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  • 30 Rock has several:
    • In the pilot episode, Jack mentions the GE Trivection Oven, an oven that combines three types of heat with ludicrously over-the-top descriptions of it. Though meant more as Biting-the-Hand Humor than Product Placement, NBC ran special commercials during the premiere to convince the world that yes, this was a real product.
    • Another episode featured a gold necklace with the acronym EGOT (referencing the quest for an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) and said that it was originally made for Philip Michael Thomas. Younger audience members may not have realized that this wasn't just a random pop culture reference — the term "EGOT" was actually coined by Thomas, back in the '80s, when he frequently stated that his goal was to win all four awards. (To date, he has never scored so much as a nomination for any of them.) Thomas claimed at the time that the letters stood for Energy, Growth, Opportunity and Talent.
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    • Other examples: rat kings, Anna Howard Shaw Day, the "Gay Bomb", Jon Bon Jovi actually being named "artist in residence" at NBC, unexplained maple syrup odors in Manhattan, and IKEA being the cause of breakups.
  • On Adam Ruins Everything, Patti (Emily's mother-in-law) explains that women who couldn't breastfeed note  had no choice but to feed their babies breadcrumbs soaked in water... and that many of those babies died of malnutrition, until the invention of baby formula in 1865. (Complete with "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer.)
  • Arrested Development: The Living Classics pageant is a parody of a real event.
  • Arrow: Many viewers were surprised to learn that is such a thing as the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. Even some Australian viewers.
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  • An episode of Atlanta featured a character who claimed to be "transracial". This might have seemed like a mean-spirited caricature of transgender people, but people who claim to be "transracial" genuinely exist, with Rachel Dolezal being a particularly infamous example.
  • Band of Brothers:
    • In the first episode, Bill Guarnere is given the wrong jacket by mistake and finds a letter that tells him his brother was killed in Italy. It seems like a Contrived Coincidence but he swore that it really happened.
    • Malarkey is shown running into an American in the German Army who was from near where he lived. The series actually tones this down — as the two had actually been from the same town and worked across the street from each other.
    • Buck Compton is shown throwing a grenade that explodes as soon as it hits its target's chest. Buck Compton was a star baseball player, so this did indeed happen. In fact, in real life it hit the soldier's head.
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  • Barney Miller: Wojo had to improvise when the precinct room was out of coffee. Barney does a disgusted spit take at the result — hot Dr. Pepper. The soft drink company actively marketed this treatment of their drink in the early '60s, but it didn't catch on. It is still somewhat popular in the Southern United States, mainly Texas (where Dr Pepper is the official state soft drink).
  • Better Call Saul has "squat cobbler" — a paraphilia involving someone sitting on a pie. While the name is made up, it's a real (albeit very obscure) fetish.
  • The device that Howard was working on to allow anyone to kiss a partner via the internet, on The Big Bang Theory, may seem silly and far fetched, but there have been numerous attempts to do this in real life.
  • In El Chavo del ocho we have Jaimito the mailman, who always talks about his beautiful home town, Tangamandapio. Many people outside of Mexico (and problaby some inside) would believe this is just a made up town with a funny name. But there is a real Tangamandapio in Michoacán. And the town even made him a statue thanking him for mentioning them.
  • Pierce on Community tries to make a Forced Meme out of the phrase "Streets Ahead". The characters react with scorn towards him. It's an existing phrase in Australia and the UK, which is rather appropriate as another episode shows that Pierce always rips off other people even when he's not trying to.
  • The Christmas Episode of Corner Gas actually features an aluminum Christmas tree.
  • Overlaps with Paranoia Fuel on Criminal Minds. While a number of the cases may seem far-fetched, most of them are loosely based on actual serial killers — the stranger the case, the more likely it is to be based on a real one.
  • Another popular computer-related plot point on crime procedurals like CSI involves suspects hiding other files within an image. While this may seem fanciful, and the way it's usually portrayed usually is, the concept itself is not. Some image formats, like JPEG, points whatever reads it to the location of the actual image data. Meaning one could pack the file with as much arbitrary data as one wants, without affecting the display of the image itself.
    • There is an entire section of cryptography that deals with hiding messages inside other messages, steganography. Digital steganography includes ways to directly encode information into digital images, video, and audio, as part of visual or sound data.
