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"Common Knowledge"

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Left: what most people think Sherlock Holmes looks like. Right: how Arthur Conan Doyle actually depicted him (as seen in the Jeremy Brett series).

Rhodes: This is known!
Banner: I don't know why everyone believes that, but that isn't true.
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There are some things that everyone knows. Well, sorta. As it turns out, people as a whole know less than they think they do. Casual viewers or readers of a work will often come away with their fair share of mistakes that, over time and through word of mouth, evolve into widespread misconceptions. Such fallacies are often used by actual fans as a yardstick of the difference between themselves and the masses, although fans themselves are not immune to holding these misconceptions (particularly by confusing Fanon and Canon).

All the same, these notions can be so firmly entrenched in the public zeitgeist that they can force their way into adaptations, much to the annoyance of the aforementioned fans.

Named for a Saturday Night Live game show sketch in which the questions were selected by experts reflecting things all high school seniors should know, and the answers were selected from a survey of high school seniors (that is, they were wrong).

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Sub-Tropes are:

  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: An iconic catchphrase that either doesn't actually exist or is really a misquoted variant of what the character actually said.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: Documentations of a work get their facts about the work blatantly wrong, to the point that people familiar enough with the work will know that they didn't do their research properly.
  • Fandom-Enraging Misconception: A good way to piss off the fandom is to bring up a misconception of the work.
  • God Never Said That: Fans either misinterpret something the creator said or assume the creator said something when they said no such thing.
  • I Am Not Shazam: Assuming that the title of a work is the main character's name.
  • Mandela Effect: When the audience misremembers a particular event, work or person en masse.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": A character's name does not have a consistent spelling, which may result from people not knowing the proper spelling.
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  • Title Confusion: Misinterpretations and misunderstandings caused by a work's title.
  • Viewer Name Confusion: When the audience gets a character's name wrong.
  • Word of Dante: Influential Fanon that is widely mistaken for canon.

May result from or lead to Lost in Imitation, or from any of the subtropes under Time Marches On. May result from Audience-Coloring Adaptation, where people assume the original work is the same as a well-known adaptation of the work. Often a result of Mainstream Obscurity, when a work existence is known by the general public, but very few people actually know what it's about. When left unchecked, it can lead to Analogy Backfire, Public Medium Ignorance, and Never Live It Down. Compare and contrast fanon and Pop Culture Urban Legends. See also Reality Is Unrealistic, The Coconut Effect, Dead Unicorn Trope, Everybody Knows That, Misblamed, and Shallow Parody. No relation to Lost Common Knowledge or the GSN Game Show of the same name.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • Everyone "knows" that Betty Crocker was a real person while Chef Boyardee is a fictional character. But in reality, it's the other way around.note 
  • The iconic mascot is actually named Smokey Bear, not Smokey the Bear.
  • Until recently, Kinder Eggs have not been available in the US. The common assertion is that Kinder Eggs are banned due to children choking on the toys because they were too stupid to know there was a plastic egg inside. This is practically impossible since Kinder Eggs have been denied import since before they were created. In fact, the only confirmed cases of a child choking on one was in Great Britain and South America. Kinder Eggs were banned because of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 which forbade the inclusion of a non-nutritive element embedded inside the food. Kinder Eggs were not banned; they just didn't meet food standards.
  • It is a commonly held belief that American beers have a lower alcohol content, but they are within the ranges of beers across the world. This belief comes from labeling and advertising. Europe displayed their alcohol content using Alcohol By Volume, but the US used Alcohol By Weight. Since alcohol weighs less, it resulted in a lower percentage displayed. After seeing poor sales, US manufactures switched to ABV as well; but the perception continued.

    Arts 
  • The Last Supper:
    • The Last Supper is commonly referred to as a fresco, which it is not. Leonardo da Vinci experimented with this painting, and instead of painting it on wet plaster as was the convention, he painted The Last Supper on a dry wall with an experimental mix of tempera and paint, differentiating it from ordinary frescos.
    • Rumors that the model for Jesus and Judas were one and the same are unfounded, as Snopes explains in detail here.
  • Eugene Delacroix's painting Liberty Leading the People is often used to illustrate pages or discussions about The French Revolution. In fact, it is about the July Revolution of 1830.
  • The identity of the woman depicted in The Mona Lisa is not one of the greatest mysteries in human history, as is often claimed. It's a painting of Lisa del Giocondo, the wife of a Florentine silk merchant; that fact has been pretty well-known for years.
  • Overlapping with Dead Unicorn Trope: many people "know" that there is a portrait of Henry VIII eating a turkey leg, with many cartoons, comics, picture books etc. parodying this portrait. The problem being: no such portrait exists. Most likely, people are really thinking of this portrait, which shows him holding some brown leather gloves, which could be mistaken for a turkey leg at first glance, particularly given his reputation as a Big Eater.
  • Many people mistakenly think that Michelangelo's David statue has a fig leaf covering his privates, most likely due to it often being shown that way in cartoons and children's books. And because such a leaf is, in fact, sometimes used in case of some important yet sensitive visitors.
  • "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife" is often cited as one of the earliest cases of tentacle rape in Japanese culture. However, while Naughty Tentacles are indisputably in play, the dialogue captions make it clear that the sex is consensual.
  • One of Rembrandt's most iconic paintings is The Night Watch. Except its actual name is Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq. It doesn't even take place at night, either; it was just covered with a dark varnish for a very long time.
  • The Crystal Palace Dinosaurs are said to have been sculpted by artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins under the supervision of the time's leading paleontologist Richard Owen, the scientist who coined the word 'dinosaur'. Scientific writer Stephen Jay Gould considered them to be one of the most influential artist-scientist duos in paleoart history. Many books and articles also like to mention the time a New Year's Eve celebration was held inside one of the half-finished dinosaur statues. But post-2010s research indicates that Owen was barely involved with the project beyond lending it his name. In fact Hawkins' team complained about how little guidance Owen had given them. The now legendary celebration was also less whimsical than reported: most of the party took place alongside regular tables, with only a few guests (including Owen) climbing into the dinosaur on occasion to drink or sing. The dinosaur was actually a clay model surrounded by moulding material (a detail most illustrations neglect because they obscure the sculpture's form), not the actual statue that was eventually put on display.
  • The iconic painting American Gothic is widely assumed to be a portrait of a farmer and his wife. Actually, the woman standing beside him is meant to be his daughter.

    Asian Animation 
  • It is commonly believed that Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf was banned following a controversy where a kid imitated the show and injured themselves. While a kid did injure themselves after watching this show, the show was never banned from television and it continued airing, but some episodes did get bowdlerized following the incident.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Some people think that every strip has some deeper meaning. While there are indeed plenty of deep, philosophical strips, there are also a lot of strips without deeper meanings, such as the one where Calvin pretends to be an onion for the school play.
    • Some people also think the infamous bootleg "Peeing Calvin" decals led to the cancellation of the strip. That isn't true. The comic strip ended in 1995, well before the now-notorious decal got any significance.
  • Dick Tracy: People not familiar with the comic tend to think of Flattop as Tracy’s archenemy. In the actual comic, he was permanently killed off at the end of his only story arc, like many of Tracy's other enemies. However, he proved extremely popular with fans, to the point that his death famously prompted public mourning in real life. Because of this, Chester Gould and his successors couldn't resist creating a large family for Flattop, the majority of whom were/are violent criminals who had/have it in for Tracy.
  • Garfield:
    • A common fan theory is that Garfield hates Mondays because it's when Jon goes to work; he secretly appreciates Jon but is too proud to admit it. One of the strip's most famous Running Gags involves something bad happening to Garfield on Mondays. This was often a Pie in the Face, but ranged from having a piano falling on him to even falling into a sinkhole. We also see Jon on a lot of Monday strips, and the Garfield and Friends episode "Caped Avenger" shows that he works from home as a cartoonist, with clients coming over to his house so he can pitch ideas.
    • Nermal often talks about how cute he is, is drawn with eyelashes, is smaller than Garfield, and in animated adaptations, speaks with a feminine voice. While it's easy to assume Nermal is female, he's actually male. Not helping is that he was voiced by Desiree Goyette in Garfield and Friends.
  • Heathcliff is commonly seen as a Garfield ripoff, but in reality, the first strip came out three years before the first Garfield strip. Not only that, but the two strips have virtually nothing in common aside from both starring a fat orange cat.
  • Love Is...: While the main couple are often thought to be young children, they're actually adults drawn in a Super-Deformed style. Not only was this confirmed by original creator Kim Casali, some strips make it clear they're married with kids.
  • Peanuts:
    • It's frequently claimed that Charlie Brown never wins. This proved a bone of contention when The Peanuts Movie gave him a happy ending. But in truth, there have been numerous occasions — some surprisingly early on in the strip's run — where Charlie comes out on top in the end.
    • Marcie and Peppermint Patty being a couple has been a recurring joke for decades due to Marcie's high respect for Peppermint Patty and Patty's tomboyishness. They've both been shown to have crushes on Charlie, which debunks the concept of them being exclusively lesbian (which is what the idea usually goes with).

