We assessed the real-life use of direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) in patients with venous thromboembolism (VTE) and exclusion criteria for randomized trials. From 2013 to 2016, 3,578 of 18,853 patients (19%) had exclusion criteria. Irrespective of which anticoagulant was chosen, they had more VTE recurrences (hazard ratio (HR): 3.10; 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.47–3.88), major bleeds (HR: 4.10; 95% CI: 3.38–4.96), and deaths (HR: 9.47; 95% CI: 8.46–10.6) than those without exclusion criteria. During initial therapy, no patient with exclusion criteria on DOACs (n = 115) recurred, but those on rivaroxaban bled less often (adjusted HR: 0.18; 95% CI: 0.04–0.79) than those on unfractionated heparin (n = 224) and similar to those (n = 3,172) on low-molecular-weight (LMWH) heparin. For long-term therapy, patients on rivaroxaban (n = 151) had nonsignificantly fewer VTE recurrences (adjusted HR: 0.74; 95% CI: 0.08–1.32) and major bleeds (adjusted HR: 0.41; 95% CI: 0.15–1.15) than those on LMWH (n = 2,071). The efficacy and safety of DOACs were similar to standard therapy.