Wiki Headlines
It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Real Life: Tropes N-S
Tropes: A - F || G - M || N - S || T - Z

    open/close all folders 

  • Nameless Narrative: Everything is nameless when introduced, but will receive a name if it sticks around humans for long.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast:
    • Wolf-trap seadevil
    • Assassin spider
    • With prehistoric creatures, we have Tyrannosaurus rex (tyrant lizard king), Daspletosaurus (frightening lizard), Tarbosaurus (alarming lizard), Megalodon (big tooth), Lythronax (king of gore), Carcharodontosaurus (shark-toothed lizard), Sarcosuchus (meat crocodile), Carnotaurus (meat bull), Deinosuchus (terrible crocodile), Deinonychus (terrible claw), and the winner: TERATOPHONEUS (MONSTROUS MURDERER)
    • The Tarantula Hawk Wasp. Yes, that is one animal, whose name is three different animals you would never mess with combined.
    • Vampyroteuthis infernalis, whose name means "the vampire squid from hell", is actually pretty harmless.
    • On the other hand, Cnidoscolus stimulosus, whose name translates to "feels like you've been hurt with a whip" isn't harmless at all.
  • Naval Blockade: If there's been a war at sea, it probably had one of these at some point.
  • Nerf: Guns, typically, unless one belongs to the Soldier, Mercenary, or Armed Policeman class. There are some exceptions; the United States server allows any player to obtain almost any gun in the game provided they don't violate a few basic rules. Additionally, on many servers, it's possible to obtain a full-strength gun, but this is considered cheating and carries severe penalties if discovered.
    • Note that the effectiveness of the weapon does not change, but the wielder's effectiveness with the weapon is the only thing that differs.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Black holes, most notably.
  • Network to the Rescue: Many, many times the show approached an end, but things worked out and it continued.
  • New Game+: According to religions that believe in reincarnation.
    • You don't get to keep your skills or items from a previous game and you have to start from 0.
    • Except characters who get the "Enlightenment" upgrade, though this takes an insane amount of Level Grinding.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The best intents of mice and men... have nasty unplanned consequences. Notably the environment, since humans have more power to alter it than any other species, and with great power... well, you know. Thus we get hunting to extinction, overly efficient forest firefighters, and invasive alien species (no, not that kind). In the non-environmental arenas, we have medical malpractice, authority figures taking sexual advantage, and many more.
  • Nintendo Hard: Many, many examples, from high-level school and college courses, to job-hunting during economic recessions, to (for some people) figuring out how the dating mechanics work, to simply trying to survive in war-torn countries. In short, life isn't fair.
    • Nevertheless, some players have been known to play for over 100 years on one continue.
    • The rules for connecting to other servers can get complicated. At the very least, the "passport" inventory item is required. To switch servers permanently, players are often required to have high wealth and skills stats. Some players manage to sneak onto servers, but the mods usually kickban the offending players when they're discovered.
  • No Bisexuals: Zigzagged. While there is a such thing as bisexual erasure to the point where some players are quoted as saying things such as, "you're either gay, straight, or lying," it's more commonly accepted that some characters are bisexual.
  • Nobody Poops: Massively averted. Despite the fact that some players try to deny it, everyone poops, pees, burps, farts, sneezes, coughs, and so on. Played straight for characters that develop digestive complications like constipation.
  • No Continue Run: Mandatory. However, if you have friends with enough points in the CPR and resucitation skill tree, it's possible to get a single extra continue. (Some players, through a combination of very good and very bad luck, have managed to get more than one this way.) Continuing Is Painful however, as your lifespan gauge won't be refilled, and you'll likely suffer penalties to several stats plus a permanent decrease in max hitpoints.
    • If the Game Master (should one exist) takes a shine to you, and you have a lot of points in luck, it's possible to get a continue, or rarely two.
  • No Fame, No Wealth, No Service: In particularly snobby places.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The universe to pretty much everyone. This also happened to the Native Americans and Australian Aborigines, to the extent that they have yet to fully recover.
  • No Indoor Voice: Many examples, including cicadas, howler monkeys, parrots, and humpback whales (yes, those "songs" are deafening up close, what did you expect from a creature bigger than a bus?)
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. This is one of the primary differences between the Female and Male character types.
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • Greenland.
    • Iceland.
    • Fireland.
    • The Canary Islands are actually named for the Latin "canus" as in dog.
    • And since the factory ceased production, Sugar Land, Texas.
      • While on the topic of Texas town names, Old Dimebox is surely worth a mention. And Marble Falls doesn't have anything resembling its name since they built the dam.
    • "Canada" means "Village." It's the second-largest country in the world (geographically-speaking).
    • Any of several People's Republics of Tyranny.
  • Nonstandard Game Over:
    • The death penalty.
    • Getting a life sentence in prison. Well, you are still technically playing, but you're not going to be doing much for a long time. Unless you escape.
    • And when you get to do something the only option is "Die".
    • Locked-In Syndrome. Consciousness is maintained, and you can blink, but that's about it. Likewise, Persistent Vegetative State.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Trope Namer. While usually averted, it is played straight occasionally. A great example of this is the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory episode between the second half of the Industrial Revolution arc and the World War I arc.
  • Nothing Can Save Us Now and Nothing Can Stop Us Now: These tropes have gotten a workout in recent seasons.
