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Alternate Tooniverse

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"Eh, you're not from around here, are ya, doc?"
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An alternate or parallel universe inhabited by cartoon characters (usually zany, Looney Tunes-style characters) and governed by Toon physics and the Rule of Funny. It exists alongside a more realistic universe, usually portrayed in live-action.

Though the trope is sometimes played straight, it's also a frequent target of deconstruction. The latter may highlight the impossibility of Toon physics, the violence in nominally kid-friendly cartoons, or the fantastic racism that might ensue if Toons really existed. Or any number of other things, really.

Subtrope of Alternate Universe and Roger Rabbit Effect. Compare with Toontown, where toon and man are separated by simple geography instead of different dimensions.

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Examples

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    Comic Books 
  • In the Animal Man comic The Coyote Gospel, a Wile E. Coyote expy is banished to "the hell above" — reality — for daring to question why cartoon characters must live such painful, violent lives. He appears on Earth as a grotesque "realistic" incarnation of himself, and becomes a messianic figure by taking on all other Toons' pain as his own — by being killed in various ways and springing back to life, forever, on the same lonely desert road.
  • Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! originally took place on an alternate Earth (Earth-C), which Superman crossed over into once. They have their own alternate too, Earth C-Minus, where the events that Rodney Rabbit writes in comic books take place for real. After Final Crisis, the Zoo Crew's world became Earth-26 of the DC multiverse.
  • Ghostbusters (IDW) initially had two Ghostbusters universes: one in which Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters II, the 2009 video game, and the IDW series take place, and one in which the animated series The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters take place, and the films are fictional. While there are some callbacks and references between the two (mostly in the form of background gags, although Janine's appearance in the comics is a hybrid between her cartoon and film appearances, and an alternate version of Kylie from Extreme Ghostbusters is part of the New Ghostbusters team), they remained mostly separate... until 2015, when IDW did a limited-miniseries crossover between both 'verses. The Ghostbusters (2016) universe was added in 2017 with another miniseries crossover, and it became a full-on multiverse in a 2018 miniseries crossover, which among other things introduced the universe of the Tokyopop Ghostbusters manga, and a universe that ran ahead of the Real Ghostbusters universe, where it's currently the Extreme Ghostbusters era.
  • This is the explanation in some (but by no means all) DC Comics Meet Hanna Barbera and DC Comics Meet Looney Tunes oneshots.
  • Howard the Duck comes from an anthropomorphic-animal universe, albeit without actual cartoon physics.
  • Tom Strong had Funnyland, home to Righteous Rabbit Warren Strong, his wife Patience, their daughters Topsy, Turvey and Fluffytail, and their Cunning Like a Fox enemy Basil Saveen. Funnyland reappears, along with some other alternate universes from Tom Strong, in The Terrifics, where it's also home to the Dr Dread counterpart Ducktor Dread.

    Fanfiction 

    Films — Animation 
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bedknobs and Broomsticks: The universe of the Isle of Naboombu is a World of Funny Animals and, much like the chalk painting world of Mary Poppins, it is animated, and the live-action protagonists are transported to it by the magical bedknob. Sadly they went there for nothing, as the Star of Astoroth containing the magic formula (which they were looking for) vanishes upon being brought in the "live-action" world... though they still get the formula, from the picture book Paul kept all this time, which happens to be about the Isle of Naboombu and features a clear drawing of the Star.
  • Cool World: an alternate universe exists, populated by toons (or Doodles as they were called; the humans were called Noids).
  • Dr Strange and America Chavez briefly fall through a cartoon universe when passing through several different worlds in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
  • Enchanted, which examines how common Disney Princess tropes would work in the real world. Oddly enough, it wasn't supposed to be a Disney film at first, but became one.
  • In the scene in Everything Everywhere All at Once where Evyn briefly visits dozens of universe, one of them is an anime and in a fight with Jobu Tupaki has them enter a world where they turn into crayon doodles.
  • Mary Poppins and company jump into a chalk painting and end up in a world like this.
    • In the sequel Mary Poppins Returns, they go into a Royal Doulton bowl with the animal paintings coming to life. The sequence where Mary Poppins takes the children under the sea (inside their bathtub) for a bath is also animated.
  • In Space Jam, the Looney Tunes characters live in an alternate world that can be reached from an underground portal in the center of the Earth.
  • In Twilight Zone: The Movie, during "The Good Life" segment, Anthony uses his powers to send his "sister" Ethel into the cartoon world, where she's chased around for a moment before being eaten. In this case, though, Toontown exists because of Anthony's dark powers.
  • In The Phantom Tollbooth, the scenes on Earth are live-action while the Magical Land is animated.

