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Life Imitates Art
Can you raise a sunken boat with nothing but ping-pong balls? Yes, actually.

"As far as I know, the first suggestion in the scientific literature about terraforming the planets was made in a 1961 article I wrote about Venus. [...] The idea was soon taken up by a number of science fiction authors in the continuing dance between science and science fiction - in which the science stimulates the fiction, and the fiction stimulates a new generation of scientists, a process benefiting both genres."

Leonardo da Vinci didn't invent the helicopter, but he did draw a picture of one.

Throw enough hypothetical inventions and scenarios out into the world and the chances are that some of them will eventually become reality. Some were ideas waiting to happen: even our stone age ancestors could see from birds that flying was possible. Some ideas required a bit more imagination. Either way, life has imitated art.

A Super Trope to Defictionalization, which is deliberately doing this as part of merchandising. Compare The Red Stapler, which is when art affects the popularity of something. Contrast Truth in Television.

See also Hilarious in Hindsight, Harsher in Hindsight, and "Funny Aneurysm" Moment.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 

  • It appears someone figured that coming up with a story about a 13 year old father is a good way to earn some quick buck. Boys Empire comes to mind.
  • The Gundam Wiki gives us this gem concerning the Minovsky Particle (emphasis added):—>''The disruption of electromagnetic radiation is due to the small lattice of the I-field creating fringes that long wavelengths cannot penetrate, and that diffract wavelengths that have similar distance with the fringes. This diffraction and polarization process disrupts the electromagnetic waves. Notice in real life there is a similar experimental particle that could do the same thing in few thousandth of a second, which is still not practical but proves the theory to be correct.
  • From Hajime No Ippo, Ichiro Miyata's Jolt Counter was actually used in a real boxing title match by Juan Manuel Marquez to defeat Manny Pacquiao in six rounds.
  • The second series of 1983's Meme Iroiro Yume no Tabi is set in a future world a few decades ahead. It looks much the same, but everyone's using a new technology called the "Information Network System" to communicate, watch videos and listen to music, order stuff, and get information about almost anything.

     Comic Books  

  • Electronic tagging such as ankle bracelets used to track prisoners. Developed by a judge in 1979 based on a Spider-Man newspaper strip from the same year, involving the Kingpin.
  • Carl Barks has done this at least twice. He made up a method to raise sunken ships with ping pong balls, which was later successfully used. The guy who did it was unable to patent the technique because of Barks' story. In a different comic, he drew a molecule and described some of its reactions nineteen years before it was discovered by scientists.
  • Cracked.com compiled a list of 5 Things Donald Duck Invented.
  • Tintin already travelled to the moon in "Tintin Destination Moon" and "Tintin Explorers On The Moon" (1950-1953, in publication). This was almost fifteen years before the Americans actually landed on the moon. Tintin's moon exploration was also scientifically very accurate without any typical science fiction clichés of aliens and such, and while the the use of a single, non-modular rocket might seem simplistic compared to the Apollo-Saturn multi-stage booster rockets and separate lunar and command/service modules, it was actually one ("Direct Ascent"note ) of three flight profiles studied (the others being "Earth Orbit Rendezvous" and the eventually implemented "Lunar Orbit Rendezvous").

