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Reality Is Out to Lunch

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Raz plumbs the depths of Boyd Cooper's mind.

"A computer chattered to itself in alarm as it noticed an airlock open and close itself for no apparent reason.
This was because reason was, in fact, out to lunch."

As far as we know, reality is pretty much fixed.note  We don't randomly sprout limbs, float into the air, or turn into footstools. Not so here. There is an area, or at least a circumstance, of the setting that throws the laws of physics in the air and plays merry hell with the established rules of reality. This is not always as funny as it sounds; remember, the same laws of reality that keep your friend from spontaneously turning into a camel are also the same laws of reality that keep your lungs on the inside of your body. As such, regular exposure is not recommended, as you may get... altered.

Sample conditions of a place where reality is out to lunch include Alien Geometries (constant relation between skull volume and its surface is a good thing to have) and time dilation.note  Perspective Magic is another common trick. A Reality Warper has this as a superpower. Related to Hyperspace Is a Scary Place, only the place in question isn't necessarily used for travel purposes. See also Eldritch Location, where this often happens, and World of Chaos for when the effect is so widespread it makes up the whole of existence. May result in someone Giving Up on Logic. Fairly common, or at least not out of the ordinary, in Surreal Horror.


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  • There was a commercial depicting the world overrun by bizarre, logic-defying happenings - and then it cut to a bearded man waking up from his nap. He grabs his phone to see if something is wrong, but to his dismay the battery is dead. The commercial concludes that "if you let your battery run out, God only knows what could go wrong".

    Anime & Manga 
  • If upset, Haruhi Suzumiya can unwittingly create "Closed Spaces", which look pretty much like copies of parts of the real world, minus people, plus large scary rampaging Kaiju-like things. Within said Closed Spaces, espers can generate energy fields they can't otherwise generate in the real world. Also, she can unknowingly warp some aspects of the real world (like making pigeons into doves, allowing cats to talk, giving people eyebeams, or literally turning someone into Santa Claus) while not affecting the rest of the world at large. Actions by the rest of the main cast usually revert such changes relatively quickly.
  • In the void between Earth and the Digital World in Digimon Tamers, the cast are wandering the dark void wondering what's going on. Then Jeri mentions that "she thinks that way is 'down'". Renamon: "... oh dear." Gravity comes into being and they begin falling.
  • Several settings in Princess Tutu are like this since they were created by Drosselmeyer. Humans are spontaneously transformed into talking animals on a regular basis (leaving many confused due to the glamour failure). There's a lake that can become solid and then turn into water again, another that functions like water but allows characters to breathe, and a separate reality that includes talking puppets and a crank to turn back time.
  • Rental Magica has "Magi Night" whenever magical crap hits the Ley Lines. That a version of this, weakened a lot, is used as an exam in a Wizarding School should tell you something. Calling it a survival test was a slight exaggeration, but it was a good guts test. Or it should have been, but our intrepid heroines weren't going to settle until they found the source—and trying to close the faucet, broke it open. Of course.
  • The witch labyrinths in Puella Magi Madoka Magica seem to put significant portions of reality aside in favor of the whims of the local witch. While inside one of these, you might get attacked by evil cotton balls and flying scissors, or stretched and warped far beyond what your body could normally sustain without ripping apart. Or that tiny creature you just shot to death could contain a snake much larger than itself, and this topology-defying snake could leap out and devour you. Hypothetically.
  • Ichijou in Pani Poni Dash! appears to have an 'understanding' with reality, leading to it going on lunch break whenever she's around. Very much Played for Laughs.
  • More so than most of the other episodes in the series, 'A World With No Sadness, Baby' in Space☆Dandy is nonsensical in the extreme. The majority of it takes place in some bizarre limbo world inhabited by completely unexplained creatures. A choir of caricatured bears with disembodied human hands that, despite not having mouths, carry on conversation in abstract phrasing by singing? Unexplained. An otherwise normal looking lady that has the front half of a cat sticking out of her chest — and speaks through that cat's mouth instead of her own? Unexplained. That's not even getting into all the minutiae of the setting.


    Comic Books 
  • The Invisibles arc "Entropy in the UK" has the Conspiracy summoning a big-name horror into their base. As a result, the laws of physics go completely random and insufficiently protected characters start developing skin cancer. One psychic character describes trying to read the base as "feel[ing] like someone threw up in my head."
  • In the Marvel Universe, this is the consequence of trying to use the Reality Gem without the other five Infinity Gems (Time, Space, Soul, Power and Mind) there to act as control rods.
    • A cosmic cube can cause similar messes on a smaller scale, as it may cause your subconscious desires to come to life without your consciously willing it.
  • In PS238, time spent in one of these zones results in Cecil getting wings and a number of Eldritch Abomination attributes.
  • Reality Warper supervillain Proteus from X-Men comics, particularly "The Day Reality Went Wild". His powers are especially traumatizing for Wolverine, whose heightened senses give him a greater awareness of reality, and a consequently greater awareness of reality being distorted.
    • Doom pulled the same trick on Wolvie by having him trapped in a room full of optical illusions meant to keep him disoriented. One gets the impression Claremont just liked screwing with his heroes.
  • In Captain Britain, the reality-warping Mad Jim Jaspers' brief but nightmarish rule over Britain resulted in this; had the Fury not stopped him, it would have spread not only to the rest of the world, but to the entire multiverse.
  • In Harry Kipling (Deceased), the gods chucked out the laws of physics because they aren't mythic enough.

