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Any creative endeavor, certainly any written creative endeavor, is only successful to the extent that the audience offers this willing suspension as they read, listen, or watch.
An author's work, in other words, does not have to be realistic, only believable and internally consistent (see Magic A Is Magic A). When the author pushes the audience too far, the work fails. As far as science fiction is concerned, viewers are usually willing to go along with creative explanations unless the show tries to use real science, at which point it's fair game, though this is because Science Fiction is just that: Science FICTION. Attempting to use actual science to explain something you made up removes the story from it's own fantasy universe and places it in the context of reality. That's why people critize your wormhole travel system or how shrink potion doesn't violate the laws of matter conservation. Suspension of disbelief can be broken even in science fiction when a show breaks its own established laws or places said laws outside of fiction.
A common way of putting this is "You can ask an audience to believe the impossible, but not the improbable." For example, people will accept that the Grand Mage can teleport across the world, or that the spaceship has technology that makes it completely invisible without rendering its own sensors blind, but they won't accept that the ferocious carnivore just happened to have a heart attack and die right before it attacked the main character, or that the hacker guessed his enemy's password on the first try just by typing random letters, at least without some prior detail justifying it or one of the Rules listed below coming into play. What is in Real Life impossible just has to be made the norm in the setting and kept consistent.
Most action movies push this trope almost to the breaking point; for the sake of action, the heroes can do virtually anything, given enough Phlebotinum.
As always, the Rule of Cool, Rule of Cute, Rule of Drama, Rule of Funny, and Rule of Scary override nearly all other considerations. When the audience's disbelief, which was suspended during the show, gets reinstated some time afterward, what you get is Fridge Logic.
See also: Edit
- Acceptable Breaks From Reality
- Fourth Wall / No Fourth Wall
- Gambit Roulette
- Gameplay and Story Segregation
- How Unscientific
- Lampshade Hanging
- Literary Agent Hypothesis
- Magic A Is Magic A
- Plausible Deniability
- Post Modernism