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Fantasy All Along

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"This isn't reality, mister; this is fantasy."

After a work goes through a reality check, it hardly ever stays there. After all, this is fiction. If there's magic in the world, you know a wizard will eventually do something to get things back to where the work belongs. Fantasy All Along is the way a work gets back to its story in a way that is consistent with the content of the work before reality ensued. If something started realistically and then turned to fantasy, then it may be All Just a Dream. If done poorly, this can become an Ass Pull. Beware the return to fantasy.


Obviously, no real life examples, please. Real life examples of people doing stupid and/or dangerous things goes on Don't Try This at Home and/or Do Not Attempt. Compare and contrast with Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane, Or Was It a Dream?, and Deus ex Machina. May involve a Fantasy Keepsake.


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     Comic Book 
  • In Grant Morrison's final issue of Doom Patrol, Crazy Jane is living in a realistic world with no superheroes, and it's implied the events of the whole series were just a fantasy she cooked up in her brain. Then, just as she's contemplating suicide, a portal opens, Cliff comes out of it, and the two walk through the portal, hand in hand, back to the DC Universe.

     Film - Animated 
  • Played with in The LEGO Movie, as the events of the movie can be interpreted as both a metaphor for Finn's relationship with his Father and a real universe for Emmett and the other characters.

     Film - Live-Action 
  • Done ambiguously in Pan's Labyrinth. Are the faeries real, or just cooked up by the imagination of a lonely and scared young girl? Is her return to the land of the faeries at the end real, or just her last dying thought? But the writer-director points out in the DVD commentary that he deliberately included one detail that can't be explained as an act of the girl's imagination: How did she get out of the locked room at the end, if not through the magic door?
  • In the Eddie Murphy movie The Golden Child, one of the heroes is an acrobatic young woman who has a Bare Your Midriff outfit and does some standard She-Fu throughout the movie. The villain simply shoots her in the gut during the final showdown with a crossbow, and she dies pretty anticlimactically. She didn't do THAT good a job at dodging or because She-Fu is not suited to use against the Big Bad. Good thing that the titular 'Golden Child' is capable of healing people... which he does when the last battle is finished.
  • Spock dies on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan because, well, he walked into a reactor with no protection whatsoever as a Heroic Sacrifice (and Surprisingly Realistic Outcome because, final speech aside, it wasn't a pretty death—he had radiation burns and had been blinded)... and then came Star Trek III: The Search for Spock where we discover that he used a variation of the Vulcan Mind Meld as a memory back-up and his resurrected body is on the "Genesis(!?)" Device-created planet.
  • The Matrix Reloaded. At the end of the movie, Neo is outside a ship in the real world, with inbound enemy robots. They close in, death an absolute certainty..... and then Neo mind zaps them. Using his Matrix powers. In the real world. Apropos of nothing. Might be closer to Sci-Fi All Along, but nevertheless. This serves as the ending cliffhanger.

  • A dark example from John Dickson Carr's novel The Burning Court: The detective comes up with an rational explanation for the murder mystery in the penultimate chapter. But in The Stinger chapter, we learn that Marie Stevens is most likely a witch, quite probably the reincarnation of a 19th century murderer, and that she framed the woman who was arrested for the murder.

     Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer it seems that Buffy isn't really a vampire slayer, she's a teenage girl in a mental institution who just thinks she's a vampire slayer. In the end she denies that reality in favor of her vampire slaying reality - but it's very strongly implied that the "girl in a mental institution" scenario is the real one (Word of God notwithstanding).
  • Smallville used the same plot as in Buffy when a Phantom Zone ghost wanted to take over Clark's body. For that, he created a hallucination where Clark lost his biological parents during the meteor shower, after which he created for himself an imaginary world where he was an invincible alien who could protect everyone. The events of the pilot episode were actually him snapping completely. It ended up hurting everyone around him. The ghost became a doctor trying to convince Clark to undergo the therapy which would have supposedly cured him. In reality, of course, it would have killed his personality and left the ghost in control of the body.

     Web Comic 

     Western Animation 
  • In the last episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, the judge FINALLY figures out that every trial since the start of the series has had the same jurors. Since this is illegal in the real world, the judge has to throw out all of the cases Harvey did (except his first trial, presumably, which is mentioned in the last episode). All the criminals that were put away are immediately released and, predictably, start destroying the city. Harvey then has to prepare every case and combine them to make one big speech in one single trial... which he does while juggling two of the clients. The judge leaves all the cases' decisions unchanged.
  • In the Futurama episode "The Sting," Fry meets the kind of senseless death suffered by all of Farnsworth's previous crews up to this point and proceeds to stay dead for the duration of the story, with the expected Death Is Cheap solutions subverted at every turn, until the whole thing turns out to be a coma dream experienced by a badly injured Leela, who wakes up with Fry alive and well at her bedside.