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A True Story in My Universe

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This is where the events of a work are made into a film or book that is considered Based on a True Story, or similar, within the story itself (but not outside it). This often comes with Legendary in the Sequel.

Note: This is In-Universe only.

Not to be confused with Direct Line to the Author and Recursive Canon.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The manga version of Chrono Crusade hints at this—a few chapters at the end "quote" from Azmaria's memoirs, hinting that the manga may be a fictionalized version of her book.
  • Digimon Tamers is possibly unique in the Digimon canon as it is set in a world where the Digimon franchise exists. Takato actually has Digimon trading cards and has seen season one and two! This becomes even more interesting when the kids realize that the people who made the Digimon used their work to start the franchise.
  • The epilogue (yeah, that epilogue) of Digimon Adventure 02 seems to suggest that the whole series was Takeru's book.
  • A newspaper article at the end of Earwig and the Witch implies that The Mandrake ended up writing the original book that the movie is based on.
  • Killer Killer shows that a mangaka's been selling a "true crime" comic about the events of the Killing School Life... problem is, he's been killing innocent folks to use as "reference" for the corpses. Hijirihara put it (and its author) on permanent hiatus.
  • Sound Stages reveal that Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The Movie First is an actual film being produced in the Nanohaverse about the childhood of Nanoha and Fate, with those two serving as technical advisers to make sure that the facts are reasonably accurate and that the battles are as realistic as possible.
    • This came back in the second movie, which has a fairly large rewriting of the story because a good chunk of the plot in the series was driven by a high-ranking TSAB officer gone Well-Intentioned Extremist. One shudders to think of what this means for StrikerS...
  • Macross: Do You Remember Love? is usually referred to as a movie made after the actual events of Super Dimension Fortress Macross — in the Macross universe it's essentially "based on a true story."
    • This is lampshaded in Macross 7, in which Mylene and Basara appear in a remake of the movie, and Max and Miriya (who were there for the original events) comment on some of the exaggerations and distortions therein.
    • Macross Frontier had an episode which adapted the events of Macross Zero into a movie, which was mainly an excuse to lavishly reanimate some of the more distinctive bits of Macross Zero, as well as allude to similarities between the characters of both series. It was based on Bird Human, the biography of one of the main characters of Macross Zero.
    • Word of God apparently has it that all Macross works are this. We do not see the actual events, we see in-universe media about the actual events (like a World War II movie in our reality). This neatly explains any incoherencies within the canon, as the media creators might have different viewpoints.
  • Nyaruko: Crawling with Love! reveals that the beings of the Cthulhu Mythos were simply members of alien races, and in particular one Nyarlathotepian told H. P. Lovecraft stories from space that he turned into the Mythos. However, it's unclear just how accurate the stories are; the series remains vague as to whether or not the title character is the Nyarlathotep or simply a member of the same race with the same name and a vastly different personality.
  • In Scott Pilgrim Takes Off Young Neil apparently writes a script in his sleep for a movie that follows the plot of the original comics. It's even directed by Edgar Wrong (a parody of Edgar Wright who directed Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). The movie gets cancelled but made into a stage musical. It turns out to be written by a future version of Ramona adapted from a book that Old Young Neil wrote about she and Scott's lives in the original timeline.
  • YuYu Hakusho, in the anime at least, is revealed at the end of the penultimate episode to be a compilation of footage taken by Spirit World as they monitored Yusuke's adventures.

    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • A 2020 "Hook Jaw" story in 2000 AD, a Cornish village is using the legend of the monster shark as a tourist attraction. The pub at the centre of the tourism industry has a framed copy of Action on the wall.
  • Christopher Cantwell's 2022 Angel comic has Angel as a vampire detective who also plays himself in the TV show the comic is based on.
  • Astro City:
    • Comic book companies publish titles based on both their own fictional characters and licensed real-life supers. The ones based on real heroes are more popular, but are also required to stay within known facts; Manny Monkton of Bulldog Comics repeatedly gets into trouble when he pushes the boundaries.
    • The end of "The Dark Age" reveals that the entire story is an embellished novelization of what had happened in-universe, with some details changed, including the real names of the main protagonists.
    • Duncan Keller writes stories based on his adventures as Starfighter, presenting them as fictional.
  • DC Comics exist in the DCU. They use superheroes' status as public figures to publish "true crime" stories about their adventures.
    • Superman gives all the profits of his comics to charity.
    • The Teen Titans have one. Impulse gave the company their real names because he didn't know that wasn't how everyone did it. As a result, he also called Superman "Dirk" for months.
    • Batman does appear in the DCU's DC Comics; a late 1960s Batman comic's plot revolves around the (DCU) Batman comic and its writer.
    • Barry Allen's Flash knew of Jay Garrick's Flash through comics before he learned the fella existed in another universe/sealed-off reality.
    • Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! uses this aspect in its Earth-C setting: Cap himself works for his world's DC Comics, which publishes adventures of the (fictional to them) "Just'a Lotta Animals"... eventually discovering that the characters were real, existing on the parallel world of "Earth-C-Minus." The story even involves the heroes consulting Earth-C's Gardner Fox for advice on this phenomenon. (Unlike the real life comic legend, this Gardner Fox was an actual fox. Who, in this scene, had been gardening. He raised foxgloves.)