    Fan Works 
  • Cupcakes:
    • The depiction of Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic having a violent, stoic alter ego named "Pinkamena Diane Pie" comes from the fanfic Cupcakes. It was thought to be inspired by her flat-haired, schizoid self from a disturbing scene in "Party of One" where Pinkie has a full conversation about how rude her friends are with various inanimate objects. Not only was the fic released before "Party of One" premiered, but Pinkie is her curly-maned and cheerful self despite torturing ponies to death, this supposed "Pinkamena" alter ego never appearing. A lot of the unease of the fic comes from the fact that Pinkie, as her normal happy-go-lucky hyperactive self, is either unaware or apathetic to the horrors she's committing; a violent alter ego would defeat the whole point. The blog Ask Pinkamina Diane Pie probably didn't help.
    • Cupcakes is very frequently cited as a creepypasta. It was never intended to be one. It's a fanfic, or a Dark Fic more specifically.
  • The Pokémon fanfic Lucki is famous for having received nothing but mindless praise from its reviewers despite having a god-mode powerhouse as its protagonist, and no one suspecting a thing, cheering her on even as her conduct gets worse and worse, until the final chapter where the world comes to an end as a direct result of her intransigence, at which point the author revealed the main character was a Sue all along and castigated the reviewers for having fallen for it just because she lost a few battles. Except that the part about the story getting mindless praise is only really true after chapter six or so. Before then, a few reviewers pointed out issues they saw and warned the author that Lucki could become a Sue if she were not careful, even if none of the reviews went into detailed constructive criticism up to the author’s ordinary standards. The reason the critical reviews dropped off is that most competent writers aren’t going to sit through six chapters of mediocre writing with a cliche plot, leaving only the inexperienced reviewers left, so only those who kept reading to the end — a minority of the readership — were fooled.
  • Old Man Henderson is known as "the character who won Call of Cthulhu". Except that the group was actually playing Trail of Cthulhu, which is very similar, but still not the same game. In this case, the confusion started at the source, as it was Henderson's own player who first called him that before later being corrected by one of his fellow players, who admitted there is little difference between the two, but still enough that he felt it was worth mentioning.
  • The Rugrats Theory isn't nearly as violent or "creepy" as fan-art and derivatives make it seem. It deals with dark themes, such as child loss and drug addiction, but it's mainly about a mentally ill child who has trouble deciphering reality from hallucination. The one violent thing Angelica does is hit Dil, resulting in his Childhood Brain Damage and Cloudcuckoolander personality in All Grown Up!.

    Magazines 
  • Everybody knows that Time Magazine's famous "Person of the Year" title is an award intended to honor public figures for their contributions to society, which is why the magazine has gotten considerable backlash for giving it to a few rather controversial public figures over the years. Except it isn't an award at all: it's a statement about which public figure had the most profound impact on the world (for good or for ill) in a given year. Case in point: Adolf Hitler was Person of the Year in 1938, and Josef Stalin was Person of the Year in 1939 and 1942. Time has partially contributed to the misconception themselves, since they've generally avoided giving the title to controversial figures ever since they faced backlash for giving it to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979; the 2001 title, which went to Rudy Giuliani instead of Osama bin Laden, is one of the more infamous examples of the title straying from its original intended meaning.

    Podcasts 
  • Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast Revisionist History explores commonly held (and often incorrect) beliefs about real life past events.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Hulk Hogan gets a lot of flak for being an Invincible Hero, like André the Giant, during his WWF Title runs. However, he lost several timesnote  to put his opponent over as a viable threat for the title. Between 1984 and 1991 the supposedly never-losing Hogan lost 137 times, against over 3 dozen wrestlers.note  During his first run, he would usually lose once or twice a month. He actually did even worse during his second run, losing over a third of his matches. The only year in which he regularly wrestlednote  and averaged less than one loss per month was 1988 — which he spent the majority of without the belt. The reason for this misconception might be because champions in the mid-'90s did tend to be Invincible Heroes. Contrast Hogan in 1984-87 with Bret Hart's run as the top face a decade later: during that timeframe Hogan lost 55 matches and Hart lost 15. It should however be pointed out that most of Hogan's losses during that time period (especially in the WWF) were by countout, not from being pinned or submitting. Nowadays, countouts are considered a cop-out finish and rarely ever used. And his subsequent run in WCW, to be fair, did have him utilize his "Creative Control" card quite often. RD Reynolds of WrestleCrap has acknowledged Hogan's loss record, but pointed out that there's a difference between losing and putting someone over — when Hogan loses a match, it's usually a case of him inflicting a Curb-Stomp Battle until suddenly being defeated via a dirty trick. This is against the entire point of jobbing since it fails to make the winning wrestler look strong (after all, they were getting thrashed until they suddenly won). It may be this factor that gives us the "Hogan never loses" belief.
  • Hulk Hogan tends to be remembered as much more squeaky-clean (if not boring) than his actions at the time would suggest. For instance, while 1984's Hulk vs. The Iron Sheik is remembered as a cartoonish battle of the All-American Face vs. the Foreign Wrestling Heel, it's Hogan who starts the match with a flurry of cheap shots. He was also fond of back rakes and face stomps, both heel tactics, and wasn't above using "bad powder" and chairshots on opponents when the ref was distracted. This is because Hogan was trained to wrestle as a heel and had been one until his run in the AWA.
  • At Over the Edge 1999, no one watching on PPV saw Owen Hart fall to his death. He was being lowered to the ring during a pre-taped interview segment backstage prior to the accident.
  • Several people claim that Shawn Michaels gave up the WWF Title because he "lost his smile". However, they are confusing two very different promos that happened months apart. At Survivor Series '96, Shawn lost the belt to his one time friend Sycho Sid after Sid attacked Michaels' mentor and manager Jose Lothario; a week later, HBK gave an interview where the always upbeat former champion said the event caused to be afraid for his mentor's safety and it hurt him more than losing the belt, it made him lose his smile. Two months later, Michaels regained the belt at the Royal Rumble, but suffered a severe knee injury and needed surgery, so he would be out of action for at least six months and maybe permanently. He gave up the title in a Tear Jerker speech where he made a brief reference to the earlier promo.
    It also became common knowledge that he only claimed to have lost his smile so he would not have to lose the title to Bret Hart at WrestleMania and did not even need surgery. This is strange for a couple of reasons: First, Michael's surgery was covered on TV — they even showed footage of him getting the operation done — and he walked with a cane on TV for several weeks while he recovered and returned to his old job as a commentator. Secondly, Hart was at the time the most booed face in the company after his 7-month vacation and feud with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, so it is unlikely that they would give him the belt at the biggest event of the year; also, they did give him a brief reign by winning the Final Four and losing it the next night to Sycho Sid, so they could have easily had Hart as champion at WrestleMania without Michaels, he just was not over enough to justify it.
  • It's also common knowledge — to the point of being listed on all the corresponding pages at The Other Wiki — that the Acolytes were called Hell's Henchmen when the Jackyl was managing them, then took on the Acolytes name after he left and they became part of the Ministry of Darkness. Except there is no official record of them ever competing in a match under the banner of Hell's Henchmen, and video of old Raw and Heat episodes from that time period proves that the Jackyl was always calling them his Acolytes from the first day he'd associated with them.
  • In summer 2018, Tama Tonga and his family have betrayed the Bullet Club to form a group called the Firing Squad. Except, as Tama express here, that's not the point of the story at all.
  • Similar to Hulk Hogan, everyone "knows" that Goldberg can't wrestle, can't work any match longer than a few minutes, and has no moves other than "Spear, Jackhammer, pin". In reality, this only applies to his part-time WWE run, in which his first match back was just over a month before his 50th birthday. When active in his prime, Goldberg actually performed a considerable number of different moves over the years, constantly trying out new things that you wouldn't expect like the Dragon Screw Leg Whip, Corkscrew Dropkick, a couple of submission moves like a rolling kneebar and ankle lock and almost every variety of slam under the sun, as can be seen in his top move compilation video (which compiles 35 recognised moves, plus 3 bonus moves).
  • Bring up Dustin Rhodes' short-lived "Seven" gimmick, and pretty much everyone will tell you that it was forced on Dustin because WCW wanted to have their own answer to the Undertaker, and Dustin Rhodes canned it after his first appearance because he hated it. While this was believed to be the case for a long time, Dustin has since admitted that he came up with the gimmick himself, and it was inspired by the "Strangers" in the film Dark City. He has also gone on record saying that he actually loved playing Seven, but WCW forced him to scrap it due to concerns that Seven could be interpreted as a child abductor; the infamous promo where Dustin broke character and mocked the gimmick on-camera was actually a Worked Shoot.

