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Hollywood Apocrypha

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Let us turn to Book of Trope Descriptions.

  1. Now behold, it did come to pass that in the city of Los Angeles, the writers of science fiction and fantasy did begin to wax exceedingly fat off of the labors of their hands.
  2. Yea, they did profit exceedingly from their craft, insomuch that they did pen all manners of divers scripts and movie treatments.
  3. And behold, many of their stories did deal with Chosen One protagonists, insomuch that these writers did spend much labor crafting phony-baloney scriptural prophecies to flesh out the protagonists' back-stories.
  4. Now it came to pass that these prophecies were contained in sacred texts, which the writers did toil exceedingly to invent.
  5. And behold, the writers did send forth a law, yea even an exceedingly strict law, by which these texts would be known.
  6. And the law did read thusly:
  7. Behold, the text that thou shalt write shall be exceedingly ancient and obscure, insomuch that thy audience might have no expertise on the culture of origin, and will just have to take thy word for it.
  8. Ancient shall be thy text, and ancient and exotic shall be the language in which it first appears.
  9. Behold, thy text shall be written in Aramaic, or in Chaldean, or in proto-Mongolian, or in Sanskrit, or in Mayan or Sumerian or some demonic language that thou hast invented on the spot.
  10. Though the potential origins of thy text shall be many and diverse, thou shalt always generate an English version of thy text, which thy protagonist or his lackeys shall translate from the original in an unrealistically brief amount of time.
  11. And it shall come to pass that when thy text is translated to English, it shall be written in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe.
  12. Yea, thy verb conjugations shalt be incorrect, even to the point of meaninglessness.
  13. Thy sentence structure and writing style shall be based on the King James translation of the Bible, regardless of the culture and language of origin.
  14. Thou shalt not use all the styles of the King James Bible, which are diverse and many. Instead, thou shalt focus on those bits for which thou hast read the Cliff's Notes.
  15. Thou shalt begin as many sentences as possible with the words, "Thou Shalt" or "Behold".
  16. For behold, if it is good enough for the Ten Commandments, it shall be good enough for thee.
  17. Thou shalt frame all of thy prophecies in the language of the Book of Revelation, particularly the parts about rivers turning to blood, seven headed dragons, and women riding monsters or wearing crowns of stars.
  18. Thy prophecy shall sound exceedingly cool, and shall mirror events transpiring in the plot thus far.
  19. Thy prophecy shall not be so specific as to preclude a Prophecy Twist.
  20. Thou mayest include a Nostradamus-style cryptic timetable.
  21. Insomuch as thou includest this time-table, it shall always work out to the prophecy being fulfilled within three weeks of its being read on-screen (or at least no later than the season finale).
  22. The location for the fulfilling of thy prophecy shall invariably be within four score furlongs (ten miles) of the protagonist's house. Thus endeth the law.
  23. And behold, it came to pass that the writers did name this law "Hollywood Apocrypha," and did use it to generate diverse sacred texts and fake scriptures.
  24. And they did look upon their labors, and see that they were good. Well, no, not really good. But they did look upon their labors and see that they were not so horrible that people stopped watching their shows.
  25. And lo, they departed from thence and did go shopping.

The Gospel according to Hollywood, chapter 42, verses 1-25


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls in Neon Genesis Evangelion. What precisely is in them is never revealed, though some brief images in the opening credits show them to be written in some sort of strange, arcane script that somewhat resembles Aramaic. It's also obliquely alluded to contain a prophesy of some kind by the resident Omniscient Council of Vagueness.
  • Saiyuki has the Maten Sutra that the priest Sanzo carries around. It's a reference to the unidentified scriptures in Journey to the West, and the parts that are read are mangled versions of real-life Buddhist sutras.

  • Rowan Atkinson's "Amazing Jesus" sketch" combines this with Sophisticated as Hell.
    And they brought to him on a stretcher a man who was sick of the palsy, and they cried unto him, "Maestro, this man is sick of the palsy." And the Lord said, "If I had to spend my whole life on a stretcher, I'd be pretty sick of the palsy too!" And they were filled with joy, and cried out, "Lord, thy one-liners are as good as thy tricks; thou art indeed an all-round family entertainer."

    Comic Books 
  • The Crime Bible in The DCU, which even spawned its own mini-series, Crime Bible: Five Lessons of Blood, each issue of which opened with a passage from the Crime Bible. Depending on who you ask, the Crime Bible may or may not be an in-universe example invented specifically for the purposes of the Religion of Crime.

    Fan Works 
  • The Death Note fanfic I Won't Say has "The First Book of Mello." He hasn't written the second one yet, but chances are it will get a parental advisory sticker.

