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Pop Culture Urban Legends

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It's not uncommon for false rumors to be spread about media.

The dawn of the internet has not done much to quell urban legends. If anything, they've become easier to spread. It's not uncommon to see "he said, she said" rumors of Missing Episodes that only aired once. God Never Said That often over time leads to this, as a rumored quote will be circulated so much that it becomes an urban legend.

Some say this is due to the "Mandela Effect", a pseudo-scientific theory that false memories are due to parallel dimensions colliding.

Compare Urban Legend of Zelda (which is about gameplay-related video game legends), God Never Said That (which is about things creators allegedly said about the work) and Urban Legends (which is about the entire genre of sensational but mostly untrue hearsay lore). For popular misconceptions about the contents of famous works, see "Common Knowledge". For celebrities who get urban legends attached to them because they already have bizarre reputations, see The Tyson Zone.

When the creators deliberately play with the audience's expectations and make references to the installments that never existed, this is Un-Installment or Retroactive Legacy.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • There was a widespread myth that Little Mikey from the Life Cereal commercials had died from trying out a deadly combination of Pop Rocks and soda. As it turns out, his actor John Gilchrist is still alive and well. Plus, the MythBusters proved that six 12-ounce cans of cola and six packages of Pop Rocks would only cause considerable pain to the subject (and even then, only if both gas release mechanisms were blocked), as the reaction did not produce the amount of carbon dioxide necessary for stomach rupture.
  • Rumors circulated that the star of this infamously annoying UK advert for the cereal Frosties had died. The first version claimed that he was severely bullied after the commercial aired, and said bullying either killed him directly or caused him to commit suicide. The second version is that he was already dead before the commercial was filmed, and his "appearance" in the commercial was actually a CGI construct, with his singing being pieces of existing voice clips from him assembled together to make the song, supposedly explaining the oddly flat and monotonous singing. Another version of the latter rumour was that he was a terminally ill kid whose lifelong dream was, rather improbably, to appear in a Frosties advertisement, so this was the fulfillment of his dying wish. In reality, he's still alive, and the singing voice wasn't even his.
  • Urban legend is that Humphrey Bogart was the original Gerber baby. The actual model was Ann Turner. Humphrey appeared as the model for a separate baby food called "Mellin's".
  • When the famous "¡Yo quiero Taco Bell!" campaign ended in 2000, rumors circulated that it was because the chihuahua used in the commercials somehow died. In reality, the dog lived for nine years after the campaign ended. The truth is far more straightforward: the campaign simply wasn't profitable anymore.
  • When the fast food chain "Kentucky Fried Chicken" rebranded to KFC, there were multiple reasons for this — wanting to downplay the word "fried" during a time of increasing health-consciousness, wanting to downplay the word "chicken" as their menu expanded to include other items, and a trend toward abbreviated names in general (International House of Pancakes changed its name to IHOP at about the same time). Rumors immediately spread that some more nefarious reasons were involved as well:
  • This Walkers crisps commercial caused some controversy and an associated rumour in the late 2000s. The advert features celebrated England footballer Gary Lineker, and in it he cheerfully says "It rains 154 days a year in Britain!" a statement which caused the ad to be postponed for a couple of months due to some very damaging flooding in parts of the UK, as Walkers believed the ad would be seen as distasteful. When it finally aired and news broke of the commercial's delay, it started a rumour that the ad had actually been postponed because of the belief that Lineker's statement about the British rain would negatively affect British tourism, dissuading people from going on holiday within the UK. This was false - the ad's postponement really was because of the severe flooding. And after all, the British are used to frequent rain - they wouldn't let it spoil a holiday.
  • Uncle O'Grimacey, Grimace's Irish uncle, was used in McDonaldland commercials for a few years to promote the Shamrock Shake, but was quietly phased out. A story that McDonald's dropped him because of a 1978 incident in which an actor in an Uncle O'Grimacey costume made pro-IRA and/or anti-British comments at a Philadelphia pub has circulated, but no one's found any evidence for this. Most likely the story stems from a 1997 piece in The Onion that satirically portrayed O'Grimacey ("the most radical member of the Grimace family") as an IRA collaborator. Articles mentioning O'Grimacey's alleged IRA ties and the Philadelphia incident seem to be tongue-in-cheek riffs on the Onion piece, that other writers have amusingly taken seriously.
  • Kate Winslet is often rumoured to have starred in an early 1990s Sugar Puffs commercial where she played a young girl who transformed into the cereal's mascot, the Honey Monster at a fairground. While Winslet appeared in a Sugar Puffs commercial, it was a different one from nearly a decade earlier. Additionally, Winslet would have been 16 years old when the "fairground" advert aired, roughly double the age of the girl shown in the advert.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf:
    • Rumors circulated that the show would be dubbed in Japanese with an impressive cast, a claim that Creative Power Entertaining - the company that produces Pleasant Goat - cited as being false.
    • It's also been rumored that the franchise is banned in France, which was also proven false. For the record, the show has never officially aired in France as of now.

