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!
- 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.
- 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.
- "Princess Celestia Hates Tea" involves Celestia admitting that she dislikes tea, and all Hell breaking loose as a result. The sequel, "A Short Story by Twilight Sparkle", reveals that all of those events were just a story that Twilight wrote — and the real Celestia wonders why Twilight caricatured herself so viciously in that story.
- "His Honor, The Mayor, Drew Lipsky?" and its sequels takes place in a world where Kim Possible is a bunch of stories Ron wrote on the internet based on Kim's actual adventures kinda like The Rusty Venture Show, though he had to change a lot of details for various reasons.
- 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).
- Curb Your Enthusiasm stars a fictionalized version of Larry David, creator of Seinfeld. There, Seinfeld is as fictional in real life, and one story arc was about getting the cast back together to film a reunion special.
- Doogie Kameāloha, M.D. is a reboot of Doogie Howser, M.D.. In-universe, Doogie Howser, MD is acknowledged as a fictional program, and Lahela Kameāloha gets given the nickname "Doogie" in reference to it.
- Staged: Season 2 is set around trying to remake season 1 for an American audience.
- Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: It's revealed in the final trial that within the universe of V3, all the preceding Danganronpa games and anime are simply that: games and anime. When world peace proved far too boring for humanity to handle, they turned to Danganronpa to sate their bloodlust, and the series became extremely popular. Eventually, mere games and anime weren't enough for them, so it was decided that the franchise should be adapted into a real-life reality show where high school students willingly sign up to become brainwashed with the identities of Danganronpa characters and kill each other on live TV. The actual students who signed up for the season during which the game takes place were quite happy to do so, but the fictional personas who survived to this point are shocked and disgusted that so many people could be so sick as to think their situation is the least bit entertaining. Of course, the possibility is also brought up that the events of the previous series were real and the person doing the exposition was lying her ass off.
- In Soushuu Senshinkan Gakuen Hachimyoujin, the Shinza Bansho Series by the same author is apparently a popular fighting game series which Ayumi is a huge fan of, owning at least one of the titles and seemingly liking to sing Einsatz when she gets the chance.