The question Is Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim vs the World is a symbol? was recently closed with the reason of unclear what you're asking.

The question is unclear, so the final close reason makes sense, but John O stated that he voted to closed it for a different reason.

This question appears to be off-topic because it is about an unsupported genre.

Further citing:

Comic books aren't a genre, they're a medium. Some comic books are westerns, or 1930s noire. Those aren't supported genres. Furthermore, from what I can gather on Wikipedia, these fantasies only exist inside his daydreaming head. That or it's a farce. Neither of these are supported.

The definition of exactly what is on-topic has changed slightly in the past, but looking through the questions tagged and , a fairly rough general rule has been that if it includes elements of science fiction or fantasy, it's on-topic. This was discussed a little further when the movies Twins and Junior were brought up.

The question of whether or not the entire story was all in a characters mind is not an uncommon idea in sci-fi/fantasy. Does the fact that the story, or the sci-fi/fantasy elements may simply be a dream invalidate those sci-fi/fantasy elements?

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    Being a massive Scott Pilgrim fan, I've put up a question which might answer this.
    – user20155
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 23:30
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    @LegoStormtroopr, Thanks, that should make for a great question. However, it only focuses on this particular instance. John and Anthony (and maybe others?) seem to feel that the issue goes beyond Scott Pilgrim though, which is why I tried to make the question more general.
    – phantom42
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 0:47
  • The question isn't unclear. Voting to close for that reason is unfair... I can only assume you're all foreign language speakers. It has a brainfart/grammar (duplicated "is") but is otherwise quite understandable. At most, someone should have edited for clarity if they felt it was an issue. But then again, I see people VTCing story ident questions just because a new user didn't know to tag it that way...
    – John O
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 1:40
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    I've never seen a VTC because of a lack of a tag. The only VTCs I've seen for a story identification questions have been for dupes or being unclear.
    – phantom42
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 15:14
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    It's still a fantasy story, whether or not it took place in his head, but I've read the books and seen the movie and find no compelling evidence that it was a dream. It seems he "really" lives in a world with power-ups, extra lives, sub-space travel, dragons, Vegan Police, etc. This whole argument was started by someone reading the wikipedia article and extrapolating from there. If a disagreement goes this far (to Meta), shouldn't the people who have read the work be considered more reliable? I have nothing against JohnO, I just don't agree with him in this instance. Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 1:29
  • I saw the title and thought this was asking about story-ID questions where the OP isn't sure if this was an SFF novel they read or just a crazy dream. Now that would be a fun meta question ;-)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 0:14
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    I really don't want the season of Dallas where Bobby Ewing was dead to be on-topic.
    – Spencer
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 23:14

5 Answers 5


Fantasy elements being part of a dream or series of dreams, or even potentially being dreams, is not justification for closure.

I do agree that Anthony Grist's Scrubs example is a valid indication of something that is off-topic, but only because the fantasy/dream sequence is not a major part of the show's theme.

However, the idea that any work that could conceivably be explained as a dream or sequence of dreams should be off-topic, no matter how many fantasy elements are incorporated, is one that I would strongly oppose.

This has been discussed before, to some extent, and I'll quote part of the accepted answer (that currently stands with 13 upvotes and 1 downvote) to that question:

As for the story's implication that its fantastical elements are merely a hallucination--it doesn't matter. This site has a proud tradition of treating possibly-hallucination-based fantasies as on-topic: , , and so forth. By that criterion, isn't on-topic either: "But ultimately the entire series takes place in the mind of a lunatic locked up somewhere in Los Angeles, if that’s what the viewer wants."

Judgement on whether a question is or is not on topic based on just how pervasive a fantasy or sci-fi theme is within the work should be based on at least a marginal understanding. Reading a wikipedia entry is probably not sufficient background information upon which to decide that the fantastic elements aren't quite (for lack of a better term) "good enough" to qualify.

Furthermore, I must say that the idea that movies like Sucker Punch, which contain extensive and lavish fantasy and sci-fi scenes throughout the movie as a main focal point, are off topic strikes me as absolutely absurd. If questions of a certain type are problematic, such as falling outside of the general knowledge base we cater to, then declaring them off topic may be reasonable, but we shouldn't be drawing completely arbitrary lines in the sand and declaring "everything on the other side is forbidden... just because!"

  • Note that in the original Baum novels, Oz was not a dream, but rather a faraway country, possibly in a parallel dimension. Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 3:30

One could argue that every single sci-fi or fantasy work is a dream inside someone's head - that someone being the author.

Nonetheless, I'm really uncomfortable with this cited close reason. A dream-sequence is just another form of the common "story within a story" trope; taken to it's logical extreme this could easily lead to closure for questions about the unicorn in Blade Runner, or even all of Total Recall, to name just two examples. There may be cause for distinction where the primary work isn't on-genre but the embedded story is, but I'm not sure that's relevant.

Besides, dreams aren't a genre either - they're a medium too.

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    +1 dreams are a medium too.
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 6:29
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    Even without the delusional/imaginative elements of Total Recall, it's still a science fiction story.
    – John O
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 19:19
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    @JohnO - as I said, I'm not sure that's relevant. Put it this way: if the dream sequence is integral to the plot, and if the dream sequence contains sci-fi/fantasy elements, then whether or not the "real world" parts are sci-fi/fantasy doesn't seem relevant. An element that's integral to the plot is clearly sci-fi/fantasy and so it seems valid and on-topic. The only question is: "is the dream sequence integral to the plot?" and in the case of Scott Pilgrim (with the caveat that I'm not familiar with the work either) the answer seems to be "yes".
    – user8719
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 9:04

If the only science fiction or fantasy elements of the work take part in something that is clearly a dream sequence or a daydream, I'd say that said work would likely be off-topic. There are multiple episodes of the television show Scrubs in which one character imagines himself as being capable of separating his head from his body and the two acting independently to a degree; the show clearly isn't science fiction or fantasy though. The fact that a character in an otherwise mundane world is capable of imagining something fantastical in nature doesn't make it on-topic.

If there is doubt then the work is on topic. If it's not a dream, and the events are actually taking place, then the universe of the work is clearly one where elements of what we'd consider science fiction or fantasy are facts.

  • Regarding this, I think @keen's comment here would come into play: "I think that, as a general rule of thumb, in order for a work to be scifi, and therefore on-topic, it should have Science fiction as a significant and integral part of the plot." In a case like Scrubs, the only fantasy/dream that is integral to any actual storyline was Cox's head-version in My Screw Up
    – phantom42
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 20:33
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    So, for a work like Wizard of Oz, since all of the magical elements only take place within her dream, should that be considered off topic?
    – phantom42
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 20:36
  • @phantom42 Come on, I don't look that much like Kevin!
    – user1027
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 20:55
  • @Keen whoops, all you "K" names look alike!
    – phantom42
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 20:56
  • On a similar note: The so-called "imaginary stories" in Superman comic books are not sf, because they didn't "really happen"? Bar stories, e.g. Dunsany's Jorkens stories--not sf because Jorkens is probably a liar? Lucian of Samosata's True History, often cited as the first science fiction story--not sf because Lucian admits right at the start that the story he's about to tell is a pack of lies?
    – user14111
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 22:24

The other answers identifying these works as on-topic are good. Another avenue to consider is H. P. Lovecraft's works. Essentially all of them are recognized as inherently on-topic, but some of them (for example, The Festival and The Shadow Out of Time) are written in such a way as to make the existence of the eldritch abominations less than certain. The stories leave us with an implication that the SF-nal occurrences were real, but "leave the door open" to the possibility that they were solely in the mind and/or dreams of someone with a psychiatric disorder. Some stories (e.g. The Festival) literally end with the protagonist committed to a mental ward and subject to treatment by skeptical therapists. If these works are well-regarded as on-topic, it doesn't make sense to treat other works as off-topic just based on the possibility that they might be dreams.


Scott Pilgrim isn't a fantasy story in the same sense of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. Those describe another world where the laws of physics and metaphysics differ from our own. They are self-consistent, to the best ability of the authors.

Scott Pilgrim isn't a fantasy story in the same sense as something like Videodrome, where the story relies on the surreal nature of the main characters experience.

Scott Pilgrim describes a mundane, non-fantastic world with a particular (and peculiar) perspective meant to be farcical. It is not self-consistent, it's meant to be what some loser teenager daydreams about after playing too many video games or watching too many movies. This is not fantasy as commonly understood in the context of "science fiction and fantasy".

And, even if it were borderline (it's not even close), the question itself doesn't actually address the (then) fantastic nature of the work. It's sort of like asking "What did Boromir have for lunch". I stand by my VTC.

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    <numerous comments removed> Everyone, be civil, or don't post.
    – user1027
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 19:03

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