The possibility to let your characters witness or even participate in [[BasedOnATrueStory events that actually happened]], is probably one of the most appealing aspects of HistoricalFiction, {{Flashback}}s, TimeTravel stories and the like. But sometimes it can be quite hard to shoehorn your characters in, if you don't want to [[YouFailHistoryForever sacrifice too much of historical accuracy]]. Especially if your character doesn't quite fit into the historical setting, because he is a NinjaPirateZombieRobot.

The solution: Take a famous historical event that is shrouded in mystery, an event of which not many details are publicly known. Then fill the gap of historical records with whatever you want, this way "revealing" what actually happened. This adds the bonus that everyone likes a good mystery (and its eventual solution).

Depending on the tone and genre of your work, your "explanation" can range from [[ScoobyDooHoax mundane]], over [[HistoricalInJoke humorous]], to [[ETGaveUsWiFi absolutely]] [[AncientAstronauts fantastic]].

The BeenThereShapedHistory person likes to cause these events. Of course {{Historical Domain Character}}s as well as fictional {{Public Domain Character}}s may be involved too. Perhaps they did even use a PublicDomainArtifact.

Anyway, in the end you can proudly claim that your story is VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory.

Closely related to HistoricalInJoke. Can also overlap with BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy, when the focus lies on specific historical individuals. Often happens at, and tightly involves, a LandmarkOfLore. Also, at least one of this events is a must-have for any ConspiracyKitchenSink story worth its salt.

Note that sometimes mysteries get solved, or even debunked as not having been that mysterious in the first place. In this case the work either [[HistoryMarchesOn was written in a time before the solution/debunking]], or the writer didn't get the memo, or he's just using ArtisticLicense.
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!!Stock Unsolved Mysteries that have their own trope pages:

* [[WhoShotJFK The assassination of John F. Kennedy]]
* [[PhlebotinumKilledTheDinosaurs The extinction of the dinosaurs]]
* The disappearance of AmeliaEarhart
* [[LostRomanLegion The disappearance of Roman legions, especially the Legio IX Hispana]]
* [[JesusTheEarlyYears The lost years of Jesus]]
* [[PyramidPower How (and why) the Ancient Egyptians built the pyramids]]
* The murders and true identity of JackTheRipper
* [[RoswellThatEndsWell The Roswell incident]]
* Ships and airplanes disappearing within TheBermudaTriangle
* TheTunguskaEvent
* FermatsLastTheorem
* TheMenInBlack
* The locations and abilities of various {{Public Domain Artifact}}s
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!!Stock Unsolved Mysteries without their own pages, and examples thereof:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Mysterious Disappearances ]]

