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Reality Bleed

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The Astral Plane creates some issues with the plumbing.

A Reality Bleed is where one version of reality is gradually overwritten by another. Unlike when we go Down the Rabbit Hole, the alternate reality comes to us and begins to infringe on the real world.

This is similar to Or Was It a Dream?, but isn't isolated to a specific item or person. Instead, all of reality is up for grabs. If it is caused by a specific individual, they are an extremely powerful Reality Warper. In a time travel story, it would be a symptom of the Delayed Ripple Effect.

This generally begins a little at a time — an anachronistic lamp or the wrong face on a coin — but it gets worse until the process is stopped or it completely supplants the original reality.

This can either be an example of the protagonist going insane, or he could be the only one who realizes that something is very, very wrong. In some examples, everyone is aware of the changes, usually resulting in mass panic.

Due to the questionable reality inherent in the presentation of this trope, often the world being changed wasn't real to begin with. Sometimes it's even the real world which infringes on the false reality.

See also Layered World and Merged Reality, when the result is a mix of both realities. Compare Crashing Dreams, which is when reality infringes on a dream or daydream.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who: The plot of "Jubilee" is kicked off by a serious TARDIS malfunction, which causes the Sixth Doctor and his companion Evelyn to arrive at the same location in London but a century apart simultaneously; one version of them arriving in 1903 and another version arriving in 2003, the latter of which has become a Bad Future, due to the Doctor who arrived in the past's interference. The Doctor, who is stuck in the Bad Future, only gradually figures this out, as he gets in sporadic mental contact with his alternate self, who has taken The Slow Path and is still alive, being kept as a prisoner by the local dictator, and to his horror he realises that the universe is struggling to resolve the paradox resulting of this rather serious Time Crash, causing the 1903 and 2003 timelines to bleed into each other with rather disastrous results.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Animal Man: In Morrison's run, a second Crisis starts, resulting in multiple forgotten "ideas" bleeding into one another.
    • Crisis on Infinite Earths: Different time periods and worlds start merging with one another once only five worlds are the only ones spared. For instance, one scene shows Batman, Jason Todd, the Teen Titans and the Outsiders in Wayne Manor staring down a bunch of cavemen as their cave home was now inside the mansion.
    • DC/RWBY: The presence of Grimm in Gotham City is causing normal humans (including Batman) to gain Semblances while Team RWBY suddenly experience a Fisher Kingdom moment with their looks and weapons being changed.
    • Doom Patrol: The main plot of the Orqwith arc is that a fictional city starts to bleed into reality.
    • Emperor Joker: After the Joker recreates reality in his own image, tiny reality bleeds from what used to be the real world provide hope for the heroes.
    • Kid Eternity: This occurs when a folklore researcher witnesses urban legends actually occur in the real world.
    • The Kingdom (DC Comics): Aspects of the multiverse began to appear inside the Planet Krypton restaurant Batman is in.
    • RWBY/Justice League: Bruce Wayne suggests that Starro's arrival on Remnant lead to analogs of the creature's old foes to be born in response to his threat.
    • Worlds Collide (1994): The Big Bad Rift merges Dakota with the ravaged Metropolis. Many people die as a result of the bungled merging.
    • Zero Hour: Crisis in Time!: Various people, such as Alpha Centurion and a healthy Barbara Gordon Batgirl, and places, such as a 25th Century New York City, start appearing from alternate timelines into the modern day universe. In the latter case, this is a bad thing since it was slowly levitating downward and preparing to crush the original.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • In the X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover "Days of Future Present," this is caused by the ghost of Franklin Richards from the Days of Future Past storyline.
    • House of M: Even though Word of God was that it was just a warping of reality, multiple followup stories establish House of M as an instance of this by Scarlet Witch. Rather than "simply" rewriting the 616 history she essentially copied an existing one over it.
    • Tomorrow Man, Zarrko the time traveler, is introduced in a Hulk story arc as existing in perception of fourth dimensional space. His presence gives off an energy that causes different time periods to bleed into the present moment, illustrated as bystanders switching to different period clothes from across the world between panels without noticing.
    • In Inferno (1988), the villains open a portal to the hellish dimension of Limbo which causes Manhattan to transform into a demonic version of itself. The overall goal was to spread it to the entire world.
  • In Reflections story arc of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW), due to young Celestia's frequent travels to Alternate Universe in order to meet her lover, there is a growing Synchronization between Prime!Equestria and Mirror!Equestria as two parallel realities become gradually more intertwined — to the point that actions taken in one of them directly affect the other one. It ranges from minor, inconsequential things (like cooks making the same dish on the same day) to crucial events (like previously righteous Mirror!Luna falling to the dark side when Prime!Luna is returned to the side of good). In the story arc's climax, both universes begin to effectively merge with each other as walls between realities fall down entirely.

