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The Münchausen

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Horatio Jackson: I'm afraid, sir, that you have a rather weak grasp of reality.
Baron Münchhausen: Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash, and I am delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever!

They've been everywhere, seen everything, done it all, and more. Given any chance, they'll tell you all about it, whether you want them to or not. Their adventures may be blatantly impossible, or simply impossible to believe, but he rarely shuts up about them and generally reacts badly to anyone openly doubting him. This character may be crazy, deluded, a Con Man, or a compulsive liar. These versions are prone to rejecting others' reality for their own, as in the page quote. Often the listener will dismiss their tales, and then find out that The Munchausen was telling the truth all along.

Don't confuse this with people who inflict injury on themselves or someone else to get attention, which is Münchausen Syndrome (though it is named after the Baron).

The Miles Gloriosus is a subtrope where their own prowess is the central part of his tales — except that it's all hot air.

Contrast Badass Boast. Compare and contrast Small Name, Big Ego and the Fake Ultimate Hero. Also compare to Shrouded in Myth, Expansion Pack Past, Multiple-Choice Past.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Mr. Satan on Dragon Ball Z. While he has done his own incredible things on his own and is a talented martial artist, he's overshadowed by the actions of the Z-Fighters. In fairness, they're pretty happy to let him take the credit since it means they don't have to be in the spotlight. He also has people skills.
  • One Piece:
    • Usopp is the Sharpshooter of the Straw Hat Crew who constantly makes up stories of daring adventures. The first part of his name is a homophone of the Japanese word for "lie" and his long and distinctive nose may be a reference to Pinocchio. Weird enough, some of his (fantastic and false) stories have appeared to be true by coincidence. In fact, the fact that he is starting to live his stories is a bit of Running Gag among the fanbase.
    • Montblanc Noland appears in a children's book about a man who lied about having found a mountain of gold and being executed in turn. He was real, a great explorer, and nothing of what he said was a lie; a central theme to the Skypiea Arc is people endeavoring to prove he was telling the truth all along.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa, Edward Elric tells fantastic stories about his exploits as a boy to residents of Munich. Everybody thinks he's messed up in the head, but since this is Fullmetal Alchemist and the guy telling the stories is Edward Elric, they're all absolutely true.
  • Ranma ½ has the minor anime-only character Toramasa Kobayashi, an old man with a tendency for such tall tales, making the good old days of Fūrinkan High School sounds like some Samurai movie. Ranma is skeptical, but Tatewaki is enthused by the stories.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the entire struggle between the Demon Slayers and Muzan's demons is only recorded by Zentisu in his personal biography by the end of the series; however, there is a little hint that Zentisu was actually very sketchy and biased towards himself in writing said book, naming it The Legend of Zenitsu. Official publications that followed after the series's end do further confirm Zenitsu was very shrewd in writing his diary, the exclusive post-epilogue extra chapter contained in the 2nd Fanbook has a little scene where Zenitsu shows Tanjiro the first drafts of his book, Tanjiro notices he is labelled as one of Zenitsu's subordinates, but Tanjiro is so kind that he just let Zenitsu write whatever he wanted. In October 2021, Japan, during an art exposition new materials also shed more light on Zenitsu's book, showing how Zentisu described Tanjiro, Inosuke, and Giyu in his tale, they are all significantly less attractive than they were in the real story, Giyu in particular becomes an extremely ugly man in Zenitsu's vision, likely out of his jealousy over Nezuko being extremely happy to see Giyu whenever he visited their home after the series's end. With all that said, it gives more context to Zenitsu's great-granddaughter Touko seeing Zenitsu's biography as a book of lies. However, Zenitsu, in his elderly years, seemed to have grown past the need to embellish his own achievements, the last 25th chapter of his book is the real account of what happened in the whole series.

  • This is the premise of Tim Wilson's "Uncle BS" skits, where the titular uncle is asked where he was on a certain day and recounts an obviously fake story of it.
  • An old joke has a man (say he's named John Smith) who will happily tell anyone about the people he's met, which seems entirely too many for a single lifetime. One day the president comes into town to deliver a televised speech, and who should be giving him a pre-speech pep talk but John Smith. One of his friends, amazed that he was telling the truth all along, hears the woman next to him ask her husband "Hey, who's the guy schmoozing up to John Smith?".

    Comic Books 
  • Bone: Tall Tales: Big Johnson is the quintessential frontier folk hero, capable of wrestling tornados, beating the tar out of Old Man Winter, eating enough food to feed a village in one sitting, etc. How many of his tales are whoppers is YMMV, because he is actually seen wrestling a tornado at one point, and he is capable of holding his own against an entire army of rat creatures by supposedly replicating a trick he pulled on some mountain lions and swinging them around by their tails.
    Mr. Pip: If I didn't know better, I'd say you've lost your mind, but you probably have some ridiculous story about how you lost your mind some time ago and then found it again on one of the tallest mountain peaks in the world-
    Big Johnson: Actually, I lost it prospecting for gold in the frozen north, and recovered it with the help of a kindly sherpa named Benny- but that's a story for another day.
  • Spider-Man: J. Jonah Jameson.
    J. Jonah Jameson: Lousy interns! You call this publishable work!? Back in my day, we had to write this stuff out by hand, we had to go to the primary sources to get our stories! And we got them in on time! And we didn't have interns!
  • Superman story The Living Legends Of Superman has Homer, an old oil snake salesman who loves telling outrageous stories about his astronaut days when he was stationed out in the asteroid belt...or on Alpha Centauri. He has told you about that time he saved Superman's life? Just don't ask how he could talk in space while helping Superman out...
  • X-Men: Jubilee expected her experience to give her more clout when she was transferred to Generation X. It didn't take long for her new companions to grow tired of it and refuse to hear anything starting with the words "When I was with the X-Men..."
  • Nextwave: Monica Rambeau constantly regaled/browbeat her teammates with things that happened when she used to be the leader of The Avengers for about five minutes until they grew heartily sick of it. This left such an impression on Machine Man that when he got an L.M.D. of her, he made sure it whined about leading the Avengers.
  • The Italian comic book Lupo Alberto has Enrico La Talpa, who, for a while, annoyed the protagonist with tales of his adventures in World War II on both sides. Depending on the occasion, he fought as a member of the SS, an Italian soldier detached with Rommell (who apparently stole his wallet), and an aviator of the US Army Air Force. Years later Alberto remarked that Enrico isn't trustworthy by evoking his tale of having fought the Punic Wars in the air force... And Enrico confirmed, inventing a tale of him fighting alongside Scipio the African and the Red Baron on the spot.
  • Knockabout of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Super-Agents in the Marvel Universe is an Australian who apparently gets superstrength based on how many tall tales people believe about him. It's possible to do with the Dreamtime, but by definition, his origin is unclear.

