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Reality Ensues: Live-Action TV
  • In the episode "Model Kombat" of Workaholics, Blake and Adam are about to fight. Adam throws ashes into Blake's face, blinding him, but Blake prepares to fight anyway, in a Shout-Out to Bloodsport, complete with flashback from wise advice from a blind man. Of course, Blake misses Adam by a mile and hits Jillian in the face, giving her a nosebleed.
  • The Hogan Family: In tandem with Hilarity Ensues in the Season 2 episode "Leave It To Willie" – the episode where Willie steals his father's car to go joyriding with his buddy, causes a hit-and-run accident and keeps mum as Valerie lays into David about the accident. The Hilarity had come in when Willie envisions – in an Imagine Spot – his "happily ever after"/problem solved in 30 minutes ending, thinking that just by simply telling the truth he would be absolved. The trope at hand comes in at the end, when Willie does come clean … only for Valerie to really get angry with him and ground him from going to a long-anticipated party; but even worse, Val lets on that it will be a very long time before she will be able to trust him again.
  • Happens with an attempted Race for Your Love on Happy Endings-in "Boys II Menorah" Dave and Jane rush to the airport because Alex is there due to buying into a false airport ticket which was actually an invitation to a set-up Grand Romantic Gesture dinner. When they get there, they're parked illegally, as often happens with this trope. Security tells them to move Dave's truck, and Dave, in classic romantic lead coolness tosses him the keys, saying 'Keep it.' The guard quickly tosses him back the keys despite Dave saying its for love. He and Jane try to rush past security anyway and get tackled and tazed, respectively.
  • In the famous Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Guardian at the End of Forever" Kirk and Spock travel back in time to Depression-era New York in order to avert a disastrous event that changed history, but they don't know what it is, fortunately for them, the information is stored on their tricorders. Their tricorders are damaged and Spock works to fix them, but he quickly finds it almost impossible. No matter how smart Spock is, the tricorder is centuries ahead of the most cutting-edge technology avalible at the time, and he's been trained to use highly advanced tools in a time where getting a pound of pure gold or platinum for your amateur electronics project is a simple matter. He's reduced to working with consumer-grade electrical goods such as lightbulbs and radio sets, and can only get a few seconds of functionality out of the tricorder after weeks of work. Also, in order to buy those materials he and Kirk need to work menial odd jobs and live in a homeless shelter.
    • The episode "Balance of Terror", a Whole Plot Reference to submarine movie The Enemy Below, opens with the wedding of a never-before seen character, which is broken up when the Romulans attack. Throughout the episode we keep cutting back to him, until he's killed in the fight, leaving his fiance distraught, and the whole crew mourning the death of a man whose last day alive started as the happiest of his life, indicating that, even if the audience don't see it, those disposable crew members are still people, and their deaths are still mourned.
    • It didn't come up much, but even in the utopia of The Federation, there was clearly some tension between the various races that made it up, partially due to racism, and partially due to Values Dissonance as to what constitutes acceptable behavior between such different species. For instance in "Journey To Babel", the Tellarite ambassador harasses Sarek and even tries to pick a fight with him over a coming vote, which is extremely rude from a Vulcan or Human perspective, but perfectly normal to a Tellarite.
    • Also, while people had become more civilised over the intervening centuries, Human nature was still essentially the same in the future of Star Trek, and people were still capable of animosity and hatred. In the episode "Errand of Mercy", Kirk is ashamed to admit that, although he knew how terrible it would be and intellectually didn't want it, he was raring to go into open war with the Klingons, and was briefly enraged when Sufficiently Advanced Aliens called the Organians forced a truce on them.
  • A pretty depressing example appears on The George Lopez Show: Carmen's promiscuous ex-boyfriend starts a rumor about her being a whore, and everyone starts picking on her, to the point where Carmen gets into a fight with a former friend. George and Angie get the ex-boyfriend to admit to the guidance counselor that he started the rumor, and gets the girls who were bullying her suspended. By the end of the episode...she is still being bullied, and she has to be pulled out of school. The lesson is that even getting the people who start and spread a rumor to back off doesn't make it go away, and bullying can get so bad, that people have to run from the situation.
  • Two similar Race for Your Love aversions on ER. (1) When Doug races to Carol's engagement party to tell her that he loves her, only to have her scream at him to leave her alone and for her fiance to punch him. (2) Two years later, Mark dashes to the train station to plead his love to the departing Susan, only to have her leave anyway. Not just because she doesn't reciprocate, but also because it's literally at the last minute before she leaves.
  • Angel
    • Lindsey has a big showdown planned with the eponymous hero, only to be outraged when he's shot and killed by sidekick Lorne. "Goodnight, folks."
    • When the gang finds out that Knox is responsible for Fred's death. Angel starts a speech to Knox about how they're the good guys and they don't kill, and in the middle of it Wesley shoots Knox dead. He has principles, but they don't extend all the way to showing mercy to the guy who killed the woman he loved.
    • In the same episode, Illyria travels to her temple to release her army and take over the world again. Wesley follows her expecting to encounter a horde of hellbeasts, only to walk into a dusty, empty ruin, with a distraught Illyria in the middle. Apparently, if you leave a building full of people sealed off from the rest of reality for eons, they die and the building falls down.
    • In a fairly dark version, Spike and Angel are both resigned to the fact that they will go to hell when they're eventually killed- no matter how much good they do, and no matter how sorry they are, they're irreversibly tainted by their centuries of evil.
