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Legend Fades to Myth

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"And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the Ring passed out of all knowledge."

One of the greatest mythical stories says that a thousand years ago, a Glorious Hero led a rebellion against the oppression of the Evil Emperor McDoom, rallying an army of downtrodden peasants, rescuing a beautiful princess, Storming the Castle of the dark empire, and defeating the emperor in an epic swordfight using a magic sword forged by the gods. His wise leadership ushered in a golden age of peace and prosperity that lasted for four generations, he ended up marrying that aforementioned princess, and he is remembered fondly to this day as the great founder and establisher of freedom in the land.

...Huh? Wait a second, that's not right at all! See, this isn't a myth or even a backstory; his story was actually told in the previous series. He didn't raise the rebellion; he just got caught up in it. The princess was not rescued by him either. He came to the prison searching for useful intel, and he met her when she escaped by herself; heck, they never even fell in love and married, they were trusted companions who respected each other, no more, no less. And the attack on the castle was just a diversion so he could catch the emperor alone and assassinate him with a dagger, In the Back. (It was the most expedient way to get rid of the guy.) And the dagger was not magic or blessed by the gods, the dagger was dipped in poison just in case the stabbing itself didn't work. And no one called him "glorious hero" until many years later, after he had already dedicated the rest of his life to cleaning up the mess left behind by the power vacuum he helped create.

You know this as the audience, but the characters 1000 years later don't. No one from back then is still around today. The language has changed, and ancient records have never been all that good at remaining intact, so certain facts tend to get distorted over time.

The Trope Namer is the introductory passage at the beginning of each The Wheel of Time book: The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.

This trope only covers instances where the audience is already familiar with the original picture and then can see the mythology it gets turned into by later generations.

See From Cataclysm to Myth for when the legend of sorts was a catastrophe instead. Compare Future Imperfect, when it's the audience's era being misremembered like this. Contrast External Retcon, where a story or legend that exists out-of-universe is revealed to have happened differently in-universe. Not to be confused with Shrouded in Myth, which is when the mythologizing process happens while the subject of the myth is still alive. Also see subtrope All Hail the Great God Mickey!.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Aquarion Evol: The events of Genesis of Aquarion are ancient legend by the time of the sequel (12,000 years later). We see that they've been made into a movie, which while surprisingly accurate in broad strokes, gets a lot of the details wrong. For one thing, Apollo's and Sylvia's love is played up enormously, whereas in the actual series they didn't realize and admit their love until near the very end... not to mention that the two are shown as a dashing gentleman and a beautiful feminine singer, but Apollo was really something of a Wild Child while Sylvia was a tomboy with a bit of a violent streak (and certainly not a singer). They even get their names wrong (Apollon and Silfy). Toma, the primary antagonist and someone who played a very big role in the climax, isn't even mentioned. When the characters view the actual events later in the series, they're rather shocked at the differences.
  • Cardfight!! Vanguard G pulls this off within only three years. Chrono takes Morikawa on his word that he's the strongest fighter, who taught Kamui everything he knows, and is intimidated by him. He doesn't know that Morikawa is a boisterous idiot that can't balance a deck to save his life.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Dorabian Nights has Doraemon and gang entering the world of storybooks and meeting Sinbad the Sailor, then a Retired Badass living in the middle of the desert in his magic palace, whose adventures haven't been recorded by the future generations yet. It was not until late in the story where Nobita, Gian and Suneo reveals Sinbad is actually a hero in their reality, his adventures from the past being recorded in the 1001 Arabian Nights several centuries later, which was read by children all over the world.
  • Diebuster: Humanity barely has any records of the events that transpired during Gunbuster.
    • They are aware that the black hole Exelio at the outskirts of the solar system was man-made in order to stop a Space Monster invasion (and indeed, it was created by the self-destruct of the battleship Exelion) but falsely believe it was also the event that took out the Space Monsters' main forces (that was the Black Hole Bomb AKA Buster Machine No. 3, an entirely different vehicle used in an entirely different location in an entirely different battle).
    • They are also aware that humanity once possessed warp technology powered by degeneracy reactors but intentionally sealed the tech away to prevent drawing attention to themselves like they did with the Space Monsters.
    • At the same time, they have no records left about any of the single-digit Buster Machines or their pilots and completely forgot about the Sol Absolute Defense System, a self-evolving fleet of unmanned Buster Machines defending the Solar System from threats — in fact, the whole conflict in Diebuster is caused by the emergence of the Topless causing the fleet to mistake humanity for Space Monsters and attack, leading to humanity looking at their decidedly not-of-this-world attackers and mistakenly thinking said attackers are the legendary Space Monsters.
    • The whole thing is epitomized by Nono, a strange Robot Girl who constantly babbles on about a person called Nonoriri whom she really wants to meet for a reason she doesn't know. Then it is revealed that Nonoriri is Noriko Takaya, the protagonist of Gunbuster who went missing in action after detonating the Black Hole Bomb in a kamikaze attack. Nono is actually a miniaturized Buster Machine designed specifically to mount a search-and-rescue mission for the Gunbuster but ultimately ended up embedded into a long-period comet for several millennia.
    • All this is justified by the revelation at the end of the series that Diebuster takes place 12,000 years into the future, just a year before Noriko and Kazumi finally return to Earth after their kamikaze run at the end of Gunbuster exposed them to massive Time Dilation. But despite the amount of time that had passed, humanity still remembers their saviors well enough to set up the most memorable scene of the franchise. Welcomə home, girls.
  • Fruits Basket: The origins of the Eastern Zodiac. Tohru's mother told her the legend of the Zodiac when she was little, which tells how the Rat tricked the Cat into missing the feast, which causes the Cat to be left out of the Zodiac. The Members of the Zodiac seem to believe this legend, as well, considering that it's one of the main reasons Yuki (the Rat) and Kyo (the Cat) hate each other's guts. However, the true story (which is revealed to the reader, but not the characters, toward the end of the series) turns out to be much different — most notably, the Cat was the closest one to God, until he asked Who Wants to Live Forever?, while the Rat just happened to be the first animal to be made immortal (after the Cat).

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Black and White: "Legend" is set in 'the far future', where the memory of Batman has become a bedtime story about a great warrior who fought without rest until he banished evil from the world.
  • In one Fantastic Four arc they come across a town suffering from Decade Inside Second Outside; inside the town, the FF are considered legendary heroes (even more so than in Earth-616) and are quite upset when they find out about how the FF are really.
  • Justice League 3000: In this alternate future, the tales of the original Justice League have since become fairy tales with multiple interpretations. They think Superman's origin was either an alien landing on Earth or a farm boy finding a magic cape.
  • Legends of the Dead Earth:
    • In Superboy Annual #3, the history of Superman and Superboy has been reinterpreted to better fit in with the Aztec-influenced culture of the planet Aztlan, a former Earth colony which was cut off from Earth 500 years earlier (presumably when it was, unbeknownst to them, destroyed). Aztlan teachings hold that the god Quetzalcoatl placed his power in the Superman and sent him to Aztlan in a rocket to protect its people from evil. After the Superman was killed, a Superboy arose from his spilled blood. Superboy fought off the great evil that killed the Superman, who was restored to life. The grateful Quetzalcoatl gave Superboy the same powers as the Superman and each successive Superboy has in time become the new Superman.
    • In The Flash Annual #9, the Martian Manhunter visited an ice planet and gave its people the Book of Iris and the Flash's costume. The former became the basis of their religion while the latter came to be known as the Holy Shroud. For generations, the eldest son of the Mallory family has journeyed to the top of the highest mountain where he receives the Holy Light and gains the power of Super-Speed. After his father Stevan dies, Bryan Mallory, who does not believe the old legends, travels to the mountain with his twin brother Tristan, a devout follower of the Light. Once there, Bryan is struck by lightning and becomes a speedster.
    • In Robin (1993) Annual #5, Gimmer believes that the legendary heroes of Earth and the planet itself may be nothing more than a myth.
    • In Detective Comics Annual #9, Bruggo says that his father does not believe that a planet like Earth, which rotated on its axis, could have existed.
    • In The Power of Shazam Annual #1, the Science Council that rules Binderaan has determined that Earth is nothing more than a legend and that humanity evolved on Binderaan.
    • In Azrael Annual #2, the events of Knightfall are retold in fairy tale terms with more of an emphasis on Azrael's heroism. Azrael is regarded as being an angel and a warrior who was instructed by an oracle to journey to the hell of Gotham to slay its ruler, the Batking. When he arrives there, he finds that an ogre named Bane has defeated the Batking in combat and has imprisoned him in a tower. When he makes his way into the tower, Azrael removes the Batking's mask and finds that the two of them are identical, except for the Batking's hair being black instead of blonde. The Batking tells him that they are the same person, divided in two by an evil sorcerer named Brother Rollo. Azrael and the Batking are able to recombine and Bane runs away in fear as soon as he lays eyes on the new and improved version.
    • In Aquaman Annual #2, two storytellers argue over whether Aquaman was a hero or a villain with each providing a story to support their claim.
      • In the first story, Earth is a desert planet and the only apparent source of water is Atlantis, which is located above ground in a dome. The world is ruled by the old King Aquaman, who gives the people who come to him water in small amounts. King Aquaman begins to wonder what his people in the faraway city of New Phoenix think of him and he decides to travel to the city in disguise. After a prostitute and several men in a tavern speak ill of him, the furious Aquaman reveals his true identity and engages them in combat. He intends to destroy New Phoenix but the generosity of a young boy, who gives him his water so that he can clean himself and look like a true king, stays his hand. The King instead strikes the ground with his sword, creating a huge geyser of water in the process.
      • In the second story, three-quarters of Earth is covered with water and it is ruled with an iron fist by Aquaman. He travels through the clouds in the flying city Poseidonis, which is shaped like a skull. From Poseidonis, he fires energy weapons at ships that refuse to acknowledge his mastery of the sea. After the heroes of Earth fail to defeat him, Aquaman's brother Ocean Master and his aide Black Manta launch an attack on Poseidonis. The city is destroyed in a fierce battle while Aquaman and Ocean Master are locked in eternal combat in space, being kept alive by magic and their anger towards each other.
    • Supergirl Annual #1:
      • In the story "The Legend Lives On", Flexi tells S'Age that Superman is nothing more than "a myth from the legend called Earth." Zip thinks that it is debatable. S'Age's understanding of Supergirl is a garbled mix of pre and post-Crisis versions; for instance she thinks both Supers were Kryptonian, but for some reason Superman never developed shapeshifting.
      • In the story "Shootout at Ice Flats", Sheriff Eileen's mother tells her that her S-symbol badge comes from a heroine called Sardine Girl, who was made of "superscientific mud", and will give Eileen telekenesis. "That means water powers." Eileen clearly doesn't believe a word of it.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes:
    • After the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot, due to the fact that so much of the old "Earth-One" continuity was pivotal to the Legion canon, the Pre-Crisis version of history was presented as the 30th century's distorted legends of the "actual" (Post-Crisis) continuity. A reboot later, though DC did away with this.
    • The Great Darkness Saga reveals Apokolips has been a dead and forgotten world since the twentieth century. ''It was prophesied Orion and Darkseid's last battle would take place in Apokolips, but nobody, not even Darkseid, remembers what really happened, and most people have forgotten Apokolips and New Genesis ever existed.
      Brainiac 5: Apokolips was a presumed myth, Element Lad — a planet devoted to evil and destruction, inhabited by super-beings — and with no evidence in History since the twentieth century to support the convention that it ever existed.
    • Issue #16 of the Mark Waid's Legion reveals some people believe the heroes of the 21st century were mere comic-book characters. However, the Retcon of Legion of 3 Worlds means they were right — the Threeboot Legion is in the future of Superboy-Prime's universe.
  • Superman: The central theme of The Living Legends of Superman. The Man of Steel disappears in the 21st century, and through the centuries his life's history gets changed, distorted or forgotten. By the year 5902, most of Superman's real story has been forgotten and he has become all but a myth, but his memory is still revered and keeps inspiring people.
  • Titans: Scissors, Paper, Stone: The comic takes place so far in the future that superheroes are long gone and referred to as mythological figures. Even Batman has been forgotten.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • When the Earth-Two/Golden Age Wonder Woman first left Paradise Island in "Wonder Woman Arrives in Man's World" the outside world had mostly decided the Amazons were myths, with only a select few scholars thinking their may have been actual historical people who inspired those myths and no one expecting any such civilization to have survived in magically aided hiding.
    • Her third iteration who debuted in the pages of Wonder Woman (1987) encountered a world even more convinced that the Amazons had never been a real people when she left her home and had the added difficulty of needing to learn English after she'd arrived in the States.
    • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): Diana's origin is only revealed to Etta Candy and Steve Trevor and the Amazons had long faded into twisted myth by the time she entered the wider world. Her home and her people were also in the process of being destroyed when she left to aid Steve, and are reduced to two and abandoned floating in space in the war between the surviving Olympians while she is fighting the Nazis so myth they will remain.

