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Genre Refugee

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These Cartoon Creatures have found a land of High Fantasy. They don't exactly fit, do they?

"Wait, I wasn't briefed on this being Romcom!"
Sōsuke Sagara, Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu

A Genre Refugee is a Stock Character from some genre who appears in a story that is in no other way part of that genre. The character is probably Wrong Genre Savvy, or may be the cause of wrong genre savviness in others. Since genres often have different tones, the character may be a Knight of Cerebus or the inverse. This can occur with crossovers between two properties of different genres as crossovers are usually about one character visiting the setting of another.

Super-Trope to Outside-Genre Foe. See also Fish out of Water.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk
  • Makoto Kyogoku from Case Closed is a Fighting Genre Superhuman stuck in a Detective Drama.
  • The basic premise of Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu is to lean fully into the main series' Fish out of Water elements by taking its shell-shocked mech pilot protagonist, Sōsuke Sagara, and throwing him into a full-on Screwball Comedy (as the anime is based on Full Metal Panic's comedic side stories rather than following the novels' more serious main plot). Kaname even has to explain to him On the Next episode preview that he's no longer in a Real Robot Show, a turn of events which he has no idea how to handle.
  • Jewelpet Kira Deco!: Retsu Akagi would be right at home as a Super Robot protagonist, or in any sufficiently Hot-Blooded shonen series... but he's a character in a little girls' magical fantasy.
  • Kimi ni Todoke has three such characters, Chizuru, Ryu, and Kazuichi "Pin" Arai. Who seem to have got transplanted from a fiery Shōnen sport series to a lighthearted Shoujo romance.
  • Goemon Ishikawa XIII in Lupin III is a traditionally-minded samurai who lives and dies by the way of the sword, so he'd fit right in a Jidaigeki drama. The problem is, he's from a caper series set in modern times. Fortunately, he and the rest of the Lupin gang occasionally come up against rivals that also share his mindset of old-time Edo values, so it's justified a bit.
  • Gai Daigouji from Martian Successor Nadesico is the inverse: A Hot-Blooded Super Robot hero stuck in a Real Robot setting. Sadly, that gets him killed barely four episodes in and traumatizes Akito Tenkawa.
  • Suletta Mercury of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury acts like a normal Slice of Life protagonist despite the fact that she's in a real robot anime series. This ends up getting Deconstructed starting with episode 12 with the Dissonant Serenity that was smiling after crushing a terrorist under Gundam Aerial's hand.
  • One Piece:
    • During the especially hyper-saccharine (yet very much Crapsaccharine World) Whole Cake Island, which has a lot of weirdness even by One Piece standards, we get Charlotte Katakuri, who looks like he would be at home in Fist of the North Star or Berserk and doesn't quite mesh with the demented wonderland feel of the rest of the arc, which features mirror worlds, biscuit soldiers, and talking cannonballs. He does eventually display the quirkiness mandatory for One Piece characters but it's a side of him he keeps deeply private.
    • The Hito-Hito/Human Human Fruit: Model Nika grants the user the powers and properties of a classical cartoon character. Even by One Piece standards, the fruit's user can inflict Toon Physics on enemies to Body Horror levels, a power set that can even wreck the peak powerhouses of the One Piece world. This power is the true power of Luffy's Devil Fruit, with his rubber abilities only being the unawakened powers. Kaido finds this out the hard way when he triggers the full power awakening during his final battle with Luffy.
  • Half the cast of Ouran High School Host Club are stranded from typical shoujo reverse harem, but it's an Affectionate Parody Gag Series most of the time.
  • In The Red Ranger Becomes an Adventurer in Another World, Red's non-magical abilities baffle and bewilder Idola, and Red still acts like he's on a Toku show, completely lacking any kind of subtlety and approaching everything with his Hot-Blooded candor. This has its ups and downs, as while his perpetual optimism and Chronic Hero Syndrome brings out the best in others, his lack of decorum and his overly destructive powers can create as many problems as he solves if Idola doesn't rein him in.
  • The title character of Takopi's Original Sin is a tiny octopus alien that wouldn't be out of place in a Kodomomuke series, supplying Doraemon-style gadgets to kids to help them be happy. The world he landed in, however, is a cynical drama where the children's problems extend far beyond what Takopi can assist with his gadgets.
  • Rossiu from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is essentially a character in the Real Robot Genre stuck in a universe in the Super Robot Genre. He's cool-headed, pragmatic and smart, which makes him stand-out from his hot-blooded comrades. He's still capable of piloting Gunmen powered by willpower as good as the rest of them though and they all respect him well enough, if not just lightly tease him every now and then. This is explored a fair bit in the second half of the show. On the one hand, this makes him one of the few competent members in actually ruling and managing their new civilization and he is pretty much The Reliable One to Simon. On the other hand, his pragmatic choices lead him to oust Simon from power to quell a riot (which he is beating himself over) and his tactics are predicted by the Anti-Spiral and only stopped by Simon and the others' own style. Furthermore, they all don't blame him and understand his reasoning (including Simon), meaning the only person that blames himself. Simon eventually snaps sense back into him after stopping him from suicide.
  • Yandere Kanojo has a few characters who would not be out of place in Shoujo romance. Shiratori, who tries so hard to be Manabu's rival, is explicitly based on the rival character in Tokimeki Memorial 3 and retains some of his tropes. Given that the general tone of the series is Affectionate Parody of shounen romance stories, these contrasting genre elements are milked for all their comedic worth.
  • Yowamushi Pedal is filled with them. Naruko looks like he came from a standard battle shounen manga, while people like Midosuji look like the villains in a more physically involved story. They're in a cycling-themed Sports manga.

    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • The page image provider is Bone, which features three Cartoon Creatures (think along the lines as Mickey Mouse and his friends) stumbling into a High Fantasy story.
  • The premise of the Elseworlds imprint is that characters are placed in random stories or settings. As a result many of these superhero characters can be considered Genre Refugees due to the rest of their world being in a different genre.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen:
    • Volume I looks a lot like a superhero story note ... but with the twist that the heroes are all public domain characters from Victorian-era Gothic Horror and adventure fiction. This is mostly done to show how these characters influenced more modern fiction.
    • What's more, since all fiction is true in this universe, you can't count out meeting someone from children's fiction or parody porno.
  • The superhero genre is an eclectic mix of various genres like science-fiction, detective fiction, mythology etc., but there are some characters that stick out. In the Marvel Universe for instance, heroes may encounter:
    • Patsy Walker, the heroine of a girl comedy series from the 1950s and 1960s, who eventually became the superheroine Hellcat.
    • Millie the Model, the heroine of a girl comedy series that lasted from the 1950s to the 1970s, who never became a superhero like Patsy.
    • Nick Fury, a superspy in the mold of James Bond and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., who is also one of the few surviving characters from Marvel's long-defunct war comics.
    • Characters from Marvel's take on classic horror stories like Dracula and the related cast (Blade, Lilith, the Harkers).
    • The Punisher, expy of Mack Bolan, the main character from the Long-Running Book Series The Executioner, who at the outset was so out of tune with the rest of the Marvel Universe that he appeared primarily as an antagonist to people like Spider-Man before coming into his own during The Dark Age of Comic Books.
    • Deadpool, who would feel right at home in an Animated Shock Comedy type series.
    • Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu, a character created to cash in on the success of the martial arts films of the 1970s who also happens to be related to old Yellow Peril villain Fu Manchu.
    • Luke Cage and Iron Fist, who were inspired by two big film crazes of the 70s: Blaxploitation and Wuxia/Eastern martial arts. In the end they (fittingly?) became good friends and partners.
    • Howard, a walking, talking anthropomorphic duck "Trapped in a World He Never Made".
    • The Prince of Power, an alien warrior bonded to the Power Stone who could easily be mistaken for an early draft character from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been this from the very beginning. They don't quite belong in gritty martial arts or campy bizarre sci-fi, but often step into both. And meet still more characters in other genres, like the Silver Age superhero team Justice Force, or the funny-animal-samurai-action-drama character Miyamoto Usagi.
  • Speaking of Usagi, his own series, Usagi Yojimbo is...hard to pin down, but in simplest terms, it can be described as a Low Fantasy Jidaigeki. Then you have Jei, a nigh-invincible Serial Killer who seems to have stepped out of a Slasher Movie.

    Films — Animation 
  • Oogie-Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas. The other spooks are frightening and with a bit of a skewed morality code, but are ultimately good-natured creatures that scare folks for fun. Enter Oogie-Boogie, the one spook who is genuinely malicious and evil-natured, who even the other spooks seem to dislike. According to a supplementary material he's also this in a completely literal sense, being a refugee from a different bug-themed holiday that's no longer celebrated.
  • Bill Sykes from Oliver & Company is a particularly jarring example. He's a scarily realistic portrayal of a mafia loan shark who seems like he'd fit better in a Martin Scorsese gangster film than a Disney movie with cute talking animals.
