One of the nice things about reality is that a person's existence is not decided by consensual agreement, worship, or logic. In fiction that is not always the case and one can disappear in a Puff of Logic.
Maybe the characters live in a world where Your Mind Makes It Real, or they have Reality Warper powers, failing at logic can be fatal, or the author likes a good laugh. Whatever the case, a convincing argument can make anyone cease to exist and disappear. However, this doesn't necessarily erase the character's prior existence up to that point; see Ret Gone for an instance when a character's entire past gets expunged as well.
Compare The Centipede's Dilemma, Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress, Achievements in Ignorance, Reminder of Impossibility, and Talking the Monster to Death. Contrast Self-Inflicted Hell, where a character is in Hell simply because he or she believes they are. Also contrast Clap Your Hands If You Believe, in which faith makes something work or exist. Can be the end result of a Logic Bomb. Super Trope to I'm Not Afraid of You. Sometimes might happen immediately after a character has proclaimed: "This Cannot Be!" Also compare No Ontological Inertia, which is a (slightly) more realistic take on this trope. An Oxymoronic Being might be subject to this.
- This Skittles commercial. Three teens sit on a rainbow and enjoy their Skittles while looking down below: Teen #1: "Hey, what if this rainbow doesn't exist and it's just in our imagina-" the rainbow opens under him and falls out of the sky in mid-sentence while the other two teens look on, followed by the slogan "BELIEVE THE RAINBOW! TASTE THE RAINBOW!"
- This is the premise of Noein. Two competing potential futures are battling to influence the past and cause their rival to cease existing. The big bad is eventually killed by everyone refusing to acknowledge his existence.
- In Hellsing, this is how the mighty Alucard met his demise. He absorbed the soul of Schrodinger - a Nazi catboy, whose prime trait was an ability to exist as long as he could recognize himself. Once absorbed and integrated into Alucard's pool of souls, Schrodinger could recognize himself no longer and disappeared along with Alucard; for a little while at least...apparently not even a Ret Gone can stop Alucard.
- In the prequel story to Fairy Tail a.k.a Fairy Tail Zero, one of Mavis's companions is a girl name Zera who she saved a long time ago when they were kids. Time passes, they meet the other future founding members of Fairy Tail and have an adventure. However at the end of it, one of them, Yuri explains to Mavis that Zera is just an Imaginary Friend Mavis conjured up by her powers after the real Zera died from her injuries all those years ago. Once Zera confirms it, she starts to fade away as Mavis was unaware of this until being revealed the truth of such.
- In Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, the metafictional world of Orqwith disappears from reality when Rebis exposes the contradiction at its heart (based on a Raymond Smullyan puzzle):
Rebis: I've come to ask the question. One of you must have the answer. Why is there something instead of nothing?
Priest in Black: I am a liar and I do not know why there is something instead of nothing.
Priest in White: I am an honest man and I do not know why there is something instead of nothing.
Rebis: Tell me then, the Priest in Black, why is there something instead of nothing?
Priest in Black: There is something instead of nothing.
Rebis: Then you can't possibly exist.
- In the final issue of Suore Ninja (an Italian comic mercilessly satirizing the Catholic Church), The Pope has a bet with God with the fate of Earth, and bets he can prove that God isn't allmighty by having him create a rock he cannot lift, and claims victory when God successfully lifts it (if God can lift it, then he doesn't have the power to create something he cannot lift. Had he failed, then he wouldn't have had the power to lift something). God promptly points out it's a technicality, even if he decides to abide to the terms of the bet.
- One Nodwick story sees the party 'defeat' a lich by smacking it in the head with a magic club that makes you smarter (called, the "Clue-By-Four"). The lich, realizing that its status as The Undead only prolongs its own agony and causes it to lash out on others thus making the universe a crappier place to live, promptly reasons itself out of existence.
- Mentioned in Unfamiliar when Alex tries to dispel Louise's notion that she is incapable of magic.
- At the end of The Flight of Dragons, the main character defeats the Big Bad wizard by telling him magic is impossible. Without belief, magic doesn't work and knowledge of science is incompatible with belief in magic.
- It also backfires on him, since, by denying magic, he banishes himself back to "our" world.
- In Meet the Robinsons, thanks to Time Travel, Lewis defeats the Big Bad simply by saying "I am never going to invent you."
- In The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, The Pirate Captain boards a ship only to find it's a ghost ship. Once he realises the ship isn't solid, he falls right through it.
- In the movie Cloak & Dagger, Davey has Jack Flack, an imaginary spy that helps him out throughout the movie. After Jack convinces Davey to shoot a bad guy that was trying to kill him, Davey stops believing in Jack, and Jack just fades from existence.
- In the Fight Club movie, Tyler disappears when the Narrator "kills him". That was a key point in the movie where the Narrator managed to take control of his own mind.
- Old joke:
Two men are standing on a skyscraper. Suddenly, the first one jumps down. The other one expects him to die horribly, but to his surprise, the first guy just bounces off the pavement, bounces a few more times, until he comes to rest. The second guy inquires how this is possible. The first guy explains: "It's all in your mind. You just have to think you're a rubber ball, and you will bounce just like a ball."
"And everyone can do that?"
"Yes, everyone, it's the easiest thing. Try it."
The second man is curious and really makes the jump. All the time while he's falling, he thinks "I'm a rubber ball, I'm a rubber ball".
Then, shortly before hitting the pavement: "But what if I was a tomato?"