  • There's a legend among London architecture enthusiasts that George Gilbert Scott's St Pancras station was simply a carbon copy of his original design for the Foreign Office building in Whitehall, rejected for being too Gothic. Examination of the actual Foreign Office proposal shows that this is a complete urban legend (possibly originating as a joke).
  • A common story in Mormonism is that, as proof of Brigham Young's prophetic skills, he included mysterious empty shafts in the design of the Salt Lake Temple, that, decades later, proved to be the exact proportions needed for an elevator system. In fact, elevators existed in the 1850s, when construction of the temple began, and the earliest inclusion of shafts in the temple's blueprints specifically designated them for elevators.
  • In 1967, the second "London Bridge", constructed in 1831, was sold and rebuilt in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. It's widely believed that the man who bought the bridge, Robert P. McCulloch, had purchased it thinking he was getting the far more iconic Tower Bridge, and therefore got ripped off. This was merely a comical rumor and was repeatedly stated to be untrue by McColluch and the bridge seller Ivan Luckin after it started to spread.

    Comic Books 
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: It's claimed that Donald Duck comics were banned in Finland because he doesn't wear pants. Actually, Donald Duck is quite popular in Finland. There were at least rumours that moral guardians tried to get the comic banned because of the above-mentioned reason. This seems to have spun out from a story from The '70s where a municipal government or a board for/of youths decided to stop their order of the comic due to their poor financial situation. They had joked that the reason was because of Donald not wearing pants, but that's all it was: a joke. One that got picked up by some foreign (as in not-Finnish) newspapers as fact and it continues to spread from there.
  • Due to entries on this wiki, there's the rumor that Tekno and Amy from Sonic the Comic have been confirmed as a couple at a convention. No such confirmation exists. In 2018, however, Nigel Kitching wrote a Sonic the Comic – Online! issue that casually mentions Tekno and Amy as a couple in the distant future.
  • Due to the highly divisive nature of the events leading to Secret Empire, there were two 4chan posts that claim as to what the true ending to the story and how it would shape Generations and Marvel Legacy:
    • One post posits that while the comic ended mostly the same, but that Secret Empire was meant to mirror Secret Invasion with the World Security Council (a group introduced over in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and brought over in Captain America: Steve Rogers) would have taken over, proceeding to clamp down on super-heroics, mimicking the Dark Reign era. Many of the fallen elder heroes would have returned via Generations and would go on a trip to reconnect with the people while the younger heroes would lead the fight against the WSC. These titles would also be converted into a brand new Ultimate line — Miles Morales' Spider-Man title would go back to Ultimate Spider-Man, All-New X-Men/X-Men: Blue would become Ultimate X-Men, Champions into The Ultimates, etc.
    • Another post posits a quite different ending and follow up. This post would claim that Secret Empire was originally planned to end with Sam Wilson becoming Captain America once and for all, defeating an unrepentant Steve Rogers. With many of the previous heroes either dead or disgraced in some way, the legacy characters would have fallen into the spotlight. It's claimed that the immense backlash against HYDRA!Steve lead to a hastily re-written ending to how it is now.
  • Spider-Man: There's a long-standing rumor that Gwen Stacy never died in the Mexican version, and Peter married her instead of Mary Jane Watson. For context: in the early days of the comic, the publishing company La Prensa got permission to publish Spanish translations of Spider-Man comics in Mexico; the comics proved to be such a hit with Mexican audiences that they eventually started publishing two comics per month instead of one, and eventually overtook Marvel Comics' publishing schedule. Because of this, Marvel gave Mexican artist Jose Luis Duran permission to draw his own original Spider-Man stories with full creative control — and in one of these original stories, Peter and Gwen got married, even though "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" had already been published by that point. Contrary to rumor, though, that story was revealed to be All Just a Dream, and its events were never intended to be canon.
  • It's long been claimed in certain places that, during the Golden and Silver Ages of American comics, major companies banned the use of the word "flick" or the name "Clint", due to fears of what would happen if, due to the poor quality of the paper and printing methods, the "L" and the "I" in either word got blurred together and looked like a "U". There's no evidence of this happening (for a start, Hawkeye, who debuted for Marvel in the Silver Age, has always had the legal name Clint Barton), but it inspired the name of Mark Millar's comics magazine CLiNT.