    Comic Strips 
  • The British comic The Beano used to feature the tall tales of Uncle Windbag.
  • See also the classic American strip cartoon character Major Hoople.
  • Dilbert has a minor character called the Topper, who has to top everything that is said to him. An example:
    Asok: I found a rock that's shaped like an egg.
    Topper: That's nothing! I have a rock that's shaped like Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson!
    Asok: My rock just hatched! It's a fully clothed alien from a distant galaxy!
    Topper: That's nothing!
  • Eddie is like this on Non Sequitur, often telling outlandish stories about his life at Flo's place, sometimes hoping to mooch a free lunch by telling them. The thing is a few of them are actually true, as Diane and others have found out, so it's very hard to tell which of his stories are true, which are exaggerations, and which are outright lies.
  • German strip Ottifanten has Grandpa Bommel, who likes to self-insert into history, much to the despair of his son.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In Andrew Lang's "The Black Thief and the Knight of the Glen" and Joseph Jacobs' "Conall Yellowclaw", a lord captures four thieves: three brothers and an older man. The older man ransoms each of the brothers by telling a story of when he had been in more danger than they are, in the hands of a man about to execute them. The final story involves his helping a woman save a baby, and an old woman recognizes the tale and that the lord had been the baby, so the lord rewards the older thief for his rescue.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: When dementia descends on him, Rhino boasts of having accomplished all sorts of improbable deeds in "The Spaceship." These include winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, leading an army of elephants over the Alps to attack Rome, inventing the telephone and Internet, and being the trusted advisor to British Prime Ministers and U.S. presidents, among other things. It has unexpected consequences when two space aliens try to kidnap him, wanting him to head up their civilization's Brain Trust Committee.
  • The Twilight Child states that any tale told by Rainbow Dash will inevitably mutate over time into one of heroism and daring deeds. For example, just avoiding Pinkie Pie somehow ends up involving fighting sky pirates. The only thing Rainbow Dash will never lie about is the events of Party of One.

    Film — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Baron Munchausen in all the films about him, naturally.
    • In the Terry Gilliam film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the Baron turns out to be telling the absolute truth about his adventures and companions. Which is especially impressive since he's telling a story about present and ongoing events; most of the entire movie is a part of his story and, at the end of the movie, reality itself appears to have changed in order to accommodate his tall tale.
    • The Ufa film company made a spectacular color Münchhausen in 1943 to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Starring Hans Albers in the title role as well as many other German film stars of the era. The screenplay was written by dissident author Erich Kästner, who got a special dispensation from his work ban from Goebbels to write it, under the condition that he used the pseudonym Bürger (same as the author of the second and most well-known book of the Baron's adventures, 1786). In the film Münchhausen has an affair with Catherine the Great, fights a duel with Prince Potemkin, and hobnobs with the likes of Cagliostro and an aging Casanova.
    • The Czech director Karel Zeman did a very stylish and well-reviewed Baron Munchausen in 1961, directly inspiring Gilliam's version.
    • The 1979 Soviet film The Very Same Munchhausen, whose story is set after the adventures described in the book, arguably subverts this by providing an Alternative Character Interpretation for the Baron. He is portrayed as a non-conformist man who lives in a world of his own and sincerely believes in all of his tales, at least one of which is shown to be true in the first scene (although this might just be Mind Screw). He is struggling to prove himself sane to a dull and conformist society, which is hell-bent on destroying him.
  • In The Three Musketeers (1993), Porthos does this constantly, his claims to fame including such arrant nonsense as his romance with "the Queen of America". However, during a battle on a ship, two of the Bad Guy's Goons recognize him as "Porthos the Pirate!", scream in terror, and jump into the ocean. Porthos's response: "I told you I was famous."
  • Used in Secondhand Lions, in which whether the story told by the two uncles is true or false plays an important role in the plot.
  • Big Fish, a man's elaborate stories about his past alienate his son when he grows old enough to doubt their veracity. It turns out that the father's stories are exaggerated some but still grounded in fact.
  • In The Commitments, Joey 'The Lips' Fagan constantly talks about his many encounters with famous musicians. You name one, he's worked with/met him. Most of the characters in the movie think he's full of it, although a few still believe in his unlikely stories. in the end, it's revealed that he was both telling the truth and lying: he does apparently know Wilson Picket well enough to get him to show up for a gig, albeit too late, but also tells his mother he's off playing with Joe Tex, who is actually dead
  • Monsieur Moustache in Irma la Douce blurs the line between this and Multiple-Choice Past. Some of his claims about his past careers are clearly balderdash, but some might have a grain of truth.
  • The wartime movie musical Thank Your Lucky Stars has the comic song "That's What You Jolly Well Get," in which Errol Flynn boasts of his single-handed victories.
  • In Don Juan DeMarco, the title character is so good at spinning romantic fantasies he starts believing them himself and is nearly committed to a mental hospital.
  • Played with in Unforgiven, when notorious gunslinger English Bob has a writer named Beauchamp trailing him around, to whom he is telling his life's story for publication. When English Bob arrives at Big Whiskey to pursue the bounty on the men who cut up Delilah, he gets his ass kicked and is arrested by Little Bill, who tosses him in jail. Little Bill then spends the next few hours reading through the manuscript and utterly emasculating Bob, revealing everything he's been telling the writer has been fabricated and heavily embellished to make him look like a bigger badass than he really is. After Bob is ejected from town the next morning, Beauchamp stays on with Bill to write his story, whom Bill encourages. It seems that Bill is doing this as well, until the climax when Will Munny shows up to avenge Ned Morgan, who was tortured to death over killing the men who hurt Delilah. Little Bill stares down Munny's shotgun and tells his posse to take Munny down after he shoots, even though it likely means he'll have already been killed. Averted outright with Munny, who flat-out tells Beauchamp to take a hike when the kid tries to cozy up to him as well.
  • Sinbad the Sailor: At the start of the movie, Sinbad regales a skeptical audience with tales of his voyages, hamming it up magnificently, and then begins to tell the tale of his latest voyage to Daryabar. At the end of the movie he showers his audience with coins and jewels he retrieved from Daryabar, proving he was not merely fabricating his adventures.
  • I Won't Play: Joe, a Marine on a remote Pacific atoll, makes all sorts of outrageous claims—he introduced Frank Sinatra to Tommy Dorsey, he helped Gershwin write Rhapsody in Blue, he gave Humphrey Bogart acting tips, and he discovered (fictional) film star Kim Karol. When Karol shows up on a USO tour and recognizes Joe, at least some of his stories are revealed to be true.
  • Choose Me: Mickey tells a series of fanciful stories about himself. He claims he graduated from Yale, that he was an Air Force fighter pilot, that he was a mechanic at a German auto plant, that he was a spy who actually went to Moscow on an espionage mission, that he is also a successful photographer who has gotten covers on magazines like Esquire and Newsweek. He says that the reason he was in a mental hospital is that people thought he was making everything up. Nancy goes through Mickey's suitcase and discovers that everything he said was true—she finds a Yale alumnus magazine, Mickey's Air Force service records and photos, his magazine covers, and a news story about him getting arrested in Moscow for espionage (he was exchanged).
  • All of the people who shared the bus stop bench with Forrest Gump think he's doing this, but he's telling the truth.

