Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to portal gun to a different dimension like Rick in Rick and Morty? Or decode the scene of a crime in ten seconds like Sherlock? Or be able to have a superpower that allows you to regenerate like Wolverine? We want to be able to have powers that make us beyond normal. We want to be admired for some skill only we have. There’s a reason the same archetypal prompt of, “the chosen one”, resonates so deeply with us, and it’s because we want to be special. However, when faced with the work that ‘being special’ requires, without the fancy spaceship or innate brilliance, it’s hard to be motivated. So, instead, we just watch shows about special people, dream of being like them (hopefully not precisely like Rick), and go about putting the minimal required effort in our real lives.
I highly doubt a portal will open up and snatch us away into some medieval-fantasy-cyperpunk-twist world. It would be really frightening and stupendously awesome! Yet I doubt it. However, even if we do allow for that possibility, what would change? If we are the same person visiting very different locations, how would a foreign context suddenly make you someone you’re not? Instead, the point of many stories is that the challenges they face within those worlds make them better people. Yet, we face challenges in this world all the time. Many times, we don’t face them on, we ignore them until they go away, or find another way to avoid them. Challenges are unpleasant by nature, it’s a core attribute to the definition.
In terms of a zombie-apocalypse, we want to believe we’d be able to survive. It’s natural! Especially Americans, we have a positivity bias where we think we are at least slightly better than the people around us, regardless if that’s true or not. Challenges always exist; the difference is that, in stories, we see them as worthwhile and exciting. We can let that be our real world too! If we take risks and try our best, our obstacles won’t go away, but they will become easier. Being an adventurer is more like a lifestyle than a fiction-world-dependent phenomenon. We have to be our own Gandalf, and force our stubborn Bilbo-self along until they enjoy the ride.