"The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes."This is a subversion of inaccuracy for artistic license; the research wasn't done, but the writer was still correct on at least a few points — by complete fluke. This can be hard to tell from Shown Their Work, and can often only be seen in context with the rest of the work—Shown Their Work would prove to have all research shown, Accidentally Accurate is hit and miss. If research not available at the time of the writing proves them right, that's a case of Science Marches On meeting this trope; if the work turns out prophetic, that's Dated History meeting this trope. If the theory would never have been accepted by researchers working in whatever field (e.g. Professor Alexander Abian's theory that we should blow up the moon to stop Typhus), it's just the writers fertilizing some Epileptic Trees. If the writer was just showing off an obscure fact that they know, that's Shown Their Work. Compare: Right for the Wrong Reasons. For the same principle applied to tactics, see Strategy Schmategy. Compare: Accidental Truth, in which an in-story lie by a character turns out to be true after all, and The Cuckoolander Was Right, for In-Universe examples of something similar.
— Sir Winston Churchill, 1941 address to the U.S. Congress
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Anime & Manga
- Space Battleship Yamato had the Yamato encounter a belt of space rocks outside the orbit of Pluto. Modern audiences would recognize this as the Kuiper Belt—except the Kuiper Belt was discovered in 1992 and Yamato is from 1974.
- AKIRA: The film depicted Tokyo about to host the 2020 Olympic games. It came out in 1988, 25 years before IOC confirmed Japan would host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
- The 2006 version of Doraemon: Nobita's Dinosaur featured feathered Ornithomimus with wings. 6 years prior to this study.
- In one strip of Garfield Jon buys a "battery operated battery charger". It turns out such a concept is far from useless and is totally real. Such devices exist as a means to give portable electronics such as cell phones, laptops, and even car batteries juice in the event of an emergency.
- My Immortal:
"nd den hairy wil have 2 kommit suicide so voldimort will die koz he will rilly be a horcrox!!!!!111"
- Many Dramatic Readings scoff at the line which says that it was snowing and raining at the same time. This is known as "sleet" in Commonwealth Nations and the United States, and it very much happens in the real world. If you believe one of the people who confessed to writing it as a Troll Fic, the author thought it was impossible and put it in as a joke. It has also "rained" slush, which also works.
- The author also inadvertently predicted a major twist at the end of Deathly Hallows:
- The Avatar: The Last Airbender fan comic How I Became Yours infamously included a scene of daytime bloodbending which was thought to be impossible in the universe of the show, until The Legend of Korra introduced three characters who were able to do it, not that the author of the fic would have known this at the time. This is especially ironic since it's a fic that more or less personifies Canon Defilement, yet managed to be pretty spot on about the metaphysics of the world.
- Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami:
- The narrator claims that Wales is "A town in England". In reality, there is a small village in England called Wales. However, there is not one called 'whales', as the author persistently spells it.
- Also, Blood Bananas (Blud the shinigami's Trademark Favorite Food) are actually a real thing, though they are not normally made of blood.
- The Legend of Zelda story Til The Sun Grows Cold and the Stars Grow Old (written by Lady Norbert) was published in 2008, and hinged on the concept that Link and Zelda were the same characters, reincarnated many times over. A few years later, the Hyrule Historia was published with the revelation that this is (more or less) the case.
- Lady Norbert herself picked her online handle to name herself after the dragon from Harry Potter, but tacked "Lady" on the front because she's a grown woman. This was in 2000. Ten years later, Deathly Hallows revealed that the dragon Norbert is, in fact, Norberta.
Films — Animated
- The creators of Ice Age made Scrat, the sabre-toothed squirrel, as a joke. But later scientists unearthed a prehistoric sabre-toothed squirrel-like mammal, albeit from the Mesozoic rather than anytime close to the last ice age. note
- Titan's rant in Megamind includes this little gem: "There is no Easter bunny, there is no tooth fairy, and there is no queen of England!" The intended joke is clear, but there actually hasn't been a monarch of England since the Acts of Union 1707 united England, Wales, and Scotland to form Great Britain. Currently, the title is "Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland."
- In Fantasia, a double-error caused accuracy in the "Rite of Spring Suite": The famous T-Rex vs Stegosaurus battle was impossible. Tyrannosaurs lived in the Cretaceous period, while Stegosaurus lived in the Jurassic. Furthermore, the T-Rex was drawn with three fingers instead of two. These are both resolved if it's not a T-Rex at all, but an Allosaurus, which did live in the Jurassic and had three fingers.
- Edward Norton's Playing Against Type character in Sausage Party is the Ambiguously Jewish Woody Allen-Expy named Sammy Bagel Jr. While it's obvious that the person for whom the character is named is black and Norton isn't, something that few people may not know is that he was actually Jewish.
Films — Live-Action
- Any paleontologist watching Jurassic Park could, among other things, call out the movie for its depiction of velociraptors as man-sized monsters when real raptors were about the size of turkeys. Only two years prior to the movie's release, however, paleontologists discovered Utahraptor, which really was about the size of the raptors in the movie. And at the time the book was written, Gregory Paul had proposed reclassifying Deinonychus as Velociraptor antirrhopus, believing the species to be similar enough to Velociraptor mongoliensis to justify it being a different species in the same genus, rather than in its own genus. Crichton chose to follow Paul's nomenclature, rather than the standard. Thus the Velociraptors in the movie and books are actually Deinonychus because Paul's theory wasn't disproven until after publishing. This is why Alan Grant is digging up a supposed Velociraptor in America, where the actual Velociraptor didn't live, but Deinonychus did.
- In Jurassic Park III, Spinosaurus was portrayed as being larger than Tyrannosaurus rex and at that time it was believed to be the other way around. Later in 2006, Spinosaurus turned out to be not only larger than a T. rex but also the largest carnivorous dinosaur of them all. A later evidence indicates that Spinosaurus was also aquatic, making the climatic scene where it rises out of the water while swimming also somewhat accurate (and at the same time its maneuverability on dry land and the dramatic fight from Jurassic Park 3 very unrealistic).