    Fan Works 
  • Harmony Theory: The Everstorm induces insanity, creates illusions, moves locations, has variable gravity, logic defying weather, attacks with floating skulls and the occasional crucified zombie ursa major animated by fast growing vines among other things.
  • Just as its original inspiration, T.R.O.T.T.E.R., Shadow of Cheernobyl takes place in the Zone of Desolation, where even the laws of the My Little Pony universe do not apply. The weather changes on its own, the area is filled with physics-defying anomalies, magic is nearly useless, and every single animal is violent. It gets even weirder the closer to the Cheernobyl power plant the characters get.
  • Part of the premise of The Infinite Loops is that the multiverse is damaged, which necessitates the eponymous loops. This means minor glitches occur semi-frequently, and occasionally a loop will run that just makes no sense whatsoever.
  • There are 'chaos zones' within the Triptych Continuum, places where Discord's power very much survives free of him. In one breath you could be standing in a jungle, the next a volcano, and the next a snowfield — without ever getting more than a few feet from your starting position.
  • This was the subjective feel to the Wolf’s Dragoons when traversing a cosmic rift in Fragmentation.
    The air tasted blue. Her undergarments sounded F-Sharp. The overhead lights seemed friendly and outgoing. Then the universe returned to normal. “What the hell was that?” Kerensky almost shouted.
  • In What Tomorrow Brings, after Visser Three kills Visser One, who wasn't supposed to die, reality gets so screwed up that people and things phase through each other and fall apart for a few seconds.

