A Self-Serving Memory is a Flashback that is blatantly altered to serve the needs of whoever is remembering it. More often than not, it is played for comedic effect, though it is used a decent amount for dramatic purposes by arrogant jerks.
At the lowest level, it is mainly used for dramatic purposes by a Consummate Liar to suit their needs or manipulate other characters. When cranked up, however, it can result in wildly fantastic scenarios which, more often than not, are impossibly unrealistic. Depending on the believability of the character dreaming this up, it can be quite funny, both as a standalone gag or even as a plot point.
As psychologists, police officers, and lawyers can attest, this is Truth in Television: only people with photographic memory don't have self-serving memories. Memories are not so much recalled as they are reconstructed (created anew from mental scraps) and framed by the words used to express them. Factors including general mood, ambient temperature, and word choice influence memory reconstruction.note Over time, self-serving bias is capable of completely erasing, changing all content within, or creating false memories.
See also Flashback Fail and "Rashomon"-Style. Compare Unreliable Voiceover, The Münchausen, and Crazy Memory. May be related to I Reject Your Reality and can go hand-in-hand with Believing Their Own Lies and Never My Fault. May overlap with Once More, with Clarity! if the accurate version is shown after the self-serving version.
- Beastars: During the Murder Incident Solution Arc, it's revealed this is happening to Tem's killer. Riz killed Tem in an accident, after completely losing control of himself after days off his pills, and accidentally hurting him. To cope with the murder, Riz keeps making the scenario prettier and cleaner in his head, including believing that Tem wanted to be eaten alive and that he willingly gave himself to Riz.
- Played for laughs numerous times in Ranma ½.
- Happōsai's memories of any given set of events (and of his own appearance in his youth) are usually rather different from what really happens. Same with Genma, too.
- When Kunō suffers from amnesia, and sees female-Ranma for the "first" time again, his brain spontaneously generates a romantic love story of their past as a couple. Nobody (but him) is amused.
- Akane "chooses" to remember Ranma giving a fairly cogent explanation of one of his harebrained schemes as "blah-blah-blah you have small breasts blah-blah-blah" in order to justify her thumping him. The explanation involves pressure points on an adult teacher's breasts.
- Used in Haruhi Suzumiya when Kyon has to lie to his friend to explain how he ended up in a compromising (though technically innocent) position with Yuki. He explains that she, being anemic, fainted, and he was forced to catch her. This was probably more believable than the truth, as the Class Representative, Ryoko, attempts to kill him, and he catches Yuki after she jumps in front of large spikes to save Kyon.
- In Martian Successor Nadesico, Yurika is convinced that as kids Akito would chase her around while calling her name, while Akito reminds her it was the other way around.
- During the Battle City arc of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Kaiba bemoans the fact that Yugi is still regarded as a better duelist than him, even though Kaiba won their last encounter. The fact that Kaiba only won due to threatening to kill himself if he lost (at which point Yugi, who had been on the brink of victory, resigned) has conveniently been omitted from his memory.
- In the second season of Phi Brain: Puzzle of God, Pinochle believes that after Daimon Kaito broke a promise with his Childhood Friend Freecell, Kaito then started badmouthing Freecell behind his back to make himself look better. This turns out to have been a lie that Pinochle told himself until even he started believing it, thanks in large part to his Orpheus Ring. The truth is that while Kaito did break his promise, it was Pinochle who spread rumors about Freecell so that Freecell would have to become his friend by default.
- In Kill la Kill, Ryuko Matoi's hatred of her arch-rival Satsuki Kiryuin grows to the point that Satsuki takes the place of Ryuko's father's killer in her flashbacks. The real killer, Nui Harime, doesn't look anything like Satsuki.
- In the first episode of K-On!, Ritsu tries to guilt Mio into joining her band, asking her to remember The Promise they made years ago when they saw an amazing rock concert together. It turns out that only Ritsu was gung-ho about the idea, Mio made no such promise, and they watched that concert on TV.
Ritsu: Was all that a lie!?
Mio: No, your story is.
- In the Tenchi in Tokyo episode, "Tokyo or Bust!", after stopping at a diner somewhere in Japan, Ayeka tells a story to Biker Babe Masayo that she was hitchhiking to Tokyo to rescue Tenchi from "that stalker woman Sakuya"; in Ayeka's imagination, Sakuya was portrayed as The Vamp who kidnapped and tortured Tenchi.
- In SD Gundam Force episode "Princess in a Black Dress", Zero recounts the Gundam Force's adventures to fake Princess Rele. He uses a magically-induced Manipulative Editing to recast himself as The Hero who was responsible for the formation of the SDG, creating the White Bagu Bagu, and defeating Sazabi to save Neotopia. Shute is quick to call him out, as Zero was more like The Lancer (A role he shared with Bakunetsumaru), and it was Captain who created the White Bagu Bagu and saved Neotopia.
- Jessie recalls meeting her Wurmple in the middle of a flower field, and herself wearing a princess dress when she actually caught it when she, James, and Meowth were literally hanging onto a tree branch over a cliff.
- In the Unova arc, Burgundy's resentment towards Cilan was due to a Gym battle that she lost. How she recalls it that after her defeat, Cilan outright dissed her. Him not recalling that implies that she exaggerated it.
- Inverted in Kaguya-sama: Love is War. Kaguya found Shirogane's actions during the fireworks arc to be incredibly suave and romantic, viewing him as a proverbial Knight in Shining Armor. Shirogane on the other hand remembers himself as being unbelievably cringy and spends the whole night screaming into a pillow out of embarrassment.
- After being called out by Jin in Seton Academy: Join the Pack!, Ranka claimed that her desire to form a pack of different animals was due to her experience of being rescued by a human boy in the past. Her flashback portrayed the young boy having beaten up her tormentors (a trio of bears) while standing gallantly like a hero. Thing is, she told this to the very same boy in her childhood, and the truth was far from that: despite Jin's attempt in intervention, he took her place and received the beatings from said tormentors, leaving the young boy stripped to his underwear. The nail of the coffin to this embarrassment is when Ranka licked his wounds and eventually turned him into the animal hater he is today.
- As far as Matsuri of Ayakashi Triangle remembers, he's always looked out for and protected his Childhood Friend Suzu, which eventually lead him to become an exorcist ninja who could protect her from ayakashi. But as his grandfather reminds him, Matsuri was terrified of ayakashi when he was young, Suzu warded off one harassing Matsuri when they first met, and her taking charge of the spirits he feared is the real reason he thinks so highly of Suzu.
- Teru Mikami in Death Note recounts his youth and how he sought to fight against bullies at his school. Due to him having a Black-and-White Insanity morality, he viewed his mother as his enemy who wanted to aid the bullies rather than her trying to help keep her son safe.
- In Sailor Moon, Queen Nehellenia's past has been explored a few times, all from her perspective and with a variety of contradictions. The first time has her say that Queen Serenity sealed her away for trying to steal the Golden Crystal and take over the moon. The second time shows a future with an old Nehellenia alone in a kingdom of dust, leading into her planet's genicide to keep herself young. The third time has her remember "the last time" Usagi looked at her with pity with a flashback to Princess Serenity with wings and the Golden Crystal. The fourth time shows Nehellenia remembering herself as a young girl when the mirror corrupts her. Because Nehellenia's old age and her Never My Fault tendencies, it's possible even she doesn't truly remember what happened due to her jealousy towards Sailor Moon and shifting blame on who wronged her at the time. For what it's worth, the moon cats barely remember her and only heard about her in passing during the Silver Millennium, making it possible that Nehellenia's grab for power happened before Queen Serenity had her daughter.
- The Avengers: One of Grim Reaper's attempts on the Avengers has him ranting about how his brother Simon was their father's favoured son. When Simon finally gets a chance, he tells his brother he's wrong. Their dad was crappy to both of them.
- Happens in an issue of Green Arrow/Black Canary. Green Arrow reminisces on a past event, and all the female characters are wearing fewer clothes and have larger breasts.
- Scott Pilgrim:
- How Gideon remembers his time with Ramona.
- Played With regarding Scott. On the one hand, we do see a few instances where Scott is trying to suppress bad memories, namely his mistakes and failures in his relationships. On the other hand, he does subconsciously know what he did wrong and once he actually regains his memories properly, he better confronts them.
- Subverted as well. Gideon used The Glow to also tamper with Scott's memories for his own amusement and presumably to slow him down. The most notable example was how Scott and Kim got together (note by the time he actually explains this, he has already gotten the Glow, indicated that his memories were tampered with.) How he remembers it is saving her from Simon from another school in a classic beat-em-up and indeed, it's portrayed as if it happened while also showing the breakup with him and Kim. The Cerebus Retcon shows the fight between him and Simon, albeit in much less detail (though from what little could be gathered, it could be Poor Communication Kills involving Kim). More importantly, turns out Scott did not tell Kim he was moving but got their mutual friend Lisa to do it. Kim was not happy she found out about this through Lisa and confronted him before he left, thus showing the real source of her tension with him.
- In a story written by Peter David in the 1980s, Peter Parker, Mary Jane, and JJJ sit at a table in a bar, telling Joe Robertson about a robbery they had just witnessed in the "Rashomon Bank". Mary Jane tells it in a way that she thinks will help Peter's standing at his job at the Daily Bugle, trying to make Spider-Man look good while portraying Peter Parker as a loyal employee and trying to make JJJ look well. In J. Jonah Jameson's account, he is the hero and Spider-Man was probably in cahoots with the robber. Peter's version is the closest to the truth (the would-be robber was a pathetic loser, JJJ embarrassed himself, etc.) but he still conceals the fact that he's Spider-Man and tries to make Jameson look better. He ends up having to pay the tab for all.
- During the "The Coming of the Thousand" three-parter in Spider-Man's Tangled Web, Carl King, now a monster called the Thousand, is under the delusion that he was popular back in high school. Peter spells it out to him that no one in school liked him and everyone in fact found him pathetic; King violently denies it.
- In the "Grim Hunt" storyline, Sasha Kravinoff brings her husband, the original Kraven the Hunter, Back from the Dead using a ritual involving the sacrifice of Spider-Man. However, they used Spidey's clone Kaine to do so, resulting in the ritual being flawed; as a result, Sasha is convinced that Kraven Came Back Wrong and is different than the man he loved. Madame Web mocks her for thinking as such; Kraven is exactly the way he was before (barring his anger at an Unwanted Revival and being granted a corrupted unlife that can only be ended by one connected to the Web of Life) and Sasha just prefers not to remember him as such.
- In The Mansions of the Gods, Caesar recalls the Hollywood History-famous moment of Vercingetorix's submission to him after the battle of Alesia, where Vercingetorix's troops were forced to surrender. As he tells it, Caesar is sitting on a throne in beautiful golden armor looking handsome and splendid while the battered Vercingetorix bows to lay his arms at his feet. When we saw the scene happen in the first book Asterix the Gaul, Vercingetorix is actually throwing his arms on Caesar's feet, and Caesar is dressed poorly, is a bit overweight and looks a total mess even besides how he's howling in pain. This works on two levels. In-story it shows Caesar having a self-serving memory. On a meta-level, it provides an example of how patriotic re-imaginings affect the way we look at historical events. In his own account (the only contemporaneous one), Caesar writes that Vercingetorix was handed over to him by the Gauls defending Alesia, who at the same time laid down their arms before him. The depiction in Asterix the Gaul parodies a well-known 19th-century painting reprinted in many French history school textbooks, which portrayed Vercingetorix as the moral victor by placing him on horseback in a dominant center position (with Caesar in the background), by taking it up to eleven.
- When the women in Asterix and Obelix's Birthday speculate about Asterix and Obelix's future wives, they all imagine the wives as being slightly altered versions of themselves.
- Inverted in the Doctor Who comic "The Forgotten", where the Tenth Doctor is trying to recall adventures he went on through each of his previous regenerations in order as a Framing Story. During the Fourth Doctor's adventure, he's drawn somewhat Off-Model. After the memory ends, the Tenth Doctor moans to Martha that he was sure his scarf was longer than that.
