Follow TV Tropes


Acceptable Breaks from Reality

Go To

"In this kind of story the pseudo-scientific apparatus should be taken simply as a machine in the sense which the word bore for the Neo-classical critics. The most superficial appearance of plausibility—the merest sop to our critical intellect—will do."
C. S. Lewis, On Science Fiction.

A Willing Suspension of Disbelief is a must for almost any work of fiction. There are certain elements of story or gameplay where realism would simply make a work tedious, difficult, or confusing for the audience. Thus there are ways in which works will be blatantly, unabashedly unrealistic, and nobody really minds. See the Rule of Index.


It's possible for these to become unacceptable, when the abstraction gets in the way of enjoying the work. On the flip side, it's possible to get so accustomed to a particular break from reality that people stop realizing it's unrealistic.

Of course, different people have different tolerances for the balance between "abstraction" and "simulation," which means that some media creators make conscious and deliberate efforts to avert at least some of these tropes. Those sorts of things, however, tend to cater toward a rather niche crowd. Even then, there's still a small measure of abstraction simply to prevent things from getting too tedious.

Compare Necessary Weasel. Overlaps with The Law of Conservation of Detail, for those tropes that could be justified but aren't worth the time. Anti-Frustration Features are a related trope in video games, but are more about when gameplay elements or rules are temporary changed or suspended to make the game easier for a specific section.


Note that despite the title, these tropes are about realism, not reality. Some of them may be Truth in Television. (Reality Is Unrealistic, after all.)

    open/close all folders 

Forms of Acceptable Breaks From Reality include:

  • 24-Hour Armor: Characters constantly wearing armor may be unrealistic, but it makes them easy to identify and cuts down on design costs. See also Informed Equipment.
  • 555: Because if you'd use real phone numbers in fiction, people would keep dialing them and put those poor guys who happen to have these numbers through an uneasy time.
  • Acoustic License: Because, really, five exchanges of "what did you say?" in between every interesting line of dialogue would go beyond boring.
  • Aliens Speaking English: And with perfect American/English/Australian/wherever-the-work-was-made accents too!
  • Already Undone for You: Someone already got through this trap-laden dungeon to wait for the hero, so why are the traps still there? It wouldn't be dramatic, otherwise!
  • Arbitrary Maximum Range: In real-world physics, there's no "maximum range" for weapons in space - but that wouldn't make for gripping space battles and if it's in video games, system performance will take a big hit if it has to track that many objects that aren't in the playfield anymore.
  • Arbitrary Minimum Range: Some weapons may have a minimum range, and it is a lot less effective or unable to fire at targets at all before this distance. Having such a powerful weapon without a minimum range can be a Game-Breaker, since it would have little weakness. Truth in Television for any ranged weapon, or any melee weapon known for its size.
  • Art Major Biology: No, the work doesn't follow actual biology, but if it did, we wouldn't have a very good story.
  • Artificial Gravity: Virtually all Sci-Fi starships have some form of artificial gravity. This carries over to video games because it's difficult to make tight control systems for moving in 3D space using only analog sticks and buttons, not to mention that moving around in a weightless environment can be counter-intuitive (and thus, frustrating) for humans who have only ever been on Earth.
  • Artistic License – Law: To the extent that litigation is dramatic, almost none of it happens in the courtroom. But the way it actually plays out, i.e. trading written motions over several months, doesn't exactly make for gripping television.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: Fight scenes are usually very dramatic, adding to a good story. Slow, concentrated movements don't make for exciting scenes.
  • Artistic License – Physics: No, the work doesn't follow actual physics, but if it did, we wouldn't have a very good story.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance: Having a character's appearance coincidentally match their personality, occupation and powerset is a good way to convey what they're all about at a glance.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The higher a character is in his hierarchy, the better he is in a fight. Why? So it's easy to know who to look out for.
  • Automaton Horses: Horses never have to be watered, fed, or rested in most media, because it's usually not relevant to the story. (See Plot-Powered Stamina.)
