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"Not Making This Up" Disclaimer

"That's not bad writing; that actually happened."
The Nostalgia Critic on Michael Jordan playing baseball in Space Jam

Note: This is for in-universe examples. Do not use this to try and tell other tropers you are not making something up. Instead of linking to this trope, link to the proof that you're not making it up (like the picture caption), or at least use Sincerity Mode.

Someone working on a show thinks the audience might not believe something being shown or described is real. It's not that the writer thinks the audience is stupid. It's that the thing being shown actually is ridiculous or silly enough that there is good reason enough to think it's not real. So the writer includes a disclaimer directly to the audience. Sometimes this is Breaking the Fourth Wall, but often it's a non-fiction show. Either way, this is making sure the audience knows this is not a joke.

This is often to avoid Aluminum Christmas Trees.

Poe's Law can also invoke this trope, if only to distinguish the made-up parody from the real deal. Then again, maybe not...

Compare Who Writes This Crap?!, Take That, Reality Is Unrealistic.

Contrast Dan Browned.

In-Universe Examples Only:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • Current adverts for UK consumer magazine Which?, for instance:
    Only Which? use genuinely filthy dogs to test washing machines for pet odour removal. (Beat.) That's actually what we do.
  • The infamous Canadian Liberal Party attack ads of 2006 used these disclaimers while claiming outrageous things about their opponent Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party; for example, subtly suggesting a future Police State as the Conservative Party plans to bring soldiers (with guns!) into Canadian cities. This went into narm territory with the ads that added "We are not allowed to make this up."

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, when local Bad Ass Saitou Hajime casually mentions that he's married, the manga has a little note in the panel: "This is historical fact."
    • Made much funnier by the fact that none of the characters can believe anyone would marry Saitou. Kenshin remarks that his wife must have the patience of Buddha.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia gives us "The legend of Red Mount Fuji"
    • Narrator: Yeah, They really tried to do this people, Google it!!

    Comic Books 
  • While Cartoon History of the Universe usually makes up quotes for Rule of Funny, occasionally a quote will come with a disclaimer of "Someone actually said this!"
  • Garth Ennis' Punisher MAX had a Corrupt Corporate Executive explain his company's large-scale Ponzi Scheme with a disclaimer of "and this is legal, I shit you not."
  • Used for the in-universe audience in Transmetropolitan, Spider writes about the campaign speech of Hitler Expy Bob Heller for The Word. It's so full of violence and profanity that he felt compelled to append to the end of the report, "I swear I didn't make a word of that up."

    Film 
  • Swimming To Cambodia. Spalding Gray swears he's not making anything up - except that the banana sticks to the wall. You'll know it when you hear it.
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The screenwriter kindly informs us at the start of the movie that "Most of what follows is true."
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats has text at the beginning stating "More of this is truer than you would believe." This itself becomes humorous in juxtaposition with the very first scene: a strait-laced man in a strait-laced military uniform with a strait-laced mustache running headlong into a wall and probably concussing himself.
  • The end of C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America has a section dedicated to showing the reality behind some of the wilder aspects of the Alternate History.
  • The poster tagline for Charlie Wilson's War reads: "Based on a true story. You think we could make this up?"
  • I Love You Phillip Morris: The unlikely true story of a gay con man escaping from a Texas prison five times to be reunited with his boyfriend (who he met in prison), becoming the CFO of a major company, faking his own death, and impersonating doctors, lawyers, FBI agents, etc, along the way. Hard to believe, right? So the filmakers begin with this disclaimer in the opening credits: "This really happened. It really did."
  • The tagline for The Informant is that it's "based on a true tattle-tale."
  • Fargo starts with a title screen saying that it's a true story. (The movie is completely fictional, but the Coen Brothers claim that some pieces of it came from various real cases.)
  • Cecil B. DeMille's 1929 silent melodrama The Godless Girl takes place for the most part in a reformatory ruled by a cruel head guard. A title card appears mid-film that claims that the guard's abuses of the inmates and the horrible conditions of the facility are commonplace in many reformatories, and attention must be called to this for the better rehabilitation of our delinquent youth.
  • The HBO TV movie The Pentagon Wars has a title card that goes something like "The following story would be a comedy (beat) if it didn't really happen". Imagine you want to make, essentially, an armored Humvee for fast troop transport but your higher-ups kept adding More Dakka to the Cool Car to the point of actually endangering the troops and when your idea is finally made in the way you wanted it to be in the first place you're fired and the dakka-obsessed generals get promoted.
  • A variation of this is The Human Centipede's claim that it's "100% medically accurate".
  • Inverted with the movie about Audie Murphy... starring Audie Murphy. The man as talented a soldier as he was deliberately cut out some of his exploits from the movie believing that not even a "I Did Not Make This Up" disclaimer would be able to make the viewers believe it actually happened.
  • The original version of D.O.A., during the closing credits, assures us that there is such a thing as "luminous poison" that glows in the dark.
  • The film Pain and Gain takes many pains to impress upon us that is is a true story, including interrupting a scene in which The Rock is grilling hands on a barbecue grill with the message "This is still a true story."