- The twist of Halo: Blood Line reveals the Love Triangle in Black Team's backstory was inverted from what was previously depicted. Black-Four believed he was angry at Black-Three for the latter ratting out his relationship with One, but in reality, Four ratted out Three and One out of jealousy towards their relationship.
- Inverted in the Valhalla story The Gifts of the Gods. When Thor and Sif share a flashback on how they first met and fell in Love at First Sight, they each display themselves as bumbling and awkward and the other one as a shining figure of divine perfection. Loki, meanwhile, plays his part of the story entirely straight and has to be goaded into not skipping over all the embarrassing parts by Thor.
- A really dark variant takes place in Requiem Vampire Knight, where we see the main protagonist - a Nazi soldier dying in the Eastern front - being killed by a Soviet soldier when they try to steal a photo of his girlfriend, whom we see that he loved very dearly. As it turns out, these memories were created out of guilt and grief to repress the actual truth: he had a Destructive Romance with her because she was Jewish, and rather than dying in a heroic manner as he envisioned, he was killed while forcing himself on a female Soviet soldier that resembled his girlfriend very closely.
- Played for Laughs in Avatar: The Last Airbender North and South, when Sokka claims that Katara was the one who suspected that Aang was a Fire Nation spy in the first episode when Sokka was the one who actually believes that, as Katara points out. Later on, Sokka, seeing the Fire Nation ship from the first episode, and reminded of how Katara and Aang went inside, casually says "Oh yeah, I remember... That's why I thought he was a spy for the Fire Navy," indicating Sokka doesn't believe this, either.
- The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl shows us how Doctor Doom chooses to remember his infamous first encounter with the title character.
Actual-Doom: Confound these wretched rodents! For every one I fling away, a dozen more vex me!
Memory-Doom: I, Doom, am completely unaffected by these wretched rodents! And now I abandon my hovership and my world domination plans and take my leave of you all, just as I was intending to do before these squirrels appeared!
- During the "Wrath Child" arc of Batman Confidential, the second Wrath—later revealed as essentially the original Wrath's equivalent of Robin—told a twisted version of a young Jim Gordon's run-in with the parents of the original Wrath that portrayed the original Wrath's parents as victims of a cold-blooded killer and the mother as unarmed. In reality, Gordon caught them escaping and was shot by the father when he ordered them to surrender, the mother picked up the father's gun, and Gordon shot both in self-defense and only killed them because his injuries threw off his aim. While it's unknown if the second Wrath was making it up himself or this was told to him this way by the original, its intended effect, driving a wedge between Batman and Gordon, didn't happen as Batman realized the truth and assured Gordon he knew it was really in self-defense.
- The Transformers: Robots in Disguise: Both Starscream's memoir and the film based on his life go out of their way to portray him as a heroic reformer caught between the violent extremist Megatron and authoritarian Orion Pax. In reality, he was just an opportunist looking to advance himself by joining the winning side. This is especially noticeable when we see his memory of The Transformers: All Hail Megatron in which he claims he was a reluctant participant in the invasion of Earth, which is not only untrue but has him attempting to steal Thundercracker's role in the story.
- In the tie-in comics for Young Justice, when telling his origin story, Wally says that his uncle was ecstatic to learn he developed super speed, and jump at taking him as a partner. In the actual scene, Barry firmly stated that he'll allow Wally to be Kid Flash as long as the latter does what he says, right before Wally hugs him out of joy. Lampshaded by Robin that none of them believed him.
- In Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall for Anything while drunk, L relates to Light (and B who is listening in) on how he blackmailed a girl in order to get his current position. B says that when L told him about it earlier L had said he'd won it fair and square.
- Calvin and Hobbes: The Series uses this in "POV", where each character's flashback will have the other characters heaping praise on them, and if one character hates another, then they end up as The Ditz in their flashback. The only exception to this is Calvin's, which starts off as a James Bond parody but quickly devolves into Deranged Animation.
- Used to hilarious effect in Moczo's Fate/stay night fanfic, Sick Time. The first time Rin recounts how she got sick is accurate; she and Issei were giving some elementary school kids a tour of Homurahara Academy when one little girl sneezed on Rin's face. The second time she recalls it, the children are Rin's fan club, Issei is Camp Gay and woefully impotent in the face of the much cooler Rin, and the girl that sneezed on Rin turns out to be a Dead Apostle in disguise. The third time, the children of the world are celebrating Rin Day, Shirou appears on a white horse and proposes to Rin, Issei interrupts and is offensively flamboyant, before summoning the Horseman of Pestilence to defeat Rin. Archer, who had to sit through all three stories, can only wonder why Rin hates Issei so much.
- In the Infinity Crisis spin-off Powers and Marvels (featuring the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers visiting the Marvel Cinematic Universe), Goldar states that hes missed his chances to destroy Jason when Jason returns to help the new team after their power coins have been stolen, prompting Jason to observe that Goldar is into rewriting history as their one-on-ones were always fairly evenly matched once Jason had his morpher.
- In Kimberly T's Gargoyles series, after Demona is saved from the Quarrymen by a group of college students, she tries to make herself a victim of this by telling herself that the students thought she was just a human in costume, but can't forget that she would have been first seen running on all fours, that the students explicitly yelled "Leave that gargoyle alone!", or that they seemed surprised that she was able to thank them.
- In Son of the Sannin, Naruto meets Hinata the same way he did in canon, when he defends her from three bullies picking on her. When he tells Shizune about it, he claims that he faced ten bullies and that they were as big as Jiraiya.
- Happens in the Fire Emblem Fates fanfic Bridging The Sky. At the end of Chapter 10, Anankos drives Hinoka to attack Kamui with a knife, and she is forcibly subdued by Shigure. When she recovers at the beginning of Chapter 11, she remembers Kamui attacking her unprovoked. It's justified here in that Anankos is screwing with Hinoka's head, and that Takumi displayed the same symptoms under the same circumstances in the canonical game.
- For the Glory of Irk:
- When reflecting on a meeting with the Tallest, Xia remembers them going out of their way to praise her every sentence while also insulting Vero.
- Lard Nar recounts his escape from the Massive's dungeon, and presents it as a heroic escapade, despite the fact that his whole audience can tell from his description that it was sheer happenstance (and that he got lost several times in the process).
- Kristoph Gavin in The Liar's Turnabout has an inversion of this trope. Specifically, the fear of Zak Gramarye returning to kill him if he doesn't take the blame for killing both Zak and Drew Misham caused him to alter his memory to think he did kill him, with the truth hidden under black psyche locs.
- The Incredibles: While Syndrome guilts Mr. Incredible into thinking he was wrong to have rejected him as a sidekick, his flashback conveniently omits all the problems he caused that night. The scene of Mr. Incredible telling Buddy that he works alone is a particularly interesting example: In the actual events, Mr. Incredible was struggling against a supervillain named Bomb Voyage while trying to both fight the villain and keep Buddy safe. In Syndrome's flashback, Mr. Incredible's pose and tone is far more condescending and dismissive, and Bomb Voyage is entirely absent, making it seem like Mr. Incredible was pushing Buddy away for no reason at all.
- In Meet the Robinsons, the Bowler Hat Guy informs Lewis how his life was never the same after he failed to catch the ball in the baseball game and that his classmates all hated him. The truth is, though, Goobs classmates were still pretty friendly to him after the game and Goob allowed his bitterness and resentment of Lewis to fester over twenty years.
- Megamind: When Tighten battles Megamind, he claims the latter "stole [his] girlfriend." Of course, Roxanne was never interested in Hal and was visibly off-put by his attempts to ask her to be his girlfriend.
- Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas: After Pluto accidentally wrecks the Christmas decorations, Mickey orders him to stay in the doghouse until he returns from shopping for new decorations. However, Pluto's mind warps it into Mickey blaming him for ruining Christmas and telling him to go away.
- In Shark Tale, Angie gives Oscar a pearl heirloom of hers to pawn for the money Sykes needs. Later, when he goes to the racetrack to meet with Sykes to give him the money, he gets the idea to bet the money on a seahorse that's racing there and flashes back to Angie's words to him from earlier, only now she's telling him to bet the money.
- In Second Hand Lions, Garth's recollection of saving Hub is tinted in a manner to impress Walter and make him sound badass. Walter doesn't believe it for a second and gets him to tell the truth: Hub did all the fighting while Garth spent the entire encounter struggling to draw his sword.
- Zombieland: Tallahassee tells Columbus about how he hated to lose his puppy, Buck, with a cute flashback of him doting on this sweet, smart dog. Later on, while stoned, he admits that Buck was really his son. The same flashback plays, replacing the puppy with a little boy, not more than three years old.
- This is the entire premise of Rashomon, where the witnesses all have irreconcilable versions of who killed the victim and why. Interestingly, all of them (except for the woodcutter) claim to be the murderer but still paint themselves in a more sympathetic light than in others' stories.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- In The Avengers, Loki accuses Thor of throwing him into the wormhole at the end of their movie. In reality, he let go after their father Odin refused to accept attempted genocide as proof of what a good son he was.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: When they meet up again, Nebula claims Gamora left her to die on Ronan's ship in the previous movie. What actually happened was Gamora asked Nebula to work with her against Ronan. Nebula refused, sliced her own wrist off to get away, and fled in a stolen spaceship.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home features a flashback to Tony Stark demonstrating the Binarily Augmented Retro-Framing technology in Captain America: Civil War, with the audience laughing at the name to the dismay of Quentin Beck, the actual inventor of the device. However, the actual scene in Civil War has a silent audience and Tony admitting he needs to come up with a better name, demonstrating just how petty and self-serving Beck's grudge against his former boss is.
- In The Ref, Caroline has a very strong Nostalgia Filter in place regarding the days when she and her husband Lloyd were a young couple living in New York City, and she'll go on and on about it, especially when she's had enough to drink. Towards the end of the movie Lloyd finally calls her out on said nostalgia, her memory, which is definitely this trope, and the way she more or less blames him for everything that has gone wrong in their lives since the New York days.
I told you what moving here could mean, but you were the one who said we should consider it! Not the actual moving, just the considering. The actual moving in part was left to me! Why? Because you didn't know what to do. You were... confused, you didn't know if it was the right thing. But you were sure as hell sick and tired of living in a one-bedroom apartment in New York City, so don't hand me that 'it was the best of times' bullshit! You didn't want to work anymore and you didn't want any help with the baby because you wanted to do it all by yourself! And you hated New York because we weren't as rich as your college friends were to enjoy it! We couldn't afford a bigger place, and you were miserable being around people who could! AND... we were up to our EARS in debt!
- In The World's End, Gary has a "very selective memory" regarding the group's youth.
- In The Hangover Part III, Alan's father's last words to him before he died were to berate him for his immaturity and selfishness. At the funeral, Alan claims his father's last words were, "I'm proud of you, son. Don't ever change."
- In Quick Change, Bob Elliot's highly-ineffectual bank guard character becomes a whole lot more heroic when recounting the events of a robbery to the police.
- The comedy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates opens with a montage of the title characters at various events, laughing, hanging about, having a good time, and everyone around them enjoying their antics. When their parents tell them of how "you two ruin" every family gathering, they're baffled as they relate how everyone loves having them around. In answer, their parents show a video of the real events where the brothers end up causing massive property damage, ruin the party and often lead to major injuries of guests. Mike and Dave are honestly surprised by this, asking "where are the epic tracking shots of smiling faces" that they remember.
- The Duellists: After dueling each other for nearly 15 years, Feraud has long forgotten the original cause of his quarrel with d'Hubert (who hasn't), which was Feraud feeling insulted when d'Hubert arrested him for another duel while Feraud was enjoying the company of a female host at her salon. When he's reminded of this by d'Hubert through an intermediate, he actually rewrites his own memory to make d'Hubert an outspoken anti-Bonapartist.
- A downplayed example: in the made-for-TV Babylon 5 film In the Beginning, Londo says that he cared deeply for all his wives. When a fan pointed out that the evidence from the series painted a very different picture, J. Michael Straczynski replied: "We remember what, and how, we choose to remember."
