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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.



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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 is "inspired by" Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen. Both of these works feature a queen with ice powers and a girl who goes on a dangerous journey through a winter landscape to find the Snow Queen in order to save an estranged and depressed childhood friend, but reasons why the friend has to be saved, how the girl saves them, 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.
  • 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.

    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. Nesterov".
  • 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.
  • 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 
  • Emperor Vakudos from Hottie 3: The Best Fan Fic in the World was inspired by Akudos Gill from Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger and, to a lesser extent, Lord Vyce from Atop the Fourth Wall.
  • Sleepless was inspired by Bootsy Slickmane's Insomnia.
  • The author's notes for "Solaere ssiun Hnaifv'daenn" mentioned drawing inspiration from a comment by the previous writer in the literary challenge that "not everybody has a good Christmas." starswordc apparently was reminded of Bob Geldof rewriting the lyrics for "Do They Know It's Christmastime?" to draw attention to the 2014 West African Ebola epidemic, and that's where the plot of the ch'M'R Aen'rhien delivering drugs to fight a planetary epidemic came from.

  • 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.

    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.

  • 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.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • 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.


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