  • The Infinite Improbability Drive from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which moves the Heart of Gold vast distances by working from the assumption that the ship has a chance of existing in every place in the universe, then narrowing down the probability so that it merely exists at the plotted destination. When Ford and Arthur are first picked up, they end up in an area improperly shielded from the effects of the drive, and Hilarity Ensues as Ford turns into a penguin while Arthur loses his limbs.
  • Discworld: Reality is so malleable that things like this are not entirely out of the ordinary. It's actually stated at some point that the trick to breaking physical laws is to get this to happen and then get away with it before the universe remembers that what you're doing is impossible.
    • Also, in areas devastated by past magic wars or where residue from magical experiments was dumped, random distortions in reality are commonplace and troublesome. Such areas are known as "unreal estate".
    • And some realms — like Death's abode or the tower of the Tooth Fairy — have problems with basic essential laws, like time. Or space. Or even death... kinda.
    • From the magical battle during Sourcery: "It looked like a piano sounds after being dropped down a well. It tasted yellow, and felt paisley. It smelled like a total eclipse of the moon. Of course, closer to the tower, it got really weird."
    • Perhaps especially notable is how Unseen University uses Hex; knowing that many impossible things are in fact possible until reality notices, they can use a half-Magitek, half-Bamboo Technology computer to violate the laws of physics in very many extremely similar but distinct ways, very quickly, too quickly for the universe itself to adjust!
    • The Ramtops in general are known for harboring high levels of ambient magic, even by Discworld standards. Rains of fish and two-headed calves are so commonplace that locals dismiss them with "Oh, bother, another bloody portent!" As seen in Wyrd Sisters, it's only when the portents stop happening that they get worried.
  • Some of Boris Vian's works are textbook cases. Froth on the Daydream (L'Ecume des Jours, literally "The foam of the days") has expanding and shrinking windows and houses as well as a water lily growing in Chloe's lung and ultimately killing her.
  • China Miéville's Bas-Lag Cycle has the Cacotopic Stain, an area of desert (well, it's desert now) which is completely consumed by a Torque storm, and Suroch where New Crobuzon dropped a "torque bomb" in a past war. The way they're described, they're part nuclear wasteland, part half-opened door to the abyss.
    • Then there's the Scar, in the Swollen Ocean, where long-gone reality-altering beings once entered the world and 'broke it'. What actually happens there is unknown to the main protagonist, but a person who goes missing returns from an alternate timeline claiming that he saw everyone fall into a massive chasm into the bowels of the earth. The protagonist has several theories as to whether this was a hoax or not, but quits that line of reasoning in disgust.
  • The Land of Faerie of The Dresden Files is a spiritual realm where the flow of time is subject to the whims of its Queens, where gunpowder or fire stop working sometimes, and where dying in the wrong place can cause global warming or a fresh ice age. And Faerie is just one of the realms of the Nevernever, which contains every mythological location, somewhere within it. Faerie is closest to the physical world, and it's suggested that further realms are even less based in normal reality.
    • Then there's whatever lies beyond the Nevernever. So far, it hasn't made many appearances in the books, but things from it have — the Outsiders (Eldritch Abomination types who are extremely resistant to magic) and mordite (a material that is basically calcified death). Faerie and The Fair Folk exist in part to protect the physical world from Outside.
  • Roger Zelazny:
    • In The Changing Land, the land around Castle Timeless is currently inhabited by the "mad" demi-god Tualua. Tualua is undergoing one of the "changes" common to his kind, which in this case causes the land surrounding the castle to be subject to all sorts of chaotic, unpredictable, and often-deadly effects.
    • In the same author's The Chronicles of Amber, an Amberite can travel to any Shadow (aka parallel universe) they can imagine by simply visualizing the changes they desire as they move. At one point, Merlin is dosed with very strong hallucinogens. It... goes badly. (Even just regular Shadow travel can end in this situation if it's taken out far enough towards Chaos.)
  • Jack Vance's short story "The Men Return" takes place After the End, when the solar system has entered a vast "pocket of non-causality" and the law of cause and effect has crumbled into chaos. A few sane survivors struggle to stay alive in a world where the landscape and circumstances shift randomly around them like a Salvador Dali painting, while the lunatics have adapted to the madness and thrive in it. By the end of the story, the Earth's emerged into normal space again, the insane behavior that'd kept the madmen alive is now useless and self-destructive, and the sane men begin to violently retake the world.
  • There's a short story that begins with a quote from Saint Augustine. ''God Is Dead, God is dead—perfidy! When God dies, you'll know it!" As it turns out, the deity just expired, and the world was formerly controlled by the strength of his belief. Now it's a variant of Clap Your Hands If You Believe—and most of the world didn't believe in itself enough to keep existing.
  • Most of the world is like this after World War III in The Gone-Away World. The "Stuff" left behind goes one step beyond Clap Your Hands If You Believe—it becomes whatever you're thinking of, or, if you get coated in it, makes you whatever you're thinking of, regardless of whether you know enough anatomy to survive the transformation. The Jormungand corporation has been slowly rebuilding—people with rare brain damage think of Stuff as dust and only dust, but Jormungand keeps having to damage more brains as the people previously collected die of their injuries.
  • In The Black Company novels, there's an area where this is caused by a God brought in from another world. A bunch of stuff got dragged with it and made the best of the situation. There are giant airborne whales, talking and moving menhirs, and lightning-shooting flying stingrays.
  • In Storm Thief by Chris Wooding, the "horror" version of this is played with: probability storms happen all the time, at random, with no warning, and can change anything. If you get caught in one, it can do anything to you, like change the color of your eye-shadow or give you a terminal case of cancer. Of the novel's two main characters, Moa is an orphan because of this and Rail is forced to wear respirator constantly. The city also has barely any technology because the storms turned off all the power and it was hundreds of years before they turned it back on again. The kicker? This was done on purpose to keep the city from stagnating into a cruel dictatorship. It does anyway.
  • Happens in Claws that Catch, when the Vorpal Blade's chaos drive interacted with the chaos-based shield of a giant derelict, producing a bizarre effect the crew dubbed "the anime zone". Mostly it involved massive flanderization of the appearance of the ship and crew, as well as the crew's personalities.
  • This has started happening in All-World, the main setting of The Dark Tower, due to the Beams that support the titular tower failing. Resulting in time and space beginning to 'drift', what was east one morning may be north-east the next, the passage of time becoming uncertain, etc... and while it's All-World that is the most effected, due to it being the closest to the Tower, as the strength of the Beams continues to decay this would spread to every world. Or as the book puts it, "the world has moved on."
  • Greg Bear gives us a particularly nightmarish case of this in The City at the End of Time. The Chaos is effectively a new universe running on new rules. But the new rules are either incomprehensible to anything that can exist in the normal universe, or constantly changing, and it's eventually implied that they're both. Creatures from our universe need specially designed armor generating a field of reality just to be exposed to it. Even so, they can only see because the armor converts the nearest equivalent it can find into light, and they have to be constantly on the lookout for... pretty much everything.
    • Once the Chaos starts actively trying to kill its visitors, this gets worse still. One example sees characters running for their life, chased by future versions of themselves from the possible future in which they did not get away from their future selves, and were instead dragged by them into the stable time loop they are trying to avoid. Yes, that bad.
    • In Blood Music, the megaorganism/noocyte collective that used to be the United States start observing reality so hard that it starts to perceive new laws of physics which the rest of the planet are unaware of. This in turn stretches local earth reality like a rubber band, and when the collective decides to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence it snaps back so hard that the rest of humanity has to live like stone-age people, since the only reliable means of generating power is by burning wood. At least until they come back...
  • In Space Marine Battles novels, xeno temples and daemon worlds alike have a bad habit of wrapping time and space around them like a scarf. Alien Geometries and Year Outside, Hour Inside abound. In one Salamander story, an Eldar in cryostasis has found a way to use its power to control gravity outside, wrecking a Terminator team that was coming to poison him.
  • The Zones in Roadside Picnic. Aliens are weird like that.
  • Second Apocalypse: Topoi are places where a great deal of suffering has taken place, causing the border between reality and Hell to wear thin. Those who go there may at best suffer from horrible nightmares and at worst become physically mutated. One character grows an eye in his heart.
  • In The Wheel of Time, these phenomena start to occur as the Dark One's prison outside reality weakens. By the time of the Final Battle, apparitions of the dead are commonplace, buildings rearrange themselves when unobserved, food and objects rot away at random times, thousand-year-old ghost towns absorb unsuspecting travelers, and random "bubbles of evil" disgorge effects like an army camp's weapons animating and trying to kill their owners.
  • In More Minds by Carol Matas, we learn that the relatively standard fairy tale fantasy world the story seems to be set in is actually a Post-Technological Singularity world where everyone finally agreed on the fairy tale-ish setting as a reasonably sane compromise after ubiquitous reality warping tech had reduced the world to absolute chaos many years earlier.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Where No One Has Gone Before", the Enterprise is transported to the Outer Rim of the universe, where reality breaks down and starts making crew members' memories real.
  • The Delphic Expanse in Star Trek: Enterprise. In some parts of it, the known laws of physics did not seem to apply. Once a Klingon ship emerged from the expanse with its entire crew anatomically inverted, but still alive.
  • Stargate Atlantis, in the episode Trinity. The crew comes across an Ancient outpost that was working on a limitless energy source that the Ancients died trying to make it work. Rodney egotistically believes he can correct the problem, only to find out that the very nature of the power source causes local reality failure. The laws of physics cease to apply in the chamber, that unleashes exotic particles impossible to block. He fails to stop the generator from overloading, it blows up and annihilates 85% of the solar system the outpost was built in.