    • Mark Millar wrote a story for a Flash 80-Page Giant called "Your Life Is My Business" in which his DCU counterpart chatted with Wally West about possible story ideas. This briefly alluded to the fake secret identities used in comics before so many heroes went public, and had various practical reasons why some stories couldn't be used (such as one featuring Zatanna's pre-teen descendant from the 30th century; he can't appear in a comic without his parents' permission, and they're still in the future).
    • Wonder Woman has had a chance to show her bemusement at a sexualized figurine of herself, and a bit of annoyance when the vendor says that for whatever reason Wondy's comics have never sold as well as Batman and Superman in Wonder Woman Vol 3.
    • In The Multiversity, the comics of the various Earths of the DC multiverse recount the adventures of the heroes of other Earths in the multiverse, harking back to the Flash and Captain Carrot examples above. In Thunderworld this is exploited by Dr. Sivana to discover and correspond with his alternate selves.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The "War Of The Worlds" story from "Tales Of The TARDIS" series has The Doctor talking about his friend, George experiencing a Martian invasion. The ending reveals George to be H. G. Wells, implying this was the inspiration for War of the Worlds.
    • The "Peaceful Thals Ambushed!" story in TV Century 21 had Dr. Who and the Daleks as a movie based on the Dalek-Thal war that The BBC had recently covered.
    • The TV Action story, "The Eternal Present" has The Doctor team up with a Victorian time traveler called Theophilus Tolliver. At the end of the story, Theo recounts his adventure to his friend, H. G. Wells. Implying that Theo is the inspiration for the unnamed protagonist of The Time Machine.
    • In "The Weeping Angels of Mons" Titan story, Jamie compares the TARDIS to Welles' Time Machine and The Doctor says that "Herbert" stole the idea from him.
    • The Doctor Who (Titan): Tenth Doctor story, "Echo" has The Doctor mentioning he was present for the events that inspired King Kong.
  • Marvel 1985 is about a portal to the Marvel Universe bringing supervillains to our world. It ends with the protagonist growing up and writing for Marvel Comics. In Kick-Ass, Chris buys Marvel 1985 and the clerk tells him the author claims it was based on a true story.
  • Fantastic Four: Goody Two-Shoes was a supervillain. Kinda. He appeared only once, had nuclear-powered shoes, and kicked the hell out of the Thing by himself. Then the Thing managed to defeat his terrible foe. Then, the "real" Thing read the comic-book and went to the editorial absolutely pissed. We realize then that Goody Two-Shoes was defeated with a flick from the Thing, and they made up the whole fight to make the story interesting. Then the Thing does them something... uh... interesting.
  • Alan Moore takes this to its logical extreme in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in an Alternate Universe of Victorian England wherein all of 19th-century fantasy and detective fiction was based on true events, as was much of what came before.
    • That was to start with. Recently, it turns out it's a universe in which all fiction is true. But yes, we have things like Mina being familiar with Allan Quatermain through having read H. Rider Haggard's accounts of his adventures.
    • Superman is a propaganda video loosely based on Hugo Danner from Gladiator.
    • It's said that most of the Old Superheroes in the retirement home get their bills paid by production companies who occasionally use them in movies or TV shows based on their adventures. We get cameos from Shazam!, Captain America, the Sub-Mariner, Doll-Man and Madeline Joyce/Miss America.
  • In Marvel Universe continuity, there is a "Marvel Comics" company that re-tells the exploits of various heroes as comic books. They're quasi-journalists, and their work is thus used as historical research in legal comedy series She-Hulk. In continuity, the Fantastic Four regularly popped by the Marvel offices to lambast the staff who were supposed to be telling their stories over plot elements that they didn't like. Similarly, Steve Rogers not only lectured writers and editors for making him too violent, but also at one point penciled his own comic.
    • Most issues of What If?? are told by the Watcher, who watches not just the usual Marvel Universe, but the whole multiverse.
    • Also in Marvel Comics, The Sentry originally was based on a supposedly lost series of comics from the Silver Age, featuring a more traditional invulnerable-and-superstrong character. The new series dealt with why nobody remembers this classic character existing before in a very meta-way. They come up with a save-the-world explanation in the fictional universe for his fictional nature... then it gets complicated.
    • Both the Patsy Walker humour book and the original version of The Two-Gun Kid are explained as being works of fiction in the Marvel Universe based very loosely on the canonical characters, making them a sort of Untrue Story in My Universe.
  • Most citizens of Marvel Earth believe the Frankenstein Monster to be a fictional character, and don't realize Shelley's novel was based on real events. Ditto for almost every character from Norse and Greek mythology.
  • One issue of The Simpsons has Comic Book Guy giving Milhouse a Bart Simpson mask to disguise himself. Milhouse asks why there are Bart masks and is told they came with the Bart Simpson cereal that ties in with Bart's comic book. When Milhouse asks why Bart has his own comic book, Comic Book Guy tells him his questions are becoming as tedious as the last three Highlander movies.
  • The Mysterious Motr Of Doov! has Supergirl Trapped in Another World in an Off to See the Wizard adventure. At the end, the Motr is revealed to be L. Frank Baum himself who based his Land of Oz series on the world of Doov.
  • Swordquest Realworld reveals that the Swordquest games were based on a true story and were created by a wizard from a fantasy world.
  • According to the Team Fortress 2 tie-in comics, the game itself is a "documentary" based on the events of the comics.
  • The gimmick of the original Tintin magazine strips were that the boy reporter published his stories in comic strip form. In Cigars of the Pharaoh, the sheik is familiar with Tintin from reading his past adventures.
