It's that mostly familiar, spiffed up and neatly tied off version of the sensationally violent yet true story you didn't want to read in the papers anyway. Double points if the real crime sounds like something fictional. Sometimes, murder is added to the real story to make it work as an episode.
Often seen on Law & Order and its various spinoffs (in fact, their commercials provide the Trope Namer), though it is used in many Crime and Punishment Series, Lifetime Original Movies (who literally use the phrase in their press releases) and the like. However, the original inspiration behind the title was the stock Warner Brothers film studio's tagline "Torn from today's headlines!"; Warners used this catchphrase often beginning in the 1930s to promote the gritty realism of their "social problem" films.
When it's done with more than one real-life story, that falls under Patched Together from the Headlines.
Most often seen in political cartoons, where the entire purpose is to comment on current events.
If a criminal is knowingly imitating a famous murderer, that's Jack the Ripoff.
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- The Astro Boy story Capetown Lullaby, written in the mid-sixties, was inspired by the issue of racial segregation in the US and South Africa, substituting robots for black people. Astro even gets told to move to the back of a bus. A few other stories have nods to current events, despite ostensibly taking place in the future. Yellow Horse, published in 1956, which was declared "International Geophysical Year", features both drug smugglers and police using different scientific survey missions as covers. The Midoro Swamp, where Astro fights an army of living dinosaurs was inspired by sightings of the Loch Ness Monster making headlines... and it also features several characters eating soft-serve ice cream because the manga was written shortly after it first went on sale in Japan.
- Osamu Tezuka also often did this with Black Jack. For instance, there really were a number of infanticides in which unwanted babies were left to die in train station coin lockers, although whether or not any of them were rescued by female street gang leaders is another matter.
- The motive behind the Kogoro Mouri's Impostor case from Case Closed involves a falling out between the two culprits of a several million yen extortion case. The company they exploited is specifically identified as a confectionery company.
- Cells at Work!: The manga's Grand Finale revolves around the body having to fight an infection of SARS-CoV-2, inspired by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, within the manga, during the climax of the Red-Light District arc, the Yoshiwara red light district was left in ruins in the middle, and after, the massive clash between the present Slayers against the Upper Rank 6 demons; the anime adaptation, however, went on to make that climax a historical reference, by adding a fire hazard to the fallen district, thus the final fight of that arc is set in the middle of a flaming red light district, that would link the series to the real fires that took place in that very same Yoshiwara red light district, Japan, in 1913. Implicitly it gives a real date and precise timeframe to the series as a whole, whereas the only timeframe given for the whole series in the manga, and anime before, is the Taisho Period, which can be anywhere from 1912 to 1926.
- The episode "Not Equal" from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex involves Section 9 investigating the mysterious sighting of the daughter of a high profile businessman who had been kidnapped by a terrorist organization many years ago. They eventually find out that the girl is the leader of the faction. This mirrors the disappearance of Patty Hearst, daughter of a media mogul who was kidnapped by a terrorist group and was later seen working with them back in The '70s.
- The Kindaichi Case Files:
- The backstory behind the Castle of Wax Murder Case arc is based on the 300 million yen robbery, which took place in 1968. The largest heist in Japanese history, it has remained unsolved.
- Occasionally, some case arcs will have an In-Universe example of this trope, in which a crime that happened in the past would not only serve as source material for a mystery novel but have a connection to the present-day case arc where said mystery novel and the crime said novel was based on are both featured as well.
- One of the final scenes in My Hero Academia: Vigilantes features a plane above New York City that has lost both its engines and is being forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River. This is a clear reference to US Airways Flight 1549, which made such a landing after a case of engine failure. The scene from inside the cabin also mirrors the event as told in the movie adaptation of the events, Sully. The major difference is that the plane's descent is slowed with Koichi's help as the pro hero, Skycrawler.
- Pluto, the 2003-2009 reinterpretation of the Astro Boy storyline "The Greatest Robot on Earth" features a Fantasy Conflict Counterpart of the Iraq War as a key part of the series' backstory, with most of the robots targeted by Pluto having played a role in the invasion of the Iraq Expy Persia.
- The Magic Academy subplot in Sexiled is based on a scandal where Tokyo Medical University was caught docking the grades of female students.
