Is there more to the recent surge in political realism than just a debate on how best to continue doing what political theorists are already doing? I use two recent books, by Michael Freeden and Matt Sleat, as a testing ground for realism’s claims about its import on the discipline. I argue that both book take realism beyond the Methodenstreit, though each in a different direction: Freeden’s takes us in the realm of meta-metatheory, Sleat’s is a genuine exercise in grounding liberal normative theory in a non-moralistic way. I conclude with wider methodological observations. I argue that unlike communitarianism (the previous contender for the discipline’s renewal), realism has the potential to open new vistas, though their novelty is to a large extent relative to the last forty years or so: realism is best thought of as a return to a more traditional way of doing political philosophy.