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Putting the cast of a (relatively) fantastical setting into a contemporary, "normal" one. The entertainment often comes from the incongruity of not fitting in or the fact that we're seeing the characters in a realistic setting.

Exemplified by the famous and much enjoyed Star Trek episodes where characters either go to the past or get involved in a holodeck novel, and (in practice) leave their show's tropes behind a bit.

However, doing this as a Genre Shift (or a Retooled series's whole premise) is often too obvious to be successful.

If it involves people from a futuristic setting travelling into the past (or a recreation of it), expect there to be a Fan of the Past who provides exposition or takes charge.

Compare Brought Down to Normal, Refugee from TV Land, Universal-Adaptor Cast, Welcome to the Real World, Fish out of Temporal Water. See also Adaptational Mundanity and High School AU.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Naruto:
    • One of the ending sequences for Naruto: Shippuuden drops the cast into a High School AU. This was later expanded upon in Shippu Konoha Gakuen Den.
    • Another Naruto Shippuden outro depicts Naruto and Sasuke as enemy Rōnin.
  • The whole point of Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days, a shojo manga that extracts the Mind Screwy, psychological, post-apocalyptic elements of NGE that we all know and hate to love in place of a light, romantic-comedy high school setting. With Evas in the background.
  • Kino's Journey has a spin-off called Gakuen Kino. The latter is, admittedly, a High School AU with magical girls and random monsters floating around, but given that Kino's Journey is a poster child for surreal magic realism, it seems to be a good borderline example.
  • Gurren Gakuen-hen is another official High School AU, this one for Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. As with Neon Genesis Evangelion, the alternate universe briefly appears in the original show in the form of a dream or hallucination.
  • You're Under Arrest! has a dream episode where Natsumi becomes a detective in Heian-era Japan, centuries in the past, with the entire cast re-cast as the townspeople. (There is an immensely-popular Japanese live-action TV show about a detective in the Heian Era, and Natsumi is a fangirl of the show.)
  • The Fairy Tail omakes usually put the characters into everyday situations instead of the fantastical adventures and magical battles they experience in the main series. Examples are going to the pool, suffering from awkward teenage romances and visiting a girl's dorm. Most of them seem to be canon as a few have been referenced in the main story, so the reason they are separate from the series is probably that they would distract too much from, and postpone, the more actionized main plot. One of the few non-canon omakes even puts Lucy and co. in a normal high school setting where magic doesn't exist at all.
  • The Tenchi Muyo! TV series had three episodes where the characters were dropped into other genres, including a High School drama and a Film Noir.
  • The premise of Isekai Quartet where Re:Zero, The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Overlord (2012), and KonoSuba, four light novel series that deal with stories where the protagonists get Trapped in Another World, get Trapped in Another World again - except this time it's a world very much like our own, with the protagonists and their closest allies ending up becoming classmates. The cast of The Rising of the Shield Hero joins in for the second season.

    Comic Books 
  • PS238 has a storyline where Victor von Fogg goes to an alternate universe without superheroes, with some of the heroes (and also Zodon) in pursuit. This includes meeting Alternate Universe Zodon, who's comparably nicer and a more realistic version of a Child Prodigy. (As in, he has his own internet company but no doomsday devices.)

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Fifty Shades of Grey famously originated as a mundane-AU fanfic novel based on Twilight, with Christian and Anastasia based on Edward and Bella.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek
    • Star Trek: The Original Series. Whenever Desilu had props or costumes left over from another production, the Enterprise would mysteriously stumble across an alien planet that bore a startling resemblance to a period in Earth's history. Examples include:
      • In "Miri", the production team invents the idea of a duplicate Earth to justify filming on The Andy Griffith Show backlot.
      • It gave us "A Piece of the Action", in which the crew visited a planet run like the Prohibition-era Mafia, complete with Tommy guns, pin-striped suits, and Model-A Fords.
      • "Patterns of Force" features a federation interloper setting up a society based on "the most efficient and well-ordered of all societies", Nazi Germany.
      • "Bread and Circuses" features Space Romans. Not to be confused with the franchise's other group of Space Romans, the Romulans, these are literal Space Romans who dress like Legionnaires. This episode was more of a piss-take than the others, though.
      • They also actually visit the past of Earth in "City on the Edge of Forever" (The '30s) and "Assignment: Earth" and "Tomorrow is Yesterday", both of which were set in the contemporary '60s.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation, of course, had the holodeck. Data and LaForge were fond of acting out the parts of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, respectively. Of course, sometimes this caused problems, such as when Holmes's archnemesis, Professor Moriarty, took over the ship.
    • Star Trek: Voyager has this in "Future's End", when the crew visit 1996. There's a clever subversion of the common trope of the Fan of the Past taking charge—Tom Paris is indeed an expert on the twentieth century, but on the mid twentieth century, which causes problems when he mentions the Soviet Union to a local. There's also a jab at the fashion of the era with Chakotay noting that they probably could've worn their Starfleet uniforms and fit in just fine.
    • Star Trek: Picard's second season spends the bulk of its runtime in 2024 Los Angeles as part of an extended Q test.
  • Being Human (both versions): Various supernatural critters under one roof in contemporary times.
  • Stargate Universe is a borderline example. While the Stargate canon has many fantastic elements, it is set in modern-day earth with mostly normal humans. Universe, however, is set halfway across the universe in a You Can't Go Home Again scenario, but still uses a hallucination episode, "Cloverdale", to play the trope straight.
  • Supergirl (2015) has this trope occasionally with episodes focusing on more mundane issues like family anniversaries etc. even though the characters are Human Aliens and the situations are analog of Real Life ones. The conflict is recognizable enough, even if the characters and setting are different from ours.
  • WandaVision is an interesting downplayed example of the trope, the series starts with Wanda and (a seemingly resurrected) Vision living as a normal couple (though Wanda has her magic and Vision is still an android with powers) living a normal suburban life. However, this is merely a fake reality that both of them are trapped in and Wanda's keeping up to have a happy life after losing Vision in Avengers: Infinity War.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Older Than Dirt: In Sumerian mythology, the goddess Inanna, known for her childish habit of losing her temper and causing widespread chaos and destruction, is married to the shepherd god Dumuzi. However, some ancient love lyrics and wedding songs feature Dumuzi as a regular shepherd who is courting Inanna, who appears as a temperamental young maiden.

    Video Games 
  • The ending of Chrono Cross has someone, apparently Kid, in our world shown realistically.


    Western Animation 
  • Borderline example: The Disney series TaleSpin plunks several characters from The Jungle Book (1967) into a 1930s-era "Golden Age of Flying" environment, which also happens to be a World of Funny Animals (meaning Mowgli doesn't exist). Baloo becomes a Genius Ditz pilot, Louie a barkeeper, Shere Khan a (relatively benign) corporate CEO. The actual plot of the film never enters into it.
  • In ├ćon Flux, the ending of the more-than-usually Mind Screwing episode "Chronophasia" has Aeon apparently being recreated as an ordinary woman in our world.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) gives us the episode "Oops, I Did It Again", in which Professor Utonium dreams of the girls reimagined as the "Run of the Mill Girls", who don't have superpowers or their distinctive Non-Standard Character Design. Towards the end, we also see that Utonium's career was also hit by mundanization — instead of working in a laboratory, he runs "Pizza Pie Laboratory", a take-out pizza joint. "Man, oh, man! What an exciting job!"
  • My Little Pony Tales took out many of the more fanciful aspects of My Little Pony: there were no pegasi, unicorns or magic, and the primary issues they faced were typical Slice of Life fare like dealing with crushes, schoolwork, bullying, and other things the target audience would likely face.
  • This was very nearly the fate of the 1988 revival of Beany and Cecil. Executive Meddling wanted Beany to be an ordinary schoolboy and his adventures with Cecil and the others merely daydreams. Bob Clampett Jr., son of the original creator, fought tooth and nail for the series to keep its whimsical fantasy setting and succeeded.
  • Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake reveals that the version of Ooo that Fionna and Cake lived in got turned into an ordinary world after Simon Petrikov regained his humanity during the Grand Finale of the original series. Fionna became a tour guide named Fionna Campbell, Cake became an ordinary housecat, and many of the remaining inhabitants of Ooo are humans. When Fionna and Cake end up escaping Simon's mind and brought before Prismo (their true creator), he restores them as their original forms, and they and Simon go on a quest to similarly bring their Ooo back to its more fantastical state.