->''"If it says it on television, '''It Must Be True!'''"''
-->--''GarfieldAndFriends'', "It Must Be True!"

People worry about the power of the media. Heck, even ''the media'' worry about the power of the media (it makes for good {{ratings}}), especially if it's a [[NewMediaAreEvil new medium]] that's [[TheNewRockAndRoll popular among the younger set]]. So when MoralGuardians and [[ExecutiveMeddling executives]] started to worry that impressionable young viewers might take what they saw on TV at face value and never question the veracity of what they're seeing, many kids' shows started to use this as a [[StockAesops Stock Aesop]].

Usually happens after a particularly {{anvilicious}} episode about either a main character using the school newspaper to print libel to boost circulation (and having it backfire painfully in a FawltyTowersPlot) or the AlphaBitch using similar means to besmirch the lead, fool her classmates, or even [[{{Brainwashed}} brainwash]] the school/town into doing her bidding. After the show proper ends, an epilogue tells the viewers not to believe everything they see on TV. May be [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]], lampooned, or played for HypocriticalHumor in comedy shows, after which the main characters tune in to watch their favorite shows uncritically.

Compare ThisIsReality. See also StockAesops, TruthInTelevision. Not a rejected title for ''Film/TomorrowNeverDies''[[note]]although it would have worked for ''Film/TheWorldIsNotEnough''...[[/note]]. If this happens in RealLife it can be because RealityIsUnrealistic. See also TelevisionIsTryingToKillUs, when this attitude becomes outright dangerous in real life.
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!!'''Examples:'''

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[[folder: Advertising ]]
* Used in a commercial for State Farm insurance in regards to the Internet, with a woman who believes that everything she reads on the Internet is true. The commercial ends with her meeting her boyfriend, whom she met on the Internet, and whom she believes to be a French model. Cue some middle-aged guy with a goatee and glasses walking up to her and saying "Uh, bonjour?"
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[[folder: Comic Books ]]
* A ''{{Rugrats}}'' comic story has Angelica fool the babies into believing that the grownups are bringing home actual elephants from a white elephant sale, but Tommy believes his toy mouse will scare them off. When Angelica points out the problem with his theory:
-->'''Angelica:''' Just a minute! Elephants aren't frightened of mice!\\
'''Tommy:''' Yes they are! I saw it on a cartoon...\\
'''Lil:''' If it was on a cartoon it must be true!
** [[HilariousInHindsight Made funnier]] when the Mythbusters actually proved elephants actually are scared of mice.
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[[folder:Fanfiction]]
* In [[Fanfic/HarryPotterAndTheMethodsOfRationality Methods of Rationality]] Harry sits down to read ''The Quibbler'' on grounds that, being the only alternative to the establishment/government-backed ''Daily Prophet'', it has the better chance of containing some actual news.
* If you've ever heard of the genetic mutation "Alexandria's Genesis" the take a wild guess at what media form the totally made up mutation first appeared in. The creator of the Mary Sues that the mutation was meant to justify the appearance of has made multiple statements about it being made up, but not everyone has gotten the memo.
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[[folder:Film]]
* The setup for ''GalaxyQuest'' is a species of aliens who believe that all TV shows are "historical documents". For them, it is inconceivable that TV (or anything, for that matter) lies.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* ''Literature/HarryPotter'':
** ''The Daily Prophet'', the British Wizarding World's [[PlotHole only]] "legitimate" newspaper, is a perfect example. Everything in it is taken as gospel truth, especially jarring when it outright contradicts itself: in ''The Order of the Phoenix'', Harry is an insane schizophrenic and Dumbledore is a senile old fool; in ''[[Literature/HarryPotterAndTheHalfBloodPrince Half-Blood Prince]]'', Dumbledore is the greatest Wizard EVAH and Harry is a MessianicArchetype; in ''The Deathly Hallows'', [[spoiler: Harry is evil and wanted for questioning on Dumbledore's death, and Voldemort is really quite a nice fellow, really, just remember to report any [[strike:Mudbloods]] ''Muggle-borns'' to the Ministry.]]
** There are other, smaller newspapers and periodicals, i.e., ''Witch Weekly'' (apparently a "women's magazine") and the ''Quibbler'' (a tabloid-type magazine) but these don't have near the circulation nor impact of the Daily Prophet
** It's also a parody of [[BritishNewspapers The Daily Mail]], which [[TruthInTelevision actually does this]], yet is still taken seriously by an alarming number of people.