- In Quatermass and the Pit (1967), the protagonists uncover remains of primitive humans from five million years ago. The characters state that no such remains have ever been found that far back in time before. At the time, the oldest known hominids were three million years-old members of the genus Australopithecus, but in 1994, a newly discovered five million years-old hominid, Ardipithecus, was announced.
- While A Clockwork Orange was incorrect in its assumption that mini-cassettes would become a popular audio medium, the record store filled with LPs would not look out of place today.
- Some have questioned the credibility of the fact that Captain Englehorn in King Kong is able to translate the language of the islanders, who have apparently never had Western visitors before. He describes it as similar to the language of the Nias islanders. Nias is a real place in Indonesia, but the language of the film is completely fabricated. Nonetheless, Englehorn's ability to translate is not all that implausible; most of the languages of the Pacific share common enough roots to be mutually intelligible to fluent speakers.
- Ted 2: John asks Ted if he can make a "Non-dick bong", and Ted jokes, "that's the name of the South Korean president." But there was a Dick Bong: American Air Force pilot Major Dick Bong.
- This Is Spinal Tap goes for a Sophisticated as Hell gag by having one of the band members describe his song as being influenced by Bach and Mozart, only to reveal that it's entitled "Lick My Love Pump". Such a title would, in fact, have precedent in Mozart's oeuvre, which contains a vocal canon named "Leck Mich im Arsch" (in German literally "lick me in the arse" resp. "kiss my ass").
- Stanley Kubrick and the Doctor Strangelove production team got themselves in trouble with the US Air Force because their interior sets for the B-52 bomber were suspiciously accurate, even though the plane's layout was classified. The filmmakers had started with the appearance of a WWII-era B-29 flight deck, along with a single photograph from a book cover, and simply expanded it based on the B-52's exterior dimensions. Evidently they did an excellent job.
- While The Wizard got many facts wrong, they did properly pronounce Ninja Gaiden (as the The Angry Video Game Nerd mentioned in his Ninja Gaiden video).
- The infamous "transparent aluminum" of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which sounds like a far-flung sci-fi concept if ever there was one, turned out to be not only real, but very practical a mere thirty years after the movie's timeframe. In 2015, Japanese researchers detailed a process to create super-strong glass with aluminum dust.
- In 2010: The Year We Make Contact, When Dr. Heywood Floyd stands in the doorway of his sleeping son's room, on the wall to the left of his bed, is a poster of an Olympic runner, with the text "Beijing 08" on the bottom. The film was made in 1984 and the Olympic Committee did not choose Beijing for the 2008 Olympics until July 2001.
- In Blade Runner, when Batty and Tyrell are arguing about how to prolong a Replicant's lifespan, Batty mentions something called "EMS". Tyrell says they already tried "Ethyl methanesulfonate" unsuccessfully. Ethyl methanesulfonate is an actual organic compound with mutagenic qualities, used in genetics. The scriptwriter later admitted he did no research for the conversation and the mention of a real compound in the Techno Babble was coincidental.
- Given Fort Knox is closed for visitors, the art crew of Goldfinger had to to make up the vault in a studio from their own ideas. The comptroller of the Depository would later send a complimentary letter saying it was imaginative and very close to the real deal.
- The main character in Napoleon Dynamite spends his time drawing silly fantasy creatures like the liger, "a lion and tiger mix, bred for its skills in magic." Unbeknownst to him (and probably the writer), the liger is a real animal and it really is a lion-tiger hybrid that can only exist if it is bred in captivity. Many people who watch the film first and read about the cat later assume that it is a hoax.
- A blonde joke (replacing "blonde" with whatever Acceptable Target you like) tells of one who chose the password "Mickeyminnieplutohueylouiedeweydonaldgoofysacramento", because it needed to have at least 8 characters and include at least 1 capital. The humor comes from the Acceptable Target being overly Literal-Minded, but a password like this would actually be really good — due to its sheer length, it would take about a hojillion years to crack by brute force, and because it's eight closely-related names (plus Sacramento), it would also be fairly easy to remember.
- Improperly used adjectives are all over The Eye of Argon (amongst other linguistic woes). Surprisingly, "scarlet" emerald isn't one of them: they're also called red beryls. It's unlikely that Jim Theis knew this.
- In Eclipse, Bella, Edward, and Jacob hide out in the mountains on the same evening that there is a freak snowstorm. There really was a freak snowstorm in that region of the United States in June of 2006.
- In both Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, Bella and Jacob get a few laughs out of Bella's made-up term of "beta" to mean the second-in-command of the wolf pack. "Beta" is in fact an outdatednote , but still in very common use by laypeople, term for such a wolf.
- Many people are quite shocked by the accuracy with which Fifty Shades of Grey depicts an abusive relationship. It could be a case of Shown Their Work, except that the book is marketed as erotic romance novel and the author vehemently denies any abuse. On top of that, according to Matthew Patrick's Film Theory episode on the film adaptation, it's a scarily accurate depiction of cult indoctrination.
- J. R. R. Tolkien seems to have acquired the gift of prophecy while writing The Notion Club Papers in 1944, given that he gives 1986 as the date of a space programme disaster, a nuclear disaster, and the greatest storm ever to hit England. The last one was a few months out — in Real Life it happened in 1987.
- Tom Clancy has actually been detained by the government for suspicion of divulging national secrets in his novels. He was released because he was able to show the research he had done, which was available to the public, and how he had extrapolated from it for the plots he wrote about. In this case, he was doing his research, and was trying to be accurate, he just turned out to be much, MUCH closer to reality than he realized he would be.note
- In Debt of Honor, published in 1994, Clancy imagines a plane being deliberately crashed into an important building as a terrorist attack.
- Brave New World:
- It was written before the discovery of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, yet not only did Huxley have the lower classes in the series exposed to alcohol as fetuses to make them stupid, but he also correctly identified the other symptoms as well.
- Depending how much leeway you give him, you could also say that he predicted modern consumerist culture. Sure, he saw it as random toys and sports with equipment that takes up enough manufacturing resources to keep the economy chugging along, but the constant turnover in smart phones and other electronics, coupled with the amount of money we as a society spend on media and related merch, it's not too far off of a prediction.