- Descartes walks into a bar, the bartender asks him what he wants, and he orders a beer. He drinks it, and the bartender asks him if he wants another beer. Descartes says "I think not", and disappears in a puff of logic.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Trope Namer, in which the Guide presents an argument against God's existence. As the argument goes, God refuses to prove his own existence, because "proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing." Man points out the Babel Fish as a "dead giveaway" - it's just too handy to have evolved naturally - causing God to vanish "in a puff of logic." The Guide then says that this argument has been universally rejected on the basis that it is profoundly stupid; just to start, the Babel Fish being made unnaturally doesn't mean God had to have made it. Of course, that doesn't stop in-universe writers such as Oolon Coluphid from cashing in on the argument.
- In his Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes actually ponders this by noting that if he wasn't thinking, then perhaps he would not exist. He goes on to state that, regardless of what else he may be wrong about, he must at least exist in the capacity of an entity that is capable of being wrong; if he doesn't exist in at least that capacity, then it's not his problem.
- Discworld all over the place.
- Belafon the druid with his flying rock in The Light Fantastic.
Belafon sat down with his feet dangling over the edge of the rock.
"Look, don't worry," he said. "If you keep thinking the rock shouldn't be flying it might hear you and become persuaded and you will turn out to be right, okay? It's obvious you aren't up to date with modern thinking".
- The Auditors of Reality believe that because mortals have a finite life and that anything finite is insignificant compared to the infinite length of the universe, to develop a personality is to become mortal and thus die. Any time an auditor starts using the first person, you can bank on it evaporating in a blue flame very shortly. The narrative notes that this is flawed logic, but the auditors self-destruct too quickly to catch on.
- Then there's that genie in Sourcery. The characters wish to go someplace, so they all sit inside the genie's bottle for the ride. . . .while they are carrying it, so the bottle moves because it's inside the moving bottle. The entire setup is banking on the universe not noticing what they were doing, which backfires once one of the characters points out the conundrum. The Puff of Logic ensues.
- In Feet of Clay, it's stated that the standard protocol for dealing with bogeymen is to throw a blanket over its head. The reasoning being that since you can convince a bogeyman you're not there by hiding your head under a blanket, the same logic can be applied to the bogeyman itself. Throw a blanket over the bogeyman's head and he'll be convinced that he isn't there and be stunned by the ensuing existential crisis.
- Belafon the druid with his flying rock in The Light Fantastic.
- In The Pedant and the Shuffly by John Bellairs, persuading hapless passersby that, logically speaking, they don't exist, is the wicked magician Snodrog's favorite trick.
- In Fight Club, Tyler Durden disappears when Marla shows up to confront the narrator, the explanation being that Durden was his hallucination, and not hers.
- In the Nightside novels, Tommy Oblivion, the Existential Detective, can cause things like this to happen. On one occasion, he immobilizes a couple of ambulatory statues by explaining all the reasons why it should be impossible for them to move.
"Oh bugger," said Chuck, as he disappeared in a puff of logic.
- Hell to Pay has a literal example. Taylor points out to the newly created God of Creationism that Creationism doesn't believe in Evolution and that Creationism has evolved into Intelligent Design, therefore disproving itself.
- In the Fengshen Yanyi, a certain Bi Gan was coaxed by Daji to have his heart removed. Thanks to Jiang Ziya predicting the whole thing, he was given a charm and some instructions to counter his death. Bi Gan carved his chest open, pulled his heart and then, walks out the palace without looking back. He manages to survive like that until somebody said that no one can live without a heart. He then collapsed and died on the spot.
- The Dresden Files: Ghost Story has a non-fatal example. Harry, who is a shade, is riding in a car. It occurs to him that, as a ghost, he is capable of moving through solid objects such as walls. This causes him to wonder what's keeping him in the car — and as soon as he starts thinking this, he immediately slides through and out of the car. Ghosts in the Dresdenverse get most of their abilities through perception; since Harry had seen other spirits move through walls it became something he associated with them being able to do. Cars, on the other hand, he thought of as solid, because he rode in them often when he was alive. As soon as he started doubting whether or not it was, it ceased to be to his spirit form.
- In the opening chapter of Bill Bryson's history of science A Short History Of Nearly Everything the author invites the reader to consider the molecular reality of their existence:
"It is a slightly arresting notion that if you were to pick yourself apart with tweezers, one atom at a time, you would produce a mound of fine atomic dust, none of which had ever been alive but all of which had once been you."
- In The Lost Years of Merlin series, Merlin has to deal with people using Anti-Magic, which only works if the magic user believes its effect is real.
- In Mo Willems's Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct, the boy Reginald tries to invoke this, presenting everyone with his arguments and studies about dinosaurs being extinct, apparently hoping that if he can convince everyone, then Edwina will just disappear in a puff of logic. Edwina doesn't disappear and the evidence of Edwina being right there for them to see is more convincing to people.
- In the 1951 short story Built Down Logically by Howard Schoenfeld, two students come to the conclusion that their lecturer can't possibly exist. He instantly disappears, very nearly naming the trope as he does so:
No sooner had he uttered these words than Hooper disappeared. His body became opaque, then transparent. Then there was a puff of smoke, and he was gone, the fact of his existence wiped out by the logical thinking of the two students.
- Journey to Chaos plays this trope for laughs. Eric has a Vision Quest and goes for over a week without eating or drinking anything. Once reunited with his team, The Medic says that he should have died by now. Eric pretends to keel over as a joke, leading to dope slapes and shouts of Dude, Not Funny!.
