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Wrongfully Attributed

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"The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it's so hard to verify if they're real."

A popular comedy trope: Someone references a famous invention or work of art and credits it to the wrong creator or inventor. Usually done to showcase the ignorance of the character. In morality tales, this can lead to an actual explanation of the referenced person's actual achievements.

Not to be confused with Plagiarism or Taking the Heat. Wrongfully Attributed only occurs when a character, a group, or the general public has a wrong perception about who did the actual deed. Compare with Mistaken Identity.

Also happens a lot in Real Life as a result of misconceptions or confusing associations. A deed is attributed to a more famous person associated with the concept instead of the actual creator. For instance, Henry Ford is often called "the inventor of the car", which he wasn't; he merely industrialized automobile production on a mass scale. When you hear a classical music piece and have to guess the composer, it's easier to assume it's Mozart or Beethoven. Sometimes a person is wrongfully credited for a certain deed because his name, image, or style is somewhat similar to another creator. You can hardly blame someone for confusing Theodore Roosevelt with Franklin D. Roosevelt, for example.

Some famous quotes are actually misquotations. See Beam Me Up, Scotty!. Some styles are so similar to a certain work of art that they can be confused for being a sequel, made by the same authors, or related in a certain way. See Spiritual Successor. Compare Historical Character Confusion, which can overlap. In cases of songs, see Misattributed Song. For facetious attributions to Kong Fuzi, see Confucian Confusion.

When adding examples, explain what exactly is being wrongfully attributed.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Haibane Renmei is very often falsely credited as being directed by Chiaki Konaka. Although he and series creator and character designer Yoshitoshi ABe are known for collaborating, that wasn't the case for Haibane Renmei. For the record, the series was directed by Tomokazu Tokoro, yet to this day many people still falsely list it as being one of Konaka's works.

  • A huge problem in the art world in general. Painters didn't always sign their work or sometimes let their students paint huge portions. This makes it difficult for art historians and critics to attribute paintings to certain famous masters. A lot of works attributed in the past to big names like Rembrandt van Rijn, for instance, have been re-examined in recent years and were discovered to be forgeries, copies or simply work by their pupils. This decreases the value of the works, of course. Even more recent times can't escape from this. In old age, painters like Salvador Dalí or Andy Warhol simply let others make their paintings and just signed their name underneath.
  • Pieter Bruegel the Elder's painting "De Dulle Griet" ("Mad Meg"): the general public often assumes it's a Hieronymus Bosch painting, because it features a scene set in Hell, with lots of demons and monsters.
  • Sofonisba Anguissola, a painter who worked in Madrid as lady-in-waiting, had her paintings misattributed to various painters, including Titian, Moroni, Sustermans, Van Dyck, Coello and Zubaran. The fact that she wasn't widely known as painter, as it wasn't her day job, contributed to this, as did her habit of not signing her work.
  • Artemisia Gentileschi's earliest "Susanna and the Elders" was thought for a long time to be the work of her father, Orazio.
  • Art by doujin seiyuu, musician, and artist Toromi, especially her famous Ryohoji Temple signs and music videos for IOSYS, is sometimes falsely attributed to Akio Watanabe. While they have very similar ways of drawing eyes, both liberally use Blush Stickers, and Toromi's color palettes are similarly bright and saturated as Watanabe's older works, Toromi's art generally has much rounder faces and more Chibi body proportions, and lacks the meticulous detail in clothing texture that's a signature of Watanabe's style. Not helping matters is that Toromi got her voice acting start in a game Akio Watanabe did the art for, and Toromi has drawn said character she voiced. Muddying things is even further is the fact that Akio Watanabe did draw the album art for one of her earlier albums, and also drew fanart of Toromi's Ryohoji Temple characters.

    Comic Books 
  • In Matt Groening's Life in Hell, he invented a quote he attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche which has frequently been re-quoted by others who apparently believed it was Nietzsche. The quote is: Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra, until it suddenly flips over, trapping you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come. Nietzsche died before the invention of the snowmobile.
  • Hergé, creator of Tintin has a very identifiable style that has been imitated by other comic strip artists too, mostly people who worked as his assistants like Edgar P. Jacobs (Blake and Mortimer) and Bob de Moor (Cori de Scheepsjongen). Both artists' work is therefore often confused with Hergé's.
  • Many comic strip artists who worked for the magazine Spirou had a similar drawing style, inspired by André Franquin and are thus easily confused with his work: Maurice Tillieux (Gil Jourdan), Raymond Macherot (Chlorophylle and Sybilline), Peyo (The Smurfs),...
  • The same goes for the drawing style of Dupa (Cubitus), Turk & De Groot (Robin Dubois, Léonard le Génie) and Greg (Achille Talon).
  • Suske en Wiske: In De Raap van Rubens Lambik is honored to meet Peter Paul Rubens and says to him: I saw your "Mona Lisa" in the Louvre: magnificent!".

