Created By: NightShade96 on May 24, 2017 Last Edited By: NightShade96 on June 4, 2017
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Real Event, Fictional Cause

A real-life historical event has a fictional cause behind it.

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This trope is when a real-life historical event is revealed to have a fictional cause behind it in a work. This can be due to a case of Been There, Shaped History in some cases.

This may be done to lend a darker context to tragic historical events.

Compare Beethoven Was an Alien Spy (but with real events instead of real people), Been There, Shaped History and Historical In-Joke (which can overlap). Also compare Fictionalized Death Account, and also We Didn't Start the Fhrer and Demon King Nobunaga for when this is combined with a Historical Villain Upgrade. Related to Famously Mundane, Fictionally Magical, where a Real Life object has greater significance in fiction.

A supertrope to The Tunguska Event, Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs, Who Shot JFK? and Historical Rap Sheet (when an In-Universe Big Bad is mentioned to have caused, or at least been part of, some historical atrocity or disaster).

Examples

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     Anime and Manga 
  • Rurouni Kenshin does this with the assassination of Okubo Toshimichi. In real life, Okubo was assassinated by a group of samurai unhappy with his rapid modernization/westernization and abolition of the privileges the samurai had enjoyed. In the story, Social Darwinist Shishio has his dragon assassinate Okubo as a step to weaken Japan and make it easy for Shishio to take over the country, and the samurai find Okubo's body afterward and claim credit for the deed.

     Films — Live-Action 
  • In Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the American Civil War was caused partly because the vampires want to support the Confederacy's racism policy against the black people, as the vampires feed from those people. The war also has vampires becoming the Confederacy's troops.
  • In Forrest Gump, the titular character is an Accidental Hero who routinely shapes history by being at exactly the right place at the precise time. Who discovered the Watergate burglary? Gump. Who sparked the T-shirt phrase "shit happens?" Gump. Who designed The '60s Smiley Face? Gump. If it's a critical juncture in American history, Forrest Gump went jogging through it.
  • According to Men in Black, the 1977 New York Blackout was caused by an alien releasing a Hyper-Destructive Bouncing Ball into the area as a prank.
  • According to Space Jam, Michael Jordan returned to the Chicago Bulls after saving the Looney Tunes from a horrible fate, because Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues, Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing and Larry Johnson believed he couldn't play the game any more.
    Podolak: Did you hear that, Michael? They think you can't play basketball any more.
    Jordan: Only one way to find out.
  • In Wonder Woman (2017), Diana hypothesizes that World War I is caused by Ares' influence on humanity.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men Origins: Wolverine has a fictionalised version of the Three Mile Island incident, in which the nuclear plant is actually a secret laboratory for mutant experimentation, and a fight between Wolverine, Sabretooth and Weapon XI caused one of the plant's cooling towers to collapse.
    • In X-Men: First Class, the Cuban Missile Crisis was instigated by Sebastian Shaw as part of his plan to have mutantkind become widespread from the nuclear fallout and dominate over humans.

     Literature 
  • In The Dresden Files, Ebenezer McCoy has claimed responsibility for not only Tunguska, but also the New Madrid earthquake of 1812 and Krakatoa.
  • In The Pendragon Adventure book The Never War, the Hindenburg disaster was the result of a mobster igniting it with a firework to destroy his rival's fortune, which was secretly on board.
  • In the first Percy Jackson and the Olympians novel, it's revealed that World War II was basically a case of the children of Zeus and Poseidon (part of the Allies) fighting against the children of Hades (part of the Axis). This was actually the reason that Zeus, Poseidon and Hades agreed not to have any more children, as they were too powerful. Zeus and Poseidon violated their agreement, however.
  • Serpent (part of the Kurt Austin Adventures) opens with the sinking of the Andrea Doria. In this version, the sinking was deliberate on the part of the Stockholm's helmsman. It isn't explained why until later.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Several episodes of Dark Skies purport that various events of The '60s were a result of the alien conspiracy. For example, the accidental activation of an alien device is blamed for the 1964 earthquake in Homer, Alaska.
  • Doctor Who is full of scenes in all its history when the Doctor, as well some of his many companions, inspired or accidentally provoked various facts in history. A good example is the First Doctor in The Romans who accidentally inspires Nero to burn Rome.
  • The Star Trek: Voyager episode "The Thirty-Sevens'' had Amelia Earhart and her crew be found on a planet by Captain Janeway and her crew, having been frozen in a deep sleep for four-hundred years.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Alternity campaign setting Dark*Matter core rules. When a Grey spaceship on Earth was close to being discovered by humans, its commander followed standard procedure and re-directed a comet to impact and destroy the landing site. He made a mistake, and the result was The Tunguska Event.
  • In Call of Cthulhu, The Tunguska Event was caused by Azathoth (one of the Cthulhu Mythos deities) being summoned to Earth.

     Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed:
  • According to Empire Earth II, the Cold War really ended when the U.S. stole the stealth bomber the Soviets had developed and used it against them.
  • In Touhou, the failure of the Apollo 13 mission is caused by Lunarians who don't want Earthlings on the moon.
  • In the Watch_Dogs series, the 2003 blackout that took place in Northeastern and Midwestern United States and the Canadian province on Ontario was due to a rogue hacker instead of a software bug found in the computers of FirstEnergy Corporation. This gave Blume Corp. the opportunity to provide ctOS with a safeguard against future incidents.

     Web Original 


Community Feedback Replies: 44
  • May 24, 2017
    BKelly95
    Live Action Television
    • Several episodes of Dark Skies purport that various events of The Sixties were the result of the alien conspiracy. For example, an accidental activation of an alien device is blamed for the 1964 earthquake in Homer, Alaska.
  • May 24, 2017
    Generality
    The Tungusta Event is a common subtrope.

  • May 24, 2017
    NightShade96
    ^ There's no such trope.
  • May 24, 2017
    Omeganian
  • May 24, 2017
    NightShade96
    ^ Okay, thanks for the correct trope.
  • May 24, 2017
    Omeganian
    And is it sufficiently different from Historical In Joke?
  • May 24, 2017
    NightShade96
    ^ It doesn't necessarily involve a joke about the event. This could include just serious examples of historical references.

    Also, Historical In Joke doesn't necessarily involve a fictional cause of an event.
  • May 24, 2017
    TheWanderer
    • Rurouni Kenshin does this with the assassination of Ōkubo Toshimichi. In real life, Ōkubo was assassinated by a group of samurai unhappy with Ōkubo's rapid modernization/westernization and abolition of the privileges the samurai had enjoyed. In the story, Social Darwinist Shishio has his dragon assassinate Ōkubo as a step to weaken Japan and make it easy for Shishio to take over the country, the samurai find Ōkubo's body afterward and claim credit for the deed.
  • May 24, 2017
    TheWanderer
    Another subtrope would be Phlebotinum Killed The Dinosaurs.
  • May 24, 2017
    IniuriaTalis
    • In The Pendragon Adventure book The Never War, the Hindenburg disaster was the result of a mobster igniting it with a firework to destroy his rival's fortune, which was secretly on board.
  • May 25, 2017
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
  • May 25, 2017
    Basara-kun
    Live-Action TV:
    • Doctor Who is full of scenes in all its history when the Doctor as well some of his many companions inspired or accidentally provoked various facts in history. A good example is the First Doctor in The Romans who before they leave, he accidentally inspired Nero to burn Rome.
  • May 25, 2017
    zarpaulus
    • In The Dresden Files, Ebenezer McCoy has claimed responsibility for not only Tunguska, but also the New Madrid earthquake of 1812 and Krakatoa.
  • May 25, 2017
    eroock
  • May 25, 2017
    marcoasalazarm
    Also compare Historical Rap Sheet (when an In Universe Big Bad is mentioned to have caused, or at least been part of, some historical atrocity or disaster).
  • May 25, 2017
    Astaroth
    • X Men Origins Wolverine has a fictionalised version of the Three Mile Island incident, in which the nuclear plant is actually a secret laboratory for mutant experimentation, and a fight between Wolverine, Sabretooth and Weapon XI caused one of the plant's cooling towers to collapse.

    • In Evil Genius, The sinking of the Titanic is one of several crimes attributed to the world renowned criminal mastermind Lord Kane. Kane himself insists he had no interest in sinking the vessel but one of his mooks misheard his comment "A bit of light panic, I think, eh?" as "That ship, the Titanic, sink her."
  • May 25, 2017
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • According to Space Jam, Michael Jordan returned to the Chicago Bulls after saving the Looney Tunes from a horrible fate, because Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues, Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing and Larry Johnson believed he couldn't play the game any more.
      Podolak: Did you hear that, Michael? They think you can't play basketball any more.
      Jordan: Only one way to find out.
  • May 25, 2017
    Getta
    • In Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, the American Civil War was partly because the vampires want to support the Confederacy's racism policy against the black people, because the vampires feed from those people. The war also has vampires becoming the Confederacy's troops.