  • Benevolent Architecture: Architecture and geography seem to be designed for that genre and your character's abilities, because if you wanted 100% realistic driving in a racing game you could play a simulator instead.
  • Big Damn Fire Exit: Because dashing through flames to the exit is just that cool!
  • Bottomless Bladder: Fictional characters don't have to do mundane things like use the restroom unless the story dictates it, because they're needless and unimportant diversions from the plot.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Characters get unlimited shots, because who wants to stop the action to reload?
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Having the Action Hero survive gunfire by hiding behind a Mook might not be realistic, but it's definitely cool.
  • Chaos Architecture: Building dungeons from the ground up can take up far more time than programming a random dungeon generator, and locations become boring if they look identical game after game.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: It would be frustrating to get into what you think is cover only to find out that your enemy can still hit you just fine.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Otherwise, you wouldn't get to go into volcanoes and fight fire enemies, which makes a lot of potentially awesome fights impossible. Plus, the game would get too hard if you had to fight off the invisible heat as well as the enemies.
  • Convenient Weakness Placement: Having conventional "weapon vs. weapon" bosses can get monotonous, and unbeatable bosses defeat the point of having bosses, so you've got to include something to deal damage with.
  • Conveniently Close Planet: Everything in space being way closer than it is in real life.
  • Cooldown: Being able to use a reuseable Limit Break or Last Disc Magic every turn becomes a Game-Breaker otherwise.
  • Eternally Pearly-White Teeth: Actors generally have healthy teeth, even when the medieval characters they're portraying wouldn't. But hey, our heroes have to look good.
  • Explosions in Space: Should be impossible, but...
  • Fourth Wall: One many people gloss over, but still there. In any play, characters will always face each other so both faces can be seen from one particular wall. And though there are assorted important doors, windows, etc. on all three walls, that fourth one never has any important features, despite the fact that everyone keeps standing facing it. However, looking at the back of people's heads doesn't make for great storytelling.
  • Free-Range Children: Otherwise a lot of stories about children would be either boring to adults, require parents to supervise the adventure, or be made of Angst about how nosy parents can be.
  • Free-Range Pets: It'd get boring if the animal protagonists were stuck at home all day, especially if their owners don't have any other pets to interact with.
  • Global Currency: The same money is used across the entire world (spanning multiple countries and/or times) to avoid cluttering up the menu with 30 different kinds of currency.
  • Gold–Silver–Copper Standard: Because who honestly wants to realistically calculate relative market values and exchange rates?
  • Guns in Church: It may be unrealistic that the heroes are allowed to take their guns anywhere without consequence, but stopping to explain it would take time away from cool and exciting action sequences.
  • Hard Head: Dying from a head injury would make characters too vulnerable. When it's done in a video game or movie that has a vulnerable protagonist, then that's great.
  • Hollywood Darkness: When you want to see that it's dark, but the audience still wants to see in the dark. Being forced to rely on senses other than sight can be done well in media, but it can also make things confusing.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Because real hacking is actually quite boring and would become worthless after the technology is exposed.
  • Hollywood Psych: Because the fact that the main character would end up too damaged and insane to ever live a normal life after the events of the average action story isn't a very happy ending.
  • In Space, Everyone Can See Your Face: Having lights on the inside of a helmet makes it largely impossible to see out of it in an otherwise dark environment, but otherwise we would be unable to see the actors' faces.
  • Infinite Flashlight: A flashlight which never runs out of batteries or needs to be recharged, except if the plot demands or if it's a gameplay mechanic. Games increasingly avert this, especially if they're in the Horror genre, but being unable to see runs into the same problems as Hollywood Darkness above.
  • Insecurity Camera: You can easily just blow up security cameras or otherwise make them useless and nobody will be alarmed by it. Unless there's a very smart supervisor present, at best it'll be dismissed as a temporary glitch to not worry about. Stealth games often need this trope, as otherwise your location options are limited to either universes without camera surveillance or before the 1900s.
  • Instant Sedation: Because we don't have 15 minutes of valuable airtime to waste watching a tranquilizer go into effect.
