The author invents one (or, at most, a very few) counterfactual physical laws and writes a story that explores the implications of these principles.

[[AC: [[{{Anime}} Anime and Manga]]]]
* ''Anime/{{Patlabor}}'''s only "lie" is the existence of giant humanoid robots that can support their own weight, and even then it's more plausible than, say ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundam Gundam]]''.[[note]]This is excepting single episodes with weirdness such as ghosts and {{Kaiju}}.[[/note]]
* RomanticComedy [[{{dramedy}} aside]], ''Manga/KotouraSan'' can also be seen as a hard-SF story about Haruka Kotoura, a girl born with {{Telepathy}} that [[PowerIncontinence she cannot control and is always on]] -- in [[LikeRealityUnlessNoted a setting]] (circa TheNewTens) where PsychicPowers are so extremely rare that mainstream science does not recognize that they exist. (Whether this is better described as PlausibleDeniability or Mohs/SpeculativeScience depends on your judgment of parapsychology.) This was made clear when Haruka's mother, Kumiko, brings her to several hospitals only for the doctors to tell them that "she is perfectly normal". Haruka also lives in a society where [[ people's true thoughts and feelings are hidden]] as a ploy to belong in groups. Being the [[CuriosityIsACrapshoot curious]], InnocentlyInsensitive HonestAdvisor that she is without knowing that she's a LivingLieDetector, [[DarkAndTroubledPast she grew up]] [[AllOfTheOtherReindeer having everybody hate her]] and [[TheScapegoat blame her for all of their problems]] to the point where she develops a GuiltComplex. [[DownerBeginning This all happens within the first 10 minutes of the show]]. In the PresentDay, Yuriko Mifune, TheLeader of [[JapaneseSchoolClub The ESP Society and Research Club]], [[InvokedTrope is trying to prove to the world]] that PsychicPowers do indeed exist by deliberately using Haruka after "[[ImTakingHerHomeWithMe recruiting]]" her into the club [[TheDragAlong against her will]].
* ''Anime/CowboyBebop'': Actually one of the hardest SF shows, period, though its use of wormhole-like jump gates moves it into the One big Lie category. Interestingly, these gates are not used to travel outside of the Solar System, instead this incredible technology is used to make travel between the terraformed planets within our Solar System easier, showing a unique and refreshing aversion of ScifiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale. Spaceships are regularly seen using reaction control thrusters to orient themselves in space, the travel time between even orbital interceptions is highlighted, and everything else is painstakingly researched. However, one does wonder what on earth is powering the spaceplanes...

[[AC: Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/AlbedoErmaFelnaEDF'' has little that isn't based in real science, besides FTL drive. There's no energy weapons [[spoiler: aside from the WaveMotionGun developed late in the series from Creator technology]] and practically all small arms use chemical propellants. The RPG sourcebooks suggest that armor is made from rather advanced materials though.

[[AC: {{Film}}]]
* ''Film/TheRocketeer'' similarly goes on a jet pack whose exhaust is cool enough that it doesn't roast the wearer but has enough thrust to launch them in the air. One of the realistic implications is that in order to control the flight, one needs a rudder (in the form of a helmet), something HowardHughes couldn't figure out.
* ''Film/TheTerminator'' has the Big Lie of the [[TimeMachine Time Displacement Equipment]] which allows the TimeTravel story to take place. Apart from that, the biggest stretches of plausibility are the "living skin" worn by the Terminator and the "plasma weapons" seen in the brief flashes of the future. Everything else seems to be a reasonable extrapolation of contemporary technology. For instance, the Terminator is armored with an advanced metal alloy that makes it effectively ImmuneToBullets, but it can be still be damaged by things like explosives or getting run over by a semi truck. Later entries in the franchise get considerably softer, with things like shapeshifting robots made out of "liquid metal," NanoMachines that can be used to remotely hack technological devices, and [[TimeyWimeyBall complicated time travel storylines]].
* The first ''Film/BackToTheFuture'' movie has the flux capacitor (which makes time travel possible) as its sole science-fiction element, with everything else being grounded in the reality . . . until the SequelHook at the end shows us a flying car and a portable cold-fusion reactor. ''Back to the Future II'' features much softer and more plentiful science-fiction during the trip to 2015, though the third movie in the trilogy mostly brings things back to about the same level as the first movie.
* ''Film/{{Inception}}'' posits what would happen if humans could use technology to construct, control and enter each others' dreams. The entire plot comes from that sole technology, although TheRules of dream-traveling are mostly RuleOfSymbolism.

