Created By: MrInitialMan on February 3, 2012 Last Edited By: MrInitialMan on January 6, 2017

The Plot Changed Real Life

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Trope
The inverse of Real Life Writes the Plot. When a storyline on a show has real consequences. Compare Defictionalization and Real Life cases of Becoming the Mask.

Examples

Literature
  • Agatha Christie's novel The Pale Horse had a series of murders by Thallium poisoning. Thallium poisoning can often be mistaken for a variety of natural causes, but the one constant is that the victim's hair falls out. This book inspired at least one Real Life murderer to use Thallium, but it also helped a nurse diagnose a case of accidental Thallium poisoning in a young child.
  • In the first Maximum Ride novel, Max breaks the fourth wall by saying that the reason we don't actually see the scene of the flock hot-wiring a car is because she doesn't want overzealous readers to go out and do the same.
  • In-Universe: This is the premise of the film Stranger Than Fiction. When an author writes her novels, little does she know that the events actually happen to people in real life.
  • Ronald Mallett was inspired to conduct his research on Time Travel by the cover of a comic book version of H. G. Wells' The Time Machine.

Professional Wrestling
  • Kurt Angle was in a storyline where his wife Karen was cheating on him with Jeff Jarrett. That ended up with Karen divorcing Kurt and becoming Mrs. Jarrett.
  • Randy Savage apparently gave Lance Storm some friendly advice. To paraphrase him, "I once involved my wife in an angle. I don't got no wife no more."
  • Matt Hardy and his girlfriend Lita were involved in an angle with Edge, which resulted in Lita actually hooking up with Edge.
  • When Ted Dibiase started working as the Million Dollar Man, the then-WWF needed him to play the role to the hilt to protect kayfabe, so it gave him a bankroll many guys probably would have killed to have just so he could do things like travel by private jet, ride around in limos, and stay in high-class hotels.
  • Before Kurt Angle, Kevin Sullivan booked his own divorce by having his wife sneak around with another wrestler, and made them get hotel rooms together to keep up appearances. She fell in love with the other wrestler, divorced Sullivan, and married him. The other wrestler: Chris Benoit.
  • Triple H was in an angle where he married Stephanie McMahon. After their on-screen split, they ended up marrying in Real Life, which (obviously) ended his on- and off-screen relationship with Chyna.
  • According to some Wild Mass Guessing, The Montreal Screwjob was a big one. Vince McMahon and Bret Hart worked it out so Hart could go to WCW and eventually put them out of business. (Not that WCW needed help...)
Other
Community Feedback Replies: 44
  • February 4, 2012
    JoeG
    • Uncle Toms Cabin was instrumental in energizing the anti-Slavery movement in the northern United States in the 1850's, which resulted in a pro-Slavery backlash in the South. It had such an effect that when Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe after the start of the American Civil War, he remarked "so you're the little woman who started this big war."
  • February 4, 2012
    Stratadrake
  • February 4, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    Stratadrake: No. Rewriting Reality still keeps everything In Universe. The Plot Writes Real Life is when things happening In Universe result in real-life consequences. Back when Kayfabe was very Serious Business, clinging to those roles would often result in this.
  • February 4, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Hmm. Okay, but I've still got to call Needs A Better Title.
  • February 4, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • Before Kurt Angle, Kevin Sullivan booked his own divorce by having his wife sneak around with another wrestler, and made them get hotel rooms together to keep up appearances. She fell in love with the other wrestler, divorced Sullivan, and married him. The other wrestler: Chris Benoit.
    • Triple H was in an angle where he married Stephanie Mc Mahon. After their on-screen split, they ended up marrying in Real Life, which (obviously) ended his on- and off-screen relationship with Chyna.
    • According to some Wild Mass Guessing, The Montreal Screwjob was a big one. Vince Mc Mahon and Bret Hart worked it out so Hart could go to WCW and eventually put them out of business.
  • February 4, 2012
    level10peon
    • Many scientists and inventors have cited one work of science fiction or another as the inspiration for them becoming scientists/inventors.
  • February 5, 2012
    JoeG
    • Agatha Christie's novel The Pale Horse had a series of murders by Thallium poisoning. Thallium poisoning can often be mistaken for a variety of natural causes, but the one constant is that the victim's hair falls out. This book inspired at least one Real Life murderer to use Thallium, but it also helped a nurse diagnose a case of accidental Thallium poisoning in a young child.
  • February 5, 2012
    Stratadrake
    How about Inspired By Fiction? Snowcloning the inverse of Real Life Writes The Plot is a bit misleading.
  • February 5, 2012
    Cider
    Inspired By Fiction doesn't match the examples, The Plot Changed Real Life is more intuitive. I could swear we already had this page under a different name but the closest thing I could find is Art Imitates Life. This really could be distinct enough for its own page, assuming it's not a duplicate of anything else.
  • February 5, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    The Plot Changed Real Life sounds quite good.
  • February 5, 2012
    Dawnwing
    • In the first Maximum Ride novel, Max breaks the fourth wall by saying that the reason we don't actually see the scene of the flock hot-wiring a car is because she doesn't want overzealous readers to go out and do the same.

    • This trope is the premise of the film Stranger Than Fiction: when an author writes her novels, little does she know that the events actually happen to people in real life.
  • February 5, 2012
    TBTabby
  • February 5, 2012
    captainsandwich
    some criminals claim they did what they did because of a work. like some dude killed john lennon because of The Catcher In The Rye
  • February 5, 2012
    Cider
    Oops, Life Imitates Art was probably the page I was looking for earlier. If you think the pages are different enough you should still link to Life Imitates Art in the description as a "related" page and explain why they are different.
  • February 5, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Ronald Mallett was inspired to conduct his research on Time Travel by the cover of a comic book version of HG Wells' The Time Machine and the death of his father at an early age.
  • February 7, 2012
    SKJAM
    The Jungle famously convinced people to get serious about food safety and purity regulations...when it was actually supposed to get them serious about embracing Socialism.
  • February 8, 2012
    KeithTyler
    I like it, but it's definitely Trivia, since it's not deliberate by the creators.
  • February 9, 2012
    Chabal2
    • Part of the Hays Code specifically mentioned not showing how murders were carried out so people wouldn't find inspiration.
    • The common representation in media of slashed-wrist suicides being perpendicular to the arm comes from the same idea, to prevent people actually committing suicide this way.
  • February 9, 2012
    somerandomdude
    Related to The Red Stapler
  • February 9, 2012
    Dawnwing
    The Stranger Than Fiction example should be under Film instead of Literature - it's a film about an author.

    About the trivia vs. trope thing... what about in-universe examples, like the Stranger than Fiction movie (though it's not "I saw this in a book and I want to do it"; the plot literally writes real life), or the Maximum Ride example where a character breaks the fourth wall?
  • February 9, 2012
    mdulwich
    Cathy Come Home, a BBC television play about homelessness from 1966, is credited with raising awareness of the issue enormously, which led to the creation of the homelessness charity Crisis the following year.
  • February 9, 2012
    Ryusui
    Might I recommend The Plot Writes Real Life?
  • February 9, 2012
    RAF
    Another wrestling example, this one from World Class Gentleman Chris Adams booked his ex-wife Jennie Clark (AKA Lady Blossom) in an angle ware she began dating his former protégée Stunning Steve Austin and the two would fight him and his new wife Toni Adams. The two of theme would later marry and stay together 7 years and produced 2 daughters
  • February 9, 2012
    LouieW
    Sorry, it looks like I made a mistake here.
  • February 9, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^ That's obviously Life Imitates Art.
  • February 9, 2012
    SteveMB
    @Stratadrake: Rewriting Reality is for when writing has magic-like power to directly change reality; this trope sounds like it's about mundane influence on society.

    Another example: The 1940s Superman radio show ran a plotline pitting the Man of Steel against the Ku Klux Klan. The show's unveiling of the Klan's secret mystique derailed its attempt to regain the respectability and influence it had enjoyed a generation earlier.

  • February 12, 2012
    sliz225
  • February 13, 2012
    Noaqiyeum
    This sounds like Life Imitates Art.
  • February 13, 2012
    pawsplay
  • April 2, 2012
    partner555
    This seems to me like it should be a trivia trope. I agree with the other guy who said so.
  • December 3, 2016
    lampshadeortriangle
    Seems like Life Imitates Art to me.
  • December 3, 2016
    lampshadeortriangle
    This has been here for a long time, and I think it's duplicate. Discard?
  • December 31, 2016
    MrInitialMan
    Actually, it sat because I hadn't thought it would get enough hats. Now that I revisit it, I think it's ready to launch.

  • January 2, 2017
    sailing101
    It is most definitely NOT ready for launch.
  • January 2, 2017
    SeptimusHeap
    And so unlaunched. Needs the distinction with Defictionalization clarified if there is any.
  • January 2, 2017
    lakingsif
    The best way I can see this going would be instead an opposite to Write What You Know: a Sub Trope of Life Imitates Art, where this happens unintentionally, where stories or events in a work then happen in real life (instead of gadgets later being invented).

    As it stands, this is basically Defictionalization and Life Imitates Art examples.
  • January 2, 2017
    StarSword
    ^At least one of the examples is a real-life I Know Mortal Kombat.
  • January 2, 2017
    Chabal2
    An early submarine captain was caught in a storm and remembered the same problem coming up in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. He applied the same solution (diving) and escaped unharmed.
  • January 2, 2017
    lakingsif
    Whilst it's on The cards, I think the name of Life Imitates Art is misleading, as it does suggest a lack of intention. The current description would be better suited to Inspired By Fiction.
  • January 3, 2017
    TonyG
    Life Imitates Art - real life events coincide with fiction. Defictionalization - a fictional item is made as real merchandising. The Plot Changed Real Life - a work of fiction inspires change in real life, usually social or political.
  • January 4, 2017
    lakingsif
    Except, the current Life Imitates Art is just a list of fictional gadgets that inspired real life scientists to invent them. That better deserves the title Inspired By Fiction, with LIA belonging to a trivia of events in fiction unintentionally happening in real life.
  • January 4, 2017
    BKelly95
    Is the following an example of this proposal or Life Imitates Art:

    Live Action Television
    • Hollyoaks had an episode where the characters throw a party, but the attendees start to get sick from a mystery ailment. It's soon discovered that the furnace has a leak and the mystery ailment is carbon monoxide poisoning. A real life woman who'd been too sick to go to work decided to watch the episode to pass the time and noticed that the party attendees' symptoms matched her own. She brought this to the attention of her doctors and eventually confirmed this was what had been ailing her. They also discovered that if she had waited one more day to seek help, she would have died.
  • January 4, 2017
    JoeG
    • Several people have been saved from choking to death people who learned the Heimlich maneuver from movies or television episodes.
  • January 6, 2017
    WildKatGirl
    BreakingBad inspired someone to dissolve a body in acid in order to hide it.
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