* Inverted in the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' book ''Discworld/MonstrousRegiment'' - the Borogravian citizens, living in a country where everything they read is propaganda written by the government, cannot figure out how newspapers (or anything written down, for that matter) can be trusted.
* Literature/DonQuixote: This is one of the themes of the novel: a book published at TheCavalierYears, when the press was a relatively recent invention and a lot of people believed that fiction books were real only because they were printed. Juan Palomeque, the Innkeeper, believes that ChivalricRomance stories are real because these are printed in books, making this trope OlderThanSteam:
--> ''"But consider, brother," said the curate once more, "there never was any Felixmarte of Hircania in the world, nor any Cirongilio of Thrace, or any of the other knights of the same sort, that the books of chivalry talk of; the whole thing is the fabrication and invention of idle wits, devised by them for the purpose you describe of beguiling the time, as your reapers do when they read; for I swear to you in all seriousness there never were any such knights in the world, and no such exploits or nonsense ever happened anywhere."''
--> '' "Try that bone on another dog," said the innkeeper; "as if I did not know how many make five, and where my shoe pinches me; don't think to feed me with pap, for by God I am no fool. It is a good joke for your worship to try and persuade me that everything these good books say is nonsense and lies, [[AppealToAuthority and they printed by the license of the Lords of the Royal Council, as if they were people who would allow such a lot of lies to be printed all together]], and so many battles and enchantments that they take away one's senses."''
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[[folder:Magazines]]
* An issue of ''Magazine/{{MAD}}'' (or a similar comedy magazine) had a study guide for children doing internet research on school projects. One of the first points listed was "not everything on the internet is true", accompanied by a cartoon of a child visiting a neo-Nazi site espousing Holocaust denial.
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[[folder: Video Games]]
* Played straight in VideoGame/DeadRising2. After a zombie outbreak, the news plays a grainy, low resolution tape of a guy in a biker's outfit releasing the zombies, saying that the one in the tape is Chuck Greene (the PlayerCharacter). This is taken as absolute evidence by ''Every. Single. Survivor.'' that Chuck is responsible.
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[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'', when Meg joins the school newspaper to pad out her extra-curricular activities, her father Peter "improves" a story of hers by outright fabricating a story saying "LukePerry is Gay". This works wonders for Meg at first until Luke Perry reads a copy of the paper. [[spoiler:Turns out he ''was'' gay. With Mayor Creator/AdamWest...]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' TrappedInTVLand episode, "Do Not Adjust Your Set", after defeating Control Freak's scheme, the Titans at the end resolve that watching too much TV is not necessarily a good thing, while at the same time noting that Beast Boy's ridiculously extensive knowledge of TV trivia helped them beat Control Freak. They conclude that [[SpoofAesop there really isn't any moral to the adventure]], and then close with an EverybodyLaughsEnding.
* ''PowerpuffGirls'' had the ''Wondorous World of Wonderful Whimsical Willy'', basically an Aesop episode to teach children not to believe everything they see on TV. Near the end however, they seem to realize that they are encouraging kids against watching THEIR show, and the episode ends with the girls asking the viewers to trust television in a zombie-like manner.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'' did one of these in one of their first post-pilot episodes, where they met the Pack, who were heroes on TV but mercenaries in real life. Blatant advantage was taken of the fact the gargoyles were from the Middle Ages and still adjusting to the twentieth century and its media.
-->'''Hudson:''' Maybe we shouldn't always believe what we see on TV.
* In ''TheSimpsons'' episode "Homer Badman" The sensationalist news media turns the whole town against Homer, convincing everyone that he sexually harassed his kids' babysitter.
** Including ''[[WhatAnIdiot himself]]''.
-->'''Homer''': Maybe TV's right, TV's ''always'' right.
** Later...
-->'''Godfrey Jones''': (after admitting his show has made some mistakes) Tomorrow, on "Rock Bottom": he's a foreigner who takes perverted videos of you when you least expect it. He's "Rowdy Roddy Peeper"...
-->'''Homer''': Oh, that man is sick!
-->'''Marge''': Groundskeeper Willy saved you, Homer.
-->'''Homer''': But listen to the music! He's evil!
-->'''Marge''': Hasn't this experience taught you you can't believe everything you hear?
-->'''Homer''': Marge, my friend, I haven't learned a thing.
* The ''GarfieldAndFriends'' episode "It Must Be True!" has a TV show which shows [[LittleKnownFacts absurd facts]] (such as "There's no such thing as Wyoming" and "Raisins are shrunk bowling balls") because of this trope. But when {{Garfield}} says "Dogs have no brains", an all-dog audience beats him up.
