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Series / Harsh Realm

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Very short-lived TV series loosely based on a comic book and created by Chris Carter in 1999 which was so thoroughly Screwed by the Network (FOX), that's hard to believe that Hanlon's Razor really applies. Nine episodes were filmed but only three were originally aired before the show was cancelled.

The story mostly takes place inside the titular Harsh Realm, a perfect VR simulation of the real world created by the U.S. military for training purposes, with the difference that in this world, a nuclear bomb was detonated in New York City, thrusting the simulation into a post-apocalyptic scenario. The main character is Lt. Tom Hobbes, who is sent into Harsh Realm to "assassinate" Omar Santiago, a Major (now self-appointed General) who managed to become the dictator of 5 U.S. states in Harsh Realm. There was a lot of conspiracy and paranoia, which is not entirely surprising in a series created by Chris Carter.

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Despite its short length, the show was the focal point of a major lawsuit. James D. Hudnall and Andrew Paquette created the original comic and objected to Carter having sole creator credit on the show while they weren't acknowledged at all. According to Wikipedia's page, part of the legal battle involved noting the differences between versions, and Hudnall and Paquette ultimately getting a Suggested by... credit.

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This show provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: In "The Three Percenters", Hobbes and Pinocchio find refuge in a village whose peaceful inhabitants turn out to be VR zombies, in essence. After they escape, Mel Waters shows up, immediately smells a rat, and destroys the village.
  • Everything Fades: Invoked. One of the things that distinguish the virtual world from the real one is that dead bodies fade away like in a video game. It's visually impressive, but doesn't make a lot of sense for a simulation supposedly intended to model disaster management for the real world (wouldn't dealing with the dead bodies be a thing you'd need to plan for?).
  • Healing Hands: Florence
  • Myth Arc: Hobbes' mission to eliminate Santiago, as well as investigating his plan to conquer or destroy the real world.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Tom Hobbes, although his unshakable faith actually seems to be an advantage.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Hobbes after philosopher Thomas Hobbes, Florence after Florence Nightingale, Omar Santiago after General Omar Bradley.
  • Replacement Goldfish: One of the characters in the virtual reality is a digital replica of the protagonist's fiancée.

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