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Above: Link praying to Jesus.(1991)
Below: People praying to Hyrule's Goddesses.(2002)

A work or series that starts out with many more ties to the real world than it later has. This is especially jarring if it is set in another world or universe. As the series goes on, re-viewing/reading/playing the oldest installments becomes disconcerting (if the reader is more familiar with the more recent installments) as a result of similarities to the real world being more frequent. Usually happens as a result of the work's mythology not being fully defined, or a Schrödinger's Gun that left a few traces of the original plan.

May not necessarily require the real-world references being in older works. This trope can still apply when you find a real-world reference in a newer installment and find it odd.

Subtrope of Early Installment Weirdness and typically a result of Continuity Drift. Related to Old Shame, Art Evolution and Characterization Marches On. It may also be quite deliberate, as an aversion of Reed Richards Is Useless. Will sometimes invoke the Celebrity Paradox, which is when the popular culture of our world does not exist in the fictional world (because that world is itself part of our pop culture). Contrast Fictional Earth, when a world remains identified as Earth, but is otherwise very different. See also Doing In the Scientist, which is when a previously "realistic" work becomes fantasy-based.


Examples:

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    Multimedia Franchises 
  • Real world locations and events are mentioned in the first generation Pokémon games and anime:
    • A model of Space Shuttle Columbia and an NPC who discusses travels to the moon (even citing the "July 20, 1969" date) are present in Pokémon Red and Blue. Lt. Surge is, oddly enough, referred to as the "Lightning American". Also, a Silph scientist mentions being transferred to a branch in Siberia as his reason for defecting to Team Rocket. Most such real-world references are retained in the FireRed/LeafGreen remakes, though the Columbia becomes an unnamed spaceship, likely in response to its destruction in 2003, about 1 year prior to their release.
    • Gastly's Pokédex entry in RBYFRLG states that it can knock out an Indian Elephant. While the original Pokédex was made before Generation 2 Pokémon Donphan, it's still bizarre that this specific animal is mentioned at all.
    • The Kanto region is named after the actual Kanto region of Japan. Later regions are also based on real locations, like other areas of Japan, areas of the U.S and France, but are given made up names and many liberties on their depiction are given (like randomly deserts).
    • The games have begun to emphasize the cultural difference between their world and ours, such as making more Pokémon-related puns or changing contexts (for example Beauty and the Beast is about a man who turned into a Pokémon, not a random monster).
    • In more recent years, the Pokémon games have turned this trend back around again in regards to geography, explicitly mentioning real world locations and having characters who speak real-life foreign languages. The general implication seems to be that the Pokémon world is an alternate version of our world, with various places having different geography and names. This is all but explicit in Generation 6, which goes out of its way to state that Kalos is the Pokéverse version of France; Generation 5 did something similar, though to a lesser degree, with Unova and New York City. A crowning example of this occurs in the 20th anniversary games, Pokémon Sun and Moon: the game takes place in Alola, a close duplicate of Hawaii, and the protagonist's room has a globe on which Africa and Europe are plainly visible, revealing the Pokémon world to have the same continental layout as Earth.
    • In regards to Non-Pokémon animals, they used to be referenced time to time in the Gen I games (Pokedex entries and the S.S. Anne's menu) and early anime (Non-Pokémon fish and a cartoon mongoose conjured up by a talking Gastly), but these have largely been phased out as more Pokémon species were introduced. Fruit is in a bit of a gray area as regular fruit (like apples) were common until Gen III introduced Berries (fruits with Pokémon-like properties and naming). Now both these Berries and regular fruit co-exist within the same continuities.
    • Anime: Early episodes had several references to real world animals like worms and fish; references which are not made elsewhere.
    • Real World Locations were also mentioned only in the first season:
      • Episode 9note  has Misty mentioning Paris. Hilarious in Hindsight in that there actually now is a Poké-France, see above.note 
      • Las Vegas is mentioned in the episode "March of the Exeggutor Squad".