  • Instant-Win Condition: When you clear a game stage, all the troubles, death traps, remaining enemies etc. are completely ignored, because you won. When this is averted, it can become a Hope Spot, or worse, a Kaizo Trap.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: No matter how much damage he suffers, he just keeps coming back, because a character intended to be Plucky Comic Relief becomes less so when what's supposed to be humor winds up hurting or killing them.
  • Kid Hero: In reality, allowing or actively putting a child in any kind of danger is a big no-no. But kid readers want to see people like them be heroic.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Because they can only afford to hire so many actors, and besides, it's hard to get invested in a constant stream of new characters.
  • Muzzle Flashlight: You have no flashlight, so just start firing your weapons and follow the muzzle flash! If you can't see, you can't really fight effectively.
  • News Travels Fast: As soon as something important happens in the plot, everyone in the world will know about it, since taking time to show its journey down the grapevine is the sort of detail that's usually unimportant.
  • No Cure for Evil: A lot of enemies can't heal, especially since this would get very annoying for some particularly hard enemies. Aversions are often designed with this trope in mind.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Wacky Shenanigans in construction sites and factories in fiction would be nowhere near possible (or fun) in real life without someone being fired or put in prison, but in the world of fiction, you can be as negligent and unsafe as much as you want. So if you want to go for a jog on that spinning cog wheel or play chicken with a hydraulic press, go on ahead.
  • No Periods, Period: You just don't go there.
  • Nobody Poops: At least not onscreen. (See Bottomless Bladder.)
  • Olympic Swimmer: If (or once) you know how to swim, you'll do it perfectly and for as long as you like, because oftentimes learning how to swim is not the point of the game, so there's little point in making it a comprehensive mechanic.
  • Olympus Mons: The game allows the player to capture and control creatures that would realistically never follow the instructions of some preteen hero, because not allowing it wouldn't be any fun at all.
  • One Dose Fits All: Much like with Instant Sedation above, it would be an unnecessary distraction to have characters calculate the dosage of tranquillizer, poison etc. per person before administering it.
  • One Steve Limit: Unless there's a specific storytelling reason for it, having characters with the same or similar names would only make it harder for the audience to follow along.
  • One True Faith: A work of Science Fiction or Fantasy has only one religion (The Church) in it; furthermore, there are never any factions of it or different interpretations of its belief. This is mostly to keep to the things that are important to the plot.
  • Optional Traffic Laws: Drivers can safely ignore all the rules of the road, often with no more consequence than at worst, a bystander making a rude hand gesture and/or being profane towards the driver.
  • Painfully Slow Projectile: Bullets are slow enough to dodge. Especially common in Platform and Shoot 'em Up games. This is sometimes counterbalanced by One-Hit Kill mechanics, or significant knockback, but having bullets instantly hit you makes for incredibly difficult levels.
  • Patchwork Map: Geographical biomes and regions that should not be able to exist next door to each other can still do so. This is sometimes to help fulfill the Law of Cartographical Elegance, sometimes because we don't want to spend so much time describing all the travelling across continents the heroes did, sometimes because the locals used that much magic in the area and sometimes because having a story or game with nothing but grassland areas is boring.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Having everyone speak like they would in real life would just make a reader think that they never bothered to check their work or just make it hard for them to understand what's being said.
  • The Reveal: Not only for other characters to catch up to the events, but also so the viewer is on the same page as the characters. Sometimes literally.
  • Ribcage Stomach: The inside of a creature's stomach looks like the inside of the entire creature lacking organs. Without this trope, say goodbye to the Womb Level.
  • Risking the King: The people in charge take direct action when other people are available to do it for them. This not only gets more plot-important characters involved in the action, but it also prevents a scenario where the victorious army has to also chase down the fleeing leader.
  • Rock Star Parking: Because no one wants to put the story on hold for half an hour while the characters are looking for a spot.
  • Rule of Cool: Yeah, it's totally unrealistic, but man, it looks awesome.