  • Shows like CSI: Cyber and other procedurals increasingly use the silly terms "dark web", "darknet" and "deep web" to refer to hidden parts of the Internet. These are actual names, and are generally used more or less correctly, though you're more likely to just find porn on there.
    • The "deep web" is the part of the internet that is just not indexed by search engines, and thus unreachable by straight-forward searching; you have to know the specific address to go to. Some of it is intentionally non-indexed content, like the back-end of a dynamic or script-based website, somebody's personal web storage (accessible only through their personal password), or corporate databases that are useless without their custom tools. Some of it is defunct web pages that aren't linked or indexed, but still exist out on some GeoCities server out there. And some of it is the dark web.
    • The "dark web" is a term in actual use, but does not refer to any illegality by default: the shorthand meaning is any webpage that is not publicly available. The term "dark" refers to the fact that you can't access it just by wandering around: common dark web pages are things like online banking (after you've logged in), paywall websites, and so on (these also constitute "deep web" content and are often called that, because "dark web" sounds too ominous). While there is undoubtedly illegal activity occurring in the dark web, to assume that any activity that happens there is illegal is the equivalent of saying that there are muggers in every dark alley in a city: there's probably some, but not nearly as many as there are alleys.
  • One episode of CSI: NY featured a genetics lab that had figured out a way to make goats produce spider silk in their milk. Someone has explained in the Real Life section of the LEGO Genetics page how this is actually done.
  • Dad's Army. In the final episode of this British wartime comedy, Corporal Jones marries his love interest, Mrs. Fox. The couple's wedding cake consists of several cardboard "cakes" which have to be dismantled before the real cake can be cut. Cardboard wedding cakes were a reality for many couples who married during or just after World War II when sugar rationing often meant a traditional wedding cake wasn't an option. Instead, as seen in the episode, cardboard covers decorated to resemble wedding cakes would be placed over a simple un-iced sponge cake.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Many young Doctor Who fans may be surprised to discover that the Police Box design did not originate with the show, even though the Doctor on more than one occasion explains that Police Boxes were indeed a thing when the TARDIS got stuck on disguising itself as one.
    • However, hilariously, when the BBC claimed the trademark for the Police Box design in 1998, the Metropolitan Police filed a counter-claim... and lost, with the UK Patent Office ruling that it was more closely associated with the BBC thanks to Doctor Who. To add insult to injury, they also ruled that the Met had to pay the BBC's legal costs and a (small) fine.
      • Too early for the younger viewers, but at the end of "The Chase" Ian and Barbara return to Earth in a short montage. At one point they're briefly anxious when they see a police box in the street, then relieved when they realise … it is a police box.
      • Mickey gets this In-Universe in "Boom Town", being surprised to learn there really was such a thing as police boxes.
      • But then for those younger viewers there's "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe", in which Madge Arwell is helping the Eleventh Doctor look for a police box in 1938. Nope, not this one, let's try another.
    • There were many complaints in online fandom about "The Shakespeare Code" suggesting there were black people living in England in William Shakespeare's time. In real life, Queen Elizabeth I wrote letters to the Mayor of London complaining about the "great numbers of Negars and Blackamoors" in the city.
    • "42": The Doctor solves a math riddle involving something called "happy numbers". Was this a silly term made up for future mathematics? No, happy numbers are actually a thing in mathematics.
    • The mysterious disappearance of Agatha Christie that serves as a plot point in "The Unicorn and the Wasp" really happened.
    • A similar case was President Nixon's black Secret Service agent in "The Impossible Astronaut". He actually had at least one black Secret Service agent in real life.
    • "Day of the Moon" revealed that Canton was kicked out of the FBI for wanting to marry a black man. Some felt this wouldn't even have occurred to someone in 1969 — except the episode is set less than a year before a gay couple in Minnesota applied for a marriage license, and was also the year of the Stonewall Riot (the police action credited with starting the Gay Rights movement).
  • The series Dracula (2013) has a black Renfield, derided by many as an anachronism and/or political correctness. There were plenty of black people living in Victorian London, not to mention many Chinese and Indian communities as well. And the actor playing Renfield has been cast as a servant, which is not far-fetched at all.