  • Younger Brother has an album called The Last Days of Gravity. The left side album art depicts a man walking into a street corner. The right side has giant scissors walking the streets.


    Tabletop Games 
  • The Wyld from Exalted. Those who live too close to it develop mutations, some of the things that exist within literally cannot exist in reality, and travel time is measured not in terms of distance but by where you are in the story. Oh, and if that weren't enough, The Fair Folk live there. Some other examples of Wyldlife are 'grass with fangs', and the delicious yet nutritious 'Rockodile'.
  • The Chaos Wastes, or anywhere sufficiently exposed to the Chaos Winds, from Warhammer. Bathed in energy from the same creepy otherspace that plays home to the setting's Cosmic Horrors, those who spend a good amount of time there usually end up mutating horribly... if they're not already eaten by all the other flora and fauna that's already mutated horribly.
  • New World of Darkness:
    • The Abyss from Mage: The Awakening is pretty much established as "anti-reality." No one actually goes in there, but plenty of things come out of there... well, OK, a few go in, it's just that they don't come out. Unless they happen to be Archmages, and even then, they can only go in for a short while.
    • The Abyss also gives rise to the Nemesis Continuum, a set of warped physical laws that create a zone where things work wrong. If you enter a Nemesis Continuum area wearing something green, it'll immediately hit 100 Celsius and give you horrible burns.
    • And then there are the Lower Depths. If the Abyss is "anti-reality", then the Lower Depths are "lack of reality" — an ever-shifting series of planes where at least one of the Arcana (such as Death, or Life, or Mind, or Fate...) is missing entirely.
    • Faerie/Arcadia from Changeling: The Lost is a much better example. Like the Wyld, it serves as home turf for The Fair Folk, and everything within its boundaries is defined not by physics but by contracts and pledges (for instance, if you haven't agreed to let fire warm you up, you can stand in the middle of an inferno and not feel any heat — though you will get burned). Not only does time work on the Year Inside, Hour Outside principle according to Earth, but it works both ways, meaning ten days on Earth could pass in three years' time in Arcadia, or vice versa (and those are not fixed values). Also, those of the aforementioned Mages that control Time and Fate may come here to awaken (the Arcadia of the Mages is within human experience, the Arcadia of the Fair Folk is not, and the nature of their connection is debated even by the Archmages — Arcadia is that screwy).
    • Another screwy realm is the Pandemonium where the Mages of Mind and Space awaken. This is where Your Mind Makes It Real is the guy in the cubicle next door, who is doing reality's work while reality is out to lunch.
    • Demon: The Descent eventually reveals why the World of Darkness is so screwed up; there's a secondary set of "occult physics" that allows weird shit to come into existence if weirder shit is done to generate it. A lot of these experiments are set up by the God-Machine and its agents, but sometimes, the principles just fulfill themselves on their own.
  • Most of the Umbra in the Old World of Darkness gets pretty close. Even areas under the hard control of the Weaver, the spirit of stasis, tend to have unusual flow of time and sentient spirits of data running around. Where the Wyld or Wyrm rule, even simple things like waking up the same shape you started as is a rarity.
  • The interior of Hundun, the Titan of Chaos, in Scion cannot be mapped in any reasonable manner. To do so would be to define it, and Hundun cannot be defined. This renders Hundan impossible to seal away, but thankfully, it's so chaotic that it cannot focus long enough to act. And then the other Titans got out and asked Hundun for assistance...
  • The original AD&D module "Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits" included a table of random Reality Is Out to Lunch events that can occur while the heroes are exploring Lolth's spider-ship, due to the inherent chaos of the Abyss. It's stated that these would be much more common and severe, if Lolth's own willpower weren't keeping them in check to preserve her headquarters.
    • There's also the Far Realm, the place of H. P. Lovecraft's nightmares. Nevermind that it's THE location that nearly every Eldritch Abomination spawned from, there are areas where it leaks over into the real world, causing some... interesting effects. The more mundane ones are stretches of exposed bedrock with the consistency of chocolate mousse, balls of psychic energy randomly coalescing into semi-sentient beings, the typical tentacular mutations, and, of course, general insanity. Depending on the setting, the stars in the night sky are actually the remnant tears left over when beings of the Far Realm broke into the mortal plane; in others, the stars are said Eldritch Abominations, they know you're watching them, and they're watching you back, filled with incalculable malice.
    • Limbo, the realm of pure Chaos, is rather like this. Wild Magic is the rule there, rather than the exception, and the whole place basically exists in an endless state of creation, with new things coming to existence all the time.
    • In the Forgotten Realms setting, there are Wild Magic Zones, where the mystical Weave of Magic has been damaged or unraveled, causing magic to essentially run wild.
  • The Mournland from Eberron is a low-key example of this, seeing as it turned into the magical equivalent of a nuclear test site during the final years of the Last War. How bad is it nowadays? One of the common enemy types in the area is sentient spells.
  • In the Ravenloft setting, the Forest of Everchange in the Nightmare Lands is only called that because its constant transformations are slightly more likely to result in forest than other terrain types. The domain of Vechor is also prone to this, as its darklord is a Reality Warper and batshit insane.
  • The TORG RPG features an invasion of Core Earth by other realities (cosms), in which those alternate realities' laws of nature are superimposed on the invaded/supplanted territories. This means you can have fantasy, super-science, mad science, horror, pulp-adventure, and cyberpunk tropes all mixing it up in the same game-setting.
  • Rifts has a phenomenon called a Ley Line storm, where an overabundance of magical energy in one area causes everything to go haywire. Rifts to unknown dimensions can tear open during one, but that's the least of it. Characters caught in a storm can find themselves floating in the air, or green slimy things fall from the sky. Using magic becomes very unporedictable, and creatures of magic have a real bad time inside one.
  • The case in both the Chaotic Neutral plane known as the Maelstrom, and to a lesser extent, the fey-inhabited "rough draft" of creation known as the First World in Pathfinder. Deeper layers of the Chaotic Evil plane of the Abyss are like this too, due to the lingering influence of the Qlippoth, the original pre-demon inhabitants of that plane.