  • Rule of Funny: Some stuff that's Played for Laughs is funny only because it's not real, namely Video Game Cruelty Potential or Comedic Sociopathy. In Real Life? Not so much.
  • Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: The inability of a long-range weapon user to use said weapon at long range because long-range fights aren't as exciting.
  • Soft Water: A fall from any height at all can be rendered harmless or merely incapacitating if, at the end of the fall, the character meets a body of water. This is mostly for drama's sake, as if a story started out with an airplane crash it would be over awfully quick were this trope averted.
  • Sole Entertainment Option: In the entire in-work world, there's only one kind of entertainment or only one city where you can find it. It often shows up in the Minigame Zone, and making a massive bank of minigames to choose from can take unnecessary time for what is often an optional area to get rare and powerful items, so having it in only one location is more convenient for both developers and players.
  • Steel Ear Drums: Nobody is ever bothered by extremely loud noises unless it serves the plot, for the same reason as Acoustic License.
  • Surprisingly Functional Toys: When a character is shrunk and encounters a recognizable object scaled to their new size, said object will retain the function and properties scale of its original size. If it didn't, then being small would have little purpose other than taking a much longer time to get from one place to another (see Space Compression).
  • Suspiciously Small Army: Micromanaging or representing a military force on the scale of most modern armed forces would likely destroy either one's patience or video card.
  • Terrifying Pet Store Rat: Wild animals are difficult, if not outright illegal, to handle and keep, and pose a high risk of injuring themselves or the actors and crew if used in a movie, so a tame and socialized animal is used instead.
  • Third-Person Flashback: Normally, people don't see themselves in their own visual recall unless some mirror was there showing themselves, but it's usually difficult to show events through the point of view of one character due to the lack of an Establishing Shot.
  • Three-Month-Old Newborn: Film sets are hot, noisy, dirty, and altogether not suitable places to bring a newborn baby whose immune system is still developing.
  • Thriving Ghost Town: Cities and towns are much smaller than they should be for sustainability. This saves time and money on set design/development. See also Space Compression.
  • Took a Shortcut: A common Hand Wave to explain other NPCs suddenly showing up past the dungeon you just risked life and limb getting through. But of course, if the villain went through the dungeon themselves, the path would already be cleared, making the dungeon too easy (see Already Undone for You).
  • Universal Driver's License: A character can drive any vehicle they come across without any training. Adding training would make for unnecessary interruption of gameplay when you're just using it to cross between plot-important places.
  • Universal Poison: There's only one type of poison and generally one type of antidote for it. This prevents the player from having to tote around thirty different antidote potions, hoping they'll have the right one for the next encounter.
  • Very High Velocity Rounds: You've slowed down time and while enemy bullets will crawl like molasses, yours go at normal speed. This keeps time-altering mechanics from being Awesome, but Impractical, or even a Useless Useful Spell.
  • Volumetric Mouth: How exactly did that mouth grow ridiculously huge? Probably because it helps convey the character's emotions more clearly. Or maybe because it wants to eat you.
  • Worst Aid: Often overlooked when it's Played for Drama because sometimes medicinal practices are bent a little for the sake of an engaging, tense scene.

    Specific to Games 
  • All in a Row: Because they'd get stuck behind a table sometimes. It'd be annoying depending on whether or not you're teleported to a battlefield or fight enemies wherever you stand and your character's stuck.
  • All Swords Are the Same: Because designing a wide variety of weapons, as well as unique battle animations for every one of them, is hard.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: They'd never make sense storywise, they're just to keep the player from getting frustrated.
  • Arbitrary Gun Power: Video game guns damage your life bar, not your organs. Accurate simulations of the physics and biology of bullet wounds are prohibitive in terms of development time, or simply don't fit in with Competitive Balance, so the effects of bullet wounds are abstracted.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Arbitrary requirement that stops you from having too many characters in a party or unit. Truth in Television with regard to close quarters and stealth missions.
  • Bag of Sharing: Everyone in the team can access the same inventory even when they're apart, because forcing the player to micromanage the inventory would be too obnoxious.
  • Blatant Item Placement: What's a medkit doing here anyway? Well, the wounded player won't be complaining.