- Played for Drama in SHAZAM! (2019) where Billy's memory of the day at the fair was bright and happy and his mother doting and affectionate because it was seen from the perspective of a young excited boy. His mother's recollection of the same day is shown to be much duller and realistic and the mother being worn-out and frustrated.
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi shows both Luke and Kylo Ren engaging in this with Kylo's Start of Darkness. Luke portrays it as if Ben just turned on him out of nowhere, while Kylo makes it out like Luke attacked him in his sleep like a maniac. The truth turns out to be somewhere in the middle; Luke went to Kylo's room to discern what was troubling him, only to read his future and get a vision of all the death and destruction Kylo would cause. In shock, Luke instinctively pulled his saber as if to kill Kylo, but caught himself and went to put it away... but Kylo woke up and only saw his master standing over him, weapon ready to strike.
- In Knives Out:
- Both Linda and Walt have nearly identical flashbacks of their families surrounding Harlan when his cake was present to show their closeness with him. It's unclear which flashback is accurate or if they were even at Harlan's side to begin with.
- Richard recounts a scene at the party where he warmly beckons Marta over to the cheerfully partying guests where she eagerly joins in. A more extended scene is shown later that actually, he summoned her to use as a prop for his racist argument in a heated debate and Marta was extremely uncomfortable the whole time.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Eustace's diary in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is replete with such entries, until his Character Development kicks in.
- The Cosmere: Odium has a bad tendency to exaggerate or misrepresent events in order to make himself look better or his enemies worse. For instance, he claims that Honor was a self-centered Jerkass who only cared about his own goals, which is not only blatantly untrue (Honor was a Nice Guy who gave his life to save the galaxy from Odium), but better describes Odium himself.
- Harry Potter
- Horace Slughorn revises his memory of telling Tom Marvolo Riddle, a.k.a. Voldemort, about the Soul Jars known as Horcruxes. However, the memory has been artificially and obviously altered. Any that haven't been are treated as 100% accurate. Harry manages to get the real memory later.
- Snape's Pensieve memories in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows conveniently leave out his fascination with the Dark Arts and everything he did with the Death Eater Jr. gang during his time at Hogwarts. (Though to be fair, those weren't really relevant to the information Snape needed to convey to Harry at the time.)
- According to How to Be a Superhero, one of the benefits of licensing your exploits to Comic Book companies is that they will whitewash your less-than-heroic moments. For instance, Captain Triton's girly-man faint at a gory crime scene is rewritten as the result of a hidden cache of argonite.
- In Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet always retcons her predictions so she was right all the time. She fools no one except possibly herself, but her daughters and husband are so used to this behavior that they don't bother pointing it out.
- In the Relativity story "Movie Night", Ravenswood tells a highly-embellished version of how he became a superhero. Fortunately for the reader, the side-story "The Super Secret Origin of Overcast" reveals the truth.
- Grand Inquisitor Zhaspahr Clyntahn of Safehold is notable for having Believing Their Own Lies as his creepiest attribute in-universe. Lampshaded at the end of Midst Toil and Tribulation, as Vicar Rhobair Duchairn notes that while Clyntahn was reasoned down after a devastating loss, he'll inevitably find some way to twist everything he had planned as perfect and failed only in incompetent execution.
- Given how fallible people are A Song of Ice and Fire it's not odd that this pops up too.
- Olenna Tyrell tells Sansa that when she was young, there was an attempt to marry Olenna to a Targaryen prince but she "put an end to that". We find out in Yandel's The World of Ice & Fire that the prince in question actually was the one who ended the engagement because he was gay.
- More unhappily, Petyr Baelish was so obsessed with Catelyn Tully and so messed up from his past that he spent years at court claiming that he'd slept with her. He may not be actively lying. In their youth, he got very drunk at a party, was put to bed and was later visited by Cat's sister Lysa. It's unclear if he truly thinks it was Cat.
- The second part of C.S. Lewis' Till We Have Faces shows the first part to be a Self Serving Memoir.
- In Robin Pilcher's novel Stardust, Albert Dessuin, manager to violinist Angelique Pascal, swiftly colours his drunken assault on Angelique to convince himself that she attempted to seduce him and it was all just an accident rather than her explicitly rejecting him.
- Cradle Series: Jai Long tells Gokren that Eithan distracted Kral long enough for Eithan's disciple to stab him in the back, and this was all unnecessary because if Eithan had just revealed his identity they would have given him whatever he wanted. What actually happened was Kral flippantly decided to murder Lindon (who was so far below Kral he could have been ignored completely), refused to believe Eithan when he revealed his identity, and attacked him. Then, after Eithan decided not to kill them all out of spite (which would have been well within his rights), he did him the favor of warning him that Lindon wasn't dead. Kral died facing Lindon head-on, and Lindon won with luck and skill.
- Isaac Asimov's "Galley Slave": The witness testimonies during the court case are all lies to one degree or another, with Alfred Lanning contributing as an "unbiased" account at the defendant's table. Aside from the attempted Frameup by Professor Ninheimer, Lanning reports that the accounts are merely whitewashed and overall reasonable recollections. It irks him, but attempting to correct their testimony would only serve to antagonize the judge.
- Marvel's Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover: Michael Bingham prefers remembering people and versions of events the way he wishes to as opposed to reality. It's noticeable regarding his mother; in his childhood flashbacks, he has fond memories of how she'd take care of him and she was one of the few people who was genuinely kind to him; as an adult, to go along with his Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds narrative that he made up in his head, he now likes to imagine his mother was negligent.
- 30 Rock:
- Liz Lemon thought she was the geeky bully victim that you always see on TV. She later finds out that she was the bully.
- Liz remembers her "compliments" about Jenna's performances being more convincing. She also remembers them hugging afterward, each and every time.
- The Affair: The central theme of the series, mixed with Unreliable Narrator as each episode divides the point of view between Allison and Noah as they embark on a relationship. Each one has a different view of things from who started the affair to how they were dressed on a certain day. In later seasons, we do not always see the same events from different perspectives, only one, making the whole thing even more ambiguous.
- In season 1, Noah and Allison remember the broad strokes the same, but usually recall the details in a way that makes themselves look better at the other's expense. Sometimes inverted, though, with one of them actually coming off better in the other's version than in their own. For example, in Episode Eight when Allison recalls Noah giving her a long, insightful speech about needing to let her dying grandmother go, something that Noah himself apparently has no recollection of doing.
- The second season expands to the views of Noah's wife Helen and Allison's husband Cole, who naturally have a far different view of this "romance."
- Allison tends to think of herself as more the victim in things and sees herself as dowdy while Cole and Noah see her far more attractive and Helen views her as a conniving woman.
- Noah remembers showing up for a meeting with Helen and their attorneys in a nice suit and professional while she's hostile. Helen remembers Noah in jeans and a leather jacket and a jerk while she was cordial.
- Noah and Allison each remember being the one who saved Noah's daughter from choking at a diner.
- Noah remembers coming to dinner with Helen nice and calm and he was doing his best despite being harried at his work. Helen recalls Noah being semi-drunk and cursing. Noah also recalls being okay with his son being gay while Helen saw him as being in denial.
- Allison and Cole share a kiss that Allison remembers as slow and romantic to reignite their old passions. Cole saw it as rushed and frantic and a huge mistake.
- A truly dark example in the penultimate episode of season 4. From Ben's perspective, his talk with Allison is warm as he pours his heart out to her, troubled by his issues as a soldier and they make love. We then see Allison's version of events where a troubled Ben admits he shot a man he knew was unarmed, tried to rape her and when she pushed him away, ended up killing her in a fight.
- In season 5, Noah and Helen recall the Hindu-themed funeral for a friend with a few folks in light garb. Noah's new girlfriend Janelle, a black woman, sees nothing but people dressed in white. Also, Noah remembers his ex-father-in-law mistaking Janelle for a waitress because of his memory problems (he still thinks Noah and Helen are married). Janelle only sees a man showing casual racism toward her despite her dress (which is far nicer in Helen and Noah's recollection).
- Noah recalls meeting an actor for the movie version of his book, the guy flashy in a cafe, and women coming up to get his autograph. Janelle (not a fan of the guy) just sees some nondescript figure in a baseball cap.
- Lampshaded during the filming of the movie based on the book which basically tells the entire Noah/Helen/Allison affair as the director is soon fed up by how Noah and Helen keep arguing over how true the events actually were.
- Lampshaded again when Noah meets a woman he once had an affair with and is shocked she later claims he harassed her. He openly says "I have a very different memory of that night" and how he recalls her coming onto him and turning her down. Noah is later forced to admit both their versions are much the truth.
- Noah's daughter Whitney confronts her ex on how he had sex with her in front of another man and jarred he thinks they "made love." Worse is when she asks why he once hit her in the face during a trip in Paris...and he claims to have no idea what she's talking about, saying he never cared enough about her to even strike her.
- Sally from Barry has a much more empowering memory of how she left her abusive ex (screaming a cutting one-liner at him and storming out) than what actually happened (he started crying and she held him until he felt better, then snuck out in the middle of the night).
- Happens a lot on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
- It's usually Jake who remembers stuff in much better terms, especially through the eye of his love of action movies.
- The other team members can be much the same.
- Holt (the extreme stoic) will imagine himself going wild when in reality he barely raises his voice.
- The Vulture describes his "two worst detectives" as a pair of losers in bad outfits and acting like morons. In reality, he only hates them because they're not friends with him and when they show up, they're actually dressed professionally and are excellent detectives; in fact, when he's called on it, it turns out it's because they're professional and great at their jobs why he considers them the worst (he thinks this makes them total geeks).
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer ("Storyteller"), when Andrew tries to justify killing Jonathan, we see various flashbacks which differ wildly as he changes his version of events. This prompts Buffy to point out indignantly that he has just completely changed his story from the version he told her only moments ago.
- Community: In "Investigative Journalism", Jack Black's character has a vivid flashback of Britta and Annie fighting in a soapy pool without bras on in cheerleader's outfits... in the middle of a class.
- This is the basis of a hilarious episode of Coupling where we see Sally and Patrick's questionably accurate memories of the day they met.
- It happens in Cobra Kai with both Johnny and Daniel, who both leave out crucial details of their mutual tumultuous past in order to try and paint themselves as the good guys. Johnny's side of the story paints Daniel as a whiny, aggressive little snot who stole Johnny's girlfriend and constantly started fights which he couldn't finish while Johnny simply "stood up for himself", while Daniel's side of the story paints Johnny as a homicidal bully who constantly attacked poor old innocent little him for no good reason. Ali Mills eventually sets the two of them straight and explains that there are actually three versions of what happened between them: Daniel's version, Johnny's version, and what actually happened.
- One Criminal Minds villain remembers his Matricide as a surreal, gentle scene where his mother slowly sinks away into a misty haze with a peaceful expression and closed eyes. Once the team challenges his delusions and rationalizations for killing her, it's revisited with more accuracy: her screaming in horror as he shoves her off a bridge.
- Natalia from ABC's Cristela thinks back fondly of being a single mother raising two daughters when, in reality, the family struggled immensely.
Natalia: Your father never held me back!
Cristela: He left when I was born!
Natalia: And he left me free to do as I pleased!
Cristela: So you wanted to be on food stamps and answer the door with a baseball bat?
Natalia: [happily sighs] Ay! Memories...
- Desperate Housewives:
- The series is packed with many instances as several of the ladies prefer to remember things in a much better light. Bree, especially, sees her past far more favorably than others do.
- Gabrielle remembers her days as a model as a fantastic time when she was hugely popular and she hated giving it all up to marry Carlos. On a trip to New York, she runs into models like Paulina Porizkova who make it clear that, even by supermodel standards, Gabby was a terrible diva who would have been kicked out of the business eventually.