- The famous incident involving "Deadline", a short story sci-fi pulp written by Cleve Cartmill in 1944 which described how to build a uranium-fission bomb, using information taken from technical articles published before the war. The FBI demanded the issue be removed from the newsstands, but editor John W. Campbell convinced them this would only alert the world that the US government was working on building such a weapon. Campbell himself wrote a story in 1936 called "Frictional Losses" that predicted the Japanese use of explosive-laden kamikaze planes (in that case, to fight an Alien Invasion).
- The 1940 anti-isolationist Lightning in the Night predicted a US War with Japan and Germany would begin with a surprise attack at Pearl Harbor and end with Atomic Bombs (!)
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has the equation 6X9=42. This is indeed correct—in Base 13 notation (it's 54 in Base 10, the numbering system we use every day). Douglas Adams responded to the revelation with "I may be a sorry case, but I don't write jokes in base 13."
- The 1898 novella Futility Or The Wreck Of The Titan became famous after a real similarily-named ship, in similar conditions, met the same fate fourteen years later.
- Al Franken's The Truth (with jokes) ends with a letter to his grandchildren, supposedly written in 2015 (the book was published in 2005) about all the things that have happened in politics since then. Some of his predictions are wrong, and some are just for jokes (Karl Rove goes to prison for punching a cop, but continues to advise the 2008 Republican race). He does correctly predict that a Democrat (that he specifically avoids naming) wins in 2008 and again in 2012, and that Al would be elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008.
- In December 1870, Henrik Ibsen wrote a poetic letter from Dresden, making a point of not liking Prussian militarism in the newly united Germany. On the way, he prophezised that this German militarism might get out of hand and spell trouble for everybody. He was damn straight!. Even more jarring is the mentioning of a certain General von Moltke (being known as the one taking the helm after the battle of Marne). In context, Ibsen referred to von Moltke the elder, also a general, who helped defeat the French in 1870. If he only knew...
- In Three Men in a Boat, first published in 1889, the narrator muses on how his contemporary Victorians love Ancient Greek pottery and sculpture that would have been very ordinary in its day. He wonders if in the 20th and 21st centuries people will similarly adore very ordinary things from his own period, and place them in museums, and have Japanese Tourists coming to take pictures of them—an almost eerily accurate prediction. In Three Men On The Bummel he also discusses the national virtues and vices of the Germans, and says that as long as the Germans have a good and competent government, they'll be fine, but if an evil cabal were ever to gain control. . . .
- In the Discworld book The Last Continent, there's a joke about the snakes of XXXX being eaten by the spiders. Meet the Golden Silk Orb-Weaver. Australia: 1; hyperbole: 0.
- The 1981 "honorary Alternate History" novel The Man Who Brought The Dodgers Back To Brooklyn predicted many things about the state of baseball in the span of 1985 to 1988, but the most correct prediction was that the Dodgers would go to the World Series in 1988.
- The "Yoggoth" H P Lovecraft's "Fungi From Yoggoth" poetry collection (1913) is a planet out at the rim of the Solar System unknown to astronomy. Guess what was discovered in February 1930?
- Stephen King's Serial Novel The Green Mile has Percy Wetmore reading a Popeye "Tijuana bible"—a detail completely made up by King. But in his introduction to the single-volume edition, he mentions that one of his readers sent him an off-print of just such an X-rated mini-comic from the 1930s.
Live Action TV
- Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In:
- The series made a joke in 1969 about the future news, setting California governor Ronald Reagan (who had run in the 1968 Republican primaries) as president of the U.S. in 1988note .
- Likewise, in 1969, they made a joke in their news of the future about the Berlin Wall coming downnote .
- Seaquest DSV had an episode where a character claims to have found something in the handwriting of the Greek poet Homer. This has to be incorrect, because it would be impossible for a blind man to write something that wasn't written down for many years. While it's not clear whether the writers knew it, there is a significant amount of scholarship debating whether Homer was actually blind and whether The Odyssey was written, as opposed to an oral narrative.
- Se Lo Que Hicisteis:
- They made a joke where they referred to the Dragon Balls as "Chinese balls", which refers to.... huh, anal beads. Dragon Ball is a Japanese series, but of course, Interchangeable Asian Cultures and All of Asia is China, so the show must hail from China, right? Except the balls are originally named in Gratuitous Chinese (A fact all Spanish dubs removed), so they're technically right. It's unlikely the guys who keep on saying the Maneki Neko is Chinese knew this...
- Even more hilarious if you know that the series was originally loosely based on Journey to the West, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature.
- Rachel on Friends joins a bookclub where they discuss Jane Eyre and she doesn't bother to read the book. When another character asks Rachel what her favourite part was, she immediately outs herself by saying: "The part with... the robot?" In actual fact, the titular character in Jane Eyre has this quite memorable line to Mr Rochester: "Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? And can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?"
- Saturday Night Live:
- The season 34 episode had a sketch about people who would benefit from the 2008 bailout that happened when the global economic meltdown was still fresh. Darrell Hammond and Casey Wilson played a couple named Herbert and Marion Sandler (no relation to Adam) who screwed Wachovia Bank out of a lot of money and profited from the economic meltdown. Now, considering that there were two other fictional characters introduced before them, you'd expect Herbert and Marion to be fakes, too, right? Not in this case: turns out Herbert and Marion Sandler were real people who did exactly what the sketch said they did (Lorne Michaels didn't realize this until after the sketch aired), making the brief clip of them being described as "People who should be shot" by a lower-third graphic tasteless (which explains why the NBC website video and the televised reruns got rid of that scene in the "2008 Bailout" sketch. When Netflix aired the sketch as part of their Saturday Night Live 2000s collection, they aired the scene with Herbert and Marion Sandler, but got rid of the "People who should be shot" lower-third and removed Herbert's line thanking the government for letting them get away with their crime).
- Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live had a joke on Weekend Update about the murder of performer "Professor Backwards" (who was able to read, write and speak backwards written words). Chase said he wasn't saved because people ignored his cries of "Pleh Pleh". Chase later apologized, saying he had no idea there was such a performer and that he had actually been murdered.
- On an episode of Wheel of Fortune, host Pat Sajak joked that the show had only used the category Fictional Family eight times when it came up in one round. At the end of the show, the research department found out that it actually had been used only eight times. (However, a fan has found out that it was actually the category's 10th appearance.)