    Film 

  • Technovelgy tracks down sci-fi tech in Real Life, such as transparent data tiles like those in Minority Report.
  • In the Jim Belushi film K-9, Detective Dooley's K-9 partner Jerry Lee (played by real police dog Koton) was shot while apprehending a suspect in the attempted murder of a police officer. Two years after the film's release, Koton (who had returned to real police work after the movie) was shot and killed while apprehending a suspect in the attempted murder of a police officer.
  • The Truman Show Delusion.
  • A fan of Iron Man built his own personal digital life assistant and named him JARVIS.
  • A giant sign in the shape of a bull was built for the movie Bull Durham. Placed over the outfield fence, if hit by a home-run ball it would light up and make noise, and the person who hit it would win a free steak. The real-life Durham Bulls baseball team kept it.
  • In the movies of Sacha Baron Cohen, the artistic premise of the story and characters is always deeply intertwined with the real-life behavior of those who aren't in on the joke. So to say that life imitates art is somewhat trivial. Nonetheless, there were some moments in Brüno when the real-life external circumstances surrounding the film's production evolved similarly to the fixed prior notion of the movie's plot, as it had been conceived of before filming.
    • This occurred when they were in Italy for Fashion Week. The plot of the movie was that Bruno would cause a major disturbance at a fashion show, resulting in his being thrown out, black-listed, and possibly even arrested. In fact, all of these things happened in real life, and so when he is later disallowed from entering fashion shows, it is because he was actually black-listed by that time.
    • Later, when Bruno sits down at a restaurant and commits "carbicide" by gorging himself on several ice cream sundaes, it was carbicide for both Bruno and the actor, Sacha Baron Cohen. Cohen had actually spent many months prior refraining from carbs, in the course of body sculpting for the role.
  • A dark, tragic version occurs in The Return. Father is given a Disney Villain Death. One of the film's other actors, 15-year-old Vladimir Garin, had one in Real Life just one month after shooting had completed; he never even lived to see the premiere.
  • After the release of 2006's Night at the Museum, the number of visitors at the American Museum of Natural History (which the movie modeled after and where it was set in the 1993 Film of the Book version) increased by 50,000 the previous year during the holiday season and 50,000 more between December 22, 2006, and January 2, 2007.
  • Possibly a cross between this and just plain Fandom, but since the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark, many, many real life archaeologists have been wearing wide-brimmed fedoras
  • In the 1997 Bean movie, Bean destroys a priceless painting, and attempts to fix it by drawing a new face over the top, and eventually replacing the original with a poster. In 2012, a 100-year-old painting of Christ was "restored" by an amateur who essentially painted a new face over the top. An official was quoted as saying, "If we can't fix it, we will probably cover the wall with a photo of the painting." In an incredibly bizarre coincidence, the Theme Song of the Mr. Bean show is "Ecce Homo", the same name as the painting.
  • Single White Female had an insane woman assume her room-mate's identity. Then, Cracked relates the case of Brittany Ossenfort's arrest, even citing the movie in one of the captions regarding it! And just for bonus points, it turned out that the roommate, "Michelle", was actually Dick.
  • Another from Cracked: A whole list of these. In order: Actor playing Achilles injures Achilles tendon; Actor gets Oscar nom for playing Oscar-Bait actor; Actress playing hidden voice-double has her own hidden voice-double; Actor whose character gets scanned into a computer gets scanned into a computer in real life; and Actor who plays a doctor in movie is (or was) an actual doctor-turned-actor.
  • In Audition a guy tries to help his friend get over the loss of his wife by holding a fake audition to find him a new girlfriend. It doesn't work out too well for his friend. According to Vanity Fair and confirmed by Paul Haggis The Church of Happyology did just that (minus the murderous girlfriend part) for Tom Cruise, allegedly interviewing the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Lindsay Lohan, Sofia Vergara and Kate Bosworth before picking Katie Holmes. It was going quite well, actually, until Katie plotted her escape/divorce and now it's all in the news.
  • Like countless other movie merchandise, V masks from V for Vendetta are widely available for purchase. What's different is the purpose they're used for: by Anonymous and various supporting groups as a symbol of protest. Just like in the movie.
  • Between Get Shorty and Be Cool, Chili Palmer's movie, eventually released as Get Leo, was a hit. Then the studio forced Chili to make a sequel, which flopped badly enough to make him want out of the movie biz. Be Cool lampshaded the fact that it was a sequel and that sequels are often worse than the original. Rather bizarrely, audiences agreed.
  • Kung Fu Panda: Just like how Shifu had to tutor Po in the ways of the martial arts, the actors behind their characters oddly paralleled that considering Dustin Hoffman tutored Jack Black to improve his acting to raise it to his standard.
  • Set Twenty Minutes into the Future, RoboCop 2 shows Detroit trying to stave off bankruptcy after most city services have already been contracted out to the Mega Corp. Omni Consumer Products. In 2013 Detroit went bankrupt for real even after a state appointed city manager privatized many city services.
  • In Gone in Sixty Seconds (1974), one of the police cars - 1 Baker 11 - has a camera mounted on the dash, presumably to record the chase for police records (actually the only way some POV shots could be filmed). Dash-mounted cameras in police cars weren't common for another decade and a half.
  • In Police Academy, the cadets are told the city-wide riot has become too out of control for them to handle, and all police personnel are pulling out of the area, which causes the riot to intensify. LAPD doing just that - withdrawing from a liquor store looting that turned to assualting passing motorists at Florence Boulevard and Normandie Avenue in south central LA, following the acquittal of the officers involved in the Rodney King beating, led to the six day LA Riots.
  • The fancy map on the windshield in Starman? Take a smartphone or tablet connected to the Internet, a few parts, hook up to a car, and the result is a GPS heads-up display.
  • The 1969 film Marooned is about a spaceship malfunctioning and leaving the three astronauts unable to deorbit with dwindling oxygen and other resources. The movie was seen in the theatre by Jim and Marilyn Lovell. Marilyn then had a nightmare where her husband was in that exact situation. Three months later, Jim Lovell captained Apollo 13.
  • The 2002 Mexican film El Crimen Del Padre Amaro shows a Catholic Priest receiving money from a drug lord which he then uses to build a new hospital; He justifies it by saying that although it's "bad money", it becomes "good money" through good works and intentions. 3 years after the film was released, the Bishop of Aguascalientes used pretty much the same justification when questioned if his Diocese had received money from drug traffickers.
  • The Parent Trap was a Disney movie about two identical twin sisters being seperated by their divorced parents and living a continent away from each other without knowing of the other's existence. They run into each other in an American summer camp and conspire to get their parents back together. Minus the "get the parents back together" part, a similar story occurred with the case of two originally South Korean twins who had been put up for adoption in 1987 and seperated. They had been raised in the United States and Europe and rediscovered each other through social networking in 2013. They're even aware of the parallels.
  • A fast food restaurant obviously ripping off McDonald's, barely staying out of legal trouble with the real deal? It was Mc Dowells in the 1988 Eddie Murphy film ''Coming to America, and Ma Donal in the real world's Kurdistan in the following decade. The founder wanted to bring a real McDonald's to Kurdistan, but was refused a franchise.

