"So you don't believe in dragons?
It is curiously true
That the dragons you disparage
Choose not to believe in you."Two races, or tribes, were familiar with each other's existence a long time ago but they have gone ages without contact with each other, and now each believes the other to be creatures of legend, that either never existed or died out long ago. Until they meet each other. And they both react exactly the same way: by saying something along the lines of "They do exist!" in a tone of awe. At the same time. (Or at least one directly after the other.) Compare Mutually Fictional, where the two sides really did originate as (or still are) only stories to each other.
— Jack Prelutsky, The Dragons Are Singing Tonight
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- The Russian advertisements for Hochland cheese:
Son: Dad, do aliens exist?Father: No, son, it's fiction![Cut to an alien planet]Alien son: Dad, do humans exist?Alien father: No, son, it's fiction!
- One classic Christmas ad for M&Ms had Yellow checking to see whether Santa Claus had arrived, while Red obviously thought this was a waste of time. However, they run into Santa at their tree, and...
Red: AAH! He does exist!Santa: They do exist... [Both of them faint.]
- In the Bronze Age, we learned that DC's Golden Age Funny Animal comics characters all live on Earth-C (for "cartoon"). The most famous inhabitants are Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! There, humans are considered mythical monsters. A wolf who is cursed to transform into a human is called a Wuzwolf.
- Done jokingly in X-Men. While in Banshee's ancestral home, the X-Men run into leprechauns. When Wolverine expresses his disbelief in leprechauns, one of them retorts "Well maybe I don't believe in talkin' wolverines!"
- In one The Little Mermaid comic Ariel accidentally comes across a city where moray live. Moray were deemed fictional by merpeople. In turn, moray thought merpeople were a myth and are afraid of them. The moray princess decides to keep Ariel as a pet then ransom her when they learn her and her sister Aquata are princesses. Moray are depicted as the Evil Counterpart to merpeople.
- Referenced and inverted in The Muppet Movie, in the Electric Mayhem's song "Can You Picture That":
Fact is there's nothing out there you can't do,
Yeah, even Santa Claus believes in you!
- In Through the Looking Glass, when Alice meets the Unicorn, it asks what she is. When told that she is a child, it replies, stunned, "I always thought they were fabulous monsters!" When Alice confesses that she always believed that unicorns were fabulous monsters, the Unicorn says, "Well, if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you," to which Alice agrees.
- In The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Tumnus the faun reacts this way to Lucy the first time he meets her, and owns a book called Is Man a Myth?
- In J. R. R. Tolkien's Farmer Giles of Ham, younger dragons seem to think that the Knights are just a myth. The older ones know better, although they admit that they are few and far, and not a danger anymore. Which is true. The King and his Knights are pretty useless. The only person who can effectively deal with the Dragon is a fat, red-headed farmer who doesn't like trespassers—even if they are scaly and breathe fire.
- There's a picture book about a little monster who cannot sleep because he thinks there are human children under his bed. His parents desperately try to tell him human children are just made-up creatures, but what works is when he meets a real kid and learn that while they are real, they are not dangerous.
- The Dragon With the Girl Tattoo, a spoof of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
- The Divide trilogy by Elizabeth Kay has a fantasy world where all kinds of creatures from our myths live. They not only think humans are mythical, but also many animals from our world as well.
- The same applies to Xanth, except that Xanth has humans (although if they didn't get fresh blood from Mundania they'd eventually change into magical creatures). They mostly think that a horse is a mythical wingless pegasus or a dog is a one-headed cerberus.
- An early portion of The Martian Chronicles has a Martian parent talking to a child, assuring it that there can't be any life on Earth, because of the excessive amounts of oxygen.
- In one of the Garrett, P.I. novels, the protagonist muses that certain creatures of legend don't exist in his Fantasy Kitchen Sink world, being allegorical fictions rather than genuine beings. These include fire-breathing dragons, gryphons, and ostriches.
- In Stanislaw Lem's Fables for Robots, most robots don't believe that humans (palefaces) exist or think, they are long extinct. Every time they meet biological lifeforms, they are disgusted by them.
- Three Hearts and Three Lions: the main protagonist is a real-world Dane from World War II who gets transported in a fantasy world where the characters of the Matter of France are historical characters, but where some figures like Julius Caesar and Emperor Napoleon are legendary.
- The dwarven grags of the Discworld (deep-downers, or "those who do not get out in the fresh air enough") believe humans to be a kind of bad dream. This puts them at odds with the rest of the dwarfs, who are quite willing to deal with humans (their mythology even gives a shared origin for humans, dwarves and trolls).
- Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard is based on Norse Mythology but in modern times Alfheim and Nidavellir (worlds inhabited by elves and dwarfs respectively), the magic has gone away and humans are seen as mythical creatures confined to fairytales and TV shows.
Live Action TV
- Before meeting each other, the Power Rangers (In Space) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ("Next Mutation" version) each thought the other was an urban legend.
- Which, as Linkara's History of Power Rangers pointed out, is somewhat headscratching, as the Rangers have been well-known public figures for quite some time, to the point that they have been on TV, and there are towns with Monster Attack Preparedness Drills.
- Referenced in College Roomies from Hell!!! when Roger meets two centaurs who think humans are mythical creatures. However, they're actually genetically engineered creatures who have been given this belief (and a steady diet of drugs) by the Evil Genius in question to avoid them questioning their surroundings.
- In FernGully: The Last Rainforest, humans have been away for so long that the fairies only remember them through legends and folk tales, resulting in most fairies not even believing in humans until of course a logging company arrives in the area.
- Pops up at the end of the sleepover episode of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. The climax of the episode features a series of increasingly-nonsensical Catapult Nightmares involving the various characters and a flying vampiric pizza. The final nightmare turns out to belong to an actual vampire pizza, sleeping in his pizza box; when he explains his terrible dream to his wife, she consoles him that children don't exist, and everyone knows that.
- Kaijudo: The creatures didn't believe humans were real before meeting them.
- Dragon Tales: Before meeting Emmy and Max, Ord and Cassy had only seen kids in fairy tales. Later, Spike didn't know what Emmy and Max were until Cassy told him they're children.
- In the first episode of The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin, Gimmick crashes his airship into the tree of Leota the Woodsprite. When she introduces herself, Gimmick says there's no such things as "woodsprites", she quips back that there's no such thing as big bags of air stuck in her tree, yet there it, big as life.
- In one episode of The Lion Guard Bunga believes that Besthe's new okapi friend is imaginary because he sounds like a Mix And Match Creature. When he turns out to be a Not-So-Imaginary Friend and meets Bunga the okapi says he didn't believe honey badgers really existed, because their smell and looks sounded outlandish.