    Correct me if I'm wrong
  • May 25, 2017
    NightShade96
    ^ Seems okay.

    Also, wouldn't Historical Rap Sheet count as a subtrope?
  • May 26, 2017
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • Forrest Gump is an Accidental Hero who routinely Been There Shaped History by being at exactly the right place at the precise time. Who discovered the Watergate burglary? Gump. Who sparked the T-shirt phrase "shit happens?" Gump. Who designed The Sixties Smiley Face? Gump. If it's a critical juncture in American history, Forrest Gump went jogging through it.
  • May 26, 2017
    BKelly95
    Literature
    • Serpent (part of the Kurt Austin Adventures) opens with the sinking of the Andrea Doria. In this version, the sinking was deliberate on the part of the Stockholm's helmsman. It isn't explained why until later.
  • May 26, 2017
    Starbug
    In Assassins Creed Rogue, the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 was triggered by a Precursor artifact.
  • May 26, 2017
    Bisected8
    Also compare We Didnt Start The Fuhrer and Demon King Nobunaga for when this is combined with a Historical Villain Upgrade.
  • May 26, 2017
    Ominae
    Wondering about the Watch_Dogs example regarding the 2003 blackout incident.
  • May 26, 2017
    NightShade96
    ^ That depends. Could you write up the example?
  • May 27, 2017
    NightShade96
    Removed the Evil Genius example, as it's already covered under Historical Rap Sheet.
  • May 27, 2017
    AgProv
    There's the Red Dwarf episode where the Dwarf crew realise they have to manipulate history by having President Kennedy assassinated - as the consequences to the time-line of Earth of his living will result in WW 3 and, ultimately, to the jupiter Mining Corporation never coming into existance, thus wiping them all from reality. Having not only prevented Lee Harvey Oswald from killing Kennedy - in fact they accidentally killed Kennedy's would-be assassin before he could fire - they then have to find an alternative assassin to do the job properly and restore reality....
  • May 27, 2017
    Ominae
    @Nightshade

    - It's incomplete, but here goes.

    • In the Watch Dogs series, the 2003 blackout that takes place in Northeastern and Midwestern United States and the Canadian province on Ontario was due to a rogue hacker instead of a software bug found in the computers of First Energy Corporation. This gave Blume Corp. the opportunity to provide ctOS has a safeguard against future incidents.
  • May 27, 2017
    NightShade96
    ^ Yeah, that looks fine. I'll add it.
  • May 27, 2017
    zarpaulus
    Who Shot JFK would be another subtrope.
  • May 27, 2017
    Tallens
    • Assassins Creed III: The Boston Massacre is portrayed as a Templar plot to destabilize the colonies and fan the flames of war.
  • May 27, 2017
    zarpaulus
    Red Dwarf falls under Who Shot JFK
  • May 27, 2017
    NightShade96
    ^ Thanks. Removed it.
  • May 28, 2017
    TrueShadow1
    In Touhou, the failure of the Apollo 13 mission is caused by Lunarians who don't want earthlings on the moon.
  • May 29, 2017
    NightShade96
    Bump for examples.
  • May 29, 2017
    NightShade96
    If there are no objections, I'll launch this in a few hours.
  • May 29, 2017
    KaiYves
    Related to Famously Mundane Fictionally Magical, where a Real Life object has greater significance in fiction.
  • May 30, 2017
    NightShade96
    Any suggestions for an image and/or a quote?
  • June 1, 2017
    NightShade96
    If there aren't any, I'll launch in a few hours.
  • June 3, 2017
    Unicorndance
    Star Trek Voyager. The episode "The Thirty-Sevens'' had Amelia Earhart and her crew be found on a planet by Captain Janeway and her crew, having been frozen in a deep sleep for four-hundred years.
  • June 4, 2017
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Alternity campaign setting Dark*Matter core rules. When a Grey spaceship on Earth was close to being discovered by humans, its commander followed standard procedure and re-directed a comet to impact and destroy the landing site. He made a mistake, and the result was The Tunguska Event.
  • June 4, 2017
    Chabal2
    According to Empire Earth 2, the Cold War really ended when the U.S. stole the stealth bomber the Soviets had developed and used it against them.
  • June 4, 2017
    Synchronicity
    • Wonder Woman 2017: Diana hypothesizes that World War I is caused by Ares's influence on humanity.
  • June 4, 2017
    NightShade96
    If no further examples are forthcoming, I'll launch this now. Couldn't launch earlier as I was occupied with other stuff.
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