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Poe's Law

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Pop quiz: is this flyer declaring the polio vaccine, water treatment, and psychiatry to be plots to destroy America a real pamphlet, or a parody of fervent 1950s "Red scare" tactics?Answer

"Satire doesn't stand a chance against reality anymore."
Jules Feiffer in 1959

The core idea of Poe's Law is that a parody of something extreme can be mistaken for the real thing, and if a real thing sounds extreme enough, it can be mistaken for a parody (all because parodies are intrinsically extreme, in case you haven't noticed it). This can also happen to someone whose picture of the opposing position is such a grotesque caricature that it renders them unable to tell parody from reality. Reality and parody are further blended by the fact that something that started as a parody might turn into a Windmill Political that some people take as gospel and go to a very serious (if not literal) war.

According to Rational Wiki, Poe's Law was formulated by Nathan Poe, referring to the Flame Wars on Christian forums where Creationism vs. Evolution was discussed: Many users posted parody comments, which were followed by both angry and supportive replies. Poe phrased his law thus: "Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won't mistake it for the genuine article." As far as we know, nothing to do with Edgar Allan Poe.

While Poe's Law referred originally to religious fundamentalists, it can also equally apply to austere atheism, steely socialism or communism, crazy capitalism, extreme environmentalism, fanatic feminism, crackers correctness, or indeed, absolutely any other debate where controversy runs high and at least one position is particularly extreme, such as the infamous North Korean Twitter feed that got mistaken for the real thing.

A similar notion was named "The Harry Golden Rule" by Calvin Trillin: "The Harry Golden Rule, properly stated, is that in present-day America it's very difficult, when commenting on events of the day, to invent something so bizarre that it might not actually come to pass while your piece is still on the presses." See Stealth Parody, which this law tends to undermine.

Don't Explain the Joke is one of the possible outcomes of this law. Parody Retcons attempt to appeal to this, as does the "Just Joking" Justification. If a work actually becomes popular as a result of this law, that's Misaimed Fandom. If you are trying to invoke this trope to get people to believe something you just made up to feign legitimacy, it's a Bavarian Fire Drill. Many a "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer is used to avoid this trope. The Horseshoe Effect is closely related, as it concerns statements which are so radical and extreme, it's difficult to tell whether they're coming from the far-left or the far-right.

Compare Doublethink, Insult Backfire, Isn't It Ironic?, Propaganda Piece, Sarcasm-Blind, and Some of My Best Friends Are X. To really turn this trope into a brain-twister, compare it with Death of the Author. See also The Tyson Zone and Aluminum Christmas Trees. See Indecisive Parody for works that can't quite decide if they're parodies or sincere and so attempt to have it both ways.

NOTE: When adding an example, please cite a specific instance or instances of the relevant work being either mistaken for a parody or being analyzed to determine whether or not it is serious. Any examples that shoehorn in a work with Weasel Words or the like but without such instances being cited (i.e. something along the lines of "this could easily be mistaken for a parody", "this might as well have been a parody", or "some people have a hard time believing this is real" with little else) will be assumed to be Complaining About Shows You Don't Like and will be deleted as such.
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In-Universe Examples:

    Comic Books 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Leo and Max's Springtime for Hitler gambit in The Producers; they aimed to produce the biggest flop ever so they could make off with the investment money, so they took in a story glorifying Adolf Hitler and made it as offensive as they could. Unfortunately, the actor playing Hitler himself was so terrible (or in the remake, so flamboyantly over-the-top) that the audience assumed that it was a parody, and the show sold out. The director deciding to throw in some catchy musical segments didn't help.
  • A significant plot point in Glass Onion. It takes Benoit Blanc longer than it should to solve the case because there are so many stupid and amateurish mistakes made in the crimes committed (murdering somebody at the most suspicious time imaginable, not immediately disposing of damning evidence, committing crimes while a detective is present, stealing ideas for crimes from things people said mere hours ago, etc.) that Blanc discounts the real culprit Miles Bron, on the basis that it doesn't make sense for a man as seemingly intelligent as Bron be so foolish, even entertaining the possibility that someone is framing Bron because of how thoroughly all the evidence points to him. As it turns out, no, Bron did it. He's a clueless moron who's good at sounding smarter than he actually is. He really did genuinely do all those monumentally stupid things while committing his crimes, because he really is just that incompetent. This is, in fact, the point behind the Double-Meaning Title; a Glass Onion, as observed by Blanc, is something that has many layers, yet is ultimately see-through and has an obvious answer.
    Birdie: It's so dumb, it's brilliant.
    Blanc: No! It's just dumb!
  • In Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, the main villain is a racist, paranoid DHS agent who is a parody of The War on Terror-era jingoism and militarism. At one point he meets Neil Patrick Harris and tells him that he was inspired to join the security apparatus because of Starship Troopers, not understanding that the movie was explicitly a satire of people like him. Of course if he'd read the book, that would be a different story...

  • In Author! Author! by Isaac Asimov, Graham Dorn wrote his first "Reginald de Meister" novel as a satire of detective fiction. The public didn't spot the satire, and now he's the bestselling author of a detective series he hates.
  • In Erasure by Percival Everett, an intellectual black author, sick and tired of his philosophical books being passed over for publication because they're not suitably "Black," writes a way, way over the top parody of thuggish ghetto-chic blaxploitation called My Paffology and has his agent send it out as a protest. Random House accepts the book at face value as a fierce portrayal of the Black experience and pays six hundred grand for it. The book, now renamed Fuck, goes on to win the National Book Award.
  • Inverted, discussed, and Played for Laughs in the German novel Er Ist Wieder Da ("Look Who's Back"). In it, Adolf Hitler somehow ends up in present-day Germany and ends up becoming a media sensation because everyone mistakenly thinks he's just a hardcore method actor/comedian who refuses to break character. He repeatedly goes on massive spiels expressing his old views and is completely serious, but everyone thinks he's satirizing his own ideals by acting like a Large Ham Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist. Near the end, Hitler even ends up getting assaulted by a group of Neo-Nazis who think he's mocking the real Hitler's legacy. Hitler, however, fully plans on exploiting his newfound popularity, and at the end, he chillingly declares that he feels ready to try his hand at a comeback in politics.
  • Exploited and combined with Refuge in Audacity in the Honor Harrington book On Basilisk Station through the "big lie" theory. After the Republic of Haven gets their hand caught in the cookie jar regarding their schemes with Basilisk, Honor hopes that Havenite civilians will see through their government's outrageously false Propaganda Machine, which paints themselves as the real victims of the debacle, just as easily as the Manticorans have. Unfortunately, as gets explained to her by experts on such matters, the fact that said propaganda is so outrageously false is also what leads the Havenites to accept it at face value; they would never believe that their governing authorities would deliberately lie to them in such an audacious manner, so they end up believing them even when they are lying.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's short piece "How Kid Brady Broke Training", Kid Brady, after reading a magazine, goes off meat and starts an all-fruit diet under the belief that it will make him a better fighter. He later meets the article's author, who tells him that it was meant as satire, "[b]ut so subtle and delicate is my humor that apparently the thing is misleading".
  • Darrel Bristow-Bovey's self-help satire I Moved Your Cheese complains about how hard it is to write a self-help satire:
    When it comes to the self-help genre, the line between satire and the real thing is drawn in water with a blunt pencil.
  • In the humorist George Mikes's book about his time in Japan, Land of the Rising Yen, he describes his attempts at writing haiku and claims that his Japanese friends were so complimentary, that he became uncertain who was pulling whose leg.
  • This is what got the Bill of Life, which allows parents to have their children's body parts be divided and used as transplants once they reach age thirteen, passed in Unwind; it was proposed in order to make both sides in the Heartland War realize how ridiculous they were being. What wasn't expected was for both pro-choice and pro-life people to embrace it as the only way to compromise.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On The Good Fight, Diane is having a really rough time and starts to self-medicate. When she sees TV stories about some weird thing President Trump allegedly did, she has a hard time deciding whether the reports were real or whether she hallucinated them. The implication is that some of the reports were real while others were just her drugged mind making up stuff, but to her, they are all just as plausible.
  • The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Raw" has Stabler and Munch trace a weapon used in a school shooting to a gun store that also turns out to be a front for a white supremacist/neo-Nazi group. The owner and his son are more subdued in their racism, being able to hold relatively polite conversations with the police, whereas the woman they hired as extra help is by far more openly and obnoxiously racist, going so far as to refuse to give her name when the group eventually gets taken to court. Then the son pulls a gun in the courtroom and starts blasting, and the woman pulls a gun in return to kill him in self-defense - and it turns out she is actually an undercover FBI agent under an alias.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • An Indian funny fairytale tells the story about the dogs trying to get a president. Unsurprisingly, it goes like in a kennel, every candidate was rejected, until a little cur suggested to vote for the dog who smelled good from behind. This clearly was meant sarcastically but was critically acclaimed, and since that day two dogs greet by ramming their nose into the other's ass. (And they still haven't found a prez...)

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • In a Checkerboard Nightmare arc, the titular character creates a children's show centered entirely around promoting himself and his merchandise. Said Merchandise-Driven nature is so transparent that the show becomes a hit amongst teenagers and young adults who mistake it for biting satire (the fact that Chex could only afford for the show to be run on a 4AM timeslot didn't help).
  • This comic from the Australian version of The Guardian claims that it is no longer possible to satirise Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
  • Taken to something of a logical extreme in Homestuck, where Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff, Dave's Stylistic Suck webcomic, is described as "a webcomic ironically maintained through a satirical cipher" with "legions of devoted fans, most of whom are totally convinced" of his sockpuppet persona's sincerity. A bit of meta irony kicks in when you consider that in real life, Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff actually is much better known than Homestuck and MSPA, and genuinely does have legions of devoted fans (though most of them are well aware of its ironic Stylistic Suck value).
    • Part of the reason is that Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff originated before Homestuck and was posted on the Penny Arcade forums by Andrew Hussie.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:
    • The comic parodies this here. A man and a woman are in bed in their underwear, and the man is saying, "It wasn't lousy sex; it was a satire about lousy sex."
    • A weird version of this is exploited in Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, "Literally." Since many Biblical literalists haven't actually read the Bible, you can go ask them "Do you really believe in [crazy thing that wasn't in the Bible but sounds a bit like it might have been]?" and they'll answer "Yes."

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Beavis and Butt-Head episode "Buttniks," they wander into a coffee shop and witness a poetry slam. Butt-Head goes on stage and deliberately stinks up the joint to the annoyance of the crowd. Beavis drinks lots of cappuccino (or, as he called it, "Crappuccino") and turns into the Great Cornholio and goes off on an insane incoherent rant. The audience loves it and call it "groundbreaking stuff," instead of recognizing it as the babblings of an overcaffeinated psycho.
  • Bojack Horseman: Sarah Lynn's teen pop musical career was a long-winded critique of the teen-pop mindset (e.g. "My Heinie Isn't Too Tiny"). However, her demographic were supporters of that lifestyle and not wanting to lose them, she walked the line by settling on Indecisive Deconstructive Parodies. This left her very disillusioned over her fans and how she was perceived and heard, which was the beginning of a long, painful burnout...
  • In the Family Guy episode "Brian Writes a Bestseller", Brian manages to pull this off with a hastily-written self-help book called "Wish It, Want It, Do It", which he wrote as a statement on self-help books in general. However, it winds up becoming a bestseller, and he ultimately buys into his own hype. It ultimately takes Bill Maher to get Brian to admit the truth and be shooed off the set.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "The Secret of Success", Doofenshmirtz holds a telethon to fund his evil schemes, even going so far as to perform a short song called "I Want Your Money" to make his intentions even more obvious. Lawrence, watching from a dentist's office, believes it's "a brilliant work of satire" and declares it his new favorite show.
  • The Simpsons: One episode has Marge finding a copy of The Onion on her neighbor's coffee table. Upon reading it, Marge is surprised at the headlines only to be informed that it's satire. Next, Marge opens the paper and upon reading the movie reviews, laughs at what the critics say about the movies only to find out the movie reviews are real.
  • South Park:
    • The episode "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" has this happen: After being excited to read The Catcher in the Rye after hearing it used to be banned, and ending up disappointed when they don't find anything particularly controversial or offensive in it, the kids set out to write a deliberately offensive story that deserves to get banned. The adults find it, and despite it being so disgusting that nobody can read a single sentence without puking their guts out, they all believe that it's a great literary work full of profound symbolism, even after the kids explicitly tell them that it is nothing more than a string of gross-out attempts on paper and that there is no actual story in it.
    • The 16th season episode "Sarcastaball" revolves around a game that Randy invents as parody, but which everyone else takes seriously.
  • Under Grads: When Nitz decides to act like a sleaze to win over Kimmy (currently running a theater to promote awareness of date rape), Kimmy thinks he's auditioning to play the date rapist in the next show.

Real Life Examples:

    Alternate Reality Games 
  • Omega Mart: People mistook its second iteration (a temporary art installation based out of a rented space in downtown Santa Fe) for an actual grocery store despite the general weirdness going on inside it, to the point that embarrassed members of Meow Wolf (the collective behind the installation) would have to break character to explain that no, Omega Mart is not an actual grocery store. You can buy Omega Mart products from the official site, surprisingly.

    Anime & Manga 
  • This article in Spanish assures that Dragon Ball is a work inspired by Satanism, with evidence such as that "Dragon Ball" means "The beast is coming" - instead of, you know, a Dragon Ball - or that all the names of the characters correspond to real demons. The website is clearly a parody of Christian fundamentalists, but that very article has been cited on Christian forums as real evidence that anime is demonic in nature.

  • "Don Novello" (aka "Father Guido Sarducci") wrote a series of letters in the 1970s and '80s to various politicians, corporations and famous people under the persona "Lazlo Toth" (named after the "man who vandalized Michelangelo's Pieta"). The Toth persona was a parody of a low-information Nixon supporter: jingoistic, clueless, earnest, and maddeningly obtuse. It is the printed pre-cursor to Stephen Colbert. The targets of his correspondence often took his letters at face value and sent sincere replies. Occasionally "Toth" would string them along through several rounds. One example: Toth wrote a letter to the "Mr Bubble" corporation asking how he was supposed to use the product given the admonition on the box to "KEEP DRY". An excerpt from the lengthy reply: "It is true, we do say on our box: Free Flowing 'MR BUBBLE' must be kept dry. By this statement, we mean that the box of powder should be protected against dampness, such as moisture in the bathroom if the box is not put away. The box of 'MR. BUBBLE' should be closed and placed in a cabinet until the next use. Some people tell us they transfer the 'MR BUBBLE' powder to a plastic container, or even a large coffee can, to keep dampness out of the powder. Some have mentioned they keep a measuring scoop in the can for convenient measuring of the proper mount of powder to use in each bath. Over-use is only wasteful." If you want to read the correspondence with VP's Agnew and Ford, H.R. Haldeman, McDonald's (about jelly on the egg McMuffin), Mayor Rizzo or J. Edgar Hoover, buy the book "The Lazlo Letters".
  • "John Clarke and Bryan Dawe" were a New Zealand/Australian comedy duo that satirized politicians and other public figures. A quick glance at the comments on the YouTube page shows how many people thought they were for real. Given that each of those sketches involved John Clarke playing all of the political figures without any change in voice, costume, or makeup, anyone who watched more than one should have very quickly realized that he was not both Prime Minister Rudd and Senator Stephen Conroy, but was in fact a sketch comedian. Also, he was not Rudd's successor, Julia Gillard.
  • Performance artists The Yes Men made a career out of this during the Bush administration. One of their projects included passing out surveys under their "Yes, Bush Can!" slogan letterhead, urging people at Republican rallies to specify the rights they were willing to waive in the name of the War on Terror. They had assumed people would be shocked but instead, the audiences filled them out and turned them back in. Before reaching unavoidable notoriety, the Yes Men had managed to pull off their satire so effectively, that serious business and economic forums were inviting them to speak, which they gleefully accepted. One such presentation of note, given at an international textile industry conference, had them deconstructing the U.S. Civil War as secretly fought because the North didn't want to lose access to cheap Southern cotton, and ended with them demonstrating a prototype employee-monitoring device that hangs off the user and resembles a giant golden penis. The audience ate it up. The Yes Men themselves expressed astonishment at just how far into the absurd they could go and still have so-called professional audiences taking them seriously.
  • Swedish humor show Grotesco featured a song called Det är bögarnas fel ("It's the gay men's fault") which became a hit and can be watched here. It's a textbook example of this trope. The song is sung by a reverend who claims that gay men are to blame for every single bad thing in the world and sings that "I don't know the line and verse, chapter or part, but somewhere in [the Bible] it says that it's the gay men's fault." He and lots of other singers then go on to give gay men the blame for things that clearly aren't gay men's fault. One woman sings that "My son shot four people to death with the hunting rifle. Somehow, I feel that it's the gay men's fault." A man sings that "I once ate porridge and confused curry for cinnamon, and that wasn't carelessness; no, it was the gay men's fault." It's almost impossible to imagine how it could be more obviously satiric, and still, when it was performed live on the family show Allsång på Skansen, somebody reported the show to the police for being upsetting to homosexuals.
  • Another Swedish comedian, Ronny Eriksson, wrote a song in the late eighties that parodied racism. The song, titled "Storswänsken" ("the Great Swede") is sung from the point of view of a person who's opposed to every single thing that was invented outside Sweden. It contains lines such as "Don't believe for a second that the earth is round, 'cause some darkie thought that up", "Get rid of the alphabet and all damn numbers" and "down with science". About twenty years later young Swedish racists began to sing the song as their anthem. Eriksson's only comment was that clearly, some people are too stupid to realize when they are being insulted.
  • Noted by Doug Stanhope in his No Refunds Tour, when he recalls performing at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. When commenting on the Mel Gibson antisemitism controversy, he noted that people shouldn't care what Gibson thinks and the media shouldn't give Gibson any attention. Cue Stanhope noting he actually needs the publicity, he jokingly noted he'd happily say "I hate the Jews" for a little media attention, only for a journalist to take it as an antisemitism admission, before quoting him saying "I hate the Jews."
  • Stand-up comedienne Suzi Ruffell got into trouble for a stand-up routine intended to illustrate how white British people, without intending to and with the best of intentions, can come over as being somewhat racist. Before she knew it, she was being dubbed "racist comedian Suzi Ruffell" and similar inaccurate descriptions.
  • Fred Armisen's Complicated Drumming Technique: Jens Hannemann was a parody of drumming instruction videos featuring needlessly complex and masturbatory parts with extremely large drum setups that contained components that were either largely superfluous or used to the point where the part was irreducibly complex and would not easily translate to smaller setups. Many viewers who were not aware of the video's origins, but were aware of the kind of videos that Armisen was parodying took it completely seriously.

