"If you win, you need not have to explain. If you lose, you should not be there to explain!"
When the official history of the setting is overwritten by the ones in power and their Propaganda Machine
A prime belief of every Conspiracy Theorist
Zig-Zagged in Real Life
— winners, losers, third parties, descendants, and people completely unrelated to the conflicts in question tend to write and rewrite and reinterpret history for any number of reasons or agendas, and contemporary authors even on the same "side" can wildly disagree on pretty much anything. That people often believe
this trope to be true itself runs the gauntlet of aversion, inversion, subversion, and playing the trope dead straight all at the same time. This is also connected with Grey and Gray Morality
in that picking one side of the story over the other in this context does not necessarily make it correct.
Sub-trope of Might Makes Right
. Supertrope of Internal Retcon
. Contrast You Cannot Kill An Idea
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- In an issue of Peter David's Captain Marvel, Rick Jones and Genis-Vell travel to a far-flung After the End future where the Earth is covered in desert and has been colonized by aliens. The only surviving history was written by Doctor Doom. Notably, this means that all superheroes were portrayed as evil villains who stood in the way of progress. Hitler was still a bad guy, though, because he persecuted the Roma (Doom's ethnic group).
- So, this is a literal case of history being written by the Victor (Von Doom).
- In another issue of Peter David's (this time X-Factor), Quicksilver offers his own version of the phrase: "The future is written by the winners. History is written by the survivors."
- In Equestria: A History Revealed, the Conspiracy Theorist Lemony Narrator seems to think that all of Equestria's history was rewritten by Celestia, despite clear evidence that this is not the case. However, Celestia does alter history a few times in eliminating Discord's name before his return, sealing away the records on the Crystal Empire, and altering some aspects of the Equestrian Civil War, which hints that the Lemony Narrator was not entirely incorrect.
- Nights Favored Child: After defeating Celestia, Nightmare Moon spends the next thousand years not only removing all traces of her from history, but also of the very concept of day, including removing words like "dusk", "dawn", "sun", and (notably) "twilight" from the lexicon.
- Legends of Equestria: When Princess Luna became Nightmare Moon, her actual goal was to re-acquire equal footing with her sister, who had taken all the power in the country for herself. Luna fully intended to restore the day and go back to business as usual afterwards. Rather than give up sole power over the country, Celestia disposed of Nightmare Moon and vilified her in the history books.
- Played with in the Pony POV Series when Celestia reveals she erased Discord from the history books because, in her mind, he didn't deserve a legacy after all he'd done. She also explained that she didn't want the memory of those like Shady who were related to Discord to be tainted by association with him.
- We later see the Sea Ponies in the Epilogue timeline are fed a completely rewritten version of history that's the complete opposite of what happened, right down to Discord blaming the Alicorns for the genocide he committed.
- The Hooviet empire does this via propaganda, so that they never have to admit to having ever lost a war.
- In Black Book of Arda, one of the most prominent Russian J. R. R. Tolkien fanfics, The Silmarillion is revised this way.
- The Last Ringbearer points out that the Red Book, which is the basis of The Lord of the Rings, is actually a history written by the winners. It's bursting full of examples. In it, the Orks and Wild Men of the south are simply people of color. The Red Book dehumanizes its enemies, makes light of Aragorn using Necromancy to defeat the Mordorians and condemns the scientific nation of Mordor as corrupters by blaming the desertification of their homeland on them. The war was started by Gandalf because the enemy technology was becoming stronger, while the magic of the eldritch elves and the wizards became only weaker as knowledge was lost. Saruman saw that the only way to stamp out science was to commit genocide and wanted nothing to do with it.
- Further, Aragorn taunts the Mordorian general after having him shot in the back during a honor duel: "The history books will say you got killed by a midget and a broad."
- Bad Future Crusaders: The official story of Twilight Sparkle's rise to power is that Princess Luna once again became Nightmare Moon after Celestia's death, conveniently "forcing" Twilight to strike her down and assume complete control of the country for herself. Even those loyalist to her don't hesitate to call this out as BS (in private, at least).