  • The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen is the Trope Namer, first published in 1785. Baron Munchausen invites his friends for dinner and relates his extraordinary army adventures and travels, which include riding one flying cannonball, taming a roc, being swallowed by a giant fish...
  • Lord Dunsany's character Jorkens fits the pattern exactly. Flying to Mars, encountering an almost legendary creature in Africa unique for one small trait, and being assaulted by trees are three typical adventures.
  • P. G. Wodehouse
    • Mr. Mulliner would tell stories of his extended family and their adventures. Usually not so much focus on impossible feats as convoluted circumstances, and they'd always get the girl in the end, or the man for those instances the Mulliner or Mulliver cousin was a woman herself. Except for Roberta Wickham, whose various beaus were usually driven over the edge and emigrated to Australia, or married someone else completely.
    • His golfing books followed a similar theme, though the tales were told by an elderly member of the club, the protagonists were golfers, and it'd always focus on golf. Also, many tales would end with the guy NOT getting the girl, usually happily.
  • In The Hobbit, the story of Bullroarer Took, Bilbo's great grand-uncle, was likely told by a Munchausen. Supposedly, he was so big - for a hobbit - he was able to ride a horse - horse, not pony - and slew King Golfinbel in the Battle of the Green Fields, knocking the orc's head clean off with a club. The severed head sailed a hundred yards, and fell down a rabbit burrow, winning the battle and inventing the game of golf in the same instant. (At least one adaptation where this story is told by Gandalf causes him and the dwarves to laugh at the last part.)
  • Star Trek: In Peter David's novels, many folks in Starfleet Command express doubt at the fantastic scenarios that play out in the canon episodes. For many of them, they must take the Captain's word for it. Space amobea indeed.
  • The Agatha Christie novel A Caribbean Mystery includes an old soldier named Major Palgrave, who tells endless stories about his past that no one cares about and a few people doubt. The key story, in which he (or someone else) met a murderer is an important plot point and is true.
  • Surely Dill Harris from To Kill a Mockingbird is one. Even though he's just a kid.
  • Tall Tale America is mostly told from an omniscient point-of-view, but the section on Jim Bridger (a.k.a. Old Gabe) has him relating his adventures and experiences to a young tenderfoot, such as how he rode a horse across a petrified canyon, or the mountain he saw grow up from a hole in the ground, or the time a nine-foot-tall Indian killed him.
  • The character Ijon Tichy in The Star Diaries by Stanisław Lem is Münchhausen... IN SPACE! An in-universe preface to the diaries even says that Ijon Tichy continues the glorious traditions of baron Munchausennote .
  • In David Drake's Starliner, Richard Wade sponges off a group of passengers, alleging that he always forgets to carry enough cash to pay for drinks and such. His tall tales are so entertaining, though, that his listeners end up feeling it was worth it. A subversion: the reader sees evidence that at least some of Wade's accounts are true ... and at the end, he arranges for the people he borrowed from to spend several days in the best suites of their destination planet's best hotel, so the part about him actually being wealthy and influential appears to be true as well.
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. The time-travelling protagonist discovers that all the Knights of the Round Table are like this — it being improper to question the truth of any tale of bravery, no matter how ridiculous. This may be due, as he finds out the hard way, to it also being improper to question the word or sanity of a questgiver...
  • Tales from the White Hart is a 1950s-era collection of short stories by Arthur C. Clarke. They are all set in a London pub called "The White Hart", known as a hangout for scientists. The Munchhausen in question is Harry Purvis, an (allegedly) important scientist that has (allegedly) traveled the world, hearing of (or participating in!) various scientific exploits and amazing inventions. Almost all of them have an ironic end, usually involving the destruction of the device and its creator, which conveniently eliminates any way to prove or disprove his stories.
    • For example, "Big Game Hunting" concerns an invention that can control animals via brain interfacing. A wildlife photographer shanghais its creator into finding and controlling a giant squid. Both the photographer and the inventor die — when the brain controller blows a fuse, allowing the squid to run amok.
    • Subverted in "What Goes Up...". The White Hart is "invaded" by an alien-worshiping Cult, irritating the real scientists. Harry whips up a totally invented story about an Australian nuclear reactor that produced a powerful repulsive force, like a white hole. Unfortunately for Harry, the cultists take his obviously bullshit story at face value.
  • Lazarus Long from multiple Robert A. Heinlein stories, including Time Enough for Love and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls lived over two thousand years and done pretty much anything you can imagine, except die.
  • A subversion Played for Laughs: Miss Archer, the headmistress of Rob and Will's school in Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter, accuses the twins of this. Lori and Bill attend a meeting in her office, during which they confirm nearly all of their incredible-sounding stories. The bad man who drags the boys from a castle during a thunderstorm and tries to throw them into the sea? True, and written up in The Times. An invisible man taught them to curse? Also true he was actually in a mine tunnel under the floor of their room. A mountain exploding in the dead of night? Again, true that cursing man set a bomb in said mine shaft. So when the boys claim to have seen a figure that looks like a vampire depicted in a classmate's comic book, Lori believes them. Despite the event being written off by the other adults (even their riding instructor Kit Smith, who looked over the place the boys claim to have seen the figure), Lori wants to check it out for herself.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has Tormund Giantsbane, whose many (likely self-applied) nicknames include "the Tall-Talker." He's a Boisterous Bruiser who delights in telling tall tales about his exploits and physical characteristics for the entertainment of others. While his tales are probably somewhat exaggerated, he's still held in high regard by the Free Folk for his actual skill at battle and leadership (part of his strategy being to make people like him with his outrageous tales and jests).
  • In G. K. Chesterton's The Paradoxes of Mr Pond, Mr Pond's friend Captain Gahagan is like this. One of the paradoxes is that Gahagan is a very honest man who tells wanton and unnecessary lies; a dishonest man lies for a reason, and Gahagan's tales of sea serpents and giants are clearly told for no real reason whatsoever, least of all to be believed. "And when a thing is obviously untrue, it is obviously not a lie."
  • Purdy from Warrior Cats loves to talk about many improbable adventures of his youth to ThunderClan cats. Turns out that his Evil Counterpart Sol has the same tendencies.
  • Captain Christopher Vrungel from Adventures of Captain Vrungel was stated by Word of God from the book's author, Andrei Nekrasov, to be both an Expy of Munchausen himself and be based off of a colleague of Nekrasov's by the name of Andrei Vronsky, a sailor who had a tendency to tell tall tales of sea adventures. The "vrun" part of Vrungel's name means "liar", and the book contains his recollections of outlandish events such as using the spray from champagne bottles to propel a yacht and win a regatta, a kite being able to lift his humongous first mate all the way to Japan during a typhoon, and using a sore tooth to receive SOS signals.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: Safari O'Toole, Mrs. Davis's friend in the episode of the same name, pretends to be a gentleman explorer. In spite of his tall tales, he's a likeable character who only made up his stories so he could impress Mrs. Davis.