- In Larry Niven's short story "The Nonesuch", the human settlers of a planet inhabited by a telepathic predator solve the problem by convincing themselves (and future generations) that the creature does not exist. When the creature tries to attack someone who sees it and refuses to believe that it's real, psychic feedback causes it to disappear until the would-be victim moves on.
- An episode of Gilligan's Island had the title character manage to fly with fake wings. When Skipper points out this is impossible, Gilligan instantly crashed.
- In the Bottom episode where Richie and Eddie are trapped on the collapsing Ferris wheel, God saves them from falling at the last moment. Then they remember that they're atheists, conclude that they must be hallucinating, and...
- In the Doctor Who serial "The Mind Robber", the Doctor deals with the various monsters this way. If everyone stops believing in them, they just vanish.
- A Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch
Tenant: Whew, that was close.
- An apartment building built using the power of hypnosis. It would only remain standing as long as the tenants believed it was the best housing available. When interviewed, one of the tenants mentions that they used to live in a villa overlooking Nice. When the interviewer comments that the villa sounds much better, the tenant realizes it's true... and the building starts to shake. Fortunately, the man says "NO! NO! OF COURSE NOT!" Then the building changes back to normal, although some of the furniture (and the tenant) were a little shaken.
- Another Pythonic version of this trope was a short animation by Terry Gilliam of Rodin's The Thinker coming up with Descartes' "I think therefore I am." in a thought balloon. When a hand comes from off screen and deflates the balloon with a pin, The Thinker looks up briefly in horror, then disappears.
- The final episode of Blackadder the Third has Prince George shot, then rising alive and well due to a Pocket Protector. When he attempts to show it off, however, he can't find it, remarks "Damn, must have left it on the dresser this morning", and promptly dies.
- Done in the second season of True Blood in the case of the Nigh Invulnerable ancient Maenad Maryann Forrester. It's revealed by vampire queen Sophie-Anne that Maryann's powers are directly tied to her beliefs, stating everything in the universe imagined itself into existence. Thus by believing in her god Dionysus and becoming a maenad she was immortal. In the end Sam tricks Maryann into believing her god has returned from her sacrificial ritual by shapeshifting into a bull and then impaling her in the chest. She is surprised when this happens, but rationalizes that if she is the final sacrifice for her god to come into the world, then she will accept it. She's shocked again when Sam morphs into his human form, questioning if there was even a god. This moment of vulnerability allows Sam to rip her heart out of her chest and crush it into the ground, finally ending her reign of hedonistic Mind Control.
- The episode "The Mission" from Amazing Stories. Here's the description:
Directed by Steven Spielberg. A crippled WW2 bomber returning to base no longer has landing gear, and the turret gunner is trapped under the belly, facing an agonizing gory death when they land without wheels. He desperately draws cartoon tires (a la Who Framed Roger Rabbit) but is running out of time. The tires serve to safely land the plane, but disappear when the captain slaps him in the face to snap him out of the trance he's fallen into once he's safely out of the ball turret.
- The Mark Steel Lectures profile of Rene Descartes (see above) includes a spot where Mark invites the audience to stop and think about whether they exist for twenty seconds (with "Life is But a Dream" playing behind) ended with a buzzer and the message "Stop Thinking Now!".
- An episode of The Walking Dead has Rick have periodic telephone calls in an abandoned prison. A variation occurs on the final phone call, because once he discovers who his mystery callers are, the phone calls stop. How is this a puff of logic? Every caller was someone who was already dead, including his wife.
- In the Supernatural episode "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here" (S09, Ep01), Dean disappears after Sam accepts death because Dean represented the part of Sam's mind who wanted to fight death.
- An episode of Scrubs has JD desperately hoping that a patient does not have cancer. When the good news comes in, the patient does something he'd previously said he hated. When JD points out to him that he'd never do that, the patient responds "Come on, JD, you know this isn't real." At that point, JD is instantly snapped out of his episode-long fantasy.
- The short-lived Australian sketch show The Comedy Sale had a sketch in which two women discuss their everyday lives. It becomes increasingly apparent that they are the antithesis of middle class Australians in the early 90s, and the sketch ends with them both remembering that they don't exist and promptly vanishing.
- Played with in The X-Files episode "Field Trip". When Mulder and Scully realize they're experiencing a shared hallucination, everything melts away to reveal that they are in a cave and are being slowly digested by a unidentified substance. Back in Washington, an increasingly unlikely series of events unfolds and eventually Mulder posits that they never left the cave, pointing out when a person is unknowingly exposed to a hallucinogen, becoming aware of it doesn't negate the effect. The hallucination wears off shortly after when they are rescued for real.
- In the WTF Collective 3, MC Uses Time Machines Irresponsibly vanishes into thin air after he realizes that hanging out all night with his parents on the day he was conceived didn't leave them any alone time, thus preventing his own conception.
- A duplicator story in Calvin and Hobbes ends this way. Calvin made a clone of his "good side" to do his chores and go to school for him. They got into an argument, and the clone disappeared as soon as it got angry enough to have an evil thought (namely, beating the snot out of Calvin).
- In Bloom County, Oliver Wendell Jones creates a math formula which explains the existence of everything everywhere...except penguins. Opus disappears, and then reappears when Oliver notices a mistake in the formula (he forgot to carry the two) and rewrites it.