    Literature 
  • Günther Wallraff in Ganz Unten ("Lowest of the Low"), exposing the racism and horrible working conditions of the Turkish immigrant workers in German Federal Republic.
  • In the afterword of Lords of the Bow, the author describes several areas where the novel differed from history — and at the very end, points out that the incident where several thousand young women jumped from the walls of Yenking (now Beijing) to their deaths rather than starve to death during the Mongol siege actually happened.
  • Mary Beth Bonacci is a Christian lecturer who talks to teenagers about abstinence. In her book, Real Love, she features answers to actual questions from teens about sexuality. One of the questions, essentially, is from a guy who is interested in a girl, and wants to know whether he should ask her out or simply rape her. Bonacci begins her answer with this disclaimer.
  • "I am not making this up" is a Catch Phrase of humor writer Dave Barry; he even named one of his books Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up. Although sometimes he is anyway. On occasion, when he's reporting something genuine but really ridiculous, he'll say something like "I'm pretty sure I must have made this up."
  • In one column, Steve Mirsky uses the phrase "I'm not kidding, that's the actual plot." after summarizing Dean Koontz's Relentless.
  • In the Author's Note at the end of The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, Terry Pratchett points out two plot points from the book that were taken from real life facts or events regarding rats. He also notes, "Most of the true stuff — or, at least, the stuff that people say is true — is so unbelievable that I didn't include it in case readers thought I'd made it up."
    • Another Discworld example is in The Truth when he mentions in the beginning his research about how cities dealt with flooding problems that inspired Ahnk-Morpork's method is based on the city Seattle, Washington's methods used towards the end of the 19th century.note 
    • Another example in Nation, where he says that, among other things, a cannon made of whatever was lying around has been used several times in real life.
  • The author's note/introduction to the Stephen King story collection Hearts in Atlantis, in a section that includes the usual "This Is a Work of Fiction" disclaimer, also contains the line "Although it is difficult to believe, The Sixties are not fictional; they actually happened."
  • Inverted in Complete World Knowledge. Each books starts with a reminder that John Hodgman is making this up. Although he has insisted that one blurb on the back of the first book, a letter of praise from a magus of the Church of Satan, is, in fact, genuine, although Hodgman himself is not a Satanist.
  • Mary Renault wrote in the novel Funeral Games that Alexander the Great's body didn't decompose during the 48 hours following his death even though he had died in Babylon during a heat wave. Critics accused Renault of falling prey to the modern Eastern Orthodox myth of the "incorruptible saint". Renault pointed out in an author's note to the second edition that the story of Alexander's incorruptibility is part of the historical record, and was likely the result of his troops mistaking a profound pre-death coma for actual death. This kind of thing happened all the time with Renault's works, with the critics screeching in rage about things she got right because they weren't in accordance with conventional politically correct (for the 50s) wisdom.
  • In the "Caveat, and Warning for Travelers" that opens the novel American Gods, Neil Gaiman states the following: "Furthermore, it goes without saying that all of the people, living, dead, and otherwise in this story are fictional or used in a fictional context. Only the gods are real."note 
  • The opening of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn opens with a fictional "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Although Tom Sawyer is not a real person, the book is told from Huck Finn's perspective, and therefore Tom is real to the narrator (because they are from the same universe). Huck breaks the fourth wall to acknowledge that The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth . . . Mary, and the Widow Douglas, is all told about in that book—which is mostly a true book; with some stretchers, as I said before." Given that Tom Sawyer ends with Tom and Huck finding buried gold worth $12,000—which was enough to live on for the rest of your life, with proper management, in the 1860s—guarded by a dead "Injun" murderer, it's little wonder Huck was at such pains to make sure everybody knew it really happened.
  • Neil Strauss does this at the beginning of The Game. He would have to because no one would believe the crazy events and people that he wrote about in the book.
  • In the Orphanage / Jason Wander series by Robert Buettner, in the second book Orphan's Destiny, the main character quotes "I am not making this up". It almost has to be a deliberate nod to Dave Barry, as it occurs in Florida and is in reference to orange juice and space-industry politics.
  • The Mercedes Lackey novel This Sceptered Isle contains one character who moves permanently underhill (elfland) and is replaced by a construct which slowly falls apart in magic-poor england. His "corpse" is then wrapped in lead to hold it together and buried before anyone can look at it. The book's afterward explains that he:
    died on the twenty-second of July, in the Palace of St. James, exactly as described in our story. And, as we described, for some unknown reason, though the official cause of death was stated as "consumption," his body was wrapped in lead and buried with almost obscene haste and in great secrecy. ... No one knows why he was treated in this odd fashion, though there has been a great deal of speculation by hundreds of scholars over the years. ... One almost does begin to believe in Sidhe. . . .
  • 1632 ends with a disclaimer about which characters were real, which fictional, and which were fictional but based on a real category of people.
  • At the end of the Doctor Who New Adventures novel All-Consuming Fire, there's an epilogue, in which Benny Summerfield, having finished reading All-Consuming Fire by John Watson, queries the Doctor about such details of Victorian life as using strychnine as a flavouring for beer, and filtering sugar through bull's blood. He assures her they're all true.
  • Inverted by humorist W. Bruce Cameron in the Final Thoughts of his 8 Simple Rules for Marrying My Daughter, with a reference to Dave Barry's disclaimers. He states "So what really happened? I think it would be best for everyone if you regard every single thing you just read as a complete fiction. That's certainly how I see it, anyway."
  • The non-fiction book The WrestleCrap Book Of Lists said that professional wrestler Joanie Laurer (Chyna) appeared as a judge for a Most Beautiful Transsexual contest, following that statement up with a "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer.
  • In another book by WrestleCrap The Death of WCW, they talk about the show being written "literally" at the last minute. They then insist that they're not being facetious, the show was sometimes written while it was being broadcast live.
  • In the book Website Creation In Plain English, the author says of a certain ASCII character, "it makes a computer go beep." He then explains he's not making this up and links to That Other Wiki's article on the Bell Character. That's the thing to put on an infinite loop in high school computer science.

