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Trapped in TV Land

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"This is what I call a drive-in movie!" note 
Carlos, The Magic School Bus, "Spins a Web"

A group of characters, often a mix of heroes and villains, are trapped by some form of Applied Phlebotinum inside the world of literature, video games or the like, but most often, television. Either they must learn to cope with their newfound environment until some way can be found to escape, or they will jump from channel to channel, hitting a multitude of clichéd worlds and thin parodies.

A plot very much at home in a Super Hero spoof or other comedy show with a loose set of physical constraints. It's a wacky plot that allows the writers to have fun with the tropes this wiki catalogues, and make it all moot at the end without a Snapback.

Most times, one of the cast members will be Genre Savvy, or even a fan, and will use that knowledge to beat the system, and many times there is also a Genre Blind character, that is too serious, sane and is not into that kind of entertainment, and insists in using real-world logic in a place where that doesn't apply, and becomes the victim, the Butt-Monkey or The Millstone.


Most common in animation, where "building" all the new environments and sets is easy and cheap. Well, easy. Also common to Fanfic Fuel.

There's an unspoken rule that, somewhere in the universe, there is a show similar to Star Trek: The Original Series.

Overlaps sometimes with The World as Myth. This trope is infrequently connected with its opposites, the Refugee from TV Land and Welcome to the Real World.

Sub-Trope of Anomalous Art and Trapped in Another World.

Compare with Portal Book, which can trap characters in Book Land and is frequently paired with a "Reading Is Cool" Aesop, and Media Transmigration, which is when the protagonist is permanently transported into the Show Within a Show, usually due to death. Compare and contrast Intrepid Fictioneer, for when the travel is deliberate. See also Fisher Kingdom, if the channels change the visitors.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • While not in a television per se, the 2nd part of the 1993 Time Bokan OVA has Yatterman's Dorombo Gang enter a sewer and find a world entirely populated by Tatsunoko Production characters. While attempting to cause havok and expecting Yatterman-1 and -2 to show up, they don't count on the Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Casshern, Hurricane Polymar and Tekkaman arriving and trouncing them. Oh, and there's the obligatory Speed Racer cameo too.
  • The framing device for the anime exercise video (It Makes Sense in Context) Training with Hinako has one shot of a girl in the real world being taken into a glowing TV set, where she apparently becomes an anime character.
  • In Princess Tutu, the main characters are characters from the book The Prince and the Raven, which ended prematurely when its author, Drosselmeyer, died. While the characters have escaped from the book, the entire city is being controlled by a story, which in turn is controlled by Drosselmeyer's ghost. Some of the characters are Genre Savvy, while some aren't.
  • Episode 26 of Ghost Sweeper Mikami features a haunted video game which is an expy of Dragon Quest. Yokoshima and Okinu get trapped in it while Mikami uses her spiritual powers to participate in it from outside.
  • Detective Conan movie 6, "The Phantom of Baker Street". traps the main characters in a virtual reality game controlled by a rogue AI, and featuring Jack the Ripper.
  • Nyaruko: Crawling with Love! episode 8 has the cast sucked into a cursed Dating Sim (based mostly on Tokimeki Memorial) with Mahiro as the Player Character; if he wants to return to reality, he has to pick a girlfriend (or Hasta) by the end of the school year. The whole thing plays out as an even longer chain of anime references than usual and culminates in Nyarko, Cuuko, and Hasta having a martial arts battle over him while dressed as Pai Chan, Mai Shiranui, and Bridget. Nyarko wins.
  • The initial premise of Sword Art Online has online gamers trapped in a dangerous virtual reality featuring Final Death.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa features characters from our world attempting to find a way into Amestris (the setting for Fullmetal Alchemist)
  • Overlord handles this in a unique way. While the protagonist is trapped as his VR MMORPG character, everything in the world he's trapped in (aside from his guild base and now-sentient NPC servants) is completely different from the game world, outside of a few suspicious holdovers (primarily, how magic works.)

    Asian Animation 
  • The Motu Patlu episode "Magical Book" is about Motu inadvertently getting himself and his friends trapped in a magic book about Sentient Vehicles. They wind up having to help a female car named Baby to save her sister from a few cars and trucks who are bullying her.
  • Popo of TELEMONSTER can turn his mouth into a television and suck people into it, which he frequently does to the other characters to send them on adventures, or just get rid of them when they are being abusive to him.