[[AC: {{Literature}}]]
* ''Literature/TheExpanse'' uses only one real physics assumption, and that is the Epstein Drive: an extremely fuel-efficient and powerful engine that allows ''relatively'' prompt travel throughout the solar system, so that trips take days or weeks instead of months. That is, until [[spoiler: the alien protomolecule gets discovered, which is something that warps time and space, generates stable wormholes, and does other things that go beyond the laws of physics.]]
* Creator/AlanDeanFoster's ''Literature/HumanxCommonwealth'' series operates on a great deal of {{Phlebotinum}} mixed with just enough hard sci fi elements to keep things sounding plausible. For example, FTLTravel is performed by means of ArtificialGravity generators that violate [[NoConservationOfEnergy conservation of energy]], but the rules for employing them are very strict, and most other technologies are based on things resembling known physics, or are logical extensions of the use of ArtificialGravity. However, once the {{Precursors}} start to show up with their LostTechnology, things get really fanciful really fast. Examples: constructed artificial planetoids that can traverse the galaxy in a week and fire star system-destroying bursts of energy across intergalactic space, entire planets that warp through alternate dimensions, etc.
* Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Literature/FarnhamsFreehold'' features a little TimeTravel, but is chiefly focused on exploring the fictional future society.
* ''Literature/IlivaisX'' likely falls within this. Though it's set only somewhat late in the 21st century, a LensmanArmsRace at the time the Aztecs fought of Cortez elevates the technology several millenia beyond what it should be (notably, space travel occuring in the 1700s). Most of the technology is fairly plausible- the HumongousMecha are, for the most part, incapable of walking on land and usually meant solely for flight (even the ones that can move on land have some vertical thrust), cities prone to disasters are suspended in the air via satellites, hovering vehicles operate on a computerized maglev system, mechanical and organic regeneration occurs with {{Nanomachines}}, advanced neuroscience allows the Drive Cores to work, etc. The [[DesperationAttack End Codes]] are not explained at all, however, as they apparently stop time for anything that doesn't have an End Code itself, though it generally drains the user's energy very quickly. It's presumed the titular mech's teleportation works this way, which is only possible with its Cyclic Engine, but that isn't explained either aside from stating it took a long time to make. The latter is essentially the MacGuffin of the story.
* Creator/GregEgan is a master of this trope, with a frightening ability to consider the deep consequences of alternate physics. ''Literature/{{Orthogonal}}'' in particular shows this off: To build the world, Egan makes one small change to the metric of spacetime. Just to make sure that's clear--The Mohs/OneBigLie is literally nothing more than a minus sign in a physics equation being changed to a plus sign. That's all. And then he [[ derives the physical consequences of that]] in great detail, including that time is fundamentally no different from a spatial dimension, stars have negative and/or infinite temperature, electric fields are "corrugated", and the speed of light depends on its ''color''. And then he writes a story in this universe, where it's understood that sometimes people just go out in a huge explosion when they die and it's a natural consequence of how the universe works, and where all the characters are amoebic {{Shapeshifting}} {{Starfish Alien}}s that can grow and absorb limbs at will and fission to give birth.
* Julie Cross's ''Literature/TempestANovel'' includes people with a genetic quirk which allows the people born with it to travel through time. Experienced users can [[spoiler:bounce off alternate timelines, and]] create the illusion that the time traveler can travel through time at will. Naturally this makes for a confusing story rather quickly.
* Isaac Asimov's Literature/TheCavesOfSteel and other works involving ThreeLawsCompliant robots use artificial consciousness (a "positronic" brain made of an iridium alloy) alongside much simpler (and in some cases, now outmoded) technologies. Although artificial consciousness may someday be achieved, a mass-produced and highly portable one that is economically more viable than human labor ''or'' simpler electronic automation is not very plausible. Again, since the stories are concerned more with the psychological and sociological consequences of robotics than with the technical aspects, the stories do not particularly suffer for this One Big Lie.
* In the ''Literature/StarCarrier'' series by Ian Douglas, the lie is spacetime manipulation technology, which allows for, among other things, gravitic weapons, deflector shields (which work by bending ordnance back in on itself, destroying missiles and deflecting kinetic and beam weapons), inertial dampers, and ReactionlessDrive (which takes the form of "pulled by an artificial singularity" on small ships and an AlcubierreDrive on larger ones).
* ''Literature/BeggarsInSpain'', by Nancy Kress, falls here. Its premise is that it is possible to genetically engineer human beings who have [[TheSleepless no need--and in fact have lost the capacity--to sleep]]. In her story, the emotional instabilities, judgment impairment and memory loss caused by lack of sleep simply don't occur when a person never slept in the first place, which is why the ''Beggars'' trilogy belongs in this level of hardness regardless of what was known ''of'' sleep science (or genetic engineering!) when it was published in TheNineties.
** It arguably falls in Level 4 as well, because it starts off with a small fib--the existence of cold fusion, perfected by Kenzo Yagai some time before the novel opens in 2008--and then expands into quite a bit of phlebotinum over the course of the trilogy, such as nanomachines, bio-augmentation that results in humanity becoming autotrophic, bioweapons that permanently rewrite neurochemistry, and soy-based replacements for every sort of foodstuff.
* Creator/MichaelCrichton's works usually fall somewhere between this and Mohs/SpeculativeScience. His standard formula is set in the real world, focusing on what at least appears to be [[ShownTheirWork exhaustively researched]] existing science and pushing it just a little bit past believability. However works such as ''Literature/JurassicPark'', ''Literature/TheAndromedaStrain'', ''Literature/{{Sphere}}'', and ''Literature/{{Timeline}}'' are firmly in this category.
* In ''Literature/TheWitling'', the planet Giri's Lie comes in the form of its denizens' PsychicPowers (namely, farsight and teleportation), which, while they actually ''don't'' violate things like conservation of energy, ''do'' circumvent the speed of light. At the end of the novel it's implied that the principle that makes them work will be reverse-engineered to build [[FasterThanLightTravel Faster-Than-Light spaceships]].
* ''Literature/AlexisCarew'' makes hay out of the fact that scientists currently have no damn clue what dark energy and dark matter really are, using them to justify hardcore SpaceSailing and WoodenShipsAndIronMen via [[SubspaceOrHyperspace an alternate plane of existence called darkspace]]. The fact that most combat in the series takes place in darkspace dictates the designs of ships, which otherwise take into consideration that space is 3D and that one still has to deal with orbital mechanics in realspace (even more so than usual, since ships can only enter or exit darkspace at Lagrange points off of massive objects).
* ''Literature/{{RCN}}'' has the Matrix, a web of {{Alternate Universe}}s into which ships transit to travel faster than light, whose physics require ships' sails to be set by hand or with hydraulics (since any electrics could affect the ship's course). Everything else is at best Mohs/SpeculativeScience: ships and missiles are propelled by matter/antimatter annihilation and all the physics are kept consistent.

