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One Myth to Explain Them All
"I hate the good wizard from faerie tales. They all turn out to be him."
River Song, on the Doctor himself

Closely related to All Myths Are True, but rather than every myth and legend being fact, they are mostly hokum—but with one common grain of truth in all of them. If the story is about vampires, then Rasputin was a vampire, Hitler was trying to breed an army of super suckheads, and Dracula was a wimp. If it's about wizards, Moses was an uber-powerful mage and there's evidence Jesus was, too (if he's not suspiciously absent). If the story is about aliens, everything can be explained by alien superpowers and Sufficiently Advanced Technology.

Often results in a Take That at history, Historical In Jokes, and Sadly Mythtaken moments. See also A Mythology Is True for a similar concept, as well as Beethoven Was an Alien Spy (he might have been, in this universe). Ancient Astronauts are often involved when the myth is aliens. Is also related to Doing in the Wizard —it wasn't a wizard, it was aliens! (or what have you)

Done insensitively or with too much cultural bias on the author's part, however, this trope can be full of Unfortunate Implications, as it can potentially imply "My gods are real, and anyone worshipping other ones is either worshipping my gods by another name or has been tricked by demons."

Compare to Conspiracy Kitchen Sink, where All Myths Are True but not necessarily related. Not to be confused with the Monomyth, AKA The Hero's Journey.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  
  • To Love-Ru has all sorts of things, from ghosts to witches, explained by aliens. Normally it's wacky alien powers, but sometimes it's strange technology. A notable exception is the Cute Ghost Girl, who is just randomly magical.
  • A subversion happens in Haruhi Suzumiya. Depending on whom you ask, aliens/time-travellers/esper powers can explain everything, with their own Technobabble.
  • Kind of subverted, kind of played straight in AR∀GO: City of London Police's Special Crimes Investigator. For example, Werewolves don't exist, but a wolf pelt that turns a person into a werewolf-like creature does.
  • Devilman has Akira's friend Ryo tell him that Demons once roamed the Earth before being frozen in the arctic while humans dominated the planet. He also mentions that some demons got free, and could be the true causes of monster myths like Wolfmen, Dracula, and Ogres.
  • Guyver suggests that the zoanoids changing between human and monster forms is the origin of myths like werewolves and vampires.
  • Shaman King also does mention about all prophets/chosen people in different cultures as being Shaman Kings from previous tournaments, although they only imply that with the most known ones, Jesus and Buddha. Some spirits used by shamans seem to be portrayed as Gods, too, like Shamash, and the Sphynx.
  • In Mushi Shi it is explained that most supernatural phenomena like ghosts are actually mushi; mushi are strange, mystical life-forms that defy human concepts of "life" and "death" and usually have bizarre properties. Sorcerers are really just guys who've mastered how to manipulate mushi, and "curses" or "blessings" are usually the result of a mushi either being exploited or malfunctioning when it interacts with humans.
  • In Transformers Cybertron, it was revealed that most of Earth's legends (Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, vampires) were an ancient race of Transformers. Or something like that.
    • Earlier in the Japanese G1 anime, Transformers Supergod Masterforce gives us a twist of robots in disguise with the introduction of pretenders. Cybertrons (Autobots) take human pretender shells whereas the Destrons (Decepiticons) take demonic pretender shells and are the source of various monster myths in human history.
  • It's implied in +Anima that creatures from legends like werewolves, mermaids or angels are really people with Anima, whose power is to turn into Petting Zoo Person. Husky, fish +Anima, is at least two times taken for a mermaid and Cooro, crow +Amina, constantly freaks people out, because they think he is black angel.

     Comic Books  
  • Jack Kirby's Eternals, immortal beings created by space gods Celestials, have been the source behind multiple myths. Thena has been inspiration behind goddess Athena, Ajak has huge influence on Aztec and Mayan mythology, Icarus was the inspiration behind Ikaris, and Gilgamesh not only existed but was an amnesiac Eternal. Similiarly, their Evil Counterpart Deviants were inspiration of most legends and tales concerning demons. Atlantis and Lemuria existed and were Deviants' territory, which was destroyed by Celestials. And then Marvel put them all into the Marvel Universe with its Crossover Cosmology, so now they exist alongside real gods, and Thena fought with Athena a few years ago.
    • The Celestials themselves are responsible for a good bit of Marvel Universe wackiness, such as the X-gene that forms the basis of X-Men.

    Film 
  • In The Matrix, this is the explanation given for the existence of the supernatural within the Matrix. The sequels and Animatrix would later clarify that they were programs from earlier, imperfect versions of the Matrix that escaped deletion.
    "Every story you've ever heard about vampires, werewolves, or aliens is the system assimilating some program that's doing something they're not supposed to be doing."

  • The Cabin in the Woods is this for slasher films.