      • In one episode they go see a premiere of a movie filmed in the previous episode. When they get their invitations Ash's mom specifically states it's being held in Hollywood, California. Meowth was also born there and his backstory is explored while the heroes watch the premiere.
      • In Pokémon: The First Movie, Mew is explicitly said to have been found in the rainforests of Guyana. Ash also mentions the U.S. state of Minnesota as part of a one-off gag about the Minnesota Vikings.
      • Jessie's Missing Mom Miyamoto is explicitly have mentioned to have gotten lost in the Andes mountains according to The Birth Of Mewtwo audio drama.
    • Several first season episodes also had Japanese Festivals such as Princess Day.note  Apart from a local festival in Pastoria City celebrating Croagunk which could be placed anywhere on the calendar and one relating to the Coumarine Gym tree which had the major trappings of (commercial) Christmas but definitely didn't happen in winter, there have not been any references to holidays in post-Johto seasons outside of Pokémon-featured shorts. This is Enforced by both Ash being Not Allowed to Grow Up and an emphasis on "Cultural Neutrality" levied by Nintendo.note 
    • The anime originally used kanji. However 4kids edited it out with a fictional language. Eventually the Japanese anime began using this alphabet as well, followed by the games themselves in Pokémon X and Y.
  • BIONICLE was never set on Earth at any point, however the early years were heavily influenced by Polynesian Mythology and used several names from it. LEGO got into some legal trouble when they tried to trademark these names, and subsequently the Polynesian themes were toned down significantly, and most of the names were changed as a result.
    • A lot of more earthly concepts and objects kept creeping their way into the story after around the '06 saga, such as characters eating with their mouth, using wheels for transport (one of the Makuta even owned a motorbike, supposedly the only one in their universe), writing on parchment instead of stone slabs and organic animals reproducing with eggs — all of which the main characters found disgusting or just weird. The change of settings in '09 brought about references to sexual reproduction and animal droppings, and even some romantic love. These were all justified, as it was gradually revealed that the characters had been living in a constructed, artificial world all this time, and there was much more to the universe than they had thought.
  • For those who have only seen the special editions of Star Wars, it's weird seeing English writing on things like the tractor beam instead of the Aurebesh that later replaced it. It's also a little weird hearing Han Solo say things like "I'll see you in hell" in The Empire Strikes Back without the "nine Corellian hells" backstory. Of course, you can file such things under Translation Convention. Justified in canon: according to the Hyperspace Article "The Written Word", this is the High Galactic Alphabet. As for use of the Greek Alphabet, that is also justified as the Tionese writing system.
    • Even in the remastered versions, A New Hope still contains standard numerals on screen as the Death Star nears Yavin IV. Although they don't match up with the numbers the characters are saying. (Just pretend you're imagining them.)
    • The original Marvel Star Wars tie-in comic run had many of these, with mentions of "Sunday school" by Han Solo, Jaxxon talking about "space carrots" (implying that there were places not considered to be from space — which would be assumed to be Earth), and so on.
    • The Ewok Adventure live-action TV movies had real-world horses and animals. This is explained as humans not being the only species from Earth in the Star Wars galaxy. It's even mentioned that the human family's homeworld is called "Earth".
    • The Star Wars Holiday Special (which, thankfully, didn't directly reference Christmas, unlike the [thankfully non-canon] album pictured) had many examples of 20th-century Earth technology, ranging from eyeglasses, which are usually a rarity in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, to what appears to be a commercially available personal computer from the late 1970s.
    • In the original A New Hope novelization (written before the movie was released), Obi-Wan says something about ducks. In this case, however, this trope is hilariously subverted when Luke, puzzled, asks, "What's a duck?" (The Phantom Menace later established ducks to be native to Naboo, where Obi-Wan has been, but Luke obviously hasn't.)
      • The same novel also mentioned a dog Luke had once owned. In this case, however, it was eventually confirmed (and still canon) that yes, it was a normal dog. Some things exist in both universes.
    • A canceled novel trilogy was to explain how humans ended up in the Star Wars galaxy. Some characters who were descendants of the characters from American Graffiti and THX 1138 somehow travel to another galaxy and back in time to become the first humans in the galaxy.