  • Not So Different: A common accusation from members in the "Political Figure" class tree. A particularly illustrative example: a pair of mini-arcs in season 2009 involved Kosovo declaring independence from Serbia, and South Ossetia breaking away from Georgia. In the first instance, the United States declared its intention to help the heroic freedom fighters cast of oppression, while Russia promised to help maintain Serbia's territorial integrity. During the South Ossetia incident, almost exactly the same speeches were made, but from the opposite speaker.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Many characters, although prominent examples include Adolf Hitler, an out of work ex-soldier wannabe artist turned fascist dictator, and Osama Bin Laden, a quiet, religious boy from a moderate, prosperous family turned mass murdering terrorist mastermind. The recent revelation that Kim Jong Il's faction has obtained nuclear weapons was a major plot twist that, thankfully, so far has gone nowhere.
  • No Title: At least, not that we know of. "Real Life" is just a colloquial name for it.
  • Novelization: Biographies, textbooks, and a whole bunch of other stuff.
  • NPC: Robots. Most of them won't even try to have a conversation with you... yet.
  • Nude Nature Dance: Special ability for those who have taken the "Gardnerian Wiccan" prestige class that allows them to perform many ceremonies "skyclad" (nude), complete with dancing.
  • Numbered Sequels: Numerous conflicts, such as World War II.
    • And the Second Battle of Bull Run/Second Manassas.
    • Oddly enough, some disenchanted fans were already calling the first world war "World War One". The foreshadowing for that series wasn't particularly subtly written.
    • The Third Reich, although thankfully that map didn't last long until it was deleted and a new one was coded to replace it.

  • Obvious Beta: The Moon. Developed from the Earth's Alpha Build source code, and still lacking flora, fauna or even a basic atmosphere when the Beta Testers arrived to try it out. The weak gravity, however, proved popular and was retained as a Good Bad Bug. Despite its popularity the only way to reach this zone is down to having a very specific skill set and armour list and by grinding rep with the appropriate space guilds. Even then you have to hope that the quest itself will pop up in your play time, it's been nearly 40 years since the last lucky players were able to select that quest. It's been rumoured that some of the devs are beta testing new faction specific vehicles and equipment to make this zone more available to casual players as well as the hardcore crowd.
    • For quite a while now, a few players have been considering Mars to be this. Recent discovery of leftover code that showed it had successfully run the water module advances this theory.
    • Any modeling of the Earth's surface from billions of years ago when it was still Lethal Lava Land will look like this.
    • Venus. Same size as Earth, similar surface gravity and overall chemical constituents, but someone really screwed up the atmosphere coding and nobody has released a patch for it, yet. Fanfiction and long-term players are hoping to fix it themselves, sometime in the far future.
    • People are still deciding if Mars was a finished product that dried up a long time ago, an abandoned project, or just another dead world. Fanfiction from astronomer-based players speculated that it was populated, but the tech tree has expanded to show it isn't the case. Nonetheless, audiences continue to read books and watch movies that take the concept and run withit.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Whatever happened to the dinosaurs was probably a result of this. Other than that, pretty much averted. When a new rule is discovered (generally as a result of poking an old rule until it breaks) it's also discovered that the new rule applied even before it was discovered.
  • Official Couple: A system has been devised to cement a couple as being, in their own opinion, the author's One True Pairing. A lot of these are eventually Jossed, but many others remain plausible for the duration of the characters' tenure.
  • Omega Cast: Averted. Averted HARD.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The human race is extremely fragile and can easily be killed with a single attack. Also subverted because humans are tougher than they look - time, though, eats up HP something fierce. Also, modern weaponry have made humans one-hit kills, and it would take a much longer time to bring one down with just the hands. Good old fashioned luck plus modern medicine (particularly the advancement in Trauma medicine) plus some curious biology means this trope is Justified, Played Straight, Averted, Zigzagged, Invoked, Enforced, Subverted, and even Parodied. Occasionally with the same person, and rarely, <i>all in one incident</i>. Warfare is a particularly fickle mod which allows for all of these to happen at the same time.
  • One-Way Visor: Spacesuit helmets, welding goggles, Hazmat Suits, and mirrored, wraparound shades.
  • Only Child Syndrome: China since 1978.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Welcome to the Internet.
    • Many famous characters, like Snoop Dogg, Elton John and David Bowie are subject to this trope.
  • Only Sane Man: Most players think they are the Only Sane Man, but if they're all sane, why is everyone surrounded by crazy people?
    • Which leads to a subversion as some people think they are the only insane person surrounded by sane people.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted massively.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: You're repeatedly tested on your knowledge in the "School" phase as well as the optional "College/University" phase. Depending on the character class you choose, you'll also have to do this kind of thing frequently during your job.
  • Ontological Mystery: Characters enter the world naked and crying with no idea whatsoever of their purpose for existence. Might all be a giant Shaggy Dog Story.
  • Our Monsters Are Different
  • Our Presidents Are Different: Even more so starting with the Turn of the Millennium arc.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Both averted and played straight. While atheism as a whole seems to be gaining popularity, there are still billions of people who adhere to a religion and as a whole, those that hold such beliefs are usually treated in a civil manner from those that don't (aside from the Real Life Hollywood Atheists). Played straight in that many ancient religions have become mythology since almost no one believes them anymore.
  • Out of Focus: Happened big-time to Mongolia after the death of Kublai Khan. More recently, Australia gets much, much less attention than Canada or Britain.
    • For a long time, formerly great civilizations like Arabia, India and China were more or less ignored. Now they seem to be making a comeback. Recently, France and Russia seem to feel this is occurring for them.
  • Overly Long Gag: This page.
    • End of the world predictions.
    • Life itself.

  • Pacifist Run: This is the default option, see PvP below for exceptions.
  • Path of Most Resistance: Claimed to be the best way to succeed. Played straight if you needed to get into a highly technical position or rely heavily on ability, but subverted by those who manage to bluff or use other means to gain status.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: The more a country's name sounds like the personification of an ideal, the more likely it is to be the opposite.
    • The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, The People's Republic of China, and The Democratic Republic Of The Congo are all good examples.
  • Perpetually Static: Subverted.
  • Pilot Episode: Matter of much debate. It's generally considered to have taken place in Africa, but nobody is exactly sure when, except that it was a long time ago.
  • Pinball Scoring: Some currencies' values are so low that one USD is equal to thousands of that currency. And then there's hyperinflation; post-World War I Germany, for instance, had bank notes with values as high as 100,000,000,000,000 marks. Zimbabwe is an example, with everyday bank notes hitting the trillions and maybe beyond. This was recently patched and as a result the currency in question no-longer exists for practical purposes.
  • Player Versus Player: Between the "Law/Crime", "Wimps/Bulliesnote ", and opposing "Military" class tree players. Technically any player can engage, but it's not a very good idea.
    • Special rules for Player Versus Player contests exist in minigames known as Boxing, Wrestling, and Ultimate Fighting. The advantage of these is that there's no penalty for engaging in them, and they do not cause death (most of the time)
    • The entire world is one big Player Versus Environment zone unless you are either doing one of the above or in a designated PvP zone such as Somalia or Iraq. Penalties for attacking players outside of those zones can range from your character getting banned and deleted from the server to being restricted to special penalty zones where you can get ganked by trolls and twinks.
    • The 'Lawsuit' minigame is a good choice for players who want nonviolent PvP action... but expect to spend a lot of in-game currency even if you win. 'Office Politics' is also another choice, but the rules aren't nearly as consistent.
    • And of course there's other forms of nonviolent PvP, known as "games".
  • Planet of Hats: Averted six billion ways to Sunday, although this doesn't stop a lot of authors from trying to play it straight. Declining in popularity these days.
  • Platform Hell: If you want to see other people experience it, Ninja Warrior. If you want to experience it yourself, go for a tough hike or try to climb a mountain. Be careful, though; this minigame gives you only one life, and no continues unless you're lucky enough for a Mountain Rescue player to be in the area.
    • However, if you have a distress beacon item, you get a generally high chance (depending on local conditions) of getting an additional continue, but you have to restart the entire minigame.
  • Poison Mushroom: There's a reason why many wilderness survival guides warn novices to think twice about eating wild plants and fungi. Best case scenario, a bout of horrible stomach illness and/or diarrhea. Worst case scenario, unwittingly ingesting a deadly poison.
  • Plot Armor: Averted. The plot follows character development, rather than the other way around.
  • Polluted Wasteland: Many industrial areas and several cities count, particularly during the Industrial Revolution.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Played straight loads of times.
  • Posthumous Character: Influential characters from early seasons can have surprising influence on later plotlines even after they die. The Doomed Moral Victor from the Rise of Rome storyline is now (arguably) the posthumous main character. The Chessmaster from the Arabia arc and the Jerk with a Heart of Gold from the Bo Tree arc have been almost as influential, and even the Crazy Awesome Mad Scientist from the Restoration Arc (and his later counterparts in the World War I and World War II storylines) is still considered important.
  • P.O.V. Cam: Standard for all players. Due to hardware limitations, alternate setup is not accessible at this time. (See, however, Psychic Powers and Near Death Clairvoyance)
    • Some items, such as Skype or Security Camera, do allow a limited form of third-person view.
  • Power Gives You Wings: Inverted — wings give you power! Just ask any member of the "Air Force" class tree. Inverted differently by the dinosaurs, who got wings at the expense of a substantial decrease in power.
    • And Red Bull.
    • The dinosaurs may be a Double Subversion: wings may have come at a substantial decrease to their overall stats, but through Min-Maxing the winged descendants of the dinosaurs that developed that way became the only ones to survive the mass extinction event which ended their story arc, though their racial descriptor changed from 'dinosaur' to 'bird' in the process.
  • The Power of Friendship: Players will never get far into the game without making some kind of connection with other players of the same species, which opens unlimited paths, some that were previously not considered! With any luck, those connections will pay off.
  • The Power of Rock: Played straight. Usually used by the "Angsty Teen" class to get back at their Parents. Rock music was also played to get Manuel Noriega to surrender during Operation Just Cause.
    • Sometimes happens when players think the game is too hard and try to Game Over, but the lyrics helped them get back on their feet.
  • Power Perversion Potential: My, my, my. Where do we begin? This trope was the founder of one of Real Life's first job classes.
    • At some point, humans must have realized they didn't need a partner to orgasm and could literally take matters into their own hands. Things have never been the same since.
  • Present Day, Present Time: Always.
  • Press X to Die: Suicide is arguably a subversion, as you have to be deliberate about it. The vagus nerve reflex would be a straight interpretation.
  • Press X to Not Die: No on-screen indicators, and it doesn't always show up. All you got is your instincts.
  • Prestige Class: "Doctor", "Lawyer", "President".
  • Prequel: "Real Life Prehistoric".
  • The Promised Land: Users on third-world country servers view first-world servers as such, and try to do anything to switch over. For some, switching over brings them better gameplay, but for others, life doesn't improve that much. In the late 19th century edition of Real Life, many players tried to switch over to the United States server. How well it worked out for them varied from player to player.
  • Puberty Superpower: After roughly a decade and a half of playing, your character will receive various stat boosts. The most obvious is the ability to reproduce, allowing you to create further characters with a member of the opposite gender. You will receive an increase in height and strength, boosts which are usually more pronounced in males. If you are a guy, you get the option to grow Badass Beards and Mustaches. As for a girl, you receive the Most Common Superpower, useful for extortion and feeding your young.
  • Punk Punk: Constantly averted. Every time it looks like a Punk genre is going to take over, fate pulls a fast one and stops work on that tech tree. Steam Punk / Clock Punk never got going, though they're good fun for hobbying. The only part of the world that took Ocean Punk seriously was the Carribean area, Diesel Punk was going great at the start of the 1900s but kinda ran out of gas (although the Internal Combustion Engine was such a popular element it was adopted by other genres), and Atom Punk was considered but dropped after the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl disasters, and Fukushima was the final nail in its coffin. The newest Punk genres slated for Tech Tree expansion are Bio Punk and Cyber Punk, but we'll have to wait and see.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Averted in the extreme. For instance, male characters have a weak point while female characters suffer a nasty debuff once a month. Female characters also tend to have lower starting STR scores, and on some servers, penalties (sometimes massive penalties) to Respect ratings. Some players claim these disadvantages are offset by increased WIS and CHA scores, but there is still controversy on this point.
    • Perhaps also subverted in the form of transsexual people in that they lack most of the above characteristics but often face severe penalties for having a Purely Aesthetic Gender.
    • The lists of Disease debuffs that favor one gender or the other is long enough to choke a horse, and worse, many of those diseases are picked up at character creation. Lupus, for example, is found in women almost ten times as often as in men.
      • One that can affect the literal aesthetics of the game world is color blindness, and is found much more commonly in men than in women.
    • Childbearing, one of the most monumental events in the game for most players, is restricted to one gender. It usually involves both, but the male need not even be present while the female is obviously committed.
    • In many species, sexual dimorphism is even more pronounced than it is in the H. sapiens type used by every character reading this page. Birds can be so radically different that they can appear as entirely different species, while the eusocial insects live an Amazon Brigade existence with males only sticking around to impregnate a queen.
  • Put on a Bus: Lots of people lose track with friends and relatives.

  • Quicksand Box: In some cases, it's easy - you simply need to survive by collecting food. In some cases, it's hard because of the expansive nature and you can't guarantee that a certain path will result in food. In extreme cases, you have to plan ten years ahead with little guidance on what should be done.

  • Ragdoll Physics: Actually done right. Especially with ragdolls.
  • Random Encounters: Too many to count. Cockroaches (can be found everywhere), stray dogs and Mugger players in street levels and great white sharks in aquatic levels are just some examples.
  • Random Events Plot: Some days go like this for people.
  • Randomly Drops: The Archaeologist, Beggar, Garbage Picker, and Thief classes are almost entirely dependent on these turning up something good. The Police prestige class Drug Enforcement is too, to a degree. The Street Vendor class depends on being seen as a unique enough provider of these compared to others in his or her class. Also happens, obviously, to players searching thrift shops, junk shops, street vends, and low-price shops.
  • Random Number God:
    • Character generation, which is especially weird thanks to requiring two players to generate a new one, each from a distinct half of the player base. Stats are based on the stats of several related characters, not just to two that instigated the generation of a new character, and has some mediocrely-coded randomization in choosing stats to use for the new character (and there are a LOT of stats!). Some other tiny random changes are also implemented, giving unique new values for stats, but a lot of the time these either have no effect on gameplay or actually hinder the new character.
      • According to some, "Gender" is listed twice, once under "Mental Stats" and once under "Physical Stats". This normally wouldn't be a problem, but can really be aggravating when a system glitch sets one instance incorrectly.
    • A good number of new characters are also deleted before gameplay really begins due to a poor stat roll or problems during the later stages of character generation. All in all, Real Life character generation is really fun at first, but becomes highly inconvenient later on, and downright painful at the end.
    • The character changes after generation, and can change based on interactions within the game, as well as self-modification which occures semi-randomly. Whew... it's complicated.
  • Rasputinian Death: Trope namer. The PC Rasputin, a nasty Cleric, was poisoned, emasculated, shot, stabbed, and dumped in a river. Cause of death? Drowning. Probably. And, according to legend, he sat up while being incinerated.
  • Read the Fine Print: It's usually a good idea to carefully read and reread ANYTHING given to you to sign before you put pen to paper. Consulting with someone with some levels in contract law before signing would also be helpful in some situations.
  • Real Is Brown: It is. It's also many, many other colors, to the delight of species with color vision.
  • Reality Ensues: All the time.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Ironically averts this trope at times despite being the trope namer.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Well, it is the plot, but discoveries and wars are almost entirely based upon players' actions.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: You will encounter them often enough that the Corrupt Politician / Obstructive Bureaucrat stereotype isn't always true. NPCs such as Parents or Teachers may qualify.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: The Trope Namer itself offers an aversion. Like the aquatic levels, survival in and exploration of the polar regions requires a great deal of special training and equipment, and relatively few players (aside from the locals in the northern region) even attempt to do so. Such exploration, however, has had quite a few Crowning Moments of Awesome.
  • Reclusive Artist: So reclusive that there have been thousands of opinions about the artist: some consider there to only be one artist, some consider there to be multiple artists, and some think it's all a big conspiracy and the work was produced without any artist.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: Rumored for an upcoming expansion.
  • Red Baron: The Trope Namer
  • Redemption Equals Death: Since Anyone Can Die, this trope comes in straight, subverted, averted, and every other possible combination. The straight version often spawns religions.
  • Redemption Equals Sex: Reportedly played straight in many ancient religions, averted in most cases today. Still played straight in Tantric yoga and a few New Age cults.
    • Also frequently played straight in everyday life. Make-up sex is often an example.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Most of the greatest add-ons that redefined the whole game, such as internet or computers, were designed for military purposes, and then released to the civilian public.
  • Reference Overdosed: Any work you can think of is somehow encountered here.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Oh, so many, many examples...
  • Regenerating Health: Played with. Characters do, in fact, have a Healing Factor, but it can take days to years to restore them to full health, and they may permanently lose several abilities. However, certain items can drastically increase the rate of regeneration, and in addition, many players devote their time in-game to healing others. Despite this, taking major damage is a very, very bad thing in Real Life.
  • Retcon:
    • Amnesia and the blocking out of memories (usually of traumatic experiences), though it's handled quite differently here than in most other series.
    • Common during totalitarian regimes when "purging" a character to the extent that they simply never existed according to the players ruling at that time.
    • "The jury will disregard that and the statement will be stricken from the record."
    • "History is Written by the Winners."
    • Criminal records. Some legal systems as if any crime a player committed as a minor never happened once they become an adult. Additionally, a crime on an adult's record of which they are later revealed to be innocent is retconned from their record; from a legal point of view, it never happened. Should the actual perpetrator's identity ever be known, their record is retconned accordingly.
  • Retro Gaming: There are tribes that live as their ancient ancestors did. Others occasionally indulge in Retro Gaming to temporarily escape their otherwise contemporary lifestyles by attending Renaissance Fairs or partaking in Civil War re-enactments.
  • The Reveal: The Earth is round! Hitler was building death camps!
    • Santa Claus isn't real.
    • Neither is the Easter Bunny.
    • The Tooth Fairy also has a regrettable fakeness attribute.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: A good number of countries, specially most of the ones in the Americas, owe their existence to a resistance against The Empire they had once belonged to (Britain for the United States, France for Haiti, Portugal for Brazil, and Spain for most of the others). For such countries, their revolution was a glorious epic, and nobody dares to say that it was "wrong", or that it would have been better to stay being part of the Empire.
  • Revolving Door Revolution: France went through fourteen governments from the 1700s to 1958, though the Third Republic managed to last from 1870 until it was destroyed by the Nazis in 1940.
  • Right Behind Me: The downfall of any player who makes a habit of badmouthing others behind their backs.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Capybaras, porcupines, and beavers.
  • Rule of Cool: Partially subverted by the obsessive emphasis on consistent physics, chemistry, biology, etc.—much of which turns out to be incredibly cool in itself. Of course, this serves to make the true badasses look even better.
  • Rule of Fun: Subverted. Learning to play guitar takes months of lessons and practice, shooting up friends kills them for real and is a criminal offensenote , fighter jets have far more controls than an 8-way stick and "fire" and "bomb" buttons and can only move forward, making whole lines of blocks doesn't make them vanish, and sports take lots of practice, require you to be in great athletic shape, and can cause more serious injuries than worn-out thumbs.
    • On the other hand this is the only reason we engage in leisure activities that don't benefit us in any concrete way.
  • Rule of Funny: As demonstrated by the Comedian and Cartoonist classes, among others.
  • Rules Lawyer: The "lawyer" prestige class is half of the Trope Namer for this. They, along with legislators and various other characters, have this as their class specialty. Some other characters just take up this ability as a hobby. This ability invokes YMMV among quite a few players; player consensus seems to suggest that it's an annoying but necessary part of the game.
  • Rule 34: To the point where Real Life porn is a major industry. It's possibly the one universally accepted Fetish, though doubtless some people disagree.
  • Running The Blockade: When there's a blockade somewhere, occasionally there's someone foolhardy enough to try and charge right through it.

  • Sacred Scripture: Many biographies on the head developer have surfaced in-game, most appearing shortly after game release. Many players consider these factual, or even as rules to play by, but other players strongly disagree. This often leads to flame wars on in-game chat. Additionally, members of the religion clan often disagree on the identity of the head developer, leading to in-fighting.
  • Save Scumming: Averted; there appears to be no way to save the game at all. Unless this theory is correct and we all have unlimited save games. It also mean that despite you are reading TV Tropes, there are countless "you" lying dead in countless universes.
  • Scars Are Forever: Played straight for humans, at least. Many kinds of cells cannot be regenerated in vivo without becoming malignant neoplasias. Even if the cells could regenerate, there's a good chance the cells can't self-organize after a wound in order to regenerate correctly. The body resorts to healing, where it lays down fibrous tissues to hold itself together as best it can. Barring surgery, that's permanent.
  • Scenery Gorn: Any Ghost Town, abandoned theme park, or abandoned building.
  • Scenery Porn: Sets the standard for all other scenery, and most media can't hope to measure up. 126 million light receptors per eye makes for some really good graphics, and the resolution cannot be beat. Full 3D, pan, dynamic light and shadows, adjustable focus, and (with the proper upgrade equipment) zoom. And a visible spectrum of several million colors. Also has changing times of day, living landscapes, near-infinite fractals, and weather effects that are never the same twice. A specific location of Scenery Porn is the Crystal Cave.