* Of course Mr. Krabs has to learn things the hard way on ''SpongeBobSquarePants''. After printing several scandalous issues of the Krusty Krab's own ''Krusty Khronicle'', which features nothing but wild rumors, he incurs the wrath of everyone in town but refuses to stop the presses. Then SpongeBob prints another issue focusing solely on Mr. Krabs himself.
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/NedsNewt'', Ned's parents called off a trip to New York after watching a programme about dangerous alligators living in the NY sewers. When Ned tried to persuade them that it's just an urban legend, and pointed out that the programme was called "This Program Is Hogwash" (or something), his parents replied with this trope. "Son, if they said so on TV, it must be true."
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[[folder: Real Life ]]
* TruthInTelevision: TheCSIEffect, which many lawyers say have spoiled many potential jury pools with unrealistic expectations of forensic science..
* An advertisement for some kind of weight-loss pill, while explaining its effects, explicitly said "We couldn't say it on TV if it wasn't true!" That would be the point of advertising laws, of course.
* The ''Series/{{Mythbusters}}'' are occasionally wrong, rarely censored, and routinely facetious, but they've never out-and-out lied to the viewer (lying to Adam and Tory is okay though, because it's funny when they injure themselves).
* British knockoff ''Series/BrainiacScienceAbuse'', by contrast, has been known to fudge results in the name of RuleOfFunny (and, on one occasion, to collect on a rather sizable golf bet when an experiment in probability fails to obey the law of averages).
* The inverse to this is explored by DaveBarry in a column, who says that Russians (today it would probably be North Koreans or Chinese) always know what's going on by reading their newspapers and assuming that the ''exact opposite'' is true. They thus have an advantage over Americans, who can't tell which parts of the newspapers are true and which are complete lies.\\
\\
That was actually true in the USSR. Everyone with half a brain "read between the lines" - searched for hidden meaning behind the official version [[PropagandaMachine printed in the newspapers and broadcast on TV]]. It was generally assumed that [[TVNeverLies TV and Other Media]] [[InvertedTrope Always]] [[TVNeverLies Lie In Some Way]]. Even inverted, this trope managed to backfire though: [[TheGreatPoliticsMessUp the collapsing USSR]] took the PropagandaMachine with itself, and the assorted media has since become identical to that of any other developed country; this gives those who haven't dropped their habits [[SarcasmMode some great times]] trying to guess what the hell is going on, as different channels/newspapers/etc tend to have different points of view. Then there's the Internet... Good thing Putin is working so hard to restore media order then.
* Creator/ShirleyJackson's ''Literature/TheLottery'', a chilling parable of [[PeerPressureMakesYouEvil senseless brutality]] set in wholesome [[TownWithADarkSecret small-town America]], prompted a flood of letters from confused and angry readers asking if the [[LotteryOfDoom barbaric ritual]] described in the story was real, and if so, [[HumansAreBastards where they could go to watch it]]. The story was published in ''Magazine/TheNewYorker'', which at the time did not clearly label its fiction and non-fiction pieces, but the flood of "wide-eyed, shocked innocence" (as she put it) still prompted Jackson to do some major facepalming.
* And proving that the stupidity of some humans knows no bounds, when ''Series/GilligansIsland'' first aired, the TV stations were flooded with angry letters demanding to know why the camera crew wasn't helping the castaways get off the island. Of course, nowadays they would probably assume it was a reality show.
* The infamous ''Radio/WarOfTheWorlds'' radio broadcast, which adapted [[Literature/WarOfTheWorlds H.G. Wells seminal science-fiction novel]] in the form of fictional news reports. People took it for non-fiction and panicked.
* Robert Zemeckis once jokingly told interviewers that the hoverboards in ''Film/BackToTheFuture Part II'' were real prototypes created by Mattel but kept off the market because of pressure from parental watchdog groups who felt they were unsafe. Zemeckis then took it to TrollingCreator levels by shooting phony "behind the scenes" footage of the hoverboards using the special effects in the film proper. Naturally, a bunch of people fell for it, and Mattel was inundated with letters and phone calls begging them to sell the hoverboards. Sometimes they'd tell the truth; other times they would tell the would-be hoverboarders to "wait until 2015". That date drawing near, Funny Or Die produced a fake commercial for them in 2014 featuring Doc Brown himself, Christopher Lloyd.
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