The people need a hero. The war is not going well, and the troops are running out of food, ammo and steam. The propaganda department is about to fall on its collective sword when in walks a vision: a square-jawed, broad-shouldered, clear-eyed, clean-limbed HERO...to deliver the mail. Immediately, he is snatched up, given a shave, a haircut, a heroic backstory and put on display. His story might even be true, but that's less important to the Powers That Be than his affect on morale. Inevitably, our Made Hero will grow into his legend, and eventually even exceed it. Related to Famed In-Story.
- One Piece:
- The Shichibukai/Seven Warlords of the Sea are pirates sanctioned by the (generally opposed to piracy) World Government. This is to maintain the appearance of a balance of power with the strongest pirates, to show that pirates still fall under the control of the government, and emergency allies in case of war. The Warlords get something in return for their compliance, as well as fame.
- in Fishman Island arc, Jinbe points to Luffy that, due to the Fantastic Racism between fishmen and humans, if Luffy wanna beat the Big Bad Hody, he has to come out of it as a "hero" for Fishman Island (as Hody is pretty much terrorizing the populace) or it'll be seen as just cruelty of humans towards fishmen.
- The comic book miniseries The American Way is about a government-sponsored superhero team; the government also sponsors the supervillain team which the superhero team fights. It's all propaganda.
- The Boys: The superheroes are all created by a serum that is dispensed by a Mega Corp. that desperately wants to turn said superheroes into human weapons so they can get all the money and power that comes from being a part of US defense spending. Having failed to do that so far, they settle for peddling lame, Silver Age style stories that people eat up and make them imagine the heroes are saving the world on a daily basis. Of particular note is the Captain America Captain Ersatz, who is a Dirty Coward whose WWII heroism was faked and pure propaganda (which is incredibly meta, considering Captain America also appears in this list).
- Strikeforce: Morituri has in-universe propaganda comics about the characters, which are played sometimes for comedy and sometimes grim irony.
- The Red Baron: shows both von Richthofen's ground-breaking tactics...and the calculated manner in which his reputation was built by the German propaganda.
- Captain America: The First Avenger: Cap's set up as the poster boy for the American troops, mostly to sell war bonds. Ironically, the men actually on the front line have no respect for a leotard-wearing shill who has never seen combat. That changes.
- Enemy at the Gates: Vassily's backstory and natural talent are eagerly exploited by the Russian war department, who are desperate for a way to boost morale.
- Spoofed with the propaganda-cartoon hero "Johnny Rehab", the friendly face of ethnic cleansing.
- Commander Cash. Bringing the credit crisis to a super-fight near you!
- The Running Man: The gladiators who chase down the criminals have their own wrester-style personas. It's inverted with Ben Richards, who is falsely accused of murder and slandered.
- Oz: The Great and Powerful: The Good Witch thinks of the main character this way when she tells Oscar to save the land from the Wicked Witches, as the people are longing for the legendary "Oz" so much that even just an image of Oz will suffice to liven up their spirit.
- The Hunger Games: Katniss' formidable fighting skill is entirely overshadowed by the sympathy she draws from the populace. Both sides try to exaggerate and embellish her reputation—inventing star-crossed romances and so forth—and both meet with mixed results due to her bitter, taciturn, rebellious, survivalist-but-self-sacrificing nature...which is why the people truly love her.
- Ciaphas Cain: Cain's reputation is at least in part built on this (as well as on his extremely impressive—if accidental—actual heroism).
Hello, Unknown Troper. You'll need to get known to lend a hand here.