  • Schematized Prop: Many, most notably the digestive system. The reproductive system also deserves mention.
  • Schizo Tech: Because of a lack of Product Placement, new equipment has to be bought, resulting in people with the latest game console, a 5-year old cell phone, 13-year-old car and a fridge that's older than its owner. Increasingly averted for characters that buy from companies that practice planned obsolescence. With a little careful purchasing though, one can still play this straight.
  • Science Is Bad: It becomes responsible for most of the more horrific weapons used throughout the series. This is somewhat of a derailment, for the majority of the main continuity science has been largely beneficial, it is only really in the last couple of seasons that this becomes an issue. Subverted somewhat when the most destructive weapons wind up encouraging peace via mutually assured destruction. There are also hints that lesser weapons sometimes have a similar effect, but this seems to be far less consistent. That, and it's been proven many times before in the series that science overall is a great thing when it's used for good, meaning that this trope is averted.
  • Scoring Points: Many classes in schools and colleges use points to determine your grades. Also, credit scores.
    • Some militaries use a points system for officers to determine who is eligible for promotion. Of course, the threshold can change instantly...
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Non-profit organizations.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Some major corporations exhibit this trope. Players of the Politician and Celebrity classes often attempt this, and just as often fail. Has led to it being classified informally as a psychological disorder, called "affluenza" (a portmanteu word consisting of"Affluent"-ie, rich and influenza).
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Plot!: Usually averted since no one can figure out what the plot is. Though some events make you wonder...
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Common enough to be represented by an entire job class — they're called Dictators. Politicians beside dictators may attempt this. The US Congress exempts themselves from a number of laws, for example. US Presidents have been known to exempt themselves and their staff from laws.
    "Well, when the President does it that means that it is not illegal." - Richard Nixon
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Used occasionally, but frequently subverted when the character who attempts this is punished for their actions.
    • Non-violent protesters believe this, and are something of a Trope Codifier here.
  • Sea Monster: Many different examples.
    • Whales, despite their Gentle Giant status.
    • And including extinct animals, we have plesiosaurs and similar creatures like the ichthyosaur and mosasaur, and Megalodon, a prehistoric shark the size of a whale. Its modern counterpart may be the Whale Shark, which is thankfully nonaggressive and feeds on plankton.
      • Indeed, so many different creatures like this existed in the past that one can argue that plesiosaurs can't have survived to the present, because the mosasaurs would've eaten them, long before the K-T extinction took down subsequent forms of reptilian Sea Monster.
    • The modern equivalent of Carcharocles megalodon might be the Whale Shark from a size perspective, but in every other respect it's basically a Great White that is... bigger.
    • Check out the miniseries Sea Monsters (from the creators of Walking with Dinosaurs) for some of the nastiest aquatic predators ever.
    • Predator X. Its teeth are each a foot long.
    • The Oarfish: an eel-like fish that can exceed fifty feet long. Harmless, but quite impressive.
    • The African country of Burundi is home to Gustave, a man-eating crocodile. Gustave weighs in at approximately one ton, is approximately twenty feet in length, and has been known to eat adult hippopotami. Given the number and variety of bullet-shaped scars which cover his body, it's quite possible that he's Immune to Bullets.
    • Saltwater crocodiles can be even larger than Gustave. Large adult male saltwater crocodiles can be more than six meters long and weigh more than 2,600 lbs.
    • The Bloop, or rather, whatever made the Bloop, an ultra-low frequency underwater sound that matched the profile of a living creature, but not any specific living creature we know. If it did come from a living creature, scientists agree that it would have to be several times larger than the Blue Whale, the largest known animal on earth.
    • Tullimonstrum, a bizarre fossil invertebrate, bears a striking external resemblance to the Loch Ness Monster, except it's barely a foot long and found in North America.
    • The Coelacanth. Now, fair enough — as fish go, they're rather harmless. But the fact the coelocanth has been swimming around virtually unchanged for millions and millions of years; and can grow to the size of a healthy human adult, makes a lot of supposed sea-monster sightings just a little bit creepier.
    • The whole point of fishing shows like River Monsters, Hooked, and Monster Fish. Their catches range from the modest (Taimen), to the bizarre (catfishes of the Amazon), to the truly gargantuan in scale (marlins, giant catfishes, and the Mekong Giant Stingray).
    • The Kraken, once thought to be a mythological monster, is known today as the Giant Squid.
    • THIS exists. The horrors...
  • Sequel: The Afterlife (maybe).
  • Sequence Breaking: Some players have managed to cross the Broken Bridge into the higher-level jobs without activating the necessary Event Flags in the school and/or college stages first.
  • Serial Killer: A few characters seem to be this. It's the job of the Police class (an in-game moderator of sorts) to track down and imprison (perma-ban) them.
  • Series Fauxnale: The fans seem intent to believe the finale is nigh every few seasons:
    • The Great War arc (later known as World War I) was advertised as "the war to end all wars". Ninety seasons later, and war episodes are as common as ever.
    • Some of the "Crazy Street Person" class advertise it rather more frequently.
    • The Y2K story line also served up some red herrings.
    • The date 6/6/06. There were people who actually bet on whether we would survive. Does anyone else wonder how the believers were supposed to collect their money?