- In another strip, Oliver hacks into the IRS computers and erases all data pertaining to his father, so his dad won't have to pay taxes. His father is immediately erased from existence.
- The Dungeons & Dragons second edition Sourcebook Tome of Magic
- There is a spell called Solipsism, which can create illusory objects that behave exactly like real ones — but only if you believe they are real. If you don't believe in it, you'll fall right through that bridge the cleric conjured. This is loosely based around the (Real Life) philosophy of solipsism, which posits that the only thing one can be sure exists is himself, and therefore one's perceptions define one's reality.
- It also plays with this trope with the spell Shadow Conjuration. It summons quasi-illusory monsters that are as powerful as the real thing if you believe they're real, and one-fifth damage if you don't. Like all things D&D, it can be whored to ludicrous lengths. One prestige class specialises in shadow illusions. Layer enough "reality"-boosting effects, and you can create illusions more real than reality. Cue humorous conversations:
"I cast a shadow fireball.""I make a will save to disbelieve.""Good. Take 150% damage."
- The RPG TORG had the fantasy world of Aysle, where the local laws of reality stated that Your Mind Makes It Real to the extent that real people could cross a sufficiently convincing illusionary bridge.
- Planescape, as a setting governed by Clap Your Hands If You Believe, has numerous examples of this. There's even an entire faction, the Sign of One (or Signers) that operate on this principle. According to in-universe rumor, particularly powerful Signers can disbelieve an annoying sod right out of existence.
- The 3E Ravenloft description of Lamordia, land of mad scientists and skeptics, describes an optional phenomenon called the "Smothering of Reason", where Lamordians' prevalent disbelief in the supernatural occasionally causes spells to fail, magical creatures to weaken, etc.
- The Fantasy Trip has a powerful Illusion spell. Illusions deal damage as though they were real, but can be dispelled by making a roll to "disbelieve", causing the illusion to vanish in a puff of logic.
- The Illusion advantage in GURPS has an upgrade that allows it to cause small amounts of damage if the victim is convinced it's real. The GURPS spell Solipsism causes you to assume you're the only thing that's real and the guy swinging a sword at your head won't really hurt you.
- Another solipsism reference, from Scion:
- The Knack Solipstic Defense allows you to ignore an attack entirely by believing it isn't real - since you have Legend, an element of the divine, what you believe goes. The other requirement is being unaware of the attack.
- Aten, sole avatar of Akhetaten, The Titan of Light (Having devoured all the other avatars, who were not worthy of existing compared to his glorious self) is a version of this. He is so certain of the fact that his existence is the only one, that he is immune to any source of damage from anything. Your only hope of defeating him is to first debate him in philosophy and theology.
- The point of Mage: The Ascension, and to a lesser extent Demon: The Fallen.
- You can perform amazing feats as long as you keep them believable, such as conjuring money from your wallet, or causing lightning to strike during a thunderstorm. If you strain disbelief too much, or simply don't care and go all-out, it might still work, but you have a pretty good chance of getting smacked around by the universe at large on the grounds that Magic Does Not Work That Way. This is true even if there's nobody watching.
- The setting explains that the main antagonists, basically The Men in Black, came into power through a centuries-spanning Evil Plan of convincing the world at large that no, brooms can't fly, and that yes, you can heal people by injecting them with complicated chemicals. They have caused mythical creatures like unicorns to go extinct by making people stop believing them, and caused places like El Dorado to cease to exist by creating maps to prove they weren't there. Conversely, there are some areas in the world where people still cling to their old beliefs, and thus the effect is reversed. In certain secluded spots in the Middle Eastern deserts, flying carpets and genies are considered normal, whereas airplanes are considered "vulgar magic" and a violation of common sense, and stop working as a result. By now it is clear that there is absolutely no difference between Science and Magic. Science is just Magic that most people believe in, and therefore everyone can use. The various 'Mystic' factions are trying to reverse this trend by getting people to believe in their path, whether alongside Science or instead of it.
- Mage: The Awakening, Ascension's reboot, does away with the Clap Your Hands If You Believe angle but contains several examples:
- A certain Abyssal manifestation that amounts to a inescapable maze can be negated just by navigating it in a such a way to prove that it must have an exit and logical connections.
- Whenever Muggles witness obvious magic effects, their intrinsic disbelief in the supernatural will slowly unravel the spell, due to the power of the Abyss enforcing the lie that magic isn't real.
- Toon. Characters are able to pull cartoon stunts such as walking on air, sawing through a branch and have it remain hanging while the tree falls away, painting a door onto a wall and opening etc as long as it's funny and they fail the Smarts check. It is a rule of the game that these feats will work so long as the characters don't realize that they should be impossible. That's right, the dumber a character is, the more easily they can get away with violating the laws of physics and common sense. The space opera-themed chapter of the Tooniversal Tour Guide supplement mentions a planet that is so dependent on this principle that it's off limits to visitors for fear that they might bring its whole civilization crashing down by pointing out that it can't work.
- In Genius: The Transgression, the inventions of Geniuses are literally powered by their creator's madness. If these creations are scrutinized by Muggles, these devices will stop working or malfunction.
- In Macho Women with Guns, the Batwinged Bimbos From Hell can learn the "Distort Reality" skill; when they are attacked, they can focus their attention on something else (their nails, a run in their stockings, a cloud, etc) and since they've forgotten the attack, it can't hit. It will instead target one of her allies, who might not appreciate the gesture.
