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One Myth to Explain Them All

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"I hate good wizards in fairy tales. They all turn out to be him."
River Song, Doctor Who, "The Pandorica Opens", about the Doctor

Closely related to All Myths Are True, but rather than every myth and legend being fact, they are mostly hokum—but with one common grain of truth in all of them. If the story is about vampires, then Rasputin was a vampire, Hitler was trying to breed an army of super suckheads, and Dracula was a wimp. If it's about wizards, Moses was an uber-powerful mage and there's evidence Jesus was, too (if he's not suspiciously absent). If the story is about aliens, everything can be explained by alien superpowers and Sufficiently Advanced Technology.

Often results in a Take That! at history, Historical In Jokes, and Sadly Mythtaken moments. See also A Mythology Is True for a similar concept, as well as Beethoven Was an Alien Spy (he might have been, in this universe). Ancient Astronauts are often involved when the myth is aliens. Is also related to Doing In the Wizard—it wasn't a wizard, it was aliens! (or what have you)

Compare to Conspiracy Kitchen Sink, where All Myths Are True but not necessarily related. Not to be confused with the Monomyth, AKA The Hero's Journey.


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     Anime and Manga  
  • To Love Ru has all sorts of things, from ghosts to witches, explained by aliens. Normally it's wacky alien powers, but sometimes it's strange technology. A notable exception is the Cute Ghost Girl, who is just randomly magical.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya: Subverted. Depending on whom you ask, aliens/time-travelers/esper powers can explain everything, with their own Technobabble. While the three groups can and do coordinate on minor matters, it's made clear several times that their core beliefs are completely mutually contradictory. Only one of them can be right about what Haruhi is, and yet evidence supports all of them and none of them.
  • Kind of subverted, kind of played straight in AR∀GO: City of London Police's Special Crimes Investigator. For example, Werewolves don't exist, but a wolf pelt that turns a person into a werewolf-like creature does.
  • Devilman has Akira's friend Ryo tell him that Demons once roamed the Earth before being frozen in the arctic while humans dominated the planet. He also mentions that some demons got free, and could be the true causes of monster myths like Wolfmen, Dracula, and Ogres.
    • Devilman Lady similarly states that mythological monsters were people who developed Devil Beast syndrome.
  • Guyver suggests that the zoanoids changing between human and monster forms is the origin of myths like werewolves and vampires.
  • Shaman King also does mention about all prophets/chosen people in different cultures as being Shaman Kings from previous tournaments, although they only imply that with the most known ones, Jesus and Buddha. Some spirits used by shamans seem to be portrayed as Gods, too, like Shamash, and the Sphynx.
  • In Mushi Shi it is explained that most supernatural phenomena like ghosts are actually mushi; mushi are strange, mystical life-forms that defy human concepts of "life" and "death" and usually have bizarre properties. Sorcerers are really just guys who've mastered how to manipulate mushi, and "curses" or "blessings" are usually the result of a mushi either being exploited or malfunctioning when it interacts with humans.
  • In Transformers: Cybertron, it was revealed that most of Earth's legends (Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, vampires) were an ancient race of Transformers. Or something like that.
    • Earlier in the Japanese G1 anime, Transformers: Super-God Masterforce gives us a twist of robots in disguise with the introduction of pretenders. Cybertrons (Autobots) take human pretender shells whereas the Destrons (Decepiticons) take demonic pretender shells and are the source of various monster myths in human history.
  • It's implied in +Anima that creatures from legends like werewolves, mermaids or angels are really people with Anima, whose power is Anthropomorphic Transformation. Husky, fish +Anima, is at least two times taken for a mermaid and Cooro, crow +Amina, constantly freaks people out, because they think he is black angel.

     Comic Books  
  • Jack Kirby's Eternals, immortal beings created by space gods Celestials, have been the source behind multiple myths. Thena has been inspiration behind goddess Athena, Ajak has huge influence on Aztec and Mayan Mythology, Icarus was the inspiration behind Ikaris, and Gilgamesh not only existed but was an amnesiac Eternal. Similarly, their Evil Counterpart Deviants were inspiration of most legends and tales concerning demons. Atlantis and Lemuria existed and were Deviants' territory, which was destroyed by Celestials. And then Marvel put them all into the Marvel Universe with its Crossover Cosmology, so now they exist alongside real gods, and Thena fought with Athena a few years ago.
    • The Celestials themselves are responsible for a good bit of Marvel Universe wackiness, such as the X-gene that forms the basis of X-Men. This is especially true in Earth X.