- The ABC finale of Family Feud had the question "Tell me how old you think Ronald Reagan looks" and Richard Dawson guessed that he was 74. At the time the episode aired — June 14, 1985 — Reagan actually was 74 years old.
- In a game of the original The Hollywood Squares, Buddy Hackett was asked which country has the most doctors proportional to population, to which he jokingly answered "The country with the most Jews! I would say Israel. you have a doctor in every family, it's a cousin, could be an uncle. Couple of specialists...". The contestant agreed, prompting Buddy to ask "You agree with that?" before host Peter Marshall revealed the correct answer was indeed Israel, much to Buddy's amusement.
- Something like this happened in The Wire with the character Kenard, who's seen briefly in season 3 arguing with some other corner kids about who gets to "play" Omar in their stick-up game, and comes back in season 5 where he assassinates Omar. The writers didn't actually realize that it was the same kid and only found out he'd been cast in both roles later, making it an unintentional case of Chekhov's Gunman. Dennis Lehane, who wrote that episode, has jokingly said that he meant to do that.
- In-Universe Example: Star Trek: The Next Generation had an episode called "Future Imperfect", in which Riker supposedly woke up sixteen years into his future, but it was actually a hologram created by a lonely alien orphan named Barash. As it turns out...
- ...Riker commented on how odd it felt to have a Ferengi helmsman. Nog became an ensign nine years later (and served as the helmsman of the Defiant in the final battle with the Dominion.
- ...Riker noted that there were more Klingons in Starfleet, notably a female that he passed on a deck. B'Elanna Torres, a female Klingon/Human Hybrid worked as a chief engineer on a Starfleet vessel four years later.
- ...Picard tells Riker that peace talks with the Romulans began four years ago (from the future that Riker was in), and that Riker's ship was instrumental in doing so. It's just that, right down to the date.
- ...and finally, Troi is seen wearing a Starfleet uniform, although she didn't wear one in the show at the time. She started doing so two years later, although it was during the same series.
- There are two Star Trek: The Original Series episodes where the Enterprise travels back in time to the contemporary 1960s. In the first one, "Tomorrow is Yesterday", it's mentioned that three astronauts are taking part in a manned moon shot on Wednesday. Two years after the episode aired, Apollo 11 blasted off on July 16, 1969 (a Wednesday) carrying three astronauts (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins). In "Assignment: Earth", Spock discusses how chaotic the time period is and mentions that, "there will be an important assassination today." Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated six days after the episode aired. Also, the episode's plot involves stopping the U.S. from launching a nuclear weapon into space, which involves plenty of Saturn V Stock Footage. A Saturn V rocket carrying Apollo 6 was launched on the same day that King died.
- Community had a joke where Britta is said to have a favourite superhero character called X-Man. It's presented in-universe as a joke, with Britta either not knowing the names of the actual X-Men character she likes and calling the character X-Man instead. However, there's actually a real character named 'X-Man' in the Marvel continuity. The character, X-Man, is an alternate-universe version of Cyclops’ future son, Cable.
- The shortlived 1987 series Second Chance had a throw away joke involving Muammar Gaddafi arriving at the Pearly Gates which listed the date of his death as July 29th 2011. Less than three months away from the real date (October 20).
- In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Orpheus" Jack O'Neill mans a sniper rifle during a rescue operation against a Goa'uld PoW Camp. He aims for center of mass. Falls here because the showrunners' reasoning for doing that was because headshots are messy and they didn't want to have to argue with the network censors, but trained snipers in real life aim for center of mass because it's an easier target.
- Show continuity version: One of the CSI: NY tie-in novels had Mac recall that Claire liked opera. Several years later, "Indelible" had Mac surprising her with opera tickets on the morning of 9/11/2001, to her delight.
- On Hannibal and the book it's based on Will Graham's "empathy disorder" as it's called by the writers is stated as being fictional but on the same spectrum as autism and Asperger's Syndrome but being characterized by an overreading of social cues that overwhelms him rather than the difficultly instinctively reading them that occurs in real life. However several newer theories of autism suggest that what's described in Will's case may in fact be true of more people on the autism spectrum than previously thought, something that both the original author Thomas Harris and series writer Bryan Fuller were likely unaware of, the former especially since the book was first published in 1981.
- A much-criticized scene in an episode of Firefly had Jayne place his beloved rifle Vera in a spacesuit in order to fire in space, with the given reason that it needs oxygen to fire. Bullet propellants contain all that's needed for combustion, meaning that normal guns should be able to fire in the airless environment of space. However, there actually is a valid reason for putting an atmosphere around it: exposure to hard vacuum can cause many types of non-specialized lubrication to flash-evaporate, causing the working parts to quickly wear out to inoperable.
- In an episode of One Foot in the Grave, Victor Meldrew tests positive for blood in the stool after eating black pudding. Obviously this is the sort of crazy contrivance that could only happen to a sitcom character who is the Chew Toy of a cruel universe... except that a couple of years after this episode aired, a study discovered that eating black pudding really can and does cause false positives. Nowadays they tell you not to eat black pudding before a colonoscopy for this reason.
- The infamous line uttered by a character from Baywatch; "I love playing Mario on my Atari!" There were in fact, games featuring Mario available on the Atari 2600, such as Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. The line was outdated, but not inaccurate.
- After the revelation that British Prime Minister David Cameron had maybe stuck his penis into a pig's mouth during a debauched university initiation, many, many people compared it to the premiere of Black Mirror, where the (fictional) British Prime Minister is blackmailed into having intercourse with a pig. Even series creator Charlie Brooker was flabbergasted at how close the episode was to reality.
- Doctor Who had the Doctor refer to a sauropod dinosaur as Brontosaurus in "Invasion of the Dinosaurs". Although the correct designation at the time was Apatosaurus, the issue of the type specimen's proper genus has recently been re-opened, and this trope will very likely apply if the splitters have their way. Being a time traveler, the Doctor could have already known the name would change when he called the animal that.
- This I've Got A Secret episode, which had Neil Armstrong's parents with the secret that their son had just been chosen as an astronaut. Host Garry Moore asks how they'd feel if their son became the first man on the moon.