- In Warhammer 40,000, the Chaos God Tzeentch is the god of scheming and ambition. He is THE Chessmaster in a universe of chessmasters, with hundreds, if not thousands of plans running at once, yet not one of his plans have ever succeeded. The reason is that he ruins his own, since it is very possible that if that he wins, or even has a single, solitary plan work, he may cease to exist.
- In Tales from the Floating Vagabond one of the Shticks, the Newton Effect, allows a player character to point out something they believe should be impossible (such as magic powers or mad science) and have it stop working.
- Ars Magica 3rd Edition has a Magic Versus Science Scrappy Mechanic that makes Reason a metaphysical domain alongside the Divine, Infernal, Magical, and Fae realms, to the effect that magic can be unraveled by the pure Reason of a well-used laboratory or a sufficiently devoted scientist. Given how illogical this is in a world where magic is proven to exist and is studied through strong scholarly traditions of its own, this was dropped in later editions.
- A variant happens in Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore. The Baronetcy of Ruddigore is cursed - its occupant must commit a crime every day, or die, dragged off by the ghosts of those previously killed by the curse. Then the current Baronet realises that suicide itself is a crime, and since not committing a crime is tantamount to suicide, this too counts as a crime. Therefore, none of the people killed by the curse should have died; as soon as this is realised, the former Baronets simply pop back to life, just in time to Pair the Spares with the female chorus.
- During the Bohrok arc of BIONICLE, Pohatu and Onua, both the strongest of the Toa, struggle to break a rock wall to escape before the room fills with lava. However, they're unable to make a single chip in it. Lewa realizes that there's nothing the two of them are unable to smash, which means the wall cannot exist. As soon as they stop believing the wall exists, it disappears. Sure enough, the projectors of said wall, the Bahrag queens, are able to create illusions at will. Several of the Toa again end up fighting false opponents, being helped by their teammates that can see which Bahrag aren't real.
- Divine Divinity had two skeleton Mooks having a discussion, one of whom is in the middle of explaining how they don't eat because they have no stomachs, which leads to the other one questioning how they can talk without vocal cords. The first one agrees and says that, thinking about it, they shouldn't even be able to hold themselves together without muscle and skin. One of them remarks that realizing the truth would be quite unpleasant and the other agrees to drop the issue. Still, the seeds have been planted and they both collapse immediately after.
- Planescape: Torment. Being set in Planescape (mentioned above), everything works this way. Several notable examples include:
- The Nameless One recovering a memory in which an earlier incarnation manages to prove to a Sign of One devotee (a sect of solipsists) that he does not actually exist... Said man then disappears, much to the delight of the crowd who has gathered to watch the debate.
- A very charismatic and wise Nameless One can, instead of recruiting Vhailor, either convince him that his Purpose-Driven Immortality is pointless or that he's restricting himself because the number of currently dead criminals outnumber the currently living ones. Successfully convincing him of either is enough to make him (literally) give up the ghost and die.
- If the Nameless One gives his name as 'Adahn' frequently enough, a man named Adahn appears in-game. He only exists because the Nameless One's been claiming to be him, after a fashion, and if you point out as much to him... poof.
- At one point, the current incarnation is able to do this to himself, literally willing himself out of existence if your WIS score is high enough.
- In Flight of the Amazon Queen, you encounter a gorilla blocking your way. How do you get rid of it? By telling it that gorillas only live in Africa. The gorilla suddenly gains the ability to talk, mentions that his presence in the Amazon jungle makes no sense, and then vanishes into thin air. You later encounter the gorilla again, this time wearing a dinosaur costume, and get rid of him the same way.
- In the first episode of Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, if Sam looks at a readout on one of Mama Bosco's computers, he will say that according to these readings he and Max shouldn't exist. At this point both characters disappear for a few seconds before coming back, with Sam remarking that he must have misread the readings.
- In Silent Hill, Lisa Garland disappears in a puff of blood when she realizes that she is the same as the other monsters around her.
- Super Scribblenauts allows the player to summon various deities. It also allows you to summon an atheist who upon seeing a god will immediately start displaying the "thinking" icon and run towards it, causing the god to die on contact.
- Dwarf Fortress occasionally does this to itself: Parameters to define how something exists in the world map are quite different from those used in the parts where the game is actually being played, and as soon as something from the former enters the latter, it gets subjected to reality. If this happens, best case scenario is a centuries old king dies from old age as soon as they step into your fortress. Worst case? You get a frame to watch the surrealistic scenery you embarked into before physics apply and your dwarves get swallowed by the collapsing earth.
- The Bard's Tale Trilogy gives the Sorceror class the ability to summon illusions to fight with the party. These can inflict damage on the enemy, and any damaged inflicted stays inflicted no matter what subsequently happens, but if the monsters disbelieve the illusion it immediately disappears. This doesn't stop the Sorceror immediately summoning up another monster exactly like it - it seems Laser-Guided Amnesia stops enemies immediately realising this new monster is an illusion too.
- In Touhou, while it has not actually happened in-canon, it is heavily implied that this would be the fate of any supernatural being who nobody believes in any more, due to the setting relying heavily on Clap Your Hands If You Believe. In fact, the creation of the Great Hakurei Barrier was specifically for the purpose of defying this trope, and it would likely hit all of the supernatural residents of Gensokyo in full force should the Great Hakurei Barrier fall.