  • Supposedly, an issue of either The Mighty Thor or The Avengers features a scene with a random paramedic handing Thor his hammer; this is significant, since only a true hero can even pick up Thor's hammer. The issue in question does not, in fact, exist. It's believed that the sequence people are remembering is one from The Mighty Thor where a downed Thor is helped by Amora the Enchantress, currently disguised as a humble paramedic, helps Thor lift his hammer to retrigger his powers and get back up, but the implication of the scene as previously described are clearly not the case given Amora's status as a Wild Card at best.
  • There is a Belgian comic series called Sophie by Jidéhem. For a while, on the French internet, a rumor claimed that the comic was adapted into an obscure feature movie in the late 70s, under the title Voici venir Sophie, and that it even had an English dub release as Here Comes Sophie, starring the voice talents of Richard Harris and Molly Ringwald. However, the only sources were a few blogs, an article on Filmaffinity and a French Wikipedia article (now deleted; it also announced an upcoming animated TV series). A few "posters" were shared, but they turned out to be photoshopped images based on the comic art. No reliable source ever confirmed any tangible screen adaptation of Sophie.
  • Superman:
    • There was a rumor concerning an one-shot that redid the iconic Kryptonite Nevermore storyline for the Post-Crisis continuity. Being that it was released prior to The Death of Superman and was set early in Superman's career, it was claimed that the ending was left ambiguous, suggesting that if the wedding between Clark Kent and Lois Lane didn't sit well with fans (as that was the original storyline before Executive Meddling forced them to change gears), it would give them an out to reveal that the Superman Lois married was actually the Sand Superman and bring back the original afterwards. The creators of the story confirmed, however, that this was never the case at all.
    • There was a rumor that Jerry Ordway threatened to quit DC Comics over Supergirl's appearance in "Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot", which contradicted DC's then-current policy that Superman was the only survivor of Krypton and Kara Zor-El never existed. When asked about it, though, Ordway said he was annoyed over it (since he considered DC was betraying the Superman's reboot's mission statement), but he did not threaten to quit. He could not afford to lose his job.
    • One famous comic book urban legend is that artist Wally Wood deliberately drew Power Girl's breasts larger and larger in each successive issue until someone told him to stop. There is, however, no verifiable evidence of this, and actually examining the issues in question plainly shows that Power Girl's bust is more or less drawn the same size throughout.
  • For a while, there was a claim posted on This Very Wiki that Stan Lee had intended to reveal that Hawkeye was actually the son of Captain America, having fathered Clint before he was frozen (at the time of their creation, it would be have been possible for Clint, then in his early 20s, to have been conceived in the 40s, adding credence to this), and this was foreshadowed by Clint originally keeping his identity and real name a secret from the other Avengers, their similar appearances (both being tall muscular blonde men), and Clint's immediate rebellious attitude towards Cap. The source for this claim has never been found, but it was echoed throughout the Hawkeye fandom until it became clear it was probably just someone's fanon.
  • The Green Turtle is an obscure Golden Age superhero that appeared in Blazing Comics. A strange quirk of the comic is how the Green Turtle's face (even while wearing a mask) is always is obscured in the comic (with the cover of the second issue of Blazing Comics being the only time the reader get a clear look at face albeit in a mask). There doesn't seem to be any obvious reason for this. Rumor has it that Chu F. Hing (who created Green Turtle) intended Green Turtle to be Asian but the racist publisher wouldn't let him. So, Chu obscured the Green Turtle's face as a Writer Revolt (with the publisher responding by making Green Turtle's skin an exaggerated pink). However despite many websites treating this as fact, there aren't any reliable sources corroborating the rumor. Nevertheless, this rumor formed the basis of Gene Luen Yang's comic The Shadow Hero.

    Comic Strips 
  • There is a persistent rumor that the final strip of Calvin and Hobbes is this one, which has Calvin being on medication and no longer wanting to play with Hobbes, who turns back into a plush toy. The strip widely circulated online is a parody created by someone to make an anti-medication point, though the actual artist is unknown (and the lack of Watterson's distinctive hand-lettering is a dead giveaway). The actual final strip adopts an And the Adventure Continues perspective.
  • Jim Davis's first comic strip Gnorm Gnat supposedly ended with a human foot squashing Gnorm. This, however, isn't true and is just an urban legend that's been widely circulated (including by Davis himself). The actual final strip was a simple 1975 Christmas strip of Gnorm saying "Thanks, Pendleton" to the fourth wall. An unpublished strip did feature a bug getting stomped by a human foot as a punchline, but it was a one-off character, not Gnorm.

  • Legend has it that if you ask at SF conventions, you'll hear tales of some SF writer who created a book specifically to be as bad as possible. It turned out to be the exact opposite since a cult of people sprung up around it demanding more, so he said "why the fuck not!" and made a career on it. Depending on who you ask this person was John Norman, creator of the Gor series; Piers Anthony creator of Xanth (Anthony denied this, claiming Xanth came from a long-standing idea that he had of turning his home state Florida into a magical land; besides, the first three books were already written and contracted as a trilogy); Robert E. Howard (creator of Conan the Barbarian); L. Ron Hubbard, or Robert A. Heinlein. It is such a well-known enough story that at least one book featured it as a foreword. It was also claimed of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes, by no less a personage than Rudyard Kipling in his autobiography ("He was reported to have said that he wanted to find out how bad a book he could write and 'get away with,' which is a legitimate ambition."). Setting aside Kipling's pique about his Raised by Wolves idea being turned into a genre, this appears to be a garbling of a Self-Deprecating comment Burroughs made about the pulps, and his own place in them.
  • Many rumors surround the original abridged publication of Stephen King's The Stand. The fact that it was nearly cut in half from the original manuscript (later restored in future printings) gave rise to the idea that the original draft had given King/his editor/president of Scribner horrific apocalyptic nightmares and they wanted the offending stuff excised, the government itself taking out stuff that too closely resembled their real-life plans of action for such an event, etc. In reality, King was still a fairly new author at the time, and his editors didn't feel the public would accept a Door Stopper book from him. Once he was established as a mega-selling author, it was republished and restored (even then, King admits to editing some things out that he didn't like).
  • The book The Grapes of Wrath is said to have been translated in some countries as The Angry Raisins. There is no evidence for this.
  • It's widely believed that the reason J. R. R. Tolkien utilizes giant spiders as villains in The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion is that he was intensely arachnophobic after being bitten by a tarantula while playing outside as a toddler. While the incident with the tarantula did really take place, Tolkien later said that he had no memory of the event and did not dislike spiders at all, even going out of his way to avoid drowning ones that accidentally fell in his bathtub. The real reason he incorporated the villainous spiders is that his son was terrified of them.
  • There is a bit of copypasta floating around the Internet claiming, among other things, that in E. T. A. Hoffmann's The Nutcracker Marie lived in a loveless household, that she was depicted lying in a pool of her own blood after injuring herself, and that her parents punished her for it by locking her in her room until she admitted she'd been naughty. Only the second claim is true: Marie breaks the glass in the front of her doll cabinet and slices her arm open, and her mother finds her lying there surrounded by her dolls and passed out from loss of blood. Yet not only are her parents concerned for her health, but her worried parents confined her to her room solely because she needed to recover from such an injury, not to punish her.note 
  • Take your pick: either Truman Capote was the real author of To Kill a Mockingbird or Harper Lee was the real author of In Cold Blood.
  • Arthur: It's been alleged that the reason Marc Brown drew Arthur with a nose that looked more like a tapir's trunk than an actual aardvark nose is because an editor decided real aardvark noses were too phallic-looking to be appropriate for a children's book. There is absolutely no evidence to support this claim.
  • For a time, it was widely claimed that Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling based the Leaky Cauldron off an Exeter pub named the Old Fire House. Rowling herself debunked the rumor, saying she'd never visited or even heard of the Old Fire House at the time she was creating the Potterverse's famous places.
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar: There is a widely disseminated story that Eric Carle was not happy at being forced to include the scene of the caterpillar suffering a stomachache. It originated from a fake interview published as an April Fool's Day prank.
  • There's a commonly-reposted claim that Dr. Seuss cheated on his wife when she had cancer, resulting in her committing suicide and him marrying his mistress afterward. As explained in this Reddit comment, the actual story is a lot more complicated. For one thing, Helen Palmer never had cancer; she did have Guillain-Barré syndrome, but had recovered years later with her husband staying by her side, and didn't have any life-threatening health conditions by the time of her death. Plus, there is no evidence Geisel had a sexual affair with Audrey Diamond before Palmer's death, and her suicide is generally believed to have been the result of multiple issues such as the recent loss of her brother and feeling like a burden to her husband. While the two did have marriage troubles long before Diamond came into the picture, Geisel did do his best to patch up the relationship between them, and later felt quite distraught about her death.
    • As far as Dr. Seuss's books go, there is a rumor that has circulated around the internet for many years that the first edition of There's a Wocket in My Pocket! contained two creatures— the "Red under the bed" and the "Burnace in the furnace"— that were removed from the 1996 reprint because they were too scary for children. These characters were never in any version.
  • Thanks to Thomas Pynchon's extreme Reclusive Artist tendencies, a rumor sprang up that Pynchon was actually an alias for J. D. Salinger (himself a famously Reclusive Artist).
  • Stories spread around online claim that the original Shrek book contains lines such as "Shrek reached into his bag for his gun that killed clouds" and (of Shrek's wedding) "No priest would officiate because God hated Shrek for being alive, so they used a crocodile". These are actually fabrications made by a Tumblr user as a joke and are not found in the actual book.
  • In the original French translation of Animal Farm, Napoleon the pig had his name changed to Cesar. A popular rumor claimed that this was because of a French law prohibiting naming a pig "Napoleon"; however, there is no evidence that such a law ever existed. Later French translations of the book would reinstate Napoleon's original name.
  • There is a rumor that Red, White & Royal Blue is a former Real-Person Fic of the The Social Network actors Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield with the Serial Numbers Filed Off. The author, Casey McQuiston, never confirms this but some readers speculate that she might be a former fanfic writer involved in The Social Network fandom. You Tuber Jane Mulcahy investigated this rumor and found out there's no evidence about it as she couldn't find the original fanfic though she did allegedly suspect that McQuiston wrote a Social Network real-person fic due to the writing style.

  • Analog: invoked The May 1942 issue has a nonfiction article, Willy Ley's "The Birth of a Superstition", that talks about things that "everyone knows" about historical stories has been proven false several times. The main subject is the evolution of colour vision (based on The Odyssey not having enough descriptions of the colour blue), but also mentioned are the fictions of George Washington chopping down a cherry tree, Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor beginning with "fate knocks at the door", and Cinderella having glass slippers.note  However, the Cinderella reference is itself a misconception.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • For years fans believed that Goldust was behind the Attitude Era's caught on camera segments "GTV" to facilitate an upcoming return to the ring. In 2015, released "5 WWE Myths Busted" debunking this theory and other long-believed behind-the-scenes WWE rumors. In the case of "GTV", Vince Russo revealed that the mastermind was actually meant to be MTV's Tom Green, whom Russo had a friendly working relationship with behind camera.
  • Rumors have long circulated about one or more of the people involved with the Montreal Screwjob admitting it was actually a Worked Shoot (and this isn't just limited to fans, Scott Hall maintained that he believed the whole thing was a work from top to bottom until he passed away in 2022). The jury's still out on whether it was, but even if it was, nobody has come forward admitting it.
  • A long standing claim says that the WWF/E Hardcore Championship belt was constructed from the remains of the "Winged Eagle" WWF Championship belt which was destroyed by Mr. Perfect. In truth, the Hardcore Championship was a new belt purposely made to look damaged, while the destroyed WWF Championship was actually kept by a referee who later sold it to private collectors.
  • One legend claims that the Ultimate Warrior— who eventually passed away in 2014 —actually died in the early '90s, and his death was covered up by having another wrestler (sometimes stated to be Kerry Von Erich) impersonate him for his appearance at Wrestlemania 8. Needless to say, it isn't true.
  • The most well known wrestling urban legend among current fans is that Randy Savage was blacklisted from WWE because he molested Stephanie McMahon - whether or not the alleged encounter was consensual depends on who's telling the story, but given that Stephanie was underage it was at the very least statutory rape. We'll likely never know if this one is true since Savage passed away in 2011 and the McMahon family understandably refuses to even acknowledge it, much less confirm or deny it; though it's worth mentioning that a lot of people in the business (including his own brother) have gone on record saying they believe it's true.

  • A very well documented urban legend is that the radio show "Uncle Don" had an episode where the announcer forgot to turn off the microphone and accidentally said to the kids watching, "That oughta hold the little bastards!". Snopes has a very lengthy description of this.
    • This myth even got a Ukrainian counterpart for there is an urban legend about Na dobranich, diti ("Good night, kids") TV Show on the 1st Ukrainian TV Channel back in the 1980s. The anchorperson who acted as Did Panas (Granpa Panas) was drunk and finished a fairy tale with “Otaka huinya, malyata!” (Ukrainian for “What a bunch of bullshit, little ones!”). There aren’t any tapes that prove this episode and different people remember different variations of this phrase.
    • This story was referenced in The Simpsons' episode "Krusty Gets Kanceled", when The Gabbo Show makes a similar gaffe.
  • It's believed that the creators of Adventures in Odyssey didn't like the Animated Adaptation of the series, since they put a Take That! against it in one episode. This not only ignores that the same people worked on both, but said alleged Take That! was from the episode "I Slap Floor" which was a Bizarro Episode written for April Fool's note  and therefore, nothing in it should be taken seriously. note 

  • Urban myth has it that future Ugandan dictator Idi Amin was selected as a replacement by the East Africa rugby union team for their 1955 tour match against the British Lions. While Amin really did spend some time as a rugby player, he doesn't appear in the team's photograph or on the official team list; moreover, replacements were not allowed in international rugby until 1968.
  • Likewise, a common rumor is that late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro was scouted to play in Major League Baseball during his youth, either for the Washington Senators or the New York Yankees. While he was a baseball fan and played it while in college, and did at least one exhibition game with his fellow revolutionaries as "Los Barbudos," no MLB team tried to recruit him nor are there records of him trying out. However, he reportedly loved the rumor.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Before his eventual death in January 2022, a fabricated TMZ article circulated the Internet in 2009 claiming that Louie Anderson had died of surgery complications. This turned out to be false reporting, as variations on that rumor existed for years, including one where he committed suicide after ending his stint as host on Family Feud, which fans of the series attributed to a "Family Feud curse". (A previous host, Ray Combs, did commit suicide two years after being fired, but apart from original host Richard Dawson, who died of esophageal cancer at age 79, and the aformentioned Louie Anderson, all other former hosts of the Feud are still with us.)
  • Bill Hicks is the subject of a "celebrity faked their death" rumor. In this case, the story is that Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones is actually Hicks, who supposedly created the new identity as a Stealth Parody.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In TSR's Indiana Jones Role-Playing Game from the 80s, the copyright symbol appears next to the word "Nazi" on some of the cardboard tokens used, sparking a rumor that TSR tried to copyright "Nazi". The copyright was actually referring to the artwork used.
  • The original edition of Deities and Demigods (a supplement for Dungeons and Dragons) featured the Melnibonéan gods and gods from the Cthulhu Mythos, but they are absent from reprints. This has led to a rumor that the gods were placed in there without permission from the copyright holders and were removed for legal reasons. However, James M. Ward (one of the co-authors of Deities and Demigods) said they had gotten approval from Arkham House Publishers note  and Michael Moorcock to use the characters beforehand. According to Ward, the real reason is that, after the first edition, official Cthulhu Mythos and The Elric Saga roleplaying games came out and TSR didn't want to advertise its competitors so they demanded the gods be removed.
  • Among roleplaying circles, there is an in-joke / meme that claims female player characters in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons took a -4 strength penalty during character creation. However, there is no such rule in the book. The closest thing is a section on page 15, where a chart gives different minimum and maximums each of the demihumans have in their attributes. These number can change depending on gender. However, the mechanics doesn't involve subtracting points from rolls or affect humans, thus making the meme wrong.

  • Star Wars:
    • A long-standing rumour amongst many Star Wars collectors is that someone did indeed see a rocket-firing Boba Fett figure in the mail in 1979 or that it received a very limited carded release. These claims have both since been proven false, however, as Kenner only produced internal prototype test samples of the figure before its firing function was scrapped. The actual Kenner prototypes of the figure started finding their way onto the collectors market in the '90s, although this has also led to many fakes and counterfeit carded "samples" appearing as well.
    • Going along with the Boba Fett rumour, a claim that a Battlestar Galactica toy causing a child's death was the reason for the removal of the figure’s rocket firing feature has also been debunked. Various internal company notes from Kenner have surfaced showing that the rocket mechanism was simply too easy to set off, causing safety issues and that the feature was scrapped months prior to the Battlestar Galactica toy incident.
  • Transformers:
    • Transformers has a number of rumors, such as the one that there was a "giant-sized" Optimus Prime figure released during the original G1 run, which was actually a Korean bootleg.
    • After the release of Transformers: The Movie, one rumor was that a G1 figure was made for Unicron, with a projected price tag of over $100 in 1986. This is an odd combination of a misinterpretation of an Orson Welles quote, and jealous children pretending to have a toy bigger than a rival's Metroplex. In actuality, there was a prototype made, along with a prototype toy for Arcee. The Unicron toy was scrapped for its high price, flimsy arms, and unaesthetic appeal (the robot mode looks like a beach ball with legs), while the Arcee toy was shelved due to the belief that boys wouldn't buy action figures of girls.
    • One of the most persistent rumors was that Bluestreak, whose toy is all-silver, had a variant with blue sides. It's a rumor that makes a lot of sense: his name implies him to be blue,note  his colors are inaccurate to the show, which implies the silver version to be a variant (even if the show version is mostly black), there were some strange color variants or mispackagings in G1, and most pivotally, his box art, instructions, and various toy catalog pictures depict a toy with blue sides. In reality, what Bluestreak was (along with most of the early figures), was an imported version of a Japanese toy: said toy did indeed come in multiple color patterns, one of which was blue, and that version, somehow, did indeed end up being the one to inspire his box art and instructions. However, there's no evidence that the blue version ever made its way to the Transformers line,note  and it seems that every G1 Bluestreak sold in the 80s was the silver version. Hasbro ended up playing into this trope in various ways — they have released subsequent Bluestreak toys that were colored blue, and released silver-colored versions of the character with the name "Silverstreak", while in the 2020s they went all the way and released a blue Silverstreak and a silver Bluestreak, bringing it all full circle.
    • Cheap Photoshop-jobs of fake sets, often made to look like grainy pictures taken from a retailer's catalog, regularly caught on within the fandom, as have rumors of alternate builds of certain models being sold as separate sets. So when similarly fake-looking images of two supposedly Korean-exclusive Piraka combo model sets surfaced, there were many discussions on their legitimacy, especially since they were unknown in the Western world and their packaging also contained bad Photoshop work. These are now seen as real since Korea tends to release their own multi-packs. Legit leaks of the line's unexpected 2015 reboot were also initially dismissed for this reason.
    • The same thing surfaced with the 2015 reboot, with claims of new Toa (including a new version of fan-favorite Takanuva), the return of the Bohrok, and more showing up in the same grainy, out-of-focus manner as the originals. One that got dismissed as fake, ironically, was an ultimately cancelled Makuta set, which appears to have been planned for the series' third and final arc before being Cut Short.
    • Voriki, the "Seventh Toa", was a fan-made character created for a 2001 contest using recolored official artwork with a mask and a weapon obviously edited in Photoshop. Despite this, many fans believed him to be official, though the release of a canonical Seventh Toa in 2003 dispelled all rumors. Voriki has since become a celebrity of sorts among the fandom's original characters, and some have even made custom models of him with painted and 3D-printed parts.
  • There are rumors of a Geno plush from the 1996 Super Mario RPG Japanese plush set line. No official Geno plush photos or videos have even been revealed, but it's a rumor that Geno does have an official plush. While the also-rumored Mallow plush was confirmed when a set sheet was found, Geno was nowhere to be seen, debunking the rumor.
  • Masters of the Universe was not the result of Mattel repackaging a Conan the Barbarian toyline to divert it from a kid-unfriendly film. In fact, the Conan rights holders did sue the company for not making Conan toys while later releasing a Suspiciously Similar Substitute, only for the lawsuit to prove that Mattel was already working on He-Man and friends when they signed the contract.
  • Starting in 2009, a claim began circulating in anti-vaxxer circles that Raggedy Ann was created by Johnny Gruelle in remembrance of his daughter Marcella, who died in 1915 from a smallpox vaccination. While there is a kernel of truth to this story, development on Raggedy Ann had already been finished by the time Marcella died (in fact, Gruelle had filed his patent for the dolls months before), she was never intended as any kind of warning about vaccines, and there's no proof that Marcella's fatal infection after her inoculation was anything but a tragic coincidence (at most, the vaccination led to the infection, something that was unfortunately a legitimate risk in those days).

    Web Original 
  • The Slender Man Mythos is a memetically-spread loosely-defined canon of horror fiction that uses the general trappings of urban folklore (missing children in the woods, mysterious stalkers, and the fact that no two tellings of the same tale are exactly the same) to pretty creepy effect. It worked, too, considering how many people think it's true.
  • Among Creepypasta circles, the story about "Cameraheads" is rather strange bit of meta mythos in that it's frequently discussed as a very early creepypasta (circa pre-2010), whose story is roughly about a man discovering a bag with video tapes and a note reading "I KILLED A CAMERAHEAD", with his ongoing investigation resulting in him being stalked by one of the titular beings. In an interesting twist, while the story was largely dismissed as a false memory by many, the original was eventually found, making its non-existence the urban legend.
  • There was a supposed lost Creepypasta about the Soviet Union killing God in either the 50s or 70s. It was even cited as a primary inspiration for the SCP Foundation's Global Occult Coalition, which was a major piece of evidence for the pasta's existence. After a nearly ten-year search for the story however, it was eventually discovered to originate from a 4Chan post of someone describing the outline of what they thought could make for a cool story. The GOC's creator even confirmed that the post was what had originally inspired him.