    Live Action TV 
  • Laverne and Shirley: The 1980 episode "Why Did the Fireman … " saw Lenny and Squiggy attempt to break the news to Laverne that her firefighter boyfriend had been killed in the line of duty. Laverne thinks that the two guys are playing a sick joke, and similarly shouts down Shirley when she also tries to explain that her boyfriend was dead. By episode's end, Laverne's father finally gets her to realize that everyone was telling the truth.
  • Family Matters: Severa episodes, where Urkel learns that Laura's current boyfriend or potential suitor is up to no good, only for Laura to tell Urkel — in a not-so-nice way, mind you — to get lost forever. In the end, Laura would realize that Urkel was right, either with the boyfriend showing his true colors or another friend confirming Urkel's findings.
  • The Chaser's War On Everything, known for Gag Subs, did this for their segment on Middle East TV, with the disclaimer "All translations independently verified by the ABC". It included things such as a member of the Egyptian Unique Mustache Association praising Adolf Hitler's mustache (along with his genocide of Jews).
  • In the Flight of the Conchords documentary A Texan Odyssey, a series of shots of Texans with cowboy hats dancing to country music in a bar is accompanied with the voiceover, "The people you see here are not actors. They're really like that."
  • The CBBC show Horrible Histories has signs pop up during sketches, to the effect that they're not making up certain historical details. They even do it in the Expository Theme Tune when telling the audience that the show is hosted by a talking rat, although that was dropped after the first series.
    • This sketch on Victorian-era names has a line at the beginning explaining that all the names are real, and makes special note to put a sign after every single name to reassure the view that they are, in fact, real names. Given how absurd most of them are it's entirely justified.
    • They also occasionally have signs telling the audience when they are making it up, usually saying something like "This is Silly."
  • On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart will occasionally insist "And this is true" whenever something that actually happened sounded like a joke, due to the show's humorous way of re-telling actual news stories.
    • Note that the show is fond of the Blatant Lies version, for humor ("This is a real photo and in no way doctored"), but it takes pains to make the two very easy to tell apart, since the Blatant Lies are done in an over the top manner often involving nonsensical things like unicorns and poorly photoshopped photos. So they try to make it easy to distinguish when they're making a joke or listing serious facts.
  • The Soup uses similar disclaimers ("We did not doctor this, it really happened!") when showing real television clips that are uncomfortably close to the kind of satirical videos the show sometimes airs. See for example Spaghetti Cat.
  • British TV has a show, The Bubble, around this trope: four celeb guests are kept incommunicado for a week, then brought on stage and asked to guess which of a collection of news items really happened while they were out of touch and which are made up. They rarely do better than blind guessing.
  • Evan Wright, author of Generation Kill, provides commentary in the DVD release of the miniseries adaptation. He says "this really happened" for a few of the more ridiculous-looking events, notably when Corporal Person has a moment of Casual Danger Dialog where he calmly gets out of his vehicle and stands out in the open to yell at another driver to move, during the middle of an ambush with bullets flying everywhere around him.
  • During Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories on Chappelle's Show, he tells a story about Prince inviting him, his brother and some friends to play basketball. After trouncing the Murphys' team, Prince makes them pancakes, at which point the camera cuts back to Charlie Murphy, who assures us, "Really. Pancakes." After that Charlie assures us even further by asking the audience who in their right mind would make this up, and then demands that if we don't believe him to challenge Prince to a game of basketball ourselves and see how talented he is.
    • During the True Hollywood Stories about Rick James, Rick James himself assures the audience that the insanity between him and Charlie Murphy they are about to see actually happened by saying, "Now this is true."
    Rick James: See, I never just did things just to do them. Come on, what am I gonna do? Just all of a sudden jump up and grind my feet on somebody's couch like it's something to do? Come on. I got a little more sense then that. (Beat) Yeah, I remember grinding my feet on Eddie's couch.
  • Lois and Clark dragged out the Will They or Won't They? between the eponymous characters for so long, with them supposedly getting married twice, that they titled the actual marriage episode "Swear to God, This Time We're Not Kidding".
    • Of course, this takes after the original DC Comics source material; that publisher has a long tradition of doing such things as marrying Lois and Clark, featured prominently on comic book covers, and having it turn out to be in an alternate universe or something; in the 1960s and 1970s, it was common to use the blurb "Not a hoax, not a dream, not an imaginary story!" when the story was actually part of the normal continuity.
      • And then to abuse even that. "Not a hoax, not a dream, not an imaginary story" would be a hallucination. "Not a hallucination, not a dream, not a hoax" would be an imaginary story. Etc. Etc. Etc...
  • The Kung Fu Monkey blog frequently acts as a Disclaimer for Leverage. That's not just for the plots Ripped Fromthe Headlines, either; according to the producers and writers in the audio commentaries, many of the evil deeds executed by the Corrupt Corporate Executive of the week were in fact, based on real crimes or acts of immorality that they'd researched and when they cut loose with the Evil Speech Of Evil, it's frequently taken from genuine transcripts of crooks and fat cats doing exactly that. Any changes are because Rogers and his writing staff have to tone them down.
  • The skit 'Los Caquitos', from the Chespirito TV show, has an episode were Botija bets with Chompiras in a poker game based on the "good luck" that his horoscope predicted, yet it ends backfiring. The episode ends with a disclaimer saying that the horoscopes used through the episode were not made up by the writer, but taken verbatim from an actual Mexican newspaper.
  • In an interview with Conan O'Brien, Paul Giamatti said that "Thunderpants is a fine motion picture that I made in England a long time ago about a kid who farts uncontrollably. This came across my desk and I had to be a part of it... I play a guy from NASA who kidnaps him so that he can power a rocket." Giamatti had to repeatedly assure Conan that this was a real movie and Conan never seemed to be entirely sure whether or not Giamatti was joking. It's a real movie, and stars Ron Weasley.
  • The author of Sir Orfeo added this disclaimer when claiming that Thrace (a region in modern-day Turkey) was the old name for the city of Winchester in England.
  • This is done in-universe on How I Met Your Mother. Ted is an Unreliable Narrator who is telling his teenage children the story of the many events leading up to him meeting their mother for the first time. Every so often the events he describes are so ridiculous that he has to emphasize to his children that things really happened that way.
    • True story. - Barney Stinson
      • However, this phrase is almost exclusively used when Barney is telling Blatant Lies (happens fairly often), making it a subversion.
  • In his tenure as host of The Tonight Show, Jack Paar would often begin a joke with the phrase "I kid you not" by way of introduction to a bizarre piece of news.
  • During June of 2011 several tornadoes touched down in Massachusetts, and the various news outlets covering it had to repeatedly reassure their viewers that this was, in fact, actually happening. In this case it was trying to keep people from putting themselves in the path of the tornadoes.
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon periodically features a "Do Not Read List" of curious books, and he points out at the top of the segment that all of them are real and can be looked up at Amazon.com. (Examples have included a variety of Harlequin/Mills & Boon romances, an Adventures in Wonderland tie-in book that recapped the episode O.J. Simpson appeared in, and the infamous Latawnya, the Naughty Horse, Learns to Say "No" to Drugs.)
  • On Top Gear Jeremy is describing the large array of health and safety warnings that come with his quad-bike/jet-ski to James. His favorite warns about "forceful water penetration into the rectum or vagina". James put on a pair of glasses to take a closer look and confirmed that was the actually text of the warning.

