You know that film/show/video game with the hilarious send-up of that major corporation, famous religion or washed-up celebrity? Well, according to the creators, that's not what it was about at all. In fact, despite the obvious similarities and paper-thin alterations that make it a clear parody, they claim it's not a parody of anything in particular. It should be noted that the standard disclaimer "any similarity to persons living or dead..." does not constitute a denial in this case (indeed, some disclaimers now acknowledge that such names may be used fictitiously). After all, The Simpsons had a character named Bill Clinton who was president of the United States, and despite the disclaimer, it is doubtful that they were denying that it was based on the real-life person. This trope only applies when it's a specific denial. Also, this trope does not cover situations where the denials are plausible—for example, McBain on The Simpsons could easily be a parody of the character from the Christopher Walken film McBain, if it weren't for the fact that the film was released 8 months after McBain's first appearance on The Simpsons. In this case, the denial is plausible. This is usually due to one of two reasons:
- Fear of lawsuits
- A direct parody may give the authors less freedom, since all of the humorous features of the fictional thing must be based on characteristics of the thing being parodied.
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Anime and Manga
- When Code Geass first came out, a lot of fans believed it was a parody-slash-critique of the Bush administration and the War On Terror. When asked about this in an interview, director Goro Taniguchi denied that there was any political motivation behind the plot and said that his goal was just to make an entertaining TV show.
- The boss from The Devil Wears Prada bears a striking similarity to Vogue's editor Anna Wintour, but the author maintains that she is a composite of fiction and various stories of her friends' first jobs.
- Steven Soderbergh's Schizopolis features a self-help religion called Eventualism, based on a book by T. Azimuth Schwitters and featuring a volcano on its cover. But it's not a parody of Scientology.
- This is a good example of the second rationale above. Aside from the name, Schwitters doesn't seem to have anything in common with L. Ron Hubbard.
- Good Night, and Good Luck., a film about McCarthyism, is widely seen as being a commentary about the legal processes for alleged unlawful combatants in Guantanamo Bay. The creators deny any such connection.
- Like Good Night and Good Luck, The Crucible is commonly interpreted as an anvilicious commentary on a contemporary legal scare. In the case of The Crucible, that was McCarthyism, though Arthur Miller denied it at the time.
- Meryl Streep denied that her character in The Manchurian Candidate was a parody of Hillary Clinton. Given that the original version of the film was released in the 1960s, she probably has a point. (Although, they do have similar Power Hair...)
- Orson Welles denied that the lead character of Citizen Kane was based on William Randolph Hearst. It's unclear whether Welles was telling the truth, but Hearst certainly went out of his way to make sure everyone would think Kane was based off him. How very Charles Foster Kane of him.
- Hearst: "Please remain. You furnish the pictures, and I'll furnish the war." Kane: "Dear Wheeler, You provide the prose poems. I'll provide the war." Completely different!
- Welles actually tried to get around this by including a line in the film in which a journalist makes a reference to both Kane and Hearst, thus indicating that Hearst actually exists as a separate entity in the Citizen Kane universe. In later interviews, Welles stated that Hearst along with Howard Hughes and other industrialists were certainly influences on Kane, but that Kane was never intended as a parody/critique/insult to Hearst specifically or other industrialists, it was meant as a serious exploration of an American mythical hero, the tycoon and capitalist.
- The Monty Python team have always denied that Monty Python's Life of Brian was a parody of the Jesus story - instead it's just a story about a guy called Brian living around the same time who is mistaken for the Messiah. The parody is about the various trappings of the religion - things like emphasis on symbols and extreme sectarianism and interpretations of Jesus's teachings that completely miss the point, while the teachings themselves are left intact. They never said they weren't making fun of religion, they just said they weren't making fun of Jesus. And they weren't. At least, not more than a couple of times. ("Bloody do-gooder.") They rejected their initial concept of Brian as a forgotten disciple of Jesus because the laughs stopped dead whenever Jesus was around — none of them felt comfortable directly making jokes about Him because there's nothing to really mock about the man Himself.
- While The President's Analyst was being filmed, the FBI, not pleased with their portrayal, threatened massive tax audits on the director/writer. After renaming the pertinent intelligence agencies, he added the opening disclaimer:
This film has not been made with the consent or cooperation of the Federal Board of Regulations (F.B.R.) or the Central Enquires Agency (C.E.A.). Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental, and so forth and so on.
- While Elliot Carver from Tomorrow Never Dies looks at first glance like a thinly disguised version of Rupert Murdoch, the movie's main writer claims he was actually based on Robert Maxwell (this is supported by the cover story for Carver's death and the public's reaction to it mirroring Maxwell's fatal boat accident).
- Ever since the mid-nineties The Living Daylights has had a Denied Parody disclaimer slapped on the character of Kamran Shah. He definitely isn't based on Osama Bin Laden at all, just a generic tall, bearded, Western-educated radical Islamist Afghan-insurgent who was funded by MI6 and CIA to fight the Soviets.
- The writer of Scarface (1932) denied any connection to Al Capone (whose Embarrassing Nickname was "Scarface") when confronted by some of Capone's men, insisting that it was just a work of fiction. The film was an adaptation of the novel Scarface, which was somewhat influenced by Capone.
- Director Tim Burton went on record as saying that Johnny Depp's interpretation of Willy Wonka in the 2005 film adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was NOT a parody or Expy of Michael Jackson after the bulk of reviews of the film pointed out the similarities between the two figures — and, at least in Roger Ebert's review, actually counted it as a point against the film because it came off as so creepy. This is another of the more plausible denials, as the resemblances between the two — both are soft-spoken, pale, Uncanny Valley-appearing Reclusive Artist Man Children — owe more to Burton's usual character aesthetics and Depp taking inspiration from the above-mentioned Anna Wintour in appearance and the original novel's characterization in personality. (Jackson himself had sought the role out when the project was announced for that reason.) Unfortunately, the superficial similarities came along just after Jackson's months-long trial on child molestation charges wrapped up.
- Willie Stark, the governor in All the King's Men, is widely held to be a parody of Gov. Huey Long. The author claims that this belief is "innocent boneheadedness."
- Arguably, Mark Twain's line at the beginning of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was meant to veil the satire and parody that the book contained:
NOTICE: Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR, per G.G., Chief of Ordnance.
- Jennifer Saunders denied that her character, Eddie in Absolutely Fabulous was a parody of PR guru Lynne Franks; the character was actually derived from this sketch that she did with Dawn French in French and Saunders, where the responsible daughter had to look after her flighty teenager-like mother. Of course, for Absolutely Fabulous both characters needed expanding, so it's still possible.
- Alex Borstein has flatly denied that Ms Swan, a character she did on MADtv, is an old Asian woman, and claims she's based on her grandmother. Uh huh. Sure. (The Vancome Lady thinks she's Icelandic.)
- An In-Universe example on Murder, She Wrote had a man cleared but largely suspected of murdering his wife attempting to sue Jessica over one of her novels which just happened to have similarities to the case, including the husband being the prime suspect. After finally reading the book himself and finding out the husband wasn't the killer in the book either he agreed to drop the lawsuit, but was killed before he could.
- Indie band Half Man Half Biscuit deny that their song "Shit Arm, Bad Tattoo", is in any way about real band The Libertines, their arms or tattoos. This is despite a number of extraordinarily specific details, from the title's description of cover of the Libertines' first album, to a lengthy rant directed at people who incorrectly refer to the biblical Revelation (singular) of St John the Divine as the Book of Revelations (plural), a solecism coincidentally to be found in the lyrics of the Libertines' "What A Waster".
- Parodied in and of itself on The Simpsons. Bart denies his comicbook character "Angry Dad", an Expy of The Incredible Hulk, is based on Homer, claiming instead he is a composite character, based on his dad, Lisa's dad, and Maggie's dad.
- Futurama: "Weresemblebutarelegallydistinctfrom the Lollipop Guild, the Lollipop Guild!"