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Fiction is not reality. While fiction rarely shows the negative consequences of a trope, reality is not as forgiving. Every trope here can have serious if not fatal repercussions in reality people treat them as if they were true. These may originate as a case of Reality Is Unrealistic. See also Do Not Try This At Home. The result of doing something on this index may well be a Darwin Award.

Unfortunately, this is more dangerous than most people realize. Although most people don't really consider fiction a reliable source of information, people don't even usually remember where they learned stuff from, even just in the broad categories of 'reliable source' and 'unreliable source'. (See Unconventional Learning Experience)

This is an index. A description of why a trope fits here is fine but examples should go on the respective trope pages. Try not to add 300 additional bullet points if it can be helped.


  • Actor-Role Confusion: While this usually leads to amusing incidents, some actors and actresses in real life have received death threats for playing particularly despicable villains. Also, assuming an actor or actress knows how to give medical assistance because he or she played a doctor on TV? Not if you want to ensure your health, you don't.
  • Adults Are Useless: Unless a young child's parents and/or guardians are unquestionably, extremely abusive and/or neglectful, and even then, they will most probably know better than their kids about how life works, be willing to advise and help them with problems, and protect them from danger. Also see Free-Range Children.
  • Aerosol Flamethrower: Not if you want to run the risk of overheating the canister, causing a rupture. At best, if it happens, it’s more likely you’ll burn yourself than you will your opponent. You also might get hit with shrapnel.
  • Ass Shove: Shoving things into your bum at high speed is not safe for your anus or rectum, and some objects can "get lost," which always requires an often embarrassing trip to the emergency room.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Although a few people have successfully pulled this off in real life, most such attempts are unsuccessful, and people have gotten stuck in vents or burned by hot metal when attempting this. And since you are bouncing around in a hollow metal box, it's quite loud, clashing with this strategy's supposed stealth value.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Most animals do not behave like dogs or canines, let alone like a docile puppy. Even a wild wolf acts differently, and is also more agressive to boot.
  • All Animals Are Domesticated: Even some truly domesticated animals can be dangerous if approached in the wrong way, and wild or stray animals should be left alone. Also see Cool Pet below.
  • Almost-Lethal Weapons: There is no such thing as a "nonlethal" weapon, by definition. Weapons are not toys.
  • All Men Are Perverts/All Women Are Lustful: Makes it harder for members of the "perverted/lustful" gender to get help or support in the event of a rape, and is used by rapists/rape apologists to say that it's natural (i.e. that a man/woman has "needs," or can't help it), or that the victim was "asking for it" or provoking the rapist in some way.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: It's one thing to stereotype members of a fictitious species as all being completely evil, but this simply does not apply to any real-world human racial and/or ethnic groups. Sincerely believing that certain types of people are more malevolent than others just because of their ancestry, can and has led to many racist massacres and genocides.
  • Amusing Injuries: Real life doesn't work like a slapstick comedy. Injuries can be permanent, and if appropriately severe, can get you charged with assault or attempted murder.
  • And a Diet Coke: There are a number of reasons someone might order a diet or lower fat version of something, and "trendy" health foods often become such because of actual medical benefits to certain people - it can also lead to amateur comedians slipping customers "unhealthy" substitutes, which is potentially quite dangerous if the order in question is because of allergies or other medical reasons. Diabetics and people with dairy allergies or gluten intolerance frequently report being hospitalized by such "pranks", with the restaurateur/waiter surprised to find out that not only was their customer not kidding, they're now looking at a lawsuit and criminal charges. It’s also rude.
  • Annoying Arrows: Arrows have been used for thousands of years because they kill people. Most especially, do not pull an arrow out, unless you want to bleed to death.
  • Ballistic Discount: Trying to rob a gun store is more likely to result in the would-be robber getting themselves killed in hail of bullets. The owners of such stores are quite aware of this possibility, take necessary precautions like doing background checks in advance and not giving their customers loaded weapons anywhere but the firing range, and are well-armed themselves.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Just because someone is attractive doesn't mean they're actually nice, or morally upstanding. Similarly, just because someone is Hollywood Homely doesn't mean that they're evil, lazy, or that they should be grateful for unwanted attention.
  • Booze Flamethrower: Although slightly less dangerous than the Aerosol Flamethrower above, but don't do this unless you're a trained performer.
  • British Royal Guards: As that page will clearly tell you, taunting the guys who are dressed funny carrying assault rifles with fixed bayonets, will get you in a lot more trouble in real life than it will in fiction.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Just because a bullet hits the guy in front of you doesn't mean it won't hit you as well.
  • Bury Your Gays: No one deserves to be killed for their sexual orientation, or for acting on it.
  • Can-Crushing Cranium: Slamming an object into your head is never a good idea.
  • Chainsaw Good: Rule of Cool aside, chainsaws are not intended to be used as weapons and are as likely to kill you as the person you're aiming for or break and jam.
  • Choke Holds: While not quite as bad as a Tap on the Head, chokes can still be fatal or cause permanent injury.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Don't assume that the wooden door, fence, interior wall, or car body you're behind will protect you from bullets. It won't.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Being near a fire, a lava pool, a hot oven, a nuclear or conventional explosion, or some other source of radiant heat can be just as deadly or injurious as being in it.
  • Cool, Clear Water: Just because water is clear doesn't mean it is safe to drink. It may have lethal chemicals, organisms, or be lethally hot.
  • Cool Pet: Keeping a pet bear, tiger, cobra, ape, etc., is often an extreme strain for both owner and pet, and exceedingly dangerous.
  • Couldn't Find a Lighter: Fire spreads incredibly quickly and is often dangerously hot outside the flame itself.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: CPR in real life rarely revives the patient and can often injure them and is physically intensive for the person doing it. It is used to extend the opportunity for professional medical care (which should be summoned first) to arrive before serious irreversible brain damage occurs. However in a medical emergency, CPR can improve survival chances and also improve the chances of avoiding serious brain damage should the patient survive. As detecting a pulse or lack thereof can be difficult for a layman in a high stress situation the general rule is to start CPR if the victim is not breathing. There is debate as to whether untrained persons should do chest compressions only or combined compressions and breaths.
  • Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: The visible part of the tornado is merely the center. The tornado proper extends quite far away from the funnel cloud, to the point where you must distance yourself quite a bit from it if you don't want to subject yourself to winds sometimes in excess of 200 miles per hour.
  • Draco in Leather Pants/Evil Is Sexy: Regardless of gender, it's very stupid and dangerous to fall in love with an unhinged, violent criminal, especially if he or she is sociopathic by nature. In real life, this is a mental disorder known as hybristophilia. Also see Evil Is Cool below.
  • Evil Is Cool: Violent crime is indeed not a cool thing to do in Real Life, and even non-violent crimes such as theft/fraud can carry a risk of arrest or being caught, which could lead to violence. Most real life violent criminals tend to act like a Dirty Coward by threatening to shoot someone unless they do what they say. That victim could probably be you, who probably just lost their most valuable possessions and at worst, was robbed blind by them, severely injured, or even has lost a very close person to criminal violence. Also, committing any type of crime, violent or not, places you at risk for arrest in most societies, and violent actions also risk the danger of violence in return from both police and from people defending their right to live or their possessions from you. Furthermore, in the long term, alienating yourself from others and being stigmatized as untrustworthy/criminal puts you at risk for the health risks of ostracism, depression and loneliness, regardless if whether you can consciously feel lonely or not.
  • Electric Slide: Touching a high-tension power line will kill or severely injure you, rubber gloves or not. [1]. Technicians working on these require special equipment for a reason.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: In real life, it is extremely rare for a car to spontaneously explode following an accident, or even to catch fire at all. Because of this trope, bystanders have pulled accident victims from cars with unneeded zeal and caused further injuries.
  • Farts on Fire: You can incur severe burns on your anus and genitals doing this if it goes wrong.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: Don't taste the mysterious substance if you don't want to get poisoned.
  • Free-Range Children: Children going off on adventures unsupervised can be dangerous, even deadly, for them. And as of the mid 1980s, it can also lead to charges in some jurisdictions of Parental Neglect or Parental Abandonment, even if the parent and/or guardian is indoors while the child is right outside.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Breaking a glass bottle more often causes injury to the person trying to make a weapon out of it more than their opponent.
  • Hard Head: Any head injury should be treated immediately, regardless of how the patient feels 'fine'.
  • Harmless Electrocution: Electrocution is almost never harmless.
  • Harmless Freezing: Hypothermia and frostbite are not harmless.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: Running into a burning building is more likely to kill you than make you a hero per the trope.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: Herbivores, especially the larger ones, are in fact some of the most aggressive and territorial animals and will kill you even when unprovoked.
  • Hollywood Fire: It's not the fire that usually kills, it's the smoke. Also, fire creates incredibly hot temperatures within seconds, and within one to two minutes something can be fully engulfed, unlike in fiction.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: The Hollywood portrayal of a heart attack has caused many people to mistake or outright ignore the symptoms for them in real life. [2]
  • Hollywood Homely: Just because someone isn't conventionally-attractive doesn't mean they don't deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Besides, most of the images in magazines and such have been airbrushed and tweaked to achieve a certain ethereal and flawless look; even a lot of the people in the magazines don't look like the people in the magazines.
  • Improvised Zipline: Real ziplines take a while to construct and require specific, strong materials so they don't break. Just ask Mythbusters.
  • Intoxication Ensues/Mushroom Samba: Drugs are not toys nor prank items. Spiking someone's food or drink with a mind-altering substance is not only dangerous, but illegal, not funny - and it will almost certainly lead to a bad experience for the victim.
  • Jammed Seatbelts: Seatbelts and shoulder belts do jam occasionally (or worse, melt), but nowhere near as often as they do on TV or in the movies, and fear of this causes people to not wear them and instead go headfirst through a windshield.
  • Law of Inverse Recoil: If you don't account for recoil, you will lose control of your gun and shoot off-target - maybe even someone.
  • Laxative Prank: This is, in fact, a criminal offense in most jurisdictions, and a particularly dangerous one as the victim can become dangerously dehydrated.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Real plastic surgery causes scarring and requires extensive and painful recovery time, things they don't show you on TV. Also, it's surgery, and invasive surgery at that.
  • Missing Backblast: Firing a rocket launcher or a recoilless rifle in an enclosed space will kill the person firing it and those around him or her.
  • No Medication for Me: Going off your meds unless recommended by a certified doctor isn't advised, especially if you're mentally ill.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: Real Life explosions kill and injure. If people aren't killed or injured in one, it is solely due to luck.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: It's not, all right. It's the sudden stop at the end, regardless of where you land or how (if) you break the fall.
  • One-Man Army: There's a reason why most military organizations emphasize teamwork, and why police call for backup.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Injuries that don't involve vital organs and are left untreated can still result in death from blood loss, infection, or permanent debilitation, and they leave permanent scarring.
  • Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers: Always call a lawyer if you're accused of anything with consequences above a citation. On a related note, if your country allows silence as a right, use that right until/unless your lawyer advises you otherwise.
  • Outside Ride: Being on the outside of a moving car or train is likely to result in injury or death. Being on the outside of a moving aircraft is certain death.
  • Paedo Hunt: While pedophilia is a legitimate concern in real life, the popular usage of this trope can prevent even well-meaning adults, especially men, from assisting lost or distressed children, as they could be Mistaken for Pedophile, with tragic consequences. Finding male child workers is difficult because of presumptions about their reasons for volunteering as well as the fear of a complaint being taken to police, which results in a need for them to defend themselves. Even if the accused is found innocent, the reputation of an institution can get ruined. This problem is particularly true for mentor programs. Many of the boys in these programs need a proper male role-model, but there are very few men willing to mentor due to the same potential misunderstandings, and most of the organizations are reluctant to take the risk with those who do.
  • Police Are Useless: Unless you're certain that every cop in your city is corrupt and untrustworthy, if a situation already involves violence or threats of it, or the loss of property that could be used in a later crime (such as a firearm, computer, phone, or identification documents), call the damn cops.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: There's nothing stopping the hostage-taker from shooting you, let alone the hostage.
  • Shot to the Heart: If your patient is going into shock, do not, under any circumstances, jam a syringe of epinephrine into his heart.
  • Soft Glass: Normal glass can be far harder than you'd think, and breaks with nasty sharp edges besides. More often, it does not break and will injure you.
  • Soft Water: A fall into water may cause less injury than hitting solid ground, but it will still be lethal from a significant height, resulting in similar crush injuries.
  • STD Immunity: You don't have it. Always use a fresh new condom if you aren't with a monogamous partner. Disease transmission can also occur through open sores and other skin lesions, plus saliva.
  • Suck Out the Poison: Trying to suck the poison out of a snakebite wound is highly ineffective in almost every case, and will often increase the victim's risk of infection and the first-aider's risk of poisoning.
  • Tap on the Head: A blow to the head is more likely to kill or lead to long term injury than temporary unconsciousness. At best, you'll get a concussion.
  • Trash Landing: Glass and sharp objects are commonly found in garbage bins. Safer than concrete or glass, but only should be attempted, as the page says, if the alternative is certain death.
  • Underside Ride: Even more likely to result in death or injury than Outside Ride above - being run over by the car or other cars or torn up on the road and/or things on the car.
  • Variable Terminal Velocity: All things fall at the same speed, regardless of mass, weight, or other factors save for air resistance. Don't jump after someone who's fallen off a ledge hoping to save their life; you'll die without any chance of success!
  • Worst Aid: If all you know about first aid is what you've seen on TV, you are not the best person to administer it.
  • You Can Panic Now: Where moral panic goes, sometimes deaths and injuries follow. Ironically applicable to the trope itself.
  1. Large birds of prey accidentally touching these lines have been known to get roasted to a crisp and have their beaks melt
  2. For example, jaw pain and flulike symptoms are a common combination of heart attack symptoms most people ignore. Any pain in the jaw or arm, alone or in combination with other symptoms, should be treated as a suspected heart attack. Same goes for stroke, which also often presents in less dramatic and sudden ways than a collapse. For instance many heart attack victims are found on the toilet because when your heart stops pumping as hard (only the actual stoppage is sudden, the symptoms come on slowly), the blood pools in the lower extremities, pressing on your intestines and making it feel like you have to use the toilet. (That's why hospitals and rest homes have pull cords by toilets!) This sort of behavior obviously doesn't make for thrilling TV, though, and isn't very obvious when transferred to a visual media.
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