- A far more dramatic case is Gabrielle being abused by her stepfather, Alejandro. She told her mother, Lucia, who didn't believe her. In a talk in the present, Carlos is horrified to realize that Lucia has convinced herself Gabrielle was making it all up, not because it's so horrible but that she refused to accept Alejandro would want the young Gabby rather than his own wife. Likewise, a nun Gabby confided in also refuted the idea that Gabby was a troublesome child. The worst is when Alejandro confronts Gabby in the present and Gabby is stunned when the man says it's her own fault as she was always flaunting her body in front of him and "was asking for it." He pays for that with his life as Carlos kills him in a fight.
- Invoked in Dog with a Blog, where Ian, one of Stan's former owners, comes to the James-Jenning House to see Stan after seeing Stan on Bennet's book. Stan tells Avery that Ian was a mad scientist, who wanted to experiment on Stan when he was a puppy to find out what made him talk and allow him to create more talking dogs for profit. Later in the episode, Ian tells Stan and the other kids that he wanted to study Stan because he wanted to make more talking dogs so Stan wouldn't be alone, with the statement that he found Stan's family. However, a Spotting the Thread from Avery reveals that not only did Ian lied about Stan's family, but that he did wanted to capture Stan and recreate his intelligence for profit, meaning Stan's memories was likely the most truthful.
- In the Drake & Josh episode "Foam Finger", the title characters recount a fight at a baseball game when they were children. In Josh's flashback, Drake was being a total Jerkass to him by purposely depriving him of his foam finger and then whacked him in the head. In Drake's flashback, Josh being was being incredibly rude to him, the second to last foam finger was giving to a dying British orphan, and then Josh tackled him in a fit of petty rage. Lenny Spodnik, the man behind the foam finger stand back in the day, reveals that Drake and Josh were actually on good terms together before the fight (even graciously allowing two girls to cut in front of them) and the fight was instigated by a toddler-aged Megan who threw her chocolate chip cookie at Josh's head to make it seem like Drake had whacked him.
- In The Flying Nun episode "The Boyfriend", Sister Bertrille tells how she and her ex broke up, with her flashback showing him being cruel and her being meek and fearful of him. Her ex's flashback has the roles reversed. The real way it happened was that they simply agreed to break up.
- In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode "Will Goes a-Courtin'", a pool party Will and Carlton threw without Uncle Phil's permission leads to them going to civil court over unpaid rent. In Phil's version of events, the party was full of loud, disrespectful thugs in skimpy swimsuits, while Phil himself was meek and gentle as he politely asked them to turn down the music. In Will's version, the party looks like something out of the 1920snote and Phil was a snarling, rampaging beast who screamed his head off at every little thing.note However, the judge realizes that this is in effect for both sides and calls them out on it before rendering her verdict.
- In Full House, Kimmy Gibbler wakes up after passing out drunk from a party and accuses DJ of ruining her night. She then recounts her recollection of the night, which shows her being erudite, delightful, and charming. DJ tells her what really happened, which was that she was a loud, abrasive, stereotypical Hollywood drunk. Because it's Full House, DJ's version turned out to be the correct one, rather than an exaggeration.
- On The Good Fight Maia is being interrogated by FBI agent Madeline on her knowledge of her father's Ponzi scheme. Maia claims to not have seen anything but Madeline brings up how funny memory can be. She says she spent years absolutely convinced that as a child, she won the Grand Prize game on the old Bozo TV show, remembering confetti falling and the crowd cheering. But a year earlier, she found photos to realize it wasn't her at all but her older sister. She then has Maia bringing up various dates she went with her mother to a doctor's appointment... only for Madeline to reveal that none of those appointments happened and Maia's mother was sleeping with her husband's brother. Maia realizes that she saw them kissing as a kid and in denial, preferred to remember her mom at those appointments.
Madeline: The mind has an odd way of turning wishful thinking into actual memories.
- Gossip Girl's Dan Humphrey remembered having a threesome with girlfriend Olivia and friend Vanessa as essentially a bad porno. The girls remember it being more awkward, with him giving The Look to Vanessa.
- Played for Laughs in the Henry Danger episode "A New Darkness". Henry recounts what happened with the confrontation with villain Rick Twittler. He made himself look better and Rick look stupid. The characters in the flashback even got annoyed whenever someone interrupted Henry's retelling of the events.
- In the How I Met Your Mother episode "The Ashtray", Ted received a message from the Captain (whose wife left him for Ted) and recalls the last time they met. He was his usual charming self, and the Captain was evil and threatening. When Robin hears about it, she corrects him: he was high and the Captain ignored him in favor of making sleazy passes at her. Then Lilly points out that Robin was drunk and throwing herself at him and he wasn't antagonistic (except for making Lilly feel bad about not accomplishing anything as an artist).
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
- This is mixed with "Rashomon"-Style: when the gang attempts to remember what they drunkenly did at a Halloween party, a couple of the memories they attempted to piece together (such as Charlie impressing and making out with the Waitress and Mac's where he's suddenly portraying himself as a sunglasses-wearing badass) are instantly recognized by the others as Blatant Lies.
- Dennis wasn't as popular in high school as he thought he was, mainly because he'd say he was a "golden god" while having nothing to back up his claim. In "Underage Drinking: A National Concern", he is the first (and only) one to tell the rest of the gang they're over-romanticizing their high school experiences.
- Both a regular and present-oriented variation of this are played straight when the gang dances at the end of "High School Reunion 2". At first, we see a choreographed dance number. Then it cuts to how they're actually dancing and it looks like a chaotic mess. They are later surprised that no one else liked their dance.
- In Jessica Jones (2015), Kilgrave tries to convince Jessica that their relationship wasn't a forced one like she claims. He specifically recounts an event where he purposefully let his Compelling Voice-ability run out to see what she'd do. According to him, she kissed him. Jessica then calls bullshit, as she recounts what SHE remembers — namely, gearing up to commit suicide by jumping off a building, only for Kilgrave to stop her and almost making her cut her ear off for not listening to him (he stops her after the knife breaks skin). Kilgrave doesn't believe her until she shows him the huge scar she's got behind that ear.
- In Kamen Rider OOO, Dr. Maki's memories of his kind, loving sister who suddenly died tragically. He's deliberately blotted out the truth that she didn't care about him at all and he himself killed her. Being forced to remember what really happened is what pushes him over the edge at last.
- In the Kenan & Kel episode "I'm Gonna Get You Kenan", Kenan, Kel, and Chris tell their versions of how Rigby's was robbed. Kenan's and Chris's stories are as self-promoting as possible while Kel's focuses on how he couldn't open a bottle of orange soda.
Policeman: What does that story have to do with the robbery?
Kel: Nothin'. It's about orange soda. You have to pay attention.
- In the Leverage episode "The Rashomon Job", each member of the crew tells Nate how they stole a precious dagger, the twist being that they were each independently trying to steal the same dagger on the same night. Each story plays out differently, with the teller being cast as the hero of their tale. Especially notable is Hardison's story in which he is a suave ladies' man while Parker remembers him as being awkward and uncouth, going so far as to hoard shrimp puffs in his pockets. Interestingly, in that episode, the four thieves remember Coswell, the museum's head of security, as being cunning, ruthless, and somehow able to foil each of them at decisive moments of their respective heists. Nate remembers the same man as being nervous, socially awkward, and silently pining after one of Sophie's characters. According to Nate's recollection, Coswell is really a pretty friendly guy and only foiled the various plots by sheer chance rather than by any sort of skill.
- In a Season 3 episode of Mad Men, Peggy tells Joan that she wants her to know she doesn't resent her advice, it's just that not every woman can be Joan. Joan replies to Peggy that she likes to think she had a hand in Peggy's success, the past several episodes have shown Joan to be less than supportive of Peggy being more than a secretary.
- In the episode "The Novocaine Mutiny", Frank has accused Hawkeye and BJ of mutiny, and the court-martial requests their recollection of the event. Frank recalls being a self-sacrificing, awe-inspiring surgeon (he wants two patients at once, "I have two hands"), while Hawk and BJ are whimpering and burning out. Hawkeye retorts, "It was, to say the least, fascinating; it was, to say the most, perjury," and proceeds to recount the more likely scenario: Frank is bumbling and obnoxious, while Hawk and BJ are trying to ignore him and do their job. They are acquitted and the JAG takes Frank down a peg by telling him his record wouldn't make him stand out as a pastry chef.
- A serious example occurs with Hawkeye in the series finale, "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen". Hawkeye tells Sidney Freeman of being on a bus with some South Korean refugees and telling a woman to keep a chicken quiet so it won't give their position away to the enemy. But it's not true. "It was a baby!" (hysterical sobbing) The woman had smothered her child. This is a more poignant example of a similar plotline from an earlier episode, in which Hawkeye had uncontrollable itching for no medical reason. Hawkeye related to Sidney a childhood story of his older cousin, whom he deeply admired, who saved him from drowning in a lake. It turns out that his cousin was the one who pushed him into the lake in the first place, and Hawkeye hated him for it; Hawkeye had repressed his own memory of the truth and turned his cousin into the spotless hero.
- On the sixth season of Orange Is the New Black, Carol and Barb are sisters who murdered their younger sibling out of jealousy of their parents doting on her all the time. At first, united in prison, the two have an argument where each claims a story of an "ice glass" incident when they were waitressing happened to each of them. It drives a wedge to the point that two decades later, not only do the sisters hate each other but starting a gang war over it. After they end up killing each other, a final flashback reveals neither of them had the "Ice glass"; it was a story told to them by another waitress.
- Outsourced: Todd had to find out whether Rajiv hit Gupta and gets both their accounts. Gupta's first attempt at telling the story turns Rajiv into professional wrestler The Great Khali before he settles down tell how Rajiv beats him savagely to the point of coughing up blood while employing an Evil Laugh. In Rajiv's version, he asks Gupta to get back to work in an extremely polite (and highly out of character) manner while Gupta snarls back disrespectfully and then starts slapping himself while yelling that Rajiv is hitting him.
- In Party Down, Ron is happy to be catering the reunion of his high school, telling the gang how he was the beloved class clown. Talking with classmates makes Ron soon realize he was actually the geeky loser everyone laughed at.
- Red Dwarf: Taken to ridiculous extremes. Lister is missing the recently departed Rimmer, and rose-tinting his memories of their history together to such a degree that Rimmer comes off almost like a saint. When Kochanski tries to comfort him, Kryten (who's afraid that she will replace him in Lister's life) takes a massively different tack; he creates a holographic carnival ride based on Rimmer's own "war diary". Needless to say, Rimmer's recollections are massively divergent from reality, depicting himself as the only competent person on the ship, rather than the cowardly, stupid, tasteless nitwit that he really is. It promotes Rimmer's clearly biased views, tastes, and interpretations of events. Lister ends the episode decrying his past with Rimmer.
Lister: I never want to see or hear from that scum-sucking, lying, weasel-headed smeghead in my entire life!
Kryten: Sigmund Freud, eat your heart out.
- A big long-range character bit of Royal Pains is doctor Hank dealing with his fiancée dumping him when he lost his New York job and moving on afterward. In the latest season, they meet for dinner as he expects her to apologize and when she talks about how Hank was the one who broke things up, he laughs at her self-serving memory. However, as he thinks things over, Hank realizes she's right, he was the one who broke it all off and has been refusing to accept that all this time.
- A few cases on Sex and the City. One of the most notable is Carrie having a one-night stand with a guy at a friend's wedding that she cites as one of the absolute worst times she's ever had in bed with the guy done in literally a second. When she turns down his request for a repeat, she's stunned when the man rants on "I gave you the greatest sexual experience of your life!"
- Space Cases: During Harlan's trial, prosecutor Catalina recalls being in the process of heroically saving the ship when Harlan pushed his way to the pilot station while Harlan remembers single-handedly saving the ship as the others look on in awe. The kicker is that BOTH remember fellow students Radu, Rosie, and Bova cheering them on when none were in the Command Post at the time.
- Note that Radu and Rosie were the jury and Bova was the judge, as well.
- In the Stargate SG-1 episode "200", when Martin Lloyd is having trouble with his film's undescribed ending being rejected by a test audience, Jack O'Neil suggests that the end the movie with fishing instead. The episode promptly cuts to the final scene of the Series Fauxnale, "Moebius, Part 2", which eventually Whip Pans to show Vala Mal Doran and Cam Mitchell fishing as well, with Mitchell commenting, "Yep, it's good to be here." The episode cuts back to present, with O'Neil exclaiming, "You weren't there!"
