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  • Tank Goodness: Many of these beastly type of vehicles weigh in at at least 70 tons and are so powerful, that you could never even hope to own one if you're anything besides a Military class player. Of course, there are players who try to get around this rule such as one player from the "Colorado" sector of the USA server building his own to get revenge for a zoning dispute and another player, also from the USA server stealing an M60A3 Patton tank from a United States National Guard Armory in San Diego.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: An extremely complex web, constantly changing with technology. Factors for any military unit include firepower, mobility, survivability and dozens of niche roles. Most units are able to counter their counters as well, and are highly versatile.
  • Teaser Equipment: Expensive cars, houses, jewelry, and the like will not be within your price range when you first start out. Particularly egregious examples require that you take several levels in certain Prestige Classes to be able to afford them. Thankfully, much of these items fall into Bragging Rights Reward.
    • It is possible (about a 1% chance, depending on which server you play on) to start the game with high enough Wealth and Privilege stats to afford some of this prestige equipment.
  • Tech Tree: Gigantic, intricate, messy, and the structure of it isn't fully understood.
  • Terminally Dependent Society: The human race is basically helpless without technology. Take internet, electricity or water supply out of the picture, and a huge crisis would ensue. Still, the human race survived several disasters, and after the immediate shock, people will surely find a way to restore those things, or set up replacements.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality: Usually averted. But occasionally played straight.
  • They Would Cut You Up: vivisection (autopsy on a living body, as opposed to dissection, where they kill you first) is usually punished quite severely.
  • This Is Reality: Justified in this case.
  • Throw It In!: The series is an ambitious project, in that none of the actors are given scripts to memorize, and almost all of the dialogue is ad-libbed.
  • This Means War!: Played straight quite often. Occasionally averted.
  • Timed Mission: Each human has, on average, 66.12 years to live. This time limit can be extended if you're healthy enough. Unfortunately, it's also luck based, as your time limit can be drastically reduced depending on where your character lives; for example, a character based in Africa is likely to have a lower time limit than one in Europe. Sometimes your characters time limit is unexpectedly ended by just plain unfair things, like being hit by a car. There are entire character classes (doctors, surgeons, etc.) dedicated to extending play time.
  • Time for Plan B: Because Plan A doesn't always go off without a hitch, having a decent backup plan in reserve is a good idea.
  • Toilet Humour: One of the first styles of humor many players encounter as well as being the oldest known type of comedy.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Money, especially amongst the upper classes.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Played straight by countless individuals, but can also happen on a larger scale, up to and including an entire species. Fan favorite moments include the Agricultural, Industrial, and Digital Revolutions. Rumor has it that North American Cockroaches are in the middle of doing this, by developing poison glands.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: You'll be surprised of how many people went from spoiled brats into true saints.
  • Tournament Arc: There are events that players around the world attend to compete with each other. Most notable are the Olympics, held every four seasons.
    • Many sports by definition are this when the player reaches the professional level; in certain modules, for example football and baseball, every game is ultimately part of a ranking system that determines which players will proceed to the bonus rounds and thus be able to compete for titles.
    • Some sports also include yearly tournament-style competitions.
  • Torch the Franchise and Run: According to Biblical scripture, God tried doing this once, and it lasted forty days and forty nights. He eventually changed his mind and Un-Canceled the series.
  • Tragic Hero: Many characters suffer from their flaws or choices. Whether it's drug or alcohol addictions, anger management issues, pride, greed, ambition...
  • Travel Cool: A lot of the human race's engineering efforts yield cool machines to suit their Badass Normal style. The higher-level examples of the Cool Starship, however, have not yet been unlocked as nobody has the cash for that expansion pack yet.
  • Trope Maker: While it is under-recognized as a source of tropes, the fact remains that this series is, quite literally, the baseline for most any work you can name.
  • Truth in Television: Is this too meta for you?
  • Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: Monarchs since the dawn of history and accomplished British citizens, among others.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Slave rebellions.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: All revolutions and coups, and even some democratically-elected parties, promise that things will be very, very different from then on. Sometimes that is true. Sometimes they are quickly removed, and things get back to normal.

  • Ultimate Evil: Many characters believe Satan is this.
    • Sometimes this changes amongst players in relation to other humans. During World War II, Hitler was supposed to be this. Then he killed himself, and...
  • Unbroken First-Person Perspective: All players see Real Life like this.
  • Uncanceled: The Cuban Missile Crisis was one notable example.
