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Law of Conservation of Normality

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Freed from the strictures of anything resembling 'volumes' or 'episodes', many webcomic authors enjoy writing 'big' plots. Big, sprawling, possibly-never-ending Kudzu Plots that spawn two new plot points for every one resolved, and leave the characters changed forever! There's no need for Snap Back when any new readers can just read the archives to get up to date!

On the other hand, many of the same authors enjoy having characters they can identify with. And they like having a setting close enough to the modern day that they can reference current events. These things can be problematic when any given arc has enough mad, grotesque or visionary events to render the cast insane and the world unrecognizable.

The solution? Everything is mutable, except for the vicissitudes of life that everybody seems to face. For example: Imagine a David R. Rand. He's a normal guy, he works at a 7-11 and goes to college. One day, The Devil steals his soul! Furious, David astrally projects himself into the body of a Fungus from Yuggoth and battles the Devil in a devastating fight that levels Denver. Defeated, the Devil spitefully cracks open the gates of hell, releasing a plague of flesh-devouring ghouls, and retreats.

The next day, David is still a tentacled alien, and Denver is still levelled, and the Devil is still at large — but Dave still has to drag himself across those ghoul-haunted streets to the 7-11 or there will be hell to pay. And has he really considered what his girlfriend is going to think of his new appearance?

Similar to Reed Richards Is Useless, but sillier, and goes beyond socio-economic issues. This is the standard method of keeping World of Weirdness from becoming totally incomprehensible.

Compare Weirdness Censor. Contrast Superman Stays Out of Gotham.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Hei in Darker than Black becomes more the Ridiculously Average Guy the more his masked persona engages in feats of over the top badassery. He dispenses with this after the breaking of the masquerade, but instead there are more scenes of the Muggle characters' working days.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man invented this, pioneering the idea of a main character who was also an Ordinary High-School Student. The most obvious example is how he still has to work for a living despite being able to whip up a multi-purpose, industrial-strength adhesive in his basement.
  • Astro City refines this to a fine art. The story "Welcome to the Big City" has a single dad who recently moved into town with his two daughters, when the city is attacked by a gigantic storm elemental. Heading to the roof to watch the fight between the monster and the town's superheroes, he is horrified at how casually his neighbors treat the whole thing almost like a party, and he seriously considers leaving town the next day to protect his kids. But after the battle, when he sees how supportive everyone is in the cleanup, he chooses to stay, realizing that those are the values he wants his children to learn.
    • And the story "Newcomers" reveals that this isn't the case for all new arrivals — a fair few just can't take it and will go somewhere else. There are superheroes and villains in other cities, but Astro City is just an exceptional Weirdness Magnet.
      Pete: But that's okay. Somebody's got to live in all the other cities.
    • How does Honor Guard, the world's greatest super-hero team, stay on top of the millions of emergency calls sent in every day? Easy! They have a call center, with thousands of operators employed. Other than the building having matter transporters, materializing at locations around the world for secrecy, and occasionally being a key component in defeating super-villains, it's more or less just like any other call center employed by large organizations everywhere.
  • Right after the end of DC Comics' Our Worlds at War crossover event, the World Trade Centers were destroyed. Superman was depicted as being profoundly moved by 9/11. So a few thousand people being killed by terrorists is more disturbing to Superman than an interplanetary war with the living embodiment of entropy who destroyed "countless" other planets just on his way to Earth. Over eight million Earthlings were confirmed dead.
  • 9/11 also happened in the Marvel universe. The difference being that a good deal of Marvel's heroes actually live in New York. Despite the dozen or so heroes—yes, including Reed Richards—being there after the Towers collapsed, none of them were able to stop the first plane. That's somewhat reasonable, since it was a surprise. But no one was able to divert the second plane (despite some of the NYC resident superheroes being unambiguously strong, fast, and flight-capable enough to stop a hijacked airliner in their sleep). Or keep the Towers from collapsing.
    • And of course New York has had worse things than 9/11, from Magneto turning it into a death camp, Hydra nuking a part of it, etc.
    • Or the fact that some supervillains were disgusted by 9/11 and helped clear the rubble, despite having personally done things far more evil, and also having the resources to track down bin Laden and leave his smoldering corpse on the White House lawn within the week.
    • It is doubtful these stories will stay in continuity for long, considering that the only far reaching consequence of them was Captain America's The Unmasking. Even then writers can always explain that the bombers had some hero-repellents and so supers couldn't do anything.
    • Comic writers had similar problems with World War II. After all, Superman could just end the war in the course of an afternoon.
  • Averted in Ex Machina, when the end of the first issue reveals that Mitchell managed to save the second of the Twin Towers. He still thinks a "real hero" would've been able to save both.
  • Atomic Robo is designed to adhere to this as much as possible for a series that involves sapients robots and talking dinosaurs.
    • Robo fights monsters from other dimensions rather than aliens because the latter would cause a bigger cultural shift.
    • Robo meets many historical celebrities, but as an ally / friend / enemy rather than the defining part of their lives. On the other hand, every single one of them receives a Historical Badass Upgrade.
    • Japan has an actual Sentai team, but their suits are incredibly expensive and require days of maintenance for every fight. Instead of teenagers with attitude, they're scientists who fund their operations through patenting. Their mecha is smaller than the average example and requires enormous amounts of power - the tech to build more practical giant robots would change the entire world.