    Comic Books 
  • The Star Wars Legends comic "Skippy the Jedi Droid" was written by Peter David as a parody of how other stories tended to infuse random and irrelevant characters with cosmic-level importance, by taking the idea to its natural conclusion and declaring that the busted R2 unit in A New Hope who explodes after being bought was actually a Force-sensitive droid (something near-impossible by the rules of the series), with his malfunction being a deliberate act of self-sacrifice to ensure the safety of the galaxy. Since then, the story's become a perennial fixture of articles and arguments discussing why Legends was full of absurd nonsense, seemingly unaware of the fact that the story was both satirical and non-canon. It doesn't particularly help that, as silly as Skippy is, it was only a notch or two more absurd than some of the actual cases of A Day in the Limelight it was parodying (for example, Tales of the Bounty Hunters revealing that IG-88 took control of the second Death Star without anyone noticing), as well as the franchise’s rampant use of Because Destiny Says So to justify any and all Contrived Coincidences, such as that droid exploding just so that Luke can meet Artoo and Threepio.

    Fan Works 
  • In general, this is a massive risk ascociated with the Parody Sue and (to a lesser extent) the Mary-Sue Hunter. The idea is that, should you make your parody too close to the original, people simply aren't going to tell the difference and will just see them as another Mary Sue.
  • The HMS STFU copied the Harry Potter section that was on our own Warp That Aesop page circa January 2011 as seen here. Seeing as the HMS STFU usually deals with people who hold similar or worse positions in total seriousness — they were the ones who discovered The Girl Who Lived, Hogwarts Exposed, The Last War, The Real Us and the complete works of pstibbons and Robst, after all — it's not that surprising that only a few of them seemed to consider that a page like that might not be entirely serious.
  • Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles (found here), allegedly written by a Christian mom. Some believe that the author is dead serious, while others are convinced that it's blatant satire. The final chapter reveals it all to be a troll, though, with the author (through Voldemort) not-so-subtly calling out everyone who thought it was legit.
  • There are some people who believe The Last War to be a Troll Fic, noting Harry and Hermione's choice of theme song and that it's like a perfect Harmonian Cliché Storm.
  • Defied with the disclaimer at the beginning of The Legend of Mary Sue, a Parody Fic based on The Real Ghostbusters and starring a Parody Sue. It notes explicitly that the story is just a joke, and thus the protagonist is not meant to be sympathetic and it's not in continuity with the author's other fanfics.
  • Some people think that My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic must be written by a troll. It's not. The author really, really isn't kidding.
  • Nobody really knows if My Immortal was written seriously or if it's just the work of a troll of legendary prowess. There's evidence both ways — on the one hand, a number of ideas seem weirdly out of place (Snape being evil, callouts to Tom Bombadil or Bela Lugosi's Dead) and the story's deterioration in spelling and grammar doesn't quite match up with the supposed loss of its editor. On the other hand, people who were around at the time of the story's publication have pointed out that its level of quality was actually pretty typical. Its publication time doesn't help, as it happened at just the point when all its common tropes were being discredited.
  • The "Pony Plot Perfection Project", a supposed fan project (which insists it's totally not sexually motivated) to edit episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic to avert Animals Lack Attributes, which, given stereotypes about the show's fandom, would have been very potent ammunition for their detractors if true. The project lead eventually admitted to being a troll (the fact that their logo was a Swastika made of P's should have made this obvious), but the confession was posted on April Fools' Day and some fans claim to have seen actual episodes edited in this way, so whether it's a joke, real, or a joke that some people took seriously enough to make true is still up in the air.
  • The Prayer Warriors is a troll, but since it focused on common targets of Everyone Is Satan in Hell, including Harry Potter, people weren't sure if it was a troll or some actual Christian who can't spell.

    Films — Animation 
  • Many people think Bee Movie is unintentionally stupid (which may explain its memetic status) when a stupid movie was actually what Jerry Seinfeld was going for.
  • The aptly-named "Mr. Poe and Yogul" segment from Dorbees: Making Decisions is probably supposed to be Stylistic Suck. However, the movie as a whole isn't very good, so its intentional jokes have been mistaken by critics for just plain bad writing.
  • The plastic soldier scene in Toy Story was intended by the filmmakers to be funny, since it was a cliché war scene played straight with toys instead of humans. When it was shown to test audiences, they took it just as seriously as the real thing.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Airplane! was actually an adaptation of a serious airplane disaster movie called Zero Hour!. While obviously a lot of jokes were added, most of the script - Ted and Elaine's Glurge filled romance, the goofy premise, the fish poisoning, the sick little kid - is lifted straight from Zero Hour!, where it was all played completely unironically. It's actually kind of fun to watch the two back to back and see how little was changed.
  • Prior to the release of James Cameron's sci-fi epic Avatar, a curious blog popped up called "Stop Avatar Movie". The blog's editor claims to be a transgender woman who is offended by the "heterosexual themes" found in the movie (namely, the apparent lack of non-heterosexual, non-cisgender characters), and urges people to boycott it. She goes so far as to make Avatar the scapegoat for anything in the wider culture that is or could be remotely construed as homophobic/transphobic, regardless of whether or not the thing or incident being discussed has anything to do with the film. The political and social views expressed on the blog are so extreme that even actual gay people are divided on whether the author is just a very dedicated troll, or legitimately insane. For all we know, the blog could have been started to covertly help the film. At one point, the writer actually encourages the offended to buy tickets and then not see the movie.
  • In his review of Bamboozled, Roger Ebert noted that most movie-going audiences wouldn't catch onto the film's satire about how black people are portrayed in modern media. People would simply get pissed off at the mere use of Blackface. Indeed, the film ended up a box-office bomb as a result.
  • Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is an infamously over-the-top parody of sexploitation films. However, when screenwriter and director Roger Ebert and Russ Meyer later met the Sex Pistols, they were nonplussed when Johnny Rotten expressed his admiration for the movie because it was so true to life.
  • James Nguyen claims his film Birdemic is a masterpiece, despite the poor editing and writing, among other flaws. Nobody can tell whether he genuinely thinks it's good or he's just trolling.
  • Borat was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League and the European Center for Antiziganism Research for its depiction of Borat's racism and Antisemitism. The film is actually parodying such beliefs and attempting to expose acceptance of them in Borat's unwitting interview guests. In fact, Sacha Baron Cohen is himself a practicing Jew and was later given an award by the ADL, where he made a very moving speech about the continuing threat of antisemitism.
  • C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America is a mockumentary based on an alternate history where the Confederacy wins the Civil War. Said mockumentary details an America, with slavery as part of the modern way of life, bat-shit crazy politics dictated and decided in part by the desire and need for human chattel, and numerous fictional, parody products with extremely racist overtones. Then the mockumentary comes to its conclusion, and you find out that a lot of those ridiculous, over-the-top products that couldn't possibly exist, actually did, and were actually being sold for decades. The whole totalitarian plot to conquer the entire New World from top to bottom, that sounds like the alternate ending for The Wild Wild West, or possibly Code Geass: yeah, that was actually the plan all along, and something the Confederacy would have attempted had they won the Civil War. Suddenly, the mockumentary, while still a bit ham-handed in presentation, becomes a little more uncomfortable to watch...
  • Included with the DVD of DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story is an "alternate ending" where the movie abruptly ends (as in, straight to the credits) when Globo Gym beats the Average Joe's (just before the judges declare a sudden death match between Peter and White), and in the director's commentary he claims that this is how the movie was supposed to end if it wasn't for Executive Meddling, and that he's still bitter about it. Some people (including on this very site) actually took this seriously.
  • Dr. Strangelove is a comedic adaptation of Red Alert, a book that played the same premise straight. Other than the ending and the inclusion of Dr. Strangelove himself, the story is almost slavishly accurate to the book. Notable because Peter George, the author of Red Alert, actually helped write Dr. Strangelove, making it seem like even he realized how easily his book could slide into Narm territory.
  • At one point, there was a popular image macro making the rounds on Facebook which made fun of fans of Fight Club who supposedly contradict Tyler's "don't talk about Fight Club" mantra by... well, talking about Fight Club. In the film itself, Tyler coins that saying specifically because he knows people will disobey it, and thus expand his sphere of influence.
  • Forklift Driver Klaus, a German Bloody Hilarious parody of workplace safety films, is frequently linked by Anglophones with "look at those crazy Germans" comments suggesting that it's been mistaken for a serious workplace safety film.
  • Some audiences complained that "the actor playing Joseph McCarthy" in Good Night, and Good Luck. was "too over-the-top". The film used actual archived footage of the real McCarthy.
  • Heathers (of which Mean Girls is a sort of Lighter and Softer Spiritual Successor) was originally meant to be nothing more than a spoof of high school shooting cases, even taking place in suburban Ohio to make things all the more ridiculous. Many people, however, interpreted the film as a genuine deconstruction of high school cliques and teen movie clichés, and it was soon branded a top-tier high school movie.
  • Two movies: Jesus, Bro! and Let There Be Light. Both films are about a Hollywood Atheist who suffers a near-death experience in which he sees Heaven. This causes them to go through Easy Evangelism where they lose the respect of their original community, end up getting advice from other Christians, and reconciles with old flings. Now here’s the key; one is a satire on Christian propaganda films, while the other is a Christian propaganda film. If you decide to watch both films back-to-back, it'll be hard to tell the difference.
  • Much of Jojo Rabbit's advance publicity includes the Tag Line "An Anti-Hate Satire" because times are such that it's become unclear if we're supposed to laugh at Those Wacky Nazis. This did not stop people from not recognizing Taika Waititi and thinking it was an actual pro-Nazi film because right-wing groups so frequently parody anti-hate language these days. There were numerous tweets and comments to that effect when the film's trailer was released on YouTube. Once people realized that Hitler was going to be played by a Polynesian though, it became obvious this was a joke.
  • Josie and the Pussycats (2001): The Product Placement was parodied by way of cranking it up even though the movie did not make any money off the products and the entire plot of the movie was parodying how media is used to sell products. However, about half the audience and critics got it as self-referential satire, while the other half just thought it had way too many product placements.
  • A Knight's Tale: Upon release, some movie critics somehow mistook it for a genuine Middle Ages Period Piece and castigated the movie for its Anachronism Stew. The movie is actually an Affectionate Parody and deliberate Cliché Storm of sports stories only in the Middle Ages with knights, so any historical errors were entirely intentional. The filmmakers joke about this on the DVD commentary, remarking that you'd think they'd have gotten the hint when the movie opens with medieval peasants singing "We Will Rock You" by Queen.
  • After Tina Fey made Mean Girls, she commented, with some surprise, "Adults find it funny. They are the ones who are laughing. Young people watch it like a reality show. It's much too close to their real experiences so they are not exactly guffawing." She apparently meant it to be parody but didn't take it far enough and it was too realistic for kids to get the joke.
  • In documentary Religulous, Bill Maher disguises himself and starts preaching the actual tenets of Scientology in a park. Most people laugh at him and call him crazy, unaware that those were Scientologists' real beliefs.
  • Rock: It's Your Decision is supposed to be a Christian propaganda film, but the way it plays out, it feels like the writer is as mentally unhinged as the protagonist or the writer trolled the Christians who hired him to write their film and they never caught on. The main character starts out as a decent person, but after being convinced to give up rock music, becomes a raving judgmental maniac.
  • Some Star Wars fans have come up with the "Bigger Luke Hypothesis", according to which in some scenes of the first three Star Wars movies, Luke Skywalker appears to be slightly taller, which is either proof that he has an unmentioned (but still canon) ability to replace himself with a larger doppelganger or change his size at will, or a sign that Mark Hamill couldn't appear in certain scenes and had to be portrayed by a body double. Or maybe they're just making fun of fans who believe too strongly in nonsensical theories.
  • Tommy Wiseau has asserted that The Room (2003) was meant to be a Black Comedy after its widespread derision as a misfired drama.
  • Solo includes the female droid L3-37, who is obsessed with "droid rights." Fans are divided as to whether this was an endorsement or a parody of social justice advocates, or both. It doesn't help that the series' notoriously inconsistent portrayal of droids had many viewers thinking Strawman Has a Point.
  • When it was released in 1997 Starship Troopers was very easy to mistake as a genuine attempt at making an ultra-patriotic action movie that turned out rather poorly. A decade later its actual nature as a pure and unrestrained satire became painfully obvious as the entire plot of the movie turned out to be frighteningly prophetic. note  Meanwhile, the director of the film in question (who wasn't American and had an entirely different cultural background) still nods politely at interviewers who "discover" the parody in the movie. The original novel by Robert Heinlein was completely serious about the political messages of the story.