    • Timothy Zahn's The Thrawn Trilogy had two instances of Luke drinking a hot beverage that Lando introduced to him. It is called "hot chocolate". The second instance was with "mint".

    Comic Books 
  • The first Judge Dredd story was set in New York, as opposed to Mega City One (which, to be fair, in The 'Verse's continuity absorbed New York, Washington, Boston and most of the eastern seaboard as far south as Miami until The Apocalypse War arc). Then again, the first story also included regular police within the justice department.
  • Oddly enough, Disney Comics followed a sort of cycle with it. They started following closely on the Silly Symphonies cartoons' footsteps and took place in a childish fairy tale land. Then, when the more grounded adventure of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse became prevalent, it was established that they lived in a world Like Reality Unless Noted (the main noted feature being the existence of anthropomorphic animals as a legitimate species alongside humans). This was never repealed as such, but over the decades, so many things (from magical elements to fictional foreign countries to Disneyfied history to phasing out humans in favor of Dogfaces) had changed that the Duckverse only superficially resembled the real world anymore. (This started with Donald's home being relocated from Burbanks to the fictional Duckburg.) In the 1990's, some writers like Don Rosa tried to undo part of this by reintroducing carefully-researched elements of real-life history and geography, which reset the counters somewhat, but no true Retcon was involved so it didn't stick.
  • Marvel Comics originally claimed that their stories were taking place in the real world, with the only difference being the existence of superheroes. This quickly disappeared as soon as they ventured outside of the USA and fictional countries a plenty started appearing. Now the Marvel Universe bears only a passing resemblance to the real world.
  • The Spirit was originally set in New York City, but the location soon became Central City (ironically, at about the same time the less realistic objects like flying cars were removed).
  • The earliest Superman stories had him living in Cleveland, Ohio (the hometown of his creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster). This disappeared within a few stories, and later stories had him resident in Metropolis ever since he came of age.
    • Let's just say the DC Universe in general. Hell, it wasn't even originally a shared universe. But as time went on, so many crazy things have happened that it reached a point that it only superficially resembles the real world.
  • Inverted in Usagi Yojimbo which, though the setting is obviously Japan and Japanese folklore, carefully refrained from mentioning any real places until one story brought in the Battle of Dan-no-Ura as backstory.

    Comic Strips 
  • Despite being a basically realistic police procedural in its early run, Dick Tracy began introducing more and more devices out of Speculative Fiction after World War II ended, starting with the two-way wrist radio. Eventually, the strip got so far into science fiction that a Dork Age ensued, and it was later brought back to Earth. Many of the gadgets stayed ahead of real-world technology until recently, though, with the heroes having miniature, internet-capable wrist computers decades before Blackberries and iPhones became commonplace.
  • Doonesbury originally was set at Yale, but this was moved to the fictional Walden College shortly into the run.
  • Garfield was originally a very "contemporary" comic strip, with liberal references to late 1970s/early 1980s pop culture: disco dancing, punk rock, even a mention of John Travolta (in his first wave of fame, before declining and coming back after Pulp Fiction in 1994). When Jim Davis retooled the strip in the late '80s to make it more "whimsical" and kid-oriented, the "relevant" references abruptly dropped off and the tone of the strip became more surreal...sometimes much more surreal. The one main exception to this real-world avoidance is the frequent Continuity Nods to Jon Arbuckle's former love affair with disco music, which everyone except Jon now considers an Old Shame.

    Film — Animated 
  • The teaser trailer for Cars actually showed Mater accidentally running over a bumblebee. Not a car colored to resemble a bumblebee, an actual bumblebee. In the final film, all animals in the Cars universe are also portrayed as vehicles.