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Court Martial", a verbal version of this takes place — Finney, a crewman who faked his death to frame Kirk, accuses the captain of keeping him down out of jealousy. What really happened was that Kirk logged dangerous negligence committed by Finney, which put him at the bottom of the list for a promotion.
- In the episode "A Matter of Perspective" of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Riker is accused of murdering a scientist. Riker, the scientist's wife, and the scientist's assistant each use the holodeck to reconstruct their own versions of the events leading up to the scientist's death, in a dramatic example of the trope. Riker's version has him being almost ridiculously professional and polite even though the wife was practically throwing herself at him and the scientist unfairly blamed him for it. The wife, meanwhile, recalls Riker as being a smirking bastard who tried to bully her into sleeping with him by exploiting his rank and resorted to trying to rape her when she refused. All three of them agree that at one point it came to blows between Riker and the scientist, but Riker claims that the scientist took a clumsy swing at him which he gracefully dodged, the wife remembers it as Riker brutally beating her husband, and the assistant had the impression (from what the scientist had told her) that the scientist gave Riker a well-deserving thrashing.
- In Switched, there's a Played for Drama variant in the first episode. Umine tells Ayumi that Koshiro doesn't care if Ayumi is trapped in Umine's body because he only wanted "Ayumi's face" rather than, say, her love. Later, it's revealed that he was talking about the reverse, that he didn't care if Umine is trapped in Ayumi's body. The implication being that he does care about Ayumi. It's eventually revealed that he was lying either way, only trying to get Umine's trust in order to betray her.
- That's So Raven has an episode in which Raven is volunteered to be the teacher's assistant in Cory's class, which ends in a raucous altercation between the two siblings in the classroom. Once at home, they explain the situation with reimagined versions of their stories: Raven is a beautiful, kind lady who paints Cory as an obnoxious brat, while Cory is a scared student who paints Raven as an evil witch. It isn't until Larry, one of Cory's friends, explains the whole thing to everyone that the altercation started because Raven felt Cory was trying to take advantage of her by passing out the snacks, oblivious to the fact that it really was Cory's job since he was revealed to be Student of the Week, something that surprised Raven herself.
- Ugly Betty:
Amanda: We met at the Jil Sander party last night. He was totally worshiping me.
[flashback to him ignoring her and then return to the present]
Amanda: I mean, I get it because I was the hottest girl there, but then there was this skank who was totally trying to horn in and I was as nice as I can be.
[return to flashback]
Amanda: [shoving the girl to the floor] Out of the way, skank!
- The White Queen: Queen Anne's recollection of what occurred at Edward of Middleham's funeral is different from reality. In actuality, King Richard III extends his hand out to his wife as an invitation for her to be at his side while they grieve for their son. However, Anne refuses, as she's still indignant from his recent emotional neglect of her. Elizabeth of York decides to briefly hold his hand in the Queen's absence before returning to her original standing place. Since Anne is inclined at this stage to perceive her husband in the worst possible light, her mind distorts the memory of Richard's attempt to salvage their marriage as him actively seeking Elizabeth's company instead of hers.
Anne: [jealous] Even at our own son's funeral, you went to her.
Richard: [dismayed] She came to me because you would not!
- Happens a lot in The X-Files "Rashomon"-Style "Bad Blood". For starters, Scully's flashback has herself as calm and mindful while Mulder is gung-ho and over the top, while Mulder's has himself as a guy who knows what he's doing who is sensitive and polite to Scully despite her being dismissive and irritable.
- Yes, Minister:
- Sir Humphrey sees this as a natural occurrence in government committees, which is why minutes are so important:
"It is characteristic of all committee discussions and decisions that every member has a vivid recollection of them, and that every member's recollection of them differs violently from every other member's recollection; consequently we accept the convention that the official decisions are those and only those which have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials; from which it emerges with elegant inevitability, that any decision which has been officially reached would have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials, and any decisions which is not recorded in the minutes by the officials has not been officially reached, even if one or more members believe they can recollect it; so in this particular case, if the decision would have been officially reached, it would have been recorded in the minutes by the officials and it isn't so it wasn't."
- To translate from Sir Humphrey's classic Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness; minutes exist because, without them, the parties involved would be so blinded by their own self-serving memory that once out of the meeting they'd insist that the decision reached was the one most favorable to them or that they agreed with, causing confusion. They also exist in order to enable the person writing them — usually a Civil Servant — to ensure that the actual recorded decision is the one most favorable to them, but that's beside the point.
- Sir Humphrey sees this as a natural occurrence in government committees, which is why minutes are so important:
- Inverted in season eight of Supernatural — Dean is haunted by the memory of his escape from Purgatory, wherein he left Castiel behind in order to get out. However, what actually happened was that he went back to help Castiel when the angel stumbled, only for Cas to throw him off, essentially forcing him through the portal alone because Castiel wanted to stay in Purgatory to atone for past sins. Dean apparently couldn't cope with the trauma of seeing his best friend so broken and invented his selfish actions because they blocked it out and, given his massive Guilt Complex, something like that probably made more sense to him. When Castiel restores his memory to the true events, he gently points out that Dean can't save everyone.
- An article in Dragon about writing in-character journals of your Dungeons & Dragons adventures suggested this as one of the styles ("Conceited"). Anything the party achieved was all down to your character, any deduction or discovery was something your character had suspected all along, and anything your character couldn't have done (such as cast a spell if he was a fighter) had been done on his instructions.
- Most heels run on this mindset, either whining about losses and complaining about actions that faces took when actions they took were way worse but somehow unsuccessful. For example, after the 2014 Survivor Series, Triple H blamed the loss of Team Authority on the debut of Sting. However, it was clear that Sting wouldn't have needed to get involved in the match had Triple H not interfered on the behalf of Seth Rollins by attacking Dolph Ziggler and numerous referees, and presumably paying off The Big Show to attack John Cena and leave the match. None of these occurrences were mentioned except for Sting's debut. Distressingly sometimes commentators and even production seem to agree with the heel. Eugene cost Triple H his world title shot against Chris Benoit? No one bothers to mention Evolution interfering on the behalf of Trips first, no video package of the event even show it, just Eugene bashing Trips with a folding chair.
- In this promo from the July 4, 1995 ECW Hardcore TV about Stevie Richards and Raven defeating The Public Enemy for the ECW World Tag Team Titles. Stevie claims that he pinned Flyboy Rocco Rock and made it sound like he won the match all by himself. In actuality, the referee got knocked down and The Gangstas (New Jack and Mustafa Saied) ran in and attacked TPE and threw Stevie on top of Johnny Grunge for the pin.
- Kimberly's short-lived tag team with Leva Bates involved dressing up as Things. After a loss to Made in Sin, Kimberly attacked Bates and later took and ripped the head off of one of Bates's Thing dolls. Kimberly then went searching for "her" lost doll and was shocked when she found the doll had lost its head. The doll apparently told her Leva had ripped it off after Kimberly sewed it back on. So Kimberly aimed to avenge it. Leva explained this sequence, along with Kimberly's other "quirks" as being symptoms of delusion, psychopathy and narcissistic personality disorder.
- During the Shine title reigns of Ivelisse Vélez, Mia Yim, and Santana Garrett, Allysin Kay complained relentlessly about how she hadn't gotten a title shot, seemingly forgetting that she got one against Velez and lost right before Mia Yim then defeated Velez for the belt, logically putting Kay in the back of the line until she won enough to get shot against Garrett, who had defeated Yim...and Kay lost again!
- Paul Heyman turned on CM Punk, after Et Tu, Brute? wears off, Punk realizes he should have seen it coming and is angry with himself for it. He also moves on. Paul Heyman then needlessly antagonizes Punk, saying that Punk ungratefully turned on him, going so far as to claim he had "fathered" Punk. Thus begins CM Punk's Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Paul Heyman.
- Bendy and the Ink Machine: At one point when Henry is on the elevator, Susie tells him that people used to love her character, but according to Shawn's recording, none of her merchandise was selling.
- BioShock Infinite makes use of this as a rather important plot point, and unlike most other examples, it is very much not Played for Laughs. At the end of the game the protagonist Booker is revealed to have completely (albeit unintentionally) fabricated his memories and as a result, his entire purpose for traveling to Columbia. The Arc Words "bring us the girl and wipe away the debt" were not orders from his current employer, but an offer by Comstock from nearly 20 years earlier - Comstock would pay off his gambling debts if Booker sold his infant daughter Anna (later renamed Elizabeth) to him. The subsequent guilt and self-loathing, when combined with the disseminating properties of the tears, caused Booker to suppress these memories, and replace them with something much more palatable - like rescuing a girl locked in a tower, for example. Which is exactly what we as the player saw for most of the game. The brilliance lies in the fact that all of this is explained by a quote that appears in the first 5 seconds of the game - we just didn't have the context to realize it at the time.
"The mind of the subject will desperately struggle to create memories where none exist..." - Barriers to Trans-Dimensional Travel by R. Lutece
- Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!: The DLC Claptastic Voyage has the characters being digitized and entering Claptraps mind, where they have to reconstruct a corrupted memory. When they first enter, the town of Overlook is decorated with balloons and banners, and everyone is singing an upbeat song about how wonderful Claptrap is. The characters repair the memory and find out that Claptraps denial subroutine changed the memory to cover up his accidental destruction of the cliffside arena, followed by his further accidental destruction of the clinic tending to the victims.
- In Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia, Cecil does this negatively when he regains his memories of the second half of Final Fantasy IV. Initially, he feels that his choice to renounce Baron fully and become a Paladin only led to even more violence and bloodshed because it still took a long time to defeat Zemus (during which several party members had Disney Deaths). Palom has to snap at him for taking such a bleak view of his decision.
- Varric in Dragon Age II, embellishes obviously enough for his interrogator to see through it and demand the real account.
- The very first mission in the game consists of this. When you first do the mission, Hawke is a curb-stomping, unstoppable beast of a warrior (or mage) that effortlessly beats back waves of enemies...and all the female characters have an "enhanced" appearance. When Cassandra tells Varric to stop bullshitting her, the mission is replayed as a desperate struggle to merely survive, and the female characters look normal.
- There is a Storming the Castle mission that has to be done twice. Once with Varric alone, where he single-handedly kills dozens of mercenaries, and his brother Bartrand comes crawling on his knees to beg forgiveness, and one (the real one) with the entire party battling tooth and nail through mercenaries and demons. Cassandra demands to hear the real story after Varric tells her the first one. There's also a third version he gives in between which is technically correct but omits a lot of detail: "We found my brother. We talked. It was awkward."
- This is also seen with Gamlen Amell, who plays up his status as The Unfavorite and Leandra's absence when their parents were dying. He has to be actively reminded that Leandra didn't come to visit at the time because she was pregnant with twins and gave birth a week before the funeral.
- Dragon Age: Inquisition discusses this trope in an optional conversation between the Inquisitor and Mother Giselle in regards to Corypheus, a villain from antiquity whom the Inquisitor meets, in which they discuss the villain's history. The villain had monologued his history, which differed from the world's scripture on the event. Giselle points out that there is no reason to believe Corypheus simply because he was there: He might choose to remember events being more flattering to himself, and simply being present for a historical event doesn't mean he is required to tell the truth about it.
- Fate/Grand Order: Odysseus of The Odyssey fame can be summoned as a Rider Servant. He claims that he only ever slept with his beloved wife Penelope, even though everybody knows that he slept with Circe and Calypso (in fact, Circe is a Caster Servant). They all agree that he loves Penelope so much that he refuses to remember his affairs and any other time he attracted another woman.
- In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, should you choose to have Rebecca and Lowen support one another, it becomes clear that he had left quite an impression on her when he whisked her from her village as it was being attacked by bandits...
Rebecca: Oh, but that's absurd! Sir Lowen, you are a fine knight! Why, I remember it so well... Countless hundreds of bandits had descended on our village...