- Braveheart, the opening monologue: "I shall tell you of William Wallace. Historians from England will say I am a liar, but history is written by those who have hanged heroes."
- In the Underworld movies, Viktor rewrote vampire history to appear as if he was the original vampire, when, in fact, it was another Elder, Marcus. So this is a literal case of history being written by the Viktor.
- Not quite: Viktor is quite willing to acknowledge the legend that vampires and werewolves came from the brother Corvinus ("One bit by a bat, the other bit by a wolf"), but he makes fun of it, probably to diminish the connection between Lycans and Vampires. On the other hand, he's quite willing to rewrite his murder of Selene's entire family.
- Selene shows signs of being aware of this. She recognizes that Kraven is not enough of a warrior to have actually killed Lucian, but as the only survivor could claim that he did. She also initially comments that the Lycans started the war, but then admits that that is what is said anyway. By the second film, she's (accurately) assumed virtually everything Viktor has said is a lie.
- Directly addressed by former Secretary of Defense Robert S. Mc Namara in the 2003 documentary The Fog Of War who admitted that firebombing 63 Japanese cities and following it up with 2 nuclear bombs would be considered a war crime if not for the fact that he was on the winning side and then wonders why that should make any difference.
- The documentary The Act Of Killing is essentially about what happens to society after war criminals win.
- Most people will take any excuse they can get to have had a glorious victory, but meh...this is the Discworld, after all. And the quote is from a tortoise.
- Another Discworld example, from Hogfather, as Susan tells a bedtime story:
"And then Jack chopped down what was the world's last beanstalk, adding murder and ecological terrorism to the theft, enticement and trespass charges already mentioned, and all the giant's children didn't have a daddy any more. But he got away with it and lived happily ever after without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done. Which proves that you can be excused just about anything if you're a hero, because no-one asks inconvenient questions."
- Orientalism by the Palestinian-American critic Edward W. Said is a non-fiction work that explores in detail how colonialist nations abuse their control of the media and command of universities and textbooks to spread stereotypes and Flanderization of a complex, subtle and regionally diverse culture and how this comes to define the general perception of the Middle East well into the 20th Century.
- A couple examples from Larry Niven's Known Space universe where victors wrote the original history of a colony world:
- In A Gift From Earth, the official histories say that the social stratification of Plateau was initially agreed upon by the crew and colonists because the crew had done the work and taken the risks. In fact, the original crew "convinced" the original colonists at gunpoint.
- In Fleet of Worlds, the official histories say that the Puppeteers rescued a crippled human colony ship and settled its occupants on one of their worlds. In fact, the Puppeteers themselves had attacked the ship out of panic that it had discovered one of the worlds being moved into the fleet, and then enslaved the occupants in order to breed a compliant population.
- This is a major theme in For Want of a Nail, an Alternate History of the North American continent following a quelled The American Revolution. The In-Universe persona of the author has very little sympathy for them, and is called out on it by an In-Universe peer review at the end of the book, who invokes this trope to some extent.
- Santa and Pete: where young Pete asks his amateur historian grandfather, "Who was right, the Indians or the Dutch?" His grandpa laughs and answers, "Depends on who's telling the story."
- Of the latter, Lois McMaster Bujold's The Vor Game. Gregor hasn't heard any of the stories about his father except stuff he could dismiss as propaganda. Miles is able to assure him that the stories he has heard are not all true.
- In The Egyptian, Sinuhe muses that due to Horemheb's rewriting of history, no one will ever remember the three Pharaohs that preceeded him: Ay, Tutankhamon and Achenaton. Horemheb was, obviously, less than successfull.
- Addressed but averted in Timothy Zahn's Vision Of The Future:
What do you mean by "true" [history]? What does anyone mean by "true"? We all know history is Written by the Winners
. Jorj Car'das:
History is also written by the bystanders... peoples who had no park or stake in what happened. Would you accuse them all
- George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire deals with this trope. In the present timeline, Robert Baratheon is loved as a glorious rebel king but hated by Targaryen loyalists for being The Usurper. Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, who was regarded as The Wise Prince in his lifetime, is smeared after his death as a rapist and villain.