  • In the original Ice Age, the animals lived in a very realistic world. Humans (Neanderthals) were present, and the animals were just animals to Neanderthal eyes. The entire plot involved a trio of animals saving a baby human named Roshan from a pack of hungry smilodons and returning him to his family (one of the trio being a smilodon himself, attempting to the lure the other two and the baby to his pack). The second film does not contain humans, and the animals are a little more humany. By the time of the third film, animals use weapons, wear some degree of clothes, and are the main inhabitants of the world. However, a modern human appeared in the Christmas special.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher Batman movie series from 1989 to 1997 first played this trope straight and then subverted it. While the Gotham City of the films is obviously supposed to be part of our world, the first movie had more overt references to the world outside Gotham: the American flag prominently displayed in Harvey Dent's office, or lines like "I got it in Japan." Batman Returns, however, has no overt references to other geographic locations except for a few passing lines, like "a California king-size bed" and "the Reichstag fire"; and while the first movie established that Gotham City imports many of its beauty products from other cities and states, Returns mentions "Gotham Lady Perfume," as if that is the only brand available. Most curious of all is the Penguin's vow that "The time has come to punish all God's children", even though he's going to be killing only 100,000 people at the most, thus almost suggesting that no other place except Gotham exists (unless there's that many people in the city). Batman Forever began a shift away from this trend, even going so far as to include a locale from elsewhere in the DC Universe ("That circus must be halfway to Metropolis by now"); and finally, in Batman & Robin, not only do other geographic locations figure into the plot ("It's morning in the Congo"), but we actually see onscreen a sequence set in the jungles of South America (the only time in the entire 1989-1997 franchise when the camera takes us somewhere other than Gotham).
    • The Nolan films from 2005 to 2012 also play with this trope. It's established that Bigfoot, Abraham Lincoln, and Elvis Presley exist in this version of Gotham, as do the Roman and Byzantine empires and the real-world countries of Russia, China and Burma. But, in contrast to the earlier films, there are very, very few pop-culture references in this franchise. And when we see the Pittsburgh Steelers, they're actually the "Gotham Rogues".
  • Despite what was described above, the original 1977-1983 Star Wars was in other ways less similar to Earth than the extended "special editions" of 1997 (which are now considered to be the "official" entries) and the 1999-2005 prequel trilogy: The Phantom Menace has a two-headed Large Ham Announcer at the Pod Race whose mannerisms very specifically resemble that of a real life sporting-event announcer. Attack of the Clones shows us a diner on Coruscant, which, aside from the aliens and the droid waitress, looks as if straight out of The '50s in America. The "Jedi Rocks" sequence at Jabba the Hutt's palace in the 1997 extended version of Return of the Jedi, formerly "Lapti Nek", a primeval jam session by merely semiskilled alien musicians, is now a nearly Vegas-worthy lounge number with a horn section, more dancing girls, a funky blues harmonica. Sy Snootles changes from an ugly, crude creature who literally sang about eating her young to a sassy, jazzy Space Negress with thick red lips and a Jive Turkey-accented "Uh-oh!" when Oola the dancing girl is executed by Jabba. All of this makes Jabba the Hutt less like a barbaric warlord and more like a Wicked Cultured showman.
  • In Pitch Black, some of the Hunter Gratzner's passengers are said to be from Earth but in The Chronicles of Riddick doesn't mention the planet. If you hadn't seen the first movie, the sequel would have a A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away... feel.

    Literature 
  • The original version of The Gunslinger by Stephen King contains numerous hints that the book is set on Earth After the End, but later books in The Dark Tower series established that Roland's world was distinct from ours, and most of these hints were removed in the revised edition.
  • The evolution of Terry Pratchett's Discworld is noteworthy here. In the beginning, it was a parody mirror of fantasy fiction tropes and related to Earth only insofar as the fantasy series it was spoofing were mirrors of Earth. Over the course of the books, it has drifted towards Earth: the introduction of parallel nations and cultures such as Fourecks/The Foggy Islands (Australia/ New Zealand), Agatea (China, Japan, Thailand and most recently Korea) Quirm (France), Uberwald (Germany/Bavaria/Switzerland) and Borogravia/Zlobenia (Austria/Russia) only serves to lampshade this. Also, Earth history and events are creeping in — the establishment of a mail service, mass communications (Clacks as telephone analogue), and now the railways (in an Expy of railway-building in 19th century England). And The Science Of Discworld series makes the links even more explicit, suggesting that science on the Discworld was responsible for the Big Bang that created our universe. Fridge Logic dictates that if the wizards in a fantasy world caused the Big Bang that created our universe which led to the evolution of Planet Earth and the eventual birth of a fantasy author called Terry Pratchett who created a fantasy world with inquisitive wizards in it.... then Recursion Is Complete.