    Video Games 
  • The Mystery Vortex in Sam & Max Hit the Road. Almost every single room of this tourist trap appears to feature some disruption of reality, from the M.C. Escher entrance hall where visitors become too small or too tall to enter certain doors, to the permanently upside-down gift shop.
    Sam: Gravity has taken a holiday and lost its luggage!
  • In the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, reality isn't out to lunch as much as it's on extended medical leave. The old Chernobyl power plant exudes... weirdness, moreso during a blowout, which, even aside from all the potentially fatal radiation, REALLY tends to mess things up. Just for example, you might be walking along a perfectly normal mutant-infested swamp only to have gravity suddenly crush you into the ground, possibly fatally. And that's a rather mild example. There are also the stretches of ordinary unremarkable ground which exude enough heat to burn a human to death for no reason at all, the random massive electrical discharges, the always-entertaining white-hot jets of flame from out of nowhere (that only hurt upon ignition and can be harmlessly traversed after that until they reset), the plants that dissolve skin on contact depending on the speed something passes by it, and the occasional place where space has folded in on itself and created a bizarre maze out of an ordinary room. And that's because we haven't said a word about the artifacts these bizarre occurrences create, and which are very strange in and of themselves.
  • Infinite Space has fluctuation sectors. Apparently, it can be stabilized using the Epitaphs or the power of Observers (and possibly Trackers).
  • The eponymous location in Improbable Island was the testing ground for a device that was supposed to disprove the laws of thermodynamics by creating more energy than it used. It created something, all right—things and people that spend too long there tend to turn into other things, often in surreal ways.
  • Higure Anghel of Hatoful Boyfriend can create this kind of effect. He's able to draw people into different fantastical versions of baseline reality when he's particularly excited, and their bodies and sometimes minds change to suit. See: Primal Feather, Wallenstein, Pretty Coore. He claims to be a Fallen Angel, he definitely has intoxicating/hallucinogenic pheromones and strange Reality Warper powers whose full extent he is not aware of. If he leaves the area, stops making an effort, or loses consciousness things return to normal, though something destroyed remains destroyed.
  • Silent Hill: Nowhere. It's an amalgamation of all areas of the city that Harry's been through, organized in such a bizarre and nonsensical way that the only thing a room has in common with the ones it's connected to is the size of the door they share. It's not restricted to the Otherworld areas as it seems at first, either: some Fog/Dark World locations are present, such as the school classroom. To make it worse, even the savegame screen isn't immune: it can't identify the place you saved the game in. All save points but the final one register the save location as "Nowhere".
  • In Metro 2033, one of the side effects of the nuclear war is that it didn't just obliterate the world, it obliterated both Heaven and Hell and made a sizable dent in reality itself, which makes it... falter a bit in certain places. The first game included bizarre electrical anomalies that appear out of nowhere and float down tunnels, shocking everything around them, and some kind of sentient room that induces a hallucination of a great, glowing door that traps and kills people. Metro: Last Light followed suit with an Eldritch Location called the "River of Fate", where dead skeletons move around like they're alive, the dead can make phone calls, and swimming in the river can allow people to visit entirely different places and times.
  • Reality in First Encounter Assault Recon goes out for a smoke break whenever Alma pays a visit. Then it goes to lunch. And visits the gym. And takes a three-day weekend. And quits its job. In the meantime, ghostly horrors and dismembering tentacles will erupt from nowhere, and monsters lurking in pools of blood will erupt without warning, and this is before Alma herself starts actively transforming the environment around you. Interestingly, the developers invert the usual Real Is Brown pattern: a monochromatic or desaturated color palette indicates that some seriously unreal stuff is about to go down.
  • Psychonauts has you delving into a colorful cast of characters' mindscapes, which have their own laws of physics. That said, the "real world" features a psychic summer camp with telekinetic wildlife.
  • Kerbal Space Program has a long-running bug known by the community as the "Deep Space Kraken" that has been known to make planets invisible, tear apart spaceships for no apparent reason, and in general wreak havoc on your save. The original Kraken was caused by a floating point error, but since its fixing multiple different Krakens have thence spawned.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, End of the World, created from the remains of worlds consumed by The Heartless. The phenomena there includes: small islands floating in a purple void with spheres of darkness (which contain snowy canyons filled with treasure chests) constantly dropping on them; towers of rock that contain purple flames that can transport someone to other worlds (or Bald Mountain); an ornate door at the bottom of a cavern that opens up to Destiny Islands, which splits open to reveal a valley made of purple rock; and a lot of organic-looking structures.
    • Hollow Bastion, which has also been consumed by darkness. The laws of physics don't work properly due to the world being damaged; Water acts as a solid surface and flows uphill, there are floating landmasses, and bubbles of water can levitate and transport people underwater, among other things.
  • Fallen London:
    • The Neath in general has tons of weirdness, like honey that physically teleports you into your own dreams, people selling their souls in bottles like nothing and death being a bit of a temporary inconvenience, but the Iron Republic takes this to new levels; the laws of reality are nonexistant, very, very malleable or literally debatable, changing at the behest of its rather insane inhabitants' protests. The laws of mathematics change so often doing any sort of accounting is irritating, and figuring out theorems is blatantly impossible. Make a convincing argument and it'll rain upwards just because you asked, until someone else asks for something else blatantly impossible instead, which will happen anyways. Why all this chaos? Because this is the Iron Republic's idea of true freedom: There shall be no law. This includes the laws of physics. The Iron Republic retains its weirdness in Sunless Sea, to the point where even trying to write a report about it for the Admiralty causes the paragraphs to bud eyes and the paper will either go blank or catch fire when handed in to the Admiralty.
    • In Sunless Sea, you can also visit Irem. Irem is a place where time isn't entirely stable, so every time it's discussed, the tenses used in the sentences change at random. You can throw a skull into a pool to see visions and journey into the dimension behind mirrors by paying someone a sack of coffee beans.
    • Sunless Skies is mostly set in locations in the High Wilderness where the light of the Judgements do not fall and as a result are almost as weird as the Neath. Then there's Eleutheria, which is entirely plunged into darkness because the Halved emits anti-light that blocks all other Judgements' laws. As a result, Eleutheria is by far the most malleable of the regions reality-wise.
  • Whenever the Dreamers are encountered in The Secret World, you're sure to wind up with some craziness. Sometimes, it almost makes sense. Other times, you wind up with a delicious space-and-time pretzel, with mustard and ranch dressing.
  • At the very end of Inca II, the protagonist winds up inside an asteroid comprised of his memories, as well as some sort of bomb which needs to be wrapped back in around itself. The maze alone is suitable enough to warp one's mind, but the puzzles — even for a game which has already been out there and back — are sublime.
  • In the climax of the Team Galactic plot of Pokémon Platinum, you, Cyrus and Cynthia enter the Distortion World, the realm of Giratina described as being on the reverse of the normal one. It is defined by its disconnection from natural space and time — platforms appear out of nowhere, obstacles vanish (or spontaneously generate) as you walk towards them and gravity changes on a whim. At one rather impressive point, you surf up a waterfall simply by holding the D-Pad — a waterfall that flows from the bottom of the screen to the top. Cynthia remarks that although you appear to keep moving downwards toward the centre, in a world such as this it's impossible to know.
  • The Elder Scrolls: This tends to happen during events known as "Dragon Breaks", Time Crashes during which the usual forward flow of time is disrupted in some way, usually by mortals wielding divine-level powers. They also often alter reality, with consequences persisting even after they end. To note some specific examples:
    • In the series' backstory, during the 1st Era, the Marukhati Selectives, an elite group within the rabidly anti-Elven Alessian Order, carried out a ritual in an attempt to purge Akatosh, the draconic God of Time, of the elven aspects of his mythological basis — the Aldmeri golden eagle god Auri-El. This proceeded to break time and reality for a period of a 1008 years, an event that came to be known as the Middle Dawn. During the Middle Dawn, reality didn't just go out for lunch, it went out for supper with friends, got wasted, passed out, and then woke up the next morning butt-naked in a dumpster on the other side of town with no wallet. Bizarre and impossible events occurred during this time; people gave birth to their own parents, some sources mention wars and major events which never happened according to other sources, the sun changed color depending on the witness, and the gods either walked among the mortals or they didn't. How could they measure that period of time? They used the phases of Nirn's moons, said to be Lorkhan's decaying "flesh divinity", to measure time as they were not affected by the event. Even the Elder Scrolls themselves cannot rationalize the events of the Middle Dawn. When the Scrolls are attuned to that time period, their glyphs disappear.
    • The Numidium, a giant brass golem built by the Dwemer and designed to be powered by the Heart of Lorkhan, the "dead" creator god, was essentially their refutation of the gods made material. Because of this, it frequently warped reality merely by being activated, such as the temporal toxic waste dump in Elsweyr where Tiber Septim's mages tried to figure it out after the Dunmer Tribunal gave it to him as a tribute, or the Warp In The West, where all the mutually exclusive Multiple Endings in Daggerfall essentially happened at once (though none to the same extent they would have individually).
  • The world of Cookie Clicker was already a little kooky before you arrive (you can grow farm-grown cookies and mine cookies out of the Earth in the very early game, magic exists and the Grandmas you've been buying are secretly Eldritch Abominations,) but your endless pursuit to make more and more cookies eventually leads to you opening portals to other dimensions, travelling back in time to gather cookies before they're eaten, breaking the laws of physics over your knee, and eventually turning all of reality into cookies on a molecular level, and everything understandably gets crazier and more unstable the further you go.
  • In Disco Elysium, there is the phenomenon known as the Pale. It is basically a collection of strange enormous patches of anti-reality where all human history and memory of the past collects. The Pale separate the world's continents and covers most of the planet, but it is hard to describe, being often commonly thought of as "less than nothing". While just being in the Pale may not immediately kill you, the longer you stay and deeper you go, the more the laws of physics stop working, and the laws of nature such as distance, time, gravity, and even mathematics themselves eventually break down, and you find yourself going increasingly insane as you lose the ability to separate present and past, and terms like "sky" and "ground" stop having any meaning. The only way civilization has found to reliably navigate it is to plot a precise course with as little exposure as possible and shoot straight through as fast as they can with specially designed airships.
  • Actively abused by some of the denizens of A House of Many Doors. The titular House is an ever-expanding parasite dimension that steals all of its contents, including physical laws, from other worlds. One city within the House, the City of Engines, is crammed so full of contradictory laws that almost any machine can be built within its limits. However, because the City of Engines' machinery has no real right to be functional, it inevitably breaks when taken to other, more stable parts of the House. A chief engineer the player can recruit from there mentions that he doesn't understand what he's doing when he isn't allowed to make up physics on the fly.
  • In Loop Hero after the world's end all that remains is a loop of road floating in a black void. The Hero is able to remember things from before the world's destruction and temporarily bring them back into existence as floating chunks of land surround the road. Causality does not apply in this realm, as fields of wheat can form despite never being sown by human hands and villagers recalling a monster that just appeared has terrorized their days old village for generations.
  • Much like S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Into the Radius has reality take a leave in the Pechorsk Radius, where half destroyed structures floating in the air, former rezidents turned to stone and anomoloies that rip you apart on molecular level are common. Oh, and the giant glowing black-red thing in the sky.

