Follow TV Tropes


Patched Together from the Headlines

Go To

Think Ripped from the Headlines meets X Meets Y.

You've heard of this sensational story. But, as you're watching, there is an additional element. It may appear in the case of a Halfway Plot Switch, or it may have been there from the very beginning. The key element is, rather than being merely Very Loosely Based on a True Story, you also recognize this from the headlines, just a separate one. It also need not be another particular crime, but a sensationalist topic that has gained a lot of press coverage. Very likely to involve No Celebrities Were Harmed and Composite Character.


Please note that this is not inherently negative. It can be a clever way of connecting multiple social problems in the same story, or simply a case of getting inspiration from more than on place, but it can be at its worst, evidence of If It Bleeds, It Leads happening twice alongside We're Still Relevant, Dammit!.


    open/close all folders 

  • The French comic Carthago is an amalgamation of various news stories and urban legends related to sea monsters—- for example, Major Bertrand seeing something so shocking underwater that he can’t share it with the world is based on an urban legend about Jacques Cousteau, while the megalodon attack on the trimaran Crazy Horse is based on a real giant squid encounter by the crew of the trimaran Geronimo, and we have an adaptation of the story of the “U-28 Monster” as well.
  • Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed takes inspiration from the refugee crisis around the Mediterranean, youth activism and human trafficking of children in the United States. Laurie Halse Anderson was very candid about her inspiration, saying that when she was offered the book she knew instantly that she wanted to do something that let her write in reaction to a haunting image of a life preserver belonging to a deceased refugee child she'd seen in an article and to write something uplifting about how active teenagers have been recently as human rights activists.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Arlington Road: The protagonist's wife dies in a misguided bust on a compound that is essentially Ruby Ridge, which is just the inciting incident that places her husband and son as next-door neighbors to a family who commit crimes loosely based on Timothy McVeigh's.
  • Vox Lux begins with Columbine, and concludes with a beach-set shooting much like the 2015 Sousse attacks, while there's also a more than passing resemblance between washed up teen sensation turned dark and edgy adult singer Celeste and Britney Spears.


  • The Handmaid's Tale essentially imagines that the Iranian revolution took place in Reagan-era America, and features expys of Phyllis Schafly and the religious right during that period, including gay conversion camps and the anti-abortion movement. Atwood has said that every draconian element of Gilead was inspired by a real-life totalitarian regime or ideology somewhere in world history.
  • Emma Donoghue has credited Elisabeth Fritzl as the inspiration for Room, but the story also bears a resemblance to the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard, in that Ma's kidnapper is a total stranger who abducted her on the way to school, but like Elisabeth Fritzl, she lived in total captivity for years, and her child's whole life.
  • Jame Gumb in The Silence of the Lambs is a composite of Ted Bundy's Wounded Gazelle Gambit tactics to abduct women; like Gary Heidnik he keeps his victims imprisoned in a pit in his basement, and like Ed Gein, he uses their body parts for furniture and a skin suit.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin basically consisted of Harriet Beecher Stowe gathering together a whole bunch of stories of actual people who were actually enslaved, then changing the names and adding in a plot to tie it together.

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 

  • In L.A. Noire, every single case is based on or loosely inspired by a real-life Los Angeles case in the 1940s.