  • Wanted says the world used to be a Standard Superhero Setting until the villains teamed up and built a machine that altered reality, turning the superheroes into actors in movies and TV shows. Superhero media is written by people who subconsciously remember the old world. The superheroes are unnamed Lawyer Friendly Cameos of the DC heroes though Word of God later retconned the Superman Substitute to being the Utopian from Jupiter's Legacy.
  • In the Lucky Luke Homage Zarter Schmelz made by Ralf Koenig, Lucky Luke comics exist in-universe, so there are also people who are fans of Luke just from reading the comics. They also give his fans in-depth knowledge about his past.

    Fan Works 
  • Ask Ernst Stavro Blofeld is set in a world where the classic James Bond movies are documentaries/biopics based on the career of a real secret agent. The Daniel Craig reboot films were created because the producers had to start making things up when the real Bond retired after Blofeld was arrested. Blofeld accuses Bond of sometimes meddling in the film production to give himself a Historical Hero Upgrade or make Blofeld look stupid.
  • Codex Equus:
    • The Resident Evil series (titled Denizen Evil here) was a Second-Age adaptation of the "Parasol Crisis", in which a group of brave souls attempted to stop both the corrupt Parasol Corporation and the Undead scourge the company created. When the video-game developers of the Denizen Evil series learned the events in the game really did happen, they understandably freaked out.
      Second-Age video-game developer: The stories in our games...! THEY ACTUALLY HAPPENED?!
    • Similarly, the Dead Space series was another Second-Age adaptation of real-life events, this time based on the "Ishimura Incident" where both the United Tellus Government and their alien allies purged the Second Age's Church of Unitology to destroy malicious xeno influence through the Markers the Church's members worshiped, and to prevent corruption of innocent people into space zombies. According to BrutalityInc, both Dead Space and Denizen Evil were based on psychic visions on the future that occurred long before the actual events happened, which served as inspirations for the respective franchises.
    • The G1 children's book, My Little Pony: Glory the Magic Unicorn, was a Lighter and Softer First-Age adaptation of what happened to Queen Magus Kawan, then known as Glory from G1, in her mortal fillyhood. Like in the story, Glory teleported herself to a Human kingdom out of desire for acceptance, ran afoul of the wizard Omar who cut off her horn, and befriended the young Prince Rudolph over their shared loneliness. But unlike the book, Glory's loss of her horn was treated seriously, Omar was an Evil Sorcerer seeking to seize the throne from Rudolph's father, King David, and both Rudolph and Glory worked together to expose Omar's treachery. Glory also stayed friends with Rudolph long after their adventure ended, and continued visiting him until the day he died of old age.
  • The Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! Darker and Edgier AU The Harmony Trap has the regular CC&HAZC continuity as a comicbook based very loosely on the "true" events.
  • In the Hasbroverse, Megan Williams wrote children's books titled My Little Horsey based on her adventures with the ponies. It was soon after everyone on Earth knows of the existence of Equestria did they realize those stories are in fact true. Conversely, Megan's exploits in Equestria have become Shrouded in Myth, and "The Mag'ne" is now only slightly less revered than fully-accredited Physical Goddesses Celestia and Luna. Megan is not terribly comfortable with this.
  • The universe of The Kamikakushi Saga depicts Spirited Away as an adaptation of a book by the actual Chihiro.
  • The Real Denton Affair pretends that The Rocky Horror Picture Show is Very Loosely Based on a True Story with most of the science fiction elements being made up for the movie or Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane.
    • The sequel Shock Treatment was a lighthearted retelling of a religious cult taking over the town a few years after.
  • Tales of Karmic Lies Aftermath features Ladybug: Miraculous Journey, the first in an intended series of movies based off of Marinette's adventures. The movie features many notable deviations from "reality"; for instance, Nooroo specifically requested that his counterpart become the Greater-Scope Villain because he knows that Hawk Moth is such a Control Freak that he'd be outraged by the suggestion that he wasn't in control, even in a clearly fictional adaptatation.
  • The plot of Tomica Hero Rescue Pups revolves around Tomica Hero Rescue Force turning out to be an autobiography of the Rescue Force's real adventures. A remnant of that show's main antagonist, Neo Terror which later unites with a Jakaen remnant, rises up to wreak havoc on Adventure Bay, and with the Rescue Force's help, the PAW Patrol fights back as a combination of Power Rangers, Star Wars, and Bayonetta.
  • The Wold Newton Universe fan community, based on the works of Philip José Farmer, uses this in the same way as Farmer did, to a greater or lesser extent. Some articles just say "this is what really happened", others go into more detail about "this is what really happened and this is why the published version is different". Some even use this to re-retcon Farmer's own retcons!

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The action sequence at the start of Austin Powers in Goldmember turns out to be an in-universe "Austinpussy" movie based on Austin's adventures with Tom Cruise playing Austin.
  • The Blair Witch Project billed itself as a documentary that included found footage. According to the movie poster, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 has a card at the front that explains that a group really did go on a killing spree after watching the first Blair Witch, and the first Blair Witch is treated as fiction. "Book of Shadows" is a dramatization of these events, and "Shadow of the Blair Witch" is the documentary of these events.
  • Child's Play:
    • Seed of Chucky has the Chucky and Tiffany dolls being used in an in-universe movie called Chucky Goes Psycho based on urban legends about a serial killer possessing a doll. Tiffany is played by the actress, Jennifer Tilly who voices her and played her human form in Bride of Chucky.
