Writers never let the facts get in the way of a good story. If reality doesn't fit the plot, it can be changed. History and myth are the most common targets of this—it's much easier to convince the viewers that a 9th century pope was actually a woman disguised as a man than that the current pope is female.
When this Reality Retcon is a story premise Plausible Deniability is generally the aim, but the retcon remains a clear, deliberate, and direct contradiction of generally accepted facts.
Common examples are:
- Alternate Landmark History: Landmarks and phenomena have a completely plot-relevant yet completely false (we hope) true explanation.
- Ancient Astronauts: Gods or legendary figures were really aliens.
- Ancient Conspiracy: All history is just a charade, staged by a secret society.
- Been There, Shaped History: An original and/or unlikely character is The Man Behind the Man causing well-known historical events.
- Julius Beethoven da Vinci: Many historical characters were all the same long-lived person.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: An historical character had a secret life.
- E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: The development of human technology got a boost somewhere from little green men.
- Historical In-Joke: History is rewritten for the sake of a single joke.
- Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: It wasn't a meteor that wiped dinosaurs out, but some powerful force relevant to the story.
- Retroactive Legacy: Pretending that a given debut work is actually the latest in a longer series going back years.
- Weird Historical War: A historical war with added fantastical, out-of-the-world elements.