doesn't happen in real life. It's like something out of a movie.
  • The beginning of Episode 1 of Ed, Edd n' Eddy Z includes the following exchange:
    Corey: Ed, Eddy, Double-D. You guys are Saiyans. This must be the tenth time I've said this in a month!
    Edd: And I keep telling you, we're human!
    Eddy: You're nuts, like Double-D keeps saying to you, over and over and over again!
    Ed: I don't care if you are a hero, but I know we're not like in a comic book!
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Messiah, the villain Fortunado has a day job as a director, and as a result bases most of his plans on movie plots. During his duel with Jason, he secretly predicts how Jason will lose, based on a plot about a hero thinking he's about to win, but then destroying himself with a mistake. The plan is foiled when Jason does something different. When the villain demands to know what is going on, Jason comments that this isn't a movie and he's not an actor, so Fortunado cannot control him.
  • Several times in Origin Story, the characters think of an idea, then declare it to be something that'd only work in an action movie or a comic book. Note that this story is a Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Power Girl cross-over that takes place in the Marvel Universe.

    Films — Animated 
  • In The Incredibles, Helen/Elastigirl warns her kids that the Evil Minions are not like the villains in the Saturday Morning Cartoons they watch, and will kill them if given the chance.
    • This whole scene makes a lot more sense if you've seen the deleted scene where Helen's old friend the pilot is still on the plane when it gets hit. It still makes plenty of sense even without that scene, as the kids were on the plane when missiles were fired, despite Helen's warning of "children on board!"
    • When Syndrome shows the captured family the TV footage of the landed alien aircraft, he says, "You gotta admit this is cool, just like the movies!"
  • The Last Unicorn: Robin Hood is a myth! We are the reality!
  • Also used in Cinderella by The Grand Duke, ribbing the King for setting up a ball in hopes that the Prince would find a bride. The scene plays out exactly according to The Duke's description, to the point where he finishes with "...a fine plot for fairy tales, but in real life, it is foredoomed to failure!"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The English remake of the movie Funny Games has this dialogue between two characters:
    Paul: You can see it in the movie right?
    Peter: Of course.
    Paul: Well then she's as real as reality because you can see it too. Right?
    Peter: Bullshit.
    Paul: Why?
  • A snippet of dialog from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial:
    Greg: Can't he just... beam up?
    Elliott: This is reality, Greg.
  • A good deal of Last Action Hero plays on the differences between the real world and the Hollywood action movie version thereof. Unfortunately, even the supposedly "real" world has movie electricity. Also, the Big Bad rants that the "real" world averts The Good Guys Always Win, but in the end...
  • Subverted in Scream (1996):
    Sidney: But this is not a movie.
    Billy: Yes it is, Sidney. It's all one big movie.
    • And in Scary Movie, the relevant scene even has the guy pointing to the cameras, resulting in annoyed groans from the cameramen.
  • Played with by the ZAZ movie Top Secret:
    Hillary: I know. It all sounds like some bad movie.
    (Awkward pause. Nick and Hillary look toward the camera, embarrassed.)
  • In My Favorite Year, washed-up actor Alan Swann (played, with magnificent appropriateness, by Peter O'Toole) proposes that he and his minder, Benji, use a fire hose to climb down the outside of a building and crash a party being thrown by the parents of the girl Benji likes. Benji protests to no avail, finally snapping.
    Benji Stone: That was the movies! This is real life!
    Alan Swann: What is the difference?
  • Played straight in The Boondock Saints:
    Agent Smecker: Television is the explanation for this. You see this in bad television. Little assault guys creeping through the vents, coming in through the ceiling? That James Bond shit never happens in real life! Professionals don't do that!
    • In a sense, this is an inversion. Usually, the character is contrasting Real Life and fiction, declaring that they are not in a work of fiction (and causing the audience to chuckle). Smecker, on the other hand, has just unwittingly likened Real Life to fiction (since a trope that only happens in "bad television" has just popped up). His intended point was that the killers were unprofessional—though if he followed his own logic, he might have realized that they are, in fact, in a work of fiction.
  • Played straight in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, where Padme tells Anakin that "we live in the real world; come back to it." Which is smashed to bits by her following line: "You're studying to become a Jedi Knight, I'm a senator."
  • Played straight, but intended for subtle humor according to the filmmakers, in Star Trek III, where the following exchange takes place.
    Obnoxious Cadet: What, have you lost all your sense of reality?
    Uhura: This isn't reality. [points a phaser at him] This is fantasy.
  • In what may be case of the fiction protesting too much, the film The Bourne Ultimatum seeks to remind us again and again that "you couldn't make this stuff up", "this isn't some story", and so on.
  • In Spaceballs, Lone Starr yells "Welcome to Real Life!" to the Princess, when she complains that she has to carry her own luggage. Minutes later, the movie's villains use a copy of the movie itself to track them down.
  • In Network, Max reminds Diana that this isn't one of her television drama scripts, it's real life.
  • Near the end of Dial M for Murder, Genre Savvy thriller author Mark is desperate to save Margot from being executed and comes to her husband Tony with an idea he's worked out of how Tony could claim he had been trying to kill Margot and spend a few years in jail in exchange for saving her life. Unknowingly, he proceeds to outline almost the exact same plan that Tony actually used. Tony says that nobody would believe a story like that.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Benny the Cab warns an armed Roger, as he goes off to rescue Eddie and Jessica, "Be careful with that gun! This ain't no cartoon, ya know." Justified, as Roger is an actor, and Benny is telling him this ain't a cartoon starring him: the perils are real.
  • In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the two lead characters are being walked, at gunpoint, into a nearby building. One of them starts talking to his friend and fellow hostage about the difference between movies and reality. Specifically, how in the movies anyone you turn a gun on is a hostage, whereas in real life, the professionals like to keep a distance of at least five feet, lest the "hostage" take the gun and "make them eat it". He then proceeds to do exactly that.
  • A favorite line of the main character in In the Mouth of Madness is that "This is reality." He's wrong on more levels than you can count as he is not only a character in a movie where a book is controlling reality but a character in a movie who is part of a mind warping movie which is revealed to be the movie that you are watching. With a small chance that he's just hallucinating and it's still not real.
  • In Silver Streak, Gene Wilder is surprised at how quickly his gun runs out of bullets. Richard Pryor comments "What do you think this is, a western?" Since the movie itself is not a western, this could also be a genuine fourth wall breaking comment.
    • It's probably also a Shout-Out to Gene Wilder's gunfighter character from Blazing Saddles...
      • Especially when you consider that Pryor cowrote the movie.