    Literature 
  • Jules Verne's Nautilus... a long-range electric submarine powered by steampunk!
    • The world's first SSN was called Nautilus because of the book.
    • And Verne himself got the name from the real (and much less sophisticated) submarine designed for Napoleon by one Robert Fulton.
    • Nautilus was a popular submarine name for years, both before and after Verne's book, because the nautilus is a fairly well known sea creature.
    • Space flight was also predicted by Jules Verne.
      • What's more, he predicted that the first mission to the moon would be launched from Central Florida. For the right reasons, even: Florida is closer to the equator than almost any other part of the United States, making it much more suitable to space launches.
      • Also, the idea of using a giant cannon to launch things into space is being considered in Real Life for unmanned satellites.
  • H. G. Wells' The Time Machine proposed that time was the fourth dimension about ten years before Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity.
    • Einstein based his theory of 4D spacetime on preexisting mathematical theories that were around when Wells wrote his story, though.
      • Incidentally, that part of relativity - the use of 4 dimensional non-euclidean geometries to explain General Relativity - was co-developed by Bernhard Riemann.
    • The better example is when he managed to predict isotopes before the actual research papers about them came out.
    • Also, the description in The War of the Worlds of the Heat-Ray (the original book, not the Hollywood versions which turn it into a flamethrower or generic Energy Weapon) sounds suspiciously like the yet-to-be-invented microwave laser or maser.
    • Don't forget his short story The Land Ironclads, which feature tank-like vehicles a decade before the first tanks were used in the Somme.
      • DaVinci came up with the concept first, though.
      • And even before that, the Greeks put catapults in siege towers.
  • Arthur C. Clarke's geosynchronous communication satellites.
    • Although Clarke first published the idea as a scientist before he put them in his novels, so he arguably did invent Clarke's Orbit.
  • Predictions of The Other Wiki
  • The fella who invented the waterbed in Real Life was unable to patent it because it had already been thoroughly described by Robert A. Heinlein in Stranger in a Strange Land.
    • Likewise, one fella who tried to patent a method for lifting sunken ships ran into trouble because it was described thoroughly earlier - in a Carl Barks comic!
    • The word "grok", now a widely-used term, originated in Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land as a word from the Martian Language spoken by the protagonist.
    • Heinlein's Powered Armor is on its way to reality thanks to defense contractor Raytheon and several other groups. As of 2008, development is at the stage of strength-amplifying mechanical exoskeletons. No word yet on bulletproof plating and Arm Cannons.
  • Aldous Huxley kinda made up embryonic stem cell research in his dystopian novel Brave New World.
    • For that matter, the characters' ideas about "family" are slowly becoming more and more realistic.
  • Ray Bradbury predicted portable audio players and cell phones in the early '50s.
    • See also the two-way radio watches of Midnight, Dick Tracy, and Doc Savage (who debuted after Dick Tracy but used a radio watch before the other two).
  • The T-Minus countdown system (10, 9, 8, etc.) was first used in The Woman in the Moon before being adopted by NASA.
  • In 1898 Morgan Robertson wrote a novella named Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan about an ocean liner named Titan which sinks in the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg. In the novella, Titan was one of the largest passenger ships of the time and considered indestructible, and had way too few lifeboats for its 2500 passengers, over half of which died in the accident. 14 years later... (The Real Life incident didn't have a battle with a polar bear, however)
  • Isaac Asimov's short SF story "The Feeling of Power" is based on the premise that people would completely forget how to do mathematical calculations manually - on paper paper - and end up relying entirely on machines. His "hand computer" predates the calculator. And the story was initially rejected by publishers because it was deemed ridiculous that people could forget how to do arithmetic.
    • However, when his idea became reality, educators wasted little time taking this fiction as gospel - insisting that students learn how to solve problems on "paper paper". It is worth speculating however, on how long it will be, if that day is not here already, where calculators are viewed in the same light as rulers, compasses and protractors.
  • One anecdote long known to fans of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy tells of a terminally ill fan who, inspired by the books' running joke about one being secure in the knowledge that he's prepared for anything so long as he "knows where his towel is," made sure to keep his own towel with him in his final days.
    • When Douglas Adams died of cardiac arrest in 2001, he was at a gym, so he actually did have a towel with him at his time of death.
    • A far less morbid example: modern smartphones and tablet computers with access to Wikipedia (or, possibly more accurately, TV Tropes) bear much more than a passing resemblance to the features of the titular Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • Go reference-spotting in Idoru. Okay, so it's made in 1995 when the internet was actually invented, but many things are just now becoming possible - and done.
    • Notably, Japan now has at least one virtual pop singer. Yes, idoru are real.
      • RAH's Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) had CGI of Adam Selene appearing on vidscreens.
  • Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities is sometimes criticised for being a thinly-veiled Roman à Clef dealing with events that happened in New York City in the late '80s and early '90s. This ignores the fact that the book was published in 1987, and all of the writing happened before that, meaning that most of the events upon which is was supposedly "based" actually didn't happen until after the novel was published.
  • Dale Brown predicted low-observable external weapons pods well before Boeing made it possible.
  • In The Sum of All Fears, it's mentioned that local wags near the Strategic Air Command HQ joked that the relatively new (at the time) Command Center was made so that the actual place matched up with the common Hollywood depictions of the facility, which were better than the original structure.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle invented Sherlock Holmes, perhaps the most famous detective in history. Not content with writing about a detective, Doyle actually ended up becoming something of a detective himself, proving the innocence of two men who had been wrongfully convicted in separate cases.
  • The topper might be Murray Leinster's prescient short story A Logic Named Joe. In it, he describes a networked computer system in homes across the country that allows people to learn how to cheat on taxes, find hangover cures, kill their spouse using hard to trace household chemicals, and most of all allows young children to discover porn. He not only predicted the internet, but he predicted search engines, online porn, filtering software, and the sinister uses people have for Google. In March of 1946.
  • A throwaway reference in the backstory of John W. Campbell's "Frictional Losses": the Japanese attempted to counter an invasion (by space aliens) by supercharging airplane engines, packing the planes full of explosives, and ramming them into the invaders' ships. He published this in July 1936.
  • In Gullivers Travels, Jonathan Swift describes the two moons of Mars as discovered by the Laputan astronomers. 150 years later, the two moons of Mars were actually discovered. (Contrary to some reports, their orbital period and diameter do not match what is described in the book.)
    • Actually, as soon as it was discovered Jupiter has four (apparently) moons, people started speculating Mars has two.
  • John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar, written in 1969 and mentioned above, takes place in 2010 when the Earth's population has reached 7 billion. He was only one year short of when that milestone was actually reached.
  • There's a theory going around that cyberpunk (and especially "Neuromancer") drastically influenced the development of the internet. It doesn't hurt that William Gibson coined the term "cyberspace". But wait, it gets weirder- Some followers of the genre suspect the recent lack of literature is due to this defictionalization, combined with a general perception that since 9/11 things have been looking a little more dystopian.
  • In Karel Capek's 1924 novel Krakatit a scientist discovers how to create explosions by breaking up atoms.
  • Louisa May Alcott based Little Women on her family, with a few changes. In reality, Elizabeth Alcott died before Anna (Meg's real life counterpart) married. Years after the second part of Little Women was published, May (Amy's real life counterpart) married the man who had comforted her when Abba Alcott died, just as Amy married Laurie who had comforted her after Beth March died.
  • As Gabrielle Donnelly wrote her modern-day sequel to the Little Women trilogy, The Little Women Letters, she sent her manuscript to a young London friend, Harriet, to ensure the spoken language was up to date. Towards the end of the book, Harriet moved into a Belsize Park flat with a former college room-mate, just as Lulu, the book's main character, did.
    Gabrielle Donnelly: In view of which, I was tempted to write an extra chapter in which Lulu‘s older friend, a writer living in Los Angeles, won the lottery and became exceedingly rich.
  • In 1920s Soviet satirical novel The Twelve Chairs a con man sold tickets to access the Proval lake (literally "gap", "collapse", "fall-through"). "For repairs. So that it wouldn't fall any further." In the 1980s the local authorities really started selling tickets. And then closed the access for a while to clear away the debris and reinforce walls. And in 2008 a statue of the con man with tickets was installed by the tunnel entrance.