[[AC: LiveActionTV]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** While ''Who'' taken as a whole is ScienceInGenreOnly, the "pure historical" stories (and one pseudohistorical, "The Time Meddler") of William Hartnell's tenure belong here. Everything in them is scientifically plausible (if not necessarily historically accurate), except for the existence of the alien time traveller that bought them there in his MagicFromTechnology time machine (and, in "The Time Meddler", the existence of a second alien time traveller with his own time machine). The focus remains on the historical setting and how the characters interact with the time travellers, with the direct implications of time travel technology itself - altering history - being present as a background theme and the primary theme of several ("The Aztecs", "The Massacre", "The Time Meddler").
** "The Robots of Death" is based mostly on plausible technology and science bar the Doctor's existence and presence, and possibly whatever travel mechanism bought humans to the Kaldor City planet in the first place. In particular, even the psychology of the most highly advanced and intelligent robot in the story is markedly different to that of humans and they struggle to recognise certain objects and commands. Various laws of physics are encountered in the story and dealt with realistically, like the inability to stop the sandminer while in motion for fear of it sinking, and then-cutting edge robots research is incorporated into the story (specifically, the UncannyValley Effect). There is even a stage play adaptation that removes the Doctor and Leela [[ExiledFromContinuity due to rights issues]], making the scifi even harder.
* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'': The Big Lies are gravity/inertia control, faster than light radio communications (not travel), and [[spoiler: PsychicPowers]].
* ''Series/{{Revolution}}'': This U.S. TV series seems to fit here: the impetus for the series is some strange effect which disabled all electronic devices on Earth, and the efforts of the protagonists to reverse it. In "[[Recap/RevolutionS1E20TheDarkTower The Dark Tower]]", [[spoiler: the protagonists do reverse it by using the Tower to shut down the nanites. Unfortunately, Randall Flynn then uses the opportunity to launch Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles at Philadelphia and Atlanta]].
* ''Series/{{The 100}}'' has radiation poisoning affect people and animals in ways that don't match up with real life science, but which serve to advance the story. However, all the technology used in the series is stuff we might not have invented ''yet'', but which could conceivably be invented in the very near future.

