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The criminal and the ape-thing, OK. But a woman?! That's just silly.

"Penny, while I subscribe to the many worlds theory which posits the existence of an infinite number of Sheldons in an infinite number of universes, I assure you in none of them am I dancing."
Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory

A story in which the characters we know are seen in a reality that's somehow different, often disturbingly so. If they can access multiple alternative universes at the same time, that's The Multiverse.

Sometimes everyone has an Evil Twin. Other times, everyone has a twin that's just a little different. Allows the goodies to be baddies for an episode, or for half of the cast to be killed — but not really. Sometimes it's just part of Side-Story Bonus Art.

Given a long enough run, any series based on superhero comic books will run into these.

If the writers want to depict an Alternate Universe, but the show's genre would not usually allow an Alternate Universe per se, the depiction may be accomplished via an extended Dream Sequence.

Not to be confused with Alternate Continuity, Alternate Reality Episode, Alternate Universe Fic or a Constructed World.

May be meta-caused by aforementioned Alternate Continuity; as well as by any of the three varieties of Discontinuity (Canon Discontinuity, Fanon Discontinuity, or Negative Continuity).

Specific variations:

  • Alternate History — Some major event in the past changed, like the Russian Revolution never occurring.
  • Alternate Tooniverse — An animated counterpart to reality.
  • Another Dimension — Different worlds don't have to resemble each other, Alternate Universe is a subtrope of this.
  • Bizarro Universe — A lot of things in that world are reversed from the usual context, good is evil or vice versa, etc.
  • Dark World — Our world's dark, sinister opposite.
  • Elseworld — Famous characters are placed into a situation which is potentially wildly different from the norm.
  • For Want of a Nail — One small change caused a huge difference between the universes.
    • In Spite of a Nail — Tiny changes have made the world almost the same but the differences are critical (or wildly different, but the characters are still the same and still together.)
  • It's a Wonderful Plot — You get to see how the world would have turned out if you were never born/existed.
  • Mirror Universe — Often a subset of Bizarro Universe, Good and Evil are reversed, but otherwise most of the things are the same.
  • The Multiverse — The people involved have the capacity to cross over to more than one additional universe.
  • Retro Universe — The universe obviously resembles the past, and may or may not include additional fantastic elements.

Another type of Alternate Universe is that which doesn't take any of the characters, but instead takes concepts, or machines. Such Alternate Universes are uncommon, but exist. Gundam is the perfect example, with no less than seven separate universes, all of them rehashing essentially the same plots and concepts — in particular, the conflict between those living in space and those living on Earth. With giant robots.

This trope is a common excuse for game masters to use when importing player characters from one tabletop role-playing campaign to another.

Compare with Masquerade, where a world might look the same, but something hidden makes it different. See Doppelganger Gets Same Sentiment for examples wherein someone from one universe projects their feelings for their version onto a different universe's version.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the Kyoto Animation adaptation of Key's Visual Novel CLANNAD, Tomoyo's arc, which was never completed properly, was showcased in an AU OVA entitled Another World: Tomoyo Arc, where Tomoya never met Nagisa and Tomoyo is the winning girl.
    • In July 2009, they released the final DVD of Clannad: ~After Story~ that contains an extra OVA episode entitled Another World: Kyou Arc. Kyou finally gets her arc!
  • Code Geass, like K, has an Idol AU, featuring the characters as idol groups, instead of militaries. The groups are Code Black, a goth/punk band consisting of Lelouch, C.C., Kallen, and Shirley (with animal ears); Royal Rouge Rounds (or RRR), an idol group featuring either Euphemia, Suzaku, Cornelia, Gino, Anya, and Jeremiah, or Cornelia, Euphemia, Suzaku, and Lelouch; and Princess Peach, featuring Kaguya, Nunnally, and Lihua. Several figure sets have been made from this AU, and an album is (supposedly) on the way.
  • In Episode 51 of Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z, the girls spend the entire episode traveling through time (using the Dynamo Z) gathering 3 flashes of light. Before they can get to the 2nd light, Him sends them off-course by transporting them into the universe of The Powerpuff Girls, where the PPG can be seen fighting the Giant Balloon Fish in Townsville. However, the girls don't stick around long enough to meet their original counterparts, as they immediately travel back to their own universe and continue time traveling.
  • Dragon Ball has three varieties
    • The first is the demon world, which mirrors the regular setting except for the fact it is populated by demons. It first showed up in a filler episode dealing with a martial arts master from the demon world breaching the seal between the two worlds in order to kidnap human girls but later was added into continuity proper when the evil wizard Babadi enslaved the demon world's strongest fighter. The main villains from Dragon Ball Online hail from the demon world and Dragon Ball Xenoverse implies they too want to break the seal between the two worlds.
    • The second variety comes in the form of multiple timelines, a concept introduced when Future Trunks arrived via time machine to try and discover how to defeat two enemies from a very dark Bad Future. Unfortunately he was followed from an even darker future from which Cell hails. He killed his timeline's version of Trunks, who had already killed the Androids Cell needs to absorb, leading him to steal the time machine so he could absorb them in the past. Dragon Ball Online implies these alternate timelines are potentially endless and the main job of the protagonists was to prevent more of them from splitting off before encountering villains that aimed to change the known timelines rather than create new ones.
    • The third variety comes in the form of twelve separate 'universes' which come in pairs that are determined by their designated numbers adding up to thirteen. The main setting is designated universe seven and so it paired with universe six, which superficially resembles it but has seen some drastically different developments over the course of its own history.
  • In the Fullmetal Alchemist 2003 anime the opposite side of The Gate is shown to be our universe. The two worlds have vastly different continuities but all humans have an Alternate Self on the other side of the gate.
  • As it was written by the same mangaka as Rave Master, Fairy Tail had to have one of these as well, in the form of Edolas. It makes for an interesting plot twist, and despite its relative lack of plot significance, it doesn't feel tacked on at all. Although it does explain a good few things, like Happy and Carla's origin, and why Jellal and Mystogan look identical to one another.
  • The Hetalia Bloodbath 2010 event: the culprits turn out to be alternate versions of various countries from another world where everyone has cat ears and they walk around nude like it's no problem, and apparently contains 123 different Frances. The survival of that world depends on finding a nation with a certain mark on their chest or butt before the end of Christmas, hence the stripping. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure eventually starts dealing with these:
    • The climax of Stone Ocean involves Made in Heaven (the ultra-powerful stand of the Arc Villain) causing the universe to reset; however, his plans are ultimately foiled before he can finish the job, resulting in a reboot that features alternate versions of all the characters he killed. The only one not affected is Emporio (the kid who killed the Arc Villain).
    • From Steel Ball Run on, each Part takes place in an alternate universe with parallels to the previous timeline. It's never outright stated whether or not this is the same universe created at the end of Stone Ocean, though many fans believe it is.
      • The Big Bad of Part 7 has a Stand based around weaponizing a similar concept. He could escape death by pulling an identical version of himself from another universe to replace him, and could also force others to come into contact with their dopplegangers, and thus be obliterated. The other universes are almost identical, with the sole prominent difference being the lack of the Holy Corpse in all but the main universe.
  • K has both a High School A.U. and an Idol AU, which feature the series' feuding factions as rival school clubs or idol producers.
  • The Kirby anime is meant to be an alternate universe from the games, something many fans miss.
  • Unlike the traditional Lyrical Nanoha setting, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha INNOCENT is set in a universe without magic and alternate dimensions. Instead, the characters are normal humans living on earth, dueling one another via a recently introduced virtual reality-based Card Battle Game.
  • Mazinger Z has a bunch of alternate universes: New Mazinger, set several years in the future, in a polluted, torn-warn Earth; God Mazinger, which has absolutely nothing to do with the original universe; Mazin Saga, Z-Mazinger, an alternate retelling where Kouji and Sayaka fight aliens masquerading as Greek deities; Mazinkaiser, another alternate retelling where Kouji finds his grandfather's true legacy; Shin Mazinger, yet ANOTHER retelling; Shin Mazinger Zero, a sequel to the original series set in an alternate timeline...
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • During the Third Impact Shinji is shown an alternate universe mirroring a stereotypical love comedy anime (which has since become an official Elseworld): Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days.
    • The photonovel story Evangelion ANIMA was, according to Word of God, specifically created out of the desire to produce a Gundam-style Alternate Universe story.
    • Rebuild of Evangelion is another alternate universe.
  • A major plot twist in Rave Master involved this trope: the entire series exists within an Alternate Universe, which was created when the last survivor of the original reality manipulated time in order to create a parallel world where The End of the World as We Know It didn't come to pass. The Omnicidal Maniac that was destroying this parallel world was in fact a balancing force created as a result of the unnatural divergence in the timestream.
  • Officially stated by a character in Saint Seiya Episode GA: Shura and Aiolia are not in their usual timeline nor universe.
  • In the fourth Haruhi Suzumiya novel, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, Kyon suddenly finds himself in a world without supernatural powers, with what SOS members remain leading normal, human lives.
    • It is, however, quite important to the plot that it actually was not an alternate universe, the one he has always been at had been rebuilt.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has one of these in Episode 26 with the Big Bad's Lotus-Eater Machine.
    • In a different vein, the new Parallel Works music videos leading up to the movie seem to be using these.
    • The series also has a High School A.U. manga.
    • One fan also seems to make an excellent example with an AU universe comic about TTGL worthy of the series.
  • Tsubasa Chronicle has many different worlds, and the four protagonists actually come from different worlds.
  • Panzer World Galient: The third OVA is an Alternate Universe to the series in which Jordy, Chururu and Hy Shaltat both are brothers-in-law, and Hilmuka isn't an alien.
  • An episode of Pokémon has one where Ash and his Kalos friends have counterparts that have completely polar personalities. In that universe, Ash has become a wimp who cries when things go bad, Alternate!Serena has become a Jerkass who often taunts Alternate!Ash, Alternate!Clemont has become a magician, and Alternate!Bonnie is more quiet and polite. Also, the real Team Rocket encounter their alternate counterparts, where they were actually seen as heroes of the Kalos region.
    • Their Pokémon get affected too; Alternate!Hawlucha has become a wimp like Alternate!Ash, and Alternate!Pikachu has become cocky and is a regular nuisance to Team Rocket.
  • Zigzagged in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V which has The Multiverse and inter dimensional travel as a major plot point, but each dimension is an Alternate Universe version of a previous setting in the yugioh franchise (though there's no direct communication between these dimensions and the settings they serve as counterparts to). After The Reveal it turns out this trope is either invoked or averted, depending on your point of view.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The One is a cross between this and Conservation of Ninjutsu. The villain is traveling around to the various universes killing all the alternate versions of himself so he'll have all the power that would otherwise be spread out between them. Since the hero is one of the alternates, he winds up with bigger and bigger slices of the power pie as well, making for a battle royale when it's down to just the two of them.
  • Super Mario Bros. The Movie posits a "sub-dimension" created through the impact of the meteorite into earth that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs continued to evolve in this sub-dimension in the city of "Dinohattan", a city mirroring New York City.
  • In Cube 2: Hypercube, the hypercube transects parallel universes. The characters don't realize this until they start running into duplicates of themselves and each other. Exploited by one character who uses them as a human food source.
  • Apparently the setting of Parallels leans heavily on this trope, with entire branches of The Multiverse to be shunted about in.

    Literature 
  • In the 100 Cupboards trilogy, the different worlds the characters reach through the cupboards are implied to be parallel universes whose timelines have diverged so dramatically from that of "our" Earth that they bear little resemblance anymore.
  • The Paratime series by H. Beam Piper is based entirely around this concept, in which an advanced Earth civilization with the technology to explore alternate universes does so in order to secretly mine them for resources.
  • Anti-Ice by Stephen Baxter, in which the discovery of an Applied Phlebotinum with properties similar to anti-matter dramatically accelerates the Industrial Age. The book begins with the Crimean War ending with the destruction of Sevastopol by a single anti-ice shell, and includes a Jules Verne-like trip to the Moon.
  • In Teresa Edgerton's Celydonn trilogy, the Inner Celydonn plays this role to Celydonn proper, so that, for example, the version of Tir Gwyngelli known in traveller's tales really exists as the home of The Fair Folk.
  • In City of Heavenly Fire, Edom is actually a parallel Earth, that even had its own Alicante and Shadowhunters, but which was laid waste to by the demons and is now part of the territory held by Asmodeus and Lilith, and basically rented out to Sebastian.
  • The Devil's Alphabet by Daryl Gregory is a novel where a virus of sorts mutates the populations of a couple of cities in different parts of the world. The eventual realization is that the various types of new humans (Argos, Betas and Charlies) are what humans are normally like in alternate versions of the world.
  • Discworld:
    • The Roundworld Project: Created by Hex the magic AI as an emergency dumping-ground for a thaumic overload, an orange-sized spherical universe is kept on Rincewind's desk at Unseen University. Most of the UU faculty think this narrativium-deprived alternate reality is a silly waste of time; even so, the Archchancellor occasionally (meaning, whenever a new Science Of Discworld book is published) tasks his wizards to offset interlopers' tampering with the pocket universe's history. Silly or not, it is University property. "Roundworld" is, of course, our own universe.
    • Alternate Universe theory crops up elsewhere in Discworld, too, such as in Lords and Ladies, where Ridcully, upon being told that there's a universe somewhere where he married his childhood sweetheart, gets annoyed that he wasn't invited to the wedding:
      Ridcully: You'd think I'd think of me, wouldn't you? What a bastard!
  • Mid-World from The Dark Tower books by Stephen King is a strange collision of Scavenger World, After the End, and Weird West with some trace elements of Steam Punk to boot. It exists "next" to our world on the Tower, and shares some overlap, such as the existence of "Hey Jude" as a type of ancient campfire song, the presence of an Amoco gas pump, and a mysterious race of Precursors who had knowledge of and access to our world. This is without mentioning the endless levels of the Tower which make up different versions of our world and Mid-World. See The Multiverse page for that.
  • In Dragonlance, Raistlin succeeds in becoming a god and killing every other god as well as all life in Krynn. Then Caramon time travels back to prevent him from succeeding.
    • The Alternate Universe part comes from the suggestion that there are universes where Caramon didn't succeed.
  • Most of the Claimed in Dis Acedia come from various alternate universes.
  • In The Edge, the Weird is a mirror universe to our world, mirrored so that Florida is in the west and California in the east. None of the characters are duplicated, though.
  • The Genesis of Jenny Everywhere by The Lyniezian makes use of the Shifter's ability to exist in multiple alternate universes and read the thoughts of other versions of herself (see also Web Original folder). Her home universe, though fairly mundane and boring has a continuing Imperial Japan in the news about to invade Mongolia, various Anachronism Stew elements (Radio 4 is still the BBC Home Service despite being otherwise identical to Real Life; Jenny listens to music on what may or may not be 8-track cartridges, but other girls at school obsess over boy bands and reality TV), and, of course, there are the obligatory zeppelins. This Jenny, a bored schoolgirl with an overbearing mother, would rather be dreaming of excitement in some more Adventure-Friendly World or other- then gets her wish when she discovers her shifting power.
  • Isaac Asimov 's The Gods Themselves
  • The Gwendalavir Universe is a world parallel to ours.
  • This is the origin of all the strange things in John Dies at the End.
  • The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick contains an alternate 1960s California controlled by the Japanese after a defeat of the allies during WWII. There is mention of another alternate reality, apparently revealed to an author who writes a book about such an alternate in which the US does not lose WWII. This is slowly revealed not to be "our" alternate, but one dreamed up by the writer, and of no special significance. The book was written using the I-Ching as a guide to the character's actions.
  • Robert J. Sawyer's "The Neanderthal Parallax" trilogy is all about an alternate universe where Neanderthals didn't go extinct, but homo sapiens did.
  • Brian Lumley's Necroscope III: The Source
  • Robert A. Heinlein's The Number of the Beast and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls are based on this, exploring various fictional universes created not only by Heinlein but also others, especially Oz.
  • The alternate history series 1632 runs on this trope. Not long after the Virginia mining town from 2000 appears in Europe in 1632 during the Thirty Years War, some characters speculate they have moved to a different universe.
  • In Smoke and Shadows, Arra comes from what seems to be a parallel Earth given how easily she adapts to life in Vancouver. Her world was less technological, but magic use was mainstream.
  • Spectral Shadows has this; Word of God says that the "Somebody Else's Dream/Episodes from Hell" segment of Serial 11 is this.
  • The Myriad Universes Star Trek novella collections have the "for want of a nail" version of this trope. The Mirror Universe short story collections, on the other hand, are very different to the main universe.
  • The Farside Trilogy involves travel between Earth during the World Wars and a magical realm called Yuulith where humans have to deal with Elven Empires and an invasion from a Europe taken over by utterly alien seeming creatures who want to enslave everyone in Yuulith.
  • In Wildside by Steven Gould, a teenager has a portal to a parallel world in which humans never evolved on his farm. He and several friends try to use it to become rich by exploiting the knowledge of huge gold strikes on their earth that were never discovered on the human-free world (of course). They do attempt to not pollute or otherwise screw up that universe— and then the American government (the bad parts of it) discover the group's access to an alternate world, and things get dangerous. Eventually, it is revealed that the main character's mother came from a different world in which the Industrial Revolution ran amok and destroyed it, eventually using portals to come to our timeline and saving the uninhabited world as a potential "lifeboat" for our world
  • Michael Kurland:
    • In The Unicorn Girl, the protagonists inadvertantly explore several alternate universes.
    • In The Whenabouts of Burr, somebody steals the Declaration of Independence and replaces it with its counterpart from an Alternate History; the protagonists go in search of that alternate history in order to find answers and get their own Declaration back. The title comes from the fact that the alternate Declaration was signed by Aaron Burr instead of Alexander Hamilton — which incidentally makes the protagonists' world an alternate history as well, because in our history Hamilton didn't sign it either.
  • The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith — a police officer in a dystopian United States is accidentally blown into an alternate universe where the North American continent is a libertarian society, and must help his alternate self defeat a plot to conquer this new world. Basically an Author Tract (albeit an entertaining one) for libertarianism, it's available online as a graphic novel as well.
  • The Red And The Rest takes place in a parallel Earth where the major difference seems to be a link to one of these. The main characters soon find themselves lost in the world of lost things, which really kicks off the plot.
  • A Thousand Pieces Of You. The whole storyline of the books is about two scientists traveling from universe to universe and finding trouble in each one.
  • In Rough Draft, the protagonist finds himself the customs officer of an Inn Between the Worlds with access to a number of parallel worlds. Some of these are explored in greater detail than others:
    • Earth 1 (Arkan): A universe 35 years behind Earth 2 from a technological and historical viewpoint, although some areas of technology here are superior to Earth 2.
    • Earth 2 (Demos): Our world. One of the most technologically advanced known worlds. Nicknamed "Demos" for the prevalence of democracy.
    • Earth 3 (Veroz): A world without nation-states or oil, so Steam Punk is common. City-states can be found across the world, frequently in the same locations as on Earth 2 but with different names. Australia hasn't been explored or settled. Seas are full of dangerous creatures, such as krakens. One of the more fleshed out worlds in the novel.
    • Earth 4 (Antik): A world stuck at the Classical stage of development with an "evolved" form of slavery (e.g. slaves can be richer than their owners and can rebel twice a year).
    • Earth 5: Humans have a spring mating season and are at the 50s-60s level of development.
    • Earth 8 (Firmament): A world dominated by the Catholic Church, stuck in Medieval Stasis with the exception of advanced bio-engineering. The Cardinals run the Church (no Pope) and are protected by female Swiss Guards with killer Yorkshire terriers, razor-sharp halberds, and flying gargoyles.
    • Earth 14 (Janus): A planet with harsh winters and scorching summers. Spring is the only (barely) tolerable season. There is no moon and no magnetic fields. Initially appears lifeless, but one character insists that some human and animal life survives by migrating with the spring.
    • Earth 16: It appears to be Earth stuck at the primordial stage with unceasing volcanic activity and radiation. It's later revealed that it's an After the End world that is the homeworld of the Functionals. Human and animal life survives on a single island.
    • Earth 18 (Preserve): A pristine world with no humans. Frequently treated as a resort place, provided the visitors clean up after themselves.
    • Earth 22 (Nirvana): A world with no animal life. Filled with plants that produce spores that trigger a narcotic effect. Used as a prison of sorts, since all people dumped here are permanently stuck in a drugged stupor. Taking someone out results in a lengthy withdrawal period.
    • Earth 46: A technologically-advanced world, whose people have successfully resisted an inter-dimensional invasion. They practice Brain Uploading and "preserve" their dead by copying their minds into robots. They have used their advanced quantum physics knowledge to seal off their world from the rest permanently.
  • Andrey Livadny's The History of Worlds setting turns five of his previously separate settings into The Multiverse, allowing characters from them to interact. Four are unofficially called by key works set in them, and one is called by the name of a key character.
    • The History of the Galaxy universe: the most explored setting due to being the author's longest-running series with over 60 novels, novellas, and short stories, spanning a millennium of humanity's exploration of the galaxy and various conflicts between human powers, corporations, and aliens.
    • Another Mind universe: humanity is at the early 21st century development level and comes under attack from space.
    • Life Form universe: humans are settling the Solar System with STL interstellar travel a possibility; alien artifacts are discovered on some planets.
    • Contact universe: humans are exploring the galaxy using FTL-capable ships; then an archaeological discovery on Ganymede is made, revealing the existence of multiple alien races.
    • Omni universe: Earth is a radioactive wasteland, following a mutually-destructive war against a race of Insectoid Aliens, with the survivors of both species attempting to rebuild their civilizations.

    Music 
  • Gloryhammer: The first album, Tales from the Kingdom of Fife is set in a Fantasy Scotland with unicorns, magic, trolls and goblins. The second album, Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards is set ten centuries later in the grim darkness of 1992, when Zargothrax, the Evil Sorcerer from the first album, comes back to wreak havoc with the aid of the Goblin King and the Chaos Wizards.
  • Tsukipro - a fictional talent agency representing various artists, mostly boy bands. Their main releases are music singles, accompanied by audio dramas about their daily lives, stories which continue on the official twitter accounts and in the various anime adaptations. Normally, it would stop there, but not this time. This series makes good use of its Universal-Adaptor Cast, and AU stories have been made turning them into youkai, military officers in space, angels and demons, rabbit royals, and more. It helps that in canon, one of the idols is a demon king. Or maybe it doesn't...

    Tabletop Games 
  • Several Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings are alternate universes to both Earth and each other, though this is rarely referenced in game materials and comes mostly from Word of God.
    • Greyhawk exists in a Multiverse (along with Dragonlance and the Forgotten Realms), but it's not made up of alternate universes. Rather, it's the term used for the system of heavens and hells, elemental planes, the Astral Plane, and so on; the different campaign settings are planets in the same universe.
    • Forgotten Realms. The entry for 1357 DR in The Grand History of the Realms notes that in that year, on an alternate Material Plane world known as Earth, Ed of the Greenwood gathered together various books and maps given to him by Elminster of Shadowdale, and made the first publication of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.
    • Mystara somehow exists in a different multiversal set-up from the other campaign settings. In addition to Earth, it also crossed over with another universe with futuristic technology; a starship from that universe crashed on Mystara and its radioactive engine became a major source of arcane power.
    • Unlike most other official Dungeons & Dragons settings, Greyhawk and Mystara share background elements pulled from early games (such as the aforementioned starship crash, the Barony of Blackmoor, and connections to Earth), but in slightly different formats.
    • Gothic Earth, a spinoff of the Ravenloft product line, is an Alternate Universe version of our own planet in which supernatural horrors lurk beneath the façade of Victorian-era society. Also, some characters from classic fiction in our world are real there.
    • Urban Arcana's worlds on the other side of Shadow could be this, but the nature of Shadow makes travel between universes... tricky. As in, 'you can't go back'. One of the adventures includes a character from the other side that has figured out how you can travel between the Earth of UA and his world. This character, and his organization, also appeared in Planescape...
  • The Exalted supplement Shards of the Exalted Dream features four versions of the main Exalted universe: a Space Opera setting, a modern day setting, a fighting game-style setting, and a setting based on Battlestar Galactica (2003).
  • GURPS Infinite Worlds setting.
    • It involves the PCs as agents travelling through alternate universes. Officially all GURPS settings are universes within the Infinite Worlds. This includes assorted Alternate Histories (GURPS Technomancer, GURPS Reign Of Steel), several universes where All Myths Are True (GURPS Camelot, GURPS Atlantis), multiple worlds with superheroes (GURPS Supers, GURPS International Super Teams), and even universes inexplicably modeled on the popular fiction of the baseline universe (GURPS Conan, GURPS Discworld)!
    • The enemy timeline is Centrum, a scientific state that wants what is best for all, and for this to continue (discovering where this one branched off is a surprise)... others in the Alternate Worlds books have included Gernsback (named for the Golden Age SF editor), where Nikola Tesla's inventions shaped the development of science; Excalli, where the dominant empire is an Aztec-derived one; Roma Aeterna, where the Empire of Rome simply carried on, with the adoption of science; an alternate where China continued to trade overseas; and several versions of the usual "Nazis triumphant" parallel. Oh, and the United States of Lizardia, where dinosaurs evolved into sentient beings but somehow ended up recapitulating human history along the way.
  • Wizards of the Coast long ago published a set of generic supplements for handling deities in roleplaying games, called The Primal Order. One of the books in this series, Chessboards, covered in exquisite detail how to design and manage an entire multiverse complete with cosmology.
  • TORG:
    • It features several different dimensions/realities, each corresponding to a different genre (such as Aysle, a traditional world of Medieval European Fantasy; the Cyberpapacy, a Cyber Punk world run by a Corrupt Church; the Space Opera-influenced dimension of the Space Gods; Orrorsh, a Lovecraftian Cosmic Horror Story in a Heart of Darkness style British colonial jungle setting; the Nile Empire, a world of Pulp Action Adventure; the Living Land, with sentient dinosaurs; and others), all cooperating to invade Earth.
    • Part of what makes TORG such an interesting game is that it's based on distinctly different rules for how reality works, depending on the context of the home dimension. First edition's Nile Empire, for example, had no room for moral ambiguities: every character was either Good or Evil, though they could change from one to the other under the right circumstances. Characters can engage in literal 'reality duels' with opponents from different dimensions, and the High Lords can do the same with entire areas of real estate.

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE has the Olmak, also called the Mask of Dimensional Gates. Does exactly that. Its wearer, Brutaka, has used it both to teleport and to send enemies to a dimension they probably won't return from. He tried to send his former friend Axonn into the Zone of Darkness (a pitch-black dimension with only flat, featureless plain with gravity), and also used his (then damaged) mask to teleport Takanuva to Karda Nui to warn the heroes of a great danger. However, the mask malfunctioned, and sent Takanuva into both Alternate History and a Bizarro Universe. After finally finding the another Olmak in one of those universes, Takanuva entered inter-dimensional space and got to his intended destination. This is a Multiverse with a twist, as "our" dimension is explicitly called "the real universe", the rest are only pocket dimensions that shows how things would've turned out if they were done differently. Brutaka's mask was destroyed eventually, but the lunatic villain Vezon managed to get his hands on another one... and it ended up fusing to his face. Now he is a living dimensional gate, and has already visited several other universes (among them a few of those that Takanuva got lost in).
    • A subversion of this trope happens in the book Time Trap before any of the other examples. Vakama wakes up in an alternate timeline where he and the rest of the Toa Metru never became Toa and six others became toa in their place. At first it seems like he accidentally changed the past with the mask of time, but it turns out the Big Bad was using illusions to trick him. Vakama figures out the situation isn't real by mentioning an event that didn't happen to a friend who would know that it didn't happen, then continues to play along with the illusion for a while to look for clues.

    Visual Novels 
  • Dangan Ronpa IF takes place in a "What if?" version where Naegi finds a switch to escape the school before any of the students can attempt a murder.
  • The main plot behind Little Busters! can be described as this. At first you don't realize because you're playing like any other DSIM, but at each playthrough the two main characters evolve a little (better seen on their status screens) and little things change from one playthrough to the other. It's only when you complete the Rin route for the second time, after playing through all the other five routes that it's revealed that the world they live in is actually an alternate universe created for the two main characters by the other eight, in order to help them cope with what happened in the real world.
  • Sunrider Academy is a Highschool AU of the main Sunrider universe. Sola’s route reveals that both universes are part of a larger multiverse, as Academy!Sola is one of several “fragments” of the main universe Sola, created when the main Sola was transported thousands of years into her future; as such, Academy!Sola should not exist and the plot of her route involves preventing her from being erased from reality.

  • Every path in the multi-route TYPE-MOON games is a potential outcome of the main scenario, which makes it rather difficult to establish the rules of the 'verse due to the plot differences in each route; according to Word of God, all of them are canon.
  • The When They Cry-franchise is filled of this, referred to as fragments/kakera. In Higurashi the Ground Hog Day Loop is revealed not to be repeats of the same events but instead different universes with a certain person pushing the Reset Button after each arc searching for a fragment in the sea of fragments where Rika won't be killed. In Umineko we are introduced to witches who can travel in the sea of fragments looking for specific events that fit their needs or wants.

    Web Animation 
  • The 150th Strong Bad Email had Strong Bad visiting many of the website's alternate universes.

    Web Comics 
  • In 2/0, an alternate version of the universe was discovered by Terra.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja The universe the setting is in is sandwiched between two other realities, the Radical land, and what amounts to the real world. These universes both bleed their coolness and lameness into the comics one respectively so that its cooler than our universe but not as cool as the radical lands.
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl, According to the commentary, the chapter "Another Path" was originally intended to be set in an alternate universe where Paulo had sex with Lucy during her Mental Breakdown in "Another Shoulder". The final version has it as a daydream of Paulo's.
  • Bob and George has an infinite number of them, and Bob visits quite a few. The title characters themselves are from a different universe than the one where most of the action takes place.
  • In Bobwhite, Cleo freaks out over the many-worlds hypothesis and its implications on fast food. In this universe, she never orders burritos because they're gross... which means that in some other universe she always orders burritos. But why?
  • There are a few of these in Breakpoint City, though they haven't played a major part so far.
  • Decrypting Rita has four such universes at minimum, not counting Universe Aleph:
  • Dinosaur Comics has an alternate universe where everyone has goatees, a Shout-Out to the Star Trek episode "Mirror Mirror," in which the Spock counterpart wore a goatee. Anytime you see an alternate universe counterpart with a goatee, chances are it's a Shout-Out to "Mirror Mirror."
  • Dumbing of Age is an alternate universe to Shortpacked! and the other series in Dave Willis' Walkyverse. It reboots the story by placing it back in college (most of the Walky cast graduated from college in 2001) removing the science fiction elements completely, and using a Sliding Timescale so the characters will never graduate. Shortpacked is still running alongside it, though, ensuring the walkyverse will continue.
  • In Dragon City, Erin's friend Natasha reveals herself to an alternate universe counterpart despite Erin having blue scales and Natasha having brown.
    • Actually, as Natasha (the brown Erin) points out, due to genetics, Erin was more likely to be brown than blue and that the blue Erin is a genetic fluke.
    • Yes, Erin IS that vain to have made friends with her other world counterpart.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the Word of God said that at least four dimensions have meddled with the "main" one. Most of them are Alternate Universes, each with its own version of Tedd or other main characters.
  • In Fake News Rumble, all the villains came from an alternative universe, as well as protagonist Tek Jensen. Furthermore, every universe contains some version of of our heroes Stephen and Jon.
  • Fall City Blues revolves around two versions of the same person forced to live together when their alternate universes were merged to save space.
  • All the Four Corners short stories or most extra drawings are always putting the characters in alternate universes, and never in the comic's actual timeline.
  • Alternate Universes play a big role in the 'Maze of Many' arc in Goblins; the Maze itself is a Pocket Dimension which allows different iterations of characters from across multiple realities to exist in the same place simultaneously.
  • In Homestuck, initiating the Scratch creates one of these by resetting the conditions of the game, including the players and their universe. As a result, the players of the initial session switch places with their ectobiological parents, and vice-versa. This has happened twice so far: once to Earth, and once to Alternia.
  • Jix had a story that took place in an alternate reality where Remula had taken over the Earth and it was discovered later that the original Lauren had actually be transported to that universe when she caught up to her counterpart.
  • If they can be successfully opened, Panegates in The Mansion of E allow access to alternate universes.
  • Minions At Work: Invoked here.
  • MS Paint Masterpieces has a number of alternate timelines that are shown as side-stories. As X explains in filler, there's only one actual timeline, and when you mess with time travel, you destroy the projected one, which is what Wily's up to between the first and second games.
  • The protagonists of Paonia Pawns gain the ability to travel between these; in many, some sort of disaster has wrecked the local civilization.
  • Parallels:
    Keeping the spaceways safe one universe at a time.
  • Sluggy Freelance is almost the Sliders of web comics. Among the worlds its characters have visited are:
    • A sci-fi dimension heavy on tropes from Star Trek and Alien,
    • A "Dimension of Pain" inhabited by demons,
    • A rather saccharine dimension where everyone is always nice and friendly to each other, there's no beer, and the main source of food is rice cakes,
    • A dimension where everyone has purple hair and speaks Portuguese,
    • An anime-parody dimension where battles between good and evil were regularly fought out by giant robots, in which the entire universe is actually a power source for a giant waffle iron (don't ask),
    • A dimension that has been invaded by Aylee's race, and
    • A dimension that has been overrun by mutants, with the only survivors holed up in the Orwellian 4U City, which keeps its inhabitants drugged into submission.
    • John Ringo's Hell's Faire features several Sluggy Freelance strips as if they were created within the novel's setting. This was possibly a favor in return for the shout outs to Sluggy Freelance in the third and fourth books of the series.
  • Supernormal Step takes place on an AU Earth with magic and fantasy creatures. It is one of many dimensions, and two of the main characters are actually from our normal, boring one.
  • Very briefly done in Vexxarr.
  • In What Birds Know, a mysterious tower acts as a gateway between the normal world and a bizarre version where people lay eggs, among other oddities.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: In total there are 20 competing in the tournament, each going down a different path in DBZ history (Goku becoming evil, the Namekians fusing to form a Super-Namekian, etc).
  • Helvetica takes place in a world where everyone is 'born' as a skeleton right after they die on the real world. They have none of their old memories and the first word they say becomes their name, no matter how weird.
  • Zebra Girl: The "Angels with Dirty Fur" arc, where the gang is trapped in a parallel cartoon universe Gone Horribly Wrong.
  • No Zone Archive focus on the No Zone from the Archie Sonic comic which was a zone that had near all the character involved in law enforcement.

    Web Original 
  • Many roleplays on the Bay12 Forums use this as their base:
  • The first story in the Brave New World Universe has an entire story arc dealing with a character traveling to multiple alternate realities.
  • Fate/Nuovo Guerra takes one of Fate/stay night's bad endings and runs with it as their Back Story. The Fifth Grail War results in the destruction of Fuyuki City, prompting the Einzberns to start a new Grail War elsewhere.
  • Come on, we have to mention Jenny Everywhere in here somehow! (She is meant to exist in all possible such universes and can shift between them. Conveniently allowing for variability in settings and variations on the nature of the character in different stories.)
  • In Keit-Ai, two lovers from alternate dimensions help each other out in hooking each other up with the AU versions of themselves by telling their deepest, darkest secrets through their cellphones (hence the title).
  • In Lords of Creation every one of the new gods became that way by successfully offing a god in their own universe, now they have to create their own and hopefully not screw it up.
  • Phaeton takes place entirely in and out of alternate universe (Labeled Alpha Gamma 64) and the records of events were somehow sent to our universe, exactly how is as of yet untold.
  • Survival of the Fittest has had several small-scale AU RP's. These range from simple What-If scenarios (What If the students had been rescued on Day 3, What If SOTF really was a TV show, etc) to radically different concepts such as Mech SOTF and SOTF with zombies.
    • Fairly recently, a spin-off site effectively dedicated to Alternate Universe versions of Survival of the Fittest was created, with the pilot in an interesting Continuity Nod, being an alternate version of Battle Royale, the concept which SOTF was based off.
      • The Mini site also now hosts SOTF: Evolution, which is like normal SOTF, only with 20 characters instead of the Loads and Loads of Characters the main site has, and with Super Serum induced mutations instead of designated weapons.
  • Tasakeru takes place in an alternate universe where humans have never existed.
  • Almost every story in The Wanderer's Library takes place in a different one.
  • A popular fad on YTMND is to take pre-existing memes and create Alternate Universe counterparts, usually under the PTKFGS moniker ("Punch The Keys, For God's Sake!", another one of Sean Connery's lines from the famous scene in Finding Forrester that named the website), although even more Alternate Universe versions exist, usually as either "Yes Yes" or the elusive "Fourth Corner", where no-one can really agree on a final name for the latter.
  • The Boxverse is an alternate to both Doctor Who and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (and Sherlock. And Fallout. And...)
  • The retrofuturistic Eighties setting of Within the Wires is a False Utopia that divorces children from the concept of family, separating them from parents, and eliminating/repressing memories of siblings and childhood relationships at the age of ten via pharmacology, cybernetic implants, and batteries of psychological programming. Gradually, the series reveals a Point of Divergence , a devastating war called "The Great Reckoning." In its aftermath, The Society was created, and it was decided that nationalism, tribalism and familial loyalty were the root causes of war and violence, to be eliminated through drastic social engineering.
  • SCP Foundation. The Foundation has many contained objects that apparently come from (or are doorways to) other universes, many of which are similar to the Foundation's universe.
    • Dr. Mackenzie's SCP-001 Proposal ("The Legacy"). In his diary The Administrator claims to originally be from a parallel plane of existence that he calls an "alternate reality".
    • SCP-093 ("Red Sea Object") is capable of transferring people to an alternate world using mirrors. This world is mostly a wasteland filled with futuristic technology and giant humanoid monsters that attack and absorb any living things they see. Explorers from our universe find a journal of an SCP agent from a third universe that details what happened here. The world the object connects to was visited by an incredibly powerful god-like being only named He, who arrived during the Industrial Revolution and declared the world to be unclean. He instigated a massive Tech Boom for a war to purge the world of sin. This left the world in ruins and the survivors became the giant abominations, mutated thanks to exposure to a pure form of a substance called His Tears, which was apparently supposed to free them from sin. Not only that but there are numerous copies of the Red Sea Object that are all linked to other universes, and there's a possibility that He could use the Object copies to travel to any of them... including ours.
    • SCP-970 ("The Recursive Room"). Anyone who passes through all of the doors in SCP-970 and ends up in their original location will actually be in a slightly different universe. Each time they pass through SCP-970 the universe will change a little more, until things get really strange.
    • SCP-1142 ("A Cry for Help"). SCP-1142 is a radio receiver that broadcasts transmissions from an alternate Earth where the Nazis summoned an Eldritch Abomination that is threatening to destroy their world.
    • SCP-1739 ("Obsolete Laptop"). SCP-1739 turns an Eldritch Abomination into a Sealed Evil in a Can by creating one of these. The Abomination is distracted by being allowed to destroy the new universe, keeping it from destroying the universe it's in.
    • SCP-2069 ("AEGIS") is a collection of debris that was blasted into the Foundation's universe. It was the aftermath of when AEGIS (a team up between the Foundation and the Global Occult Coalition) used a doomsday device called NOVA as a last-ditch attempt to stop an Alien Invasion.
    • SCP-2273 ("Major Alexei Belitrov, of the Red Army's 22nd Armored Infantry Division"). SCP-2273 is a soldier from another universe where the U.S. and U.S.S.R. got into a nuclear war.
    • SCP-2332 ("Thought Messenger") is a butterfly made of ultraviolet light that was originally created and sent out by another universe's version of the Foundation. It ended up in this universe by accident.
    • SCP-2451 ("Love Through Time, Space and Species"). SCP-2451 is a doorway to a series of other universes, some of which are very different from the Foundation's universe. In one the "humans" are 8 foot tall bird-like creatures with beaks the size of a human's arm.
    • SCP-2645 ("Through the Looking Glass"). The anomalous mirror SCP-2645 has another universe accessible through its mirrored surface that is initially identical to the SCP Foundation's universe. The contents of that universe can be changed by the influence of entities in the Foundation's universe.
    • SCP-2935 ("O, Death") is a cave underneath a cemetery, which leads to a duplicate of the Foundation's world where all life died on April 20, 2016. Corpses lay where they fell, vehicles have crashed, trees are broken, and nothing is decomposing because all microbial life is dead as well. Even SCP-682 is dead. It turns out to not be the first universe where this has happened, as a traveler from this world found a similar one. Upon returning, found everything but him instantly died. The Foundation exploration team realizes the same thing could happen to our world if they return, so they choose to stay and seal off SCP-2935 forever.

    Western Animation 
  • In the season four finale of Adventure Time, the Greater-Scope Villain the Lich finds and opens a portal to The Multiverse. When Finn and Jake follow, we see them in a universe where the Mushroom War never happened. Thus, the Candy Kingdom doesn't exist, Jake can't talk, and Finn is not the last human. He also has a robot arm.
    • We find out more about this in the season 5 premiere. Finn wished the Lich out of existence, so he and Jake ended up in an alternate timeline where the Ice King performed a Heroic Sacrifice to prevent the final bomb from falling in the Mushroom War, and the creation of the Lich, from ever happening.
  • In the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: P.O.O.L." Numbah Four travelled to an alternate world where the KND were the DNK (Destructively Nefarious Kids). His own evil counterpart was the leader (complete with goatee).
  • "Life, the Negaverse, and Everything" in Darkwing Duck — a mirror universe set up to explain the origin of Negaduck (not to be confused with the self-proclaimed Negaduck whom Megavolt accidentally created in another episode by dividing Darkwing into good and evil clones) The portal to the Negaverse was lost at the end of this episode, in a traditional Status Quo Is God ending.
  • Futurama:
    • In "The Farnsworth Parabox", Farnsworth creates a box leading to an alternate universe where every coin toss has the opposite outcome. There are also lots of other boxes, leading to other alternate universes, each linking to each other.
    • In "I Dated A Robot", Fry goes to the edge of the universe and sees alternate versions of himself and his friends, all wearing cowboy hats.
    • In "The Beast With A Billion Backs", a portal opens to an alternate universe, home to only one sentient being: Yivo, the infinitely huge, love-lorn ball of tentacles.
    • In "The Late Phillip J. Fry", after Farnsworth, Bender, and Fry have reached the end of the universe, a second Big Bang creates a universe identical to the last, giving the trio a chance to go home. And giving Farnsworth a chance to shoot Hitler. And once they reach their time, Farnsworth accidentally slips on the controls, forcing them to go all the way back around again. This time around, Farnsworth misses Hitler and hits Eleanor Roosevelt instead.
    • In "The Lesser of Two Evils", the sign which says "Tonight: MISS UNIVERSE PAGEANT" a moment later turns into "Tomorrow: MISS PARALLEL UNIVERSE PAGEANT".
    • In "That's Lobstertainment!", there is a Parallel Universal Studios side-by-side with the Universal Studios.
  • An episode of G.I. Joe featured a timeline where Cobra had succeeded in taking over the world.
  • Invader Zim seems like it may take place in one, but then again, it may just be 20 Minutes into the Future.
    • The Halloween special had one where everyone was a horrific monster version of themselves and they were trying to get into our world with a portal in Dib's head.
  • The Real Ghostbusters episode Flipside.
  • Justice League had several — the retro-styled world of the Justice Guild, the dark dystopia of the Justice Lords, the Vandal Savage-ruled world created through time travel, and others.
    • Notably, the Justice Lords Universe depicted Arkham Asylum, and Gotham City for that matter, as very bright, Metropolis-esque places, in one of the few instances of the city being shown during the day.
    • Superman: The Animated Series also featured a universe where Lois is assassinated, prompting Superman to team up with Luthor and take over Metropolis.
  • Kaeloo: The episode "Let's Play Astronauts" had the main four go to an alternate universe through a black hole in space. There, Kaeloo's transformation works in reverse, Quack Quack and Mr. Cat (known as Meow Meow and Mr. Duck) had each other's personalities and traits, and Stumpy was a genius who loved physics and hated comic books. It turns out Stumpy dreamed this all up.
    • In Episode 70, the main four meet themselves from another dimension where the concept of life is "Let's Learn..." instead of "Let's Play...". Alternate Universe!Kaeloo's transformation takes place in reverse, and instead of being sweet and gentle, she's strict and somewhat abusive. Alternate Universe!Stumpy is intelligent instead of being The Ditz, and Alternate!Universe Mr. Cat is a quiet idiot who eats books instead of an extremely intelligent but Ax-Crazy psychopath who goes around destroying stuff.
  • In an episode of Rugrats, Tommy and Chuckie think they're in a "Mirrorland."
  • In The Secret Saturdays, the whole family (except the female lead's brother) has a twin in an alternate universe, who all try to take out the heroes as Psycho Rangers.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series:
    • "The Magicks of Megas-Tu" has the crew discover a world where much of their equipment doesn't work, but Functional Magic is commonplace. Oddly, Spock adapts quickly.
    • "The Counter-Clock Incident." In the other universe, time runs in reverse, and the only way to travel between universes is to go through a dead star/nova at Warp 36.
  • The various incarnations of the ''Transformers have done this quite a bit, with alternate timelines galore.
  • A large percentage of Rick and Morty revolves around parallel universes and inter-dimensional travel. In one episode, it is revealed that many of the infinite other Ricks from alternate dimensions came together to form the Citadel of Ricks, a society made entirely up of Ricks with their Morty companions, complete with their own form of government. The ability to travel between dimensions has also helped the duo on more than a few occasions. Most notable was the time where Rick irreversibly altered the DNA structure of everyone on Earth, making them Cronenberg creatures. They remedied the problem by finding an alternate dimension where both Rick and Morty die shortly after solving the problem, leaving the "invading" Rick and Morty to bury their own corpses and assume their own lives in a new dimension.

    Real Life 
  • Many physicists and cosmologists are coming up with the possibilities of other worlds, and that there are more than one universe, but multiple universes in the "multiverse". This idea has been theorized in religion, transpersonal psychology, literature, astronomy, and philosophy. Even though the theory is quite popular in science fiction and fantasy cultures, many scientists are trying find proof of existing dimensions. Some believe we are living in parallel universes that had different timelines, alternate histories, and different, but similar environments. But the existence of alternate universes has not yet been confirmed.

Alternative Title(s): Parallel Universe

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