  • Cap: 8-bit format only allows storage of numbers from 0 to 255, so there are hardware limitations that prevent you from making it endless in early game configurations, and even in games where you can theoretically have characters with stats in the billions, all those levels require additional memory space and development time for something that is unlikely to be reached by 99% of players.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: Otherwise the game would just be too easy. Oftentimes even if the option is available to let the AI control the economy, players continue to do it themselves because they don't trust the computer to make the right choices.
  • Competitive Balance: Because having a character that can't win against any other character unless you're Cherry Tapping isn't really having a character at all. Balance encourages diversity in a game with loads of characters and gives different types of playing styles to choose from without making all the characters clones of each other.
  • Conspicuously Selective Perception: Having a guard change their pattern due to some random occurrence wouldn't be that fun after a while.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: Because enforcing Take Your Time in the middle of a crisis is more unrealistic than having characters shouting at you about it, even if there's no real time limit.
  • Critical Encumbrance Failure: Adding in conditions for every individual possible item configuration in the game takes far too much time to make in development, and dealing with the additional question of added weight alongside "do I want to carry this item" can make for more frustration than it's worth.
  • Critical Existence Failure: With 1 Hit Point left or if you're one step away from death you're fine, but lose the last bit of health and you die instantly. This is to prevent players from having to buy disproportionate amount of healing items just so they aren't slowed down or otherwise made to be less powerful due to health, because the game becomes a lot harder when you effectively have half the health bar you actually have.
  • Crosshair Aware: A character in a video game can see when/where an attack is going to hit, because it would be frustrating if they couldn't. Also related to gun-wielding enemies having Laser Sights even when it doesn't make sense (such as snipers using them.)
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Having there be a penalty for dying can interrupt the narrative, and certain games are more fun in multiplayer or in alternate modes if you aren't forced to sit out the rest of the game.
  • Door to Before: A door that leads you straight back to the beginning of a dungeon so you don't have to walk out the long way.
  • Easy Communication: Instant commands make for more interesting games, especially in Real-Time Strategy games. Why? Because it's frustrating to command something and have troops not do it simply in the name of realism.
  • Easy Logistics: You don't need to worry about feeding your troops or keeping up supplies - that all happens automatically. This is to prevent players from sitting around waiting for supply lines.
  • An Economy Is You: All stores in a videogame city are centered around selling things you in particular will need, because no one likes wasting money on unnecessary items.
  • Enough to Go Around: In MMORPGs, a quest item is supposedly unique, but there's one for every player of the game in order to prevent Loot Drama.
  • Eternal Equinox: Day and night are always the exact same length, regardless of the season or the latitude. 99% of players won't notice or care about it, and it often has marginal, if any, impact on the story.
  • Event-Driven Clock: In-universe time and calendar is based around the hero's actions and progress rather than a real-time clock. Time of day can be very important to a scene, and technical difficulties can arise if the alternative is used, especially in pre-rendered cutscenes.
  • Every Bullet Is a Tracer: You'll be able to see the path of bullets to assist in aiming or following the action. This helps deter camping and informs players where the fighting is.
  • Everything Fades: Keeping track of corpses and items takes extra memory, all that stuff piling up can eventually obstruct pathways, and sometimes it just looks unappealing and can make a game controversial.
  • Firewood Resources: In Real-Time Strategy games, wood is always shown in bundles to represent the action without requiring unnecessary detail.
  • Flash of Pain: Because it's satisfying, because it looks neat, and because it shows that you successfully inflicted damage.
  • Floating Platforms: Because it's much easier than building proper structural supports when all you'll be doing is jumping on them.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Combat would be less fun if the player had to constantly worry about not hitting their teammates and/or getting hit by their allies.
  • Game Gourmet: In video games, foodstuffs are collectible or menu items, usually to restore lost HP or gain points.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Plot-critical friendly NPCs cannot be permanently killed, to release players from the burden of protecting them.
  • Gameplay-Guided Amnesia: Because the character of a game knows things the player doesn't, sometimes the character gets amnesia to excuse the explanation to the player. It can't be done often, but it's one of the few aversions to As You Know.
  • Gateless Ghetto: You're dumped in a small part of a city walled off from the rest of it, so you can't explore what hasn't been programmed. This is to ease the workload for the map designers and programmers, because nothing else in that city is story-important.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Stealth-Based Games would become frustrating if guards were actually competent.
  • Hands-Free Handlamp: Fumbling with your light sources can be inconvenient and detrimental to gameplay, to the point of bogging down the pacing.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: How else are you going to learn which button does what?
  • Heal Thyself: When you pick up a medkit or use a potion, you get healed instantly. Sitting around waiting for a week in-game to recover from even merely moderate wounds makes for not-so-fun gameplay.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Food and sleep will instantly heal you. (See Heal Thyself.)
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: In games, you can carry an absolutely enormous amount of stuff, though where it's actually kept is a mystery. Oftentimes developers don't want to spend the time creating additional models for items and weapons, and including them may make for an additional discrepancy if the player or enemies have Bottomless Magazines.
  • I Fought the Law and the Law Won: The supposedly understaffed police or army that doesn't have enough hands to deal with the criminal or enemy army problem can somehow cough up a seemingly limitless number of redshirts to put down that pesky protagonist.
  • Improbable Power Discrepancy: Enemies in RPGs are given statistics based on how powerful you're expected to be at that point, not how strong that enemy would be based on common sense. But it would get boring if you had to wait 30 hours into the game to start fighting the enemies that looked cool, and besides, cool fights with dragons wouldn't be likely otherwise.
  • In-Vehicle Invulnerability: Driver doesn't die or get injured when a car crashes without explosion. Having your character die if they suffer too much whiplash either forces level designers to use simple, boring tracks, or makes the game unfair.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Where did they come from? Who put them there? Why does nobody else ever open them? Answering the first two questions would require some complex justifications, and as for the third one, going through an area and getting nothing due to all the chests being empty doesn't feel very rewarding for your dungeon-crawling effort.
  • Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat: Without them, those epic dungeon crawls tend to peter out after a few days.
  • Informed Equipment: Game characters' equipment won't show up visually. This saves developers from spending time on hundreds of additions that are mostly cosmetic. This is primarily a 2D phenomenon, however; games with models have less of an excuse, because those are much easier to animate than redrawing entire character sprite sheets.
  • Instant 180-Degree Turn: Characters can turn around in an instant. Implementing non-instant turning requires extra programming, and, if it's a Side View game, extra artwork.
  • Instant Home Delivery: When you buy something, it shows up instantly or at least much faster than in Real Life. Waiting for a month for backorders is already frustrating enough in real life, so why would that be included in a game intended to be enjoyed?
  • Just Add Water: Items can generally be created by just sticking two or three things together. Having to possess a mortar and pestle can make Item Crafting more inconvenient than it's worth, and that's not even getting into the expense of acquiring a laboratory or blacksmith...
  • Law of Cartographical Elegance: Land masses will never cross the edge of a world map, since if they did the developers would get ceaseless questions asking "what's over there?"
  • Lazy Backup: Yes, the other fifteen members of the party could carry on the fight should the frontline trio fall, but that would make the battle too easy.
  • Leaked Experience: When fighting in RPGs, characters not in the active party will get some percentage of the experience that the active party gets to prevent Can't Catch Up situations.
  • Limited Sound Effects: Because not all programmers go the extra mile of having a sound-effect ensemble.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Because being hit again and again without being able to retaliate is a bit unfair. This also sometimes alleviates the unfairness of Ledge Bats, but only sometimes.
  • Money Spider: A more believable scenario would be getting rewarded for killing the monsters, but it'd simply take too long to go back to the person and get rewarded every time you did it.
  • Never Recycle a Building: Don't worry about zoning laws, the abandoned building is just waiting for you to use it. Red tape is not generally included in games because red tape is not fun.
  • No "Arc" in "Archery": For balance purposes, mostly.