  • Mrs. Pennypacker on the PBS show Today's Special is always happy to share exciting tales from her memoirs.
  • The "Four Yorkshiremen" sketch from At Last the 1948 Show (and later performed by Monty Python), which revolved around the four men sitting around and talking about their pasts, each trying to one-up the other in just how difficult and tragic their backgrounds were. After one of them finally won:
    "I was one of thirty children, we had to get up in the morning at 10:00 at night, half an hour before we went to bed, work thirty hours, go back home to our shoebox, eat a lump of cold poison for dinner, and before bed, our father would kill us and do a dance on our graves."
    "And you try to tell young people today about that. They'll never believe you."
    (muttered assent)
  • Vic in The George Lopez Show does this a lot, starting a lot of stories with "When I was in Cuba..." In one episode George gets tired of the stories and starts insisting he just skip to the last line:
    Vic: My father paid the girl with a chicken.
    (at the end of a different story) Well the chicken lived, but the girl had to wear an eye patch for the rest of her life.
    (and the end of yet another story)And it turns out it was that very same chicken.
  • Rose in The Golden Girls. "Back in St. Olaf..."
    • A better fit is Sophia:
      Sophia: Picture it: Sicily, 1912. A beautiful young peasant girl with clear olive skin meets an exciting but penniless Spanish artist. There's an instant attraction. They laugh, they sing, they slam down a few boilermakers. Shortly afterwards he's arrested for showing her how he can hold his palette without using his hands...But I digress. He paints her portrait and they make passionate love. She spends much of the next day in the shower with a loofah sponge scrubbing his fingerprints off her body. She sees the portrait and is insulted. It looks nothing like her, and she storms out of his life forever. That peasant girl was me. And that painter was... Pablo Picasso.
  • Scrubs
    • The Janitor routinely produces such stories. Among all the unbelievable facts, some of it might actually be true — in one episode, he claims to have been a famous hundred-meter hurdler in his youth, and then shows his talent at the end of the episode.
    J.D.: Is any of that true?
    Janitor: I dunno, you'd have to read it back to me.
    • Dr. Kelso also has a few stories of his own from his Vietnam experiences, such as being able to jump 6 feet in the air.
  • Creed, from the American version of The Office.
    Creed: I've been a member of several cults, both as a leader and a follower. You make more money as a leader, but have more fun as a follower.
  • Back in the 80s, the French-Canadian comedy show Samedi de Rire featured a recurring sketch of two coastal sailors sitting on a dock and smoking their pipes, while exchanging stories of ridiculous occurrences such as catching a huge fish or recovering from ridiculously crippling ailments. Each time one of the sailors would make his claim, the other would challenge him, prompting an exchange of "Well I'm telling ya..." and "Well I don't believe ya..." until the claimant finally said "Well I swear to ya!", upon which the other sailor would accept the claim. The sketch would always end with one of the sailors claiming to own a large object, before pulling out a ridiculously oversized prop, which would cause yet another "Well I don't believe ya/Well I'm telling ya" exchange into the sketch's fadeout.
  • Tom Baker's barking mad sea captain character from Blackadder II, who constantly insults Blackadder for being unmanly. When Blackadder finally decides to call him on it ("I bet those legs never got sheared clean off by a mast in a storm!" "Well, neither have yours!"), the captain reveals that he is indeed legless. The rest of it is BS, tho.
  • Higgins from Magnum, P.I..
  • Ducky, the M.E. on NCIS. Defied often by Gibbs cutting him off before he can get out more than "This reminds me of..." and the beginning of a really weird-sounding Noodle Incident.
  • In the fourth season of Bones, the team is looking for an intern to replace Zack, and several of them appear throughout the season. One of them is an older guy who can help with cases based on the fact that he seemingly has held every possible job that exists.
  • Sergeant Arthur Dietrich of Barney Miller. His past jobs include lumberjack — and he possessed a number of improbable skills that made his calm announcement he'd been born "in a galaxy far, far away" quite believable.
  • Water taxi operator Hap Shaughnessy from The Red Green Show would make the Baron pale in comparison and seem downright believable. No matter what mundane a task or humdrum a story you have, he always "remembers" how he used to be involved in it "back in the (decade)", and his stories will inevitably involve dozens of famous political or sports figures who he shamed with his masterful skill, or how he invented some incredibly common household item such as the TV or Christmas lights. The circumstances that led to his invention of Christmas lights even got him awarded the Medal of Honor from General Montgomery himself!
  • On Strangers with Candy, this is an integral part of Jerri's characterization. The stories are usually drug- and/or sex-related. The character was based partly on a real woman named Florrie Fisher, who did a Scare 'Em Straight PSA for high-school students that consisted of her chain-smoking and yelling similarly implausible claims about her life, like that she'd known six different people who were executed by electric chair for "crimes of passion" committed while under the influence of pot.
  • Torchwood: Captain Jack Harkness is a fount of improbable sexual adventures — all of which seem to be true.
  • The Doctor from Doctor Who will go on and on about meeting Benjamin Franklin, Einstein, Pablo Picasso, and more. To a stranger, he's insane. He really isn't.
    The Doctor: I've got to get to that cockerel before all hell breaks loose! Ooh, never thought I'd get to say that again!
  • Tales of the Gold Monkey: Bon Chance Louie is another Bellisario incarnation of this trope.
  • Top Gear: "...some say, during a driving test, he failed his examiner for screaming. And that he knows precisely two facts about ducks, and both are wrong." Enter, The Stig. Note that the Stig himself never provides the boasts. (As The Stig is The Voiceless, he never provides ANY dialogue.)
  • The One-Upper on Saturday Night Live. In one sketch she claimed to be best friends with Liza Minelli and a tomato. After the rest of the cast storms off in disgust, guess who enters?
  • On The Mighty Boosh, this is occasionally the case with Howard Moon, like when he explained away how he could be a great musician when no one's ever seen him pick up an instrument or his claim that Walt Disney offered him the job of sorting out his felt pens.
  • Person of Interest had the super of a high-end apartment complex who talks about his past with the Cuban mafia, owning multiple motels, and having a pet tiger before he ultimately gave it up for health reasons. Most everybody just smiles and nods at his outrageous claims. As revealed at the end, everything he said was true. He became an informant and had to go into hiding to avoid the hitmen.
  • The Amazing Race
    • On Season 12, one of the racers was Don, a 68-year-old man who had, apparently, done everything before. Masonry, mining, fish-gutting, everything. It got to the point where other racers were cautioning each other to hurry up, "because God knows Don's probably done this before and will be done in five seconds." Nearly invariably, he had and he was.
    • Brook, Season 17, according to her teammate Claire, as stated when they were choosing between two Detour choices in Seoul. Apparently, in addition to marathon running, rock climbing, and boxing, Brook was also an accomplished ice skater.
  • In Cheers Woody tells a lot of strange stories about his early life in Hanover, Indiana (a real town, actually), such as how he was voted the smartest kid in school (which is strange, given his reputation as The Ditz on the show) and how he and his childhood sweetheart Beth Curtis were also voted "Both Likely to Explode" (both were fat kids). The other characters are torn between disbelief and puzzlement:
    Norm: Before I die, I have got to see that town!