- Some of the hidden gadgets the writers of Get Smart came up with for the agents of CONTROL were accidentally close to what was being developed for actual spies, to the point that the CIA called them in demanding to know where the writers were getting their information.
- On The Real O'Neals, about teenager Kenny coming out as gay to his Catholic family, this happened because of the episodes being aired Out of Order. His mother Eileen would have varying levels of acceptance depending on the episode because of this. Critics noted that it made the depiction of Eileen's struggle to come to terms with having a gay son oddly realistic, as it comes off as a messy hodgepodge of conflicted emotions rather than the straight line to acceptance that had been intended.
- One theory about Fermat's Last Theorem is that Fermat's proof was actually wrong, but the results were correct anyway. In fact, this is almost universally believed within the mathematical community. Fermat always did turn out to have a proof when he said he did, so it's likely that he at least thought he could prove this. Fermat essentially created several areas of math despite not publishing much of his work, including a general form of integration along with finding a general way to get rates of change, making it possible that far from being mistaken, he did discover a proof for a special case and generalized it incorrectly (the book that he wrote it in was actually the first attempt ever to use a symbolic system to write algebra). Given the insane complexity of Andrew Wiles's proof, very few mathematicians believe that 17th-century mathematics could have produced any solution at all, much less a simple one. Both of the theorems Wiles used to make his proof were twentieth-century in origin. Also, the theorem holds the record for the most wrong proofs.
- It's unlikely that Maria Nayler was talking about Boolean logic when she sang the line "one and one still is one" in Robert Miles' "One & One", but she hits the nail on the head.
- "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette has been widely lampooned for not being ironic, and Morissette has admitted this. Michael Stevens of Vsauce points out that one could interpret the song as being dramatically ironic, when the significance of something is unknown to a character but known to others. The individual events aren't examples of situational irony, but life is ironic because life knows what we need while what we think we need differs.
- Garfield hates raisins. While this was just because Jim Davis hates them, in real life they are poisonous to cats.
- One Pearls Before Swine strip has Guard Duck at a fancy restaurant ordering "chateaubriand, cooked medium well." In the commentary for that strip, Stephan Pastis admitted that he only used chateaubriand because it sounded fancy without knowing what it was, but he hoped it really was a type of food. It is—it's a type of steak, which can be cooked medium well.
- Guard Duck also orders "a glass of your finest pinot noir", which is in no way a bad wine pairing.
- MAD Magazine and its parodies of the Rocky movies:
- In "Rockhead III", because Rockhead twice stands nose-to-chest with his ring opponents, he remarks, "If this kind of posing keeps up, I want my next match to be with Dolly Parton!" Stallone's next film after First Blood? Rhinestone, where he acts opposite guess who.
- In "Rockhead IV," during "Appalling Greed's" funeral, "Brawly" muses to "Atrium," "I wonder which one of us gets our ticket punched in 'Rockhead V'?" While it doesn't happen during the events of Rocky V, one of them (Adrian) is indeed dead before the events of Rocky Balboa.
- MAD also spoofed Cathy with one called Amy!, which depicted Amy Winehouse pulling a vial of cocaine out of her beehive hairdo. Later on, the real Ms. Winehouse was filmed doing exactly that.
- When Místico signed with the WWE and was rebranded Sin Cara, Jim Ross made mention that as Sin Cara, he'd have the potential to be a global cultural icon. Well, Mistico's style was wildly incompatible with "WWE" style wrestling, and thanks to his propensity for screwing up, became almost synonymous with botching.
- "A stopped watch is right twice a day." Even someone who is wrong all the time is bound to be right sometimes. Depending on the context, this can be implied to be either accidental or one is giving credit where it's due. The trope also holds on a more literal level, at least on a twelve-hour watch face.
- The Greek philosopher Leucippus created the atomic theory, as an argument against another philosopher, Parmenides. While Parmenidies argued against the idea that a state of nothingness could exist, Leucippus argued that there were in fact voids and that everything that was not a void was made of small units of matter that assembled to create larger ones. Aristotle scoffed at the argument, stating that in a complete absence of matter, motion would no longer encounter friction and allow for infinite speeds, which he saw as ridiculous. Well, turns out that what Aristotle used to try to discredit the theory is pretty close to what actually occurs to objects in motion in space.
- Finnish naturalist Immanuel Ilmoni hypothesized in the early 18th century that diseases were actually living beings, not unlike animals. While he was ridiculed, the germ theory of diseases was confirmed less than hundred years later.
- The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey typing randomly at a keyboard will type out the complete works of William Shakespeare given an infinite amount of time. More generally, he'll type out every book that has ever been written or ever will be. There's also a joke that starts this way but ends with "Now, with the invention of the Internet, we know that's not true."
- The rules for heat movement were created based on the idea that heat was a particle called phlogiston. One of the reasons that this theory stuck around so long is that the rules concerning the movement of heat are the same as the movement of diffuse material in a fluid. Thus, as phlogiston was abandoned as a theory, the rules of heat movement were unchanged.
- This apparently happened twice due to correspondence between Galileo and Kepler. Scientists at the time would sometimes write down discoveries with scrambled letters when they weren't ready to publish their findings, but wanted to establish priority of discovery. Galileo wrote two such letters to Kepler, one concerning his discovery of Saturn's rings, the other concerning the phases of Venus. Kepler tried to unscramble them both and ended up with different sentences, one claiming that Mars had two moons and the other that there was a moving red spot on Jupiter. By complete coincidence, both of those claims were correct, but neither would be proven for centuries.
- As to Phobos and Deimos (the two moons of Mars): in 1727, Jonathan Swift mentioned in the third part of Gulliver's Travels that the scientists of Laputa had discovered two satellites of Mars, at distances that were much smaller than those of any known moons at the time, and with rotation speeds that also were out of kilter with any known moons. When Asaph Hall discovered the moons in 1877 these numbers were so close to the real ones, that he named them Phobos and Deimos (Fear and Terror).