    Sports 
  • Harlem Globetrotters
    • Despite their world-famous team name, the Globetrotters are not a real competing basketball team; they are an athletic/comedic theatrical act made up of talented basketball players. All of their "games" are pre-rehearsed spectacles in which they always win (although they have accidentally lost on handful of occasions).
    • Those who are aware of the exhibition nature of the Globetrotters usually assume that their perennial opponents, the Washington Generals, are part of the same touring "show." Except in reality, the Generals and the Globetrotters remained completely separate businesses for 65 years. The Generals were owned and managed by Red Klotz, who hired his team out to the Globetrotters to lose to them. It was only after Klotz died that the Generals were purchased by the Globetrotters in 2017 and brought under the same umbrella.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Oakland Raiders Owner/GM Al Davis was neither a member of "The Foolish Club", the eight original team owners of the American Football League (AFL)note  nor was he the Raiders original head coach. Davis did not assume control of the Raiders until 1967. He was an assistant coach under Hall of Fame coach Sid Gillman for the Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers for the AFL's first three seasons (1960-1962), and head coach of the Raiders (hired by actual original Raiders owner F. Wayne Valley) from 1963 to 1965, before handing things over to John Rauch (Which is yet another bit of "common knowledge": John Madden was not Davis' immediate successor - he was Davis' defensive line coach and Rauch's defensive coordinator).
  • Speaking of the AFL: Upon his death in 2014, Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson was not the last member of the Foolish Club. He was the last surviving active member. Baron Hilton, the original Chargers owner, is still alive. He sold the team to an investment group in 1963, at the request of the other members of the Hilton family.
  • The so-called "Tom Brady Rule" (which prohibited a defensive player from hitting quarterbacks below the knee) was wrongly attributed to Tom Brady after his season-ending knee injury during the 2008 NFL season. It's unofficially called the "Carson Palmer Rule"note  (which Brady calls his knee injury in a interview with WEEI radio), which was passed back at the start of the 2006 season after Cincinnati Bengals QB Carson Palmer suffered the same injury during the 2005 playoffs against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The actual "Brady Rule" (which was passed back in 2009) was a clarification to the existing "Palmer Rule" by stating the following:
    Note 1: A defender cannot initiate a roll or lunge and forcibly hit the passer in the knee area or below, even if he is being contacted by another player.
    Note 2: It is not a foul if the defender swipes, wraps, or grabs a passer in the knee area or below in an attempt to tackle him.
    The Tom Brady Rule, Official NFL Playing Rules
  • The general consensus on the 2007 Spygate scandal is that the New England Patriots were cheaters. In actuality, the Patriots were punished for recording the New York Jets' defensive signals from an illegal location (i.e., the sidelines). Also, Super Bowl-winning coaches Jimmy Johnson, Bill Cowher, Dick Vermeil, and Mike Shanahan admitted to doing the same thing, and stated that the filming of the opponents' signals was common practice back then. Finally, the Patriots were punished after the rule prohibiting the recording of signals from an illegal location was passed at the start of the 2007 season.
  • Speaking of the 2007 season, David Tyree's miracle late 4th quarter helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII did not win the game for the New York Football Giants. The winning touchdown was scored later when Eli Manning hit Plexico Burress. The catch did contribute to the win, giving the Giants excellent field position to set up said winning touchdown, but it wasn't the scoring play or even the play that directly set up the scoring play; there were actually several plays in between. Not to mention that Burress' touchdown, while it ultimately held up as the game-winner, didn't actually completely give the Giants the win, as there was still time left on the clock, requiring the defense to stop Tom Brady from driving for a game-tying field goal. The catch was a huge turning point for the Giants, but that alone didn't win them the game.
  • Everyone knows that Pete Carroll's call to pass on the one-yard line (leading to an interception) in the dying moments of Super Bowl XLIX, instead of handing it off to Marshawn Lynch, was the worst call ever. This is mostly based on the immediate reactions of the announcer Cris Collinsworth, who called it the "dumbest". What's forgotten is that after Kearse's circus catch got the Seahawks to the goal line (remember the aforementioned example?), Seattle did in fact hand off to Lynch and the Patriots stopped him. For the next snap, the Patriots were expecting the ball to be given to Lynch and were prepared to respond, so going in a different direction (i.e. to a pass) was the right idea...indeed the Patriots Defensive Coordinator later said that the call was the right one. To wit, Lynch was heavily covered, and his actual record in such situations is fairly poornote . The goal-line interception was the only one that season and it required the defender to read the play and adjust in time. It was basically a 1-1000 situation.
  • On the issue of the Patriots, everyone knows that Tom Brady was an unknown late-round pick, who was put in for the injured starter and won the Super Bowl (and a lot more over the years)? Actually, Brady played for Michigan, one of the top programs in the country, and threw for 4 touchdowns against Alabama in the Orange Bowl. He was well known to College football fans as seen in the original ESPN draft announcement (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Dt7JaSCft0 ). People who had followed Brady gave him a high grade. He fell on Draft Day for a variety of reasons, including having had an unimpressive combine, having to share playing time, and a dearth of open slots for quarterbacks that year.
  • The "Miracle at the Meadowlands". Everyone knows the Giants would have won that game if quarterback Joe Pisarcik just took a knee, right? Well, not exactly. The so-called victory formation wasn't added to the rulebook until 1987, nine years after the Miracle at the Meadowlands, and in fact this incident is generally believed to have been a factor in why this concept came to be. There was an unoffical equivalent at the time of having the quarterback take the ball and just fall to the ground and roll, and the Giants had actually done this on two plays earlier (on first down), but because it wasn't an official play option, there were no rules surrounding it, so the Eagles decided to jump on the play anyway in hopes of forcing a fumble; the Giants consequently decided not to have Pisarcik roll again due to the risk of him getting injured, so the run play seemed like a low-risk option that would help to burn the clock and avoid the risk of their quarterback sustaining an injury that would cause him to miss time (and it probably would have worked if they'd executed better). There were several mistakes made in those final seconds that cost the Giants the gamenote  but not taking a knee wasn't one of them.
  • Everyone knows that Mixed Martial Arts is the combat sport where there are no rules. Except that there are tons of rules. Just as many, if not more, rules than other combat sports like boxing and amateur wrestling. The misconception stems from the early days of the UFC, which had hardly any rules, but it did have a few. In fact, the relative lack of rules was intentional: as early UFC was meant to be a showcase of different fighting styles (Karate vs. Kickboxing vs. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu vs. Sumo Wrestling, among others), the fewer hard/fast rules there were, the freer the participants were to utilize their techniques in full. However, as the meta-game inside the cage evolved and more and more fighters began to adopt a mix of grappling and striking, it became easier for UFC to institute more uniform rules.
  • Mention "the underarm incident" to any cricket fan, and they'll know you're talking about the 1981 ODI where the Australian bowler Trevor Chappell bowled an underarm delivery to deny the New Zealand batsman Brian McKechnie a chance to hit a six and win the game off the last ball. All correct, except for the last bit: New Zealand were actually 6 runs behind Australia and could only aim for a tie by hitting a six. note 
  • Everyone knows that the Boston Red Sox had the 1986 World Series locked up against the New York Mets when first baseman Bill Buckner let a ground ball bounce between his legs, costing the Red Sox the championship, right? Well...not quite. The Red Sox did come within one strike of winning the Series, and the Mets' winning run of that game did score when the ball went through Buckner's legs, but what everyone forgets is that there was a whole string of Red Sox F-ups in between those things that led to the game being TIED when Buckner made the error. There are a handful of people who could be considered more blameworthy than Buckner for the loss, including Roger Clemens (who, as the starting pitcher, insisted on trying to close out the game despite having a blister on his throwing hand), Calvin Schiraldi (who relieved Clemens and was pitching when the tying runs got on base), catcher Rich Gedman (whose passed ball caused one of the runs to score), and manager John McNamara (who, for sentimental reasons, insisted on having the aging and injured Buckner on the field when the game appeared to be in the bag, rather than the more reliable Dave Stapleton). On top of all of that, pitcher Bob Stanley appeared to be a bit slow getting over to cover first base on the play and there's no way the aging Buckner could've made the forceout unassisted; indeed, the Mets batter who hit that ball was officially credited with an infield single, with the error being assessed solely because the winning run scored all the way from second base whereas a clean fielding by Buckner would've stopped him at third. The other thing people forget is that the Buckner game was game SIX of the Series, which the Sox had previously led 3 games to 2. Buckner's error didn't cause the Mets to win the championship, merely forced Game 7. In the final game, the Sox jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but pitcher Bruce Hurst was unable to hold the lead, and the Mets won the Series. The most egregious part is that Boston fans misblamed Buckner for years, to the point where his kids were harassed in school, until he ended up moving his family to Idaho, where nobody cared about baseball or knew who he was, and working as a car salesman.
  • Everyone knows Minnesota Vikings lost the 1998 NFC title game to Atlanta Falcons because Gary Anderson missed a field goal. In reality the Vikings were actually leading 27-20 when he missed. If anything is to blame it should be Vikings defense for giving up a last minute drive to a limping Chris Chandler (although they lost 5 starters to injury by that moment) and Denny Green deciding to kneel down and play for overtime despite having one of the greatest offenses in league history.
  • Everyone 'knows' the term "soccer" is strictly an American word that was made up by the United States to differentiate the round-ball game from American Football, and that "football" is the true name for the sport. Europeans, particularly Brits, have been known to get outright violent over that word. However, the word "soccer" actually originates in England, not the USA. It is derived from "association football", the sport's full name, which differentiates it from other codes of football such as rugby. It spread across the world until it eventually reached the US, where "soccer" was adopted there. The term has subsequently largely dropped out of use in Britain, especially in England — but this is Newer Than They Think, too: it only fell from favour as recently as the 1990s, and British monthly magazine World Soccer (est. 1960), for instance, is still in print under that title. In other words, any Brits who get angry over the word soccer have nobody to blame but themselves. Also, it's not uncommon for someone to say that only Americans use the word soccer. Actually, it's also used in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa, all of which have other codes of football predominating.
    • And to undercut the obvious argument that American Football is misnamed because it isn't primarily played with the feet — well, neither are Rugby Football, Gaelic Football or Australian Rules Football. The word more likely came about in medieval times to denote any mass team game played on foot, as opposed to on horseback.
  • Crossing with Fake Memories, during the 2020 Olympic Games many Brazilians learned that their best known gymnast, Daiane dos Santos, had never won an Olympic medal (she won the World Championship, but in three Olympics, was at most fifth) after Rebeca Andrade became the first Brazilian woman to medal in gymnastics at the Games.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons examples:
    • The game was directly inspired by The Lord of the Rings, right? No, it wasn't. Gary Gygax hated Tolkien — he only incorporated elements such as halflings and treants on the insistence of his gaming group, who wanted to play as Frodo. He actually drew much of his inspiration from the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories by Fritz Leiber, and Jack Vance's Dying Earth works.
    • D&D players gain extensive knowledge of historical armor types such as plate mail, chainmail, ringmail, splint mail, etc. Incorrect knowledge, to the point of Critical Research Failure. There has historically been exactly one type of armor made from interlocking rings, and its name is simply mail. Likewise, the correct term for "plate mail" is plate armor, and the one for "scale mail" is scale armor. But many more people have played D&D and its various derivatives than have a cursory knowledge of real-world armor.
    • Likewise, a "long sword" is a one-handed sword commonly wielded alongside a shield, right? Wrong, a long sword is a two-handed sword, and is neither light enough nor properly balanced for being used in one hand (not to be confused with the Great sword, which is longer still to the point that some historians argue that it also qualifies as a polearm). The sword commonly referred to as a "long sword" in Dungeons & Dragons is actually more akin to the real-life arming sword.
    • The game is heavily steeped in the Occult, and the "deeper" you go into the game, the more you are called upon to actually recite Occultic prayers, cast real spells and summon real demons with incantations based on actual pagan rituals. None of that is true and is all based on the completely made-up testimony of Patricia Pulling, who blamed the game for her son's suicide and later claimed to be an expert on it while attempting to get the game banned. [[note]]There is a small kernel of truth to the legend — in the First Edition DMG, there are template summoning circles, some of which look like they may have been cribbed from real-world thaumaturgy, depicted for summoning elementals (and not demons) in the DM's glosses on adjudicating spells. Gary Gygax most likely intended these as an Obvious Rule Patch to make summoning by his players' characters a bit more onerous, time-consuming and expensive (and to give the Killer Game Master some fun if the character screwed it up). In fact, D&D as a whole could be considered The Moral Substitute compared to many other RPGs; good and evil is clearly defined, the protagonist classes include paladins and clerics while the antagonists include The Legions of Hell, and Gary Gygax himself was reluctant to include stats for angels (which are always Good) because he thought players might be tempted to kill them otherwise.