    • In the third season, Wesley abducts Conner after being tricked into believing that Angel will try to kill him, which results in Conner being stolen from Wesley and then lost in a hell dimension. Angel is understandably miffed, but Lorne gives him a heartwarming speech on the importance of forgiveness. Angel meets with Wesley, and after making it clear that he understands that Wesley wasn't intentionally trying to hurt him, then tries to murder him. No, a big speech isn't going to make Angel's anger magically go away and allow him to instantly forgive Wesley, and it takes much longer before Angel actually can find it in himself to forgive Wesley for what happened.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • Building off of what happened in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the show's second half of the first season, and the second season, explore the after effects of the film. Primarily, a big government agency can't just suffer a major scandal like the SHIELD/HYDRA infiltration situation without having everyone, regardless of their involvement, coming under scrutiny. Similarly, you can't just dissolve an entire spy organisation the size of SHIELD without the remaining resources now being up for grabs, both by the traitorous HYDRA members and the remaining agents.
    • Before that, there was the Thor: The Dark World tie-in that explored how the public would react to Norse gods showing up and smashing shit up. They don't react well, to say the least, and anti-Asgardian hate groups sprout up trying to find a way to counter their presence. Ironically, its not too dissimilar to SHIELD's reaction to the first time Thor showed up, resulting in them trying to make WM Ds that could take them on if needed.
    • Skye had feelings for Ward, until she learned that he was really a member of HYDRA. Those feelings disappeared real fast afterward.
    • Skye is trained by Ward to disarm someone, which she learns to do quickly. When she's forced to use it later, however, she's forced to run from the conflict as, while she can disarm someone, she can't actually use the gun yet, nor would she stand a chance at fighting them without it, or even have the mental capability to shoot someone in the first place as it is.
    • After May learned from Lorelai that Ward had feelings for Skye, she ended their Friends with Benefits deal immediately.
    • Ward thought he could make amends with Coulson by giving up information about HYDRA. Coulson pointed out that Ward could never make amends for murdering loyal SHIELD agents and trying to murder his friends, then handed him over to his brother (an influential US senator) as a bargaining chip. Similarly, while its left ambiguous as to if Ward was telling the truth about his brother's abuse, the team themselves firmly no longer believe his claims, as is to be expected after all the time he spent ruthlessly and consummately lying to them.
    • Hunter's constant complaining about his ex wife results in this when we meet her. Generally, if you can't stop complaining about her, to the point your co-workers react with annoyance when you bring her up, especially when they know that the ex is both a nice person and not nearly as bitter as you, you end up being the one who looks like the unreasonable ex, resulting in everyone basically taking Bobbi's side.
  • Bitten shows what really happens when people from the supernatural world date normal people: One has his girlfriend kidnapped at the end of the season, while the main character finds her ex-boyfriend's ripped-off head on her bed.
    • Because Clay never told Elena why he bit her, she spent most of the season hating him.
  • Breaking Bad has so many, to the point that it could be considered a Deconstruction of the escapist Anti-Hero/Villain Protagonist character. This is particularly true in "Ozymandias" where the consequences of every single one of Walter White's decisions and sins over the five seasons of the show come home all at once.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Midway through season 2, a demon is hyped throughout the two-part episode as being so strong, that no weapon forged could defeat him. He is blown apart in one shot by an anti-tank missile. Guess the standards of "weapon forged" has improved in the past six hundred years.
    • In the season 3 premiere, the Monster of the Week knocks The Chick down and does a speech about how his realm is inescapable. Then the girl gets up and pushes him off the edge.
    • With Buffy gone at the start of season 3, the Scoobies manage to slay some vampires, but in the most awkward, realistic way possible. When one runs away, Oz hurls a stake at it... and it bounces off a gravestone and lands pathetically on the ground a few feet away.
    • Season 5 finale: Buffy approaches The Dragon atop a tower. He gears up for a fight, and she just knocks him off the tower.
      • From the same episode, when the Big Bad stops to gloat during the final fight, on a construction site, Xander manages to send her through a wall with a wrecking ball.
    • Season 6 episode "Seeing Red": The villain's plot is thwarted, the heroes have their denouement with the talking about their feelings, and Tara is shot dead by a stray bullet when the villain comes back with a gun.
    • Season 4: A meddlesome chaos sorcerer Ethan Ryan is once again thwarted, but gloats that he'll just walk away as usual, since, as a human, he's out of Slayer's jurisdiction. Then Buffy's new boyfriend from a (para-)military organisation calls some MPs and has him arrested.
    • When Joyce gets ill in season 5, Buffy seeks to prove that there is some supernatural cause behind it. There isn't and it gets worse.
    • Season 3 finale: The Mayor completes his plan to ascend and become a full demon (almost every demon seen on the show is actually some flavor of low-powered half-demon or another). This also removes the immortality that he had benefited from previously, which leads to the Reality: The heroes, knowing how big and strong he will become, bait him into a trap where they have laid a considerable amount of high explosives to blow him to giblets.
    • Season 6, "Flooded". Being a superhero does not make Buffy any less vulnerable to typical homeowner problems, such as a pipe bursting in the basement. Nor does being a superhero provide her with any viable income to pay for home repairs, and having a construction foreman for a friend (Xander) doesn't entirely resolve the issue of costs.
