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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."
Lady Galadriel, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

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 aformentioned princess, and he is remembered fondly to this day as the great founder and establisher of freedom in the land.

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...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. And he didn't raise the rebellion; he just got caught up in it, the princess also was not rescued by him, he came to the prison searching for useful intel, and he meet her when she escaped herself, and they were not actually in love and didn't marry each other, 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, when he had dedicated most of the rest of his life to cleaning up the mess left behind by the power vacuum he helped create.

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You know this as the reader, 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 And Man Grew Proud for when the legend of sorts was a catastrophe instead. Compare Future Imperfect, when it's the audience's era being misremembered like this. Not to be confused with Shrouded in Myth, which is when the mythologizing process happens while the subject of the myth is still alive.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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).
  • 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 millenia.
    • 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.
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • After the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot, due to the fact that so much of the old "Earth-1" continuity was pivotal to the Legion of Super-Heroes canon, the pre-Crisis version of history was presented as the 30th century's distorted legends of the "actual" (post-Crisis) continuity. (For a while, at least. But then some RetCons were made, and a Continuity Snarl set in, so who knows if this is still the case in the current version of the Legion.)
    • One of John Byrne's ideas for Superman's revamp is that the Legion was formed based on legends of Superman's adventures as a boy. The Legion would eventually be surprised to discover that these adventures never happened.
  • 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 Real Life) and are quite upset when they find out about how the FF are really.
  • 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 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 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.
    • In the Supergirl Annual #1 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.

    Fan Works 
  • 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.
  • Fractured: 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.
  • 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).

    Film 
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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 first film, sarcastically claiming that Carrie went up with Elvis Presley in a UFO. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World: Because of the actions of Drago and Grimmel, dragons have hidden themselves from mankind until they are ready to accept them.

    Literature 
  • 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.
  • The Alloy of Law, by Brandon Sanderson, 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.
  • Also by Sanderson, is 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Till We Have Faces Orual lives long enough to see her sister's life become the Eros And Psyche myth.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Used several times in 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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 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.
  • 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 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.
  • In Midnight Tides, the fifth book of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: The existence of the White Walkers. According to the legends and myths, the White Walkers are ice zombies 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...
  • 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.

    Podcasts 
  • 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.

     Tabletop Games  
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Toys 
  • 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 
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • In the backstory of Breath of the Wild, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 existance, sealing their fate as legendary heroes. You can choose to reveal the truth to everyone at the end of episode four.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The founding myth of the Sun Kingdom in Sdorica 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...

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: The Remnant fairytale, the Story of the Seasons, is based on truth as the Four Maidens really do exist, and they do indeed have the seasonal Elemental Powers that the fairytale claims. However, the story has taken on such mythic properties that the accuracy of the tale is hard to unravel. Pyrrha learns from Professor Ozpin that this is deliberate. People sought the incredible power of the Maidens for nefarious purposes, requiring the protectors of the Maidens, currently led by Ozpin, to hide them away and let them fade into legend and fairytale just to keep the Maidens safe. Professor Ozpin only reveals this to Pyrrha because he believes she is a good candidate to receive the Fall Maiden's powers from the current one, who is comatose as a result of a partially successful assassination attempt. The assassin, Cinder Fall, managed to obtain half the Fall Maiden's powers, and Ozpin hopes Pyrrha can inherit the other half to prevent the villain from obtain unimaginable power.

    Webcomics 
  • 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.

    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).

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