  • The Johnny Cash song "I've Been Everywhere".
  • Ace of Base's "Münchhausen (Just Chaos)" lampshades the character, with a list of exploits such as riding cannonballs, gunning down an entire navy himself, and taking a trip to the moon.
  • The boss from "Like a Boss" by The Lonely Island gives a description of his daily routine that starts out normal, but increasingly starts including things that are hard to believe or outright impossible, up to and including his own death.
  • Ira Gershwin's "I Can't Get Started (with You)" laments the fact that despite supposedly accomplishing feats such as charting the North Pole and being a consultant for FDR the singer's love interest refuses to pay him any attention.

    Other Sites 
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-1867 ("A Gentleman"), AKA Lord Theodore Thomas Blackwood. He will always try to turn any conversation into one about his adventures, which are largely impossible. However, he also provided evidence, in the form of a collection of undiscovered life and technology being kept at a property belonging to one "Lord Blackwood". It's still questionable if he really did any of it, or even if he is the real Lord Blackwood because SCP-1867 is a telepathic sea slug. Not that he's aware of that, of course. Don't try to tell him, though. He'll just think you're drunk.
    • SCP-2622 ("Ambassador from the Mole People"). SCP-2622 tells bizarre stories about gigantic underground caverns and the civilizations that live in them. His stories repeatedly contradict each other and despite extensive investigation, the Foundation hasn't been able to find any evidence at all to support them.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Tazz was treated this way on Thursday Night Smackdown and Jerry Lawler was on Monday Night Raw. Even when Jerry Lawler didn't have experience in a particular area, such as an iron man match, he did have something fairly close such as a one-hour time limit draw with Harley Race.