    Magazines 
  • Dragon's April humour issue used to have a letter column with all the weirdest letters they'd got over the previous year, ranging from bizarre threats against fictional characters to people with a unique ideas of what would make the game "realistic". They would regularly open these columns by assuring the reader that these were real letters from real people.

    Music 
  • The musical satirist Anna Russell is almost certainly the Trope Codifier here. Russell's routines were so factually accurate, yet got so many laughs, that "I'm not making this up, you know!" became her most famous catchphrase.
  • There is a really brilliant choral cantata called Rejoice In The Lamb by Benjamin Britten, based off the semi-crazy poem Jubilate Agno by the semi-crazy Christopher Smart. The alto solo begins like this:
    For the mouse is a creature of great personal valor!
    For — this is a true case —
    Cat takes female mouse: male mouse will not depart,
    But stands threatening and daring...
  • Luke Ski prefaces "Born To Lose" by assuring listeners that every word (and hence, every humiliation of his that it recounts) is absolutely true.
  • Frank Zappa's "Let's Make The Water Turn Black", which recalls the hijinks of brothers Ronnie and Kenny Williams, Frank's neighbors during the early 1960s.
    Now believe me when I tell you that my song is really true
    I want everyone to listen and believe
    It's about some little people from a long time ago
    And all the things the neighbors didn't know...

    New Media 
  • The Twitter feed for The Bugle mostly features the same type of satire as the podcast, with the label "FACT ALERT" for the bits that aren't.

    Newspapers 
  • One Bloom County strip showed new father Hodgepodge wearing a bra-like bib which holds bottles to allow men to "experience the joy of breastfeeding", as the narration puts it. After a Beat Panel, Hodge looks at the "camera" and says "That's it. The joke is that we're not kidding. $79, Sharper Image."
  • Richard Littlejohn of the Daily Mail is memetically famous for the phrases "yuman rights", "elf 'n safety", and "couldn't make this up". Except research has found that, yes, he actually does. Constantly.
  • The Boston Globe once ran an article where the first sentence was literally "We are not making this up: Boston is a very safe place to drive." Given the city's reputation, the disclaimer was necessary.
  • From an LA Times article about an Italian politician whose sex scandal with transsexual South American prostitutes drove him to a monastery: "Note to reader: The writer would love to pretend he has made all this up, but this is Italy, where one's imagination pales beside the operatic brio of real-life librettos that unfold with delicious, unseemly decadence."
  • The New Jersey Nets basketball team had an abysmal 2009-2010 season, with a final record of 12–70. Once, after winning a game, one paper's headline read: "It's true: Nets win!"

    Religion and Mythology 
  • Older Than Feudalism in The Bible:
    • Several apostles have made this claim, often appealing to the fact that there were still-living witnesses at the time:
    John 19:35: "The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe." - "The man" is John himself, speaking about how he was a witness of the crucifixtion of Jesus Christ.
    Acts 26:25-26: But Paul said, "I am not going mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and sound mind. For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner."
    1 Corinthians 15:6: After [Christ was raised up,] he was seen by over five hundred brothers at once, the most of whom remain to the present, but some have fallen asleepnote .
    2 Peter 1:16: For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
    • There's also the pre-emptive invocation of this trope:
    Habakkuk 1:5: Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told to you.