  • Inverted in the movie E Xisten Z, which has several 'nested' realities thanks to people playing a virtual reality game that uses all of one's senses. Hence, the characters might be playing the game, then in the game start playing the game, then in that game start playing the game to further something in the 'earlier' level of the game. When finally all the strangeness 'resolves' in The Reveal, the shock causes one minor character to comment, "Wait, we're still in the game, right?" So maybe this is not reality.
  • The first Superman movie began with Jor-El declaring "This is no fantasy — no careless product of wild imagination." He was referring to the conspiracy between General Zod and his cohorts, but the line also plays as a wink at the audience.
  • In Whatever Works, the main character has No Fourth Wall, which his pals doubt.
  • Claimed by a character in Cube 2: Hypercube.
    This isn't a game, Kate. There is no happy ending.
  • In Super, one of Sarah's friends accuses her of acting as if she lives in tv because she plans to marry Frank (who later dresses as a superhero from influence of tv and comic books).
  • Near the end of Hugo, Papa Georges sadly states that he knows his automaton was destroyed, because "happy endings only happen in the movies". Cue Hugo running off to get it, because this is a movie, and there is a happy ending.
  • A hilarious example from the 1991 movie The Hard Way; Nick Lang (Michael J. Fox), an action-adventure star parody of Indiana Jones, is doing research for a gritty cop movie by following John Moss (James Woods), a hard-boiled detective. At one point, Moss can't take it anymore:
    John Moss: We live this job. It's something we are, not something we do! Every time a cop walks up to a car and has to give a speeding ticket, he know he may have to kill someone or be killed himself. That's not something you step into by strapping on a rubber gun and riding around all day. You get to go back to your million dollar beach house and your bimbos and your blow jobs and you get 17 takes to get it right. We get one take. It lasts our whole lives. We mess it up and we're dead.
    Nick Lang: (holding up a tape recorder) Fuck was that great! John. Look. Can you just say that one more time for me, please? John.
  • In Blade, Blade tells Karen that crucifixes and holy water are ineffective against vampires, and advises her to "forget what you've seen in the movies."
  • The tagline for the Super Mario Bros. movie is, "This ain't no game...it's a live-action thrill-ride!"
  • Swordfish starts with John Travolta's character talking to a group of Feds and complaining about Hollywood making predictable, unrealistic movies. One of his main concerns is that bad guys never get off scot-free, whereas, in Real Life, this is a strong possibility. Except, in this film, they do get off scot-free. Specifically, they survive and use their ill-gotten gains to finance their counter-terrorist operations.
  • In The Cable Guy, As Chip is holding Robin hostage on the satellite tower:
    Chip: You've gotta admit though, this is a pretty cool place for an ending.
    Steven: An ending to what?
    Chip: It's like that movie Golden Eye.
    Steven: No it's not. It's not like anything. This isn't a movie. This is reality. There's a difference.
  • Serenity has The Operative pull this after he beats the crap out of Mal. He's Wrong Genre Savvy, though.
    "Nothing here is what it seems. He is not the plucky hero. The Alliance is not an evil empire. This is not the grand arena."

    Literature 
  • Superman thinks something along the lines of this in the novelization of Superman Returns when he is saving a jet with difficulty.
  • Animorphs often contrasts the characters' experiences with video games, movies, and comic books.
    • Marco in particular was fond of doing this.
  • From the same author, Everworld often does the same, just Darker and Edgier.
  • Some of the less Genre Savvy characters in the Discworld novels use this line in one form or another.
    • It's also played with in other areas, such as in Good Omens where, when a character is looking for her lost book, she employs several tropes that, as the narrator notes, would work in any story worth its salt, but alas, not here.
    • In Feet of Clay:
    Carrot: Maybe we can reason with it—
    Angua: Attention! This is the real world calling!
  • In Christine, there's a scene where one of the main characters, the scrawny, eternally-victimized Arnie, decks his longtime tormentor. The narrator comments that if it had been a movie or a book, the punch would have knocked him out; unfortunately, this was not the case.
    • Most of Stephen King's works are rife with this. In Misery Paul Sheldon contemplates how to kill the crazy woman holding him captive, only to shoot down every idea he comes up with with "well, maybe in a book that would work, but here, no."
    • A particularly meta example occurs in Thinner (which was written under King's Richard Bachman pseudonym). One character tells another, "You were starting to sound like a Stephen King novel there."
    • In The Green Mile, Paul's friend Elaine correctly guesses the end of his story, that John Coffey would be executed, because "Providence-with-a-capital-P is greatly overrated in the lives of ordinary humans".
  • Older Than Steam: Don Quixote was one of the first works to consciously do this.
  • The protagonist of Mil Millington's A Certain Chemistry, a writer, describes his (supermarket manager) girlfriend's unusual eating habits by saying "If she likes ice-cream, and likes eggs, she might have ice-cream and eggs for dinner. If I was writing her character, I might say that her job means she sees the food as just an output when it goes into the bags at the checkout. But no, she was like that before she worked there." [misquoted from memory]
  • Roald Dahl had a short story where he mentions how the protagonist would have met a Karmic Death if it were a story, but it wasn't a story, so things turned out otherwise.
  • Tom Clancy frequently points out in his fiction works how things in his stories differ from the movies. The books themselves are only slightly closer to reality, however.
  • Many, many modern detective novels (such as Michael Connelly or James Patterson to name a few) feature entries where the protagonist thinks how they could easily resolve the case...if it was taking place in a detective novel. It is sometimes used effectively, other times ham-handedly.
    • Agatha Christie did this all the time. In her classic Murder on the Orient Express, for example, there's a moment when Poirot verbally makes a point of not really going into much of an effort to check for fingerprints at the crime scene, as no criminal with any sense at all would be stupid enough to not use gloves. As such, he does the mandatory checking, but just so he can say his investigation was thorough.
    • Dorothy L. Sayers did, too. Lord Peter Wimsey frequently remarks that things are not as convenient in his "real" cases as they would be in a mystery novel. And the best instance is when Lord Peter's love interest, mystery author Harriet Vane, spots someone lying on a beach and muses, "Now, if I had any luck, he'd be a corpse, and I should report him and get my name in the papers. That would be something like publicity. [...] But these things never happen to authors." A few grim paragraphs later, the narrator remarks, "Harriet's luck was in."
  • In the Inheritance Cycle, the character Roran has to come to terms with several issues after the destruction of his family, one of which being that, "Justice, the oldest stand-by in songs and legends, had little hold in reality."
  • In Gone, after learning that he had launched one of his henchmen into a wall, Caine asks if he's all right.
    Diana: This isn't the movies, Caine. He looked like roadkill.