  • In the 1930s radio comedian Jack Pearl played a version of the Baron. When his Straight Man sidekick would express skepticism in response to whatever grand adventure he was relating, the Baron would respond with a sarcastic, "Vass you dere, Sharlie?"
  • Well, since you ask me for a character who, in the various stories told at his club, has claimed to have encountered multiple supernatural creatures, been a pirate with a crocodile/magpie cross for a pet, crossed the Atlantic on horseback, survived a three-way duel where both other participants were aiming at him, and been present at the birth of Jesus Christ, I can only refer to the Storyteller in John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme.
  • The BBC serial The New Adventures of Baron Munchausen is narrated by a Present Day descendent of the Baron, who has travelled by armchair on surfboards, tree towed by swans, swanfeather cloak powered by dew, the fully furnished inside of a whale, balloon filled with hot air from Donald Trump, and iceberg; discovered a sack containing the miasma that caused cholera ( which he briefly worries may have somehow become Covid-19, before being told the two diseases aren't related); met Greta Thunberg, the Queen, Putin, and Trump; orbited the moon; saved wildlife from the Australian bushfires with Factor-90 sunblock; and avoided being eaten by alligators, wolves, and a polar bear, only to find himself back where he started with a tale to tell. He is deeply offended by suggestions that either he or his illustrious ancestor have made any of their adventures up.
  • Munchausen is a one-man radio play by Alistair McGowan in which a French police inspector interviews a suspect who claims to be Baron Munchausen, and insists on telling the story of his life, from his founding of Luxemburg to the time Samuel Goldwyn paid him a fortune for a film script that didn't exist (but put half the money he saved by not making it into doubling the publicity budget, and won the Oscar for Best Costuming). The inspector never quite reaches the point of believing him, but eventually reaches the point of believing it doesn't matter.
    Munchausen: There are more lies in your truth than there are in my lies!
    Inspector: So you admit you tell lies?
    Munchausen: I ... may have told you six small lies.
    Inspector: What were they?
    Munchausen: I'm not telling you.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Captain Park's Imaginary Polar Expedition, a board game from Cheapass Games. You play members of a Victorian gentleman's club, all of whom are trying to one-up each other with heroic tales of adventure. In fact, all your exploits are entirely fictitious. You've just spent the last few months hiding in a hotel and sneaking out in disguise to scavenge in junk shops for "artifacts" from your "expeditions". The aim of the game is to collect convincing sets of photographs, anecdotes, and artifacts, without being spotted and exposed as a fraud.
  • In the Old World of Darkness, the Ratkin have an entire caste called the Munchmausen. They specialize in exploring the Deep Umbra (the most remote parts of the spirit world), where things can get very strange, and they have the inherent ability to tell one elaborate, improbable lie each day that their audience automatically believes.
  • In The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, players take the roles of debauched European noblemen regaling other players with ridiculously exaggerated tales of derring-do. The game was written in the style of Baron Munchausen himself, and accompanied by illustrations by Gustave Doré.
  • Forgotten Realms Bonus Material "Mintiper's Chapbook", aside from tasty Realmslore, is a textbook on Unreliable Exposition, especially since In-Universe few believe the adventures of "Lunargent" are but excerpts of song-worthy stories from the adventuring career of just one, if very keen, half-elf.
    Keeper's Annotations: As with many such stories attributed to Mintiper, the hero of this tale bears the name Lunargent, an obvious alias for "Moonsilver." However, it is never clear in such tales whether or not the events recounted actually happened and, in cases where there is some kernel of truth to the tale, whether or not the hero is Mintiper himself or someone else whose tale he is retelling.
    Chronicler's Footnotes Although Lunargent has become so popular a character that he appears in many tales that did not originate with Mintiper, most, if not all, of those authored by the Lonely Harpist are actually first-hand accounts. It is simply beyond the imagination of most individuals that even the legendary Lonely Harpist could have had so many adventures, accounting for the skepticism in the Keeper’s annotations and similar commentary by other sages.

  • 'Rooster' Johnny Byron of Jerusalem has met a ninety-foot giant who claimed to have built Stonehenge, and was conceived when a bullet that passed through his father's scrotum ricocheted into the womb of a sixteen-year-old girl in a tram car. Which stories, if any, are true, is up for interpretation.
  • The old man in The Time of Your Life identified in the Dramatis Personae as "Kit Carson" (which may or may not be his name). Among his many stories is one about herding cattle on a bicycle in Toledo, Ohio in the year 1918, when a hurricane struck the town and left him floating northwest sitting on the roof of a house. The play ends with him telling the story of having killed a man in San Francisco in 1938 because he didn't like the way he talked to ladies. Since that's the present day and a vice cop was just murdered outside after harassing a woman in the bar, the characters believe this one.
  • The Donald Margulies play Shipwrecked! is all about this. It follows the adventures of Louis de Rougemont, who winds up getting shipwrecked on an island and proceeds to have crazy adventures— learning to survive on his own, finding natives, falling in love, etc. He returns home and eventually becomes famous for his adventure. During the second act, it is revealed that he made most of it up, his story is publicly debunked, and he becomes infamous.