[[AC: TabletopGames]]
* ''TabletopGame/EclipsePhase'' is, in the main, Mohs/SpeculativeScience based on forecast trends of technological development. However, post-singularity beings and aliens are capable of doing stuff that runs straight into ClarkesThirdLaw, most notably the [[PortalNetwork Pandora Gates]].
** The use of quantum entanglement for FTL communications is a bit iffy too, though at least they acknowledged that attempting to communicate using an entangled particle would collapse the two.

[[AC: VideoGames]]
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'' has its eponymous mass effect, which is the source for almost all advanced technology. By manipulating the mass of matter, one can create FTL, artificial gravity, hover technology, force fields, handheld weapons that fire grains of dust with the force of bullets. The effect is created when running a current through [[{{Unobtanium}} Element Zero]], and people whose bodies are laced with the substance (either by accident or on purpose) can use the electric potential of their nervous system to gain telekinetic powers. This is based, loosely, on theoretical applications of dark energy, exaggerated quite a bit. Outside of eezo, most of the AppliedPhlebotinum is pretty squarely in the realm of Mohs/SpeculativeScience (ArtificialIntelligence via quantum computing, {{Subspace Ansible}}s via quantum entanglement, and they even account for [[SpaceIsCold heating and cooling problems in space]]), though the cutscenes still tend to lean on RuleOfCool (especially in space combat) since the games are thematically {{homage}}s to classic SpaceOpera.
* The ''VideoGame/{{X}}-Universe'' literature, including the official encyclopedia, has the big lie as spacetime manipulation, allowing for tractor beams, ships' cargo bays being BiggerOnTheInside, and artificial wormholes (allowing the [[PortalNetwork jumpgates]] and jumpdrive). The games' gameplay uses space sim-typical RuleOfCool physics, however (the constant thrust = constant speed model rather than Newtonian).
* The ''VideoGame/HalfLife'' universe mostly uses [[ShownTheirWork real-world science like dark energy, string theory and quantum entanglement]] to explain the presence of the (wormhole-based) teleportation technology that fuels the whole plot. The reason why it's not any higher on the scale is due to the presence of a few oddballs:
** Energy weapons - particle[[note]][[ Tau particles]], which indeed demonstrate a penetrating ability at petaelectronvolt energy levels[[/note]] accelerator the size of an assault rifle and backpack-mounted WaveMotionGun that can rip apart matter on the quark level[[note]]its namesake, the [[ gluon]], is an elementary particle that mediates the strong nuclear force between quarks, thus being essential to the existence of the atomic nucleus by allowing the formation of hadron particles like protons and neutrons[[/note]], both powered by an ultracompact fission reactor that can somehow utilize depleted uranium as fuel.
** The orange crystal that started the whole mess in the first game, apparently some kind of [[MineralMacGuffin naturally-occurring exotic matter]] which would be [[MinovskyPhysics the Holy Grail of quantum physicists]].
** Combine pulse weapons are actually a PlasmaCannon firing dark matter - which too is a material of interest in real-world science, mostly by astrophysics. The source of the dark matter in this case, however, is some kind of ultra-high-tech reactor powered by spacetime itself... [[HigherTechSpecies or something like that]].