- This is the reason Tiger Mask was never allowed to win an actually existing wrestling title: as the show was set in as close as to real life as possible, whenever he took part to the World Big League or challenged a champion for his title something made him quit, not give his best, or, when he faced Dory Funk Jr. for the NWA Heavyweight Championship, win in such a way the title didn't pass to him.
- Showing this trope is Older Than They Think, a Golden Age Human Torch story contained a reference to an actor named "Lawson Bell", who had staged a radio hoax involving a Martian invasion of Earth.
- Batman once took on the conspiracy theory that The Beatles secretly replaced Paul McCartney with a lookalike after the original died in an accident: in the comic, Robin is a fan of a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of the Beatles followed around by a similar rumor, and asks Batman to investigate. (Batman ultimately uncovers the shocking truth that the Paul-analogue is the only member of the band who hasn't been secretly replaced after dying in an accident.)
- John Byrne inverts this oddly, as he said a few times in interviews that sometimes what he writes about actually happens in real life. A big example is where Wonder Woman died in Wonder Woman (1987) (and was at this time referred to as Princess Diana in-universe) in an issue released the same month the actual Princess Diana (of Wales) died.
- Earlier on, during his reboot of Superman, Superman was to make his public debut by rescuing a space shuttle that Lois Lane, the only civilian there, was on. When the Challenger disaster occurred, claiming the lives of all crew (and the sole civilian, a woman) the shuttle was changed to a completely unrealistic "space plane".
- Even earlier on, John Byrne wrote an issue of The Avengers where their usual duties were complicated by a city-wide blackout in New York. No sooner had the issue come out, New York City suffered a massive blackout.
- The Punisher MAX:
- A number of stories will occasionally make use of current events. This ranges from corporate fraud to slavery to even the then ongoing War on Terror. Usually so writer Garth Ennis can give us his opinion on the matter.
- In particular, The Slavers appears to be based on The Guardian article "Streets of Despair", with Garth Ennis even basing scenes on real-life moments transcribed in the article, including direct quotes, and even using the same names of the interviewees (which, as the article notes, were changed for their protection).
- A plot involving stolen nerve gas in Marvel's Dakota North series is driven by a fictional incident based on the Bhopal disaster. In real life, thousands died after a chemical leak at a pesticide factory and the company running it was accused of negligence. In the fictionalised version, it was a actually a chemical weapons project linked to the CIA, and the company was blamed as part of a cover-up.
- Superhero comics got a nasty shock when the September 11, 2001 attacks happened, as these attacks actually sound a lot like a comic book plot. DC and Marvel had a rather hard time figuring out how to address 9/11 properly in universes in which gods, aliens, giant robots, and supervillains with otherworldly powers and weapons of mass destruction terrorize American citizens, especially New Yorkers, with death and mayhem on a rather regular basis.
- Marvel put out several specials, the proceeds of which went to 9/11-related charities, and this was lampshaded multiple times, ESPECIALLY with Spider-Man, and handled in a rather realistic (for the setting) fashion. When addressed directly, it was either a case of "so busy with giant gaudy supervillains, 13 separated plain-clothed men slipped by unnoticed", or they basically said "We'll figure out who to blame later and deal with the tragedy now!" or, in at least Spider-Man's case, he spent a long while with no answer to the question, no excuse, no reason at all.
- Slightly more cynical readers might point out that the Twin Towers were destroyed multiple times in Marvel Comics, often by the same villains shown crying in the aforementioned Spider-Man issue. Juggernaut in particular once smashed through the base of one of the Towers and expressed amusement at the idea he might've killed someone, whereas both Magneto and Doctor Doom have done far worse in-universe.
- DC put out four volumes of anthologies: 9-11: Artists Respond, 9-11: The World's Finest Comic Book Writers & Artists Tell Stories to Remember, 9-11: Emergency Relief and A Moment of Silence, stories showing their heroes dealing with the tragedy. A particularly strong story, which also managed to avoid the logic gaffes from the above-mentioned Marvel reactions, was Dwayne McDuffie's Static entry in the second volume. Rather than dealing with the destruction of the Twin Towers themselves, the story instead focused on the backlash against innocent Muslims that began once people started blaming them for 9/11. Several of the other stories also had this theme and reminded readers that people of all faiths, Muslims included, died in the attacks.