    Video Games 
  • Baldur's Gate II
    • Jan Jansen. To the point where, when he doesn't comment on a situation with a tale of his own:
    Haer'Dalis: I shouldn't wish to alarm anyone, but I just wanted to point out that Jan has failed to produce a story. Can the apocalypse be far?
    • Although most of the others either suspect or know that his tales are made up. Imoen will submit one tale to him for approval and criticism, and when Viconia asks the main character why you keep the pest around, you can cheerfully explain it with the start of a tall tale of your own.
    Jan: Aye, Plooty had a way of attracting golems. Brilliant, really. You start with a saucer of milk — golems are suckers for milk...
  • Kieran of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance takes any opportunity to mention one of his grand (and most definitely false or at least grossly exaggerated) exploits, such as the time he fought the Giant Whippoorwill of Southern Crimea (a Running Gag has the listener interrupting him before he can even say the location). He persistently believes these stories are well known even though his reputation never precedes him.
  • Girl Stinky from Telltale's Sam & Max: Freelance Police games. Grandpa Stinky too, though he's more likely to be telling the truth.
  • Rufus in Street Fighter IV.
  • In Castle of Shikigami III, one of the characters is an old man named Munchausen...
  • Major Crum in Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures (he claims to have been in both the Army and the RAF, which makes his stories a bit suspect)
  • Ellis in Left 4 Dead 2 is an interesting example in that he is not one of these about himself, but rather about his friend Keith, who according to Ellis has at least drowned on several occasions, lost several fingers to frostbite, broken both his fingers in a driving accident, and survived getting burn damages on top of other burn damages among a lot of other things that are even more insane than these. Considering Ellis' personality, one would expect Keith not even to be real, but Gabe Newell himself has confirmed that Keith is, in fact, real. Whether all these things actually happened to him, however, is up for debate. Fans of the franchise have been clamoring for Keith to be playable in a hypothetical Left 4 Dead 3, where he would presumably tell Ellis stories.
    "I ever tell you about the time me and Keith made a homemade bumper car ride with ridin' mowers in his backyard? Mower blade wounds over 90% of his body. I didn't run him over, either; he somehow managed to fall under his own."
  • Dragon Age
    • Zevran in Dragon Age: Origins is fond of telling wildly improbable tales of his life as an assassin, either to you in camp or to other party members in random conversation. There's never any indication that he's lying, but there's never any indication that he's not, either.
    • The sequel has the urbane dwarven rogue Varric, who's also the Unreliable Narrator of the game's Framing Device. The word "bullshit" is frequently used both by and about him.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In Look to the West, the original Baron Munchausen has a son, Ulrich, who has many unlikely adventures; however, he pales in comparison to the man he works for, Moritz Benyovsky (who also had some pretty unlikely adventures even in our own history, such as being crowned King of Madagascar).

    Web Video 
  • Frothy Pint of Metal has Happy Viking, an internet reviewer who claims that he's really a 1000-year-old viking who has done all kinds of stuff.

    Western Animation 
  • Commander McBragg, from the series of short cartoons Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales, exemplifies the first sort of Münchhausen.
  • Monterey Jack on Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers.
  • Inverted by Jim from Code Lyoko; he apparently actually has been involved in jobs ranging from sewer repair to intelligence gathering to space program test subject to pro skateboarder... but usually, he'd "rather not talk about it." Except for the one time that he'd love to talk about it, but doesn't have the time. Though many of these jobs still might have been tall tales or at least wild exaggerations.
  • Grandpa Abraham Simpson in The Simpsons tells completely improbable stories a lot. Most of this is just waffle and the other characters tune him out, except in the episode "Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in 'The Curse of the Flying Hellfish'" where it is all true. He claims to have enlisted for World War I as a small child.
  • In The Transformers, Kup is an old Autobot who's always reminiscing about his past exploits. Most other Autobots get tired of it quickly, except for the Dinobots, who love his stories.
  • Sort of inverted with Phoebe on The Magic School Bus, who never stops referencing her experiences — or, more accurately, her lack thereof — "at my old school." Subverted when they actually do go to her old school and end up shrunken and trapped in her science-project plants.
  • Jade from Jackie Chan Adventures loves to tell her classmate Drew about all the adventures she's been on with Jackie. Naturally, he doesn't believe any of her stories. In the third season, however, he comes into direct contact with the talisman animals, proving to him that Jade's stories indeed were true. The next day he starts telling the whole class about what he had seen, but the entire class, including Jade, turns on him and he is the one seen as crazy.
  • Izzy from Total Drama is full of insane stories about where she learned her survival skills. Most of the cast dismiss everything she says (unless she's talking about how crazy she is, which is totally true), however, it turns out she really is on the run from the RCMP, as discovered when they come for her during one of the marshmallow ceremonies. All the other campers are left staring in wide-eyed shock as she runs off into the woods, laughing madly and followed by the helicopter.
  • Mater's Tall Tales, a series of short films spun off from Pixar’s Cars, has the tow truck Mater relate his former experiences as a bullfighter, fire engine, stunt car, etc. Lightning McQueen doesn't buy any of it, especially the parts where Mater adds him to the proceedings (usually in a humiliating role), but at the end, there's usually a gag implying that it's all true.
  • On Ben 10, Captain Nemesis is a deconstruction of this. He takes a Face–Heel Turn to the point of releasing aliens just so he can beat them up and take the glory.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold gives this trait to the Martian Manhunter to help break him out of his usual The Generic Guy characterization.
  • King Gregor and Sir Tuxford were like this in one episode of Adventures of the Gummi Bears, teaming up to tell tall tales about their past exploits. Partially subverted because they knew no one believed them.
  • Three classic Warner Bros. cartoons each feature a tale-teller of dubious authenticity: "The Major Lied 'Til Dawn" (which features a shout-out to Popeye), "The Hardships Of Miles Standish," and the Bugs Bunny vehicle "His Hare Raising Tale."
  • In The Legend of Korra, Bumi is a retired United Republic military officer and constantly goes on about one improbable adventure after another that he had while he was in the service. His younger brother and sister, Tenzin and Kya, generally assume that this is him compensating for being the only one in the family who did not inherit magical Kung Fu powers from their parents. However it is later subverted when we see him in action and he is shown to be a master of the zany Indy Ploy, implying that his crazy stories might have really happened the way he tells them.
  • Gobbler has this role in the How to Train Your Dragon short The Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon, his narration of all sorts of crazy adventures is also presented in traditional animation giving it a more cartoony style.
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack features characters telling exaggerated adventure stories quite frequently (to the point where there's a club in Stormalong dedicated to doing just that), however none fit better than Captain K'nuckles himself.
  • Cotton Hill from King of the Hill is a real World War II veteran, but most of his specific claims are highly questionable. To give one example, he tells Peggy numerous war stories in one episode that make him seem like a hero but simply don't make sense when you look at them all as a whole. (One of them places him at a location hundreds of miles away from another one that, according to him, took place just a couple of days earlier.) Of course, most of the time, Cotton's perception of reality does seem to be shaky at best... Cotton is such a lousy liar that even his son Hank reluctantly admits that he's a liar, as evidenced by this line in an argument he has with his mother:
    Hank: Well that means that one of you isn't telling the truth! (Slight pause.) Oh, who am I kidding? I know it's him.

    Real Life 
  • Baron Münchhausen (that's the correct German spelling!), or to give his full name, Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von Münchhausen (1720-1797), himself was a real man who came back from fighting the Turks in the Russian Army (1740-1741) full of impossible stories. The short stories combining the plots and style of Münchausen's original boasts with plots from older folk tall tales were first published in early 1780s in a Berlin journal under a pen name M-C-H-N. They were collected in a book by Rudolf Erich Raspe and published anonymously in 1785 (in English!). Most famous are probably the story how he rode a cannonball, or how he pulled himself and his horse from a swamp — by his own hairsnote .
    • When a German edition of the book appeared, the real baron wasn't happy and even tried to sue the translator.
    • The "canon" portrait of Münchausen (with a large nose and a goatee) appeared only in the middle of the 19th century, and it was Gustave Doré's caricature of Napoleon III, who also wasn't very honest.
  • MythBuster Jamie Hyneman has been everywhere and done everything. The Other Wiki lists a few of his past careers as "scuba diver, wilderness survival expert, boat captain, linguist, pet shop owner, animal wrangler, machinist, concrete inspector, and chef." Of course that still doesn't stop Adam from constantly making up more, crazier and funnier backstory jobs for Jamie.
    Adam: Does this remind you of when you used to count money for the mob?
    Jamie: I was a hitman. I wasn't a money counter.
  • Slavomir Rawicz, the Polish cavalry officer who was captured by the Soviets during World War II and sent to a labor camp in Siberia, only to escape with six others and make his way on foot from Lake Baikal to India across the Himalayas, a trek of over 6500 kilometers. In real life, he was pardoned in 1942, and made up everything beforehand as to not disappoint his biographer, who was looking for someone who had traveled through the Himalayas.
  • Frank Retz fits this description. He was a German officer during WWII who moved to the US after the war. Among his many claims, he supposedly had been the stunt rider in Zorro and had gotten in a fight with Charles Manson, taking a knife away from Manson in the process.
  • Marco Polo, nicknamed "Il Milione" ("The Million") at his time. People are still debating how much of his travelogue was personal experience, and how much was hearsay.
  • Just about every well-known figure of the Wild West. If he (or she) didn't Münchausen, some penny dreadful writer did it for them.
  • In the seventeenth century, Fernão Mendes Pinto, a Portuguese traveler and adventurer who spent many years in the Far East, was viewed as an outrageous liar, and the narrative of his travels was dismissed as pure fiction. Later research showed that, despite being heavily fictionalized, Mendes Pinto's book is a unique source on Chinese, Indian, Malay, and Japanese history, with lots of very acute observations and important information. And a jolly good read, to boot.
  • George Washington may have never told a lie, but he seemed to be fond of tall tales. His favorite song was said to be "The Derby Ram", an English folk song about a ram of titanic proportions and the problems involved in killing and butchering it.
  • A classic chess anecdote involves Alexandre Louis Deschapelles trying to play a match against the top British players. The British negotiator Perigal was not impressed and reported: "M. Deschapelles is the greatest chess player in France; M. Deschapelles is the greatest whist player in France; M. Deschapelles is the greatest billiards player in France; M. Deschapelles is the greatest pumpkin-grower in France; M. Deschapelles is the greatest liar in France."
  • The actress Judy Garland loved telling stories, and never worried too much about how "true" they were.
  • You'd think that Ernest Hemingway wouldn't have to exaggerate his exploits, but he used to do it all the time. In later years his tales became so exaggerated that even his friends started to get worried it was a sign of a mental breakdown.
  • Frank J. Larkin served as the 40th Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate from 2015 to 2018. As a young man, Larkin served for several years in the United States Navy SEA Ls. After leaving the military, he became a police officer and eventually a detective; he also found time to work as a flight paramedic. He then joined the United States Secret Service in 1984, eventually joining the Presidential Protective Division, handling security for several different U.S. Presidents.
  • An FBI agent named Gregory Rahoi who was sadly killed in a 2006 training exercise boasted quite the resume. Prior to joining the FBI, he had worked as a volunteer firefighter and paramedic, graduated from law school, and worked as a police officer for a couple of years before joining the FBI before he was even 30. After joining the FBI, he became a SWAT operator before joining the elite Hostage Rescue Team, the FBI’s top tactical unit which is trained to the same standard as military special operations units. As an HRT operator, he deployed to Iraq 3 times to help in counterterror missions there.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Tall Tales Teller


Gobber the Belch

Gobbler's story-telling is clearly a case of Unreliable Narrator to an extreme.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheMunchausen

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