  • In the Andrew Vachss Burke book Mask Market, Wolfe tells Burke that "this is real life, not a TV show".
    • In Terminal, one guy Burke speaks to tells him that neo-Nazi prisoners on their way to death row can blame snitches, not undercover cops, as "those movies where they put undercovers in prison, never happen. Couldn't happen."
  • In The Last Unicorn, Molly Grue is tired of the made-up stories of Captain Cully's exploits and asks for one about Robin Hood. Captain Cully angrily replied that Robin Hood is a myth.
  • One of the Riders of Rohan in The Two Towers laughed at Gimli for suggesting that hobbits were real. Only in the book, though.
  • Early in The Deed of Paksenarrion, Saben, having just escaped captivity at the hands of a villain, with two of his friends, is excited to imagine bringing word back to the Duke, rescuing the rest of the company, and being "heroes in this tale". Canna replies, "this is no fireside tale, no adventure for a hero out of songs: this is real. We aren't likely to make it as far as the Duke, though we'll try".
  • A scene in Red Seas Under Red Skies has the two protagonists, Locke and Jean, discussing the relative merits of romantic fiction and non-fiction. The two characters make their living through elaborate grifts and confidence games, pretending to be people they aren't. Thus the phrase "we've made it our meal ticket" is an amusing double entendre: the characters mean their profession as thieves, but the readers could take it as a reference to the author's book sales.
    Locke: But romances aren't real, and surely never were. Doesn't that take away some of the savor?
    Jean: What an interesting choice of words. 'Not real, and never were.' Could there be any more appropriate literature for men of our profession? Why are you so averse to fiction, when we've made it our meal ticket?
    Locke: I live in the real world, and my methods are of the real world. They are, just as you say, a profession. A practicality, not some romantic whim.
  • Subverted in the first book of The Wheel of Time, Mat says "It isn't much like the stories," to which Perrin disagrees — "I don't know... Trollocs, a Warder, an Aes Sedai. What more could you ask?"
    • Played straight later in the series. At least once per book someone will complain about how things aren't as easy in reality as they are in the stories.
  • In Captain French, or the Quest for Paradise by Mikhail Akhmanov and Christopher Nicholas Gilmore, the titular protagonist muses on an old novel he read once that cited the Three Laws of Robotics. He then points out that this is complete bull in Real Life, as his robots will do whatever he tells them to, including kill.
  • The first few books of Galaxy of Fear have characters dismissing the fears of whichever character saw something by saying this is the real world, people don't just vanish, zombies aren't real, etc, claiming Tash or Zak saw something else and misinterpreted things. However, they soon shape up and start taking these things seriously. As it takes place within the Galaxy Far, Far Away, many things are possible... it's just most of them are well outside of common experience.
  • The first-person narrator in The Name of the Wind insists on this repeatedly to justify things like getting completely sidetracked from his revenge mission for years (to the point that by the end of the book he has only a bare handful of clues to the nature of the beings he is seeking revenge on, most of which we already knew at the beginning.)
    • In the opening chapter, a minor character returns to the inn after being attacked by a demon. Even when confronted with the monster's dead body, the townspeople insist that things like that only exist in stories and legends.
    Narrator: Certainly there were demons in the world. But they were like Tehlu’s angels. They were like heroes and kings. They belonged in stories. They belonged out there. Taborlin the Great called up fire and lightning to destroy demons. Tehlu broke them in his hands and sent them howling into the nameless void. Your childhood friend didn’t stomp one to death on the road to Baedn-Bryt. It was ridiculous.
  • In Queen Zixi Of Ix, the lord high steward's dog Ruffles has started talking, leading to this exchange:
    Steward: Why, you are the only dog I ever heard of who could talk.
    Ruffles: Except in fairy tales. Don't forget the fairy tales.
    Steward: I don't forget. But this isn't a fairy tale, Ruffles. It's real life in the kingdom of Noland.
  • In More Than This, Seth notices all the tropes in his story, and starts to wonder if the "real" world is actually real. Regine argues against the idea, especially when Seth suggests the Driver might come back to life like a horror movie villain after he was killed. He's right.
  • Constantly done by the titular protagonist in Captain French, or the Quest for Paradise. Living in a relatively-hard sci-fi universe, where FTL Travel does not exist and interstellar travel itself is a rarity, French keeps referring to classic sci-fi novels and pointing out how they got things wrong. Examples include the total lack (and impossibility) of any sort of interstellar governing body, the fact that over 20,000 years humans haven't evolved into brains in a jar, the absence of intelligent alien life, and robots being fully capable of harming a human if ordered.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Scrubs episode "My Life in Four Cameras" has J.D. fantasizing about what life would be like if he were in a Sitcom — completely oblivious to the fact that he already is. (To be fair, though, he's thinking of the more conventional sitcom style than the style Scrubs uses.)
    • Also used by Dr. Cox, when he claims that medical mysteries that happen in TV medical dramas are unrealistic. Cue the entire episode being full of said medical mysteries, and the good doctor even walking with a cane a la House.
      • Complete with him saying there are no cameras out there and gesturing at... the camera.
      • And Keith looks everywhere but the camera.
  • Lex Luthor once said on Smallville, "Real life is not a comic book." In another case, James Marsters' character openly states that there are no such thing as vampires. In yet another case, one that takes place after Clark's first experience with magic and sorcery, his dad states, "Clark, I know this is Smallville and weird things happen, but witches? Spells? Magic?" Cause ya'know, aliens and mutants are so much easier to swallow.
    • To be fair, at that point in the series virtually all of the weird events in the series were Kryptonian in origin; most paranormal events were the result of kryptonite mutating people or, for more significant events, caused by Kryptonian technology. The appearance of witches and magic in that storyline was one of the first cases of Smallville using something (mostly) unrelated to Krypton for its Monster of the Week. This has become a more common practice in recent seasons, and the characters barely bat an eye when someone shows up with unexplained superpowers.
    • In one episode, Chole asks Clark if he can fly. Clark goes, "I'm an alien, not a cartoon!"
  • Reversed in the last aired Firefly episode, "Objects in Space":
    Wash: Psychic though? That sounds like something out of science fiction.
    Zoe: We live in a spaceship, dear.
    Wash: So?
  • Babylon 5 slammed its competitor, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, this way:
    Ivanova: This isn't some deep-space franchise, this station is about something!
  • Kevin Shinick, the host of the game show Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego, was billed as "the Squadron Leader". His mother appears in one episode, and the two get into an argument about his job, but she's satisfied by the end, saying, "At least he's not a game show host."
  • Factual television example: Narrator Robert Lee points out in an episode of MythBusters: "If this were a movie, you'd know something terrible was about to happen. But this is Mythbusters. Factual television. Real life. ...Like I said, real life, real results. In this case, an awful lot of nothing."