    Comic Books 
  • The off-beat comic book series The Invisibles had an appropriately weird example where King Mob and Boy get caught in the mindscape of the Marquis de Sade (yes, really) during an attempt to pull him out of the past that goes somewhat pear-shaped. They end up having to witness the entirety of 120 Days of Sodom, which King Mob treats as a sick joke.
  • A mid-1980s Superman Annual had a secondary story in which Superman artist Curt Swan fell asleep while drawing a comic and woke up in Metropolis. It was All Just a Dream, except that Curt found two bullets in his hand from when Superman stopped a crook.
  • The Fantastic Four miniseries Fantastic Four: True Story does this in a homage to the Thursday Next books (see the Literature section below).
  • One storyline in Justice League involved the evil Queen of Fables trapping the League in a book of old fairy tales (the original bloody ones) and forcing them to live through the stories.
    • She's appeared since—one story had her work out that Superman shook off her Earth stories because he was really an alien, and she drew on Kryptonian stories instead. Luckily, this version of Superman had learned or remembered these stories, so he knew to look for the Striped River Witch and shatter the crystal soldiers with ricocheting light. It was all very Jungian. Interestingly, the benefits of biculturalism didn't come up; apparently your Collective Unconscious is determined almost solely by the conjunction of biology and what you hear in your first year of life.
  • This is the power of Supreme baddie the Televillain - entering into a TV show's fictional world and drawing others into it as he pleases. And, of course, changing the channel to whatever premise fits his need. In one outing he killed Monica on an episode of Friends to prove he wasn't kidding around.
  • She-Hulk met old Howard the Duck foe Doctor Bong when he set about changing television shows' internal reality (just roll with it) and accidentally zapped her into them. Possibly the most infamously surreal Shulkie story ever.
  • Ellie Dee gets transported into a video game in one issue of Cherry Comics, where she has to Win to Exit.
  • This is the entire premise of Cary Bates' and Keith Giffen's mini Video Jack, for Marvel imprint Epic Comics. Due to a combination of magic and technology, teens friends Jack Swift and Damon Xarnett are transported to a TV version of their hometown, which changes (as well as them) as they zap through the channels. Reviews here and here.
  • What Gwenpool claims happened to her: She lived an ordinary life in the real world but through some unexplained way was transported in the universe of her favorite fiction, Marvel comics. Other characters think she is crazy, which is certainly also an option. Doesn't help that she thinks since the world wasn't real where she came from, its people aren't real now, and are therefore expendable, so she has no qualms against murdering them en masse.
  • A two-part story from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic had the ponies get trapped in book land since Equestria - despite the occasional Schizo Tech - generally pre-dates things like TV and computers. The idea works fine for the The Lord of the Rings and Film Noir parodies, but it gets a little weird when the story starts parodying Star Trek, of all things.
  • Caballistics, Inc.: When the team investigates a haunting at the derelict Luddgate film studio, they find themselves trapped inside various horror movies produced by the studio after a failed demonic extraction of Jenny. Turns out that the studio head was an occultist who built his own dimension to both play out his own fantasies and to trap people in an illusion so he could suck out their lifeforce to sustain himself.
  • Archie Comics had a multi-part story where Archie Andrews was trapped inside the world(s) of his TV set, and he had to get out before his parents came home from their trip.
  • Young Justice: In the 80-Page Giant where Arrowette, Impulse, Red Tornado, Robin, Secret, Superboy, and Wonder Girl fight the entity from which Bedlam gained his powers and it sends them through different genres of fiction— Film Noir, Spaghetti Western, Giant Mecha Anime, Silent Film Horror, etc.
  • In Titans (Rebirth) #25, Source energy send Nightwing and Miss Martian into a woman's TV and they skip between a Casablanca-esque Film Noir, a Western and a vaguely Star Wars-like sci-fi movie as she channel-hops.
  • In Youngblood, the Televillain goes on a rampage using the miracle of TiVo and ends up trapping a recent addition to the team on the set of Oprah. Shaft and Cougar go after her and briefly end up on a number of different shows, including a rerun of Seinfeld.