* The case of Benjamin Bathurst, who disappeared from his hotel one day in 1809. (The actual truth is quite prosaic: Contemporary documents make it clear that he was almost certainly just mugged. Some of his personal belongings were even found during the search for him. It only became a mysterious mystery because of one particular account that made it sound like he'd disappeared into thin air in front of witnesses.)
** Creator/HBeamPiper, Creator/RobertBloch, Creator/LionelFanthorpe, and Creator/AvramDavidson, among others, have written stories in which Bathurst was transported to the future or to an AlternateUniverse.
** Simon Hawke's ''Literature/TimeWars'' series has a line in passing attributing his disappearance to somebody changing the past out from underneath him.
* The unknown fate of author, journalist and satirist Creator/AmbroseBierce, who vanished somewhere in Mexico in 1913 after time spent accompanying Pancho Villa's army as an observer.
** In ''Manga/DanceInTheVampireBund'' he turns up as a vampire, although the circumstances of his transformation and how he became a confidant of [[VampireMonarch Mina Tepes]] remains unknown.
** The third ''Film/FromDuskTillDawn'' film attributes his disappearance to a run-in with vampires.
** Creator/RobertAHeinlein's novella "Lost Legacy" has Bierce surviving into the future and participating in a war to control humanity's nascent psychic abilities.
** Carlos Fuentes's novel ''The Old Gringo'' is a fictionalized account of Bierce's disappearance which was later adapted into the film ''Old Gringo'' (1989).
* D.B. Cooper, also known as Dan Cooper, who vanished on November 24, 1971 with $200,000 after hijacking a 727 and parachuting from the stairs in the tail.
** In an episode of ''Series/{{Leverage}}'', appropriately titled "The D.B. Cooper Job", a federal agent hires the team to solve the case. The agent's father, a retired agent himself, is dying of cancer, and the D.B. Cooper case is the only one of his career he was unable to solve.
** ''Film/WithoutAPaddle'' involves a group of friends who decide to fulfill their childhood fantasies of locating D.B. Cooper's loot after one of their number dies unexpectedly.
** ''Webcomic/{{xkcd}}'' [[http://xkcd.com/1400/ suggests that]] he is none other than Tommy Wiseau, the maker of Film/TheRoom.
* Colony collapse disorder. The sudden vanishing of worker bees from their hives across the world (leaving even their queens behind), first reported in 2006. No conclusive explanation has yet been found.
** ''Series/DoctorWho'' used it as a running joke throughout series 4. It ends with the revelation that [[spoiler: the vanishing bees were actually aliens who became aware of what the Daleks planned to do to Earth]].
** ''VideoGame/TheSecretWorld'' trailers contain the ArcWords "The Bees Are Returning" (among other things), which is currently believed to have to do with the CCD.
** ''Series/TheXFiles'' used the bees as an integral part of the GovernmentConspiracy's EvilPlan ([[spoiler:to spread the deadly alien virus]]), about a decade before the CCD was first reported. However, the feral bee population across the world has been rapidly diminishing since 1972... and incidentally, said GovernmentConspiracy was founded in 1973.
* The disappearance of the American labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa in 1975. The FBI are still looking for his body.
** In ''Series/TheAdventuresOfPeteAndPete'', when Little Pete is tunneling under his house to escape from being grounded, he finds a wallet, looks at it and exclaims, "Hoffa!"
** In ''Film/BruceAlmighty'', Bruce uses his godlike powers to find the body in order to advance his journalistic career.
** The movie ''Hoffa'', starring Creator/JackNicholson, suggests that he was [[spoiler:assassinated by one of his mob allies after Hoffa threatened to reveal their connections]].
** In ''Film/NothingButTrouble'', it is discovered that Hoffa ended up in the town of [[TownWithADarkSecret Valkenvania]], a likely victim of the rather cruel, unusual, and deadly punishments meted out by the local justice system there.
** ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode "Last Exit to Springfield" makes a nod to the mystery with Mr. Burns and Smithers mentioning that the previous head of the power plant's union "mysteriously disappeared" after vowing the clean up the union. A CutawayGag depicting a football player tripping over a man-shaped mound of dirt on the field references Hoffa's alleged burial under Giants Stadium.
* The disappearance of the so-called "Jewels of Helen" excavated from the ruins of Troy was the subject of the Elizabeth Peters novel ''Trojan Gold''. (The mystery has since been solved, but that was after the novel's publication).
* The disappearance of the British peer Lord Lucan in 1974, shortly after his children's nanny was murdered.