  • Unconfessed Unemployment: Happens to players more often than not, who wants to convince other players they're still enjoying a high rank in their respective games.
  • Universe Concordance: History textbooks and Wikipedia.
  • Unobtainium: Oil, uranium, gold, diamond, and lots more (depending on what you want, where you are, and what you can give for it). An extreme case would be antimatter, which is extremely difficult to create and annihilates anything it touches into pure energy (and hence must be stored in electromagnetic fields). Nicely subverted with pure aluminum, which used to be more valuable than gold and is now used to store cheap beverages. In fact, Real Life is the Trope Namer. "Unobtainium" was first used as an alternate name for titanium by the U.S. during the Cold War arc, since the largest deposits were under the control of their main opponent, the Soviet Union.
  • Unreliable Narrator: To many, the mass media.
  • The Unreveal: We never learned the identity of Jack The Ripper, or the Zodiac Killer, or D.B. Cooper.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Criticized for having a huge balance problem. Some servers try to fight it by increasing taxes on the rich and giving it directly to the poor in theory, but in practice, the rich can easily transfer to a server of their choice using in-game money, and even when they are taxed, the money tends to trickle back into clans that they're a part of instead of the needy. The degree of Rules Lawyering in this area needs to be seen to be believed.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Subverted, time and time again. Giving in to your primal rage in a modern day society always, always, makes things worse.
    • On the other hand, back in the Viking arc, there existed warriors who were well-known for using this trope to devastating effect, as well as wearing serks (a type of garment) made of bear skin. They were so notorious for this that their name lives on to this day in the word "berserk".
  • Unwinnable: Go ahead. Just try it.
    • Since all achievements are open to interpretation, winning is possible by some definitions and impossible by others.
    • Since you only get one life and no saves, you may only acquire one ending out of x, x being the amount of living creatures that did, do, and will exist in Real Life.
    • As for in-game examples, the grand prize of any lottery, and doing anything politically that is both beneficial to the public and doesn't involve lining someone's pockets.
    • YMMV, but Charlie Sheen seems to be the only one winning.
    • Notable minigame known only as 'The Game', which you just lost.
    • Some claim that the game as a whole is Unwinnable by Design.
    • invokedUnwinnable by Insanity: If your Sanity or Intelligence stat is low, you have little or no chance of levelling-up. Also true to a lesser extent if your Charisma stat is low.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Paris Hilton is a notable example.
  • Urban Legend of Zelda: Dungeons & Dragons takes over your life and drives you insane (no more addictive than any other hobby). Yukon Territory of Canada and Siberia are Grim Up North (rather pleasant in spring/summer, and polar bears hang around way farther north). Also, Urban Legends, natch.
  • Ur-Example: The Ur-Example of everything ever made ever.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Nukes. Everyone is so afraid of automatic counterattacks for using just one that they remain stuck in the inventory. Not to mention that due to their side effect of spreading fallout, these automatic counterstrikes may cause the servers for the game to effectively become unplayable.
  • Vaporware: Fusion reactors, flying cars, nanobots, etc. The slower-than-expected development of some things, though, is counterbalanced by surprise inventions like cheese, nuclear bombs, the internet and lasers. Flying cars have been completed, but they turn out to be nothing more than Awesome, but Impractical gimmicks. They're still being worked on, alongside Orbital Tourism.
    • The Interstellar space expansion pack has been in development since the 1950s, funding and development issues have meant the only avaliable content is the earth orbit, the moon and whatever shuttles and probes we can afford to send. The shuttle equipment is being removed from the game pending updates, although the Mars mission pack has been put off until the 2020s at least.
    • The 'End of Times' campaign event that's supposed to wrap up Real Life has been announced many, many times - but never, and this is worthy of note, directly by the developers. Loudly announced release dates within living memory include August 8, 1988; December 31, 1999-2001 inclusively; and December 12, 2012. In general it's best to assume any new release dates for this event are Fan Wank unless you can get Word of Saint Paul confirmation.
  • Vapor Wear: Lingerie, anything made out of gauze. That brief fad of paper clothing back in The '60s. And many people just don't wear anything underneath.
  • The 'Verse: The Universe, Trope Namer; every player is the hero of their own story, and all these stories take place here.
  • Violation of Common Sense:
    • Laws don't stop people from doing bad or completely stupid things. In fact, the Darwin Awards exist to reward blatant violations. Also most of Quantum Physics and Relativity — evidently, the Universe doesn't bother about complying to the common sense of those insignificant little humans on their tiny pale blue bit of dust called Earth.
    • So many people, so many times, that "common sense" is in fact uncommon. Sometimes, however, it's even Justified, as most innovations are the result of ignoring "common sense."note 
  • The Virus: Way too many to count; some of them are also Nightmare Fuel. Some of these tend to be Game Breaking Bugs that lead to many a Downer Ending.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The UK and Australia have a relationship characterised by years of "hatred". But if you were to declare war on either of them, the other would respond with overwhelming force. The same can be said for Canada and the United States.

  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: You'll run across more than a few of these during the game, although they'll seem more important at the time than they really turn out to be.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Elementary (or "primary") school.
    • SAT tests for English PCs.
    • Adolescence.
    • First dates, for many.
    • Learning how to drive.
    • Getting your first job.
    • College.
    • Independent living.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Subverted. Sadly, most players do the "wake up, go to school" bit, but rarely have a chance to save the world. Downplayed by Boy Scouts, who usually do a good turn daily.
  • Wakeup Makeup: It's possible to get eyeliner, lip liner and full lipstick tattooed on. Initially painful, and reduces makeup options later, but more and more military women find it to be worthwhile.
  • War Is Hell: Played straight. The combat engine avoids any Acceptable Breaks from Reality. Ammo is full weight, status conditions have very long durations (and are sometimes permanent), and there are complete and very debilitating systems for fatigue, temperature, infection and disease. All the dull logistics involved in getting your fighters to the correct spot at the correct time with all their gear must be dealt with, and failure means an automatic loss. As noted elsewhere, you get no bonus lives and the healing rules are so strict that even if your character makes it back to a hospital it can take months or longer to regain full health - if you ever do. Defense items lag far behind the damage output of common weapons, and fog of war and friendly fire are hard-coded. Even if you emerge unwounded, it's possible to develop psychological debuffs. In short, the combat system is so bad that most characters will go to great lengths to prevent a war from starting.
  • Weakened by the Light:
    • If you stay out in the sun for too long you will get really bad sunburns and possibly skin cancer. Subverted by darker skinned individuals (ranging from light brown and up) who simply get darker. Still, wear sunblock and also beware of sunstroke.
    • Taken to a new level with the sun itself, the sun occasionally sends out bursts of plasma that can severely damage our magnetic field which is our only defense against it and all the cosmic debris in space, yet the sun is our only source of outer warmth and is needed for life.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Allergies.
    • It's surprising how many dictators had strange phobias. For example, Adolf Hitler was afraid of cats. This was never exploited, though, possibly because of the difficulty of finding any cats that could make it through paratrooper training.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Many people-oriented jobs, such as serving fast food or selling tickets at movies, involve several Stock Phrases.
  • We Will Meet Again: Sometimes a strategic retreat is the most sensible option.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The year 1939 all the way to the end of World War II. It saw the destruction and/or restructuring of the factions aligned under the 'Axis' banner, the elimination of approximately 70 million total player characters (25 million of which were from the Soviet Union faction alone.), including the head admin of the United States (killed thanks to an unrelated status effect) and German factions (the Red Army guild had surrounded Berlin, and with no way out he chose to give himself a Non Standard Game Over by shooting himself), and permanently altered the relations between factions for the next century and then some. Many fans are still worried the potential followup, World War III, would result in a Grand Finale for the entire series. The arc itself has a few, such as:
      • The event that kicked it off, the Invasion of Poland
      • The Fall of France, where the German faction's military guild pulled off a shocking victory over the completely off-guard French and British.
      • The Operation Barbarossa event, where a previously made agreement between the German and Soviet admins was unilaterally broken by the Germans, who sent approximately 3 million players to invade the server. A number of factors however prevented them from actually removing the Soviet Union server/faction - which led to the entire army getting hit with the Russian Winter debuff when they hadn't even taken the precautions by winter.
      • The Pearl Harbor event, where the Japanese faction decided to attack the titular naval base without telling the US admins, and made the Crisis Crossover truly global by joining it with their ongoing 'Second Sino-Japanese War' arc.
      • The Battle of Stalingrad; the Big Badass Battle Sequence of the entire series. Millions of soldier-class players from both the German and Soviet factions were engaged in the largest battle ever fought, and around one million of them were eliminated from both sides. It ended when the remains of the '6th Army' of the Wehrmacht guild surrendered to the Soviets, and in the long run it ended hope of a German victory in the entire World War II arc.
      • The Reveal of The Holocaust event conducted by the Nazis, first discovered by soldier players of the Allied Powers. The German faction apparently saw it fit to try to eliminate every single player of Jewish heritage, and tallied off at six million players killed for practically no reason other than they were born with the Jewish trait. Needless to say, the soldiers that discovered this industrial scale planned killing were horrified.
      • Finally, the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which finally convinced the die-hard Japanese military guild admins to call it quits, and remains the only time any faction has used a nuclear weapon against another faction.
    • Before that, the World War I arc. It started with the assassination of a particularly high ranking Austro-Hungarian player, which set off a chain reaction that dragged practically every faction in Europe into battle. The biggest problem everybody realised was that though successive updates and tech tree progress provided their respective military guilds with some fancy new weapons to use, they haven't updated their tactics yet. Cue the senseless slaughter of millions of players on the Western Front sub-arc. Later towards the end the Russian Empire server was taken down and replaced with the Soviet Union, to the annoyance of every Western faction since they withdrew from the event without finishing it.
    • The terrorist attacks in America during September 11, 2001. The ensuing "War On Terror" arc had effects that were still being felt several seasons later.
    • System-wide wham episodes occur just often enough to keep Real Life from ever growing too stable, including mass extinctions, sudden outbreaks of war, terrorist attacks, and plagues. More happily, events like the discovery of the New World, the development of penicillin and the release of the Beatles' first album opened up gameplay rather than punishing players. Individual characters can have all sorts of unexpected campaign events, generally as the unanticipated result of another player's progress in their campaign.
    • In more recent times, the “2016” season was a particularly infamous string of these. A perceived unusually high kill rate for more well-known players, user Leo Dicaprio winning the Oscar achievement after several near-misses, the Chicago Cubs guild getting the World Series achievement after 100+ seasons, and a shocking Twist Ending to the “Presidential Election” arc that forever changed the America server.
    • But even 2016 ended up having little on "2020", with the COVID-19 bug shutting down entire servers, and billions of players' daily activities suddenly halted. Not all of them would log back on...
  • Wham Line: Numerous, depending on your playthrough. Can include such classics as:
    "I'm pregnant."
    "It’s a boy/girl/twins."
    "Your test results are in."
    "Will you marry me?" (And absolutely any response to the question also qualifies.)
    "You're fired/hired"
  • What Does This Button Do?: Depending on the button, anything from "nothing" to "nuclear Armageddon, God help us all." The number of safeguards on a button is a rough (but inexact) guide to how big a thing would happen if you pushed it.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Ever think about the friends or acquaintances you haven't seen in a long time?
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Cultural example: In most European countries rats are considered to be pests and unclean. In India there is a 600-year-old temple of clean rats, with every generation free of disease, that are friendly with people. Anthropomorphic faced animal vs. non-anthropomorphic/fuzzy animal example: Pandas have billions of dollars spent on their survival and they don't contribute greatly as a species, while other very important insects and other critically endangered species are ignored massively in comparison, even though it will actually cause big problems to see them go.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Many humans' attitudes towards animals except for the "vegan" character class, though generally less so with animals frequently kept as pets.
  • "What Now?" Ending: Pretty much every ending in Real Life that doesn't involve you actually dying is of this nature.
  • What the Fu Are You Doing?: Some players have a rather inflated view of their own "martial arts skills." Some end up featured in YouTube videos where they manage to nunchuk themselves in the groin or the face, or otherwise end up looking like jackasses.
  • When Things Spin, Science Happens:
    • Particularly common in the last few hundred seasons. In fact, the mere presence of a centrifuge is often sufficient to communicate to the viewer that a scene is taking place in a science lab.
    • The planet itself spins, although we didn't learn of this awesome spinning until long after the invention of the wheel.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Social media can serve as a good way to see what old acquaintances have been up to since you last saw them.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: You bet your ass someone would. (It's rumored that while the series population is continually growing, the sum of their total intelligence remains fixed.)
  • Wide Open Sandbox: The effective playing area is a single small planet that requires immense resources even to leave for a few days, so almost no one does. Thanks to the planet's transparent atmosphere, you can see immense distances into the Wide Open Sandbox; you just can't get there. May be a Broken Bridge, or the content just hasn't been added yet. Well, technically you can get there if you're willing to wait for ages. And if warp drives are ever invented, the Sandbox is effectively opened.
    • Life itself is a Wide Open Sandbox... at least after you clear the Tutorial Stage.
    • The planet is not small from the perspective of the player. It can take days, even weeks, just to circle the map and wind up where you began — and that's only if you've maxed out your running/swimming/climbing/jumping stats.
  • The Wiki Rule: One of the more fleshed out examples.
  • Wiki Walk: Many of the more interesting conversations in life, not all of them held on controlled substances.
  • Wild Teen Party: Can you say, spring break?
    • Not to mention many that occur outside of spring break. Doing this without permission can have unpleasant results for the one responsible (for example, it may result in receiving the "grounded" status effect). This does not stop some people.
  • With This Herring: Everyone starts off naked, with no equipment and no skills. If you're lucky, your parents may provide you with a few items to get started, but YPMV.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Although players can go days to weeks (it varies) without consuming food, hunger kicks in after only a few hours (it varies also).
  • Womb Level: The character design stage.
  • World of Chaos: Dreams. Hallucinations. Planets which are still to be unlocked to the player characters.
  • Word of Dante: Due to below argument over official Word of God, Science has filled this position.
  • Word of God: Too many to count. For the Abrahamaic religions, the Bible (in whole or part, the Torah). For Catholics, also the Pope (under certain circumstances) and the Orthodox church has its Patriarchs. For Muslims, the Qur'an and Hadith. For still others, the voices inside their head. The difficulty of proving one knows the author(s) means that for all we know this is Word of Dante or even Fanon.
  • World Half Empty/A World Half Full: Players, audiences, and readers alike are all split between just how lovely the world is, and just how shitty it is. It seems to vary based on server location, the luck skill of the individual players, and random events, especially during char gen. Readers usually are split, based on which novel they started out on, and filmgoers tend to base their own opinions on other films and filmgoers. There's a stereotype (and noticeable trend) that many "serious" audiences view the shared world as crappy.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: Say what you will about the other player characters; you cannot deny that Reality has some pretty kickass graphics!
  • World of Badass: Many subclasses (Military, Police, Firemen) or locations (warzones, remote places) enforce this trope for all characters.
  • World of Ham: Particularly in the Acting, Singing and Politics subclasses.
  • World of Snark: Most prevalent in the internet, but easy to find anywhere.
  • World War III: Averted repeatedly (for now).
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The number of divorces testifies to the amount of people who truly believe they are in a romantic comedy.
  • Wutai: Thailand, China, and Japan are the Trope Codifiers. Also: many large cities in the North America region (and London) have a "Chinatown". Korea and Vietnam have been getting more prominence since their war arcs ended (or put on hiatus in Korea's case). And India's becoming extremely popular. Lima, Peru has a Chinatown of its own, called the "barrio chino" or, in English, "Chinese neighborhood". Brazil has a sizable Japanese population, enough to have a burgeoning Japantown and Japanese culture get to some players.
  • Worthy Opponent: You can designate some NPCs or other players as this. It categorizes them somewhere between The Rival and Friendly Enemy — assuming they accept and reciprocate, of course.
    • During the Crusades arc, Saladin was regarded as this by the Crusaders, most notably Richard the Lionheart.

  • Xanatos Gambit: Extremely difficult to pull off; most players cannot. Downplayed in various board games (Chess comes to mind quickly), where victory is often accomplished with this.
    • Played straight for some players of the General Class; read the Real Life folder of the trope page for a few.
  • A Year and a Day: Used in various legal situations.
  • Yellow Brick Road: Depending on your beliefs, this may be played straight or subverted/averted as far as life is concerned. That being said, there are literal walkways in the world that are designed with yellow bricks, but those are just for decorative purposes as opposed to serving as roadways to special destinations.
    • Some players refer to their plan for reaching any goal as being a Yellow Brick Road.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: Subverted; you don't need to know how something works to use it, but if you want to research your bodily functions, go ahead. Played straight in the Science Class, Metal Shop, and Small-Engine Repair Shop levels and Firearms/ Driver's Licence minigames, on the ground that you may hurt yourself or others if you don't know what you're doing.
  • You Killed My Father: Played straight with Genghis Khan, who decided to kill everyone in the Tatar clan to get his revenge after his father was killed by them. He didn't stop there. It actually became a very large story arc which affected millions and is still looked back on by many of the fanbase.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: The implied purpose of every war in history. If those in charge claim they're fighting for something else, they're either lying or misinformed.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: While most structures do involve certain amounts of special materials, Oil is such an important source of both Energy and Raw Materials that players have gone to ridiculous extremes to access it or deny others access to it.
  • Zerg Rush: See here.


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