  • In a Christmas episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, cheapskate father Frank Barone is seen assembling... yes, an aluminium Christmas tree. Frank indignantly fends off objections from his wife and sons about it being old, crappy and out of date by saying this has served the Barone family well for nearly four decades, and he ain't gonna change it now.
  • In the final episode of Fawlty Towers, Manuel is revealed to have a pet rat, which he insists is a hamster. While the other members of the staff are appalled due to a health inspector coming the next day, domesticated rats are quite real and in most cases are extremely clean, good-tempered, and highly intelligent animals. In fairness to the staff, even if they knew about pet rats, they couldn't be sure that the health inspector would. An additional helping of this trope comes along due to the rat having wild coloration, which is completely possible even in domestic rats.
  • Frasier:
    • The actress Lupe Vélez (mentioned by Roz in the pilot) was quite real and she did commit suicide by overdosing on pills, but the rest of the details are based on a sensationalized account from a book by Kenneth Anger. She died in bed (not with her head in the toilet), she didn't do it to be remembered... and no, Anger made up the bit about the interaction of her last meal with the pills as well.
  • Remember mockolate (fake chocolate made from suspicious substances) on Friends? Disgusting and potentially hazardous? Well, so does anyone who grew up in the Soviet Bloc, eating (or trying not to eat) "chocolate-like products", in which cocoa butter is replaced with with vegetable oils. Hershey's and other chocolate companies are taking a page from the central-planned economy now. Critics have taken to using the "mockolate" term coined by Friends to describe it. The East German equivalent to Nutella had a formula that substituted (imported for hard currency) cocoa with hazelnuts (which could be grown domestically) - the product is still around and now proudly advertises the high hazelnut content as that ingredient is now seen as more desirable by consumers than palm oil, sugar and cacao - the main ingredients of Nutella
    • In one episode when Chandler and Ross's old wild partying friend nicknamed "Gandalf" comes to visit, some of the others don't get the reference — which would be unlikely today since the Lord of the Rings films have made the main characters' names ubiquitous.
    • A lot of non-American viewers don't realize that Days of Our Lives is an actual show and just think it's a Soap Within a Show.
    • Same with Hootie & the Blowfish; While the band were hugely successful in the United States in the 1990s, they were not especially popular outside of North America. The silly name of the band didn't help either.
  • In the commentary for Generation Kill, Evan Wright often had to state "this actually happened" during the more absurd, fantastical-seeming occurrences on the show. In fact, they actually had to tone down the more bizarre shit that the so-called Captain America pulled.
  • A Christmas Episode of Green Acres had Oliver eager for a traditional rural Christmas, and discovering 'traditional' in Hooterville meant aluminum Christmas trees.
  • The Golden Girls: St. Olaf, Minnesota really exists. It's a township in the western part of the state, and presumably it's not as bizarre as the town Rose Nylund came from. There is also a St. Olaf College located in Northfield, Minnesota.
  • In an episode of Have I Got News for You, they showed a picture of Viktor Yushchenko before and after he was poisoned. The audience laughed, even when told it was real. It just seemed too ridiculous.
  • The writers of Heartbeat learned that at the time when the series is set, bobbies were still wearing capes. They shot some test scenes with Nick wearing a cape but audiences felt it looked too weird so they switched to the more familiar modern-day overcoat. (And when some fans wrote in to point out the inaccuracy, the producers wrote back explaining that Aidensfield was in a region selected to test the new police uniforms before they were adopted across the country.)
  • There is a blog, Polite Dissent, that does reviews of every episode of House for medical accuracy; a typical episode will have several errors, mostly of the nit-picky variety (excusable for the sake of story) and occasionally something boneheaded, obviously wrong. Such seemed to be the case early in the 8th season, when Dr. House was brought in to diagnose not a patient, but a set of lungs for transplant, kept in a glass box, which were showing signs of premature deterioration. A great deal of disbelief was shown at the show's depiction of the lungs, clean, dry, and sterile, in a clean, dry, sterile box. Cut to fans providing pictures and video of actual lungs ex-vivo, looking just like that, to the amazement of the other commenters, trained medical professionals among them.
