Many tropes allow Real Life examples because they are fun and can sometimes be useful to understand the idea behind the convention. This policy describes what is acceptable for such examples and what is considered problematic. Certain tropes have proven too problematic for any Real Life examples. 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.
Real Life Troping is the broader policy, describing the difference between what we consider "Real Life" and what we consider a story with the potential for tropes. To summarize; tropes only exist in relation to a story with creative intent. Because real life isn't a story being told to an audience (at least not any that we know about), it cannot be said to include tropes. The Real Life folders on trope pages are not really examples of tropes; they're amusing trivia about how reality and storytelling are related.
The "Real life" media category doesn't include works about real life, like a biography or a documentary. In those cases, examples describe that work's perspective on "real life", which is usually a lot less ambiguous than what "real life" really is. Any such examples belong in their respective media category instead.
Think of it this way — 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, 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. Also, it violates our Content Policy, owing to their inherently NSFW or squicky nature and tendency to attract fetish gushing.
- Rape, sexual assault, and incest tropes, out of respect for the victims and to prevent gossip.
- Gossip. 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 that invite flame wars, natter, edit wars, and complaining, and violations of the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement when discussing real life examples, such as many political tropes.
- 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.
- Tropes, that require an author of a story to make a conscious storytelling decision, or otherwise involve the context within or outside of a work. Tropes involving beginnings, endings, and other story parts, or tropes that are exclusive to one medium, such as interactive games.
- Stock Characters and Stereotypes, since they harmfully distill real people into flat characters.
- Tropes that attract Squick, including gory retellings of real events, or NSFW weblinks.
- Tropes that attract misuse or encourage Trope Drift, which is when the de facto definition of a trope changes while the official trope definition doesn't.
To provide a little more guidance on these trope examples:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Reality TV and stuff like it is a funny scenario here. Yes, the subjects are real people, but participants are very much characters in a work, which is sufficiently edited (often misleadingly) to be separate from their lives outside the work. These characters should only be listed as examples for things we see them do in the work, not offscreen and should be worded to focus on that.
- We have Useful Notes articles about a lot of real life things, which are particularly subject to the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment where these tropes are concerned. If we can't easily come up with an uncontroversial way to include the trope in the Useful Notes page, it shouldn't be included. We can leave describing the details of whatever abhorrence the subject is a part of to The Other Wiki's "neutral point of view" and "due weight" and the rest of its immense policy on this kind of thing.
Compare In-Universe Examples Only, where examples must be within the same "verse" as the work being cited (Real Life counts as a "work" in this context), and Limited Real Life Examples Only, where real life examples are only forbidden for certain subjects instead of completely forbidden. See Keep Real Life Examples for tropes that have been discussed for NRLEP but deemed their Real Life sections not being problematic enough to remove entirely. A trope cannot be both NRLEP and Definition-Only, as D-O pages do not allow any examples, regardless of medium.
NOTE: Please consult the Real Life section maintenance thread if you want to propose adding a trope here.