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"Anything can be 'inspired' by a true story! One day I pooped to the moon. INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY??"

One of Hollywood's promotional stock phrases that signals a considerable degree of adaptation modification. It can be applied to a true story as well to a work of fiction. In any case, it means that the source material has significantly altered. At least it will still be discernible, though you may have to squint a little.

The phrase can come up in connection with a Dramatization or anything Very Loosely Based on a True Story.

For similar stock phrases that more or less indicate the same degree of adaptation (un)faithfulness, see Suggested by... and Ripped from the Headlines. For the trivia page about where the ideas for works came from, see Inspiration for the Work.


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  • Several face creams have been advertised as "inspired by" genetics or "gene science" as they sometimes put it, but don't actually have much connection to the subject.
  • Taco Bell has a little too much respect for its customers to claim to serve Mexican food of any degree of authenticity. Instead, they are careful to always refer to their food as "Mexican-inspired."

    Films — Animation 
  • Frozen (including the sequels and spinoffs) is "inspired by" Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen. Both of these works have the same basic plot: a girl goes on a dangerous journey through a winter landscape to find the Snow Queen in order to save an estranged and depressed childhood friend with an Act of True Love. However, the reasons why the friend has to be saved, the form of the Act of True Love, how the two characters had come to know each other and how they came to be estranged, the course of the heroine's journey, and the characters she encounters all differ significantly to the point that the two stories end up being extremely distant. Notably, the childhood friend and the Queen are different characters in The Snow Queen; in Frozen, they're the same person.
  • Big Hero 6 is inspired by a Marvel Comics team of the same name. Disney took multiple liberties with the material, including where they're based,note  the members' ethnic backgrounds,note  and the names of two characters (with Hiro getting his last name changed from "Takachiho" to "Hamada" and "Wasabi-No-Ginger" being shortened to "Wasabi").note 
  • Strange Magic is inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream in that there are fairies and love potion shenanigans that complicate a Love Dodecahedron. That's about it.
  • The Jungle Book was "inspired by" Rudyard Kipling's "Mowgli" stories. Walt Disney specifically told his staff not to read the original stories, instead advising them to have fun with the characters they were given to work with.
  • The Lion King is inspired by Hamlet. There are some broad commonalities in the concept (the protagonist is a prince who's been away from home and is visited by the ghost of his father, which compels him to fight the Evil Uncle who killed the king), and some characters fill vaguely similar roles (a female love interest, a goofy advisor, a surviving queen, a duo of followers), but the actual result is vastly off in structure, tone, themes, and overall events, even if you account for the story now focusing on lions rather than Danish royalty. Most notably, the main inciting incident of Hamlet is that the titular character learns very early on that his uncle was a murderer, and spends the rest of the play on his quest for vengeance. In The Lion King, Simba only learns this fact near the end of the climax.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Chariot is simply inspired by the fact that a 727 Boeing disappeared without a trace in 2003.
  • The Miracle Woman was inspired by the real evangelical "healer" Aimee Semple McPherson.
  • Troy was "inspired by" The Iliad according to its credits. Pretty accurate assessment. Although in all fairness, contemporary research implies that The Iliad was Very Loosely Based on a True Story itself.
  • The movie Eight Below features an American team of eight sled dogs, six of whom survive for six months in 1993. It was "inspired by" a Japanese team of fifteen dogs, two of whom survived for one year in 1958.
  • Alien Abduction (2014) was inspired by a real-life phenomenon called the Brown Mountain Lights, associated with a number of disappearances, though there is no concrete evidence that aliens were involved.
  • Inverted in Eyes Wide Shut: while the ending credits state that the film was "inspired" by an Alfred Schnitzler's novella, it is in fact a rather faithful adaptation, down to the key pieces of dialogue.
  • The opening credits for a Soviet film The New Adventures of Captain Vrungel state: "Screenplay by Alexander Khmelik, based on the memories of the novel by A. Nekrasov".
  • The Quiet Ones was inspired by the "Phillip Experiment," an experiment where a group of parapsychologists attempted to create an artificial poltergeist through expectation of human will. The results the participants reported, much of which were undocumented to begin with, were exaggerated for the movie; Also, the characters and circumstances were fictionalized, and the setting was moved from 1970s Toronto, Ontario to 1970s Oxford, England.
  • The Apparition was an earlier film even more loosely inspired by the Phillip Experiment - about all it has in common with the "true events" is that it involves people in a college trying to summon a spirit as part of an experiment.
  • Lemon Tree Passage is inspired by an urban legend of a ghost light that chases speeding cars along an isolated stretch of road in country New South Wales. While this is depicted in the movie, none of the other events have any connection to the legend.
  • Stranded is "inspired by" The Swiss Family Robinson.
  • Vows of Deceit (aka Deadly Matrimony) - according to the Marvista Entertainment website - was "inspired by an unbelievable true story". The central plot, a con artist who marries multiple women to steal their money, is somewhat plausible. The part where the wives team up and hire a private detective? Maybe. But the Slasher Movie killer in a beekeeper mask? The bizarre climatic wedding brawl between undercover bridesmaids and psycho hubby? Unbelievable indeed.
  • Mario (1984) was inspired by the 1979 Claude Jasmin novel La Sablière.

    Fan Works 

  • This is used in-universe in the Land of Oz reimagining Was. L. Frank Baum was a substitute teacher at Dorothy's school as a child. He felt so touched by Dorothy's tragic life and her fantasy world of "Oz" that years later he wrote a book about an idealized life she should have had.
  • The Cold Moons is a xenofiction fantasy book based upon the British badger cullings of the 1970s and 1980s. It starts with a badger named Bamber as he tries to find other badgers after his entire family is killed. The majority of the book revolves around the badgers trying to escape the humans and find a safe place to live from now on.
  • Word of God says Grent's Fall was (very loosely) influenced by China's Chu-Han Contention (206 BC - 202 BC)

    Live-Action TV 
  • Spy miniseries The Assets, about notorious CIA mole Aldrich Ames, announces itself to be "inspired by true events". Ironically, it's more factual than the disclaimer makes it seem.
  • The Watch (2021) is "inspired by the novels of Terry Pratchett". Inspired loosely enough that the custodians of Discworld (Rhianna Pratchett and Rob Willkins) have distanced themselves from the whole thing, and implied that BBC America was promising a more faithful adaptation right up until the ink was dry on the contracts.
  • Donkey Hodie is inspired by the works of Fred Rogers, featuring several minor characters from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

  • In June 1997, Lela and Raymond Howard of Salado, TX, decided to set off for a festival in nearby Temple, despite Lela's Alzheimer's and Raymond recovering from brain surgery, and were found two weeks later, dead, at the bottom of a ravine near Hot Springs, AR—which is more or less in the same direction from Salado as Temple but is over 22.5 times further away. Tony Scalzo, frontman of a group called Fastball, read journalistic articles about this and was inspired to write "The Way", which is a considerably more romanticized version of events—though the line "they'll never get old and gray" might imply that it still ends in death, just a considerably happier one.

  • The Paratext for Jasper in Deadland says it was inspired by Orpheus and Eurydice. However, it's only the basic premise that stays the same - the characters and several parts of the setting are totally different.

    Video Games 

    Web Video 

  • Sci-fo comic Gifts of Wandering Ice, a long story with a large, detailed world and dozens of characters, was inspired by the stort story Ice Gift. The original story was only six pages long, had four characters, and didn't go deep into the mystery of the lost civilization the "ice gifts" belonged to.
  • The Dum Cat series is reportedly inspired by the artist's real-life experiences with their dim-witted pet.