    Fan Works 
  • Being set in an AU version of The Matrix, the Supernatural/The Matrix crossover Hunting Series uses this. All the 'supernatural' beings are actually programs whose coded weaknesses the hunters exploit to delete them.
  • Infinity Train: Seeker of Crocus reveals that gods and demons are actually denizens made by the Infinity Train itself, and the myths and stories about them are due to passengers entering them in the past and seeing them up close and personal.
  • The Stronger Evil: Shendu states that the older and further back a myth's origin goes, the more likely it is that it has some truth to it. It's revealed that Tiamat from Babylonian mythology and Typhon from Greek mythology are real supernatural entities, whilst the eight Demon Sorcerers are indicated to be the basis of the Babylonian myth about Tiamat's monstrous and weaponized offspring.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Cabin in the Woods is this for slasher films.
  • In The Matrix, this is the explanation given for the existence of the supernatural within the Matrix. The sequels and Animatrix would later clarify that they were programs from earlier, imperfect versions of the Matrix that escaped deletion.
    "Every story you've ever heard about vampires, werewolves, or aliens is the system assimilating some program that's doing something they're not supposed to be doing."
    • Fridge Logic would indicate this means that no such legends or myths existed in the pre-Matrix/pre-Machine human society.
      • Fridge Brilliance would indicate that all human history is suspect, because where did humans learn their history? In the Matrix.
  • MonsterVerse: The various Titans are implied to have been the source of many mythological creatures (such as the Hydra, Scylla, Dragons, and the like) as well as being treated as Gods and Demons in many different cultures. For examples; Ghidorah inspired many civilizations' ideas of devils and dragons, Mothra inspired angels of all things, and the dead Titanus Gojira and MUTO Prime inspired the myths of Dagon and Jinshin-Mushi respectively.

  • The Harry Potter series has a number of historical events caused by wizards, and at one point it is mentioned that one real witch even enjoyed being burned at the stake, because of a spell that rendered the flames harmlessly ticklish.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, everything is caused by gods, their children, or some other Greek monster. Well, anything note-worthy. For example, Houdini, the Beatles and Blackbeard were all demi-gods, and that's only the start of it.
    • There's also Percy's first encounter with the empousa. He first mistakes them for vampires, but they simply laugh at him and point out that they were the inspiration for such monsters. And before that, there's Artemis commenting on how her mode of transport (reindeer drawing a sleigh) inspired Santa Claus. The Heroes of Olympus also features a voodoo practitioner who managed to summon Pluto.
    • The Kane Chronicles, which take place in the same universe, adds Egyptian wizards to the mix, channeling their gods to repeat archetypal stories throughout history.
  • In His Dark Materials, many divining methods are actually just "talking to Dust", the sentient matter forming most of the universe. Averted, however, in that most religions may actually be lies created by the Authority to control everything.
    • Only the authoritarian religions. The others presumably are born from interaction with the Dust, and Angels who are spontaneously formed from it.
    • The witches worship deities such as Yambe Akka (based on a real world Sami and Finnish goddess, by the way), but there's no evidence for, or against, their actual existence.
  • The Saga of Darren Shan's Mr. Des Tiny claims to be this, and as Darren gets further and further into the world of vampires, it looks more and more like he could be telling the truth. However, there's a whole wide world of supernaturals out there that even the vampires don't know about, like the Skelks, and whatever Laveesha was...
  • The Stress of Her Regard and its sequel Hide Me Among the Graves concern a race of Ultraterrestrials who are the origins of many myths, including the Biblical nephilim, succubi, vampires, muses, gorgons, and the sphinx, as well as inspiring poets (including John Keats, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Algernon Swinburne, and Christina Rossetti) and novelists (Mary Shelley never knowingly met one, but her husband's account of his experiences inspired Frankenstein). At one point in The Stress of Her Regard, the protagonist half-jokingly suggests that the Norse Myth of the Death of Baldur, in which a supernaturally-beautiful man is killed with a sharpened length of wood, might be another folk memory of a nephilim encounter, and Byron asks despairingly if there are any myths that aren't about the nephilim.
  • Young Wizards plays with this trope, in that many myths were inspired by the non-mythical actions of the godlike Powers That Be. For example, the extremely powerful Winged Defender is the inspiration for (among other things) Thor, Athena, Prometheus and the archangel Michael.
  • The Memory Wars features this:
    • All monsters are actually beings from other realms that have bonded with humans, either with consent, or by forcing themselves on their host.
    • Similar deities across different mythologies are actually the same creature being interpreted differently by various cultures, so in addition to her role as the Celtic goddess of battle and magic, Morrigan is also Janus, Hecate, and Loki.
  • Chance And Choices Adventures presents Native American mysticism as being another manifestation of Christianity. Wakan Tanka is God, and the Native American spirits and deities are all either angels or demons.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • Various folk tales or urban legends can be attributed to aliens, Inhumans, or HYDRA.
    • Ideas of Satan from around the world are all based on Hive, the first Inhuman and the Big Bad of season three.
  • As the page quote indicates, a lot of Doctor Who stories seem to cast aliens as the inspiration for Earth myths, with the Doctor as their foil.
    • Far less consistently, but still quite often, the monster of the week had some connection to Time Travel, even the giant spiders from "Planet of the Spiders". Hell, even the fairies from Torchwood could time travel. Of course, the main character is a time traveller, so it makes sense.
    • The Beast from "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit" claimed to be the truth behind the Satan-figures of every religion in the universe.
    • Interestingly, the example River mentions in "The Pandorica Opens" is actually a subversion in that particular instance: in the story of the monster that was trapped inside the Pandorica by a good wizard, the Doctor is actually the monster, instead of the wizard as River assumes. The whole thing is a trap set for the Doctor.
  • In Grimm various historical figures are said to have been secretly Wesen, according to their personalities.
  • Kamen Rider Gaim has a lesser version of this, suggesting that Helheim Forest crossed with Earth in the distant past and that the Golden Fruit was the inspiration for things like the Fruit of Knowledge, the Golden Apples of Idunn, and Apple of Discord.
  • All myths in Lost Girl are actually different subspecies of Fae. Yes, everything from almost-human oracles to completely-not-human-at-all Emotion Eater spiders.
  • In the Enchanted Forest of Once Upon a Time, Rumpelstiltskin is not only himself, but also Cinderella's fairy godmother, the Beast, and the crocodile, and has his hand in so many more fables.
  • The final Quatermass serial has stone circles (which do nothing; the stones only mark the places where people congregated in the past) around the world becoming activated; people congregate there (an activated race memory), expecting to be: contacted by aliens, 'raptured' into heaven, 'go to the planet', etc. Instead, they are 'harvested' by an interstellar energy beam that reduces them to dust, with a tiny fraction lost to the beam. It is further suggested that all religions, and by extension, all of human politics, wars and history, have been the result of this race memory: to congregate and be harvested.
  • In Stargate SG-1, most myths are actually accounts of aliens (of multiple species) visiting Earth. It's a little more complicated than the usual example, because its implied that while sometimes the aliens are the source of the myth, other times they were taking on the identity of an existing mythic figure in order to manipulate primitive humans. Either way, if its an ancient myth or legend, aliens were involved.
  • Supernatural: Compared to some of the other creatures in the show who can originate from no more than one or two cultures; demons are technically a single species of malevolent spirit, the result of human souls being tortured in Hell until they lose most of humanity except for their most vile and cruel traits, yet as Sam points out:
    Sam: So, every religion in every world culture has the concept of demons and demonic possession, right? I mean, Christian, Native American, Hindu, you name it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Each gameline in Old World of Darkness generally tends to claim that all history was orchestrated by the supernatural group on which it focuses (though vampires have the upper hand thanks to the overwhelming amount of supplemental material compared to other races). How their intents have managed to avoid contradicting each other is Hand Waved.

    From Vampire: The Masquerade fluff:
    "Year 33: The Malkavians claim that their greatest practical joke happen during this year, when they perform a bit of graverobbing in Jerusalem."
    • If each supernatural game line is considered standalone from one another you have various supernatural creatures that behave like each other in special cases, so a Changelings might be the cause for Vampire rumors because a Leechfinger is similar to a Vampire. Another example, wolf like supernatural beings can be Werewolves, Hunterheart Changelings, Gangrel Vampires, etc... This can cause a lot of confusion when corning such a creature and have brought the wrong tools to kill it.