- Tintin did this constantly in the first periodic strips published in the 1930s, to the point that modern readers might fail to get what were at the time obvious references to world events. The situation changed after Those Wacky Nazis invaded Belgium and direct commentary on those world events became... unwise. Hergé spent the war writing more light-hearted stories with no political commentary, and after the war, many of the 1930s strips were re-released in book form with the more shallow references (like to popular 1930s films and actors) deleted.
- The early Tintin in America (1931-1932) has Tintin go to Chicago to bring down Al Capone, the only time he has a real person as an antagonist.
- Cigars of the Pharaoh (1932-1934) is inspired by the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb and the post-World War I wars in the Middle East that shaped Saudi Arabia's borders as they are today. While adrift at the Red Sea, Tintin is saved by a then famous French mercenary/smuggler that operated in the area.
- The Blue Lotus (1934-1935) has Tintin stumble on a Japanese plot to stage a False Flag Operation blowing up the Shanghai-Nanking railway as a pretext to invade China. This is an obvious jab at the Mukden Incident.
- The Broken Ear (1935-1937) is based on the Chaco War, and features an international Arms Dealer modeled on Basil Zaharoff.
- King Ottokar's Sceptre (1938-1939) is inspired both by the German annexation of Austria and the Italian invasion of Albania.
- Land of Black Gold (1939-1940) was originally set in the British Mandate of Palestine and dealt with Irgun insurgency. Publication was cancelled before the ending because of World War II and when it was due to be resumed in 1948 it was deemed obsolete. The story was edited heavily and released as set in a fictional Arab country torn by civil war.
- Mark Waid's Daredevil run had an issue inspired by the Trayvon Martin killing, with the only real difference being that the racist shooter was a woman instead of a man.
- Secret Avengers:
- One issue involved a new "Hacktivist" inspired version of U.S. Agent who had leaked a bunch of sensitive documents to the public. The resulting debate about whether or not the American people have a right to total government transparency even when lives are at stake was very similar to the controversies surrounding Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.
- In the wake of the controversy surrounding the United States' use of drones in The War on Terror, Nick Spencer did a storyline about Iron Patriot drones running amok and killing innocent civilians in a Middle Eastern nation. Unlike the real world situation, War Machine and the Hulk stepped in to save the day.
- Mortadelo y Filemón: Ever since the end of the Spanish Democratic Transition in 1977 (and thus, the end of Franco's dictatorship censorship system), Ibáñez very often bases (very loosely) his stories in Real Life current events.
- The Judge Dredd storyline "Mega-City Confidential" is a clear commentary on the NSA/GCHQ surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden. Crucially, even Dredd feels that Justice Department's spying is going too far.
- An earlier story mocked the divorce of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman through a war between two blocks named after the actors.
- The story "Let's Get To Work" has an in-universe example. After dealing with the Villain of the Week on a movie set, he asks what the plot of the film is. When told, he notes that it was exactly what happened with an old case of his from twenty years prior.
- The EC Comics story "The Bribe!" (Shock SuspenStories #7) is loosely based on the story of the Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire. The Cocoanut Grove passed a fire safety inspection eight days before it burned down, causing hundreds of deaths; that the nightclub's owners had bribed the inspectors, as in EC's story, was alleged but never proven. The identification of the victims by pictures taken by a club photographer shortly before the fire broke out is another element of the story that actually happened.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) has the "Elections" arc from the 46th and 47th issues. It came out in the months leading to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and has Filthy Rich running against Mayor Mare for mayor of Ponyville. Filthy, a wealthy business pony with no prior political experience, can be seen in this as a loose Expy of Donald Trump.
- The 2012 "Northstar Gets Married" issue of X-Men, in which Jean-Paul and Kyle Jinadu tie the knot, came out when an increasing number of American states were legalizing same-sex marriage. Given that Kyle's relationship with Northstar mostly developed off-panel, and Northstar himself wasn't one of the most prominent X-Men, the full-blown "Superhero Wedding" treatment it received sent a clear message from Marvel, and probably wouldn't have happened if Kyle were Kylie instead.
- The plot of America vs. the Justice Society, which revolved around the discovery of a (false) diary implicating the Golden Age Justice Society of America as Nazi collaborators, was inspired by the discovery and publication of the so-called Hitler Diaries.
- White Sheep (RWBY): In-universe. A photo of Ruby caught by a humanoid Grimm's Combat Tentacles becomes front-page news. Someone makes a comic of it with an... alternate ending. Ruby buys it, finding it amusing that the heroine is obviously based on her, and finally discovers what tentacle hentai is.
Ruby turned the page, eager to see how Miriam escaped from his tentacle grasp.
She didn't escape at all.
"Oh..." Ruby's eyes widened. Her cheeks flushed with colour. She slapped the comic shut and gazed over the top at her teammates. Neither was paying attention. That... this... was this...? Ruby swallowed. Slowly, tentatively, she opened the page once more and took another look.
Her head tilted to the left.
- Dick Tracy was created out of Chester Gould's disgust at criminals like Al Capone and Bonnie and Clyde getting lionized in the papers as folk heroes and decided to create a police detective determined to stop them.
- Mary Worth of all things had a story arc where Wilbur and Dawn go on a cruise in Italy that ends up mimicking the Costa Concordia disaster, six months after the events in question.
- Peanuts had a few story arcs inspired by real-world events, like the passing of Comet Kohoutek (where Snoopy expresses worry about it harboring The End of the World as We Know It), or Hank Aaron's attempts to beat Babe Ruth's record for career home runs (with Snoopy in the running as well).
- De Rechter: Many of the comics are based on recent headlines from the newspapers the comic is published in.
- The Lakers\Celtics National Basketball Association rivalry stretching back to 1954 led the National Wrestling Alliance to try and create a similar rivalry at least once. In the 1980s, where the two teams met in the NBA finals three times, it was Ric Flair (Lakers) vs Dusty Rhodes (Celtics).
- Michael Fay being sentenced to punishment by caning in Singapore in 1994 led to the Singapore Cane match held by ECW between Tommy Dreamer and Sandman.note
- Kenny King and Rhett Titus's Ring of Honor "Cabinet" campaign to "Make wrestling great again" obviously echoed many complaints pro wrestling fans had for years, but outside of the wrestling bubble it even more obviously paralleled the 2016 presidential elections of the USA, particularly in its use of Straw Fan plants meant to drown out the ticket-buying fans. The follow up "Rebellion" which saw the additions of Caprice Coleman and Shane Taylor were, in turn, playing on the fallout from the election.
- On Bear in the Big Blue House, the episode in which the Woodland Valley library was damaged by a storm was loosely inspired by 9/11 and the idea of overcoming disastrous events in the wake of that. Also, the community and community helpers focus of the fourth season, in general, was inspired by this.
- The Thunderbirds episode "Ricochet", featuring a pirate radio space station, was heavily inspired by the Real Life Radio Caroline.
- The radio show Dragnet claimed: "The story you are about to hear is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent" at the start of every show. Jack Webb took great pains to be realistic, down to counting the number of footsteps to go from one place to another in the LAPD police station. The shows WERE based on actual events.
- John Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer — which, with his Nixon In China, are nicknamed "CNN Operas".
- The opera Der Lindberghflug (The Lindbergh Flight) by Bertolt Brecht with music by Kurt Weill
and Paul Hindemith.
- Before Maurine Watkins wrote a little play called Chicago, she worked for a while reporting for the Chicago Tribune, which assigned her to cover a few murder trials. Roxie Hart was an only barely fictionalized version of Beulah Annan, described in Watkins' reporting as "the prettiest murderess in Cook County." Velma Kelly had a real-life counterpart as well. So, for that matter, did the Hungarian immigrant who speaks little English; her counterpart was an Italian immigrant named Sabella Nitti, who spoke no English, worked for Velma's counterpart, Belva Gaertner, was convicted of beating her farmer husband to death with a hammer and chopping him into pieces, and was hanged.
- Twilight: Los Angeles is a series of interviews with people that were in Los Angeles during the riots in 1992.
- From Macbeth: The Tiger, wracked at sea "Sennights nine times nine", was based off the then-recent story of a ship called the Tiger's Whelp. This ship had disappeared at sea and been presumed lost in 1604, but returned to port five hundred sixty-seven days later.
- Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story is based on the real Leopold and Loeb, who appeared to have murdered a young boy simply because they thought they could get away with it. It takes a few artistic liberties to make Nathan Leopold more sympathetic, and they also made Nathan and Richard older and their victim younger. (Though a lot of the dates given in the show are weird, so this may have been unintentional.)
- Margin for Error is an extrapolated fictionalization of Mayor Fiorello La Guardia's assignment of an all-Jewish police detail to guard the German consulate in New York City in the wake of Kristallnacht. (The non-appearing mayor of the play is left unnamed, as is the city.)
- Animal Restaurant: Dr. Puppy was added to the game in March 2020, and his appearance and dialogue are a reference to the COVID-19 Pandemic. He wears a hazmat suit and goggles and carries a bottle of spray sanitizer.
Dr. Puppy: This is a protective suit, I'm here to sanitize the restaurant. Recently, there has been an infectious virus spreading in the human world.
Eggy: Oh my! Dori, let's call it a day and go home!
Dr. Puppy: Don't worry, at this moment, cats will not contract the virus. However, everyone should take care of their hygiene and wash their hands regularly at all times!
- Word of God is that the classic Choplifter! was inspired by the Iranian Hostage Crisis of The '70s.
- Civilization V: Gods and Kings, released in 2012, added the Maya civilisation into the game, and included several references to the various "2012 Mayan apocalypse" conspiracies.
- Crazy Taxi, wherein you play as a hilariously reckless cabbie in downtown San Francisco, was inspired by the chaos created by the SFO "Short Run" cab system, allowing cab drivers to move to the front of the airport taxi line if they dropped off earlier passengers within a certain time, getting a time limit extension to half an hour in the late 1990s. This incentivized drivers to speed and otherwise flagrantly violate traffic laws in order to get passengers to the downtown hotels and return to the airport within the 30 minute window, with predictable results.
- Control: In Dead Letters and the Mail Room, several documents describe an AWE taking place at the US Embassy in Havana, in which several members of diplomatic staff experience symptoms such as eardrums popping. Tommasi's propaganda spins it to put the blame on sonic weaponry. This is based on an actual incident which occurred in late 2017.
- Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny: Piyori Nijino is the newest leader of the recurring Prism Rangers Joke Characters. She fights evil in the TV World hoping that it will improve the sagging ratings of the show since it gets cancelled, the entire world will be destroyed. Super Sentai has been on a steep decline in both TV ratings and (more importantly) toy sales for years, to the point that there were some credible rumours back in 2019 that the franchise would be canned or at the very least put on hiatus if the situation didn't improve.
- The Emergency! series has a few of these. In the first game, the aerobatic plane crashing into a diner was allegedly based on the Ramstein Air Show disaster. Emergency 2 includes a collision involving a nuclear submarine.
- Emergency 4 features pseudo-Palestinian activists abducting a plane and forcing it to land on the airport of a pseudo-Arabian country, only for the player to storm it with German special forces. Then there are also deluxe missions involving an earthquake in pseudo-Afghanistan, a level 7 nuclear accident in pseudo-Ukraine, and a humanitarian escort operation in pseudo-Sierra Leone.
- Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number provides an in-universe example with the filming of Midnight Animal, a schlocky, B-grade slasher film loosely based on the events of the first game and made while Jacket's trial for said events is underway. It presents Jacket as a huge, emotionless killer who merely hallucinates the phone messages telling him to kill and rape, and makes the blonde into an Action Girl.
- Numerous events in Hypnospace Outlaw are clearly inspired by real events. One subplot involves a soda company reviving an 80s soda that's become nostalgic online, which Word of God implied is the same as the Rick and Morty Schezuan Sauce debacle.
- Peret em Heru: For the Prisoners was released and set in 1998, with a major plot point being the Luxor Massacre that happened a year earlier. More specifically, in the game, Professor Tetsuya Tsuchida's daughter Shizumi was one of the victims — and the whole expedition is a pretext to punish his assistant for failing to save her life.