    Literature 
  • The Harry Potter series has a number of historical events caused by wizards, and at one point it is mentioned that real witches enjoyed being burned at the stake, because of a spell that rendered the flames harmlessly ticklish.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, everything is caused by gods, their children, or some other Greek monster. Well, anything note-worthy. For example, Houdini, the Beatles and Blackbeard were all demi-gods, and that's only the start of it.
    • There's also Percy's first encounter with the empousa. He first mistakes them for vampires, but they simply laugh at him and point out that they were the inspiration for such monsters. And before that, there's Artemis commenting on how her mode of transport (reindeer drawing a sleigh) inspired Santa Claus. The Heroes of Olympus also features a voodoo practitioner who managed to summon Pluto.
    • The Kane Chronicles, which take place in the same universe, adds Egyptian wizards to the mix, channeling their gods to repeat archetypal stories throughout history.
  • In His Dark Materials, many divining methods are actually just "talking to Dust", the sentient matter forming most of the universe. Averted, however, in that most religions may actually be lies created by the Authority to control everything.
    • Only the authoritarian religions. The others presumably are born from interaction with the Dust, and Angels who are spontaneously formed from it.
    • The witches worship deities such as Yambe Akka (based on a real world Sami and Finnish goddess, by the way), but there's no evidence for, or against, their actual existence.
  • Young Wizards plays with this trope, in that many myths were inspired by the non-mythical actions of the godlike Powers That Be. For example, the extremely powerful Winged Defender is the inspiration for (among other things) Thor, Athena, Prometheus and the archangel Michael.
  • The Memory Wars features this:
    • All monsters are actually beings from other realms that have bonded with humans, either with consent, or by forcing themselves on their host.
    • Similar deities across different mythologies are actually the same creature being interpreted differently by various cultures, so in addition to her role as the Celtic goddess of battle and magic, Morrigan is also Janus, Hecate, and Loki.

     Live Action TV  
  • The final Quatermass serial has stone circles (which do nothing; the stones only mark the places where people congregated in the past) around the world becoming activated; people congregate there (an activated race memory), expecting to be: contacted by aliens, 'raptured' into heaven, 'go to the planet', etc. Instead, they are 'harvested' by an interstellar energy beam that reduces them to dust, with a tiny fraction lost to the beam. It is further suggested that all religions, and by extension, all of human politics, wars and history, have been the result of this race memory: to congregate and be harvested.
  • In Stargate SG-1, all myths are actually accounts of aliens (of multiple species) visiting Earth.
  • As the page quote indicates, a lot of Doctor Who stories seem to cast aliens as the inspiration for Earth myths, with the Doctor as their foil.
    • Far less consistently, but still quite often, the monster of the week had some connection to Time Travel, even the giant spiders from "Planet of the Spiders". Hell, even the fairies from Torchwood could time travel. Of course, the main character is a time traveller, so it makes sense.
  • All myths in Lost Girl are actually different subspecies of Fae. Yes, everything from almost-human oracles to completely-not-human-at-all Emotion Eater spiders.
  • In the Enchanted Forest of Once Upon a Time, Rumpelstiltskin is not only himself, but also Cinderella's fairy godmother, the Beast, and the crocodile, and has his hand in so many more fables.
  • In [[Series/Grimm]] various historical figures are said to have been secretly Wiesen, according to their personalities.

     Tabletop Games  
  • Each gameline in Old World of Darkness generally tends to claim that all history was orchestrated by the supernatural group on which it focuses (though vampires have the upper hand thanks to the overwhelming amount of supplemental material compared to other races). How their intents have managed to avoid contradicting each other is Hand Waved.

    From Vampire: The Masquerade fluff:
    "Year 33: The Malkavians claim that their greatest practical joke happen during this year, when they perform a bit of graverobbing in Jerusalem."

     Video Games  
  • The Assassin's Creed series explains that anything in human history, ever, happened because either a Templar or an Assassin did it.
    • The former also rewrote the history books, completely wiping out all evidence of the first civilization.
  • Professor Anzai is the world's foremost expert in ancient relics, and she is especially famous for advancing the unique notion that the Mu and Atlantean cultures were founded by aliens. In the back story of Shin Super Robot Wars, a certain race fled their homeworld under the threat of the Ze Balmary Empire. Split into different factions with different leaders, they attempted to flee. One group fell beneath Balmar's shadow, while another fled to the safety of the Dug. Finally, one staked their lives on traveling to an unknown, distant region of space. This faction formed the Mu culture.

     Web Original  
  • The Global Guardians PBEM Universe is a superhero setting. So... all those historical and mythical warriors we hear about in the stories? You know, Hercules, and Ajax, and Achilles, and Pontiac and Roland and King Arthur? Yeah... they all had superpowers.

    Webcomic 
  • In Earthsong, mythical creatures in all worlds are based on the brief memory fragment that people keep of their time on the eponymous planet.

    Western Animation 
  • Most mythical beings from the world of Gargoyles are eventually revealed to be members of the Third Race, or "Oberon's Children", although a few supernatural phenomena (including the gargoyles themselves, who are considered their own race) are left unaccounted for.
  • At least in the animated version of Men In Black, everything supernatural is an alien, similar to Doctor Who. The Christmas special reveals Yeti and Elves are of alien descent, too. The nature of Santa, however, is left unstated.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated explains all animal-based myths (i.e. Sun Wukong and the Egyptian gods) as being caused by inter-dimensional beings who took animal forms to assist mankind in development. Talking animals like Scooby-Doo are explained as being descendents of these beings.
  • Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends: All mythological creatures are actually aliens who have been on Earth for centuries, or millenia.
  • In Justice League Unlimited, Supergirl asks the Question if he really believes all those conspiracy theories. He corrects her with "conspiracy theory." Apparently they're all connected. Even the aglet.

     Real Life  
  • All Indo-European religions ultimately derive from the original Aryan/Proto-Indo-European religion from Western Asia.
  • This is Demonization, in a nutshell: "Your gods are all just our demons."
    • And Euhemerism: "Your gods are just famous people."

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alternative title(s): One Myth To Rule Them All
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