     Live Action TV  

  • Star Trek imagined quite a few inventions that people made real, like automatic sliding doors.
    • Clamshell cell phones almost always come in designs reminiscent of the Original Series communicators, although communicators are of course a lot more powerful in terms of the communication part.
    • Vocera's B2000 communications badge is inspired in part inspired by the combadge seen in the later Trek series. It also works the same way - tap & talk.
    • Transparent Aluminum. First mentioned in Star Trek IV in 1986. According to Wikipedia, there are now (by 2008) different methods and brand products: Aluminum oxynitride (AlON) is a transparent ceramic composed of aluminum, oxygen and nitrogen that can apparently be produced in sizes large enough for windows; aluminum oxide, a chemical compound of aluminum and oxygen (Al2O3) is made transparent through a process of fusing fine particles; and transparent nanophase aluminum in various colors.
      • Al2O3 has been around a bit longer than Star Trek. It’s variously known as corundum, sapphire or ruby.
    • Fans of Star Trek wrote so many letters to NASA, that eventually, they did name the first full-scale prototype Space Shuttle Enterprise. The shuttle subsequently appeared in a mural in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the opening credits of Star Trek: Enterprise, implying that in the Trek universe the starship was named after the shuttle which was partially named after the previous ships bearing the name Enterprise like the WWII U.S.S Enterprise carrier making this Art Imitates Life plus Life Imitates Art.
      • In one Expanded Universe novel, Kirk actually commanded the space shuttle Enterprise.
    • The creator of the system to tag music was inspired by a Next Generation episode in which, as a throwaway gag, Data has ordered the computer to play him four symphonies at once. He ignored the gag and thought "hey, it might be a pretty cool to tag music files so that you actually could tell the computer to play you a specific artist or album", and the rest is history.
    • Richard Branson has also named his first commercial passenger spacecraft the VSS Enterprise. He named the second the VSS Voyager.
    • Let's not forget how the ever-versatile Tricorder (and to a lesser extent, the thin computer pads of TNG) inspired the creation of Palm Pilots, PDAs, and - eventually - the iPhone.
      • followed by the iPad, and the recent tablet craze - which of course, bears more than just a casual resemblance to those data pads.
      • In a case of Defictionalization glurge, Gene Roddenberry made it clear that the term "Tricorder" was public domain, available to anyone who could build a scientific instrument similar to the prop. The latest example of this is the Tricorder X PRIZE, announced in 2011, which will be awarded to the first portable medical tool that can provide instant diagnoses a la Star Trek's medical tricorders.
    • The Captain's Log - voice and handwriting recognizing software/hardware.
    • Not to mention all sorts of stories of Real Life celebrities looking up with admiration to Nichelle Nichols as Nyota Uhura, television's first female African astronaut — such as Dr. Mae Jemison, NASA's first female African-American astronaut.
    • The mini-datatapes used on the Original Series bore more than a passing similarity to later datatapes, 3.5 floppies, and especially Zip Disks. TNG's isolinear optical chips now can claim a real life antecedant with flashdrives.
    • And now we can add the Universal Translator to the list. There is an app currently under development for the Black Berry called Polyglotz. Now while there are a ton of type out a phrase and get a translation websites and programs, this is one of the first "spoken translators". You speak a phrase into your phone and the translated version is played back. It is really new and has a ton of bugs, so your Black Berry won't help you commiserate with a roomful of Klingons. Yet...
  • MythBusters proved a Crash Course Landing is possible, even though there was no recorded incident of it happening in Real Life, until later a passenger landed plane after pilot falls ill, including being talked though it over the radio.
    • Adam and Jamie also did an episode where they addressed how to escape a rapidly-submerging car; later, a woman caught in exactly that situation managed to survive and specifically cited the Mythbusters, and that episode, as the reason.
  • The motto "To protect and serve" was originally only found on Los Angeles police cruisers, but after Hollywood started showing it on TV, other police departments started using it, so that now it is widely spread in America.
    • Not just in America; the motto of the Northern Constabulary, the police force of the Scottish Highlands, is "Dion is Cuidich", which is Gaelic for "Protect and Serve".
  • There is an unusual amount of electromagnetism coming from an island near New Zealand. Some more radical theories regarding this island involve harnessing the electromagnetism to render the island invisible to the naked eye...or worse. Sounds an awful lot like LOST's island...
  • In Thomas the Tank Engine, James's train once had to be mended with a bootlace after he wrecked the brake pipe after roughly handling the coaches. A few years ago, a similar incident happened with an Intercity train and it had to be mended with sticky tape.
  • House of Cards depicted what might happen in the Conservative Party when Margaret Thatcher eventually fell from power. Ten days after the first episode was broadcast, she actually did.