    Films — Animated 
  • All Animation Is Disney: People who don't know much about animation attribute almost every cartoon to Walt Disney. In some cases the confusion is not so far-fetched: The films of Don Bluth could stylistically easily be mistaken for being Disney films.
    • Disney's Steamboat Willie (1928) is often called Mickey Mouse's debut. This is wrong, it was actually his third cartoon, but his first cartoon with sound. The film also holds the honor of being the first sound cartoon, which is again not entirely true. There were earlier experiments, but not as perfect as Disney's.
    • Walt Disney also takes credit for all of the output of his studio, even though the lion's share was thought up and done by his personnel.
    • Contrary to what most people believe, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was not the first fully-animated feature film. There were at least two other produced in Argentina (now lost) and The Adventures of Prince Achmed in Germany before then. This much is certain: Snow White is the first produced in the United States, the first in color and the first made by a studio instead of a single individual.
  • Similarly, every adult animated film will be attributed to Ralph Bakshi, even stuff he wasn't involved with, like The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat and Heavy Metal.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Alien: Covenant, David misattributes Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem Ozymandias to Lord Byron while attempting to make humanity as weak and doomed to fall. Walter corrects him on the attribution of the poem.
  • Animal House: "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!" "The Germans?" "Forget it. He's rolling."
  • In The Big Lebowski, the Dude and Walter try to remember a certain quote by Lenin ("You gotta look for the people who will benefit, and, uh, you know"), causing Donny to think that they are talking about John Lennon ("I am the walrus").
  • Bo Burnham: Inside: "White Woman's Instagram" lists "Some random quote from Lord of the Rings, incorrectly attributed to Martin Luther King" as a standard social media mishap.
  • Fahrenheit 9/11 concludes the film with a quote by George Orwell. Christopher Hitchens has pointed out that this quote was never uttered by Orwell at all.
  • Home Alone 2: Lost in New York: The hotel bellhop escorts Kevin to his room and mentions President Hoover stayed here before. Kevin mistakes him for the vacuum guy.
  • In L.A. Story, Steve Martin's character routinely attributes all sorts of quotes to Shakespeare, describing his versions of them as "paraphrases".
  • A plot point in the metafictional horror movie Madhouse (1974), with the in-universe Dr. Death series of horror films. Most people attribute to creation of the Dr. Death character strictly to star Paul Toombes (Vincent Price), ignorant of the fact that the character was a collaborative creation with Paul's friend and co-writer Herbert Flay (Peter Cushing), whose own actor career has stagnated while Paul has become a cult celebrity.
  • Although the word "Kaiju" has been used for a long time to describe destructive building-sized monsters, it wasn't commonly used in English until it was popularized by Pacific Rim in 2013, which was one of the first (and still one of the few) major Hollywood films to use the Japanese word. This has resulted in some less well-informed fans thinking that the movie invented the term.
  • Pulp Fiction: You know that quote from Ezekiel that Julius recites? It's not a direct Bible quote at all, and is partly derived from the Opening Scroll of a Sonny Chiba film.
  • Red, White & Royal Blue: While chatting in front of the wedding cake, Alex misidentifies the composer of the classical piece that's playing in the background.
    Alex: Who doesn't love a little Mozart?
    Henry: Actually, it's Schubert.
  • Many people believe that all vocals on the Titanic (1997) soundtrack were provided by Céline Dion. She only sings "My Heart Will Go On". Every other time you hear a female voice singing, it belongs to Norwegian soprano Sissel Kyrkjebø.
  • In Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Wonka opens a musical lock with a brief tune. Mrs. Teevee smugly says, "Rachmaninoff." It's actually Mozart.

  • There's a joke where someone says he's reading "Das Kapital" by Karl May. When he's told that "Das Kapital" was in fact written by Karl Marx, he agrees that "I was wondering about the lack of Native Americans"
  • The old "Confucius say" jokes fall squarely into this category. No doubt most of the people who have told these jokes have no familiarity whatsoever with the actual Analects attributed to him.
  • "That's what SHE said!" jokes are a Lampshaded Double Entendre variation on the theme, where "she" (implied to be Your Mom) is quoted as saying the same Accidental Innuendo as the joke's target.