    Fan Works 
  • The trope as a whole is a favored plot among the writers of self-insert fics; namely, the self-insert (through whatever means) is sucked into their favorite show/movie/game/whatever and gets to interact with their favorite characters.
  • In The Blue Dragon series, the two primary protagonists (Demex in the first, Josh in the second) get sent to the The Legend of Spyro universe.
  • The famous Star Trek fanfic "Visit to a Weird Planet" eventually spawned a sequel, "Visit to a Weird Planet Revisited", which appeared in one of the early Star Trek fanfic anthologies. While the characters were on set, the actors were struggling to deal with a crisis involving a Klingon ship.
  • Kyle-091 is about a Halo fanboy ending up (via sending himself there with Forerunner tech) on the ONI medical station orbiting Reach in the early stages of the Spartan program. Since he knows what's going to happen in the future, the ONI would've been after him had it not for Mendez and Halsey covering up the incident by giving him Spartan enhancements and sneaking him into the program. The sequel turns this around by the Covenant trying to invoke a Grandfather Paradox.
  • My Little Brony: Reality VS Fantasy (a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic) is about a brony who ends up in Equestria. The Equestrian natives are understandably freaked out, and he's forced to go live with Zecora and Apple Bloom. His arrival, however, is just in time for him to witness one of the great laws of Equestrian apocrypha: that which states that all shall go to shit. In this case, a mad scientist wants to get rid of the ponies, but it turns out that the (ponyfied) Doctor and his companion Derpy Hooves are watching.
    • The fanfiction site" contains literally thousands of similar fics based on the same premise; a human in the real world, whether a brony, a normal guy, a celebrity, or a self-insert, somehow lands themselves in the MLP universe. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Sleeping with the Girls is all about this, fused with semi-uncontrolled reality hopping. Before you ask, no, there's no sex, the title's just like that. A guy who is an anime fan in real life is, for unknown reasons, being teleported to the side of eight of his favorite anime characters. The problem? He is transported the instant he falls asleep, and the characters he likes are a) always asleep when he teleports to them, and b) they tend to run in the Tsundere category. One of the most realistic takes on a self-insert, he nearly dies several times because they can throw punches he can't survive, not to mention that he almost never gets enough sleep. He's cycling through eight separate worlds, each one one of his favorite anime/manga. Currently in the middle of its second of what the author claims is a three-volume story. See the trope page for more details.
  • Mass Vexations, is one of the more notable examples of this trope. Another self-insert story, it shows Art, a quirky college guy, suddenly transported to the world of Mass Effect. He doesn't gain super-powers, and it shows how a fan of the game could realistically interact with a fictional world, while trying to hide that he knows pretty much every single outcome from when he arrives (near the beginning of the first game) to the end of the second.
  • The Wild Horse Thesis is a story about how, due to a magical spell, Ranma from Ranma ½ is trapped inside a series of videotapes, which contain Neon Genesis Evangelion. He finds himself replacing the main character Shinji, but has all his abilities and techniques intact. Unlike some of the other examples, we see Ranma having his Tokyo-3 adventures from the viewpoint of Ranma's family and fiances, who are watching the tapes in the "real" world. The best part is seeing Ranma telling people in the show of his "previous" life, thinking no one knows what he's talking about, while the characters in the "real" world are subjected to his honest opinions of them.
  • TD of The Non-Bronyverse, with the emphasis very firmly on "trapped". In a sharp contrast to most stories within the genre, he utterly despises being stuck in Equestria, and makes getting home his number one priority.
  • The fandom for The Lord of the Rings often ignores this trope. There are stories where a modern girl falls into Middle-earth, as if fiction becomes real, but Middle-earth is not inside a book or movie.
    • This trope does happen if the girl falls through a Television Portal into the movies. This happens in MagnoliaCinderellaCupcake.
    • I Am NOT a Mary Sue is a straight example of Trapped in Fan Fiction Land. A curse dumps main character Caroline into a bad fan fiction she reviewed and transforms her into the main character, an elf named Sornif. The fan author Leggieluver123 has corrupted Middle-earth. Caroline, in the role of Sornif, intends to escape by restoring Canon, as Sornif is not a canon character.
  • Cyan in Perspective, with a heavier emphasis on most than the trapped part and the emotional trauma that comes with it. Cyan is aware of the horrors of where he is in the RWBY series, but hasn't a clue how he arrived.
  • The Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Inside The Game", which is a Smurf adaptation of the plot of TRON (see below in Film). "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" makes the Smurflings think they have been transported into the story of The Wizard Of Odds, but it turns out to be All Just a Dream.
  • In Must Love Ned Flanders, a fanfiction of The Simpsons, Naomi gets transported from this world to the Simpsons world.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Possibly first done in the "Murray in Videoland" sketches in the 1987 film Amazon Women on the Moon.
  • This was the plot of the 1992 film Stay Tuned, where couch potato Roy Knable (played by John Ritter) and his wife Helen (played by Pam Dawber) get sucked into a Hell-spawned satellite TV network. In an obvious nod to his TV career, Ritter's character was briefly trapped inside a demonic version of Three's Company, complete with lookalikes of Chrissy and Janet coming in and asking him "Where have you been?" He promptly fell over the sofa and screamed in horror.
    "That's what I've been trying to tell you! Our Parents - Are Trapped - In Television!"
  • Two American teens (brother and sister) are sucked into a black-and-white 1950s sitcom series in Pleasantville, where they inadvertently take the role of two of the main characters.
  • Last Action Hero has a kid sucked into an action movie, and the characters following him back to the real world.
  • The Buster Keaton movie Sherlock, Jr. can be considered an early example of this trope. Keaton plays a movie projectionist who dreams he walks into the movie he is showing, and at first has a hard time dealing with a series of jump cuts.
  • In the slasher film There's Nothing Out There, the main characters come to realize that they have literally wandered into a slasher film. There's even a scene where one of the characters swings off the boom mic.
  • Some scenes in TRON evoke this trope for video games.
  • Last chase scene in the horror film Shocker has the protagonist and the villain fight their way through war documentaries, Leave It to Beaver, Frankenstein, a boxing match, newscast and Alice Cooper music video. When the villain tries to escape by diving into the nearest TV, the hero pulls the plug, making the villain simply bash his head into the screen.
  • The Big Bad of 976-EVIL 2: The Astral Factor, seeking to frame the female lead, traps one of her friends inside a television program. It doesn't seem so bad at first, as she finds herself amongst the ending of It's a Wonderful Life. Then the movie is mashed up with Night of the Living Dead (1968) which is playing at the next channel and she is killed by the Creepy Child zombie from it.
  • Jumanji:
    • In Jumanji, Alan spends 26 years in Jumanji. Unfortunately, it all happens offscreen.
    • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle instantly has the characters sucked into the Jumanji world once they start the game.
    • Jumanji: The Next Level has some of the same characters along with some new ones sucked into the game once again.
  • Anyone murdered by the killer in Midnight Movie becomes trapped in the black and white Hillbilly Horrors film he originates from.
  • In Delirious, a soap opera writer gets hit on the head and wakes up as a character inside his own show.
  • In the sex comedy Deep in the Valley, two friends get trapped in a world based on porn movie cliches, and find it's not all fun and games when a lovesick stalker and a Fair Cop go after them.
  • The Cabin in the Woods is a borderline example. It doesn't feature characters that are trapped in a horror movie per se, but it does feature them trapped in a world of horror movie cliches. It's also implied that the monsters seen in the last third inspired movie monsters.
  • A voluntary example is the German comedy Die Einsteiger. The duo Gottschalk/Krüger use a technobabble remote to jump into genres, mostly for trolling Nazis, vampires, gangsters, Romans et al. (since they are Genre Savvy and their "victims" not) and merrily snark along.
  • Smosh: The Movie revolves around Anthony and Ian finding an embarrassing YouTube video of one of themselves they want to be removed, resulting in them going to YouTube headquarters and asking Steve YouTube to remove it. He then suggests that the two "change the video from the inside", resulting in them travelling through various videos.
  • In the obscure flick Adventures In Dinosaur City, where a trio of kids find themselves zapped into the world of their favorite cartoon after trying to watch the show on a screen in their dad's lab.
  • In The Final Girls, a movie theater showing an '80s Slasher Movie is accidentally set on fire, and the protagonists get trapped within the film when they try to escape through the movie screen. One of the protagonists, Max, is the daughter of one of the film's recently-deceased stars, and is hit by an emotional onslaught upon seeing her mother "alive" again — especially knowing that her mother's character gets killed. By the end, Max manages to escape the film, only for her and her friends to end up in the sequel.
  • Might or might not be happening as part of the Surreal Humor in The Appointments of Dennis Jennings. In one scene Dennis discovers that the people on his TV can see him. And then the movie cuts to some redneck couple, the couple in Dennis's TV, who can see him on their TV.
  • ABCs of Death 2: Two boys find themselves trapped in the world of the ads of their favourite action figures in "W is for Wish".
  • When things start going haywire at the party in Weird Science, one of the party-goers gets trapped in an episode of The Munsters. He remains trapped in the TV as people try changing the channel.
  • In the Disney Channel original movie Teen Beach Movie, the main characters are a couple from 2013 who get sucked into a "beach party" movie from 1962.

  • Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next novels concern an invention called the "Prose Portal" which allows people to enter works of fiction. Later novels reveal a whole world of fiction, in which characters in books are like actors, and must "act out" the events of a story every time it is read.
  • The Incredible Umbrella and its sequel The Amorous Umbrella, by Marvin Kaye. The protagonist acquires a magical umbrella that allows him to access fictional worlds. Or nearly access them — he tended to be rather flighty and stray thoughts would often turn the realities he was visiting into fanfic universes.
  • One of the first examples (if not the first), from 1940: Typewriter in the Sky by L. Ron Hubbard, a Deconstruction of swashbucklers with the main character having "fallen into" the role of the Designated Villain.
  • In a 1943 short story "The Exile" by Edmond Hamilton, four sci-fi writers are talking about their craft. One of them, Carrick says that one time, he got stranded in a world that he made up. He invented a cruel, barbarian planet with detailed history and geography, and started feeling that the planet actually exists now in a parallel universe. When he imagined himself on that planet, he was transported there. But he was unable to get back, so he eventually started to make a living by becoming a science-fiction writer, using his more civilized and peaceful homeland as a basis for his stories. When one other writer asks Carrick how did he got back, he responds: "I never got back home. I'm still here."
  • There's a Robert Bloch story (found in the anthology Hollywood Nightmare, edited by Peter Haining) about a woman who, after watching so many tv-horror-marathons that her brain melts (more or less), finds herself taking a walking tour of RKO Horror and the Universal Monsters canon. Hilarity Does Not Ensue.
  • Woody Allen's short story The Kugelmass Episode features a man launching himself into various classic novels. It being Allen, the protagonist enters Madame Bovary just to have sex with female protagonist — though unbeknownst to him the text changes to reflect his intrusion. In the end, when he tries to enter Portnoy's Complaint the machine malfunctions and drops him into a Spanish textbook.
  • The humor book How to Survive a Horror Movie tells how to recognize if you've become a victim of this trope, and how to stay alive once you're there.
  • The Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Crooked World sees the TARDIS crew trapped on a cartoon planet populated by thinly-veiled parodies of Scooby-Doo, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, Wacky Races, Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, and others. The Doctor's interference means that for the behavior of those parodies, Reality Ensues.
  • Ms. Wiz Goes Live has Ms. Wiz take Caroline and her little sister inside the TV. In a variation they go to an actual TV studio where the sister causes an uproar on a talk show, Ms. Wiz reads her own version of the news and Caroline does a guest spot on a drama. The book ends with a producer calling the house to see if Caroline wants a bigger role.
  • The third part of Monday Begins on Saturday opens with a test of the theory that fictional universes exist in parallel to the real one. Sasha Privalov, the narrator, travels to a world made by the collective imagination of Science Fiction authors. The world is split in two by a wall; one half is a spacefaring Mary Suetopia populated by inventors infodumping the technical details of their inventions, and the other is a dystopia split into segments where humanity is enslaved by something or other (aliens, The Virus, etc). And in a subversion of Like Reality Unless Noted, almost everyone is near-naked, because writers tend to explicitly describe only small parts of their characters' wardrobes.
  • Tom Holt took a turn in My Hero, in which it's revealed that when a novel is written, a number of "actors" are hired from among the teeming population of characters and have to act it out. The actual plot is driven by a Western writer ending up trapped into his own novel and then managing to get a message to an indifferently talented boilerplate fantasy author asking her to send the hero of her novels in to find him. The net result goes through everything from Pride and Prejudice to A Midsummer Night's Dream to Sherlock Holmes, in much the same way that a wrecking ball goes through a brick wall. Of note, it's revealed that in-universe, there's a number of openings linking reality and fiction, including Alice in Wonderland and - due to its massive collection of fiction - the basement of the Library of Congress, a hole which permits the fantasy author to get an autograph from Captain Kirk.
  • In Andrew Hussie's unfinished story Wizardy Herbert, the title character and a few friends of his are trapped in a bad Harry Potter-like novel.
  • In Ren Zha Fan Pai Zi Jiu Xi Tong Shen Yuan, an anti-fan of trashy Wish Fulfillment Harem Genre web novel Proud Immortal Demon Way ends up transmigrated into said series after he dies. He is trapped in the role of Sadist Teacher Shen Qingqiu for The Hero Luo Binghe's backstory. His very presence and different choices begins to drastically alter the course of the story.
  • There is ''I'm Stuck in a Video Game'', which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • The Gameknight999 series begins with Gameknight999 getting sucked into the game by one of his father's inventions. Later, his sister and father tag along as well.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Day By Day: The best-known episode of this short-lived NBC sitcom of the late 1980s was "A Very Brady Episode," where teenager Ross Harper — after being yelled at by his parents about goofing off and getting poor grades as a result — falls asleep and imagines himself in an episode of The Brady Bunch as "long-lost Brady son" Chuck Brady. A satire of the original series, Chuck interacts with several of the show's main characters and gets advice about his poor grades from Mike, and all is going well ... until the family begins to repeat their dialogue. "Chuck" wonders what's amiss, and Mike explains what he's seeing is a rerun. Everything becomes chaotic and Ross screams to be let free into the real world ... after which he wakes up and realizes it was All Just a Dream.
  • My Name Is Earl has a small subplot when Earl was in a coma, in which Earl was in the only place he felt happy; 'TV Land'. A few episodes detailed his life in a fifties television sitcom, while his friends tried to get him out of a coma. The older he got in the sitcom, the closer he was to dying in real life.