    • Season 3: Before Wesley was assigned to be Buffy and Faith's Watcher, his only encounters with vampires were brief and, in his own words, "under controlled circumstances," arrogantly declaring himself to be capable in the field. Needless to say, when he gets in a real fight later on, he turns out to be completely useless and Giles has to save his ass.
  • In one episode of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon is called to a small claims traffic court for running a red light. He concocts an elaborate defense based around the fact that he can't confront his accuser- a camera. Naturally the judge refuses to allow his Courtroom Antics (being a main character doesn't get you a huge trial for a trivial case in the real world), and he is locked up in contempt for insulting the judge to his face.
  • Firefly
    • "The Train Job". After aborting a hired theft, Mal offers the employer his down payment back, no harm no foul.
      Crow: Keep the money. Use it to buy a funeral. It doesn't matter where you go or how far you fly. I will hunt you down, and the last thing you see will be my blade!
      Mal: Darn. *kicks him into an engine*
    • He then proceeds to get another mook, who is... much more reasonable. But the crime boss hunts him down anyway.
    • In "The Message", Wash tries to lose a pursuing ship by flying into a canyon:
      Wash: They're not behind us anymore!
      (Looks up and sees that the other ship simply flew over)
      Wash: I didn't think of that...
    • In another episode someone takes a crewmember hostage and starts making demands. Malcolm just shoots him.
      • In a follow-up comic, the guy turns out to be alive but blinded in the eye where the bullet hit. He concocts a plan to capture and kill the crew of the Serenity. This time, Mal finishes the job.
  • Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger has the rangers fight monsters in their shared delusions. When the villains begin to escape into reality, however, the Akibarangers lose their powers when they get see their real selves flailing about where they stood before morphing.
  • The first episode of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers has the team fighting against a group of Putties. They get the asses kicked because, even though at least three of them are trained in martial arts, none of them have actual fighting experience.
  • Doctor Who
    • In "Last of the Time Lords", the Doctor talks one minor character out of shooting the villain, then he gives a speech about how there are better ways to do things than kill people. While he's giving the speech, another minor character picks up the gun and shoots the villain anyway. Talking Is Not A Free Action, and not everyone is as pacifist as the Doctor.
    • "Midnight", which savages the Doctor's usual blustering Bavarian Fire Drill approach to a crisis. Instead of managing to get the people's trust, they view him with suspicion and think him very arrogant. It's all part of the Monster of the Week's plan.
    • Played with in "Amy's Choice", when the Dream Lord trapped the Doctor, Amy and Rory in two different and dangerous worlds, claiming that one was a dream and the other was reality. (They were both dreams)
      Dream Lord: Now then, the prognosis is this. If you die in the dream, you wake up in reality. Healthy recovery in next to no time. Ask me what happens if you die in reality?
      Rory: What happens?
      Dream Lord: You die, stupid. That's why it's called reality.
    • In "Planet of the Ood", the Doctor's psychic paper fails — not because, as had previously happened, the person in question had resistance to it, but because they bothered to run a background check on the suspicious people who weren't on the guest list at the earliest possible opportunity and discovered their credentials were entirely fabricated. It gets him into the complex, but doesn't do much more good than that before he and Donna are outed as frauds.
  • In Teen Wolf, Stiles always gets up to some serious shenanigans like stealing police property and kidnapping one of his fellow students... which then causes his dad, the town Sheriff, to lose his job. And Scott always misses out on school due to being a werewolf... which causes him to have terrible grades and risk being held back a year.
  • In Torchwood, Tosh and Ianto find themselves confronted by three hooded, scythe-wielding men who spout fire and brimstone, then ominously start walking towards them as the music swells. They gun them down without a pause.
    Ianto: There we are then.
    Tosh: Sorted.
    • Torchwood: Miracle Day uses this as its premise: Having everlasting life in the real world creates horrific problems.
      • It also appears to deal with the problem of someone who has been immortal for nearly 2000 years suddenly becoming mortal and having an immune system that has never had to fight any common illness. Subverted in that his sickness turns out to be due to poison, and he doesn't get sick.
    • "Something Borrowed": Rhys grabs a chainsaw to take on the Monster of the Week... and while he's busy sounding badass, it jams, stalls, or runs out of gas (it's not immediately clear which) — chainsaws may look cool, but this is one of the reasons they're actually really awful weapons.
  • This happens in Jericho in the episode "Termination for Cause" when Jake and Russell were arguing what to do with Goetz, then Stanley drove up and shot Goetz in the head for killing Bonnie
  • The pilot for True Blood goes for this one. Girl saves cute vampire boy from crooks, cute vampire boy shows interest, girl is alone in car park... and gets the crap kicked out of her by the crooks, who ambush her.
  • The Sarah Connor Chronicles
    • Cameron does this all the time. She makes it a routine habit to simply and bluntly execute anyone who poses a threat to the Connors, refuses to let loose ends remain untied, and generally acts in what can best be described as the most brutally logical manner possible.
    • Derek's death. He gets in a gunfight with a terminator at close range and no advance warning. And just to really drive the point home, the camera then follows the terminator, effectively making it little more than a background incident. Which, in this world, it kind of is.
    • FBI agent Ellison finally tracks down Cromartie and has more or less concluded that the target is some sort of combat machine. He even goes out of his way to secure an FBI Hostage Rescue Team for the assault. Unfortunately, anti-tank weapons are not included in the standard team loadout, and thus it goes exactly the way of every other police versus Terminator fight in the universe. For added horror, we don't even see the fight, just the brutalized bodies of the HRT as they're thrown into the apartment swimming pool after their conventional weapons apparently fail to deter something with no vital organs.