  • Inverted in many Eternal Champion novels by Michael Moorcock. Usually the first novel of a subseries starts in a rather exotic setting, which quickly drifts toward your bog-standard Medieval European Fantasy, with exotic details not getting a second glance or being written out (e.g. giant bats won't wake due to falling level of chaos). The process may take from a few chapters to a couple of novels.
  • The first Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories by Fritz Leiber took place on Earth, before the world of Nehwon was written into the series, with the result that when collected, some lines had to be added explaining why they were on Earth.
  • The first two books in the Kushiel's Legacy series are basically political thrillers with a bunch of Historical In Jokes and bondage sex. Gods are an acknowledged presence throughout, but until the third book, they aren't much more than flavor to the backstory. This escalates, however, through the second trilogy, culminating with the heroes of that trilogy founding a university to study magic, and the heroine of the third trilogy being quite explicitly magical.
  • Happens over the course of The Laundry Series as a consequence of literal Earth drift - the planet’s path through the galaxy is taking it through a region of space where normal rules don’t necessarily apply. As a result, the first couple of novels are mostly like the Earth we know, but with some hushed up supernatural elements. Over the course of the series, however, there are increasing mass casualty incidents, followed by alien invasions and people openly developing superhuman powers, then horrors from beyond space manifesting in person and claiming territory.
  • The first Redwall book has horses, dogs, references to most likely human harbors, and Portugal. All of those are gone in the subsequent books.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien:
    • Early drafts and editions of The Hobbit included references to policemen, lampposts, and China, which were eventually removed. The Hobbit still, however, includes a clock on Bilbo's mantlepiece; clockwork seems increasingly out of place as The Lord of the Rings progresses.
      • As late as the first chapter of The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf's firework-dragon is compared to an express train.
    • Subverted with existence of the sport of golf. Golf actually has an in-universe explanation. It was allegedly invented at the Battle of Greenfields, where Bullroarer Took killed the goblin leader Golfimbul by using a club to send his head flying off and down a rabbit hole. Whether this was a premeditated alternate explanation or Ass Pull is unknown, but it is explained.
    • Technically, the series isn't an example of Earth Drift so much as Earth Time Drift. The early editions of the Hobbit did mention the contemporary world, but as Tolkien developed the setting he kept pushing the time period back until he reached pre-Christian Europe. The elves and dwarves of the story are the alleged inspiration for Germanic Mythology. Hence all the references to Hobbits hiding from humans and real Earth languages by the narrator of the books; he's literally Tolkien, presenting his world to the reader as if it were a historical document he translated.
  • Zig-zagged in the Tortall Universe: The Song of the Lioness books introduce a pretty simple Low Fantasy universe where people mostly have names like George and Roger, chess is played, and there's a desert city that just happens to be called Persepolis. Starting from The Immortals, made-up names become the rule (and made-up terms for real things become more common), the world-building is a lot more elaborate, and you get the general sense that the author would retcon out some of that Early Installment Weirdness if she could. However, Protector of the Small, while broadly following the same trend, also introduces a very close Fantasy Counterpart Culture for Japan that unabashedly uses words like "kimono", and Daughter of the Lioness and Provost's Dog draw so heavily on Spy Fiction and Police Procedurals that it's hard not to see constant parallels to the real world.
    • Tamora Pierce's other fantasy universe, the Circle of Magic world, originally rejected the kind of active and meddling Fantasy Pantheon used in the Tortall books in favor of a system where religion plays pretty much the same role as in real life — i.e., there are lots of separate, very different religions and no particular reason to believe any of them is any truer than the others. But in Battle Magic, one culture's gods suddenly get in on the plot.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons in its 1st Edition Monster Manual with some now classic monsters. The giant rat was listed as Rat (Giant Sumatran), doubling as a Shout-Out to Sherlock Holmes. The Ogre Mage was subtitled "Japanese Ogre" - a tip of that hat to the Oni which inspired it. And the Rakshasa entry explicitly said that the monsters originated in India.
  • Exalted was originally the prehistory of the Old World of Darkness. Second Edition suggested it was the prehistory of our world. Since most players ignore this piece of fluff, it remains to be seen what the upcoming Third Edition will do with it.
  • Magic: The Gathering currently has a defined multiverse setting, but it originally didn't. The first sets took place in Dominaria, but then there was an Arabian Nights-themed set, which was later retconned as taking place on the world of Rabiah. Also, older cards were more likely to have quotes from real-world sources such as William Shakespeare for their flavor text. Later this was only done in core sets, which didn't have a storyline of their own. With the discontinuation of core sets, this practice has died out entirely.
    • The Dark has a card called Frankenstein's Monster. When Magic took on Gothic horror tropes in Innistrad block nearly two decades later, they had similar creatures, but did not explicitly refer to Frankenstein.

    Video Games 
  • Crusader Kings 2 games tend to end up like this. Since you can start your game at any point in time between 769 and 1337, everything will be pretty much historically accurate for about the first year (to the point where the majority of characters have links to their wikipedia pages in their profiles), after which you enter a sort of alternate continuity where England is absorbed into Scandinavia, the Holy Roman Empire disbands about six centuries too early, Jerusalem has become part of Ireland, and there's inexplicably been 26 popes in a row called Pascal.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has this as a Cyclic Trope. To note:
    • Arena and Daggerfall are basically standard Medieval European Fantasy RPGs set in the developer's home brew Dungeons & Dragons world, with a few quirks.
    • Morrowind then swings to a very unconventional and alien setting. The wildlife has few real-life analogues and the land itself is primarily blasted ashlands, lava scathes, disease-ridden swamps, and tons of small islands.
    • Oblivion swings back to the standard "medieval Europe" setting, with realistic deer and wolves bounding across meadows filled with real-world plants.
    • Skyrim splits the difference between its two predecessors, being a "Northern Medieval European Fantasy" setting with plenty of familiar Earth elements, but still feeling otherworldly with the rampaging dragons, giants and mammoths walking the tundra, and ancient monolithic structures dotting the landscape.
  • Grand Theft Auto, over the course of the III era. Grand Theft Auto III had a reference to the city of Miami and to the then-newly elected president George W. Bush; later installments had almost no real life persons (barring figures like Ronald Reagan that are intrinsically tied to the setting, and Phil Collins' cameo in Vice City Stories), and Miami was replaced with Vice City in the next game. It's especially jarring when in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas a radio song and its host explicitly mention New York City in a setting in which it was already replaced with Liberty City. Then Grand Theft Auto IV comes out, which does away with even more real-life stuff — the FBI is replaced with the FIB, SWAT is replaced with NOOSE (which is also based on the Department of Homeland Security), all guns are A.K.A.-47 now, and the president in 2008 was Joe Lawton, who is stated to be a buffoon whose father was also president several decades prior.
    • Speaking of which, there is further drift regarding Lawton come Grand Theft Auto V, since it shows he's apparently still in office circa 2013, instead of being replaced by a Barack Obama expy.
  • In the original The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Link has a cross on his shield, which according to Word of God was added because the series was originally going to be based in the religion of Christianity rather than the three goddesses in later games. A Christian-esque sanctuary appears in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past; the NES original makes reference to a Bible ("Magic Book" in English translation) and a cross appears as a magical artifact in Zelda II. And as late as A Link to the Past, there is artwork of Link bowing down before a cross with Jesus clearly carved on it (especially weird because that was the game that introduced the Golden Goddesses).
    • Though such real world links were generally done away with by the time The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time came around, that game still features one notable example: the use of the star-and-crescent as the symbol of the desert-based Gerudo. Both newer versions of Ocarina of Time and subsequent games replaced the star-and-crescent with a symbol that looks like the head of some insect.
      • There is also a bit of Fridge Brilliance: Zelda, Zelda II, and A Link to the Past were all games released in the "Downfall Timeline", in which Link was defeated. After the release of A Link to the Past, A Link Between Worlds was the only other game in this timeline to take place in Hyrule, with the other games (Link's Awakening and the Oracle games) taking place elsewhere. This gives offers an interpretation of it not so much being Earth Drift, but that the people of Hyrule lost faith in the Golden Goddesses after the Hero of Time's defeat and turned to other religions.
    • The "Adult Timeline" games (The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks) seem to follow real-world technological progression. The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass have technology like that of Europe in the 1700s, while Spirit Tracks, which takes place almost exactly 100 years later, has technology like that of Europe of the 1800s, complete with references to trains, electricity, and motion pictures, all of which were invented in the 1800s.
    • This was mildly and briefly reversed with the Ancient Cistern dungeon of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, where the big central statue is very clearly modeled on Buddha (though it is never identified as such). The part of the dungeon where Link must climb a spider thread to escape from the crypt-like lower level with its undead Bokoblins is also based directly on a short story that featured Buddha.
  • In Ratchet & Clank, Captain Qwark becomes a bizarre holdover, being the only human-like character in any of the games.
  • The first The Sims game was far more grounded in our reality than the later ones, even if it still featured aliens and later, magic. Many in-game items' descriptions would make references to our world rather than exclusively featuring made-up locations, even making references to real-life history and trends throughout the decades (which makes things even more confusing as The Sims 3 is a Cosmetically Advanced Prequel set 25 years earlier).
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • For the longest time, Sonic The Hedgehog was maddeningly inconsistent with this trope. Some games explicitly did take place on Earth, and other games — both earlier and later — were ambiguous as to whether they took place on Earth or not.Context  Adaptations often explicitly didn't take place on Earth, usually featuring a planet dubbed "Mobius" instead. Around the release of Sonic Forces, Sonic Team officially clarified that the human-populated Earth and the anthropomorphic-animal-populated "Sonic's World" are two different worlds, which the plot sometimes moves between. While this solves the apparent inconsistency, it also raises the questions of how and why Sonic and co. move between the two worlds, and why there's never been any acknowledgement of it in-game. It's further complicated by the retcon of Classic Sonic being from another dimension and what this means for the classic games, since previously Classic Sonic was just a time-displaced younger Sonic.
    • According to Ian Flynn, this has been canon since Sonic Adventure and was just poorly conveyed. Indeed, Sonic X used this as its very premise back in 2003, but being that it was another adaptation and had no bearing on the games, no one gave it much thought. Sonic Adventure itself does feature some subtle hints that this was case,note  but they are easily missed and hardly compelling enough evidence on their own.
  • Super Mario Bros.
    • The series ended up losing many connections to Earth or Earth-like locations as the series went on. Note the 'realistic in comparison' settings of the original arcade Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. games, then those of the later platform game series; then note how, after Yoshi's Island established Mario was born in the Mushroom Kingdom, the whole fanon/manual-led Brooklyn thing got slowly pushed into obscurity and almost entirely ignored for the rest of the series so far, only occasionally being brought up in passing.
    • Super Mario Odyssey sets the series on a Fictional Earth, by establishing the Mushroom Kingdom as one of many kingdoms, some of which are inspired by Mexico, Japan, London, and France among others, and Retcons the New York-styled city where Donkey Kong and such took place as one of these kingdoms.
  • Warcraft: Orcs and Humans had references to God, hell and churches with crosses. Now they have been retconned into "the Light" and "the Twisting Nether".