Lowen: Please... There were ten at most...
Rebecca: In the heat of the moment, it felt like many more!
Rebecca: Anyway, just as their fiendish grip on our village began to tighten, you appeared, Sir Lowen, on your white steed...
Lowen: But... my horse is sorrel.
Rebecca: This is the way I prefer to remember it, milord. Please don't ruin it by correcting me!
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses: On the Black Eagles route, Rhea will curse Byleth for stealing "Mother" from her grave and running off with the Goddess crest stone. In reality, Rhea originally demanded that Byleth take the Sword of the Creator despite everyone's doubt at the decision. And years ago, the heart wasn't given to Byleth as part of Rhea's plan to resurrect Sothis either, but was out of her altruism to follow the request of Sitri to save her child. Thought this can be justified that Rhea has gone completely insane at this point so she isn't thinking logically anymore.
- Sonic Adventure: A bit of a meta-example: in the game, you play as six different characters whose stories are happening simultaneously. At a few points in the game, the characters fight each other and as you'd expect, the one who wins is whoever the player is playing as. The official strategy guide claims that this is because the characters all remember certain details differently. This explains:
- Why Sonic runs away from Amy in one version, leaving her to catch up with him at the entrance to Twinkle Park, while in another, he walks her there like a gentleman.
- The line "This plane's cool!" in Tails' version (when he flies by the end of Red Mountain to pick up Sonic) when no such line exists in Sonic's version.
- Tails is a tagalong who always tries to be where Sonic is in Sonic's version of the stages, while Tails always beats him to the goal in his own version.
- Oddly reversed around for Tails in Sonic's story, where he is depicted as more confident and reliable. In his own story, he has dialogue that makes him out to be insecure.
- Dr. Eggman is depicted as an incompetent buffoon who no one takes seriously in Sonic's story, and a genuinely scary Knight of Cerebus in Tails'.
- The Mass Effect series has two of these for two races, the krogan and the batarians:
- The krogan fought one of the galaxy's most devastating wars centuries before the games began, and ended up being effectively neutered for it. Nowadays, many krogan attempt to play the victim card when speaking of the genophage that made them nearly sterile (the genophage only allows a 1-in-1000 live birth rate), when they were the ones that started the Krogan Rebellions by colonizing worlds that belonged to other races and then outright dared the Citadel to take them back. Urdnot Wrex, the krogan party member you have in the first game, eventually realizes that the krogan only have themselves to blame and resolves to change that. With your help, he can succeed in the third game.
- The batarians, however, are the opposite. Basically Space North Korea, the batarians began to send pirates and slavers to attack human settlements as they began to colonize the wider galaxy. When the humans eventually got tired of this and launched an assault on a major pirate world that the batarians supported in retaliation, the batarians appealed to the Citadel for help but got none, causing them to retreat behind their borders and instead act through pirates and slavers to attack humans, along with terrorist actions. They claim that the whole galaxy turned against them and forced them into self-imposed exile, but the truth is far less glamorous for them and Shepard can call various batarians out on this multiple times when he encounters hostile members of the species, though with the destruction of their government and society by the Reapers in the third game they might be getting better.
Shepard: [responding to a batarian terrorist claiming such actions are necessary because of what the galaxy did to the batarians] You attacked us first. When we fought back, you went running to the Council for help, and when you didn't get it, you ran away and hid. You've got no one to blame but yourselves.
- The bonus level of Monsters Probably Stole My Princess shows the Duke's memory of how he met the Princess and is described as "entirely accurate (probably)". In addition to the bizarre spelling and grammar throughout, it shows the Princess (who is a real Princess this time rather than a waitress) being madly in love with the Duke, before being kidnapped by "the coolest and toughest foe it is possible to imagine". The level is filled with banners proclaiming the citizens' undying admiration for the Duke.
- Spider and Web: Part of the gimmick of this Text Adventure. The main game is composed of the PC's retelling of a mission gone awry, but the character is purposefully misrepresenting parts of the story (you take an "important package" item that doesn't really exist; for example, it is made up as an excuse to hide important tools in a nook).
- The end of the demo of The Stanley Parable has the Narrator flashback to all the things that happened during your crash course through the demo. At first, it's represented faithfully, but then he suddenly starts talking about you walking up endless stairs, walking across an endless catwalk, riding an elevator, and then walking out into the beautiful outdoors, none of which actually took place. He seems genuinely convinced that it really did happen, though.
- When confronted at the Nighthold in World of Warcraft, Gul'dan talks about how Varian Wrynn "whimpered like a dog" and Vol'jin "begged for a merciful end from his poison" before they died. In reality, Varian was Defiant to the End and Vol'jin Faced Death With Dignity while naming his successor.
- The palace rulers of Persona 5 are a dark example, with each of their palaces being tailored to show how they view the world and are inhabited with twisted cognitive versions of real-life people. For instance, Kamoshida's palace turns Shujin Academy into a castle where he's king, male students are his prisoners and slaves, and female students are his adoring harem. Each palace ruler is almost completely deluding themselves into believing that the state of their palaces is a reflection of reality, especially when it comes to "proving" that they're not responsible for their crimes.
- In Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight, Elizabeth claims that her younger sister took the events of Persona 4: Dancing All Night as a challenge to prove that the cast of Persona 5 would have done a better job if they were involved. Thing is, in Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, Caroline and Justine claim that Elizabeth was the one who felt challenged and wanted to prove the same of the cast of Persona 3. It's never stated which recollection is the truth, but considering Elizabeth's track record, it's probably not hers.
- A variant in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Like all Blades, Brighid loses her memory each time her Driver passes away and the next resonates with her. However, as an ancestral relic of the Mor Ardanian royal family, she manages to keep a journal to pass on memories from each incarnation. This journal dates all the way back to the Aegis War... but it was written by Brighid herself, who has an extremely proud personality. As a result, she starts to question the accuracy of her journal entries, even before Mythra shows up and starts shooting it full of holes. For instance, Brighid boasts of a time she managed to beat Mythra in a fight - Mythra scoffs and points out the journal conveniently omits that Brighid ambushed her after she was exhausted from training all day. It starts to give Brighid an identity crisis, as she wonders if she's really the person who wrote her previous journal entries.
- During the boss fight with Gnasty Gnorc in Spyro: A Hero's Tail, he boasts to Spyro that it's been a while since he's beaten him, only for Spyro to correct him that it was the other way around. In his appearance in Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled, he appears in the Grand Prix intro to say he's there to "beat Spyro again".
- FreedomToons: In "Bernie Hates Women" Elizabeth Warren's story about Bernie Sanders saying a woman could never be president grows more and more ludicrous, from Bernie being insulting and mocking, to vandalizing her house and accepting a call from his "Best Friend Donald Trump" who joins him in mocking and calling Warren names.
- Red vs. Blue has Sarge do this at the start of season seven when he recalled how they deleted the record of the Blues from Command's computer, with his modifications including killing Grif and Simmons turning into a motorcycle. When Grif calls him out on this, citing his not being dead, Sarge tells Simmons to transform and run over him.
- In Smashtasm, Super64, realizing he's in trouble, remembers 1337f0x saying "If you ever need me, just call." Link (who is not the actual Link, just a roleplayer convinced he is) takes notice of this and reminds him that 1337f0x said no such thing. Super64 shoots back by pointing out that Link wasn't there at the time, so how could he possibly know what 1337f0x may or may not have said? Link's response ("Duh! I'm the Hero of Time!") doesn't answer anything. And 1337f0x does come to save Super64 anyway.
- The TOME short "Rockoon's Modern Strife" gives the title character A Day in the Limelight and features a self-serving memory where Rockoon tries to justify why Doubling abandoned him. Ironically, Doubling is present during Rockoon's recount of this event and is actively trying to make amends, but both of their egos get in the way of actually being straightforward and talking it through.
- In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, the Emperor initially considers Astral Knights to be an idiotic name and Chapter in general, but when he hears about their Heroic Sacrifice, he claims that he totally created them.
- Strong Bad of Homestar Runner claims to have less a photographic memory, and more a "doodle memory." This is punctuated by a comparison between the actual events of the Jumble Caper (Strong Bad and the Cheat got caught by Homestar because they knocked over a lamp while trying to steal the jumble section of his newspaper) and Stong Bad's memory of it (a crude drawing of Strong Bad and an inexplicably serpentine The Cheat escaping a vault holding a massive gem and a roast turkey, and preparing to steal some subwoofers).
- Camp Camp: When the Wood Scouts recall their disastrous attempt at sabotaging Camp Campbell, each of them has different quirks to their story. Pikeman remembers himself without acne or braces (which are on everyone else), and the other Wood Scouts treating him with reverence. Snake remembers being a veteran soldier leading three green recruits on a suicide mission. Petrol remembers everyone taking in grunts and being honest about their feelings. And Jermy remembers the other Wood Scouts wearing medical clothes and being respectful of his various ailments.
- In BlazBlue Alter Memory Abridged, Noel reflects on her time at the military academy with Makoto and Tsubaki. Specifically, she remembers Tsubaki complimenting her on being so smart (even though she also remembers getting questions wrong), and both Jin and Makoto commenting on her pleasing breast size. Makoto then reminds her of the accurate account - Tsubaki gave up on trying to tutor her, and Jin gave her nothing but Death Glares. Cut to Tsubaki, reflecting on their academy days with Noel and Makoto as mumbling idiots who couldn't learn the simplest information, and Jin asking her to 'tutor' him in his dorm later.
Tsubaki: Those were the days.
- Girl Genius: Castle Heterodyne wantonly attacks Castle Wulfenbach as it hovers over Mechanicsburg. Agatha scolds the castle for this blatant act of war, only to learn that the Castle remembers getting cheerful permission from Agatha herself. Agatha then recalls what really happened:
Agatha: I'm going to have to think twice about everything I say to you, aren't I?
Castle Heterodyne: It'll be fun!
- Early in Goblins, Minmax has a "flashback" of drawing his sword before battle in an attempt to get himself out of a game mechanics joke.
- Unsounded: Inverted with Duane, who remembers everything with perfect, merciless clarity since he became undead. He's badly shaken when he recounts a story of his military service and realizes how much bleaker the reality is than the memory his living brain had constructed from it.
- In Weak Hero, Ben assures Rowan that he could probably become the No. 1 of his class if he tried. Rowan's recollection of his words is a little more biased than that:
Ben: You have the potential. Destroy Phillip with your amazing ultra elbow skill, and become the king of Class One!
Note: Never said anything like this.
- In Scarlet Lady, Chloé is persistent in believing that she was meant to be the Ladybug Miraculous wielder, when (as Tikki always reminds her) she stole it from Marinette's bag and never does anything useful with it.
- Mentioned in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog:
Buddy: You idiot! You almost killed her!
Captain Hammer: I remember it differently.
- In To Boldly Flee, Terl blames The Nostalgia Critic for destroying his home planet Psychlo at the end of the Battlefield Earth review, even though at the time he was well aware that the Critic had nothing to do with it.
- In TomSka's "First date," Tom remembers his first date as an awesome action sequence when in reality he spent his first date playing Inversion.
- It's a Running Gag in SF Debris's reviews of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that Gul Dukat regularly rewrites his own memories to better serve his own self-image: a tragically misunderstood hero, who is deeply respected and admired by the DS9 crew, especially Sisko and Kira.
Dukat: (after Kira throws a glass at his head) No, not now Major, I'll accept your offer to have a drink with you later, if you wear something nice.
- In Cobra Kai, Johnny sits down with Miguel and tells him about how he and Danny LaRusso became mortal enemies, when LaRusso swept into town, seduced his girl, and hounded him and his friends at every opportunity. Those of us who watched The Karate Kid might have a different view of events, but the scene makes it tragically clear that Johnny isn't embellishing or consciously trying to make himself look good; that is genuinely how he remembers the events.