    • During the Time Skip at the end of the movie after Tiffany has possessed Tilly's body, a poster for Seed Of Chucky can be seen, implying that Tiffany might have starred in an in-universe version.
    • The Chucky TV show has a brief mention of Bride of Chucky existing in-universe while also being a true story.
  • Clerks III has Dante and Randall making a movie called Inconvenience about themselves working in the Quick Stop. Essentially the original Clerks in-universe.
  • Copacabana: a performer-turned-agent (played by Groucho Marx) gets his girlfriend (played by Carmen Miranda) two separate, simultaneous gigs at the Copacabana - one as herself in the main room, and as "Madame Fifi" in the nightclub. At the end of the film the owner of the Copacabana decides to make a film about it, starring them, and we see the Big Production Number in the film.
  • Dr. Jekyll & Ms. Hyde: The film portrays The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as being based on a real man, Richard's great-grandfather, who was Robert Louis Stevenson's friend, and the inspiration for his novel.
  • Grave Encounters 2 centers on a film student who believes the original film (which also exists in this universe) was real. He discovers he is right...and decides to prove it by going to the exact same place where everyone from the original film was horribly murdered.
  • In the 2004 Hellboy movie, the titular character has reached cryptid status and we see one of the original Hellboy comics based on him.
  • Mentioned in Hook, the film "sequel" to Peter Pan. Wendy Darling and Peter Pan had adventures that Wendy later told to J.M. Barrie who, we presume, made a few changes, which accounts for the inconsistencies between the book and film. For example, Captain Hook is eaten by the crocodile in the book whereas in the film, Hook escaped the crocodile and killed it instead.
  • The 2008 Journey to the Center of the Earth movie has the characters finding out that all Jules Verne books were actually based on true accounts and retracing his adventure underground.
    • The Journey 2: The Mysterious Island sequel has them going to the island that The Mysterious Island was based on.
  • In Logan we see some real life X-Men comics based on the in-universe group's adventures. Logan mentions they are pretty inaccourate, lampshading the huge differences between comic- and movie versions. For example, the in-universe comics depict the original comics' costumes, while the X-Men in film series usually wear darker uniforms.
  • Marcel The Shell With Shoes On stars creator, Dean Fleischer Camp As Himself filming Marcel to make the original web shorts that the movie is based on.
  • The Matrix trilogy exists in universe in The Matrix Resurrections but as video games instead of movies programmed by Neo based on his subconscious memories.
  • After The Mighty Ducks came out, The Walt Disney Company founded a pro hockey team called the "Anaheim Mighty Ducks". They're mentioned in D3: The Mighty Ducks where it's said they're a pro team named after the Ducks and captain, Paul Kariya cameos As Himself.
  • Return of the Living Dead established early on that George A. Romero's classic Night of the Living Dead (1968) was made to cover up the leak of a gas called 2-4-5 Trioxin that brought the dead back to life. Unfortunately for the protagonists, the government cover-up decided to maintain certain things that really could have helped them, such as the fact these zombies are damn near unkillable, even shrugging off getting their heads torn off.
    "You mean the movie lied!?!?!?"
  • Scream 2 has the movie Stab, which is the in-universe movie made about the events of Scream, adapted from the Intrepid Reporter Gale Weathers' True Crime book about the murder spree.
  • A Post-Credits Scene in Super Mario Bros. (1993) has Iggy and Spike talking to Japanese game developers about making a game based on the events of the movie. Backed up a bit by the director saying he liked to imagine that the movie is the "true" event that the games were based on.
  • In T2 Trainspotting, Spud decides to write a book based on his life. From the excerpts we hear, he seems to have written Irvine Welsh's original Trainspotting novel.
  • The TRON arcade game exists in TRON: Legacy. Made by Flynn based on his adventures in the first movie, similar to how it already appeared in the TRON 2.0 game.
  • The ending of Urban Legend reveals that the events of the film had become, well, an urban legend, told to a new group of college students by the surviving killer Brenda. The students soon start arguing over the various details they heard of what really happened during the massacre, indicating that the film we just saw was told to us by an Unreliable Narrator.
  • The Spanish film Voyage to Nowhere (1986) features an old Carlos Galván telling the story of his life to a biographer. In those scenes, Galván himself admits that his recalling of events cannot be 100% correct and, at some points, he had intentionally taken another people's sentences as if they had been his. Simply because it looks cooler that way, you know.


By Author:

  • Michael Connelly's mystery novels (all in his Harry Bosch universe):
    • The Poet received a direct sequel in The Narrows, and the further adventures of Poet protagonist Jack McEvoy were later told in The Scarecrow. In both of those later novels, The Poet is a true crime book written by McEvoy. The third McEvoy novel, Fair Warning, reveals that The Scarecrow is also a McEvoy true crime book.
    • The Clint Eastwood movie Blood Work was an adaptation of a Connelly novel. In Angels Flight protagonist Harry Bosch sees a poster for Blood Work and remembers that it's a Based on a True Story thriller about a case involving a friend of his. In the later novel The Narrows, a character complains about how he was portrayed in the Blood Work movie.
    • The Lincoln Lawyer was a film about a notable case the title character, Mickey Haller, was involved in, making it Based on a True Story In-Universe. The book spawned dozens of imitators and the courthouse he frequents becomes littered with Lincoln Town cars.