    • Although John Major survived as PM through one election.
    • So, in fact, did Collingridge, although the election was called immediately after he entered office, whereas Major waited eighteen months until April 1992. The result in the series - a 20-seat Conservative majority - was also pretty prescient of the 1992 election, moreso because some people assumed at the time Labour would actually win.
  • The University Medical Center at Princeton is set to close down, pending the completion of the new University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. Who would have thought?
  • The set of CTU in the hit series 24 inspired the design of a new Joint Counter-Terrorism Center in Washington, DC.
    • Well it is Donald Rumsfeld's favorite show. It is also similar to the design Michael Jordan used for his restaurant.
    • The series began with the first black man to have a serious shot at the presidency and he is later elected. Several years later Barack Obama became the first black man with a serious shot at presidency and in 2008 was elected. Both being democrats, and both not afraid to become involved in The War on Terror despite wanting to avoid conflict if possible (setting up a war in the Middle East and Iraq, the show's terrorists and Osama bin Laden.)
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus' "Election Night Special" sketch features a clownish candidate called Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lin-Bus-Stop-F'tang-F'tang-Ole-Biscuitbarrel winning in Luton. Sure enough, for the 1981 Crosby by-election, a joke candidate called John Desmond Lewis legally changed his name to exactly that. The electoral commission were obliged to print the entire name on the ballot, although the returning officer simply referred to him as "Tarquin Biscuitbarrel" when announcing the result.
  • Less than a year after Better Off Ted's Veridian Dynamics had its problems with their photosensitive scanners not recognizing black people stories came in about HP's webcams doing the same thing.
  • In the episode "Sick" of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a woman is discovered to be purposely poisoning her granddaughter to feign sympathy/money/services from charities. The episode aired in 2004. This scenario happened in September 2010, though not an exact match.
    • But this is a variant of the real world mental illness called Munchhausen's Syndrome, which has been known since at least 1951.
    • A pair of better examples cropped up during the first half of the 2011 season. The episode "Missing Pieces" in which a mother claims that her car was stolen with her young son still buckled into his car seat bears more than a passing resemblance to the still-unfolding Sky Metalwala case. Another episode, "Personal Fouls," which revolves around a well-respected coach who uses a children's charity to molest young boys originally aired a few weeks before the Penn State molestation story broke. However, according to The Other Wiki, this one was actually based on a different sports abuse case.
  • Kim Gyngell's Colin Carpenter sketches in The Comedy Company in the late 80s included an arc spanning several episodes in which Carpenter thinks up and pitches the idea of combining instant coffee and powdered milk in a single sachet. As of 2012 this product has existed for a while now, despite the way in which it was shut down on the show: somebody simply pointed out that powdered milk tastes absolutely disgusting.
  • Desperate Housewives had one of the saddest examples: in the Series Finale "Finishing The Hat" recurring character Karen McClusky passed away from cancer. Kathryn Joosten, who played her, was also a cancer sufferer and herself was claimed by it not long after the episode aired.
  • Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White, whose side job is a methamphetamine cook. On Aug. 16, 2012, the Tuscaloosa County (Ala.) Sheriff's Office announced its new Most Wanted Fugitive as Walter White, an accused meth cook.
  • An episode of The Office has Andy Bernard pranked into believing he was a relative of Michelle Obama. Turns out his actor, Ed Helms, really is (very distantly) related to her.
  • The Larry Sanders Show season 3 episode "Office Romance" has Larry get involved with Darlene causing any amount of backstage trouble for the show. The actors playing Larry (Garry Shandling) and Darlene (Linda Doucett) were dating at the time - which is art imitating life. But at the end of season 3 Shandling and Doucett split up and Shandling fired Doucett from the show. This resulted in a lawsuit from Doucett, who was paid $1M, so it became life imitating art.
  • In the Friends episode "The One Where Underdog Gets Away", Joey is upset when his photo is used for a poster reading "What Mario isn't telling you...V.D., you never know who might have it." In 2013, a Brooklyn woman sued Getty Images when her photo was used without her permission in a HIV campaign. [http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/brooklyn-woman-wrongly-depicted-hiv-positive-ad-article-1.1461694 link]
  • The series finale of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! sees a number of cast members killed off, including Richard Dunn collapsing. Shortly after this episode, Richard Dunn suffered a fatal stroke, not only casting a dark shadow over the episode in a lot of fans' minds, but creating a noticeable absence in all of Tim and Eric's future productions.