    • Oh, bards. The always underpowered losers, with about as much use as Sir Robin's minstrels and likely to meet the same fate. What kind of idiot wanders into a dungeon to fight monsters with an instrument? The kind of idiot who's going to save the whole party, as it turns out. Over the course of D&D's many editions, bards have been a mid-tier class at worst, and often edge on being one of the best. The original bard was a special super class that could only be entered after a complicated process that would usually make them the strongest character at the table. The 2e bard, the first one to become a regular class, was a more than serviceable caster and thief, and often preferable to the actual thief. The 3.5 bard was the most powerful core class not considered an outright Game-Breaker. The 4e bard was a completely competent Leader with some handy specialized skills. The current 5e bard is often regarded as flat-out the best core class, with the potential to be a Master of All. Though some versions have been poorly designed or Difficult, but Awesome, the class as a whole has never been weak. A mixture of new players failing to understand their mechanics and how they synergize with each other, the longstanding trope of the comic-relief Wandering Minstrel, and the crappiness of Edward in Final Fantasy IV may be to blame for this one.
    • Contrary to almost all depictions (and how they're portrayed in just about every other form of media), elves in D&D are, by the rules as written, a head shorter than humans.
    • One related to another common misconception. Among those who know that Tiamat wasn't actually a dragon originally, it's widely believed that this inaccuracy originated with D&D. This is objectively wrong, since Tiamat's been described as a dragon in (non-fiction) literature as early as 1888. D&D did basically make up Tiamat's design from scratch, though.
    • In most editions, rolling a natural one (ie. rolling a 1 on a d20, before any modifiers are applied) is only an automatic failure when rolling to hit an enemy. The idea that it's an automatic failure for any roll is a common house rule (and most of the time, it's such a low roll that it fails anyway), but it is not officially a part of the game.
    • By a similar count, the Critical Failure (that is to say, rolling so badly on a standard roll that a negative effect occurs) has never been a core rule, flitting somewhere between House Rule and official-but-not-default variant. By default, regardless of edition, the only thing that happens when a character rolls a 1 on their attack roll is that they miss.
    • Again similarly, a natural 20 is normally only an auto-success, and only on attack rolls and saving throws (and only in some editions for saving throws), with critical hits being an entirely optional rule. It is not an automatic success on a skill check, and it's not a super-duper ultra success. The sole exception is Death saving throws in Fifth Edition, where natural 20s and natural 1s have explicit special effects (they count as two failures and two successes, respectively).
  • A Green Sun Prince from Exalted is not necessarily offered their Deal with the Devil after My Greatest Failure. This is nearly always the case, because it's in the nature of mortals to fail — especially in the sort of circumstances that would attract an Exaltation — but if, somehow, against all odds, they manage to succeed, the Infernal Exaltation doesn't just go away. It would take a very unusual person to accept under those conditions, but the offer is still made.
  • Traveller has a reputation for being one of the few tabletop games in which your character can die during character creation, which has players roll to determine what events occurred in their life, good and bad beforehand rather than having the player dictate their past. While this was true when the game first came out, this was quickly made into an optional rule in the 1980's and only recently brought back as of 2018. In any event, this is an exceedingly rare thing to have happen, to the point where in order for your character to die this way, it'd have to be nigh-deliberate, such as having that character refuse to seek medical attention for a grievous injury. Despite this, the game is still mistakenly known for "the one that kills you in character creation" as if it happens all the time, causing some potential players to avoid or demean the game for this reason alone.
  • Warhammer has quite a few due to confusion with the more popular 40k:
    • Chief among them: A persistent idea that the setting is as rabidly xenophobic as that of its sibling franchise. In actuality while Fantastic Racism exists, the "good" races generally get along and it is not that unusual to see persons of different species being close friends (except elves and dwarfs; that is unusual, but it has still happened). Major cities across the world have mixed-species populations living in them, trade between the Order factions thrive, and the great powers cooperate closely in the event of major invasions by the forces of Chaos and other threats. What Fantastic Racism does exist also takes many forms including Condescending Compassion (e.g. default High Elf and Dwarf attitude to humans) or mundane 16th century ignorance (e.g. most humans to the other races). In the Empire, there are even de facto independent nonhuman client states more-or-less integrated with their neighboring entities (including the Grey Dwarfs of the Grey Mountains, the Eonir Elves of Laurelorn Forest, and the Halflings of the Moot - the latter being officially classed as an electoral province with a vote to elect the emperor). This is mirrored in the High Elves' relation to the human state of Marienburg, which they de facto have under a protectorate in exchange for maintaining an elf district within the city and handling most of the High Elves' trade in the area. Even the beastly Lizardmen and Ogres can be found in other species' lands as traders or mercenaries.
    • Orcs in Fantasy do not have psychic powers or the ability to spread their population via spores. That's all 40k. Nor are they anywhere near as large and strong as their 40k counterparts - regular humans can consistently defeat them in melee combat, because they're seemingly only about as strong as a particularly muscular human (barring the Black Orcs and warbosses). For that matter, they actually started out as shorter than humans.
    • Everyone knows that Warhammer is a grimdark Crapsack World. Well, it's not really. Outside of the End Times (which is itself an Alternate Timeline from the Storm of Chaos and several video game exclusive timelines), Warhammer is more accurately classed as High Fantasy. Heroes can be flawed, but they're glorious and generally good people, fighting clear evils, almost always succeeding by the end of the book/campaign/game/novel. The living standards of the humans in the world may be bad to us, but they're not dystopic and are really no different than those of Eurasia circa the 16th and 17th centuries (in many cases they're flat-out better; Reikland and the Tilean cities, for example, have borderline early 19th century levels of wealth due to their industrialization). Elves, (some) Lizardmen, and Dwarfs are much richer and have higher living standards than humans thanks to magic and steampunk tech. And most critically: for most people, huge wars are a rarity. Low-level threats constantly stalk the forces of Order but they're consistently handled by the regular forces and militias before they cause too much damage, similar to how low-level warfare was a constant throughout the early modern era but only rarely snowballed into larger conflagrations (it was actually a major complaint of the setting that a few towns or armies could end up destroyed but for decades large-scale setbacks for the good guys never really happened, as they'd immediately change the relatively small and detailed world). The only threats that really rock the boat are the major Skaven, Orc, or Chaos campaigns that, pessimistically, occur about once a century. Even those are typically dealt with quicker and with less bloodshed than real-world tragedies of the 17th century like the Thirty Years' War or the Manchu Conquest.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Every fan knows that the Squats were driven to extinction by the Tyranids in order to facilitate their removal as a playable faction in the third edition of the game. Not many realize that this has been retconned as of sixth edition and that they've been mentioned in other army books as a thriving race in the galaxy still, just without their own army list (until 2022, that is). On that note, Squats weren't removed as a faction because they were considered "too silly" (Black Comedy has always been a cornerstone of 40K, after all) or because the models weren't selling, but because Games Workshop themselves didn't know what to do with them and there was nothing the Squats could do that wasn't already covered by other factions. Their silliness was stated to be a factor, but less because comedy is bad, and more because the designers felt they came across as a shallow, lame joke rather than a fleshed-out group that could also be funny.
    • Similarly, Malal, the fifth Chaos God, is commonly alluded to in the context of 40K in the fandom. Not only is Malal no longer canon, but he was also never canon to 40K. He briefly did exist in the Warhammer Fantasy setting, but Games Workshop had already lost the rights to use him by the time Chaos was added as a faction in 40K. The closest there is is the Sons of Malice warband, which uses a lot of Malal iconography as a Mythology Gag, but for obvious reasons, Malal himself is never mentioned. For that matter, describing him as "the fifth Chaos God" is not exactly accurate - in terms of when he was first mentioned in publications, he actually predates Slaanesh and Tzeentch.
    • The Tau are not Communists — they have a caste system, something which is anathema to the classless nature of Communism. Their ideology has more in common with Utilitarianism than anything else.
    • A widely spread meme about how the Dark Angels home "The Rock" was named after a gay nightclub near the GW headquarters. A less common addition being that the Primarch Angron was named after a bouncer at the gay nightclub who was nicknamed "Angry Ron". There was never any such nightclub or bar (gay or not) with the name in the area. The more likely reason for the name was that Nottingham Castle, which is located on a ridge named "Castle Rock", was simply called "The Rock" in local parlance.
    • Canonically, Leman Russ does not have a beard and Rogal Dorn does not have a mustache. You would never guess that from looking at how fanartists draw them.
  • A notion spread around the web is that one of the few early pieces of lore for Warhammer: Age of Sigmar features Daemon Prince Be'lakor being lapidated to death by a band of Seraphon Terradon Riders. Such story is actually a fabrication: sources (like for example 1d4Chan, the gaming wiki for 4chan's /tg/ board) state that this story was published on White Dwarf as part of one of their battle reports... except that it's impossible, since when Age of Sigmar was first released the magazine was briefly shifted into a smaller, weekly format which lacked entirely battle reports, and the magazine scan used as proof clearly comes from an earlier issue of the magazine (more precisely, it's the February 2009 issue, which featured a Warhammer Fantasy Lizardmen vs Warriors of Chaos battle report where the Wo C player used the Be'lakor model to represent his generic Daemon Prince general which indeed is killed by a pack of Terradon Riders). Also, Be'lakor is still alive and thriving in the new setting and even got a new model in 2021.
    • It seems to be believed in many corners of the internet that the only people who survived the End Times to make it to Age of Sigmar's Mortal Realms were gods, Skaven, and Lizardmen. In actuality, multiple sources have specified that a small number of survivors were saved via various means as the old world was ending (this has actually been the case since the very first Stormcast Eternals battletome). They are the ancestors of the people of Azyr.
  • The Unseen fiasco created a few of these for BattleTech:
    • Everyone knows that FASA lost the copyright suit brought against it by Harmony Gold and as part of the judgement was forced to never use the Unseen artwork again, right? Not quite. The settlement agreement was put under seal, which means that nobody other than the parties who were in that courtroom in Chicago in 1995-96 have any knowledge of who, if anyone, actually won or lost the case (it could conceivably have ended up in a "amicable" (so-to-speak) settlement with no actual "winner" or "loser"). The story that FASA and its successor companies (Wizkids, FanPro, and InMediaRes Productions/Catalyst Game Labs) have always maintained is that the discontinuance of the Unseen artwork was voluntary, a sizable portion of a larger mandate to end the use of all artwork not created in-house. This stemmed from the lawsuit (in the "let's avoid any more headaches" sense) but it was not as far as anyone can tell, dictated by anything in the settlement. In fact, in 2009, they did test the waters in returning the non-Macross art to sourcebooks, before concerns over returning the minis to production gave Topps, the current rightsholder, pause.
    • The actual 'Mechs were decanonized because of the mess. No they weren't. The probalem was, they were deliberately put Out of Focus in sourcebook material and scenarios to avoid having to depict them in artwork. That, and the fact that no minis could legally be made of them, nor could they be used in official events, led to the misconception that they were retconned out of the game altogether.
  • Monopoly is often thought of as a complicated game that takes forever to play, when actually the sheer opposite holds true. Beyond simple math and a basic understanding of risk/reward management, it's actually a fairly simple game to understand and play and is really only more complicated than simple luck based games like Parcheesi. As for its length, it actually a really quick and dirty game owing to huge Unstable Equilibrium... as long as you actually follow the game rules:
    • Any time a player lands on a property, it goes up for auction if he doesn't buy it. Since the auctions are much cheaper than the list price, this forces players to choose between the high risk of blowing all their money on properties or letting their opponents get monopolies which greatly speeds up the game. You also can buy property immediately — "taking a lap" before being allowed to buy isn't actually a rule and it's actually fairly possible to win before completing a lap.
    • No, you don't get to take that pile of money if you land on Free Parking. This is actually a House Rule designed specifically to prevent the game's Unstable Equilibrium and make it fairer for young kids but constantly handing lucky players wads of free cash makes it much harder for them to run out of money and greatly delays the game's win condition.
    • You're also supposed to give your assets to whoever you owe money to upon bankrupcy (you don't surrender it to the bank) and yes you do earn money while in jail (in fact, in the late game being in jail is beneficial since everyone is potentially landing on your properties and paying you... while you're kicking back paying nothing).

    Terms and Phrases 
  • The Chinese word for "crisis" is made up of the characters for "danger" and "opportunity". The Chinese word 危机 (wēijī) does have two characters, but the more accurate translation would be: "dangerous" (危, wēi) and "change point" (机, "jī"). The confusion probably stems from being the first character in the actual word for "opportunity" (机会, jīhui ). However, one of the Japanese words for "crisis" (危機, kiki) does mix the "danger" and "opportunity" characters.
  • "Avocado" derives from the Aztec word for "testicle". No, the word āhuacatl always meant "avocado". It was sometimes used informally to mean "testicle" because of the similar shapes of the two items, much as "nuts" and "plums" are used as slang terms in English.

    Theatre 
  • The closing line of Boris Godunov (the original play by Alexander Pushkin, not the opera) is "The People are speechless", and it is constantly quoted to illustrate the passive and meek reaction of crowds to crisis and oppression. However, in its actual context, the line means the exact opposite: the people adamantly refuse to cheer for the new conqueror after hearing his associates brutally murder the previous tsar's wife and teenage son.
  • One of the most well-known numbers from Chicago is the "Cell Block Tango" (which everyone knows is called "They Had It Coming"), in which six women on trial for murdering their lovers protest their innocence, even though the audience knows better. Except... only three of them make even a flimsy attempt to claim innocence of the crime. June says her husband "ran into my knife. He ran into my knife ten times", and Velma claims to not remember anything between opening the hotel-room door to see her man and her sister getting busy and "washing the blood off my hands". The sixth, The Hunyak, actually is innocent (Bilingual Bonus reveals the ugly circumstances of her arrest and conviction). The other three freely admit to it, though they also insist that the murders were justified, for whatever reason.
  • Despite casual references to him as "the fiddler", Tevye, the milkman and lead character of Fiddler on the Roof, is decidedly not the title character, nor is the title character an actual character. He is a visual representation of what it's like for a people bound by ancient tradition to live in an environment that is hostile to said traditions.
  • "Pirate" is never rhymed with "pilot" in The Pirates of Penzance, even in the song about Ruth's confusion between the two words.
  • William Shakespeare's plays:
    • Romeo and Juliet:
      • While the famous line "O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?" is usually quoted right, more or less, most people are unaware of the true meaning, often believing that Juliet is asking "Where are you, Romeo?" Note that "wherefore" does not mean "where", it means "why". Compare "therefore". In other words, Juliet is asking why Romeo must be who he is, a member of the family with which her own family has a long-standing feud.
      • And everybody "knows" that Juliet delivers that line from a balcony. Of course she does — it's the famous "balcony scene", isn't it? Well... no. It may typically be staged that way, but what the playscript actually says is that Juliet appears at a window.
      Romeo: But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
      • What's more, balconies had only recently been invented in Italy, and were unknown in England at the time, as well as being considered rather vulgar.
      • Also, "star-crossed lovers" is not a synonym for "happily ever after". It means that they are ill-fated, that destiny is against them. ("Stars" stand in for "fate", and "crossed" in this case is akin to a "double-cross", i.e. a betrayal. If the stars have "crossed" you, then bad things will happen to you.) They die. There's a reason the Star-Crossed Lovers trope means a relationship is doomed to failure.
    • Hamlet:
      • The play is known for the much-parodied Signature Scene in which Hamlet contemplatively holds the skull of his dead friend Yorick and delivers the "To be or not to be..." soliloquy. These are actually two separate scenes from different parts of the play. Hamlet delivers a different (and much shorter) monologue while holding the skull, and it's not even a soliloquy like "To be or not to be...", as he's directing it at another character.
      • The line "The lady doth protest too much, methinks" doesn't mean she complains in a suspiciously over-the-top manner. It means that she promises more than she can reasonably deliver.
    • The Taming of the Shrew ends with a woman giving a speech about how great it is to be subservient to a man. Technically true, but the introduction establishes that the play is actually a Play Within a Play performed for a drunkard tricked into thinking he's a nobleman for shits and giggles. In that light, it comes across as more of a critical look at male fantasies about subservience than an endorsement of it.
    • Many assume that the line, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers," from Henry VI Part 2 is an Evil Lawyer Joke. A joke, yes, but targeted at the speaker, not lawyers; the line is often spoken way out of context. First of all, the speaker — Dick the Butcher — is a thug and a killer. Second, he was saying this in reply to his friend Jack's scheme to revolt against the King, or rather, his plans should they succeed. (In a more modern setting, the joke may have started by Jack saying, "When I'm the King, there'll be two cars in every garage, and a chicken in every pot" but Dick interrupting and shouting, "AND NO LAWYERS!") In Shakespeare's time, lawyers were regarded as the protectors of truth, and Dick, being the scum he was, wanted to get rid of such people.
    • Richard III's most famous line, "Now is the winter of our discontent", is not delivered during a time of great hardship or suffering. It's actually the opposite: the full line is "Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York". Richard says it while celebrating the House of York's victory over the House of Lancaster.
    • Twelfth Night — the opening speech by Orsino: "If music be the food of love, play on" is not in praise of music, or of love. It continues "Give me excess of it that, surfeiting,/The appetite may sicken, and so die", meaning that he wishes to bring his love for Olivia to and end, and asks for more music so as to achieve this through an excess of it.
    • Shylock in The Merchant of Venice is often considered one of the most famous examples of the Greedy Jew. While he is indeed a villainous Jewish money-lender, and certainly greedy, his primary motivation in the play is not greed but a desire for revenge, to the point where he refuses to spare Antonio's life in exchange for three times the amount Antonio owes him. Also, while Shylock is probably the best-known character in the play, he is not the titular merchant; the title refers to Antonio.
    • Othello: the title character's description of himself as "one that loved not wisely but too well" is often quoted to describe a victim who fell in love with an unworthy person and was ultimately jilted, betrayed or abused. This is almost the opposite of Othello and Desdemona's doomed love, though. In context, Othello means that he loved Desdemona too possessively and jealously, making him believe Iago's lies about her infidelity and driving him to murder her.
  • Les Misérables:
    • It does not take place during The French Revolution, but the song "Do You Hear the People Sing" is frequently assumed to refer to it. It does, however, take place during a French revolution (one of many) just not The French Revolution. A highly unsuccessful French revolution.
    • Jean Valjean was not an innocent man wrongly imprisoned, as a lot of people (including some of those responsible for the show) seem to believe. It was the length of his sentence (five years of hard labor for stealing bread to feed his sister's children) that Valjean felt was unjust, as well as the fact that he was given fourteen more years for repeated escape attempts, and that his ex-convict status made it impossible to find lodging or honest work when he was released.
  • The Sound of Music: Even though Maria is a classic example of the Magical Nanny trope, she's technically not the von Trapp children's nanny. She's their governess — in charge of their education, not their physical care. The confusion likely stems from her sharing an actress and a few plot parallels with cinema's most famous nanny, Mary Poppins, plus the fact that nowadays the distinction between nannies and governesses is not as well known since the latter rarely exists anymore.
  • Wicked:
    • Wicked is commonly described by non-fans as a Wizard of Oz rewrite where Glinda the Good Witch is the villain and the Wicked Witch of the West is good. This is wrong on Glinda's part. She's antagonistic towards Elphaba for part of the story, but not a villain. The two are best friends (with a lot of Homoerotic Subtext added in) who are on opposing sides. Glinda isn't the villain, the Wizard of Oz is.
    • Despite common belief, Wicked is not a true Perspective Flip on the MGM film, or the original Oz book for that matter. It's an Alternate Continuity with various differences from the originals and with elements taken from both of them.
  • Cats:
    • It's a misconception that the Jellicle cats are all strays. Many, if not most, have owners. They're just outdoor cats who are out at night.
    • Also, the idea that they're meant to be seen as attractive. While some of them are meant to be seen as attractive, others (such as the kittens) are not.
  • Gypsy: Rose Hovick is never referred to as "Momma Rose." The professional name she goes by is "Madame Rose" and her daughters just call her "Momma." "Momma Rose" is really just a Fan Nickname.