    • Harry Bosch does not appear in the Connelly novel The Late Show, but a murder victim is an aspiring actress who was an extra in an episode of Bosch. Turns out Bosch the TV show is a true crime drama based on the exploits of Detective Bosch.
  • Philip José Farmer:
    • In his novels Tarzan Alive and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, he claims that Edgar Rice Burroughs and Lester Dent were just the biographers of Tarzan and Doc Savage. He claims that their books were highly fictionalized and sensationalized and presents somewhat more mundane, but still sensational versions of the stories that correct various factual inaccuracies and continuity errors. For example, he explains that whenever Tarzan encountered a lion, a plains-dwelling animal, in the jungle, it was actually a leopard and Burroughs exaggerated because lions were bigger and more dangerous looking. He also tries to explain away both characters' great strength and intelligence by claiming their ancestors were irradiated by a meteor and that other relatives of Tarzan and Savage whose ancestors were exposed to that radiation include Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy, Sherlock Holmes, Fu Manchu, and Bulldog Drummond.
    • There's a lovely moment in Tarzan Alive when Tarzan tells Farmer the actual story behind one particular book, adding that the secondary hero's love interest was killed by a hit-and-run in New York City some six months after the book ends. Farmer comments that he likes Burroughs' version better (the lovers stay in a medieval city in Africa), and Tarzan smiles and says, "He knew what he was doing".
    • In Farmer's short story "After King Kong Fell", Tim claims to his granddaughter that both the original King Kong and its 1932 novelization are mere dramatizations of events that took place in 1931, that he experienced first-hand.

By Title:

  • Baccano!'s first volume, The Rolling Bootlegs, begins with a Japanese tourist being told the events of the book by a mysterious young man, who is later revealed to be Firo Prochainezo.
  • The Barry Trotter trilogy is set in a world where a series of Harry Potter expy books turn out to be based on a true story. Magic gets exposed and thousands of Barry Trotter fans camp on the grounds of the Wizarding School.
    • Barry's friends with a Charlie Bucket expy who had a successful children's book based on his life.
  • All of the Daniel Hawthorne Novels by Anthony Horowitz: The Word Is Murder, The Sentence Is Death, A Line to Kill, and A Twist of the Knife. Horowitz writes himself into the series as an Author Avatar, with the conceit being that he is writing true crime books about the exploits of master detective Daniel Hawthorne. When A Line to Kill appears to be ending with an unsatisfactory Anticlimax, Horowitz worries that he may not be able to write a book.
  • Daniel X: Watch The Skies mentions Superman being based on an actual alien.
  • Daughter Of The Deep by Rick Riordan is similar to the 2008 Journey to the Center of the Earth movie where 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island were based on fact, but Jules Verne was persuaded to make it Fiction As Coverup because The World Is Not Ready for Nemo's technology.
  • The pronunciation guide at the back of the Deverry books by Katherine Kerr includes references to an ongoing fued between the author and a professor of Elvish about the simplifications she uses. There are also a few references in the text itself suggesting that the books were written by a Deverrian, some centuries after the period in which they're set. The final book names this author as Cadda Cerrmor, which in Deverrian would be pronounced "Katha Kerr-mor".
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
    • In Transit by Ben Aaronovitch, Kadiatu's collection of research materials about the Doctor includes an opera based on the events of Aaronovitch's earlier Doctor Who adventure "Battlefield".
    • Lucifer Rising mentions a holodrama Very Loosely Based On the events of "The Seeds of Death", with no mention of the Doctor and his companions, and a Token Romance grafted on.
    • Near the end of Salvation, there's a mention that the events inspired a Very Loosely Based movie starring Peter Cushing as a heroic (human) scientist in place of the Doctor.
    • The novelization to "Day of the Doctor" has the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors sit down and watch the two Doctor Who movies starring Peter Cushing movies then ring him with their ideas for a third.
    • Some Paul Magrs' stories like Bafflement and Devotion and The Magrs Conundrum! have him as an in-universe biographer who writes his books based on The Doctor and Iris Wildthyme's adventures
    • Also by Magrs, the Brenda and Effie series is loosely connected to the Doctor Who universe. The "Brenda's B&B" short story mentions an in-universe Brenda and Effie series of books based on the characters.
    • Forever Autumn says that Jar Jar Binks managed to make telepathic contact with George Lucas who created the Star Wars franchise based on what he thought were his own ideas.
    • Sherlock Holmes is often true in the Whoniverse but the source varies:
    • "The Book of the Enemy" story mentioned above also has Sherlock saying that The War of the Worlds is based on an actual Martian invasion realising that the War In Heaven is messing with reality and turning it into fiction.
    • The James Swallow novel Peacemaker says that Jules Verne was inspired to write 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea after an adventure with The Doctor but had to be persuaded not to mention the Silurians.
    • The Wonderful Doctor Of Oz has Missy placing L. Frank Baum in a recreation of Oz. Although he gets his memory erased afterwards, the ending implies subconscious memories of this influenced him writing The Marvelous Land of Oz.
    • Eoin Colfer's "A Big Hand For The Doctor" short story had The Doctor visit 1900 and fight Space Pirates who levitate children with an anti-gravity beam. This is witnessed by an author who's implied to be JM Barrie who wrote it into a book.
  • Tim Lucas's Dracula novel, The Book of Renfield, explains that Stoker just cleaned up the original journals and such.
