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Kryten: Ah, Mr Charles, sir! My name is Kryten. I'm a fictitious character from the television series Red Dwarf, and we really need your help.
Lister: You're the only one who can help us, man!
Craig Charles: I've heard about these! They're called flashbacks! I know you don't exist!
Cat: OK, no need to rub it in!
Red Dwarf: Back to Earth

The work opens with one setting, and introduces several characters living there. But after establishing this outer setting, the narrative switches to yet another setting within the first one, a Show Within a Show with its own, separate cast. The characters from this Show Within a Show, due to some Applied Phlebotinum, manage to find their way out to the first setting and meet the characters we were introduced to there. The intended effect is to make the audience believe that the characters have broken through the Fourth Wall and entered your reality. Stories with these plots are popular because of Deconstruction and Lampshade Hanging jokes, as well as Take That Me humour. Sometimes it's a form of raising the stakes, as at least two worlds may now be in trouble.

Very similar to Real World Episode, where the initial characters we're introduced to leave their setting and find their home is a Show Within a Show. Using either trope implies that All Fiction Is Real Somewhere and can be paired with a "Reading Is Cool" Aesop.


Compare Mage in Manhattan (where a powerful villain from another world, but not always another fiction, comes to assault the world of the audience), Up the Real Rabbit Hole (where the "topmost" universe is recognized as the "real" one), and Tomato Surprise (where we learn the protagonists are not what we expected them to be). Contrast Trapped in TV Land (character is sucked inside a Show Within a Show).

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    Anime and Manga 
  • A Simpsons Comics storyline involved Kang and Kodos bringing Itchy And Scratchy characters into the real world, as the two were worshipped as gods on Rigel IV. To stop them, Bart pointed a camcorder at a Radioactive Man comic and used the aliens' device to make his favorite superhero real.
  • A Futurama comic had Simpsons characters (and later, non-Simpsons fictional characters) being pulled out of comics into the Futurama world.
  • Justice League of America: One story arc featured a villain called the Queen of Fables (her Origin Story is an evil sorceress who got trapped in a magical story book), who had the power to to manifest any fictional character into the real world when she escaped her story.
  • In an early Hellblazer story, a character escapes from the world of fiction and ends up running across John Constantine, who witnesses as authorities from the world of fiction keep trying to drag the refugee back. He's eventually knocked out and taken back by Winnie, from Winnie-the-Pooh.
  • In one Cherry Comics story, the characters of a soap opera come out of the television to have sex with Cherry.


    Anime and Manga 
  • Tamahome and Nakago from the book in Fushigi Yuugi briefly appear in present-day Tokyo to fight over Miaka and Yui... and more fantastic monsters from the book get summoned.
  • There is a 3 episode Mega Man anime where in each episode, Wily escapes from the video game he is in and Mega Man has to go into the Real World to stop him.
  • Video Girl Ai, while more Genre Savvy than the usual version of this trope, did jump out of the TV.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2: Aika is this. It's just not readily apparent given that she has a cover story involving claiming to be a student from overseas and she otherwise blends in with the rest of the cast. There's also a little playing in that she can move between her home dimension and Earth's dimension at will, which allows her to take care of a universe-ending threat that also found its way outside of her home dimension.
  • In the Nightveil Special (spun off from Femforce), a comic book superheroine named Thunderfox is brought into the regular world, and became a Femforce member for several issues.
  • Loony Leo is a cartoon lion brought to life in Astro City.


    Fan Works 
  • Many fan works based on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic use this trope. One of the best known is the Self-Insert collaborative work called Ponyfall, in which most of the main characters are transported to Earth and turned human, where they are all found by bronies living around the world.
  • In Legolas, Back to the Future, Legolas pops out of a Canadian teenager's TV during a power outage. Absolutely NOTHING is done with this premise; he simply tags along as the girl and her friends shop, see a movie, visit a youth camp and a theme park, etc. No one is surprised to see Legolas, nor do they bother to help him get home.
  • In Emergence, all four members of Team RWBY wake up scattered in the real world with no idea how they got there and having to adjust to the differences between Remnant and Earth.
    • The sequel fic, Convergence, brings in Team JNPR and Cinder's faction, and ties in another fic by the same author in which an amnesiac Summer Rose played this role.
  • This trope is actually a somewhat popular method of creating a Self-Insert Fic-a character or characters from a popular fictional work (or multiple works of fiction) end up in the real world, and it's up to the Original Character to help them out.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Icicle Thief, an American supermodel comes out of a commercial into the Italian village the story is set in.
  • In the wrap-up film for The Famous Jett Jackson, Jett and his Show Within a Show character, a superspy named Silverstone, switch places. While Jett has to try to save the world using skills he doesn't have, Silverstone is stuck in a small town with real-life problems he never learned to deal with. Notably, Jett's great-grandmother Miz Correta immediately realizes that Silverstone isn't Jett.
  • Space Jam plays with this trope, combining it with the Roger Rabbit Effect. The film begins with Michael Jordan shooting the ball into the hoop as a kid, and continues on to see the villains living in deep space (no portals or alternate universes here!). Whenever the human characters find the Looney Tunes, the assumption is made that they're fictional, but the cartoons talk about agents, acting, and merchandising. We even see Jordan's kids watching a "Roadrunner" short when it gets interrupted for their emergency meeting to deal with the aliens.

  • The book Inkheart is actually about a man who reads a character, Dustfinger, out of a book also called Inkheart. Dustfinger goes on to complain about the chaos of the Real World and tries to get read back into the book. Along the way he discovers the general unkindness of the human race and the uncaring offhandedness of fire. During the story, he also meets Inkheart's author, who is glad to meet him, but who does not offer that feeling to Inkheart's villain, Capricorn.
  • The Stephen King short story "Umney's Last Case" has a writer switch places with his private eye character. The PI wets himself as he's never gone to a toilet before.
  • The Thursday Next novels have various characters traveling both ways. Most notable is Something Rotten, where Thursday explains the real world's lack of certain tropes to Hamlet, and where Intergalactic Emperor Zhark threatens his own author with a laser when it sounds like he'll be Killed Off for Real.
    • In the 6th book, the written Thursday enters the real world and, for the first time, has to experience breathing, a heartbeat, learning to walk and turn while walking, and the fact that some things happen for absolutely no reason.
  • The Tom Holt novel Open Sesame has Akram The Terrible escape to the real world, where he gets confused by people having discussions that don't further the plot.
  • The children's book It's New! It's Improved! It's Terrible! features a commercial-based TV refugee.
  • The early Terry Pratchett short story "Final Reward" has a Barbarian Hero, following his death, arriving in the hall of his "creator"; that is, the fantasy writer who invented him.
  • Kir Bulychevs Alice books are a borderline example - the "Fairy Tale" creatures live in contained bio-dome and mostly obey Fairy Tale conventions, but apparently they were imported into the future from a time when All Myths Are True.
  • "The Kugelmass Episode" by Woody Allen sees Madame Bovary transported to modern New York. Initially thrilled by the experience, she soon becomes jaded — "I want to get a job or go to a class, because watching TV all day is the pits" — and demands to be returned to 19th Century France. Conversely, Kugelmass himself becomes Trapped in TV Land.
  • In Paul Robinson's Instrument of God, the main character, 246, ends up crossing over into another universe where his life is actually being recorded and is part of a major TV show that a lot of people watch, so he visits a fan convention where he answers questions about the show, but nobody there is aware of the fact it's not really a show, the life he's being filmed is really what happens to him, not a TV show.
  • The book The Magic Typewriter has an aspiring teenaged writer buy the eponymous typewriter from an antique store. He proceeds to write a horribly cheesy story, climaxing in the villain casting a spell that is supposed to make the main character "meet his maker". Guess who appears in the kid's bedroom?
  • Effigy Nights by Yoon Ha Lee. A Galactic Conqueror subdues a Planet of Hats famous for its art and literature. The wardens of the planet free legendary heroes from their books to fight the invaders, only the magic gets out of control, destroying their culture as the content of books are turned into soldiers. Having run out of books, the magic then starts on people...
  • In the climax of Sophie's World, Sophie and Alberto escape their own level of reality and end up in Hilde and the Major's, where they are fictional characters. Although they're unable to interact with the new level they discover a society made of cast-off fictional characters from stories living there.
  • In Kasey Michaels' Maggie Kelly mystery series, author Maggie finds her fictional Regency detective, Alexandre Blake (along with his lovable, bumbling sidekick) materializing in her modern New York apartment. Alexandre and Sterling's attempts to fit in to the modern world (and Maggie having to adjust to them) are a running subplot in the series.
  • Gene Wolfe's story "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories" is about a boy obsessively reading a pulp adventure book similar to The Island of Doctor Moreau, with heroes and villains from the book occasionally popping into the real world to talk about themselves and lend him moral support or advice. It looks as if it's all happening in his imagination, but several other people can see the characters too.
  • Mary Poppins in the Park has a variation, in which three fairy-tale princes and their unicorn meet Jane and Michael. They claim to have a book about the people of Cherry Tree Lane, which they use as a Portal Book to the park once every generation (London time). Unfortunately, when most of the children the princes meet over the years become adults, they seem to forget meeting the trio.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Charmed, magic brought a character from a 1950's romance film to reality. Oh, and some slasher horror monsters.
  • The sitcom Hi Honey Im Home was based around a 1950s sitcom family, whose show had been canceled, moving next door to a fan to await being put back on the air.
    • Additionally, a series Couch Gag would have a different classic tv character come visit Honey, for example in one episode Ann B. Davis drops in as Alice Nelson.
  • The short-lived series Once A Hero had the comic book superhero Captain Justice crossing over from Pleasantville into the real world, and befriending his creator. Captain Justice decided to stay to get people believing in him again.
  • Used a couple times in the various Star Trek series. This was always done by having simulations of famous people (fictional and real) from the holodeck. One notable episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Elementary, Dear Data" has a simulation of Professor Moriarty, who ends up becoming self aware and trying to find a way out of the simulation. A few seasons later, he tries it again in "Ship in a Bottle".
  • In the famous Czech fairy tale TV series Arabela (1979-81) (Western Germany title: Arabella, die Märchenbraut, Eastern Germany title: Die schöne Arabella und der Zauberer), not only do characters and villains from the Fairy Tale reality enter the Real World and spread chaos there with their magic and strange ways, the sorcerous villains even take modern inventions (and ideas), like cars, back into their own reality which runs on fairy tale tropes, install themselves as new rulers, and start a reign of tyranny by banning, on pain of death, all things magical, including racism against non-human "magical" races. With hilarious results.
  • In Red Dwarf: Back To Earth, the crew try to jump to another dimension, and seemingly end up in a reality where Red Dwarf is a TV show. Interestingly, it's made quite clear this isn't our world; it's a reality where Seasons IX and X were made, and the series still has loads of Merch available. (Because they don't end up in "our" world, this doesn't quite count as Welcome to the Real World.
  • In Lost in Austen, Elizabeth Bennet somehow comes to modern-day London. The serial focuses on the woman unwittingly taking her place in the fictional world, though.
  • Butch, a 50s film character from two episodes of Big Wolf on Campus. In his first episode, Merton attempts to Technobabble up an explanation, only to realise that it makes no sense even for the Fantasy Kitchen Sink they live in.
    Merton: Okay, now if we can maintain a constant level of emulsion, uh, y'know, and there would be celluloid and protons would converge in a, in a, diverge, in-in - I don't know where I am right now, I'm, I'm, this, I'm lost.
  • There is a Yeralash episode about a bicyclist from a school mathematics textbook who chases down two boys and makes them finally solve the problem.
  • Played with in the Supernatural Season 6 episode, "The French Mistake" where Balthazar sends Sam and Dean into an alternate universe very similar to ours where they are actors named Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles starring on a cult TV show called Supernatural.
  • In an episode of Eerie, Indiana, Simon's younger brother zaps himself into a monster movie on TV by biting the remote control. By zapping himself in, though, he also zapped the monster into the real world. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Ace Lightning is about video game character dragged into the real world.
  • Once Upon a Time: fairy tale characters are cursed to live a world without magic (the real world).
  • In Beetleborgs, the series got started when the protagonists earned a wish to be granted and chose to become their favorite comic book superheroes - unfortunately, the magic that brought the superpowers to the real world also brought the comic's villains as well.
  • The second season of The Librarians introduces the concept of Fictionals, which are fictional characters brought into the real world either with a spell, or, more rarely, by their sheer popularity being enough to literally bring them up off the page. In any case, they remain bound by the rules of their story, and cannot be killed in any way unbefitting of their character. The main villains of the season happen to be two evil ones – Shakespeare's Prospero and Moriarty. In fact, the former is unique in that he's actually possessing the body of the Bard himself, borne of Shakespeare's angst over his waning popularity and a magical quill.

  • The video for Pomplamoose's "Yeah Yeah Yeah" contains Jack portraying a man who buys a magical painting and brings the girl in it into reality.
  • "The Sun Always Shines on TV", the sequel to Aha's video "Take On Me" has the 80's Girl bringing Motorcycle Guy out of the comic.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • GLOW's superhero tag team Thunderbolt and Lightning come from the pages of a comic book.
  • Gabby Gilbert is from VH1 I Love The 80s.
  • Austin Starr is merely from TV Land.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Within the Freedom City setting of Mutants & Masterminds, the Toon Gang are these, miniature cartoon gangster brought to life by one of Doc Otaku's devices and refusing to go back.

  • Skylanders has a gimmick involving actual toys of the characters, having the player place the toys on a "portal" peripheral to use them in the game. Storywise, the characters were banished from the Skylands and into our world by the the evil Portal Master Kaos, being frozen into little figures in the process, and the player uses the portal to send them back home.
  • The arcade ending to Golden Axe had the heroes and villains escaping the arcade machine and continuing their battling.
  • The entire premise of Harem Party eroge is an all-female cast of a fantasy video game jumping out of the main character's PC. The positive: he can bed them all, often at the same time. The negative: the game's antagonist, an evil god, escaped to reality as well and he wants to Take Over the World.
  • Stay Tooned! inverts this trope. The player's remote (with the push of a Big Red Button) allows several cartoons to escape the TV, but in the process also turns the entire apartment building into cartoon form.
  • The plot of the Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario crossover Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam is that Luigi accidentally knocks over the book containing the Paper Mario universe, releasing many of its inhabitants—including its version of Mario himself—into the Mario & Luigi world.
  • In Phantasy Star Online 2, you are this. Thanks to a video game made by Earthlings connecting Earth to the home dimension of the Player Character and pals, you are able to use the video game, Phantasy Star Online 2, to travel to Earth. Of course, your job there is strictly business, since most time spent there involves beating the crap out of evil manifestations of Earthling animate and inanimate objects in Tokyo.

  • A Real Life Comics storyline had Tony accidentally transported to "our" world (represented via superimposing Tony on real photos) and meeting Greg Dean. With Real!Greg's help, he manages to return to the comic's universe. And what are Tony's first words as soon as he gets back?
    Tony: Save that dimensional code...and mark it as "leverage"!
  • Eri-Chan from Okashina Okashi escaped the frames of the webcomic, and promptly got stuck in the comments section.
  • The final storyline of Shortpacked! involves Cap'n Crunch's old advertising foes the Soggies enter the strip's reality as the lines between fiction and non-fiction collapse from an overabundance of diversity. (The forces of good get Shattered Glass Ravage, created by the strip's author, in return.)

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation put its typically creepy spin on this: SCP-1304 is a violent sacrifice ritual. If one writes a book where a character has it done to them, soon after publication the victim will get reincarnated as a human in the real world. They won't have memories of their fictional past, but their life will mirror that in the novel, as closely as reality allows.
    • One version of SCP-001 has the Foundation attempting to do this... so they can kill the writers and control their own destiny. Only thing stopping them is that they're not quite sure if it would cause a Class X-4 for them.
  • The premise of Dragonbored is an obsessive gamer's RPG character being accidentally summoned into the real world, where he subsequently gets promoted over the player at work and woos his dissatisfied girlfriend away. The gamer then manages to recreate the event to get himself into the game world, which doesn't go as well as he hoped.
  • This is the plot of the season 14 finale of Red vs. Blue. After a combination of a teleporter malfunction, coffee getting spilled on the Xbox, and Burnie cutting the power to the studio, the Blood Gulch Crew get transported to the real world.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police, "It's Dangly Deever Time", they bring a character from an old kid's TV show to reality (the titular Dangly Deever, an obvious parody of Howdy Doody). In this case, however, the problem wasn't the character — for some reason, this also created a murderous evil duplicate. The good Deever ended up having to go back too for Sam and Max to be able to get rid of the evil one.
  • In one of The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror Halloween specials, Bart and Lisa are sucked into an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon by a magic remote. They manage to escape, but Itchy and Scratchy follow...only to find that the "real world" is quite a bit different from a cartoon world, where the rules are quite different—for example, pets with all their bits aren't very tolerated.
    • Another Treehouse Of Horror episode ended with Homer being teleported to the real world with no visible means of returning. Thank goodness for the healing power side of Status Quo Is God and Canon Discontinuity.
  • In one episode of Freakazoid!, the titular character pursues one of his nemeses into... a fancon. While trying to find or avoid one another, they deal with over-eager convention-goers, fans dressed up like them, and being forced to sit on a panel regarding their cartoon.
    • In a last laugh move, at the end of the segment Freakazoid informs several cast members with minimal screen time that, due to budget cuts, they've been reduced to washing his car.
  • An episode of Darkwing Duck has the titular character and Psycho Electro Megavolt transported to the "real world" by means of a Trapped in TV Land device made by Megavolt. It turns out that the guy who owns the rights to Darkwing Duck gets his ideas by means of a radio helmet that is tuned to Darkwing's world.
  • There's an episode of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures where the booth is used to retrieve a character from a TV show. As a result, the show never ends and nothing else can ever be shown on TV, so they have to put them back.
  • The 1994 Spider-Man: The Animated Series finale featured Spider-man teaming up with various Spider-men from alternate universes including a powerless Spider-man who played the character on TV. This culminates in the main Spider-Man of the series visiting the real world and taking Stan Lee webslinging.
  • The My Little Pony 'n Friends episode "Through the Door" had a group of fairy-tale characters (including Prince Charming, Robin Hood, and a genie) escaping into Ponyland from behind a magical door that leads to the "Land of Legends".
  • The Fairly OddParents! had the Crimson Chin taken out of his comic. This results in him discovering he is imaginary, growing depressed and almost getting his comic book cancelled.
  • This trope is invoked by The Groovie Ghoulies in a memorable if freaky sequence of the 1972 TV Movie Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie Goolies, part of The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie series. The bratty Hauntleroy has stolen Wolfie's guitar and flees into 'Mad Mirror Land', where all four characters (Including Drac and Frankie) get turned into live-action versions, still operating by cartoon laws, for the most part. It was originally part of a seriously weird, not-so-hot crossover with the Looney Tunes, and then was re-edited for syndication as a separate episode. Original, B&W: / Reedit color:
  • In the Snooper and Blabber cartoon "The Lion Is Busy," the detectives are chasing a loose mountain lion (an early version of Snagglepuss) into an adventurer's club. As they come across a line of adventurers in safari gear and pith helmets, Snooper asks if any of these "fugitives from a late, late show" has seen the lion.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Fight Fighters", Dipper summons a video game character named Rumble McSkirmish to scare Robbie. Rumble quickly thinks anyone he must fight is an evil enemy he must eliminate.
  • Rated "A" for Awesome: In "Don't Judge A Mutant By Its Slobber", the team's attempt to "awesome-ize" a video game results in the games Sergeant Rock protagonist and mutant villains escaping into the real world.


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