  • Monty Python:
    • Monty Python and the Holy Grail has a reading from the Book of Armaments (Chapter 2, verses 9-21), which gives the history and the correct usage of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. Tying in with the Pythons' longtime riffing on organized religion, said reading is full of rambling and redundant passages, to the point where the acolyte has to skip over a sizable chunk of the excerpt.
    • Hilariously averted in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, where (after a reading from the "St. Victor" sketch mentioned below) a chaplain leads the school in a prayer consisting of uninspiring ass-kissing ("Gosh, we're all really impressed down here, I can tell you"), then in a hymn begging God not to cook them in various specific ways.
    • Also played for laughs in Monty Python's Life of Brian, with the various false prophets couching their prophecies (mostly) in stereotypical Biblical language. Averted when Brian himself tries to make a few analogies that are clearly modeled on Jesus' parables, except clumsily worded and badly told.
  • Invoked by the title characters of The Boondock Saints in the sequel. When asked if they say a prayer before executing someone, they decided to have a little fun, point their guns at the guy who asked them the question, and dramatically make up "verses" about the Vengeance of the Lord using Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe.
  • Pulp Fiction. About a third of Jules's speech is pretty close to the real Ezekiel 25:17, the rest is a pastiche of other Biblical phrases inspired by old Sonny Chiba movies.
  • The Shepherd's Journal from Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
  • The Hell Bible in Constantine (2005), which has a different Book of Revelation.
  • Woody Allen, in Love and Death:
    "Moses was right. He that...he that abideth in truth will have frankincense and myrrh smeared on his gums in abundance, and he shall dwell in the house of the Lord for six months, with an option to buy. But the wicked man...the wicked man shall have all kinds of problems. His tongue shall cleave to the roof of his upper palate, and he shall speak like a woman, if you watch him closely. And he shall...he shall...the wicked man shall be delivered into the hands of his enemy, whether they can pay the delivery charge or not. And... wait, I have more about the wicked man. I shall walk through the valley of the shadow of death...In fact, now that I think of it, I shall run through the valley of the shadow of death, 'cause you get out of the valley quicker that way. And he that hath clean hands and a pure heart is okay in my book. But he that fools around with barnyard animals has gotta be watched."
  • The classic Giant Bug movie Them! has a character mutter such a verse:
    "And there shall be destruction and darkness come over creation
    "And the Beasts shall reign over the earth."
  • Subverted in The Cabin in the Woods. The Harbinger calls up the Facility and starts ranting on like this, as the coordinators giggle at him. He stops in mid-rant and demands to know if he's on speakerphone.
  • The opening riff in the Audience Participation routine for The Rocky Horror Picture Show:
    A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away..., God said, "Let there be lips!" And there were, and they were good.