    Music 

  • Zager & Evans's song "In the Year 2525" predicted test tube babies about 10 years before the first one was born.
  • In the song, "One Piece at a Time" by Johnny Cash, the narrator works on an assembly line putting together Cadillacs. Since he can't afford such an expensive car, he decides to get it "one piece at a time" by sneaking parts of the car out in his lunch box and his friend's mobile home over a period of several years to avoid suspicion. While this plan failed in the song (when the car was finally put together, was an odd-looking mess since it used parts from so many different models), an automotive assembly line worker in Chongqing, China successfully put a motorcycle together this way over the course of five years beginning in 2003, though the thief got caught shortly after finally putting it together.
  • "Linus and Lucy" was played on Elton John's Red Piano. Remind you of Schroeder?
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's music video for "White and Nerdy" featured a throwaway joke about vandalizing the Wikipedia page about Atlantic Records. That page has now been vandalized enough times in that manner that its talk page prominently features a warning telling people to cut it out.
  • No less than fourteen drummers have taken the stage with space-rockers Hawkwind at one time or another. This may well have been the origin of the "disposable drummer" gag in This Is Spinal Tap.
  • The video for the 2005 Eminem song "Like Toy Soldiers" features Eminem pacing the corridors of a hospital while doctors attempt to save the life of his best friend, fellow Detroit rapper Proof, after he was shot. The efforts were in vain; the video ends with Eminem at Proof's funeral. In April 2006, Proof was shot and killed in real life during a barroom argument.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • In the late 90s, Triple H "married" Vince McMahon's daughter Stephanie in a Vegas drive-thru ceremony (where Stephanie was drunk or something, not allowing her to use her better judgment). While it initially was a stick-it to Vince, it eventually turned into a power brokering that consolidated Vince and Triple H's ambitions into the "McMahon-Helmsley Faction". About 6 or 7 years later, Triple H and Stephanie really did tie the knot and started a family. This in turn likely helped Triple H move from working the ring to working the front office of WWE as the VP of Talent and Live Events (and indeed, he will likely become Vince's successor when the time comes).
  • Similarly, CM Punk and AJ Lee were involved in a storyline which saw the latter taken an interest in Punk and months of flirting and a few kisses between them. They started legitimately dating in 2013 and got engaged the following year.

     Tabletop Games  

  • In the White Wolf RPG Aberrant, the Pope's name is Benedict XVI. This was revealed in the book that came with the Storyteller's Screen, in 1999...six years before the actual Pope Benedict XVI took office.
    • Not that surprising since the names of Popes are public record, and "Benedict" is obviously a common choice. The next Benedict would have to be XVI.
  • In Battletech, Vehicles are equipped with ferroglass cockpits. Now we have transparent aluminum. We're getting pretty close. (Sort of... The aluminum we now have is only transparent to certain types of radiation. And to create this material one electron has to be shot out of each of it's atoms with a soft x-ray laser, one by one. But it's a start. A slow, limping, crawl of a start.)

    Theater 

  • When the original production of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music opened on Broadway, Len Cariou (Frederik) and Victoria Mallory (Anne) were dating. In the musical, Frederik is a middle-aged lawyer and Anne is his teenage trophy wife. However, Anne ends up running away with her stepson, Henrik. After the production closed, Victoria Mallory and Henrik's actor, Mark Lambert, ran away together without telling anyone, just as their characters did.
    • Recently, their daughter, Ramona Mallory, debuted on Broadway in the latest revival as... Anne.
  • The Irish comedy musical I, Keano is a send-up of the Saipan incident, the real-life falling-out between Republic of Ireland national football team star Roy Keane and manager Mick McCarthy before the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which led to Keane going or being sent home and not playing in the tournament. During the production's first run, three major cast members—including Mario Rosenstock, who played "Keano"—publicly left the show.

     Video Games  

  • In 2009 Cracked.com published a humorous series of photographs under an article named If Video Games Were Realistic. One of the images had a Guitar Hero controller with six buttons per fret, on each fret of the entire guitar, simulating a real six-stringed guitar. Well, guess what kind of guitar controller was published with Rock Band 3 the very next year.
  • The Team Fortress 2 Medic uses a special device called the Medigun to heal his allies. There is now a spray gun that applies stem cells extracted from the patient's skin to treat second-degree burns.
  • Leisure Suit Larry 5 had the Hard Disk Cafe, a parody of Hard Rock Cafe, but there later appeared a real Hard Disk Cafe in Calgary, AB, Canada. Maybe coincidence.
  • Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit, Hot Pursuit 2 showed sports cars being used as police units. Although unbelievable, there is a Lamborghini Gallardo (550-4) in Italy being used as an interceptor unit.
    • Which is where the paintjob for the police Gallardo in Hot Pursuit 2010 came from.
  • Remember the Air Taser that you could use to light enemies on fire in Syphon Filter? Several real-life accidents have occured where people were lit on fire by police tasers, usually involving flammable liquids.
  • Obscure Super Famicom kuso-ge Hong Kong '97's plot involved turning the recently deceased "Tong Shau Ping" (Deng Xiaoping) into a weapon. The game was made in 1995, while Deng actually died in 1997.
  • In Dwarf Fortress there was a point at which carp accidentally became the most monsterous beasts in the world, dragging a dwarf into water and tearing him to shreds while they drowned. The dwarven "leaders" tackle this problem the same way they tackle any other problem: doing nothing. In real life, a invasive species of Asian Carp has appeared in the Great Lakes. It has a tendency to jump, and while it doesn't exactly tear people apart, they have been known to knock people out of small boats. In true Dwarf Fortress form, what has the government decided to do about this invasive species? nothing.
  • In Command & Conquer: Generals, the Chinese field aircraft generically known as Mikoyan-Gurevich fighters (MiGs). Visually they're based on the MiG MFI, 1.44, and 1.42 series, which never saw production and only got a maiden flight long after the projects had been canceled. However, in the real world China is developing the Chengdu J-20, which looks very similar to the MiG 1.44 family and is slated to enter service during the years Generals takes place.
  • There must have been a few Battlezone fans at BAE Systems and Polish Defence Holding. Their tank concept PL-01, which they unveiled at the 2013 MSPO International Defence Industry Exhibition, is suspiciously similar in shape to the tanks of that game.
  • One of the subplots in Metal Gear Solid 3 involves ADAM, an NSA technician who fled to Russia. Edward Snowden, anyone?
  • In the original installment of Tom Clancy's Video Game/Ghost Recon, the first few missions of the game center on a U.S.-led armed intervention in the Republic of Georgia in the wake of a Russian invasion amidst the impending restoration of the Soviet Union. Oddly enough, the Russians did invade Georgia after the latter's attempt to restore government control over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the latter being a major setting in the game. (Also, this brief conflict took place in 2008, the same year in which the game takes place.)
    • A lesser example exists in Island Thunder, where the Ghosts are tasked with safeguarding democratic elections on Cuba after the death of Fidel Castro in 2006. While he has not yet passed on, Castro did concede power to his brother Raul Castro in the wake of ill health that year.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of Æon Flux, a woman who had a chunk of her spine shot out by a gun turret was able to have screaming orgasms by having the remaining nerves dangling from the gap stimulated with surgical tools. In what must be the absolute weirdest example of this trope, a few years later some doctors tried this in Real Life & found it actually works.
  • King of the Hill: In what might be the most startling example of this trope, in 2007, a former Laotian general allegedly trained a paramilitary group in America to retake Laos from the communists. Two years earlier in Orange you glad I didn't say Banana, a former Laotian general trained a paramilitary group in America to retake Laos from the communists on the show King of the Hill.
  • The Simpsons examples:
    • In the episode "The Mansion Family", Homer takes Mr Burns' yacht into international waters to avoid state blue laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sunday. After mocking the Coast Guard's inability to do anything to stop them the yacht is seized by pirates. When appealing to the Coast Guard for help the crew replies, sarcastically, that "Navy SEALS are on the way". In 2009 when the Maersk Alabama was hijacked by Somali pirates, the first such hijacking of an American flagged vessel since the 19th century, Navy SEALS were dispatched to the scene, shooting three of the pirates from the rear of a Navy destroyer and rescuing the hijacked crew.
    • In "Trash of the Titans", Homer is elected sanitation commissioner of Springfield, but he ends up spending his entire year's budget in one month. Homer recoups the money by having other cities pay him to mash their excess garbage into a nearby mine shaft. But it proves too much, and Springfield ends up so badly trashed that the town has to be moved five miles down the road. In Toronto, Canada, the Toronto City Council had seriously considered turning the abandoned Adams Mine into a dumping site for Toronto's garbage until then-councilors Jack Layton and Olivia Chow showed them this episode, and they immediately changed their minds.