  • Bakemonogatari focuses so much on relationships, long conversations and other mundanity that it's possible to forget that the protagonist is a recovering vampire who works to keep his friends safe from supernatural beings.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya is almost like a Stealth Parody of this trope, mainly revolving around Kyon. Despite knowing that his friends are, respectively, an omnipotent Reality Warper, a member of a shady organization of psychics, a member of an equally shady organization of time travellers, and a humanoid interface for an incomprehensible alien being...he seems determined to live a normal life, and is frequently irritated by the supernatural distractions. It's also an Invoked Trope, since they all conspire to make the omnipotent one's life seem normal so that she won't realize how powerful she is. But this sometimes backfires and makes her unwittingly warp reality for silly reasons, such as in the Endless Eight arc, where she creates an endless "Groundhog Day" Loop because Kyon hasn't done his homework.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Adam Ruins Everything: Adam has "TV powers" which let him bend reality to his will while doing an episode, but he never uses his powers to solve his mundane life problems or those of other characters. Apparently he took an oath to only use them for learning.

    Web Comics 
  • College Roomies from Hell!!! is the king of this trope. Cthulhu arises, science runs amok, supernatural armies amass for the end of all things, characters mutate and die and rise again… and not once does it give them a break in their romantic and familial hangups. Usually the reverse.
  • El Goonish Shive features everything from interdimensional space whales to superheroes, but being urban fantasy, everything is in the "real" world, not to mention the fact that magic and supernatural nonsense is kept more or less hidden to the general public. As a result, life is pretty normal most of the time: characters have regular romantic relationships, they go to normal schools, and several even have jobs.
    • Turns out the main characters pretty much forgot about it themselves. When one of them remembered it and brought it up, an authority figure told him that (undefined) measures had been taken to protect them.
  • Fans!: Ever since the Government Conspiracy gave up, people have just learned to live with, well, aliens, time travellers, sliders, and espers to the point that Wendy's now offers pails of raw meat juice in case any vampires show up. High school, apparently, is no longer taken wholesale from Archie and Mean Girls a bit different.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: Clearly, no matter how many times Generictown gets attacked by aliens or dragons or an army of unicorn-riding bigfeet, it will always settle back into being a sleepy little town where nothing ever happens.
  • If CRFH!!! is King then MegaTokyo is Queen; This is a version of Japan where strong AI gets incorporated into Dating Sim accessories and both Sega and Sony operate black ops divisions whilst the police ride around in Humongous Mecha fighting off zombie hordes and giant monsters. And no one sees anything unusual about this. In fact, most people barely seem to notice.
  • Misfile plays head games with this trope. Ash has two freaking angels living in her house, plus a third angel running around causing mischief. The plot bounces back and forth between problems in the heavenly bureaucracy, the dark influence of malevolent spirits, and the everyday issues Ash and Emily have as a result of the titular misfile.
  • Sluggy Freelance also uses this trope heavily. You accidentally brought a man-eating alien to Earth, and after running amok for a couple weeks, it shows up at your house asking for help fitting into society? Give it a job as your secretary. A demon arrives from the Dimension of Pain to try to steal your soul each Halloween? Throw a big Halloween party advertising a real live demon as the main attraction, and charge admission. Your house is haunted by hundreds of ghosts? Try to get them to chip in on rent.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court doesn't really go for loud explosions or infernal horrors to try to compete with webcomics like CRFH!!! or MegaTokyo as described above, but in its gentle, dreamlike way it's one of the weirdest webcomics around, where just about anything could happen. At the same time, school year rolls along, and regardless of whether you're trapped in a nightmare parallel world, are a half-elemental, can teleport, or simply are slowly transforming into a bird, you need to catch classes.
  • In Cobweb and Stripes, Lydia may be the Protectorate of a strangely overpowered ghost with an unpredictable personality, and she may take regular trips to the world of the dead - but she's still a girl in her late teens who has to get through college classes and keep in touch with her parents.

    Web Original 
  • In the Paradise setting, this happens in stories set in 2009 and beyond, when the masquerade has been broken and the fact that humans have been changing into potentially gender-switched Funny Animals (though normals could not see the change) is known to the world. One of the later stories in the setting, "Family Tree", involves a family holiday get-together after the Change has become widely known. Most of the family has Changed, and the last holdout's impending Change (and the possibility of it involving gender bending) is treated as a perfectly ordinary matter. Then when said holdout does Change, and gender-change, the rest of the family takes it in such stride that the hapless Changee is more than a little overwhelmed.
    • Several earlier stories in continuity actually justify the trope; once various world governments were made aware of what was happening, it rapidly dawned on them that they couldn't do anything to stop the Change and that The Masquerade wasn't going to hold forever, so they'd better start making plans for breaking the news and dealing with the fallout. It mostly worked, despite the interested parties being thrown a few major curveballs like the Invisible to Normals aspect turning out to be less than 100% reliable.
  • In the Whateley Universe, superheroes and supervillains have been on the loose for more than a century. Supervillains have tried to destroy the world multiple times, and have unleashed horrific plagues. Major cities have been attacked. International media may be under the control of supervillains or international conspiracies or the heavily anti-mutant Goodkind family. And yet, television shows and movies and pop culture are completely unchanged, with only minor changes in the daily lives of normal people. (Except there are popular programs like 'Hero Watch' and the Quinn Martin-like 'Tales of the MCO'.)
    • Subverted later on, when changes ARE shown. For one thing, Marvel's movies went in weird directions, and there is a functioning moon base.

    Western Animation 
  • Garfield complains about this in an episode of Garfield and Friends where he prevents an alien invasion of Earth (again). Despite having prevented the enslavement of humanity, no one saw him so Garfield has to simply resume his normal life with no reward.
  • Despite Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends taking place in a world where imaginary friends are completely real to everyone, people who keep theirs around past a very young age are considered extremely strange and childish.