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Universal Remote Control

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A form of Magic from Technology whereby a TV remote control works on reality itself. Somehow, the remote imbues its wielder with bonafide Reality Warper abilities, such as being able to control time with the pause, fast-forward, and rewind buttons, take away people's voices with mute, or even change the entire environment by "channel-hopping". Although, callous users may find out that Reality Warping Is Not a Toy.


Sister Trope to Rewriting Reality. See also Handy Remote Control, which is far more mundane.


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  • A couple of Pepsi commercials revolved around this trope.
    • A Diet Pepsi commercial features a woman fast forwarding through a musical on her TV, before hitting the "reverse" button, which drains her glass of Diet Pepsi. She uses the remote to refill her drink, then decides to flip channels on her cat, changing to a dog and finally a handsome man, who she proceeds to spend time with.
    • Another Pepsi commercial features a boy watching Shakira perform on his TV. His sister calls him out, causing him to spill his Pepsi on the remote, which turns her into his mother who tells him to do his homework. The boy promptly changes channels on her, flipping to his father and then an old man dancing to the music, which he powers off. He then presses a button on the remote which zaps Shakira into his room, who proceeds to take his Pepsi and kiss him, then returns on the TV enjoying his drink. The old man suddenly reappears with the remote to the boy's surprise.
    • Also utilized in a commercial featuring Kylie Minogue with a similar premise to the above Shakira commercial.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Invoked by Misaki Shokuhou in A Certain Magical Index. She frequently uses a remote control to control people's minds; however, the mind control power comes from her own body/mind, the remote control is only there because she likes the idea of using it that way.

    Comic Strips 
  • Subverted in one Calvin and Hobbes daily, where Calvin turns off the TV with the remote and then, inspired, points it at his father and clicks.
    Calvin: [when his dad remains in place] Rats.
  • One Rose is Rose comic strip has Jimbo teasing Pasquale by pretending to be affected by the TV remote.
    Jimbo [walking backwards out of the room]: "Rewind" pressed and myself at control remote the pointed I if happen would what, Pasquale, hey?
    Pasquale: MOMMM!!!
  • Vid Kid had this as its central premise. The titular character had a VHS remote that applied its effects to reality. For example, hitting the pause button would freeze a person on a block of ice, rewind and fast forward could allow for time travel, and eject could remove a memory from someone's mind. Of course, the effects would be different depending on the context, giving Vid Kid New Powers as the Plot Demands.

  • Click features Adam Sandler finding a universal remote at Bed, Bath, and Beyond that allows him to pause and fast-forward time, among other settings. The problem emerges when it turns out that it saves his preferences and starts acting on its own, causing him to miss out on a lot.
  • Creepshow 3: The plot of the first segment, "Alice", centers on the title character's father finding one of these. Whenever Alice's father presses one of the buttons on the device, the whole family except for Alice changes ethnicity (i.e., the "Color and Hue Settings" button makes her family turn African-American, and the "Subtitles" button makes her family turn Hispanic).
  • Epic Movie has a parody of the "Click" remote, which the characters use to win the battle of Narnia.
  • In Funny Games, the TV remote is used to literally rewind the film so that Paul can stop the protagonists from foiling his scheme.

  • The Goosebumps short story "Click" is about a boy who comes across an advertisement for a "Universal Remote Control" sold by The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday that works on reality itself. He quickly starts to abuse it for various petty reasons, like cheating on a school exam, which eventually alienates him from his best friend. At the end, he accidentally makes the world vanish when he presses the "OFF" button in frustration, only to find that the batteries have run out. This story was also adapted into an episode of the Goosebumps tv series.
  • In the Paul Jennings story "Spaghetti Pig-Out", a boy gets a remote that looks like a green chocolate bar that can control not only the VCR but people, flies, and cats.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Round the Twist has an episode called "Spaghetti Pig-Out" based on the Paul Jennings story that features the remote that can control real life, although it lacks the "looking like green chocolate" attribute that it has in the book.

  • The late 1990s Finnish electronic song "Freestyler", from Bomfunk MC, has a music video revolving around a teenager traveling the subway who realizes that his MP3 player has powers over reality and can pause, rewind, or fast-forward people around him. At the end, this proves ineffective on the two band members themselves, and after pressing the player in frustration the entire video rewinds back to the opening.

  • Josh Wilder's play Leftovers features a Theo Huxtable (not Bill Cosby; don't call him that!) who manipulates reality with a remote control.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Disaster" Rob gets a universal remote from The Awesome Store and uses it to ruin Gumball's life. However, Gumball manages to get to it and uses it to rewind time to the beginning of the day, kickstarting part two, "The Rerun".
  • Dennis the Menace: In "Life in the Fast Lane", PeeBee invents a Time Tuner, which has the ability to alter real time. It can fast-forward it, rewind it, slow it down, or pause it. Dennis and PeeBee use the fast-forward function to help Henry read his 50-page report in time for work, help Alice wash the dishes in time for her soap opera, make Margaret's ballet recital more exciting, and help Mr. Wilson put up wallpaper in his den. When Mr. Wilson refuses to reward the boys with cookies for helping him, they use the rewind function on him as payback, getting him in trouble with his wife. Later, they use the slow-motion and pause functions to help the police catch and arrest a pair of bank robbers. At the end of the episode, Mr. Wilson asks Dennis and PeeBee to use the fast-forward function on him one last time so he can put the wallpaper up again. PeeBee does so, but the Time Tuner breaks, leaving Mr. Wilson stuck in fast-forward.
  • Megas XLR: In the episode "Universal Remote", Coop builds the eponymous item, which is simply a normal TV remote control, but the villain of the week hears about it and mistakenly thinks the object has destructive power and wants to take it for himself.
  • Pink Panther and Pals: In "Remotely Pink", the Pink Panther buys a universal remote after his normal TV remote breaks. It doesn't work on the TV, but it does allow him to control everything else around him.
  • In Teen Titans (2003), Control Freak is a supervillain in possession of a reality warping remote. He can use said remote to make inanimate objects come to life, or to beam himself into TV land.
  • In the Treehouse of Horror short "The Terror of Tiny Toon", Marge takes the batteries from the TV remote to stop Bart and Lisa watching an Itchy and Scratchy Halloween special, and Bart replaces them with a piece of plutonium he finds in Homer's toolbox. Afterwards, the remote starts displaying reality-warping properties including messing with Lisa's skin color with the Color buttons, sending Bart and Lisa into the cartoon when Enter is accidentally pushed, and reversing time with its Rewind button.