    Toys 
  • The titular character of Barbie is usually pinned as a teenager by adults, which has caused issues such as when one of the doll-lines was banned for supposedly supporting Teen Pregnancy. Barbie can be a teenager, but since the 1980s, at earliest, she's more frequently been depicted as an adult. Skipper is the default teenager of the family. Additionally, the "pregnant" doll, Midge, was explicitly portrayed as a married adult, with dolls of her husband and toddler son also available.
  • My Little Pony:
    • My Little Pony Tales is not G2. My Little Pony is a toy-line before anything else, its generations are defined by the toys. G2 started in the late 90s years after Tales, and it had a very noticeable Art Shift from G1 that makes it very distinguishable from other gens. Despite this, newer fans near constantly refer to Tales as G2.
    • Seen in many My Little Phony parodies, everyone think that My Little Pony features no males. While it is true that most ponies are female, even the original G1 line featured several colts and stallions (such as Lucky and the Big Brother Ponies). There's also a few non-pony males such as Spike and the other baby dragons. It's only G3 from the 2000s that featured no male toys (though Spike was The One Guy in the animated adaptation), but by then this misconception was already rampant. G4 strays even further from this by featuring a large cast of males.
  • To anyone who was a child in The '50s, The '60s, and The '70s, it was self-evident that German soldiers in World War II all wore the classic coal-scuttle helmet and jackboots all the time - why, that's the way they come in the toy soldier sets we collect, look! Miniature portrayals of World War II soldiers by Airfix and others might not have created the stereotype, but they fixed and perpetuated it in a new generation of young minds. note  The fact the Germans abandoned the jackboot as it was too expensive to make and consumed too many resources, as well as the fact the helmets were only worn in combat when most of the time soldiers preferred lighter and more comfortable headwear, was lost as, well, everyone knows this is how German soldiers look...)note 
  • Japanese toy manufacturer Bandai's American subsidiary is commonly known either as Bandai Creation or Bandai Creations, a distinction American Godzilla fans argue about endlessly. In fact, both are wrong: it's Bandai America or simply Bandai USA. Beginning from the early 2000s, many American Godzilla toy packages featured the word "creation" under the regular Bandai logo, denoting that the toys in question were the creations of the Bandai company. This single extra word etched itself so deeply into the minds of American buyers that all American-produced Bandai Godzilla toys are still widely and unquestionably referred to as Bandai Creation(s) products on fan forums, articles, YouTube video reviews, and even certain Wikis or toy databases, when no such company ever existed. The facts that the packages have stopped using the "creation" label after a few years, that it was never part of the official logo to begin with, and that no other American Bandai toys even featured the word seems to have gone completely unnoticed.
  • Older generations, who used to play with LEGO toys in their youth but aren't too familiar with it any more, like to complain that back in their day, LEGO was all about expressing your creativity by building whatever you want, while these days all the sets just come with instructions that force the kids to build everything as commanded. Not only have sets with instructions been the norm for most of LEGO's existence as a brand—nobody's ever forcing anyone to build what's on the box. There's nothing about newer sets that's preventing anyone to disregard the instructions. Furthermore, "creative" sets that contain nothing but just generic bricks continue to be sold as well. There was a time at the turn of the century where LEGO released "juniorized" sets which had simplified structures consisting of large, premade pieces that could hardly be used outside of their intended purpose, but those were poorly received and the practice was abandoned (until being brought back later to a limited degree in small 4+ Junior sets).
  • Related to BIONICLE:
    • Most common of all is calling the characters "Bionicles" and robots. "Bionicle" is just the brand's title that means "Biological Chronicle", and while all the toys do look robotic, tie-in media makes it clear most characters have organic muscle and innards, making them more like cyborgs. The 2006 Piraka toys tried to reflect this with their rubber faces and spines. Oddly even some of the official creators at times confused things: both the Bohrok swarms and Vahki squads were occasionally referred to as bio-mechanical (partially organic) when they were fully robotic, and the 4th film portrayed every character as a metal robot rather than organic creatures wearing armor and technological implants. Some fans theorize the semi-organic biology might have been a retcon, as the earliest media did lean hevily into the characters being robots, giving way to the misconception.
    • It's true that "Bionicle saved LEGO", but that's not the whole picture, despite former LEGO CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp being quoted as saying such. In 2003, when the company had no licensed properties to rely on (as there were no Star Wars or Harry Potter movies that year), Bionicle was their only line that turned in a profit. However, Star Wars toys, the post-2000 redesign of the LEGO City theme and general behind-the-scenes management shifts were also major factors in stabilizing the company. So Bionicle did keep LEGO afloat in a time of need, and gave them crucial experience in managing an in-house property, tie-in media and strengthening relations with consumers, but it wasn't the only thing that kept them from going bankrupt, unless you're strictly talking about their 2003 profits. For that matter, the sales of Bionicle toys have been on a decline at that time too.
    • The infamous "Maori controversy" is a giant ball of misconstrued half truths. The common version goes: in 2001, LEGO tried to copyright terms from Maori and various Polynesian languages and even appropriated their mythology for the Bionicle toy line's entire 9 and a half year run, leading to a lawsuit that LEGO lost and were forced to remove the franchise's Polynesian-inspired elements. Depending on who told the story, both LEGO and the Maori have been painted as innocent victims, and there have even been accusations of racism. In fact, there was no lawsuit. LEGO settled the matter in a respectful way that was applauded at the time by everyone involved, both LEGO and the Maori came to a peaceful compromise rather than one winning and the other losing, and the whole ordeal was far more meticulous and less severe than people make it out to be.
      Much of the Bionicle franchise's very early visual aesthetic and parts of its in-universe lore were inspired by real-life Polynesian cultures, leading to some Maori activists hacking fan websites, harassing fans and even threatening to sue LEGO for misusing their language. But these were mostly dismissed as Internet aggressors and did not represent the Maori as a whole. LEGO didn't copyright any real-life words either. The legal core of the incident actually centered around the title of a Game Boy Advance game, "Tales of the Tohunga", where Tohunga denoted a culturally and historically sensitive word for the Maori. News outlets falsely claimed the word described the "helpless" tribal villagers of Bionicle lore, but in the actual story they were far from helpless and they performed vital tasks to keep their culture and their island safe. After LEGO met with Maori cultural representatives, the word Tohunga was removed and replaced with the made-up "Matoran", the game's title was changed to "Quest for the Toa", other words were changed as well, and Bionicle lost most of its supposed mysticism and quasi-religious tone. Maori-inspired deities and traditional dance rituals were also written out before they were even properly introduced in the story.
      However, most of the Polynesian terminology was actually kept under the approval of the Maori, and two other terms that got removed alongside Tohunga (Goko-Kahu and Kewa) were placed back into Bionicle lore later on without any legal hassle. Furthermore, there were other factors at play than just the Maori: white, Western religious parents had also complained about Bionicle's tone, leading to its mythology and spiritualism getting toned down. This all happened in 2001, mere months after the toy series had launched. The brand adopted a more generic fantasy and sci-fi tone for the rest of its run, and the lingering tribal elements were just artifacts that were almost fully done away with by 2004. But since First Installment Wins, some still think the franchise was fully Polynesian-inspired for its entire 9 and a half year run, and people still bring up the never-happened lawsuit as proof of LEGO's "comeuppance" for their supposed "racism" against the Maori. Even one of the brand's original creators, Alastair Swinnerton thought the incident had been blown way out of proportion in retellings.
    • Other misconceptions have crept into the series too, all based on people's limited perception of its first releases. Bionicle wasn't even the first LEGO action figure line made out of unusual LEGO Technic parts and ball-jointed limbs — Slizer came out two years before. Bionicle did have mask collecting quests, but only at the beginning, and later on most characters only used one mask each. The series' signature setting of a beautiful island with tribal villages was also dropped midway through the line, and it was planned to be abandoned since the start — though the 2015 reboot brought it back in full force.
    • Greg Farshtey, known as the franchise's head writer, never held such a position. He was only the "main writer" in the sense that he penned the comics and most of the books, but he did not dictate the story. Bob Thompson was actually the true head writer from 2001 to 2005, but no replacement was elected after he had left. Instead, the full Story Team continued writing the plot as a group effort. Greg did write the online side stories and put huge twists and retcons into the lore by himself, but he was never officially the head writer.
    • In fan discussions and databases, Thompson and Farshtey were often qouted saying there were "Seven Books of Bionicle" planned that would have lasted for at least 20 years, each "book" being one multi year Story Arc, but the series got discontinued after 10 years. On the franchise's actual 20th anniversary, Thompson himself explained this was just an old throwaway idea that fans took too literally. Some major plot points were mapped out years in advance but there were no fixed plans on when to resolve them. There was a large Universe Bible with scores of unused concepts, but the story was mostly made up on the fly or dictated by LEGO and associated media companies, as is the case with any toy brand that has fiction.
  • Furby: There was some controversy that the toys could be used for espionage because they can talk; they thought that the talking came from repeating what people say. In reality, all the phrases Furbys say is pre-recorded and they can't record a human's voice. Hilariously Furby was still banned from NSA property in 1993 due to security concerns and, even more hilariously, the newer Furby Connect actually CAN be used as a spying device since its microphone can be remotely activated via bluetoothnote 