  • Fred Saberhagen's Perspective Flip novel The Dracula Tape is built entirely on this, with the Count frequently quoting the original Dracula novel (aka Mina's compilation of all the participants' accounts as it's presented in the original) directly while giving his own version of events. The core idea is that original authors weren't lying per se, but that there were multiple misunderstandings and places where they were decieved and Mina had her own agenda that included helping him fake his death so Van Helsing wouldn't murder her.
  • In The Dresden Files, it's heavily alluded to that Dracula was pretty much commissioned from Bram Stoker, so people would have a defence against the Black Court. In Grave Peril, Harry mentions that the Black Court is almost nonexistent, thanks to that book. And, in one of the recent "extra" stories, it's pointed out that the Necronomicon was actually a Grimoire of great power — until the White Council found it and published it all over the place, and by making it available to every minor mage and wannabe in existence, effectively nullified the power by spreading the effect over the entire world.
    • In an interview with the author, a fan asked whether H.P Lovecraft was onto something in the same way. The answer - yes. Oh, Crap!.
    • It's explained in a minor book. There are Outsider style grimoires that do NOT follow the 'spreading' rule. They get MORE powerful the more people believe in them. One of these is ALMOST discovered by Harry. Thomas is responsible for making sure no one learns about this kinda stuff.
  • According to the Flashman novel Royal Flash, The Prisoner of Zenda was inspired by the events of the novel as told by our hero to Anthony Hope.
  • Go, Mutants! mentions Godzilla (1954) being a documentary and King Kong (1933) being based on a true story.
  • The Heralds of Valdemar books by Mercedes Lackey may possibly be an example — frequent reference is made to Herald-Archivist Myste (Lackey's Author Avatar; her nickname is "Misty") who is occasionally said to be collecting accounts of the adventures recounted in the books.
  • Holes got an in-universe spin-off book titled Stanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake which mentions that Holes was written In-Universe based on Stanley's time at Camp Green Lake.
  • Fox's memoir in Inda, which details the events of the Inda books, exists in two versions within the Sartorias Deles universe - one is heavily abridged and used as propaganda for his descendants, and the other is apparently a much more detailed, accurate version that very few people are aware of and which is hidden in a secret chamber in what was once his home.
  • Inferno (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle), a modern retelling of the Inferno from Dante's The Divine Comedy, mentions that Dante's description and maps of Hell are accurate, and have been used by other visitors. Phlegyas, boatman across the swamp in the fifth circle, is particular annoyed that Dante gave away the phrase that means he has to transport the speaker to the City of Dis.
  • In the Knight and Rogue Series Makejoye writes a play about a handsome but poor lad and a dashing bridand who was forced into a life of crime thanks to corruption in politics competing for the same lovely high class lady who'd run away from her uncle. Just in case it's not obvious that the play is really about the actor Rudy, the unredeemed Michael, and the runaway Rosamund, he has all of them playing the appropriate roles.
  • Played with in The Laundry Files: despite the fact Bob Howard lives in a world where Eldritch Abominations are expected to destroy the world any day now, and the government has a peace treaty with the Deep Ones, he's clear that the works of H. P. Lovecraft should not be considered factual. They're closer to reality than most people realise, but HPL was writing fiction, not history. Mostly.
  • The Magicians trilogy has an In-Universe The Chronicles of Narnia analogue called Fillory and Further whose author got the story from neighbour children who actually had been transported to the titular Magical Land.
  • An unusual example (in that the film in question is not directly connected to the work other than using the same idea): The Medusa Chronicles by Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds; in the 20th century backstory, the point of divergence from our world is that NASA discover the asteroid 15566 Icarus is about to hit Earth and have to activate MIT's plan to repurpose the Saturn rockets to divert it. In the 21st century scenes, a descendant of the pilot says it's popularly believed that his grandfather was played by Sean Connery in the 1979 movie, but actually Connery played a scientist, implying that Meteor exists, but is based on actual events rather than an MIT what-if paper.
  • Lewis Padgett's short story "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" applies this trope retroactively to another famous series of books. In the story, a scientist millions of years in Earth's future sends two boxes of strange toys back through time, where they are discovered by children. The main plot centers on the box that lands in 1942 (contemporary time when the story was published); Scott and Emma, a brother and sister, find the toys and begin to display Troubling Unchildlike Behavior as they influence them. The toys compel the pair to build a strange machine, but they can't quite figure out how to make it work because they lack a key equation to activate it. The solution is presented when readers discover where the other box landed—"the latter half of the nineteenth century." There, an unnamed little girl hums a poem to herself, to the delight of a nearby adult taking care of her. He remarks that he will put the rhyme in one of the books he is writing, which are based on the stories the girl's "magical toys" tell her, although he has to change them immensely to make them understandable to others. The girl then refers to him as "Uncle Charles," revealing her identity as Alice Liddell—the poem is "Jabberwocky," and the stories are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Alice herself is too old to be fully affected by the toys, but the books, and especially "Jabberwocky," are "the way out" and provide Emma and Scott the equation they need to activate their machine and vanish through time and space.
  • "The Portrait-Painter's Story" by Charles Dickens is a longer retelling of one of the segments from his "Four Ghost Stories", both published in the All The Year Round periodical. It starts saying they got a letter from a man claiming to be the person that "Four Ghost Stories" was based on with no idea how they heard his story. The rest of the story is his letter explaining what "actually" happened.
  • Ready Player One opens with the main character explaining that many people tried to write his story (in various mediums, like games and movies) and everyone fell short or got something wrong, so he's writing the book to clear things up.
  • In The Return Of The Indian Omri writes an award-winning story called "The Plastic Indian" which is based on the events of the original The Indian in the Cupboard book.
  • One chapter of Seven Stars, in the Diogenes Club series, revolves around the filming of the 1922 Sherlock Holmes movie starring John Barrymore — which is Based on a True Story in-universe because the Diogenes Club originated in a Sherlock Holmes story.
  • In The Sign Of Four, Sherlock Holmes comments that he's read the account Watson titled A Study In Scarlet, and wasn't impressed. He is equally scathing about Watson's continuing efforts in other stories, including one that he narrates himself. In "The Final Problem", Watson explains that he feels compelled to put (what he believes to be) Holmes's last case to paper in order to counteract the claims made by Moriarty's brother.
  • The chapter in the autobiography for James T. Kirk that talks about the Star Trek movies says Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was an in-universe movie made on Magna Roma. Though the only "true" element is the Enterprise crew existing.
  • There's an off-hand reference in Superfolks to Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers being a documentary. The Peter Pan play exists in-universe where Pan actually exists.
  • In the foreword for The Tales of Beedle the Bard that an In-Universe J. K. Rowling is working on a seven volume biography about Harry Potter's time at Hogwarts.
  • As of First Amongst Sequels, the first three Thursday Next novels sort of exist in the Nextiverse, although they're very different to the real world versions. Until Thursday alters them to match our versions, just as she did to Jane Eyre in the first book. Thursday's unwanted fame has therefore increased, and worse yet, people expect her to act like the fictionalised version.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • Both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are revealed at the end to share the same title as a book written by the lead character at the end of each (There and Back Again: A Hobbit's Holiday and The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King, respectively). Bilbo's uncompleted "Translations from the Elvish" is claimed to be the (then-unfinished) Silmarillion.
    • The hypothesis was also used to excuse a Retcon of The Hobbit. In the original edition of the book, Gollum is quite willing to hand over the Ring itself as a prize for winning the riddle contest — utterly out of character given the plot of The Lord of the Rings, so later editions change that scene. The preface of The Lord of the Rings justifies the correction by noting that Bilbo himself wrote the original The Hobbit as memoirs and, already slightly corrupted by the Ring, lied about how he got it when he put the tale to paper; Gandalf eventually talked him into revealing the truth.
    • The Red Book itself is said to have a companion volume of "Translations from the Elvish", which presumably contains the source material of The Silmarillion. Many of those texts are attributed to specific Elvish scribes.
      • The Akallabêth (one of the stories in The Silmarillion) is attributed to Elendil, a Man, and supposedly came from a copy of the Red Book as preserved in Gondor, rather than as one of Bilbo's translations.
  • says a lot of superhero comics and movies are based on actual heroes and villains that the public don't know exist. Basilisk says he was the basis for a movie supervillain. He doesn't specify which one, just says the film never got a sequel.
  • The first Wild Cards book notes that Klaatu from The Day The Earth Stood Still was probably based on alien scientist, Dr Tachyon from this series.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dracula is an actual vampire and his namesake novel was a result of him selling his life story to Bram Stoker. Other vampires hate him for this since it made humans far more aware of vampire weaknesses.
  • Doctor Who:
  • In the first episode of Ferris Bueller, Ferris claims that the Ferris Bueller's Day Off movie that the show was based on was actually based off his life. Doesn't make sense as his love interest Sloane moves to Ferris's school in the first episode when she's his girlfriend in the movie.
  • Two episodes of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys involve Herc in the modern day as an actor named Kevin Sorbo working on a Hercules series. It's implied that the show we're seeing is the same one being produced in-universe. Herc's reactions to some of the producer's decisions also suggest that any goofs and continuity errors in this show - and by extension, the aforementioned Xena - are a result of the events being misinterpreted over time or the show staff trying to spice it up, so we're not seeing the "true" events that happened.
  • The final episode of Smallville ends with Chloe reading a Superman comic to her son.
  • The Stargate SG-1 episode, "Wormhole X-Treme" has the gang investigate the titular TV show that's eerily similar to their adventures. Turns out it's made by an alien refugee who subconsciously remembers Stargate Command.
  • The series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise was controversially framed as a non-interactive holodeck recording being viewed by Next Generation characters Troi and Riker, who occasionally paused the episode to discuss things. Early rumors suggested that the entire series would be revealed to be a holodeck recording (or worse, a simulation), but there's no evidence of this in the aired episode.
    • As was done by the Enterprise novel The Good That Men Do, which proposes that what Riker watched was Trip's cover story, and that he'd really gone undercover in Romulan space. The novel verse takes this explanation and runs with it.
  • In the first episode of Superman & Lois Clark Kent sees his son Jordan fighting against Superman in Injustice 2.
  • Supernatural:
    • In Monster at the End of the Book, Chuck is seeing visions and writing them down, believing them to be fiction. However, it turns out later that they are a divine prophecy telling the actions of the main characters, and that his writings will eventually become holy texts.
    • In the show's universe, Oz is a real place and L. Frank Baum based his books on his experiences there.
  • The season two episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, "The Xena Scrolls", has Gabrielle's scrolls of their adventures get used as a pitch for a Xena TV show.
  • Wednesday has a type of monster called a Hyde that inspired The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.


    Tabletop Games 
  • It should be noted that giving samples of "genuine in-world text" is one of the best methods to demonstrate a setting's flavour and encourage non-OOC style.
  • Many of the recent BattleTech universe books are seen as this, being collections of news, dissertations and rumors. In Brush Wars, the text even argues with itself at some points, and one page-long portion is written in a partial substitution cypher to simulate a botched transmission of a message.
    • There are a half dozen hints (one of which had to be decoded by the reader in order to be understood) across 4 different books released in that last 5 years that hint at something that makes a lot of sense, that Clan Wolverine joined Comstar after fleeing the Homeworlds, and during the next 300 years quietly gained significant influence over the organization, and after the Word of Blake Schism have nearly complete control over Word of Blake. The point of all of this was to try to unite the Inner Sphere under their leadership against the eventual clan invasion. The rumors surrounding what happened to them are among the oldest in canon, with the very first ground work laid years before the clan invasion event, which started in 1988. More and more rumors were added over the following 2 decades, weaving a murky and complicated tapestry of half-truths, rumors, and questionable intelligence reports. Even among diehard fans, the above spoiler is open to question, as the actual events that make the connection happened centuries ago in canon. Deep and complicated mysteries are quite at home in a universe with 800 years of history, including a 300 year period with maybe 2 decades of peace, in fact things being lost into the pages of history and coming back, (possibly with a vengeance) are a recurring theme in BattleTech.
    • Some later games say the cartoon series is an In-Universe propaganda holovid.
  • The Dresden Files RPG is presented as a draft version of an in-universe RPG based on the setting, with notes and queries by assorted characters, and text marked for deletion with angry notes from Harry Dresden about not giving away White Council secrets.
  • Dungeons & Dragons is implied to be this in the d20 Modern Urban Arcana setting (at least in Broad Strokes fashion). The adventure in the sourcebook mentions that the first mage you encounter runs a bookshop with a tabletop RPG section, drinks coffee from a "World's #1 wizard" mug, and D&D is the game that started it all. Plus, you met Estevan from the "Planar Trade Consortium", both being important actors in the Planescape D&D setting, who explicitly makes trips between the shadow and the modern world.
  • In GURPS Supers: IST, a sidebar about IST merchandise includes the licensed RPG from Steve Jackson Games.
  • In a bit of a Take That!, the Heavy Gear RPG showcases that the Heavy Gear cartoon exists In-Universe and the many, many things that it got wrong from the RPG universe were the result of some misguided attempt at using it as a propaganda piece.

  • A Very Potter Senior Year has Gilderoy Lockhart going back in time and selling books based on Harry's adventures to muggles, rewritten in the style of the Real Life Harry Potter books instead of what "actually happened" in the play continuity.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Amateur Surgeon: It's mentioned by Alan Probe in Christmas Edition and Amateur Surgeon 2 that the first game was developed and released in-universe at some point after its actual events.
  • Burger Shop: Midway through the game, in the intro to the Beach Hut stage, the Featureless Protagonist licenses their restaurant chain's name to GoBit Games (the game's actual development studio), who are interested in making "a computer game with a 'restaurant game mechanic' based on [their] unique food service techniques." In exchange, they get a large amount of money and a private cruise.
  • Far Cry:
    • One of the junk items you can collect to sell for cash in Far Cry 4 is a gamebook that, going by its description, is an adaptation of Jack Carver's island adventure from the first game.
    • Two sidequests in Far Cry 5 have The Deputy assist with the production of Blood Dragon 3, implying that Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon exists within the Far Cry universe as an eighties action movie.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance starts in a world very similar to the real world, in which the Final Fantasy series exists. The plot starts with the discovery of a book that causes, in effect, fiction to become reality, and ends up creating an (in-universe imaginary) world very similar to that of Final Fantasy XII, but with some clear differences. In other words, this is The Game Come to Life crossed with A True Story In My Universe as a justification of why the game is set in a Final Fantasy-like world despite belonging to a different continuity from the other games in its series.
  • The previous Five Nights at Freddy's games exist in Five Nights At Freddys VR Help Wanted based on urban legends about mysterious deaths at the pizzeria.
  • One of the Cursed Artifacts in Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a DVD of the movie Ghostbusters. In the item's backstory, it was brought into the past by the Cult of Gozer in an attempt to see what the future would bring.

  • Dracula Everlasting: According to this comic, Bram Stoker's book, Dracula, was based on actual events, but had to change the ending at the behest of his publisher, leaving out the Gypsy Curse.
  • A recurring theme in Star Trek set The Hero of Three Faces strips is holodramas being made based on mission logs. Usually with the characters complaining about the holodramas taking massive liberties with characterisation and events, and presenting a version of the Prime Directive that is both inconsistent and unworkable.
  • Sire is based on this concept; people like Dr. Jekyll, Inspector Javert, Jeeves and others are said to actually have existed.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation universe has a breakfast cereal parodying Cocoa Puffs called "Super Coco Pows". The Sonny the Cuckoo Bird parody, Bradbury Buzzard is based on SCP-1160. A giant bird that gets weaker the more people who know about it. Given that the Foundation's entire purpose is to preserve the Masquerade, the best way to keep it known but secret at the same time was to turn it into a cereal mascot.
  • The Sector Seven Alternate Reality Game that ties in with the Transformers Film Series says that the Transformers franchise was based on a true story that Sector Seven managed to cover up.

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): A True Story In My World, A True Story In Universe, In Universe True Story, True Story In My Universe, True Story In Universe