    • The 2012 season seemed destined to fit into here, although it obviously wasn't.
      • When episode 12/20 aired, we weren't sure if 12/21 would air or if the show would just end. It aired, so this does fit here.
  • Serious Business: And how. In fact, you are expected to treat it as the most important thing ever, or you'll be considered a freak.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: This is practically required in order to get a university degree (a prestige-class Knowledge achievement that can only be unlocked through several years of level grinding). Also, some people with Asperger's syndrome may speak like this all the time, as well as in Spock Speak.
  • Sex Montage: It's happening right now, though probably not for you if you're reading this. Unless you can multitask.
  • Shifting Sand Land: North Africa, Arabia, Central Asia, Western USA, most of Australia and a part of South America.
  • Ship Sinking: Allllll the time. Occasionally cause for a Heroic BSOD.
  • Ship Tease: Spreading rumors about characters dating each other. Prevalant in many characters' high school arcs and among the Celebrity class.
  • Short-Lived Big Impact: Something many people doing speed runs aspire to.
  • Shout-Out: Commie Land was referenced as an "Evil Empire" after Star Wars.
  • Show Within a Show: A truly massive number of them, of literally every genre. With such a large cast of characters, it's not surprising that every major group have a large number of fictional and nonfictional novels and books. Heck, there's even a Database Within The Show that analyzes both the show and the shows within it.
  • Single-Biome Planet: Averted for the most part. It is difficult to get a large sphere to truly have a single biome across its entire surface. Major exceptions would be planets not near a star (called rogue planets) or planets with extremely thick atmospheres, such as Venus, the only large body known to play this trope entirely straight (the temperature at the poles is the same as that at the equator at high noon or at midnight). Most people might assume that, say, icy bodies like Pluto or rocky, airless bodies like Mercury would be single-biome planets, but the different exposure to sunlight would still result in different circumstances in different places. It might all look icy to you, but for a native of Pluto, equatorial ice is probably very different from polar ice.
  • The Singularity: Rumors suggest the next major expansion pack will be this, but many of the players are worried that it'll crash the server and ruin everyone's game instead, turning the solar system into cheese.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Unfortunately enforced for people with certain types of Tourette's Syndrome.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Tends to slide back and forth between arcs and also on a day-to-day basis. All characters have their own opinions on it and frequently argue, and some watchers make fanfics or mods that usually tip in one side of the scale.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Antartica, Siberia, the local ski resort... all there. Greenland, but not Iceland. Ironic, no?
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: Some servers, particularly the United Kingdom server, have a sharply defined class system.
  • The Slow Path: Expect loads and loads of grinding to attain your character's preferred class. Even if the class has shortened requirements, your character may have to complete other, unrelated sidequests, or take even more grinding to get the class. The artist class (and various sub-classes) have it the worst, as many grind, but will never get player recognition.
  • Smart Guy: Loads. Archimedes (Classical); DaVinci (Renaissance); Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and Leibniz (1600's); Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Werner Von Braun ('20s, '30s, '40s and '50s); Bill Gates ('80s, early '90s); Stephen Hawking (1970s-early 2000s).
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Widespread amongst many player characters and NPCs. Sadly, in first-world servers it is less likely to occur due to death than it is for other reasons.
  • Somewhere, a Herpetologist Is Crying: There is an Urban Legend wherein a woman keeps waking up to discover her husband's pet python is stretching itself out alongside her in bed. She calls a herpetologist to ask about the behavior, and he tells her "Get out of the house now!" (is that a Stock Phrase?): The python, he tells her, was measuring her up in preparation to eat her.
    • Sadly, most wildlife-rehabilitation facilities have had to treat turtles with cracked shells, whom some idiot tried to remove from their "little house" in ignorance of the fact that the shell is part of the animal's skeleton. A case of Television Is Trying To Kill Turtles in action.
    • Horned lizards are often called "horned toad," "horny toad", "horned frog" etc etc etc due to their similarity to the given amphibians but they are actually lizards. To make things more confusing, their scientific name, Phrynosoma, evidently means "toad-bodied" so...
    • One Not Always Right tidbit had a man in a petshop try to have a staring contest with one of the pythons for ten minutes before the owner had to remind him that snakes can't blink.
    • The idea that snakes somehow possess a hypnotic gaze probably stems from a few things. The first is that snakes lack eyelids, so their unblinking stares can be kind of creepy to humans. The second comes from stories of people who witness small animals sitting very still when snakes are nearby. This is standard prey behavior with just about any possible threat, freezing up so that predators who aren't already aware of them might not notice (if that doesn't work, run). This sort of behavior may be partly responsible for the myth of the Gorgon Medusa. And while we're on the subject, snake charmers don't really charm snakes with music (since snakes don't hear things the same way we do), the snake is just following the motion of the charmer's flute and hands.
  • Somewhere, an Entomologist Is Crying: Insects, arachnids, crustaceans and myriapods all do not have jaws that open and close like a vertebrates, and they do not have teeth or tongues like we do.
    • A mosquito's proboscis is not syringe-shaped and certainly not its nose.
    • An arachnid's limbs are attached to the first of their two body segments (the prosoma) and the insect's the second of their three (the thorax). They are not proportioned or configured like anything remotely resembling a human or a dog.
    • Basically, every depiction that isn't attempting to go for scientific accuracy is abysmally, embarrassingly, very obviously wrong.
    • What most people refer to as a "wild" beehive is actually a mix between an antique bee skep and a hornet's nest. Actual wild beehives look like this or this, or are simply made inside an existing knothole.
    • Being arachnids, scorpions have eight legs (the pincers are pedipalps, which are closer to mouthparts than anything), but good luck finding one in TVland with the right number of legs. Made all the more grating because a simple Google search would clear up this misunderstanding immediately.
  • Somewhere, an Ornithologist Is Crying: Most people think hollow bones like those of birds are fragile. In reality, thanks to a complex honeycomb structure, bird bones are no more fragile than those of mammals. In the case of the now extinct dinosaurs and pterosaurs, both having pneumatic skeletons, fragility would mean death, and they obviously had quite strong yet light bones.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Weapon Effectiveness: Over the past 10 000 years, we've gone from rocks and obsidian blades to ... laser-guided cluster bombs? Remotely-piloted Attack Drones? The Nuclear Option? Luckily very, very few players ever get to unlock these.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: There can be times were bad things happen while cheery music is playing. For example a shootout at a party.
  • Sparse List of Rules: Most characters only know the sections of legal codes that directly affect them.
  • Speed Run: Very rare, but certain Prestige Classes such as rock stars express an intention early in their careers to "live fast and die young". Some manage it (protip: intensive research into Hookers and Blow occasionally lets you skip around two thirds of the game!), but they usually give up when they discover the potential rewards of later levels.
  • Spikes of Doom: Averted in everyday life, though they have been used as booby traps in wars, and there are a number of plants that have thick thorns on them. There's also a creature called the Porcupine which took this and ran with it - rather literally.
  • Spinoff: Second Life. Widely considered to suffer from severe Adaptation Decay, although its fans will argue that it's merely pragmatic.
  • Spock Speak: A required skill for the Scientist, Engineer, and Economist classes.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: What other reason could there be for the number of tropes here pertaining specifically to humans?
    • People with levels in the Celebrity class.
  • Standard Status Effects: Humans are rather vulnerable to poison, paralysis, stun, sloth, sleep, blindness, freeze, burn, berserk, confusion, lust, charm, fear, deafness, and instant death status effects. Some would say cursing can happen as well. Petrification is rare but known; see Pompeii. The silence status is almost unheard of (though speech impediments are common). Fatigue sets in after exercise and saps strength, agility and motivation, and this status can advance to Exhaustion, which almost completely destroys the stats. Tiredness occurs after going without sleep and advances. Tiredness 1 occurs normally after going on past evening and reduces concentration and motivation. (Note: It's possible to be stuck with Tiredness 1 if a character is addicted to caffeine.) Tiredness 2 occurs upon completely missing a nights sleep, and results in further stat hits and temper also taking a hit. Sleep Deprivation, however, is when things get nasty. SD 1 inflicts Paranoia, and SD 2 finally causes hallucinations. Any further progression results in Instant Death. Depression is caused by various factors, both natural and due to outside stimuli (it's also one of the nastier debuffs caused by substance abuse), and causes huge penalties to motivation. Temper can also be affected, and PCs who get too depressed may end up suicidal.
  • Status Buff: these do occur as well though. Hyper leads to increased energy and drive, though this comes at an increasing cost of concentration, and can be bestowed through energy drinks, caffeine, and other stimuli, or it can occur naturally. Some characters also get it temporarily when nearing the end of the day. Euphoria increases the morale, concentration and motivation stats and the condition occurs after a big success. "Afterglow" increases relationships and skilled PCs will use this to chain together big chains of successes and level up quickly.
    • Though those with the "ADD" and/or "ADHD" character trait garner severe penalties to Concentration checks, there is a chance to cause the opposite effect, "Hyperfocus", on themselves, allowing them to shut out all other influences in favor of one goal. ADD, by its very scatter-brained nature, also grants the ability of "Brainstorming", allowing the caster to come up with as many ideas as a small group of people, though many of them may be just as scatter-brained.
    • Also there is the infamous Strength Buff. It is considered illegal in many countries and has some really bad side-effects. There are some other buffs for your base physical stats, and they are equally damaging. Buffs for mental stats exist only in theory.
  • Story Within a Story: Too many to list. Not that we didn't try. The list is made potentially infinite by the fact that literally any character can create such a story.
  • Stripperiffic: Also known as varying degrees of "indecent exposure." The line for how little clothing can be worn without being considered "indecent" has been shifting in some countries, allowing for this trope to increase in prominence. In fact, some countries have legalized public nudity.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Even things such as whales are able to blow up. Although as terrorism, war, and the debris caused by explosions shows, it usually isn't fun (except for fireworks). This is thought to be how Real Life was first created.
  • Super Weight:
    • Type -1: Babies, small children, fairly old people, people with serious physical or mental handicaps, most animals, almost all plants, fungus, many microorganisms
    • Type 0: Most people, particularily large trees
    • Type 1: Athletes, Soldiers, Martial Artists, Police, Fire Fighters, stuntmen, certain kinds of circus freaks, large predators such as lions, tigers, and aligators, other very agressive animals like elephants
    • Type 2: Robots, Cyborgs with really good prosthetics, computers with sufficiently advanced AI, humans with scale-breaking intelligence (of all kinds). People enhanced through clothes somehow (Seriously, think about it. For example, surviving sub-zero temperatures is a superhuman ability, which anyone can manage if they're bundled up enough).
    • Type 4: Disease in general.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Joan of Arc, most famously.

Tropes G-MReal LifeTropes T-Z

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy