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"I detest talk of supernatural drivel. I suppose now you'll say she has midi-chlorians?"

A moment within a show that doesn't work within the conventions of the genre. For instance, a UFO abduction in a Dom Com, or the sudden appearance of magical elves in a Real Robot Genre series.

This usually falls outside the main characters' Genre Blindness, allowing them to see and comment on how manifestly weird it is. It is not, however, based on parodying of the intrusive element (though some satire may be involved).

If enough of these happen and stick around, the entire genre of the series may change.

Especially common in Massive Multiplayer Crossovers and similar mashups, since these often involve sticking characters from different genres in the same plot.

Science Fiction and Fantasy also cross each other often, as they're opposite sides of the same Speculative Fiction coin—not to mention equivalent, per Arthur C. Clarke's third law. If that's the case, expect to hear the intruding elements described in terms that match the original genre (after all, to a starship captain there's No Such Thing as Space Jesus, only Sufficiently Advanced Aliens). If the two sides can't play nice and one view takes over, that's either Doing In the Wizard or Doing in the Scientist; if they can live together harmoniously, it's Science Fantasy.

A violation of Genre Consistency. May be caused by Achievements in Ignorance or Power Born of Madness. May also be the result of Filler or other Padding. A character who can consistently do this is Inexplicably Awesome. These moments are likely to be considered Jumping the Shark. See also: Arbitrary Skepticism, Magic Realism, Skepticism Failure, This Is Reality, New Rules as the Plot Demands, Out-of-Genre Experience. Contrast Magic A Is Magic A, Minovsky Physics.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Battle Royale manga is fairly realistic, then out of nowhere, Ki Attacks.
  • That really, really weird Cloverfield prequel manga. As an example, it's revealed the main character was created by a cult using human and monster DNA, and that the cult intended to use him to control the monster, which responds to an emotion-powered orb in the character's body.
  • L, the master detective in Death Note, has solved the world's toughest mysteries, but he is completely stumped as to Kira's modus operandi because he doesn't believe in the supernatural — at most, he allows that Kira must have psychic killing abilities or mental powers, but not something out of (pseudo) Japanese Mythology. When he's finally presented with evidence that shinigami are real, he has a screaming freak-out followed by a short breakdown. Light does his best to convince him there's no such thing as shinigami, while Ryuuk grins in the background.
    • And again in the live-action movie: "Such things could not exist!"
    • Fairly early in the manga, when it looks like he's exhausted all other explanations, L does briefly consider, in a very general way, the possibility that the "Kira" phenomenon really is of some kind of divine retribution. However, after giving the facts a once-over, he concludes that the case still sounds a lot more like a human with paranormal abilities and a god complex than any god or God that he can take seriously based on present evidence.
    • This is especially bizarre when you consider the companion novel Another Note, where Beyond Birthday (somehow) had The Eyes, and L knew that. (To be fair, however, this Light Novel was not written until after the series was over, and was not originally part of the canon, but absorbed into it later. So it could be considered a type of Retcon.)
  • Ghost in the Shell: Man-Machine Interface arbitrarily features a psychic who keeps astrally manifesting to the protagonist as a raccoon dog and a teenaged girl whose body is made out of a dragon, commenting on her activities in a Trickster-like manner. Motoko's own comment on her first manifestation is "How unscientific" (added with a footnote that it's unscientific to dismiss a phenomenon on the drop of the hat, implying that the author has his own opinions on the subject).
  • Parodied, like many other things, in Gintama; specifically, the episode where Gintoki and co. team up with the Shinsengumi to fight a supposed ghost:
    Shinpachi: Could it be there's really a ghost?
    Gintoki: Huh? I don't believe in things that can't be scientifically sustained like ghosts. Though I do believe in the Continent of Mu. (beat) This is ridiculous. I don't feel like goofing around with you guys. Let's go back.
    Shinpachi: Gin-san.
    Gintoki: Hm?
    Shinpachi: What is this? [Gintoki is holding hands with him and Kagura]
    Gintoki: What do you mean? I was just worried that you two might be afraid or something.
    Kagura: Gin-chan's hand's all sweaty, this is disgusting.
    Gintoki: Huh? What are you talking about?
    Okita: Ah. The woman in the red kimono. [the ghost in question; in this case, Okita's just trolling them, as customary]
    [Gintoki leaps into a cupboard and assumes fetal position]
    Shinpachi: What are you doing, Gin-san?
    Gintoki: Uh, nothing. I just saw a gate to the Continent of Mu.
  • Played for Laughs in Great Teacher Onizuka, which is a (slightly exaggerated) slice of life series about the trials and tribulations of a high school teacher: Onizuka is momentarily possessed by ghosts after he takes on the very stressful job of picking up the remains of those who committed suicide by jumping in front of trains. Miyabi and Fujiyoshi also meet the ghost of a child killed in a road accident, though they don't realize it after seeing a sign talking about his death.

  • Heavy Metal L-Gaim is a Humongous Mecha Real Robot Genre Mecha Show. In the episode 2, the main character meets a fairy capable of casting illusions, reading minds and scouting souls.
  • In Infinite Ryvius, Straw Vulcan Stein Heigar is quite upset when the spaceship Grey Geshpenst suddenly goes One-Winged Angel, transforming from a conventional-appearing vessel to a massive organic sphere, insisting that it violates all logic. (He is unaware that the Grey Geshpenst is a Living Ship).
  • A startling example occurs in the second season of the ghost-and-swordmanship filled Jubei-chan, where it's revealed that the reason the Human Popsicle villainess knows about 21th century customs is because upon thawing, she was raised by Talking Animals.
  • Marginal #4.
    • It's a Slice of Life show about idols in high school - until episode 3, when during a commercial shoot, the twins start having bad luck everywhere, and it turns out it might be demonic possession - it's not. It's a hidden camera show, and they're trying to scare R. But they turn it around on the director, making it look like R killed the rest of them to stop the demon, became a demon himself along with L, and now they need another human sacrifice...
    • Subverted again in the Show Within a Show mystery drama that the boys star in. Atom's character, a young cop, gives Arbitrary Skepticism that Rui's character is his murdered partner's ghost, but accepts it - but it was a lie - the young man is the partner's nephew, joining the case to catch the real murderer - Atom's character.
    • Lighter example - Rui is fond of saying this about things like Atom's lucky underwear.
  • Mazinger Z is a sci-fi Mecha Show. Several times Kouji Kabuto has said (in the original manga) that he does not believe in ghosts or living corpses. Then in a Crossover movie with Devilman, he accidentally awakens a demon and spends the remain of the movie finding and fighting demons and devils.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans has a hard science fiction setting for most of its run, yet when Naze is dying from a railgun barrage, the spirit of his wife Amida (who died moments earlier) suddenly appears to cradle his body. It's not a bad thing though, as it only makes the scene feel that much sadder.
  • Back when the masquerade was still in place in Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Chisame remarked on pretty much every development with this attitude.
  • Patlabor featured two episodes that clashed with the show's otherwise stringent policy of depicting "real life, but with robots:" One with a prehistoric giant monster, and another with a haunted building full of ghosts.
    • There were a few other giant monsters, as well. Though all of them had sorta-scientific rationales behind them, they still stretched the Willing Suspension of Disbelief by playing fast & loose with the Square-Cube Law (more so than the relatively modest sized Humongous Mecha of the title, anyway). The first OAV featured a giant monster that was created by a Mad Scientist doing experiments on abiogenesis that somehow rapidly evolved from an amoeba to a humanoid Kaiju that inexplicably had Yamazaki's face. The TV series had a Patlabor sized giant rat created by growth hormone experiments and the monster from the 3rd movie, which was a grotesque giant zombie/fish thing created from genetically altered human cancer cells and alien DNA from a meteor.
    • The prehistoric monster story also played with the unreality by having hyper-rational But Not Too Foreign cop Kanuka Clancy insisting the creature must be some sort of dinosaur and practically using the trope quote as a Madness Mantra, while dreamy Genki Girl Noa insists on calling "him" a dragon. It's "him" according to Noa because "He had a deep voice".
  • Inverted in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, when Kyubey, who acts like a demon by making Faustian Pacts, claims to be from space. Although in this case both interpretations can work at the same time if you consider the show to take place in a Cosmic Horror Story universe.
  • Sailor Moon was, most of the time, a Magical Girl show set in the modern day, where the only non-ordinary elements are the Sailor Team itself and the season-specific villain faction. The beach episodes (once a season), however, were strange exceptions: episode 20 had Usagi, Ami and Rei confronted by an (apparently) real ghost, not connected to the Dark Kingdom in any way it is actually the result of little esper girl manifesting something she couldn't control. Episode 67 featured no villains and thus no need for the girls to use their powers, instead presenting a couple of living plesiosaurs. Seriously.
    • Episode 67 had so little to do with the overall plot, it was actually left out of ADV Films' DVD releases of the series. The DVD release simply skips over it.

    Comic Books 
  • The Asterix book, Asterix and the Falling Sky, features two groups of aliens fighting for control of the magic potion. With Superman clones. And lasers. In an otherwise Low Fantasy version of Ancient Rome.
  • Some of the humor in Atomic Robo comes from Lampshade Hanging on things that are too ridiculous for its universe, such as giant ants. This really comes into play, however, when Robo fights the talking raptor Dr. Dinosaur, who claims to have time-traveled from the death of the dinosaurs with a crystal-powered time machine. Robo points out the grossly bad science in this backstory before pointing out that Dr. Dinosaur is probably just a genetic experiment gone wrong (which is implied to be true). At the same time, whenever Robo lampshades how ridiculous, or in defiance of the laws of physics Dr. Dinosaur's plans are, they always work.
    • In a fit of Dramatic Irony, there is a science to Dr. Dinosaur's time travel... none other than Robo's own personal theory of zorth, the fifth cardinal direction.
  • Lampshaded in Captain America #600, where Patriot of the Young Avengers meets Rikki Barnes, the dimension-hopping Alternate Universe granddaughter of Bucky Barnes. He notes how implausible her back story is, but then accepts it after remembering that one of his best friends is a teenage time traveler.
  • Hellboy. The eponymous Occult Detective discovers that Aliens exist the hard way when they try to give him an Anal Probing in "Buster Oakley Gets His Wish".
  • In the chapter of The Black Dossier that deals with Les Hommes Mysterieux, it's specifically mentioned that team leader, air pirate Jean Paul Robur from Robur the Conqueror and Master of the World, specifically avoided using cavorite for his flying ships, instead developing heavier than air flight, for exactly this reason.
  • In one Ramba story, Ramba (an assassin who normally takes on gangsters, drug dealers, terrorists, etc.) encounters cultists who are summoning a demon. She steals their magic book and uses a spell from it to transform her cat into a monster that battles the demon. This is the only appearance of the supernatural in the entire series.
  • Sin City is mostly just a very exaggerated Film Noir, except for the mute characters, Miho and Kevin. Both are implied to be supernatural entities of a type (confirmed via Word of God), though what they are exactly (aside from Miho being good and Kevin being evil) is never explained.
  • Tintin:
    • In the story Flight 714, we had a thrilling hijack plot and Tintin and Co. being trapped on a remote island. And then out of the blue... Aliens!
    • "Tintin in Tibet" reveals that the Yeti really exists.

    Comic Strips 
  • In The Phantom, The Cowl of the title seems to live in surprisingly strong denial of the weirder side of his Low Fantasy world, refusing to admit in the existence of things like aliens or magic when he keeps several monsters (a unicorn, a stegosaurus and a family of primeval humanoids) as pets or his ancestors' journals discuss one ancestor who used magic to regenerate his gouged-out eyeballs.

    Films — Animation 
  • Played for laughs in Bolt when aliens are introduced into the new episode of the show. Rhino is shown looking particularly unimpressed by the changes.
  • Tarzan is the story of a Nature Hero raised by Talking Animals. There are no supernatural elements in the story. This carries on to The Legend of Tarzan, the TV spin-off... until an episode introduces Queen La, a villain with magical powers.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Enoch Root in Cryptonomicon appears to not age in the half century between his appearances in both the World War II era and the modern era. In The Baroque Cycle, this is elaborated upon, but to someone just reading Cryptonomicon the presence of this unaging man sees pretty much no explanation.
  • The Decameron suffers from this in one tale, where the mundane medieval setting is disturbed by an actual vision of Hell.
  • Dennis Wheatley's adventurer the Duc de Richlieau debuted in a non-paranormal adventure novel. However, Wheatley featured de Richlieau in the novel The Devil Rides Out (1934) where he encounters the modern wizard Damien Mocata, who has actual paranormal powers. The Duc de Richlieau would alternate between paranormal adventures such as Strange Conflict and Gateway to Hell and mundane adventures such as The Golden Spaniard, Codeword-Golden Fleece, The Second Seal, The Prisoner in the Mask, Vendetta in Spain and Dangerous Inheritance. Wheatley's character Gregory Sallust also features in a novel in which Satanism plays a part, They Used Dark Forces though the supernatural events in this are only peripheral and it is mainly a spy story.
  • In Dexter's third installment, wherein the Dark Passenger which joins the titular serial killer in his "fun" is pretty much proved to be some sort of primordial creature that comes to certain humans during times of great emotional pain instead of just being part of a (completely understandable) dissociative disorder.
  • The first time the Doctor pulled a Where I Was Born and Razed, in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novels, the absence of the Time Lords allowed magic to gain a foothold in the universe. So the Doctor has sex with a Fair Folk-esque water nymph who wants to trap him in her realm, and gets horribly injured in several magical rituals. What, were they trying to literally Do in the Scientist? Also, he has to get married to save the world, because magic. This almost resulted in him marrying a thirteen-year-old girl, although, reassuringly, not only is consummating it never brought up, the UST between him and the grown woman he does end up marrying remains just that. Amazingly, he's never seen complaining about all this damn magic making his life worse. You can, of course, ignore all of this, and assume the Doctor's (apparent) Trauma-Induced Amnesia is preventing him from giving the perfectly scientific explanations he has for apparent magic in The Daemons, "The Shakespeare Code" etc.
  • The 87th Precinct novel Ghosts involves the paranormal, and in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction notes this serves as a detriment to the novel as a detection.
  • Garrett, P.I.. In Angry Lead Skies, Garrett's already-Genre-Busting world of fantasy noir is intruded upon by strange Visitors which the reader (but not the characters) will quickly recognize as Grey-like space aliens.
  • In the book The Great Detectives, Walter Gibson wrote an article of reminiscence on his work on The Shadow, and he noted that some stories approached or crossed into science fiction, while other Shadow stories stood as conventional crime thrillers.
  • The collection of short stories known as The Informers is mostly just plausible tales about quirky characters in Los Angeles...except for the one about a vampire.
  • Used in the Lensman series. The way the Hell-Hole in Space works, and what happens to someone who goes through it, are nothing like anything else that happens in the series, and do not make sense even in terms of the most far-out reaches of the series's mental or physical science. Up until this point everything that happens is basically a more extreme version of something that has happened before, but the Hell-Hole in Space is on a different track altogether. Even the description of it flounders, and resorts to using words like "binding" and "geas". The literal invocation of The Power of Love as a Deus ex Machina to put right what the Hell-Hole put wrong could also be considered as this; it is presented as an aspect of the series's mental science, but if that segment was read in isolation with the characters' names changed the connection would not be at all obvious.
  • Some of the Milly, Molly books imply that the girls can understand animals, such as when the plovers tell them, "Don't let them fell our trees!". However, in other books, plus the entire TV series, this is never brought up, even when it would've come in useful.
  • Mog:
    • In "Mog and the Granny", Mog has Psychic Powers and can use them to know where Debbie is.
    • In "Goodbye, Mog", Mog apparently dies and comes back as a ghost. Even weirder, she comes back again as a flesh-and-blood cat in the next book.
  • Some paperback original heroes of the 1970s such as The Penetrator switched back and forth from mundane gangster foes to enemies with technology that outpaced the 20th century.
  • The Pure Dead series has this kind of moments. Its mostly about fantasy, but the second book introduces cloning. Given how it was handled (basically the clones were incubated in a duck corpse and ended up as being small sized, red versions of the humans that they were cloned from) it hardly matters.
  • James Lee Burke's Robicheaux series featured the paranormal in the book and film In the Electric Mist (With the Confederate Dead).
  • Leslie Charteris' The Saint rarely encountered the paranormal, as he mostly had mundane adventures facing blackmailers, gangsters, kidnappers, and so forth. He encountered advanced technology sought by Dr. Rayt Marius (a no plans, no back-up situation) in The Last Hero, oversized ants in The Man Who Liked Ants, machine to produce gold, advanced aeronautics, zombies, and the Loch Ness Monster. The anthology The Fantastic Saint collects most of these stories.
  • The Skylark Series by E. E. "Doc" Smith may get extremely far-fetched with the science, but it was always science, or at least plausibly something like science. Then came the series finale, in which the collective witches of the universe got together with the main heroes to turn their collective magical willpower to overcoming the villains' telepaths and transporting a whole solar system into another galaxy, which is then set on fire to burn for a thousand years. May have some of the details off there, but it was not a little disconcerting, what with the effective Mood Whiplash.
  • The final Doc Savage novel Up From Earth's Center has Doc clashing with someone who might have a demon and visiting somewhere that might have been Hell.

    Live-Action TV 
  • According to Jim is, for the most part, a realistic Sitcom. However, in the episode after the twins were born, Satan comes to collect Jim's soul, resulting in Cheryl hating him. (It Makes Sense in Context.) The episode's plot then revolves around him trying to win Cheryl's heart back. Of course, it was All Just a Dream, so this might be a Subverted Trope.
  • The Babylon 5 follow-up "The Lost Tales" introduces a demon into what had until then been a fairly hard sci-fi universe (apart from souls and reincarnation being implicitly real). The fans were not pleased.
  • Baywatch was supposed to be a fairly realistic drama about lifeguards, but it quickly began having plots that could have come straight from cheesy action movies, featuring casino heists, international assassins, shootouts with pirates, and oh-so-many jewel thieves. There are also a handful of episodes where supernatural phenomena like ghosts, UFO abductions, and Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane Christmas elves appear and then are never mentioned again.
    • The spinoff Baywatch Nights centered around Sgt. Garner Ellerbee and Mitch Buchannon starting a detective agency and was a fairly realistic crime show. Then the low ratings prompted the producers to ditch Ellerbee, turn the show into an X-Files ripoff and have David Hasselhoff fighting aliens and mutants.
  • Benson was generally a perfectly straightforward sitcom, but it had a few episodes like this, like the time the mansion staff acquires a robot, the one where Benson and the Governor have a Close Encounter with a U.F.O., and the Halloween episode where Benson ends up challenging Death to a game of Trivial Pursuit to save the lives of a busload of children. Plus there was the dream sequence episode where Benson and Krauss are the only two humans left on Earth.
  • Beverly Hills, 90210 was a fairly normal prime-time soap opera. The third season Christmas Episode had two angel narrators (who were a Corrupted Character Copy of the angels from It's a Wonderful Life) trying to figure out a way to save the main characters because, as a result of their relationship drama, they put themselves on a bus which was set to collide with a truck being driven by a drunk driver. At the moment of collision, the bus and the truck just magically moved right through each other.
  • The Big Bang Theory is realistic except for one closing scene where a couple of aliens propose to come to Earth and eat people.
  • The "Leap of Faith" episode of Blue Bloods has both the identity of the murderer and an important bit of evidence revealed through the daughter of the Victim of the Week getting messages from God in an otherwise realistic Cop Show.
  • The Black Mirror episode Mazey Day is about the titular actress becoming a recluse after a mysterious accident while filming a TV series in Europe and a paparazzo trying to get a photograph of her post-reclusion since it will be worth a ton of money. So far, so good. But when Mazey is finally found in person, the twist of the episode turns out to be that she was bitten by a werewolf and is turning into one. Essentially turning the episode into Urban Fantasy. The sudden Genre Shift can feel too jarring to be taken seriously since all the other Black Mirror episodes, even the most experimental ones, remained mostly consistent within the boundaries of the Thriller and Science Fiction genres.
  • Bones:
    • Booth, at one point, is trapped in a room with a bomb, and a door that he's not strong enough to open on his own. He's also hallucinating a soldier buddy that he knows is dead, that he calls a hallucination several times to further reinforce the point. Long story short, he convinces the hallucination to help him open the door, thereby escaping death by explosion. And if you're thinking that he summoned up some Heroic Willpower, at the end of the episode, the Squints, a team composed entirely of genius-level academics, points out that the door really was impossible for one man to open. Eventually, the hallucination is explained by Booth's brain tumor, but the mystery of the door is left unsolved. At the very end of the episode, when Booth and Bones visit the gravesite Bones is shown actually seeing and acknowledging the ghost of the dead soldier, but since she was apparently never shown a photo of the deceased, she never realizes she's seen someone who is dead.
    • A crossover later shows that Bones takes place in the same continuity as Sleepy Hollow, so.
  • A Halloween special of Boy Meets World has Eric, in typical Eric fashion, convinced that Jack's new girlfriend is a witch. As it turns out, she is a witch, and the episode builds to the attempted ritual sacrifice of Jack and Shawn. Then Eric hooks up with Sabrina, who turns Shawn into a toad. (Another episode featured Sabrina, as part of a crossover, but all she did was set off a Formula-Breaking Episode — set in the 1940s due to a magical time warp — with no other supernatural elements.)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy has fought robots several times, with a robot decoy of Buffy being significant in the sixth season premiere, despite the show being virtually entirely focused on magic and demons and the like. Angel has as well, though less frequently and in a less important role. Word of God is that they're supposed to represent Magic-Powered Pseudoscience enabled by the warped physics of the Hellmouth.
  • Castle:
    • The series generally goes for Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane but in the episode "Time Will Tell" it seems to go for this involving time travel as the series of events makes no sense without it. Generally Castle has to try and come up with a rather convoluted series of events in order for it to be possible but yet in this case Beckett couldn't come up with a logical series of events that worked. This is especially true when the supposed time traveler just disappears from lockup. There was also the ending in which she spills her coffee on a letter that was a key piece of evidence and it matches the stain from a picture of that letter held by the killer.
    • As for the chain of events: Featuring a plot somewhat similar to The Terminator with elements of 12 Monkeys; the killer, Ward, had supposedly traveled back in time to look for a budding physicist named Deschile who would eventually develop a future technology that would win a future war according to Doyle, who supposedly traveled back in time to stop him. The starting point for Ward is a letter sent by Deschile to a present day physicist with a stain that matches Beckett's coffee spill at the end of the episode. The problem with that is that Ward kills the first victim of the episode in order to find her brother, who was the physicist that inspired Deschile. Why would he do this if he already had stolen the letter from said physicist? Beckett's final explanation also doesn't work. Ward was supposedly an anti-technology nut who tried to kill Deschile for stopping him from blowing up a technology seminar. The letter would be irrelevant there. The fact that both appear in the same psych ward doesn't really help as Doyle claims it will be a future mission. Doyle disappearing twice without warning, once from lockup, also helps his argument.
    • And in "Smells Like Teen Spirit", the murder of the week appears to have been committed by a telekinetic, as a pair of girls were videochatting with the victim at the moment of her death, and saw her thrown around by an invisible force. Investigation uncovers other incidents of apparent TK, but when they finally pin down who was responsible for the incidents he claimed to have done it all with wires and magnets and such. The real Mind Screw? Beckett tells Castle at the very end that CSU had extensively swept the crime scenes, and there weren't any wires or magnets or anything else that could be used to fake those incidents.
  • Diagnosis: Murder was a light-hearted murder mystery programme which involved a lot of Contrived Coincidences but nothing actually unbelievable. Except that one episode where the murderer was an honest-to-gods vampire. Who died when she telekinetically flew herself into a chair leg. And was never spoken of again. There was also that other episode with a psychic woman, and we never got an explanation for her predictions, so yep, psychic abilities exist in this universe.
  • Doctor Who slowly crossed the line from at least trying to sound scientific at all times to allowing the supernatural (though usually calling it something else). The dividing line is probably The Key To Time stories in the Tom Baker Years, which introduced the White and Black Guardians.
    • Perhaps best exemplified in The Impossible Planet, where the Doctor encounters a being that claims to be the Devil (not a devil, but THE Devil). The Doctor refuses to believe it, theorizing that it's just some Sufficiently Advanced Alien trying to sound impressive. The episode leaves the whole matter ambiguous.
    • Also nicely mocked in "The Girl in the Fireplace," where the Doctor gives the usual Techno Babble explanation for portals to 18th century Paris in a spaceship, before admitting he made it up just because he didn't want to say "magic door."
  • Gradually took over the show in Family Matters, with the many and varied inventions of Steve Urkel. It started as a middle-class Sitcom starring predominantly black characters. However, after Urkel's ascent to popularity and building of gadgets, rather than this feeling out-of-place it was effectively retooled to become the Wacky Adventures Of Steve Urkel, Harmless But Mad Scientist.
  • Farscape established that various Religion is Magic powers and Enlightenment Superpowers existed in its world almost immediately, but for the most part treated them like other sci-fi treats psychic powers so they don't usually stand out too much. The main exceptions are the episodes where the crew goes up against the evil wizard Maldis, where it suddenly turns into a straight-out fantasy story. Maldis deliberately using a gothic aesthetic in-universe doesn't help.
  • During the last few episodes of Felicity, a to-that-point relatively tame romantic drama about college life, the main character began to wonder whether or not she'd chosen the right man in her life. So her friend cast a spell that sent her back in time a few years. No, really.
  • One episode of Get Smart had a brief appearance of what seemed like a ghost.
  • An episode of The Guiding Light actually featured a character gaining superpowers after a freak accident with Halloween decorations.
  • Apparently, the Happy Days universe contains wacky aliens. Good to know? It actually makes the spinoff cartoon with the alien girl a little less nonsensical.
  • Mild example in a Halloween Episode of Hawaii Five-0, which has a main plot involving around a creepy, yet realistic story where the team pursues a serial killer involved in black market organ sales. However, the episode also strongly implies that a series of misfortunes that hit Danny are due to him being cursed after trespassing on an ancient Hawaiian burial ground, and it's also implied at the end of the episode that the woman who recommended an apartment to him (that he's able to get for cheap due it belonging to one of the murder victims) is in fact a ghost.
  • How I Met Your Mother parodies this. The entire show is ridiculous, but it focuses almost entirely on the (physically-possible if really unlikely) exploits of a group of mundane, if wacky, modern-day New Yorkers. But every so often they throw in a one-shot gag about time travel, just because. Possibly explained by the show's Framing Device being an Unreliable Narrator.
  • In The Incredible Hulk (1977), the world was relatively mundane, aside from the main character and his affliction. David Banner mainly faced off against gun-toting thugs and other criminals, and the only super-powered person he ever encountered was another person like himself, who had undergone a similar overdose of gamma radiation. Then, six years after the show ended came the first telemovie, The Incredible Hulk Returns, which included a magical hammer summoning the spirit of a long-dead viking warrior. (By comparison, Kingpin's ninja squad and hoverchair in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk were downright normal)
  • JAG usually kept itself grounded in something resembling reality... except for the episodes involving Mac's psychic powers and Bud's near-death experience. And then there was that one time a villainous plan involving a fake ghostly vision was foiled by the appearance of a real ghost.
  • In Logan's Run, Logan and Jessica don't just deal with Sandmen, leftover technology, and strange little civilizations Outside; there are episodes with aliens, people with psychic powers, and even magicians trying to resurrect one of their own. (The desperation of the writers was pretty palpable with this last.) Interestingly, the setting-logical idea of mutants is never brought up, except in a perfunctory manner.
  • Invoked on Lost every time the current plot elements shift from pseudo-scientific discussions and theories to mythological and religious elements. Which happens quite often.
  • Aliens once appeared in an episode of MacGyver. So did Sasquatch. And a Soviet psychic. Also, Time Travel. To medieval Scotland. To save his ancestor. It was All Just a Dream, Or Was It a Dream?
  • The Magician was a show about a Magician Detective where all of the trickery was achieved by sleight of hand. But "The Illusion of the Fatal Arrow" features a woman with genuine psychic abilities: the only example of anything genuinely paranormal in the whole series.note 
  • Married... with Children had aliens as a plot element in one episode, and also the whole trip to England plot arc which was based on a 17th century curse by a witch. By this point though the show had basically become a live-action cartoon that ran on Negative Continuity and thus these episodes were largely brushed off by fans.
  • The early 1980s detective series Matt Houston had one episode where a faked alien abduction was somehow involved in a crime the eponymous hero was investigating. Then, at about the 3/4 mark of the show, Houston, driving by himself, is actually abducted by the stereotypical little gray buggers. He doesn't remember it happening, there's no witnesses, and it has no effect whatsoever on the plot of the episode, and is never mentioned again.
  • In the infamous Miami Vice episode "Missing Hours," the otherwise normal TV series sees a lot of weirdness, including Trudy getting abducted by an alien (played by James Brown) and Crockett and Tubbs later seeing a UFO.
  • Midnight Caller was generally a serious, realistic drama, except for the episode "Do You Believe In Miracles?" in which a statue of baby Jesus starts crying. This is never explained, and is implied to be a genuine miracle.
  • In a case of Early-Installment Weirdness, Mission: Impossible had exactly one episode that featured genuine supernatural activity and a woman with real psychic powers: "Zubrovnik's Ghost" in first season.
  • Naturally, Sadie was teen drama/sitcom about a girl coping with the vagaries of high school life. Except for the episode "Ghouls Just want To Have Fun" which featured Hal's girlfriend Tabitha handing out wristbands that turned people into zombies.
  • The fourth season finale of NCIS (a show that is usually firmly grounded in reality) has a doctor encounter a little girl who was heavily implied to be the Angel of Death.
  • Likewise, recent episodes of NCIS: New Orleans have shown Pride having visions of a mysterious beautiful woman who is apparently the Angel of Death. Her words have accurately presaged certain events (albeit in cryptic fashion), implying that she really does exist.
  • The New Adventures of Robin Hood was mostly a Xena homage Fantasy, but the episode "Dragon from the Sky" was about an alien crash-landing in Sherwood and repairing his spaceship in time before the Sheriff dissected him.
  • This was basically what torpedoed Seaquest DSV. The first season was fairly hard scifi with plots that revolved around real oceanic phenomenon. Then in the second season Executive Meddling forced the introduction of outlandish soft scifi stories; including the god Poseidon being real, time travel, and aliens. The How Unscientificness of it pissed off Roy Scheider so much that he left the show.
  • Seeing Things: This light-hearted 1980s Canadian dramedy was usually squarely in the Mundane Fantastic camp. It had a single fantastic element: Toronto Gazette reporter Louis Ciccone suddenly starts manifesting precognitive flashes, which allow him to uncover and solve the show's typical mystery-of-the-week mysteries. However, in one very out-of-character episode, a mysterious, befuddled old man found wandering the streets of Toronto and claiming to be an alien actually turns out to BE an alien, complete with anti-gravity levitation powers and a laser battle with hostile reptilian aliens in a Toronto park.
  • Seven Days mostly deals with Time Travel. Said Time Travel equipment came from a crashed alien ship; so there's sci-fi. Then there's the episode where the main character stops a nuclear war started by Satan.
  • Sliders was obviously science-fiction to begin with, with the premise of sliding between worlds. Spirituality and psychic phenomena (over which some worlds are depicted as having overt control) came under its domain in short order. Then, all of a sudden, they find themselves in a world of wizards, shapeshifters, dragons, and what can only be described as magic. Scientists Quinn and Professor Arturo, to their credit, are genuinely baffled by this. Quinn's analysis gets as far as something about string theory and fundamentally different laws of physics, but by that time, he is also tempted to settle on "More things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio..."
    • Arturo dismisses not being meant to understand as "blasphemy", but by the end, the events of that particular world force him to admit that, somehow, the system apparently works and he can roll with it.
  • Special Unit 2 was a short-lived UPN drama that worked from the idea that all the monsters of myth were just evolutionary off-shoots from existing species. Then came the episode where a "Link" so powerful he could be assumed to be the Devil sought an artifact that could grant him power if he performed a magical ritual. For a show that had been all "science we don't understand," it took a pretty damn hard turn into "magic."
  • Japanese Spider-Man, episode 37 of 41. A man who specializes in the occult warns that King Enma from Hell is coming. He comes. Note that for the last 36 episodes, the series has entirely been based on sci-fi.
  • Starsky & Hutch has "The Psychic," in which a man uses his psychic visions to help the police track down a kidnapped girl, and "Murder on Voodoo Island," in which Hollywood Voodoo causes Starsky to try to strangle Hutch.
  • With the possible exception of London's level of stupidity, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody was completely realistic, but its sequel series The Suite Life on Deck introduced supernatural elements and at one point crossed over with Wizards of Waverly Place. Admittedly, there were two episodes in the original series that implied a ghost and a visit to an Alternate Universe were real in their credit scenes.
  • In the second season of Twin Peaks, Major Briggs's experience with Project Blue Book is often alluded to. The context strongly suggests that if the show hadn't been cancelled, it would have veered towards science-fiction.
  • In one episode of The Unit, Kim Brown is investigated because she knew vague details of a mission which she claimed to have learned in a dream. The Colonel brings in a psychic specialist, and by the end of the episode (even though none of the characters realize it), the audience is pretty convinced that Kim is a high-level psychic medium.
  • In the Veronica Mars episode "Normal Is the Watchword" our titular heroine is saved by a hallucination of (or possibly the actual spirit of) her dead best friend Lilly. Lilly had appeared frequently the previous season (as Veronica tried to solve her murder), but it had certainly been implied she was not a literal ghost, just Veronica's way of working through her emotions and thoughts. At least until "Normal Is the Watchword", when Lilly's sudden and unexplained appearance distracted her friend from getting on a doomed bus. It is later implied that Veronica may be suffering from a neurological condition brought on by various traumas.
  • Excluding very few anachronisms and the main character being Been There, Shaped History in steroids, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was a docutainment with a fairly realistic depiction of early 20th century history and World War I. Until one certain episode where the main character was sent to investigate abductions in Transylvania and ended battling Dracula himself.
    • Which is in keeping with the supernatural events he eventually runs into as an adult.
    • And the original framing sequence (which was removed from the DVD release) implied that it was a ghost story that old Indy was telling to some kids on Halloween.
  • The crossover episodes of Warehouse 13 and Eureka feel like this. The two shows had existed on the opposite sides of Speculative Fiction (Fantasy and Sci-Fi) until they were revealed to be the same universe. (Not even to mention the actor paradoxes.) The gap between the two shows is perfectly illustrated in the episode "13.1" by an exchange between Claudia and Fargo (paraphrased):
    [Claudia has a ring on her finger, causing her hand to glow brightly]
    Fargo: Is it somehow increasing your own bioluminescence?
    Claudia: [shrugs] It used to belong to Ben Franklin!

    Myths & Religion 
  • Several scholars of Greek Tragedy have claimed this to be the case for the Oedipus story. The confines of realistic human tragedy seem to always be at odds with the riddle-spewing, man-eating, she-beast in the backstory.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure Expedition to the Barrier Peaks starts out like any other fantasy dungeon-crawl of the era ... at least until the heroes enter the mysterious "cavern" — actually the airlock of a crashed spaceship full of weird life forms and hostile robots.
  • Pathfinder campaigns can very easily come across this way, due to the extent of the Fantasy Kitchen Sink being somewhat hidden at first. On the surface, at least, the setting of Golarion seems like pretty straightforward Tolkeinian High Fantasy - elves, dwarves, orcs, wizards, gods, demons, all present and correct. The technology level by default doesn't ever exceed muskets and cannon. There's teleportation and interdimensional travel but it's always portrayed in Magi Babble that squares it with the expected parameters of a High Fantasy setting. So it can be a little jarring the first time you find out that Golarion is also home to some alien lifeforms both organic and robotic that rode in on a crashing spaceship, or that some of the setting's "demigods" are actually very powerful artificial intelligences, or that one of the planets in Golarion's solar system is canonically a dormant space station, or that the planet Earth implicitly exists in the same universe and (thanks to the Public Domain) actual literal Cthulhu is currently asleep beneath its oceans while Baba Yaga conquered a Golarion country for the lols.

    Video Games 
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 has for half of the game the supernatural elements in a Medieval castle that are the staple of other Castlevania games, the other half is set in the modern world, where the player as Dracula has to face mooks in Powered Armor, robotic enemies, genetically enhanced super-soldiers and shotgun wielding mutants.
  • Fahrenheit, known as Indigo Prophecy in North America, has a notorious game shift toward this. What begins as a realistic murder mystery in an American city with vague supernatural elements transforms halfway through into a fantasy game featuring ancient Aztec temples and fight scenes straight out of Dragon Ball Z.
  • This reaction, taken to extremely Fan Dumb levels (death threats were involved), forced a significant change to Heroes of Might and Magic III: Armageddon's Blade: originally the expansion pack was supposed to be centered around a science fiction faction, the Forge, and the attempts to stop it from taking over the world, but that had to be thrown out and another story quickly come up with. Whether this trope is an accurate reaction is... more complex: the Might and Magic setting was a clear Science Fantasy one ever since the first game in the parent series, so looked at from that perspective the Forge was in keeping with genre conventions. The Heroes spinoff series, on the other hand, had previously only loosely alluded to the science fiction elements (the setting being a Lost Colony of the Ancients, the Kreegan "demons" being a Horde of Alien Locusts) in ways that didn't make clear they were science fiction elements, so looked at from the perspective of those only familar with Heroes it was a breach of genre conventions.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising takes place mostly in a Greek Mythology inspired fantasy world. With, the exception, of the few Space Pirates, as well as when the world desroying aliens called the Aurum show up.
  • The King of Fighters, which already featured ninjas, superpowered martial artists, street fighters, crime lords, secret agents, sorcerers, demons, gods, other preternatural beings, other cybernetically and bio-augmented warriors, and Duck King, entered this territory in spinoff The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact 2 with the introduction of Jivatma and Luise Meyrink as well as the revelation that the Meira brothers were aliens themselves.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask featured cow abductions and a battle against aliens despite its otherwise High Fantasy setting.
  • Ōkami starts out as a Far East version of Fractured Fairy Tale, including references to people who live on the moon. Sounds appropriately mystical at first, but you eventually see these people's vessels and the game portrays them as spaceships (one - described the locals as a "metal bamboo shoot" - even looks like a traditional rocket). The Big Bad itself is practically a robot.
  • Super Robot Wars has several of these, usually breaking the hard end of science fiction During the War setting from certain series (like Gundam) that forms the main backdrop of each story.
  • The "silly clowns" option in Quest for Glory II, a game that takes place in a middle-eastern fantasy setting. Granted, these games basically run on Anachronism Stew combined with an overabundance of cheesy gags, but this one has sight gags like a golfer in the middle of the desert.
  • Rayman: The first game is a light-hearted platformer where you fight musical instruments and colorful wildlife. The second has you fighting evil robot pirates who have blown up the heart of the world and enslaved all of your friends. Given the ludicrousness of the series in general though, that probably falls under Mood Whiplash more than this trope.
  • Sega's Rent A Hero, aside from the powered suit of the title character, is set in early 90s Japan where he has to deal with thugs, loan sharks, mob bosses and undergo tasks like looking for a missing child, protecting innocents, investigating cases of industrial espionage and so on. All rooted in reality, until some archeologists unearth a sarcophagus from where the spirit of an ancient pharaoh, King Glutenramen, emerges. He possesses one of the archeologists and it's up to Hero to take him to rest again. Unlike the other missions, this one is not further referenced and has no bearing on the overall plot. Also, an Egyptian sarcophagus in Japan?
  • In Super Robot Wars V, Velt's first comment about the Dragons once it's revealed they're half-humans is that they're violating conservation of mass and energy.
  • Team Fortress 2's Halloween events. TF2 is normally about a (not so) normal war going on between two companies, but every Halloween supernatural elements come into play. For example, in 2013 you had to send your employer's dead brother to Hell, while fending off skeletons with magic.
  • The final Nevada level in Tomb Raider III is pretty consistent in theme, ranging from a high security area in the middle of a desert and transitioning to a secret government lab experimenting on aliens and have an alien spaceship locked away in a room. However, at one point, you see a pair of orcas/whales in a tank. The whales are just there without any explanation at all and they severely clash with the theme of the level. The only reason you would jump into their tank is to collect the level's last secret.
  • In the Touhou Project side manga Touhou Ibarakasen ~ Wild and Horned Hermit, Kanako uses this trope when doing the cold fusion experiment after Reimu wonders if there would be demons or spirits emerging instead of just bubbling water. The whole use is rather ironic considering they are conducting a scientific experiment in Gensokyo, the land where everything fantastic exists.
  • True Crime: Streets of LA is a gritty, if cheesy cop story, mostly dealing with the right and wrong sides of the law, and how doing the right thing can take a backseat to vengeance at the expense of being a good guy, among other things. Except for the part where you descend into the bowels of LA, confront a Japanese mystic guy, and fight off dragons composed entirely of fire that shoot skulls at you. And then Nick, the protagonist, doesn't mention it ever again.

    Visual Novels 

    Western Animation 
  • Some episodes of Arthur have scenes implying that aliens actually exist (such as the end of "The Chips are Down" where two aliens are seen talking about how they like ballet). Even more peculiar, sometimes the alien scenes are inconsistent, such as in "D.W.'s Snow Mystery" it's shown that some aliens took D.W.'s snowball thinking it to be human food, but in "Return of the Snowball", it's shown that two different, teenage aliens stole it.
  • The Daria episode "Depth Takes a Holiday" involves Daria meeting personifications of the holidays asking her to find other missing personifications of them who have run off. Quite different for a show mostly about life in high school. Do yourself a favor and don't bring it up to fans.
  • The Flintstones: The Great Gazoo is a space alien in a modern stone age setting.
  • Gargoyles: Goliath, Elisa Maza, Angela, and Bronx during their world tour arrive on Rapa Nui and run into Nokar, an alien sentinel who was sent by his race to protect Earth from another unmentioned race of aliens. This is a little less weird than it seems, though, as science fiction elements had been in the show from fairly early on, with cybernetics and genetic manipulation having already put in appearances.
  • The Loud House:
    • Zigzagged in "Spell it Out" where Lucy finds Great-Grandma Harriet's spell book and believes she's made Lisa sticky, broken Lori's phone, made Lana's butt itchy, and all her siblings lose their voices. However, it turns out that Lisa had spilled adhesive on herself, Lori's phone had simply run out of battery power, Lana's butt was itchy because she'd sat in poison ivy, and apparently, the siblings had lost their voices cheering for their grandfather, however, the picture of Great-Grandma Harriet smiles, so it's unknown if that really happened, or if it really was magic and cheering for their grandfather was a coincidence.
    • In "Washed Up", a Nessie-type monster named Plessy is shown to exist.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has the first season episode, "Feeling Pinkie Keen", an episode where Twilight Sparkle attempts to figure out the scientific nature of Pinkie Pie's "Pinkie Sense" and is driven up the wall by the fact that it doesn't make any sense at all. In later episodes it's simply accepted as fact that laws of magic and physics don't really apply to her.
  • The Mysterious Cities of Gold is set around the conquistador times, and is about men in search for El Dorado, and cities full of Gold. While there are some semi-mythical elements (such as Esteban being the "Child of the Sun" and that the imperial-age Quechua Nation have fairly sophisticated fantasy-esque technology), it was always kept in the theme of the period and explained in terms of what was available at the time. Then out of nowhere, the aliens are revealed and watching the protagonists on television screens...
  • The Christmas Episode of Postman Pat features an old man with psychokinesis, who might be Santa Claus.
  • The Proud Family: During the first season, the stories are strictly Slice of Life, with some elements exaggerated for laughs. The second season starts introducing overt fantasy storylines, such as a Halloween Episode in which Penny turns into a real superhero, and a camping trip into what turns out to be a Lost World. The Big Damn Movie, which acts as a Grand Finale, has a plot about genetically engineered peanut people, a long way from the mundane plots the series began with.
  • The Rugrats episode "The Santa Experience" ends with Santa's sleigh flying off.
  • Scooby-Doo has occasionally been known to replace the guy in a monster mask with an actual monster. Generally, if Shaggy and Scooby are alone (or with Scrappy), the monsters are real. If Fred or Velma is there, they aren't. The films, both live-action and Direct-to-Video, usually have real monsters regardless of their cast.
  • The Transformers was primarily a sci-fi show centered around giant robots. However, there were several occasions where the plot delved into supernatural areas—in one episode they ran into a wizard in the past, in another they dealt with a Quintesson who used magic, and two episodes were devoted to Starscream's ghost.
  • This happens at least twice in Craig of the Creek:
    • In Trick or Creek, the halloween special episode, introduces us to a new kid in an astronaut costume who reveals to be a ghost named No-Neck Natthew.
    • In The Haunted Dollhouse, the Dollhouse Boy is invoked by the Witches of the Creek after Craig and his friends by the title dollhouse.