For many tropes, having Real Life examples can be fun and sometimes even informative. For others, though, it just causes problems. For those tropes, we don't allow examples from Real Life, and they're listed on the subpages below.
But first, let's clarify what we mean by "Real Life". On TV Tropes, Real Life is an admittedly somewhat nebulous category that operates a little like a Useful Note, describing examples that may have inspired (or will inspire) the kind of examples you see elsewhere on the page. "Real life" doesn't include works about real life, like a biography or a documentary. In those cases, we're not actually troping "real life", but rather that work's creator's perspective on "real life", which is usually a lot less ambiguous than what "real life" really is. Instead, we're looking at real people, things, and events divorced from anything we might call a "work", even if there might actually be a work about it.
So now that we've defined "real life", these tropes cannot include examples from real life. That includes any real person, living or not, or any real institution, organisation, political party, nation, etc., existing or historical — in other words, real people or things.
Think of it this way — here at TV Tropes, we try hard to make everything look like it's written in one voice. That means that when a real person or thing is listed as an example of a trope, it looks like the entire wiki has judged it so. And for certain tropes, such a judgment isn't exactly fair, especially because it can often depend on the perspective of an individual editor which doesn't apply to everyone. Say, for instance, that a Christian, a Muslim, and a Sikh walk into an Internet cafenote , and each edits the page Scam Religion to add the other two religions as examples. To each of them, what they said is absolutely true, at least from their perspective. But when they see their own religion added as an example, then they get mad, and they blame everyone else at TV Tropes for having added the "wrong" example. And this is how Flame Wars start. But the Scam Religion as a trope is well-established, and there are tons of uncontroversial examples of it in fiction. The problems only start when you add the "real life" examples, which is why they're not allowed.
There are several types of tropes which fall into this category, like:
- Morality Tropes. We aren't in the business of passing judgment on real people. Even if they're nearly universally thought of as good guys or bad guys, there's always someone who thinks otherwise. (Contrarianism is a powerful thing.)
- Sex Tropes. We shouldn't focus on the sex lives of real people. That's part of The Content Policy and the 5P Circuit.
- Gossip or stereotypes. TV Tropes is not a tabloid rag. We've historically had problems with this kind of thing (we're still cleaning up the Personal Appearance Tropes), and we'd rather avoid being the kind of people who would focus on that kind of thing, thanks.
- Tropes that may be valid in fiction or other media, but count as People Sit on Chairs in real life, just because a "Real Life" section would bog the page down tremendously.
- Tropes which are too common in real life to be worth documenting examples.
- Tropes which are impossible in real life, such as tropes about The Future (while Defictionalization might occur some day, right now it would just be speculation) or tropes requiring authorial intent.
To provide a little more guidance on these tropes:
- Don't try and hide Real Life examples under some other media category. Yes, we can trope someone else's judgment that such-and-such is a Scam Religion, but only if that judgment actually appears in something we can call a "work". Otherwise, it's just a collection of random artists' opinions. And especially don't attribute such judgment to large groups of disparate, unidentified people (e.g. "this mindset is prevalent on Reddit and Tumblr" listed under Web Original).
- Similarly, even if a Real Life person or thing appears in a work, don't list it as an example of one of these tropes if the work doesn't do so. That's just you shoehorning your own opinion into the article.
- If you can properly trope someone else's opinion about a Real Life person or thing that appears in a work, attribute it to that person. And even if you do, please be mindful of the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment. This only works if we trust people to use their common sense.
- Don't apply these tropes to creators unless they appear in a work. Even if a creator is well-known to be an example, or even describes themselves as an example, we aren't just going to link to random blog posts. The example has to be part of a work. This is a particular issue with musicians, because the line is particularly blurry; musicians often write about themselves, but not all the time, and it's important to keep track of the artist's opinion of themselves and your opinion of that artist.
- Reality TV and stuff like it is a funny scenario here. Yes, the subjects are real people, and ostensibly we're troping them as if they're real people. But reality show participants are very much characters in a work, which is sufficiently edited (often misleadingly) to be separate from their lives outside the work. Reality show characters should only be listed as examples for things we see them do in the work, not offscreen.
- We have Useful Notes pages about a lot of real life things, which are particularly subject to the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment where these tropes are concerned. In those cases, they're not completely banned, but we'd also be wandering into The Other Wiki's "neutral point of view" and "due weight" and the rest of its immense policy on this kind of thing, so if we can't easily come up with an uncontroversial way to include the trope in the Useful Notes page, it should stay off the page.
- Be aware of your own biases when dealing with tropes like this. Some people can't fathom that anyone can think differently than they do, and they also tend to overstate the importance of this site and what's on it, so they end up expending a lot of time and energy trying to get the wiki to conform to their version of reality. Don't be one of those people. There's a reason why starting an Edit War is a bannable offence.
Compare In-Universe Examples Only.
Please do not list any page indexed in Definition-Only Pages, as those do not allow examples at all.
On this wiki, the markup [[noreallife]] will appear when editing any of the pages indexed in the pages below.
Pages where Real Life examples are not allowed:
- Morality Tropes
- Sex, Sexuality, and Rape Tropes
- Narrative, Characterization, and Plot Tropes
- Impossible in Real Life
- Too Common
- Too Controversial
- Gossip and Stereotypes