  • Older Than Print: The entire story of Lilith has its origins in a satirical book called the Alphabet of Sirach, which was filled with all kind of raunchy jokes. Yet medieval Jewish and later modern Christian authors really liked the idea of Eve not being the first woman. Lilith has been present in occult works (ranging from Kabbalah to Wicca to Satanism) ever since then.
  • Do You Want to Play with My Balls? is a parody of kids' books that involves two boys named Louie and Chuck playing with toy balls and making comments that sound suggestive. Some people have mistaken it for a real children's book.
  • Reviewers of Steven Grasse's The Evil Empire: 101 Ways That England Ruined the World are unsure if Grasse truly believes the book's premise that the United Kingdom is responsible for all the world's problems since the eighteenth century or if he is just pointing out the hypocrisy of the scapegoating of the United States that was so common when the book was written, by satirically applying the same attitude to a different country which has also had a history of intervention in foreign affairs. The book's article on The Other Wiki explicitly calls it a comic portrayal, however, which is circumstantial evidence for the "it's a joke" interpretation, despite the author appearing serious in interviews, and despite him getting a sincere British anarchist to write the preface.
  • Bernard de Mandeville, a Dutch physician in the 18th century, wrote a poem named The Fable of Bees, which was a satire to the moralist campaigns of the time. The poem caused public commotion at the time because he wrote that the vices of the people can be useful to the society, but today is regarded as a serious economic tract and many economists complain that it's hard to interpret him. It's hard because Mandeville wrote it as a satire; he didn't have any pretension to make a scientific tract.
  • In his short story collection Famous Monsters, Kim Newman mentions that Penguin Books asked him to tone down the politics of his story "Pitbull Brittan", a savage satire on Conservatism based on the question "What would it look like if everything the Daily Mail said was true?" To his bafflement, their objection was on the assumption that he was saying the world was like this.
  • Flatland is part geometric fantasy and part satire of Victorian classism and sexism. Unfortunately, it can be hard for modern readers to tell that the author was being satirical. And apparently for some readers at the time, since in the second edition Abbot added an author's note that spelt out the opinions of A. Square were not his own.
  • What exactly Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron is a satire of continues to be argued over to this day. Those on the right claim it's a satire of egalitarianism. Those on the left claim it's a satire of the right's views of egalitarianism.
  • There are still people who have to have it pointed out to them that A Modest Proposal is not intended literally. A Modest Proposal was Jonathan Swift's satirical essay that suggested solving the problem of working-class children in Ireland being a drag on their parents by selling them as food to rich people. Most interpretations read it as a satire of British attitudes towards the working class of Ireland. It created a scandal because some people didn't get the joke (Swift intended a scandal, but not like that). Modern readers who take it seriously justify their stance with Swift's misanthropy and deteriorating mental condition later in his life. At the time of the writing, however, he had no such attitudes or problems.
  • Niccolò Machiavelli's most well-known piece, The Prince, has been argued to be a satirical Take That! at the Medici who had recently had him brutally beaten—all his other writings advocate almost the exact opposite viewpoint.
  • The Viridian Saga is a parody of Paranormal Romance novels based on the Cthulhu Mythos. It was written by The Nostalgia Chick and her friends, crowdsourced in a series of online videos, and aided by ghostwriters. It was self-published under the alias "Serra Elinsen," who also serves as a sock-puppet for the authors to create online drama. Part of the point of the experiment is to see how people would react to it, and the authors were quite pleased when the novel caused some kerfluffle among Lovecraft fans and got some serious literary reviews.
    • It also works the other way: fans often play the part of a straightforward Fandom or Hatedom, meaning that it's almost impossible to tell if someone's in on the joke or not.
  • The Houyhnhnm's way of life in the final voyage of Gulliver's Travels was meant to satirize the Age of Enlightenment of the 1700s. A few centuries later, scholars would misinterpret it as Jonathon Swift's idea of a perfect society.
  • Harry Potter writer J. K. Rowling has had problem with Word of God on the matter. You see, she made the mistake of giving a random extra in the first book the same family name as Harry Potter's very own mother. The boy in question was called Mark Evans. Once Harry's mother's name was revealed (this was before The Half-Blood Prince was released), fans began speculating that Mark would become very, very relevant to the plot and asked Rowling if that was the case. Amused by how far the rumor had gotten, she joked that he was indeed a major character and that he was, in fact, the mysterious Half-Blood Prince the upcoming book was named after. Everybody took it dead seriously, to the point that someone went and created a page for Mark Evans on The Other Wiki.
    • When British satirical site The Daily Mash published an article claiming that the Harry Potter series took place entirely in Harry's head, someone on the Harry Potter Wiki took this seriously and edited accordingly.
    • A CollegeHumor article detailing fake Word of God claims from Rowling got widely accepted as real on a lot of sites, including such facts as Dumbledore being a top, Lupin having "exceedingly large genitals", Cho Chang taking "monster shits", and the Hufflepuff dorm being known for "group masturbation sessions." It doesn't help that it started with the real claim that Anthony Goldstein is Jewish.
    • Rowling has stated that many aspects of the fictional sport Quidditch are meant to poke fun of British Sports Culture; as such, she deliberately made the game broken by having the Golden Snitch so disproportionately valuable (along with making Harry the hero who wins the game). Unfortunately, this feature has made the game one of the most criticized aspects of the Harry Potter series, even among fans, and frequently serves as a textbook example of poor game design.
  • At least two of the cases in A.P. Herbert's Uncommon Law were reported elsewhere as real court cases. The most famous is "The Negotiable Cow", in which Albert Haddock writes a check to the Inland Revenue on the side of a cow. There was also "Is It a Free Country?" which shocked one American legal commentator who believed a British judge had actually said "It cannot be too clearly understood that this is not a free country, and it will be an evil day for the legal profession when it is."
  • Frederick Crews wrote two satirical essays — The Pooh Perplex and Postmodern Pooh — mocking obsessive over-analyzing and Faux Symbolism in literary circles by applying that same analysis style to Winnie the Pooh and playing it with a straight face. Not only were both mistaken as being serious, but the second essay includes citations to actual major academics who unironically proposed the exact same Epileptic Trees Crews was pulling out of his ass as a joke.
  • The Report from Iron Mountain was a Sixties counterculture book written by Leonard Lewin as a Stealth Parody of Vietnam-era military think tanks, and was convincing enough that, until it was revealed to be a hoax in 1972, even Lyndon Johnson thought it was an authentic document written by a secret government panel (he reportedly "hit the roof" when he read it). Given that it fooled the President, it stands to reason that there remain people who believe that it was authentic and that it was only claimed to be satirical as a means of damage control. It stated that war was a necessary part of the economy and served to divert collective aggression and that society would collapse without it. Therefore, in the event of peace, they recommended that new bodies be created to emulate the economic activities of war, including Blood Sports, the creation of new enemies to scare the people (including alien invaders and environmental destruction), and the reinstatement of slavery.
  • Throughout the Dr. Seuss book Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose, the phrase "a host, above all, must be nice to his guests" is repeated. It is used ironically, as Thidwick's guests (animals who live in his antlers) are quite ungrateful and almost cause him to starve to death. At the end, Thidwick's problems are solved when he kicks out his guests. There's a small group of people who took the repeated phrase seriously and left thinking the book contained a Broken Aesop.
  • Plato's Symposium contains a sequence where the playwright Aristophanes gives a "Just So" Story explaining his idea of what love is, about how everyone was once a four-legged four-armed intersex person, but the gods cut them in half for their egotism and they're now searching for their missing halves. It's not uncommon to find versions of this story on myth-focused websites as an example of an actual Greek creation story, as it doesn't seem that much more absurd (and many even consider it one of the first examples of the One True Love). In context, though, it's meant as a mockery of creation myths, between the absurd imagery and the fact that Aristophanes is drunk off his ass.
  • Paleontology enthusiasts tend to enjoy mocking the many low-quality dinosaur books out there, with their questionable anatomy and information decades outdated at release. A perennial favorite of such groups is an image from a kids' book of "Aeolosaurus", supposedly an ankylosaur that could glide like a flying squirrel. The image in question is indeed from a real kid's book—that being, Be a Dinosaur Detective, an activity book featuring a section that challenges the reader to pick out real dinosaurs from fake ones. Unsurprisingly, Aeolosaurus is the latter. Underlining it further, right next to it is a dinosaur supposedly named Rhedosaurus.
  • Because of the way Norman Boutin responds to his detractors for Empress Theresa, it is inevitable that he will respond to almost any criticism in a highly dismissive fashion. Due to this, it is almost impossible to tell who is Norman and who is just pretending to be Norman on the Empress Theresa Wiki, as the comments are filled with mass numbers of accounts all using similar names with ever-increasing numbers on the end. It's at the point where a trolling attempt may go entirely over the head of any user on the site and they just assume it has to be Norman.
  • According to the introduction when it was printed in Across the Wall when Garth Nix posted "My New Really Epic Fantasy Series" on his website he received a few emails from people who took it as a serious outline despite all the signs that it was a joke (such as the book titles that were parodies of other famous fantasy works).
  • Maypoles, Martyrs and Mayhem, a light-hearted book about British customs and traditions, has an entry on Shrovetide that mocks "one Puritan writer" who seemed to think pancakes were literally satanic, comparing the hissing of the oil to the hydra, and describing the ingredients as "tragical, magical enchantments", with the modern writers concluding that the combination of food and fun was just too much for some people. This is actually a quote from Jack a Lent by John Taylor, a poet and satirist who probably wasn't a Puritan, since his day job was ferrying people to the South Bank entertainments the Puritans were trying to shut down, and whose over-the-top denouncement of Shrovetide traditions is considered by most readers to be at least partly tongue-in-cheek.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Batman (1966) was a very popular comedy show in its day, but a surprisingly large number of modern-day viewers assume that it was meant to be a serious adventure show. This included Neil Hamilton, the portrayer of Commissioner Gordon, who would get annoyed if he saw other actors cracking up on set. Part of the reason is the show's extremely heavy use of The Comically Serious; for all the nuttiness surrounding Batman, he always treated the events of the series with utter straight-laced professionalism, even if it was declaring that the answer to a riddle was "A sparrow with a machinegun!"
  • This article by Tasha Robinson argues that Boba Fett in The Book of Boba Fett is supposed to be an incompetent villain protagonist who only succeeds by being insanely lucky and surrounded by far more competent people who can actually do all the muscle work he cannot, or will not, do himself. This explains why he is so passive and doesn't seem to have any reasons for doing the things he does, including actually wanting to be a crime lord. She also claims that Boba is not in any way a virtuous person and doesn't have any clear desire to help the people of Tatooine, only doing so because it benefits him in the moment with his greed in having the people work for or with him result in an escalation of violence. The number of comments debating this as an actual review for the series and those who believe that this is a troll post are pretty evenly divided.
  • Brass Eye, which hoodwinked British celebrities into participating in fictional public information films, culminating in a Member of the British Parliament raising a question in the House of Commons about the ludicrous made-up drug "cake".
  • The cancellation of Chappelle's Show and Chappelle's subsequent Creator Backlash response was due to a growing Misaimed Fandom of racist white viewers.
  • One recurring segment of The Chaser's War On Everything played subtitled clips from more extreme Middle-Eastern television shows which decried the west in the most ridiculous ways possible, including Tomorrow's Pioneers, a Palestinian childrens' show ripping off Mickey Mouse but encouraging hatred of the west in children. Given what the War on Everything is normally like, one would expect the subtitling to be a Gag Sub, an exaggeration for comedic purposes. It turns out it's legit — they had to put in a "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer establishing that The ABC had independently confirmed the legitimacy and accuracy of the subtitles.
  • The Colbert Report: Colbert plays a parody of a right-wing pundit. Many conservatives were convinced that Colbert was a real neoconservative and that the show was a parody of the way the left views the right. In March 2014, Colbert drew the ire of social justice online advocate, Suey Park, who started the Twitter hashtag #CancelColbert, over a tweet Colbert made that was parodying the issue of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his launch of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. (The tweet in question consisted entirely of the punchline and none of the setup or context). Colbert answers back here.
  • Whenever a country sends an act to the Eurovision Song Contest that's obviously intended as a parody of the kind of novelty songs that show up at the contest, they inevitably just transform into the exact kind of song they're trying to mock.
    • Three notable examples are the 2008 trio of Ireland's Dustin the Turkey with "Irlande Douze Points"note , Estonia's Kreisisradio with "Leto svet"note , and Spain's Rodolfo Chikilacuatre with "Baile el Chiki-Chiki."note  While all were deliberate Stylistic Suck when they were put in the same context as actual wacky Eurovision acts with more earnest intents (such as France, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Latvia the same year), they just fell into the same traps and are often treated the same way, making appearances on "Worst Eurovision Songs" lists and usually being ranked as the worst of their year by fans, regardless of whether or not they know they're satirical.
    • 2006 saw two similar acts, Iceland's Silvia Night with "Congratulations"note  and Lithuania's LT United with "We Are the Winners" note . Both acts were greeted with loud jeers following their performances in the semi-final round, as fans took their attitudes at face value. It backfired for Iceland since the song wasn't funny enough to escape Silvia's annoyingness (topped off with her actress staying in character the whole time, to the point of yelling at the Greek stage crew) and they didn't qualify. However, the viewers at home caught on to Lithuania's gag quicker than the fans in the arena: not only did Lithuania secure their first-ever qualification (to the loud consternation of the crowd), but they managed their best finish to date, taking sixth place in the grand final, with Ireland even awarding the song twelve points. Even Finland's Lordi, the eventual winners, sang the song's chorus when they entered the winner's press conference afterwards.
  • Considering Gordon Ramsay's creative insults in Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, a lot of people thought the "Idiot Sandwich" line was from an actual show. It actually came from a parody of Hell's Kitchen called "Hell's Cafeteria", wherein two talk show hosts play the role of contestants.
  • Housos is a Black Comedy of Australia's working-class bludgers (i.e. the working-class who don't work). Two current affairs programs aired hard-hitting 'exposés' on this offensive new Reality Show. Interestingly, when they realized the show was fake they tried a new angle, complaining about tax-payers money being used to subsidize filth. The show's home channel, SBS, raised all the funds itself. All in all, the Housos creator was happy at the hilarious free publicity, while the current affairs shows got publicity of the wrong kind altogether.
  • A The Whitest Kids U' Know sketch "Kitty History" parodied many historical conspiracy theories. As seen in the comments of this upload, many people thought the sketch was seriously supporting those theories.
  • From the 24/3/14 episode of Media Watch: Two of the following headlines about the missing Malaysia Airlines jet are from genuine newspapers, while one is from a spoof - "Pastor Predicted Disappearance of Jet", "Missing Jet in North Korea", "Plane Stolen by Aliens". Which one is the spoof? The correct answer is "Missing Jet in North Korea"
  • Penn & Teller: Bullshit! does this often to ridicule the topic they are covering in a particular episode; for example, polling hippies on banning water (identified as the scary sounding Dihydrogen Monoxide) or asking for donations to fight global warming with no proof the funds will be used legitimately. They were often shocked at how horribly right their "bullshit experiments" went.
  • The Power Rangers franchise works by taking action sequences from the Super Sentai series, dubbing them, and inserting their own footage with at least two Sentai: Gekisou Sentai Carranger (Power Rangers Turbo) and Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger (Power Rangers: Dino Thunder) were total or partial parodies of the Sentai genre respectively, and made into completely serious Power Rangers series.
  • Sherlock had a large faction of fans claiming that the fourth series would actually have four episodes rather than just three, a theory that became increasingly popular in the fanbase after the third episode and apparent series finale aired. Many argued that the episode was so laughably implausible, answered so few questions, and featured so many bizarre events that it couldn't be real, and was intended to seem like an impossible and nonsensical story to clue in the audience, and therefore the fourth episode would explain it to all be some kind of dream or hoax or false reality and provide a "proper" conclusion. A week later, that faction of the fanbase discovered that Apple Tree Yard (which replaced Sherlock in its timeslot) was a real show, and the episode was not, in fact, written poorly on purpose.
  • Various Point-and-Laugh Shows (both Talk Shows and Reality TV) occasionally feature (dis)honored guests that are so over-the-top that no one in the audience can be certain whether they're for real, actors, or some combination thereof.

  • Vocaloid fans can’t seem to agree whether HACHI’s song, Matryoshka, is secretly hiding an extremely complex message about mental health, or is just nonsense.
  • People taking Anal Cunt's songs literally. Or for that matter, anything fronted by Billy Milano (S.O.D. and M.O.D. most notably). Flame wars have been fought over whether songs like "Speak English or Die" are satire or serious.
  • Beastie Boys claim that their "You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Party" song is actually meant to mock party-goers and the whole 1980s party scene, but it's universally appreciated as a party song. This applies to much of Licensed to Ill,'' their debut album, in general; it was a frat boy classic at the time, but the band became pretty embarrassed about the content in later years. MCA openly denounced their previous treatment of women in their 1994 single "Sure Shot."
  • Biz Markie's "Just a Friend" made two VH-1 Top 100 lists (one specifically for So Bad, It's Good songs) and was praised for its "sincerity" even though Biz was not only a rapper but also a comedian, and the song's Stylistic Suck is played for humor.
  • The Black Eyed Peas decided to parody the misogyny and materialism of modern crunk rap by putting out the most ridiculous song they could come up with: "My Humps". Since it's still done in the same style as the genre it's parodying, most people didn't realize it was supposed to be a parody until Alanis Morissette covered it in her Signature Style and the Peas showed their approval of it.
  • Blur's "Song 2" was just a late-in-the-game parody of Grunge, that the band threw together in the studio. It is one of the most beloved grunge songs ever released, and their breakthrough single in America.
  • Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" is a bitterly sarcastic song about an emotionally scarred Vietnam veteran who can't find work and is pissed at Uncle Sam for screwing him over. People who don't listen to anything beyond the chorus, however, assume that it's a patriotic song. More than one War Hawk politician (most infamously, Ronald Reagan) has tried to use it for their campaigning.
  • Jimmy Cross' "I Want My Baby Back" was meant to be a mockery of those morbid Teenage Death Songs from the '50s and '60s, but was voted one of the worst songs of all time by listeners who didn't realize this and mistook it for a dead-serious necrophiliac love ballad.
  • In one of the darker examples of this trope, Dead Kennedys started getting neo-Nazis at their shows after they wrote a sarcastic song entitled "Kill the Poor" (and another entitled "California über Alles"). They wrote the song "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" in response. Napalm Death later covered it for the same reason: because neo-Nazis and boneheads started appearing at their shows as well and they wanted them to know in no uncertain terms that they were not welcome.
  • DJ Pøssycat's infamous russ music track "Duracell 2019" features crass lyrics including the lines "rape is good/yes, it makes me happy", a celebration of heroin and the narrator telling the listener to kill themself. While the artist claimed it was meant as dark satire, the russ music genre is no stranger to harsh disses, glorification of drugs and unflattering portrayals of women, so it ended up coming off as just an extreme version of that. This contributed to the song attracting negative attention in the media and eventually being withdrawn.
  • The disco polo genre of music was created in Poland as a parody of disco music in the 80s and remains popular to this day (especially at parties). Not many people get the joke anymore, but it doesn't stop millions of people around the world from enjoying it.
  • Eminem's act relies on a lot of Crosses the Line Twice shock comedy, as part of him playing the character of his evil Kayfabe Music alter-ego, Slim Shady. Even now, his lyrics continue to be mistaken as a sincere expression of Eminem's desire to murder homosexuals, rape women, and so on despite him extensively saying both in interviews and within the songs themselves that he's just saying this stuff to annoy people. This started right from when he became famous in 1999 and still is enough to force public "Just Joking" Justification statements out of him when, for instance, a 2009 song leaks where Slim states he sides with Chris Brown over Rihanna, or he comes out with a 2018 song in which he compares his rage to bombing an Ariana Grande concert.
  • The Escape Club infamously featured mirror images to make dancers' arms and legs look disembodied in their video for "Wild Wild West". The point was to make fun of how certain other music videos of the late '80s were objectifying women; however, the BBC still banned the video, calling it "sexist and offensive".
  • German "Neue Deutsche Welle" band Geier Sturzflug and their greatest hit "Bruttosozialprodukt". It was meant as a scathing critic of capitalist work ethos. Promptly it got played at a party convention of the CDU (who thought it was a hymn to capitalist work ethos).
  • In a combination of this and Stealth Parody, Jethro Tull recorded the album Thick as a Brick as a deliberately over-the-top parody of concept albums and the Progressive Rock genre, after the previous album Aqualung was mistakenly called a concept album by the music press. It is widely considered one of the best progressive rock albums ever made, by music fans and journalists likely unaware that the work was a parody. Bandleader Ian Anderson still gets remarks from fans about how much older the fictitious child prodigy poet (Gerald Bostock) depicted in the cover art and album credits who "wrote" the lyrics to the album must be now in the present day. The follow-up album A Passion Play is apparently straightforward, despite having the same structure.
    • Years later, Anderson also claimed that it was a parody of the concept albums by Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer; however at the time Thick as a Brick was released, neither Yes nor ELP had even released one (Yes' would come two years later with "Tales From Topographic Oceans" and ELP would never release a concept album in their history) so it is quite possible that Anderson is being a bit of an Unreliable Narrator. He would finally embrace the concept in June 2012 when he released Thick as a Brick 2. Though ELP had the album Tarkus and King Crimson made Lizard (both of them having sidelong epics) and Yes and Genesis had a penchant for long songs since the beginning. Maybe the success of Thick as a Brick helped bring it further into the mainstream, essentially encouraging the trend of concept albums.

  • The Rap Critic states this as the problem with Kesha: She's supposedly a parody of current music, but when "serious" artists are making songs that are just as ridiculous, it's hard to tell.
  • When Kid Rock's 2021 collaboration with Monster Truck "Don't Tell Me How to Live" was released, its anti-left lyrics were so pronounced and seemingly exaggerated that, coupled with its rap-rock sound that was more reminiscent of his earlier works and its video that was so amateurish that it seemed like it had to be Stylistic Suck, people began to seriously wonder if it wasn't a Weird Al parody of him. Weird Al himself quickly clarified that no, this wasn't one of his, Kid Rock really did make this song.
  • Toby Keith:
    • The song "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue." Is it a genuine (if a little overheated) expression of Patriotic Fervor, or an ironic glorification of the Eagleland (Flavor 2) mentality? It's really hard to tell. The song starts off sincere and heartfelt enough, but the abrupt shift from "melancholy" to "kickass" is bizarre enough to inspire at least a few self-aware chuckles. It gets even more confusing if you watch the music video, which backs up the lyrics with an intense montage of various U.S. military bombs, missiles, and fighter jets, looking almost like a Technicolor Dr. Strangelove. On balance: since most country songs don't feature so much violent or militaristic imagery, it's easy to see this as a spoof; however, the song's Awesome Music and throat-grabbing finale make you want to take it at face value. So, all things being equal, it's all probably being played straight. According to Keith himself, he originally wasn't going to record the song at all; it was intended to be used only in live shows for military personnel until he was talked into recording it when they loved it. So it's almost certainly dead straight, but the context changes it. Glorifying America's military wrath to the military itself isn't quite the same as just shouting it in the street (especially when one factors in the military's distinct penchant for Black Comedy).
    • There's also his more overtly satirical "American Ride" from 2009, which got him considerable heat from both the political right and left for its political barbs. But as several music critics and Keith himself pointed out, the song pokes fun at both sides of the political spectrum. (It's also one of the only singles in his career that he didn't write.)
  • In The '80s, when the music world was flooded with kitschy soft-pop love songs, often with mushy lyrics that don't seem to make much sense, The Korgis decided to mock the entire genre and made one of these as a parody, "Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime". Now, they probably made it too stealthy a parody. Everyone and their dog took it for an actual pop ballad, and it was therefore that it became their only big hit.
  • John Legend did a cover of "Baby it's Cold Outside", while changing some lyrics to make the man call a taxi so that the woman can go home. The commenters can't decide on whether it was an attempt to "clean up" the original song (which is commonly mistaken for being about Date Rape when actually the woman was portrayed as wanting to stay with the man but feeling pressured to leave), or a parody of the people who thought the original song was about rape. Some of the people who thought it was a parody point out the awkward rhyme of "scurry" with "Murray", who's apparently the name of the driver.
  • Liturgy had always been a polarizing band, but by the time of the release of their third album The Ark Work, even the relatively positive reviews of the album said they couldn't tell if the album was intended completely seriously, or if the band were trolling their listeners.
  • "#BetaAsFuck | with Peter Coffin | Song A Day #2160" by Jonathan Mann had several commenters confused on whether the song was a parody or thinking that it is. It seems like a parody based on the several negative comments shown at the beginning and the duo singing about how they're proud to be beta males, a label typically considered negative, but the song is ultimately genuine.
  • Randy Newman wrote "Short People" as a parody of bigotry, working on the assumption that the idea of somebody being consumed with hate for... well, short people would be so ridiculous that nobody could fail to get the joke. Cue a large amount of hostile criticism accusing him of cruelly mocking those lacking in height.
  • One look at should give you a pretty good idea of how an over-the-top spoof can be mistaken for reality. The Offspring song "Cool To Hate," for example, is very clearly meant to be a parody of over-the-top teen angst. Yet, many commenters take it at face value and interpret it as a literal "call to arms." Whether or not those are real or just trolling is another matter entirely...
    • Really, a lot of The Offspring's material is open to this. They write a lot of satirical songs, though without listening carefully to the lyrics, it can be hard to tell what's meant to be taken seriously and what isn't. For another example, there's "Mota", which is sometimes taken for an Ode to Intoxication instead of just the opposite, despite the fact that the lyrics paint the narrator as a drug-addled loser.
  • As is tradition with Oingo Boingo music being satire, "Little Girls" is meant to call out pedophiles for their predatory behavior, being from the perspective of a pedophile who is clearly shown to be demented. ...Come the advent of the internet and the growing rise of predators on the prowl, and actual pedophiles would take the song and make it their anthem. What doesn't help is the song's association with Pedobear, or YouTube Poop videos aligning the song with child rape scenes.
  • The infamous Paul Is Dead conspiracy started as (probably drug-addled) Wild Mass Guessing by American college students, but most of the "clues" originated from a satirical student newspaper article by Fred LaBour (aka Too Slim of Riders in the Sky) which soon spread like wildfire. Despite this though the theory won't die as long as there's nuts around though.
  • PC Music is... complicated. The label/art collective is infamous for its uniquely post-ironic, avant-garde, and 2000s commercial pop-era-inspired aesthetic with exaggeratedly and borderline parodical music, believed to make a comment on pop music, consumerism, and internet culture, but critics have a hard time deciding whether they're an affectionate celebration or a cynical deconstruction of those concepts. The fact most of its acts tend to be private or straight-up anonymous and thus silent regarding the matter doesn't help to bring answers. Things get even muddier when taking into account actual individual acts:
    • GFOTY is one of the biggest examples of this, with a persona so comically bizarre and trashy that it's extremely difficult to tell how much of it is an act, especially since she tends to maintain "character" in every appearance she makes outside the music.
    • On the opposite side of the spectrum, Hannah Diamond has such a hyper-polished and synthetic feel to her popstar image, with a penchant for borderline-saccharine lyrics to boot. Off the mic, however, she's repeatedly shown to be rather candid about both the synthetic and sincere elements to her persona, lending a ton of credence that it's all meant to be taken at honest face value.
      "I’ve personally had a lot of criticism for being ‘fake’ and things like that. All of the ways it’s been presented do allude to that but although PC music is a lot of different people, I very much consider myself my own self within that. I only contribute to one part of it. People are getting more used to who I am now and realizing I am real or what my idea and my vision are for my project."
  • Katy Perry did an over-the-top spoof of Hollywood Satanism at the 2014 Grammy Awards. Unfortunately, many people missed the joke and assumed she was a real-life Satanistnote . It probably didn't help that, around this same time, her "turbulent" relationship with her fundamentalist Christian parents was being extensively covered by the media.
  • “Corazones Rojos” by Los Prisioneros is a very ironic song that criticizes the misogynistic mindset. However, lyrics such as “If you complain, The door is there, You are not allowed to give your opinion”, “We want to see you at home, Doing laundry, thinking about him, With gnarly hands, And a very juicy crotch” and “This story will continue, This order will continue, Because God wanted it that way, Because God is a man too” tend to be proudly quoted by people who didn’t detect the sarcasm.
  • This trope can be inferred to be the main cause of "Gangnam Style" achieving the kind of popularity it received in the west. The song was written as a satire of the culture of affluence surrounding the Gangnam district in Seoul, South Korea, and the people who haplessly try to imitate it; its music video compounds this mockery by featuring Psy portraying a man pretending to be a part of the Gangnam lifestyle, among other things acting like a sandbox in a kid's playground is a luxurious beach and floundering around in another man's hot tub as if it were a private swimming pool. The infamous horse-riding dance, when put in this context, is also intended to be a jab at the association between being wealthy and owning many prized steeds. Once the video reached the west, however, the low amount of Korean speakers there and the lack of a good translation from the get-go caused most viewers to take the bizarre imagery at face value, giving Gangnam Style a reputation as a wacky K-Pop video.
  • Outside of Germany, everyone agrees that Rammstein is a far left wing act. Newspapers inside Germany however, will still criticize them for Nazism utilizing a hefty dose of Insane Troll Logic and invoking The Horseshoe Effect. One of the oft-cited reasons for this is the lead singer's use of an affected Prussian accent—forgetting, apparently, that the person who most frequently used this accent wasn't a Nazi at all, but Communist singer Ernst Busch, who played The Narrator in the original production of The Three Penny Opera. Now, it is true that Rammstein has a tradition of writing songs from the perspective of mentally unhinged people, and that they heavily utilize Crosses the Line Twice. However, they have a Humor Mode: if there is English anywhere in the song, it's a parody. The most frequently criticized songs are the ones that have English refrains, and their most heavily criticized song is entirely in English.
  • "Text Me Merry Christmas" by Straight No Chaser is either a sincere song about lovers texting each other at Christmas because they can't be together or a satire about how vapid people who text each other constantly on their phones instead of interacting in more human ways are. The lyrics never directly wink at the audience, but both of the singers are depicted as being alone on Christmas rather than being with family which would keep them apart, and there are a few lines that are difficult to stomach. The audience is split between those who think it is satire, those who believe that it must be satire because the alternative is too depressing, and those who think that it is a sweet modern-day Christmas song about being apart at the holidays.
  • A lot of They Might Be Giants fans like to deeply analyze their songs, despite the Johns stating multiple times that usually, there is no deeper meaning. A humorous example comes from the 2003 documentary “Gigantic: A Tale Of Two Johns”. Right after John Linnell talking about how a lot of people look for a hidden layer to their songs that isn’t there, a high school debate team is shown discussing the song “Particle Man” (a song purely meant to be an Affectionate Parody of comic book superheroes). Their interpretations of the song range from being about physics to the different perspectives of life.
    “Is the glass half empty, or is it half full? Does water get him, or does he get water?”
  • Sylvan Esso's "Radio" is satirizing what artists will do to get airplay on radio or make click-bait videos, but the music video is itself a super-hyped up "sexy" video that without context of the song is exactly the kind of video the song is parodying, and hearing the song on a pop-radio station would be like reading a news article on a site known for fake news about how news articles are faked.
  • U2's Zoo TV tour was intended to be an overt parody of mass media, but ironic content was so subtle that many fans believed their appreciation to be genuine. Their subsequent Pop Mart Tour upheld the theme of parody. This time, the target was consumer culture; and fans were just as baffled as they had been by Zoo TV.
  • Italian Britpop/indie rock band Velvet wrote a song titled "Boyband", which gently mocked the Boy Band phenomenon that was at the height of its popularity at the time (2001). The lyrics and video clip made clear the satirical intent of the song, but most listeners took them seriously, and the song being more pop than rock didn't help. They never managed to disassociate themselves from the stigma of being "another vapid boy band" despite being active to this day and releasing several critically acclaimed albums. To the general public, they're just a forgotten boy band buried among dozens of similar acts.
  • "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)" by Ylvis was made by a pair of talk show hosts and was supposed to be a parody of runaway formulaic pop hits that became... a runaway formulaic pop hit.

    News and Columns 
  • The Onion and its sister site ClickHole are the embodiment of this trope, their satirical articles often being mistaken for real ones, while real extremist articles are often suspected of being Onion articles. This has led to an expression for when someone takes an article from a well-known parody site seriously: "eat The Onion".
    • An article called "Harry Potter Sparks Rise In Satanism Among Children", in which six-year-old girls claim that "Jesus died because he was weak and stupid", was copied into a furious chain letter and circulated about the web. Commentators noted that many of the article's more obviously parodic passages were excised from the letter, suggesting that the poster may not have believed it him/herself. Regardless, it worked, triggering a panicked reaction among fundamentalists, in spite of (or perhaps because of) it ending with J.K. Rowling praising Satan. The very same article led to a concerned parent sending mail to Reader's Digest, criticizing them about interviewing Rowling. After a bit of back-and-forth, the reader mentioned reading about it on The Onion whereupon Reader's Digest pointed out that it's a humor paper, and Rowling is not really a Satan worshiper.
    • Their videos have also undergone this trope, one of the most infamous cases being the video "Martial Law Plans Revealed?" taken seriously by some conspiracy sites.
    • The AV Club posted an article about how Glenn Beck loved the Spider-Man musical. Since both Glenn Beck and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark are polarizing topics that often spark fierce discussions, a lot of people thought this was just The Onion making stuff up, even though the AV Club is the non-satire section. It's not a joke. He really did enjoy the musical.
    • The blog Literally Unbelievable chronicles people taking Onion and ClickHole articles at face value and posting about them on Facebook. It is as hilariously depressing as it sounds. Poe's Law applies recursively here, as it's impossible to tell whether the Facebookers are just playing along with the joke.
    • The most controversial Onion example is their "Kelly" political cartoons, which still have people arguing about whether they're expressing or parodying conservative ideas. The real focus of the cartoons is less ideological, and more parodying the artistic clichés of bad, lazy political cartoons, independent of any specific viewpoint.
    • A high-profile victim of The Onion is US Congressman John Fleming (R-LA), who posted a link to the "Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex" story on his Facebook page.
    • "'98 Homosexual-Recruitment Drive Nearing Goal": In 1998, Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps posted this article (which was, ironically, meant to mock organizations like his) on his website as apparent "proof" that homosexuals were indeed actively trying to "recruit" others to be gay.
    • Iran's FARS news agency fell for an Onion article that said more Americans would prefer Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be president than Obama. This is somewhat understandable from a country that believes Hollywood is controlled by Washington.
    • China's People's Daily Online reported as straight news the Onion story declaring North Korean leader Kim Jong Un the "sexiest man alive for 2012."
    • The British newspaper The Independent printed a "CNN statement" on their saturation coverage of a "shocking" dance routine by Miley Cyrus that was actually a satirical Onion column speculating on their motivation.
    • 42 Million Dead In Bloodiest Black Friday On Record. Given that such a massive death toll would easily dwarf not only 9/11 but all US wartime deaths combined, and would result in a significant change in our way of life, one would think that no one could believe such a ridiculous story. Cue readers e-mailing Snopes and other sites, wondering if this story was true. It raises the question, which was a victim of Poe's Law, the original article, or the people wondering if it was true?
    • When FIFAgate happened, one of the fourteen FIFA executives indicted tried to reject those charges and claimed they were part of a U.S. conspiracy against FIFA. How? By citing an Onion article headlined "FIFA Frantically Announces 2015 Summer World Cup In United States".
  • While The Onion is perhaps the most famous satire newspaper on this list, other satire newsletters and satire news sites like The Daily Currant and Weekly World News can also fall victim to this. One famous example from the Daily Currant happened when marijuana was legalized in Colorado on January 1, 2014. They published a story titled "Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization", which naturally got well circulated on social media and elsewhere. Apparently, it was so convincing that Annapolis, Maryland Police Chief Michael Pristoop cited it when testifying in front of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee about the legalization, having overlooked the three clues that it was a satire:
    • The article was published in 2014, but it cited The Rocky Mountain News as a source, which went out of business in February 2009.
    • The article also cites an interview with a Dr. Jack Shepard. That's the name of a character on Lost.
    • One of the supposed 37 victims was a guy named Jesse Bruce Pinkman. Jesse Pinkman is the supporting lead on Breaking Bad.
  • Snopes has numerous examples of rumors that were sparked by articles from these and more.
  • The Borowitz Report is a satirical news blog hosted on The New Yorker's website, which frequently confuses people (especially their right-wing US satire).
  • The Mirror released an article in 2011 listing ten reasons why One Direction was better than the Beatles. Several months later the same writer wrote an article titled "Hey dude, get a sense of humour: How I got death threats for joking that One Direction are better than The Beatles"
  • Syndicated columnist Jack Kilpatrick once wrote a column purporting to be an interview with an ACLU leader named Eton "Si" Eritas. Eritas claimed he was determined to remove all traces of religion from America, going so far as to change the names of any cities with religious connotations, such as San Francisco and St. Paul. This column shocked many people and sparked countless columns and letters to the editor flaming the ACLU. The only problem? Eritas didn't exist. Eton "Si" Eritas, spelled backwards, is "Note: Is Satire."
  • When Private Eye ran a mock-up Daily Telegraph cover, parodying the MP Expenses Scandal the paper broke by targeting its proprietors, the reclusive Barcley Brothers, they received a letter threatening them with libel action. Their response was that it was in the "joke" section of the magazine, it clearly wasn't a real news story, and they didn't think there was a case to answer.
    • Private Eye gets this from many newcomers who don't know where the cut-off points between the 'investigative journalism' pages and the 'parody' pages are. There are a lot of otherwise intelligent people who think From the Message Boards (a parody of Internet arguments which contains everything you'd encounter in a real Internet debate) is genuine.
  • The Guardian:
    • The newspaper finally pokes fun at the long-standing leftist idea that promoting human rights in totalitarian hellholes is the modern definition of "imperialism". Doesn't it?
    • They parodied social justice warriors in a column about how Thomas & Friends is racist, sexist, and transphobic, right?
  • Michael Savage debates a pro-amnesty liberal over the Arizona immigration laws, and outright lampshades this.
    —"Of course you're pulling my leg."
  • Right-wing British paper "The Daily Mail" printed an article about a study that demonstrated that, on average, right-wing voters are less intelligent and more racist than left-wing voters. While many chose to believe that the article was satire (as no paper would be stupid enough to flat out insult their readers), a number of upset readers were very upset by the article, which prompted Guardian writer Charlie Brooker to deconstruct it.
    In what has to be a deliberate act of "trolling", last Friday it carried a story headlined "Rightwingers are less intelligent than left wingers, says study". In terms of enraging your core readership, this is the equivalent of Nuts magazine suddenly claiming only gay men masturbate to Hollyoaks babes.
Many people mocked the intelligence of those who believed that the article was real, believing that they were clever enough to see that it was satire. They were wrong. The study is real and was reported on by other news sources, and the result is not surprising to social scientists - a number of studies over the years have indicated the same thing. As was noted by the study, it is not that being conservative makes you stupid and racist, but that people who are stupid and racist are more likely to become conservative. This does not mean that those on the left are necessarily smart and unprejudiced, as the effect is relatively small and there are plenty of stupid people to go around. The authors of the study noted it may also be an artifact of extremist views appealing to the stupid, with extremist views being more often associated with the right than the left in the US and UK.
  • In an Onion-like newspaper in Mexico named El Deforma, there was a note about Samsung paying 1 billion dollars to Apple in coins of 5 cents. The note spread among other newspapers, one of them, from Yahoo News (already deleted). There was another article making further fun about it.
  • This story from NPR's The World. The Serbian satire website NJUZ (pronounced "nyews", and self-admittedly The Onion IN THE BALKANS!) ran a fake story about a Serbian man who got drunk and jumped in the ocean, and landed on a shark, killing it. Macedonia's official news agency got hold of it and ran it as a real story, and things went downhill from there.
  • Iranian news saw an image by satire site The People's Cube showing Iran Hearts Jews, and took it for realz
  • The Duffel Blog is essentially a military version of The Onion, and as like The Onion some of the satirical articles on the site have been mistaken for real news stories. One of the more notable examples, given the "victim", is US Senator Mitch McConnell, the Minority Leader in the Senate, took seriously an article about GI Bill benefits being given to prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay.
  • Douglas G. McGrath had a regular humor column in The Nation which was supposed to be the fictionalized diary of a high-ranking bureaucrat in the George H. W. Bush White House. In one column, he had then-Vice President Dan Quayle giving a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars where he said, "The Civil War was the best war we ever had because when you're fighting with yourself you're always going to win." In Paul Slansky and Steve Radlauer's 1992 book Dan Quayle: Airhead Apparent, he claimed that the newsletter The Quayle Quarterly, dedicated to his mistakes, had contacted him because people had been contacting them to find out if the quote was real or not. McGrath said that if you were to put that fake quote on a page of real Quayle quotes, "you wouldn't even blink. It's the most interesting thing I know about Quayle: you can make up any quote, the more ridiculous the better, and it'll sound real." In other words, Quayle, much like his Spiritual Successor George W. Bush, was made of this trope. In fact, if you Google the quote, you will find it listed on pages of actual political quotes.
    • Calvin Coolidge was his era's version of Dubya or Quayle, and when he worked for the Paris edition of the Chicago Tribune, James Thurber had a little game where he would similarly make up really idiotic quotes, stick them in the newspaper, attribute them to Coolidge, and no one ever questioned them. The most famous one was "A man who does not pray is not a praying man."
  • In July 2013, a Spanish website known as Ciencia Seminal (Seminal Science) claimed that Shigeru Miyamoto leaked during an interview about Pikmin 3 hints about Mario and Luigi being, instead of brothers, a gay couple (you can read it here). The way the news was written was so realistic that a large number of Spanish-speaking sites and radio programs had echoed it as something real. As it turns out, the offending website is satirical. Kotaku has more info on here.
  • A lurid story alleging that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had executed his uncle by having him eaten alive by dogs was printed as potentially true by many English-language news outlets but turned out to derive from a Chinese-language comedy blog. Given that Kim has had members of his family publicly executed via antiaircraft guns and heavy artillery, the dog story seems oddly mundane in comparison.
  • A February 18, 2014 opinion piece in The Harvard Crimson called "The Doctrine of Academic Freedom – Let’s Give Up On Academic Freedom in Favor of Justice" has the author argue that, instead of allowing academic freedom, universities should instead enact a policy of "academic justice" that actively bans and impedes any research that might be deemed offensive. "It is tempting to decry frustrating restrictions on academic research as violations of academic freedom. Yet I would encourage student and worker organizers to instead use a framework of justice. After all, if we give up our obsessive reliance on the doctrine of academic freedom, we can consider more thoughtfully what is just." The almost entirely negative responses in the comments include numerous accusations that the author is a troll or a satirist, with one guy saying "Was this cross-posted on The Onion?" while another person says "There's something grimly admirable about an article that manages to be its own parody."
  • Brazilian philosopher Luiz Felipe Pondé published an article in one of the most-read Brazilian newspapers claiming that the reason why the Brazilian right wing isn't relevant is because it doesn't know how to seduce women. Lots of people misinterpreted the satire: on the left, people thought it was misogynistic and a misrepresentation of their political views, and on the right, people thought it was a ridiculous reason for their lack of relevance.
  • The National Report is a political Onion-like satirical newspaper, whose articles sometimes have been picked by the American religious right as legit:
    • Renew America's far-right pundit, Austin Miles, reported in a column that Obama spent his 4th of July of 2014 at a Mosque and invited Muslims to be with him at the White House, as well as saying that Michelle Obama is a transgender woman originally named "Michael LaVaughn Robinson", his sources turned out to be a satirical article of National Report and this joke website.
    • An article about a San Francisco school suspending a nine-year-old student for wishing a "Merry Christmas" to an atheist teacher caused a similar-named school to be inundated by intimidating calls and violent threats.
    • This article about a Colorado pot shop accepting food stamps, was taken seriously by many people.
  • A woman was arrested in 2015 for using a counterfeit $5 bill; she claimed she thought this story from The Skunk was true. (This story may be a warning for what occurs when Poe's Law is implied.)
  • Since the end of 2013, there has been a lot of debate in the Netherlands regarding the jolly helpers of their depiction of Saint Nicholas, since these helpers look like a toned down blackface. In early September 2014, the manufacturers of Playmobil dropped the production of figures that depict this helper. In response to this, a newspaper columnist proceeded to write a faux news article claiming that some people managed to ban a chocolate spread from a Dutch supermarket chain because they found it to symbolize Apartheid by having brown and white spread divided in 6ths in one jar, rather than being one uniform blend. The article states that the fictitious protesters argued that the higher-ups of the store chain "wouldn't argue that it was a harmless kids spread if Hitler would have had it on his sandwiches" and were actually taken seriously. Many people have already taken this seriously, likely by taking the article's header and its presence in a newspaper at face value without noticing it was a column.
  • Tends to happen often with Venezuela's News Parody website El Chigüire Bipolar, but one example that stands out is the article "Chávez is Venezuela's salvation" says 1992's opposition, whose fake newspaper page was used on state television and in textbooks.
  • A story about Malia Obama being arrested along with a "gang of thugs" in Chicago was first posted by a satirical website called The Last Line of Defense. While the website has a disclaimer (in small print) saying "All articles should be considered satirical and any and all quotes attributed to actual people complete and total baloney", many of Obama's detractors cited it as legitimate news. (And this is not even the first time this has been the case with The Last Line of Defense.)
  • Believe it or not, the Dominican newspaper seen here mistook an Alec Baldwin skit for an actual statement by President Donald Trump.
  • In 2007 a certain Connie Meskimen decided to troll the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette by sending them an editorial that blamed Global Warming on Daylight Savings Time, as obviously having the sun out for an extra hour would add more heat to the planet. The newspaper took it seriously and printed it as if it were a real editorial. Meskimen did reveal the truth eventually, but before that, the newspaper was lambasted by many for printing such a dumb editorial in its pages.
  • A Yale conference on international relations fell for a Ministry Of Harmony story about China claiming Hawaii and Micronesia.
  • In early 2022, the website Hard Drive (gaming's answer to The Onion, from the same people behind The Hard Times) made a report that all functioning Wiis would self-destruct in 2023. Despite the ludicrousness of the statement, enough people believed it that Snopes and even Nintendo Life were forced to point out that it was a satirical article.
  • A feminist named Cassidy Boon caused some strong reactions when she announced that she would be suing a man who saved her from drowning because he touched her without her consent. Except she's not a real person, but rather a satirical character. (Snopes' article on the story even links to This Very Wiki's Straw Feminist trope to describe her.) This didn't stop the creation and spread of several angry reaction memes that just show the article's title with no sign of it being fake, as well as many angry comments on the article itself.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Kyra was able to convince many other wrestlers who didn't know just how outlandish her gimmick really was that she must have been supremely arrogant and merciless in real life. Even fans couldn't decide amongst themselves if Empire Wrestling and Ultimate Pro were presenting her as a parody of the Action Hero or a straight-as-an-arrow example of one. Ditto for Melina's Alpha Bitch role in WWE, though Gail Kim didn't like when Melina admitted they didn't really have a feud, how legit her spat with Candice Michelle was remains a mystery.