  • In a 1991 episode of Growing Pains, Ben is trapped in the show Growing Pains — that is, a world where his family life is the subject of a trope- and cliché-ridden Sitcom.
  • In the finale of The Famous Jett Jackson, Jett actually switches places with Silverstone, the character he plays in the Show Within a Show. Now Jett has to save the world from a Mad Scientist, while Silverstone has to adjust to life as a normal teenager in a small town. Notably, his great-grandmother quickly realizes the truth, having known Jett all his life. Then Jett jumps back into the show in order to save Silverstone, whom the showrunners have decided to kill off, resulting in a Spot the Imposter scene with three identical-looking characters: Jett, Silverstone, and the shapeshifting Big Bad.
  • At the end of an episode of Clarissa Explains It All, Clarissa fakes this happening to her as part of a Zany Scheme to get revenge on her brother.
  • Power Rangers Time Force had a two-parter based around this concept with the Big Bad and the Monster of the Week splitting up the Rangers and sending them through westerns, Samurai films, Martial Arts Epics, Jungle Hero serials, Musicals, and even a Mad Max parody!
  • Weird Science had the boys explicitly thrown into a slasher movie and a soap opera, as well as into alternate universes modeled on The Twilight Zone and James Bond movies.
  • Amazing Stories has a cross between Be Careful What You Wish For and this trope in "Welcome To My Nightmare". Complaining that real life is nothing like the movies, and wishing it was, he lands in the movie Psycho — as the woman who gets killed in the shower scene. It gets bonus points for having plot-relevant movie posters, such as "It's A Wonderful Life" when he escapes from the film.
  • That's So Raven has an episode in which Raven has a dream that she and her friends are in various TV shows and movies (such as I Love Lucy, The Wizard of Oz, etc.)
  • This is the plot of an episode of Lexx in which the heroes are plopped onto a literal "TV world," where they mysteriously transported onto the set of a show and are "rated" on their performance in whatever TV show they land in. High ratings lead to "primetime," whereas low ratings lead to gradually more degrading roles, ending with being decapitated on a snuff show and having one's head added to the mostly offscreen "audience".
  • New Zealand kids show Freaky had an episode where a girl with troubles at home gets sucked into the TV and finds herself as part of perfect Dom Com family.
  • In Lost in Austen, Amanda Price finds a door through her shower stall that leads to the world of Pride & Prejudice. She accidentally trades places with Elizabeth Bennett and then promptly messes up the original storyline.
  • In Dramaworld, American college student Claire is magically transported into her favorite Korean drama. She's supposed to be a 'facilitator' to help make sure that the stories stay on track... but things don't go quite according to plan.
  • Supernatural:
  • The Doctor Who story "The Mind Robber" features the Second Doctor and companions getting stuck in the Land of Fiction, where characters from every story ever written are real (the Doctor Who Expanded Universe returns to the Land on a couple of occasions).
  • Reversed in Hi Honey Im Home!, which featured a family from a 50's sitcom that has been canceled. They are relocated to the Real World, in a typical 90's suburb. When overwhelmed by the complexities of the world in which they now live, they seek comfort by using a device known as a Turnerizer, which causes themselves and their home environment to revert to monochrome. The outside world (as seen through open doors, etc.), as well as anyone from the outside world, are unaffected.
  • The live-action adaptation] of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids has an episode where Wayne invents a remote control that picks up dead television waves for a bored Nick and Amy. However, when the kids bicker and accidentally spill juice on it, the remote causes Wayne, Nick, and Amy to be sucked into a vortex that lands them into various programs.
  • The television adaptation of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure has an episode where the guys use their time machine to travel into Bill's stepmom's favorite soap opera, as a nod to the preceding Animated Adaptation (see the "Western Animation" section)
  • In Charmed:
    • The sisters are trapped in an old movie ("Kill it before it dies") in the episode "Chick Flick". Meanwhile, the handsome hero of that movie and villains from slasher movies escape into the real world.
    • The episode "Charmed Noir" has Paige and Brody sucked into a 1930s Maltese Falcon spoof while investigating the murder of a teacher at the Magic School. Also, outsiders could write plot twists which were incorporated into the narrative.
  • Happens to the Twist kids in the Round the Twist episode "TV or Not TV".
  • Parodied in the episode of Scrubs, "My Life In Four Cameras," in which JD treats a patient who was a fictional writer for Cheers. JD imagines his day at the hospital as a multi-camera sitcom. The end of the episode showed what really happened: there wasn't a happy ending.
  • The Disney Channel original movie Teen Beach Movie is about two modern-day teenagers who get sucked into a '60s beach party movie.
  • WandaVision: This is the entire premise of the show! Wanda and Vision are in a sitcommy world that seems perfect on the surface, but the cracks keep showing (ignoring the obvious one where Vision's supposed to have died) and eventually, they realize that not everything is as it seems. But who cares about that when Wanda can just rewind time to avoid realizing that this reality isn't real? That makes things really difficult, huh?
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation justified this by using malfunctioning holodecks: the crew would go to enjoy an adventure based on classic film or literature, and find themselves trapped inside with the safety mechanisms turned off. Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine also used this plot device.
    • On TNG the Enterprise learned of an alien race that accidentally destroyed a twenty-first century space shuttle and tried to make the surviving astronaut comfortable by recreating his world. Since the only source of information they had about his home was an old book, he ended up spending the rest of his life inside the book's story. Unfortunately the book sucked.