[[AC: {{Webcomics}}]]
* ''Webcomic/QuantumVibe'' has a form of ArtificialGravity, somewhat poorly explained methods of travel, and the main characters are researching a means of using [[QuantumMechanicsCanDoAnything quantum vibrations]] to access {{Alternate Universe}}s
* ''Webcomic/{{QuestionableContent}}'' is basically a slice of life comic, but with advanced Artifical Intelligence that has reached the singularity. Several of the major characters are themselves AI, and the rights of AI entities in the context of larger society is a running theme

[[AC: WesternAnimation]]
* ''[=StarCom=]: The US Space Force'', developed with the cooperation of NASA, had the hardest science fiction ever seen in a MerchandiseDriven cartoon. FTL travel exists, but it can only be used between the planets of the solar system, and one episode had an alien city discovered on Mars with technology still active. Unfortunately, the series was TooGoodToLast, running for only one season in 1987.

!One Small Fib: These stories include only a single counterfactual device (often FTLTravel), but this mechanism is not a major driver of the plot.


[[AC: {{Film}}]]
* ''Film/{{Alien}}'' and [[Film/{{Aliens}} its sequel]]. Spaceships have slow FTL travel, during which the crew lie in cryonic sleep for months or even years. The many discovered planets go by numbers, but almost none of them are naturally inhabitable. Technology is otherwise quite plausible. The [[BizarreAlienBiology Alien's physiology]] stretches credibility a little, with its rapid growth an ability to infect seemingly any species.
** Other films [[FanonDisContinuity diverge from the first two]] in various ways, and become somewhat less hard as a result. Things like the chestbursters taking on features of their host, super-rapid growth into adult aliens, stealth warships, etc etc require disbelief to be suspended somewhat higher. Novels and comics set in the Aliens/Predator extended universe inevitably follow the RuleOfCool and the authors are not usually interested in detailing the consequences of their ideas.
** Arguably, the ArtificialGravity on board the ''Nostromo'' bumps the count to '''two''' small fibs. (When they're taking off from the planetoid, Carter says "engaging artificial gravity" as they exit the planet's gravity well.)
* ''Film/SilentRunning'''s one small fib is ArtificialGravity, probably because filming in zero-G was impossible for the filmmakers.
* ''Film/{{Avatar}}'' has aliens who share the same basic body resemblance as humans (walking on two legs, two arms, head, vaguely similar facial layout), and FTL communication but no travel, with the latter playing no part in the actual film and only existing in backstory.
** It also has the titular avatar project, which allows humans to project their minds into na'vi bodies, and the na'vi's ability to connect their minds to those of their mounts with their fibre-optic ponytails. If one considers the brain to be essentially a computer, this is all just about justifiable in a science fiction context, as informational exchange does make evolutionary and possibly technological sense. The remote control of the avatar bodies stretches plausibility the most, but without it there would be no film.
** There are also the floating mountains, which are explained as being partially composed of a room temperature superconductor and levitated by magnetic forces. While this is barely theoretically possible, if such things really existed, they would not behave as they do in the film (for example, the massive forces required to levitate an entire mountain would destroy the aircraft that try to fly amongst them).
*** That assumes that the rest of the composition is very dense. They mention, in the movie, that the atmosphere is much thicker than Earth-Normal. It is entirely possible the mountains density is low enough that the magnetic forces are able to overcome the higher gravity with the aid of Air Buoyancy (making the mountains essentially Mag-lev Blimps).
*** Also, the gravity on Pandora is actually only 4/5 that of Earth, meaning that the "floating density" of the floating mountains can be that little bit higher again. And the magnetic forces are enough to mess with the navigational systems of aircraft and ground vehicles moving through the area.
* ''Film/StrangeDays'' features just one technological advance, the memory-recording Superconducting [=QUantum=] Interference Device or SQUID, and it's primarily social science fiction in which the new tech is basically just a greatly improved version of the recording technologies of today. The plot is nothing you haven't seen in a million cop stories.
** Note that [[ Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices]] do actually exist, and are used in some MRI machines, but reading human memories is as-yet beyond them.