  • The titular protagonist of Rango is a goofy Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal who finds himself unexpectedly thrust into a Western (that just so happens to be populated by other cartoon animals). Unlike most examples of this trope, Rango quickly becomes aware of what kind of story he's in and uses his Genre Savviness to start blending in and give everyone an impression that he's a larger-than-life cowboy hero.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: The first few Spider-Men (and -Woman) introduced all still belong to the traditional superhero comics genre; this, however, stops being the case with the last three:
    • Spider-Man Noir is a Film Noir escapee fighting Nazis in the Late '30s/'40s.
    • Peni Parker and SP//dr are Animesque and from a distant Cyberpunk future.
    • Peter Porker a.k.a. Spider-Ham is proudly a Toon — even though all the characters are animated, he is the only one who is treated as such within the movie itself.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Tommy Frigo in Adventureland has wandered in from a raunchy teen movie as opposed to the much more realistic, grounded film he's in.
  • Airplane! has what might well be an inversion of this trope with Johnny, who is the only character in the film aware that he's in a wacky comedy: he spends most of his scenes goofing off, capering around, and cracking bad jokes. Meanwhile, every other character treats the events of the film as if it's a serious disaster flick, refusing to crack a smile while saying lines like "You ever seen a grown man naked?" or "I am serious, and don't call me Shirley." Reportedly, Johnny's meant to come across as the Plucky Comic Relief and how, especially in disaster films, they could often feel bizarrely out-of-place.
  • Most of the characters in The Big Lebowski appear to have stumbled into a skewed Film Noir setting from different genres and thus aren't quite sure what movie they're in:
    • The Dude's walked right out of a stoner comedy or a 1960s New Hollywood-style counterculture flick.
    • Walter acts like he's in a Vietnam drama that chronicles the veteran's harrowing struggle to re-acclimatize back into civilian society after everything he's seen and done.
    • The Big Lebowksi, Maude, Jackie Treehorn and Da Fino seem to think and act like they're playing a Film Noir straight (and even manage to convince Walter of this for a time).
    • The nihilists believe they're in a quirky-but-dark Quentin Tarantino-inspired crime thriller about a gang of eccentric Villain Protagonists, and that they're the protagonists in question.
    • From what we see, Bunny apparently thinks she's in a porno.
    • The Jesus is practically Opposing Sports Team personified.
    • Sam Elliott's cowboy character gives the movie a serious-sounding Fauxlosophic Narration under the impression that he's in The Western.
    • Donny is just an ordinary guy who thinks he's in a slightly eccentric bowling team but has an otherwise normal life. He's probably the most wrong out of all of them.
  • Zelda in The Dead Don't Die feels more like a quirky character from a campy martial arts flick who inadvertently wandered into a more down-to-earth Zombie Apocalypse film, and demonstrates a remarkable ability to kill zombies by the score in ridiculously over-the-top ways. The ending reveals she's actually an alien who inadvertently wandered into a zombie film.
  • Deadpool has X-Men member Colossus show up and act like a traditional superhero, delivering uplifting speeches and morals and suggest that Deadpool is better than he thinks he is. In, say, a Captain America or Superman-style movie, he would probably be The Hero, but since he is trapped in a Deadpool movie, he is forced to merely act as a foil to all the insanity around him.
  • Williams from Enter the Dragon is a Blaxploitation character in a martial arts film.
  • Xenk from Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a completely sincere example of The Paladin: kind, dignified, a powerful fighter, and a wise source of inspiration. However, Honor Among Thieves ó while not a parody ó is much more breezy, lighthearted, and sardonic of a fantasy film than whatever serious one Xenk fell out of, consequently turning him into a Parody Sue where he's tonally at complete odds with our ragtag heroes, who quickly get annoyed by his straightforward holiness.
  • Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!: Linda and Tommy are like the lead couple of any beach party movie, thrown into a far grittier genre than what they're used to. Eventually circumstances force Linda to become a proto-Final Girl.
  • The Gecko brothers in From Dusk Till Dawn are characters from a gangster movie who suddenly find themselves in a vampire splatterhouse. Another way to put it is saying they're Quentin Tarantino characters in a Robert Rodriguez film; perhaps not surprisingly, those two filmmakers collaborated on this film.
  • Hidalgo has a more serious rendering of this trope. The main character is the half-Indian sidekick of a Western film, but he's in Lawrence of Arabia (without the war). While this does lead to some funny moments, it's mostly used to set up the protagonist as the underdog.
  • James Bond:
    • The films Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun feature Sheriff J.W. Pepper, who feels like he wandered in from a Burt Reynolds comedy.
    • For that matter, Live and Let Die gave us Mr. Big, who not only feels like he belonged in a Blaxploitation action movie, but has subordinates with hinted-at supernatural powers, which is pretty atypical for a Bond film.
    • Dario from Licence to Kill looks like he's wandered in off the set of West Side Story.
  • The Jurassic Park franchise is normally a dinosaur-based Disaster Movie franchise.
    • This makes it all the more surprising when the Indoraptor from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom turns out to be the dinosaur equivalent of a Gothic Horror monster, complete with a scene in the film's climax where he howls on a rooftop against the Moon like a werewolf and his tragic origin story as an abused genetic experiment calling to mind mind Sci-Fi Horror stories in the vein of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. He's also stated by the designers to be based on Nosferatu, with the prominent fangs, gangly proportions and red eyes, and overall is basically a slasher-film villain in dinosaur form.
    • Most of the black market characters in the Malta sequence of Jurassic World Dominion would fit in a James Bond movie (just with the addition of dinosaurs), especially their leader, Soyona Santos, who's a perfect match for your average James Bond villain and/or Femme Fatale.
  • The bumbling comic relief cops from The Last House on the Left, who clearly belong in a comedy rather than a horror film.
  • The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob: Slimane, an Anti-Hero revolutionary searching for an end to the corruption and instability of his country, and Farès, the leader of a group of agents sent to stop him, would make for a great hero and villain in any action thriller, and act with the seriousness that requires. Unfortunately, they're in a wacky comedy, so Slimane is relegated to being the Deuteragonist and Straight Man to the far more bumbling and comedic Pivert while Farès is repeatedly humiliated as he ends up in increasingly farcical situations.
  • The Mask of Zorro: The characters of Three-Fingered Jack and Captain Harrison Love belong more in a Spaghetti Western than in a Spanish California swashbuckler story, although the setting and time of the film (1841) are kind of closer to the era of The Wild West (1860s-1900).
  • The Predator series: The plot of the first one is "the soldiers from Rambo find themselves up against an alien invader". The plot of the second one is "the cops from your favorite action-packed Buddy Cop Show go up against an alien from the same species". The effect actually works rather well: watching musclebound, macho action stars confronted with something beyond their comprehension really helps sell the horror.
  • In Spider-Man: No Way Home Eddie Brock and Venom count as a downplayed example of this, since while both are based on comic book characters from the superhero genre, their own film series was a Superhero Horror which is not a genre the MCU had explored at the time the film was released.
  • Stripes is a Screwball Comedy set in a US Army training camp. However, Sergeant Hulka is a Drill Sergeant Nasty (in the vein of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman, and so makes him the only character who's played completely seriously. His scene where he privately chews out Winger feels pretty of place among the slapstick humor. Mind you, he's still a Deadpan Snarker like the rest of the film's characters.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is fairly family-friendly, but Casey Jones wouldn't look out of place in an R-rated vigilante action movie.
  • Sam Witwicky from Transformers Film Series wouldn't look out of place in a high school-based drama or TV show rather then a movie about giant robots fighting each other.
  • Way Out West: Laurel and Hardy are their normal 1930s selves; all the other characters match the period Western setting.
  • Wrath of Man sees a pissed-off London Gangster enter and disrupt a heist film.

  • In A Certain Magical Index, Gunha Sogiita thinks and behaves like a goofy, stereotypical superhero from a Saturday morning cartoon or a Sentai series. He has the superpowers to match and is pretty good at dealing with mundane crime, but this series is a Gambit Roulette of Magic Versus Science, and he's completely oblivious to the conflicts and struggles the real main characters have to deal with.
  • Diogenes Club: In Clubland Heroes, characters seem to unconsciously realize that the Splendid Six don't really... "fit". All their missions play out like very badly-written comic stories (Clever Dick only appears intelligent because every non-Cat person around him misses incredibly obvious clues) and somehow they're publicly fighting massive supernatural threats in the same world as the Diogenes Club... which is keeping the existence of supernatural threats secret from the public.
  • Discworld dares to set its stories in a Standard Fantasy Setting but focus on characters like cynical, coping-with-addiction policeman Sam Vimes, Intrepid Reporter William de Worde, and aspiring film star Victor Tugelbend. It's not uncommon for them to drop lines associated with their home genre, only to wonder where they got that from.
  • In The Divine Comedy, the first damned soul Dante meetsnote  is a woman who casts herself as the protagonist of a tragic, romantic ballad where her only flaw was loving too much in an unloving world. A poet himself, Dante is moved with sympathy, but context makes it clear our romantic protagonist is just making excuses for cheating on her husband with his brother.
  • Quincey P. Morris from Dracula. Nothing like the presence of an American cowboy in a Gothic Horror story set in Britain to make you go "Say again?"
  • Tom Bombadil is a Blithe Spirit who migrated into The Lord of the Rings from a series of poems that J. R. R. Tolkien wrote for his children. The characters are completely stumped by it in-universe too.
  • The heroine of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park (a textbook case of Genre Adultery) — Fanny Price, an Extreme Doormat and Shrinking Violet modeled from years of unceasing emotional and psychological abuse instead of a Spirited Young Lady Deadpan Snarker — has been frequently described (by C. S. Lewis and others) as "a Bronte sisters heroine lost in a Jane Austen novel."
  • Nero Wolfe has the personal quirks and erudition of a typical Agatha Christie detective. However, all the other characters, especially Archie, belong in a tough-talking streetwise Dashiell Hammett mystery.
  • The Nightside is a dingy, morally grey, deeply cynical place. Knight in Sour Armor John Tyler and mercenary-with-a-dark-past Suzie fit in fine. But then there's:
    • General Condor, an idealistic and principled starship captain who accidentally got zapped back to our own time. Everyone knows just how out of place he is and his attempts at reforming the locals get him killed.
    • Ms. Fate, a superhero(ine; crossdresser) in a world where even the good guys can't really be called especially heroic.
    • Julien Advent, a heroic gentleman from the Victorian age.
    • John hints that Godzilla (or someone similar) has rampaged through town once or twice.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire gives us House Stark, who are basically a family of High Fantasy archetypes: stern and honorable patriarch, his strong and devoted Mama Bear wife, handsome and passionate Warrior Prince older son, Princess Classic older daughter, precocious and sensitive younger son, Tomboy Princess younger daughter. They'd be the virtuous heroes in a traditional Fantasy story. Unfortunately they're in a Realpolitik-driven Deconstruction of a traditional Fantasy story, where all their virtues are actually liabilities: Eddard's sense of honor compels him to give Cersei time to wrap up her affairs before he reports her infidelities to her husband, and she uses that time to arrange Robert's death and Ned's imprisonment. Catelyn's strong protective instinct causes her to act rashly in defense of her children, almost triggering a civil war in the process. Robb's passion and strong will leads him to make major political missteps that bring about his downfall. Sansa's guilelessness causes her to trust the wrong people and gets her father killed. Arya's tomboyish tendencies in a society that will not accept them compel her to flee Westeros entirely. And Bran's precocious nature leads to his near-fatal "accident" that starts the whole damn mess in the first place.
  • Wakatake of Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note is a Stock Shōnen Hero in a Shoujo Middle Grade Literature series. As an result, he is portrayed as a Mood-Swinger, Glory Seeker, and a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and his friends' opinion of him is more on the Warts and All side.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Downplayed with Pimento, who does belong in a cop show. However with his dark backstory of having been undercover after twelve years and struggle to adapt to being a normal person again, he seems like a character from a more serious drama who has ended up in a sitcom.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
      • The trio of Mad Scientist supervillains. After they disable the museum guards with an ice ray and steal a precious diamond, our heroes start searching the ancient tomes for a "frost monster that eats diamonds".
      • Also Ted, a seemingly nice guy dating Buffy's mom who reveals a disturbing verbally abusive side. Compared to the demons and vampires he comes off almost like an after-school-special villain. And then we learn he's a serial killer. And a malfunctioning robot.
    • Angel:
      • Gwen Raiden. A character with electrical powers out of a super hero show, in a Vampire Detective series. She was completely unaware of the existence of magic, vampires, and demons before she met Angel, thinking Angel was a Mutant like her at first.
      • In Season 5, we met Numero Cinco, who worked in the mailroom at Wolfram and Hart. A retired luchador, he was clearly a pastiche of El Santo. His sheer incongruity was both unabashed and, since mostly all he did was sort mail, downright hilarious... until his A Day in the Limelight episode, when it was played more like very dreary drama, in a Space Whale Aesop sense.
  • A frequent theme in Doctor Who, as a stock premise of stories right from the early days is "just drop the Doctor into [Genre] and see how they respond". A handful of examples:
  • Cyborg in Doom Patrol (2019) is basically a conventional superhero who wants to run out and fight crime, in a dark postmodern Mind Screw where most of the cast are unstable and dysfunctional.
  • Farscape:
    • Recurring villain Maldis is an Evil Sorcerer straight out of a Gothic Horror tale in the middle of a Space Opera. Other characters even acknowledge that he makes no sense by the series's rules, and Maldis himself finds himself to be intrigued at how armed spaceships like Peacekeeper Command Carriers can advance his power and allow him to just wipe out any opponents with the press of a button.
    • Zhaan herself felt like part of the main cast of an idealistic, Star Trek-esque sci-fi show, and tends to believe the best in people and that all conflicts can be resolved at least somewhat peacefully. Of course, in Farscape, Violence Really Is the Answer.
    • Crichton himself held a similar attitude in the first few episodes of Season One, acting like a Captain Kirk-esque figure who lived in an idealistic universe where most aliens were essentially good, and that the ethical option was always the correct one. After many learning experiences, including a bout of torture by the Peacekeepers, he dropped this attitude and quickly became far more pragmatic (and mentally unstable).
  • In The IT Crowd, the concept is that Douglas Reynholm is a character from a (apparently, shitty) telenovela who happens to have ended up in a Britcom somehow. Lots of jokes are had at the expense of his overwrought personality, which derives from the standard acting style of telenovela, but turns him into a batshit insane Mood-Swinger amongst the characters doing sitcom-acting.
  • In-Universe in Life's Too Short, when Liam Neeson tries to move from drama to improv comedy, but keeps breaking the flow of the jokes, bringing in topics too dark to be funny, failing to understand how a joke is supposed to work, and generally acting like he's improvising a serious drama.
  • Once Upon a Time usually hews very close to Fairy Tales and Heroic Fantasy, but season 2 includes Frankenstein (and his monster) and season 6 includes Jekyll and Hyde. They were both dragged out of their Science Fiction universes by Rumplestiltskin's magic. Dr. Whale, Frankenstein's Storybrooke persona, is very confused and conflicted when the curse breaks and he realizes who he actually is, but ends up integrating happily into Storybrooke. Hyde ( as well as Jekyll) on the other hand acts as an Outside-Context Villain, being able to make plots that people aren't prepared for.
  • This is the point of The BBC TV film Reichenbach Falls — the central character is a Defective Detective placed into a much less noir-ish setting. A Mind Screw plot with much Leaning on the Fourth Wall ensues in which he gradually escapes from his Wrong Genre Savvy.
  • Saturday Night Live: One sketch has Norm Macdonald as a typical 1950s greaser who finds himself in a West Side Story-esque musical and is baffled by his gang members breaking out into songs and dance routines when they're about to deal with a rival gang.
  • The second season Seinfeld episode "The Statue" features a twofer: Rava, a nihilist who hasn't realized she's not in Le Film Artistique anymore, and her boyfriend, Ray, who won't drop the Shakespearean act — at least not until Kramer threatens him.
  • One episode of Supernatural showed Sam and Dean encountering Dorothy and the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz. However it's a downplayed example as Dorothy and the Witch are reimagined to match the tone and style of the show with Dorothy having been part of the Men of Letter, though Oz is shown to be a real place and matches the description in the book.
  • This is done in The Twilight Zone episode "Execution", which mixed two of the series' most frequently-used genres: in it, an outlaw from a Western-themed Twilight Zone episode is saved from his own hanging by getting pulled into a Science Fiction-themed Twilight Zone episode by a scientist with a time machine. He's murdered by a crook planning on robbing the scientist's lab, only to bungle the time machine and be put in the noose the outlaw narrowly escaped.
  • An episode of The Young Ones had a mailman who acted like he was in a Shakespeare play.



    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The game features knights, elves, dwarves, dragons, quests, castles... and cowboys? Yes, as it happens. The quasi-deity Murlynd and his paladins are based on The Drifter from Western movies.
    • The Tarasque, who feels like something out of a Kaiju movie.
    • Tome of Battle helps you build a character who does Wuxia martial arts.
    • Expedition to the Barrier Peaks features a crashed alien spaceship full of robots and such, as do several Blackmoor adventures.
    • Ravenloft's main selling point is Gothic Horror, but it dabbles in all horror genres. You can therefore encounter monsters that seemingly do not fit alongside vampires and werewolves, such as the Doppelganger Plant, a plant that abducts people and replaces them with pod people, or Mind Flayers.
  • The Jovian Republic in Eclipse Phase are a traditional military sci-fi faction in an anarcho-transhumanist Post-Cyberpunk setting. They take this about as well as can be expected, to the point where they refuse to associate with the rest of the setting if at all possible because they believe everyone else is a soulless thing using the memories of a dead person. They may be right.
  • Pathfinder:
    • The Gunslinger, Vigilante, and Investigator classes. Most of Pathfinder is an amalgamation of traditional vaguely Tolkienesque High Fantasy and pulpier 20th century Heroic Fantasy, but the Gunslinger is a refugee from westerns, the Vigilante is a superhero, and the Investigator is a blatant Sherlock Homage.
    • The adventure paths also go some pretty strange places. In Iron Gods the NPCs include extraterrestrials and absurdly powerful A.I., in Strange Aeons the players can find themselves visiting a fragment of 18th-19th century Paris that got absorbed into Carcosa (yes, that one), and in Reign of Winter the player characters fight Rasputin in WWI Russia, none of which are exactly standard environments for fantasy adventurers. (Lampshaded in one piece of art in Strange Aeons, which shows Blind Seer Alahazra, clad in her distinctive white-cloak-and-elaborate-underwear fantasy getup, sticking out like a sore thumb at a party where all the other guests are wearing late 19th or early 20th century outfits.)
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse: While all of the characters are based on different kinds of comics, some of them are a little weird, generally because they were dug out of older comics in the Metafiction and given an in-universe Retool to patch them into the superhero milieu. Chrono-Ranger is the most obvious example; until his cybernetic arm comes out from under the poncho, he is, in appearance and mannerisms, a bounty-hunting Wild West ex-sheriff who happens to be showing up in superhero stories... because he was a Wild West sheriff until Western comics stopped selling, and he disappeared into publishing limbo until much later writers dug up his back issues and made him a time traveller.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has the Tau Empire, a young, dynamic, and technologically adept alien race on the rise in a universe where every other faction, humanity included, is sharply on the decline, no longer understands their best technology, and is currently fighting all the others bitterly in an endless Hopeless War. This difference is also reflected in military doctrine. For most factions, warfare has regressed heavily and so close combat and "historical" ways of war are the order of the day; the Tau eschew close combat in favour of laser-precise firepower at extreme range and lots of well-equipped mechanized infantry, i.e. the modern day Yanks with Tanks. In early iterations, they were even an actually "good"-aligned faction in the extremely Grimdark setting. The Imperium of Man and the Eldar, probably the two most "good" factions previously, are still very xenophobic and awful, while the Tau were willing to incorporate other alien species and generally work together towards the "Greater Good". Eventually it was decided this wasn't nearly dark enough, and their lore was expanded to include mind control, brainwashing, forced sterilization, and genocide to put them more in line with other factions, taking them from the idealistic United Federation of Planets from Star Trek to something more like the imperialistic Union of Allied Planets from Firefly.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • DSBT InsaniT: Psycho Man thinks he is in a serious action series, but soon realizes that he's part of a comedy series with No Fourth Wall.
  • Hazbin Hotel: Charlie is basically a Disney Princess in Hell. She's idealistic, she's perky, she treats her day-to-day life like she's in a musical. The problem is instead of being the ruler of an idyllic medieval kingdom, she's the ruler of an urban cesspool of crime and sin. Not helping is how the denizens of Hell only give her the bare minimum of respect and attention at best.

  • Darths & Droids, a comedic retelling of Star Wars where the characters are being played by some rather zany tabletop gamers, throws a few curveballs into the space fantasy setting:
    • Darth Maul gets reimagined as a Film Noir Hardboiled Detective type.
    • The Polis Massans who assist Padmé in childbirth talk like overblown "General Hospital"-style soap opera characters.
    • Dex, the amiable owner of an inexplicably '50s-Americana Diner, was already this in the films, but it's heavily lampshaded here.
  • Comic Book SNAFU is a superhero story that is also a Massive Multiplayer Crossover. Many of the characters involved are out of place in this setting, including:
  • The Handbook of Heroes: Most of the characters fit the Medieval Fantasy setting (whether western or eastern-inspired), but Street Samurai is clearly from a much more Cyberpunk universe.
  • The people of Cliffport in The Order of the Stick. It's a very steampunk/modern setting in a world that otherwise tries to be aesthetically medieval. There are even airships and thinly-veiled Final Fantasy characters, who keep shooting our heroes dirty looks. There's also some wacky Police Procedural cliché cops.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
  • In BoJack Horseman, newspaper reporters Paige Sinclair and Maximilian Banks dress and act as though they're from the classic Screwball Comedies of the 1930s and 1940s. Paige takes it even further by acting as though she really is from the 1930s or 1940s, despite the series being set in the 2010s.
  • Centaurworld: Horse is quite literally a refugee from a grim Dark Fantasy world who ends up stuck in Centaurworld, a much sillier, more colorful and more optimistic Sugar Bowl (though this world still has its darker side). One promotional poster shows Horse as a knight piece from a chess game on a Candy Land board, emphasizing how out of place she is in Centaurworld.
  • Gargoyles:
    • Eliza Maza had her hands rather full with being a typical Cop Show NYPD detective before she stumbled onto the Clan's Urban Fantasy world. Some episodes still revolve around her solving ordinary crimes, though; these often involves Broadway taking her place as the refugee, trying to play Film Noir detective.
    • Conspiracy Theorist Matt Bluestone has it worse, since he belongs in The X-Files.
    • Nokkar is an alien. From a big ol' Space Opera setting featuring an epic war between two starfaring races, and an Ancient Astronauts reveal. He was intended to set up a spin-off, but as it never came to be, he stands out as the only part of the series to even have a connection to space travel.
  • Captain Black in Jackie Chan Adventures belongs in a typical spy thriller, but when the poor guy calls in his old Adventurer Archaeologist friend from school to help track down some art smugglers, he's swept up in a martial arts fantasy full of wizards and demons. Jackie gets the tables turned on him when he has to sub for Black's best agent, "Tag Stone".
  • An episode of Johnny Bravo involving all sorts of Halloween creatures also has a random gnome (of the lawn variety) mingling with them.
  • Coop and Jamie in Megas XLR. The entire show seems to be building up to a dramatic anime-inspired show about an idealistic Mecha pilot fighting evil aliens... until a time warp puts a giant robot in the hands of two suburban Buddy Picture misfits.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "You Only Move Twice" gives us Hank Scorpio, a James Bond villain who happens to be a Benevolent Boss instead of the typical Bad Boss of said franchise. His attempt at an evil plan that appears onscreen never meddles with Homer's own plot, and if anything Homer actually helps him accomplish his goal.
    • "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment" gives us Rex Banner, the federal agent who's sent in to enforce Springfield's dry law when Wiggum can't. He's a copycat of Robert Stack's interpretation of Elliot Ness from the old The Untouchables TV series, and definitely would have had a better chance of thriving in a production done during the days of the Hays Code rather than the super-corrupt and incompetent Crapsack World that is Springfield.
    • "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala (Annoyed Grunt) cious" has Sherry Bobbins, who is a full-blown Expy of Mary Poppins with the numbers filed off (which is actually lampshaded). She is perfectly capable of doing the typical stunts of a Magical Nanny and even manages to convert the Simpsons (and, hell, even Mr. Burns) into acting incredibly nice for a while, like any other plot with this kind of character... and then the third-act twist happens and the Simpsons' dysfunctions override everything she's taught them, driving her to alcoholism because they are just that horrible.
  • South Park:
    • The recurring Creepy Old Guy acts like the Mr. Exposition from a Stephen King-esque macabre story.
    • Many episodes were basically "drag the boys into a (insert movie genre) movie and make the characters from it as cliché as possible". Roland Emmerich-esque Disaster Movies are a frequent template.
    • The entire supporting cast of the A-Plot of "Asspen" is straight out of an Eighties "Save the Orphanage Extreme Sports Plot" film, and the main Running Gag is that Stan (who's not a good skier) insists he doesn't wants anything to do with their plot but none of them want to hear it.
      Stan: Who are you people?
  • Every villain from Spy Groove relies on cartoonish Zany Schemes, has an outlandish motive and ridiculous Freudian Excuse, and acts comically over the top. That is except for hired goon Rock Debris, who does none of these things and is instead a fairly mundane villain who would be right at home in Die Hard or the Bourne series, being an unremarkable gaunt man in a suit who sets explosives for money. The closest thing he has to a Freudian Excuse is he's good at what he does and enjoys his job, and the closest thing he has to a quirk is being The Comically Serious in an insane world.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) introduced Bishop (and he's since become semi-regular in other TMNT media). One of The Men in Black, his sci-fi elements were dramatically darker and more conspiratorial than the campy stuff usually featured on the series.
  • Nanosec, the Angry Archer, Professor Princess, and Slo-Mo are all supervillains who wouldn't be out of place of a lighthearted superhero cartoon, and they are indeed in one... except their series is Transformers: Animated, where they play supporting roles to the giant robotic Cybertronians once they show up.