- The tragic and poignant consequences of this trope is explored more subtly in The Sworn Sword in the case of Ser Eustace Osgrey who lost his entire family fighting for the defeated Blackfyres but continues to believe that their fight was just and honorable. He claims that because the Blackfyres lost the rebellion they're condemned as traitors and rebels, but had they won they'd be idealized heroes.
- The Sundering reimagines The Lord of the Rings with an aversion of this trope.
- In The Fall of the Kings, earlier in the setting world's history, the kings and their wizards were overthrown and the ruling nobility burned all the works about magic that they could find and made it illegal even to claim that magic was real. This causes some frustration for one of the protagonists, a historian living 200 years later who has trouble finding reliable sources for his research on the wizards. Especially when he proposes a debate to prove that the wizards' magic was real, disregarding the fact that the aforementioned law is still on the books...
- Referenced in 1632 by Cardinal Richelieu, as to why he isn't surprised or bothered all that much by how villainous he looks in our uptime media.
- In a BattleTech novel, a character counters to someone stating this that "History is written by the survivors" and that "given my track record, you should hope I remember you fondly".
- In the Doctor WhoVirgin New Adventures novel Just War, the Doctor deconstructs this mindset in a Russian Roulette confrontation with a captured Nazi, pointing out that even if you get to write the history books it doesn't make you and your cause good:
The Doctor: You can't create anything with a gun, Herr Wolfe, let alone Utopia, authority, or truth. You can dress up in a scary black uniform and talk about destiny. You can use the full power of the state to rewrite biology, mythology, genealogy, history, and geography. Burn all the books you disagree with, burn all the people who wrote or read them. Hold a parade in every street, attend a thousand Party rallies. Gang up on the weak, persecute the minorities. Win the war. It still won't make you right.
- Played with in Enders Game. The eponymous character wins the war, and then goes on to write its history from his defeated enemy's point of view, leading him to be vilified as a war criminal for thousands of years. The winners write the history books, but that doesn't mean they have to cast themselves as the heroes.
- Black Adder shows how Henry Tudor, after winning the War Of The Roses, completely removed Richard IV and his family from the historical timeline and changed Richard III into a child-killing madman.
- Star Trek: Voyager - In an inversion, in the episode "Living Witness", the history was written from the perspective of the losers who were relegated to second class citizenry, and the winning faction was very annoyed at being portrayed as vicious, bloodthirsty tyrants who slaughtered innocents and made martyrs out of people that turned out to be pirates and raiders. As it turns out, both sides weren't exactly saints to begin with.
- It is very likely the history was originally written by the winners and only turned to favor the other side in the centuries of coexistence later. The story still puts almost all the blame on Voyager rather than the winners themselves. In the propaganda simulation, even the representative of the victorious species who made the deal for Voyager's involvement is horrified at their atrocities, but his objections are ignored.
- Ultimately subverted at the end of the episode when we flash forward to the future to see that both sides have reconciled their differences (thanks in large part to the Doctor). The old anti-Voyager propaganda simulations are still on display, but only as an example of how past prejudices once pushed them apart.
- Tom Zarek uses this theory to gloss over murdering Laird and The Quorum on Battlestar Galactica. He loses.
- Not that it mattered since history was one of the many, many things that the Colonials decided to jettison upon reaching Earth.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation
- "Contagion": Picard says this in reference to the Iconians.
- Another episode has Picard asking for some help from his good buddy Gowron. Gowron himself was letting the press know that he did not have as much help from Picard as there really was; this trope's name was given word for word.
- "The High Ground" has Kyril Finn point out to a captive Dr. Crusher that if George Washington had lost his war, he'd be remembered as a terrorist, and not a revolutionary.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - the two-parter "The Way of the Warrior", Gowron quotes it again just before the Klingon fleet and Deep Space Nine engage in battle.