  • Many people assume that Hans Brinker in Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates is the boy who plugged a dike with his finger. In fact: Hans reads about the story in class, but has no part in it whatsoever.
  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein often has people who haven't read the work think that "Frankenstein" is the name of the monster, while it is actually the name of the man who created the monster. Of course, your mileage may vary on who is the real monster here - and the monster takes on the last name Frankenstein, too, as his creator is, in a way, his father.
  • From Dave Barry Slept Here:
    “We constantly see surveys that reveal this ignorance, especially among our high school students, 78 percent of whom, in a recent nationwide multiple-choice test, identified Abraham Lincoln as 'a kind of lobster.' That's right: more than three quarters of our nation's youth could not correctly identify the man who invented the telephone.”

    Live-Action TV 
  • Also a running gag on Frasier. Usually played straight but occasionally he would get called on it. Kate: "Did you ever open a book at Harvard?"
  • On Gilmore Girls, there are several of these:
    • In the last season, after Lorelai has "serenaded" Luke with the Karaoke song "I Will Always Love You", the whole town is talking about it. Luke's dippy sister Liz urges him to respond to Lorelai, saying: "It's a classic love song! It's classic Cindy Lauper!" Luke replies: "Whitney Houston!" Liz: "Whatever!" when the song is actually by Dolly Parton. (However, being super-music-geeks, the writers make sure to name-check Dolly Parton when Lorelai goes on stage to sing the song: Lane says to Rory: "I didn't know your mother was a Whitney Houston fan", and Rory replies, "I think it's Dolly-inspired, actually". And Lorelai does sing the song more in Dolly Parton's rhythm and emphasis.)
    • Lorelai's mother makes a Beatles-reference, and her husband berates her: "Emily! Two of the Beatles are dead!". Emily says: No, only one is dead. Richard: "Nooo, another one died recently." Lorelai says to them: "Guys, could you hit the pause button on this conversation, because I'd really like Rory to hear the end of it.". Later, Rory asks Lorelai what outcome they landed on, and Lorelai responds: "Well, they decided that John and Keith are dead, Paul and Bingo are still alive."
    • When Lane Kim has to move out of home, her cousin Christine helps her pack, when it is revealed that Christine, seemingly shy and quiet in front of their mothers, lives just as much of a 2nd-Gen-double life as Lane, hiding her rock music interests from her family. She rambles on about bands and albums, asking: "Should I get a Led Zeppelin CD? I should get Three, right, Three has "Stairway to Heaven" on it." Later, Lane turns around and snaps at her: "Listen, kid, I'm not your Yoda, alright? And "Stairway to Heaven" is on Four, not Three! When it comes to classic rock, know it, don't blow it!".
    • At the Gilmore's Friday night dinner, their house is part of an architectural tour, so they have tourists going through the house while the Gilmore family is eating. Richard is getting irate at all the people traipsing through the house, using the piano, etc. At one point, the tour guide lady is voice-over-heard saying: "The house was built in 1906 by [some architect, can't remember the name, let's say: 'Sterling']". Richard slams his napkin down, jumps up and goes off-screen to confront the tour guide, saying: "That's it. The house was built in 1907, and it was a protege of 'Sterling's'!!".
    • Lorelai helps Luke host a birthday party for Luke's daughter. She's trying to chat with two girls there, who are talking about watching a girl on MTV (no idea what the name was). Lorelai says: "Oh her, yes, cool, I really love her music." One of the girls replies, in a snarky "d'oh" way: "She's a VJ, actually?" and Lorelai says: "Yes, you didn't let me finish. I meant, I really love her music - video - introductions!" and then lamely shimmies away, knowing she's been exposed as OVER the hill. I know that feeling.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): In "Is My Very Nature That of a Devil", Lestat de Lioncourt mistakenly ascribes Johann Sebastian Bach ("...the man had 20 children in his lifetime") as the composer of the "Minuet in G Minor" piano piece that he's performing onstage at the Azalea; it was in fact written by Christian Petzold.
  • The IT Crowd: This exchange:
    Roy: Fredo, in the film, he was essentially a pimp.
    Moss: No. He took the ring to Mordor!
  • A lot of people thought that Gordon Ramsay's "Idiot sandwich" meme is from his show, Kitchen Nightmares. It's actually from a scene from Hell's Cafeteria, a parody skit in The Late Late Show with James Corden.
  • On M*A*S*H, Colonel Potter often attributes well-known sayings to his own relatives and says, "And she's been quoted by so many..."
    • At the start of the episode "The General Flipped At Dawn," Henry calls his senior officers in for a meeting, right after an exhausted Hawkeye and Trapper come out of the O.R.:
    Trapper: (miffed) Doesn't Henry know it's a holiday?
    Hawkeye: (dryly) Aaron Burr's birthday.
    Radar: Who's Aaron Burr?
    Trapper: Aaron Burr. The guy who shot John Wilkes Booth!
  • A Running Gag on NewsRadio is Bill getting historical facts incredibly wrong. ("Big Chief Custer? He scalped many palefaces that day.") He is also prone to misattribute any poetic quote to John Keats.

