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Reality Subtext

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The Reality Subtext extends past the Fourth Wall to issues surrounding the production itself or on an even larger scale.

During the creation of a work, the rest of the world and its struggles go on. Maybe the author or actor is having relationship issues, or drug issues, or got pregnant, or someone close to them died. Or something major happened in the world: a disaster, a war, the death or birth of a public figure, a chaotic political climate, what have you.


Often these events have an effect on the work, but not one that is visible to the viewer or reader unless they are privy to that outside knowledge. Some subtext is only speculative, and some come from first-hand sources such as interviews and DVD Commentary. Either way, it is either not intentionally called out within the work, or the reference is oblique except to those who are "in on it".

A Sub-Trope of Real Life Writes the Plot.

See "Funny Aneurysm" Moment, Harsher in Hindsight, Heartwarming in Hindsight or Hilarious in Hindsight for unintended cases of this, as Reality Subtext is at least semi-intentional. Also compare Enforced Method Acting and Throw It In!. May overlap with Creator Breakdown.



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  • Coca Cola's first television ad with newly signed spokesperson Jordan Spieth was intended to feature the golfer enjoying a Coke on the golf course during a hot day. However, the day the commercial was being shot, it began to pour rain and would not let up. This forced the creators to change the ad concept on the fly. The result? Spieth trying to pass time while waiting for the rain to let up so he can film a Coke commercial.
  • Portland, Oregon station KPTVnote  was known as "Oregon's 12" for a few years in the '90s. In 1996, the stars of some of the shows they ran (such as Judge Judy, Seinfeld, and Baywatch) did a few plugs for the station, but unfortunately a lot of them pronounced "Oregon" as "Ore-gone". So they made an ad campaign poking fun at this, with some local personalities joining in on the fun.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Hayao Miyazaki made Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea partly as an apology to his son Goro, who he had publicly feuded with during the production of Tales from Earthsea, Goro's first movie. Word of Miyazaki is that Sosuke is modeled after young Goro and his mother after his wife, which by logic would make the father who's always away is Miyazaki himself. The Morse code messages the father sends them from his ship when he tells them he's not coming home yet — "I'm sorry and I love you" — are thus meant for Miyazaki's family.
  • The story in Grave of the Fireflies was based closely on the experiences of the writer, Nosaka Akiyuki, in World War II. In Real Life, Nosaka watched his little sister die of starvation the same way the main character of the movie did. That the said main character later starves to death on the floor of JNR Sannomiya Station in the opening of the film should tell you a bit about how he still feels about that.
  • The author of the Light Novel Welcome to the N.H.K.! (a black comedy slice-of-life show about a hikikomori) is an actual hikikomori, and even admitted in one of his author's notes that he's been living off the royalties of the book and delaying his work on other novels. Also, the dub of the anime based on the book cast Chris Patton as the lead character. Patton has admitted to having anxiety issues (including a time in high school where he refused to leave his room). It's hard to tell if this influenced his casting or not, but it certainly helped inform his acting—his work in the show has ended up being one of his most critically praised roles in anime dubbing.
  • Takotsuboya, known for his Dark Fic doujins, comes from a background of soul-crushing tragedy of failure after failure as he wanted to become a mangaka but failed in his dreams completely.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion parallels director Hideaki Anno's real-life battle with depression (hence mental illness being such a major theme of the show), as well as his growing distaste for Otaku culture. The infamous masturbation scene from End of Evangelion is often cited as an especially blatant middle finger aimed at the audience.
    • Likewise, Anno later recovered and eventually entered into a happy marriage. It's widely believed that his new lease on life was responsible for the comparatively upbeat and optimistic tone of the first two Rebuild of Evangelion movies. Shortly thereafter, his mental health plummeted once again for the third movie...and, this being Anno, this too is evident in the movie.
  • Your Name:
    • One can feel the influence of the 2011 great earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan on certain parts of the film. It's no coincidence that the Time Skip at the last part is 5 years at least from Taki's perspective, just like 5 years passed between the great earthquake in 2011 and the film's release in 2016.
    • Mitsuha's Small Town Boredom and desire to move to Tokyo reflect the gradual dying-off of rural Japan as their young move away to urban areas.
    • The novelization has an exclusive scene where, after the Shinto ritual, Mitsuha and Yotsuha have to entertain some guests and they note afterward that the party was full of elderly, most likely a jab at the silver tsunami Japan's facing.
  • Barefoot Gen is basically an adaptation of Keiji Nakazawa's life in Hiroshima before, during and after the atomic bombing as he and his Author Avatar Gen were raised in a house of outspoken and ostracized pacifists and both of them lost nearly all their family members from his burning house except for his mother, elder brothers, and infant sister who died from malnutrition stemming from food shortages.
  • The Comiq has an in-universe example, as Ryota's work has parallels to murders that took place three years ago, specifically a symbol found at the scene of the crime. The backgrounds turn out to be drawn by the supposed murderer, who is actually innocent and seeking a way to clear his name.

    Comic Books 
  • According to the introduction to the Fleischer/Aparo The Spectre trade, the only reason the Spectre was revived as a character at all was that then-DC editor Joe Orlando was mugged and the thief got away. This left him longing for a superhero who punished the wicked after every legal recourse has failed. A little research into The Golden Age of Comic Books later, he found some early Spectre stories that were just up that alley, and voila.
  • The Marvel Comics hero Shang-Chi was initially created as the son of the infamous Yellow Peril villain Fu Manchu. Since Marvel lost the rights to Fu Manchu in the ensuing decades, whenever Shang-Chi's father appears, he's never referred to by name. This is Played for Laughs in an issue of Black Panther, where T'Challa tries to speak Fu's name, only to be cut off before he can say it.
  • The marriage of the New Gods characters Scott Free and Big Barda is based on that of their creator, Jack Kirby, and his wife Roz to whom he was Happily Married for fifty years.
  • The Image Comics miniseries Shattered Image was intended to be a reverse Crisis on Infinite Earths, where the characters from the various studios making up Image would be briefly shunted off into separate universes, then joined back together, mostly. The original notion was that the Silvestri characters would get their own 'verse, while the Liefeld characters would stay part of the whole. Instead, due to real-world machinations, the Liefeld characters vanish without anyone noticing partway through the series (replaced by similar heroes from other 'verses), and the Silvestri characters leave in a solemn parting scene, then return suddenly in the very last panel.
  • When Captain Marvel and Superman see each other, they usually end up throwing punches, much more often than is typical for Let's You and Him Fight. This is largely a nod to their very first battle in court. DC Comics sued Fawcett over Captain Marvel being too similar to the Man of Steel, and eventually got the book canceled. Comic writers have since explored this situation decades later by having the two of them fight one another in the panels.
  • Dwayne McDuffie's final Justice League of America arc, which saw the team struggling to stay together and Black Canary questioning whether she even cared enough to continue with the group, was meant as a metaphor for McDuffie's own deteriorating relationship with DC Comics. Not too long after, he was fired for publicly speaking out against the Executive Meddling his run had received.
    • His earlier storyline with the team captured by Anansi was also a commentary on Executive Meddling. Anansi rewrites reality and causes a bunch of For Want of a Nail moments that result in a radically different Justice League, mirroring the way Dwayne felt his own storylines were being twisted and taken away from him.
  • Similarly, James Robinson's final issue of the series (and the last issue of Justice League of America before the 2011 reboot) was very obviously a bitter commentary on the behind the scenes issues of the series itself. In the issue, Dick Grayson and Donna Troy lament that nobody will remember their League, but that they're proud of the work they did, and that they will never forget it. This incarnation of the team was going to be rebooted out of continuity, along with all of the team's members aside from Dick himself, who Robinson also commented on regarding his return to the Nightwing role after being Batman for a few years.
  • Peter David has expressed displeasure over the fact that Christopher Priest killed off Ned Leeds in the Spider-Man vs. Wolverine one-shot without consulting him, as David had planned on revealing that Leeds was the Hobgoblin. In the tie-in issue of Amazing Spider-Man that dealt with the aftermath of Ned's death, The Kingpin angrily tells the Foreigner (the man who arranged Ned's murder) that he should have consulted him first, and that such a rash move displayed a complete and utter lack of respect.
  • At one point, Mike Wieringo was drawing a What If? story for Marvel involving the New Fantastic Four (I.E. Spidey, Wolverine, Ghost Rider and The Incredible Hulk in his Joe Fixit persona), which had the original FF die instead of simply being incapacitated, forcing the New FF to pick up their torch permanently. Tragically, though, Mike suffered from a sudden heart attack in the middle of drawing the book, having finished seven pages. His friends and coworkers then collaborated with the Hero Initiative to finish the book while receiving VERY little pay (sometimes as little as a dollar per page), and released the complete story as a tribute to him. In other words: A good man died, and his friends banded together to continue his legacy... by writing a story where the exact same thing was happening. Naturally, there was a bit of crossover:
    Uatu: I have watched a million worlds where the best of humanity has fallen too soon. The course of history is always shaped by such events. Often it is the path to ruin. Except in the best of all possible worlds. The shining triumphs of those lost inspire others to take up their cause... to be better than they were before. Worlds like this I watch the closest, for if there are truly answers to the mysteries of the universe, here is where they will be found. For I am The Watcher, and this is my task... and my honor.
  • Amazing Spider-Man #416 (October 1996) included a story by Tom DeFalco where the Daily Bugle is facing financial problems and has to lay off much of its personnel. Meaning that established supporting characters such as Kate Cushing were Put on a Bus, with their fates in doubt. Peter Parker himself, who had only recently returned to New York City with the promise of a permanent staff position, was among those fired and faced an unstable future. The story reportedly served as a way for DeFalco to work "through his feelings" concerning the ongoing financial difficulties of Marvel Comics and a series of Marvel staff layoffs. Some were staffers which DeFalco himself had hired for Marvel, and he felt partly responsible for the company letting them go like this. Per "The Life of Reilly": "In his Daily Bugle scenes, Tom D. worked in a lot of in-jokes and references to what was going on at Marvel, all of which probably went over the heads of people on the outside, but were glaring obvious to anyone who was working (or had been working) at the company."
  • The last Scrooge McDuck story Carl Barks wrote before going into semi-retirement was King Scrooge the First (written 1966, published 1967). It is the story of an immortal man who is tired of his long life and seeks death. He describes himself as "tired, and old and lonely". The story is considered to express the 65-year-old Bark's own feelings of fatigue and decision to end a whole era of his life.
  • A few years before Stan Lee introduced Doctor Strange, he created a similar, but far less successful supernatural hero named Doctor Druid. The two characters had strikingly similar origin stories, and many comic historians have commented that Druid was likely a precursor of sorts to Strange. Many years later, Avengers Spotlight #37 revealed that Doctor Druid and Doctor Strange had actually been empowered by the same man, the Ancient One, and that Druid had essentially been used as a guinea pig to make sure that it would be safe for the Ancient One to make Strange the new Sorcerer Supreme:
    Doctor Druid: ...But I never imagined I was simply...a test run for Dr. Strange!
  • In the Batgirl tie-in to Future's End, Barbara Gordon tells Cassandra Cain that she admires how Cass never gives up despite having gone through absolute hell. While this fits in-universe, it also references the fact that from 2005-2015, the character was put through a lot of shit by DC editorial. She was turned into an evil Dragon Lady, then stripped of the Batgirl title so that she could be replaced by Stephanie Brown, then dumped into Comic-Book Limbo, and then brought out of limbo and given a new identity only to be Retconned out of history after the New 52. It's been a roller coaster ride to say the least, but her fanbase never gave up on her.
  • The Multiversity:
    Heroes are for movies. The super-hero is dead.
  • Captain Marvel:
    • The final issue of Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps ends with the title characters flying off into the unknown space outside of Battleworld, with the narration commenting that while there's a good chance they might all die, death is better than simply sitting around and refusing to explore what else is out there. Some have read this as commentary from writer Kelly Sue Deconnick, as this was her last Captain Marvel story before she left Marvel Comics to focus on her creator-owned stuff like Bitch Planet.
    • In Secret Empire #7, Carol Danvers is lamenting to the comatose body of the female Quasar that she's the reason for Steve Rogers and HYDRA taking over the United States and Earth's most powerful heroes are stuck behind an impenetrable shield. That she started off the second superhuman civil war that divided the superhero community again because she was too stubborn to back down, that she wanted people to love her and instead gave them a reason to hate her. This is seen as reflecting on the Character Derailment done to Carol due to the story.
  • The premise of the 2017 Youngblood relaunch is a new team being formed as a Redeeming Replacement for the original team, which has long since disbanded and is publicly reviled for being overly violent and arrogant and putting themselves above the law. Likewise the 2017 relaunch itself is an attempt to revive and update for the modern age the Youngblood franchise itself, which has fallen a long way since its heyday in the early 90's, and is now largely remembered as an example of everything wrong with that period of comics.
  • Paul Cornell has written that the Doctor's increasing feeling that he needs to get away from UNIT and twentieth-century Earth in his Third Doctor Doctor Who (Titan) miniseries was an expression of his own decision at the time to stop doing work-for-hire or licensed work completely and only work on his own stand-alone works.
  • When Peter David's Captain Marvel series saw flagging sales, he did a storyline where Marv fought Entropy.

    Fan Works 
  • Facebook's 7teen Fanfiction Series did this with the Dunphy clan of Modern Family, creating an Expy for each Dunphy family member and giving them similar first names (exceptions being Terry and Susan to Phil and Claire, respectively). Each story arc that features them has Michael, Jonesy's Dad, give Susan a "Reason You Suck" Speech on why she is a terrible person and why Terry (as well as anyone who associates with her) deserves better. Why? Because The Author of 7teen despises Claire Dunphy's character and includes legitimate gripes that he (and other people who hate Claire) have with her character in Michael's speeches. However, he has also openly stated that Phil is his favorite character because of his goofy, laid back, genuine Nice Guy demeanor and always felt as though he was often mistreated by her.
  • When Mykan explained his story of why he hated My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, he stated that one of the reasons why is because friends over time either used him as a means to an end, bullied him in secret, or moved on and even pretended that they didn't know him. Now compare that to one of the reasons why Beast Boy became Count Logan in The End of Ends, especially the last part.
  • In the infamous My Immortal, this happens to the character Willow, who is based on the author's real-life friend Raven. When Tara and Raven have a falling out over a sweater and a poster of Gerard Way, Willow fails all her classes and is expelled, after which she is killed by B'loody Mary Smith, and has her corpse raped by Loopin. When the two make up, Willow is brought back with no explanation. It's that kind of fic.
  • The Legend of Total Drama Island:
    • Izzy's (presumably) Imaginary Friend Sunshine is the alter ego of a certain Duncan fangirl, who created the characternote  in part to be a Parody Sue proxy for her fangirlism.
    • The author describes himself and his wife as essentially a real-life Noah/Katie pair. Guess who Noah's crushing on?
  • From the Gensokyo 20XX series, we have the instance in 20XXV where Reimu gets a hold of rat poison was based on a recent time when she had found her young nephew, who likes to get into things, with Windex, though that ended differently than what had happened in the story. Note 
    • Yume Ni beating up or otherwise fighting with the other kids is based on the fact that she does not have a good relationship with her siblings. In chapter 82, where she was stabbed with a pair of scissors highlighted the fact further in what partially motivated her to write was a spat she had with her sister.
    • Some of Reimu's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Baka was based on something she wanted to tell her older brother, the relationship with whom is strained.
    • In that line (unrelated to the 20XX series), we get Kill la Kill AU with Ragyou and Soichiro's divorce because her own parents have divorced when she was around Satsuki's age at the earlier half of the series and we also get a chapter from Feel, with Ill Girl Rei being on oxygen therapy and is implied to have passed on by the next chapter was based on the fact that her grandmother (who also suffers from breathing problems) is in hospice. The latter becomes a tad Harsher in Hindsight if one takes into account that her grandmother has just passed.
  • In the Real-Person Fic Ice Ice Baby, the authors frequently base events off of real-life celebrity scandals and drama. Also, the authors, two theater kids, have recently been adding many musical theater-inspired subplots to the fic, including Zachary Quinto's production of "Cobweb!", which features several references to their own high school theater experiences.
  • The Power Rangers fan film Power/Rangers does this with two of the original Rangers from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers and the actors who played them in the series proper, as it had Trini's funeral after the Rangers' final battle (reflecting Thuy Trang's passing) and Billy is shown as having come out as gay (reflecting David Yost, who is gay himself).
  • Why Am I Crying?
    • Sweetie Belle's arc is based on the author's experiences in learning about — and accepting — the concept of death.
    • The stuff that happened to Silver Spoon at the camp, including bullies burning her teddy bear in a campfire and leaving her tied to a tree in the woods, were actual things that happened at a camp where a friend of the author was a counselor.
    • Cheerilee's speech to Scootaloo and not letting her hate and anger consume her enough to become a bully was partly based on an experience of their author's where he attacked a bully and choked him until he turned blue after having all he could take from him.
  • Appropriately for a Neon Genesis Evangelion fanfic, the author of Doing It Right This Time draws heavily on his own history of depression when writing Shinji.
  • In the Skyhold Academy Yearbook series, it's explicitly stated that the founders of the eponymous school decided to establish it for the children of Thedas because they were never able to have children of their own. This is also true of one of the authors.
  • Citadel of the Heart:
    • Truth and Ideals had Chapter 72 ending with Grandis in a rather downer mood on a snowy night during the conclusion of the 8th Gym Arc. As the story progresses until its conclusion, Grandis shows a lot of signs of slacking off on the job as he begins drowning his sorrows with either non-alcoholic, sugar-filled drinks and soda or eating a huge amount of pizza and junk food. In the end, Grandis was very quick to leave once he was no longer necessary, as he felt the need to just take time off and relax for who knows how long for at least the remainder of the year. In what ended up being a more Life Imitates Art example of this, the author confirms he had been slacking off much of the remainder of 2017; often drinking caffeine filled soda and eating pizza and other junk food, and being incredibly lazy as he had a lot of anxiety issues over the fact a story he had worked on for over three years was finally over. Due to this, now that he had no need to work on it any time soon, he developed an Empty Nest syndrome regarding it that prevented him from focusing on his other fics.
    • Digimon Re: Tamers has the Downer Ending of Chapter 16 being a reflection of the immeasurable Creator Breakdown that occurred with MF 217 because of the sheer, blunt impact of the death of his own grandfather about 11 days prior to it being posted. Grandis dying in said chapter reflects the fact the author felt dead inside while writing that chapter because of the influence of his grandfather's death throughout all of January and parts of February.
      • It goes deeper from there, however, as the author had actually intended to completely end the story right then and there, and decided against it even if it meant invoking an Ass Pull explanation to perform a soft Reset Button. In the following chapter, the sanity of Grandis is slipping and he's noticeably much, much angrier than he normally is, which is a parallel to the author's own Creator Backlash as to the fact while he doesn't regret having made the decision to invoke a Necessary Weasel in the light of it all, he's still angered that he allowed his own emotions and mental health to jeopardize the story's narrative as easily as it did.
    • Another one from Truth and Ideals has Fennel saying the following: "Precisely! There are several other features as well, but one of which I'm afraid no longer has official support ever since last year." She is referring to the C-Gear's connectivity to Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection; Chapter 9, where this quote originates, was published in 2015; a year ago from then was the shutdown of Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection on May 20th, 2014.
    • In Sword Art Online: Special Edition Chapter 24, Mirror M mentions how he keeps forgetting that it's currently Christmas Eve, considering he's mistaking the date as being closer to Halloween instead. This is due to the fact that, while it was already obvious from the snowfall that Sword Art Online: Special Edition takes place in December, Chapter 24 of the fic was posted on October 25th of 2019.
  • The Best Revenge, among its other changes from canon, puts quite a bit more focus on what exactly happened to Lily and James's possessions after they died. As the author explains in her notes, her brother died shortly before she started writing the fic, and being the executor of his estate taught her that "personal possessions sometimes matter very much for all sorts of reasons".
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug fanfic When I Finally Break, Chloe's daily harassment on her, along with her difficult family life outside her parents, leads Marinette to start cutting herself and hiding her problems from her friends. The author has admitted in updates that her home life is dysfunctional and has a history of depression and self-harm that she keeps from her friends.
  • Pokémon: A Marvelous Journey:
    • At one point, Julia catches a red Gyarados which she names Geraldine. A regular Gyarados would be troublesome enough, but Geraldine has been forcibly evolved against its will, was captured by Team Rocket and experimented on, is scared of Pokemon battles, and developed some form of PTSD because of her experiences. Ultimately, Julia comes to sadly realize that simply giving Geraldine love and care won't magically heal her and that she needs professional help, so she gives Geraldine up to a Pokemon Rehabilitation Facility that can give her the therapy and support that Julia can't give her. This story arc was based on the authoress being forced to give up one of her cats because she was unable to pay for or help it with its many health issues.
    • Saoirse the Snubbull suddenly dying from a heart defect that nobody knew about until the autopsy was based on what happened to another one of the authoress' cats.