- In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Name", when Gumball is told that his real name is Zach after going by his nickname for so long, Zach eventually manifests as Gumball's Superpowered Evil Side. Part of his Split-Personality Takeover is him rewriting Gumball's memories to turn his failures into successes: Gumball almost dying after driving a bucket off an unfinished bridge in "The Curse" is now Zach successfully making the jump, Gumball being attacked by Tobias in "The Knights" is now Zach using a bazooka against Tobias, and Gumball intentionally throwing the tennis match against Carlton and Troy in "The Sweaters" is now Zach curb-stomping them.
- American Dad!
- In "Family Affair", when Roger recounts how he lost his first adopted family, he depicts himself as a well-groomed innocent young man who is randomly and callously deserted in the middle of nowhere. When he finally confronts them in reality, it is revealed he was in fact left due to being an intimidating, abusive Lazy Bum who refused to pay rent. Dumbfounded, he threatens to cut their face if they don't shut up.
- In the episode "Into the Woods", when Stan runs into an old classmate, he recounts a memory of them on Halloween as kids, where Stan didn't stand up for his friend when the other kids asked if they were together and insulted him, causing him to run off into the woods in tears. Stan sets out to make amends, but it turns out their roles were actually inverted with Stan being the one who ran off in tears. When confronted with the truth, Stan realizes that he was so hurt by the betrayal and humiliation that he had blocked out the memory, but when seeing his old classmate triggered it he altered the memory to spare himself the pain. The episode ends with Francine doing the same thing to him and Stan altering that memory, as well.
- D.W. from Arthur tends to have this:
- In "Go To Your Room, D.W.", when she gets sent to her room for being mean to Kate, she tells Nadine a bunch of falsified memories of how her parents abused her, like when they forced her to be Arthur's slave when he was sick and not allowing her to attend Aunt Lucy's wedding. Nadine doesn't buy a word of it, pointing out that D.W. did get to go to the wedding.
- In "Mom and Dad Have a Great Big Fight" when recalling an argument she had with Arthur, her flashback depicts Arthur as incredibly stupid while their parents immediately take D.W.'s side and demand that Arthur play with his "perfect little sister". As shown earlier in the episode, that's definitely not what happened.
- The Batman: The Animated Series episode "P.O.V." combines this with "Rashomon"-Style. In Harvey Bullock's spoken account of the events, he tries to paint himself as a brave hero and Batman as a menace, while the animation shows him bumbling around and Batman doing all the work. In a slight twist to this, the rookie cop, Officier Wilkes, unintentionally does the same, depicting Batman as a supernatural badass; for example, he claims Bats took down a fleeing crook just by pointing at him, apparently having missed the Grappling-Hook Pistol in his hand.
- Randal has this a couple of times in the Clip Show episode of Clerks: The Animated Series. In it, Randal winds up getting himself and Dante locked in a freezer. When Jay and Silent Bob later get trapped in it with them as well, Randal explains to them how they were trapped by painting a ridiculous flashback where he's a millionaire philanthropist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and happened to get locked in because Dante, "The Biggest Idiot Ever" let the door get closed by throwing a cat into it.
- In The Critic, Jay first tries to remember back when he won his Pulitzer Prize, which involves him poorly dancing on a dance floor and striking out with a woman; Jay then realizes that memory was pathetic so he changes the memory where he dances amazingly, wins a kiss from a girl, everybody applauds then a large poster drops down saying "We Love Jay."
Jay: Wow, I got my denial mojo working!
- In the Drawn Together episode "Toot Goes Bollywood", Foxxy's psychiatrist Wooldoor implants a false memory in her mind of her being raped as a young girl in order to make her feel better about herself with the belief that she's a slut because of past sexual abuse, not because she's just a slut.
- Duck Dodgers:
- Gloriously displayed when the Cadet, IQ High, and an old acquaintance go inside Dodgers' mind to retrieve important codes. Dodgers' memory is self-serving Up to Eleven, such as him as the first caveman making fire, along with being a pharaoh among other things.
- Also hinted at in another episode when the Cadet corrects Dodgers on a recollection before looking through Dodgers' self-serving journals. The Cadet cheerfully admits that some of the stories are actually quite good, for being a total fabrication. Dodgers then comments on his home movies, making this a potentially Enforced Trope.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy: "Once Upon an Ed" has each of the Eds telling Johnny the story of how they got stuck in his bedroom wall:
- Edd's version is much more sanitized (Jimmy has no braces): Eddy is an even bigger jerkass than usual, both Ed and Eddy are even dumber than usual, Edd is the leader and both Ed and Eddy are submissive to him and easily cowed by his wrath.
- Eddy's version is basically a Marty Stu fanfic that portrays everyone (except Nazz, who nonetheless walks around in a bikini) as grotesque parodies of themselves (Jimmy's braces become Braces of Orthodontic Overkill and he's still wearing diapers, Kevin is a literal Butt-Monkey) who all bow down and worship him because he's rich, awesome, and dapper.
- Ed's isn't self-serving, so much as bizarre. The Kankers become a giant three-headed monster by eating radioactive mashed potatoes, and Ed avoids them with superpowers (which sounds and looks a lot like fart-flying). As Eddy puts it, "Ed, your story's getting weird!" Ironically enough, it's the version that has everyone look and sound like their actual selves, except Edd (who only speaks in Blah, Blah, Blah, which does make sense considering this story is told in Ed's perspective), the Kankers and, to some extent, Kevin (every sentence Kevin says has "dork" in it, even when he's not talking about the Eds).
- In The Fairly OddParents episode "Hassle in the Castle", Timmy goes inside Cosmo and Wanda's fishbowl castle and winds up in the Hall of Infamy, home to the worst godkids they had. One of the kids he meets, Mary Ann, says that Cosmo and Wanda "deserted" her for stealing their wands. When the two fairies intervene, they reveal that she abused their magic, took out Archduke Ferdinand and plunged the world into World War I.
- Family Guy:
- After Peter fails to secure a reservation at Cheesy Charlie's for Stewie's birthday (largely due to acting like a Jerkass and demanding a reduced fee), he tells Lois a story about the restaurant's staff being Satanic Nazis and Peter transforming into the Incredible Hulk to fight them before Lois cuts him off. This is lampshaded when Brian interrupts Peter's story to pull up a chair, saying "These things are always good." Afterwards, he claps and calls Peter "the Spalding Gray of crap."
Cheesy Charlie's Manager: We have many flavors of ice cream - vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, and people.
Peter Griffin: What was that last one?
Cheesy Charlie's Manager: *quickly* Chocolate?
- Peter does it to Dr. Hartman after he gave Peter a prostate exam. After hearing the other "horror stories" from the guys about their exams, Peter sues Dr. Hartman. During the trial, Peter gives an account that makes it seem like Dr. Hartman molested him. When Dr. Hartman points out that he also gave the judge a prostate exam, the judge remembers that it was a normal procedure. Peter then tells him to recollect that moment to be sure "it wasn't all grainy and black and white". When he does, the judge has a similar account as Peter and he finds Dr. Hartman guilty. As a result, the judge revokes Dr. Hartman's medical license. In what is perhaps an example of Laser-Guided Karma, Peter actually does start showing symptoms of a serious prostate problem, so he tries to get Dr. Hartman to do a prostate exam on him without admitting that he was wrong, as due to the lawsuit no doctor will go near him.
- In "Peter's Two Dads", Stewie breaks Lois' necklace while throwing a fit and causes Lois to impulsively smack him on the butt (which she immediately feels bad about). When Stewie recounts the event to Rupert, he depicts himself as having broke the necklace by accident and tried to apologize for it, but got savagely beaten by a brutish, musclebound Lois.
- After Peter fails to secure a reservation at Cheesy Charlie's for Stewie's birthday (largely due to acting like a Jerkass and demanding a reduced fee), he tells Lois a story about the restaurant's staff being Satanic Nazis and Peter transforming into the Incredible Hulk to fight them before Lois cuts him off. This is lampshaded when Brian interrupts Peter's story to pull up a chair, saying "These things are always good." Afterwards, he claps and calls Peter "the Spalding Gray of crap."
- "Twice Told Tale" from Garfield and Friends. Basically, the episode is about how the Arbuckle residence becomes filled with yogurt. Not only do Jon and Garfield blame each other, but they each exaggerate the other's negative qualities (Garfield becomes extra demanding; Jon wants to save money so he can spend it selfishly) and play up their own positive qualities (Garfield is more accommodating; Jon wants to save money for charitable reasons). Each asks Odie if his own version isn't correct, but he doesn't agree with either.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy:
- Grim asks Billy what he's said about playing with his scythe. Cut to Billy's flashback featuring Billy and a camel with Grim's head on a Dali-esque background, with "Grim" saying "Sure thing, Billy! And after that, you can ride on my humps!"
- One of the episodes has Grim and the kids (and Irwin) dangling over a pit with a monster, Irwin asks How We Got Here, only for the group to misinterpret and tell a story about how they met from Billy and Grim's memory of the event (Billy's a fantastical space journey assembling Grim's lost parts and Grim's about how he went from popular celebrity to a slave to two diabolical children). After they both got their stories out, an annoyed Mandy reminded them how it really happened in about 20 seconds, with her narration being played over clips from the pilot episode that depicted those events.
Grim: Oh please, Mandy. That didn't even look like us!
- In the Harley Quinn episode "Being Harley Quinn", while the gang is inside Harley's mind, they witness Harley's "origin story": being pushed by the Joker into the same vat of chemicals that made him what he is. However, Harley is unsettled about the fact that the memory is glitchy and dives deeper into her own repressed memories to figure out why. She finally accesses the complete memory and discovers that the Joker didn't push her: she jumped into the chemicals willingly out of her love for him, and her original memory edited herself to absolve Harley of any responsibility. Harley then engages in a healthier variation of this trope by accepting responsibility for the jump and considering her true origin story to be not when she did so but when she finally left the Joker and struck out on her own.
- In Hey Arnold!, Curly tries to get Eugene expelled from school because Curly lent him his favorite pencil, only for Eugene to sharpen and chew it up a lot. In Curly's flashback of the event, Eugene—a geeky Nice Guy who was Born Unlucky—does all this with a sadistic smile, a sneering tone, and an Evil Laugh punctuated by Dramatic Thunder.
- Infinity Train:
- In Book 1, Tulip watches a tape of her own memories and eventually realises that most of them are not how they actually happened, but instead how she thinks they went. For example, what she thought was a fun day out at a dolphin show with her parents was actually less happy - the dolphins were in poor health which led to the park being closed down, and she complained about not being able to see very well which caused her parents to argue about her needing glasses.
- In Book 4, when Ryan visits Min-Gi at the diner he works at after doing a music tour without him, he says that the two of them planned the tour a few years back in the same booth they're sitting in now, only for Min-Gi to correct him and say it was the one next to them. If you paid attention to the earlier scene, you'll realise that Ryan was actually right, so this trope applies to Min-Gi instead.
- The titular character of Invader Zim is a delusional egomaniac who views himself as the greatest Invader in Irken history, oblivious to the fact that his entire species hates him for his incompetence. As such, he's often shown intentionally misremembering things to support his view of things, which is best shown in the pilot, where he believes that he was critical to the success of the Irkens' previous attempt at universal conquest when he actually caused it to fail by going on a destructive rampage in a Humongous Mecha on his own planet.
Zim: I put the fires out.
Tallest Red: You made them worse!
Zim: Worse... or better?
- Johnny Bravo has a story in the park involving bees, Carl's robot, Johnny being trampled by a horse (or horse-like creature), etc., as told by Johnny, Carl, and Susie. However, at the end of the episode, we see a unicorn and a small robot (which featured in Susie's story) peeking out of the bushes laughing at the inclusion of an Algae Monster.
- Kim Possible: In a Continuity Nod, Ron remembers how he invented a fast-food hit, the naco. His memory is sepia-toned with himself and Kim in period dress.
Kim: That's how you remember it, huh?