- Star Trek: Enterprise. The Mirror Universe episode opens with the conclusion of Star Trek: First Contact, but instead of returning the Vulcan's Strange Salute, Mirror!Zephram Cochrane pulls out a shotgun and murders him, whereupon the humans storm the spaceship brandishing firearms. Mirror!Archer is later shown proudly showing off this shotgun from his antique Wall of Weapons.
Archer: I wonder how history would have played out if Cochrane hadn't turned the tables on your invasion force.
- In one episode of Red Dwarf, Rimmer invokes this with regard to Robert Scott, pointing out that his diary is the only record of Laurence Oates' Heroic Sacrifice, and that if Rimmer had been Scott he'd have bludgeoned Oates to death with a frozen husky and eaten him, telling everyone that he had sacrificed himself. As is immediately pointed out by Lister, however, Rimmer is an exceptionally self-centred and ignoble person.
- A variation in that they didn't really "win", but the version of the Peacekeeper battle against the Venek Horde that Aeryn relates in the Farscape episode Different Destinations. Subofficer Dacon was a cook and only ended up negotiating the ceasefire because everyone else was killed. Alternatively, if this is a case of a Stable-ish Time Loop, he was just following Aeryn's instructions in the first place.
- Becomes a plot point in the Community episode "Alternative History of the German Invasion", which helps the study group come to a Heel Realization regarding their presence at Greendale.
- Crops up in the Once Upon a Time episode "Tallahassee". Captain Hook tells the Human-Giant wars as a war against brutal giants who came down to pillage the land and kill humans. Humans drove them back up the beanstalk, and killed all but one, the most vicious of them all. The last surviving giant claims humans started the war and slaughtered giants for no real reason, but since they won got to paint history how they wanted.The giant was telling the truth. Humans started the war for the giant's gold and magic beans, and gleefully slaughtered them.
- Babylon 5: After conquering the Narns a second time, the Centauri lay the blame for the conflict squarely on their shoulders, to the point of placing every member of the Narn ruling council on trial for war crimes. Then again, the two powers have been taking stabs at each other ever since the Narns overthrew the Centauri the first time (including the Narns secretly selling Centauri weapons to humans during the Earth-Minbari War). And the Centauri are still not willing to acknowledge that the first time even happened either. They keep claiming that they landed peacefully on Narn and uplifted the primitives. Given that G'Kar's father was hung in the desert by his thumbs until he died of dehydration, it's highly unlikely to have been the case.
- Spartacus War of the Damned. Invoked. Crassus muses that both he and Spartacus see themselves as the hero of the tale, and their opponent as the villain. Crassus then states that only history will judge who the hero was; he, of course, wins.
- Defied, however, by Agron, who swears that it is ultimately Spartacus who history will see as the hero.
Agron: One day, Rome will crumble and fall. But your name will be remembered forever.
- Referenced in Stargate SG-1. Woolsey initially helps Kinsey in trying to shut down the SGC. He eventually realizes what kind of person Kinsey is, and then gives the President evidence of Kinsey's crimes. The following conversation then takes place:
Woolsey: I also hope that one day history recognizes that I tried to do the right thing.
President Hayes: Whose version of history, Mr. Woolsey?
- Lost Girl. Trick mentions that this is the only reason people have a favorable opinion of the ancient Blood King. Considering that the Blood King has reality warping powers when writing with his blood, he may mean this literally. Also, since Trick is the Blood King, this doubles as him recognizing his own past crimes and mistakes.
- Since WCW was bought out, WWE mostly only provides its own account of the Monday Night Wars, and spends a lot of time mocking WCW for its silly gimmicks (while the WWF had plenty of its own) and the mismanagement that led to its downfall. You'll seldom hear much about why Nitro beat Raw in their ratings war for so long, just that it happened. ECW, on the other hand, gets treated like a Worthy Opponent and gets much more respect (perhaps because it's more marketable, perhaps because they were writing checks to ECW during its run).
- Some Satan Is Good beliefs held this about The Bible.
- Averted in Greek Mythology, where it is established that Chronos ruled over a Golden Age, so the Olympians didn't bother to hide that.
- Virtually every religious text will describe the founder of their religion as a impossibly perfect and good human being. They're all basically hagiographies in which you're never able to check how much of it is true or how many less heroic stuff has been left out.
- In Eberron, there was the War of the Mark, the first half of which was basically genocide preformed by the dragon mark houses against those with aberrant dragon marks, and the second half was a war because the victimized party got organized and put up a valiant effort; anyways, it didn't end well. Most people don't like and fear aberrant dragon mark wielders, although the extent of the prejudice is up to the DM. The dragon marked houses, however, are quite accepted, and while many people know of the War of the Mark (despite it happening almost 2,500 years ago), almost none know what actually happened.
- This helps explain the untidiness affecting a lot of Warhammer 40,000's backstory. The Space Wolves know that the Thousand Sons were traitorous sorcerers that their forebearers rightfully punished for using forbidden magics, while the Thousand Sons know they suffered an unjust and unprovoked attack ordered by the Emperor they up until then had loyally served. The Horus Heresy novels reveal that while the Thousand Sons were using sorcery, they were trying to warn the Emperor about the imminent rebellion, but then the true traitor, Warmaster Horus, changed the Space Wolves' orders from "bring in for questioning" to "kill them all," and the psyker-hating Space Wolves were happy to oblige. Nowadays the idea that the Space Wolves were played or that the Emperor should have believed the Thousand Sons' warning are treated as heresy.
- Another example is the history of the Dark Angels. Outsiders know the chapter to be one of the original First Founding legions and exemplars of loyalty. The chapter itself is wracked with guilt over how fully half their members turned traitor during the Horus Heresy, a secret they jealously guard and which drives them to obsessively hunt these Fallen Angels. Meanwhile, there's hints that the Dark Angels' primarch may have been sitting out the civil war altogether, and the "Fallen" were merely defending themselves against their possibly traitorous kin...
- This Trope and the Lion's ultimate allegiance are dealt with in the Age of Darkness anthology story Savage Weapons, Lion'el is absolutely loyal to the Emperor, but his campaign against the Night Lords, and the Chaos Gods' intervention in the Warp will prevent him from ever reaching Terra to aid in the defence. Night Haunter himself directly taunts Jonson stating that the Lion's character will always be questioned because he not was at Terra.
- Paranoia: It's the year 214. It's always the year 214. We are at war with the Communists, always were, and always will be. The Computer Is Your Friend, and this is the history the Computer tells you. Questioning the Computer's history of the world is treason. Treason is punishable by death.
- The history of the Realm in Exalted proclaims there was a time when the world was ruled over by demonic "Anathema" who harrowed and tormented mankind, and it was only through the overwhelming force of the Dragon-Blooded that they were driven back into the shadows. While this isn't entirely inaccurate from what sometimes happened under the rule of the Solars, it sure does obscure a lot of the nuances.
- Some of it is flat out wrong — namely, they say that the Anathema are humans possessed by demons (or demons in human form) rather than humans given power by gods that steadily drives them mad.
- The majority of William Shakespeare's Histories (That is: King John, Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Richard III and Henry VIII) feature this to a greater or lesser degree, seeing as how Shakespeare wrote histories for the winners, his 'sponsors'. The other wiki's article is a brief introduction to this.
- The Wizard's song "Wonderful" in Wicked is all about this. ("A man's called a traitor — or a liberator. A rich man's a thief — or philanthropist. Is one a crusader, or ruthless invader? It's all in which label is able to persist.") Of course, he's used this to his advantage by wielding the Propaganda Machine against his political opponents.
- The Count of Monte Cristo, the musical, has the Villain Song called "A Story Told", referring to how "history is a story told by the men who make the laws". The three conspirators convene and choose to frame Edmond Dantés for crimes to further their own cause with the understanding that because he can't disprove the accusation, he will be remembered as guilty by everyone, and that's more real to the rest of the world than what actually happened.
- Valkyria Chronicles: The known history has The Valkyria as demigods who arrived from the north and saved the land from the Darcsen race, who were fighting devastating wars with Ragnite weapons. The Valkyria are still worshiped as gods and saviors, and the Darcsen are prosecuted and marginalized. In truth, the Darcsen were peaceful, and the Valkyria were invaders who enslaved them - as well as causing enormous destruction with their ragnite weapons. They rewrote history to suit themselves, and hid the truth from all but their own descendants.
- Star Trek: Birth of the Federation - When you choose to play the Cardassians, their opening claims this as one of their motivating principles.
- Fire Emblem Tellius reminds you that Chaos Is Evil. Uh, then you uncover the millenium-long cover-up setup by the one survivor of the Law vs Chaos War. And he's the King of Dragons!
- Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones has a variant of this. The common myth is that the Demon King was defeated by the "Five Heroes" led by Grado. It turns out that the "Five Heroes" were led by Morva, the leader of the dragonkin. Together, they defeat the Demon King; Morva is even the one to land the killing blow. However, as centuries pass, the human nations which the heroes founded eventually forgot about Morva. The people of Caer Pelyn are rather unhappy about this, believing the other nations are being ungrateful to the Great Dragon who saved mankind, but Morva himself doesn't really mind.
- ''Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword has a rather half-hearted version of this. The prologue states that the Scouring, a brutal war between dragons and humans, began when humans broke the peace for no explained reason. Yet it doesn't go on to question the fact that the human "heroes" of that war are held in religious reverence and the one who joins your party is something of The Obi-Wan.
- In Tales of Symphonia, quite a bit of the legend of Mithos the Hero is false, created by Mithos himself.
- In Last Scenario, pretty much all of the standard history is a load of crap. This is used as part of the game's subversion of Video Game Tropes of all kinds, as it means the opening Info Dump lies to you.
- Legacy of Kain
- Legacy Of Kain: Defiance This is what Raziel says upon finding out what the Hylden have to say about their war with the Ancients.
- In Blood Omen 2, Kain combines this with In Their Own Image;
Kain: "Oh, Sebastian. Our destiny could have been glorious. The land was ours for the taking. History would have been rewritten in our image."
- This point is made by Captain Price and General Shepherd in Modern Warfare 2. One of them is very much counting on it.
History is written by the victor. History is filled with liars.
- Assassin's Creed posits that all of history is deliberately distorted by The Knights Templar to strengthen their position, cover up their existence, and vilify the Assassins. This Hand Wave permits the dev team to stuff the series with exquisite research while still taking creative license with history when necessary for the sake of the story.
- Invoked in the Thief series, as the Keepers' motto is "Propaganda is written by the winners. History is written by the observer."
- In Red Dead Redemption, after the final mission, no matter how high or low you go on the Karma Meter, Edgar Ross sees to it that John Marston is remembered by most as a vile monster.
- Final Fantasy Tactics is full of this trope. Saint Ajora, the leading messiah of the Church, was not a saint, but in fact a human possessed by a demon at best, and a actual demon at worst. The official history of Ramza has him as a heretic and usurper, while the truth is that he was just as influential, if not more so, in the kingdom's history that the eventual peasant king Delita. The Church, however, refused to acknowledge his role as his actions would have exposed massive corruption and generally unethical behavior, and suppressed everything that tried to tell the truth, including burning the author of the Durai Reports at the stake as a heretic. Possibly subverted by the Durai Reports though, causing Ramza to be Vindicated by History.
- In Guild Wars, White Mantle history records Saul D'Alessio's final battle against the Charr as a defeat. In fact, D'Alessio won the battle, but his gods murdered most of his followers and abducted him, never to be seen again. Ironically, this would lead to D'Alessio being villified by the people who overthrew the White Mantle when he would have likely sympathized with their cause.