    Films — Animated 
  • During the production of An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Steven Spielberg had just finished a nasty divorce with Amy Irving, voice actress of Miss Kitty. What does the film introduce Miss Kitty doing? Breaking up with Tiger.
  • As is noted in the booklet that came with the Legacy Edition of the movie's soundtrack, "The Mob Song" from Beauty and the Beast reflects how AIDS was viewed at the time the song was written and the conditions in Howard Ashman's life as a sufferer of the disease.
    We don't like what we don't understand
    In fact, it scares us
    And this monster is mysterious at least
  • Foam Bath's director György Kovásznai originally set out to become a storefront decorator, but the art community of the time considered it a lowly job and even academia was split between the "real arts" and "window dressers". The character Zsolt is therefor a histerical window decorator who strives for his art and work to be appreciated and even rants about the lack of respect his kind gets. The rest of the movie reflects on real life parenting trends of the late 70s East Bloc.
  • The Tragedy of Man carried the same message of preserverence despite the loss fo faith throughout its production, but it proved especially proignant when director Marcell Jankovics lost his studio backing right as he started animating and struggled with completing the film for 23 years (closer to 28 if you include preproduction), with seemingly everything working against him. The messages of God and Adam at the end, "Struggle and have faith." and "The end is death, life is a struggle. And man's end is the struggle itself." were the core mantras that kept him going and not giving up on the project.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The reason Mandy Patinkin's Heroic Resolve was so convincing in The Princess Bride is a bit of very dedicated method acting: he thought of Rugen in that scene as being the cancer that killed Patinkin's own Real Life father.
    "I want my father back, you son of a bitch."
    • Another bit is the fear in Christopher Guest's performance when he faces down Inigo. Patinkin actually had accidentally injured Guest in a training exercise some time beforehand.
  • Medium Cool, a Mockumentary shot and filmed during the Chicago 1968 riots outside the Democratic National Convention. It was supposed to be a film about poverty and media manipulation, and it was contemplated that the finale would be MLK's planned March on Poverty, but the director had it on word from friends in Chicago that a massive demonstration was about to take place, and then MLK and RFK got assassinated during filming, which were incorporated into the plot. Oh, and the film is shot entirely on-location while events took place.
  • In the director's cut of the Watchmen film, an FBI agent offers Laurie a smoke and Laurie responds by glaring at him. In real life, Warner Bros. barred her character from smoking for fear of promoting the habit, much to the chagrin of fans and Malin Åkerman.
  • Most of the cast and crew of The Front had been blacklisted - their dates of blacklisting are listed under their names during the end credits, including Zero Mostel and director Martin Ritt.
  • Robert De Niro alerted his friend and director Martin Scorsese to boxing biopic Raging Bull in the hope that engaging with the project would help Scorsese address his own self-destructive impulses.
  • Charlton Heston appears in Planet of the Apes (2001) as Thade's father. Heston's character, an ape on his deathbed, gives a gun to his son Thade, saying that it has "the power of a thousand swords." His last words, a nod to Heston's original role as the protagonist in the original 1968 film, were "Damn them all to hell" regarding the humansnote . In real life, Charlton Heston was also president of the National Rifle Association.
  • Similarly, in Soylent Green the tears that Thorn sheds for Sol near the climax are real, as Charlton Heston is crying for Edward G. Robinson who was dying of cancer at the time (this was Robinson's last film).
  • The family's eldest daughter is entirely missing from Poltergeist II: The Other Side and Poltergeist III, as Dominique Dunne, the actress who played her, had been murdered in 1982. The role was not re-cast and the absence of the character was not mentioned, almost a Brother Chuck. Ms. Dunne also appeared in an episode of Hill Street Blues playing an abuse victim, but many of the bruises on her face were genuine, inflicted by her boyfriend (her eventual killer).
    • The actor who played the evil preacher, Julian Beck, was actually that gaunt: he was dying of cancer and didn't need that much makeup to look like a skeleton.
    • Heather O'Rourke, who played Carol Anne, was noticeably chubby in the third movie due to the medication for her Crohn's disease. She would later die from surgical complications after filming completed in 1988 at 12 years old.
  • When Tyler Durden, in his rant about Fight Club, says "We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars," he glances at Jared Leto's character. Jared Leto had just formed his own rock band, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Tyler's actor, Brad Pitt, is a "movie god" in his own right.
  • James Bond:
    • In From Russia with Love, Pedro Armendáriz, who played Bond's Turkish sidekick Ali Kerim Bey, was dying of cancer during the production and eventually committed suicide to stop the pain. This makes it particularly poignant when his character makes a Heroic Sacrifice and disappears from the film.
    • Bond has considerably less sex in The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill than the rest of the series, and stronger romantic relationships with the Bond Girls of those films. This is because the films came out in the late 80's at the height of the AIDS crisis, and the filmmakers didn't want to glorify promiscuity in that atmosphere. This is also mildly invoked in GoldenEye. Even though Bond was back to his old self by 1995, he makes a quip with Xenia about safe sex, implying that yes, even James Bond wraps it up.
    • Speaking of GoldenEye, the film was the first in the series to involve the Internet, and the Bond Girl Natalya is a computer programmer. This aptly reflected the mid-90's when the Internet started going mainstream and becoming a major part of society. Since the movie was essentially a soft reboot of the franchise, this was a deliberate attempt at modernizing Bond.
  • Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders, a family movie made by recycling bits of footage from a horror anthology rejected by the studio, features Ernest Borgnine as a grandfather who tells his grandson stories from a horror anthology he wrote that the studio rejected.
  • The scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy just shot the bad guy would never have happened had Harrison Ford not been suffering from a nasty case of dysentery. The exact sequence of real-life events is disputed, but the scene as finally filmed replaced an elaborate "whip vs. sword" duel that Ford wasn't up to filming.
  • Brandon Lee's fatal shooting with a prop gun during the filming of The Crow made his portrayal of a musician who was shot to death and came back from the dead for revenge very poignant. The scene in the movie where Eric Draven was killed was heavily edited to change it from an explicit view of Draven being shot to a fast cut of Funboy firing a gun at him, but it couldn't be removed completely because it was the basis of the movie's plot. (Part of this was pragmatic, of course, to hide the double's face.)
  • One of the innumerable executive nightmares surrounding the production of Apocalypse Now was Martin Sheen having a heart attack due to the stress from filming, suspending filming of all his prominent scenes and making his brother double for him.
    • Then there were the helicopters that the Philippine military lent to Coppola for the famous "air cavalry" scene against a village held by communist Viet Cong insurgents. Those were frequently taken back, interrupting filming, to do actual air cavalry work for the Philippine military units engaged in combat with real communist insurgents.
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) is often cited as a portrait of Red Scare America. Trust no one; for your neighbors, your friends, even your wife could become one of them: a godless Commie — er, pod person! By the same token, it's also a view of McCarthyism, with a suspicious Hoover and the FBI keeping Americans under watch. Regardless of any of this, the movie actually averts the trope. Word of God stated repeatedly that they were just making a movie and not going for any social/political commentary.
  • In The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger is constantly twitching his tongue and licking around his lips. Most people thought this was simply one of the Clown Prince's character traits, but according to this article, it wasn't an idle addition:
    "One of several reasons Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker was so mesmerizing was the unnerving way the actor kept sucking at his cheeks and licking his lips. This facial tic was a result of Ledger's initial discomfort with the prosthetic scar make-up, but was eventually adopted as a character idiosyncrasy after Chris Nolan was suitably freaked out."
    • Speaking of The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan seriously considered using actual footage of the Occupy Wall Street movement, due to the fairly explicit parallels to the movie's plot. He ultimately decided not to, averting the trope.
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen wrote in a bit where Shia LaBeouf's character Sam gets his hand injured, due to Shia actually injuring his hand when in a car accident during filming. Considering the nature of the movie, it didn't affect filming much at all.
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was to have starred Heath Ledger, but he died before filming was completed. In a show of support, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell finished the film in his place with the help of a magic mirror (according to an IMDB poster, Ledger has 45 mins of screen-time (out of ~120 total), Law and Farrell 15 each, and Depp 10). The three actors then donated their profits from the movie to Heath Ledger's daughter.
  • The Farrelly Brothers had to completely rewrite the ending to Fever Pitch after the Boston Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years. They were able to actually film at the last game of the series because both Farrelly Brothers and star Jimmy Fallon are actual Sox fans and had personal tickets to the games. Their filming was actually caught live on Fox's broadcast of the actual game!
    • Then again, Fox also produced the film. People unaware of the production probably thought Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore had a thing for each other.
    • This turned out to mirror the true events of Nick Hornby's book from which a directly adapted film was made; the film—made years after the events— ends with Arsenal winning a First Division title on the last game of the season, the first in 12 years.
  • The flashback at the end of The Godfather Part II where the family is together for Vito Corleone's birthday was supposed to have him enter at the end, but Marlon Brando couldn't be gotten back, and instead the scene ends with an announcement that he's there and everybody but Michael rushing out to greet him offscreen. Francis Ford Coppola decided he actually liked it better with Vito remaining unseen since it created a ghostly feeling that the family as it was then, under Vito, is gone forever.
  • At the end of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Spencer Tracy's character says, "...there is nothing, absolutely nothing, you feel for each other that I didn't feel for Christina...the memories are still there, and they'll be there if I live to be a hundred and ten...and if it's half of what we felt, it's everything." The tears in Katharine Hepburn's eyes are real - Spencer Tracy was dying, and she and Tracy had been together for twenty-five years. He died soon after, and she never saw the finished film, saying that the memories of Tracy were too painful.
  • American Reunion is both a reunion in-universe for East Great Falls High Class of 1999 and in reality with all of the original cast members coming together for the first time in over a decade.
  • Space Jam: The subplot with Michael Jordan playing baseball is based very loosely on his real life semi-retirement. It's essential to the plot because it means the aliens don't think to steal his basketball skills and this incident, in turn, leads to him returning to basketball which he also did in real life, making this a sort-of fictional autobiographical account. They even go so far as to acknowledge in-film that Jordan is a subpar baseball player and is only being indulged because of his celebrity.
    • And for those wondering why the hell Bill Murray is in the film trying to play basketball? That's actually a reference to the series of promo ads Murray did for the league circa 1995 claiming he was going to play NBA ball.
  • In Sunset Boulevard, Norma Desmond, a forgotten silent film star is played by Gloria Swanson, a forgotten silent film star herself. Her butler, Max, who was a leading director in the silent film era, is played by Erich von Stroheim, who was a leading director in the silent film era. For bonus points, the Stock Footage of a younger Swanson chosen to represent Norma Desmond as she was as a silent film star was from the obscure feature Queen Kelly, which was directed by von Stroheim. Norma also used to work with Cecil B. DeMille, who appears in the film playing himself; in real life, he did work with Swanson several times.
  • A major backstory in Metropolis involves Corrupt Corporate Executive Joh Fredersen seducing and marrying Hel, the wife of his best friend Rotwang. Much has been made of this subplot in light of the fact that Thea von Harbou (the scriptwriter) had an affair with and then married Fritz Lang (the director), divorcing then-husband Rudolf Kelin-Rogge (the actor who plays Rotwang) in the process. That said, Lang and Klein-Rogge reportedly remained good friends for years after the incident, and Lang repeatedly denied that his films reflected his personal life.
  • Star Wars:
    • The first major action sequence in The Empire Strikes Back, where Luke is attacked by a Wampa, was created solely to explain the scars on Mark Hamill's face from a bad car accident that Hamill was in towards the end of filming A New Hope.
    • One of Harrison Ford's more memorable ad-libs in A New Hope is generally agreed to be the scene where Han attempts to bluff his way through a radio conversation with an Imperial officer on the Death Star after the heroes accidentally get into a firefight with a few Stormtroopers. Han's flustered efforts to bluff his way through the exchange ("Uh... Everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you... How are you?") are all the more believable because Ford neglected to memorize his lines for that scene, and actually was improvising as he went along. Han's wincing expression at the end of that monologue (as if to say "They couldn't possibly have bought that...") was actually Ford's expression, as he was absolutely sure that he'd screwed up that take.
    • General Hux, one of the Co-Dragons in The Force Awakens, was born during the last days of the Galactic Empire. His actor was born on May 12, 1983. Return of the Jedi was released on May 25 of the same year.
  • Spider-Man:
    • It is believed that following 9/11, an entire scene was cut from the first film where Spidey strings a huge web in between the World Trade towers. There was a trailer composed of this scene (which was, obviously, pulled after the attacks), but whether this scene was from the movie or created specifically for the trailer is less certain.
    • Likewise the scene where the New Yorkers help out Spidey against Green Goblin as he tries to save a tram of school kids and Mary Jane i.e. the citizens of the city banding together.
  • When Al Michaels reprised his Real Life role as the broadcaster of the US-Soviet Union hockey game in Miracle, most of his lines were scripted. However, the last seconds of the game featured the Real Life call from 1980 in the belief that Michaels could never duplicate that same emotion.
  • Cannibal! The Musical features a subplot about Alferd Packer and his horse, Liane, who runs away and, he later learns, has been ridden by every man in town. The movie was made by Trey Parker shortly after he found out his fiancee Liane had cheated on him.
  • The Oracle in The Matrix had to be played by a different actor during the last movie, as the previous actor died from complications of diabetes. Hence that strange scene right before she sends the main characters to the Merovingian.
  • Both the first and last Rocky films mirror Sylvester Stallone's story of making them quite movingly. He had over 30 failed screenplays to his name before United Artists took a chance on Rocky, and he was instantly catapulted to fame and fortune. Then when Stallone tried to make Rocky Balboa, it was at a time when he was a laughing stock after several poor career moves, and no one thought the film could be anything but a disaster. Yet when the film was released, the fans all trumpeted it as a worthy conclusion to the story.
    • This trope was further emphasized with the spin-off film Creed, which focuses on Adonis, the son of Apollo Creed, trying to become a boxer in his own right with the aid of Rocky's training. The film was the first in the series that Stallone neither wrote nor directed, and it essentially allowed him to pass the torch to Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan in the same way that Rocky does with Adonis.
    • Rocky IV, which pits Rocky against the brutish Soviet boxer Ivan Drago, was famously released near the end of the Cold War and was made as a blatantly patriotic celebration of America's triumph over Russia. Creed II is an intergenerational story that pits Adonis Creed against Drago's son Viktor, who turns out to be just as much of a brute as his father. Notably, it was made in 2018, during a period of renewed tension between the United States and Vladimir Putin's Russia.
  • The Purge:
    • The Purge: Election Year was released during the 2016 U.S. presidential election and certain elements of the story were pretty on the nose about it. The blonde, female Presidential candidate was a less-than-subtle No Celebrities Were Harmed Hillary Clinton (though her policies and behavior make her a Distaff Counterpart to Bernie Sanders) while her politically inexperienced Pro-Purge opponent obviously represented Donald Trump. Even the film's marketing took jabs at Trump's campaign, with taglines like "Keep America Great"note  or reviews stating "This Purge trumps them all".
    • The First Purge also looks to have this as it showcases the stark polarization of the public's opinion of implementing the Purge which more-or-less parallels the current Real Life division among political affiliations in regards to the Trump presidency.
  • In The Train, it was necessary to add a scene where Burt Lancaster's character was shot and injured while crossing a bridge because the actor had injured his knee playing golf and could only walk with a limp.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Coincidentally (it is the exact citation from the book, but in the original, it may be connected with WWI) this exchange in The Fellowship Of The Ring, which came out in November 2001:
    Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
    Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil.
    • Aragorn is first introduced in The Fellowship of the Ring as "Strider", a mysterious veteran Ranger who unexpectedly joins Frodo and his friends after they've begun their journey to Rivendell, and remains rather aloof from the rest of the Fellowship while guiding and protecting them. This actually parallels how Aragorn's actor, Viggo Mortensen, joined the cast of the movie: he was an unexpected replacement for Stuart Townsend, and joined the cast after a few of Townsend's scenes had already been filmed; while most of the Fellowship's actors had time to get to know each other before filming began, Mortensen was a latecomer, and was somewhat aloof from his castmates during the early part of filming.
  • The Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line starts out with the tragic death of Johnny's older brother when he was a kid. Joaquin Phoenix, who played the adult Cash, said it was very hard to film scenes that dealt with this, because of his own brother's death years earlier.
  • In the movie Push, Dakota Fanning plays a girl with psychic precognitive powers. What makes this particularly funny is Ms. Fanning's apparent extreme intelligence which has led to some jokes about her having actual "powers".
  • The famous Marseillaise scene in Casablanca features a close up of a woman crying while singing. The film was produced during World War II. Many of the actors, including that woman, were forced to flee Europe due to the German invasion. The emotion in that scene was not faked.
  • In Dr. Phibes Rises Again, Vincent Price and Robert Quarry play antagonists. According to insiders, the enmity onscreen was not fake: this was Price's last film for API, as he was being pushed aside for a younger actor. His replacement? Robert Quarry.
  • The interest in masked characters (i.e. V, Racer X) in The Wachowski Sisters' films might have something to do with their reclusiveness as well as Lana and Lilly having to live most of their lives as Larry and Andy, respectively.
    • When they returned to the public with Cloud Atlas, with its actors and actresses playing different genders and races, you can see it as a parallel to Lana's life.
  • Jason Miller, at the time the still-struggling writer of a hit play who'd never acted in movies, asked William Friedkin for the chance to test for the role of Father Karras in The Exorcist due to the way the part resonated with his own experience: he'd spent three years himself studying to be a priest until a Crisis of Faith similar to the one Karras was experiencing in the film led him to drop out.
  • The classic 1947 film Gentleman's Agreement has a scene of a meeting where the merits of having the hero pose as a Jewish man to learn first-hand about antisemitism is discussed with senior staff of the magazine. Much of the dialog came directly from meetings of senior executives of Fox Studios discussing the merits of adapting the novel into a film. (It was both a commercial and critical hit and likely was partly the inspiration for John Howard Griffin to pose as a black man in real life in 1959 to learn about racism again blacks, which was the basis of the book and film Black Like Me.)
  • In The Kids Are All Right, Mark Ruffalo incorporated many of his younger brother's personality traits into his performance. His brother had been shot to death in an unsolved homicide a few years prior, and Ruffalo has stated he regarded the character as a way to pay tribute to his brother.
  • The violent murder of Macduff's wife and children in Roman Polański's 1971 film adaptation of Macbeth is somewhat difficult to watch due to this trope, as Polanski's pregnant wife Sharon Tate was violently murdered along with four others by followers of the Manson Family.
  • In A Simple Wish, Annabel and her father have a close relationship following the death of Annabel's mother. This deeply ridiculous movie suddenly becomes a Tear Jerker with the reality subtext: Mara Wilson, who played Annabel, was still recovering from the death of her own mother halfway through the filming of Matilda. She really does adore her father, who single-handedly raised Wilson and her brothers while managing his daughter's film career, thus doing a much better job than Annabel's father.
  • In-universe example in Moulin Rouge!; the plot of the Show Within a Show mirrors the romance of Christian and Satine with the looming threat of the Duke. The Duke does not take it well when this is pointed out to him.
  • After Earth: Several reviewers have noted the (possibly unintentional) parallel between Cypher pushing his son Kitai to perform in a situation he is ill-prepared for, and Will Smith having his son Jaden in his pet project.
  • Tyler Perry has discussed in several interviews that his movies are based on his Rags to Riches life story. Some examples include the prevalence of Rape as Backstory in his movies, relating to his childhood when he was molested several times.
  • A major theme in X-Men: Days of Future Past is the concept of a second chance in the face of the mutant race's impending extinction. This could be seen as a nod to the fact that the movie was seen by some as a last-ditch effort to revitalize the X-Men Film Series, which had been in a critical and box office tailspin since the release of X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
  • Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze's tense working relationship going back to Red Dawn (1984) compounded the on-screen tension during Baby's Training Montage in Dirty Dancing. Baby's giggling when Johnny Castle brushes his hand down her side, touching her breast, was just Jennifer Grey's nerves getting the better of her. Swayze seems mildly annoyed on most of the takes that ended up in the film.
  • In Ghost, Whoopi Goldberg plays a Phony Psychic who soon discovers she's actually a Not-So-Phony Psychic that actually can talk to the dead. But despite working closely with a recently-slain man, she still doubts her abilities throughout much of the movie. According to Goldberg, she was originally unsure whether she should take the part until Patrick Swayze convinced her and the producers that she'd be perfect. She ended up winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel involved a notable Romance on the Set, as Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone began dating at almost exactly the same time that they began playing the famous couple Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. Fittingly, their onscreen chemistry was one of the most praised aspects of the movies; unlike Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst before them, Garfield and Stone didn't need acting to convince the audience that they were in love.
  • In Clerks II, Jason Mewes returned to the iconic role of Jay for the first time in five years, with the biggest change to his character being that he had sworn off drugs (doing them, not selling them) and turned to Jesus since the events of the original Clerks. In reality, Mewes had been battling a heroin addiction since the mid-'90s, which greatly damaged his long-time friendship with Kevin Smith, and had got him sent to court-mandated rehab in 2004. When Smith agreed to let Mewes reprise his role in Clerks II in 2006, he did it on the condition that Mewes stay clean. Considering Smith had actually forced Mewes into rehab himself at least once before, and he had earlier refused to cast him in Jersey Girl because of his drug problems, he understood the significance of making Jay an ex-drug user all too well.
  • Star Trek
    • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: The movie entails the forging of peace between long-standing enemies, the Federation and the Klingon Empire, as the Klingons face extinction following the destruction of their moon, Praxis. The film, released in 1991, bluntly parallels the ending of the Cold War as tensions between the United States (the Federation) and the Soviet Union (Klingons) had subsided partially due to the potential damage done to Russia, one of the world's greatest superpowers, after the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 (the destruction of Praxis).
      • Additionally, Star Trek VI marked the official Grand Finale for the Original Series era of the Trek Verse and was the final bow for the original cast, hence their signatures at the end credits. It was also the last Star Trek production that franchise creator Gene Roddenberry was involved in as he passed away days after watching the finished film.
    • Star Trek Into Darkness: The central plot of the movie, which involves a villain's plan to turn Starfleet into a more militaristic version of itself, is largely reflective of the fandom's concerns about the once-optimistic franchise taking a Darker and Edgier turn and overemphasizing action and conflict at the expense of creative storytelling. Fittingly, the movie ends with Kirk and company beginning their five-year exploration mission, with Kirk giving a speech about the importance of Starfleet staying true to its founding principles of peacekeeping and discovery.
      • The film can also be seen as an example of a once-good government taking increasingly dark and amoral actions in the name of protecting its citizens from a perceived outside threat, a subject that is very relevant to the post-9/11 western world.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • At the beginning of Guardians of the Galaxy, Korath has no idea who Peter Quill aka "Star-Lord" is. This lack of recognition reflects the obscurity of the comic series compared to other properties from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His getting it right at the end reflects the hope that the film could raise its profile among fans. Judging by the reviews and box office totals, this wish likely came true.
    • Ant-Man:
      • The trailers and marketing contained nods to the fact that the character is often considered a complete joke by many people, with one Missing Trailer Scene in particular showing Scott asking if it's too late to change the name. In the film itself, The Falcon looks like he's about to burst out laughing when Ant-Man first tells him his name.
      • When Hope is given the Wasp armor by Hank in The Stinger, she simply grins and says "It's about damn time." This references the fact that despite being one of the founding Avengers in the comics, the Wasp was Adapted Out of the first two Avengers films and the MCU as a whole before that point. It also references the fact that starting with Phase 3, Marvel began more seriously addressing the complaints about the lack of female and and minority superheroes in Phases 1 and 2.
    • For The Avengers (2012), Mark Ruffalo has stated he was extremely hesitant about taking the role of Bruce Banner. He called Robert Downey Jr. for advice, who convinced him to take the part. Ruffalo ended up kicking ass as Banner/Hulk. This is amusingly similar to their characters' relationship in the movie.
    • Iron Man:
      • The original film is now largely famous for leading to Robert Downey Jr.'s comeback after his widely publicized problems with substance abuse derailed his career. Appropriately, Tony Stark's struggles with alcoholism have long been a major element of the comic book's mythos, and the first movie is ultimately about Stark resolving to turn his life around after getting a second chance at life.
      • The third film was supposed to be an adaptation of the Demon in a Bottle storyline but was changed at Downey’s behest. He didn’t want to get in the headspace to put his own recovery from alcoholism at risk.
      • The Mandarin is often considered a controversial character in a modern context, as he was a Yellow Peril villain created back when Asians were considered Acceptable Targets because of the Cold War. Iron Man 3 acknowledged this and subverted it by revealing that the Mandarin is actually a Decoy Leader created by the real villain, who is a white American. It turns out he literally crafted the Mandarin as an over-the-top character to act as a scapegoat for his crimes. Unfortunately, this means that Iron Man died without ever encountering his arch enemy from the comics.
    • Captain America: Civil War
      • Tony Stark tells Peter Parker that he's here to give him a much-needed revamp and upgrade could be seen as a nod to Marvel Studios trying to fix Sony's Spider-Man franchise after the failure of The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
      • Some have viewed the film's premise of the Avengers splitting into two factions going against each other as being accidentally reflective of the massive friction and tension generated by the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. The USA at the time was said to have engaged in a kind of "social civil war" having been deeply polarized by its two candidates, particularly the surprising popularity and support of its most controversial candidate and eventual winner. The film's tagline "United We Stand. Divided We Fall." somewhat highlighted this.
  • Boyz n the Hood, since it was shot on location in South Central L.A., had to deal with many of the same problems with gangs and crime that the movie's characters had to deal with. The dialogue had to be dubbed over in many parts due to gunshots and helicopters in the distance. There were threats of fights between the extras, and in one instance a filming location had to be changed because of threats from a member of the Bloods. The scene in question contained Doughboy, who is heavily implied to be a Crip, shooting someone who is heavily implied to be a Blood. The real-life gang member claimed that he was not responsible if someone actually shot Ice Cube for portraying their gang negatively.
    • The actor who played the blood gang member with the shotgun who murdered Ricky is named Lloyd Avery Jr. In real life he got mixed up with the gang and criminal life style, despite being a promising actor and eventually kills two people, ending up in prison for it, before he was killed in prison after getting into an argument with another prisoner about religious beliefs. note 
  • Help!: When The Beatles try to convince Ringo to let them cut off his finger in order to get the cult ring off, Paul says to Ringo "Well, you didn't miss your tonsils, did you?", referencing the fact that Ringo had gotten a tonsillectomy earlier that year.
  • Exit to Eden: Both Dana Delany and her character, Mistress Lisa have a butt fetish. In an interview, Dana Delany was asked what's her favorite male body part and her answer was "I love butts. There's nothing better than a good butt." During Citizen Elliot's bondage scene Mistress Lisa says:
    Mistress Lisa: I like butts. Men's beautiful behinds. You know what I like to do to gorgeous butts? I like to squeeze them, pinch them and caress them.
  • Fatso stars Dom De Luise as Dominick DiNapoli a man who is struggling with his weight. The story is a not-at-all disguised take on DeLuise's own struggle with obesity.
  • Because Paul Walker, who played Brian O'Conner, died during production of Furious 7, the film had to be rewritten to accommodate it. The film's tagline is "One Last Ride", there's a scene at Han's funeral where the normally lighthearted Roman grimly tells Brian he can't take any more funerals, and there's also the recurring subplot about how Brian can't afford to go haring off around the world and risking his life when he has a family to take care of.
  • At some point during or before production of Bobby, Lindsay Lohan received word that one of her closest friends had passed away. Lohan used her grief over that event to fuel her during the more emotional scenes in the film.
  • Terminator Genisys: Besides the franchise's classic catchphrases, one of the T-800's new Catch Phrases was "Old, but not obsolete", referring to critics who felt that Arnold Schwarzenegger had become too old to play the Terminator anymore.
  • In the 1996 version of The Nutty Professor, Klump says, "Buddy's who I thought the whole world wanted me to be." This is almost certainly a reference to Eddie Murphy's own movie career. Siskel & Ebert even noted this in their review.
  • In Deadpool, Colossus's attempts to have Deadpool join the X-Men and act like a real hero, and Deadpool having none of it, can be seen as reflecting the real-life push towards making a more standard-fare, family-friendly superhero movie, and the filmmakers' (especially Ryan Reynolds) utter refusal to do so by keeping the movie as trashy and R-rated as the character deserves.
  • The titular rumor of Rumor Has It, about how Sarah's parents were the inspiration for the movie The Graduate, stems from a real-life rumor that the original novel was inspired by an actual family.
  • In the film John Doe: Vigilante, the titular character is a Serial Killer spending his nights killing child molesters/abusers, rapists, and abusive husbands/boyfriends. His final victim is revealed to be the man who murdered his wife and daughter. In an interview, John Doe's portrayer Jamie Bamber admitted that it was very easy to imagine the grief and rage that this man was feeling, as he himself is the Happily Married father of three girls and simultaneously very hard to play the scenes for that very same reason.
  • Both Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep were dealing with personal losses during the filming of Kramer vs. Kramer—Streep with the death of her partner, Hoffman with a divorce—infusing the scenes of their crumbling marriage and subsequent custody battle with a dash of painful realism.
  • Birdman is a clear analogy for Michael Keaton's struggles with escaping his I Am Not Spock status as the man who played Batman in the first two entries in the 1989 film series. The premise itself, in which an actor attempts to escape his typecasting as the titular Show Within a Show superhero by taking the lead in a play, is an almost note-for-note calling card for Keaton's attempts at escaping the mantle of the Caped Crusader.
  • In this scene in Picasso Trigger, Taryn's shown flying a Cessna 172P Skyhawk. Her actress, Hope Marie Carlton is a licensed pilot in Real Life.
  • In Inside Llewyn Davis, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver play a pair of struggling folk singers who finally get their shot at fame when they're invited to sing backup on a song that ends up becoming a huge radio hit. The movie was released in 2013, when Isaac and Driver were both struggling, mostly-obscure character actors with only a few major credits to their names—but just a few months after it was released in the United States, they actually did get their shot at fame when they were cast as Poe Dameron and Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the long-awaited seventh Star Wars movie. In an amusing coincidence, the song that gives them their shot at the big-time is "Please, Mr. Kennedy", a ballad about a man being launched into outer space.
  • An unusual case of deliberate invocation by the screenwriters of The Apartment: they would keep track of the actors' real-life experiences and try to integrate them into the plot. That's how the whole gin rummy subplot found its way to the screen (Shirley MacLaine was learning the game at the time). And some offscreen lines of actors discussing their own private lives were also featured in the film, making it a case of offscreen Throw It In!. Here is more.
  • Michael Douglas began shooting Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps shortly after his son Cameron was sent to prison on drug-dealing charges, the latest installment in his long battle with addiction. Six years earlier his half-brother Eric had also died of an overdose. Gekko's emotions as he recalls his own ultimately futile efforts to prevent his son's overdose are thus very real for Douglas.
  • Wonder Woman (2017):
    • A key part of the Wonder Woman mythos is that Princess Diana is an Amazon, a member of a legendary race of all-female warriors who defy traditional gender roles to become one of the most elite groups of soldiers on Earth. When she finally got her own big-budget Hollywood movie after years of failed attempts, Israeli actress Gal Gadot was chosen to play her. Israel is, rather famously, one of the only countries in the world that not only allows women to serve in the military (up to and including in combat), but actually requires it. Gadot is no exception: she served in the Israeli Defense Forces for two years, making her the first Wonder Woman actress who's actually a veteran herself.
    • The film was the first resounding success for the DC Extended Universe, which had long lingered behind the long-running Marvel Cinematic Universe in both critical reception and box-office returns. It also seems to have been made (in part) as a Spiritual Antithesis to Marvel's film Captain America: The First Avenger, another war-themed period piece about the origin of a superhero with a patriotic costume. Fittingly, much of the movie involves Diana trying to escape the shadow of a handsome American soldier named "Steve", played by an actor named "Chris". The movie even ends with "Steve" pulling a Heroic Sacrifice to stop a loaded plane from destroying the world's major cities.
  • A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong has an in-universe example. Once the footage of Dennis' birthday party is aired and the entire cast is angry at one another, especially Chris, he uses Scrooge's redemption scene to apologize and make amends with his friends in real life as well as the characters.
  • For The Man Who Invented Christmas, 87-year-old Christopher Plummer is the oldest actor to ever play Scrooge onscreen, making Scrooge begging to do something good before he dies hit even harder.
  • In And God Created Woman, Juliette (Brigitte Bardot) marries Michel (Jean-Louis Trintignant) but struggles with, and eventually gives in to her attraction to Michel's brother, Antoine. In real life, Bardot was married to the film's director Roger Vadim, but fell in love with Trintignant during filming, and ended up leaving Vadim for him.
  • In Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, Ricardo Montalbán's character confronts the Evil Former Friend who left him wheelchair-bound... then delivers a quietly passionate speech about everything his disability has cost him and everything he's learned from it, culminating in offering his forgiveness, which said friend emotionally accepts. It's also a case of Disabled Character, Disabled Actor: Montalbán was paralyzed by a botched spinal surgery and was speaking from personal experience.
  • In Team America: World Police, several Hollywood actors and creators are mocked for their liberal politics, with Michael Moore being one of the prime targets. The reason for this was that Moore had used Manipulative Editing and a South Park-style cartoon in Bowling for Columbine to make it appear that Trey Parker and Matt Stone worked on the film with him and were in favor of his ideology. They didn't and they weren't, so this was their way of getting revenge.
  • In Catwoman (2004), Laurel Hedare is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who was a famous supermodel in her youth until she committed the worst crime in the fashion world: she turned 40. Hedare is played by Sharon Stone, who knows a thing or two about that subject.
  • Cinderella (1965), starring Lesley Ann Warren in the title role, gained this when her onscreen Wicked Stepmother, Jo Van Fleet, developed a real-life jealousy of Warren's beauty.

  • Johnny's search for his father in A Prayer for Owen Meany mirrors John Irving's search for his own father.
  • When mystery author Howard Engel suffered a stroke that left him with alexia sine agraphia (a neurological condition where he is unable to read words while retaining the ability to write), he decided to give his protagonist the same condition in the following novels.
  • Stephen King:
    • He wrote in his accident with a hit-and-run driver into The Dark Tower series, where his Author Avatar suffers the same accident.
    • Heck, Stephen King's work in general is one giant Reality Subtext. He's a teacher who used to work at an industrial laundry? His first novel deals with school life with a protagonist whose mother works at an industrial laundry. He makes it big as a writer? 'Salem's Lot has a writer protagonist (as do many of his other stories) and The Shining has a teacher-turned-writer protagonist. He lives in Maine? His stories take place in Maine. He moves to Colorado? His stories take place in Colorado. He becomes an alcoholic and addicted to different meds? His stories start featuring metaphors for addiction or outright addiction. Seriously, just track the recurring features in his work and you've basically written a biography for him.
    • Specifically, he openly admits to being coked out of his mind while writing The Tommyknockers. Said story features a group of people who find a deadly object which grants them great amounts of energy and a superficial kind of creativity, and then kills them with a slow wasting disease. Nose bleeds feature prominently. In perhaps the most on-the-nose example, the first invention created under the influence of the alien object is a psychic typewriter that effortlessly translates broad story ideas into beautifully written manuscripts.
  • The Dementors in Harry Potter are the personified result of Rowling's own battle with depression. She's also mentioned several times that her mother's death significantly affected her writing, especially in regards to the themes of love and death in the story. One of the most haunting moments in the first book is when Harry finds the Mirror of Erised, which shows him his long-dead parents, looking at him and smiling with pride.
  • Actress Clara Salaman wrote her novel Shame on You based on her own experiences of growing up in a religious cult, reported by some sources to be the St James School of The School Of Economic Science.
  • In the Kay Scarpetta series of novels by Patricia Cornwell Scarpetta's niece Lucy is a lesbian who has several different relationships with women while working with the FBI. The Reality Subtext is that Cornwell herself was having an affair with a married female FBI agent, and the affair came to light when the agent's former husband tried to murder her. Lucy also suffers from anorexia nervosa, something Cornwell has also struggled with. An incident in The Body Farm where Lucy is in a drunk car crash in Scarpetta's Mercedes was also based on something that happened to Cornwell.
  • Tamora Pierce stated at a note at the end of the final book in the Protector of the Small series, Lady Knight that the destruction of Haven had been planned beforehand, living in New York City on 9/11 left an indelible mark on her writing. Particularly because she had, by coincidence, been about to write that part when it happened, and it was what she came back to when she was able to write again.
  • Cecelia Galante's The Patron Saint of Butterflies, about a group of kids who grow up in an abusive Christian cult, is based on Cecilia's own experiences growing up in a cult. In fact, when her father read it he thought she was trying to insult him.
  • In A Clockwork Orange, the scenes of ultraviolence were written based on Anthony Burgess' memories of his wife's rape. Apparently, he was pretty consistently drunk during this period, and always regretted that the book became most remembered for the violence.
  • A running theme in Marian Keyes's novels is that some of her characters will suffer from depression, suicidal tendencies, or alcoholism. Marian herself has struggled with depression and alcoholism her whole life and after a suicide attempt and going sober, turned to writing to cope. After her most recent bout of depression, she wove her experience into Helen Walsh's story in The Mystery of Mercy Close.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings during World War II while his sons were serving in the British military, which accounts for the significantly darker tone. Although Tolkien was far more deeply influenced by World War I in which he fought himself, and about which he later pointed out, "By 1918 all but one of my closest friends were dead." The discovery of the Apocalyptic Log in Moria marks a point where Tolkien stopped writing for a good while.
  • There's a throwaway line in A Feast for Crows where Petyr Baelish expresses surprise at how quickly the new regime is dissolving into chaos, as he'd based his plans on the expectation that he'd have four or five peaceful years to consolidate power in his new position. This is a sly reference to the fact that George R. R. Martin had initially wanted to put a five-year Time Skip between the novels, but due to all the disparate plot threads he couldn't make it work.
  • V. C. Andrews was confined to mostly bed or a wheelchair for most of her adult life due to various factors (Including crippling arthritis). This is possibly reflected in Seeds of Yesterday when Jory is crippled after an accident during a ballet performance and is confined to a wheelchair as well. And, while she said that none her writings were in any way autobiographical, according to an interview in Faces of Fear, she stated that her grandfather was a religious fanatic that forced Andrews' family to go to his church, which Andrews later saw in a negative light. In turn, this seemed to have influenced the use of sinister religious characters in her work, notably Malcolm and Olivia Foxworth in the Dollanganger series.
  • Amoridere:
    • Broken Gate has a rather upsetting case of this that the author rather candidly reveals in a note at the end of the final chapter, where she mentions and her relatives (a family of nine, the which included an older brother) once lived together in her home, where, after some time of living stably and accommodating, it turned into something of an abusive situation, which took a terrible toll on her mental health (to the point where she implies that she's contemplated suicide). Eventually, she got him out of her home but she had to resort to using a restraining order. She goes onto mention how she didn't want to resort to that and wishes things could have been different and how she based the story and characters off of her own experiences.
    • According to the author, the "Sometimes, its more than the person that dies" line in Turning the Hands of Time, Part I of the Madgie, what did you do? series came from the fact that the story was written either sometime around or after her maternal grandmother had passed and that, afterward, she found it hard to remember her since, recalling certain things about her briefly and vaguely.
  • Steven Erikson's father passed away shortly before he began writing Toll the Hounds. The book deals with themes of depression and death to a much larger degree than the others and Erikson even dedicated it to his father's memory.
  • Aftermath: Empire's End contains a brief appearance from Jar Jar Binks, who is now a street performer and said be beloved by children but hated by adults. This is, of course, a nod to the fact that he was originally a Kid-Appeal Character utterly despised by the majority of the franchise's adult fanbase.
  • Tigana: After Devin kills a man for the first time, he is musing about deaths, and to what extent they do or do not define the lives that preceded them. He wonders if Stevan had lived and died so that Brandin might cause the destruction of Tigana. In a philosophical sense, probably not, but in a literary sense... yes—as a character, Stevan did exist for that purpose.
    It was difficult to sort out though. Had Stevan of Ygrath lived and died so that his father’s grief might work the destruction of a small province and its people and their memories? Had Prince Valentin di Tigana been born only to swing the killing blade that caused this to happen?
  • Warrior Cats:
    • The reason behind the characters Brightspirit, Shiningheart, and Braveheart in Long Shadows is that a ten-year-old Warriors fan named Emmy and her parents died in a natural disaster. The news eventually made its way to the authors, who shared the story with the online fandom so that the Warriors community could show support for Emmy's friends and family. The members of the site decided to honor the young girl and her parents by giving them warrior names, and Vicky was so touched she gave them a cameo as members of StarClan (the cats' Heaven) in the next book they were writing.
    • Briarlight was originally not going to survive for too long after the falling tree paralyzed her in Fading Echoes. However, a few months after that was written, Vicky's cousin Dan was paralyzed similarly in a diving accident. The character became a lot more personal to Vicky, and so she decided that the young cat's journey would echo Dan's.
  • The Aeon 14 novels feature heavy use of Bio-Augmentation for aesthetic reasons as well as utilitarian ones, and body dysphoria is referenced on several occasions (particularly with the mechs in the Rika's Marauders series). Primary author M.D. Cooper came out as a transwoman in 2019.
  • Isaac Asimov's "Victory Unintentional": The Jovians are a racist, expansionist empire. The story was written during World War II.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Piper Halliwell was pregnant twice throughout the run of Charmed, the first time just the character, the second time both character and actress. Because the actress knew more about being pregnant and having children, Piper's second pregnancy was a lot more realistic than her first: she wasn't on her feet as much, she didn't fight any demons, she talked about breastfeeding and maternity more, and Holly Marie Combs was noticeably more maternal with her onscreen children.
  • With the death of Cory Monteith of Glee, the episode held to mourn his character had the cast crying for real.
  • Star Trek:
    • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Ultimate Computer", William Marshall stars as Dr. Richard Daystrom, a prideful and ultimately fanatical computer designer. His eventual Sanity Slippage carries a haunting subtext: Daystrom delivers a heartbreaking monologue about how he's been mocked and ridiculed and underestimated by people who did not understand him or his vision. In Real Life, Marshall was a classically trained actor and opera singer who likely suffered similar indignities and a shortage of opportunities because he was African-American.
    • The televised gladiator combats in the very next TOS episode to air, "Bread And Circuses" reflect the writers' rather jaundiced view of network television as it was increasingly believed as the episode was being written that the show would be canceled after the season.
    • Q's unwashed kangaroo court in TNG's finale "All Good Things...", among other things, can be interpreted as a reflection of heckling Trekkies who doubted whether TNG could live up to TOS' legacy, or thought TNG had gotten stale by this time.
      Q: The trial never ended, Captain. We never reached a verdict, but now we have. You're guilty.
      Picard: Guilty of what?
      Q: Of being inferior. Seven years ago, I said we'd be watching you, and we have been — hoping that your ape-like race would demonstrate some growth, give some indication that your minds had room for expansion. But what have we seen instead? You worrying about Commander Riker's career, listening to Counselor Troi's pedantic psychobabble, indulging Data in his witless exploration of humanity... Time may be eternal, Captain, but our patience is not.
    • On TNG, Sarek's declining health and eventual death seemed to mirror those of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. To whit, "Unification, Part 1", in which Sarek died, was dedicated to Roddenberry, who had died a couple of weeks earlier.
    • Riker's existential crisis throughout "The Best of Both Worlds" paralleled producer/writer Michael Piller's own crisis, as he pondered whether he should stay with TNG or move on to new opportunities. Riker's statements about Commander Shelby mirror Piller's feelings about younger writers like Ronald D. Moore. Riker and Guinan's conversation about Riker becoming his own man and "letting go" of Captain Picard in order to beat him could almost be about the show's struggle to find its own identity in the long shadow of the original series.
      • This story was the Darkest Hour for both the Federation and the franchise as a whole: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was a critical and financial failure, and TNG was on the verge of cancellation after the execrable mess the writers' strike made of Season 2 after a promising but raw Season 1, and it was still "on the bubble" during Season 3 despite Growing the Beard. The intense fan interest in "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I," which became the most talked-about cliffhanger in serial television since Who shot J.R., saved TNG and made Star Trek into the 90s media juggernaut it was.
    • Denise Crosby, who played Tasha Yar in the first season of TNG, felt she was underused and asked to be let go abruptly. They managed to squeeze her death into "Skin of Evil", but she was to film "Symbiosis", which was going to air first. In the final moments of the last episode, she filmed you can see her waving to the camera.
    • In "Yesterday's Enterprise", Yar's performance is just dripping with meta commentary. The timeline is accidentally changed decades ago and suddenly Tasha is still alive on the ship (among other disagreeable changes). Tasha discovers that in the original timeline she died a "senseless death, one without meaning" (fans had complained ever since it happened that valiant character deserved better than a Redshirt exit.)
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine got in a few great lines in its fifth season when Nana Visitor (Major Kira) was pregnant with Alexander Siddig (Dr. Bashir)'s child. Since Kira was the show's female lead, this would have been hard to hide, so the writers resorted to a plot twist: Keiko O'Brien was pregnant, and her baby had to be transplanted into Kira to save its life after an accident, and then (because of Kira's biology) couldn't be taken back out before the due date. In "Apocalypse Rising", Kira is talking with Dr. Bashir, she gets off the line "this [pregnancy] is all YOUR fault." The best part was probably in the episode "The Begotten", where Bashir finally delivers the little snot. Visitor gets the line "YOU DID THIS TO ME!" Common enough in media, where the woman in labor shouts at the father.
    • In another Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, "Second Skin", Kira is abducted by the Obsidian Order and surgically altered to look like a Cardassian. Kira is visibly horrified by the transformation and becomes increasingly distressed through the episode. Nana Visitor is severely claustrophobic and found the Cardassian makeup incredibly uncomfortable, eventually ripping it off her face when a take took too long.
    • Star Trek: Voyager made a few guarded allusions to behind-the-scenes production. "Muse" is basically a plea for understanding from the writers of this oft-criticized series, explaining how they're pulled between the desire to create meaningful works of art, the need to satisfy those paying their wages, and the demands of the audience for more "action" and "romance", told via a dirt-poor playright on a primitive warlike world who's trying to write a play based on Voyager's logs. The "executives" (or nobles) in question will have the playwright's head if he doesn't deliver.
    • The "Equinox" two-parter seem to be suggesting ‘this is how awful it could have been if we had taken a violent route and not produced the show we have — a complete antithesis of Gene Roddenberry’s ideals.' Ron D. Moore, who resigned from the show before the second part aired, got the last word with Battlestar Galactica (2003), which is more interested in dealing honestly with the problems faced by the Equinox.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise was greatly impacted by 9/11. Most of the cast and crew had friends, colleagues or relatives who perished in the attack. As a consequence, Enterprise Seasons 2-4 (and to a large degree the films, which will never wholeheartedly embrace the pacifist and multicultural message of Roddenberry's time) was a show defined by the war on terror. Even before the terrorist attacks, it seemed like the stories were consciously girding themselves for the conservative Bush presidency. The cast was mostly white Americans. The Captain was not a scientist or a diplomat, but a ruggedly all-American test pilot.
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Cost of Living", Counselor Troi's mother Lwaxana reveals that she's suddenly marrying again. Majel Barrett (Lwaxana) had just lost her husband, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, several months earlier, adding another layer to Lwaxana pondering marriage again.
    • In the ''Deep Space Nine" Grand Finale, "What You Leave Behind", the scene where Quark and Vic play Go Fish because there's nothing else to do was the last scene ever filmed for DS9. So, there actually was nothing left to do on the show.
  • In The West Wing, Knowing that John Spencer (Leo McGarry), had died in real life, makes the characters' reactions (especially those of Kristin Chenoweth) all the more poignant.
  • After six series in six years, Red Dwarf took a three-year hiatus between 1994 and 1996 as Craig Charles (Lister) had been arrested, and then cleared, of rape. Co-creator Rob Grant also left for undisclosed reasons. Only two more series (16 episodes) have been made since then, though a recent set of specials suggests the franchise is not quite dead, though certainly, its halt at the top of its momentum did not help.
  • How I Met Your Mother: A month after actor Neil Patrick Harris came out as gay, the show introduced Barney's gay brother (played by Wayne Brady), who makes a lifestyle choice with which Barney initially disagrees. Said lifestyle choice being getting married instead of living the life of promiscuity that Barney favors.
    • The show also hid the pregnancies of Cobie Smulders and Alyson Hannigan using large, baggy shirts, but towards the end of the season, Hannigan was too big to hide and needed to go on maternity leave, so the writers created a joke that offended Hannigan's character Lily so much that she wouldn't speak to the rest of the group for a month.
      • This also led to a line in the next season premiere when Marshall asks Robin and Lily if they have lost weight to distract them from a previous comment he had made. Both women's babies had been born during the summer hiatus.
    • However, during a later season, several months after Lily became pregnant, Alyson Hannigan announced she was pregnant again.
    • The part in "Vesuvius" where Marshall gets mad about a silly scene where his film counterpart ("Narshall") eats a cake is based on an interview where Jason Segel had criticized the writing on the show. Specifically, he used a hypothetical joke about Marshall eating a cake and then lying about it as an example of how formulaic the writing on the show had become. The scene in "Vesuvius" was basically the writers having some fun and throwing a minor Take That! at Segel.
  • Grey's Anatomy: Actor Isaiah Washington (Preston Burke) was canned from the show at the end of the season 3, causing his character's romantic storyline with Sandra Oh's Christina Yang to end rather abruptly, with her stood up at the altar and going to his apartment to find out he'd cleaned house and left. Also, the sudden disappearance of Dr. Erica Hahn was due to the unexplainable firing of actress Brooke Smith.
    • Season 6 has had to do quite a bit of covering up — George was killed in a bus accident when T.R. Knight wished to leave the show, Katherine Heigl was written out for some episodes in order to shoot a movie and spend time with her recently-adopted baby, and Meredith had a storyline that required her to be bedridden to cover up Ellen Pompeo's pregnancy.
      • And the maternity leave of Jessica Capshaw (Arizona) led to a hugely important arc: Arizona leaves for Africa, she and Callie break up, Callie sleeps with Mark and gets pregnant, Arizona returns and they reunite and decide to raise the baby together, Arizona ends up proposing and Callie says yes immediately after a near-fatal car accident. A rather extreme example of Real Life Writes the Plot.
  • Two subtexts for the price of one on the sixth season premiere of Reba: First, Melissa Peterman's weight loss is written into the script, as Barbara Jean's been seeing a personal trainer. Second, the first (and only) line for Kyra in the episode is "I just went out to get something to eat!" The line references actress Scarlett Pomers' battle with anorexia (and explains away her absence for the last quarter of the fifth season).
  • Malcolm's family from Malcolm in the Middle ended up with another child after actress Jane Kaczmareck became pregnant in real life.
  • Fifty years prior, I Love Lucy Little Ricky became a character as the result of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball not wanting to trick-shoot the show to hide the latter's pregnancy.
    • Several episodes during this time were Whole Episode Flashbacks - with Ricky et. al. recalling some wacky hijinks. They were filmed while Lucy was still able to appear, but production intended them to air during her downtime after she gave birth.
  • Sarah Shahi of the series Life is half-Iranian and speaks Farsi in real life. The episode "A Civil War" revealed that her character, Dani Reese, has an Iranian mother and can speak Farsi.
    • Also, during production on the last season, she became pregnant, which resulted in the last five episodes being rewritten so her character would be recruited for an FBI joint task force and only able to communicate with the main character by phone, requiring the casting of Gabrielle Union as a replacement partner.
    • Her Person of Interest character, Samin Shaw, also has an Iranian mother (no word on if she speaks Farsi yet though). Sarah was also pregnant during the forth season of the show, leading to her character being apparently killed off, but actually being held by Samaritan operatives.
  • Doctor Who:
    • One of the show's most famous story devices, regeneration - in which the Doctor and other Time Lords transform into completely new people when injured or near death - was created expressly to explain the change in actors from William Hartnell, who was ill, to Patrick Troughton.
      • Hartnell's illness also affected his appearance in "The Three Doctors" 7 years later, as it made him unable to join Troughton and Jon Pertwee's Doctors on the same stage. This was written into the story as the First Doctor being "trapped in a time eddy" and only being able to communicate with his successors through a viewscreen in the TARDIS. On top of that, it wasn't just his last appearance as the First Doctor but his last acting appearance ever.
      • Similarly, Tom Baker's refusal to appear in "The Five Doctors" was explained away by having the Fourth Doctor (represented by archival footage) also get trapped in a time eddy.
    • During the production of the Second Doctor serial "The Mind Robber", Frazer Hines (Jamie) contracted chicken pox. This resulted in a last-minute rewrite of the serial, which allowed another actor (Hamish Wilson) to play Jamie's part for episode 2 of the serial.
    • In 1970, Doctor Who made the switch from black and white to color. At the same time, the production team came up with a Story Arc where the Doctor gets exiled to Earth in the 1970s, which allowed them to save the money that would ordinarily get spent on more exotic settings. The producers considered having him face off a number of alien invasions. However, it was felt the sheer number of invasions would push Willing Suspension of Disbelief too far, and so the Master was introduced as a recurring villain. Furthermore, the Master was originally slated to die saving the Doctor's life. Instead, Roger Delgado (the Master) died in a tragic car accident. Jon Pertwee (the Third Doctor) left the show partly due to this and the Master got new life later, played by other actors. These events make certain events of the Tenth Doctor's finale a fourth-wall-straddling date with destiny.
    • Much as the Fourth Doctor enjoys fighting the robot in "Robot", he is clearly bored out of his mind with having to be in UNIT, snoozing with his hat over his eyes or talking over everyone else during the exposition scenes and even having a mini-meltdown at the end about how he refuses to go on like this. The creators were getting sick of how UNIT limited the space-time travel premise of the show, and the Doctor's boredom is a metaphor for their own boredom and a plea to get the audience back into space again.
    • In the second episode of the new series, Rose Tyler rants at the "bitchy trampoline" Cassandra that "she'd rather die" than have any of the cosmetic modifications Cassandra suggests. The very powerful subtext at work here is that Billie Piper had anorexia years earlier.
    • A mild case, but it seems very likely that the Tenth Doctor's last line before he regenerates into his eleventh incarnation is as much his actor speaking as he is, as said actor, David Tennant, got into acting to play the Doctor. The line?
      The Doctor: I don't want to go.
    • The short special "Time Crash" showed the Tenth Doctor meeting the Fifth and practically gushing over the earlier incarnation. That's because David Tennant grew up on the Fifth's serials, considers the Fifth his favorite Doctor, and cites Peter Davison as the reason he wanted to become an actor and eventually play the Doctor. That's Tennant's fanboying you see throughout the whole thing.
    • Not just Tennant's; Steven Moffat, who wrote it, is also an unabashed Davison fanboy.
    • "Victory of the Daleks", for the first time, justifies the change in default Dalek props in-universe: Three Daleks who have miraculously survived the Dalek genocide of "Journey's End" (and are thus represented by the Russell T. Davies props) create a new Dalek breed, technicolor, taller and more powerful than them. The old Daleks declare their unworthiness in comparison to the new ones and are promptly disintegrated by them. The actual production reason for the switch is that the RTD Dalek props were built so that they could go eyestalk-to-eye with Billie Piper (Rose), so the Steven Moffat props were conversely made to match the much taller Karen Gillan (Amy).
    • When Matthew Waterhouse was 16, his older brother committed suicide, just two years before Matthew got the part of Adric. What happens in Adric's introductory story? His older brother is yanked out of his grasp to his death.
    • Matt Smith cut his hair for Lost River. To explain his in-character entrance as the Doctor at the 2013 Doctor Who Prom not long after filming of that movie wrapped, prefilmed footage clearly filmed before production of How to Catch a Monster began depicted the Doctor (and Clara) getting into the Royal Albert Hall by bodyswapping with people present on the stage; the process caused the Doctor to inherit his target's short hair when he appeared on stage.
    • "The Day of the Doctor" featured a forgotten incarnation of the Doctor who had fought in the Time War, serving as a metaphor for the Wilderness Years and the many diverging, convoluted arms of the Expanded Universe that took over the Doctor's 'life' at that time.
    • Smith's final episode, "The Time of the Doctor", has the Eleventh Doctor suffer a leg injury that leads to him either limping or using a cane for the remainder of the story. This is a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, as Smith had hurt his leg in real life just prior to the start of filming.
    • Also in his last episode, Smith's baldness was written into the story, allowing him to conceal a spare TARDIS key under his wig. In Real Life, he'd shaved his head for a film role; in-Whoniverse, Clara correctly deduces that Eleven cut off his hair on a whim because he was bored.
    • Eleven's final lines, right before he regenerates could easily be interpreted as Matt Smith saying the lines in regards to his tenure as The Doctor:
      Eleventh Doctor/Matt Smith: I will always remember when The Doctor was me.
    • The subsequent season premier, "Deep Breath", contains a large amount of commentary about Peter Capaldi, who is currently the oldest actor to portray the Doctor in the revived series. Clara acts as a stand-in for the audience and questions the legitimacy of the new, physically aged Doctor, which parallels the fervor in the fanbase about such an old actor playing the character after the Younger and Hipper precedent that was set with Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith.
    • "Twice Upon A Time" ends with Twelve making a speech to his successor as the Doctor essentially saying "it is your time now, good luck". It is very easy to see this as Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat wishing their successors (Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall) all the best.
    • There are a lot of examples to do with Tom Baker, as he was the most blatant example of Meta Casting yet seen on the whole show, and Robert Holmes, who edited much of his era, thought he was an interesting person enough that he deliberately wrote elements inspired by Baker's life into the Doctor's backstory, or would use the show to criticize aspects of Baker's behavior.
      • One of the Fourth Doctor's most overwhelmingly common villain templates was religious fanatics or ritual-obsessed villains, usually in robes and using Catholic-inflected iconography. He had spent his teens and the beginning of his 20s as a monk in an extremely repressive environment and still carried emotional damage from this, and enjoyed the opportunity to work out his issues by shouting at people in cassocks, which the writers were happy to give him. In particular, Holmes based Time Lord society on the organizational style of the Catholic Church.
      • "The Brain of Morbius"'s plot kicks off when a religious fanatic looks up to make eye contact with the Doctor and becomes infatuated with his face. This is peculiarly similar to a formative experience Tom Baker recounts in his biography, where, as a monk forbidden to look at faces, he'd accidentally glanced up to see another novice and become infatuated with his face.
      • Robert Holmes wrote "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" at a time when Baker's mental health was starting to fail him, and his ego and drinking habit was beginning to cause production issues and public embarrassment. The story portrays the Doctor as very selfish and aloof, paying little attention to Leela and trying to ditch her four times (as Baker hated the character and had been pushing for her to be written out), contains a setpiece where the Doctor intentionally upstages another actor on a stage as a mindgame (Baker often hogged scenes and stepped on lines to abuse actors he disliked), and also portrays the Doctor as having a secret alcohol stash.
      • The Fourth Doctor audio drama "The Justice of Jalxar" contains a scene where the Doctor has to protect a group of innocents by confessing to all the crimes he has committed to a homicidal justice robot, so it would pursue him rather than the ordinary people. His confession is structured like a Catholic confession and involves him begging "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa", something absurdly uncomfortable to listeners aware that Tom Baker had spent years as a Catholic monk not allowed to look at people's faces, forbidden to laugh, repeatedly made to repeat that he was worthless and told that if he ever left he would go mad outside, leaving him with lifelong emotional damage.
  • Combining Reality Subtext and Fanon, many Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers fans believe that Trini, the original Yellow Ranger, is dead, since her actress, Thuy Trang, died in a car accident. Her death has never been mentioned on-screen, but since Power Rangers shows are usually independent of each other, this is not surprising. However, this one's purely Fanon. Reunion Shows involving characters who knew her have never mentioned anything bad had happened to her.
    • In Power Rangers Dino Thunder, Jason David Frank - playing veteran ranger and mentor Tommy - had prior commitments in the USA in the middle of filming (which takes place in New Zealand), and so the producers arranged to have Tommy first trapped in amber, then stuck in his Ranger suit, and then finally invisible (so that Frank could provide voice-overs without having to be present on set).
    • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: Kendrix, the Pink Galaxy Ranger, makes a Heroic Sacrifice in a Dying Moment of Awesome near the end of the teamup with the Space Rangers. Her actress had to leave the show to undergo leukemia treatments. She was written out in this manner so that if the treatments were unsuccessful (as is all too often the case) people would have a grand heroic deed to remember her by. Fortunately, the treatments worked, and as a result, Kendrix was revived at the end.
  • A Diagnosis: Murder episode shows Dick Van Dyke as the character of Mark Sloan watching home movie footage of himself playing 'cowboys' with his son Steve (played by real-life son Barry). This is in fact real footage of Dick Van Dyke presumably playing 'cowboys' with a toddler age Barry though it could conceivably be another family member.
  • A.J. Langer came down with the chicken pox during filming of the My So-Called Life episode "Life of Brian" (which has nothing to do with the Monty Python film). This resulted not only in her very limited screen time in that episode but also in having all of the makeup to be thrown out.
  • For the first three or four seasons of Married... with Children, the character of Marcy was married to a materialistic banker named Steve Rhoades, played by David Garrison. When Garrison grew tired of television and did not want to continue the series, he and the producers mutually agreed to write off his character. Over the course of several episodes, Steve would be phased out of the show, culminating in his going to jail and Marcy's divorcing him. Garrison would, however, return to play the role of Steve several times during the rest of the show's run.
    • Another example came from Katey Segal's first pregnancy. The writers fully embraced it as material for that season and had Peg in-show getting pregnant as well. Unfortunately, this plan did not materialize as perfectly as the writers hoped. Right before the predetermined birth, Katey suffered a miscarriage. This forced the writers to give the season an All Just a Dream ending because having an infant on-set would be traumatic for Segal. Fans were initially displeased, but after the writers explained the tragic situation behind the season finale, they cooled down and expressed their condolences to Segal. Segal would become pregnant twice more during the show's run, thankfully successfully both times. Both times, the writers had Peg Put on a Bus and invoked The Bus Came Back when Segal was ready to return to work.
  • There's a lot of this in Blackadder Goes Forth with General Melchett, played by Straight Gay actor Stephen Fry. There's his habit of addressing Captain Kevin Darling as just "Darling" — and then there's "Major Star", in which he falls for Hugh Laurie in drag yet finds "Bob" (a female passing for male) in "drag" utterly repulsive.
    • In "General Hospital", Blackadder uncovers a spy by reciting the 'great universities': "Oxford, Cambridge, Hull", and observes that the spy failed to notice that only two of them were great universities. General Melchett chimes in, "Yes, Oxford's a complete dump." Melchett's actor, Stephen Fry, was an alumnus of Cambridge, whereas Blackadder's actor, Rowan Atkinson, attended Oxford.
    • There's a bit of this in the A Bit of Fry and Laurie sketch where Fry plays a British officer, Major Donaldson, and Hugh Laurie plays a Nazi officer. Fry is captured by the Nazis and is tortured to make him reveal information about the invasion of Normandy. He hasn't cracked under the torture. But as soon as he sees Hugh, he's smitten with the German officer, reveals the information he wants, and begs for a kiss. (The German says, "Well, maybe a little one.")
  • David Henrie (Justin Russo) and Selena Gomez (Alex Russo), who play brother and sister in Wizards of Waverly Place, liked each other in Real Life (and they still probably do) and it affected their characters' relationship, as implied by the looks they gave one another while they were performing the roles and by the way they acted around each other. Their obvious chemistry was commented on by many fans, critics and even by their friends and families. Much to some people's relief and to a vast part of the fandom's dismay they didn't act upon their crushes.
  • David Duchovny forced production of The X-Files to move from Vancouver to Los Angeles, in part to further his wife Téa Leoni's acting career. Vancouver is rainy, forested, and has similar architecture to the Eastern US. Los Angeles mostly looks like Los Angeles. As a result, there were substantially more episodes set in the American Southwest, which LA can credibly replicate.
    • The X-Files first did this when Gillian Anderson first became pregnant. For a while, her character Dana Scully was wearing her trenchcoat and sitting behind desks a lot more until she was abducted by aliens and was gone for the length of Anderson's maternity leave.
    • Not only that but when Scully returned she was in a coma for most of an episode. Due to complications from the pregnancy, her pallor didn't need a lot of make-up.
    • This had even more effect on the plot than most such cases since it helped kick-start the show's long-term myth arc, whereas before it had only featured vague alien-related plots and unconnected events.
  • When Peter Sellers guest starred on The Muppet Show, there was a brief bit where Kermit told him that he could feel free to drop his personas while backstage and be himself. Sellers' response was, "There is no me; I do not exist. There used to be a me... but I had it surgically removed." He meant it.
    • Sellers' claim that he existed as only what others wanted him to be was based on feeling his real self wasn't sufficiently able to make others or himself happy (and a desire to protect his privacy). In any case, his fascination with being others and never himself was what caused him to identify so much with Chance the Gardener in the novel Being There, to the point of spending much of his final years getting a film adaptation made so he could play Chance. Indeed, his family and friends have argued that of all of Peter's characters, Chance is by far the closest to who he actually was as a person.
    • When Gene Kelly guest starred, Scooter predicted the world would end and Beauregard was certain it was true. This was the last episode to be produced (though — at least in America — not the last one aired).
  • Let's just say Jared Padalecki, the star of Supernatural is somewhat... accident-prone.
    • When Padalecki broke his wrist partway through filming an episode in season 3, Sam Winchester had to break his wrist in a fight. There then follows at least one episode where Sam doesn't seem to do much while Padalecki was dealing with the pain and painkillers.
    • In one episode of season 4, Sam was only onscreen for forty seconds because Padalecki was busy filming the Friday the 13th (2009) remake.
    • In Season 10, Sam begins the first few episodes with his arm immobilized in a sling after having badly dislocated his shoulder before season 10 filming began. Padalecki had undergone surgery and had clearly lost a bit of weight, but could be explained in character due to the fact that Dean had literally disappeared for weeks after dying in Sam's arms. Turns out, Dean had become a demon. Multiple characters bring up the injury in-universe -at least once per episode for the first four episodes.
  • In an episode of Witchblade, Sara lectures the coroner about alcoholism when she spots booze in the room. In real life, Yancy Butler has had battles with alcoholism, which led to the show's cancellation after the second season.
  • On Sports Night, Robert Guillaume's real-life stroke was written into the story line as a stroke suffered by his character, executive producer Isaac Jaffee. This led to some very emotional scenes upon his return. Likewise, the on-screen portrayal of Executive Meddling throughout season 2, was almost certainly Aaron Sorkin's somewhat pissy reaction to the same. The latter theme would reappear in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
  • In Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Matt Albie is constantly getting into arguments with his blonde, Christian ex-girlfriend about everything from politics to same-sex marriage to whether or not she should pose for a men's magazine. Aaron Sorkin had recently broken up with his blonde, Christian girlfriend having had many of the same conflicts with her. Critics were quite to point out that this gave Sorkin an opportunity to win all the arguments by proxy since he was now writing both sides.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Vir Cotto got a lot slimmer halfway through the series, which fit with the character developing from mostly comic relief to playing a more serious role in the show. In reality, Stephen Furst had been ordered to lose weight after becoming diabetic.
    • Zack Allan's complaints about his ill-fitting uniform were based - in some cases word for word - on that character's actor, Jeff Conaway, complaining about his ill-fitting costume. (When he later gets a change of costume, it is a notably better fit.)
    • Delenn's scathing dressing-down of the Grey Council in "Severed Dreams" was infused with her Croatian actress Mira Furlan's own considerable fury with the European powers who failed to help as the Balkans went to hell.
    • Babylon 5 enjoyed that sort of thing. Word of God is that Mr. Garibaldi's occasional speeches in favor of the death penalty were put in because actor Jerry Doyle was a fervent supporter of capital punishment in real life (even Garibaldi's infamous "electric bleachers" line was taken from something J. Michael Straczynski had overheard Doyle say in absolute seriousness). Notably, the season 3 episode "Passing Through Gethsemane" has a discussion between Garibaldi and Delenn on the matter that mirrors their real-life actors' viewpoints.
    • There have been heavy hints dropped by J. Michael Straczynski and others that the reason why Sinclair and Garibaldi have no scenes together in "War Without End", despite the characters having been good friends in the first season when Sinclair was a regular, was because of a serious falling-out between the actors.
    • It's easy to miss, but Commander Ivanova wears a single earring. One of Claudia Christian's brothers was killed by a drunk driver when they were kids, and she placed the other earring in his casket at the memorial service. Ivanova's reason for wearing the single earring was made explicit in the prequel movie In the Beginning, which shows that she gave the other earring to her older brother for good luck, only for him to die during the Earth-Minbari War.
    • The infamous "teddy bear meets airlock" and the annoyance over merchandising? Yeah, JMS had a lot of pent-up frustration, particularly at Kenner, over their interference with The Real Ghostbusters to make the series more Toyetic, so when he had an opportunity to take a clean shot at toy companies, he did so with glee.
    • Ivanova shows up in one episode leading a gaggle of Drazi with her leg in a cast. Reference to the rather... rambunctious nature of Drazi politics? No, Claudia Christian was in an accident and broke her leg. However, it was left in because it fit in hilariously well with what was going on in the character's life at the time.
  • The main character of Bones is an anthropologist/writer named Temperance Brennan. She writes mysteries about an anthropologist named Kathy Reichs. In reality, Kathy Reichs is an anthropologist/writer who writes mysteries about an anthropologist named Temperance Brennan. Also, when actress Emily Deschanel was pregnant, her character was too.
  • In the Law & Order franchise:
    • Olivia Benson's stint undercover (leading to her temporary disappearance from the show) in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was because the actress was pregnant.
    • Law & Order: Trial by Jury:
      • Jerry Orbach died of prostate cancer just after joining the cast of, after spending 12 years on the mothership show as Detective Lennie Briscoe. Trial By Jury was canceled in its first season due to low ratings, and Briscoe is stated to have died offscreen sometime thereafter.
      • In one episode, Briscoe is huddled by the door of a courtroom with some cops and is providing whispered commentary so as not to interrupt what's going on inside. The scene was written this way because Jerry Orbach was so weak from cancer treatments that he couldn't raise his voice to a normal speaking volume.
    • A rather haunting episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent revealed that Mike Logan, Briscoe's first onscreen partner, imagined that he could still see Lenny. It wouldn't be surprising if there were a lot of Chris Noth's emotions in there.
  • Friends:
    • Chandler's "transfer" to Tulsa was because Matthew Perry was going through rehab. (He still appeared in every episode, just not as many scenes). Many of the scenes revolving around Monica's support of him moving probably reflected the real life support the Friends cast gave Matthew Perry during this time. (Especially as other cast members said Courteney Cox who plays Monica, was one of the most supportive people for him).
    • Chandler's weight also fluctuated throughout the series, much more than the other characters, due to Matthew Perry's drug problems. In the early episodes, Chandler was average size, however, in later seasons he was extremely skinny and in other seasons he gained weight back. In one case he looked noticeably heavier in a season premiere that was supposed to take place shortly after the previous season's finale.
    • Monica and Chandler's struggle to have children while not based on Courteney Cox's miscarriages did reflect her situation. To the extent, Courteney found some scenes difficult to film, and Matthew Perry's previously mentioned close friendship with her meant his delivery of Chandler's "she's mother without a child" speech was particularly heartbreaking and emotional.
  • Latka's Split Personality problem in Season 4 of Taxi was conceived to relieve Andy Kaufman's boredom with the role, making him The Cast Showoff in the process. Andy was extremely fond of assuming alternate identities in real life, which was to be incorporated into a first season episode where his Alter-Ego Acting persona Tony Clifton would serve as the guest star while Andy/Latka was didn't work because Tony treated everyone like dirt, to the point he was not only fired but escorted from the Paramount lot.
  • In Only Fools and Horses, the deaths of the actors playing four characters were written into the show: Grandad and Uncle Albert were said to have died (and their funerals were shown), Mike Fisher was said to be in prison for embezzlement (leading to Sid taking over the Nag's Head), and Denzil's wife Corrine was said to have finally divorced him.
  • Scrubs
    • Both of Dr. Cox and Jordan's children in were written in because Christa Miller became pregnant, as was Sarah Chalke's pregnancy in the final season.
    • In "My Cake", Scrubs paid proper homage to John Ritter's death by having J.D.'s father (who, of course, was played by John Ritter a couple of years previous) die of a massive heart attack.
    • In "My Catalyst", Dr. Kevin Casey is played by Michael J. Fox. Casey suffered from OCD, a neurological disorder that usurps (directed) control of the body from a person. Fox stated in an interview that he let his struggles with Parkinson's (a neurological disorder that causes a person's body to shake uncontrollably) inform Casey's character.
  • When Prison Break actress Sarah Wayne Callies' pregnancy overlapped with the first few episodes of season three, the writers plotted around her maternity leave. The Fox Network refused to sign off on the proposed plotline of season 3, forcing the writers to redo everything, and their new season arc came to involve the death of Callies' character. The actress refused to return to work just to be killed off, hence her offscreen death in the fourth episode of season three. But she came Back from the Dead in season four anyway.
  • During the production halt observed for the 2007-08 Writers Guild of America strike, Battlestar Galactica's Michael Trucco (Samuel Anders) was involved in a near-fatal car accident. He miraculously survived the event with little lasting damage except for a rather large scar down the back of his neck. To allow him to recover but still be an active part of the show for its final season the writers came up with a scenario involving Anders being struck by a bullet and suffering massive brain trauma and being immobile for the remainder of the show but still an integral part of the final arc. By the time the post-script move The Plan went into production, he was back on his feet and back to doing the kind of stuff his character was known for.
  • Warrick Brown's murder on CSI occurred shortly after Gary Dourdan was released from the show.
  • Firefly: By a rather unfortunate coincidence, the cast and crew ended up filming the funeral scene at the end of "The Message" shortly after Joss Whedon delivered the news that Fox had decided to cancel the show. The characters might have been mourning the death of Private Tracey, but the cast was mourning the end of the show that they'd poured so much effort into.
  • Glee:
    • In one episode, Kurt wants to sing "Defying Gravity" from Wicked, but runs into some trouble because it's traditionally sung by a girl. Kurt's actor, Chris Colfer, had wanted all throughout high school to sing the song at the talent show but was denied.
    • Kurt and Mercedes are best friends on the show; Chris Colfer (Kurt) and Amber Riley (Mercedes) are best friends in real life.
    • In the episode "Furt," Sue Sylvester just happens to be acting principal of McKinley and undergoes Character Development that makes her more sympathetic to Kurt's bullying problem. Sue also realizes her own mother is a bully as well, as evidenced by continued disapproval and Passive-Aggressive Kombat over Sue's plan to marry herself. Jane Lynch is an outspoken gay icon in real life who had recently married her girlfriend (though they divorced in 2013), so someone behind the scenes may have decided the episode's Gay Aesops (about bullying and marriage) were more poignant coming from her.
    • In one season 3 episode, Blaine is hit in the face with a slushie laced with rock salt, and injures his eye badly enough that he has to have surgery. He's completely absent from the following two episodes, the reason being of course that he's at home, resting after his surgery. In reality, Darren Criss was absent from the filming of those two episodes because he was doing a two-week stint in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "Seeing Red", Warren Mears accidentally kills Tara Maclay. At the time, the actors, Adam Busch and Amber Benson, respectively, were dating, and Joss Whedon actually told Adam, "You're gonna kill your girlfriend," to which the reply was "Warren gets a girlfriend?" "No, I mean your real girlfriend." Eight years later, by the way, they're still together. This relationship was actually the inspiration somewhat for the Buffy fanfic Difficult to Fight Against Anger.
    • Cordelia's fall onto a piece of rebar in "Lovers Walk" was based on a similar incident that occurred to Charisma Carpenter in real life.
      • Cordelia's pregnancy in season 4 of Angel coincided with Charisma Carpenter's real-life pregnancy, and also threw out an idea to have the season end with a fight between Angel and Cordelia.
    • When Angel breaks up with Buffy in the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the tears are real. Sarah Michelle Gellar, who considers Angel and Buffy soulmates, apparently cried for so long that the set had to be shut down briefly.
    • Similarly, in the episode of Angel where Angel becomes human and he and Buffy have 24 hours of perfect bliss before he voluntarily gives it all up ("I Will Remember You"), Gellar was so distraught by the plotting that viewers can actually hear David Boreanaz consoling Sarah (by name) rather than Angel comforting Buffy.
    • The Anointed One, a child vampire who was the Master's protege in season 1, was initially planned to be the Big Bad of season 2. He ended up being shoved into a cage and incinerated by Spike early in the season when it became apparent the actor was visibly growing up and wouldn't be able to remain convincing as a never-aging vampire for long.
    • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Conversations With Dead People" features four different subplots that share a common theme, but are different in tone mostly unrelated. This is because they were all written by different writers due to time constraints.
    • Giles Commuting on a Bus in seasons 6 and 7 due to Anthony Head moving back to England.
  • Arrested Development loves these. In particular, a number of episodes in the third season explicitly refer to the show's struggle to stay on air and meet executive demands. Then there's the case of Bob Loblaw (Scott Baio) replacing Gary Zuckerkorn (Henry Winkler) as the family's lawyer...
    • Season 4 had a subplot about GOB being unable to recognize his son, Steve Holt. The writers included this because in real life, Justin Grant Wade (the actor who portrays Steve) had put on weight and become nearly unrecognizable during the seven years between the show's cancellation and Uncancellation.
  • In the 1983 adaptation of Jin Yong's story Return of the Condor Heroes, numerous people applauded the performance of how love-struck and romantic Andy Lau (who played Yang Guo) was towards Idy Chan (who played the character's love, Xiao Long Nu). Apparently, Andy Lau has since admitted that he harbored a huge crush on Idy Chan. To quote him, "When I collaborated in Return of the Condor Heroes with her, I really felt that she's my girlfriend. When we go home after work, I would be worried about her and think of her. Then when we collaborated again in Casino Raiders where she played Alan Tam's girlfriend, I felt unhappy about it."
  • Alaina Huffman's pregnancy has apparently been written into Stargate Universe. In fact the Stargate canon has never (in 16 seasons of television starring at least one and usually two or more women) included a pregnancy it wasn't forced into by actress pregnancies. The best one is probably the first, Sha're's pregnancy with the Harcesis, which actually came about because Vaitiare Bandera was pregnant. The father was Michael Shanks, who played Sha're's husband, Daniel. Less important for the series but the same father, Dr. Lam/ Lexa Doig, which resulted in Lam just disappearing for a while without explanation. Note to producers: keep Michael away from your actresses.
    • Later on Amanda Tapping was in Area 51 for 6 episodes at the beginning of the ninth season because of her pregnancy - lots of cunning video-conferencing with conveniently placed computers. While she was away Claudia Black did a guest spot on the show to inject some estrogen. At the end of the ninth season Black's character, Vala, returns...and she's pregnant, because Black was.
    • Teyla's pregnancy on Stargate Atlantis was because of Rachel Luttrell's real-life pregnancy. (But Michael Shanks wasn't even on that show!)
    • And a non-pregnancy Stargate one — in the episode "Nemesis" Daniel Jackson is mostly out of the picture because he has appendicitis... because Michael Shanks was recovering from appendicitis.
    • Also, Jack O'Neill was transferred to the Pentagon to head Homeworld Command when Richard Dean Anderson decided he wanted to retire. Later on in the show, his replacement Cameron Mitchell (Ben Browder), complains about shows who lose their lead actors and just replace him with a younger version of the same guy.
    • General Hammond died of a heart attack because of the death of his actor, Don S. Davis. The Daedalus-class battlecruiser George Hammond in one of the movies and Stargate Universe was renamed in his honor.
    • In Family Ties, Carter and Jacek have a conversation which is ostensibly about the lack of funding given to the SGC, but is actually an obvious reference to the then-recent cancellation of the show and its replacement with the series Eureka.
      Jacek: I don't mind telling you, I'm a bit disappointed in this facility. I was expecting more.
      Carter: Well, at times so do we. But the truth is the Stargate Program just doesn't get the support it used to from the people in charge.
      Jacek: Why not?
      Lee: [working on something nearby] Eureka! One down, twelve to go.
      Jacek: That's too bad, because after all your Stargate Program has accomplished for this network of planets, I would think the decision makers would show it the respect it deserves.
    • Poor Sergeant Siler is the series Butt-Monkey, who always gets voluntold and blown up or beaten for his troubles so often it has become a Running Gag. However, there's a reason for this. Dan Shea, who plays Siler, is also the series' stunt co-ordinator (as well as Richard Dean Anderson's stunt double), so of course he does all the cool stunts.
  • Make It or Break It actress Chelsea Hobbs (Emily Kmetko) was pregnant so this was written into her character's story arc.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • The final season opens with an episode where Joel Hodgson (the creator and original host) made a cameo after leaving five seasons before. Replacement host Mike Nelson becomes jealous that he got to escape and have a normal life, and Tom cautions him "Don't compare yourself. It ain't healthy." This line is a Fandom Nod to the "Joel vs. Mike" debates that raged over the Internet when Hodgson first left the series, debates that still go on to this day over a decade later (despite the fact that Hodgson and Nelson are good friends).
    • During an Season Seven episode, Crow goes through a hassle trying to get his film made and marketed. This mirrors the tough times getting the MST3K film made and marketed.
    • The episode Gamera vs. Guiron, has a line that's become infamous as the show's most obscure joke ever. There's a shot of a girl running away from the camera, and Tom Servo shouts, "Look out, Mike, she's got your keyboard!" This was a reference to the fact that head writer Mike Nelson was once dumped by a woman who stole his keyboard and took it back to Japan with her. (And this was back when Joel was the lead character, and Mike Nelson only made occasional appearances in front of the camera.)
  • During the filming of the Psych pilot, Kirsten Nelson (Chief Vick) was pregnant. While she gave birth before the filming started proper, they never hid it in the pilot, and her character continued to be pregnant until halfway through the first season.
    • Timothy Omundson (Lassiter) broke his collarbone in a mountain biking accident. Consequently, Lassiter's arm was in a sling for a few episodes in season 2, an injury that he mysteriously never explained despite being asked by other characters.
  • On Frasier, Jane Leeves' pregnancy was written into the show. The guilt Daphne suffers as a result of leaving Donnie at the altar, and the difficulties in Daphne and Niles' new relationship, cause Daphne to begin overeating. She gains sixty pounds, but Niles is so blinded by love he doesn't notice until Daphne falls to the floor and is too heavy to get up without the help of Frasier, Niles and Martin (who remarks "it took three Cranes to lift you!") The weight problem was written into the show to allow Leeves to continue working while pregnant. Daphne then left for several weeks to attend "fat camp" and returned with her figure restored. During the episode "It Takes Two to Tangle" in which she did not appear while at the resort, Niles tells Roz that Daphne had lost 9 pounds, 12 ounces (the weight of Leeves' baby in real life). Leeves' second pregnancy, in the 11th season, was written into the show as her character getting pregnant, though.
  • JJ's eponymous final episode for Criminal Minds is practically this. The cast and crew's sentiments about the decision to fire A.J. Cook were expressed very subtly and emotions of the other characters during JJ's farewell weren't just acting, they were real.
    • And the reason that JJ has to leave the BAU is extremely close to the reason that AJ Cook had to leave the show: mandates from those higher up.
    • Prentiss' departure was also forced by the same mandate, requiring the producers to fire Paget Brewster. Both ladies made it back after one season and a very aggressive fan campaign.
    • Matthew Gray Gubler injured his knee while filming 500 Days Of Summer and so his character Spencer Reid had to be shot in the leg to explain this.
      • In fact, earlier in the show, a wrist injury on Gubler's part required Reid to go through the same.
    • The episode Coda centers around Reid and Rossi trying to communicate with a young autistic witness. One of Joe Mantenga (Rossi)'s daughters is autistic. (Interesting sidebar: his other daughter appears in the episode 3rd Life.)
    • Reid saving the day with a magic trick in Derailed way back in the first season was written in because Gubler is accomplished at sleight of hand. It's since become a recurring character quirk. In fact, fans often debate how much of what we're seeing onscreen is Reid and how much is Gubler as a profiler.
    • Jason Gideon left the agency due to emotional stress and growing pessimism due to the cases he was working. This reflects actor Mandy Patinkin's growing disgust with the show's grim content.
    • Hotch goes on a temporary assignment (off-screen) in the third episode of season 12 before being revealed to be put in a witness protection system in a later episode. In reality, Thomas Gibson was fired due to an altercation with a co-writer.
  • Following John Ritter's tragic and sudden death (he collapsed on set), his show 8 Simple Rules aired a sobering episode about his character dying in an accident and his family dealing with it.
  • Seinfeld:
    • In the episode "The Jacket", Jerry and George meet Elaine's father, Alton, and they're very intimidated by him. Lawrence Tierney, the actor who played Alton, scared the Seinfeld cast and crew just as much with his offscreen behavior (he stole a butcher knife from the set and hid it under his jacket), which is why the character never appeared again.
    • Jason Alexander struggled to act alongside Heidi Swedberg, who played George's on-and-off girlfriend Susan, and felt that his comedic sensibility was "off" in every scene they did together. He claimed that Larry David chose her as George's fiancée in Season 7 for this exact reason, stating that their non-chemistry created the perfect effect as people would neither root for or against them as a couple.
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm: Larry David's divorce with his real life wife led to Season 6 onwards being about Larry and Cheryl's gradually worsening relationship. In Season 8, they actually get divorced. This has considerably changed how the series might have continued.
  • Shane Conor's drug problems and alleged violence on the set of Neighbours led to him being fired from the show, so his character Joe Scully implausibly disappeared to run a farm in Bendigo.
  • Mr. Humphries of Are You Being Served? was eventually promoted to Senior Salesman because the producers were tired of casting elderly actors who subsequently died. In turn, actor John Inman asked for Humphries' promotion not to be formally acknowledged, because he was superstitious about all those dead actors before him.
  • Similarly, Night Court when through two elderly female bailiff characters, with both actresses dying, so the producers finally cast a younger actress for Roz, who happily survived the rest of show's run.
  • Then there is the insanity that is the show formerly known as Valerie. Star Valerie Harper was let go at the very start of production of season 3, amid accusations of demanding too much money and being hard to work with; her character was killed off and replaced with Sandy Duncan (who played her sister-in-law), and the title was changed to Valerie's Family: The Hogans. Then Harper won a defamation suit against the studio, forcing them to change the title again to The Hogan Family.
  • In the middle of filming the second season of Titus, Cynthia Watros became pregnant. Their way of hiding it was rather ingenious; during the early stages, her character wore a lot of baggy, shabby clothes, as she had temporarily gone back to her parents and pretty much given up on her dreams after Christopher started drinking again (long story), and she was still getting over that. Later, as she got bigger, her character broke her leg chasing after a burglar, and spent the bulk of the rest of the season in a wheelchair. They did also work the pregnancy into a cutaway gag; Erin wins a pie-eating contest, then stands up triumphantly, revealing a swollen belly.
  • Following the death of Phil Hartman, the first episode of the next season of NewsRadio had the WNYX staff dealing with the death of his character, Bill McNeal of a heart attack in front of the TV. Apparently the actors weren't acting. Their responses to Bill's death mirror the actor's actual responses to Phil's death, including, apparently, Beth (Vicki Lewis) standing outside Bill's apartment, drunk, calling his name, and Matthew (Andy Dick) believing Bill's gonna come back somehow. Of course, that puts an extra subtext on Dick's fucked up behavior the last few years (particularly the incident that caused Jon Lovitz to beat the crap out of him).
  • Sonny with a Chance was retooled into So Random!! due to the departure of star Demi Lovato following her rehabilitation from eating disorders, self-harm and depression.
  • During the fourth season of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Hercules received less screentime. Iolaus and Autolycus got more to do, a Autolycus/Salmoneus episode (which Herc doesn't even appear in) and several Young Hercules episodes were produced. This was due to Kevin Sorbo's health problems that year and production worked to accomodate while he recovered. The Clip Show "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Hercules" is quite obviously Leaning on the Fourth Wall, as it shows a production team desperately trying to do the show when Sorbo is suddenly unavailable.
    • During a Xena Crossover "Prometheus," Michael Hurst injured his arm during a fight sequence. In "Cast A Giant Shadow," Iolaus' arm is subsequently injured and shown in a cast for a couple episodes.
    • "Regrets... I've Had A Few" was filmed at the end of Season 3. Kevin Sorbo was eager to start his vacation, so the writing staff decided to give him less to do and plug the Young Hercules pilot at the same time.
    • In "For Those Of You Just Joining Us," Rob Tapert announces his plan to kill off Iolaus in the fifth season to generate interest in the series. He mockingly says this Paul Coyle, who is being played by Michael Hurst. The real-life Tapert actually did do this with Hurst for those reasons, though presumably in a far kinder way, of course.
  • Early into the second season of Xena: Warrior Princess, Lucy Lawless broke her pelvis during a stunt accident on The Tonight Show. More so than with Sorbo the following year, production jumped through hoops to make it work. Xena's bodyswitch with Callisto in "Intimate Stranger" carried on into "Ten Little Warlords," she now died at the end of "Destiny" and new Xena-lite scripts were produced (such as "The Quest," "Necessary Evil" and "For Him the Bell Tolls") to give Lawless time to recover.
  • The breakup of Penny and Leonard on The Big Bang Theory was certainly not inspired by the fact that Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki broke up in real life around the same time. Surely!
    • Also, several episodes featured Penny tending bar at work and not much of her being seen from the waist down. This coincided with Kaley Cuoco's leg being in a cast after she was seriously injured while horseback riding.
    • Similar tactics were needed when Mayim Bialik (Amy Farrah Fowler) injured her hand in a car accident. For several episodes, Amy's hand was always out of the shot, usually hidden behind things or placed beneath a tabletop.
  • The TV series Max Headroom was about an investigative reporter fighting MegaCorps using the power of pirate broadcasting. Seven months after its American debut, we got this.
  • Tim Allen's sitcom Last Man Standing sees his first lines including "I'm back!" and "It's good to be home" - referencing his return to TV and network ABC over ten years after Home Improvement ended.
  • In Leverage, Sophie disappears to go "find herself". This is because of actress Gina Bellman's real-life pregnancy.
    • Several episodes are centered around examples of the The Cast Showoff. The Schehearade Job involves Alec Hardison playing the violin, which Aldis Hodge can do in real life. The Studio Job centers entirely around Eliot performing country music, while Christian Kane has his own country band.
  • Because of the intense, complicated nature of their storylines, this is often seen on soap operas. One actress' Real Life struggle with losing her pregnancy weight was turned into a storyline for her character, with the actress admitting that many of the things her character said were things she had said to her own husband (though her Real Life methods never became as extreme as her character, who turned to diet pills and eventually ran down her friend's son—who lived, fortunately—while high), while several others' decision to have plastic surgery was also played out on the show. But the most prominent example has been with onscreen romances eventually transcending to Real Life. Two especially eerie examples include two characters who were involved in an extramarital affair—the actors eventually left their spouses to marry each other, while at least two others had a couple's Real Life love story virtually parallel their onscreen one—meeting, friendship, dating, marriage, children...and divorce.
    • NYPD Officer John Perry had a recurring role as a police officer on One Life to Live. On September 11, 2001, he was at One Police Plaza (just a few blocks away from the World Trade Center) when he learned of the attacks and dashed to the site to help. He was killed when the South Tower collapsed. In September 2002, the first anniversary was commemorated when Llanview's Police Commissioner Bo Buchanan gazed at a photo of Perry and sadly commented, "I can't believe it's been a year" The in-universe story was that Perry had been visiting New York that day (the show is set in Pennsylvania), but died just as he had in Real Life. It's not hard to imagine that Robert Woods (who played Bo), didn't have to do much acting to convey his grief. Until the end of the series, Perry's picture was visible during any scenes set in the police station.
    • In the spring of 1993, actor Clint Ritchie was badly injured in an accident on his California ranch. Storylines for his character Clint Buchanan were nixed and the character was written off for the summer as having been injured in the same manner. (Once again, it's highly likely that Robert Woods' didn't have to do much acting to convey his joy when Ritchie returned to the set after recuperating).
  • By the fourth and final season of Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus adopted a more mature image (she was 18-going-on-19), and had already released the reflective and (slightly) Hotter and Sexier album Can't Be Tamed earlier in 2010. Many of the plots and themes in Hannah seemed to address this change, from Miley wincing at the girlish look of the new room her dad put together for her, to Hannah trying new styles of music and getting backlash for it, to Miley Stewart wondering if fans would accept the real Miley without the wigs and flashy clothing after she revealed her identity and performed as herself.
  • Lindsay got pregnant on CSI: NY because of Anna Belknap's real-life pregnancy. The first time, it was hidden, but the second one was the reason for Lucy's birth.
  • Jennifer Morrison (Dr. Cameron) and Jesse Spenser (Dr. Chase) dated in real life before their characters got together on House, and were even at one point engaged to be married. Subverted in that the actors had broken up before the characters got married.
  • JAG: Mac was assigned to the judiciary in the latter half of season eight because of Catherine Bell's pregnancy.
  • The last two episodes of America's Funniest Home Videos hosted by original host Bob Saget did not have him ad-lib a line to his wife. This was because his marriage was falling apart at the time.
  • On the season 4 premiere of Community, this happens a lot. Abed not wanting to graduate is rather bittersweetly reflective of the show's fans' reaction to this season rumored to be its last. The theme of coping with unexpected/unwelcome change also reflects the numerous behind-the-scenes shake-ups that have dogged the show since the middle of the previous season, chief among them the mid-season hiatus and the firing of Dan Harmon as show-runner. Abed's 'happy place' is presented as a rather blandly cheery and formulaic sitcom — the same sort of sitcom fans worried that Community itself would turn into in an attempt to become more 'mainstream' after the firing of Harmon.
    • Halfway through his guest stint as Robert Laybourne in Season 3, John Goodman unexpectedly had to grow a beard and ponytail for his role as a drug dealer in the movie Flight. Troy is surprised by Laybourne's shocking new appearance, which Laybourne claims is a result of "Going through some stuff right now".
    • In the Season 5 premiere, the gang discusses the disastrous final season of Scrubs, and how Zach Braff only returned for a handful of episodes. Troy reacts angrily to this and calls Braff a "Son of a bitch" for bailing on the show after it made him famous. In real life, it had been announced that Donald Glover (Troy's actor) was leaving the show five episodes into the season in order to focus on his rap career, which made the line a bit of good-natured Self-Deprecating Humor.
      • The entire episode is this. It's basically an acknowledgment of the show's decline in quality, with Jeff pointing out that none of the characters have accomplished the goals they set out to do at the onset at the series, and have become Flanderized parodies of themselves. There's even an Author's Saving Throw attempt to Handwave away the events of the reviled Season 4.
    • Season 5's finale has a similar tone, as the show's future was once again uncertain. With both Donald Glover and Chevy Chase gone, some fans began questioning how much longer the show could go on, and to reflect that, Annie asks if Greendale is even worth saving now that Troy and Pierce are both gone.
  • Dallas had to do this twice with the patriarch of the Ewing family. Jock Ewing was killed off in the fourth season of the original series after actor Jim Davis passed away prior to the season. Then, in an eerily similar situation, JR was killed off in the second season of the new series following Larry Hagman's death.
  • In Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, Ryota Ozawa, who plays Marvelous, is best friends with Yasuhisa Furuhara, who played Sosuke.
  • In Miami Vice, Sonny Crockett has a very contentious working relationship with his commanding officer, Lieutenant Martin Castillo. This "feud" wasn't just created for the cameras - Don Johnson and Edward James Olmos often argued during the first season due to their wildly different acting styles, and there are scenes and moments that unintentionally evoke this feeling of tension between them. Notably occurs in "Nobody Lives Forever" (where Johnson looks visibly disturbed while Olmos glowers at him) and "Back in the World", where Crockett rails at Castillo for not having the resources to do his job (and Olmos not even looking at Johnson until the very end of the scene).
  • After Breaking Bad finished, writer-producer Vince Gilligan said that he belatedly realized that he had written a story about a man having the worst mid-life crisis ever, at a time in his life when he was probably due for one himself.
  • Minor example in Parks and Recreation: actor Chris Pratt dropped a significant amount of weight and put on some muscle for his part in Zero Dark Thirty. They could cover up the muscle by dressing his character Andy in baggy clothes (not much of a departure for the slovenly character); the weight loss is Handwaved in a throwaway line revealing that he's given up beer.
  • If one interview, in particular, is any indication, this was the result of Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future breaking a number of taboos, including at least two instances of swearing, and an important good guy character being killed off onscreen. In the interview in question, J. Michael Straczynski reveals that he had known someone who had taken their own life despite his best efforts to stop them, which likely influenced his decision to write those certain episodes (possibly even more of the series) the way he did.
  • In season 2 of Daredevil (2015), Matt Murdock and Karen Page are set up as an Official Couple. If Deborah Ann Woll's onscreen chemistry with Charlie Cox during their scenes looks so good, it's because her real-life boyfriend EJ Scott is blind, having lost his sight to Choroideremia, and one of her pet causes involves raising awareness for the disease.
  • Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak of The Office (US) fame have dated on and off in much the same way that their characters Kelly and Ryan did on the show.
  • The "show about making a show" premise of 30 Rock gave numerous opportunities for this; a notable example is a season 6 arc involving Tracy Jordan making offensive comments about gay people, which aired less than a year after a similar real-life incident involving the character's actor, Tracy Morgan.
  • Dollhouse was conceived after Joss Whedon, who'd sworn that he would never again work with Fox after his terrible experiences making Firefly, was asked by Eliza Dushku to produce a show for her so that she could get out of her contract to Fox. To hear Whedon tell it, Fox treated him very much the same way that Rossum treats its "Actives", which may go a long way towards explaining why the show is much darker than most Mutant Enemy shows.
  • In One Tree Hill, Lucas Scott and Brooke Davis became Amicable Exes after their breakup. Their actors were married for a while.
  • Laurel Lance from Arrow is walking with these. She has an alcoholic father, much like her actress' father having drinking problems. In the second season, she had a Self-Deprecation speech mentioning how people tend to stay away from her, alluding to her status as The Scrappy to most of the show's fandom. In the third, she becomes a Replacement Scrappy for her sister as the Black Canary, both In-Universe and out.
    • This gets twisted further in Season 4 with Laurel's death. Laurel continued to be a polarizing figure after donning the Black Canary mantle, only for many a fan's view of both Laurel and her previously torpedoed relationship with Oliver Queen to improve dramatically right before Damien Darhk kills her, though this is also tied to their wariness with the show's handling and shilling of Felicity Smoak—once a fan favorite whose romance with Oliver Laurel was pushed aside for—in the third and fourth seasons. Laurel's Love Confession to Oliver, Oliver's laudation of Laurel's contributions to Starling City, and his declaration of vengeance against Darhk all mirror the majority of the current Arrow fandom in some way or another.
  • The Mindy Project has been criticized for its Monochrome Casting in regards to Mindy's love interests (who have all been white), although this criticism died down somewhat after she settled down with Danny. In Season 4, she goes on a date with an Indian guy who doesn't think she's Indian enough for him. She then begins wearing traditional Indian clothes and even has a traditional Hindu ceremony for her son Leo. The end of the episode even features Mindy asking her parents why they didn't immerse her more in Indian culture.
  • ER. Dr. Elizabeth Corday and Dr. Peter Benton have a brief and tense relationship that finally fizzles out when she realizes he'll never get over his discomfort of dating a white woman (he's African-American). In Real Life, Benton's portrayer, Eriq LaSalle was equally uncomfortable with the relationship, feeling that it sent a negative message to the African-American community and asked the show's writers to nix it.
  • Carly only appears in the first and last scenes of iCarly episode "iBalls". This was because of her actress Miranda Cosgrove had to take time off to recover after breaking her ankle in a tour bus accident.
  • When Zooey Deschanel got pregnant, her character Jess on New Girl was sent up for jury duty
  • Kamen Rider Fourze: As revealed by the production blog after the show wrapped, the scene at the start of the final episode where Yuki reads Kengo's farewell letter after he's been killed by Gamou, was the last scene filmed. According to director Koichi Sakamoto, the main actors had become as close as family over the course of the shoot, thus the tears being shed were their real tears over the fact that they were about to go their separate ways. It was made worse was the fact that Ryuki Takahashi, Kengo's actor, couldn't be on the set for obvious plot reasons. The same blog post had Fumika Shimizu, Yuki's actress, reveal that she actually considered messing up her lines on purpose just so it wouldn't have to end.
  • In Anger Management, Charlie threw away his baseball career during a fit of anger, and his work as a therapist is his attempt to get his life together again - this mirrors Charlie Sheen's infamous meltdown, where an argument with Chuck Lorre cost him his job on Two and a Half Men, with Anger Management being an attempt at a second chance. This was even referenced in Lorre's show - When Alan suspects Charlie is still alive (and bent on revenge), Walden asks "Did he ever try anger management?" to which Alan responds "He did it for a while, didn't work".
  • American Crime Story creator Ryan Murphy has admitted that he's wanted to do a season dramatizing the impeachment of US President Bill Clinton since the series began, but had to delay production on the season due to behind-the-scenes difficulties. By a complete coincidence, the season—titled Impeachment—finally began production in mid-2019, shortly before it was announced that US President Donald Trump would be facing an impeachment investigation of his own.
  • The ITV television play Hidden Talents from the anthology series Unnatural Causes focuses on a bedridden, terminally ill mother who is taken care by her son. Around the same time, her actress Pat Phoenix (who is best known for her role in Coronation Street as the Fiery Redhead Elsie Tanner) was battling lung cancer and sadly it became her final performance as she would pass away weeks after filming of the play ended.
  • The Wire:
    • Co-creator Ed Burns left the Baltimore police force to teach in city schools, much as Prez does in Season 4.
    • The Deacon is played by Melvin Williams, the real-life inspiration for Avon Barksdale's character. In his prime, during the 1970s, Williams dominated the drug trade in West Baltimore in much the same way.
    • Felicia Pearson had never acted before Michael Williams saw her in a nightclub and invited her to the set to test for Snoop. Before that, she had lived much the same life, getting involved in drug dealing in her teens (which she still did even after she was on the show, until she knew she'd like doing it) and serving a prison term for a murder she insists was self-defensenote 

  • Warren Zevon's final album The Wind carried a much more depressing tone than his previous albums, as Zevon was dying of lung cancer and the album was meant to be his swan song.
  • Most of Queen's later songs are about the futility of life and the inevitability of death. At the time Freddie Mercury was dying of AIDS.
  • In 1991, most of Reba McEntire's road band was killed in a plane crash. The next album she released, titled For My Broken Heart, was a collection of heartbreaking songs. McEntire explicitly stated that the project was intended to help her and her team through their grief.
  • The most famous Ur-Example for a generation may be Alanis Morissette's biggest hit, "You Oughta Know" from Jagged Little Pill, based on a former bad relationship of the Canadian singer. It's still debated who that guy was, with pro hockey players and Full House's Dave Coulier being the most popular choices.
  • From the same generation comes Eric Clapton's song "Tears in Heaven". It was written in the immediate aftermath of his young son's death, and the song quickly became far more famous as his personal response to that tragedy than for ostensibly being a soundtrack song for the movie Rush.
  • Similarly, the song "All My Love" from Led Zeppelin's album In Through The Out Door, was about front-man Robert Plant's son's sudden death from a stomach infection.
  • Much of Rush's 2002 album Vapor Trails deals with overcoming tragedy. This is based on two events: First, the deaths of lyricist Neil Peart's wife and daughter within a year of each other, shortly after the release of their previous album, Test For Echo (particularly "Ghost Rider"). Second, the 9/11 attacks the previous year (most blatantly "Peaceable Kingdom").
  • David Bowie's 1993 song "Jump They Say" was inspired by the suicide of his schizophrenic half-brother Terry in 1985.
    • His late-1970's works saw Bowie in the throes of cocaine addiction and divorce. Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) depicted Bowie recovering from the addiction.
    • In late 2014, Bowie was diagnosed with liver cancer. , recorded early the following year, was composed as a way for Bowie to reflect on this information and the very real possibility that the disease would kill him. It did: his cancer was declared terminal in November, and he passed away on January 10, 2016, two days after both 's release and his 69th birthday.
  • Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends" from American Idiot is about Billie Joe Armstrong's father's death from cancer when Billie was 10. The funeral was at the beginning of September, and when he came home from it with his mum, Billie locked himself in his bedroom, telling his mum to wake him up when the month ended.
  • Harry Chapin's song "Cat's in the Cradle" was based on a poem his wife wrote and was inspired by not being present at his son's birth.
  • Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Cinderella", about a father reflecting on how quickly his daughter is growing up and that he needs to be there for her even when he's busy, was originally inspired by his young daughters trying to get his attention by putting on Cinderella costumes and dancing while he was rushing through their bedtime routine so that he could get to the studio and work. The song—which features lyrics like "Soon the clock will strike midnight and she'll be gone"—took on a tragic meaning later when one of his daughters that inspired the song, Maria Sue, was killed when her older brother accidentally ran over her in the driveway of their home. Although Chapman originally decided to never sing the song live again, he later decided to use the song to reflect his hope that he'd see his daughter again in Heaven, changing the final line from "she'll be gone" to "I know the dance will go on."
  • In-Universe example: in the film A Mighty Wind, Mitch Cohen's solo work after the breakup of the group Mitch & Mickey mimic his growing depression and mental instability, featuring such albums as "Cry for Help" (cover: Mitch in a padded room restrained by a straightjacket) and "Calling it Quits" (cover: Mitch waist-deep in a grave holding a shovel, with a tombstone behind him reading "RIP Mitch Cohen"). Like almost everything else in the movie, this is played for laughs.
  • Teen Pop example: Miley Cyrus wrote the songs on her Breakout album following her breakup with her first serious boyfriend, Nick Jonas. Several of the songs refer to the breakup.
    • In turn, the The Jonas Brothers album Lines, Vines And Trying Times might contain songs written from Nick's standpoint about that same breakup.
    • Miley's 2013 New Sound Album Bangerz was recorded at the age of 20-going-on-21 following a transitional period in her life. She had stayed in Detroit filming LOL, then shot So Undercover in Philadelphia, where according to Word of God Miley had for the first time in her life truly grown up, away from her family, her comfort zone in Toluca Lake, California, and her Disney bubble. She had gotten her first tattoo away from the supervision of her mother, went clubbing, gotten to walk around freely in the streets of Philadelphia without paparazzi, enjoying life, and she had gotten a pixie haircut. She left her manager and record label, decided after the limited releases and subsequent flops of those films to concentrate almost exclusively on music and worked on developing a new sound and mature lyrical/musical approach to the album, working with producers Mike Will Made It and Pharrell Williams. She had worked so intensely on the record, apparently her most personal record, that her longtime relationship to fiance Liam Hemsworth deteriorated. They called off their engagement not long before the album came out. The album's lyrics reflect these changes; in keeping with her new image and Hotter and Sexier approach, the album was released with an Explicit Lyrics sticker for the first time in her career.
  • Elton John and his lyricist partner Bernie Taupin were on a career high in 1976. Albums were debuting at #1, and Elton was perhaps the top solo artist of The '70s. Personally, though, Elton and Bernie were both burned out from the rock lifestyle and superstardom. Elton broke up with his boyfriend, manager John Reid, while Bernie's first marriage was collapsing. Elton and Bernie had taken to drugs and alcohol, and Elton would soon reveal himself as a bisexual (in 1988, he would come clean as gay) to Rolling Stone magazine, leading to a backlash in Middle America. Elton's mental health was eroding as well, leading to depression and failed suicide attempts. This would be the context of Elton's 1976 double album Blue Moves, an album filled with dark, introspective, despairing songs about failed relationships and dark character studies, with bits of bitter irony scattered around. Oddly enough, it would later be cited as one of Elton's favorite albums that he made.
    • The One and songs like "Runaway Train", "Simple Life" and the title track, and subsequent songs like "Weight Of The World", "Dark Diamond", "The Bridge" and "My Elusive Drug" reflect on Elton's rehabilitation in 1990.
  • 1978 saw Progressive Rock band Genesis score their first hit, an (at the time) uncharacteristically romantic pop ballad called "Follow You Follow Me". They embarked on their longest, most successful tour yet, with a new audience thanks to FYFM's popularity. Phil Collins returned to an empty home, his wife having left him (she had an affair with the house painter, then left for her native Canada) and taken the kids and dogs with her. Phil and the band took a hiatus for Phil to (unsuccessfully) repair the relationship. He channeled his grief and frustration into his first solo album, Face Value. the songs he contributed to Genesis' Duke album, and some of Phil's Hello, I Must Be Going album. "Against All Odds", in fact, was written around the same time.
    • Collins later channeled the grief of his second marriage collapsing in songs on his But Seriously... and Both Sides albums. "Dance Into The Light" and Testify, more "up" albums lyrically and musically, celebrate his romance to Orianne Cevey, who would be his third wife (they'd sadly divorce as well).
  • Earlier, former Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel felt stifled. The band wanted to lean more towards top 40 material, whereas he wanted to continue experimenting with Progressive Rock. This was as the band was starting to reach mainstream success, and Gabriel's personal life (troubled marriage, sick daughter) meant that giving up his creative ambitions looked like a sensible option. He rejected the "sensible option" and started his solo career with the triumphant "Solsbury Hill," about his decision to take that risk and leave.
    • His 1992 album Us was written while Gabriel was divorcing his first wife Jill, going through a breakup with actress girlfriend Rosanna Arquette, and estranged from his daughter Anna. The resulting album lyrically deals with dysfunction and miscommunication in relationships.
    • Up deals with mortality and death, a reflection of the death of his father and that of a mutual friend.
  • Alan Jackson's "I'll Go On Loving You" (self-explanatory) was released around the time that he and longtime wife Denise were going through some rough times, and actually spent some time apart from each other to cool down.
  • Demi Lovato recorded her hit, "Skyscraper", during the time period when her then-unknown depression, eating disorder and self-harm issues were at their peak, and her bulimia was damaging her voice. She claims the raw, emotional vocal take used was Demi singing from the heart as a kind of cry for help. A more technically polished take was apparently attempted post-rehab, but she preferred the more raw and emotional performance from the year before.
  • The nostalgic, fun-loving album An Innocent Man was recorded in 1983 during Billy Joel's courtship to supermodel Christie Brinkley, who would be Billy's second wife. The bitter, self-reflective River Of Dreams was recorded in 1994 following his legal battle with his ex-brother-in-law (to his first wife) turned financial manager, and while Joel was breaking up with Brinkley.
  • Afro Celt Sound System's song "Release" is sung from the perspective of someone dead, encouraging the living to not "argue amongst yourselves / because of the loss of me", and to "be happy for me". These lyrics were written in the aftermath of keyboardist Jo Bruce's sudden death—the rest of the band had to put their upcoming album on hiatus as they mourned. Sinead O'Connor penned the lyrics, and it was the inspiration the band needed to come to terms with Bruce's death.
  • Pink Floyd's The Wall was actually Roger Waters' way of dealing with the realization that he was becoming a cold destructive person, like Pink, the eponymous character of the album, and a way for him to reverse course on that. There are numerous other references to Pink Floyd's internal issues throughout the album as well, such as Pink saying that he has "a grand piano to prop up my mortal remains" being a reference to Richard Wright's cocaine addiction.
    • Waters wrote The Wall, The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking and parts of The Final Cut (mostly songs left off of The Wall) in the same 1978-79 period, during his Creator Breakdown. The songs are lyrically and musically similar to each other and share similar themes of adultery, divorce, alienation, personal reflection, paranoia, fear, war, lack of communication and aging.
    • The Dark Side of the Moon was written while Waters was 29, and fearing time pass him by while he felt disappointed that he hadn't really had a real breakthrough success with Pink Floyd in the years following Syd Barrett's departure. Much of the album deals with mortality and the meaning of life. The follow-up, Wish You Were Here, was built around the pressures of the music industry, the band's disjointing and lack of focus when under pressure to record DSOTM and watching the positive and negative effects of their amazing success affect the band.
    • David Gilmour wrote The Division Bell after a period dealing with cocaine addiction and overeating, adultery, legal issues, a painful divorce from his first wife, an initially sometimes-rocky relationship with his current wife, troublesome relations between himself and his Pink Floyd band members, a period of writers block and his estrangement from Roger Waters. The album deals with breakdowns in communication and the struggles he faced during that time.
    • The themes of lack of communication between band members and their wives are equally explored on albums like Obscured By Clouds and Atom Heart Mother, notably "Stay", "If" and "Summer '68". All four band members' first marriages would break up by the end of The '80s and would contribute to the Creator Breakdowns of each member (Gilmour, Wright, and Mason would be affected vias strong cases of Writer's Block, which would lead indirectly to their estrangement from Roger Waters).
  • John Lennon, with The Beatles and as a solo artist, often wrote songs based on his personal life, sometimes as events were happening to him. Most famously, his Mind Games and Walls And Bridges albums (1973 and 1974 respectively) were written as John and Yoko separated and as John moved to Los Angeles to go through a painful two-year alcoholic binge he later referred to as his "lost weekend". Double Fantasy (1980) and Milk And Honey (recorded in 1980; posthumously released in 1984) saw John five years later, having reunited with Yoko, moved back to New York City, cleaned up, taken control of his life and living away from the music industry for five years to raise their son Sean and become a house-husband.
  • Lennon's ex-writing partner Paul McCartney wrote the 1972 song "Dear Friend" as a peace offering to Lennon during the pair's very public feuding, and the 1982 song "Here Today" as a posthumous tribute to John. "Put It There" was a tribute to Paul's then recently deceased father.
    • Paul's Driving Rain album was written while he was in the glow of love to second wife Heather Mills. Chaos And Creation In The Backyard, in retrospect, may have reflected the pair's strained relationship, which would end in a bitter divorce.
    • Wings guitarist Jimmy McCulloch struggled with drug and alcohol dependency, and his two Wings compositions, "Medicine Jar" from Venus And Mars", and "Wino Junko" from Wings At The Speed Of Sound", seem to reflect on his struggles. He died in 1979 of morphine and alcohol poisoning, two years after leaving Wings and a short stint in The Small Faces.
  • The Kinks' "Two Sisters" is about a young woman who is married with children - she starts off being jealous of the more glamorous life led by her single, freewheeling sister, then realizes she's better off because her children are important to her. Ray Davies actually meant the song to be a Gender Flipped portrayal of the relationship at the time to his band-mate and brother Dave Davies: He was married with children, while Dave was single and more free to live the rock star lifestyle.
  • Metallica's St. Anger was born out of struggling with diminishing relationships between the band members, alcoholism and never getting over Cliff Burton's death. This is all painfully documented in the rockumentary Some Kind Of Monster.
  • Taylor Swift's romantic relationships and personal life are often reflected upon in her songs, sometimes to the point of humorists joking that she must start and end romances to provide subject matter for her music.
  • Due to the sometimes foul mood Ian Anderson went through recording Jethro Tull's Minstrel In The Gallery album, at a time when Ian was going through a divorce from his first wife, and he felt his band splintering and not playing as well together or concentrating on the music as well as they could have been (much of the album was acoustic/acoustical as a result), and he was busy writing the music in tax exile in Monte Carlo while watching "grotesque" tourists lounge around on the beach, the album had an even more cynical, darker (and self-reflective) air to it than usual. Ian would in later years see it as well-recorded but humorless, and would cite it as one of his less favorite albums as a result, in spite of it being a fan favorite to this day.
    • Benefit saw Ian coping with success, the pressures of being seen as a countercultural hero, mistaken as a drug user/hippie for his madcap performing image and long hair, and his alienation at not really relating to many aspects of the counterculture who idolized him, such as recreational drug taking. He also saw conformity in how the counterculture conducted themselves, and in interviews expressed his distaste for the "seas of blue denim" flocking to his concertsnote . He'd explore this further in Thick As A Brick.)
    • Ian also suggested the reasons for A Passion Play being written so complexly and with so little chances for the listener to breathe, is because Ian was fed up with drunken audience members whistling and screaming for "Aqualung" or "Locomotive Breath" during the soft acoustic passages during Tull's performances of Thick As A Brick, a decision that in hindsight, Ian regrets, and felt helped lead the album to be a hard listen (even for Ian) and so critically panned.
  • Tragically, the pained breakup songs written by Motown staff writer Rodger Penzabene, including The Temptations' hits "I Wish It Would Rain", "You're My Everything" and "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)" and the Gladys Knight/Marvin Gaye duet "The End Of Our Road" were inspired by the songwriter's Real Life heartbreak over his wife's adultery, and the couple's subsequent divorce. According to The Other Wiki, Penzabene would commit suicide on New Year's Eve 1967, one week after "I Wish It Would Rain"'s release.
  • Much of the music and lyrics written by Elvis Costello, at least judging by the liner notes of the 1990s remasters of his albums, seemed to be written by Costello as he gradually took on the same Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll lifestyle (mainly pills, alcohol and one-night-stands) he promised himself he'd never get involved in. Armed Forces and Get Happy!! in particular are filled with songs of regret, anger, and heartbreak. His lifestyle, and the dissolution of his friendship with Attractions bassist Bruce Thomas, also seemed to accelerate the end of his first marriage, which would inform latter-period albums like Goodbye Cruel World and Blood and Chocolate.
  • "You Try Somebody Else (We'll Be Back Together Again)" was one of the last songs written by B.G. De Sylva, Lew Brown and Ray Henderson before De Sylva left the songwriting team. De Sylva did go on to write songs with other collaborators (as did Brown and Henderson after they broke up a few years later) but never reunited with Brown or Henderson, and ultimately gave up songwriting to become a movie producer.
  • Dennis DeYoung of Styx, similarly to Roger Waters, felt disenchanted and disappointed in his lack of success in the music industry, and had seriously considered quitting music to be a professional teacher in 1976; thankfully, his wife talked him out of it. Much of his music on The Grand Illusion, Pieces Of Eight, Cornerstone and Paradise Theatre are filled with songs of hope and affirmation. He claims he wrote the songs about himself to raise up his own hopes to and convince himself to never give up, and that it was a bonus that it touched so many other listeners similarly. Likewise, a lot of Killroy Was Here came about because the band was pissed off about being unfairly smeared by Moral Guardians and the press over a wild and completely false Conspiracy Theory about alleged Satanic lyrics in their music and the attempts by said Moral Guardians to try and ban rock albums.
  • The sole member of Grottomatic was so frustrated with the Brony culture that he wrote the song “The Bronies Have Landed,” portraying the whole Brony concept as a serious problem. By the time he had finished recording the song, he had learned to love it, and he soon wrote a followup called “Girly Cartoon About Ponies,” which praises the show.
  • The Rolling Stones were on the verge of breaking up due to differences between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards by 1986's Dirty Work, a fact reflected in the conflictive/bitter lyrical content of the album's lyrics/song titles. By 1989's Steel Wheels, they had patched things up (quite possibly reflected in the album's lead single, "Mixed Emotions").
  • Lisa Loeb's song "I Do" was written to sound like a breakup song, but it is also a Take That! to the record label agents who claimed they didn't hear a single on the album Firecracker.
  • George Michael wrote the song "Freedom '90" expressly to commemorate the end of his contract with Sony Records. His music video for the song included, among other things, him burning his iconic leather jacket which he had worn in videos and promotional artwork for Wham.
  • A particularly notable example would be the song "Save the Last Dance For Me". Its composer, Doc Pumus, suffered from polio and was inspired to write the song after watching his wife dance with other people at their wedding.
  • At the time Dolly Parton wrote "I Will Always Love You", she was on Porter Waggoner's syndicated TV show. She wanted to leave the show to foster her budding solo career but wanted him to know that she appreciated all he did for her, and her thoughts resulted in the song. After she played it for him, he decided to release her from her contract as long as she had "Love You" recorded. It would go on to become a huge country hit and the rest is history.
  • "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" is a hymn about someone in deep despair begging God to comfort them and give them strength. Thomas A. Dorsey wrote it after his wife Nettie died giving birth to their son, who also died two days later.
  • The Headstones album The Oracle of Hi-Fi has a number of songs that reference rehabilitation, addiction, and mistakes. This album was recorded after lead singer Hugh Dillon got treatment for drug addiction. Incidentally, it is pretty apparent during the title track of their previous album, Nickels For Your Nightmares, that this album was recorded before his rehabilitation.
  • Lesley Gore's 1972 album, Someplace Else Now, was written entirely by Gore and her writing partner Ellen Weston after a five year absence from the music business, during which Lesley had graduated college, come to terms with her sexuality, found herself becoming less and less in favor in the music industry after her Mercury Records contract expired and opportunities dried up, took on non-musical jobs for a while before deciding to move to California and make a return to the music industry, and refashioned herself as a singer-songwriter in the mold of the then-trendsetting Carole King and Laura Nyro as outside writers failed to present her with challenging material to record. The album is much more introspective, ambitious, and darker-themed than any Lesley album before (or maybe since).

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Peanuts
    • Here. "It's getting dark..." "We had fun, didn't we, Marcie?" It's the last Sunday strip of the comic.
  • Calvin and Hobbes
    • One strip features Calvin getting upset over going to bed because it means that he can't play with Hobbes. Then he realizes that going to sleep doesn't have to mean being apart, because they can always play together in their dreams. Bill Watterson wrote the strip because his cat — who served as the inspiration for Hobbes — had just died, and what made him feel better was realizing that they could always be together in his dreams.
    • In-universe, Calvin imagines himself as various alter egos, the most common ones being Spaceman Spiff, a heroic explorer, Stupendous Man, a superhero, and Tracer Bullet, a detective. They all are touted as huge badasses in Calvin's imagination, but because they go up against people with more power than Calvin in real life (such as his mom, his teacher, and Roslyn), they always lose.
    • There's a Calvin and Hobbes Sunday strip where Calvin's father says he sees everything in black and white, which leads Calvin to vividly imagine such a situation, and another with the same premise except with Calvin's father saying the boy doesn't have any sense of perspective, leading to Calvin being trapped in a world with no vanishing points. Both strips are based on Watterson's arguments with his syndicate on merchandising, where the company would accuse the cartoonist of seeing no shades of grey and having no perspective.
    • Another brief story arc in the strip saw Calvin placating the monsters under his bed by feeding them garbage, according to Watterson himself, a testament to how he sometimes felt in writing the strip.
  • A series of Heart of the City strips focused on Heart's friend Dean having a pet cat - Spock - who's so sick that his parents are about to have him put to sleep, but in the end, it turns out that it's a dog with the same name as the cat, and the cat is going to recover. The last strip of the series reveals that the cat who inspired the comic version has died.
  • Jim Davis once noted in an anniversary collection that whenever he has to go on a diet, so does Garfield.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • In 2020, Roman Reigns underwent a well-received Face–Heel Turn where he started calling himself "the Head of the Table" and developed an Awesome Ego, claiming essentially that he made WWE successful, was better than every other wrestler on the roster and having a match against him would be the highlight of their career, and pretty much doing whatever he wanted, even ignoring or belittling the on-screen authority figures. Since it's no secret that WWE has pushed Reigns at the expense of everyone else on the roster, and often let him get away with things that lesser wrestlers would get punished for, and that he has made similar self-serving interviews in the past, it seems like his heel character is WWE embracing all those criticisms of him rather than trying to hide them.

  • In the early days of The Lone Ranger, Reid's voice actor, Earle Graser, died in a car accident. As a result, The Lone Ranger was laid low for about a week and a half, and could only speak in whispers, until they found Brace Beamer, who would keep the role for the rest of the radio run.
  • On the Superman radio show, Collyer's vacation times were covered by having the series focus on Batman and Robin instead.
  • When Barton Yarborough died, Ben Romero, his character on Dragnet, died as well. Romero wasn't killed in the line of duty but rather died at home of a heart attack. The cast responds to his death and spends the next several episodes grieving.
  • Adventures in Odyssey, "The Triangled Web" features a reunion of a number of the original kids. It is mentioned that Jack and Lucy went to the same college in Texas and got married by the end of the episode, reflecting how their voice actors Donald Long and Genni Mullen got married and moved to Texas as well.
  • Done many times in The Archers: it's such a long-runner that a number of characters have been around long enough to become elderly - as have their actors. Dan Archer (the original patriarch), Tom Forrest and Mrs. Antrobus were all given radio deaths because the actor had died of old age. This hasn't always been played straight; when the actor playing Nelson Gabriel died, the character was Put on a Bus instead and other characters continued to refer to him as alive for some months. (News of his death was eventually mentioned.) A non-death example is that sometimes actors become well-known and aren't often available: Tamsin Greig's character, Debbie, has moved abroad but comes back every so often. However, in a similar situation with Lucy Davies (Dawn from The Office, Shaun of the Dead) her character, Hayley, was recast.

    Puppet Shows 
  • When The Muppets returned from its midseason hiatus, it had a new showrunner, who had listened to the fans and decided to give it a bit of a Retool to make it "more Muppety". In the first post-hiatus episode, Up Late With Miss Piggy is given a new showrunner who wants to give it a Retool but doesn't listen to what anyone wants, prompting the Muppets themselves to make the show more Muppety.
  • Bear in the Big Blue House
    • lead puppeteer Noel MacNeal stated in an interview that the show's warm atmosphere and gentle-hearted title character was written in response to Barney & Friends, which was under fire from Moral Guardians for emphasising its hyper tone and Tastes Like Diabetes writing over any real substance found in previous childrens shows. Noel even claims that during development, the writers actually described Bear as "the anti-Barney show" to him.
    • During the three year gap between seasons three and four, the writers noted that the show's target audience was growing up and likely starting school by that point. This lead to season four shifting focus towards exploring the town Bear lived in and its inhabitants along with episodes focusing on the child characters going to their first day of school or learning to riding a bike.
    • The first two episodes of season four, "Welcome to Woodland Valley", involved Bear and Ojo's public library being destroyed by a fallen tree as the town's community comes together to repair the building. The episode was made in response to the September 11th attacks which had occurred nearly a year before the season's premiere.
  • In an episode of the Christian series Joy Junction, Marty the puppet recounts how he once turned down an offer from some kids to look at dirty pictures, to which his puppeteer Ronald Brown reminds the children watching about how it's a sin to view such materials. Ron himself was already in possession of child pornography at the time of filming and wouldn't be caught for it until 2013, when the FBI learned of his plans on a cannibal forum to groom and eat a child from his church.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • From Dino Attack RPG:
    • After the 2009 BZPower Time Slip (also known as the Great Dataclysm), which erased six months of Dino Attack RPG content (including the entire Goo Caverns Story Arc up to that point), the Dino Attack RPG players agreed to start up again at a time and place shortly before the Time Slip occurred. Since this led to rewriting several scenes that were erased by the Time Slip, Sauro-Hunter remarked that he was experiencing deja vu.
    • During his time as a Stromling, Zachary aged at an accelerated rate. The amount of time he physically aged is equal to the time between the end of Dino Attack RPG and the start of Dino Attack: At War's End.
    • According to Dino Attack RPG's timeline, LEGO Themes take place during their year of release unless otherwise noted. Some Dino Attack RPG players were confused on whether or not Pharaoh's Quest is one of those exceptions, since it was released in 2011 but some sources say that it takes place in 1924; however, 1924 was confirmed as the canon date by Word of God. As a result of this confusion, Lord Sam Sinister announced that he was going on an expedition to Egypt in 2011 to recover the golden treasures of Pharaoh Amset-Ra, unaware that Professor Archibald Hale's team had already uncovered those treasures in 1924.

  • Some Shakespeare historians think the decidedly grim tone of his play Hamlet may stem from the recent death of his infant son, Hamnet. (Note the name similarity.) Kill 'Em All is par for the course in Shakespearean tragedies, but in the original play, Hamlet won and lived Happily Ever After. When one remembers that Hamnet had a twin sister, there's also a subtext to be seen in Twelfth Night, in which the heroine's twin brother, unlike in life, turns out to be alive after all.
  • Marat/Sade is about Marquis de Sade getting inmates of Charenton, a mental institution, to put on a play. There's some truth behind this.
  • Chess is a musical famous lyricist Tim Rice wrote while having an affair with Elaine Paige, starring Elaine Paige as a woman with whom a famous chess player has an affair.
  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, about a man's triumph over his older siblings, was created for Andrew Lloyd Webber's older brother.
  • Henrik Ibsen had a serious fallout with his Norwegian audience in the early 1860s. He left Norway for good and moved to Italy, where he lived for 16 years, only sending his plays home for printing. The last play he wrote before leaving, The Pretenders, has the main antagonist giving a jarring "The Reason You Suck" Speech pointed directly towards the audience. Later Brand shows off the same attitude. Ibsen had a lot to stress about.
  • During the runaway success of H.M.S. Pinafore, Gilbert and Sullivan had huge trouble with people pirating their works on the other side of the Atlantic. They arranged to have their next show produced simultaneously in America and in a small English village, in an attempt to get better legal protection from such pirates. And what was that new show? The Pirates of Penzance.
  • The Sound of Music: Before leaving Austria, Captain Von Trapp sings "Edelweiss" as his last song at the music festival. "Edelweiss" was the last song Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote together before Oscar Hammerstein's death.
  • A 1995 production of The School for Scandal starred Tony Randall — who had just married a woman 50 years his junior — as Sir Peter Teazle — whose first line is "When an old bachelor marries a young wife, what is he to expect?"
  • Closer Than Ever has several songs inspired by the authors' personal experiences:
    • At the time Richard Maltby Jr. wrote the lyrics of "Fandango," his son was one year old, his wife, Janet Brenner, was co-producing Closer Than Ever and Maltby himself was simultaneously working on Miss Saigon.
    • "Another Wedding Song" was originally written and performed by David Shire at his own second wedding to actress Didi Conn.
    • The cast recording's liner notes on "If I Sing" bear quoting in full:
      Maltby and Shire are both sons of orchestra leaders: bandleader and recording artist Richard Maltby, Sr. and Irving Shire, for fifty years a leading society bandleader in Buffalo, New York. When, after Williamstown, there was a need for a dramatic turn for the baritone role, Maltby suggested it was time they wrote about their fathers. He already had a title in mind. Shire wrote the melody and sent it to Maltby in London. While waiting for a reply, Shire visited his father in Buffalo, and the events described in the song occurred. When the authors started work on the lyric, Shire described his trip, and Maltby realized that was the story of the song. In a way the song is about itself, for the melody referred to in the lyric is the very melody that Shire played for his father that day in Buffalo.
  • The Phantom of the Opera and Love Never Dies closely follow the relationship of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sarah Brightman. The first one is more of a case of Harsher in Hindsight, as it premiered in 1985 and the pair separated in 1990.
    • In the first show, the Phantom fell in love with Christine when he heard her sing, made her the star of an existing opera, then wrote an opera for her to star in. But as Christine realizes he's a murderer and stalker, she leaves him for the Viscount Raoul de Chagny. Lloyd Webber met Brightman when she auditioned for Cats and was cast in the role of Jemima. He wrote a successful classical song for her, Pie Jesu, and specifically wrote the part of Christine for her (keeping the character design close to her style, added dance moves in Hannibal so that she could show off her footwork, and the cadenzas in the title song and Think of Me for her vocal range). He left her for another woman after six years of their marriage, and as Christine clearly still loves the Phantom but cannot stay with him, which the Phantom also acknowledges, the feeling is supposedly identical between Brightman and Lloyd Webber.
    • In the sequel, Raoul became an alcoholic and a gambler (metaphorically cheating on her with his addictions), and his marriage with Christine deteriorates. Christine gets fatally shot by a jealous Meg Giry after an accidental slight from the Phantom, professing her undying love for the Phantom with her last breaths. He gets acknowledged by his son with Christine, Gustave, who was previously thought to be Raoul's son. This mirrors the prevalent attitude of the fandom - that Erik (the Phantom) and Christine are the real crowd-drawer of the show, and that Christine should have chosen to stay with the masked composer in the first place. Raoul's character is completely out of line with his portrayal in the first show, as Erik/Christine shippers tend to turn him into Ron the Death Eater or make him Die for Our Ship.
  • "On the American Plan," a sketch presented in the 1932 Broadway revue Flying Colors, is set at a hotel which caters exclusively to the suicidal. At the end of a sketch, a man comes on and introduces himself as a theatrical producer, and the receptionists immediately tell him "Say no more!" as they hand him a pistol. Though The Great Depression was obviously fatal to many renowned producers' careers (Ziegfeld left behind massive debts when he died in the same year), Max Gordon, the producer of Flying Colors, really did attempt suicide during the show's tryout when he realized that the Troubled Production was certain to lose its investment.