    Stand Up Comedy 
  • If a comedian tells a true story to get laughs, you will often hear from them, "I'm not making this up" (or a variation of the phrase). Despite this disclaimer, it's still pretty hard to tell whether or not the story in question is true.
    • Christopher Titus used it when describing to the audience his father's exact wishes on how he wanted his funeral and how he wanted to be buried. He wanted to be put into a cardboard box, "open casket," a cover charge at the door (ladies get in free), and everyone would get a chance to pee on him (complete with Willie Nelsons "Blue-Eyes Crying in the Rain" playing). And that isn't even covering what he wanted done with his ashes...
      "On my children... I did not write that, I am repeating it."
      • Just listening to Titus' stuff, it's not hard to realize he's making rather little of it up. The majority of it seems to be true, with just a little exaggeration here and there. He's admitted himself, his job is rather like therapy for him, as he's telling stories from his life and having people laugh along with him. If he "mock laughs", he's still working on finding it funny.
        "Stopped drinking because it's not really good for your health - and I fell into a bonfire." *audience laughs, Titus mock-laughs* "Yeah, you're done drinkin' then, you don't need AA."
    • Also happens in his special Neverlution when he is talking about the attempted Times Square car bomb. He says "I've been in comedy for 25 years, and I have never been that funny."
  • Jeff Dunham starts his show "Arguing With Myself" relating an incident involving customs officers and Peanut (one of his puppets). "This is all true, it's too stupid to make up..."
    • Not to mention the jokes Peanut makes about... the geniuses who brought a bunch of deaf people to a ventriloquist act. Jeff finishes with: "the sad thing is, this is all completely true."
  • Dana Carvey also used this in regards to the Presidency of George W. Bush.
    Dana Carvey: You can't write this shit!
  • Similarly, in Will Ferrell's one-man show You're Welcome America, in which he played Dubya, a screen would occasionally ding loudly and display "Actual Quote" to distinguish Ferrell's brand of inanity from Bush's (The authentic quotes were usually dumber).
  • Mike Birbiglia actually lampshades his use of it in one routine, taking a moment to comment on how hard it is to convince people that he is, in fact, telling the truth.
    These people come up to me after the show and go "Is that true?" and I go "Yeah", and they go "Is it?" and I'm not really sure what to say to that. I guess I could go "YEAH!" and they'd go "It's probably true, he said it louder".
  • Wendy Bagwell: "And this is a fact, what I'm telling you, with my hand up..." (1:25). That phrase shows up in some form in most of Wendy's stories.
  • "And this is true — unlike all the other bullshit I've been feeding you. 'When she started to tell the truth at the end, it really opened up for me, I just walked through, I felt connection for once...' " - Kate Clinton
  • Otis Lee Crenshaw, delivering a joke about psychopath Charles Manson, states that he "holds the world record for one-armed press-ups, and - I am not making this up - the world record for tossing midget."
  • When Lewis Black talks about his experiences in Miami, specifically when his rental car was stolen, he describes an encounter with a police officer who did not have a firm grasp of the English language. Verbs eluded him. Before repeating what the officer said, Black quips:
    And I'm quoting here, because I don't have the time or the energy to make shit up anymore. He said, "How you money make."
  • Brian Regan used a bit where he related some of the most inane instructions he'd ever seen... on the side of a box of Pop-Tarts. It had, like, 17 steps to it (actually just 3), along with microwave instructions!
    Regan: And I swear, it says "Microwave on high for three seconds"... If you're wakin', eatin', and haulin' in 3 seconds, it's time for a change of lifestyle.

    Talk Radio 
  • Rush Limbaugh uses this as a sort of catch phrase when quoting news stories out of the newspaper that are... Well absurd.
    I have here, in my formerly nicotine-stained-fingers, *rattles paper around near the mic* a story from Reuters that says...
  • Herman Cain (while substituting for Neal Boortz) has reassured listeners that the Congressional switch board is indeed XXX-SOB-USOB and he is not making the number up. It turned out that the number, while allowing the caller to be connected to their congressman's office, belonged to a lobbying firm, not the government.
  • Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me's Peter Sagal also says "... and this is true:" a lot. While the fact thus introduced may indeed be true, it's usually followed up by another one that's blatantly false.
    • The "Bluff the Listener" challenge is this inverted, two panelists will make stories up, and a third will tell a true story, and the listener has to guess the true one.
  • There's a round called Notes And Queries on Im Sorry I Havent A Clue, in which Humph asks a question and one of the panellists come up with a possible answer, before Humph reads out the real one. Whenever the questions or answers got ridiculous enough, Humph would remind everyone that they were "out of a real book".

    Theater 
  • During Anna Russell's synopsis of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, she looks at the audience and says "I'm not making this up, you know!" (And she isn't.) Due to the context and delivery, it's one of the biggest laugh lines in her entire Ring routine. (This phrase became so strongly identified with her that it is in fact the title of her autobiography.)
  • The Fly-By-Night Club, a comedy revue in Alaska that performed at a (now long-closed) theater, had the running-gag line of "We're not making this up, people; we're not that good," when talking about epic non-politics failures by US Representative Don Young and Senator Lisa Murkowski (they bet in one of Alaska's only legal pool bets, that the ice at a specific spot on a specific river would break... On April 31st).
  • In the musical The Robber Bridegroom, the opening number, "Once Upon the Natchez Trace," contains repeated assertions that "this is true." Of course, this song talks about things like a man whose brother was only a talking head, and a woman whose beauty was so incredible that her sleeping naked under a full moon caused the moon to burn as hot as the sun.
  • German comedian Volker Pispers says the line in regards to an experiment, where they pitched a monkey against investment-bankers.