  • The Other Wiki mentions Black propaganda as propaganda that presents a deliberate negative exaggeration of opposing ideological viewpoints. In order to work people have to mistake the real ideology for the negative exaggeration.
  • Radio host Phil Hendrie makes a living on this trope. His radio show consists of a stable of guests that he regularly interviews (the president of a home-owners association, the owner of a restaurant that supposedly sponsors the show, the head of a local activist group, etc.) discussing a current event of some sort, with the guest having some wild, ridiculous, and sometimes offensive opinion on the matter. This prompts listeners to call the show and incredulously berate the guest, whose rhetoric becomes more and more ludicrous as the segment goes on. The joke? All of the guests are voiced by Hendrie, who essentially is having a conversation with himself using a phone handset in the studio.
    • Hendrie is very very good at doing two distinct voices, keeping them straight, and "interrupting" himself realistically, so those who tune in to the program in the middle without ever having heard of Hendrie before can be excused for not realizing he's performing both the host and guest parts. However, there's also a meta-level to this; it's sometimes difficult to discern whether the callers actually believe the guests are real or whether they're just playing along (given Hendrie's vocal talents, it wouldn't be impossible that he plays some of the more ridiculous callers himself).
  • The final 2017 episode of Dead Ringers was themed around the premise that Donald Trump had just set off a nuclear war and the world was doomed. The responses to this news portrayed by the episode were deliberately silly (eg Jeremy Corbyn calling for "urgent negotiations" with the missiles), but after the episode aired, the continuity announcer reassured "the concerned woman who phoned" that Trump hadn't really started nuclear war.
  • Lo Zoo Di 105: After having informations that the catering at the Music Festival of Sanremo offered food with a horrible taste, it spreaded a Running Gag about the Festival host Gianni Morandi being a coprophague. He probably haven't liked it, since now they have to bleep his surname every time they make a joke about it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Princess: The Hopeful began as a parody, the original authors assuming that nobody would take an attempt to cross a magical girl anime with the Chronicles of Darkness seriously. To their surprise, the concept proved surprisingly popular and, after a Cerebus Retcon or two and some fleshing out, blossomed into one of the setting's most popular fangames.

  • Many real bootleg toys can be very weird, but the Sexy Yellow Beast, a figure of a muscular, three-headed fusion of Big Bird, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Bart Simpson, is not one of them, instead being a satirical item that was produced and sold in very limited quantities as a parody of such toys. This doesn't stop it from occasionally being grouped with real bootlegs in posts and videos.

    Video Games 
  • The now defunct blog AntiSpore (a parody blog from supposedly a Christian Creationist taking issue with the themes Spore had on Evolution) fooled many gamers and websites like Kotaku and Joystiq, at least until some very obvious notes on the blog's "Real About Page" were added, like the following:
    But the Bible teaches us that God was not done with man. For we were His creation and He then spoke to Noah in Genesis 8:21-27 after the flood.
    "21. The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never gonna give you up. 22. Never gonna let you down. 23. Never gonna run around and desert you. 24. Never gonna make you cry. 25. Never gonna say goodbye. 26. Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you. 27. Never truly believe anything you read on the Internet. There will always be cases of Poe's Law."
    • Even after this, people kept up arguing against him for over a thousand comments; there are over 2500 total, and the balance slowly shifts to people actually getting the joke, but toward the end there are still one or two condemning him as a bigot. Most of them apparently didn't even read the entry, and some of them who did read it, and pointed out he'd gotten the Bible verses wrong.
  • When G4 held their 2011 VideoGame Deathmatch and pitted The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim against The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the Zelda Universe fansite posted an article sarcastically imploring their readers to help Skyrim, "our favorite game," help win the vote. So many people in the comments took it at face value that ZU had to post another article explaining that it was meant to be a joke. Incidentally, the comments themselves exhibit this trope as well; site members who got the joke tried to partake of the sarcasm in their own comments and got said comments voted down to as low as -20.
  • The "Laughing scene" in Final Fantasy X was intentionally made to sound fake and over-the-top, which is very obvious in context. Despite this, it is frequently posted in isolation and held up as an example of poor English voice acting.
  • BioShock Infinite is filled with in-universe propaganda posters. It's pretty clear these are all intended as satire. This didn't stop a Florida Tea Party group from posting one of the posters on their Facebook page.
  • A Facebook page impersonating Satoshi Tajiri posted the following: "You all think you have great ideas for Pokémon games, but if I actually listened to all of you and we combined all of your ideas into a game, it would be an unplayable monstrous game. You want a game with all the regions, but only the first generation Pokémons, yet all the legendary ones and such silly things. Whenever I receive one of these rants, I go to the development floor and read it out loud to all the Game Freak employees in a mocking voice, and we all laugh at you." Fans were shocked that the creator of something they loved so much was such a dick - those who didn't realize that even if Tajiri spoke English this well, he'd darn well know that the plural of "Pokémon" is just "Pokémon."
  • Grabbed by the Ghoulies was released as a parody of the Haunted House trope. However, a lot of people criticized the game for taking tropes it parodied completely straight. IGN even listed it as one of the worst "Survival Horror" titles ever. Yes, they put a parody of many Survival Horror games as a straight example of a bad one. (Even if it is IGN.)
  • In late 1998, an AOL message board called N64 vs. Others had a "writer" from Electronic Gaming Monthly under the name of "EGM Editor" visit the board, claiming to be famed Real Life editor Dan Hsu. His first post was a poll asking what posters believed would be the top-selling game of 1998, claiming that the results would be published in the next issue of EGM. It was believable enough that many were fooled into thinking it was the real "Shoe." A couple weeks (and a few more posts) later, he revealed himself to be a fake. Yet the joke succeeded enough that, a couple months later, the real Electronic Gaming Monthly printed a letter from the imposter in their "Login" section and responded by commending him for the prank.
  • Every year, the April issue of Game Informer prints several pages of "Game Infarcer", with PARODY clearly stated at the bottom of these pages, that include ludicrous articles and reviews. Without exception, the next month's issue's letters columns are always full of letters from either people who didn't get the joke, or who did and are playing along. It's impossible to tell the difference between the two.
  • When Hey! Pikmin was first announced through Nintendo Direct, a person decided to make a satirical petition about trying to get the game (a spin-off released during the franchise's ten-year Sequel Gap between the third and fourth core games) canceled, in response to legitimate petitions on the site over more hot topic games at the time. Despite the writer going out of his way to take potshots at how pathetic these kinds of petitions are and the people who make them (even characterizing the supposed creator of the petition as a troubled schoolkid who bears grudges against people in his life who "wronged" him and rejects the localization of the Pikmin series in favor of the Japanese version), and while a major part of the fanbase instantly managed to peg it as a satire, unfortunately, there were still a few out there who thought the petition was legitimate, either raging over how stupid it was or legitimately signing it.
  • While it certainly has moments of sincerity, it is hard to count the number of people that think Hatoful Boyfriend is a dead serious Otome Game and not an Affectionate Parody of them. Bonus points if it's used to show "how weird Japan is".
  • The "Sanic" meme — a deliberately poor drawing of Sonic the Hedgehog — is often mistaken for an actual piece of Sonic fanart. While you'll see a lot of genuine Sonic fanart that's of... questionable quality, the "Sanic" drawing was very much done for laughs — it originated from a parody art tutorial video titled "HOW 2 DRAW SANIC HEGEHOG". Apparently Sega loved it enough that a shirt with its design made its way into Sonic Forces, and later the movie.
  • In 2014, this Team Fortress 2 fanart from 2009 made the news when a Russian television program about American WWI propaganda mistook it as an actual American propaganda poster. Evidently the ones that picked it out didn't know a word of English, and if they did, the words "Join Team Demoman" eluded them. It's not just non-English speakers who didn't get the joke, as reportedly several inattentive history teachers also used that poster in their lectures.
  • Fate/Grand Order is very fond of Self-Parody, but it often falls into this because it is very hard to come up with a "parody" Servant that is more ridiculous than canon Fate characters that are meant to be taken completely seriously. For instance, Okita Souji is a character with an inexplicable Historical Gender Flip, a silly catchphrase, tons of fanservice, and a Reused Character Design, and is meant to be a joke, while Nero Claudius is a character with an inexplicable Historical Gender Flip, a silly catchphrase, tons of fanservice, and a Reused Character Design, and is meant to be taken seriously - the only difference is where they originated (Souji from a parody side-manga, Nero from a main-line game).
  • In a case of reverse Poe's Law, in 2009 the CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, stated at a conference: "We have a real culture of thrift. The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games." (Kotick was also the CEO of Activision before it merged with Vivendi Games to become Activision Blizzard.) At the time, his statement was generally written off as a joke, albeit one in very poor taste. Following numerous controversies from Activision Blizzard including but not limited to: firing Infinity Ward founders Vince Zampella and Jason West for "insubordination" not too long after they had asked for creative control over Call of Duty and having added a clause to their contract that would give Call of Duty rights back to Activision should Zampella and West be fired, implementing predatory Microtransactions and Loot Boxes in premium-priced games, mounting pressure on Blizzard to produce more games but to cut costs, and firing approximately 800 of their total employees at the end of 2018's fiscal year while simultaneously announcing record financial results because the company "didn't realise its full potential" i.e. executives had set the financial goals so high that said record revenue still wasn't enough money for them — Kotick's "joke" has become Harsher in Hindsight and a noticable group of fans of the games under Activision Blizzard's belt have brought it up in online discussions, now believing that Kotick was being deadly serious all along.
  • On April 1, 2003, back when the All Your Base meme from Zero Wing was still somewhat fresh, a group of seven young men living in Sturgis, Michigan thought it would be a good idea to place signs all over the city reading, "All your base are belong to us. You have no chance to survive make your time.", as an April Fool's joke. Unfortunately for them, they greatly miscalculated the equation between the popularity of "All Your Base" in online culture with that of the real world; the majority of residents were unfamiliar with Zero Wing or its Translation Train Wreck of an opening, and so didn't get the joke. To make matters worse, the U.S. was at war with Iraq at the time, so the residential majority interpreted the joke as a legitimate terrorist threat, leading to mass panic and the arrests of all seven men.
  • A 1993 Nintendo character guide says that Mario's species name is homo nintendonus and that Yoshi's full name is T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas. The character guide was published only by Nintendo of America, was written by somebody unaffiliated with Nintendo of Japan, and uses a whimsical sense of humour throughout; so it's safe to say that it is not meant to be taken seriously. However, judging from the Fandom-Enraging Misconception page for video games, to this day there are people who believe that homo nintendonus and "T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas" are Canon.
  • The "DK Rap" from Donkey Kong 64 was supposed to be a bit of silly fun — an intentionally cheesy song that composer Grant Kirkhope described as "monkeys rapping about bananas and grapes." Unfortunately, because the game was released during a period when many other series were adopting Theme Tune Raps in an attempt to stay hip with the kids, most players at the time took it at face value.
  • Because War Thunder is notorious for numerous leaks of classified or otherwise restricted documents, someone posted a joke about a prospective Raytheon (a large American defense contractor) employee being asked if they played War Thunder. As a result, many people truly believed that playing War Thunder was a genuine impediment to obtaining a security clearance or working as a defense contractor. However, Raytheon has denied asking asking such questions, stating, "We only look at a person’s education, employment and criminal history when hiring. We’ve never looked into a person’s video game habits and I can’t imagine a case in which we’d have a concern with any game."
  • Being a parody of Starship Troopers, it was probably inevitable that Hell Divers and Hell Divers 2 would end up falling afoul of this. Many of the players happily play along with the extreme patriotic fever and disproportionate punishments for anything less than a willingness to live, breathe and die for Super Earth's interests that loops right into full on fascism, but there's a non-dismissible amount of people who actually buy into Super Earth's propaganda and fascist totalitarianism and call themselves "the good guys" and think it sounds unironically like a good future. The fact that a lot of players who get the satire will play along right up until someone says something particularly vile about a real-life group of people can make it hard to tell where the former ends and the latter begins.
  • In 2020, KFC announced the KFConsole, a new gaming system whose heatsink could be used to reheat food. Most people assumed it was a joke, but a surprising amount of people thought it was a serious attempt at a gaming system. Whatever it is, no games or release date were announced, and not much has been heard about the system since, so even if KFC was serious, they must have given up on it.

    Web Animation 
  • DarkMatter2525: "If Hitler Never Existed" was about how people are so fond of demonizing anyone they disagree with that a Utopia where Hitler never existed would be seen as horrific because you wouldn't be able to call someone a Nazi in the middle of an argument. However, the video had so many comments insisting that erasing Hitler from existence wouldn't result in a utopia that DarkMatter2525 had to clarify that the video was meant to be a commentary on the present, not on the past.
  • The infamous The Light of Courage trilogy has an interesting case of something being both incorrectly mistaken for a parody and something fully serious at the same time. Aside from the few who know the story behind the trilogy, most people can't seem to figure out whether it's real or not. The animation and voice acting in the videos is intentionally bad, but the dialogue, grammatical errors, and storyline all come from a script for a Legend of Zelda movie that its creator took completely seriously and was ridiculed for its poor quality. A group mainly consisting of three members of the IGN Boards posed as the director of the franchise's cartoon adaptation to prank the script's creator and then made the parody trilogy by adding purposefully badly-done animation and voice acting. Also the case for the infamous Half-Life: Full Life Consequences series, though this one is more universally recognized as a Troll Fic.
  • Zero Punctuation naming Fantasy World Dizzy to be the greatest game ever made was intended to be a joke about the Nostalgia Filter and people upholding incredibly dated and simplistic games from their childhoods as all-time greats, regardless of whether they hold up or were ever good at all. Given Yahtzee's somewhat weird tastes and just how common the very thing he was parodying was, a lot of people took it seriously, to the point of giving Dizzy something of a Colbert Bump. Chances are, if you find a mention of Fantasy World Dizzy, it'll mention that Zero Punctuation named it the greatest game ever made.