    Fan Works 
  • A Brief History of Equestria: Sullamander's last days. Between her executing Generals Bridle Chomper and Haymaker and her final fight with Hurricane and Pansy, it's unsure what she did, with various reports of different atrocities she performed in her madness (many of which are attributed to Hurricane-era propaganda).
  • Dragons, Butterflies, And Who Knows What Else?: As impressive as the kind of feats Stoick and the other Vikings are capable of, the kind of Super-Strength and invincibility that Peep was capable of definitely sound like exaggerations that inevitably happen through oral tradition. Over time, her name became sort of a boogeyman for Berk's children, eventually outlawing the name from being used on Berk all-together because of how scary she was. In reality, the whole legend was made up by elders to honor the second-born of the Chief's family who died at a young age, thus the name was made taboo because hearing the name was his Trauma Button.
    Hiccup: That sounds... highly implausible.
    Mirabel: Yeah, I'm willing to bet none of that stuff happened.
  • Equestria Girls: Friendship Souls: Many mythologies and legends in the human world seem to be based on misremembered spiritual entities and locations.
    • Vasto Lordes have a limited ability to reshape parts of Hueco Mundo that they claim as territory, and two of them are named "Gehenna" and "Naraka", implying that the various underworlds and Hells in human myth were based on such domains.
    • Tirek is implied to be the inspiration for the Judeo-Christian Devil, at least on a visual level.
    • Sombra reveals to Twilight that many of the gods of myth and legend actually existed as the children and descendants of the Soul Queen.
    • The Beast Realm is connected to both Earth and Equestria, and Rainbow Dash wonders if that means that dragons and the like once existed on Earth before Soul Reapers and Quincy forced them to retreat. The fact that the Beast Realm inhabitants working with/for Charybdis have access to both magic and spiritual power lends some support to the hypothesis.
    • Gaia Everfree remembers a time before The Masquerade when spirit energy abilities were used more openly in the mortal world. She also remembers the gods Sombra mentioned above, when Rainbow Dash attacks her for nearly killing Twilight, the narration compares the power of the attack to one by Zeus, which is no exaggeration since she remember when those gods were more than just myths.
  • Fractured (SovereignGFC): A key part of the story and its sequel Origins is that the Star Wars Expanded Universe timeline happened... millions of years ago. Records are still lost, corrupted, or outright fabricated in that galaxy, so when the Flood shows up, everyone thinks they're just the Yuuzhan Vong again (having no clue what actual Yuuzhan Vong look like). The Force itself is subjected to this — it is now called the "Current" and very rare since the Eridians stripped it from the galaxy.
  • FURTHERFELL: Sins of the Father takes place millennia after Underfell's events and stars a group of monsters with minimal knowledge of their predecessors in the Underground. A town in the snowy wastes is named Grillby's, after the one building they found from the old town that was still standing. As nobody knows what a Grillby is, the locals tell stories to their children about Grillby being a heroic mayor of their town. In actuality, Grillby's a rather surly bartender who loses ownership of his self-named bar in three of the other four story branches.
  • The Legend of the Princess: At the start, the tale of Ocarina of Time has faded into legend. The Triforce is a symbol rather than anything divine, while the Sacred Realm and the Ocarina of Time are considered myths. That's taken into reconsideration when the princess finds the Ocarina of Time.
  • Wonder Woman in The Parliament of Heroes first appeared during the events of WWII and helped the Justice Society of America at the time. In the aftermath, she made sparse appearances around the planet, helping where she could, but would later wind up trapped on Themyscira alongside the rest of the Amazons thanks to the machinations of Ares and Circe. As a result, she's considered a fable/fictional character, with the first snippet showing Luz being mocked for writing a history report on her. The other students go so far as to insultingly ask if she's a Conspiracy Theorist.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell:
    • While most of the show's characters and events are still remembered a thousand years on, this is often in... a rather distorted fashion. The Bearers eventually tell the main characters the correct versions as the story goes on.
    • The Blue Sorceress (Trixie) is said to have commanded an army of star-creatures against the Magi of Stars.
    • Angel Bunny of all beings is still remembered, but most of the present-day characters believe him to be a demon trapped in the body of bunny by the Stern Warden. All except Page, who considers the idea of a "demon bunny named Angel" to be ridiculous and doesn't believe any such rabbit, demon or no, ever existed.
    • Chapter 20 reveals another handful of "enemies" of the Virtues: the Griffon Scourge, the All Seeing Pegasus of Thunder, the Trio Wood Nymphs and their fearless followers. The author identified them as Gilda, Derpy, the Cutie Mark Crusaders and the Flower Trio, all misidentified (of them, Gilda is the only one who was ever legitimately hostile to the Mane Six, but even she was just a grouchy jerk and not a true villain) due to "Time running up behind Truth, shanking it, stealing its money and taking a selfie". A past conflict between the Magi of Stars and the dragons is also mentioned, possibly meaning the events of "Dragonshy".
    • It's gotten to the point that people have forgotten the strength of the Bearers' bonds, believing they were elite warriors who were only brought together in times of crisis. Chapter 31 reveals Blueblood is at least partially responsible for these misunderstandings, having "got [their] info all messed up", as Rainbow Dash put it.
    • In the sequel Picking up the Pieces, as in the first story, there are some details from canon that are no longer remembered correctly. King Well Banded recounts of how the Bugbear escaped from Tartarus, later resurfacing during the Crystal World War, and is under the impression that it broke out while Cerberus was away in It's About Time. Going by canon, it actually broke out years before (and is why Bon Bon/Sweetie Drops was living in Ponyville in the first place, in a form of Witness Protection).
  • Ring-Maker: Lampshaded, almost word for word in fact, when Taylor explains her true history as the Reincarnation of Mairon/Sauron to Sophia-and the horrible crimes of her past life, by extension. It is one half a The Lord of the Rings crossover, after all.
  • Son of the Black: Since Jatar was still just a child when he defected, most of troll-kind don't even know that Gunmar ever had a son other than Bular. It takes Blinky hours of study and eventually asking Aaarrrgghh!!! about it for him to discover this.
  • Storytellers: Centuries to millennia after the events of Mass Effect, the various species of the galaxy continue to tell stories of Shepard's exploits, but with... their own particular spins.
    • The drell remember her as a mortal incarnation of the goddess Arashu, who came down from the heavens to help the galaxy in its time of need, and that when she was born the earth shook and the sky glowed with strange lights.
    • The batarians tell an extremely skewed version of the Colonist background where, instead of Shepard's colony being subjected to a slaver raid, the batarians realized that she was meant for greatness and heroically rescued her from the backwater colony where she was stuck.
    • The krogans, a Proud Warrior Race, remember Shepard as a bloodsoaked badass who roamed the galaxy looking for fights and became the Battlemaster of Clan Urdnot after tearing off a thresher maw's head with her bare hands.
    • The quarians remember "Shepard vas Normandy" as a cunning Guile Hero who used her wits to defy the tyrannical Citadel Council and help the quarian people. The also believe that Tali was her second-in-command.
    • Among the asari, there's a popular novel telling a highly fictionalized and extremely lurid account of Shepard's romance with Garrus (which, among other things, seems to believe that Garrus was the one with beef against Saren).
    • The hanar believe that, when Shepard died during the Normandy's destruction, her spirit was rescued by the Enkindlers, who knew that her time was not yet over and created a new vessel for her while teaching her their wisdom.
    • The salarians, a Proud Scholar Race, remember her as a Science Hero and the Normandy as a mobile science lab, and who stopped the Reapers alongside her second-in-command Mordin by gathering great scientific minds and collecting data from all over the galaxy until they figured out how to best defeat them.
    • The volus, a Proud Merchant Race, turned Shepard's scanning of barren worlds for resources into her appropriating military assets to create a mining empire that spanned the entire Terminus Systems and grew so large that she was able to simply buy out the Collectors and add their resources to her mining enterprises. They interpret this story as a morality tale about how even someone stuck with terrible handicaps (such as being a human, or in the military) can overcome their circumstances and become successful with hard work.
    • The vorcha use "shepard" to refer generally to law agents and others who interfere with criminal and mercenary groups, and remember how they used to have the run of the galaxy until "the first shepard" came and chased them out of their strongholds.
    • The elcor have an extensive mythic cycle about Shepard's quest to reach the Underworld and defeat the Reapers dwelling there, which includes his having to complete twelve labors posed to him by his companions, solving the riddle of the Underworld's three-headed guardian Cerberus, and collecting three palladium apples with which to make his ship invulnerable.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ever After revolves around the conceit that the Cinderella story, as we know it today, is based on the true story of Danielle de Barbarac, who rose from Rags to Royalty by marrying the future King Henry II in 16th century France. Over the years, her story was retold as a fairy tale in many different variations, including those written by Charles Perrault and The Brothers Grimm. (Of course this isn't actually true – there was no Danielle de Barbarac, the real Henry II had an Arranged Marriage to Catherine de'Medici, and Cinderella variants date back as far as ancient Egypt and China.)
  • Discussed by King Arthur in Excalibur, explaining to Guinevere that he and his colleagues were not meant to live the lives of mortals, but have their exploits turned into legend.
  • The prologue to The Lord of the Rings movies says this is why things came to be as they were at the end of the Third Age: people forgot about past threats, and grew complacent. Sauron exploited that. An unusual example in some ways, as some Elves who witnessed the events in question are still around thousands of years later, but most Men have grown estranged from and fearful of them, and thus don't know the facts. Also used in a meta way, as Middle-earth is a fictional past of our world before the Ice Ages...but those events were forgotten save for vague legendary hints. This would have been expanded upon in The Book of Lost Tales and The Lost Road
  • Strongly implied in the backstory of the Monsterverse that kaiju such as Godzilla were the basis for many ancient myths and legendary monsters. This is explicitly stated in the end credits of Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) by way of freeze-frame bonuses which explains an advanced pre-ice age civilization once coexisted in symbiosis with kaiju. After this civilization fell to ruin, the survivors became scattered across the world and the kaiju slipped into dormancy Beneath the Earth, and knowledge of kaiju was gradually reduced to folklore and legend over many millennia.
  • Ophelia: Ophelia lampshades this trope in her opening narration, stating that the story of her life and involvement in the events of Hamlet have become legendary, but that she wants to tell the story from her own perspective as some of the facts have been distorted or were previously unknown (just about everyone involved is either dead or sworn to secrecy for their own reasons).
  • The religious myth held by the apes in the first Planet of the Apes movie turns out to be a distorted version of Caesar's rebellion and the human war that allowed apes to come to power as depicted in the sequels.
  • A comparatively modern example happens in The Rage: Carrie 2. Rachel mentions that a mountain of conspiracy theories has cropped up about "what really happened" during the events of the original story, sarcastically claiming that Elvis Presley was Carrie's prom date and that they escaped in a UFO, indicating that the story of Carrie White has become part of the fabric of American folklore and urban legends. The only thing that everybody can agree on is that Carrie burned down her high school on prom night and then killed herself and her mother.
  • Star Wars:
    • By the time of The Force Awakens, the events of the previous movies have started to fade from mind. Luke Skywalker and the Jedi in particular are seen as legendary folk heroes who might not have existed, and many of the younger members of the cast (Rey especially) are awed to learn the stories were true.
    • In The Last Jedi, Luke tells Rey that romanticizing legendary heroes of the past is a dangerous thing, as the often romanticized Jedi were responsible for billions of casualties in the Clone Wars, allowed Darth Sidious to create the Empire, wipe them out, and create Darth Vader. Luke himself even explains how he's NOT the hero legends portray him as. We see in Kylo Ren's backstory, that Luke had a lapse in judgement about his nephew, which caused him to go bad.
  • Ultraman Tiga Gaiden: Revival of the Ancient Giant takes place 5000 years before the events of Ultraman Tiga, in which Tsubasa — son of Daigo, the first host of Ultraman Tiga — gets sent to the past thanks to a wormhole. After merging with the Ultra and destroying an evil warlock and his kaiju minions, Tsubasa eventually separates himself with the hero and figured a way to return to the present, where he notes the events in the movie will gradually be forgotten and turn into myths, until Tiga reveals himself to mankind once more a few thousand years later.

  • Area 51: Due to centuries passing plus an active coverup, most humans have no idea alien beings lived on Earth or that various mythical artifacts were not only real but alien technology. A small number of human resistance members pass down the knowledge in secret however.
  • The Black Spider: The titular monster starts terrorizing a valley when some desperate peasants make a deal with the devil and then refuse to hold up their end of the bargain. The monster is imprisoned alive, but several generations later it is set free by a farmhand who believed the original story to be a myth. The spider is locked away in a hollow beam again, and six hundred years later, a man tells his clueless family the whole story so they know why they must not tinker with an strange, old window post.
  • At the start of A Canticle for Leibowitz, after the Simplification, humanity's knowledge of its own history has so far degraded that they think the Flame Deluge was caused by supernatural forces. It's ultimately inverted, though, in that after another several hundred years, they manage to piece together what really happened just in time for it to happen all over again.
  • Cape: By the time the story starts, the Superheroes of the world have been inactive and unseen for so long that the public is starting to question if, and believe that, they never really existed at all.
  • The Coming Race is about a utopian society that lives deep underground. They have stories about how their ancestors lived on the earth's surface before fleeing below to escape from massive floods, but most people dismiss them as myths, and don't believe in the existence of a surface at all.
  • Another backwards-example from Elizabeth Moon: Gird is considered to be either a saint or a god in The Deed of Paksenarrion, then the author went back and wrote the Legacy of Gird books to show what really happened. It's foreshadowed in the books when ancient contemporaneous accounts of Gird are found in a lost fortress. Apparently their saint was a bit of a Boisterous Bruiser, which is not a surprise, and The Alcoholic, which is.
  • Dragonriders of Pern:
    • The preamble of Dragonflight (the first book) opens with "When is a legend legend?" (see Quotes page), and goes on to recount how Pern was colonized by Earth, but the descendants have forgotten their origins.
    • The plot of Dragonflight is driven by how the threat of Thread has itself faded to legend.
    • In Dragonsinger, we are introduced to the legend of Moreta, the Rider who saved Pern from a deadly epidemic at the cost of her own life. Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern (published later) recounts the actual events that gave rise to the legend.
    • Red Star Rising (AKA Dragonseye), set much earlier in the timeline, is largely concerned with how to prevent this from happening.
  • The Dresden Files: A shorter-term version of this happens to Harry Dresden. We, the readers, know that every time he comes out on top at the end of the book, it's by the skin of his teeth and the help of his friends and allies, he barely survives, and he usually has a hospital stay and not much else to show for it after all's said and done. Others, like members of the White Council, don't know all that, so they see him as this badass superwizard who rides zombie dinosaurs and takes down nigh-invincible enemies single-handedly. This leads to amusing situations like a group of combat veteran Wardens hesitating to arrest him when Harry, in fact, is concussed and can barely stand up straight. However, upon reflection, knowing that Harry's past escapes and narrow victories all followed him being battered and on the verge of defeat before a mix of desperate innovation and outside intervention turned things around would probably make them even more nervous about seeming to have Harry at their mercy...
  • Evolution:
    • In the first segment of "Raft Continent", Ejan and Rocha craft a simple outrigger canoe, sail to Australia, and briefly encounter a giant snake. A thousand years later, the distant descendants of the early colonists that followed them tell legends about how they flew across the straits on a boat lined with gull feathers and fought giant serpents and other monsters.
    • During the first five thousand years of the human colonization of Australia, they have killed off all the continent's megafauna, such as giant kangaroos, which survive only as cave paintings. They are dismissed as childish doodling by people who have already forgotten what has been lost.
  • In the Harry Potter series, the Peverell Brothers invented three objects of extraordinary significance: a wand more powerful than any other, a stone that brings back shades of the dead, and a cloak of total invisibility that never fades nor is capable of being undermined. However long ago they were invented, by the time of the series proper, only a scant few believe in their existence, and despite the long, bloody trail that the Elder Wand has left as its owners consistently are killed/defeated in duels, few are aware that these items do exist, and the Tale of Three Brothers is but a mere bedtime story.
  • In Holes the main character says that he had a great-great-grandfather who had stolen a pig from a one-legged Gypsy, and she put a curse on him and all his descendants. The truth actually makes the ancestor, Elya, more sympathetic — he wanted to use the pig for a bride price, and in return, the Gypsy, Madame Zeroni (who actually was only missing a foot) told him he had to carry her up a mountain to drink from a special stream that would restore her strength. After realizing that the girl didn't love him, however, Elya impulsively got on a boat to America and only belatedly remembered his promise.
  • Last and First Men: The achievements of the First World State — a civilization based in massive tower-cities, obsessed with aircraft and destroyed by mass riots and plagues — quickly fade to dim myth during the First Dark Age, whose barbaric inhabitants recall the past as a time of flying palaces, winged men and arrogant people who were struck down for trying fly to the stars to oust the gods.
  • Discussed but rejected in The Last Day Of Creation by Wolfgang Jeschke, given that the time travellers are Trapped in the Past five million years before the time they left. In that abyss of time not even their DNA traces will survive, let alone myth.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: In Midnight Tides, the prologue shows how after the sundering of their home realms, the Tiste Edur and Tiste Andii invade the world in which the series is set, led by their respective leaders and good friends Scabandari Bloodeye and Silchas Ruin. Scabandari, whose forces are much higher in number than Silchas Ruin's, then betrays Silchas and has his followers slaughtered right there on the battlefield in order to eliminate any competition for his own people on this newly conquered world, then is himself killed by two Elder Gods for being such a treacherous little shit. Hundreds of thousands of years later, by the time of the book's main events, this tale has morphed into Silchas, now known as "the Betrayer", betraying Scabandari who then was maliciously hunted down and murdered by all of the Elder Gods and all the dragons and his soul stuffed into an eternal prison of unmeasurable agony. According to the descendants of his followers, anyway.
  • Redwall: An interesting example that may or may not be intentional, or simply part of the greater retcon that followed the series, occurs concerning the foundation of the Abbey and the arrival of Martin the Warrior told in the beginning of the first book (subject to Early-Installment Weirdness). This differs in quite a few details from the presumably true account of the events in the prequel Mossflower, although it does manage to at least get the cast of characters correct. The story told to Matthias implies that the Abbey already existed when Martin showed up, it was under siege at the time by their enemies' armies led by a wildcat, and Martin came in the nick of time to rescue them. In fact, the abbey was built on the site of the battle after everything was said and done, the reverse was closer to the truth, and Martin was involved in the battle from the start once he arrived from parts unknown to them.
  • China's Three Kingdoms period lasted from 184 AD to 280 AD. In the late 1300s, Luo Guanzhong wrote Romance of the Three Kingdoms, an obscenely popular book about it (possibly the second most popular book of all time, behind only the Christian Bible) that was about 70% fact, 30% fiction. Due to the book's immense popularity, generation after generation assumed that the book was accurate; only in recent years have people started to learn about the book's inaccuracies.
  • The Saga of Recluce uses this a lot, as each book mentions a legend or a myth and the actual event is recounted in a separate book, often bearing little resemblance between the event and the legend/myth. Once such instance is the Legend itself.
  • Brandon Sanderson:
    • The Alloy of Law is set 300-odd years after the Mistborn trilogy. The events of the trilogy have taken on mythological and religious significance to the later generations. The most humorous of these changes is the ancient High Speech; when an example of it is given, it's quickly recognizable to readers as the silly-sounding thieves' cant used by Spook in the original trilogy, which nobody but he could really understand all that well. It hasn't gotten any more coherent.
    • The Stormlight Archive: In Roshar's ancient past, the Knights Radiant, led by ten men and women known only as the Heralds, would battle the Voidbringers, who invaded Roshar every few centuries in massive attack's known as Desolations. Now, there hasn't been a Desolation in 4,500 years, and most people are convinced the Voidbringers were just a myth, while the long-defunct Knights were just con-artists and charlatans. The Heralds are still major parts of several religions, but there's debate on their actual nature and role. Several characters are trying to figure out what actually happened before the next Desolation, the biggest yet, arrives.
  • The Search for Delicious: Most people think that mermaids, woldwellers, and dwarfs exist only in tales. The dwarfs have all gone underground and rarely come out, the woldwellers got sick of answering people's stupid questions and stopped talking to them, and hardly anyone has been to Ardis's mountain lake in centuries.
  • Septimus Heap:
    • Five hundred years after Queen Etheldredda's death, her actual gain of immortality and trapping in the Palace attic have become a myth that is recounted in The Magykal Papers.
    • The myth of the Black Fiend that lives in the Summerhouse of the Palace seems like a follow-up of Ullr's exploits 500 years earlier.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: The deterioration of the Night's Watch is because of this. The institution was originally set up to monitor the threat from the Others, a race of inhuman beings who caused the Long Night. Thousands of years have passed since then, however, so most people dismiss the threat as a folktale. The fact that confirmed magic of any kind has not been seen in the Seven Kingdoms for more than a century probably doesn't help. As a result, donations to the institution dwindled throughout the years, as it devolved into a Penal Colony reserved for outcasts, murderers, and the like. By the beginning of the series, the daily task at the Night's Watch mainly consists of preventing the free folk (or as southerners call them, "wildlings") — humans who live north of the Wall — from crossing over, unaware that they have been doing so because they know full well that the Others have not disappeared and are searching for safety in the Seven Kingdoms.
  • In "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth" by Poul Anderson, a time traveler is actually responsible for events in a Gothic tribe that will later become mythologized in the Icelandic Völsunga saga ... events which are much more painful, human and error-filled at the time than later generations will realize.
  • The Star Trek Expanded Universe novel Kahless involves a Klingon monk finding an ancient scroll dating back to the founding of the Klingon Empire that appears to have been written by Kahless himself after he left his throne to be alone. With the Empire in turmoil after the knowledge of the scroll is made public, Kahless II (the clone of the original) tries to find the truth and kill the lying monk, as his own memories contradict the scroll (then again, his memories are based on the official records). The scroll tells the story of Kahless in great detail. Kahless didn't rise up against the tyrant Molor because it was the right thing to do; he was Molor's faithful lieutenant until being forced into exile for killing Molor's son in a duel (which was fought because Molor's son was willing to murder poor farmers for not paying taxes because their crops failed through no fault of their own and could barely feed themselves). The character of Morath, whom myth remembers as Kahless's brother whom Kahless fought for 12 days and 12 nights for telling a lie, was actually a subordinate who Kahless eventually ended up thinking of as like a brother despite the lack of blood relation. He was the driving force behind the rebellion, pushing Kahless to stay the course after a twelve-day battle of wills that started over a lie Kahless told, in which Morath convinced Kahless that the best way to make amends for the people killed by his lie (that he was leading a rebellion against Molor rather than just trying to survive) was to make the lie a reality. During the final battle, which Klingon myths depict as a titanic struggle between Kahless and the giant Molor, Kahless and Morath burst into Molor's throne chamber only to find a frail man suffering from a sickness normally only contracted by livestock. He tricks Kahless into giving him a dagger to fall on only to throw it at Kahless. Morath takes the dagger for his friend before Kahless kills the tyrant with his Cool Sword (which was made by a blacksmith out of steel, not Kahless from hair dipped in lava). If this is to be believed, then Kahless II is actually the clone of Morath, since the blood on the dagger was used as the genetic sample.
  • Till We Have Faces: Orual lives long enough to see her sister's life become the Cupid And Psyche myth.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium;
    • The Lord of the Rings: Even when elves are immortal and remember the distant past, they cannot be everywhere, so Gandalf only learns how to identify the One Ring by reading a scroll that is obscure even to the lore-masters, for their scripts and tongues have become dark to later men. A lot of legends are lost because they don't have a translation to the common tongue, Celeborn claims that "Old wives keep in memory word of things than once were needful for the wise to know", and it seems that only the hobbits, with their obsession for stories and relationships, wrote history books. The book even shows that The Lord of the Rings' story will eventually be forgotten and replaced by myth:
      The second disappearance of Mr. Bilbo Baggins was discussed in Hobbiton, and indeed all over the Shire, for a year and a day, and was remembered much longer than that. It became a fireside-story for young hobbits; and eventually Mad Baggins, who used to vanish with a bang and a flash and reappear with bags of jewels and gold, became a favorite character of legend and lived on long after all the true events were forgotten.
    • The Fall of Númenor: At the start of the Second Age, all the humans living east of the Blue Mountains know of the War of the Jewels is that the country beyond the Blue Mountains was sunk by some cataclysm. They still tell each other tales about three tribes which fled from the Shadow into the mountains, but popular wisdom has it that those Men got killed off because they were never seen again. Six hundred years later, the Men of Eregion are overjoyed to meet the Men of Westernesse because their long-lost relatives are not demons or undead but humans like themselves. For their part, the Númenoreans themselves are delighted to share their technology, knowledge, language and alphabet with their most destitute relatives without asking anything in return, and the Middle-Earth Men spread stories about the kind Sea Men. Around the year 1800 S.A., though, the Númenoreas started to establish permanent settlements on Middle-Earth and extract heavy tribute from outlying areas. As centuries go by the Númenoreans become more corrupt, crueler and greedier, and the stories of the gift-giving Men of Sea fade completely from memory, replaced by horror tales of evil pirates who plunder lands, burn villages, slay people and kidnap most of survivors.
  • Warrior Cats: The fifth series, Dawn of the Clans, is a Prequel to all the others. In the first book, The Sun Trail, a she-cat named Rainswept Flower falls into a hole on the moor. After main character Gray Wing saves her, his friends Shattered Ice and Jackdaw's Cry figure out that they can get shelter by tunneling under the moor. Thus, tunneling is invented. The following release, Tallstar's Revenge, takes place in a more familiar time, which is many years after Dawn of the Clans. In it, a hilariously skewed version of tunneling's origin is told where Shattered Ice is some lone action hero who braves a blizzard to dig a hole which saves everyone from starvation. Since it was mentioned in Secrets of the Clans that stories of the dawn of the Clans are told differently every time, and we've seen several of these stories, it can be reasonably assumed that we'll learn how ridiculously twisted some of the other ones are as well.
  • The Wheel of Time: As noted above, this is something of a prominent theme. The series describes history as a circular repetition of seven Ages, and the story is set in the Third Age, which is both after and before our own time. One minstrel in the first book claims to tell tales of an ancient Age which are recognizable as distorted memories of the 20th century, and many of the events of the series bear a distinct resemblance to any number of what we know as ancient mythologies. It also happens in-universe every now and then, particularly with Birgitte, who's met half the heroes of the legends in person and has probably been the other half. The Trope Namer comes from a line at the beginning of every book, but there's a short-term example of it at the end of most books too. Most of the novels end with a line about how rumors and legends spread about the important event at the climax of the book, and how they would be wrong and/or contradict each other about most details, but would usually get the most important detail right. Legend fading to myth within a year or so, in-universe.
  • Laszlo Hadron and the Wargod's Tomb: The Sagittarian Empire existed two million years ago, and were almost completely wiped out by the eponymous Wargod. So little of what they built remains of them in the modern day that both they and the Extinction "are as much myth as history".
  • In The Zodiac Series, there used to be thirteen constellations in the Zodiac system. In the modern day, there are only twelve—time and the Original Guardians' shame over the destruction of House Ophiuchus has all but erased the Thirteenth House, which only exists in the form of old morality tales.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: The existence of the Shadows is regarded as a myth by most races. The Narn have them as part of their central scripture, the Book of G'Quan. Even among the Minbari who were spacefaring then, the Shadows are dismissed by most.
  • Game of Thrones: The existence of the White Walkers. According to the legends and myths, the White Walkers are a race of prehistoric ice demons who nearly conquered Westeros thousands of years ago, until the men of the North drove them back and constructed the enormous Wall to keep them out. By the beginning of the series itself, the White Walkers are a myth that are either outright dismissed (as is done by Tywin Lannister) or their existence is believed in but it's still assumed they're gone (as is the position of the Stark family). Tyrion also mocks the notion of "snarks and grumpkins" beyond the Wall. Of course, this changes as strange things begin happening beyond the Wall...
    • House of the Dragon: Nearly two centuries before Game of Thrones, King Viserys doesn't know the exact details of the threat prophesized in the "Song of Ice and Fire" (which is actually the Long Night/the White Walkers), but he takes it seriously and maintains that the realm must be strong in order to prepare for the day that threat arrives. The rest of the realm, meanwhile, doesn't know of it.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: In the opening, Galadriel narrates how after many centuries since the War of Wrath, as the lead on Sauron grew thinner and thinner, even the long-lived Elves "began to believe that Sauron was but a memory."
  • The Wheel of Time (2021):
    • Rand, Mat, Egwene and Perrin sing an old song about Manetheren, not realizing this was based on real people who they're descended from until Moiraine tells them since it was so long ago. Their heroic battle against Trollocs has become now just a story to them.
    • The Forsaken (evil mages sealed over 3000 years ago and bound to return soon) are treated as some sort of evil anti-gods, each responsible for inflicting particular troubles. Stepin is once seen with a set of Forsaken idols performing some ritual to drive them away to clear his thoughts to make the right decision. Most people see it as a silly superstition, though.

  • Cool Kids Table: The backstory of the game Small Magic. The war between the Oni and Tenshi that sprang from the creation of humanity happens centuries ago, by the time the game begins most people believe it's just a story.

  • Dimension X: In episode thirty-one, an adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein's "Universe", a scientist named Jordan created a generation ship which was intended to colonize the distant planet Centaurus. Forty years after it was launched from the Solar System, a man named Huff led a mutiny aboard the Ship as he and his followers believed that they should return to Earth. In the fighting, the navigators were killed. All attempts to put the Ship back on its proper course failed and it began moving aimlessly through space. Over the course of many centuries, the inhabitants of the Ship came to believe that Jordan was a god who created both them and the Ship, which is the sum total of the universe. They regard Centaurus as the afterlife where they go once their bodies are fed into the converter.

    Tabletop Games  
  • Forgotten Realms has several, including the incident where elves imprisoned three fiends, but the warning became a legend, then a fairy tale, then the Curse Escape Clause was fulfilled and three very pissed off nycaloths were released, so they assembled the Army of Darkness that eventually crushed Myth Drannor. For that matter, the City of Song itself, despite being relatively recent, became semi-mythological, or at least unpleasant details tend to be left out — that keying selective spells to attack "allied" races being outlawed after some precedents, or that Cormanthyr ended up ruled by a council because Srinshee was exasperated enough to claim its throne by blade-rite only to give a public speech outlining her disgust over their behaviour and teleport away.
  • Magic: The Gathering: In Zendikar's distant past, a trio of planeswalkers teamed up to seal away three colossal Eldritch Abominations called the Eldrazi. Afterwards, two of them left to return to their own planes and only Nahiri, the only Zendikar native in the group, stayed behind, making sure her people remembered how to maintain the seals. Eventually, however, the burden of her immortality became too much for her to bear, and she sealed herself away in hibernation, ready to wake if the Eldrazi ever escaped. When they did, she awoke to find that in the eons she was sleeping, the stories of the Eldrazi became so warped that they were worshiped as benevolent gods rather than world-devouring monstrosities, and Nahiri was remembered as their herald, rather than the warrior who fought to stop them.
  • Warhammer 40,000 is full of this.
    • The Emperor was not a god, half his campaigning was in order to eliminate the concept of religion (and one of his children turned against him because he ordered him to stop worshipping him). These days, he's the central figure of humanity's state religion.
    • Many of the more primitive worlds ascribe Space Marine landings as the God-Emperor sending his Angels of Death, sometimes the Marines looking for initiates are remembered as selecting the worthiest to live with them in paradise. Considering that those selected are the most Badass preteens in often primitive warrior cultures and the state of the galaxy at large this superstition is fairly accurate and as such of a Subversion.
    • The Salamanders appoint a "Forgefather" to look for the nine relics left to them by their primarch, Vulkan. The Tome of Fire, which periodically reveals the location of one of the relics, prophesied that Vulkan will return once all nine are found. In one of the Horus Heresy novels, which is a prequel to the 40k setting, Vulkan is sealed in a Stasis capsule. One that shares a name with the final relic listed in the tome...
    • Done heartbreakingly in a novel where a set of toys are seen in a shop...which date back to and originated in the Soviet Union. When asked what the letters (CCCP) stand for, the shop's owner says "No one remembers anymore."
    • Taken to an even greater degree by the resident elves, the Eldar. The Eldar's civilisation was annihilated in a cataclysmic event known as the Fall, and the only Eldar left in the galaxy are nomadic survivors, pirates, wanderers, and a mysterious cult-like organisation dedicated to their trickster god Cegorach. Pretty much all of their vast history stretching back for millions of years has been lost, and what little remains is passed down through prophecy, allegory, and song, which means their history becomes more fanciful through each retelling. Not even the Eldar themselves really know much about their history and culture, but it is suggested that a lot of it is based in fact. For example, the long lost "Talismans of Vaul" are actually gigantic space stations with anti-star god weapons. There's also the implication that their "gods" are actually the ancient Old Ones.
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar sees this happening to Archaon the Everchosen, Lord of the End Times. In the original Warhammer Fantasy campaign, he was a devout Sigmarite templar until he fell to Chaos and eventually succeeded in destroying the Old World during the End Times. In the distant future where Age of Sigmar takes place, much of the knowledge from the previous world was lost and Archaon has been shrouded in mystery with his real backstory being just one of many, with other believing he was born in the exact moment as Sigmar himself, being a dark reflection created in the Realm of Chaos. There are even tales that Archaon is an immortal emperor who once ruled all of the realms before the arrival of Sigmar, who usurped what is rightfully his.

  • Beast Wars: Uprising: While not in full effect in the main story, a hidden part of the last story has a character — with a shaky grasp of history at best — from some ten thousand years into the future call Optimus Prime "mythical" (and even gets his name wrong, calling him "Optimus Convoy").

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: Fifty thousand years ago, a race of advanced humanoids lived on Earth, using technology far beyond modern tech. Then a solar flare struck the Earth and Those Who Came Before died out, leaving only their technology and a few scattered memories, which mutated into mankind remembering them as gods. In Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, one of their number essentially says this trope word for word, while exploring the ruins of one of their works.
  • Crusader Kings II can make a possible in-game example: rulers can get an in-universe regnal nickname of "The Dragon" for being The Dreaded in a number of ways, marking them as inhumanly cruel. If several generations then pass before the end of the game, their posthumous character portrait may be replaced by that of an actual dragon, as the general population remembers them as a literal monster.
  • Dark Souls:
    • Dark Souls II takes place long after the events of Dark Souls. The Chosen Undead's journey to determine the fate of the Age of Fire is nothing but a faded memory. This is reflected in the item descriptions for certain items that were in the first game. While some of the lore is consistent, many of the names of the major characters in the first game have been forgotten. Perhaps most humorously, Saint Elizabeth is described as being a woman of unsurpassed beauty... Elizabeth was actually a giant (intelligent) mushroom.
    • The trope returns in Dark Souls III, as it has been several more ages since II. The Shield of Want, in particular, references the venerated King of Drangleic as a man of "all-consuming thirst" instead of the noble but misguided soul he was.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim takes place several centuries after the events of Oblivion. Due to political upheavals and the Altmer falsely claiming credit for ending the Oblivion Crisis, the exact details of the Champion of Cyrodiil's actions have become confused. The true story is remembered and can be found in a book, but it's one account among many.
  • Fire Emblem: 2,000 years after the events of his own games, Marth is remembered in Fire Emblem: Awakening as a fierce and unforgiving One-Man Army; Lucina is shocked when Tiki tells her that he was actually a kind and considerate idealist who cared deeply for his friends.
  • Homeworld: The Kushan have three legends on how they got to Kharak: the first version from kiith (clan) Gaalsien says they once lived in heaven but were exiled for one great sin and the gods will wipe them out if they try and leave, the version from the kiith (clan) Siidim says that only they came from heaven and the other kiithid are from Kharak and thus inferior, and the second Gaalsien version is that they were all created to suffer on Kharak from begin with and will be wiped out if they try and leave. The coming of the Taiidan when a hyperspace jump is successfully executed proves that the first Gaalsien version is the most accurate, with Homeworld 2 showing exactly what the sin was: using their possession of one of the Three Hyperspace Cores to bypass the Taiidan frontier forces and bomb their homeworld and then, when the galaxy decried their war crime, surrendering their fleet and Core to the Bentusi only to attack them by surprise when they came to claim them and discovering they were no match for them, at which point the remnants of the Taiidan fleets took the chance to pay them back and only let a few survivors establish themselves on Kharak when the entire galaxy begged them to stop, with a treaty giving them the right of finishing the job if they developed hyperspace technology again. This is also why the Gaalsiens are the antagonists of the prequel game Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, as they're determined to keep the gods from wiping out their race, while the Northern Coalition is determined to survive (Kharak is slowly becoming uninhabitable) by developing space travel technology and discovering what the Anomaly is all about.
  • Krut: The Mythic Wings have this happening in it's backstory; the Krut, a race of eagle-headed Bird People warriors, fought a massive war in the past to defend their kingdom of Himmaphan, only to be driven to near-extinction with the survivors going into hiding. In the centuries to come after the war, the existence of the Kruts are now part of myths. When a great evil from the past returns, you assume the role of a Krut warrior who comes out of hiding to save the land, and in the ending after you defeat the villains, you then decide to disappear from public, leading to your deeds becoming the stuff of myths.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • This trope is used to explain the apparent plot holes in the various games' backstories: most of the games take place hundreds or even thousands of years apart, and history has been muddled a bit since the actual events occurred.
    • A Link to the Past has an in-universe invocation as Early-Installment Weirdness, as Ocarina of Time had not been developed yet. Agahnim appeared in Hyrule to at a point in time where the Imprisoning War's events had been "obscured by the mists of time, and [had become] legend."
    • An interesting case comes up in The Wind Waker where the hero of Ocarina of Time is remembered with the proper epithet, but he's not called the "Hero of Time" because he traveled through time,note  but because he was worthy of claiming said epithet, which existed first, and was what allowed him to claim the Master Sword in the first place.
    • Lampshaded in Skyward Sword. Gaepora is giving exposition via the legend that has been handed down through the ages in Skyloft, as instructions on what Link is supposed to do. Then Fi, who was actually around when the legend was written, comments that oral tradition is not a very efficient method of data preservation and proceeds to recite the same legend but in a far more detailed manner.
    • Breath of the Wild:
      • In the game's backstory, Calamity Ganon came to be considered a fairy tale villain in the 10,000 years since it was sealed away. Only when a fortune teller warns King Rhoam of Ganon's imminent return do the people of Hyrule start prepping for battle against the demon.
      • Gerudo legend tells that the demon Ganon once incarnated as a Gerudo in ancient times; in reality, Ganondorf was a true-born Gerudo who ultimately became a demon. This gets to the point that when Ganondorf himself returns in Tears of the Kingdom, no one can make an explicit connection between him and Calamity Ganon.
      • And finally, the timeline placement of the Wild Saga, consisting of Breath, Tears, and Calamity Ganon's sealing over 10,000 years prior. Officially, it takes place so long after the other games in the series that it no longer matters which of the three timelines it takes place in, and consequently takes place in all three at once, due to the intervening games' events fading into legend and myth. The only confirmation Aonuma has given is that Breath takes place after Ocarina of Time, which is the point where the timeline split into three in the first place.
    • Tears of the Kingdom has the founding of (this version of?) Hyrule and the reign of King Rauru and Queen Sonia, which ended with another Imprisoning War against Ganondorf and the deaths of Rauru and Sonia. Fans initially conflated this with the events of "10,000 years ago" due to both Ganondorf and Calamity Ganon being sealed beneath Hyrule Castle, but new information released later implied it was even further back than that, and Calamity Ganon might have been created from Ganondorf's Can springing a bit of a leak.
  • Mass Effect 3: The final scene implies that this will ultimately happen to Shepard since the scene shows a grandparent telling a child the story of "the Shepard". This is also used to explain the various differences caused by the player's choices through their individual playthrough.
  • Minecraft: Story Mode: The start of episode one has the narrator talk about how this exactly happens. It's revealed that Ivor was a member of the Order and Soren used a command block to erase the Ender Dragon from existence, sealing their fate as legendary heroes. You can choose to reveal the truth to everyone at the end of episode four.
  • Musya ends with an And the Adventure Continues after you defeat the powerful demon Gobo. Before the following narration revealing that in the future your battle against the forces of evil are now stuff of legends.
  • Odin Sphere: Alice reads about the adventures of the playable characters through storybooks in her attic. At one point, Cornelius and Velvet as Pookas come to take a coin attached to one of the books. In addition, she has features from both Gwendolyn and Oswald. This implies that the timeline she is in is actually the distant future of the stories she is reading.
  • Sdorica: The founding myth of the Sun Kingdom' is about the hero Vendacti who slew a dragon to earn free will and the sun for the world... except the kingdom is younger than the story by centuries and the Sun Kingdom nobles just claim descent from that hero to justify their rule. Right? Not according to the legendary immortals working to bring the dragon back...
  • Shining Force opens with a tale of the defeat of Dark Dragon, who vowed to return in 1,000 years. The opening then states that after ten centuries of peace, Dark Dragon was "forgotten by all". The gods are perhaps a straighter example since they're really just regular people who developed highly advanced technology in ages past — most of which has been forgotten or lost even by their descendants.
  • A Total War Saga: TROY: A central conceit of the game is to present a sort of truth behind the myth by portraying potentially realistic, if unusual, people and events whose memories would become mutated into fantastic and monstrous forms through centuries of retellings and would eventually form the body of Greek mythology. A cow skull-wearing warlord, for instance, serve as the inspirations of the Minotaur myth; Polyphemus is a pirate — a metaphorical son of the sea — who uses a dwarf elephant's skull as a helm and wields a mace tipped with a ram's skull; the centaurs are the only cavalrymen in the game, whom their enemies mistook for humans with the bodies of horses; and the giants are simply outsized human barbarians.
  • The New Order Last Days Of Europe: One of the post-nuclear war events implies that Queen Elizabeth II stayed behind to help as many people into the bunkers as possible, and gave a last radio broadcast to comfort her people, ending on "God bless you all". When the survivors emerge from their bunkers many years later and re-establish the Kingdom of Albion, she is reimagined as the legendary Queen Brittania, a powerful Benevolent Mage Ruler who used the last of her magic to shelter her people from disaster, and lauded as a national hero like King Arthur.

    Web Animation 

  • Joe vs. Elan School has Ron, who was initially the biggest, scariest threat in the houses of Elan School. But after a vicious riot, Ron had slowly started fading into obscurity, only being known as Ron the Destroyer who's long gone now.
  • Sluggy Freelance has the Gods of Mokhadun, who all withdraw from the mortal realm after a mortal/divine love affair ends up killing several of them, destroying Mokhadun, and nearly ending the world. The survivors slowly forget the truth of the gods as they fade into myth. Some, such as the deceased and exiled, are forgotten altogether. Among the survivors, Father Time's name is lost; Dunnuloa, said in myth to now dwell in the moon, becomes Lunoa and then becomes Basphomy, Patron of Halloween (and is then forgotten as she gets replaced by the Pumpkin King); Krig Gaul the God of Joy becomes Kringle, Patron of Kristmas; female Rana, said in myth to now dwell in the sun, becomes the male Egyptian sun god Ra.

    Western Animation 
  • The events of Transformers: Generation 1 have faded into myth during the Beast Wars and Beast Machines era. When Starscream returned by possessing Waspinator, he fooled Megatron into believing that Starscream was a loyal Decepticon who fell in battle against Unicron. Blackarachnia knew enough history (Galvatron killed Starscream for betraying him) to call him out on his lie. How this happened when some of the previous series' participants (including Ravage) are still alive isn't explained.

    Real Life 
  • At one point, the centuries-old story of some vast land to the south and west of Greenland related in The Vinland Sagas must have seemed like a crazy old myth. Even regions like China and Japan for centuries had been viewed as semi-mythical in Europe due to little or no contact with them (and vice versa).
  • Timbuktu, used as a shorthand for faraway places, is a real place. During the Middle Ages, it was the capital of a prosperous empire that traded in gold. Stories of its richness spread to Europeans, but they, for obvious reasons, could not reach it without crossing through thousands of kilometers of Moorish land. By the time a white man was able to visit it, it was the 19th century and the empire had long disappeared, adding to its mystery even more. Today, the actual Timbuktu is a small town with about 55,000 inhabitants.
  • Although stories of a city completely buried by a volcano remained, the exact location of Pompeii and even its name were eventually forgotten until the city was rediscovered centuries later.
  • Many mythological animals were likely based on actual animals who lived in faraway lands or extinct creatures.
    • The Leviathan was probably based on the Nile crocodile (although in modern Hebrew, it refers to whales).
    • The cameleopards, camel-leopard hybrids who lived beyond the Sahara.
    • In the West, fossil skulls of mammoths likely gave birth to the Cyclops myth. In the East, they inspired the Qilin.
    • Dinosaur fossils were associated with Chinese dragons, which should not be surprising since the Chinese have prized them as folk medicine for centuries.
    • The original unicorns were not thought of as horses. According to Pliny the Elder, they "have the head of the stag, the feet of the elephant, and the tail of the boar, while the rest of the body is like a horse, they make a deep lowing noise, and have a single black horn, which projected from the middle of its forehead two cubits in length." He basically described the rhinoceroses.
      • Other possibilities for influencing it include several real animals, such as the one-horned Indian rhinoceros, the wild ox, Arabian Oryx, the narwhal, a mix of them, or a deer with a genetic mutation.
    • The myth of the Kraken (and possibly the myth of Scylla as well) almost certainly arose from sailors' sightings of giant squids, which were themselves believed to be mythical until specimens washed ashore.
  • Natural phenomena like eclipses, comets, or supernovae may become part of myths before modern science explained them.
  • Various myths around the world about land that was once ocean, or vice versa, may have been influenced by coastline changes due to the end of the last glacial period 11,700 years ago. Basically, during the glacial period, it was much colder and massive ice sheets pressed down the land, and when they melted, the land beneath slowly began to rise. The meltwater also causes sea level worldwide to rise, so other places have land becoming underwater. The myth of Lyonesse off the southwestern coast of England for example, may be due to the now-tiny Isles of Scilly previously being one bigger island 5000 years ago.