- In 1900, the Russian archaeologist Friedrich Zibold discovered the remains of a mysterious domed structure in the Byzantine Crimean site of Theodosia. After studying the ruins and some terracotta pipes found nearby, he proposed that the structure was an air well designed to condensate moisture from the air into water, and built a replica to test it. This replica was successful and became the precursor of modern air wells. However, it was discovered later that the ancient structure was actually a tomb, the pipes were not related to it and Zibold had used the wrong materials for his replica. But by sheer coincidence, these materials were the necessary to make a working air well, and had Zibold used the real ones in the tomb, his experiment would have been a failure. In other words, Zibold inadvertenly invented a new technology as a result of a failed attempt to replicate a Lost Technology that didn't actually exist in the first place.
Stand Up Comedy
- In his famous Pachelbel Rant, Rob Paravonian makes some very inaccurate claims about the piece, such as getting the date wrong by more than a century. However, the one thing that he admits that he doesn't know is the composer's first name, but guesses that it's Johann, since "they're all named Johann". Turns out he's dead right about that one.
- In Weapons of Self Destruction, Robin Williams joked about the next pope after Benedict would be from Latin America "or Brazil" (which is part of Latin America). Come 2013, Pope Francis is elected and hails from Argentina.
- The play Abigail's Party makes a humorous reference to putting red wine (Beaujolais) in the fridge, as a comment of misguided middle class aspirations in the 70s. However, playwright Mike Leigh later learned that Beaujolais is one of a few red wines that is best when chilled.
- In The Mikado, W.S. Gilbert used the name Ko Ko because he thought it was funny sounding, and didn't know at the time that it is a legitimate Japanese name. Just ask Kouko Kaga.
- One of the biggest points of academic contention about Hamlet is whether or not the eponymous Prince of Denmark is actually mad, or just faking it. The Vikings did allegedly have some sort of taboo against killing a person afflicted with madness, which makes pretending to be one a viable survival trait for the son of a usurped Danish king. Apparently, it's doubtful that Shakespeare would have been aware of this. Even so, it's not entirely a coincidence. While Shakespeare wouldn't have known about this taboo, the authors of his source material would have. He probably kept the Obfuscating Insanity plot without understanding the societal context of it.
- The play Brand by Henrik Ibsen made an eerie prophecy concerning the concequences of British pollution reaching Norway, leading to dying forests and lakes. The play was written in 1866, while this problem became apparent in the 1980s. The accuracy of this passage is quite chilling:
Britain s smoke-cloud sinks corrodingOn the land in noisome fume ;Smirches all its tender bloom,All its gracious verdure dashes,Sweeping low with breath of bane,Stealing sunlight from the plain,Showering down like rain of ashesOn the city of God s doom.
- In Super Mario Sunshine, Mario dies instantly when he falls in lava. When he dies in lava, Mario stays on top of it rather than sinking into it, because the lava is actually just water with a lava texture added to it. This is what would happen in reality since molten rock is incredibly dense, you'd just remain atop it while you quickly and horribly burn to death.
- Hotel Mario is infamous for "All Toasters Toast Toast", among other things. Yes, toasters usually toast bread. They also re-toast toast and finish toasting toast. The toaster toasts one's bread but doesn't toast it to one's preference, the now-toast will be put back into the toaster to toast some more. Also, somewhere between the bread entering the toaster and the toast leaving the toaster the bread must have become toast, all but guaranteeing that at least some of the time it is being toasted in the toaster it is already toast.note Alternatively, all toasters toast bread that will eventually become toast.
- Deus Ex:
- The game came out in 2000, but takes place in 2052; it has, in certain areas, the New York City skyline as background scenery, but missing the Twin Towers. This was due to technical limitations, but the explanation the developers gave is that they were destroyed in a terrorist attack some time in the game's past. This may have been an educated guess on their part, as the World Trade Center had been the target of a terrorist bombing back in 1993, but not nearly on a large enough scale to actually topple any of the buildings. As well, terrorism is a large part of the game's plot, so that explanation fits within the mythology, too.
- Another one that sort of adds a little uneasiness, in the mission where you save someone from a gas station, you can see the prices. At the time it may have represented something far off, as gas prices were on average about $1.20 and the game depicted gas prices at $3.58, for regular. Cue 10-12 years later after the game's release and that's exactly where those gas prices are, although the early 2015 drop in gas prices let us breathe easily.
- Most thought provoking, or perhaps scary, example can be read on government sponsored electronic bulletin boards across the game. One article found at the very beginning of the game tells readers to keep an eye out for terrorists and report any suspicious activities. The messages are clearly intended to be alarming signs of the dystopian state of the current government, both in the fear mongering "everyone can be a terrorist" message used to scare everyone into accepting the Big Brother level of control the government has, and in the invasion of privacy advocated by suggesting a thorough background search on anyone who is a foreigner or has spent too much time on the net. Thus, it's rather shocking how close this came to actual suggestions put out shortly after 9/11 for 'how to spot a terrorist'. What are you supposed to think when their own government is now repeating word for word the dystopian messages were told to watch out for?
- Its prequel, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, has the collapse of the Detroit automobile industry and the city's slow descent into financial ruin as part of its story. The game was released in 2011, but the ideas were thought up years earlier. The first occurred not that long after the ideas were written, and the second occurred only a few years later. What's more, real world Detroit has been attempting to reinvent itself as some kind of midwest Silicon Valley as a backup solution to its industrial decline. Considering that Sarif industries and other nanotech-related enterprises are located in Detroit, this trope could apply again in a few years.
- The prequel also mentions an oil crash in 2015. While we didn't have an oil crash, prices did fall significantly.
- In Cracked article "10 Brilliant Comedy Gems Hiding on Youtube," the author quips that he hopes the authors of "Jean-Luc Picard Doesn't Give a Fuck" only stopped making them "because they became super famous and died from all the sex and money that was thrown at them." As a number of the comments pointed out, the reason they stopped making them was so one of them could work on Homestuck, this article having been written after the celebrated 2.5 million dollar Kickstarter.
- Game Grumps:
- When Arin plays Kirby Super Star with Jon, he calls a boomerang-wielding enemy "Boomer Man". The enemy's actual name is "Boomer".
- Arin jokingly suggests a line for Blaze in a cutscene of Sonic '06 seconds before she says it for real.
Arin: She's like "Come back for more, huh?" and he's like "Ah, shut up".Jon: "Not everything's about sex."Arin: She's like "Of course it is!" She's all, like, cynical like she's been broken down by the world. And she's like "What else would it be? You're so naive!" and like, walks away.Jon: And he's just like, "I don't even care anymore. It used to rile me up, and now I realize that, you know..."Blaze: You're so naive.Jon: What?!
- This article from Sonic The Hedgehog fansite The Sonic Stadium about this terrible review from the British tabloid newspaper The Sun decribing that it sounded something like what Fox News would write. In fact both The Sun and Fox News are owned by the same guy.
- At the end of this review for The Tigger Movie, Duckyworth wonders if the director, Toby Bluth, is related to Don Bluth. He is.
- During his review of Tank Girl, The Nostalgia Critic gets repeatedly frustrated with the overuse of comic drawings instead and guesses that the makers simply forgot to shoot several scenes and had to improvise. As it turns out, he was partially correct - in an interview, co-creator Jamie Hewlett said that he and Alan Martin had to animate several scenes because the producers forgot to film them.
- For TV Tropes itself, the description of the page Invincible Hero used the Perfectly Cromulent Word "vincible" to mean the opposite of "invincible". Not only is it perfectly cromulent, it's perfectly real as well. And it means exactly what it's suggested to mean: beatable.
- A number of things the players of the Persona 4 Endurance Run do end up accurately predicting some things. For example, their overuse of God Hand when using Chie accidentally predicts said move being one of her Signature Moves in Persona 4: Arena (being one of her Super Moves).
- In Internet Personality Vangelus' review of a Dancougar action figure, he admits that he doesn't know much about the show, but he hopes its Cool Sword has an appropriately awesome name, like "Dankuuken". That is in fact the sword's name, and Vangelus' Subtitles (which are pretty shocked themselves) promise that he didn't look the name up before filming.
- When Two Best Friends Play played an untranslated game in Portuguese called Insanidade, seeing the word "jogo" (game) written in-game several times inspired a long-staying Running Gag of calling things "a mysterious jogo". They all pronounce the word "joe-go", which is mostly correct, but state in a much later video that they were trying to mispronounce it as a joke.
- In an Achievement Hunter Let's Play video on Family Feud, one question asked for characters Bugs Bunny faced off against. Gavin Free claims that Bugs went up against Wile E. Coyote, but the others dismiss it and get the odd answer of "Porky Pig" right. As it turns out, there really were two shorts where Bugs and the Coyote went against each other, but being shorts that are rarely aired, it's not impossible that Gavin, being the Cloudcuckoolander that he is, could have been wrong.
- One couple on Not Always Romantic started mutating "Hey, baby!" until it became "Habibi". Upon realizing that "Habibi" was an actual Arabic word, they looked it up in case they were saying something inappropriate. It means "my beloved".
- Many furry artists, unsure of how to draw the arms of spectacles for characters who wear glasses, omit the arms altogether. Rest assured, ye artistic masses, such glasses exist: They are called Pince-nez, and use a spring or clip to pinch the nose, or are made to fit an individual's nose.
- This review of Ice Age 4: Continental Drift ends with the author telling himself that the next sequel will probably have aliens in it. He was halfway right.
- In the webcomic DM of the Rings, the players tend to mangle their characters' names. At one point, "Gimli" introduces himself as "Gimli, son of Groin", obviously mispronouncing "Glóin". However, in The Lord of the Rings canon, Gimli actually is descended from a Gróinnote , who is his grandfather.
- Happens in the Campaign Comic Darths & Droids, when one of the players explains how the vast hollow shaft inside Cloud City is generating wind power from the air flow that the temperature differential inside such a large space would create. The Game Master quickly agrees rather than, say, point out that Bottomless Pits are just cool.
- Examples from The Simpsons:
- In the commentary for "The Crepes of Wrath", the writers note that the bit about adding antifreeze to wine was a parody of an incident where some wine was found contaminated with antifreeze, but that, obviously, the contamination wasn't deliberate. Except that the contamination was discovered when a winery started listing antifreeze as a business expense, and it was very deliberately added to make the wine sweeter note .
- While the writers may have known that a torus is one of the contenders for the shape of the universe, Homer certainly didn't know that when he told Stephen Hawking about his theory of a doughnut-shaped universe.
- Abe Simpson once recalls his father talking about America being the greatest thing since sliced bread. He then says that sliced bread had been invented the previous winter. It was just meant as an "old fart" joke, but given that he served in WWII and the first commercial bread-slicing machine was invented in 1928, the writers were surprisingly accurate with this one.
- In "Two Bad Neighbors", Homer attempts to prank George H.W. Bush with cardboard cut-outs he identifies as "your sons, George Bush Jr. and Jeb Bush". In the audio commentary for that episode, it's said that the writers had no idea that there really is a "George Bush Jr." and the line was supposed to be an example of Homer being stupid. Stupider like a fox, it seems.
- Dolphins are frequently given an Alternative Character Interpretation as violent, venal and murderous animals, unlike their "actual" gentle and caring personality. As anyone who has studied dolphin behavior can tell you, this interpretation is truer than you might believe. It's not clear which, if any, writers knew this when they used it.
- The Simpsons did this in "Treehouse of Horror XI".
- The Pet Professional also did this.
- As did The Adventures of Dr. McNinja.
- MST3K also plays on this, as dolphins attack the Satellite of Love with interplanetary dolphin warships.
- King of the Hill did it with Hank getting raped by the dolphin at the La Grunta resort.
- The Penguins of Madagascar gives us another evil dolphin, Dr. Blowhole.
- Pearls Before Swine has killer dolphins in one arc.
- It's worth noting that the Dolfury from Mortasheen is almost definitely not a case of this. The setting and monsters are created by a biology enthusiast fascinated with the so-called "dark side" of nature, and who often seems to hold "cutesy critters" like dolphins in open contempt. The chances that he didn't know that making his dolphin-derived monsters violent sadists who are popularly (and not necessarily incorrectly) regarded as one of the only monsters that are genuinely evil was Truth in Television to some degree closely approaches zero.
- League of Super Evil showed that dolphins are actually super villains in one episode.