[[AC: {{Literature}}]]
* In the universe of the ''Literature/SixteenThirtyTwo'' series, the plot device behind the transposition of the West Virginia town to the middle of the UsefulNotes/ThirtyYearsWar is only ever mentioned in the preface to the original novel. Everything else in the story is based on fact or speculation.
* Many Creator/HalClement novels, such as ''Literature/MissionOfGravity'', ''Close to Critical'', are set in a universe featuring FTL, but only as a background element explaining the presence of humans in other star system. The planets themselves are designed by straightforward extrapolation of known physics to situations vastly unlike those of Earth.
* Creator/ArthurCClarke's ''Literature/TheSongsOfDistantEarth'' is an interstellar saga without faster-than-light travel. The only piece of fictional science Clarke uses in the story is Zero-Point Energy, and that only to get around the need to carry a civilization's worth of rocket fuel for interstellar travel otherwise.
* Creator/CJCherryh's ''Literature/{{Foreigner}}'' series has has a FasterThanLight drive.
** Her ''Literature/AllianceUnion'' universe (which includes the Literature/ChanurNovels) has an FTL drive which has the additional function of allowing for instantaneous changes in velocity.
* Creator/PoulAnderson's ''Literature/TauZero'', while it does have the molecular interpenetration anchor (which isn't important to the plot) and [[InertialDampening G-force nullification]] (which is), tries its damndest to get the science of a Bussard {{Ramscoop}} right.
* RobertCharlesWilson's short story "[[ Divided by Infinity]]" takes the idea of [[ quantum immortality]] (a legitimate -- although not universally accepted -- implication of quantum mechanics) and starts running with it. It is shifted off the hardest end of the scale by [[spoiler:the otherdimensional books at Ziegler's bookshop]], however.
* Creator/RobertReed's ''Literature/GreatShip'' universe is a very "hard" setting (no FasterThanLightTravel or SubspaceAnsible, for example), though it has one device which defies the most fundamental laws of physics - the Great Ship's [[spoiler: [[ReactionlessDrive true propulsion]] method]] - and hyperfiber, a fantastic metal which gains its strength by dissipating impact energy through multiple dimensions [[note]]May turn out to be partially true science, as several theories propose that a similar mechanism is why gravity is the ''weakest'' force[[/note]].

[[AC: {{Video Games}}]]
* VideoGame/FrontMission operates on the same principle as ''Anime/{{Patlabor}}'', but most of the time the [[MiniMecha Wanzers]] are portrayed as so inhuman, they seem like a glorified WalkingTank ([[SubvertedTrope which don't have to walk]] - they could easily be [[SpiderTank quadrupeds]], HoverTank torsos, or even plain tank treads). The mecha seems mostly to justify the game mechanic of SubsystemDamage on a comprehensible level. ''Gun Hazard'' and other spinoffs treat the [[AMechByAnyOtherName Wanzers]] as more floaty and have wackier science like an extremely wide SpaceElevator, but this is one of the few series that treat reality better than MetalGear.

[[AC: {{Webcomics}}]]
* ''Webcomic/{{Freefall}}'': Tends to limit itself to 'theoretically possible but difficult' technologies, such as [[PettingZooPeople genetically enhanced sapient animals]], {{terraform}}ing, AI and [[HumanPopsicle cryonics]]. Even artificial gravity is absent (as the name suggests), and though the Dangerous and Very Expensive ([[FunWithAcronyms D.A.V.E.]]) Drive enables interstellar voyages measured in ''days'', it is explicitly ''not'' [[CasualInterstellarTravel Casual]] -- Planet Jean was colonized by slower-than-light ships carrying {{Human Popsicle}}s, and WordOfGod is that D.A.V.E. journeys also require freezing because it uses a sort of reverse TimeDilation that only reduces the travel time from an outside perspective.
* The most fantastic technology in ''Webcomic/EscapeFromTerra'' is [[SubspaceAnsible "tanglenet"]], though the inventor is working on a method of FTL travel as well.

Back to Main/MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness.