Created By: SonicLover on October 2, 2012 Last Edited By: Tuckerscreator on March 30, 2013
Troped

Actually, That Didn't Happen

After delivering a certain event, the narrator backs up and says

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Trope
Do We Have This One?? Up for Grabs since I'm not fond of spoilers.

"What sort of story would this be, with our Knight and Seer made to stay cadavers? Certainly not one the alpha timeline would allow. And not one she'd allow either."

A sure way to veer a story into Mind Screw territory is to deliver a Wham Episode, then say "just kidding, none of that happened". Possibly the undone events were hallucinated by one character, or occurred in an alternate timeline, or the narrator was just pushing your buttons.

A common calling card of the Unreliable Narrator. Can overlap with All Just a Dream, but that trope does not fully include this one.

Reveal Trope! Beware of spoilers!

Examples

Literature

Video Games
  • A variant can occur in the second Monkey Island game. The majority of the game uses a How We Got Here framing device, with Guybrush explaining everything to Elaine; if the player lets Guybrush die during the acid pit sequence, Elaine calls him out on the obvious contradiction, and Guybrush is forced to backtrack and explain how it really went.

Web Comics
  • Homestuck has the page quote, told by stand-in narrator Doc Scratch, revealing that the events he'd just told the reader (namely, Jack Noir finding and slaying all the trolls in one fell swoop) were actually an alternate timeline that Terezi foresaw and averted.
Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • October 2, 2012
    NimmerStill
    You'll have to fix the dialog title, but:
    • In The Simpsons, after a story about Lisa's brain being used to power a supercomputer, Carl says "that never, uh, happened, did it Homer", and Homer says "yes, but now I have to leave on a totally unrelated matter."
  • October 2, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
  • October 2, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    Wait. I have seen this, quite a few times, in fact, just let me remember...
  • October 2, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    By the way, if you have to spoiler tag the page quote, I don't think it would make a good one.
  • October 2, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    It's not an awfully good page quote as it stands.

    Ooh, How I Met Your Mother - Future Ted (the Narrator) tells his kids that a stripper he vaguely met once is their mum. They react ("WHAT!?!?!?"), he then says "Just Kidding".

    That might also make a good page quote, no spoilers needed.
  • October 2, 2012
    DracMonster
    I thought we had it too, but can't find it.

    Backpedaling Narrator sounds good.

    Film
    • Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects keeps backpedaling and changing his narrative at Kujan's prompting. The end of the film reveals the whole story was probably made up on the fly, but you knew that already, right?

    • Prince Of Persia: The Sands of Time is framed as a tale the Prince is telling. If you die, he says something to the effect of "No, wait, that's not what happened," then the game reverts to the last save point.
  • October 2, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    (Also How I Met Your Mother)Future Ted also messes up a story about his 30th birthday. It's near the end of the series and as he messes the story up he keeps correcting himself. He (finally) remembers, says 'Oh, wait, this is what actually happened' - then remembers it's the wrong story, actually happening a year later and another at an unrevealed time in the future (but Future Ted's past). Not only does this remind the viewer that, hey, it was twenty years ago - Ted's memory's not perfect - but it also makes them want to keep watching (what's with the goat? and when will Lily be pregnant?) as they've only been shown some random stuff and want to know that story.
  • October 2, 2012
    Dawn
    Just watched Horrible Bosses the other day when Jason Bateman's character is in a meeting about who gets the promotion... turns out the boss gives himself the job. Then Jason Bateman's character decides to throw him out the window but he didn't really it was just a daydream. I'm very new so hopefully this is relevant :D
  • October 3, 2012
    NESBoy
    In George Of The Jungle, the narrator tells us that Ursula told the fact that she no longer wants to marry Lyle to her parents, "who took it extremely well." We then see a scene showing exactly that. Then the narrator says, "Just kidding!", and Ursula's mother is shown screaming in a horrified manner.
  • October 3, 2012
    KTera
    • This happens a few times in House Of Leaves, to the point where one narrator makes up an entire chapter and then laughs at the reader for believing it.
  • October 3, 2012
    Damr1990
  • October 3, 2012
    Sackett
    True Lies has a version were Arnold is test driving a sports car with a salesman who is bragging about his deceptive seduction of a woman who (unknown to the salesman) is Arnold's wife. Arnold snaps the salesman's neck... which is an almost believable outcome considering what we know of the characters. Then we see it was just Arnold's fantasy.
  • October 3, 2012
    StarValkyrie
    • On an episode of Top Gear, a comedic series about cars for petrolheads/gearheads, a race between a car, a boat, a bicycle, and public transit through London turns out exactly the opposite of how the presenters wanted (the car comes in dead last "ruining the show forever"). The presenters therefore reject the results completely and narrate their desired results as "what actually happened" with increasingly off-the-wall claims like misleading video editing only made it look like the driver of the car arrived to find all three other competitors had been waiting for ages, it couldn't have happened that way because at least one of the presenters died (but got better), etc.
  • October 3, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Todd In The Shadows did a bait and switch, in that a personal story was actually what happend in Saved By The Bell, to show how a Taylor Swift song made it easy to tell hard stuff about other people, but not herself.
  • October 3, 2012
    AP
    • In Mean Girls, towards the end of the movie, we see the antagonist get abruptly hit by a speeding bus with the narration stating that she died. Then the narrator jokingly informs the audience that she was just kidding and nothing like that happened. We then continue with the story.
  • October 3, 2012
    AP
    "True Lies has a version were Arnold is test driving a sports car with a salesman who is bragging about his deceptive seduction of a woman who (unknown to the salesman) is Arnold's wife. Arnold snaps the salesman's neck... which is an almost believable outcome considering what we know of the characters. Then we see it was just Arnold's fantasy."

    This seems like a different trope. That one does exist but I can't think of the name right now. At any rate, he wasn't the narrator.
  • October 3, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Yeah, it's an Imagine Spot, but done as a twist. Could be a Sub Trope, and call it Daydream All Along.
  • October 4, 2012
    Shnakepup
    Thirding Narrative Backpedaling. Has a nice ring to it.
  • October 4, 2012
    Koveras
    Narrative Backpedaling sounds nice.

    • Happens at least twice in Dragon Age II, when Varric lapses too far into the Tall Tale genre and Cassandra interrupts him to start over again and tell the real story.
  • October 4, 2012
    DvanderHoof
    SPOILER ALERT, title. Actually, I'm not sure how to handle this because I just read the spoiler instructions and it said there's a special place in hell for spoiler tagging titles. 'Confidence' starts with, Edward Burns, the con man lying there, shot dead. The VO says, "So I'm dead." And the whole movie leads up to Actually, that didn't happen.
  • October 4, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    By the way, we have Spoilered Rotten for tropes about spoilers.
  • October 7, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    In the Doctor Who episode 'Asylum of the Daleks' Oswin is shown on a video feed often, that only the viewer can see, however her voice is heard throughout by the other characters. She tells stories of making souffles and boarding up doors, which the audience get to see her perform in a finely kitted out room in the asylum. (She also claims she's only been there a short time.) When the Doctor finds her, however, he discovers a powerful human-minded Dalek. Being absurdly intelligent, Oswin's brain manifested everything to cope with the transformation. She then admits that everything couldn't have actually happened with the Doctor's help. She then gets blown up, but the actress (Jenna-Louise Coleman) is the Doctor's next companion, so we may discover that the explosion never actually happened. Or something.
  • October 7, 2012
    DracMonster
    Just put a disclaimer at the bottom of the description, something like:

    This is intrinsically a Spoilered Rotten trope, since it often messes around with Plot Twists. Read the examples at your own risk.
  • October 7, 2012
    NateTheGreat
    If a child's demands lead to a Derailed Fairy Tale, the adult narrator may have to resort to this in order to move the plot in the demanded direction.
  • October 7, 2012
    lilliterra
    I think we already have this, I just can't remember what it was called. It was about a character suddenly killing another, and then snapping back to the real narrative to indicate that that never happened, it was only in their imagination. We also have And That Would Be Wrong and Verbal Backspace.
  • October 7, 2012
    polarbear2217
    Goosebumps does this frequently to achieve a Cat Scare

    • In "Why I'm Afraid Of Bees", chapter 19 ends with Gary in bee form being eaten by a dragonfly. The first page of chapter 20 reveals that it was just his imagination

    • In "The Headless Ghost", chapter 1 ends with a huge animal chewing off Duane's head. Chapter 2 starts by stating that the creature didn't really bite of his head, and it was really Stephanie in her costume.
  • October 7, 2012
    NightNymph
    X Files: In the episode "Bad Blood," Scully is narrating her version of the case of the week and mentions that she stops to rest for the night at the Davy Crockett Motor Court, which then helpfully appears in text at the bottom of the screen. Mulder breaks into her narration to correct her, saying that it was actually the Sam Houston Motor Lodge that they stayed at. The text then helpfully backtracks and is replaced by "Sam Houston Motor Lodge."
  • October 8, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    ^^^ I was pretty sure, too. I've seen stuff like that happen loads but didn't add them as there either wasn't a narrator and/or the narrator/character didn't actually say something like "Just Kidding", so the event not happening was only implied (though who are we kidding) like in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower which I saw yesterday and that link better work as it was awesome.
  • October 15, 2012
    SonicLover
    Bumping this.
  • October 15, 2012
    AFP
    Narative Backpedaling is a good title. I was thinking "Narrative Backspace", but that is admittedly a snowclone of Verbal Backspace.
  • October 15, 2012
    Dimedo
    Maybe not exactly what you are describing here because it's more on a meta layer: The Intro to The Toxic Avenger 4 says that "2 rotten sequels were made" to the original The Toxic Avenger movie and states "Sorry about that. This is the Real Sequel".
  • October 15, 2012
    Koveras
    This needs some Rolling Updates.
  • October 15, 2012
    dsollen
    in [[Video Game:Tex Murphy overseer]] game is a prequel framed by Tex telling his date about his first case. Whenever the player 'dies' in the game Tex will quickly mumble something about "no wait, that's not right" and the game will pick up at an earlier point in the game allowing the player to replay the section.

    Though the trope description refers specifically to wham episodes, which this isn't an example of. not sure if this applies, or if the trope is written a little more restrictively then necessary.
  • January 10, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • In the second part of The Simpsons "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" Kent Brockman, in universe as news anchor but out of universe as a recap, reports on Mr. Burns being shot.
      At 3:00 p.m. Friday, local autocrat C. Montgomery Burns was shot following a tense confrontation at town hall. Burns was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was then transferred to a better hospital where doctors upgraded his condition to "alive."
    • In another Simpsons episode Homer is telling a flashback story of when Maggie was born; when Homer finds out that Marge is pregnant his head explodes. We then find out that Bart had been narrating that part.
      Homer: Oh, you're pregnant! That means we're gonna have to have a baby. All our financial plans are ruined! We're doomed! Doomed, I tells ya!
      [He lets out a scream as his head swells like a balloon and then pops. Cut to the present]
      Marge Simpson: Bart, let your father tell the story!
      Homer: Yeah!
      Bart: Okay, but I know funny.
    The flashback continues for a moment with Homer headless; after Marge reminds him that he had a head his head pops back up
    Later in the same episode Homer tells of an idea he had to make more people come to the bowling ally - shoot a rifle in the air while shouting "Bowling here!"
    Lisa: [in the present] Mom, make Dad tell the story right!
  • February 27, 2013
    grenekni3t
    This is similar to Daydream Surprise; some examples from that page would fit if this is splittable.
  • February 28, 2013
    XFllo
    Re: The X Files "Bad Blood" - I think that doesn't count as it was deliberately a Rashomon Style episode, and at that point, the audience knows that Mulder's version is different from Scully's.

    However, Chris Carter pulled a different Mind Screw and as a Word Of God, he named several "never happened episodes" that were according to him, too out there and too straightforward. Would this count as this trope? If yes, than "Bad Blood" would count.
  • March 30, 2013
    XFllo
    as Koveras said earlier - anyone willing to do Rolling Updates? It's a solid idea, but it needs some serious work done here. The OP says he's not fond of spoilers and gave this trope up for grabs. So -- anyone want it?
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