    • Relatedly, in a 3rd-season episode, it is heavily implied that a clinic patient tries to pass off an uninsured friend's urine sample as his own, at a free clinic. Silly, right? Unless you're familiar with the USA's pre-ObamaCare system of health insurance: Insurers had the right to charge exorbitant premiums for people who had pre-existing conditions (and they did, because of what economists call adverse selection: Insuring people likely to actually need medical care was less profitable than insuring only those people least likely to need it). Even worse, if you somehow did get coverage and later needed expensive medical care, they could root through your medical history and find excuses to retroactively rescind it. Hence, even a "free" diagnosis could eventually become very expensive.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Barney's story about early sailors mistaking manatees for mermaids is actually true. Although, the idea that they mistook them for mermaids because they were desperate might be debatable.
  • One episode of Impractical Jokers featured a gag where the guys have to make one of their own start a weird conversation. When one of the guys said he got in trouble for talking to a mole person living in the New York sewers, the mark said he also knew of someone who got in trouble for something similar, leaving the guys in disbelief. In reality, homeless people often do seek shelter in the sewers of a city if they are spacious enough, though not to the point where several hundred people create their own community. The other wiki has more information.
  • Many viewers of The IT Crowd who aren't into metal were surprised to learn Richmond's favorite band, Cradle of Filth, actually exist.
  • Key & Peele:
    • The sketch "East/West College Bowl" mentions the California University of Pennsylvania — since the whole sketch is essentially a Long List of increasingly absurd football player names, some viewers assumed a college with the names of two different U.S. states in it had to be an added throwaway gag. However, there really is a California University of Pennsylvania, located in California, Pennsylvania. And 75 miles away is their conference rival Indiana University of Pennsylvania (yes, in the town of Indiana).
    • The third time they did the gag (prior to Super Bowl 49), they sprinkled in a few real players with weird names in the mix. If they resembled either Key or Peele, you probably would have thought names such as Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix and Ishmai'lly Kitchen were fake.
  • Leverage: You see Elliot Spencer holding a guitar and singing country? Doing appetizers in the kitchen? That's exactly what the real Christian Kane can do, among other things.
  • The Longest Day in Chang'an: Ge Lao is a black man in ancient China. It's not as impossible as it sounds; the Tang Dynasty had contact with many places, including the Byzantine Empire, and people from all over the world came to China.
  • The Magicians. The team believes the Dark King's immortality is tied to an old tree, and if they kill the tree, they'll be able to kill him. They chop down the tree and try to kill him, only to find out he's still immortal. Fen later explains that every tree in the land of Fillory shares a single root system, and thus they're all technically one tree. The team reacts as if it's yet another strange magical thing about Fillory, but in reality, what she described is a completely natural phenomenon known as a clonal colony.
  • At least one fan of Merlin had this reaction to the mention of belladonna eye drops to 'make the eyes look more beautiful'. They were immediately corrected — belladonna dilates the pupils, so therefore did have this effect. Amongst others. It was actually named belladonna (beautiful woman) after its using in cosmetic eye-drops (the active ingredient in belladonna, atropine, is still used medicinally in eyedrops to treat amblyopia).
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    • One of the show's sketches is about a pair of gangsters barging into the Colonel's office and demanding protection money so that his military base doesn't "have an accident." The idea that gangsters could push around the military seems pretty absurd, but "Lucky" Luciano actually did this in World War 2. From his prison cell, Luciano offered the American government the services of his mafiosi to protect the nation's docks from Axis sabotage in exchange for his freedom. The government took the deal. It's now widely believed that the offer was purely a protection racket, and any "Axis sabotage" that occurred was done by Luciano's own men.
    • The intro to the Attila the Hun Show skit looks like an outrageous spoof of American sitcom opening theme songs. It was actually a beat-for-beat takeoff of the opening to a real show: The Debbie Reynolds Show, using its actual theme song (albeit in a cover version).
    • In general, to American and probably later audiences, much of Flying Circus appears to be feverish absurdity. But in reality, nearly everything of the show was a parody of a real thing in British culture at the time. You might say the point of the show was to illustrate just how absurd modern British culture (of the time) already was by satirizing it.
  • Mrs. America: The Phil Crane fundraiser starts with a beauty pageant with women in evening gowns and Phyllis in a star-spangled two-piece. It sounds unbelievable, but according to Waller pageants were something that indeed occurred during political fundraisers in the mid-century, especially in Republican circles.