** In Jake Arnott's ''The Long Firm'', [[LondonGangster Harry Stark]] is strongly implied to have been involved, but no details are revealed.
* The mystery of the sailing ship ''Mary Celeste'', whose entire crew did vanish in 1872 somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. The [[http://www.cracked.com/article_18718_6-famous-unsolved-mysteries-that-have-totally-been-solved.html current favourite]] realistic theory involves an alcohol explosion.
** In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' serial ''The Chase'', the crew were killed by Daleks.
** In ''Radio/TheGoonShow'' episode "The Mystery of the Marie Celeste (solved)", Neddy Seagoon investigates in order to claim a reward offered for the solution to the mystery, only for the man offering the reward to mysteriously disappear himself.
** "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement", a short story by Sir Creator/ArthurConanDoyle, invented a number of details to make the event more mysterious which have subsequently been frequently included as fact in accounts of the real event.
** ''Series/SapphireAndSteel'' referred to the ''Mary Celeste'' affair as a past assignment, in Assignment 1. Sapphire, Steel, and Lead were apparently involved.
** In 1990, the Gibraltarian author Sam Benady published ''Franchise/SherlockHolmes in Gibraltar'', a set of two short stories set in the pre-Watson days. In the first one, ''The Abandoned Brigantine'', Sherlock Holmes solves the mystery of the ''Mary Celeste''.
* The disappearance of "The Princes in the Tower", the children of Edward IV whose uncle and Lord Protector RichardOfGloucester had them declared illegitimate to clear his way to the throne. (If you think you've spotted a likely suspect already, you're not alone, although "Ricardians" point the finger at his successor, Henry VII.)
** Shakespeare's ''Theatre/RichardIII'' has them murdered by assassins sent by Richard.
** In Kim Newman's ''Literature/AnnoDracula'' short story "Vampire Romance", [[spoiler:Richard himself, who happens to be a vampire, emphatically denies having sent assassins to kill the Princes -- he did the job personally]].
* The disappearance of the Roanoke Colony, an English colony in what is now North Carolina, a generation before the sailing of the ''Mayflower''. An additional point of interest is that among the disappeared colonists was the child Virginia Dare, the first English child born in America. The cryptic word "Croatoan", inscribed on a tree in the colony, is frequently expounded upon.
** ''ComicBook/OneHundredBullets'' has the disappearance of the Roanoke Colony be the work of [[AncientConspiracy The Trust]], as the colonists refused to cede to the Trust's plans of pulling the strings of the American experiment.
** ''Literature/AbrahamLincolnVampireHunter'' reveals it as the result of a vampire attack.
** A {{Crossover}} between ComicBook/{{Batman}} and ComicBook/{{Spawn}} uses this as the backstory of the BigBad, a demon called Croatoan who intends to circumscribe Gotham with a massive pentagram pattern like he did the Roanoke colony (which nobody noticed because nobody flew a weather balloon up there) and condemn all its souls to Hell.
** The Literature/DoctorWhoMissingAdventures novel ''The Empire of Glass'' offers an alien-abduction explanation.
** The short story "Ezekiel" by Desmond Warzel explains where they went, and why.
** The Roanoke Colony mystery was a significant part of the MythArc of the TV series ''Series/{{Freakylinks}}''.
** The Roanoke Colony features in ''{{Marvel 1602}}'', and Virginia Dare is a significant character.
** ''Old Virginia'', a Franchise/CthulhuMythos short story by Laird Barron, had the colony fall victim to an EldritchAbomination.
** Grant Morrison's ''ComicBook/SevenSoldiers'' features the present-day descendants of the colony living in an underground town. The reason for their disappearance: [[spoiler:an immortal, dethroned, time-traveling king from a future Earth mated with their women and got them to hide underground, so that his former wife (the current monarch of the future Earth) wouldn't notice them, and that their descendants would one day help him overthrow her.]] Also, the underground town is inexplicably located close to a New York City Subway tunnel.
** Andre Linoge, the BigBad of Stephen King's ''StormOfTheCentury'', claims to have caused the disappearance and death of the Roanoke Colony by forcing all its citizens to drown themselves in the sea when they would not "give him what he wants", and intends to repeat the tragedy on Little Tall Island. The word "Croatoan" is invoked by a later DrivenToSuicide member of the town, but is never fully explained.
** ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' attributes it to a demonic-originated HatePlague.
** The backstory of ''TabletopGame/WerewolfTheApocalypse'' has Roanoke wiped out when [[EldritchAbomination the Eater of Souls]] woke up. The word "Croatoan," famously found etched into a tree, was the name of the Native American werewolf tribe that gave their lives to put the thing back down.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Mysterious Documents ]]

* The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voynich_manuscript Voynich manuscript]], a manuscript dated to the 16th century, of unknown origin and written in an unknown script.
** Rather bizarrely, the writing from the manuscript appeared in an obscure casual videogame called ''[[http://www.bigfishgames.com/download-games/8440/blood-oath/index.html Blood Oath]]''. It seems to imply that [[BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy whoever created the manuscript was a vampire]], because in the game vampires write letters to one another with these letters, even though one might suspect it was used because the developers didn't want to create a new alphabet and borrowed one no one held copyright to.
** In ''[[VideoGame/BrokenSword Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon]]'', one of the characters deciphers the Voynich manuscript [[spoiler:and promptly gets killed, since it contains the key to waking the Sleeping Dragon]].
** ''Literature/CodexSeraphinianus'', created by Luigi Serafini in the 1970s, was inspired by the Voynich manuscript. Written in an indecipherable script, it appears to be an encyclopedia of an alien world. It was created in order to inspire in its readers the [[TrueArtIsIncomprehensible feeling of impenetrable mystery]].

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Mysterious Fires ]]

* UsefulNotes/{{Hamburg}}, 1842
** A [[GermanMedia German novel]] called ''Der Funke des Chronos'' deals with TimeTravel, alchemists, and the Great Fire of Hamburg.
* UsefulNotes/{{London}}, 1666
** The Great Fire of London is a plot point in ''Literature/TheBaroqueCycle'' by Creator/NealStephenson. While it isn't exactly presented as something mysterious, one character (the father of Daniel Waterhouse) [[MistakenForApocalypse firmly believes that this is the Apocalypse]]. [[spoiler:He dies in the fire and thus never learns his error.]]
** The ''Series/DoctorWho'' serial "The Visitation" ends with the Great Fire of London being accidentally started during a showdown with aliens planning to wipe out humanity.
** Ra's Al Ghul claims credit for the London fire on behalf of the League of Shadows in ''Film/BatmanBegins''. The British Empire was getting too big for its britches, you see.
* The Reichstag (UsefulNotes/{{Berlin}}), 1933
** In ''Webcomic/IrregularWebcomic'', the Reichstag fire was neither set by the Communists, nor the [[ThoseWackyNazis Nazis]] in order to [[DirtyCommies frame said Communists]], but instead [[spoiler:by an Italian who merely wanted to sabotage the electric lighting, and [[EpicFail grossly overestimated his electrotechnical competence]]]].
* UsefulNotes/{{Rome}}, 64
** In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' serial "The Romans", UsefulNotes/{{Nero}} hires arsonists to set the fire so he has an excuse to embark on some major building works he has planned. He gets the idea when the Doctor accidentally sets fire to a map of Rome by focusing sunlight through his reading glasses.
* UsefulNotes/SanFrancisco, 1906
** In the Literature/DoctorWhoNewAdventures novel ''All-Consuming Fire'', the fire is started during a showdown with invading aliens.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Mysterious Monumental Damage ]]

* How did the Great Sphinx of Giza lose its nose?
** In ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}'', the Sphinx's nose is knocked off when the sculptor applies his chisel too strongly, because he's surprised by Aladdin and Jasmine flying past on their date.
** ''[[ComicBook/{{Asterix}} Asterix and Cleopatra]]'' has Obelix accidentally de-nosing the Sphinx while sightseeing. (In the movies, he goes on to deprive the Venus de Milo of her arms in ''WesternAnimation/TheTwelveTasksOfAsterix'' and knock a great big hole in the Colosseum in ''WesternAnimation/AsterixVersusCaesar'' -- the latter a particularly impressive feat considering that the Colosseum wasn't built until over a century after Caesar's reign.)
** ''WesternAnimation/ThePrinceOfEgypt'' shows the Sphinx getting its nose knocked off.
* What happened to the left eye of the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nefertiti_Bust bust of Nefertiti]]?
** In ''Manga/AnatoliaStory'', the bust of Nefertiti only has one eye because the eye was made out of a piece of jewelry that had sentimental value to Nefertiti, and there was only enough material for one eye. When the sculptor points this out, Nefertiti replies "Who cares? It's just a bust, it's not like it's very valuable anyway."
* What happened to the rest of the [[https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gilbert_Stuart_003.jpg Athenaeum portrait]] of UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington?[[note]]The actual answer is, "Nothing, the painter just never got around to finishing it."[[/note]]
** In ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', Jebediah Springfield is responsible for damaging the portrait.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Mysterious Murder Cases ]]

* The [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axeman_of_New_Orleans Axeman of New Orleans]], an unidentified serial killer present in New Orleans in the late 1910s.
** Appears in ''Series/AmericanHorrorStoryCoven''. The night he threatened to murder anyone who wasn't playing jazz music in their home, he [[MuggingTheMonster attacked a witch coven]] and was killed for his troubles.
* Bible John, unidentified serial killer active in Glasgow in the late 1960s.
** The Creator/GrantMorrison[=/=]Daniel Vallely comic book ''Bible John: A Forensic Meditation'' is a surreal, hallucinogenic speculation on the unidentified SerialKiller's possible motivations.
* The death of Mary Rogers, found floating in the Hudson River in 1841.
** Creator/EdgarAllanPoe's story "The Mystery of Marie Roget" shows his detective protagonist C. Auguste Dupin solve a thinly-veiled version of the real-life mystery. [[HistoryMarchesOn Most students of the case now accept a different solution.]]
* The gruesome unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short, nicknamed "Black Dahlia", 1947 in Los Angeles.
** The book ''Literature/BlackDahlia'', and [[Film/BlackDahlia the movie adaptation]].
** In the '90s adventure game ''VideoGame/BlackDahlia'', it turned out to be part of an ancient magical ritual carried out by [[{{Ghostapo}} Nazis]].
** "[[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0608535/ The Black Dahlia]]", an episode of ''Series/{{Hunter}}'', has Hunter and [=McCall=] investigate after new evidence comes to light; it aired on the anniversary date of the original murder.
** Is a major part of the plot in ''VideoGame/LANoire''. (It turns out that [[spoiler:the killer was the half-brother of a very highly-placed politician, so after you find and kill him, the whole matter is sealed up and quieted down]].)
** In the ninth episode of ''Series/AmericanHorrorStoryMurderHouse'', Elizabeth Short is shown to be one of several victims of the "Murder House".
* The Zodiac Killer, unidentified serial killer active in northern California in the 1960s and 1970s; sent cryptogram messages to the press, some of which remain unsolved.
** David Fincher's film ''Film/{{Zodiac}}'' strongly suggests that a real suspect in the officially unsolved Zodiac Killings was the guilty party.
** ''Film/SevenPsychopaths'' reveal that three serial killers who were never caught (the Zodiac Killer, the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texarkana_Moonlight_Murders Phantom Killer]] and the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_Torso_Murderer Cleveland Torso Murderer]]) were in fact killed by a couple of {{Serial Killer Killer}}s.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Mysterious SCIENCE! ]]