    Web Comics 
  • Unsounded:
    • The Khert is simultaneously a Background Magic Field that regulates reality and a timeless, nondimensional Eldritch Location in itself. Powerful enough magic can disrupt the Khert in an area so that physical laws malfunction: fire burns cold, ghosts escape into the physical world, mugs of coffee learn to fly and socialize, and the like. Inside the Khert, the memories of everyone who has ever and will ever live are manifested and remade into the scenery, it's possible to glance down one vista of the fractal landscape and watch the time you visited last night, and you can fall headfirst into a vision of the future — or a possible future?
    • The demilitarized zone between Alderode and Cresce is so ravaged by centuries of magical warfare that the Background Magic Field has broken down entirely and wreaks havoc with reality. If you're lucky, all you'll see is a gigantic mutant boar or two; if not, you might clip through the ground or have your skeleton walk off without you.
  • Reality spends A LOT of time at lunch in Mountain Time, where the sky is full of ham, settings change mid-conversation, and people suddenly discover they've recently robbed a bank.
  • Awful Hospital doesn't have anything as normal as reality. Its local take on a Multiverse is the Perception Range, an infinite expanse of possibilities and subjective realities that people interpret differently based on what they're willing and able to perceive, subdivided into more-or-less discrete "Zones". Locations include the Grey Zones, our own laughably limited reality; a Small, Secluded World that grew out of one of the protagonist's corpses, populated by symbolic representations of fungi and bacteria; and The Hospital, the realized concept of medical care, which is under attack by an Eldritch Abomination sabotaging the platonic ideals of sickness and health. Mind Screw doesn't cover it.