- Charr history of the Searing and the following war against Adelbern has been written largely to reflect the glory of their victories, excising all mention of how it was Shamans who gave them their greatest victories and the important role of the Ebon Vanguard in killing their "gods".
- Likewise, Ascalonian history tends to focus on the Charr attempting to invade from the north many times before the Searing while conveniently glossing over the fact that Ascalon used to be Charr territory before the humans invaded, drove them north, and built a wall to keep them out.
- Mentioned by developers of League of Legends as the reason why Demacia is perceived as "good", while Noxus is "evil".
- The Journal of Justice is written by the League (neutral organization) and averts this trope (see also Morgana vs Kayle).
- Mentioned in the Russian campaign of Empire Earth.
- The Fallout 3 expansion Operation: Anchorage has this as part of its backstory — a General Chase commissioned an elaborate virtual reality simulation of the Alaska campaign of the Sino-American War, in which he played a key role. But instead of serving as an adviser, he kept tweaking and changing the script, even as the world shuddered towards nuclear war, until the events depicted in the simulation bore little resemblance to what actually happened (including entirely fictional Chinese secret weapons). The technicians developing the program privately worried that the man had gone insane. Then they all died in a nuclear apocalypse.
- The aptly named Borderlands 2 mini-mission "Written By The Victors" has you take a quick tour of the history of Hyperion and Handsome Jack. Naturally, every word of it is utter bull.
- Hyperion hasn't "won" anything yet, but they're winning, and they own the news media on Pandora. Hyperion spreads its version of events through Hyperion Truth Broadcasting, where DJ Hunter Hellquist is always spinning reality to make Handsome Jack look like the hero and the Crimson Raiders look like the most vile villains imaginable. Luckily, you get to shoot him in the face.
- In Captain Qwark's log in Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, he claims to have defeated the previous game's final boss, which ate him before Ratchet defeated it.
- In Mass Effect 3, the Morning War was really a civil war between the quarian minority who protested the extermination of the geth and the rest of the quarians. The quarian dissenters were quickly wiped out, and the surviving quarians pinned the blame on the geth who only took up arms in a futile attempt to protect their friends. Tali is naturally very disturbed when she discovers the truth.
- Baten Kaitos is centered around the aftereffects of an ancient mythical battle between the god of evil and the gods of good. The prequel reveals that this essentially has the morality of the parties backwards - it's just that the good guys (who were a group, not an individual as history recorded) had made a Deal with the Devil with an unrelated and forgotten third party.
- In Dragon Ball Online, it is revealed in the guide Dragon Ball Online Chronicles that the majority of humans in the future have forgotten the protagonists' existence in favor of Mr. Satan.
- Singularity has a variation:
Demichev: History is rewritten by the victors. YOU LOST-
*Renko shoots the pistol out of Demichev's hand*
- In Robopon, Dr. Zero calls out Prince Tail for this; the King was defeated by Zero and only 'won' due to nearly killing him, but told everyone that he defeated Zero to begin with.
- In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Headband", Aang (in disguise) attends a Fire Nation school for a day. During the class's history lesson, the teacher quizzes the students on how Fire Lord Sozin defeated the "Air Nation Army". Of course, Aang (and the viewers) know full well that the Air Nomads were a mostly peaceful population of monks, who didn't even have an established government, much less an army, and that Sozin's attack against them wasn't so much a battle as it was outright genocide. When Aang tries to point this out, the teacher snaps that, unless he was actually around 100 years ago, he shouldn't be questioning the Fire Nation's history books.
- Aang's quest to topple the Fire Lord would ultimately fix this.
- In the Christmas Episode of The Real Ghostbusters, the quartet gets taken back to the time of A Christmas Carol and accidentally catch the spirits of Christmas past, present, and yet to come. Now with nothing existing to make him undergo his Heel-Face Turn, a vengeful Ebeneezer Scrooge proceeds to write a bestseller making him look like the big hero and the holiday to look like one huge joke, which in turn causes everyone to hate Christmas.