- Undertale: One of the Temmies is allergic to themselves. They show no signs of this until they tell you about it, at which point they immediately break out in "hOIVS!".
- Koudelka has Charlotte the ghost of a little girl who died in a fire after years of being tortured in the ruins of the Inquisitional dungeon the game takes place in, convinced hatred was all the world had to offer her. Completing a short fetch-quest prior to the final confrontation will see Koudelka in possession of the letters the Inquisitors were keeping from her, letters from Charlotte's mother explaining she gave her up to the Inquisition rather than see them kill her on the spot for "being born wrong" and hopes she is being treated well by the men of God even if they can never be together. Upon realizing she actually had someone who genuinely loved her, Charlotte poofs. She is not willingly moving on, the very concept of love confuses and scares Charlotte, but it means the foundation of her hatred is flawed and thus she fades away with it.
- Arcanum: Science and magic work by exploiting and breaking laws of physics (gravity, thermodynamics, etc.) respectively, so machinery fails in the presence of strong magic and magic fails in highly industrialized environments.
- One of Minecraft's rules is that you can only sleep (in a bed) at night. The Nether and End alternate dimensions don't have time, so if you try to sleep there, the bed explodes. With a force stronger than TNT, and far less work to set up.
- Another Minecraft example: most blocks are not affected by gravity, but a few (most notably sand, gravel, and flowing water and lava) are. As such, if you try to place one of these blocks in midair, it will immediately fall (or flow) down. However, the game's terrain generator is under no obligation to place these blocks on top of non-gravity-obeying blocks, meaning that newly-entered areas of the map will often (especially in desert or gravel beach biomes) generate with sand overhangs, water and lava blocks that stay tidily in their source locations and do not flow downhill, and the like. Unlike the Dwarf Fortress example above, the game does not apply gravity to these blocks until the locations corresponding to said blocks are "updated", usually by placing something on the block or breaking an adjacent block. At which point gravity is applied and the whole thing collapses onto the terrain below / the area is suddenly flooded with water of lava (when a block falls or flows due to gravity being applied, this updates the adjacent blocks, causing them to fall, and so on until there are no more unsupported gravity-obeying blocks). Notably, walking on (or swimming through, for water and lava) these blocks, riding horses on them, shooting arrows into them, etc., does not update them, meaning that it's perfectly possible to enter such an area and not notice anything wrong until the player tries to place a torch for illumination / navigation and the whole area collapses into a buried cavern. The same thing happens if gravity-obeying blocks are placed in midair using a third-party map editor, which can be used (especially in multiplayer) to create pitfall traps.
- Vanishing in a puff of logic is a consuming peril for the witches in Umineko: When They Cry, who are largely only as real as they can convince other people they are. Witches are therefore continually performing horrendous deeds in order to be recognised, while trying to undercut the reality of their rivals. At one point a witch uses magic to disprove her own existence, which has a result like reality Dividing By Zero.
- 8-Bit Theater
- Red Mage tries to fight a tyrannosaur and claims he was born to hunt dinosaurs. The tyrannosaur says this doesn't make sense because dinosaurs are extinct... cue page image.
- Red Mage tried fighting a giant much earlier on by pointing out it could have never evolved. The giant makes some weak counter arguments, and then crushed Red Mage with his club.
- He uses similar reasoning in a later strip to deny the existence of 'Megahedron', his supposed avatar of the gods, claiming that it is really just a figment of his own imagination. His reasoning was that, if Megahedron was a figment of Red Mage's own mind, then he'd be smart enough to be able to convince him of his existence, a task at which he had so far failed (Megahedron's own suggestion). When Red Mage conceded that point, he went on to say that since Megahedron had convinced him with that argument, then that means that Megahedron is a figment. The only problem with that (which RM is too busy ignoring Megahedron to listen to) is that by that logic, Megahedron did not convince him. So that should convince him, which should not convince him, which should and oh dear, I've gone all cross-eyed.
- He encounters a similar situation during his trial for class promotion. He encounters a monster who keeps outwitting him. He "defeats" it by admitting that he has failed and cannot beat it; the whole purpose of the conflict was to teach him humility. As soon as the monster leaves, however, he assumes that he subconsciously outsmarted the ordeal and learns absolutely nothing.
- Captain SNES: The Game Masta attempted this three times... twice in canon and once as a side-story. The first In-Canon attempt failed miserably, while the side-story one succeeded. The second time in canon, the victims did it to themselves accidentally.
- Stickman and Cube did this in the early "Cube Disappears" arc, which ended up creating the comic's first recurring villain.
- This is how Bun-Bun exorcised the ghost of Ayn Rand from Kiki in this Sluggy Freelance. The guest comic is courtesy of Bruno the Bandit creator Ian McDonald, who loves this trope.
- The Order of the Stick
- #585: Vaarsuvius attempted to use his Common Sense to aid in the Banishment of an enormous devil which was in clear violation of the Square-Cube Law. Didn't work. The fact Vaarsuvius is a magical elf who was flying with no physical means of propulsion at the time did not help the argument.
- Another comic (#321) has the team's horses and riding dog disappear when Elan points out that they shouldn't be there. Only Durkon's pony, who had every right to be there, remained.
- In The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, Wonderella beats WHITE SPACE this way:
Wonderella: You are blue.WHITE SPACE Oh dear. * pop*
- In PVP, Scratch Fury succeeds exactly where Red Mage failed in this strip. He does it again, to a chimera this time, in this strip. This time, however, it doesn't go off until he corrects an error in his equation.
