WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

The sleep is still in my eyes, the dream is still in my head

I breathe a sigh, and sadly smile, and lie awhile in bed

I wish that it might come to pass, not fade like all my dreams

Just think of what my life might be in a world like I have seen!
Rush, 2112

Remember when you were a kid playing with your favourite action figures/video games/television shows and you would go, "I wish it was real!" Well, that's the basis of this trope: a well-trodden storyline where the favourite fictional elements of the main characters somehow materialise into the real world (or the characters are transported into their home Alternate Universe) through some Applied Phlebotinum (frequently a wish). Depending on the mood of the story, Zany Antics or horrific Deconstruction follows as the characters deal with their new circumstances. Remember, Be Careful What You Wish For.

If the show/game is a member of a series, it will most likely use the Recursive Canon trope and place the fantastic elements as a Show Within a Show.

By law, such storylines must include a What If scene where the protagonists compare themselves to the fictional game, musing on what character class they would be or what superpowers they would have or what cute mascot monster they would train. This turns out to be some kind of highly accurate prophecy.

See also Welcome to The Real World, Refugee From TV Land, Ascended Fanboy. Wanting Is Better Than Having might end up as an Aesop. Compare Daydream Believer.

Examples of I Wish It Were Real include:

Anime and Manga


  • Both Loony Leo, the living cartoon character, and Beautie, the android Barbie doll, in Astro City.
  • Any time a DC Comics super hero visits Earth Prime, the Alternate Universe where super heroes only exist in comic books.
  • In one issue of The Simpsons comic book, aliens Kang and Kodos bring Itchy and Scratchy into the real world. Bart gets hold of the alien device and uses it to evoke Radioactive Man (his favorite Comic Book hero) to deal with the resulting mayhem.
  • Pretty much sums up the entirety of Futurama.

Fan Fiction

  • Many Mary Sue fanfics are along these lines, either of a character discovering the characters in their favorite fandom are real or somehow getting sucked into their world. They never seem to want to go home...


  • Jumanji
  • Played with slightly in Spy Kids ("I wish I could go away to your world, Floop. You'd be my friend."). Floop turns out to be the villain, but as it happens, not the Big Bad. In fact, he makes a Heel Face Turn by the end of the movie.
  • Subverted in Pleasantville, in which the protagonists are drawn into an idealized-1950s TV-show universe, and introduce various forms of personal and sexual liberation that shake up the stereotypically stodgy inhabitants.
  • Woody Allen's 1985 film The Purple Rose of Cairo invokes, inverts and generally messes with this trope.
  • Last Action Hero subverts this trope by showing how the "real" and "fictional" worlds may be entirely too different from each other for their inhabitants to cope.
  • In Galaxy Quest, the washed up actors of an old sci-fi show learn that aliens have been watching the show and modeled their entire technology and culture around it. At one point, they have to get in touch with the obsessed fans of the show, whose obscure knowledge saves their lives.
  • In The Last Starfighter, Alex Rogan is really good at a video game -- and it turns out the video game is a training simulator for a galaxy-spanning space war.


  • The Indian in the Cupboard
  • The fantasy series Guardians of the Flame has the college professor DM of a gaming group turn out to be a wizard from a fantasy world who sends his players through to try and set things right there. Some benefit from the immigration (one guy, who's crippled in real life, becomes his physically whole dwarf character), but there is a high body count once the characters find out that this 'DM's world is much harsher than their usual 'game'.
  • The Simon's Quest and Wizards & Warriors books in the Worlds of Power series begin this way.
  • Terry Pratchett's Only You Can Save Mankind, although the titular video game comes to life without any actual wishes being involved. It's partially a parody of The Last Starfighter, mentioned above.
  • Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens addresses this. As Adam prepares to remake the world to his liking his friends become acutely aware that the best thing about pirates and cowboys and the other fantastic things in their imaginations is that you can stop being them when you want to.

Live Action TV


  • The Leslie Fish Filk Song "Valhalla" is about a Viking who died in battle, but couldn't reach Valhalla because Christianity had his Gods under siege. Odin reincarnated him as a "bookish, lonely lad" who immersed himself in Scandanavian lore. "Sigurd" then stumbles into the Society for Creative Anachronism, and while it's not perfect, it fits a lot of the bill - including drinking, boasting, wenching, and fighting!

 Be careful of what paradise you deal

What hope you make other dreamers feel

For if too many hear it

they will struggle to draw near it

And in the search they just might make it real!\\

Video Games

  • Played with in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. The main characters wish they could live in the worlds of video games they play. Then they actually manage to enter such a world. The plot of the game, however, is about trying to get out of that world, since in the end, one has to live in reality. Many fans, however, ended up Longing For Ivalice themselves, and ended up despising the game's protagonist for trying to "destroy" it.
  • The "story" of the Super Smash Bros. series: a kid playing with his toys, who happen to all be Nintendo characters.
    • And Sega characters. And Konami characters.
  • Mega Man ZX and Mega Man Star Force are about kids who get the ability to transform into Mega Man.
    • Of course, being that these are sequels to previous Megaman games, from their point of view their heroes are historical, rather than fictional. Think Ikki Tousen.
  • Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, does this when Spongebob and Patrick wish for "Real nice Robots to play with". Guess who the mooks of this game are!

Web Comics

 "Over the years, Parson's had a lot of big ideas. But this is the first one I've ever seen him follow through on."

"Dibs on his dice"

Western Animation

  • In one episode of Chaotic creatures from Perim invade Chaotic and Earth, but it turns out to be All Just a Dream.
    • Played straight with any newly-introduced characters. Until they receive an official invitation and password from a Codemaster, the "real" worlds of Chaotic and Perim are nothing but the crazy ramblings of others.
  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Captain N: The Game Master.
  • At least one of Timmy Turner's wishes has been like this.
    • To elaborate: In one episode, Timmy wishes to meet the Crimson Chin, his favorite superhero. The Chin suffers a Heroic BSOD after learning that he's a fictional character, and Timmy has to try and convince him to return to action. Another episode involves Timmy leaving the portal open and enabling a supervillain to escape into the real world.
    • In another episode, he wishes his life were like an action movie, and the next day it is.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy episode "Wishbones" a boy named Pud'n wishes his toy bunny were real. An extra-dimensional skull grants his wish, but being a case of Be Careful What You Wish For, the newly animated bunny turns out to be a complete psychopath who does everything in his power to kill Pud'n.

  "Love hurts, Pud'n, and I love you... to death."

Web Original

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.