- King of the Hill: In the episode "A Fire-Fighting We Will Go", Dale, Bill, Boomhauer, and Hank each give their account of what happened at the volunteer fire department before it burned down. Dale's account depicts himself as muscular, with long, flowing hair, while Hank is a literal Drill Sergeant Nasty. Boomhauer's account has everyone else talking in his own Motor Mouth fashion while he himself is perfectly intelligible. Bill's account is an inversion, as he sees himself as being even fatter and balder than he actually is. Hank's account is the truth up until he remembers what actually caused the fire. He ultimately blames the recently deceased Chet Elderson for plugging in his faulty Alamo Beer sign, when in reality, it was Dale who was responsible.
- Lite Sprites: Meadow starts telling the story of how they all got their light wands, and flashes back to all her friends laughing at the hilarious joke she had just made. Bleak stops her short and flashes back to what actually happened: the joke crashed and burned.
- In The Looney Tunes Show episode "Reunion", Daffy believes he spent his high school years being a popular Jerk Jock who regularly picked on the uncool Porky Pig. It's only after he attends the titular reunion does he realize that it was the other way around: he was the dorky loser and Porky was the popular jock who often bullied him.
- In the Motorcity episode "Threat Level," Texas, while being interrogated, recounts the events of previous episodes to Tooley. Claiming he's the Burners' "secret weapon," he makes it look like that he was responsible for all of the Burners' accomplishments, instead of Mike Chilton. Tooley becomes very impressed.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode "P.P.O.V. (Pony Point of View)", Applejack, Pinkie Pie and Rarity return from a disastrous sailing trip, each having their own version of how the boat sank, with Rarity blaming Applejack (whom she claims caught a form of Ocean Madness), Pinkie blaming Rarity (whom she depicts as acting like a stuffy cruise captain), and Applejack blaming both Rarity and Pinkie (depicting Rarity as an Upper-Class Twit and Pinkie as greatly immature and fun-obsessed). In each telling, the pony narrating the story depicts herself as the only reasonable member of the group (Pinkie, in particular, depicts herself as a little less of a Cloudcuckoolander than she usually is), who does no wrong throughout the cruise, and pleasantly humors the antics of the others. In the end, it is revealed that none of them were responsible for the actual sinking (which was actually caused by a Bunyip who had been drawn to the surface by some cucumber sandwiches that had fallen overboard). It is also implied that the actual events were a combination of elements from all their stories.
- In The Powerpuff Girls, Mojo Jojo guilts Professor Utonium into giving him Chemical X-induced superpowers by telling a sob story of how he was once the Professor's loyal lab assistant monkey who was cruelly ignored and sidelined when the girls were created. Mojo wreaking havoc with his new powers causes the Professor to remember the truth: Jojo was supposed to be his assistant, but was actually a helion who constantly trashed the lab. In fact, Jojo shoved the Professor when he was mixing up the "Perfect Little Girl" formula, causing the Chemical X container to break — in other words, Mojo created the Powerpuff Girls. He doesn't take this well. This is actually brought up in the movie, as we see Jojo wreaking havoc as the Professor is working.
- In one episode of Rocket Power, Otto and Twister have a falling out over a skateboard trick that Otto did but Twister failed at during a game. At one point Otto tries to end the feud by telling Twister that he forgives him, but this only makes Twister angrier. When Reggie asks Otto what he thinks happened between them, he explains that he warned Twister that the trick was hard and that Twister lashed out at him when he tried to help after he got hurt. Reggie shows him a video of what really happened, of how Otto mocked Twister for being too scared to try the trick. Then after Twister tried the trick and got hurt when he failed, Otto obliviously kept mocking Twister and rubbed his victory in his face. Realizing that he had unthinkingly insulted his friend after completely ignoring the fact that he had just gotten hurt, Otto's response to the video was...
Otto: [stunned confusion] I can't believe I said that.
- She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: In "Mer-Mysteries", Sea Hawk does this when recounting the battle of Dryl. He says the moonlight enhanced Mermista's beauty, even though the battle happened during the day. When they were surrounded by Horde soldiers, Mermista acts like a damsel in distress even though she is an Action Girl. He recalls taking out 100 soldiers to save Mermista, but in reality, he took out one before being knocked out. Throughout the episode, he keeps bumping up the number of soldiers he supposedly defeated.
- The Simpsons:
- In "Bart Gets Hit by a Car", Bart gets hit by Mr. Burns' car. At the trial, they both tell self-serving versions of the story, but Bart's account, where Mr. Burns is a lunatic who went out of his way to hit him, is more believable; Mr. Burns' account, where he was on his way to help orphans and Bart threw himself at the car while laughing maniacally, is instantly disbelieved by the entire courtroom for obvious reasons.
- In "The War of the Simpsons", Homer and Marge throw a party, in which Homer gets totally drunk and embarrasses himself by leering at Maude Flanders' breasts, stumbling over furniture, etc. When confronted about this by Marge the next day, he remembers, in a pastel-colored flashback, a witty, sophisticated conversation not a million miles from the Algonquin Round Table of the 1930s.
- In "$pringfield", Homer accuses Marge of being against the casino, when she actually wasn't, and proceeds to assertively claim: "I have a phonographic memory!" Homer's "phonographic memory" of the scene is drastically different from what actually happened. Most notably, it shows Homer with ripped muscles and accepting a call from the President from something with octopus tentacles. To add insult to injury, he doesn't even correctly remember Marge's hair color.
- "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" has Homer recalling the previous night's debaucheries in a sepia-toned silent movie titled "Homer's Night Out", which starts with him having a beer at Moe's. It then cuts to a panel saying "Scene Missing" followed by Homer frolicking around a maypole in a summery glade alongside several women in togas. This is followed by another panel saying "Scene Missing".
- Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons:
- In the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode, "Best Hedgehog", both Lucas and Dr. Robotnik have different flashbacks of themselves with their high school crush, Lucinda, which happened thirty years before the events of that episode. Lucas' flashback is much more true to the episode's events, as in Robotnik's flashback, Robotnik is a lot more handsome, Lucinda is in love with him, and Lucas is a lot braver, even going as far as to fight Robotnik for Lucinda.
- Sonic Boom:
- The episode, "Dude, Where's my Eggman?" has Knuckles pull this. When Orbot and Cubot ask him if they did battle yesterday, Knuckles remembers himself as beating Eggman easily with superpowers, winning over the girls, and being elected governor while Sonic ran away. It overlaps slightly with Believing Their Own Lies as after he tells the story, he begins planning to write his acceptance speech for governor.
- "Fire in a Crowded Workshop", another episode of the same series, is built around this trope. A fire breaks out in Tails' workshop, and Sonic, Knuckles, and Amy each have different versions of how it happened. Sonic's side of the story has him portrayed as an egotistical, tough ladies' man who can do no wrong while underlining his friends' flaws. Knuckles' side is very similar to the one in "Dude, Where's My Eggman", where he is depicted as a brave captain who puts out the fire in Tails' workshop with ice breath, while Sonic is depicted as a coward. Amy's side of the story has her see Perci as a "siren" with a Southern accent who the boys blindly want to do everything for, and despite that, Amy "selflessly" gives her aid. In spite of the differences between everyone's stories, Sticks rattling off a conspiracy theory about Perci being a spy/alien/government agent before running off screaming is the one thing that remains mostly constant.
- South Park:
- In "City on the Edge of Forever", which is a Clip Show, things always end more pleasantly for the character recalling previous events. Additionally, every flashback ends with everyone getting ice cream.
- "Fishsticks": Cartman tries to take credit for the fish sticks joke, and flashes back to the actual creation of the joke multiple times. Each time, it gets more and more elaborate, finally ending with him fighting an army of robot Jews as the Human Torch. Kyle calls Cartman out for allowing his ego-influenced memory to create false accounts of real events. Cartman brushes him off. Later on, however, Cartman assumes that Jimmy is the one who has this problem. In fact, Cartman's ego is so massive, that he doesn't even realize he's making things up and taking all the credit, even when his life is threatened because of it. His final flashback is him completely taking 100% credit for the joke when previously Jimmy at least had a hand in it while being threatened with death by Kanye West. His inability to remember things accurately actually saves Jimmy's life.
- "Coon and Friends": The kids play superheroes, and Cartman acts like his usual selfish, bratty self while remaining convinced that he's the greatest hero this side of Superman. At one point, a little girl asks about Mysterion, the most popular hero in South Park, and Cartman flips out and violently attacks her until two adults pull him off. When he recalls the incident, he treats the little girl as a supervillain and the adults as civilians he was saving.
- In the Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "Curling Flower Space", Space Ghost, Zorak, and Moltar each try to explain how last week's show with Sarah Jessica Parker went, each explaining it self-servingly. Space Ghost recalls Parker wanting to have sex with him before heroically fending off an attack by a sentient ceiling tile. Zorak's is the most believable, featuring Space Ghost bumbling his way through the interview as usual before being hit by a falling ceiling tile and reduced to pitiful sobbing, but through most of it, Zorak remembers the rock band Boston showing up to take him on a galactic rock tour as their keyboardist. Moltar really couldn't care less what happened during the interview, but he did recall a talking car entering his room and blowing his mind. When neither Space Ghost nor Zorak believed that, Moltar changed his story such that Michael Myers broke in instead and attacked him.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob's obliviousness to Squidward's hatred of him is best shown in "Little Yellow Book", where we're shown a scene of Squidward chewing SpongeBob out; while in reality, Squidward was furious at SpongeBob for letting Gary into his home and Gary chewing up many of his possessions, complete with Squidward screaming "horrible words that should never be used around strangers" in his face, SpongeBob sees it as Squidward giving him "his profound opinions on how to properly raise and care for a household pet."
Squidward: Great Neptune, I had no idea. The depth of his delusion is awe-inspiring.
- Steven Universe:
- Pearl describes her time in the Gem War as if she were a Knight in Shining Armor who selflessly defended Rose from any threat; Garnet reveals that, in reality, Pearl constantly charged into danger against Rose's wishes out of a blatant inferiority complex. To Pearl's credit, she genuinely cared about Rose and really wanted to be her knight in shining armor.
- Peridot's log entries paint her actions with a little more dignity.
Peridot: He also said he wanted me to stop calling him "the Steven".
Flashback!Steven: It's just Steven.
Peridot: I said I'll call him whatever I want.
Flashback!Peridot: (hisses like a cat)
- The Sushi Pack episode "So Says Who?" combines this with "Rashomon"-Style, as Tako and Maguro try to figure out why they're in a box on an asteroid hurtling toward Earth. Not only do they remember the day's events differently, but their versions also paint themselves in a positive light while making the other look ridiculous.
- Time Squad has three different versions of an encounter with Attila the Hun with only the last one being correct. Though since Otto isn't an official Time Squad member, Tuddrussel and Larry ignore his accurate retelling for a mixed version of both of theirs in their report. Probably on the count that they got beat by the Huns and would rather not share that, much to Otto's annoyance.
- When Starscream returns in Transformers: Robots in Disguise (2015), he claims he wants revenge on Megatron for abusing him and cruelly abandoning him to the Predacons. In reality, Megatron abdicated his role as leader of the Decepticons and went into exile. Starscream's attempt to take control of the faction was cut short by the Predacons catching up to him completely independent of Megatron. He's not lying about the abuse, though.
- His evasion from the Predacons is an amusing variation where we hear his self serving interpretation accompanied by what is supposedly the reality; Starscream claims he bravely fought against the Predacons before tactically leading them into an ammunition room which he utilised against them when actually he ran away like a wimp and accidentally set off artillery that neutralised them by convenience.
- In the Turbo F.A.S.T. episode "Faking Amends", Burn is visited by her hippie sister Ember, who Burn claims was the meanest of her older sisters who always tormented her with cruel pranks growing up. When Ember arrives, she proves to be nothing but nice and sweet, but Burn claims it's all an act and plans to get back at her with a prank of her own. But after the prank, Burn and Ember have a huge argument where Ember reveals that Burn was the abuser in their relationship. When Burn recounts all the pranks she remembers Ember pulling on her, Ember corrects her that they were all actually pranks that Burn pulled on Ember, each of which backfired on her in some way. Burn lampshades this when she sheepishly asks her friends if "She's sensing a pattern of remembering things wrong".