    Video Games 
  • World of Warcraft now has one of these:
    Summons and dismisses a rideable Magic Rooster. No, seriously. This is a very fast mount.
  • An achievement in Portal 2 bears the description "That Just Happened." Given how you earn it, it's nice to have the confirmation.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Strong Bad Gameways ends with a brief video of Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People that shows Strong Bad standing and then walking away due to impatience. The screen says, "ACTUAL GAMEPLAY FOOTAGE!"
  • "Actual 4Kids dialog" from Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, and a variation in Sailor Moon Abridged
    "We're going to do battle with ancient Egyptian laser beams!" (Caption: THIS ISN'T A JOKE - IT REALLY HAPPENS)
    Polnareff: OH, what's that? You say I can beat your bum? Oh, you're into that stuff! (Caption: ACTUAL DUB DIALOGUE)
    • And the second in regards to a bizarre case of Lip Lock in the dub, when Kakyoin spots J. Geil's Hanged Man in the steering wheel of their pickup:
    Kakyoin: POLNAREFF! He's in the CHROME of the STEERING WHEEL! (Caption: ACTUAL DUB INFLECTION)
    • In Gargoyles Abridged, an "ACTUAL EPISODE DIALOGUE" message pops up when Demona says "blast your soul."
  • Most of the Newgrounds You Are A Fucking Moron animations have Reginald say something like this at least once.
  • That Guy with the Glasses and Doug Walker:
    • When The Nostalgia Critic noted the Real Life part of Space Jam.
    • In his review of the animated... adaptation... Titanic: The Legend Goes On, he holds up the DVD case as proof that it actually exists.
    • In his review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: "[Sam] goes to Robot Heaven!... [pause] I'm really not kidding!"
    • A similar gag is featured in the Topless Robot's Transformers 2 post-review FAQ.
    • And in The Editing Room abridged script of the movie.
    • In his review of the Cannon Films' Captain America, he states he is not making "Captain America escapes an ambush by hot chicks by entering a pick-up truck driven by Ned Beatty" up.
    • In his Captain N: The Game Master review he made sure to point out that the oo-we-oo sounds from The Wizard of Oz weren't added to the scene of marching mooks by him, but were actually from the show itself.
    • THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING! In The Neverending Story III.
    • In his Inspector Gadget film review, he points out that when a billboard advertising Yahoo falls on the Big Bad's car, he isn't the one who dubbed in the Yahoo jingle of the time (a man singing "Yahooooo~ooo!" in a vaguely hillbilly-sounding voice).
    • The cafe in this video is a real place. The last part even gives you the address in case you want to stop by.
    • During his review of Hook, he points out that his referring to one character as Officer Phil Collins was not a throwaway line for someone who bore resemblance to Collins - that really was Collins doing a cameo.
    • Also, in his review of the Digimon movie, he points out that the scene where Davis instantly goes from sobbing uncontrollably about Willis' backstory to smiling in the most chipper of manners was not edited by him at all.
    • His review of Catwoman opens with a therapist leading a "Catwoman Anonymous" meeting and relating how Sean Young - one of the Catwomen attending - dressed up in a Catwoman costume and ambushed Tim Burton in an attempt to get the part. The therapist then looks at the camera and says, "That's not comedic writing, she really did do that."
    • Bum Reviews: Very often used by Chester A. Bum, a homeless guy who is the nicest movie critic ever. For example, an extract from his review of The X-Files: I Want to Believe: "So Mulder and Scully are out to stop evil doctors by using a paedophile priest who is also a psychic! I swear to God, I am not making that up!" Usually Punctuated! For! Emphasis! but it's hard to tell since he has No Indoor Voice.
    • Also from his team: The Nostalgia Chick:
  • Every time The Angry Video Game Nerd says "I am dead fucking serious."
    • In his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III review, when the screen fades from that random rat to Splinter and back, he says that he's "not making that up, they actually did that fade".
  • In one of Stegblob's YouTube Poop videos, he showed a blooper where Grounder's mouth was moving but Sonic was talking. Stegblob put up a banner at the bottom saying, "I DID NOT POOP THIS BIT!" (This was actually quite common in DiC's cartoons.)
  • When Zero Punctuation says "I wish I was fucking kidding!" when describing the ending of Condemned 2.
    • Also with a gun in Painkiller. "I wish I could make this up! It shoots shurikens and lightning! It could only be more awesome if it had tits and was on fire."
    • And in his review of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, when he feels the need to call out that his comparison to Scooby-Doo was not exaggerated, as the main character actually "acquires a comedy talking dog as a sidekick. No, really, this is a thing that happens". (With a picture of a robotic dog, with a big arrow pointing to it and a caption, "a thing that happens.")
  • Spoony also used this during the Training Montage of Clones Of Bruce Lee
    No really, I'm not joking, they steal the music from Rocky.
    • Again for Highlander: The Source. Before showing the finale, he spends a good minute assuring the viewer that the scene is completely unchanged (apart from adding the Benny Hill music) and was shot like that, to be shown on national TV.
    • He also spends a good 15 seconds in "The Importance of Wearing Pants" reassuring us that he's not making up the story about the player who somehow left the house without his pants.
    • In his review of The Ring: Terror's Realm, Spoony promises the viewers that the cartoon-esque "splat" noise heard throughout the review is actually in the game and not something he added as a joke.
  • When talking about the mass-censorship of comics in the mid 20th century, Moviebob added this disclaimer saying (complete with emphasis) "THIS. ACTUALLY. HAPPENED.'"
  • Occurs quite a lot in The Agony Booth recaps. Sometimes there's a screencap to prove it.
    • Even came up in an interview once...
      • One of the mods has even adopted "No, really." as his catchphrase.
  • The Jabootu review of the movie Sphere says this about the movie's ending: "No, really, that's what they came up with. No, I am not making this up just to make the movie sound stupider than it already is..."
    Then, and I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP, Batman orders Robin to "Use your Bat Lube!"
  • In the Atop the Fourth Wall review of All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder, Linkara reads out the script that came with the special edition in which Frank Miller details Vicki Vale's ass shot. All he does is read it out and put up a caption that says "This is not a joke. This is the actual script."
    • In his Ultimates 3 review, he keeps using his hilarious drunk voice for Tony Stark even after Tony is revealed to be a robot imposter. He then singles out a line where the robot asks for vodka due to its personality imprint. "And that was just in case you thought I was being facetious in having the robot still have the drunk voice."
    • His live review of the Spider-Man Manga, when he mentions it's by the same writer as Spider-Man: Reign.
    Linkara It's also the story where Mary-Jane was killed by Peter Parker's radioactive sperm... I am not kidding at all.
    • He also mentions Spider-Ham in his One More Day review and tells the viewer to google it.
    • He invokes this twice in his review of The Punisher 2099 #1, mentioning stories where the Punisher becomes a Frankenstein monster and a black guy (the latter he says he'll review some time).
    • In an episode covering the history of the Team Titans, Linkara revealed that Danny Chase is his favourite superhero of all time. "I am so not kidding."
  • As Cleolinda Jones put it in her overview, "Hand to God, I did not make one word of that up. Twilight means never having to say you're kidding".
    • She does it again in her The Happening In Fifteen Minutes script, having a reporter say that the event "may be an act of God we may never fully understand" and then instantly pointing out that this line comes directly from the movie.
  • Scott Keith, wrestling critic, reviews Undertaker vs. Yokozuna at Royal Rumble 1994.
    So please, before we begin, bear in mind that I am making NONE of this up, and everything I am about to describe actually happened, live on a PPV. This is not, just to clarify, an LSD hallucination gone wrong, or a dream sequence that ended with Pat Patterson waking up in the shower in the next morning.
  • When Todd in the Shadows reviewed "Bedrock", he listed a couple of names from Young Money: "Mack Maine, Jae Millz, Lil Chuckee, Lil Twist, T-Streets, and a bunch of other names that sound like I'm just making them up, though I swear to God I'm not."
    • This disclaimer also shows up on the review of "Break Up" by Mario, Gucci Mane and Sean Garrett after the line, "Don't I make your earlobe freeze?"
    Subtitle: Seriously, I didn't make that up.
    • "But lost in the discussion of Baby Got Back's deeper meaning — and yes, people were actually talking about this in exactly those kinds of terms, I'm not pulling any of this out of my ass... so to speak."
  • Auto-Tune the News once sampled a speech by Steve Buyer warning that smoking lettuce is as harmful to your health as smoking tobacco. Immediately after, just to prove no Manipulative Editing was at work, they include a news report about the actual speech, with the whole thing remixed together into Crowning Music of Awesome.
  • Sean O'Neal's article on an upcoming Miley Cyrus movie, with the twist being that he seems to be trying to convince himself that this god-awful premise is actually real.
  • Cracked
    We're not sure about Van Susteren, but her husband is a level 8, the highest level currently available (can only be achieved while on a boat at sea; seriously, we are not making this shit up).
    High Emissivity Aluminiferous Luminescent Substrate, or HEALS technology, condenses the power of 12 suns (not making this up) into a heatless device.
    Ghost Rider Was To Switch Places With Casper the Friendly Ghost
    That is not a parody headline.
    One of the survivors was put in a program called Paws for Tales, where kids too shy to read aloud to human audiences practice their reading skills in front of dogs. No, really. That's not a sarcastic fake program we made up. (And that's not a stock image. That's Jonny Justice, the actual dog we're talking about.)
    [Cushing's syndrome] is characterized by a big, swollen, moon-shaped face, emotional instability, acne, muscle weakening, hair loss, truncal obesity, and buffalo hump. For fuck's sake, buffalo hump! That's not even one of my hilarious pretend things I toss into lists, it's a real thing! Called buffalo hump!
    If you're wondering, someone did save Human Torch by superheating a hot dog cart below him until it exploded. I'm serious, look it up.
  • GameCentral's review of Coronation Street: The Mystery of the Missing Hotpot Recipe begins
    This is a real game that exists. Don't say it isn't... it is!
  • Used by Mr. Plinkett in his review of Baby's Day Out... while claiming that the movie spawned a Congressional hearing on whether the federal government should ban the production of Hollywood movies.
  • Skippys List has examples:
    174. Furby® is not allowed into classified areas. (I swear to the gods, I did not make that up, it's actually DOD policy.)
  • While reviewing Human Killing Machine, Dr. Ashen does this after explaining that once you defeat Igor, you must fight his dog, named "Shepski."
    Dr. Ashen: I am not making this up, I promise!
  • Rage Comics have seen the addition of a new "True Story" Rage Face (a Memetic Mutation of Barney Stinson's line from How I Met Your Mother), used by authors of Rage Comics to invoke this trope.
  • Geoffrey K. Pullum, a linguist writing for the Language Log, gives a Not Making This Up Disclaimer just before talking about Dan Brown using the expression "learning the ropes in the trenches" in Deception Point.
  • The "Jezebel" site offers the headline "Today in Things I Couldn’t Even Make Up, Britney Spears Is Writing a Novel"
    I spent literally all afternoon trying to come up with a fake Britney Spears book proposal that would do comedic justice to the concept of a fake Britney Spears book proposal, but it just isn't possible.
  • In this YouTube video ("Something's WRONG with MY LITTLE PONY: Friendship is Magic" [by a fan, just having fun]), the creator of the video talks about cutie marks on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic as a metaphor for tattoos and states that he's not being serious, but if he can add two and two get five, then just imagine the crazy ultra-conservative-right-wingers who tried to ban Harry Potter or who thought Pokémon encouraged devil-worship and that Sponge Bob Square Pants was used as a vehicle for pro-gay propaganda. "Seriously, Google these things. I'm not makin' this up."
  • SF Debris: SF Debris uses "I am being serious" disclaimers from time to time in his reviews:
    • "Time-traveling space Nazis. Yes, really."
    • "I normally don't use the phrase 'I shit you not', except when I'm teaching Sunday school, but in this case, I can't think of anything more appropriate." (From his review of Twin Peaks, describing Agent Cooper's methods)
    • The Nth Degree: Mentioning that Barclay becoming smarter mirrors the plot of a certain science fiction work... a Japanese TV show:
    Chuck: "As seen on the Spectreman two-parter, "Billy Don't Be A Monster and Genius Monster Norman", I swear I'm not making this up."