    Video Games 
  • The Assassin's Creed series explains that anything in human history, ever, happened because either a Templar or an Assassin did it.
    • The former also rewrote the history books, completely wiping out all evidence of the first civilization.
  • The Dragon Age series is leaning in this direction, as of Inquisition. It seems that all (or most) of the belief systems in the story have a grain of truth to them somewhere, but the common thread that links them all hasn't been revealed yet.
  • A section of Minecraft's credits says this.
    Who are we? Once we were called the spirit of the mountain. Father sun, mother moon. Ancestral spirits, animal spirits. Jinn. Ghosts. The green man. Then gods, demons. Angels. Poltergeists. Aliens, extraterrestrials. Leptons, quarks. The words change. We do not change.
  • Professor Anzai is the world's foremost expert in ancient relics, and she is especially famous for advancing the unique notion that the Mu and Atlantean cultures were founded by aliens. In the back story of Shin Super Robot Wars, a certain race fled their homeworld under the threat of the Ze Balmary Empire. Split into different factions with different leaders, they attempted to flee. One group fell beneath Balmar's shadow, while another fled to the safety of the Dug. Finally, one staked their lives on traveling to an unknown, distant region of space. This faction formed the Mu culture.

    Web Animation 
  • In RWBY Ozpin was the wizard from the Maidens story, and also the last king of Vale and is suggested to be the father of Silver eyes. He was also the one to save The Girl in the Tower.
  • Unbiased History:
    • Elagabalus comes to the conclusion that Sol Invictus is the one true god, with the Roman pantheon being aspects of his divinitynote . He acts like a degenerate in order to get people's attention on this matter, and Aurelian later embraces this belief.
    • Taken further with Constantine the great, who in a divine revelation, discovers that all gods and divine figures such as Zeus, Apollo, Minerva, Sol Invictus, and even Jesus Christ himself, are nothing but different aspects of the one true God, and so, it doesn't matter who you worship, since it's the same god overall. He uses this to legitimize Christianity in the eyes of the empire.

  • In Earthsong, mythical creatures in all worlds are based on the brief memory fragment that people keep of their time on the eponymous planet.

    Web Original 
  • In "It's Always a Zombie" by Slimebeast, all types of supernatural and mythical creatures are commonly accepted as real. In truth, only zombies are real, and the rest are just zombies who died under weird circumstances that caused people to mistake them for something else. For example, the Sasquatch was a Crazy Survivalist who died out in the woods wearing a ghillie suit and came back as a zombie. Many people make their living working as Ghostbuster-type exterminators, and one of the first things the seasoned employees tell the rookies is that it's always a zombie, no matter how much evidence suggests otherwise.

    Western Animation 
  • In Dragons: The Nine Realms, Jun believes the many shapes dragons come in inspired other mythical creatures such as the Bubblehorn inspiring Unicorns.
  • In Gargoyles, most magical beings are eventually revealed to be members, or in some way connected to, the Third Race, also known as Oberon's Children. The gargoyles themselves are an exception; Word of God says that they're just a naturally occurring species, like humans.
  • At least in the animated version of Men in Black, everything supernatural is an alien, similar to Doctor Who. The Christmas special reveals Yeti and Elves are of alien descent, too. The nature of Santa, however, is left unstated.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated explains all animal-based myths (i.e. Sun Wukong and the Egyptian gods) as being caused by inter-dimensional beings who took animal forms to assist mankind in development. Talking animals like Scooby-Doo are explained as being descendents of these beings.
  • Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends: All mythological creatures are actually aliens who have been on Earth for centuries, or millenia.
  • In Justice League Unlimited, Supergirl asks the Question if he really believes all those conspiracy theories. He corrects her with "conspiracy theory." Apparently they're all connected. Even the aglet.
  • Mister Mxyzptlk from Superman: The Animated Series claims he is the source of myths like genies, elves, and leprechauns. Every few centuries, he would visit Earth from the fifth dimension to have a little personal fun with human kind.

    Real Life 
  • This is Demonization, in a nutshell: "Other people's gods are actually just demons."

Alternative Title(s): One Myth To Rule Them All