  • In the 2003 MTV Movie Awards spoof of The Matrix Reloaded, the Architect, played by Will Ferrell, mentions that he created many video games except for Frogger, though he did name it, saying "Did you know they were going to call it Highway Crossing Frog?". Highway Crossing Frog was indeed the original name until Sega changed it.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000
    • The "Microwave Faith Popcorn" from the Bride of the Monster episode was a reference to Faith Popcorn, head of the marketing firm BrainReserve, who was famous at the time for making a number of strange predictions about the future of business, society, and technology in her 1992 book The Popcorn Report.
    • In the episode featuring Mitchell, Mike Nelson and Gypsy discover that an escape pod, the Deus ex Machina, is hidden away in a box marked "hamdingers", with Gypsy noted that no one looked inside because they didn't want to touch the stuff. They actually existed, but they were so short-lived that it was easy to think that they were made up.
  • Nathan Barley:
    • In the barber's office, Dan sees a book called Why Cats Paint: A Theory of Feline Aesthetics, which fits in perfectly with the other joke signs and books in the show. It is an actual book that apparently sold quite well.
    • Many of the stupidest and most decadent details of the proto-Hipster Crapsack World in the show are extremely real 00s trends or based on things that actually happened to the cast and writers.
      • The extremely small bikes ridden by the idiots were a real fad in the middle of the decade, imported from the 'zoobombing' craze in Portland.
      • Most of Nathan's slang is invented, but the part where Jonatton Yeah? comments on something by calling it "miaow" is a reference to a bit of real slang the actor encountered at a Pet Shop Boys/Tracy Emin event in the 2005 London docklands.
  • In Tommy Wiseau's sitcom The Neighbors (2015), the characters wear underwear with "Tommy Wiseau" clearly printed across the band. Most viewers mistook this for a Bland-Name Product spoof of Tommy Hilfiger, but Wiseau actually does have his own underwear brand.
  • Remember that subplot in Nip/Tuck where Julia and Liz started a cosmetics business with skin lotion containing human sperm? In real life, bull semen is used as an ingredient for hair treatment products and anti-aging skin cream.
  • Not the Nine O'Clock News: Foreign viewers may not realise that the "Get a TV licence — it's cheaper than a funeral" parody (in which the TV Licensing Authority hunts down and murders people who don't pay their TV licence fee) is only a slight exaggeration of the real PSAs it was based on, and indeed ones that came later on were even more extreme, almost indistinguishable from the parodies.
  • Andy's bleeding nipples caused by extreme chafing in The Office (US). Sure, it sounds like some bizarre ailment to exaggerate Andy's danger proneness but it's a real thing that affects athletes. It's called "Jogger's Nipple." Cloth can be surprisingly abrasive when it rubs repeatedly over the same portion of skin, made worse by the fact that nipples are fairly thin-skinned and sensitive anyway, especially when exacerbated by sweating, since the water will evaporate and leave salt behind, adding to the abrasiveness.
    • "Diversity Day" has Michael make the rest of the staff do an exercise where they have to wear index cards with nationalities on their foreheads and treat each other based on stereotypes — it seems like something Michael would be culturally insensitive enough to come up with on his own, but one of the writers pitched the idea because he'd had to do this exact thing as part of a high school class.
  • Parks and Recreation:
    • In the episode New Slogan, Leslie mentions Glenwater, Florida, a town that has the distinction of being the "Home of America's Most Violent Walmart Parking Lot". It's just an Only in Florida joke, right? Wrong, it's a reference to something that actually happened in Florida. Port Richey, Florida not only likely holds the same title as the fictional Glenwater, but the lot in question is where half of all crime committed in the small town takes place. The store ultimately had to change its hours of operation in order to reduce the amount of crime that takes place on its property.
    • Think the Pawnee citizens' antics at the town meetings are unrealistically bizarre? Think again. Youtube videos abound in which clips from the show are intermixed with clips from real town hall and school board meetings. If you didn't know what the Parks and Rec actors looked like, you'd be hard-pressed to tell which is which. As this article (which explicitly compares the real meetings to the Parks and Rec scenes) points out, conspiracy theories abound at these meetings in real life due to Loophole Abuse—if you post a conspiracy theory video on YouTube or Facebook that contains misinformation, it might get taken down for violating their terms of service, but if you post a video of a public government meeting in which you espouse those same views, it'll stay up since it's a matter of public record.