    Urban Legends 
  • The mysterious Indrid Cold from late 20th century American urban legends is also known as "the Grinning Man", a person sporting an inhuman, ear-to-ear grin. He is commonly tied to the legend of The Mothman, mainly because he was included in The Mothman Prophecies (both the book and its very loose film adaptation). Some say he's an otherworldly, godlike entity, an alien badly masquerading as a human, or a Man in Black. In the original story, Cold (the name Indrid came from a later account) is just a normal looking guy with telepathic abilities who travels around in a bizarre flying ship. Woodrow Derenberger, the person who claims to have first met him, later said Indrid was an extraterrestrial human with many similar partners. Though Derenberger's accounts were unabashedly bizarre, not once did he claim Indrid Cold looked any different from a regular human His most famous trait, the creepy grin, came from conflating his legend with unrelated and similarly unsubstantiated accounts of strange grinning people. His affiliation with the Mothman meanwhile originated from conspiracy theorists reaching for connections between separate weird events that had zilch to do with Derenberger's accounts.
  • The widely-held origin of the term "Flying Saucer" is this. It's commonly believed that the phrase was coined by pilot Kenneth Arnold, who saw a group of UFOs flying near Mt. Ranier, in Washington. However, Arnold never actually used the phrase "flying saucer". The objects he described were V-shaped, and he said that they "moved like a saucer would if you skipped it across water" (skeptics believe they were actually a flock of birds). The term "flying saucer" was actually coined by journalists covering the sighting who were under the impression they were literally saucer-shaped, and we've been stuck with it ever since. This has led more than one skeptic to point out that all subsequent sightings of "flying saucers" are therefore in doubt, since they are more or less derived from a journalist's mistake.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • It's common belief that Phoenix became a lawyer because Mia inspired him, when she defended him for murder committed by Dahlia Hawthorne. In reality, while Mia did defend him and that was when they first met, and indeed he became her student afterwards, he was already studying to become a lawyer at this point, and his motivation for doing so had nothing to do with Mia. The first game not only establishes that his motivation was being defended by Miles (who was at the time being raised by his loving defence lawyer father, rather than his Evil Mentor) when his class accused him of stealing Edgeworth's lunch money (although sometimes it's assumed that was simply retconned), but makes it's a major plot point in the final case.
    • Contrary to popular belief, Phoenix has never accused an animal of murder; for that matter, no protagonist lawyer has ever done so either. He once defended an accused animal (an orca accused of killing its owner), but he's never pointed the finger at an animal. This confusion may stem from the fact that he once called a parrot to the witness stand, even though that was just to collect evidence of its owner's true identity; Phoenix never claimed that the bird was directly involved with the murder.
    • For how infamous "updated autopsy reports" are among fans, they appear in surprisingly few cases, and even there are mainly used to clarify smaller details or add information that was uncovered over the course of the trial. The only example of one being weaponised to directly refute the defence's argument, as is often joked about, is in the second case of the first game. Of course, the fact this happened in the first non-tutorial case in the series and served as Edgeworth's Establishing Character Moment meant this one time tended to stick in people's minds.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!: Yuri is frequently imagined to be a Huge Schoolgirl. Her official height is listed as a mere 1.65 m, or 5 feet 4 inches, roughly average for an 18-year-old Japanese girl. Then again, when compared to Sayori (1.57 m, or 5 feet 2 inches) and Natsuki (1.49 m, or 4 feet 11 inches), she can give this impression.
  • Rena from Higurashi: When They Cry is very often mistaken for a yandere. She is not. She's at most a yangire character and even then most of her most famous creepy moments are because the protagonist is delusional. Rena is overprotective about her friends and father, however, Shion is the closest thing to a yandere the series has. The misconception comes from the fact that the term yandere was relatively new when her series debuted.