  • On The Sopranos, Tony attempts to make Carmela less leery of his gambling habit by arguing, "Hey, I was shot. I almost died, but here I am. That's tremendous odds. I'm lucky!"
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Tangent", when Daniel assumed that Star Trek tropes would carry into the "real world", this exchange occurred:
    Daniel: We were hoping you could kinda... um, like... beam them out.
    Jacob: Beam them out? What am I, Scotty?
    • SG-1 also has its very own Show Within a Show, Wormhole X-Treme, created by an alien (who doesn't know he is one) from not-entirely-suppressed memories and used by the USAF/SGC as part of their ongoing coverup of the Stargate program; rumors of the "real" thing can be dismissed as inspired by the television fantasy. Wormhole X-Treme is also an excuse for the SG-1 writers to merrily hang lampshades on everything—including making jokes that the bit about the Air Force backing the show to cover up the fact it's real is actually true...
  • The Stargate Atlantis episode "Poisoning the Well" has this exchange:
    McKay: He just doesn't like going through the Stargate.
    Sheppard: He's worse than Dr. McCoy.
    Teyla: Who?
    Sheppard: The TV character that Dr. Beckett plays in real life.
  • Running Gag in the Charmed episode "Chick Flick", which revolves around movie characters coming to life. "This is the world of illusion, and you girls are reality."
  • Done once in Greg the Bunny, when Sarah Silverman's character explains to Seth Green's why she's not interested in him. She compares him to the quirky guys who always get the unattainable beauties in romantic comedies, then reminds him that "this is the real world" — at which point a six-foot tall muppet stumbles past the camera.
  • Space Cases in the Evil Twin episode:
    Miss Davenport: Doppelganger? Sounds like science fiction.
    Harlan: But this is reality.
  • Subverted somewhat on the show Big Wolf on Campus where almost every plot is immediately recognized by Merton as being 'like that movie'. The characters almost always end up using a modified version of the movie solution with nary a care for the fact that they're using movie logic.
    • Dean, the titular character's older brother, sometimes cannot tell his life from plots on the television shows he watches. Tommy regularly has to remind him that he never did half the things he's convinced he has.
  • Farscape's main character, Genre Savvy (Eventually Dangerously Genre Savvy) John Crichton, often pointed out how the science fiction that he was living was much more difficult compared to TV. These comments were usually used to subvert the viewers' expectations, preface when they were about to run into something really bad, or else display Crichton's growing paranoia.
  • The '60s Batman used it once, after the Dynamic Duo escape the latest cliffhanger Death Trap, and Robin starts musing rather close to the fourth wall:
    Robin: I don't know how we do it, Batman.
    Batman: What do you mean?
    Robin: The way we get into these scrapes and get out of them. It's almost as though someone was dreaming up these situations, guiding our destiny.
    Batman: Things like that only happen in the movies Robin. This is real life.
  • On LOST, when Hurley believes the island, plane crash, lottery, etc. are all part of his hallucination, Libby tells him that their experiences are real, and she's real. "And don't tell me you made me up. It's insulting."
  • Happens at least twice on Supernatural:
    • This exchange with the Girl of the Week in the episode "Monster Movie":
      Jamie (GOTW): So you two are like Mulder and Scully and The X-Files are real?
      Dean: No, The X-Files is a TV show. This is real.
    • Said by the Trickster/Gabriel in 5.08 "Changing Channels":
      Guys, I wish this were a TV show. Easy answers, endings wrapped up in a bow. But this is real. And it's gonna end bloody for all of us. That's just how it's gotta be.
    • On the show hunters have a general disdain for most media portrayals of vampires since they present such a distorted version of what vampires 'really' are in the show's universe. The brothers often comment on the differences between movie vampires and 'real' vampires.
  • Doctor Who: In "Rise of the Cybermen", trapped in a parallel universe:
    Mickey: I've seen it in comics. People go hopping from one alternative world to another — it's easy.
    Doctor: Not in the real world.
    • Ten episodes later, they were beaming back and forth between alternate worlds a dozen times an episode using Staples "Easy" buttons.
      • In fairness, that's because the walls between realities were breaking down. The Doctor kept pointing out that it shouldn't be possible, and that doing so was only making things worse.
    • Lampshaded in "Amy's Choice":
      Dream Lord: You die in the dream, you wake up in reality. Ask me what happens if you die in reality.
      Rory: What happens?
      Dream Lord: You die, stupid. That's why it's called "reality".
  • Detective Beckett tries pulling this twice in the pilot episode of Castle, pointing out that, unlike in Rick Castle's mystery novels, it can take police up to a week to get fingerprint results back, and, when they find a suspect who seems too obviously guilty, he's usually just actually guilty. Subverted both times, since Castle proves the most obvious suspect really was innocent, and uses his clout with the mayor's office to get the results of a fingerprint match done in under an hour.
    • She's a bit more successful in a later episode, when he eagerly hopes to see the department's 'official facial recognition software'. He has in his mind a Magical Computer which automatically flips through countless faces in seconds before coming across the correct one (possibly with some sort of 'bleep' noise). Then she dumps a large pile of files in front of him through which he, along with the other detectives, is expected to look through.
    • Lampshaded in the episode "Murder Most Fowl", after using the Enhance Button on some crime scene photos:
      Castle: The enhancement only increased the pixellation on all these! You can't even see there's a side-view mirror!
      Beckett: It's not like on 24, Castle. In the real world, even zoom-and-enhance can only get us so far.
    • An episode of season 7 plays with this in a different way: Castle has an interview for his book, in which the interviewer actually only wants to talk about his unexplained disappearance (which she's sure he faked for publicity): "If this were one of your books, Mr. Castle, wouldn't you find the plot a little hard to swallow? I mean, amnesia? Really?" Castle has to explain that the difference is, it's not a novel, it "actually happened".
  • The Comic Strip Presents "Detectives on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown" had a spoof character from The Sweeney shooting at a spoof of Nineties detective Spender and missing, whereupon the Nineties detective points out that reality has now taken over the Cop Show genre and you can't rely on Improbable Aiming Skills any more. Promptly subverted when a sixties policeman points out that the Rule of Funny is still in effect.
  • Invoked during a Green Wing discussion, when Wolverine is mentioned.
  • In the fourth season premiere of Chuck, Chuck tells Morgan something to the effect of "This is real life, not the opening of a spy show!"
    • And in season 2 when Ellie asks Chuck what he wants to do with his life:
    Ellie: If you say pilot of the Millennium Falcon, I will hit you.
    Chuck: Why would I say that, that's absurd! I'm going to be a ninja assassin.
    Ellie: No. Try again.
    Chuck: Um, Olympic...
    Ellie: Uh uh.
    Chuck: Secret Agent.
    Ellie: This is what happens when you sit in front of the television too long.
    • The last one is the correct answer.
  • An indirect version occurs in Star Trek: The Next Generation: After trapping a sentient holographic Professor Moriarty (long story) in a small device meant to simulate him living out his life in the universe, the following dialog takes place at the end of the episode:
    Picard: Who knows... Perhaps all this is just an elaborate simulation, running in a box, sitting on someone's desk.
    Everyone leaves the room but Barclay.
    Barclay: .... Computer, end program.
    Nothing happens. Barclay looks around and leaves the room. Cue shot of Enterprise traveling through space and end credits.
    • Sadly, this is completely in character for Barclay. (Especially given his Holo-addiction problems.)
    • In "The Nth Degree," when Barclay is lamenting his performance as Cyrano de Bergerac, Deanna tells him, "This isn't fantasy, it's drama."
  • When discussing what could be the cause of Buffy's sudden weakness in the episode "Helpless" of Buffy the Vampire Slayer the subject of kryptonite comes up. Buffy impatiently implores the others to stick to reality.
  • In the first episode of ALF, the son (Brian) wants ALF to live with them, just like E.T.; his mother (Kate) explains, "E.T. was a movie. This is real. This is on our coffee table!"
  • Community had Jeff mocking Abed for not knowing the difference between reality and TV. Abed responds with a combination of this trope and What the Hell, Hero?.
    Abed: I can tell life from TV, Jeff. TV makes sense, and has structure, logic, rules. And likeable leading men. In real life, we have this. We have you.
  • In Once Upon a Time, Emma says this to Henry. Unofrtunately, as Henry knows, it actually isn't.
  • In Father Ted, Dougal starts to swear. Ted admonishes him and claims that people don't talk "like that in the real world!"
  • From the Hustle episode "The Delivery", in which Cool Hand Cooper is being chased by The Mafia:
    Eddie: Hang on, are you saying... the mafia, like on the tellie?
    Mickey: No, Eddie, not like on the tellie.
    Cooper: Yeah, not as cuddly in real life.
  • On Boy Meets World, Cory gets caught in a Two-Timer Date scenario and Shawn teaches him to play it out like Fred did in one episode of The Flintstones, leading to this exchange:
    Shawn: ...and Fred never spent more than 75 seconds at either location.
    Cory: Shawn, that was a cartoon, time was compressed, we're real, we're in real time.
    Shawn: Trust me, it's the same thing.
    Cory: No it's not. You see a television show can cover many days in only one half-hour program.
    Shawn: Trust me, it's the same thing.
    Cory: (shrugging) Okay!
  • In The Vampire Diaries, Caroline asks Damon why he doesn't sparkle, to which he replies, "Because I live in the real world where vampires burn in the sun.""
  • JAG
    • In the episode "Tiger, Tiger" when anti-communist Cuban terrorists have taken over a U.S. Navy guided missile frigate, Harm and 10 year old Josh are stranded in the helicopter hangar:
    Josh Pendry: 'Under Siege!
    Lieutenant Commander Harmon Rabb: What?
    Josh Pendry: Steven Seagal in Under Siege. He got the Pentagon on a satellite radio from a lifeboat.
    Lieutenant Commander Harmon Rabb: Well, unfortunately this isn't a movie, Josh. These lifeboats have satellite radios with an emergency beacon and a short-range voice transmitter. We could activate one. The Coast Guard would come, but before we could inform them of our situation, who knows what these terrorists are likely to do.
    Josh Pendry: It's so cool in the movie.
    Lieutenant Commander Harmon Rabb: Well, I'm sure it was.
    • Clayton Webb says to Mac in a heated argument that this is the real world Sarah in the season nine episode "Take It like a Man".
  • In an episode of Continuum, a dry-cleaner finds a super-suit (actually armor from the future) and thinks it makes him a super-hero. After he stops a mugging (getting shot in the process, though the suit does save him), his girlfriend gets angry at him for trying to be a hero, informing him: "this is not a TV show, this is your life."
  • In the 30 Rock episode "Larry King":
    Jack Donaghy: I was about to do the whole 'run to the airport' thing, like Ross did on Friends and Liz Lemon did in real life.
  • In the Third Rock From the Sun episode "The Big Giant Head Returns Again" (season 5, episode 22) after Dick reveals to the rest of the aliens living with him impersonating a family that The Big Giant Head (the ruler of the galaxy) just told him that he's Dick's father, Tommy says "whoa, that's just like in Star Wars, when Luke Skywalker finds out that Darth Vader's his father", to which Dick says, "oh, grow up Tommy, that was popular entertainment, this is real life!!" (cue the laugh track).
  • Sex and the City did one episode where the girls visit a friend of theirs who had become a suburban mom. One of her friends tells them that they'll all eventually settle down.
    "I mean, 4 single women searching for life and love in the big city? We're not in a Jaclyn Suzette novel." (Charlotte and Miranda exchange looks as if saying "Yes, we are.")

    Music 
  • A line in Starbomb's song Crasher-Vania, a blatant parody of Castlevania.
    To Hell, demon beast, from whence you came; you're in Castlevania, this isn't a game!

    Newspaper Comics 
  • One Bloom County strip has an arresting policeman sneer at Steve Dallas's claim that animals Opus, Bill and Portney are capable of talking (and trashing motel rooms): "This ain't the funny pages, pal!"
  • In Safe Havens, Maria says that Time Travel has restrictions, adding, "This isn't some fantasy, you know."
    • Later, when Rupert turns into an amoeba and splits before turning back, Samantha wants to know if one of him is evil. Rosalind notes that neither has a goatee, and Samantha says, "This isn't fiction, Rosalind. It's real life."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • During the WWE feud between Triple H and John Cena, Triple H told Cena that he had a lot of heart, and if this were a Rocky movie, heart would be enough... but this is reality, and Cena, being a terrible wrestler, would lose, and lose badly. Cena ended up winning the match at WrestleMania 22, so what does that say?

    Theatre 
  • Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado includes the line, "I'm really very sorry for you all, but it's an unjust world, and virtue is triumphant only in theatrical performances." Needless to say, virtue does indeed triumph eventually.
  • In Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, new managers Andre and Firmin watch their star soprano throw a fit and comment, "You'd never get away with all this in a play/But if it's loudly sung and in a foreign tongue/It's just the sort of story audiences adore/In fact, a perfect opera!"
  • Zigzagged in Urinetown, one of Officer Lockstock's many meta lines is: "Well, now, Little Sally, dreams only come true in happy musicals — and a few Hollywood movies — and this certainly isn't either one of those. No, dreams are meant to be crushed. It's nature's way." Lockstock frequently acknowledges the fact that they are in a musical, but only in happy musicals are those tropes relevant.
  • Mary, Mary, when Mary is trapped in a locked closet:
    Tiffany: In the movies, they just break the door down.
    Dirk: In the movies the door is pieced together by the prop men so all you have to do is blow on it!
  • The Threepenny Opera introduces the Last Minute Reprieve for its Villain Protagonist by commenting that since the work is fictional, there will be a Happily Ever After ending.
  • In The Solid Gold Cadillac, Mrs. Partridge introduces herself to the Corrupt Corporate Executives as an actress who used to play in Ah, Wilderness!. One of them asks her, "You're not acting in a play now?" "No, I'm not," she says.

    Video Games 
  • Jak 3: Wastelander features an amusing moment during a scene with the precursor monk, Seem in Spargus City, where Jak is being glib in response to her dire warnings. Seem then snaps, "This isn't a game!", causing Jak and Daxter to exchange significant glances with the player for a few seconds before returning to the conversation.
  • In the second mission of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Lambert warns Sam of a recently installed alarm system. Sam then says "Let me guess: three alarms and the mission is over?" to which Lambert replies "Of course not! This isn't a video game, Fisher!". Besides being a meta-joke, this also had the purpose of letting the player know that the old "three alarms and game over" rule had been removed.
  • During the first codec conversation between Snake and Otacon during Act 2 of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Otacon wonders anxiously whether Vamp is immortal. Snake dismisses this notion immediately, stating "Not a chance. This is the real world, not some fantasy game." As it turns out Vamp's healing factor is technologically enhanced, allowing him to regenerate wounds from bladed weapons in seconds and recover from a bullet wound to the head in a few seconds more. This explanation distracts everyone, most players included, from the fact that his regeneration itself is never explained; we saw it work less efficiently, without the enhancement, in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
    • Snake seems to be forcing himself into a state of genre blindless; in Metal Gear Solid, he fought more than one supernatural enemy. In MGS2, he brushes off Fortune's ability to have bullets curve away from her with the line "There's no such thing as a witch." It turns out he's right in this case and her ability is completely technological, but he has no way of knowing that going in. In MGS4, he dismisses anything that seems supernatural as some sort of magic trick, not just Vamp. He's actually right in some cases; Screaming Mantis can't possess a fly. What she can do is use the nanomachines in people to manipulate their bodies. On the other hand, Screaming Mantis is also just a shell possessed by Psycho Mantis, Snake's psychic enemy from the first game, who actually comes back to possess Screaming Mantis' armor once you defeat her in combat.
    • This is especially jarring, since the first three MGS games go out of their way to exaggerate the fact that they are fantasy video games. Characters actually talk about game mechanics as character development, among other things — like the whole thrust of the plot of MGS2. The previous games also had psychics, shamans, human-plant hybrids, human hornets nests, electrokinetics, and a ghost. Even this game still has a few fourth-wall breakages, like Otacon referencing the disk-change point when you return to Shadow Moses Island.
  • Near the end of Resident Evil 4, Lord Saddler tells Leon via radio he'll never defeat Los Illuminatos because life isn't "one of your Hollywood movies."
  • In Beneath a Steel Sky, your robot sidekick Joey gets hold of a new weapon (a welding torch) and rants about going out to zap some humans. The main character brings up Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, to which the annoyed robot replies "That's fiction, Foster!" He then proceeds to roll around chanting "EX-TER-MIN-ATE! EX-TER-MIN-ATE!" (Don't worry. He's a Robot Buddy)
  • Inverted in Max Payne. When the Big Bad gives him a drug overdose, Max hallucinates that he finds a letter that tells him that he is in a graphic novel. This then repeats, with him hallucinating that the letter tells him that he is in a computer game. Both are true. And both times, Max muses: "Funny as Hell, it was the most horrible thing I could think of."
    • He also starts noticing things he didn't before. In the first case, he begins to see speech bubbles. In the second case, he sees the inventory menu, the health bar, and the bullet-time mode.
  • In the second case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Detective Gumshoe, when asked if he's ever heard of a murder victim writing their killer's name in blood, responds that he's seen it all the time in movies. Phoenix responds with a variation of this trope's title.
  • Soul Nomad & the World Eaters:
    Gig: Hahaha! How you jerks doin'?! I guess it's only in fairy tales where justice actually prevails, huh?
  • In Super Robot Wars Original Generation, this is brought up a few times with Ascended Fanboy Ryusei, who learned most of his piloting skills from video games. But it's taken to a whole other level with his rival Tenzan, who never learns to stop treating war like a game. His last words, after losing his grip on reality thanks to a Deadly Upgrade, are that he can eventually win by hitting "continue" and doing some level grinding (this is a strategy you can use in the game). This is played for drama, and Ryusei laments that he had to die like that.
  • In System Shock 2, Polito tells the player to hurry with phrases like "Do you think this is some kind of game?" and later, "this isn't a game".
  • In Saints Row 2, pedestrians will occasionally shout "This isn't one of your stupid video games! This is real life!" as they jump out of the way of your speeding car.
  • In Starcraft II, when the xel'naga artifact is assembled, Tychus is worried that it might upset the entire space-time continuum, which prompts Raynor to assure him that "this ain't science fiction". Since that same artifact can kill all zerg in a certain radius every once in a while and...mostly...de-infest Kerrigan, really, Tychus' fear of its potential isn't too much more ridiculous.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII (which also makes uses of Not a Game), the possessed Ultimecia kills the dictator Vinzer Deling and then comments "This is reality. No one can help you. Sit back and enjoy the show."
  • Oracle Of Tao: Those words aren't used, but the are numerous examples of this. For example, thanks to some coding, there is Real Time in addition to an In-Universe Game Clock. The party insists that the clock that shows the real time is off, and has no problems accepting the game time.
  • Near the beginning of Shin Megami Tensei Persona 3 Mitsuru gives the warning, "This isn't a game, Akihiko." As though that would stop him anyways...
  • The Warriors: "This ain't no movie, Warriors!"
  • In Space Hulk - Vengeance of the Blood Angels, your squad regularly report on what they can see or hear (or smell). One of the lines is admonishing another marine, telling them that "this is not a game".
  • In The Dig after being taken to an alien planet on a Faster Than Light starship, Intrepid Journalist, Maggie Robbins, says:
    Maggie: After all those bad TV shows, here is the real proof. There is alien life!
  • In the Dubai mission of Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, performing a certain Dogfight Mode maneuver will make you wingman chatize the player character's recklessness, adding "This isn't Ace Combat!" Which actually makes perfect sense, since AH takes place in the modern world, so the other Ace Combat games would exist in-universe.
  • In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, a codec conversation in Pakistan has Kevin rule out the use of an infiltrator on board Air Force One to assassinate the US president as foreign press would not be allowed on board the plane in reality, "not like in the movies."
  • In Tekken 6, Jin sometimes says "This is reality." as Unsportsmanlike Gloating after defeating an opponent.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, Loghain delivers one of these to King Cailan before the Battle of Ostagar:
    Loghain: Your fascination with glory and legends will be your undoing, Cailan. We must attend to reality!
  • Sigma in Virtue's Last Reward says a variation of this to him when he starts thinking about time travel.
    Sigma: This wasn't so shitty sci-fi novel. This was real life.
  • 8 Eyes' instruction manual actually says "This is reality!" after noting the game's aversion of Video Game Lives.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In the second RP of Darwins Soldiers, this exchange occurs:
    Zachary: Hans, do you think this was a good idea, try to disguise ourselves as staff?
    Hans: It seems like a good idea but I was thinking about going in through the areas not covered by the security cameras and cutting the power long enough for us to get in and disguise ourselves like base personnel.
    Zachary: Also works but remember that the fusion reactor is in the basement and protected quite well by autoturrets and cameras. Also, few areas are not covered by cameras.
    Aisha: Uh, yeah this isn't like the Oceans 11 movies
  • The Genre Savvy characters of Sailor Nothing frequently remind each other that their story is not like the Magical Girl manga and anime that they're used to.
  • In Space Tree, this exchange:
    Mee: Plus another great thing about this invisible smoke is if this were a cartoon, the fat lazy hack animating it wouldn't have to draw any smoke. But unfortunately this isn't a cartoon, Space Tree... this is real life. I just hope that one day... you'll be able to accept that.
  • Doctor Simian from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe once taunted the heroes that since he was not a comic book supervillain whose plans depended upon grand-standing and theatrics, they'd have to work harder to stop him. It should be noted that the Guardians Universe is a universe of comic book superheroes...
  • From My Roommate Mario: Like a Boss:
    Mario: Resume, shmesume. Just bust in there and say "It's a-me, Daneboe!"
    Daneboe: Yes, yes, I know that works for you, but this is real life!
  • Texts From Superheroes: "Once again, that is a TV show. I'm a real person, not a fictional character."

    Western Animation 
  • The first episode of Rugrats has Tommy's mother, Didi, concerned that she won't live up to the mothers on TV; her friend Betty reassures her by telling her, "TV's TV. We're real." (Ironically, she really wouldn't live up to the mothers on TV... a good deal of the series has Tommy wandering off places.)
  • In "Slappy Goes Walnuts"
    Slappy the Squirrel: You've seen all my old cartoons, right?...I wrestled with Walter Wolf, Sid the Squid, and Beanie the Brain-Dead Bison. This Doug guy here's nothing.
    Skippy: Yeah, but those were cartoons and this is real life!
    Slappy: [looks at the camera for a long Beat] Don't tell him. He might crack.
  • The Fairly OddParents had an episode in which Timmy, bored of "the real world", wished that his life would be like a blockbuster action movie. As things got more and more dangerous to the point where the villain accused him of responsibility for the world being on the verge of destruction, Timmy cried out, "Noooooo!! This is so awesome."
  • Once, in Futurama, Leela interrupts Fry's eager pop-culture musing with a caustic "Fry, this isn't TV, this is real life — can't you tell the difference?" This was spoken when they were about to engage an alien war fleet in battle in the year 3000 (and naturally, Fry prefers pop culture to reality anyway).
  • In Project G.e.e.K.e.R. (whose main protagonist also is voiced by Billy West), in one of the 13 episodes, the title character, who is extremely childlike and impressionable, discovers some old comic books and soon is enamored with them. A bit of background, the 3 primary characters are a superhuman escaped science project with powers on the level of Q from Star Trek but which he cannot control, a female cyborg, and a superintelligent dinosaur. The female secondary character tries to explain to him that they are nothing like real life. She picks up a comic and says "look at how far fetched this is, it's full of cyborgs and.... dino.... saurs," she says slowly as she looks at a cover of a comic featuring 3 characters that bear a strong resemblance to the 3 of them.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series had various characters stating how "...this isn't some Saturday morning cartoon show."
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer tries to get rid of a trampoline by tossing it off a cliff that looks like scenery from Coyote and Roadrunner Cartoons. The trampoline catches on a mesa and rockets upward, falls on Homer, and hammers him into the cliff. He then comments on how if this was a cartoon, the cliff would break now. It eventually does but not until after a long wait well into the night.
    • "Three Men and a Comic Book":
      Lisa: Too bad we didn't come dressed as popular cartoon characters.
    • "Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington":
      Homer: Cartoons are just stupid drawings that give you a cheap laugh. * gets up, revealing his asscrack*
    • "Lisa the Beauty Queen":
      Homer: Lisa, [your caricature] isn't real. It's just how you might look if you were a cartoon character.
    • "Bart vs. Australia":
      * Bart and Homer try to climb into two kangaroos' pouches, covering their feet in mucus*
      Bart: Ew! It's not like in cartoons.
    • "Lisa the Vegetarian":
      Bart: Cartoons don't have messages, they're just a bunch of hilarious stuff, like people getting hurt and stuff. * Homer opens the door, smashing it into Bart's face
  • In the Darkwing Duck episode 'Film Flam', Darkwing takes Gosalyn to see an animated feature at the local cineplex. Dismayed by the violent themes, he hastens to explain the difference between cartoons and reality.
    • Another Darkwing Duck episode has Darkwing meet a Captain Ersatz of James Bond named Derek Blunt, who turns out to be very different from the way he is portrayed in the movies. In particular, he is unimpressed by and dismissive of Darkwing's various gadgets, calling them "gimmicks" and declaring "A real agent works with what's at hand." Darkwing, a fan of the movies, is disappointed by the reality of the situation, but, as is typical of these stories, they end up as friends anyway by the end of the episode.
      • "Derek Blunt" sounds like he was more directly inspired by Derek Flint of Our Man Flint, who was a parody of James Bond.
  • Ace Lightning — Mark actually says this trope, word for word, to the titular character. Along with such lines as:
    "Ace, we've been through this, they're gnomes — they're not going to attack you!"
  • In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Urban Ed", Eddy and Ed are on the top of a cardboard "skyscraper" pretending to be pigeons and dropping spoonfuls of yogurt onto the people below. Ed drops an anvil off the building, and Eddy tells him "You're gonna hurt someone! This ain't a cartoon!", at the same time seemingly oblivious to the fact that Ed has just produced an anvil from nowhere.
    • Later episode got straight into Breaking the Fourth Wall, which the characters referencing people working on the show and the fact that their lives are a TV show.
  • One episode of The Spectacular Spider-Man had Spidey try to make Rhino trip on bowling balls, stating that it always works in cartoons. When Rhino's steps merely break the balls, he concludes that television can't be trusted.
  • Wolverine and the X-Men: Thieves' Gambit
    Wolverine: So now what? Air ducts?
    Gambit: Heh, only in the world of cinema. In real life, they never hold.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Night of the Ninja", the titular Ninja makes it very clear to Dick Grayson that "This isn't the movies, boy!"
  • In Veggie Tales: Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Noah's Umbrella, Larry the Cucumber mocks the villain for getting his idea for world domination from a cartoon. After a pause and a shudder to the fourth wall, he added that some cartoons were educational.
  • An episode of The Weekenders has Tino muse that he and his friends are real people, not the stereotypes seen on television... {dramatic angle} "Or are we?"
  • In Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force Go, when the Sun Riders (who at this point are evil) have taken over the Super Robot and forced the Hyperforce to flee. Chiro suggests that they instead use the Sunriders old fighting Mecha and they head to where they've been told it's stored... only to find out that it is only 20 feet tall (compared to the Super Robot's skyscraper) and is in disrepair, at which point the following exchange takes place:
    Chiro: *Slams his fists into the ground* That's IT! I give up!
    Sprx: If this was just some TV show, kid, we could give up. But THIS is the REAL WORLD!
  • An episode of Dexter's Laboratory detailed the replacement of Dee Dee with a Blonde Brainless Beauty. After Dexter expresses frustration at her failures to recapture Dee Dee's naivete and mischieviousness, she exclaims, "What kind of crazy show is this, anyway?" Noticing Dexter's confusion at this outburst, the blonde asks him if she truly has entered "Dexter's Lab, the TV show" only for Dexter to respond, "This isn't a TV show! I'm a real little boy, and this is my lab!"
    • In addition, this is brought up in the opera episode: Near the end, Dexter actually sings out, "This isn't fantasy. This is reality."
  • Played with in an episode of Dan Vs. Dan is convinced that a wolfman scratched his car, due to incriminating sneaker-and-pawprints. When his friend points out that wolfmen don't run on all fours in the movies, Dan tells him this isn't a movie, it's real life. However, he later chides his friend for forgetting about the full moon needed for a transformation by saying, "Don't you watch movies?"
  • Ren was once spazzing out at Stimpy about his love of Muddy Mudskipper. To whit: "Cartoons aren't real! They're, uuuuh, puppets! Not flesh and blood like WE!" Which also gets dumped on his head later when Stimpy meets Muddy and gets to be on the show.
  • Finn claims that imagination land is boring and calls himself "a kick-butt reality master" (in a post-apocalyptic world gone magically RIGHT), because he prefers adventures over easy stuff... until he burns his foot from Jake's imaginary lava.
    Finn: JAKE! WHAT THE HEY-HEY?!
    Jake: I WAS JUST USING MY IMAGINATION! Then everything got intense.
  • In Phineas and Ferb on the episode 'A Real Boy' Doofenshmirtz discusses how mishearing things is something that happens in a sitcom, but this is real life.
    Doofenshmirtz: This isn't a sitcom, Perry the Platypus, this is real life! (glances at fourth wall) And, I'm... (glances at fourth wall again) And I'm the father!
  • Subverted in Kim Possible when Kim's gamer geek cousin Larry says he has an idea for dealing with the current sitch: "This isn't one of your stupid science fiction games, Larry! Ron's facing a kung fu mutant with bio-engineered hands, and mystical monkey powers, and..." At that point, Kim decides that Larry might be on to something and hands him the Kimmunicator.
    • Wade suggests the "Be Yourself" to attract his crush, and Ron replies "That only works in cartoons!"
  • In Turtles Forever, the 2003 Turtles are baffled by the 1987 Turtles' occasional asides to the audience ("Who are you talking to?!") and original comic-book Leonardo's comic-book style narration of the fight scene.
    2003 Donatello: Why is he narrating? Is he crazy?
  • In the Garfield: Pet Force special, Garfield berates Nermal for getting so into his comic book. When Nermal wonders aloud if it could be really real, Garfield scoffs:
    Garfield: That isn't real life like the newspaper comics!
  • In Beverly Hills Teens, when a plan seems to go wrong:
    Tara: It's like I always say. If you want a happy ending, have a romance novel.
  • Goof Troop has several examples:
    • "Close Encounters of the Weird Mime" has Max telling PJ that they're too good for TV anyway after their video project goes horribly wrong.
    • In "Buddy Building", Max answers PJ's question about why everyone on TV who gets three wishes always blows it, with "They're just cartoons. They don't know any better!"
    • In "Terminal Pete", when Pistol is chasing a gopher through a hospital, a frustrated doctor cries, "This is a hospital, not a cartoon!"
  • Bonkers has this come up at times, mostly due to the fact that it's a show with Animated Actors. In "The Final Review" Bonkers becomes enamored with a cartoon cop show, which Lucky dislikes because of how it portrays police work. When the show's star tags along on order of his agent, Lucky has to tell him and Bonkers that real police work is more than just busting heads.
    Lucky: Real cops may fight crime, but that doesn't mean we use our fists...or our fingers. We use our heads. We gather evidence, we look for clues. We round up suspects.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Has one in "Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3"
    Pinkie: Of course I'm real! I mean, I'm not the real General Flash tenth commander of the Wonderbolts, but I, Pinkie, am really real.
  • The Powerpuff Girls has this in "That's Not My Baby"; after defeating the Monster of the Week, the girls find a baby and fail to find its mother. They decide to take care of it themselves, but after an exasperating and tiring night, Buttercup insists they get rid of it.
    Buttercup: It's not our baby.
    Blossom: I know, but we can't just leave it in a basket on someone's doorstep.
    Buttercup: Why not? They do it on TV.
    Bubbles: Well, we're not on TV!
  • In the season one finale of Jackie Chan Adventures, Jackie and the others prepare to face Shendu and stop his plan to destroy all of Asia. Kid sidekick Jade says she has to go with them because she's an essential member of the team, "The Cunning One". Jackie says, "This is not a movie!"

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Sliding Scale of Fourth Wall HardnessFourth Wall    
This Is No Time to PanicStock PhrasesThis Is Something He's Got to Do Himself

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