  • In Season 2 of Penny Dreadful, Dorian Gray and his date visit a fancy upper-class ping pong parlour, which not many viewers had a clue was an actual fad at the time.
  • The Plot Against America: There is, in fact, a long history of Jews in the American South, and Bengelsdorf factually brings up Judah P. Benjamin, a Southern Jew who spent a large portion of the Civil War as the second-most powerful man in the Confederacy. Before the mid-19th century Charleston, South Carolina (where Bengelsdorf is from) had the most American Jews (and was the largest Jewish community of North America period), until more immigrated from Europe. Only later was it surpassed by New York City.
  • Profit: Profit goes through the employment files of Gracen & Gracen using a program which contains a representation of the corporate offices, which he navigates through in the manner of a First-Person Perspective game. Although this may seem like a case of Magical Computer, it's actually VRML (Virtual Reality Markup Language) which at the time was considered to be the future of the web. Each website would be represented as a building that the user would stroll through. A VRML corporate intranet wouldn't be all that uncommon back in 1996.
  • On Reba, Barbra Jean makes a suggestion to do Donkey Basketball at the next school auction, which is portrayed as an example of her being The Ditz as usual, but Donkey Basketball is in fact a real thing.
  • In the BBC's version of Robin Hood, there was much derision when the character of Isabella was appointed Sheriff of Nottingham. However, there was a female Sheriff of Lincolnshire in approximately the same time period, who (like the fictional Isabella) was appointed by Prince/King John.
    • Likewise, there was a lot of derision towards the show's racially diverse depiction of England, and the Race Lift given to Tuck, decrying the idea of a black monk in Medieval England. There was, in fact, a black Abbot in England an entire five centuries before the setting of the show. While the show did depict a more racially diverse setting of 12th Century England, England and Europe were not an ethnostate of monochrome white people, and in fact, the concept of race in general was something that only picked up steam during the colonial era to justify the slave trade. Before that, migration from North Africa and East Asia to Europe and England and vice-versa wasn't unheard of.
  • Rupauls Drag Race: Season 4's sitcom parody challenge "Hot in Tuckahoe" isn't just some Native American-sounding pun. Tuckahoe, New York is an actual suburb of NYC (it's where Maude was set), whose name is guaranteed to elicit laughter from anyone immersed in drag culture.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch: In "The Pom Pom Incident", Sabrina, in a vain effort to dissuade Valerie from joining the cheerleading squad, claims that "No president has ever been a cheerleader!". Unbeknownst to her (and the writers), Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan were cheerleaders in college, and Dwight Eisenhower was a cheerleader in West Point(!) This is less suprising when you know male cheerleading was far more common before The '60s. Two years after the episode aired, another cheerleader, George W. Bush, became president.
  • Saturday Night Live
    • In the mid-to-late 1980s episodes, Nora Dunn and Jan Hooks appear on a recurring skit involving a Lifetime network show called Attitudes, which appears to be an outrageous spoof on the sort of shows that aired on Lifetime. It was actually a parody of a real show.
    • Ditto for Christopher Walken's The Continental recurring sketch. The original program ran from 1951 to 1954, and played the title character's suave, ladies man persona straight, and the first person POV shots were so female viewers could imagine they were the ones being seduced. The parody aspect was turning him into an incompetent Casanova Wannabe and using the POV shots as fuel for sight gags and physical comedy. The kicker: Walken actually remembers seeing the original version as a kid.
    • Many viewers outside the New York metropolitan area (and, to be honest, quite a few within it) or who never had access to WWOR's 80's superstation thought that Joe Franklin was a character Billy Crystal made up for sketches on the show. He's very much real, and did in fact host the first TV talk show.
    • In the Season 34 episode hosted by Anne Hathaway (her first time hosting), there was a CSPAN sketch showing various deadbeats who would be benefiting from the bailout during the 2008 housing crisis-cum-recession. Then-cast members Darrell Hammond and Casey Wilson played a couple named Herbert and Marion Sandler (no relation to Adam) who cheated Wachovia Bank out of a lot of money and made off like bandits. Lorne Michaels didn't know until after the sketch aired that Herbert and Marion Sandler were a real couple that actually did this (making the "People Who Should Be Shot" caption underneath them during their time onscreen a little uncomfortable to laugh at). Because of this, NBC's SNL video website and the network reruns edit out the entire part featuring Darrell Hammond and Casey Wilson as Herbert and Marion Sandler (though the shots of them as background characters weren't edited in any way). The Netflix version does show the part, but is edited to remove the "People Who Should Be Shot" caption and Herbert Sandler's line about thanking the U.S. government for letting them get away with their corrupt activities.
    • The Dan Aykroyd/Jane Curtin "Weekend Update" Point/Counterpoint segment ("Jane, you ignorant slut!") was a parody of an actual 60 Minutes segment shown in the 70s and replaced by A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney. (See Airplane! in Film).
    • When Chevy Chase was doing Weekend Update, Michael O'Donoghue wrote a joke: "Well, the popular TV personality known as Professor Backwards was slain in Atlanta yesterday, by three masked gunmen. According to reports, neighbors ignored the Professor's cries of 'Pleh! Pleh!'" Chase later said he assumed O'Donoghue had made the whole thing up. But Professor Backwards was a real person (whose real name was James Edmondson) and he had been murdered that week as described. All O'Donoghue did was add the part about him yelling "Pleh".
    • Martin Short's chain-smoking attorney Nathan Thurm from the Season 10 60 Minutes parody is based on a real person from a real 60 Minutes segment.
    • Dana Carvey's impression of Mickey Rooney might seem like a loose impression in the vein of his George H. W. Bush, but it was based on Rooney's actual behavior when he and Carvey were on the cast of the short-lived sitcom One of the Boys.
    • The premise of the 1977 sketch "Ask President Carter" sketch was not fiction. Jimmy Carter actually did host a two hour show where anyone could call in and ask him a question. Here's a clip.
  • During an early episode of Seinfeld, Jason Alexander objected to the actions of his character, George Costanza, insisting that no sane person in Real Life would ever quit his job and turn up the next day as if nothing happened. Larry David informed him that he himself did exactly that when he worked as a writer on Saturday Night Live. This completely changed how Jason came to see the character, imitating Larry David from then on instead of Woody Allen as he had been doing. Knowledge that all four of the core characters on Seinfeld are based on real people can lead one to view the early episodes of the show (when the correspondence was the most direct) in a new light. These people existed, and they were doing things like this in New York in the 1980s.
  • In Sesame Street, Count von Count's obsession with counting seems like it would just be a Pun on the idea of vampires having the title "Count". However, vampires in Eastern European folklore are said to be obsessed with counting objects, and it's said you can escape one by scattering seeds on the ground as a diversion. This was lampshaded in an episode of The X-Files when Mulder, finding himself with a stomach-full of chloral hydrate-laced pizza and being attacked by a vampire, reaches for the nightstand, where lies his gun and... a bag of sunflower seeds. Knowing he's way too wasted to shoot, he scatters the seeds - the vampire laments that he has to pick them all up, and does so compulsively.
  • Stargate SG-1's military base in Colorado, bizarrely burrowed into Cheyenne Mountain, is, in reality, fake... no, wait, it's NORAD's headquarters, and the Stock Footage so often shown of its entrance is the real thing, even though it looks like they just took some video of actors in uniforms marching around outside a highway tunnel. The show even mentions once or twice that the SGC is below NORAD, though the remarks are so offhand you can be forgiven for missing them. The ridiculously thick blast door, shown sealing itself whenever there's a crisis, is also real. Also, not only is there a real Stargate Program, it was actually weirder than the one in the show. (It's depicted — more or less — in The Men Who Stare at Goats.) To add to the hilarity, there is actually a door in Cheyenne Mountain marked "Stargate Command". It's just a broom closet. The military put it there out of appreciation for the series.
  • The Terror: Series one, which follows the doomed Franklin expedition, takes plenty of liberties with the story, but one of the details that's actually true is - horrifyingly - one of the crewmen being found with a gold chain inexplicably sewn to the skin of his face.
  • Troy: Fall of a City: "Black Achilles" has gotten criticism, yet though Achilles is described as blond and pale-skinned in The Iliad there are other stories of the Trojan War with a black character, Ethiopiannote  Memnon who's allied with Troy (he's also usually absent in adaptations) so there's precedent for this. Memnon is even described as nearly Achilles' equal in skill at arms, getting killed while fighting him. Additionally, in the ancient world skin color wasn't the most important marker of nationality, your language and customs were, so black Greeks might not have been the most common but they certainly weren't unheard of.note 
  • Many Ultra Series fans are surprised to learn that the Ultramen's home Nebula M78 is based on a real nebula called Messier 78 located in the Orion constellation. However, it's much closer to Earth than the fictional M78 at 1600 light years as opposed to 13 million.
  • The Untamed: You can play music with a leaf, and leaf-blowing is an actual thing in Real Life. Unlike in the series, though, it won't produce flute-like sounds.
  • Watchmen (2019):
    • A lot of viewers assumed that the opening sequence of the pilot, showing a black neighborhood in 1921 Tulsa being attacked by white racists and the KKK and firebombed with planes, was fictional and just another example of Watchmen being an alternate history. Unfortunately, that entire event — dubbed the Tulsa Race Riot, the Greenwood Massacre, or the Black Wall Street Massacre — was 100% real. Worse, it wasn't even the only example of a black community that was wiped off the map by a white mob.
    • Aquatic animals raining down on people are actually a real thing. They just don't come from portals.
    • The leaflets that the Germans drop to the black soldiers in World War One during the second episode are lifted word-for-word from real ones.
    • While this hasn't yet been done by American police, those in countries such as Mexico have worn masks to protect their identities from groups like the drug cartels, who've murdered many for investigating them.
    • Survivors of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre and their descendants did really try to get compensation for it. The case went as far as the Supreme Court but they tossed it for lack of standing during the 2005-2006 term. Lindelof said on the podcast that in the show’s world the Republicans in Congress knew that the liberal Supreme Court of the Redford administration would side with the victims and therefore passed reparations for this specific episode so they didn’t have to pay everyone who’s been the victim of some sort of racial injustice/violence.
    • Pet cloning may look like something from a technologically advanced alternate reality, but it really does exist, though is more widespread in South Korea and China than in USA.
    • Bass Reeves was a real person, and he was the first black man who served as a U.S. (deputy) marshal.
    • Samuel Battle, the black officer that pinned Will's badge on him for the NYPD, was also a real person, the first black officer of the NYPD.
    • Implicit association tests are used by psychologists to detect subconscious biases by measuring involuntary responses, much like "the pod" does (though not quite the same). The extent to which their results are accurate and meaningful is disputed, however.
  • Will & Grace has an episode where Grace goes to see a Broadway musical called Seussical. This show really existed and was on Broadway at the time the episode aired; however it quickly closed and has become known as one of the more notable misfires in the last couple of decades. Because of this the scenes where Will makes fun of Grace for having the bad taste to go see it become just that much funnier.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • In "Spaced Out", the very idea of a science fiction convention carried this connotation in world. It was the The '70s and to many in the mass audience, this was the first view of such a thing. For example, Diana was emphatic that while she was staying that the same hotel as the convention, she was absolutely not attending it.
    • In "The Fine Art of Crime", Harold Farnum's description of his computer expertise is quite a throwback to days that a modern audience wouldn't recognize.
    Harold Farnum: But I know all about computers. I took a course last semester. Keypunch, you name it. I know it all.
  • The Wonder Years: The math Kevin's class is taught in High School seems like regular algebra with some nonsense grafted on to make it sound smart. However, if you took Linear Algebra or even Discrete Mathematics in college, you'll notice that the "nonsense" is actually perfectly valid mathematics, though of a much higher level than is necessary for a high school algebra class. This is the infamous New Math of the late 60s and early 70s, and is a good example of why it's no longer used. The extraneous details made something like simple algebra much more difficult to understand. (Fans of Tom Lehrer will be familiar with this phenomenon.)
  • Young Sheldon: In the season 2 finale, Sheldon mentions a short-wave radio station that broadcasts the time in Ottawa. It is a real station with the call letters CHU, which has been on the air since 1923 (it actually transmits time announcements in English and French).


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