    Web Animation 
  • It's often assumed that Homestar Runner takes place in the fictional nation of Strong Badia, but this is inaccurate. The central setting of the series is actually Free Country, USA; while Strong Badia refers to a specific field within its borders that Strong Bad has claimed as his own nation. Many viewers have sent Strong Bad emails demonstrating this confusion and the Strong Bad Email episode "keep cool" has him explain that Strong Badia doesn't extend beyond the vacant lot he owns.
    • On the Homestar Runner Wiki, it is not uncommon for users to add facts relating to The Brothers Chaps being from Atlanta. This is not 100% correct, in two ways: one, they actually live in the nearby town of Decatur, and two, they were born in Indiana.
  • RWBY:
    • Due to having a group of female monster-slayers as protagonists, RWBY is often thought to portray a World of Action Girls. Nothing in the setting implies that women are somehow inherently more badass and the huntsmen academies are portrayed as perfectly egalitarian every step of the way. Going by sheer numbers, there are actually more male fighters in the series than female ones - it's just that the members of team RWBY are the main focus most of the time.
    • Yang is a Pungeon Master, but this is only true in the comedy spinoff series RWBY Chibi. In the main series, she only says one pun throughout the first six seasons (back in the first episode of volume two). Her Image Song "Armed and Ready" is also a pun, but Yang herself isn't known for puns. The confusion comes because Yang's voice actress is fond of puns. Yang's volume two pun was an example of Throw It In from her voice actress; she was supposed to say that she could tie cherry stems with her tongue.
    • Weiss calls Ruby "dolt" all the time in fan-works, but she almost never uses it in the series.
  • A large number of fans argue that the Yogscast Minecraft Series is the first set of videos that the Yogscast did. While it certainly projected them into the public eye, it is not true. Their first videos were actually World of Warcraft ones, and were enough for them to develop a small but devoted fandom.

    Webcomics 
  • Something*Positive's creator R.K. Milholland gets a lot of complaints grounded in this trope from readers; the most common objection is "Your comic didn't use to be mean," despite the fact that the main character sent a coat hanger to an ex-girlfriend as a baby shower present in the first strip.
  • College Roomies from Hell!!!'s trio of male protagonists all acquired a mutant ability: Mike's arm was replaced with a super-strong tentacle, Dave got laser vision, and Roger got an eye in his hand (not his were-coyote nature, even though that's often mistakenly cited; he had that already). The confusion arises because this is what Roger uses when they have to fight, alongside the others' abilities, and because the eye in the hand hasn't been mentioned in a long time.
  • Penny and Aggie are not Canadian. In early strips, T and Gisèle put them in a purposefully ambiguous location on the Eastern Seaboard, and due to a previous collaboration by them set in Canada, many assumed this one to be set there as well, some ex-readers or (very) casual readers still so assuming. However, as strip became more plot-driven, T was forced to choose a side of the border, and the setting is now unarguably American even to someone who's only read the comic proper.

    Web Original 
  • Neopets:
    • People who haven't been on the site in years tend to say, "I bet my Neopets are dead now". However, Neopets do not die except for plot characters, despite "dying" being their lowest level of hunger.
    • Everybody "knows" that the Kadoaties at the Kadoatery whine for blue Draik eggs all the time. What they don't know is that they used to do this, but don't anymore. Also, one myth is that you can win a Kadoatie from the Kadoatery— you can't; the only prizes are trophies and an avatar.
    • The idea that Shenkuu is "the Neopian equivalent of Asia" is only partially true— it was based loosely on medieval Asia.
    • Some people seem to think that Queen Fyora made the Grey Faerie lose her powers. Actually, the Grey Faerie lost her powers due to the cruelty of a character named Jennumara.
    • Some people incorrectly refer to Jhudora or the Darkest Faerie as "the Dark Faerie", Illusen as "the Earth Faerie", Marina or Naia as "the Water Faerie", etc. This is incorrect—- there are six main types of faerie (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Light, and Dark) in addition to several unique faeries who don't belong to a type, such as Queen Fyora and Taelia. Each main faerie type actually has many individuals who fit under it. In short, Illusen, for instance, is "an Earth Faerie", not "the Earth Faerie".
    • "Lupes eat Chias" is only partly true. Lupes used to eat Chias in the ancient times, but it's incredibly rare these days.
  • On Reddit:
    • Users tend to believe that the guy who allegedly had a sexual relationship with his mother had broken both of his arms, leading to tons of inside jokes about how you should ask your mom for "help" if you break your arm or suffer a similar injury. In reality, he simply said he was incapacitated in a way that made him temporarily unable to use his arms — it remains unknown if his arms were broken, or if it was some other cause, for example paralysis.
    • Another famous inside joke is referring to someone as "Kevin" if they admit that they, as children, thought that dogs were always male and cats were always female. This comes from a story about a weird and not-too-bright kid named Kevin who supposedly thought this. However, what Kevin actually thought was that cats and dogs were the same animal, not that cats or dogs were single-gendered. People tend to mix up this story with the aforementioned common childhood belief.
  • Sailor Nothing is a Deconstructive Parody of Magical Girl anime that uses Sailor Moon as its basis, but it's not an outright Sailor Moon fanfic. The website even states that it's in no way related to Sailor Moon. Still, it's repeatedly mistaken for a Sailor Moon fanfic. The fact that one of the characters has the same first name as a major Sailor Moon character doesn't help.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • The foundation has three main object classes: "Safe", "Euclid", and "Keter". They classify SCPs by how difficult it is to contain them, but many people mistake them as how dangerous they are. Essentially, "Safe" is generally reserved for nonsentient SCPs that you can leave unmonitored without issue, even if they would be incredibly destructive when activated.note  That said, many entries from the site's early days that would otherwise be classified as "Euclid" are instead "Safe", which may contribute to this misconception. In 2019, some members of the wiki created and introduced an extended (and optional, as many users dislike it) classification systems to remedy this, one of which actually says how dangerous a specific SCP is ("notice", "caution", "warning", "danger", and "critical").
    • SCP-999 is typically assumed to have eyes, arms and a mouth due to fan art, but it actually lacks organs and appendages altogether.
    • SCP-4335 is often depicted with yellow eyes and a toothy mouth locked into a shit-eating grin. However, the article's actual portrayal of it is completely featureless, considering it's basically a sentient void. Some fan videos of the creature also show it being able to hold Minecraft weapons, even though 4335 is never demonstrated doing so (and would have no reason to, since it has the Endermen and its tentacles at its disposal for combat.)
  • The man in the Roll Safe image macro is widely thought to be Eddie Murphy. While he does bear a striking resemblance to Murphy, it's actually Kayode Ewumi as his character Reece Simpson in the web series Hood Documentary.

    Web Videos 
  • There is a rumor going around in certain Hat Films fan circles that Alex "Alsmiffy" Smith is in the Territorial Army (basically the British equivalent of the National Guard). Not only is Smiffy not in the British Army at all (in reality, all the pics of him in camo gear are from him playing Airsoft), but the Territorial Army does not even exist anymore, having been replaced by the Army Reserves. He addresses it in this video and on Twitter.
  • The villain of the first Don't Hug Me I'm Scared video is officially named "Sketchbook", not "Notepad". They are also officially of unknown gender, though fans near exclusively consider Sketchbook female.


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