- It occurs in this Sverd Shelgr strip, though it's more of story mechanics than true logic.
- El Goonish Shive: Melissa attempts to deny a portly dragon its ability to fly, only to find that "'The Flight of Dragons' rules don't apply" in her Verse.
- In Goblins, one of the alternate universe Minmaxes (nicknamed Psimax) tries this on the Universe using some Insane Troll Logic.
- In Dr McNinja, the good Doctor is knocked out at his parents' house, and his family is kidnapped. When he awakens, Doc discovers that the (cooked) turkey they were going to have for dinner is now walking around and talking. He correctly surmises that this is a hallucination brought on by his injuries and guilt over endangering his family. After he leaves to go save them, the turkey continues to move and speak for a few seconds, before realizing that it can't do so when no one is around to hallucinate it. It promptly falls over, inert.
- Happens here in Scenes from a Multiverse. A mystic goat said 'there is a high probably that I myself do not exist'. When a reporter asks him what would happen if that were proven true, he disappears.
- One strip in Melonpool had Sam the dog writing a letter when Roberta comes by and talks with him, asking how a dog can write a letter with no thumbs. Almost instantly his handwriting becomes scribbles and he looks at her in annoyance.
- Protectors of the Plot Continuum take Bleeprin, a mixture of aspirin and bleach, to ease the pain of working with bad fanfic. The Board Constitution contains a clause which reads thus:
Please refrain from reminding the agents that this is chemically impossible. They already know that, and they don't care. However, if you remind them of this, it may stop working. Then they would have to kill you.
- In this parody of Kingdom Hearts known as Kingdumb Hearts, Goofy asks if The Heartless have no hearts, how can they live. Right after that, Maleficent, Riku, and Kairi all fall over dead. It happens again in the sequel when Will Turner manages to kill a skeleton by bringing up its lack of muscles.
- In Eddsworld, the three main characters get a car and get it to fly by "using the Z-Gear of course". It goes up to very trippy music in which Edd and Tom start dancing in the car. Matt then shouts "how can a car fly?" It then falls down to land on top of a plane. This trope is then inverted when the pilot wonders whether his '''plane''' can fly. Then this continues and when the car gets there, several planes are now below them (each having doubted their flying capability).
- 5 Second Films gives us an example in the form of a mailman working on the wrong day.
- In the CollegeHumor spoof "Professor Wikipedia", a student asks Professor Wikipedia to tell everyone his knowledge about her. Another student points out that she's "not notable" even though she edits the yearbook, and she vanishes into nothing while screaming.
- The horror behind SCP-946 is that it can do this - potentially on a massive scale, like changing the laws of physics.
- In Final Fantasy VII: Machinabridged, this is how the Bottomswell is defeated. During the fight, Cloud wonders about the monster's visible gills, reasoning that it should need water to live. Cue monster disintegration and Cloud's confused Lampshade Hanging.
- In Bung Chronicles, this is exactly how most mythological deities turn into stone, effectively killing them.
- The main character, Lord Bung constantly takes advantage of this against villainous deities like Ares and Loki in order to defeat them.
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- In "Life of Crime", when SpongeBob and Patrick are keeping warm with a fire, Patrick questions how they have a fire when they're underwater, and it immediately goes out. Later on, it lights up again when Patrick kicks the tinder.
- "I Had An Accident" has a different way of something disappearing. When Patrick and Sandy are attacked by a gorilla, Spongebob attempts to save them but gets torn in half. He does have one question about this whole situation. "What's a gorilla doing underwater in the first place?" The surprised gorilla awkwardly tries to explain before yelling "George, they're on to us!" Causing a zebra to show up and say "Let's get out of here!" ending with them Riding into the Sunset, along with the confused reactions of a family that was watching the episode before turning off their TV.
- An episode of Histeria! had the kids annoying René Descartes ("I Think, therefore I Am") so much that he couldn't think. As soon as he realizes this, poof!note
- In The Simpsons, Abe Simpson sees a theatre show in Branson featuring various celebrities commonly thought to be either dead or washed-up singing about how they are neither. He goes backstage after the show to meet some of them.
Abe: Tennessee Ernie Ford? Now I know you're dead.
Tennessee: No, you just think I'm dead!
Abe: No, you're dead. I was your biggest fan. Look, I clipped your obituary. [takes it out and shows him]
[Tennessee takes one look at the obituary, then gasps and turns to dust]
- Truffles shows up in one episode after being absent, asking if this is any of her business. Chowder replies "No. You're not in this episode." and she vanishes.
- Chowder becomes so smart that he realizes that he is in fact in a cartoon. The show is promptly 'canceled'.
- Phineas and Ferb
- "Phineas and Ferb's Quantum Boogaloo" has the Bad Future version of Candace disappearing in one of these after Phineas points out she'd be gone after the two Candaces undid that future.
- Earlier in the episode, Older Candace is spying on Young Phineas and Ferb in a tree. When she remembers it's a holographic tree she immediately falls through it.
- Done again in "Sleepwalk Surprise" when Doofenshmirtz see his dream demon while awake. When asked about it, the demon disappears.
- "Phineas and Ferb's Quantum Boogaloo" has the Bad Future version of Candace disappearing in one of these after Phineas points out she'd be gone after the two Candaces undid that future.