    Web Original 
  • Several places in the Whateley Universe, including the Dreamscape where Sara Waite has to fight The Kellith to the death even though they are the same person, or Gothmog's domain, or even the dimension where the demon BKCRMWDJVG comes from.
  • ANYTHING that comes out of RubberFruit's head.
  • In the titular desert town of Welcome to Night Vale, reality is not only out to lunch, it's on a permanent acid trip (a really, really bad acid trip).
  • In Twitch Plays Pokémon FireRed, the majority of the mons can use moves and abilities that don't even fit their anatomy. The mob was amazed when they encountered an Abra with the Levitate ability (i.e, something that makes sense in the World of Chaos that is Kanto during this run).
    • Pokémon Randomizers in general. You can make a randomized rom up to or more chaotic than the settings the streamer of the aforementioned run used. If movesets, abilities, and possibly even types are randomized along with encounters, expect the mons you see to not even follow the laws of physics.
  • Homestar Runner: In the Compy's last Strong Bad Email, the Compy is infected with a Computer Virus that somehow infects the website and pretty much shoos reality away, resulting in town-wide glitchy chaos that only ends when Bubs shoots the Compy.
  • A general headache for the SCP Foundation, since it's not only dangerous to explore, but also difficult to contain. MTF Zeta-9 ("Mole Rats") specializes in exploring such locales, especially enclosed and underground locales. SCP-1730 "What Happened to Site-13?" is an entire Foundation site from another reality with a particularly bad case of inconsistent reality. The thing, and the SCPs still roaming around inside it, swallowed four mobile task forces before the Foundation sent in Samsara.