  • At the end of the first season of Arrow, Detective Lance reveals to his superiors that he has been working with the title vigilante and assures them the hero can be trusted. He's promptly suspended and relieved of his badge and gun. In season two he is demoted to patrol officer and when he reveals to a superior that he is still in contact with the vigilante he is promptly arrested.
    • Also in the climax of the first season is the villain being defeated and exposed and his doomsday device being deactivated. Then he reveals that he simply made a backup, and activates it.
    • In the third season in response to Sara being murdered Laurel makes use of her self-defense lessons and attempts to become a vigilante. She attacks a known domestic abuser, and promptly gets overpowered, beaten up and hospitalized for her trouble.
  • HeroesSubverted: Near-invulnerable superpowered serial killer Sylar, who's been by far the most powerful character on the show for a whole volume, is dropped mid-monologue by a sudden knife in his weak point from a man he turned his back on... and just gets back up again, because he'd used his new shapeshifting powers to move his weak point.
    • Played straight during the eclipse, when all "specials" lose their power. Not only is Claire suddenly sick with a common disease (her immune system never had to fight germs before), but Sylar (a watch repairman) and Elle (a teenage girl) find themselves completely outclassed by HRG who has special training and a sniper rifle.
  • Surprisingly, several episodes of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon deconstruct the Transformation Is a Free Action trope the original anime made famous in the first place. On a few occasions, the villains manage to take out one of the girls by attacking them before they can finish their transformation phrase.
  • The pilot episode of Bones has one where Brennan confronts the killer, who is dousing a room with evidence in gasoline. When Brennan says she can't let him destroy evidence, he pulls out a lighter and does the whole "try and stop me and we both burn" thing. Brennan immediately whips out her revolver and shoots him in the leg. And in even more ensuing reality, she is promptly arrested for it. By Booth. And later fails to get a gun-carrying permit, because of this incident.
  • CSI: Miami
    • "Guerrillas in the Mist". The bad guy has a weapon that's a Metal Storm with the Serial Numbers Filed Off. In The Teaser, it actually vaporizes three men. Horatio tracks the baddies down at the airport and comes riding in in his Hummer, which the bad guy destroys. Caine gets out of the burning car and takes aim at just outside of point-blank range. A staredown ensues.
    Bad Guy: You're on the losing side of this one, Lieutenant. I could fire a thousand rounds before you get a shot o—
    Caine: (shoots him, shoots his accomplices. Walks over to the Big Bad's body and removes his glasses) Apparently, it only takes the one.
    • A gang member attempts to attack someone outside of a courthouse with a rocket launcher. He takes up position inside of a modern art piece, which has a small enclosed interior. Its a good position to shoot from... if you did not have to worry about the back-blast. When the CSI team finds him, he's still at his firing position and is now a smoldering corpse.
    • A member of a Western Terrorist organization tries to pull off a We Are Everywhere Hannibal Lecture to Caine, thinking he's got the upper hand... only for Caine to point out that the events of the episode have turned everybody that the terrorist is connected to into a person of interest, as is normal for an investigation into a major potential threat to national security. The closing scene of the episode is a barrage of arrests that makes the terrorist eat his words.
  • Orphan Black
    • Sarah impersonates her clone Beth, including doing her job as a Toronto police detective. She initially manages to fake her way through it thanks to everyone believing Beth is traumatized by a recent civilian shooting, but the deeper she gets the more the facade starts to crack, to the point where she has to have 'Beth' quit her job.
    • Sarah's daughter Kira isn't fooled by her clone Alison's impersonation of Sarah for even a moment. Alison has to tell her the truth.
  • Blake's 7 gives us a single ship —admittedly the most advanced in the galaxy— crewed by approximately seven people —admittedly very talented— trying to bring down a gigantic evil bureaucracy (The Federation). They manage to survive for four years, then reality catches up.
  • The series 16 And Pregnant deals heavily with this, as the young mothers-to-be face the reality of their decisions. Turns out that babies do NOT, in fact, make everything better.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Blaze of Glory", Sisko and a wounded Michael Eddington have rescued several surviving members of the maquis from a planet controlled by the Dominion. Due to his wound Eddington asks to be left behind to hold off the Dominion soldiers in order to give the others time to escape. However, as he gets up for the last stand (even joking if anyone knows a rousing song to play) he is promptly shot at least half a dozen times in the chest and thrown against a wall. He does succeed in delaying them though.
    • In another episode "Valiant", Nog and Jake Sisko stumble across a ship of elite Starfleet cadets called "Red Squad" deep behind Dominion lines who were on a training mission when all the instructors were killed, leaving the ship in the command of the senior cadet. They decide to gather information on a new Dominion warship, and after discovering a weakness, try to destroy it. Unfortunately, the "captain" is cracking under the stress and is using drugs to deal with it, and his crew have developed an almost cultish loyalty. When they get ready for the attack, the ship is shown going to battle stations, including a rousing speech from the captain with dramatic music. Their ship is destroyed and they all die within five minutes, because inexperienced college-aged rookies led by a stoned demagogue are not the kind of people who can bring down a massive battle cruiser.
  • In the Miami Vice episode "Glades", The Dragon is holding a shotgun to a little girl's head as Sonny Crockett approaches with this pistol drawn and aimed. The Dragon begins threatening to shoot the girl if he's not let go, saying "If I so much as twitch, she's go—" BLAM Sonny shoots him right between the eyes, with the Post-Mortem One-Liner, "Maybe you won't twitch."
  • In the first episode of Battlestar Galactica's second season, Starbuck tries to shoot Sharon for being a Cylon, and then Starbuck and Helo have a tense confrontation where Helo convinces her not to shoot Sharon because Sharon is pregnant and different from the other Cylons. Just in time to hear the engine noise as Sharon high-tails it out of there in Starbuck's stolen Raider - because when your baby's life is at stake, you're not going to stand around and wait to see if the crazy lady with the gun changes her mind.
  • Justified
    • Raylan has been cautioned about killing people after the first episode because he has earned a reputation for it, which doesn't make the police look good, and besides, every time he kills someone it involves more paperwork for him and his boss. As a result there are many situations where he could kill somebody but can't because of his position, so has to find more intelligent ways around it.
    • In a later episode, Loretta really wants to kill Mags, but Raylan (who is behind her), points out that the police are in the room next to her and they will arrest her if she does it (even though the killing is justified by her - and the audience's - standards).
    • In season 3 Raylan has gotten used to bullying the local criminals for information because none of them want the trouble he can bring on them and it would be utter stupidity to kill a US Marshall. However, he does this one too many times with Limehouse who points out that Raylan is alone in a remote mountain community where everyone is utterly loyal to Limehouse. Raylan could shoot Limehouse but then he will be shot down himself by the dozen armed men surrounding them. They can then make his body disappear without a trace and with all the enemies Raylan has, they probably will not be even the main suspects in his disappearance.
    • Raylan is usually portrayed as Made of Iron but it takes him weeks to recover from a gunshot wound and when he returns to duty the act of drawing and firing his gun causes him a lot of pain and completely throws his aim off.
    • This is also invoked in fist-fights. In an early episode, he's drinking at a bar and picks a fight with a couple of local jerks. He refused to back down, despite being drunk and outnumbered, and proceeds to get beaten to a pulp until the bartender comes out and breaks it up. He later admits he was asking for a beating.
  • Chappelle's Show
    • "When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong" skits are all about this.
    • The segments featuring what it would be like if movies took place in real life.
  • The Saturday Night Live "Hero Song" features Andy Samberg as a businessman singing about how he's distressed by crime in the city and donning a superhero cape and mask to clean up the streets. Until he finds a Distressed Damsel played by Amy Adams being menaced by a mook played by Jason Sudeikis. In mid-line, the singing hero takes a punch to the face, at which point the mook proceeds to beat the hero. Brutally. For over a minute.
  • Blue Mountain State is a comedy series built firmly upon the Rule of Funny. The acts committed by the team shown in the show would get a real NCAA team in serious trouble with the NCAA but hey, it's a comedy, so that kind of talk is brushed aside. Then comes the end of season 3. It turns out that the NCAA has been investigating BMS and the Goats are in serious trouble. They end up with a lot of their players suspended, and proceed to lose the big game badly.
    • Also during season 3, the team's new offensive coordinator bragged that his system was so efficient, it could be successful with an orangutan at quarterback. Then when the team plays in the championship without star quarterback Alex Moran and most of the usual starters, the offense fails to score a single touchdown.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia uses this trope often for comedic effect. In one episode Mac and Charlie attempt to fake their deaths by blowing up a car. Their attempts to do it by invoking various action movie tropes result mostly in the duo injuring themselves. Later it turns out that their attempt to fake their demises failed naturally and that no one but Frank thought they were dead.
    • In "Mac Day" Mac's Crazy Awesome badass cousin, "Country Mac", is established throughout the episode to be a seriously tough guy. Which makes it quite a surprise when he gets anticlimactically killed by crashing his motorcycle. It turns out that even if you are really tough, it's still a bad idea to drive a motor vehicle unsafely while not wearing any sort of protection.
  • A short commercial parody (of Snuggle brand fabric softener) on MTV's The State features a woman discussing how her fabric softener has improved the quality of her laundry. Then when she sees a plush bear extolling the virtues of the product, she promptly begins screaming and beats the unnatural thing to death.
  • In the fourth season of Modern Family, Haley gets arrested for (accidentally) injuring a cop and resisting arrest while fleeing a party following a police raid. She has to appear before a college disciplinary board—and is expelled six weeks into her freshman year, with the proviso that she can reapply next year (conveniently allowing the show to bring her back into the Dunphy house and resume her Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry with Alex).
  • Boardwalk Empire:
    • No matter how rich and well-connected, Chalky White is still a black criminal in 1920s America. So when he kills a white man, it causes a commotion in town and he gets arrested and charged with murder - despite the fact that the "victim" was a Klansman that had just tried to kill Chalky, and that he and his pals had murdered four other black men in the attempt to get at him.
    • The 77-year old Commodore feels rejuvenated after surviving an illness and misses no opportunity to show off his newfound strength. Not so much later, he suffers a stroke.
    • In the second season, one main character tries to rob other main character of his position of power and then to murder him. This character later realizes that this was bad and offers to make things right in the finale. In a very divisive subversion of Plot Armor, the other character murders him in retaliation rather than pardoning him, just like he would have done with any other character.
    • A character who is not an expert shooter shoots another one in the head with a small caliber gun. The other character survives, forcing his shooter to Mercy Kill him.
