Trapped in Another World
aka: Portal Fantasy

"Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."
Dorothy Gale, The Wizard of Oz

A standard plot/Myth Arc for Speculative Fiction: The Ordinary High-School Student, frequently his friends, and sometimes his enemies are all transported (often summoned) to another world — distant planet, a Magical Land, Alternate Universe, the past, The Future — where they find they have an important role to play in Events of Significance that are occurring at the same time as (or sometimes because of) their arrival. Usually there is no hope of their finding a means to return home until after the great threat facing them has been defeated; occasionally, they will then question whether they even WANT to leave (they typically do).

A blend of Fish out of Water and Failure Is the Only Option, with a large dash of heroism. The inverse of Alien Among Us. Often overlaps with Down the Rabbit Hole and You Can't Go Home Again. If it's the hero's job to bring back the trapped person, it's an Orphean Rescue, if someone else turns up to bring back the hero it's Weirdness Search and Rescue. May involve Fantastic Romance. In Literature this is often referred to as a Portal Fantasy.

In Light Novels this is known as the "Isekai"note  genre, and usually features a character who gains RPG-like powers on arrival (or at the very least, is set in a Role-Playing Game Verse). These stories often feature alternate methods of bringing the protagonist to the new world, such as Reincarnation, swapping bodies with an inhabitant of the new world, or becoming their own MMORPG avatar, though simple bodily transport is still common.

This type of plot device is extremely popular in Crossover Fanfiction.

For specific worlds to travel to, see Another Dimension and Otherworld Tropes. For the other world without the "trapped" part (and without our world), see Constructed World. See also Kidnapped by the Call.

Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Long-running shoujo series Anatolia Story and Ouke no Monshou both feature this trope, a girl from modern day trapped in Ancient Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt respectively.
  • The main premise of Arata Kangatari; Arata of the Himezoku is transported to modern-day Japan, while Arata Hinohara is trapped in the world of Amawakuni.
  • Aura Battler Dunbine, but then it twists it by having all the people from the other world get sent to Earth.
  • The Wings of Rean, made by the same director and in the same setting, is like-wise, although both are more like "people from Earth get sent to another world who then get sent back to Earth and then get stuck there with otherworlders."
  • This also occurs in Super Robot Wars Compact and Super Robot Wars Alpha with the Argama and its crew, who meet the Dunbine characters there.
  • Blood Lad: Not only is Fuyumi Yanagi a human girl trapped in Hell, she dies in it. And the story is then focused on bringing her back to life.
  • In Deadline Summonner, Mamoru Onodera, an Otaku fond of RPGs finds himself sucked into a fantasy world filled with monster girls. For reasons unexplained in its first and only chapter, he somehow ends up the master of ten girls who could easily rip him to shreds with their affectionsor get him caught in the crossfire of their inevitable fights.
  • Occurs frequently in Digimon:
    • Digimon Adventure starts with seven kids being unwillingly transported to the "Digital World", a dimension full of sapient creatures somehow created from data in the real world. The kids initially have no idea how to get back.
    • Digimon Tamers has the protagonist kids purposefully travel to the Digital World in an attempt to rescue someone, but they are left uncertain of how to return to the real world.
    • Digimon Frontier, much like Adventure, starts with a group of kids being transported (somewhat willingly, there is a Call to Adventure beforehand) to the Digital World without knowing a way to get back.
    • Digimon XROS Wars begins with Taiki answering Shoutmon's plea for help from the Digital World, but he ends up dragging the unwilling Akari and Zenjirou with him, to their great displeasure. The three remain stuck in the Digital World until an enemy attack throws them back home in the middle of the series.
  • In Dog Days, the people of Biscotti summon Cinque to help them, but then find that they don't know how to send him back to Earth. This no longer becomes an issue once they find the return spell.
  • This happens to Tsukasa from .hack//SIGN, with a computer game.
  • Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure
  • El-Hazard: The Magnificent World: When Ifurita sends Makoto to El-Hazard, and accidentally sends along Fujisawa-sensei, Jinnai and Nanami as well.
  • Endride has the protagonist get sucked into another world via a magic crystal. It turns out the other world, Endora, is just the inside of his own hollow world and the Endorans historically know of "the surface" even though "the surface" only has myths like Shamballa.
  • Saito in The Familiar of Zero. He is a normal teenager from modern Japan and is trapped in Louise's world that is a medieval fantasy world with young witches, wizards, elves, ecc.. . In the novels, one of his main motivations is getting back to his own world. He managed to find a possible way back to Earth, via a Void-based portal spell. By then however, he became too attached to Halkeginia and decided not to leave. At least for now.
  • Final Fantasy: Unlimited begins with two Kid Hero siblings being trapped in the Inner World/Wonderland. Said other world is also continually expanding and consuming other worlds, leading to entire dimensions being trapped there as well.
  • From Far Away: high school girl Noriko falls into a fantastical world.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, the first Homunculus is trapped in the human world and in a flask, which he admits sucks, but he's not that bothered about it. Later he tries to use the human world to "eat" the entity that controlled him in his world. Ironically, he ends up trapped in his own world, presumable tortured for eternity.
  • Fushigi Yuugi: Miaka and Yui get pulled into a mythical world inside a magical book. The same thing happened to their predecessors, Suzuno and Takiko.
  • Subversion: Yukinari from Girls Bravo gets trapped on the planet Seirun in the first episode, but is returned to Earth in the same episode.
  • Kagome from InuYasha in the first few episodes. Afterward she's able to go between the other world and her own at will. She willingly leaves her world behind, knowing she can never return home, to live with Inuyasha in his world in the series finale.
  • Jewelpet Kira Deco: the Kira Deco 5 travel to Jewel Land on an asteroid and stay there until their quest is concluded. Slightly different from most examples in that they're there willingly.
  • Jura Tripper sends no less than 15 people to a planet where humans and dinosaurs co-exist.
  • Downplayed in Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon. While none of the dragons are natives of Earth, most of them have the ability to freely conjure up inter-dimensional portals. The only ones who are "trapped" on Earth are Kanna and Elma. Kanna could theoretically go back at any time with Tooru's help, but she'd just be sent back to Earth anyway because she had been banished. Elma on the other hand got stuck chasing after Tooru, lacks the ability to make her own portals, and isn't on the best of terms with those who can.
  • Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi: After the first episode, the heroes fall from world to world, each one based on one of the main characters' geekish hobbies.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth does this to Hikaru, Fuu and Umi.
    • Rayearth OVA inverts this. Clef sends the rest of the people of Earth to another plane to keep more people from being killed.
  • The Mahou Sensei Negima! manga has Negi and a group of his student get stuck in the Magic World after Fate destroys the gateway between worlds.
  • Ginta of MÄR actually makes the willing decision to go to the other world (after wordlessly making sure his love interest is unable to follow him), and once there is overjoyed to find that getting back isn't going to be easy.
  • Melo Melo Melonpan has a short story about a gamer sucked into a Dragon Quest expy, then (being that this is an H-Manga) he realizes the NPCs don't have Barbie Doll Anatomy and functionally robotic humans that repeat the same programmed lines ad nauseum he proceeds to have sex with EVERY woman in the kingdom including, but not limited to his in-game "mother," potential party member, a nun, a mother right in front of her son in the town square as she walks, and the queen and princess while completely ignoring the mission. Unfortunately or fortunately for him, his real-life mother thinks he merely left the game on again, turning it off and stranding him there forever.
  • The plot of the Monster Rancher followed the adventures of Genki Sakura, a very hyperactive boy who wins a beta disk of "Monster 200X" (which has the same properties of the real MR game) in a video game tournament. No sooner does Genki start it, than he is transported inside the game, finding a real world of monsters inside.
  • Mujin Wakusei Survive involves 7 Ordinary High School Students and a robot cat getting stuck on another planet.
  • The Sorcerer's Curse arc of Mythic Quest revolves around everyone in the world being deposited in the dimension created by the MMORPG Mythic Quest with no way out and no extra lives.
  • Naruto the Movie: Road to Ninja features the titular character and his teammate, Sakura, being sent to an Alternate Universe by Tobi.
  • Now and Then, Here and There: This is an exceptional example of this trope because the creators threw out every convention associated with it from episode 1. Shu sees a strange young girl sitting on a smokestack on his way home from school and goes to meet her. As he is introducing himself he and the girl are attacked by people teleporting in from the distant future in pursuit of that girl. True to the genre Shu picks up a stick and fights to defend the girl. He immediately gets his ass handed to him and both he and the girl are dragged forward billions of years where Earth is a dying desert planet orbiting a sun in the early stages of nova. What follows is a relentless thirteen episode trip through the ninth ring of Hell.
  • Panzer World Galient: At the climax of the story, the main character and all his friends and allies were transported to another planet. As they were trapped in that world, they had to fight the Big Bad and find a way back to their homeworld because that planet was about to blow up.
  • Re:Zero starts off as a straight example, at first. But later arcs show that the series is a massive Deconstruction and Take That at the genre's many different modern conventions created by the likes of Sword Art Online.
  • Happens to Hideyoshi in Sengoku Otome.
  • The main plot of the (awful) hentai, Slave Warrior Maya, where a young woman is magically sent to another world and then tricked into undressing so she can be sold into slavery.
  • Spider Riders plays with this, Hunter never seems to feel like he's "trapped" in the Inner World. The reason he ended up there in the first place is because he went looking for it!
  • In There, Beyond the Beyond, protagonist Futaba is taken to a fantasy world due to a case of Mistaken Identity. In order to get back home, he needs to reunite the Amaranthine with her master.
  • Those Who Hunt Elves do so because the elves hold the secret to the spell that will return them to Earth.
  • Same author as Deadline Summonner, Eita Touga of 12 Beast becomes the saviour of Live-Earth by virtue of Aero dragging him through a portal against his will. While she can send him back, the power required is so absurd that if he actually wants to get back alive, he'll have to save the world first...
  • The Vision of Escaflowne: A rare example of the other world not being treated as another dimension of some sort — they get stuck on an invisible moon, just past the actual one.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! featured a couple of these in the anime-only Duel Monsters Quest and Virtual World Arcs. In both cases The Big Five trapped the protagonists in a video game as part of their plot to take over Kaiba Corp.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters's main plot is Yugi and his friends being trapped in the Capsule Monster world and working to find a way home.

    Comic Books 
  • The tag line of the late Steve Gerber's Marvel comic Howard the Duck was "Trapped in a world he never made!" A native of a Talking Animal world of anthropomorphic ducks, Howard fell through a portal and wound up in Another Dimension—namely, the Marvel Universe version of Cleveland, Ohio.
  • CrossGen's Negation featured a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits trapped in an alternate universe that did not obey the laws of physics. At least one character started out convinced that it was All Just a Dream.
  • This is the raison d'être for the Marvel comic series The Exiles. Superpowered beings lost from their dimension, world hop until they get to go home.
  • This was Adam Strange's origin in DC Comics. An archeologist who accidentally discovered an alien transport system, Adam became the number one hero of the planet Rann. His problem was that the Zeta beams which teleport him are only temporary and he has started a family on Rann. He has since been able to stay there permanently, but on occasion he finds himself on Earth and this trope applies there.
  • Resident Alien features an alien protagonist stranded on Earth with little chance of ever returning to his home planet.
  • Mike Grell's DCU comic The Warlord, a deliberate homage to Pellucidar (in setting) and John Carter of Mars (in tone).
  • Happens to Donald Duck, his nephews and Uncle Scrooge in Dragonlords.
  • Sonic is trapped in the Special Zone for about fifteen issuses in Sonic the Comic.
  • The premise of the Jinty story "Worlds Apart" — six schoolgirls find themselves in a series of strange worlds governed by their main characteristics. There's one way out, but it's not a pleasant one...the creator of that particular world has to die.
  • Power Girl. She was the Supergirl of Earth-2, but, after the first Crisis, Earth-2 didn't exist anymore, and Kara was trapped into the single surviving universe.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown Of Stars: Inverted with Shinji and Asuka. They had been travelling between two different universes when the portal got shut down while they were in their native homeworld, trapping them in there. Played straight with the Avaloni soldiers accompanying them that got trapped in the Evaverse.
  • In the Slightly Damned fanfiction Blizzard Storm this is what kicks off the ENTIRE plot of the story. Of course, its subverted starting from Chapter 17.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami features this prominantly- with something of a twist. The Light Gods are capable of sending Ami back at any time, and Ami is aware of this fairly early. However, due to Ami's unfortunate bonding with a Dungeon Heart, they refuse to do so. Rightly so- if she returned to her world with a Dungeon Heart, she would inadvertently draw the Dark Gods after her. The story evolves around her attempts to discover a way around this.
  • An excellent example of this trope in fanfic is With Strings Attached. The four are scooped up and dropped on the planet C'hou with nothing except the clothes on their backs and some musical instruments; they're terrified out of their minds and have absolutely no idea why they're there. The reader knows they're there as the subjects of an alien undergraduate psychology experiment (at least initially, until the experiment breaks down), but the four don't learn anything for around a month, when they're told that they've been brought over and equipped to fetch the three pieces of a statue to end a continent-sized curse. The quest is legitimate in context, but was assigned to them after they were equipped.
  • Fans of The Lord of the Rings often write about girls falling into Middle-earth. These girls, and some boys, come from our modern world. With the film adaptation, there appeared a veritable storm of such stories.
These fanfics tend to be mediocre to terrible. Nearly every single one of these girls is a Mary Sue in the guise of an Ordinary High-School Student, who is more often that not a self-insert that falls in love with Legolas or, less commonly, Aragorn, as Wish Fulfillment for her author. A common trick is to transform the girl into an elf or a hobbit, to match her love interest. The inserted girl is usually a fan of the movies, and has foreknowledge of events; she might also recognize characters on sight, implying that they look exactly like their actors in the movies.

Most authors use the same three conveniences: First, the inserted girl lands conveniently near major characters. She often lands near the Council of Elrond, because that is the first scene with Boromir or Legolas. Second, she can chat in English, because the author forgot that the Common Tongue is a different language. Third, she never tries to return home, because she likes living in Middle-earth.
  • The plot of Heta Quest.
  • In Tales Of Hetalia, the Allies and the Axis are sucked into the world of Rukassia by a magic book.
  • My Little Wesker, in which the spectacularly evil Big Bad of the Resident Evil games becomes trapped in Equestria. He does not approve.
  • Slipping Between Worlds, in which through the agency of the mysterious Mrs Tachyon and her old-bag-lady shopping trolley - which is not what it seems - a group of British soldiers evade death on Roundworld only to end up in Ankh-Morpork on the Discworld.
  • In They're Not Pussywillow Pixies, this is what happens to Azrael, Gargamel, and the Smurfs when they go through a portal and end up in Neverland.
  • Let us just say that Fan Fic writers LOVE this trope when they do crossovers, self-inserts, etc. It's a very common trope for Fan Fiction. So much so that it has its own Fan Nickname: "Bamfing".
  • This trope is common in contemporary Russian fanfiction, having coined the neologism "попаданец" (literally "one who unwittingly arrived").

    Film - Animation 
  • Disney's Alice in Wonderland
  • Spirited Away.
  • Manolo's predicament in The Book of Life once he gets to the Land of the Remembered. Because he's dead, he is unable to return to among the living to find Maria, unless he gets helped from La Muerte.

    Film - Live Action 

    Light Novels 
  • Lampshaded, discussed, and ultimately defied in No Game No Life. A brother & sister NEET pair get pulled by into a world ruled by its "one true god" Tet, who has made 10 Pledges that force everyone to use games to decide almost everything. However, Sora and Shiro were both quite disillusioned with society back home and have absolutely no desire to go back; they even thank Tet for bringing them there.
  • Problem Children Are Coming from Another World, Aren't They? has three problem children invited by a Black Rabbit to the world known as Little Garden where competitive games decide one's living conditions.
  • In The Familiar of Zero, the male protagonist is "accidentally" summoned to another world by the female protagonist in a summoning ceremony. It is later revealed that many people have accidentally ventured into this world, including a soldier from the Vietnam War and Siesta's great-grandfather.
  • Kyo Kara Maoh!: Though Yuuri isn't really trapped, and can go back and forth between the two worlds with relative ease, he only considers himself trapped when he returns to his native world.
  • The Twelve Kingdoms: Youko Nakajima and her friends Ikuya Asano and Yuuka Sugimoto get dropped in the middle of a mostly hostile fantasy world by a 'Mysterious Protector. Though, this is apparently common enough for the locals to coin terms ("Kaikyaku" for Japanese people, "sankyaku" for Chinese) and for the government to have a regular policy in dealing with them. For example, The Kingdom of En has a standard naturalization/citizenship process while Kou just tries to round them up and kill them.
    • And before they came in, a farm girl named Suzu was spirited away from the Meiji era and thrown in the same world. Only to go through much heartbreak.
    • Shoryu, the king of En, also was from Japan. In fact, he was a daimyo or feudal lord whose clan was wiped away in the feudal wars. Having become a Fallen Prince, he accepted to become the King of En.
  • World Customize Creator is about a young Japanese gamer finding himself in a parallel fantasy world where most people have elemental magic. The main character has the power to freely customize anything around him, which he uses to create rare magical items, heal people, and build things. To the people in the fantasy world, nothing like this has ever been seen before.
  • Overlord revolves around a high level MMORPG dungeon created by an evil-themed roleplaying guild, which is transported to an unrelated low-fantasy world. In the process its Always Chaotic Evil NPC guardians become sentient, and the sole remaining member of said guild becomes trapped in his Elder Lich avatar as their master. As he is very fond of said NPCs (what with them being the only reminder of his old guildmates) but terrified of them turning against him, he is forced to play the role of a stereotypical Evil Overlord. Due to his undead body dulling his emotions, and his minions' attempts to "help" him, he slowly ends up Becoming the Mask.
  • In Hai To Gensou No Grimgar, 12 young adults wake up in a medieval fantasy world with no memory of how they got there. They know that they come from another world (and they are initially dressed in modern day clothing), but are unable to remember anything past that. Without a way back home, they must find a way to adjust to this new world.
  • In Death Marching To The Parallel World Rhapsody, The main character falls asleep and wakes up to find himself in a valley. He decides to take a break from his job and tour this new world, which initially seems to be based on the game he programmed.
  • In Log Horizon, Shiroe, a college student, and various other players of "Elder Tale" transported to other dimension resembling "Elder Tale"-verse by yet unexplained reasons. His and his companions, whether in titular guild " Log Horizon" or not, to survive, punish the evil, protect the weak (yes really, remember the monsters are plenty and events still happen periodically), improve the living quality, bring order (Too much PK can bring problem because exactly Death Is Cheap), keeping the relations with other player and Lander communities outside of Akiba and finally find the way home.
  • In first Arc of Sword Art Online, Kirito and 9,000-something other players are trapped in titular VR game Sword Art Online by an not-malicious-but-still-responsible-for-4000-death GM, Akihiko Kayaba. For ones not keeping record, this is Death Game which kills you in Real Life if you die in-game. The stories tell about survival (some For the Evulz players still doing PK), struggles of players to go back home.
  • In "The New Gate", deals double cases of this. Firstly trapped-in-Deadly-VR-games a la Sword Art Online above then protagonist is transported to dimension similar to video game but 500 hundred years later a la Overlord and Log Horizon when he, alone, killed last boss and completed the game. The story tells his reunions with old friends, meeting new friends, saving the day on frequent basis and finding the way home. Later, it is revealed that there are 6 other players whom are trapped twice like Shin for reason yet unexplained even if the systems recognize that they are already logged out.

    Literature 
  • L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Most of the first six-odd "Oz" books fell under this trope, with Dorothy finding her way back to Oz only to get back to Kansas by the last page, though eventually Baum just had Dorothy (along with Uncle Henry, Aunt Em, and Toto) move to Oz full-time and continue her adventures there. Whenever another human came to Oz from the outside world after that point, they generally ended up staying (Oz after the wicked witches died and Ozma took the throne being a much more utopian place to live, occasional monsters and baddies notwithstanding). It's implied even pre-Ozma that Oz was a much better place to live than Kansas; and Dorothy only kept going back home because she didn't want to ditch her family. That certainly is her only reason after meeting Ozma, whom she has a very close relationship with.
  • The John Carter of Mars series and the Pellucidar series, by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
  • Older Than Radio: Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland: One of the earliest and most famous versions of this trope and a template for many later stories.
  • Stephen R. Donaldson is fond of this one. It's the premise of:
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones's Charmed Life this is what happens to Janet and her eight analogues in the other worlds in Series Twelve - when Gwendolen escapes from World 12A, she pulls Janet in from World 12B, and so on all around the circuit. Janet is the only one who doesn't find the change to be an improvement, and when she realises this, decides to stay in 12A for the sake of the others. Janet's parents don't notice the change.
  • Guy Gavriel Kay's The Fionavar Tapestry. The five main characters are transported to Fionavar at the beginning of the first book, The Summer Tree and return to their own world at the end of it; then they go back near the beginning of the second book, The Wandering Fire, and stay there through to the end of the third, The Longest Road, when their various fates are resolved. At the end of the trilogy the score stands with two going back to our world, one choosing to stay in Fionavar, one dead in a Heroic Sacrifice, and one sailing off to eternity with Lancelot and King Arthur as she is, in fact, Guinevere. The books are somewhat eclectic.
  • In Stephen King's The Dark Tower, Roland draws his ka-tet from New York City at various points in time to his own world.
  • C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; a slight twist here is that the characters age significantly during their stay in Narnia, then are returned to their original ages when they leave. The other Narnia books tend to follow this pattern as well, except for The Horse and His Boy.
  • In Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series, the main character is summoned by a powerful wizard looking for another powerful wizard. Apparently, an engineer would be the closest thing to the alternate world's wizards. Unfortunately, the summoning spell latched on to the main character's job title...sanitation engineer. Fortunately, he does turn out to have magical abilities in that world.
  • Similarly, in L. E. Modesitt Jr's Spellsong Cycle, the main character is summoned because of her skills as a singer. The author seems to like this trope, since in his Saga of Recluce series this combined with Lost Colony is used in two books.
  • The Merchant Princes Series, by Charles Stross features "worldwalkers" who regularly do this to others.
  • Actually inverted with The Princess 99, where an alien biker chick from the future finds herself stuck in the human world in the 1920s.
  • Barbara Hambly's Darwath series: Ingold could bring Gil and Rudy back to Earth any time, at the risk of the Dark learning how it's done and coming to eat Los Angeles. By the time the threat of the Dark goes away, so does our heroes' desire to go 'home'.
  • Joel Rosenberg's Guardians of the Flame series depicts a small group of college students who get magically transported to the world of their fantasy roleplaying campaign. They struggle to escape but decide by the end of the first book to stay in their new home to wipe out slavery.
  • The Summoning series by fantasy/romance author Robin D. Owens focuses on a group of Colorado women who are called, one by one, to be champions of the world of Amee. Unique in that any Earth-native brought to Amee will eventually face the Snap ... a point where Earth tries to call the person back, and will unless she has made a stronger commitment to Amee.
  • The premise of The Inverted World is that a city has somehow become transported to a bizarre alternate world, one where they must constantly move forwards in order to survive.
  • Land of Oblivion has its Kid Hero protagonists transported to a place where dead children have their afterlife. The place is not all rosy, though, and they have to save the girl's brother from becoming Deader Than Dead.
  • Coraline is somewhat a Deconstruction of this concept, as the other world literally is a Trap for her (and others) — and nothing more. Unlike most examples, the heroine is very glad to leave it behind.
  • Dave Duncan's The Great Game explains why characters in this situation tend to become heroes—anyone who's in a different dimension than the one they were born in can absorb Mana. At low levels, this just makes them really, really charismatic. If they convince other people to make sacrifices to them (usually of blood), they can become Physical Gods. All "godly" beings are actually humans from other worlds, many "gods" of Vales are actually from our world. There are hazards to this, however...
  • In Warrior Cats, Jayfeather is stuck in the past until he can turn the Ancients into the Tribe of Rushing Water by teaching them tribe customs.
  • In Daughter of the Falcon, Jessie, a girl from our world is trapped in Mysteria, a Magical Land. This is then Deconstructed as she needs insulin injections and there is nothing comparable in Mysteria, so unless she can return home, she will die when her supply runs out.
  • The Rifter: John, Laurie, and Bill have (without intending to) passed through the Great Gates from Earth to Basawar, a strange, brutal land; the gates are shut (maybe destroyed). Getting home will not be easy at all.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's The Boy and the Darkness, the protagonist is a teenager named Danny who travels to another world covered in perpetual darkness. His way home is almost immediately destroyed. The other two portals get destroyed later. At the end, Danny gets the chance to go home by wishing for one thing from a godlike being. He uses the wish to save a friend rather than return home.
  • H. Beam Piper's Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen was once a Pennsylvania state policeman named Calvin Morrison, who was accidentally dropped off in a parallel universe where the Aryans went east instead of west, and conquered North America. As it happens, he lands in a small kingdom that's about to be wiped out by the Corrupt Church that holds a monopoly on the secret of gunpowder manufacture...and he knows how to make gunpowder.
  • Grand Central Arena: The experimental starship Holy Grail and its crew find themselves stuck in The Arena, a vast extrauniversal construct, and can't get back home unless they learn how the rules of The Arena work. Unlike most of the other examples, this one is SF, not fantasy, although there is Sufficiently Advanced tech involved.
  • In Teresa Frohock's Miserere: An Autumn Tale, going through the Veil to the Woerld means you can never return to Earth.
  • Enchantment by Orson Scott Card.
  • A Wizard in Rhyme.
  • In Dirge for Prester John, getting into or out of Pentexore is impossible most of the year, effectively trapping anyone who isn't keeping a strict eye on the Rimal.
  • The titular Id finds himself trapped in a world he has absolutely no knowledge about and has no idea how he got there - but where he comes from is another mystery.
  • Once you have entered Palimpsest once, you will go there whenever you have sex, whether you want to or not.
  • The Holiday House in The Thief of Always.
  • In Greystone Valley, the 12-year-old girl Sarah finds herself transported into the titular valley.
  • The Divide: Within the first five pages, Felix passes out above the eponymous Divide and finds himself stuck in a world where humans and science are mythical but magic and elves are real. Unusually, for most of it getting home is only his secondary objective; his primary is finding some kind of treatment for his terminal heart condition. Crossing the boundary gets a lot easier as the series goes on. At the end of the series, the Divide is closed and leaves copies of Felix and his elfin friend Betony on each side, meaning that you've got one Felix trapped in the fantasy world and one Betony trapped in the human one.
  • The main premise of the Across The Universe series. The main character is travelling in a spaceship to land on a new planet while cryogenically frozen, and she is woken up fifty years before the ship is set to land. She is trapped on a tiny ship filled with people who don't understand her and are extremely confused at how she looks (since everyone on the ship is monoethnic, and she's not).
  • This trope is very common in contemporary Russian fiction, having coined the neologism "попаданец" (literally "one who unwittingly arrived").
  • Schooled In Magic: Emily is a modern girl in every way. For example, she is used to having access to the internet and YouTube, while the world she finds herself in is very medieval in its mindset and technology. She starts to introduce modern technology shortly after arriving, partly to rectify that.
  • Literally the entire premise of the trilogy The Secret Country by Pamela Dean, except with a slight twist as the main characters seemed to have created the world themselves and then somehow fallen into it.
  • Played with in The Balanced Sword, in which a group of teenagers are brought from Earth to the magical world of Zarathan by a mysterious wizard and tasked with restoring the long-lost connection between the two worlds — but they're not the protagonists, or even in the story much; they just cross paths occasionally with the actual protagonists, Kyri and Tobimar, who are natives of Zarathan busy with a quest of their own. They do play a role in the resolution of the trilogy, though: during Kyri's climactic battle with the Big Bad, there's a mystical aftershock portending that somewhere offstage the connection between the two worlds has been restored, and the distraction this causes the Big Bad helps Kyri to win the day. The author has said that he does intend to do a straight telling of the teenagers' story someday, but if he only got to tell one story about Zarathan he wanted it to be Kyri's.

    Live Action TV 
  • Life On Mars: Though we are Left Hanging as to the true nature of the world; is it Time Travel, an alternate reality, or All Just a Dream?
    • And the sequel Ashes to Ashes, which resolves the mystery: note  the world is a purgatory for select dead police officers
    • The American version was much less ambiguous. note 
  • Doctor Who: Rose is trapped in a parallel world, but returns with knowledge of "the Darkness" threatening to destroy the multiverse (as her universe is ahead of ours). She is then forced to remain in her parallel world to take care of the clone-Doctor, despite wanting to stay with the real one. Former boyfriend Mickey, however, decides to leave the parallel world for his old one.
  • Sliders: The Sliders have a device that can take them between worlds, but it malfunctions, and they're stuck going between worlds without any control in the hope of eventually finding home.
  • A staple premise of series by Sid and Marty Krofft such as The Lost Saucer, Lidsville, Dr Shrinker, Land of the Lost and H.R. Pufnstuf.
  • Farscape, where Crichton travels through a wormhole to another part of the universe. His overriding goal for most of the series is to get back to Earth...but when he finally does, he leaves very shortly to go back to the other side of the universe. He later returns and makes it impossible for himself to ever go back in order to protect Earth from the bad guys. John, being John, makes many a reference to The Wizard of Oz in relation to his situation. Title of the episode when they really go to Earth: Kansas.
  • The Time Tunnel - two guys trapped in the past (or occasionally the future).
  • Likewise Quantum Leap
  • The Sterling family in the short-lived series Otherworld.
  • Fat Guy Stuck in Internet is about...a fat computer programer trapped in a surreal cyberspace world.
  • Season 1 of Stargate Atlantis — trapped in the Pegasus Galaxy. This is a variation, because the expedition went to Atlantis knowing full well that they might be stranded there.
  • Stargate: Infinity — generally trapped away from Earth and the rest of polite galactic society since their iris codes had been revoked.
  • According to early reports, Stargate Universe is taking this tack as well, stranding the heroes on a space ship headed away from known space
    • They are billions of lightyears away from home and if they could control the ship, the journey would take millions of years. They don't have enough power to dial home and dialing IN from the Milky Way needs a special kind of planet but even then, a small mistake in the calculations WILL cut off the supply line permanently via an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. This happened in the first episode. Later on, it was revealed that the Lucian Alliance found another planet which the SGC attempted to capture; the Alliance however activated the gate prematurely and this planet blew up as well.
  • Star Trek: Voyager — Trapped in the Delta Quadrant.
  • The island of Lost is sufficiently weird that a case could be made.
  • This happens a lot in the Polish/Australian children's series Spellbinder. Paul gets trapped in the Spellbinder universe, Kathy's family gets trapped in the Land of the Dragon Lord, and Mek and Kathy end up trapped in first the Land of the Immortals and then the Land of the Moloch.
  • In Kyle XY, Josh frequently suggests that Kyle is an alien from another world (although this is later subverted when Kyle's true origins are revealled).
  • In season 3 of Fringe, Olivia is trapped a good deal of the time in another universe, an alternate universe. Peter has been trapped in another universe since he was seven years old.
  • Angel, where Cordelia was trapped in Pylea and ended up becoming queen and overthrowing the priests. Fred was stuck there too, though she didn't do nearly as much as Cordy.
  • In the first episode of MythQuest, Matt Bellows gets trapped inside a mythical world with a trickster god. His children accidentally (and later deliberately) get trapped in myths when they go to look for him.
  • Once Upon a Time is an Inversion - the fairy tale folks were dumped in our world by a curse
    • O Ua T loves this trope. Different people keep getting stranded in different worlds and have to find a way out.
  • The premise of the series Pirate Island is that three children are trapped in a video game.

     Mythology 

    Radio 
  • At a book signing, Sam from ElvenQuest is dragged into LowerEarth when a group of heroes kidnap The Chosen One, aka. Sam's dog, and he wouldn't get them go. Naturally the only way to get back is to go on their quest to get the Sword of Asnagar, which will (a) defeat the Lord Of Darkness and (b) let Sam go back home).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Heroine always starts off with the eponymous protagonist's ordinary life in the real world, before quickly bringing her over to the Magical Land, which she can only leave after overcoming her personal flaws and completing an arduous quest.
  • The frame story of Castle Falkenstein involves computer game artist Tom Olam being magically summoned into the Victorian-fantasy world of the game. Though as it turns out, it was actually the copy of Leonardo's Sixth Codex in his backpack that his summoners needed...

    Video Games 
  • In Dragon Quest III, the Hero falls into the world of Alefgard, the setting of the first two Dragon Quest games. Once they defeat Zoma, the hole between Alefgard and the Hero's world closes, sealing them in Alefgard forever where they become known as the hero "Erdrick"/"Loto".
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy Tactics A2 both use this as the main plot for the player character, but handle it in different ways. Advance has the main character wanting to go back to the real world because running away from life's problems is not healthy. A2 has the main character wanting to go home so he doesn't worry his aunt, but is in no rush to go home and tries to enjoy the time spent in the fantasy world.
  • Final Fantasy X. However, it's revealed that Tidus's world wasn't even real to start with.
  • Another World, where the story starts with the protagonist accidentally teleported to an alien world.
  • The Dig involves a group of astronauts who get transported to an alien world.
  • Outcast, with a lot of Time Travel causing the issue.
  • The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games combine this your character being a human stranded in a world full of other talking Pokemon, transformed into a Pokemon themselves.
  • Nox, with the protagonist's character class affecting (among other things) whether or not he returns from the titular fantasy world back to present-day Earth, or stays there.
  • ZanZarah: The Hidden Portal is a subversion: its protagonist Amy is tricked into traveling to another world (which she is supposed to save) but among the first things she finds there is a magical rune that teleports her back to London. Not that she wants to, since her home is a very dull place, constituting one bleak location among hundreds found in the game.
  • This is the premise of Myst, in which the player stumbles across a mysterious series of worlds after accidentally using a Linking Book. Actually, even if you win the game, you don't get to go home. In the opening of the sequel, Riven, Atrus promises that, if all goes well, he might be able to send the player home. Subverted in Myst III and IV, where the player willfully returns to visit Atrus.
    • It's implied at the end of Riven that when Atrus drops his D'ni Linking Book into the Star Fissure, he's leaving the player with both a way home and a means to visit him. This was before D'ni turned out to be Earth All Along.
  • In Brütal Legend, roadie Eddie Riggs winds up in a world based on Heavy Metal album covers after injuring himself and spilling blood on his belt buckle. Turns out that it's a really important belt buckle.
  • The Avatar of the later games of the Ultima series (from IV onward) is explicitly stated to be a normal human from Earth before he or she is summoned over. According to Word of God, this is true of the first three games as well.
  • In Half-Life, Gordon Freeman is trapped in a hellish alien dimension until he can take down the Nihilanth.
  • In the first Persona game, the party ends up spending a good deal of the game in an alternate version of their city. It eventually becomes a non-subversion: they were actually trapped in Maki's mind (they've just defeated Kandori in the real world when they learn this). Now, Maki herself has been acting strangely since the whole crisis began, and told the group she was from the Alternate Universe they were in- oh, crap.
  • Harukanaru Toki no Naka de has the main character and her two friends summoned into a place that looks quite like Kyoto in the Heian period.
  • The expanded backstory of the Mario franchise indicates that Mario and Luigi are actually from Brooklyn, and accidentally ended up in the Mushroom Kingdom. It's unclear, however, whether they can't get home or just choose to stay.
  • The Hero of Albion ends up trapped on another planet, when losing contact with the factory ship he came with. After he saves the world from the ship's on-board supercomputer that was programmed to destroy it, he essentially traps the crew.
  • Jak and Daxter are sent through a rift gate to Haven City at the beginning of Jak 2 and lack any means to leave. Subverted in that it's actually the same place, just hundreds of years in the future, and Jak was originally from there anyway.
  • Brad, the player's character in Curse of Enchantia, is boy from our dimension who has been kidnapped to a fantasy world ruled by an evil witch and now has find a way back.
  • The plot of The Longest Journey and it's sequel Dreamfall. The main character April Ryan ends up travelling between two worlds, Stark and Arcadia, and ends up as of the second game choosing to live permanently in Arcadia.
  • In Scaler, Scaler gets trapped in a world filled with Lizard Folk, when escaping from a torture session. We later learn that his father, Leon, is also is trapped there. The rest of game is then spent with Scaler trying to get his claws on a 'Portal Beacon', that can get him and Leon home.
  • Some of the supplemental material for Touhou states that people quite frequently fall into Gensokyo from our world. Apparently the Great Hakurei Border is not absolutely impermeable.
  • In Date Warp, Janet and Bradley are trapped in an alternate universe where The American Revolution never happened, and the country is called Atlanta. However, it turns out it's more complicated than that.
  • Heart no Kuni no Alice.
  • You help two people with this problem in The Trail Of Anguish. But it eventually turns out that they may not be the only ones trapped somewhere unknown...
  • Astyanax (NES version)
  • Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito (although in this case it's more like "trapped in several worlds").
  • Rule of Rose.
  • A recurring theme of Super Robot Wars since Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden, since it's the easiest way to put shows that have totally contrasting worlds and backgrounds together.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei IV, this is what happens once the Yamato Perpetual Reactor is turned on. The three Samurai are desperate to go home, but the only way back is turning on the Reactor again in the parallel worlds. This is a trap engineered by the White, to show the Crapsack Worlds that could arise from choosing pure Law or pure Chaos, in an effort to have The Hero Mercy Kill the multiverse by overloading the reactor and creating a massive black hole to "return all to nothing".
  • Luigi is accidentally summoned to the Bears' World in Something Else because they wanted his brother, Mario.
  • The main character from Out of This World has this happen to him, being transported to a distant planet, or possibly a different dimension when lightning strikes him in his lab one evening. As seen in the sequel, Heart Of the Alien, he never makes it back.
  • In Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals, Dekar is thrown into a hellish otherworld through a Heroic Sacrifice. He fights his way out, blows up the entire dimension behind him, and gets back to the party in time to save the day.
  • Happens in all of the video games in the Silent Hill series, with the protgaonists trapped in one or more alternate dimensions centered around the titular town and its surrounding environs. Overlaps with Closed Circle, since the alternate version of the town is also physically cut off from the rest of the world.
  • In Super Robot Wars BX, the ruins on Austral Island somehow sends the protagonist's group to Arst, leaving them stranded on an alien world for a few scenarios.
  • This is the premise of Rakenzarn Tales. The main character, Kyuu, is an ordinary student who's sent in the Constructed World of Rakenzarn by the local Interdimensional Travel Device. Rakenzarn is a fantasy world with everything you would expect from a fantasy world in a RPG (guns, swordfights, magic, monsters and of course the local Big Bad trying to take over the world...). So, Kyuu has to learn and train in order to adapt to this new world and to survive. In Chapter 5, after being sent back to his own world, he has the choice to return to Rakenzarn, this time willingly.
  • In Holy Umbrella, the adventure begins as the protagonist picks up a mysterious umbrella and is instantly transported into the fantasy world of Margence.
  • Wario Land 3 starts with Wario finding a music box in a cave, which suck him into another world. The god of said world promises to return Wario home if he can find the five music boxes.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • While their trip to Creturia was intentional, the Dimensional Guardians from the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes find themselves trapped in the world until they can find the objects they need to both save the world and return home.
  • The serial web novel Elcenia starts out with protagonist Rhysel being summoned to the titular Magical Land. Unusual in that Rhysel is from a different Magical Land herself.
  • This happens in the gender bender The Finite Life of a Dating Sim Heroine to the main character Michio, which takes place in the titular dating sim.
  • This setting is currently the most popular for multifandom Journal Roleplay Games. The community has even coined a phrase for games based around this setting—"spooky jamjar". Which has now come full circle- meet Roleplayedingly. A roleplay where the characters are sent to a new world every week- and every world is an existing LiveJournal roleplay.
  • The heroes of The Dragon Wars Saga are examples, although it's insinuated they could leave if they knew how and really wanted to do so.
  • In Trinton Chronicles very first story (Fantasia) all of the characters end up in a portion of the Fairy Realm or something similar.
  • According to Robert Brockway of Cracked, the need for a "straight man" in a Magical Land story is one of the 4 Realizations That Will Ruin Science Fiction for You.
  • Engines of Creation features an entire town and its people from western Canada trapped in a world known as the Pactlands.
  • In Cradleland, a passenger airliner is transported by a portal to another planet.
  • The Travelers of Worm are eventually revealed to be an example of this trope seen from the other side. Initially a professional gamer group in the significantly less apocalyptic Earth Aleph, they were transported to Earth Bet by a freak accident and gained superpowers. In their search for a way home, they became supervillains, and cause a great many deaths, eventually culminating in Noelle going on a rampage that sees dozens of superheroes dead. In the end, only four of the original seven get to go home.
  • This is the central premise of The Lay of Paul Twister: the main character is from Earth, and he doesn't know how or why he ended up stuck in a Magical Land, but with technology just barely at early Renaissance levels, most of his modern skills aren't applicable to society, so he has to live by his wits as a rogue of sorts to get by...
  • Parodied in The Onion's Investigators: First 48 Hours Most Critical In Locating Missing Children Who Entered Portal To Fantastical World, which expounds tips to parents for finding children who are already inside one of these before it's too late and advice to prevent this situation from occurring altogether.
    "'When Elizabeth and William went out to play in the garden one day last summer, I thought it would only be a matter of time before they came home hungry for supper,' said Tabitha Newsom, whose children went missing after crawling through a hollow log into a world where everything is made of gemstones. 'But once I’d contacted the authorities, they had already been enlisted to lead the Army Of The Seven Pendants and were embroiled in a tense battle with the Ruby Kingdom...I never should have allowed them to follow that giant, glimmering butterfly'"

    Western Animation 
  • The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, where Mario and Luigi are from Brooklyn, but were transported to the Mushroom Kingdom through a warp pipe.
  • Fry from Futurama gets frozen in 1999 and wakes up 1000 years later. Somewhat subverted, in that even with the robots, aliens, mutants, and new technology, The Future isn't really all that different.
  • Goliath and the remains of his clan in Gargoyles are trapped in stone for 1000 years, thus arriving in 1994 New York from 994 Scotland.
  • An episode of Adventure Time had Finn get transported to another world made entirely out of pillows. (The landscape, the wildlife, the people, etc.) He ended up spending the rest of his life there, forming a family and dying of old age, then somehow got sent back to his world a few minutes after his disappearance, with no memory of his time there. It's left ambiguous as to whether or not this actually happened.
  • Over the Garden Wall is about teenage Wirt and his young brother Greg being trapped in a world called The Unknown.
  • The parents of the eponymous Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero are experienced heroes that are currently trapped in an extremely dangerous dimension and can only communicate with their son via the MUHU, a small hologram-projecting device that Penn keeps with him at all times.


Alternative Title(s): Portal Fantasy

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TrappedInAnotherWorld?from=Main.PortalFantasy