  • The main author for the BIONICLE media, Greg Farshtey, when asked why the Humongous Mecha Mata Nui never paid any attention to the fact that some of the tiny beings inside him were plotting to take over his body, would often use the analogy of a normal person who goes about their daily life, focusing on the outside world rather than paying attention to what the cells in their body were doing. However, he said, if that person was to have a health scare, then they would feel more inclined to keep an eye on what was happening inside them. Greg later revealed that he himself had been diagnosed with diabetes.
    • Similarly, the series creator Christian Faber said the idea of Bionicle came about after he had been diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that required him to take a pill to weed out the tumor. He had wondered if a pill like this was like a warrior going inside his brain to fight off an evil infection threatening his life and ultimately working together in unity with his bodies enzymes and would cure him of this ailment. Thus the idea for the first three years of Bionicle got concocted.

    Video Games 
  • The time gap between the release of the original Kid Icarus game in Europe and North America and the release of its sequel for the Nintendo 3DS, Kid Icarus: Uprising, is a whopping 25 years, month up month down. This is referenced in the plot of the sequel, which takes place 25 years after the events of the original. The very first thing Pit says as the game begins is "sorry to keep you waiting!" and it's directed at the audience as much as it is to Palutena.
  • It was also a long time since the original Back to the Future and the video game released in 2011, but they managed to get much of the cast back. In the interim years, for instance, Christopher Lloyd had gone (mostly) bald. The plot involves Marty feeling lonely and depressed after Doc leaves at the end of Back to the Future Part III, and he eventually meets an alternate version of Doc Brown, who's got the same balding as Lloyd in real life.
  • In Duke Nukem Forever, the first level is the final boss from Duke Nukem 3D. After its defeat, it's revealed that it was Duke playing a video game based on himself. Someone asks him if the game was good and he says, "After 12 fuckin' years, it better be." This is referencing the fact that it took over a decade for Forever to be released. Also, the game actually takes place over a decade after 3D.
  • As is Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time. Yes, the game is about Time Travel, but the title means this just as much as "after 19 years it's about time we got a true sequel!"
  • Given it's a series personifying the Console Wars, it's unsurprising the Neptunia series is loaded with this. Actually gets Played for Drama in the backstory to Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, where the world of 80's Gamindustri is still picking up the pieces after the nation of Tari was so horrifically mismanaged it collapsed, sending the entire world to hell until Lowee was founded and established some order again.
  • The knight training academy in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The game was released to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Zelda series.
  • Missile Command's chilling "THE END" Game Over screen was, according to the developer, Dave Theurer, inspired by the recurring nightmares of nuclear war he was having by that point in the game development process. (The six cities that the player defends were, in the original design, six Real Life cities along the Pacific coast of California: Eureka, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Diego.)
  • Doug TenNapel, the creator of Earthworm Jim, is a Conservative Christian. The character of Professor-Monkey-For-A-Head, one of the bosses in the game, is not only an example of his wacky, absurdist humour; it is also TenNapel's mockery of Darwin's theories and Evolutionism.
  • The storyline to the Wipeout games (which is dizzyingly detailed... if you hunt down supplementary material) was often heavily influenced by fans. This is best seen between Fusion and Pure. Fusion received a very mixed reception from fans, citing the game's heavier focus on combat over skillful racing, new teams replacing old favorites, and some subpar course designs. Pure was not only hailed as a return to form, but the backstory revealed that In-Universe, the change in focus was due to the shady Overtel Corporation seizing control of the race commission and doing what they liked in the name of profit, almost all of the new teams were in on the scandal or otherwise crooked and were dismantled during the league's collapse allowing the popular teams they adsorbed to re-emerge, That One Level was the site of a catastrophic accident precisely because of shoddy course design, and the new league harkened back to the old style of racing in an attempt to recapture the audience and distance itself from the scandals.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty can be read as a giant parable by Kojima for how "the Patriots" (i.e. Japanese ultranationalists) want to delete Japanese war crimes from school textbooks and shape the minds of the next generation. Snake's ending monologue, about letting children read "our" sad and messy history, is a pretty big clincher.
  • No Man's Sky: In-Universe, even. Many aspects of the NMS universe are extrapolations of what the Atlas sees in the real world. For example, the Korvax are based on brain-scanning technology.
  • Silent Hills's infamous P.T. demo, in many subtle ways, references Hideo Kojima's falling out with Konami over the development of Metal Gear Solid V, and Konami corporate's treatment of him in his final months with the company.
    • Every Silent Hill game has this subtext, the development team being composed of members "orphaned" from other projects suffering from Executive Meddling under Japanese work culture.
  • Sakura Wars (2019):
    • Sakura Amamiya being a huge fan of Sakura Shinguji is a commentary on how the latter character was received in real life.
    • Komachi Oba originating from Osaka is due to the fact that her actress, Ryoko Shiraishi, was born in the same location.
  • Advertisements for Final Fantasy XVI heavily involved the line "The legacy of the crystals has shaped our history for long enough." While it actually does involve the game's plot, it doubles as a reference to the Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy project, which was originally designed to bring back crystals as a plot device in the series. Due to Development Hell, Schedule Slip, and general mission creep, FNC and its related projects ended up defining pretty much everything Square-Enix put out relating to Final Fantasy for the better part of a decade, between Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XV (which started life as a spinoff of XIII), and many different sequels and spinoffs between the two, to very mixed reception. Furthermore, XVI is mostly the work of the creative team of Final Fantasy XIV, the main new property of that era to have no connection to FNC.
  • Jinsei Owata no Daibouken II (the sequel to the game that inspired I Wanna Be the Guy) was released in 2020, the last full year before Adobe Flash's discontinuation. The plot is about Owata's last adventure before the world ends, mirroring the fate of many Flash games and animations when Flash finally goes offline.
  • Level 10 of Stinkoman 20X6 begins with the Shadowy Figure getting angry about how long Stinkoman's been outside his castle, with 1-Up and Pan Pan having waited so long the former grew a beard and the latter had 100 kids. This mirrors the 15-year wait after the release of Level 9, though in-universe Stinkoman merely fell asleep for a while.


    Web Original 
  • Doug Walker shaved his goatee to appear on a PBS comedy special. To explain the lack on facial hair in his shows, he stated that The Nostalgia Critic and Ask That Guy with the Glasses had placed bets that require them to shave if they lost and that Chester A. Bum had shaved in order to fit in with the other two.
    • In a more dramatic example, the climax of To Boldly Flee had Doug sadly watch the Critic make a Heroic Sacrifice to save the world. He later confirmed that the movie was made to be the Critic's Fully Absorbed Finale. (though the show ended up Un-Cancelled)
    • Also in To Boldly Flee, the subplot about the proposed SUCKA Act was a direct riff on the SOPA and ACTA Acts that were being debated in Congress in early 2012 and was of particular concern to the reviewers on the site, since they feared that they could be used to shut down their site and damage their livelihoods.
    • And the Demo Reel/The Nostalgia Critic episode The Review Must Go On is this, as Doug is tormented by the star of the latter show, who is revealed to be the star of the former..
      • Speaking of Demo Reel, Doug showed just how much he was wrapped up in making the show work by indulging in a lot of this. Both Donnie's fear of failing as a director and his Ethical Slut behavior were his own, he said later that he would have made a Lighter and Softer episode about TMZ to work through his issues with them, and Rachel got involved by admitting her bad experiences with modeling and acting were what drove the sexism rants Rebecca kept having.
    • In the Les Miserables Musical Episode, Paw Dugan sings a love duet with Elisa from Vampire Reviews. The two were engaged at the time, and later got married.
    • The Nostalgia Critic almost always in-universe refers to himself or is referred to as The Nostalgia Critic, or Critic for short, but in his review of Doug's First Movie, his explanation of why he hated the Doug cartoon was actually related to real life teasing that Doug Walker experienced (not the Critic character, Doug himself) over his name and comparison to Doug Funnie, while admitting that the cartoon itself is just So Okay, It's Average.
  • Out of apparently nowhere, The Nostalgia Chick developed an obsessive crush on fellow reviewer Todd in the Shadows. The two had started a long-distance relationship in real life, but it didn't fit for their characters to do the same.
  • Also, most of the humor in Panshy's video Shit TGWTG Producers and Fans Say.
  • Similarly, Atop the Fourth Wall took SOPA/ACTA and used it as the basis of a Backstory for a character. Essentially, the bill (unnamed, but heavily implied to be SOPA or a similar bill) caused a Big Brother Is Watching You style setting for the character's home, which was what a lot of people had been fearing if such a bill passed.
    • It was not the last time Linkara would verge into this territory - A Voice from the Dark, a reunion of former Channel Awesome producers, features people such as Marzgurl and Welshy frequently complaining about being lied to, manipulated abused, distrusted, blamed for things they didn't do, and overall being put in massively high-stress environments due to the previous anniversary specials. While this could just mean how the In-Universe setups for Suburban Knights and other anniversary specials involved them being lied to, it's talked about in vague enough terms that it could just as easily be talking about the Real Life issues at Channel Awesome that they all experienced.
  • A Very Potter Senior Year is thematically focused on Harry Potter adjusting to the end of his time at Hogwarts and his life afterward, reflecting Team StarKid and the fandom's thoughts on growing up, moving on, and letting go of Harry Potter and Hogwarts. The characters agree that while they loved their time at Hogwarts, they can't spend forever dwelling there and have to look forward to what's next.
  • RWBY Volume Three starts with Ruby talking to her mother's grave. Monty Oum, the show's creator, had passed away before the start of the volume, so the scene can also be interpreted as the crew of Rooster Teeth talking to Monty with Ruby as their proxy; the scene ends with an image of birds flying towards the sun, a stylized recreation of Monty's signature. At the end of Volume three, after several deaths in the show, a slow song mourning the loss of someone who changed the lives of those around them plays over the credits, which end In Memoriam to Monty.
  • The second part of the 100th episode of The Music Video Show ends with the third season host argue with the second season host and calling him out for the quality of the latter's season. This reflects Kareem's attitude towards the second season.
    • The second season host calling out the third season host could be interpreted as Kareem regretting letting the show lay dormant for two years.
    • In Episode 226, the host wonders why he's still in his season nine clothes, only to be told on the phone because of arson, alcoholism and anger management, leading him to extend the season for a while longer. He then, once again, apologizes for seasons five through seven. At one point, he checks his wrists and then his neck, saying, "Yeah...I feel the marks." According to an earlier video, he had attempted suicide years earlier and had suicidal thoughts during season five.
    • The season 10 premiere has the host look at the clothes he is wearing for the new season, which is a woman's shirt and a skirt. He then feels it, smiles and says, "This feels nice." Months earlier, the creator of the show came out as genderfluid.
  • While filming his Angry Video Game Nerd episode about the Atari 5200, James Rolfe had considerable trouble getting the console to work and was even tricked into buying an incompatible controller online that falsely claimed it was for the 5200 when attempting to replace the console's regular controllers that also didn't work. This became the plot of the episode, where he never once actually plays a game and instead spends his whole time fighting with getting the thing set up, as it was not only damned funny in its own right but also a very clear illustration of how poor the console was.

    Western Animation 
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender, episode "Tales of Ba Sing Se" is a breather-episode made up of short sketches, each focusing on a different major character and how they interact with the city. Iroh's story featured him mourning his late son, Lu Ten. In reality, Iroh's voice actor, Mako, had coincidentally just died. The episode was even dedicated to him.
    • Although Iroh appeared in the first four episodes of season 3, he never utters a word. The production based reason is that the creators wanted to give viewers time to adjust to a new voice actor. In-universe, he is silent out of despair over Zuko's betrayal, therefore refuses to talk to Zuko when he visits.
  • Bojack Horseman: "Thoughts And Prayers" is an episode that has this In-Universe. Princess Carolyn's project "Ms. Taken" is an incredibly violent movie about a girl going in gun violence-filled Roaring Rampage of Revenge that gets almost shelved due to the recent shootings. The episode shows the higher ups trying to release the movie at all costs while basically feigning sympathy for the victims in order to not come off as insensitive.
  • South Park:
    • Isaac Hayes, another member of the Church of Scientology, left the show after an episode ("Trapped in the Closet") parodied it. The following episode "The Return of Chef" used splicing to ridicule it much much more, as well as killing Chef off.
    • "Terrance and Phillip: Behind the Blow" has a lot of hidden references to actual South Park fans' reactions to Terrance and Philip, such as people being confused whether they're supposed to be animated characters or real people and "Terrance and Phillip in: 'Not Without My Anus'" preempting a popular TV show (see the entry on the April Fools' Day page for an explanation of that one).
    • "Death" was meant to satire how parents reacted when South Park first went on their air. The same thing goes to the movie.
    • In "Fishsticks", Jimmy writes a joke that Cartman seeks to publicize as their joke, even though he sat on the couch and ate chips while Jimmy came up with the actual joke (although Cartman remembers it as being the other way around). Much of the episode is dedicated to this conflict, and the episode ends with Cartman apologizing to Jimmy - for not accommodating Jimmy's belief that he wrote most of the joke. The season that contains this episode was the first to not co-bill Matt Stone as a writer for the show, and during Jimmy and Cartman's interview with Ellen, Cartman is shown with the same hair and clothing that Trey Parker is seen wearing in interviews. However, nobody on the Internet has commented on this because everybody focused on the episode's treatment of Kanye West.
    • Stan's whole final speech in "Ass Burgers". The previous episode, "You're Getting Old" had looked like it might change the show dramatically, and fans (mirroring Stan in-universe) were worried that the change would be bad for the show. So in-universe, Stan gets over his emo phase, gives a whole Aesop about how things can change for the better with the entire speech Leaning on the Fourth Wall... only to play Status Quo Is God, hit the Reset Button, and return the show to exactly where it was.
      • And note that it's not the original status quo but, the last episode where Stan was depressed. Meaning that Stan is still, even if more so, depressed while everything else is the same. Meaning, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny still hang out with Stan, he lives in the same house, goes to the same school, his parents still live together and all this with the added bonus that Stan turned to alcohol to try and be happy.
    • In "Mecha-Streisand", Barbara is portrayed as an egotistical, elitist, and power-hungry maniac, but this was because Matt and Trey truly hate her, after she publicly criticized the people of Colorado over a law which prevented gays from being a protected minority. Her response to the episode, claiming it only "contributed to the negativity of our culture" only solidified her as an Acceptable Target for the South Park creators.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "The Joy of Sect": Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson) is a member of the Church of Scientology. Bart's line, "Church, cult. Cult, church. So, we'll get bored someplace else on Sunday. Does this really affect our day-to-day lives?" is a subtle burn against Scientology (and organized religion in general) — one that apparently didn't cause any backlash from the Church of Scientology (unlike what happened with the South Park episode "Trapped In The Closet").
    • During Bart's Imagine Spot in "Bart vs. Thanksgiving", Uncle Sam appears and tell him it's his fault America has lost its way. This is a reference to politicians and conservatives deeming Bart (and the show) a bad influence during the show's early years.
    • Word of God says "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" reflected the strains they felt balancing the expectations from both fans and the network, torn between being relatively realistic and being wackier, such as in the focus group scene.
      Focus Group Guy: Now, how many of you want to see Itchy and Scratchy face real-life problems, like the ones you face every day?
      Kids: Me! Me! I would!
      Focus Group Guy: And how many of you would like to see just the opposite? Getting into far-out situations involving robots and magic powers?
      Kids: Me! Me! I would!
      Focus Group Guy: (beat) want a realistic down-to-Earth show...that's completely off the wall...and swarming with magic robots?
      Kids: Yeah, that sounds good.
  • In As Told by Ginger, in the episode "No Hope For Courtney", Mrs. Gordon dies. Originally, Mrs. Gordon was supposed to come out of retirement, but her voice actress (Kathlyn Freeman) died, so the writers redid the ending to reflect this (and dedicated the episode to Freeman).
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! episode "Everything Is Wonderful" can be seen as a commentary on Disney's controversial buyout of Marvel Comics, with Iron Man acting as Disney and Wonder Man acting as Marvel (or the Marvel fans who accused the company of "selling out"). The most blatant bit is when Wonder Man angrily accuses Tony of having stolen his company, to which Tony replies by claiming he only bought the company to save it after its years of financial troubles.
  • Family Guy:
    • Several episodes have poked fun at Chris (Seth Green's character) about Robot Chicken. In "Something, Something, Something Darkside" Chris proclaims he won't let it get to him.
      Peter: OK, I have another story. It's called Without a Paddle.
      Chris: Fuck you, dad!
    • In "Trump Guy", Donald Trump tells Peter that people have gotten their favorite jokes about Jews, black and gays from his show, to which Peter responds "In fairness, we've been trying to phase out the gay stuff." A day later, the show's producers confirmed that the show will be phasing out the homophobic jokes that have long been an infamous aspect of the series.
  • In Transformers: Prime, Megatron's first line is "Decepticons! I have returned!", drawing attention to Frank Welker assuming the role in a TF series for the first time since the original '80s animated series. Welker did voice the character in video games based on the Michael Bay movies before Prime premiered, but that's not quite the same - especially since he auditioned for the movie itself, but didn't get the part. Previously getting turned down to voice the character that he himself originated adds to the subtext quite nicely.
  • In ReBoot, in the second season finale, one of the binomes makes a comment about how Megabyte's Armored Binome Carriers (ABCs) had betrayed them. This was after ABC, who have been creatively strangulating the show for two seasons, dropped them unceremoniously.
  • In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, the writers were forced to use the Hobgoblin before the more popular and iconic Green Goblin in order to help sell Hobgoblin action figures. Producer John Semper hated this, so after finally introducing Green Goblin in Season 3, he did the "Goblin War" episode, which ended with Hobgoblin being permanently Put on a Bus. As if that weren't enough, the episode also had Green Goblin belittle Hobgoblin by dismissing him as a cheap wannabe, clearly mirroring Semper's own feelings about the character.
  • Possibly unintentional, but the wrong anthem incident in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode Equestria Games had a real-life precedent in 2012, when the parody Kazakhstan anthem from Borat was played at the Kuwait International Shooting Grand Prix when Kazakh Maria Dmitrienko won.
    • A girl whom Lauren Faust used to babysit posted a thank you video for her. A month later, an episode came out where we meet Princess Cadance, who used to babysit Twilight Sparkle. Fans were quick to point out the parallel.
  • At one point in Looney Tunes, director, Friz Freleng left the studio to work for MGM. After a miserable year, Leon Schlesinger gave him his old job back. It's believed that his cartoon, You Ought to Be in Pictures, where Daffy tricks Porky into quitting his job to go into feature filmsnote , was his way of saying thank you to Schlesinger.
  • VeggieTales in the House: In "A Gift for Singing", Ichabeezer performs a rap bashing Pa Grape's store that, despite its nasty lyrics, is too much of an Ear Worm for anyone to resist. This may be a reference to the controversy that surrounded the "Bunny Song" from the VeggieTales video Rack, Shack & Benny, which was a Villain Song that, despite its nasty lyrics, was too much of an Ear Worm for children to resist singing aloud (to their parents' dismay).
  • The DuckTales (2017) episode "The Duck Knight Returns" had a boatload of this.
    • Launchpad tells Drake Mallard to become Darkwing Duck for real "For Jim [Starling]", the in-universe actor for Darkwing, who was also voiced by Darkwing's original voice (and a case of The Danza), Jim Cummings.
    • Around the time the episode aired, Jim Cummings, who voiced the original Darkwing Duck and voices the in-universe actor, Jim Starling, was involved in a nasty custody battle with his ex-wife, who levied accusations of rape and animal abuse against him.note  Thus, this gives an unexpected perspective on Launchpad's loss of respect for Starling after Starling snaps.
    • The episode address issues and questions involved with reboots, something the show itself had to deal with.
    • Showrunner Frank Angones once dressed up as Darkwing Duck at school as a kid, much like 2014!Drake Mallard did.


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