- RAGE 2: The subplot where Clay Clayton, an Expy of Donald Trump serves as The Mole reflects the scandal of Trump asking Vladimir Putin to spy on Hillary Rodham Clinton for him during a debate.
- The plot to SPY Fox in Dry Cereal was fueled by California's Got Milk? campaign. William the Kid even mocks it in the intro.
William the Kid: Got milk? Not anymore!
- Terra Invicta: The Grand Strategy game's starting year is 2022, and sees the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, with Russia's most elite 1st Guards Division getting annihilated by the Ukrainians at the start of each campaign.
- Terranigma: Doctor Beruga successfully unleashing the Asmodeus virus in Neotokyo, killing the entire population of the city save for a young girl has been compared to the Tokyo subway sarin attack that took place early on the same year that the game was published. It's been theorized that, along with the religious overtones and some rather disturbing deaths, are the reasons as to why the game never made it to America despite being released in Europe.
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 became the first major game to acknowledge the COVID-19 Pandemic, with a few background details showing that the game takes place during it. There's a facemask accessory, a billboard in "School" mentions learning from home, and other billboards in "Downtown" display COVID-related PSA's. Helpfully, this does a good job of explaining why the game's environments are devoid of bystanders and pedestrians.
- Tsuki Adventure: One of Crush's lines while reading his newspaper is a reference to the COVID-19 Pandemic:
Crush: Oh wow these are some crazy times... An entire country on lockdown...
- The plot of YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG kicks off with the mysterious death of a beautiful young Asian woman who is last seen on an elevator security camera video. Creator Brian Allanston has admitted this was based on the highly publicized death of Elisa Lam, which many people denounced as disrespectful (predictably so to anyone familiar with Allanston's life and work).
- A significant amount of the plot of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney involves the introduction of the Jurist System in the Ace Attorney universe. At the time of the game's release, Japan was undergoing a similar process and having the first jury trials in decades.
- Similarly, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is set in what's called "the Dark Age of the Law," where people have largely lost faith in the legal system, and attorneys on both sides have adopted a motto of "the end justifies the means" to get the verdict they want. This was based on cases from the real-life Japanese legal system a few years prior to the game's release that exposed many Japanese prosecutors for being shockingly corrupt. The most famous case involved a man's innocence being proven decades after he was convicted when it came to light that not only had prosecutors hidden evidence but had outright tortured the suspect into signing a false confession. And that wasn't the only case.
- My Two First Loves has this happen in Chapter 41 if both Mason and/or Noah are black or Latino. The game even provides a Content Warning to outright skip the scene since it's just about a re-enactment of the George Floyd arrest in May 2020.
- In Educomix, the American government apparently has software to collect information from everyone's computers, like the real-life NSA scandal.
- Lampshaded in Monster of the Week:
- One write-up in AH World Cup is about the controversy of the tournament ball and how some players have difficulty playing with it. A similar controversy to the Jabulani ball controversy in the 2010 World Cup.
- In Cracked's A Trailer for Every Academy Award Winning Movie Ever, the disease that Inspirationally Disadvantaged Guy suffers from is said to be "the most topical disability of the present year".
- Channel Awesome's To Boldly Flee takes a lot of jabs at SOPA and other anti-web freedom acts that have been circulating. One of the minor villains wrote the fake act and the head of the MPAA is one of the major villains of the story. Though due to various delays, some fans accused these references of being outdated, as SOPA was long dead by the time the series was released. Doug and Rob countered that while that particular act might have been defeated, the fight to keep the Internet free will still go on, with more effort on the part of people like them than most people probably realize.
- Dhar Mann: The events of Prosecutor Sends Innocent Black Man To Jail, Lives To Regret It | Dhar Mann is based on the Real Life case of Juan Catalan. Catalan, who was accused of murder, couldn't back up his alibi of being at a Dodger game and was arrested. His lawyer learned that Curb Your Enthusiasm was filming that daynote and requested the B-roll footage. It proved that his client was at the game and led to a dismissal of all charges. The real killer was eventually caught, and Catalan and his lawyer are good friends to this day. According to one article, Catalan even became a fan of the show afterwards! The Netflix documentary, Long Shot (2017), is also based on this incident.
- Habitual Line Crosser: Consists of skits where personified countries and their military equipment argue over recent geopolitical events.
- South Park: They use this once every two episodes. They can put an episode together in a mere couple of hours so they can be very topical. Notable is the episode just after 9/11 where the boys travel to Afghanistan, the episode about Kenny being kept on life support when God wanted him to die because the devil would attack heaven and Kenny was the only one able to stop him, and the episode featuring an Ocean's Eleven-style heist by 2008 the presidential candidates & their running mates that aired the day after Obama was elected.
Word of God says that they had planned to have Obama win anyways. They thought it would have been funny if McCain had won. They referred to it as a potential "Dewey Defeats Truman" situation. And they did the same thing with the aptly named title "Obama Wins" which had the episode title announced the day before the election and aired the day after. Thankfully they managed to evade the Dewey/Truman situation twice but this backfired in season 20, when Donald Trump's victory in the presidential election forced massive rewrites to the Story Arc that had been written when most assumed that Hillary Clinton would win, resulting in dropped plotlines and a Broken Base.
- The Simpsons:
- Homer Simpson's mother was based on a member of the far left group The Weather Underground.
- "Much Apu About Nothing" was inspired by news reports about Proposition 187 and of bears being sighted prowling the streets of Southern California.
- The $378.53 phone bill that Lisa ran up from the phone calls she made to the Corey hotline in "Brother From The Same Planet" is based on this true story.
- In "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo", the "Battling Seizure Robots" scene is a reference to the controversy over the Pokémon: The Original Series episode "Electric Soldier Porygon", which gave nearly 700 viewers seizures.
- In "Fraudcast News", the Squeaky-Voiced Teen committing suicide by jumping after Futurama was cancelled is likely based on actual accounts of a 13-year-old boy doing the same after Battlestar Galactica (1978) was cancelled.
- Futurama's instances of this are noteworthy (particularly post-revival) because the writers mine present-day controversies for material, despite the show taking place a thousand years from now.
- "Naturama" is a non-controversy-related example. One of the fake documentary segments involves Professor Farnsworth as the last Pinta Island Tortoise, known as "Lonesome Hubert". It aired only months after Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island Tortoise in real life, died.
- Princess Cadence of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, being essentially Kate Middleton with hooves, has had two stories ripped from the headlines, albeit several months late due to production schedules: the Royal Wedding, and her pregnancy.
- The "Hank After Dark" episode of Bojack Horseman is about a beloved TV personality who habitually sexually assaults women he meets in the industry, with overt similarities to the rape accusations against Bill Cosby and David Letterman's sexual relations with female subordinates.
- The Cleveland Show episode "All You Can Eat" is based on the 2010 Itawamba County school prom controversy.
- Family Guy: The episode "The D in Apartment 23" in which Brian becomes a pariah after posting a racist tweet, is based on the online shaming Justine Sacco suffered when she did the same. The tweet itself even is paraphrased from Sacco's.
Sacco's tweet: Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!Brian's tweet: About to see the new Kevin Hart movie. Just kidding. I'm white and went to college.
- Codename: Kids Next Door: The premise of "Operation: U.N.C.O.O.L." is about zombie nerds attacking the Kids Next Door because one operative stole a trading card from them. According to Mr. Warburton, the episode was inspired by a news headline about grown men ripping each other off in Pokémon trading card scams.
- This blog post by one of the writers of Leverage discusses this trope.
- The first round of 8 Out of 10 Cats is a poll of the news stories that the public has been talking about over the last week- as this tends to be more populist than the more politics-orientated Have I Got News for You, if the week sees something that might be in bad taste to joke about (such as the earthquake in Haiti in 2010), then the episode is replaced with a themed special (in that particular case, movies).
- An odd subversion / inversion of the trope: While it is believed by some that Joe (1970) was based on the Honor-Related Abuse killing by Arville Garland of his 17-year-old daughter Sandy, her boyfriend and two of their friends, it was actually an instance of a horrible Real Life Coincidence Magnet. The Garland murders occurred while the film was in post-production. The film became a low-budget box office smash because of the Garland murders.