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Invoked in Community, when Abed manages to convince Troy that he's found a doorway to a cartoon world outside Greendale Community College by painting an animated version of himself on a wall:
    Troy: That's impossible!
    Abed: Nothing's impossible in here! Animals can talk, your heart is shaped like a heart, and the smell of pie can make you float! You have to believe, Troy!
    [Troy is just about to run headlong into the wall when:]
    Abed: [leaping out from behind a bin] Wait! You don't have to believe.
    Troy: [clearly heartbroken] I didn't!... I didn't... [he storms off]
    Abed: I may have done some damage there.
  • The Fringe episode "Brown Betty" might have featured such an alternate universe, as seen when story-world Nina Sharp communicates with story-world William Bell using the window device (though this may have been a choice to go for a retro-aesthetic).
  • The Halloween Special of Out of Jimmy's Head briefly sends Jimmy and Golly into a cartoon world made of Milt Appleday's childhood drawings.
  • The series regulars of the CW's Supernatural get sucked into a cursed TV and into the Scooby-Doo episode 'A Night of Fright Is No Delight." They try to go through the motions with the Scooby gang as per the episode's normal continuity but that gets deep sixed as characters are killed off and painful real-life injuries are sustained. Once Sam, Dean, and Castiel figure out what's really going on, they now have to establish the status quo of the standard "Scooby-Doo" Hoax.
  • The Fairly OddParents: Fairly Odder is a live-action reboot of Fairly OddParents though Fairy World is still animated. Humans who go there undergo a Toon Transformation but fairies stay toons when they come to Earth.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ani-Earth in the Freedom City setting for Mutants & Masterminds is the Freedom equivalent of DC's Earth C-Minus, where the greatest heroes are the Furrydom League, and almost all damage is non-lethal (as explained in a sidebar titled "Boing!")

    Video Games 
  • Stay Tooned! is about cartoon characters leaving the TV. The human protagonist becomes Trapped in TV Land at the end.

  • The same year as Stay Tooned, we got Toonstruck: The protagonist, a cartoon animator, ends up in a toon world.

    Web Comics 
  • The webcomic Hexenringe involves at least two dimensions — one like ours and one which is populated by comics characters and other fictional creations.
  • Zebra Girl has an alternate universe with cartoon characters whose lives and personalities run parallel with those of the people of the main universe.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Bionic Six also have an episode were the main characters travel to a Toonverse were their normally realistic style of animation became cartoony as does the physics.
  • The Aniverse in Bucky O'Hare has anthropomorphs aplenty, but sci-fi physics rather than cartoon ones.
  • Timmy of The Fairly OddParents sometimes goes into the comic book world of the Crimson Chin.
  • The central plot of Kidd Video: a band of rock musicians is taken into a Toon Universe made of what seem to be MTV's commercial breaks and abstract animated music videos.
  • The Neverwhere short that the Den comics were based on starts on Earth in live action but the fantasy world is animated.
  • An early concept for The New Adventures of He-Man would have been about He-Man and Skeletor sending their sons to the planet Primus in the future. The boys were going to be able to communicate with their fathers on Eternia over a video link but Eternia would have been in live-action. Occasionally the boys would summon their fathers to Primus who would Toon Transformation and help them win fights.
  • In The Real Ghostbusters episode Who're You Calling Two-Dimensional? the Ghostbusters get trapped in a cartoon world created by the mind of fictional animator Walt Fleishman.
  • Similarly, an episode of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo had Scooby and the gang get transported into the comic book world of Platypus Duck.
  • A lot Walt Disney Alice Comedies start on live action but have Alice going to sleep and dreaming she's in an animated world full of cartoon characters.
  • Captain N The Games Master starts on a live-action Earth, then Kevin gets transported to the animated Videoland and visits various animated video game worlds.


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