  • This is parodied in Good Omens, where Agnes Nutter's book and the Buggre Alle This Bible are both written this way.
    25 And the Lord spake unto the Angel that guarded the eastern gate, saying Where is the flaming sword which was given unto thee?
    26 And the Angel said, I had it here only a moment ago, I must have put it down somewhere, forget my own head next.
    27 And the Lord did not ask him again.
  • Discworld:
    • In the novel Small Gods pokes fun at this, where everything the Great God Om says after a sudden influx of worshippers is a scriptural passage.
      "Will you help?"
      V. You Don't Even Believe In Me!
      "Yes, but I'm a practical man."
      VI. And Brave, Too, To Declare Atheism Before Your God.
    • In the same book, a scribe jotted down Cut-Me-Own-Hand-Off Dhblah's eyewitness account of Om's ascension and Brutha's reaction, and it's written like this as well. Except that Dhblah's still trying to shift his very old produce and tries to sell it to the scribe.
  • As explored by Bob Price in the non-fiction book The Paperback Apocalypse, this is a frequent feature of apocalyptic/anti-christ related fiction.
  • Cthulhu Mythos: The Necronomicon is often portrayed this way.
  • Shows up in Dave Barry's columns, always with Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe:
    • "He Knows Not What He Writes" had this mysterious religious anecdote of the sort best explained by broadcast preachers:
      "And Bezel saideth unto Sham: 'Sham,' he saideth, 'Thou shalt goest unto the town of Begorrah, and there shalt thou fetcheth unto thine bosom 35 talents and also shalt thou fetcheth a like number of cubits, provideth that they are nice and fresh."
    • "The Wait for the Tub Is Forever Since the Frogs Moved In" quotes from the hypothetical Book of Effusions, Chapter Four, Verse Seven, Line Six as a possible explanation for why his Miami home was invaded by small frogs:
      "And yea, thou shalt BE sureth to maketh a GOOD frog droplet, for if thou shalt NOT, forsooth thou SHALT getteth a BIG plague of frogs, and they SHALT be of the JUNIOR welterweight division, and they WILL hideth UNDER thine sofa."
  • The Claire Bible of Slayers, which, in kanji, actually does translate to "Book of Revelations." It's a book of seemingly infinite wisdom that was gifted to humanity by the demon-gods of that world. It's so massive that most of the copies are contained piecemeal on massive lithographs and the original copy occupies its own plane of existence.
  • The "Smokey the Bear Sutra" by Gary Snyder is a Buddhist variation on this theme.
  • David Langford's account of why War In 2080 didn't have a publicity budget.
  • Similarly to the Rowan Atkinson version above, there was The Bible... According to Spike Milligan.
  • A short example in Earth (The Book) involving Jesus, his disciples, and some snakes. Naturally, for the audiobook version, The Daily Show's resident Brit John Oliver is the one who reads this part.
  • "Suffer Not The Mutant To Live", from John Wyndham's The Chrysalids.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blackadder: The Ten Commandments of Jeremoth, in the Appendix to the Apocrypha. We only hear one of them, which is "don't eat carrots". And it's highly suspect as is, given the one reading this is the Witchsmeller.
    Witchsmeller Pursuivant: "Neither shalt thou eat the fruit of the tree that is known as the Carrot Tree."
    Baldrick: Carrots don't grow on trees!
    Witchsmeller: Oh, really? And how did you get to know so much about carrots, eh? WITCH!
  • Red Dwarf: In the episode "Better Than Life", Lister and Rimmer watch a news program.
    Channel 27 Newsreader: Archaeologists near Mount Sinai have discovered what is believed to be a missing page from the Bible. The page is currently being carbon dated in Bonn. If genuine it belongs at the beginning of the Bible and is believed to read "To my darling Candy. All characters portrayed within this book are fictitous and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental." The page has been universally condemned by church leaders.
  • Stargate SG-1: The Book of Origin for the Ori. One episode even has a Prior (quoting the Book of Origin) squaring off against Cam Mitchell (quoting The Bible verses picked up from his religious grandmother).
  • Joss Whedon is one of the most blatant abusers of this trope.
    • "Whoa. Good Bible."
  • Seasons 4 and 5 of Supernatural has the show's designated heroes consulting a "special" version of the Book of Revelation. What everyone else regards as The Bible is supposedly The Theme Park Version.

  • "Econogenesis" from The Journal of Irreproducible Results presents the legend of how Mammon brought the market to life in six quarters:
    In the beginning Mammon created commerce and industry. And the marketplace was void and without form, and illiquidity was on the balance sheet. And the spirit of Mammon moved upon the face of the income statement.
    And Mammon said, "Let there be cash flow!" And there was cash flow. And Mammon saw that the cash flow was positive.
  • Borderline example is the "Book of (insert Israeli leader name here)" in Private Eye, which presents contemporary events in the Middle East in a parody of the King James Bible style.

  • "The Martyrdom of St. Victor" from Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album.
  • "Toad Away", from The Firesign Theatre's Dear Friends album.
  • The recitatives in P.D.Q. Bach's oratorio The Seasonings parody the Biblical readings used in actual sacred oratorios.
    "And there were in the same country shepherd's pies, which lacked but one ingredient..."

    New Media 
  • The Netscape and Firefox browsers have the Easter Egg "about:mozilla", which brings up a quotation from the Book of Mozilla saying something portentous about "the beast."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • "You talk about your psalms, you talk about your John 3:16. Well, Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your ass!"

  • In The Book of Mormon, Arnold Cunningham, desperate to make the Book of Mormon relevant to Ugandans, starts interpolating his own apocrypha about AIDS, baby-raping and clitoridectomy. These passages include characters from The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars.
  • Lampshaded in Fiddler on the Roof, when Tevye (who makes a lot of Biblical references, a few of them misremembered) keeps misattributing quotes.
    Tevye: As Abraham said, I am a stranger in a strange land.
    Mendel: Moses said that.
    Tevye: Ah. Well, as King David said, I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.
    Mendel: That was also Moses.
    Tevye: (Beat) For a man who was slow of tongue, he talked a lot.

    Video Games 
  • The Neverhood Chronicles from The Neverhood, that very long tome you read in the Hall of Records. It's an Affectionate Parody of the Old Testament; the gag is that it's written in modern vernacular.
  • Each game in the Nexus War series has findable verses of the Lore of Haldon, the scripture-styled ravings of a very Unreliable Narrator who in turn learned much of what he knew from an even more unreliable source but who nevertheless knew far more than usual about the workings of the Cosmic Chess Game that drives the series. Finding the entire text grants some potent benefits without the madness but is considered to be That One Achievement for very good reason.