    Web Comics 
  • Natty Comics is about a woman who unleashes violent retribution upon sexist men, who then declare that they deserve it. It's not surprising that many people believe it was secretly made by an anti-feminist to make feminists look worse, but the author has expressed left-wing, pro-feminism views on social media, making this extremely unlikely.
  • xkcd:
    • The Alt Text of one comic suggests trying this on a noted pit of stupidity and prejudice:
    "Fun game: try to post a YouTube comment so stupid that people realize you must be joking. (Hint: this is impossible.)"
    • The punch line for another is that it's impossible to tell if someone's an expert on literary criticism or mocking them with gibberish.
    • This comic mocks Simple Plan, by having the listening assume their lyrics are jokes.

    Web Original 
  • Popehat's North Korean Twitter news hoax was reactivated five years after the revelation it was a hoax—and proved it could still take in American television talking heads. And Buzzfeed. And Newsweek. And the Washington Post.
  • Wheel of Fortune Host Pat Sajak tweeted "I now believe global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends." after outrage Sajak claimed it was parodying climate change deniers and was hyperbole. The original tweet in question was so close to what some of the crazier climate change deniers are saying telling the difference between sincerity and parody is almost impossible.
  • Endemic at Conservapedia, a site created by right-wingers as the Moral Substitute for Wikipedia. As soon as it was founded, people descended on it writing completely over-the-top articles (to the point it's now considered a Flock of Wolves), which some people took seriously. Their serious projects include a translation of the Bible to make it friendlier to conservative political positions. For instance, the whole "easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven" thing is apparently socialist, and "blessed are the meek" should really be "blessed are the God-fearing".
    • Here's a particularly funny example of (apparent) stealth-parody vandalism.
    • Or read their page on Barack Obama or any Democratic president. But especially Obama.
      - Religion: Claims to be Christian
      - As of May 25, 2012, says Religion: probably Muslim
      - On April 27, 2011, Obama officially released his long-form birth certificate, which many experts have determined to be a fake and no legal body has determined its authenticity.
    • See also the second iteration.
    • The Conservapedia article on George W. Bush once said that he was "one of the greatest presidents in American history," that he was "successfully able to salvage the Hurricane Katrina rescue effort after it was sabotaged by a Democratic/Islamo-Fascist conspiracy", and that his unpopularity is entirely due to him being forced by the Democratic Congress to push through bank bailout packages.
    • The root of the issue is that the site's proprietor, Andy Schlafly, keeps the site under tight control... but measures people's sincerity by how willing they are to lick his boots, which the parodists have no problem doing but the true believers are too proud for. The number of satirists has led him to become ever more paranoid and ban-happy... the result being that only the parodists remain, driving him ever-deeper into his mad spiral of paranoid banning.
    • Rational Wiki speculates that this is the first living example of a "Poe Paradox" — that in any given fundamentalist group, any new person/idea sufficiently fundamentalist to be accepted by the group will come off as being so ridiculous as to risk being called a parodist or a parody.
    • This evolved into meta-humor once this entry made its way on there — particularly with this laughable assertion:
    "Clearly, the cause of the mistake is not that the genuine article is no better than a mockery; rather, the cause of the mistake is that some people lack the critical thinking skills and/or experience to differentiate the two."
    • The caption below the picture of the Black Cat and number 13 on that page is even more hilarious. It quotes a Wall Street Journal article to claim that Christianity reduces belief in superstitions, yet the "unlucky 13" pictured is a superstition that has its origins in Christianity.
  • This is the basic premise of Rick Mercer's Talking to Americans where he travels around the US asking people about fake Canadian news stories. The show even got the better of some soon-to-be well-known American politicians here.
    • The site has two articles about "Satirists Attacked by People Who Totally Missed the Point," here and here.
    • Also, see this article about how the blogger meant to come off as so ridiculous that nobody could take it seriously... and the media thought he was being literal.
    • This article takes the other way, of which some certain parodies became successful because people didn't realize that they were satires.
    • This article is about movie trailers for 2011 summer movies - a romcom, a comedy, and an action movie - that can be interpreted as parodies of their respective genres. They aren't.
    • It shouldn't take long to realize that this article about The Lord of the Rings is a parody. But according to the comments, some people still didn't get it.
    • has also argued that the Reaganite fantasy Red Dawn (1984) is actually a parody of resurgent Cold War paranoia, claiming that the film is actually highly critical of the United States.
    • Yet another article from the site was about a woman who had created a fake online dating profile to see if the rumor that men on that site would overlook personality flaws and mismatched tastes if the woman in the picture was "hot." Even though the profile depicted someone who was very rude and immature, she got a lot of replies. There was also a woman on Craigslist who pretended to be a cow to see how many men wanted to date her anyway. About 20 sent in serious responses without reading the ad.
  • During The Second Google Incident, several works were cutlisted in protest to say "This zero-tolerance policy will likely cut this". While obvious ultrafamous works like Romeo and Juliet* had little risk, Black Bird (2006) ended up being cut for real (it was restored afterwards).
  • Not Always Right and other such "true story of human idiocy" collections are just plausible enough that it's impossible to know for certain how many of their submissions are genuine, though at least one is a known Urban Legend.
  • The government of Malaysia took issue with Uncyclopedia's entry on the country. It's not certain if they were displeased with the site while thinking it was a for-real or a parody.
  • There is a widespread rumor found around the web that says that TV Tropes features works pages for at least one anime series that are completely fraudulent.note  The "series" in question contain so many of the stereotypical anime tropes and they are described in such a fanboyish way that its impossible to actually tell these pages from the ones featuring real anime series. Presumably, this is meant as tropers engaging in Self-Deprecation. Ironically, it's also possible that this rumor is another example of this trope. This may be based on Ichiban no Tempura, a fake anime mentioned in the "Just for Fun" section, which at one point was mistaken for real, and a troper added it to the (now-defunct) Sliding Scale of Anime Obscurity page.note  Or possibly it could be inspired by TV Tropes: The Webcomic, a "webcomic" purportedly starring Trope-tan and being highly Troperiffic, with all the references to its nonexistence being concealed in spoiler tags. Regardless, it means that this example actually has some basis in fact.
    • There is now a page for Goncharov, which is a fake film.
  • The now-defunct website was a website purporting to sell teenage girls (some as young as 13) to prospective husbands (provided they submitted a "suitable" proposal). It was presented as a way for parents to earn some money, get rid of Bratty Teenage Daughters, and as a way for fundamentalists to marry daughters off Biblically. The website was all a hoax, intended to point out inconsistencies in US marriage laws regarding the age of consent and such.
  • This article from the satirical newspaper The Daily Currant claiming that Ann Coulter stormed out of a showing of Star Trek Into Darkness yelling that Star Trek had "too many minorities". At least half the comment section missed the joke, although a possible explanation is that after some of the stuff Coulter really has said, it's easy to believe.
  • SF Debris is fond of creating exaggerated parodies of Star Trek characters, particularly the captains. Two notable aspects are that Picard loathes children, and Janeway is an insane, capricious tyrant. Both of them managed to exceed his parody versions of them in the show; Picard when he praises Riker for letting a little girl die (rather than save her with his Q-granted powers), and Janeway when she wipes all records of a crewmember and bans the crew from ever speaking of her again (to resolve an issue with the Doctor's programming).
  • After the public backlash against celebrities like the King of Spain and several other people who posted pictures of themselves posing with dead animals they killed on hunting trips, Jay Branscomb posted a picture of Steven Spielberg posing with the sick Triceratops model from his film Jurassic Park, adding the caption: "Disgraceful photo of recreational hunter happily posing next to a Triceratops he just slaughtered. Please share so the world can name and shame this despicable man". Despite the fact that dinosaurs have been extinct for over 65 million years, many people took the post seriously.
  • The popular short fan film Power/Rangers is a Stealth Parody mocking the idea of True Art Is Angsty by showing that applying Darker and Edgier to something doesn't automatically make it any less goofy or dumb (in this case applied to, obviously, Power Rangers; with the insane grittiness and ridiculously serious tone, all the stupid stuff just stands out even more). However due to the high quality of the film's presentation (it looks like something you'd see on primetime TV), some people didn't catch onto the joke, thinking that the creators were actually serious about making a full-length movie like this. Even Saban themselves mistook it as being serious and tried to have the movie taken down for copyright infringement (thankfully it was put back up later). Word of God says that this was the intention of the project, and the irony was how people enjoyed the entire thing genuinely.
  • There's a satirical article by a Polish blogger which claims that the popular Polish cartoon for children Reksio is actually a Satanic propaganda piece. Despite the fact that the article is clearly not serious (the claims are deliberately as over-the-top and absurd as possible) and meant as a parody, plenty of readers took it at face value and most comments around the Polish internet are along the lines of "man, the fundamentalist Christians who wrote this must be insane!"
  • There is a loose group of German Web sites collectively known as "Die Redlichen" ("the upright ones"), who are Moral Guardians. Decrying Diablo II as satanic or relating how they caught their grandchild playing Call of Duty and gave them Corporal Punishment, they successfully provoke angry guestbook entries and irritated discussions on other forums over whether they're serious or not. They also tend to translate each and every foreign word by hook or by crook, such as "online" becoming the nonsensical word "anschnur"; this even extends to the titles of the works they are discussing (they may add the original untranslated term/title in parentheses to avoid confusion but will call it "unredlich" rather than "englisch"). Such habits, as well as egregious individual posts such as somebody ranting that he didn't need to get dirty with his wife for them to have children make it rather obvious that these people are not being serious, but they will never admit it, so a few of them might just be actual kooks, and there is a rumor that a child protection group actually filed charges against one webmaster.
  • In light of the controversy surrounding the Ghostbusters (2016) reboot, this Reddit post from r/ghostbusters, where one user asks how to best "filter out" positive reviews of the movie, caught a lot of attention from the media (including outlets such as BBC.) It was widely circulated as proof of how misogynistic haters are seeking to censor all positive reviews of the movie. However, it was a sarcastic troll post, and the user who posted it admitted as much (and mentioned he was dismayed by how many people took it seriously.)
  • Part of Spoony's review of Highlander: The Source featured him reacting with horror at a bizarrely out-of-place montage sequence that was accompanied by a terrible cover version of Queen's "Princes of the Universe," leading to him angrily accusing the film's producers of ruining not just Highlander, but Queen as well. In his commentary for the episode, Spoony revealed that his fellow Channel Awesome producers subsequently assumed that the actual scene used the Queen original and that Spoony had found some crappy cover version and dubbed it over to make the scene look even worse, forcing him to clarify that the scene did use the cover.
  • In an episode of the Cox n' Crendor podcast, Jesse Cox discusses an epiphany he had watching next episode trailers for Hell's Kitchen. He explains that he realized that they were so blatantly false compared to the episodes themselves that he's not entirely certain whether they're serious and lying or meant to spoof trailers of that nature.
  • In 2017, a Reddit comment mocking the attitude of Rick and Morty fans went viral, with a lot of the show's Hatedom taking it at face value, despite the obviously parodic intent of the comment. (For one thing, it ends by saying "Nothing Personnel, Kid.")
    • There's also the infamous "Pickle Ree" video of an allegedly upset Rick and Morty fanboy freaking out at a McDonald's because they didn't have szechuan sauce. The video was actually scripted and created as a satirical response to the actual szechuan sauce protests by the fandom that happened shortly before. Most people assumed the freak-out was real and became viral and continued to be used by the hatedom as a poster child for the show's Fan Dumb. The creator of the video himself regrets making it after the infamy and backlash he's received for it.
  • The organization D.A.R.E. (the leading Drugs Are Bad, m'kay? organization in the United States) was actually caught using a satirical article about marijuana on their website that made such outrageous claims such how smoking pot (which they refer to as a "third world drug") can get teenagers pregnant, the eponymous claim that people can overdose on edible marijuana candy, and that it's thanks to having a "liberal president" (D.A.R.E. is supposed to be a non-partisan organization). Unsurprisingly, they took it down without comment after the public called them out on it.
  • The original Creamsicle picture was a parody of the concept of Not Like Other Girls. It was misunderstood as being in earnest by a large crowd, which led to people shipping them in defiance and starting the whole fandom.
  • One Tumblr user made a post about how Supernatural was like "redneck Dragon Ball Z", since both shows seem to be addicted to making every new Big Bad even more powerful than the last no matter how inexplicable it might be — for example, after defeating Satan himself, the main characters now have to fight Satan's cousin Phil, who was previously unmentioned but twice as evil. Fans of Supernatural immediately responded by telling the poster that his name was Metatron, not Phil.
    prokopetz: I can't even make fun of this show.
  • Showry is an infamous Korean web-star who became known with her clips and Youtube videos parodying the mukbang phenomenon, where people and especially attractive girls eat food live while talking to their fans. Since Showry made the rounds of the web before the immense explosion of K-Pop and Korean popular culture in general, most people did not know what she was parodying. Not knowing that she was intentionally being bizarre and repulsive, people just assumed that she was another random Asian weirdo.
  • Invoked in Something Awful Truth Media Reviews, which are specifically written with no knowledge of the thing being reviewed and explicitly identified as such, just to see how many people get upset and write in anyway.
  • I HATE YOU was a creepypasta detailing a supposed hidden level in Super Mario World with tons of gore, creepy imagery, and a big twist ending. The original upload featured a comment from its author Slimebeast where he mentioned that he wrote the whole thing as a joke, but since it didn't include any obvious tip-offs that it was supposed to be a parody and didn't do anything more ridiculous than a standard gaming creepypasta would, once it was mirrored on other sites without its original context it was taken at face value as a serious attempt at horror writing. The result was that fans of gaming creepypastas ate it up as it was a story by a prolific author with some obvious effort put into it, while more critical readers such as Retsupurae mocked it for being a narm-ridden Cliché Storm.
  • Landover Baptist Church (on and is a parody website of American fundamentalist Evangelicals - but you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. The website is absurdly detailed, having a forum (for roleplay), a news bulletin, a quiz section, and a kids corner (if "Kristian Kids Korner" doesn't give it away, nothing will).
  • This video by Knowledge Hub describes what he deems "The Worst Possible Take on Star Wars". He goes on to explain that the series works best when it is dumb fun that doesn't take itself too seriously. He criticizes The Empire Strikes Back for trying to take the series in a serious direction when all this does is spell doom for the rest of the series, citing A New Hope and Return of the Jedi as films that he can enjoy because they are silly fun with only occasional serious moments without being the Darker and Edgier movie like Empire. He isn't going so far as to claim the prequels are legitimately good films but he does claim that Jar Jar is the best aspect of The Phantom Menace as just listening to him is Crossing the Line Twice. He criticizes Disney for being corporate and cynical, especially Abrams, while defending Rian Johnson for making a silly, fun, and dumb movie in the form of The Last Jedi. However, the crowning achievement is when he says that the infamous "Holiday Special" is his favorite aspect of wider Star Wars. The commenters on the video are equally divided in citing this as brutal satire, an elaborate shitpost, or an unfiltered cynical evaluation of how Star Wars is overhyped and really nothing more than a wacky adventure series for kids.
  • EtikaPunks is a Twitter account that claimed to have NFTsnote  based on the late Etika, a very popular streamer who took his own life after a struggle with mental illness. Despite some very unusual comments from the Twitter account hinting that the whole thing was the work of a troll, the sheer audacity of trying to profit off of a deceased beloved figure, combined with various controversies around NFTs in general and some very questionable details about the NFTs' images (one of them depicted the bridge where Etika jumped from, while another depicted him holding a banana with the title "Simian Species"note ) led to many people getting outraged at the whole thing.
  • Conservative politicians were disgusted at Nintendo for promoting incest after they saw a 2019 Pride Month Tweet containing a picture of Mario and Luigi as a gay couple kissing. They missed that the account that made the post was not the official Nintendo account, but rather a parody account.

