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Usually, a sequel shows what happened next in the world of the original work. This trope is when a sequel or spin-off shows what happened next in a world where the original work is only fiction.

A common aspect is that although the sequel (or spin-off) is generally constrained to be the same genre as the original (otherwise, why make it a sequel?), setting it in a different world allows the creators to go as Broad Strokes as they like, and play with things not working according to the rules viewers would expect from the original.


May include an invocation of The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You, especially if it's in the horror genre.

Compare Nested Story Reveal, where part of a story is revealed within the same work to be fictional; Recursive Canon, where an earlier work in the series is real but also has an in-universe fictional work based on it; and Legend Fades to Myth, where an earlier work in the series is real but has become a legend in the time of the current work.


Unmarked spoilers ahead!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon Tamers: The Digimon franchise is only a work of fiction, up to and including the previous two anime installments. All the main characters are huge fans of the trading card game in particular, with one even having the moniker "Digimon Queen" due to her skill in the competitive scene. Then real Digimon start showing up. The more "grounded" nature of their reality means the show ultimately skews darker than most other Digimon series.
  • The Gundam Build branch of the Gundam franchise contains stories in which the rest of the franchise is fiction, but new technology has allowed fans to create working replicas of the Gundams and pit them against each other in non-lethal combat. The tone is generally lighter than most Gundam stories, with elements of self-parody.

    Comic Books 
  • The Flash (1950s reboot): Flash Comics is only a work of fiction, and the Flash is "just a character some writer dreamed up". A fan of the comic book gains similar powers in a Freak Lab Accident, and decides to base his superhero identity on the comic book character. The choice to turn this version of the comic into a Continuity Reboot, rather than a simple revival, and make the older comic fictional in-universe, was the first step towards establishing the DC comics continuity as a multiverse, with far-reaching results to this day.
  • Solar: Man of the Atom (Valiant Comics reboot): The comic book Doctor Solar is only a work of fiction. Phil Seleski, a fan of the comic book, gains energy-based superpowers and splits into two beings, one of whom is based on Doctor Solar.
  • In Jeff Lemire's Moon Knight run, we are shown segments where Moon Knight might be a fictional comic book being adapted into a film for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Emphasis is on might as the run is noted for its Mind Screw elements.
  • After Patsy Walker became the superheroine Hellcat, The Defenders established that the original Patsy Walker humour book was written by her mother and based very loosely on her and her friends.
  • When Marvel completely rewrote their Western character the Two Gun Kid, including changing his real name, the original Kid was said to be a fictional dime-novel character who inspired Matt Hawk to take up the name.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bewitched (2005 film): The TV series Bewitched is only a work of fiction. The part of Samantha in a remake goes to a real witch-passing-as-normal; Hilarity Ensues.
  • Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2: The movie The Blair Witch Project is only a work of fiction. A group of fans go to visit the locations where the movie was shot, and have a horrifying possibly-supernatural experience.
  • Both the second and third The Human Centipede films: In The Human Centipede II, the original is only a movie. An obsessed fan of the movie decides to make his own human centipede. The third film, The Human Centipede: Final Sequence, similarly has the first two films as fictional and inspiring its villain.
  • Wes Craven's New Nightmare: The movie A Nightmare on Elm Street is only a work of fiction. The actress who played the Final Girl starts experiencing supernatural phenomena similar to those her character had to deal with.
  • The Muppets movies generally play fast and loose with the fourth wall anyway, but Muppets Most Wanted specifically opens with the reveal that they haven't reclaimed their popularity and had fans thronging the streets, because The Muppets was just a movie, and those were all paid extras.
  • Return of the Living Dead is set in a world where the Zombie Apocalypse of Night of the Living Dead happened, but that movie is a Broad Strokes adaptation of the actual events so George A. Romero wouldn't sue. The differences in zombie lore between the "actual" events and the "fictionalized" version become a plot point.
    Burt: I thought you said if we destroyed the brain, it'd die!
    Frank: It worked in the movie!
    Burt: Well, it ain't working now, Frank!
    Freddy: You mean the movie lied?!?
  • The French horror film Arthur: The Curse is a live-action spin-off of Arthur and the Invisibles where it and the two sequels that never came State-side were movies.

  • Miles Franklin wrote two partly-autobiographical novels, My Brilliant Career and My Career Goes Bung. The first is a romance about a young woman named Sybylla Melvyn attempting to establish herself as a writer. The second is a more realistic novel about a young woman named Sybylla Melvyn dealing with the consequences of publishing a partly-autobiographical novel titled My Brilliant Career — which is established to be exactly the same novel in-universe as the one Miles Franklin actually wrote, making the Sybylla of the first novel a fictional version of the Sybylla of the second novel (who is established to have a different number of siblings and other biographical details).

    Live-Action TV 

    Visual Novels