    Web Animation 
  • Parodied in the Strong Bad Email "your funeral" when, during Strong Bad's funeral service, Homestar gives a reading from "the Book of Phone".
    Homestar: Chapter 16, Pizza Places. Aardvark Pizza. Abraham Lincoln's Pizza Cabin. Acupuncture and Pizza: [struggling to hold back tears] Open late, free delivery!

  • Homestuck. This page combines KJV-esque English with Sophisticated as Hell.
    And with righteous pap and blessed shoosh he did quell his brother's fury. For the Knight looked upon his Bard all acting up and completely losing his shit and he did resolve to calmeth his juggalo ass right the fuck down.

    Web Original 
  • The Scroll of the Steamed Portions of Cham, which retells the "Steamed Hams" scene from The Simpsons in Biblical Hebrew, complete with cantillation. The first few lines of the subtitles:
    1 And it was after these things, and there was a man from the city of the Field of Spring and his name was Shalmer, the great supervisor over all its learnings. 2 And it was one day, and Shalmer rose and went by Simor Haskiner, administrator of the schoolhouse, and he came to the entrance of his house. 3 And Shalmer said to him, saying: "Lo, Simor, behold I have come before thee, for I have transgressed thine instructions."
  • The DaThings Youtube Poop "Products™" uses several infomercials as its source material, one of them being for the "My Lil' Prayer Box", an ornamental music box that's supposed to store things like prayer notes. The infomercial is edited to include an "inspirational passage of scripture".
    Allegedly Psalms 38:7-8note : These people have forgotten the order and grace of their precious Father above - their lives no longer spiritually important, their regrettable souls ferment in sin.

    Western Animation 
  • Beast Wars has the Covenant of Primus, the Transformers equivalent of The Bible...although the parts we actually hear are all the equivalent of those bits at the end of the Bible.
    Megatron: ...and there came a hero who said: "Hurt not the Earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, nor the very fabric of time,' but the hero would not prevail!"
    Optimus: Finish the quote, Megatron. "Nor would he surrender!"
  • In Batman Beyond, the newly christened villain Blight (a man with powers to melt and wither things with his touch) seemingly recites a (fictitious) bible verse. It's from that "verse" that he gets his name.
    Blight: And behold; I shall be a blight upon the land and everything I touch shall wither and die!

    Real Life 
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in Zim v. Western Publishing Co., 573 F.2d 1318 (5th Cir. 1978) (transcript here) starts out with a parody of the first chapter of Genesis ("In the beginning, Zim created the concept of the Golden Guides") and continues in biblical fashion for a short while:
    Then there rose up in Western a new Vice-President who knew not Zim. And there was strife and discord, anger and frustration, between them for the Golden Guides were not being published or revised in their appointed seasons. And it came to pass that Zim and Western covenanted a new covenant, calling it a Settlement Agreement. But there was no peace in the land. Verily, they came with their counselors of law into the district court for judgment and sued there upon their covenants.
  • The Book of Mormon is near-universally (by pretty much everyone who isn't Mormon or one of their offshoots) agreed to have errors and phrasing consistent with this trope indicative of a man of Joseph Smith's education emulating the King James Bible's style. Whether this is indicative of him writing it whole-cloth or of him translating something given from on high to the best of his ability is largely a matter of faith.
  • Pretty much any religious text of any religion translated into English will have numerous translations going out of their way to pretentiously imitate the King James Version's antiquated English for no reason whatsoever—even if the translation is from, say, the 1970's. The Koran in particular gets it bad, not helped by the fact that quite a few of its translations in English were done by non-native speakers of Arabic.
  • The King James Bible itself is kind of guilty of this - the style of English it used was already antiquated at the time it was written, it was just written that way to sound clever. The revision of the Douay-Rheims Bible by Richard Challoner is even more anachronistic by comparison — intentionally imitating the King James a good century and a half later — though this was actually considered an improvement over the wooden, overly Latinate first edition.
  • Brazilian Preacher Josue Yrion is infamous because of this. One of These is: "The Bible says that the child fell into the fire, and fell into the water, the disciples could not cast out the demon. And when Jesus came, he asked the boy's father "How long has he been like this?" Since he was a child, He replied, and the Bible gives that the name: epileptic seizure".


Video Example(s):


An Inspirational Passage

From "Productsâ„¢". The infomercial for the My Lil' Prayer Box ends with a... strange statement. (That's not what Psalms 38:7-8 actually says, for the record.)

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / HollywoodApocrypha

Media sources: