Traveling Fictional Realms: Chances Of Survival

Man at Notre Dame in Paris

“I thought I was the hero. I thought I could make the jump. I thought I could save them.”

“Oh, my poor, foolish friend.” The man twisted the end of his mustache, perfecting its curl. “You were only a face in the crowd, a sacrificial member of a screaming mob, one who appears for a moment and nearly has a name, just before being pulled back down and crushed under the mindless stampede of fear.

“You are Boy Number 1, or Old Woman. It doesn’t matter. You were only there to prove my diabolicalness, and the hero’s courage as they come to face me. And they will face me soon, for you are a symbol of the thousands I have crushed and destroyed. You are the one step toward this becoming a personal war. A war that I shall win once my monologue is complete.”


Many times, we discuss the wonders of fictional realms and how amazing it would be to roam through the hills of the Shire, attend a feast at Hogwarts, or sit back for a cool drink at the Mos Eisley Cantina. What we, as fans, do not like to consider is our likelihood of survival upon visiting fictional realms and places.

To judge if you should step in your Fictional Transmogrifier, ask yourself the following questions:

Transmogrifier strip 2

1. Do you have a name?

Yes: Proceed to #2.

No: You are either a face in the crowd who survives, or you are likely to be crushed by Godzilla’s tail. You might want to reconsider your choice to visit.

2. What is your relationship to the main character?

2A. If you are a one-line character:

You are generally safe, unless your one line is a catch-phrase right before you die. Most of the time, you have a few chance words of wisdom or other functional role. You walk off screen, and are never brought back again. This is usually early in the story, long before death and mayhem abound.

2B. If you are a side-kick:

You will probably be safe in the initial story, but be wary if this is a franchise. You might find yourself expendable as a meaningful death.

2C. If you are a Romantic Interest:

First, if in a film/TV universe, look at the rating. If G or PG, your survivability rating is high. At PG-13, your survivability rating is in the middle, so be careful. As for R… I am very sorry that you were created only to give the hero a tragic drive to the finish.

2D: If you are a parent figure:

Have you heard of Bambi’s mother? She was in a G-rated film.

See Also: Nemo’s mother, Luke Skywalker’s aunt and uncle, Peter Parker’s parents in multiple versions of Spiderman, Batman’s parents, Harry Potter’s parents, Dumbledore, Sirius Black, …

Note: A parent figure can also be replaced by a close loved one.

3. How old are you?

The older you are, the lower your survivability rating becomes, and vice-versa. It is those of the older generation who tend to sacrifice themselves for the lives of the younger generation. Children, generally will be saved.

However, be careful and once again check the content rating. Survivability goes down the more adult the content of a franchise.

4. What is your occupation?

4A. Are you a warrior/fighter (on the hero’s side)?

Thank you for helping fight the main villain. Hopefully, you are one of the few who get to walk out of the dust of the final explosion. (See: Wedge Antilles and one or two other pilots)

If not, thank you for your sacrifice. (See: The rest of the rebel pilots who flew against the first Death Star.)

Roasted Porkins

4B. Are you a warrior/fighter (on the villain’s side)?

Either, you survive and escape to be slain in a sequel, you survive and disappear, or you do not survive.

4B. Are you a tradesperson/shopkeeper/everyday person?

If you have a name, you are probably safe and gave the hero something important at the beginning. If the franchise runs long, however, watch out. You may be kidnapped and forced to divulge the secret of the Elder Wand (or its equivalent).

4C. Are you the child of a blacksmith?

Hold on tight, because you might be a minor character in the first story, but will become a hero in the sequels. No one can hold back the child of a blacksmith.


5. Are you a dog or other cuddly animal?

Girl and st. BernardGirl teaching dog to sit

Girl and terrier

 If in a sci-fi/fantasy series, you are usually safe. Even Artax comes back in The Never Ending Story.

If in a Dog Movie… Be very worried.

For extra reference, here is a listing of some popular fictional realms in order of survivability (highest to lowest). 

Survivability Ranking Scale: 1 = Death and dismemberment abound, 10 = Disney Deaths abound and everyone lives happily ever after.

DreamWorks Animated Films

Even in How To Train Your Dragon, I can’t think of any on-screen deaths off the top of my head. Please debate in comments below. – 10

Disney Animated Films

Bambi’s mom and other matriarchal figures may die, but True Love’s Kiss/Touch/Act/High-Five can always bring someone back. – 9

Pixar Animated Films

While there are warm stories, the great Pixar films carry the weight of consequences. Thus, we lose Ellie in Up and Nemo’s mother in Finding Nemo. Wall-E, however, is able to rebooted. – 8

Star Wars

Great party, this is.

Unless you live on Alderaan, serve on Darth Vader’s flagship the Executor, are a Stormtrooper, or rebel soldier, the survivability ranking is high. Even Jedi Masters get to come back and visit. – 8


Not only is DEATH a friendly character, but you might even come back as a zombie, vampire, or ghost. There are even organizations for you to join, a lawyer to help you out. – 8

Star Trek

Red Shirts and wars with Klingons/Borg/Romulans lower the survivability. However, as long as you are keeping the peace and happen to not be near a console, or on levels far from the bridge, you should remain in good health. – 7

Middle Earth

If you live in the movie-verse Shire, your survivability rating is a 9. However, if in the book-verse Shire, watch out for Saruman. As for those visiting Rohan, Gondor, the Misty Mountains, and the other realms of men, try to visit in the non-orc season. – 6

Doctor Who

While the Doctor is an excellent fellow, you should worry if the TARDIS arrives. There is a 50/50 chance much of the time of there being a type of death, be it temporal displacement, being erased from time, being placed back in time after being erased from time, being uploaded to a computer mainframe, and actual death via alien attack. – 5

Harry Potter

Even though few die in the first three books beyond Harry’s parents, heavier consequences begin with the death of Cedric Diggory in The Goblet of Fire. This is in addition to innocent people being sent to Azkaban, going mad, being put under foul curses, and the many deaths filling the final pages of the Deathly Hallows. – 3

The Hunger Games

Technically, the chance of survival in The Capitol and the Districts is fairly high if the government is operating, even with starvation as a major factor. However, both in the Arena, and after the revolution, this is not a place to visit. – 2

  • Where would you like to visit?
  • What do you think is the most and least survivable fictional realm to visit?
  • What would you do to increase your chances of survival?

Side Note: I would like to thank/congratulate Marvel’s Agents of Shields from beginning as a ‘meh’ show to becoming epic and exciting. If you haven’t watched it lately, start here. The characters are now more fully formed, the chemistry gelling, and treachery is abounding. In other words, it is now becoming a true Joss Wedon production.

UPDATE: My friend Andres Salazar is doing a Take 2 of his Kickstarter project for SpaceBear. If you’d like to support go here.


Help launch this cuddly bear!



14 thoughts on “Traveling Fictional Realms: Chances Of Survival

  1. All of those points are spot on, but you left something out.

    Unless you go to a fantasy realm where you are a Mary Sue / Marty Stu character in which the entire universe revolves around you and what you do, then yes, chances of survival are just like real life.

  2. I can see my dialogue now:

    “Almost there…”

    “Almost there…”

    “Almost there…”

    “It’s away!”

    “Negative. Just impacted on the surface.”

    “I die now, right?” *sigh* “Well, at least I’ll be able to make a few bucks at conventions.”

  3. I’ve always felt that if modern people got to visit fictional worlds, dying immediately would be the least of our problems. How many of us are really prepared to go out and find our own food? Not to mention how different the legal structures can be. (Civil rights? What are those?)

    We enjoy these fictional universes BECAUSE we can’t ever get there.

  4. L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt did a series of “Incomplete Enchanter” stories about two mathematicians going to multiple fantasy universes, using equations, which they never fully understood. So if you want to see this done, you might find a volume or two of the series in your local library.

  5. Gosh, there’s so much here I want to comment on but because of time constraints, I’ll focus on the nitty-gritty. First of all, who can deny Calvin rocks with his transmogrifier? I have no doubt he’s amazing! I wish that sometimes I had it to play with so I can do all the cool stuff he can! Second, I agree. If you’re a kid, your suvivability quotient is pretty high and the likelihood of getting killed is next to nil! Lastly, How to Train Your Dragon rocks! It’s one of my favorite movies, ever!

  6. This is so clever! I loved this line: “you were created only to give the hero a tragic drive to the finish.” Oh, and the children of blacksmiths becoming heroes in the sequels. 🙂

    • At the beginning of the not-so-great tv movie version of Wizard of Earthsea, the main character’s father (a blacksmith), slams down his hammer and yells, “This is how we make a living, you know?”
      It is one of the most poorly acted, hamfisted pieces of dialogue I have ever heard, and hilarious. This moment is what led to my epiphany on the proliferation of blacksmiths sons. And, who else is buff enough to sling around hammers?

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