  • No Recycling: In strategy games, you can't scavenge debris for usable materials, because this would essentially make for free resources, defeating the point of gathering those materials.
  • No Stat Atrophy: Once you raise a stat, it'll never go down again, because if even your stats aren't reliable, you're in for a rough time.
  • Nominal Importance: Only people that are relevant to the plot or a sidequest will be blessed with names. Everyone else will be nameless or be referred to with generic or descriptive titles because having names for everyone can make for a confusing conversation, especially if One Steve Limit is averted.
  • Now, Where Was I Going Again?: The ways to combat this are acceptable because not knowing what to do next in a video game is frustrating, time-wasting, and not fun.
  • NPC Amnesia: Because picking a wrong choice in a Dialogue Tree could otherwise result in the game becoming Unwinnable, and programming alternate ways to proceed can be tedious.
  • One Bullet Clips: In a game, if you fire one bullet and reload, you'll be shown reloading a full magazine, but will still only have reloaded one bullet and not lost any others doing so. Wasting half a magazine can get annoying, and sometimes it's preferable to reload safely with half your magazine than to reload in a critical situation with your magazine empty.
  • One Size Fits All: Clothing and armor can be worn by anyone, regardless of its source or the wearer's size or gender. This saves time for developers, and also saves money and time for the player who won't ever buy something that winds up being useless gear.
  • Pamphlet Shelf: Whenever you see a bookshelf, there'll never be more than one book (and often one line) that you can read, so that you don't spend an hour looking for something relevant.
  • Party in My Pocket: Sometimes from a developmental point of view, showing all 3-8+ party members on-screen at all times means issues such as them taking up a lot of space in the area and having their pathfinding programmed without Offscreen Teleportation.
  • Plot-Powered Stamina: You don't have to break off the action to rest, eat, or sleep in-world, though your characters may abruptly decide to do so in a cutscene. These are the logistics of traveling that most video game players don't want to spend time doing when they could be off killing monsters.
  • Power Equals Rarity: The more powerful an item, monster, or ability/spell is, the harder it is to find. This is to keep items intended for the Final Boss from becoming a Disc-One Nuke.
  • Puzzle Reset: In a game, if you exit and re-enter the room, any puzzle will reset itself. This is a basic Anti-Frustration Feature to keep puzzles from potentially becomming Unwinnable by Mistake.
  • Reward from Nowhere: A seemingly arbitrary prize for an in-universe action with no explanation as to who gives out the prize or why. These exist to encourage the player to explore; if averted it can lead to Dude, Where's My Reward?
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: All buildings can be produced and military units trained in a ridiculously short amount of time. Games that require you to wait hours for anything to happen can become tedious, or result in very long playing sessions.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: A war or other contest involves struggles for regions which are wholly in the possession of one side or the other are treated as "spaces" for movement and can't be divided up in any way. This makes games about conquering easier, as if it were accurate to real life, dealing with continuous rebel insurrections is something most people only want to do once when taking over a nation.
  • Selective Gravity: Gravity is only applied to some things. This is often a feature to make projectiles more predictable (or unpredictable), especially in platformers. The alternative requires players to understand both the direction and arc of incoming dangers, which can easily make a game Nintendo Hard.
  • The Simple Life Is Simple: The simple life is indeed simplified for games where farming is (one of) the objective(s); the complexities of real-life farming would take the fun out of it otherwise.
  • Skill Point Reset: A way to completely forget everything you knew about your current job and learn everything from scratch again, to give players an opportunity to optimize their setup and prevent their characters from becoming too situational.
  • Sound-Coded for Your Convenience: In video games, many things make sounds more distinct from each other than in real life so the player can more easily tell what's happening just by hearing them.
  • Space Compression: Where an environment is blatantly not to scale so you don't spend an entire day just walking to the next city.
  • Statistically Speaking: In Video Games, no matter how high your strength, speed, etc. goes, you still won't be able to, for example, lift that tree in your way. This may be Railroading, but it's meant to keep the story on track anyway.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Video game characters can breathe underwater for infinite amounts of time. Level design is limited if characters are required to go up for air, and oftentimes when there is an air mechanic characters that were just fine a moment before immediately asphyxiate.