  • Various versions of this abound on What the Fuck Is Wrong with You?, and "I couldn't make this shit up if I tried" is said at the opening of every pre-recorded episode. Also done on Nash's other shows, particularly Doctor Who Classic Reviews. Also often heard on Nash's weekly live show Radio Dead Air, where he often talks about geek culture and outrageous happenings therein.
  • cs188 is pretty well-known for creating Inherently Funny Words, specifically those like JoJ, SuS, and FaaF. Thus, when he did Pooping the Charts Vol. 5 - Sex-Crazed Pop Stars, he ended up slapping a disclaimer of "I really didn't edit that!" when the lyrics to the Kanye West/Katy Perry song "E.T." seem to use the word "JoJ"
  • When The Cinema Snob reviewed I Spit on Your Grave, he mentioned "Turkish I Spit On Your Grave", and showed a picture to let us know that film exists.
  • A popular trend among fandom blogs on Tumblr is to take ridiculous scenes out of context and post a hashtag that it is an actual line from the series. This is mostly done by the Supernatural fandom with many lines showing just how insane a series it is.
  • When Jon Tron puts a Commodore 64 cassette in a normal cassette player, he gets a loud screeching noise. Cue Jon looking at the camera with a disturbed look on his face while "(ACTUAL NOISE IT MADE)" appears on-screen.
    "I couldn't make this shit up. I couldn't make this shit up if I tr- I am sad that I lack the talent, to make this shit up."
  • As pointed out above, The Editing Room scripts often have the disclaimers (actual line) or THIS HAPPENS to point out that something was actually said or done in the movie being parodied.
  • Occasionally comes up in Retsupurae. For example "Adults React to PewDiePie" features a Running Gag of Diabetus simply deadpan reading a list of Pew Die Pie video titles. Every appearance is accompanied by YouTube annotations reading "ACTUAL VIDEO TITLES" or similar.