- The Powerpuff Girls: In a musical episode, a gnome takes their powers to take the evil out of the city. Later, they regained them after learning that the gnome was a communist by feeding off the wants of the people to thank him from that point on and forcing them to worship him. They fought him later, winning by singing about how everything needs its opposites and chasing him off the edge of a giant vine. He then went into a non-singing speech saying "As I descend to the Earth, and I view the universe above me, I realize that life revolves, evolves... and dissolves, completely around the opposites. Therefore, I conclude... that I cannot... exist, in my Utopian... mind." When he hit the ground, all the lines became white and the colors became black, and he exploded.
- An episode of El Tigre had Frida defeat a skeleton by pointing out there was noting holding it up, causing it to collapse.
- Bender attempts to invoke this in Futurama with the Robot Santa. "Come on, everybody! He can't hurt us if we don't believe in him!" It doesn't work.
Bender: Hahahaha, lightweights — Oh wait, chlorine! (instantly rusts)
- Also, when the crew is incapacitated by a cloud of toxic chlorine gas:
- In the Super Secret Secret Squirrel episode "Quark", a sub-microscopic supervillain named Quark plans to flatten North America by "pulling out the bottom atom" of everything to make it all collapse, to make room for his own amphitheater (Canada) and a parking lot for it (the US). Secret Squirrel shrinks to subatomic size and lures him onto a dictionary, then points out the dictionary defines a quark as "a hypothetical subatomic particle". Secret manages to make the villain doubt his own existence enough that he vanishes into thin air. Science Marches On but it was relevant at the time that the episode was aired.
- Invoked in a Foghorn Leghorn cartoon where he was playing hide and seek with the nerdy little male chick. Foghorn hid in a shed, the chick scrawled some equations on a piece of paper and then found Foghorn in a different location. Foghorn goes crazy, pointing out that he was hiding in the shed, at which point the chick shows him the equations and Foghorn is forced to admit that "figures don't lie". Foghorn and the chick walk over to the shed, and Foghorn stops as he is reaching to open the door, saying "No, I better not look; I just might be in there".
- In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Batmite succeeds in getting the show cancelled for a darker one, but Ambush Bug points out that the mite is too silly a character for such a dark show, resulting in Mite being erased from existence.
- South Park has an episode (involving a Tooth Mafia) where Kyle began questioning the existence of everything after having learned that the Tooth Fairy is not real. Near the climax, Kyle began questioning if he would cease to exist if he didn't keep thinking about his existence, and then promptly vanishes into thin air because he stopped thinking about his existence. He got better.
- The Danger Mouse episode "Once Upon a Timeslip" has DM and Penfold in the Mk. III motorcar having been transported to medieval England through a microphone quirk and the show's announcer. When Penfold brings up the fact that there were no cars in the Middle Ages, the Mk. III suddenly vanishes, leaving our heroes to plummet to the ground.
- Lampshaded in an episode of Garfield and Friends, during a U.S. Acres segment. Orson points out that, in the real world, if you stepped off a cliff, you'd fall into the chasm the exact moment your feet stepped into thin air - whereas, in a cartoon, if you do the same thing, "you don't fall until you realize you're falling".
- Similarly, in the Arthur episode "To Beat Or Not To Beat", Francine puts on a football helmet, flaps her arms, and flies in the air. And then...
Arthur: Francine, stop it! You're going to get hurt! Kids can't fly!
Francine: They can't?
Arthur: No! It's impossible!
Francine: Oh. (screams and falls into a pile of leaves)
Arthur: Don't you hate it when you have to burst someone's bubble?
- Like the above two, a Powdered Toast Man bumper from The Ren & Stimpy Show has two children flying after eating powdered toast. PTM then flies past them and tells that they children can't fly, after which they start plummeting down.
Powdered Toast Man: It may have Vitamin F, but Powdered Toast sure doesn't make kids any smarter!
- In a Robot Chicken sketch parodying Back at the Barnyard, Bessie points out the inaccuracy of Otis, a male cow, having an udder, which he counters with other inaccuracies such as that Abby can't have blonde hair and that cows can't walk on two legs ("Our knees should explode under this much weight!"). As soon as he says this, all three cows' knees give out and they lie on the ground in pain.
Otis: Fantasy looks pretty good now, huh, you judgmental bitches!
- In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Countdown," a bunch of Gumballs and Darwins end up time traveling to the prehistoric age. The most recently arrived Gumball and Darwin come in to watch the others fight. When the fighting changes history, Gumball and Darwin travel back and tell their duplicates that they shouldn't exist because it would create a time paradox. The others go "Oh yeah" and promptly vanish.
- A bumper on The Beatles has Ringo flapping his arms and flying. When John comments that it's impossible, Ringo suddenly plummets and lands on his head.
Ringo: (to John) You and your education.
- In one episode of Cro, the modern day storyline is Dr. C and Mike are trapped on a raft in the middle of a saltwater tank by a voracious school of piranha. At the end of the episode, Phil saves them by getting a biology book and pointing out to the piranha that they are, in fact, freshwater fish. Realizing this, the piranha promptly go belly-up.
- Weaponized in the Teen Titans Go! episode "Knowledge" when the Titans pilot a submarine into Starfire's body to reverse her newfound intelligence before her swollen brain makes her head explode. They battle Starfire's newly-sentient brain, who repels the submarine's missiles by pointing out that most missiles never reach their intended target and renders its lasers ineffective by pointing out that modern lasers aren't advanced enough to be used as conventional weaponry.