  • Suspicious Video Game Generosity: When the game gives you a whole bunch of healing items and ammo, you're about to fight a nasty boss battle. This performs two practical functions: First, you have an opportunity to breathe and restock in a safe environment. Second, savvy players will know to be prepared for a boss battle.
  • Take Your Time: The villain won't put his dastardly plan into motion until you get there, no matter how long you partake in various sidequests. Wouldn't be fair to just realistically railroad you.
  • Tech Tree: Tech Trees mostly only exist in games where the absence of them would make every civilization or group a clone of each other, or would result in very comprehensive (and expensive, and time-consuming) gameplay. (See Competitive Balance.)
  • Things Are More Effective in Hollywood: Bulletproof vests are nowhere near as effective as portrayed in the movies but if it was realistic the hero would get shot and either bleed out or spend the rest of the movie in hospital.
  • Three Round Deathmatch: Best of three wins in a Fighting Game. You start again with full health. This is often for the sake of preventing luck from being a factor in fighting games, and allowing human players to adjust for their adversary's playing style (especially if it's a new character they haven't fought against before).
  • Trauma Inn: Sleeping at an inn is guaranteed to instantly cure all your wounds, because having characters heal at normal rates would probably necessitate the subtitle Waiting in a Hospital.
  • Units Not to Scale: In Real-Time Strategy games, infantrymen are ridiculously large when compared to vehicles and buildings. If they were to scale it would either be difficult to see every unit clearly and click on them accurately, or you would have trouble telling the layout and location of your buildings because you can't fit many on your screen at a time.
  • Vendor Trash: Merchants are more than happy to purchase your useless junk in endless quantities, even if there's no chance of reselling it. Sometimes can be justified if it's a valuable commodity that has no use in combat or if it's said to be a disposal service, and being forced to keep random things that might be valuable in your inventory can make for a good deal of frustration when no one will buy it and you chose not to pick up other items that might have been valuable...
  • Video Game Stealing: A thief can pick the pockets of a giant direwolf in the middle of an all-out brawl and come away with an eight-foot claymore. But without that ability, being a thief or rogue class would be very situational to the point of needing specific instances where his or her abilities come in handy.
  • Video Game Time: Fake use of a time scale means that empires rise and fall in the time it takes to take the trash out. But this is because it's a video game, and it'll have some liberties taken with time if it means the whole story is told in a more entertaining way.
  • Videogame Dashing: Lunging forward or back-stepping has the same effect as firing an invisible jet pack. This makes dodging bullets possible, so why wouldn't you be okay with keeping unrealistic instant movement?
  • Video Game Geography: The world map is a toroid. Distances aren't quite right. But hey, it's a video game!
  • Wallet of Holding: Where you can collect millions of gold coins and not have your pants fall down. Having a money limit is never fun, though, because it creates extra unnecessary hassle for a player.
  • Warp Whistle: In real life, you can't just open a map, select a location, and instantly appear there (or pay to suddenly appear there at a specific spot), but if it saves you from trekking across a huge world, no problem.
  • We Buy Anything: Wanna sell that suit of armor at a grocery store? They'll take it! While it may seem jarring, it's preferable to searching through the city (or worse, through multiple cities) to find the one vendor that deals in magical weapons.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Minor NPCs always say the same dialogue because programming in endless dialogue is a time-consuming activity when few players will actually talk to them again anyway.
  • You All Look Familiar: Not all games and animated shows have the time, budget, or inclination to go for a Cast of Snowflakes.
  • You Call That a Wound?: Without this you're dealing with an Escort Mission, which is the very thing this trope is supposed to avert. This is usually meant as an Anti-Frustration Feature, which excuses the fact that the guest character is an Implacable Man.
  • You Get Knocked Down, You Get Back Up Again: In Video Games, when you're knocked down, you can't be damaged until you get back up, because it's quite annoying when it's averted.


Alternative Title(s): Acceptable Break From Reality