    Western Animation 
  • The Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "One Plus One Equals Ed" involves the Eds taking reality apart to see how it works. Among other things, Eddy turns day into night by taking a bite out of the sun and turning it into a crescent moon, steals Jimmy's outline (turning the lad into a puddle of goo), and forces Sarah to go away by generating a Wheel o' Feet and sticking her in it. Ed uses a hand saw to create an interdimensional hole into the Kanker's bathroom, and then things get really weird.
    Edd: Don't look now, but there's a cow hovering just overhead.
  • Wackyland in the Looney Tunes cartoons. Like Wonderland, but with more dodos. Wackyland returns in Tiny Toon Adventures, situated on the outer edges of Acme Acres. A few episodes focus on it, like one in which Babs briefly became their queen or the time Gogo Dodo took Montana Max to task for dumping sewage in it and spoiling his surreal surroundings.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series had an episode called "The Magicks of Megas-tu", where the Enterprise enters a part of the universe where reality breaks down. One character has their arm break off of their body and drift away.
  • The Teen Titans (2003) episode "Fractured" features the inter-dimensional imp Larry, whose "magic finger" can bend the rules of reality. So, naturally, when he breaks his finger, reality gets broken along with it. This includes making an entire city look like it was drawn in crayon, Starfire's head growing wings and flying away from her body, and mouths becoming easily detachable from people's bodies.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, this happens to Ponyville in the season 2 premiere "The Return of Harmony (Part 1)", after Discord, the spirit of chaos and disharmony, frees himself from his imprisonment. The weirdness includes cotton candy clouds that rain chocolate milk, ears of corn popping while still on the stalk, and rabbits growing long, deer-like legs. It gets progressively weirder in "The Return of Harmony (Part 2)", where Discord throws in things like dirt roads turning into wet soap, day and night cycling at random, buildings floating in midair, the ground developing a checkerboard pattern, drinking an exploding chocolate milk of glassnote  and more.
  • In X-Men: Evolution, when the Scarlet Witch cuts loose against the X-Men in her debut episode, she makes the entire area (and the X-Men's powers) go crazy. It's hard to fit the things she made happen under 'probability alteration,' but damn, if it isn't awesome.
  • Regular Show has this happen occasionally, such as when Mordecai and Rigby go beyond time in the episode "It's Time" where everything is invisible as far as the viewer and Mordecai can tell, and the time-lord exists as a mass of talking clocks.
  • The world went this way in the Adventure Time episode "A Glitch is a Glitch", due to the Glitch breaking down reality at the fundamental level, bits and parts of people and things disappeared haphazardly.
  • Anyone venturing into the city of Lost Angles in ReBoot gets such fun experiences as: gravity working in different directions; walking through doors/behind objects and ending up in some random other location; Tears appearing and disappearing at random (well, even more randomly); and of course, the joys of navigating the already twisted landscape which is only made worse by the above problems. And all of this is WITHOUT the interference of Hexadecimal, the insane Reality Warper that saw the after-effects of an experiment to open a portal to the Net that destroyed and twisted an entire drive or "city" of Mainframe and thought it looked like a cozy place to set up shop.
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball, Richard got a job delivering pizzas. Richard getting a job is so alien to the universe as we know it that in every move he makes he warps reality where ever he passes, such as changing the weather, making stuff float, and reshaping people. Things go back to normal when he got fired (for eating one of his deliveries).
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Weirdmageddon", Bill Cipher finally escapes to Earth and turns Gravity Falls into his own personal playground, unleashing all sorts of bizarre and horrifying transformations on the townsfolk and the town itself and partying it up with his fellow Eldritch Abominations from his previous home dimension.
    Bill Cipher: It's time we do a little redecorating — I could really use a castle of some kind! And how about some bubbles of pure madness?! This party never stops! Time is dead and meaning has no meaning! Existence is upside down and I reign supreme! Welcome, one and all, to Weirdmageddon!
    • An earlier, unused version of this sequence featured a song written by Neil Cicierega. It is arguably even weirder.

    Real Life 
  • It's theorized that there are parts of the universe where matter randomly comes into existence, though usually not in a coherent form (that we know of...).
    • A Boltzmann Brain is a complete human brain created by this process. It's estimated that one will probably show up sometime in the next 10^10^50 years.
    • In particle physics reactions, there can exist "virtual" particles which have invariant mass much different than what would be that particle's usual mass (if that particle weren't extant only as part of a reaction). Example: An electron and an antielectron (positron) annihilate, to form a single photon that has mass equal to the total center-of-mass energy of the two electrons, then that photon decays after a time to an electron and a positron with the same center-of-mass energies as the originals. A free photon would normally have zero mass and not decay, but here the virtual photon has mass, but decays — almost literally it is "Reality is Out to Lunch", and when reality "catches up" with the improperly-massed particle, it decays. Or at least that's one way to think about it. Of course, this is a "cartoon" picture, since in real life it's impossible to "see" the virtual particles, so it's hard to say whether they "exist" or not.
    • For any given space, there are a finite number of ways that space can be filled. Theoretically, a sufficiently large universe should contain copies of complex structures, and eventually entire observable universes. However, since these repetitions are not fractal or in any way dependent on one another, the result would be a "glitch universe" where such things as human bodies randomly floating in space occur.
  • A lot of higher mathematics invokes this trope, playing around with imaginary numbers, hypothetical spatial dimensions, and conceptual permutations of infinity.
    • The fun thing about mathematics is that it doesn't have to reflect reality at all; it only usually does so because that's more convenient for most things. Want to redefine "continuity", make a longer-than-infinite line, work in fractional or infinitely many dimensions, or split a sphere into two copies of itself? As long as you can formally define it and prove it works, there's no problem.
    • And in a sort of inversion of this trope, sometimes branches of mathematics have been developed with no intention to model the real world, only to then be useful in modeling it after science marched on. For example, non-Euclidean geometries were first developed accidentally while trying to disprove the parallel postulate (which of course went horribly wrong because the parallel postulate is what makes a geometry Euclidean), only to then be useful for modeling the Earth's surface and relativity.
      • Imaginary numbers are another good example here - being regarded as useless for decades after their discovery, but immediately becoming one of the most popular areas of math after an application in quantum physics was discovered.

Alternative Title(s): Reality Is Out For Lunch


Gravity Falls

Bill Cipher commences Weirdmaggedon.

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