    Western Animation 
  • South Park had the message "This Is What Scientologists Actually Believe" played over a scene showing the mythos of Scientology. Note this is almost verbatim the text of OT3, a regular part of the Scientology doctrine. Scientologists have been trying to forget that certain aspect of their religion. note  Believe or not, South Park's portrayal is actually less ridiculous than the actual mythology. South Park proclaims that frozen aliens were dumped into various volcanoes all over Earth's surface; in reality, Scientology teaches the frozen aliens were strapped to the volcanoes and then blown up with imperial-engineered hydrogen bombs. Then the disembodied souls - "thetans" - were forced by psychiatrists to watch a "three-D, super colossal motion picture" at a theater which implanted all the ideas about religion into their minds. And it ought to be noted that these souls were lured to Teegeeack (Earth) on the pretense of income tax inspections. Put it this way: if the makers of the episode were making all that stuff up, it would have been fairly normal.
    • In "The Return of Chef", they had a similar disclaimer about the Super Adventure Club, a Fictional Counterpart of Scientology. The episode was essentially a Take That to Scientology (again) because the creators believed the organization forced Isaac Hayes (who voiced Chef) to leave the show.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, similar subtitles are used in the shameless JCVD Expy's Scientology description.
      • "Be very careful, Joey!"
  • In Titan Maximum, they had a sword made out of aggregated diamond nanorods, the hardest substance in the known universe. What sounds like typical technobabble is remarked by saying that aggregated diamond nanorods are, in fact, a real thing, and they're every bit as hard as advertised. Making a sword out of the things probably wouldn't be a great idea (hardness isn't the only trait a good sword needs), but they really are the hardest substance known to man.
  • Near the end of the second episode of Family Guy Presents: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball, Brian (as Chewbacca) asks why Mort (Lando) is wearing Han's clothes. Brian then turns to the camera and explains that this isn't some weird joke they've made up. If you watch The Empire Strikes Back, Lando really is wearing Han's clothes for this scene.
  • The Simpsons: When Homer is telling the family about the time he worked at the Bowl-o-rama, there's a flashback scene of him shooting at the air with a shotgun, scaring people away in a failed attempt to attract more customers. Lisa interrupts to ask Marge to make him tell the true story. Marge tells her sadly that it did happen like that.
    • In another episodes, a Springfield Shopper headline reads WIGGUM RESCUES BOY; NO, REALLY.
  • Garfield and Friends: Garfield once showed two videos of Jon's previous dates. The second one was so short that, before starting it, he warned the viewers there're no cuts.

    Other 
  • From Howl, by Allen Ginsberg. Of course, given his reputation for being a little bit of a drug enthusiast, there's no telling if it really did happen.
    who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alleyways & firetrucks, not even one free beer
  • As Mark Twain put it - "Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't."
  • Said by Kevin Smith in an anecdote about his interactions with Tim Burton, when he brings up Burton's publicist, whose actual, real name is Bumble Ward.
    I am not making it up. I'll say it one more time: Tim's publicist's name is Bumble Ward. There is somebody on this planet... named Bumble.
  • Part of the reason why The Strangeways Prison riot was able to spread so quickly was because it started on April 1st, causing several of the upper staff in control of the prison to question the authenticity of the calls for help.
  • "I am not kidding." said Dick Van Dyke, after being rescued by porpoises. ("The porpoises were unavailable for comment.")
  • This article discusses in length the (fan supported) sexual tension between Emma and Regina. Included in the article are several pictures as evidence, with the words "NOT FAN ART- ACTUAL SHOW" on the bottom.


Noodle ImplementsAbsurdity AscendantOddball Doppelganger
Memetic PsychopathAbridged Series TropesOff Model
"No. Just... No" ReactionAdministrivia/In-Universe Examples OnlyOverused Copycat Character
No Mere WindmillThe War on StrawInformed Wrongness

alternative title(s): Writer Insists It Is Real; I Am Not Making This Up Disclaimer
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