    Fan Works 
  • Danger Than Fiction: At the end of the story, the bookwalking spell begins to break down. This results in different versions of the same book merging (like "Jack and the Beanstalk") or completely different stories getting mashed together because of vague similarities in setting (like the Rime of the Ancient Mare-iner / Iron Filly / Moby-Dick / Arthur Gordon Pym crossover at the end).
  • Dream On You Crazy Princess: When Luna begins reliving her memory of the fight against the original Tantabus, Lord Dumplin mentions the possibility that the Tantabus from her memories could escape into the waking world.
  • On the Edge of the Devil's Backbone: Mustafar has a mental version of this, thanks to being an Eldritch Location. While being interrogated, Kanan sees glimpses of the past, the canon timeline, and possibly the future.
  • Tales of the Otherverse: The titular parallel Earth is invaded and destroyed by hostile other-dimensional creatures when the barriers protecting that dimension become weaker.

    Films — Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games: The human Twilight's pendant keeps causing a Mana Drain on the Humane Six, and after it drains Sunset's magic while she's touching the portal, it causes portals to Equestria to appear every time it opens. When Twilight becomes Midnight Sparkle, she starts ripping holes into Equestria purposefully, causing reality to fracture, uncaring that she's destroying her own world in the process even after Sunset points it out.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: A side-effect of the Super Collider opening gateways to other dimensions is objects from other universes replace or merge with those in the host one. Naturally, the device staying on for too long is liable to destroy all of reality. The effect even extends to the film's opening logos.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie: During the climax, Mario destroys the interdimensional Warp Pipe with a Banzai Bill, leading to a chunk of the Mushroom Kingdom, including all of Bowser's Castle, being transported to the streets of Brooklyn.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Cool World: As the film reaches its climax, the toon world begins to infringe more and more on the real world.
  • Pleasantville: After the two protagonists enter the black-and-white world, larger and larger splotches of color become apparent, until the entire world is in color. By the end, the simplistic TV show world of Pleasantville has morphed entirely into something like our reality, generating an entire world in the process.
  • Tomorrow Calling (an adaptation of The Gernsback Continuum by William Gibson): A photographer starts hallucinating giant propeller-driven flying wings and Crystal Spires and Togas, the "semiotic ghosts" of an envisioned reality that never happened. To get rid of them he reads tabloid trash and watches porn movies, to drive away this perfect alternate future with our own sordid reality.