    Other 
  • Leonardo Da Vinci thought of a helicopter 500 years before it was made.
    • As noted at the top of the page, Life Imitates Art Imitates Art Imitates art Imitates Life. Chinese toy helicopters from circa 400 BC may have been depicted in European painting prior to Leonardo's time.
  • Ray Guns were common in fiction for decades, but it was not hard science, because you just couldn't actually make a weapon just by shooting energy alone. Then the laser was invented in the 1960s.
    • Though you still can't build a gun out of them. Heavy artillery, maybe. Pistols? It's going to take a while.
      • You can buy a laser "pointer" powerful enough to set fire to paper. It's not a lethal weapon but we're getting a lot closer.
      • So far, using lasers as weapons hasn't managed to get past Awesome, but Impractical. Humans are made primarily of water, and water takes an awful lot of energy to heat up. You can give someone a pretty bad burn with a laser, but it's hard to actually kill someone with one.
      • Blinding on the otherhand, or causing skin cancer!
      • Blinding can also cause plane crashes, as there have been reports of people pointing their lasers skyward and being arrested for it.
      • On the other hand military (and perhaps even civilian) aircrafts will soon be equipped with missile-destroying chemical lasers.
    • Laser cannons are now a reality
    • One avenue of research towards this is for cinema accurate blasters is the plasma bullet, superhot plasma encased in an electromagnetic field. This would provide the laser appearance and the slower visible speed while maintaining the effectiveness.
  • "Kremvax" started as one of several fictional Vax computers joining the internet on April 1, 1984, which was an April Fools joke by Piet Beertema. When the first genuine Moscow site joined the internet, its gateway machine soon was kremvax.demos.su
  • It's Cracked at it again with 6 Eerily Specific Inventions Predicted in Sci Fi.
  • A deliberate one, after the movie Project X came out, several teens tried to replicate the movie's Wild Teen Party, with bad results. 2 of them ended in violent shootings, and another ended with a riot and cars being set on fire.
  • The real-life story of Big Edie and Little Edie Beale, an aging mother and daughter who resided in the falling-down mansion of Grey Gardens, is eerily similar to that of Miss Havisham and Estella in Great Expectations, except the daughter was the one who got rejected by her fiance, and unlike Estella, she never left the house (except when she ran away to New York for a few years). Miss Havisham herself may have been based on the real-life shut-in spurned bride Eliza Emily Donnithorne.
  • As mentioned above, tanks are notable for the fact that they were an entirely fictional concept for a long time before Real Life decided that they'd be useful for the purpose of war, with the invention of the caterpillar track making them practical to build.
  • Invoked with the Science Channel series Sci Fi Science. Dr. Michio Kaku discusses current technology and theories that would allow the creation of science fiction as reality. Justified in that scientists look to science fiction as inspiration to recreate the entertainment they enjoy.


Layout of a SeasonMeta-ConceptsLiterary Agent Hypothesis
Helicopter BlenderImageSource/Comic BooksMind-Control Device
Leslie Nielsen SyndromeTriviaLine To God
LEGO GeneticsImageSource/PhotographyLight Gun

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