  • The company Working Designs is notorious for this regarding its translated dialogue for Japanese RPGs and RTS games like Lunar: Silver Star Story and Dragon Force. Lunar contains a thinly disguised attempt to lampshade this; during Nash's betrayal, Nall says that "this is starting to feel like a Dr. Jones adventure. Dragon Force contains references to Christie Love and The Lollard League.
  • The first game in the Zork trilogy features such things as Poseidon's trident and the coffin of Ramses II. Later installments in the Zork 'verse are plainly in a different reality to our own.
  • In Dragon Age II, drakestone was pretty clearly supposed to be sulfur with a fancy name, called that simply to disguise the fact that Anders is building a bomb, and that's one of the ingredients. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, it's an entirely different type of stone, red and crystalline and found in the mountains, that can be made into armor. (Incidentally, using sulfur in armor is a terrible idea, as it makes steel brittle in large quantities.)
  • The Bomberman games were originally set on Earth but were later retconned into being set on the Planet Bomber in the Bomber Nebula.

    Web Comics 
  • The original premise of DM of the Rings was that the DM was using a Dungeons & Dragons campaign to introduce The Lord of the Rings to friends who had never heard of it. This premise gradually changed to the idea that they live in a universe where Tolkien's works never existed, but somehow high fantasy and D&D do, and the DM invented the story and setting wholesale. The alternate universe angle is now considered a given in all works in the "Campaign Comic based on popular media" genre that DM of the Rings launched.

    Western Animation 
  • Doug takes place on Earth, but in the Nickelodeon version many expies of real life cities, countries, and celebrities are shown, although the only one mentioned on a regular basis is William Shakespeare. The only other real life figure to be mentioned by name is Godzilla in "Doug Can't Dance." Even Beethoven is called "Ludwig Van Beetgarden." This is averted at times in the Disney version in which Batman, Superman, and real life countries like Bolivia are mentioned by name, as well as real life movies and books.
  • The 2002 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe never mentioned Earth, despite one of the original series' characters, Queen Marlena, being a human astronaut. However, if you look closely, some wall monitors in Randor's castle display maps of Earth.
  • The My Little Pony franchise experienced an Earth Drift post-G1, with the original G1 series containing rainbows acting as portals from Ponyland to Earth and vice-versa. Despite the lack of humans in the follow-up series, My Little Pony Tales, real-world technology was far more apparent, with cars and even television existing. The G3 series also has an actual Christmas special. And while Earth does exist in the film sub-series of the G4 incarnation universe, it is more so in the context of a mirror universe.
    • And while it may be a mistake, an early episode of Friendship Is Magic has Fluttershy mention something is "French" in passing, suggesting there is a land in their universe simply called "France." Dialogue is carefully written later on to avoid naming any countries under any circumstances.
      • ...At least until they eventually did; while the onetime separate Crystal Empire is considered now to be either a client state or subregion of Equestria (ruled by an Equestrian prince and princess), foreign countries are well-established, and foreign delegates are entertained. Of note are Saddle Arabia, which is populated by more realistic-looking Arabian horses, and the Duchy of Maretonia, apparently a Babylonian analogue, at least in costume.
  • The Simpsons moved in the opposite direction, starting out in an alternate world very much like (but still markedly different from) ours, where real-world pop-cultural references were relatively rare and the setting smacked heavily of the 1960s (the era of creator Matt Groening's childhood)...only to steadily introduce more and more elements from Real Life, until by the late 1990s Springfield was basically "modern-day America with yellow skin." The key turning point was the early episode "Dancin' Homer"; it had a singing cameo by Tony Bennett, who thus became the first celebrity to portray himself on an episode of The Simpsons. This reached its apex in The Movie, which, after featuring Rainier Wolfcastle, the No Celebrities Were Harmed equivalent of Arnold Schwarzenegger, for over 15 seasons, made Schwarzenegger himself the in-story President of the United States (with Wolfcastle's voice actor doing the honors).
  • Sonic mentions Axl Rose in the pilot of Sonic the Hedgehog. This is a case of Early Installment Weirdness and these are averted for the rest of the show's run.


Alternative Title(s): Old World Shame

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