  • Discworld:
    • Mort: The titular character saves the life of a princess who was supposed to die. A bubble of reality forms around her where she is still alive, while the rest of the world outside the bubble proceeds as if she had died. The living-princess bubble is gradually supplanted by the dead-princess reality; at one point, Mort is in a pub when the bubble's edge passes over it, resulting in the pub now being named after the dead princess, as well as several other minor changes.
    • Lords and Ladies: When The Fair Folk invade Lancre, their country tries to come through as well, Crop Circles being caused by this. At one point the characters witness the two realities fighting for supremacy.
  • The Eyes of Kid Midas: The Amulet of Concentrated Awesome gradually reshapes reality around the protagonist's dreams as he loses control of its power.
  • Forest Kingdom: In book 2 (Blood and Honor), with King Malcom dead and nobody else able to actively control Castle Midnight's own magic, the energies of the Unreal are threatening to overthrow all natural laws within the building. The only way to reverse the damage is for a new king to be crowned and take charge of the castle's magic.
  • The Gods Themselves: The physics of a parallel universe start leaking into ours. At first this seems like a good thing, because it's a way of generating energy on both sides, but some scientists start to suspect there may be unforeseen consequences unforeseen by us, that is; the inhabitants of the other universe have known it all along, and don't care, because they'll get all the energy they could ever want when our sun goes nova.
  • Good Omens: A powerful and impressionable young Reality Warper reads too many New Age magazines, and causing things like Tibetan tunnels and alien visitations to start becoming true.
  • Idlewild: Immersive Virtual Reality allows students to program their own personal domains. When they make personal phone calls to each other, the system mashes the domains together.
  • "I'm Scared", an early story by Jack Finney, has a temporal variant in which elements of the past begin to appear in the present. (e.g., the sudden appearance on the outside of a house of a wide strip of the original paint from decades before.) These elements begin growing in size and effect as the story progresses.
  • The King of Elfland's Daughter: First, trolls and other denizens of Elfland begin to intrude in Erl, then a unicorn is spotted. In the end, the King uses his third spell to expand Elfland's reality and makes Erl part of it.
  • The Martian Chronicles: In Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed, a fledgling colony on Mars starts to gain a peculiarly insightful understanding of the extinct Martians, until they actually become Martians by the end of the story.
  • The Place Of The Lion by Charles Williams: The higher reality of Platonic archetypes begins bleeding through into our world, replacing all the mundane examples of each Platonic Form. So, for instance, the titular Lion, which represent Power, starts draining all the strength and energy out of everything near it.
  • Star Trek Expanded Universe: In Q-Squared, a Trelane from an alternate universe starts merging three different realities into one, just for the hell of it. Three Enterprises start to intersect: the Prime Universe's, the one where the Enterprise-C never went back in time and the Federation is at war with the Klingons, and one where Jack Crusher is the captain of the Enterprise with Picard as his Number Two (and Data is a human body with a positronic brain). In the end, Prime Picard and Prime Q stop Alternate Trelane, splitting the realities. However, while the Prime Universe is largely unaffected, the second reality is worse off with both Second Picard and Second Riker dead, and Second Data stuck in the third reality. In the third reality, Jack Crusher accidentally kills Third Beverly and then eats his phaser, leaving Third Picard in command.
  • Swellhead. The British government sends a team to investigate why an Elaborate Underground Base has appeared out of nowhere on the island of Skerra. Turns out an alternate reality — in which one member of the team is a supervillain and the other his James Bond-type antagonist — is bleeding into ours.
  • "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius": An encyclopedia is discovered with a detailed description of the fictional planet of Tlön, which was created over centuries by an Ancient Conspiracy of philosophers, scientists and writers. Everyone is fascinated by the discovery and discusses endlessly all aspects of Tlön. Then, gradually, objects from Tlön start appearing in the real world. The ending implies that reality will be completely replaced and the Earth will eventually become Tlön.
  • Young Wizards: For preserving the Masquerade, there is a particular spell that allows the caster to copy an alternate reality and paste it into their universe. If a bunch of monsters invaded Grand Central Park in New York City, for instance, the wizards can find an alternate reality where Central Park is monster-free, cast the spell, and now not only are the monsters gone, there never were any monsters in the first place, except in the Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory of the wizards.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Happens in the season 5 finale when Glory uses Dawn's blood to lower the barriers between worlds and things start bleeding together until the portals can be closed (by Buffy's death).
    • "Nightmares" might also count — a comatose boy's psyche was somehow causing a bleedover and warping of reality and everyone's nightmares.
  • Doctor Who features several stories where temporal events cause bleedover from other time periods, including "Day of the Daleks", "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" and "The Awakening". Perhaps the ultimate example is "The Wedding of River Song", where all of Earth's history starts happening at the same time, and only the Doctor realises anything is wrong.
  • Eureka: The majority of the season one finale takes place in an alternate timeline created by Henry to prevent Kim's death. Soon after jumping to the alternate (future) timeline, the two timelines begin merging with destructive consequences.
  • Fringe:
    • There's an alternate dimension, and the walls are breaking down. Things in one universe begin to affect the other, or are even forced to exist in the same place at the same time, to disastrous effect. The other world has it worse and is becoming nearly unlivable, but "ours" is on the same path, and if unchecked, both worlds will be destroyed.
    • In another sense, Peter Bishop is a walking reality bleed, since the new timeline was created in which Walter failed to save him as a child, but he still reappeared as an adult. Eventually reality goes through another shift when Olivia regains all her memories from the original timeline.
  • Kamen Rider Gaim: The otheworldly Helheim Forest is beginning to leak into our world. However, it gets much more complicated than that before it's over.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • An odd inversion occurs in "Remember Me"; the false reality Dr. Crusher experiences begins to disappear, with people and objects disappearing until the whole universe was the size of a room, populated by one person.
    • Played straight in "Parallels", where Worf is somehow jumping between parallel universes thanks to a rift in reality. The next-to-last commercial break ends with realities clashing together and thousands of Enterprises appearing near the rift.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Wordplay", a man is having trouble learning a new product line, and the words start replacing regular words, a little at a time. Pretty soon no one can understand him, and he can't understand them — even though they're using the same words, they mean totally different things. Or, he had a stroke.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has planar breaches, temporary, small-scale events where the Material Plane feels the influence of another plane, which can be dangerous when a once-safe area gains the fire-dominant or negative energy-dominant trait, or some of the other plane's inhabitants come along for the ride. Sometimes these breaches are "natural" events, other times they're a side-effect of plane-hopping magic. They were introduced to let lower-leveled parties, who lack spells like plane shift, experience other planes of existence.
  • Exalted:
    • Creation itself is a reality as defined by Primordials, which was grown by devouring the Wyld and absorbing everything. This is not a good thing if you're a Raksha. Inversely, when the reality of Creation doesn't keep the Wyld at bay strongly enough, it creates all sort of interesting effects as the chaos and narrative logic of the Wyld starts to overlay, mutate, and eventually dissolve Creation.
    • The Underworld is reality as defined by slain Primordials, and they try to drag Creation with them to Oblivion. When the Underworld seeps into Creation, it creates Shadowlands, where shades of the dead walk and life is tenuous.
    • Finally, Hell is reality as defined by broken and imprisoned Primordials, and they try to wrestle Creation back from their conqueror by overlaying Hell with Creation via demonic cults. Keyword here being try.
  • Mage: The Awakening
    • The Abyssal intruders, some of which overwrite the local laws of reality or the timeline when they visit the Fallen World. One example is The Twisting Maze Zone, which will usually overwrite an apartment building and turn it into a labyrinthine superstructure that extends in all dimensions, including time. Eventually, the building — and everyone who was in it at the time — gets written out of existence because it was never there in the first place. The only way to cure it is to walk through it exactly as it is in the real world, ignoring all deviations — basically forcing the way it should be back into place.
    • The Nemesis Continuum is a set of physical laws from the Abyss, and every time you understand one, the next one makes a little more sense. And as people understand them, they become real. Suddenly, the Square-Cube Law no longer applies, or objects of a certain size are no longer subject to friction... the worst part is that just looking at them for long enough can get them into your head, and as for trying to get rid of them — well, how do you fight math?
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Yawgmoth's plan for his Phyrexian forces to invade Dominaria wasn't a conventional assault, but by overlaying the plane of Rath over his target.
    • When the Shards of Alara begin to unite once again, the reality of each shards begin to bleed into each others. The good news is that it means there are now force of life in Mordor. The bad news is that it means there are now demons and zombies in Arcadia.
  • TORG: Invading "cosms" take over our reality, changing the laws of nature to match their own. However, certain objects known as "hardpoints" have a strong connection to their original reality and maintain it around them, preserving it even when surrounded by a cosm — e.g. the Eiffel Tower maintains Paris in a bubble of our reality, despite the rest of France now being part of the cosm of the Cyberpapacy.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Warp is the realm of emotion and demons, where FTL ships travel and from which psychic power is derived, and fortunately has very little crossover with reality. Until you go to the Eye of Terror, of course, an area of the Milky Way where the warp and the Materium intersect, born from the creation of the last Chaos god(dess). The Traitor Legions who gave themselves to Chaos ten millennia ago still live here, periodically launching Black Crusades on the rest of the galaxy.
  • The Whispering Vault: Policing reality bleeds and the things that cause them is the whole concept.
  • Werewolf: The Forsaken has places called verges where the spirit world bleeds into the real world.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • Homestar Runner: Many things that are considered part of the overall Homestar Runner universe such as Trogdor the Burninator, Sweet Cuppin' Cakes and Limozeen started as Strong Bad's random ruminations before bleeding into the world proper. This has been lampshaded at least once.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake:
    • While Cake is exploring a market, she gets into a scuffle with a Hot Dog Knight, unwittingly reverting it into an inanimate hotdog.
    • Fionna does the same thing in "The Winter King" when she kisses said King causing his crown to lose its magic, which reverts him back into normal Simon and kills him through Rapid Aging.
  • Chaotic: In one episode, Underworlders appeared in the Real World from the land of Chaotic by means of an inter-dimensional portal, attempting to take it over. It was actually All Just a Dream, as Kaz was really just dozing off while attempting to cram for an upcoming test.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Timmy becomes obsessed with action movies and wishes for life to become one. No one except him notices the difference.
  • Gargoyles: In "The Mirror", Puck changes the gargoyles to humans and the humans to gargoyles, but afterwards they all insist that everything is as it has always been.
  • Gravity Falls: The town is in an area with an exceptional amount of supernatural occurrences that is revealed to mostly be drawing from a decaying dimension of weirdness and nightmares.
  • The Owl House has a more literal example than most. A substance called Titan's Blood can cause rifts in reality, and in certain cases, even time. Its primary use is in powering portals, although its rarity makes it difficult to use.