- The Futurama episode "The Cyber House Rules" features the line, "This jigsaw of a pacifier factory makes me want to have children with you even more." Originally the line was "This jigsaw of a barn makes me want to have children with you even more." By coincidence, the Swedish word for children is barn, a cognate of the archaic English "bairn" when means "children". "Bairn" is etymologically related to "born". Maybe the joke was cut because it was esoteric, even for a show that often has jokes about science and math that no one would get unless they were college or grad school-educated.
- The Scottish terrier from "Lady and the Tramp" refers to the new baby as a "wee bairn," so obscure but not unknown.
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: It's Common Knowledge that diamond is overall the hardest natural substance on Earth. What only a relatively small handful of people know, however, is that for all that durability, diamond is astonishingly brittle. It is, in fact, not only possible, but surprisingly easy to take a hammer and chisel to a large chunk of the stone for the purposes of breaking off smaller fragments suitable for either jewelery or industrial purposes. So when Jimmy baited a T-Rex into slamming headlong into an enormous stone to get a smaller one suitable for his jury-rigged time travel remote, in the episode Sorry, Wrong Era? Not only is that possible, but completely and utterly plausible; the show uses unabashedly wrong and fictional science just because it coasts along on both Rule of Cool and Rule of Funny, so chances are good that the writers behind the show didn't do their homework this time either.
- A similar joke occurs in an episode of Johnny Bravo: a thief is trying to steal the world's largest cubic zircon, but when she tries to cut the glass case with a small buzzaw the blade dulls since the case is actually made out of diamond. She then smashes Johnny's head into the case and it breaks. Not only is this exactly what would happen in real life (diamond is extremely hard, and therefore resistant to cutting, but is also brittle and will shatter if hit hard enough), the way the case shatters is pretty accurate too (it doesn't break into shards like glass, but seems to crumble to dust: when diamond shatters it breaks along crystal planes into multiple tiny diamonds rather than shattering like glass).
- South Park did an episode with a character called Sexual Harassment Panda that satirized how difficult subjects (like sexual harassment) are often presented to children in a sugar-coated manner. Turns out there is a program called P.A.N.D.A. that deals with how to deal with sexual harassment at both school and work.
- That same season included a Pokémon parody "Chinpokomon." One of the various characters resembles Skarmory, who debuted in the Gold and Silver games released in Japan only two weeks after the episode aired.
- In Phineas and Ferb, Perry the platypus makes a strange growling sound by chattering his teeth. It turns out platypuses really do make such a noise, though they don't make it by chattering (Platypuses don't have teeth, after all).
- Before they leave the breeding burrow, young platypus do actually have teeth. They lose them at maturity.
- My Little Pony has a predominantly female cast. Of course this because it is a show marketed to girls, but in real life groups of horses are almost all female with sometimes a 'herd stallion'. In contrast, Generation 4 has the most male characters and happens to have had the most research put into it.
- One episode of Family Guy had a Cutaway Gag of a cow really enjoying getting milked. This is actually true for cows and other dairy animals as it relieves pressure on their udders, and can sometimes be quite erotic to them as well. The Simpsons also does the same thing in one of their Treehouse of Horror episodes, where Ned Flanders takes pleasure and relief in getting milked when his lower half got transformed into the body of a cow.
- The 2014 FIFA World Cup was accompanied by a German parody show called Hoeggschde Konzentration. The episode right before the match against Brazil had the Germans completely ridicule their opponents, expecting to win 6-0 (yes, this is ridiculously high by soccer standards). The writers certainly didn't expect them to win 7-1 in Real Life.
- An In-Universe version shows up in The Legend of Korra. Corrupt Corporate Executive Varrick puts out a ridiculously obvious and over the top set of propaganda films against the Northern Water Tribe Chieftain Unalaq designed to turn public support against him and towards the rebels fighting against him. Varrick does this purely because Unalaq's edicts are bad for his own business, and his films transform The Fundamentalist, self-righteous, Holier Than Thou Unalaq into an Omnicidal Maniac Mad Scientist planning to use a Doomsday Device to destroy the world. This turns out to be far closer to Unalaq's real personality and goals than either fans of the show or people in that world would have guessed at the time, not that Varrick knew about that or would have cared.
- An eerie example of this with Bob's Burgers: In the episode "I Get a Psychic Out of You", Linda, convinced that she has psychic powers, tells her friend Gretchen to stay away from trains on her trip to Philadelphia. In Real Life about a year after the episode aired, an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, resulting in several deaths.
- Robot Chicken:
- Once sketch portrays Alvin and the Chipmunks with deep voices that Dave hates so much he tries to kill them over. He fills their booth with helium, giving them their signature high-pitched voices and Dave's approval right before it kills them. The canister being labelled "deadly helium" suggests the writers thought the idea wasn't supposed to make sense, but that much helium really would be fatal: even if it isn't poisonous, displacing that much oxygen would cause asphyxiation.
- Another sketch involves Mickey trying to ban mixed species Disney couples, which eventually gets into a pretty obvious metaphor for homophobia. It's funnier when you remember this comic actually exists.
- American Dad! had an episode that revealed that George Washington Carver didn't invent peanut butter and that the US government had credited him with the discovery in order to help ease race relations after the Civil War. In reality, George Washington Carver actually didn't invent peanut butter. Peanut butter actually dates back to the Aztecs and Incas, and the first patent was issued to Marcellus Gilmore Edson in 1884.
- Averted : a newspaper crossword-puzzle editor was once briefly arrested for using the words "Overlord," "Utah," "Omaha," "Mulberry" and "Neptune" in a number of puzzles in the weeks leading up to D-Daynote . The same editor, Leonard Dawe, had previously been investigated for having put "Dieppe" as an answer — on August 18, 1942, the day before the disastrous Allied raid on Dieppe was to launch. An investigation at the time could only conclude that it was a bizarre, and astonishing coincidence. Only in the 1980s did the answer come out — the crossword-puzzle editor was a teacher, and he used his students to collect odd words. One of those students had hung around military camps and bases enough to overhear the unusual words being spoken, and promptly turned them over.
- Averted and played straight in at least one investigation. The FBI received a tip regarding an American in Mexico who was believed to be a fugitive responsible for murdering his family. The FBI and Mexican authorities questioned him, but he did not cooperate. The next day it was found that he WAS a fugitive from US justice, but not the man they were looking for.