* The Philadelphia Experiment, allegedly conducted by the US Navy in 1943, involving the destroyer escort ''USS Eldridge'' [[InvisibilityCloak turning invisible]] and [[TeleportersAndTransporters being teleported]].
** In the novel ''The Astounding, the Amazing and the Unknown'' by Paul Malmont, PulpMagazine sci-fi writers are tasked by the US Government in World War II with creating {{Death Ray}}s and other such [[WeirdScience miracle weapons]]. Creator/RobertAHeinlein creates the experiment as an all-done-with-mirrors (and a model) illusion in order to get an ObstructiveBureaucrat off his back. Meanwhile the crew of the real Eldridge gets drunk, leading the bureaucrat to assume from their vomiting and odd behaviour on their return that the experiment has driven them mad. This gives Heinlein's team the excuse to say that further tests will be aborted until they've fixed the problem.
** The [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin appropriately titled]] movie ''Film/ThePhiladelphiaExperiment''.
** Part of the backstory of ''ComicBook/{{RASL}}''.

%%Please only add new mysteries when you can also provide examples in fiction. If there are no examples, then it's not a stock mystery.
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!!Works dealing with more than one example of this trope:
* ''AncientAliens''. Not a spoiler: everything will be aliens, somehow.
* The Various ''Franchise/StarTrek'' incarnations did a few, be it JackTheRipper, (''[[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries TOS]]''), [[RoswellThatEndsWell Roswell]] (''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine DS9]]'') or AmeliaEarhart (''[[Series/StarTrekVoyager VOY]]'').
* In ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed'', ''every'' weird event and person from Adam and Eve to Jesus to King Arthur to Rasputin to Tunguska are explained by the {{Precursor}} technology left behind which inspired all the religions in the world.
* MatthewReilly's ''Jack West'' series of novels do this quite a bit. For example, the plot of the first book revolves around the real life mystery of what happened to [[MonumentalDamage the missing capstone on the Great Pyramid of Giza]].
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' is intimately familiar with this trope. For example the disappearance of Creator/AgathaChristie was given a supernatural explanation in "The Unicorn and the Wasp".
* ''Series/TheXFiles'', being an epic ConspiracyKitchenSink and all.
* The comic book series ''{{Planetary}}'' has this in almost every issue.
* ''Webcomic/{{xkcd}}'' had a [[http://xkcd.com/950/ strip]] dedicated to this trope, referencing AmeliaEarhart, the Roanoke Colony, Franklin's lost expedition, and Jimmy Hoffa.
* In ''The Missing'' series by Margaret Peterson Haddix, it turns out that [[spoiler: future entrepreneurs went back in time to take many of the most famous missing children of history, such as Anastasia, the Lindbergh baby, or Virginia Dare.]]
* The ''Literature/SecretHistories'' series, as befits its [[ConspiracyKitchenSink secret agent]] [[FantasyKitchenSink sorcery-and-superscience]] setting, has this in spades- the being originally known as JackTheRipper turns up in several books, while the third book ''The Spy Who Haunted Me'' challenges the protagonist to solve six classic unsolved mysteries: the [[StockNessMonster Loch Ness Monster]]; {{Bigfoot|SasquatchAndYeti}}; a Russian "science city", not far from Tunguska (although TheTunguskaEvent is covered in another book), in which everyone [[GoMadFromTheRevelation spontaneously]] [[AxeCrazy killed each other and/or themselves]]; the Philadelphia Experiment; and [[RoswellThatEndsWell Roswell]].
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