  • Popehat closed their fake Twitter account for North Korea's propaganda ministry after legitimate news agencies started picking up stories from it.
  • When Internet Infidels Discussion Board decided to start a contest of making parodies of the creationist organization Answers in Genesis cartoons, they received a cease and desist letter from the latter claiming that the parodies "clearly (are) likely to cause confusion as to the affiliation between your client and my client..." Here's an example and a parody.
  • A viral marketing ploy for the movie Hell's Half Acre created the WUCP, an organization that represents the What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids? mentality to the most logical extreme by acting shocked when they see the movie trailer and are appalled that this is being passed off as children entertainment and call for it to be banned. It's so over the top that no one would believe it was real, right? Well, as a look at the comments will point out, many people took it seriously. On the plus side, the movie producers did get quite a bit of free publicity.
  • The Bonsai Kitten website, which admittedly was a very sick joke, was a joke nevertheless (close inspection of several of the photographs revealed that they were obviously posed, such as a kitten supposedly "in" a bottle being actually behind it). Still, the site drew tons of protests, including several chain letters, from those who failed to grasp the parody.
    • Even for those who accept it's parody, the argument goes that those who take it for real might try and do that to actual kittens.
  • The ManBeef website garnered similar reaction. The joke was the site claimed to sell human meat and provide recipes for cooking human meat. The site had nowhere to actually begin human meat transactions, just in case someone was crazy enough to try (and there were a few).
  • Tech parody site BBspot ran an article claiming that the MPAA was lobbying Congress to pass a law requiring anyone who owns a home theater setup to purchase a home theater license, and additionally, that they would require people to install surveillance devices to make sure there were no unauthorized home screenings. Even though the site only runs parodies and not actual news, they had to run a second article explaining this fact to all the people who read it and thought it was real.
  • A group parodying the Tea Party released videos advocating a boycott of Disney's Aladdin on the grounds that it was Islamic propaganda. Many were confused as to whether the videos were serious or not, but in this case, the fact that it was believable as a Tea Party position was part of the point of the parody.
  • PolitiChicks, a right-wing "answer" to The View, has led to endless discussion in the comment section (as well as on a number of other sites) about whether it's serious or a parody.
  • The Radical Feminist blog "Femonade" is widely regarded as an inspired parody of straw feminists due to its relentless use of feminist tropes ('all heterosexual sex is coerced', 'all of the internet is porn', 'all men are bad', 'all transsexuals are men subverting women') taken to an unsustainable extreme. Comments against the blog consist of trolls trying to outdo each other, although including the occasional poster who is not in on the joke and would seem to believe it to be real.
  • Regretsy, a website that makes fun of ridiculous Etsy products (its tagline is "Where DIY Meets WTF") has a column called "Etsy or Regretsy?", where they intersperse actual bizarre Etsy listings with parodies created by the Regretsy staff, and have the readers guess which are real and which are fake.
  • Yahoo! Answers has Colonel Jack Fessender (Ret.), a longtime poe who has achieved some degree of infamy with way too many people thinking that he is for real. He is also running for President so he can redesign the letter C so it doesn't so much like an Islamic crescent among other insane things. Another indication of his satirical nature is that he named himself after a hoax from a chain email, obviously as a Take That! towards the group he's parodying.
  • The "Amanda Bieber" Twitter account (more info here) is notorious for criticizing other musicians in praise of Justin Bieber. Her(?) comments are so full of ignorance (e.g. Kurt Cobain is inferior to Bieber because he never got big on Twitter, France is an Islamic country) and hateful vitriol (nonwhite people need to leave America, gays shouldn't have rights) that she must be a Troll. Maybe.
  • The Twat-O-Tron was created as a parody of many semi-coherent and angry commenters in the BBC website's "Have Your Say" section. It produces randomly generated rants formed from careful analysis of the HYS comments, and the results are not unlike the "From the messages boards" section in Private Eye: often sadly indistinguishable from the real thing. The source database has sadly not been kept up to date.
  • Project: Free America is a website that advocates for the legalization of homicide and cannibalism. They do, however, Think of the Children! by saying that those under the age of 18 would not be able to legally kill or be killed.
  • Conservative former Virginia state senator Steve Martin (not that one) made a Facebook post that opposed abortion, calling it wrong even if "the child's host (some refer to them as mothers) wants to kill it". This caused outrage for apparently dehumanizing pregnant women as mere "hosts" rather than human beings in their own right. His actual intention was to sarcastically use the same language that a few pro-choicers have used, whereby an embryo/fetus should be considered a parasite and the mother the host. But this line of pro-choice argument is sufficiently obscure, and Martin's wording sufficiently awkward (the tone switches mid-sentence from "what I really believe" to "what the other side believes"), that it came across differently.
  • This regularly happens to Internet memes, particularly anything based around parody of a certain subculture. For instance, "le monkey face" was originally created as a parody of derivative and formulaic "rage comics," but it didn't take long for it to be unironically adopted. And then there's the phenomenon of MLG montages, which were designed to mock overproduced and obnoxious gameplay videos, but quickly developed a fanbase of people who viewed it as simply being the same as those videos, but with more of the stuff they liked (namely, lots of editing and effects combined with loud and unpleasant music).
  • There's a Twitter account belonging to Steven Smith, Tea Party member and Representative of Georgia's 15th Congressional district, who's been known for making outlandish remarks such as calling Barack Obama "George W. Bush in blackface". He's also completely made upnote . That hasn't stopped people up to and including Senator Claire McCaskill from believing that he's real and completely serious; when called on it, most people who fall for it claim some variant of this trope, saying it's impossible to tell facetious versions of conservatives from the real thing.
  • Jmantime (some images and language NSFW) is most certainly a parody of bad Deviantart "artists", what with the insane pairings of anime characters/Western characters/mascots and celebrities, the use of topical and/or controversial themes (including ISIS-chan and Hetalia OCs), the poor spellings (including the forced catchphrase "Oh Fuck Muffin's") and the use of an edgy Sonic recolor as an avatar. On his Tumblr, he states to be half-serious and half-parody, for what it's worth.
  • After a French police dog was killed in a raid on a terrorist safehouse in Paris, believed to be linked to the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in the city, a Twitter user with the handle SupaSchweppes created the hashtag #jesuischien ("#iamdog") as a parody of sentimental hashtag slacktivism in response to terrorism. It was then taken up by many Twitter users who thought that it was sincere.
  • Ulli's Roy Orbison In Cling-film Website began as a deadpan parody of self-published online erotic fiction expressing very niche fetishes. There was confusion for years about whether it was real before the webmaster finally unmasked and admitted that it was a parody.
  • Medusa Magazine, another Straw Feminist satire site, eventually threw in the towel because they couldn't out-crazy the real thing. It even seemed to them at one point like real-life feminists were actually getting ideas from the site.
  • In a review for Jaws: The Revenge, the reviewer at Jabootu wrote that "Apparently the studio wanted the ending changed, but wasn’t willing to authorize more than $75 to film the new sequence," in reference to the fact that the film's original ending was reshot to show the shark suddenly exploding for no reason after being impaled. The fact that the shark's new death scene was put together with a toy shark and a crude wooden boat led to many people taking this literally and assuming for years that $75 really was how much the studio had been willing to shell out for the new ending. It wasn't until others clarified that the new ending also included an extra scene with the four lead actors (the cost of hiring whom would have been way in excess of $75) that this myth got dispelled.
  • Reddit:
    • The site has an entire subreddit devoted to people believing satirical articles, and another one devoted to true news stories that could just as easily come from places like The Onion.
    • The r/pyongyang subreddit is either an English-language mouthpiece for North Korean propaganda or an extremely dedicated parody of one. Nobody is sure which.
    • r/MURICA started out as a satire of over-the-top Patriotic Fervor. It slowly morphed into a sub dedicated to genuine patriotic fervor, albeit still very self-aware. Sometimes the original ridicule pops up now and then though.
    • /r/BanVideoGames is so over-the-top in its condemnation of video games and use of Insane Troll Logic (they insist that they're a Facebook group, even though the URL still says "reddit") that there's no way anyone should ever take it seriously, but every now and then, (especially if you search for mentions of the subreddit on other subs) you can find someone getting genuinely upset about a post on the subreddit or asking for confirmation that it's really satire.
  • Anime-themed satirical website Anime Maru gets hit with this every now and then, often when an article is promoted on Google News, which leads to several people commenting on the article seriously before someone points out it's not real (example here). One time an article on a Haruhi Suzumiya fan waking up after an 8-year coma found its way to 2ch and started spreading on the Japanese internet; understandably it took some time before they worked out it was satirical.
  • The right-wing Christian satire site Babylon Bee has been taken seriously by figures such as then-president Donald Trump and The Guardian. They have faced accusations of deliberate deception, and the Bee in turn has responded with claims of their content being misrepresented and wrongly censored. The "Mistaken for factual reporting" section on Wikipedia takes up the majority of the Bee's coverage.
  • From satirical news site The Chaser:
    • In April 2021, following a string of outraged reactions from conservative media to various "cancel-culture" issues, a group of Chaser interns created a petition to have fairy bread banned or at least renamed. Several media outlets picked it up and took it seriously, using it as an excuse to mock cancel culture, though notably at least one conservative commentator did not, spotting the (rather poorly-hidden) connection to The Chaser and exposing it right before interviewing the person supposedly responsible for the petition. A lot of the mocking reactions came after Ben Fordham had already exposed the hoax, however.
    • In The Chaser's 2022 annual, one page consisted of actual news headlines from that year which could have come from them: for example, "Australian prime minister Scott Morrison says renters should buy a house if they want rent relief", "China gives 'Fight Club' new ending where authorities win", and "Tucker Carlson Widely Mocked After Criticizing 'Less Sexy' New M&M's".

  • French Baguette Intelligence: According to Fuck Cares himself, Apology Video Gets Me Cancelled is a parody of YouTube parody videos and isn't supposed to be taken seriously. This hasn't stopped many commenters from asking why he is apologising.
  • Although the American creator Mike Diva intended his "Japanese Donald Trump Commercial" to be a parody, many people who saw the video swore it was an actual Japanese commercial. Japanese commenters noted that no such ad ever aired in Japan, but applauded Mike for his efforts anyway.
  • A YouTube user named Tamtampamela had a channel on which she posed as a satire of fundamentalist Christians, but when she put up a video thanking God for the Japanese earthquake, saying that he had caused it to punish Japan's atheist population, it immediately went viral and she started receiving death threats, causing her to eventually come clean that it was a parody.
  • Just as YouTube user potholer54 was about to nominate a creationist for his 2008 Golden Crocoduck Award (given to the creationists who knowingly and most effectively lied to support their arguments), the creationist outed himself as a satirist. Despite this, potholer explained that one of his arguments (the rings of Saturn prove a young solar system) is actually used by some creationists. Watch for yourself here.
  • Matt Harding did a joke video claiming that his Where the hell is Matt? videos were just an elaborate hoax, involving robot backup dancers and other such absurdities. Soon news articles around the Internet were lambasting Matt for this terrible deception, to the point where he had to make a public announcement that the hoax was a hoax.
  • Several videos, such as the famous "Angry German Kid" video were originally made to satirize how German politicians saw gamers. Unfortunately, if you ask around today, most people won't actually know it's faked because of how easy it is to put on a show for the camera. It even got featured in German media about gaming.
  • Another famous video, the Greatest Freakout Ever: At least 3/5 of the comments were "Boy, this is what World of Warcraft does to people?!?", ignoring that you can replace "World of Warcraft" with "Xbox Live" or "EverQuest" and it'd still make sense... or that. The internet still seems to be divided between those who think it was fake and those who think it was real, without any conclusive proof one way or the other.
  • P.Z. Myers fell victim of this in this blog post where he rants about an anti-feminism YouTube video while labeling it as "Our Opposition". Some of the commentators of his blog started invoking this law, pointing out that it was so over-the-top it had to be a parody, only to be dismissed by the rest of the commentators and P.Z. himself. Then the original poster of the video made a response video MSTing and mocking P.Z. and his commentators for taking it at face value.
  • The maker of this "Cinema Trailer Sins" video criticizing the teaser for Godzilla (2014) had to post a comment stating that his extreme nitpicking and Insane Troll Logic were never meant to be taken seriously after Godzilla fans lashed out at him and got the video downvoted really low. (It should also be noted, however, that this channel is also a parody of the (massively) more popular and (slightly) more professional CinemaSins channel, thus accounting for many of the downvotes.)
  • Third Rate Gamer, a Stylistic Suck parody of Caustic Critics (The Irate Gamer in particular) is often mistaken for a legitimate, awful reviewer. His Nintendo DS "review" begins with a disclaimer that says that the show is a parody, but if you read the comments to some of his other videos, you can still find people confusing him with an actual reviewer.
  • A few days before the 2014 Isla Vista Massacre, the perpetrator, Elliot Rodger, posted a video espousing his beliefs and plans for "revenge." The video ended up being posted to Reddit's r/cringe subreddit, where commenters had a hard time telling whether he genuinely wanted to kill people or was just a massive troll.
  • YouTube user 1stkirbyever ran into this while simultaneously demonstrating a glitch in the Sonic Generations demo and parodying Sonic's infamously Unpleasable Fanbase. After seeing that some people missed the joke, he added a disclaimer to the sequel stating, in large, bold letters, "I AM NOT SERIOUS." There were still people who missed the joke, even with the disclaimer. You can tell he's given up on the parody part with the third installment.
  • Islamic State of Donbass and Lugant, a parody of jihad videos by pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine, complete with nasheed (Islamic acapella chants) & their flag modified to include Islamist symbolism. Ukrainian & other commenters mistake them as actual Islamist terrorists, while the Russians are joking about their Orthodox "jihad". There are Muslim volunteers fighting on the pro-Russian side, but NONE of them are radical Islamists related with the jihadist movements.
  • During the Caustic Critic boom of 2007, when everyone with a camcorder was jumping on the Angry Video Game Nerd bandwagon, one particular user named Armake21 chimed in. According to himself he was supposed to be riffing on reviewers who wanted to be the AVGN but had no idea how to write jokes beyond "swear at the TV". In terms of viewership, he was moderately successful. In terms of the parody... not so much: after a review of Shinobi for the NES he had to post a follow-up video demonstrating his previously-poor skill was actually Stylistic Suck.
  • Averted intentionally by Jim Sterling when they ditched their "egomaniacal dictator" outfit for a more "circus ringmaster" look. After the election of Donald Trump in 2016, Sterling felt that it was not funny anymore because some people would take Sterling's dictator persona seriously and praise Sterling for it.
  • The video shown here was posted by a user who intended (he claimed) to make a political satire. The video consists of a real Arabic newscast with phony subtitles. President Obama's detractors quickly took the video as fact and posted it on several conservative blogs, until the poster, — who admits to being conservative but quotes the Trope Name directly (as shown) — cleared it up.
  • McJuggerNuggets falls into this a lot — one of the major questions fans and haters have is "Is this real or not?". The depiction of a dysfunctional family, an abuser losing people to dominate and becoming less rational as time goes on, multiple abusive relationships, nobody thinking to help (especially not the police), as well as the fact that the main character Jesse regularly moves back to a house where he's clearly abused brings up a lot of people to suspect both.
    • After uploading a video of Jesse shooting his father dead, and a follow-up video showing him moving out of the country in a desperate attempt to escape his crime, he cries on camera admitting that he made a mistake that can never be forgiven. Immediately after he finishes, he gets up, walks out of the room, and points the camera at the door, showing that his dad is alive and well, his mom is nearby, and he is in his parents' bedroom and not a hotel room like the video leads you to believe. Following this, Jesse came forth admitting that the entire Psycho series was indeed fake, and proceeded to upload bloopers and discussions about the show, even showing him giving his parents multi-thousand dollar checks for their help in the series. Jesse would also admit that, due to the lines of the show blurring from reality, he had actually been swatted before, and had the police called on his home multiple times by concerned or enraged fans. At one point, the police had even told him that he had to stop uploading the videos, which he responded that the show was nearing completion shortly. He continues uploading as he has before with new videos and series.
  • One of Steven Crowder's earliest videos in the mid-2000s was a sequence of celebrity impressions with his brother. Crowder claims it was intentionally bad to lampoon a wave of bad impression videos going around on YouTube at that time, but most commenters didn't get the joke.
  • The exceedingly ironically named YouTube channel No Bullshit tends to put out videos that are so stupid, repugnant, and/or downright ridiculous (in one, he insults someone by calling them a cuckoo wack-a-do) people often think he is a parody. As far as anyone can tell, he's serious.
  • "Rappin' for Jesus" is supposedly an old video (presumably from the early 2000s, 90s, or earlier) in which a (white) pastor and his wife rap about Jesus, repeatedly using the N-word to describe Him (as a term of endearment, but that's still a risky thing to do for someone without N-Word Privileges). The description implies that this was a serious attempt at bringing religion to the youth, and at a glance one might believe it, but in-depth research shows that the video is definitely satire. One of the main clues (ironically not mentioned in the analysis video) is that the word "swag" is used as a synonym for "coolness" in the song's lyrics, even though that particular meaning didn't exist when the video was supposedly made. The church shown at the start of the video shows no trace of ever existing, and its website only has one message, claiming the church shut its doors in 2004, even though the site's domain was registered in 2013 (around the same time as the creation of the account that uploaded the video). Also, trying to find even the tiniest scrap of information about Pastor Jim Colerick or Mary-Sue Colerick (the name of the pastor and his wife given at the start of the video) from Iowa is impossible, meaning the performers were using fake names.
  • Modern Educayshun by Neel Kolhatkar is meant to be a mockery of social media culture affecting higher education, meant to joke about how everyone can easily get offended over anything while anything worth learning is silenced underneath a barrage of Political Correctness. This came out in 2015. Jump forward to the year 2020, and the comments section is filled with remarks about how true this is in real life, stating that it hits too close to home.
  • MarioTehPlumber is an infamous Sonic the Hedgehog "fan" who "reviews" video games in the eponymous franchise on YouTube. The "reviews" in question consist mostly of screaming into the microphone, Cluster/Atomic F-Bombs every other word, research failures galore, and "Character design > Gameplay" priorities complete with sexual interpretations of characters and objects intended to be nothing of the sort — so naturally he was laughed out of the fanbase as a troll in a matter of moments, right? Unfortunately, the Sonic the Hedgehog fanbase is infamous for being extremely divided, made worse by a significant Vocal Minority of overzealous fans. The result is that it took several years before it became widely agreed that MarioTehPlumber's immature behaviour is a fake personality and not sincere.
  • Funny or Die's A Gaythering Storm regularly gets comments from people opposed to its homophobia, though the video is actually a parody of an anti-gay PSA calling attention to how ridiculous homophobia is.
  • The promotional video for Cryptoland, a plan by cryptocurrency enthusiasts to build a community on a Fijian island, was widely mocked once it was discovered by the internet at large due to its crude 3D animation, creepy and offputting mascot character, dialogue and location names consisting mostly of cringeworthy crypto in-jokes, inexplicable musical numbers, and the concept alone inviting unflattering comparisons to the disastrous Fyre Festival. Because of all this, the whole thing can come off like a scathing Stealth Parody of the culture surrounding crypto, with an article on the subject calling it "closer to a crypto satire than a sales pitch". However, whether the project is genuine or just a scam, it's clear the video wasn't meant to be seen as a joke, as evidenced by the fact the creators took it down from their YouTube channel in response to the mockery, and started issuing legal threats in an effort to silence their critics.
  • This was the subject of Renegade Cut's video "Post-Satire Capitalism", as he discusses how extreme politics and socioeconomics have become.
  • TheOdd1sOut: In one video, James jokingly claims to be a furry as part of a joke, saying that people tend to find furry animals cuter than hairless ones. However, a lot of commenters thought he was serious, so in another video, he confirmed it was a joke.
  • When Dominic Noble made an April Fools video comparing The Room (2003) to the (non-existent) book that it was based on, the intention was that it would become obvious that he was joking near the end as the plot got more ridiculous and he ended on a clip of him trying to pronounce "Prima Aprilis"note , the name of the "author". However, a large number of people didn't realize he was joking until he spelled it out at the start of a much later video.
  • In "ROBLOX_OOF.mp3", H.Bomberguy starts to dig deeper and deeper into Tommy Tallarico's history of making shit up to make himself look better, steadily growing more and more exasperated at the sheer volume and audacity of lies. It comes to a head when Harry hits what he calls the "Tallarico Event Horizon" — Tommy posted a picture of himself standing next to the Dalai Lama on the Atari Age website, claiming that he just happened to run into him in London and that he was a fan of Tommy's work. Harry then discovers that the photo was of a wax sculpture of the Dalai Lama, and loses his mind completely, because he's heard Tommy say so many Blatant Lies, he genuinely can't tell if he's joking or not.
    Harris: Is he doing a bit?! Is Tommy Tallarico a CIA experiment to see how far you can get in the liberal games industry by just making shit up?! Is Tommy Tallarico just a shadow on the wall of a cave?! I- !! I STARTED MAKING THIS VIDEO BECAUSE I THOUGHT A SOUND EFFECT WAS FUNNY!!
  • A major Running Gag in Quinton Reviews' series of videos on iCarly and Victorious purposely never directly refers to series creator Dan Schneider, always referring to him as "the creator" and steering away from discussing the many allegations made about him. The final part reveals that this was intended specifically to lampoon fans who do just that and try to distance Schneider's reputation from the shows themselves - which the rest of the video goes on to point out is both futile given the sheer creative influence Schneider had on them, and potentially dangerous given how it positions Schneider as a convenient scapegoat for systemic problems of working with child stars. However, because of the sheer length of the video series and how it reached to people with only a passing familiarity with the subject, many assumed he was doing the bit entirely seriously.

    Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents!: The show's 10th season has introduced yet another character, named Chloe, who was written to be a Parody Sue as she's blatantly, unrealistically perfect in many ways from knowing 12 languages to having a Nobel Prize. Despite this, she was still given the rights to Timmy's fairies half the time. It was later revealed that she was perfect to a fault as she often tried so hard to make everything great that she ended up overcompensating and ruining everything instead which led to people ostracizing her. Unfortunately, her sue qualities got played so straight that many people in the show's fandom mistook her for an outright Canon Sue and decried her inclusion and how she was able to get fairies despite being "perfect". Later episodes would downplay her sue qualities and show more of her flaws, but by then the damage was done, and the 10th season ended up being its last.
  • Feed the Kitty: The scene where Marc Anthony cries upon thinking his cat friend was baked into cookies was meant to be Black Comedy. However, a lot of viewers genuinely found it sad. Even director Chuck Jones was surprised at how tender the scene came off upon watching the finished film.
  • The Simpsons:
  • South Park:
    • This shows up in "Trapped in the Closet" when an official narrates Xenu's origin story. The phrase, "This is what Scientologists actually believe" was put in because it would've been indistinguishable from the show's weird humor to those who didn't already know the story. Even then, some people still didn't believe it, because even that sounds like something South Park would do.
    • The episode "Butt Out" is suggested by Stone and Parker to be Self-Parody of the show's own satirical structure; the issue of anti-smoking is portrayed in a spectacularly black-and-white fashion (the cigarette factory is a Wonka-esque wonderland, while Rob Reiner is depicted as a Straw Hypocrite and borderline Humanoid Abomination) and the episode ends with a big dramatic speech for An Aesop. But a lot of reviews didn't even notice those elements, because we're talking about a show that once depicted Barbara Streisand as Mechagodzilla; ridiculous exaggeration to make a comedic point and incredibly simplistic and blatant messaging is South Park's stock-in-trade.
    • Many people assume that the pro-pedophile North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) is a piece of satire invented by the show. Sadly, it's a real organization.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: The episode "Stuck in the Wringer" ends with the Spoof Aesop that "crying does solve your problems after all!" While the moral was obviously a sarcastic one (compounded by the fact that SpongeBob looks straight into the camera to deliver it), many people missed the joke and were livid. Even among those who knew it was a joke, the line is divisive, with one reason being that children would miss the joke and take the line at face value.
  • When My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic released a teaser image for a then-upcoming episode ("Testing Testing 1, 2, 3") featuring Pinkie Pie as a rapper, more than a few people assumed that the show was charging headlong into Totally Radical territory. Fortunately, when the episode actually aired, it quickly became clear that the rap was intentionally ridiculous, as it was a parody of Totally Radical edutainment from the '90s. In particular, it's a rather direct spoof of the rap segment from the infamous Don't Copy That Floppy PSA.
  • There's been a lot of debate over whether Velma is legitimately promoting politically correct views or satirizing them, due to many audience members perceiving the narrative of the show as exaggerated and lacking nuance yet many audience members also feeling that a lot of moments lack self-awareness.

  • Salvador Dalí once sent a telegram to Romania's dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, for his adoption of a scepter as part of his regalia. Dalí's intent was to mock him, but Ceauşescu, who had one of the biggest personality cults ever, took it seriously, and the text was published in the Party's newspaper. When he did find out it was a joke, he fired the editor who published it. Never mind that he was the one who ordered it to be published.
  • Roger Ebert went political and wrote a blog post giving a statement of creationist beliefs, with the intention of making a point about people's inability to recognize irony. While many people did see the satire, a significant number of readers either thought he was being serious or assumed the site had been hacked. PZ Myers criticized the article, pointing out that when there are so many people making the same claims without irony, the joke becomes undetectable to anyone who doesn't already know Ebert's stance on the issue. Anyone who thought the piece was anything but satire must not have read it in full (or did, but were worried that other people would not before reacting), because it ends with an obvious joke question and answer.
    Q. Why would God create such an absurd creature as a moose?
    A. In charity, we must observe that the moose probably does not seem absurd to itself."
  • A little-known example with Erwin Schrödinger. His infamous Schrödinger's Cat thought experiment was actually made by him as an absurd scenario to point out the flaw with the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, which claimed that two systems (such as two subatomic particles) that interacted but then separated would each have to be in a non-definite state until observed. Schrödinger thought this was silly and so came up with a scenario so absurd that it would show the flaws in the Copenhagen interpretation. His scenario was that if you locked a cat in a box with a gas vial of poison that would be smashed upon the decay of a radioactive isotope, then left the box closed and unobserved for a half-life of the isotope, the isotope would be in a superposition of being (i.e. "both or neither") decayed and not decayed, the gas consequently in a superposition of being released and not released, and the cat in a superposition of being both alive and dead. Many laypeople today know Schrödinger's name only from this thought experiment, and assume that he believed (or perhaps even "proved") that quantum mechanics meant that you could have a cat simultaneously alive and dead, when in fact this was intended as an absurd implication of an interpretation of quantum mechanics that Schrödinger wished to discredit. Moreover, a few experiments have placed particles or quantum-scale systems in situations were they do genuinely appear to be in two states simultaneously.
  • There were "scientific" papers and conferences that swallowed and processed nonsensical, but imitating their style and language papers, only to discover they were punned:
    • Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity by Alan Sokal. Alan Sokal, a physicist who was severely annoyed at scientifically-illiterate deconstructionist philosophers trying to work quantum physics into their philosophy, submitted a paper to the journal Social Text which declared "quantum gravity"—and ultimately reality itself—to be a social construct, and that somehow this was beneficial for left-wing politics. Social Text accepted it. No peer review, no attempt to verify the scientific 'facts'. Right after printing it, he notified them it was a logically inconsistent rambling as bad as he could write without using mushrooms. Oops. Social Text was annoyed. According to the journal editors, they didn't agree with his argument and thought the paper was badly written, but at no point had it occurred to them that it wasn't a sincere effort. Sokal concluded that they had printed his paper because it came from a respected academic and flattered their political views.
    • WMSCI 2005 accepted an article Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy. The only value it has for computer science is the fact that this garbage wasn't even written by a human, but by a pseudorandom text generator. Then these pranksters went to the conference, held a "technical" session and read a few more randomly generated speeches with straight faces. It's all there — along with the Open Source text generator.
    • In the Bogdanov Affair, Igor and Grichka Bogdanov published their papers in reputable scientific journals claiming that their calculations could puzzle out what things were like in the Planck era (the point immediately after the Big Bang). Subsequent criticisms of the papers by scientists and in Internet forums claimed that the poorly-written papers, filled with many commonly used scientific buzzwords used in nonsensical contexts, were meant as a big hoax. The controversy is frequently called the "reverse Sokal hoax" because A) the material was submitted to scientific journals rather than liberal arts journals, and B) the Bogdanovs consistently maintained that they were completely sincere.
    • "Sokal Squared": The authors half-successfully (the hoax blew before it could be completed) fooled several "Gender Studies" magazines. They even managed to sneak in reworded passages from Mein Kampf. This caused a giant scandal.
    • "Body Ritual among the Nacirema" was a satire of the way anthropologists tended to write about non-Western cultures with clinical distance and treating all customs as incomprehensible superstition by taking the exact same approach to the "Nacirema" people. For instance, it describes a strange nude ritual where a medicine man performs magic upon male excreta (read: going to a doctor, stripping naked so they can check on you, and giving a urine sample). It got published in American Anthropologist.
  • In 1985 MIT pranksters managed to get a sculpture included in an exhibition at MIT's List Visual Art Center. Titled "No Knife", it consisted of an overturned wastebasket on which was a dining hall tray, plate, bowl, glass, fork, and two spoons. It was accompanied by an artist's statement describing it as "a study in mixed media earth tones", and going on to praise and interpret it ("The casual formalism of the place setting draws upon our common internal instincts of existential persistence to unify us with the greater consciousness of human bondage") in a parody of the style of art criticism. It took the gallery staff several hours to discover it was not actually part of the exhibition.
  • Valerie Solanas, infamous for shooting Andy Warhol, was also known for her SCUM Manifesto, (with SCUM believed to stand for Society for Cutting Up Men, though she denied this) her infamous rant about how the world would be a better place without men. Even though The SCUM Manifesto is generally taken at face value, Solanas did claim that it was satire, with academics such as Laura Winkiel arguing on her behalf. Those who know Solanas have given inconsistent accounts of whether or not she herself claims it to be satire.
  • In a strange case, creationist speaker Kent Hovind earned the P.T. Barnum "One Born Every Minute" Award when he incorporated information about the finding of man and dinosaur fossils co-existing and the government cover-up of this discovery, from a website into his lectures as evidence against evolution. In reality, the website was a fake one (and somewhat conspicuously so) that the New Mexicans for Science and Reason (NMSR) had set up as an April Fool's Day prank.
  • Older Than Feudalism: Scenes from Aristophanes over-the-top parody of Socrates, The Clouds, were cited in Socrates' trial as if they were real evidence against him. You know, the one that ended with him forced to drink hemlock. Since the formal charges against him were all a blatant farce to get around that he was protected from punishment of what they were actually mad about by an amnesty agreement, and everyone involved knew this, there's a decent chance it was deliberate.
  • Sarah Palin mocked the way her opponents obsess over minor misstatements of hers by releasing a blog post consisting entirely of erroneous statements made by President Barack Obama. At least some of her detractors criticized the new "mistakes" from Mrs. Palin. Reimagined with common knowledge that Sarah Palin said, "I can see Russia from my house!" ... via Tina Fey's parody (the actual quote was that you can see Russia from a certain place in Alaska, which is true as far as it goes).
  • There's a minor political party in Russia called "Communists of St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast" (CPLO), that is best known for their public appeals, written in an over-the-top style of mock Soviet propaganda. They sent a hate mail to Steven Spielberg over Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and accused Avatar of ripping off from Strugatsky Brothers. Recently, they claimed that European probe Philae is a 'space pirate' and should pay for landing on a 'Soviet' Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet. Their philippics have been picked up by the media and taken too seriously so that the real Communist Party had to remind them they have nothing to do with that. There's still a debate is CPLO parodying Communists Just for Fun, as an advertisement strategy, or if they're really nuts (which is unlikely).
  • As a satire of excessive capitalism, an artist made a bench that you must pay to sit on; overstay your purchased welcome and the bench will impale you with steel spikes. And now, a Chinese park owner who didn't get the joke actually wants to install these in his park to prevent hobos from hanging around on the benches.
  • At the First West Coast Computer Faire, Apple engineer Steve Wozniak had made several gag brochures for a successor to the MITS Altair called the "Zaltair." The ad copy was filled with absurd claims, like having 18 expansion card slots, a new "BAZIC" programming language that could be rewritten by the user, and a case that will "add to the decor of any living room." People bombarded the MITS stand with questions about the new model, and it wasn't until late in the day that anyone caught on to the joke. Today, these brochures are highly sought-after collector's items. What made it plausible was Woz's unorthodox sense of humor and that everything listed there did really exist at that time — the fictional computer just had little to do with those features. Except maybe 18 expansion slots — this was how many slots were in the full-feature Altair 8800 MB, though not all of them could be used for expansion.note  The first Programming Language that could be rewritten on the fly note  was actually invented back in '55, but was virtually unknown in the microcomputer world, and a case might be successfully built that the case that will "add to the decor of any living room" was present in Woz's own work — the fair was a venue where the Apple ][ was first unveiled, and it was the first fruit of Steve Jobs' famous "computer as appliance" philosophy.
  • In many retail stores, thinking you'll be funny by making a ridiculous statement, unreasonable demand, or just acting stupid will almost always elicit an entirely serious response from cashiers and customer service associates. ("Can someone help me carry this carton of eggs to my cart?" "Can I pay in monopoly money?" "I'd like to speak with the CEO of this franchise.") Odds are if they've been there awhile, someone has probably already asked or demanded something far, far crazier and were utterly serious about it.
  • After years of secrecy, English crop circle makers Doug Bower and Dave Chorley decided to fess up to their pranks in 1991, only to find many UFO believers deciding that, although the circles were man-made, the two must have been possessed by aliens who had made the circles through them. As Skeptoid sums up in an episode on crop circles:
    ''It is an interesting world we live in, where you can tell a group of people that you made a crop circle with a rope, even show them how you did it, and they still insist that an unknown paranormal intelligence did it. Many of the people making these claims had built a cottage industry out of talking and writing about the circles, and their reputations and livelihoods were at stake.
  • During a game in longtime New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter's final season (2014), the opposing Minnesota Twins featured a hilariously effusive "scouting report" graphic on their TV broadcast, which led to sportswriter Joe Posnanski musing on his blog about how perfectly said graphic could work as satire.
  • An "actual news that could be mistaken for satire" example, on Australia Day 2015, when Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot decided to have Prince Phillip of England made a Knight of the Order of Australia (knights and dames being something he re-introduced with much mockery from the general public and the media), media writers checking their sources was a common mention in comment articles that day, Abbot's own ministers and the entire media went "WTF? Seriously?!", and First Dog on the Moon decided that Tony had transcended satire.
  • 2017 saw a sudden explosion in "flat Earth" conspiracy theories. The problem is that while it had been smoldering away in the background for centuries, the sudden influx included so many parodists and people just along for the meme and there's no way to tell them apart from the genuine article. It's entirely possible that there are no genuine believers outside the same few religious fundamentalists that have always carried the torch. Indeed, fans of Terry Pratchett, whose Discworld fantasy novels are set on a flat world, have gleefully pitched in with tongue-in-cheek support for the Flat Earthers: a general attitude among Pratchett fans who are in on the joke is to criticize the Flat Earthers for not going far enough and for leaving out the necessary supporting infrastructure of elephants and world turtle necessary for the cosmos to work. Some of the best Pratchett-inspired "support" for Flat Earthism includes finely detailed arguments for the existence of elephants and turtle having been hushed up by NASA, and is indistinguishable from genuine flat-Earth advocacy.
  • Roosh "The Douche" Vash published a satirical article advocating the decriminalization of sexual assault, inspired by A Modest Proposal. This got him banned from entering the United Kingdom because people thought he really was advocating decriminalizing rape. However, to double dip this trope, the article was so unremarkable among his body of work (he was already famous as an anti-feminist and open rape apologist) that there's no way to tell if he really thought this was an obvious exaggeration or if it was a desperate Parody Retcon.
  • The hysteria over the Large Hadron Collider theoretically being powerful enough to create micro-black holes originated from a satirical article.
  • Trumpy Bear. It is a teddy bear patterned after Donald Trump. It even has an American flag that unfurls from its back like a cape. The commercial itself plays like a parody straight out of The Daily Show or Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. However, shows like The Late Late Show here, Jimmy Kimmel Live! here, and with Snopes have shown that the product and the commercial are very, very real and sincere, as were the patriotism and the testimonial from a Navy veteran.
  • It's hard to tell how many people really believe in the idea that the Mandela Effect, the real phenomenon of mass false memories, happens because the "wrong" version you remember was actually true until reality changed somehow. Many of the posts on the Mandela Effect subreddit feel like trolling, with people either pretending to be really dense (with obviously contrived misspellings of celebrity names, or thinking that well-known, very much alive celebrities really died years ago), or coming up with overly complex, nonsensical explanations of what might be causing the effect (Parallel universes colliding! Time travelers deliberately messing with things!), all seemingly to goof around with the apparent small handful of posters who feel it's Serious Business.
  • Russian film-maker Anton Ilmyanov was disconcerted to see videos showing UFOs and putative "sky-beasts" living in Earth's upper atmosphere appearing on ufology websites as proof positive that not only UFOs but the fabled "sky beasts" existed. The reason for his disconcertment was simple: he had created the videos himself as educational exercises, demonstrating how ridiculously easy it is to fake these things with modern technology. Even though he had clearly labelled his work as deliberate fakes that should not be taken as real, and the whole point of making them had been to demonstrate how such things can be faked, they had still ended up with the UFO-nuts anyway. Even today they are still out there, with some commentators explaining that Ilmanyov has clearly been "got at" by Them and forced to denounce the films... see Fortean Times, FT329, July 2015)
  • Amid 2020's worldwide debate over systemic racism and removing monuments to historical figures who perpetuated bigotry, someone spray-painted Copenhagen's landmark statue of The Little Mermaid with the words "RACIST FISH". Which is a bit confusing, since even the most nitpicky scholar would have trouble labeling either the mermaid herself or the story she's from "racist". Nobody knows whether it was sincere but misguided activists, drunk pranksters, people trying to satirize the whole statue debate by painting a nonsensical slogan on an innocent marker...
  • In 1981, the town of Sunol, California elected a dog named Bosco as its mayor, beating out two human candidates. However, Sunol is an unincorporated community, so 'mayor' is a purely honorary position with no actual authority. This didn't stop the Chinese government-run People's Daily from printing an article in 1990 claiming that this was an example of the failings of the American democratic process.
  • In response to M&M's rebranding themselves as Ma&Ya's for the Super Bowl, A&W made a satirical post announcing that their mascot Rooty the Great Root Bear was now wearing pants because not wearing pants could be polarizing. Cue Fox News dedicating a segment to Rooty's change, decrying that "cancel culture has gone too far".

Aha, you fell for it! This isn't a TV Tropes article at all, it's a scathing parody of one.


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Alternative Title(s): Not Sure If Serious


NyQuil Chicken

Food Theory did an entire episode about how NyQuil Chicken's danger isn't with the chicken itself, but how the media practically fell for it being a parody.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

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Main / PoesLaw

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