    • Nucky's hand still hurts a year and a half after having been shot through it, and despite the fact that it looks completely healed. Likewise, Clifford Lathrop has to walk with a cane permanently after having been shot in one foot. Eddie also uses a cane a year after surviving a shot to the gut in extremis and it is clear that it is still very painful. A punch to the gut by other character makes him vomit his entire stomach content at once.
    • A bomb explodes just far enough for Nucky to survive it. Nevertheless, days later he still suffers from the resultant tinnitus and concussion, and the effects only worsen when he refuses to take meds to treat it.
    • Being an Axe Crazy crime boss can be seen as an asset in the gangland crime world but it also means that your allies will turn on you as soon as they get a better offer and a are no longer afraid of you.
    • Despite common fan belief, Richard Harrow does not make one kill per bullet fired when he takes on Rosetti's gang in "Margate Sands". Being a determined war veteran, he is still ridiculously good compared to the drunk and demoralized untrained thugs he takes on by surprise, but there are several cases where he only manages to injure a mook and the same guy comes back to fight him later.
  • In the penultimate episode of Pushing Daisies, Ned and Chuck hide in the trunk of a car and have a conversation at normal volume as the driver drives along a quiet road with the stereo off. They seem to be getting away with it until the driver pulls over, opens the trunk and tells them it wasn't a good idea.
  • Criminal Minds does this to Intoxication Ensues. Reid is kidnapped by a man with three personalities. After the first two torture him, the third drugs him to help with the pain... but said drug is heroin-based, and Reid becomes addicted. He has to struggle to get clean and later episodes mention that he still goes to support meetings.
  • Similarly to the example above, The Mentalist does this to Mushroom Samba. Jane accidentally ingests some hallucinogenic tea... that is also incredibly poisonous and leaves him in convulsions on the floor, and would have been fatal had he not been immediately rushed to the hospital to get his stomach pumped. He doesn't have "fun" hallucinations either - he sees things like his True Companions betraying him and an aged-up version of his dead daughter, as you would expect from a troubled man.
  • An episode of Frasier deconstructs one of the famous scenes from parent show Cheers, when Frasier and a female co-worker have a blazing row similar to that between Sam and Diane. Except in this case when Frasier says "Are you as turned on as I am?" he gets a horrified "NO!" and a sexual harassment charge.
    • Another has Frasier take Roz's advice to be more impulsive, and ends the episode booking the same flight as a woman he'd been flirting with at the airport. The next episode starts with her asking why he was going there, him explaining, and her getting a seat change.
  • Burn Notice does this all the time. Gas tanks don't explode when shot (unless one specifically sets them up to), police can't just be ignored and being a spy leaves you with a lot of very angry enemies.
    • Especially being a spy without the protection of some sort of agency. As soon as Michael says Screw This, I'm Outta Here! to Management, Management shows him what the world is like for a burned spy without the Organization keeping bad people away.
  • Game of Thrones
    • In all the gruesome details, beheading a man on the block with a single stroke of huge sword is shown to be not that simple - because the executioner is weak, hesitant and inexperienced, it takes him several hits, and he has to snap the still holding head free with his foot.
    • A Lannister soldier spears Ned Stark in the leg during his duel with Jaime Lannister. Rather than being treated as "just a flesh wound," Ned wakes up an indeterminate amount of time later, feverish and unable to move, later requiring a cane to get around.
      • The stabbing itself is a case of this. Ned starts to win his duel with Jaime, so one the nearby Lannister soldiers intervenes. They weren't going to just stand there and watch Jaime lose after all.
      • Prior to that, Jaime shows that he's considered a Master Swordsman precisely because he's a Combat Pragmatist. When dueling Ned's captain of the guard, rather than exchange several blows and go through a round of Flynning, Jaime instantly performs a Blade Lock with one hand and uses his free hand to stab the captain through the eye with a dagger.
    • Lighting your sword on fire looks damn cool. It's too bad that it weakens the blade. Beric Dondarrion learned this the hard way in his duel with Sandor Clegane. Fortunately for him reality skipped out to lunch immediately after.
    • A more amusing case happens in "Valar Morghulis". Tywin waits atop his white destrier to enter the Iron Throne room to be proclaimed Savior of the City and officially take his place as Hand of the King. It's a grand majestic scene... and then the warhorse drops a gigantic turd on the floor.
    • Tyrion's verbal, and sometimes physical, abuse of Joffrey is often met by cheers from the audience. Tyrion is able to get away with it because of his high position. Said abuse ultimately makes him the perfect candidate to be the scapegoat for Joffrey's death.
    • Syrio takes out several guards with a wooden sword in his last stand by exploiting gaps in their armor. Against their leader wearing full plate, he never had a chance.
    • Daenerys' dragons are are instrumental to her military campaign, but they start acting out as time goes on. It's not just her enemies getting burned. Come peacetime, Drogon attacks livestock and kills an innocent little girl, for which Daenerys has to pay restitution. Then she has to chain up her dragons because they're causing too much destruction.
    • Also, Daenerys' liberation of the slaves in Essos comes with some downsides. A lot of them don't know what to do with their freedom and were dependent on their masters for work, food, and shelter. The standard of living has fallen so low that one ex-slave asks Daenerys to allow him to sell himself back to his former master.
    • Being able to win a throne doesn't mean you're qualified to sit on it. Just ask Robert Baratheon.
  • The Following: Sociopathic Serial Killer Joe Carroll sets up a cult of similarly-disturbed individuals, with himself as the leader and messianic figure, to hear his teachings and do his bidding. However, because it's composed almost entirely of murderous sociopaths, the cult collapses on itself very quickly. Only a handful of Carrollists have enough sanity to hold everyone together, let alone direct them toward any kind of focused activity. Really, if it weren't for the fact that the cult has Carroll's innocent wife and son as hostages, all the FBI would really need to do to is sit back and watch them fall apart.
    • Averted in the second season with Carroll's new cult. He molds a fairly benign religious cult into a new legion of murderous anti-religious extremists without the cult imploding. Reality ultimately ensues again twice, first when Lily Gray's mercenaries kill most of the untrained, inadequately armed cult and then in the season finale when the remaining cultists face off against a night vision equipped SWAT team in a blacked out church.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Lily, who works as a public elementary school teacher, buys a lot of expensive clothing, especially when she is upset about something. Because of this, she's maxed out credit cards and is in a ton of debt, which caused trouble for her and Marshall when they want to buy a house.
    • Season 2 gives us another example. On a sudden flight of fancy, Lily abandons her loving-yet-staid fiancée and her friends to go to a art course in San Francisco and open her horizons. And then she actually gets to San Francisco, and promptly realizes that she's broken up- in the absolute cruellest way possible- with the love of her life, and alienated her friends. She spends her time away lonely, bitter, and afraid that she's ruined everything for herself. It reads like a deconstruction of Eat, Pray, Love, in that Lily's old life was not 'holding her back' but providing her with love, happiness and stability.
      • And when Lily finally returns to New York, her friends are not happy that she left them so suddenly, and struggle to trust her again.
  • In an episode of House Wilson informs a patient that he had earlier misdiagnosed terminal cancer that he won't die after all. Wilson is then shocked that instead of said patient being happy, he becomes furious since he has already quit his job and sold his house to finance a dream trip and now he has no means to get it all back. Later he sues Wilson for malpractice.
  • Scrubs: Two episodes dealt with JD finding a patient he really liked being diagnosed with cancer and hoping the tests were wrong. At first, this seemed to be the case, but it turned out he was just imagining it and the diagnosis was correct.
    • In "My Lunch" Doctor Cox kills four patients after giving them organs infected with rabies. Earlier in the episode he made a point to JD that once you start blaming yourself for a patients death, it's the end. Doctor Cox blames himself in particular for the fourth patient who could have survived for some time, and JD tries a Rousing Speech that is a Call Back to the earlier point. Cox simply agrees that he blames himself. Then he walks out.
  • Season 7 of Psych: Juliet finds out about Shawn being a Phony Psychic, she is furious and they break up. Juliet hates liars, due to her Disappeared Dad being a lying con man, and finding out her stepfather was also involved in illegal activities; and finding out the truth about what Shawn is doing (most of which is illegal) put her in a very tough position as an officer of the law. When Trout is brought in by the mayor to save money and improve the police department after a very badly handled high-profile case, he fires the Psych team, suspends the chief (and takes her job), and demotes head detective Lassiter.
    • In Season 8, he's fired for endangering the public due to his gung-ho attitude.
  • The opening of FlashForward (2009) has everyone in the world simultaneously losing consciousness for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. This results in 20 million deaths and far more injuries due to people blacking out while performing surgeries, skydiving, or simply driving their car.
  • Greys Anatomy: After Meredith was found out to be tampering with her husband Derek's clinical trial that she was assisting with, Derek is blacklisted by the FDA and none of the attending surgeons want Meredith to work under them (including Derek) so she has trouble finding another specialty and Derek doubts her abilities as a parent because he's convinced she can't tell right from wrong. The only reason she is able to get her job back is because Richard takes the blame, so no one is able to prove otherwise.
    • In a later season, Bailey is conducting her research into using disabled HIV injections to restore a patient's immune system. However, her first human trial is interrupted by parents of a "bubble boy" who are too freaked out by "HIV" to allow it. So Bailey goes behind their backs to save the boy. It works, the boy's immune system is restored, but when the parents find out, they are furious that she gambled with their son's life and decide to sue her. Owen tries to convince them that the ends, in this case, justify the means, only for the father to angrily tell Owen that Bailey is lucky that their son survived. Had he not, they wouldn't have stopped until she went to jail. As it is, she should be thankful that they're only going after her medical license. This gets resolved when Stephanie (an intern) takes the blame, claiming to have forgotten to tell Bailey about the parents' refusal. When asked by Bailey, she explains that, if Bailey took the blame, then her research would be shut down and never used. This way, Bailey can continue her research to find a way to save more lives.
  • In Gekisou Sentai Carranger Dappu appears before the crew of the garage and ask them to become Carrangers, there response run and hide from the weird alien thing.
  • JAG: In "Brig Break", a group of right-wing militiamen armed with automatic rifles encounters a Sea Stallion helicopter equipped with armor protection and machine guns. The fight lasts about two seconds before the militiamen are forced to retreat into the woods.
  • Surgical Spirit: A new doctor is hired at the hospital- a new female surgeon, working with a team where there is only one other woman who isn't a nurse or a receptionist. Problem is, she was hired partially because having a black female surgeon looks good and partially because she was qualified… and unfortunately, she isn't quite up to working with the team. As nice as she is and as helpful as she is, a surgeon who can't do the work could kill a patient, so she leaves at the end of the episode.