  • There is a common rumor that different cisgender female celebrities are "actually" intersex or transgender. Lady Gaga and Ciara are commonly mentioned, although this has been rumored about people as varied as Megan Fox, Jamie Lee Curtis and former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama.
    • A variant is claiming that a female celebrity has Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (a.k.a. Morris' Syndrome). Babies with this syndrome have the male configuration XY, but develop as anatomically female, remaining oblivious to their condition until they undergo genetic testing or seek treatment for infertility (the afflicted have all the lady parts except for internal testicles in place of ovaria, and don't ovulate). There is an additional belief that Morris' Syndrome women are unbelievably beautiful compared to "real" women because the latter are still exposed, and respond to "male" hormones to some degree, but this is a myth. Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron are among those who have been falsely attributed the syndrome.
  • One popular form of urban legend is to claim that a celebrity had some iconic part of their anatomy insured. Claims like these have been made about Tom Jones and his chest hair, Dolly Parton and her bosom, and Jennifer Lopez and her butt. These ultimately descend from Betty Grable insuring her legs for $1 million, which actually did happen, but was just a colorful publicity stunt engineered by 20th Century Fox.
  • Cinar was once thought to have a Vanity Plate where vertical and horizontal laser-like lines are drawn to form a grid, shine as the star-glittering CINAR logo is revealed, and fade to black. While this was debunked as a rumor, recreations of the logo still exist.
  • There were also rumors of a variation of the Turner Entertainment Co logo with no planet and a variant of the second Saban logo with no coin. Even though someone recalled seeing the Turner variant at the end of an animated film, the variant was debunked after years of unnoticing, while the Saban variant was debunked very quickly.
  • A well-known legend claims that Shirley Temple never made it to adulthood, succumbing to scarlet fever around the age of 10 or 12. She actually lived to be 84 years old and had a pretty eventful adulthood,note  even if her acting career was limited to a few TV roles.
  • One popular form of urban legend is to claim that some mild-mannered, physically unimposing celebrity not only served in the military, but held a position known for requiring toughness and extreme mental and physical fortitude. Variants of this legend have been applied to John Denver,note  Don Knottsnote  and Fred Rogers.note  These may have been partially inspired by the fact that Bob Ross, the warm and soft-spoken host of The Joy of Painting, was a master sergeant in the Air Force.
  • Rumors have claimed that Geraldo Rivera changed his name from Jerry Rivers to appeal to Latino viewers. While Geraldo was known by slight variations of his name in his younger years, he never changed his name as a crass effort to appear more "ethnic".
  • One of the most famous celeb-related urban legends is that Walt Disney had himself cryonically frozen. In reality, he was cremated.
  • Richard Gere is widely said to have been hospitalized after a sexual act involving a gerbil. There's no evidence that this ever happened.
  • Allegedly, if you get a certain design on the wrapper of a Tootsie Pop—most often the Native American shooting a star with a bow and arrow—you can trade it in for free candy. Some local stores do honor this rumor, but it isn't a wide-ranging policy or promotion. If you send in several wrappers to the Tootsie Roll company, however, they will send you a special letter about the rumor.
  • It is thought that the BBC Video ident from 1991-1997 first-appeared on 1990 VHS releases alongside the COW globe ident (likely due to the 1990 copyright variant that appeared on 1991-1997 re-releases of 1990-released tapes being mistaken as such). It was actually made in 1989, first appeared in early-1990 at the end of trails, a year before making its VHS debut.
  • Many people believed that this video is an actual depiction of the shutdown of qubo, in which the channel holds a last-minute fundraiser that incentivizes viewers by violently killing off characters from the shows that it aired. After every character is killed, a text blurb appears admonishing the audience for their failure. Despite being more graphic and hostile than what would be expected from a children's channel, some commenters claimed that they actually saw it live on TV. This isn't actually how the network shut down. Depending on what affiliate it was, it either closed down in the middle of an episode of Franklin or Inspector Gadget and simply displayed a generic message stating that the network would be shutting down.
  • The Wikipedia page for Freeform's 25 Days Of Christmas once claimed that Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland aired on the block. In the case of the former, a video exists claiming the film aired on the network, but the logo bug not using a fully-animated sequence and having choppy animation gives a clue that the video is fan-made. In addition, a quick lookup of that year's schedule reveals that The Santa Clause instead aired at the time and date provided.