  • Red Dwarf X ramps this up when the crew realise they face having no independent existence outside a TV show. To avert this fate they visit Earth. Where Lister (Craig Charles) visits the set of a long-running TV soap opera. And ends up having a heartfelt chat with an actor playing a taxi driver (Craig Charles) who is nonplussed by it all, viewing Dave Lister as a previous role he played...
  • Farscape: "Revenging Angel" is a borderline case. Technically, it's all just a near-death hallucination of Crichton in a Looney Tunes world, but all tropes, gags, and parodies are just the same as in any "true" example of this trope.
  • An issue of Marvel Team-Up plays with this kinda sorta when Spider-Man and the Not Ready For Prime Time Players team up against Silver Samurai during the live airing of an episode of Saturday Night Live.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: In the episode "The One Where We're Trapped on TV", the Fates have taken over the world; in order to save the other Legends from her sisters, Charlie turns them into characters in in-universe TV shows. Zari, Behrad, and Nate end up in a Friends-style sitcom called Ultimate Buds, Sara, Ava, and Mick end up in a Star Trek spoof called Space Trip, and Constantine and Astra end up on a Downton Abbey parody called Highcastle Abbey. They all have their memories altered to fit their characters, but fortunately Zari's pre-Cosmic Retcon self (long story) is able to take control of their body and start traveling between the shows to gather everyone together and restore their memories. They then start breaking from the scripts, forcing the shows to get cancelled so that they'll be deposited back in the real world.

  • Two examples pop up in the dimension-hopping Gemini Arc of Sequinox. One of them is a Zeerust sci-fi world where the elements of the TV set are clearly visible. The other is a standard sitcom where the girls can hear the canned laughter and are aware of going through the opening title.
  • This is the case for Marche in Interstitial Actual Play, both before and during the adventure. He came from a world where Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts were games that he played, and already spent a significant amount of time trapped in the former. Then he lands in a Sonic the Hedgehog world during the game and fanboys accordingly.

    Theme Parks 
  • Disney Theme Parks:
    • CineMagique in Walt Disney Studios (Disneyland Resort Paris) is about a member of the audience that, after rudely interrupting a silent film montage, gets poofed into the screen by a magician from one of the films.
    • The upcoming Florida traction Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway will propel guests into a movie screen showing a Mickey Mouse cartoon.
  • The premise of Anxiety in 3D from Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights 2000 was that the guests were trapped in Jack the Clown's malfunctioning virtual reality game.

    Video Games 
  • In The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures, the titular Nerd is in Game Land and must go through various pastiches of various video games to get out.
  • In Doki Doki Panic (famously dolled up into Super Mario Bros. 2), the game begins with two kids trapped into a storybook by King Wart, and a family of four has to get them back.
  • The plot of Landflix Odyssey is that Larry has been sucked into Landflix, and now has to traverse the various shows to find his way out.
  • City of Villains has "The TV Invasion", a Story Arc of missions for characters level 45 to 50 that takes you into a monster movie, a gangster movie, and a post-apocalypse movie, all at the bidding of Television itself.
  • Viewtiful Joe is basically Last Action Hero except with Toku movies, it's a video game, the main character becomes an action hero, and it's actually good.
    • It's also probably deconstructed with Captain Blue, who went insane because his life kept on going downhill, as even after an upside happened, fate would find some way to twist it into something he wouldn't want, such as his rise to fame as a movie director? Eventually forgotten. He gets sucked into his own movies? Eventually goes insane because he can't escape to meet his family and eventually tried to destroy everything. It shows a lot, and is probably what would happen if people really did get trapped in a "Movie Land".
  • Old Game example: Seymour Goes To Hollywood, set in a film studio. Entering the various sets, Seymour would encounter actual characters from the films. Either that or the actors all followed The Method.
  • Comix Zone features a Badass Normal comic book author trapped in his own comic. If he can't fight his way through the story (traversing the actual panels), the comic's villain will take his place in the real world.
  • This trope is the premise for the first Gex game. In the next two sequels, he entered TV land(s) voluntarily.
  • The Midnight Channel in Persona 4 is a mysterious alternate reality connected to the real world through TVs, where multiple characters end up trapped in and need to be rescued by the Investigation Team. When trapped in the Midnight Channel, the world takes the form of sets for a TV show reflecting the victim's mind, ruled over by an Evil Counterpart of themselves representing their Fatal Flaws and dark secrets.
  • This is part of Raving Rabbids TV Party: the Rabbids get sucked into Rayman's TV set, and in the single-player mode they set out to annoy him into busting up the set and letting the Rabbids out.
  • The Sonic Storybook Series — all two of them — in which Sonic is pulled into classical storybooks. The first one is based on the Arabian Nights story of Aladdin, and the second on King Arthur. Both featured Sonic the Hedgehog replacing the titled hero, along with the title itself.
  • The 1990's sidescroller Garfield: Caught in the Act plays this trope quite literally.
  • Spot Goes To Hollywood has the titular 7 Up mascot exploring levels based on movies.
  • In Disney's Magical Quest 3, Huey, Dewey, and Louie are pulled into Storybook Land by King Pete. Mickey and Donald Duck, with the assistance of the Guardian Fairy, have to rescue the trio by entering the book and defeat the evil ruler.
  • The sequel to the casual game Azada features puzzles embedded in books of fairy tales and of various literary classics.
  • The Action 52 game The Cheetahmen begins with the Action Gamemaster, while playing video games, suddenly sucked into the TV, where he is somehow transformed into a Cheetahman.
  • Happens to the player at the end of Stay Tooned!, right after the inverted form of this trope is resolved.
  • The movie theater side quest in Silent Hill: Downpour has Murphy stepping into a horror movie after piecing together a film reel. The reward for this side quest is a powerful Golden Gun, "just like in the movie."
  • A variant is the old Amiga platform game Premiere, where a guy finds himself trapped in the rival film studios. Every level is a stage that represents a different film genre, such as horror, sci-fi, western, historical epic and, oddly enough, cartoons.
  • This is also the premise of another Amiga CD-32 platformer from the Nineties, Oscar.
  • Yet another Amiga game: the protagonist of the shooter Videokid gets sucked into his VCR and must fight his way inside five tapes based on different film genres (fantasy, western, sci-fi, gangster drama, and horror).
  • In The Fairly OddParents: Shadow Showdown, the absence of the Royal Jewel (the source of magic power for all fairies) has caused a strange signal to emit from TVs everywhere. The final two levels, "The Great Esc-ape" and "Vicky Strikes Back", are the result of fictional TV shows eclipsing reality.
  • Possible in the white chamber, trapping the player in an extremely low-resolution game world and containing one of the game's many deaths (via Explosive Barrel).
  • Friday Night Funkin': Week 6 sees The Boyfriend and The Girlfriend getting stuck in a 16-bit dating simulator. Their opponent for that week is The Senpai, the protagonist of the game. "Thorns" reveals they are not the first people to get stuck in the game.
  • Rad Rodgers is about Ricardo "Rad Rodgers" Rodriguez getting sucked into a video game, and him trying to get out.

    Web Animation 
  • The International Moron Patrol has the dubious honor of having two episodes featuring this trope; Episode 10 centered around characters Hentai Boy and H Hog being sucked into a videogame console. The 2007 Halloween episode 2-parter had Henrik being sucked into the TV, too.
  • One of the episodes of the surreal, nonlinear flash series Sixgun revolves around a character who has been sentenced to a "maximum security sitcom," which apparently involves being forced to read corny one-liners and quips at gunpoint by robots. He gets his hands on the gun, tries to shoot his way out, and dies a happy man.
  • On the website Homestar Runner, in Strong Bad Email #150, "alternate universe", Strong Bad celebrates his big "sesquicentenn-email" by constructing an alternate universe portal and visiting the various alternate realities of the Homestar body of work, where he meets all of the various duplicates of himself.
  • Kaizo Trap has a video game trapping the heroine's partner inside it, and she goes in to rescue him. Unfortunately, the game is a Platform Hell title, but after countless deaths and game overs, she eventually gets the skills of a speedrunner.
  • SMG4's Mario Bloopers:
    • In an episode, Mario has to fix the pipes in Peach's Castle and ended up having a bad accident that leads him to a land full of Teletubbies. Turns out at the end that it was All Just a Dream.
    • Another one involves Sonic the Hedgehog and Dr. Eggman in a similar Teletubby-driven situation as they travel through dimensions.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo episode "That's Monstertainment" had Zomba trap Scooby, Shaggy, Scrappy, Daphne, Flim-Flam, and Vincent Van Ghoul inside the television airing of a movie called The Son of The Bride of The Ghost of Frankenstein.
  • Barbie:
    • In Barbie in the Pink Shoes, free-spirited ballerina Kristyn and her costume designer friend Hailey are transported into the stories of various ballets when Kristyn puts on the enchanted ballet flats.
    • In Barbie: Video Game Hero, Barbie gets trapped in the video game she was working on and has to help save it.
  • The final season of the Animated Adaptation of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures added the capability to travel into TV shows, movies, and literature to the guys' time-travelling phone booth, leading to a series of cheap thinly-veiled pop-culture parodies. (This was also used once in the following live-action series, see the "Live-Action TV" section)
  • Ben 10 has the episode "Game Over", where Ben and Gwen get stuck in Ben's Sumo Slammer video game due to an accident with Upgrade and lightning.
  • The cartoon Captain N: The Game Master used a variation of this as its premise; California teenager Kevin Keene was trapped in Videoland, whose reality encompassed pretty much every Nintendo-licensed NES game.
  • The first half of the Darkwing Duck episode "Twitching Channels" follows Darkwing chasing his electricity-themed enemy Megavolt through the fictional universes of many TV shows. The second half of the episode becomes a Real World Episode, as Darkwing and Megavolt both discover that they themselves are just TV show characters in our universe.
  • The premise of the DuckTales (2017) episode "Quack Pack!" is that the family is trapped in a 90s era domestic sit com tv show that turns out to be the result of a wish made by Donald on a magical genie's lamp.
  • The Fairly OddParents did a Made-for-TV Movie, titled Channel Chasers, wrapped around a combination of this trope (most examples being stuff you probably grew up with during the '90s) and Time Travel. Some of the shows parodied in "Channel Chasers" include Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Blue's Clues, Sesame Street, Scooby-Doo, The Simpsons (complete with a blackboard gag: "This is the sincerest form of flattery"), The Jetsons, Rugrats, Jonny Quest, Batman, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; however, the movie was more centered on a parody show named "Maho Mushi", which was inspired by many anime shows such as Dragon Ball and Pokémon.
  • Futurama did it with classic (and handily public-domain) books in one episode: Tom Sawyer, Moby Dick and Pride and Prejudice.
    • Also, in a comic, the main characters end up in a Simpsons comic. Both shows have the same creators.
  • One mini-episode of Garfield and Friends featured this plot, involving him mostly travelling through various commercials; at the end, it was All Just a Dream (although he kept the scarf of the shopping channel...). Another episode featured a variant on this, where Garfield woke up to find he was in the wrong cartoon, an odd cross between Mazinger Z and Transformers; eventually, he was shot into a forest of Bambi-esque forest animals, and ran off into the distance, shouting that he wanted the giant robots back.
    • Garfield being trapped in a TV was also the main plot of the Sega Genesis video game Garfield: Caught in the Act, which brought him through stages themed after Horror, Pirates, the Stone Age, a Film Noir, an Egyptian pyramid, and the final level being called the "Season Finale".
  • Gumby is a downplayed example. Many episodes involve him and his friends walking into books and interacting with the characters, but Gumby & co. can leave at will.
  • Kim Possible. In the episode "Dimension Twist" Kim, Ron, Rufus, Dr. Drakken, and Shego are pulled into a dimensional vortex crossed with a TV cable signal. Shows they visit: Friends, rendered as Pals, Space Passage, a Star Trek sendup, with Kim as a Red Shirt, Survivor - in the Arctic, a kids' puppet show reminiscent of Teletubbies, a Tom and Jerry-style cartoon, Fear Factor, Aliasnote , That '70s Show, reimagined into the Salem era as That 1670s Show, ER, Evil Eye for the Bad Guy, a supervillain's version of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, The Fearless Ferret, a parody of the old Batman (1966) show and a Continuity Nod to a previous episode, The Hollywood Squares with triangles (which oddly enough seems reminiscent of Battlestars from the same producer, though they likely didn't know of that show), a commercial for Ron's favorite restaurant, "Bueno Nacho", Professional Wrestling, a cooking show, with Rufus as the secret ingredient; a talk show, and Animal Planet, rerendered as Ape Island, which is hell for Ron.
  • Looney Tunes: The 1990 short Box-Office Bunny, in which Bugs Bunny gets chased around a movie theater, ends with Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd getting thrown into movie screen that just happens to be showing a slasher flick.
    Bugs: It takes a miracle to get into pictures, and now these two jokers want to get out.
  • The Magic School Bus did this in the episode "Spins a Web", where the class entered a Fifties Sci-Fi flick about a town being terrorized by a 50-Foot praying mantis. Oddly enough, the Topic of the Week was spiders.
  • Happens to The Mask, when he's sucked into his TV by villain The Channel Surfer, a former TV fanatic mutated by the combined radiation from a wall of televisions falling on him. Once inside, The Mask is exposed to sights that not even he can stand, such as a nauseating Care Bears parody, a Best Hits of the 70s CD ad, complete with The Mask freaking out over now wearing a polyester leisure suit, and Gilligan's Island.
    The Mask: You've been here for 30 years. You've built a nuclear reactor out of coconuts. For the love of God, man! FIX THE HOLE IN THE BOAT!!
  • The Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures episode "Don't Touch That Dial" had Mighty stuck in a television set, going from one parody cartoon show to another at the whim of a bored kid constantly changing channels.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the ponies end up sucked into the comic book world of The Power Ponies and have to face the over-the-top villainess The Mane-Iac. Oddly enough, in Equestria, the industry of selling comics that can do this seems to be a completely normal and even thriving industry.
  • In Mysticons, Zarya gets sucked into a game on her cell phone, followed by Emerald and Piper.
  • Mr. Bogus gives us the episode "B-TV", which involves Bogus getting trapped in the television set, as part of an elaborate plan devised by Baddus and his Meteor Goons, Ratty and Mole, and Jake and Butch to take their revenge out on Bogus, for all the times that he's defeated them.
  • The premise that starts off Season 12 of Ninjago is that the video game "Prime Empire" is transporting its players into the world of the game once they reach a certain level.
  • One of the syndicated episodes of The Real Ghostbusters "Who're You Calling Two-Dimensional?" had the team sucked into a cartoon dimension that, reasonably enough, ran on Toon Physics. Another episode "Station Identification" works with a similar premise, the Ghostbusters have to fight a haunted TV station and are attacked by spooky versions of TV characters including He-Man and Star Trek.
  • Has happened a couple of times on Regular Show, most notably in "Go Viral", with the protagonists being pulled in as punishment trying to create one.
  • A variation is used in the Rugrats episode "Kid TV": When the television set breaks, the babies climb into a cardboard box and make their own shows, which they're randomly running in and out of by the end: a game show, a soap opera, a Perfume Commercial, a James Bond-esque show commercial, the news, and a COPS spoof.
  • A segment of one of The Simpsons' "Treehouse of Horror" episodes used this plot, with Bart and Lisa sucked into The Itchy & Scratchy Show. At one point they changed channels, appearing in a live action snippet of Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.
    • Also worth mentioning is an episode where the trope gets inverted, as Homer is transported into the third dimension.
    • And the Hypocritical Humor of having Chief Wiggum mock Rainier Wolfcastle for an obvious parody of Last Action Hero.
      Chief Wiggum: Magic ticket my ass, McBain".
  • The South Park episodes set in Imaginationland.
  • Strange Hill High: In "Health & Safety", Mitchell, Becky, and Templeton get trapped inside an old safety film.
  • The 70s Superfriends did it at least twice. In one episode, the Legion of Doom put them into random fairy tales, in the other Mr. Mxyzptlk put them in The Wizard of Oz with Aquaman as the Scarecrow, Supes as the Tinman, and Wonder Woman as the Cowardly Lion.
  • Teen Titans has the science fiction nerd/supervillain Control Freak (who is oddly enough not a Control Freak) design a piece of tech to do this intentionally. Beast Boy was the couch potato/cliché expert. Control Freak explicitly did this to obtain various powerful gadgets and abilities from different series to use them against the Titans, and actually proves quite dangerous as a result. Shows they visit include:
  • The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat also did a plot like this, and like KP, it included a Friends sitcom called "Pals".
  • Control Freak (again) in Teen Titans Go! This time he shoves the team inside "Pretty Pretty Pegasus", a show Raven is obsessed with. She loves it but everyone else is weirded out by it. Control Freak also loves this show, apparently.
  • SheZow: In "In She-D", SheZow starts losing her dimensions due to expired vanishing cream. She enters the Buttwipe 3D movie in an attempt to regain them, and then finds she can't leave.
  • In one episode of The Proud Family, Oscar's attempt to fix the TV leads to him getting sucked into it.
  • The Dr. Zitbag's Transylvania Pet Shop episode "Telenightmare" had one of Dr. Zitbag's inventions cause Zitbag, Horrifido, and Officer Deadbeat to be beamed inside the television and chasing each other through different television shows.
  • KaBlam! anthologizes the Life with Loopy episode "Late Night Loopy" where Loopy enters worlds of TV.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Sucked Into Fiction



SHUM is an altered item arcade machine that creates game-scapes based on the user's mind.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / TrappedInTVLand

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Main / TrappedInTVLand