  • Blue Heelers was regarded by those on the force as as real as it gets and that included the consequences of certain actions. A murder occurs? Mass door knock of the area where the police are sidelined by witnesses reticent to reveal anything. A car chase goes too fast? The police have to terminate, with serious consequences being shown several times when they don't comply (one officer become a paraplegic and a youth is killed for example.) Any discharge of a firearm? Ethical Standards Department, grief counseling and a mountain of paperwork, and likely media and public reaction as well.
  • In the Sir Arthur Conan Doyles The Lost World episode "The Knife", Veronica eventually faces Sir William Gull and Robert Anderson, the two men who were collectively Jack the Ripper, in a Knife Fight. It soon becomes clear that although they were vicious killers, they don't actually know how to fight, and she kicks their asses.
  • Pretty Little Liars: Alison has pissed off so many people in Rosewood, that when she finally returns from the dead, most people are NOT happy. Even her friends are ambivalent.
    • When Aria's family finally found out about her and Ezra, no one was happy due to the fact that he was older and her teacher. Her father is still against their relationship.
    • Nearly all of the girls have had some breakdowns over the situation that they are in, to the point of one of them being institutionalized.
  • Supernatural, Grimm, Teen Wolf and The Vampire Diaries all showcase that some things are very hard to get pass:
    • Supernatural: While Sam and Dean have been able to overcame a vast majority of their differences, when Sam learned that Dean put an angel in him without his permission, resulting in Kevin's death, he stayed mad at Dean until the end of the season, when Dean died.
    • Grimm: When Adalind came back to town for help with her baby after the Royals came after her, the gang helped out, only to not tell her what they really did with her child (they faked a kidnapping by the Resistance). Her past actions resulted in them not being able to trust her.
    • Teen Wolf: The Alpha twins tried to join Scott's pack after falling out with Deucalion. However, there was no quick forgiveness: Scott and Stiles were unsure whether to trust them, and Lydia broke up with one of them after his part in Boyd's death. Issac was the one who hated them the most, and even tried to murder them at one point to avenge both Boyd and Erica.
    • Meanwhile, no one has forgiven or trusted Peter.
    • A similar situation happens on The Vampire Diaries: no one is close with Klaus, and Rebekah is still hated by most after running Elena off the road and turning her into a vampire. Heck, even Damon is in a similar position: while most tolerate him, Caroline still hates him for his past behavior to the point where she violently opposes his relationship with Elena, and has even nearly ended her friendship with the latter twice.
  • In Martial Law, in the first episode when Sammo came to LA, he was robbed by a Russian taxi scam. When he later arrived at the police station, he was asked why he, a senior officer in hand to hand combat and the top cop of Shanghai, didn't do anything. His reply was that they had three guns aimed at him. Even someone as trained as him would get shot before he could do anything. Instead, he reported them to the police and by the end of the episode, they were arrested and Sammo's things returned to him.
  • In the episode of Law & Order: SVU, a lesbian dies and her parents were persuaded to sue her partner for custody of their granddaughter. The protagonists discovered that the grandparents were persuaded by their homophobic lawyer and dropped the case. But her partner refuses to forgive them or let them see their granddaughter again after being accused of molesting her daughter simply based on her sexual orientation. Being Easily Forgiven is rare in real life.
  • Suits, Season 4;
    • Rachel kisses her ex-boyfriend, and then struggles whether to tell Mike. Donna tells her not to. She eventually tells him, and he walks out on her. After an episode or two, they do get back together, but he admits he's still not over it.
    • Without Harvey to shield him, Mike's idealism is even less suited for the world of high-stakes corporate finance than it is for high-stakes corporate law.
    • Louis' antics trying to cover his misbehavior, though funny, end up tipping Mike and Harvey off that he's up to something. They figure it out within minutes, and he quits seconds before Harvey would've questioned and fired him.
      • Then it turns out that departing from a major law firm under a cloud doesn't do well for your career prospects, especially since he can't have any of his old clients and he refuses to leave New York. Jessica refuses to rehire him because, in her opinion, he constantly screws up.
      • His secretary is fired for trying to cover his rear.
      • Despite the subplot barely being mentioned all season, Mike slips up on a minor detail about Harvard that tips Louis off to the fact that he didn't graduate.
    • Earlier, Louis' Training from Hell reduces talented associate Harold to a quivering mess. The fact that everyone treated him like dirt didn't help.
  • In Gotham, Bruce begins to train himself to help himself overcome fear. Gordon and Alfred on the other hand see it as unsettling and want Bruce to see a therapist.
    • In "The Balloonman", the titular villain attacks an experienced cop, as opposed to their first victim, a middle aged banker taken by surprise. The Balloonman promptly gets the crap kicked out of him. If Cranston hadn't become distracted by some paperwork the Balloonman was carrying, the Balloonman's killing spree would have ended right there.
  • 24: Throughout the series, Jack suffers all sorts of injuries and somehow manages to keep fighting the good fight in spite of it. In the final episode, he's accumulated several wounds throughout the course of the season such as a stab wound in the gut and a gunshot in the shoulder and is about to be executed by one of Charles Logan's enforcers. He rouses up enough strength to make an escape attempt and starts fighting the guy off... and his injuries prove too much for him keep up with the man, who simply takes advantage of it to overpower him. It's only through Chloe and President Taylor's literal last-second intervention that he gets saved.
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