  • Classical music is often attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or Ludwig van Beethoven.
    • It's a joke among musicologists that once the composer is listed as "Stradella" or "Pergolesi", there is already cause for suspicion. Many 19th-century editors included pieces in their anthologies from other anthologies, which had named the source as Anonymous, and disliking such an attribution, they picked some known Baroque composer, most often Pergolesi or Stradella. Moreover, two famous arias, "Pieta, Signore" (attributed to Stradella) and "Se tu m'ami" (attributed to Pergolesi) are actually 19th-century compositions in what they perceived to be antique style, by the music critic Fetis and the anthologist Parisotti. In other cases, utter disregard for the actual source results in erroneous attributions, such as "Quella fiamma che m'accende" (probably by Conti, attributed to B. Marcello).
    • A very famous "Ave Maria" is universally attributed to Caccini. How would anyone accept such a style of composition as likely to have been composed by the same Caccini is beyond reason. It's actually from the 1970s and by a Russian composer called Vavilov.
    • In a slight subversion, the "Toy Symphony" has frequently been attributed to Joseph Haydn. It is actually by Leopold Mozart, Wolfgang's father.
    • A number of cantatas used to illustrate why Johann Sebastian Bach was a superior composer to his contemporary Georg Philipp Telemann turned out to have been composed by none other than Telemann. Bach had liked them enough to copy out the entire scores by hand for his own use.
      • In a similar twist, many organ works by Bach, who is mentioned as superior to Vivaldi, are actually reductions of several Vivaldi concertos, most famously the concerto for 2 violins in A minor.
    • Christian Petzold's Minuet in G (yes, that Minuet in G) is almost always attributed to Bach for the sole reason that the piece appears in the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach.
      • Almost none of the pieces in the notebooks are by J.S. Bach (several are by his son Carl Philipp Emanuel) - it wasn't meant as a book of compositions, it was just a household empty music book where they filled in short pieces of music they liked, including the famous "Bist du bei mir", actually from an opera by Stölzel called "Diomedes".
  • Back in the days of file-sharing sites, almost any song parody would be attributed to "Weird Al" Yankovic — even if its subject matter is something he would not touch.
    • Back in the days of file-sharing sites, any song was likely to be attributed to one of the most famous artists of that genre. Reggae songs are all by Bob Marley, arena rock songs are all by Journey, orchestral film pieces are always by John Williams, and so forth.
    • Phish never recorded a bluegrass version of "Gin and Juice." The Gourds did.
    • Jazzy versions of non-jazzy songs tend to get attributed to Richard Cheese, such as those by Senor Coconut, despite the styling being so different.
  • People who weren't fans of The Sex Pistols often confused Johnny Rotten with Sid Vicious and vice versa.
  • Thanks to its humorous subject matter, the song "Stacy's Mom" by Fountains of Wayne was misattributed to Bowling for Soup so often that it became a joke with the band, who recorded a cover version of it in response.
  • John Lennon is often seen as the true genius within The Beatles, even though a lot of the classic and revolutionary Beatles songs where written in co-songwritership with Paul McCartney. Some of the most inventive ones were even written by McCartney alone.
  • John Stump's "Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz" is widely believed to be an arrangement of COOL&CREATE's arrangement of "U.N. Owen Was Her?" Considering the fact that "Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz" sounds nothing like U.N. Owen Was Her? or any of its arrangements, this is especially odd. Even when corrected, this still doesn't stop people insisting that John Stump arranged a COOL&CREATE (or, in some cases, ZUN) track.
  • The Rabbit Joint made a song about The Legend of Zelda in 1998; due to the lead singer's vocal resemblance to Serj Tankian, the track is commonly attributed to System of a Down.
  • It's one thing to believe that "Popcorn" is originally by Hot Butter. They've merely Covered Up a Gershon Kingsley composition. But some people believe that the original composer and interpret is Jean-Michel Jarre, maybe also because its hookline has five notes in a row in common with that of "Oxygène 4". To add to the confusion: Jarre has made his own version of this song, although that was under the guise of Pop Corn Orchestra and before Oxygène. Still, he actually covered Hot Butter's cover.

  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: Discussed after a sketch about Voltaire, who dies in a Freak Philosophy Accident brought on by his supposedly saying "I oppose what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it". Simon Kane ends the sketch, after having been kicked out previously for not providing an exaggerated French accent, to tell John that Voltaire never actually said it.

    Religion & Mythology 
  • As the Good Book Says...: Religions also suffer from this. Various people who claim to be religious authorities will base their opinions and viewpoints on certain quotes from their religious manuscripts that are usually 1) too literal interpretations 2) taken out of context 3) not in the holy manuscript in the first place.
    • For instance: nowhere in the Bible is the phrase "God helps those who help themselves" to be found. The quote itself appears to be a mangled version of an Ancient Greek proverb, which later became the moral of one of Aesop's Fables.
    • In the gospel of Matthew itself, a quote from the prophet Zechariah (11:12-13) was attributed by the author to Jeremiah.
    Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of that the sons of Israel set on Him, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.” (Matthew 27:9-10)
    • "Spare the rod, spoil the child" is not a Biblical quote. Rather, it comes from the satirical poem Hudibras written by Samuel Butler some time in the late 1600s.note  Even more, in context it has the exact opposite meaning as is typically intended when the quote is used, essentially being a command to spoil the child by sparing the rod.
  • There is no concrete evidence that Saint Francis of Assisi wrote the prayer "Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace"; the prayer's earliest known appearance was in 1912. The Franciscan Order sort-of disassociated themselves from the prayer, and one church historian remarked that the prayer, while noble in its sentiments, sounded a bit too uncharacteristic for Saint Francis to have written by way of its self-oriented tone, as he is well known for embracing a life of stark modesty compared to the wealthy lifestyle of his family. To Francis' credit, he did however write "Canticle of the Sun", which is more in line with his personal theology.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Deliberately employed by pre-schism ComStar (and their spiritual successor organization, the Word of Blake) in BattleTech to turn their long-departed founder into even more of a paragon of wisdom in the common people's eyes by attributing suitably quotable statements from other historical sources specifically to him.

    Video Games 
  • The art for Mugen Souls is very often falsely attributed to Takehito Harada, even on this very wiki. It's actually Kei Nanameda, though Harada did design one character, Selfina. While the general aesthetic of the designs is pretty similar, there are quite a few differences, most obviously in coloring. Harada uses more subdued colors and subtle shading, while Nanameda's colors are loud, bright, and saturated, with an almost plastic-y texture. Although the eyes are drawn somewhat similarly, any fan of Harada will notice the facial proportions don't match his style.
  • "Moo" Niitani didn't create Puyo Puyo. That would be Kazunari Yonemitsu, the man also responsible for Sting Entertainment.
  • To this very day people credit Working Designs as the creator of Lunar. All they did was localize the first two games and their PlayStation remakes, the games themselves were made by Game Arts.
  • Nintendo didn't create, nor do they fully own, the Pokémon franchise; they're just the publisher. Game Freak were the developers of the original games and continue to create all the mainline entries at the core of the brand. However, Game Freak doesn't fully own the franchise either. Ownership over Pokémon is split between three companies: Nintendo, Game Freak, and a third company called Creatures (whose contribution to the series is creating the 3D models of the creatures). That said, none of them are actually in-charge of managing the multimedia juggernaut. That honor falls to The Pokémon Company, which was created by the three expressly for that purpose.

    Web Animation 

  • Captain SNES: The Game Masta: Alex tries to reassure a giant sandworm (which he thinks is a Shai-Halud) that he's got no problem with scientology. Alex (and the author) confused L. Ron Hubbard with Frank Herbert.
  • In early Homestuck, there is a running gag about the narrator quoting things and then attributing it to the wrong source. They start out plausible enough if you don't know your literature, but quickly turn ridiculous, e.g., when "Drop It Like It's Hot" is sourced to "English romantic poet John Keats". Later Subverted when the frequent quotes attributed to actor Charles Dutton are actually correctly attributed in-universe. Later done in-universe when a line from one of the characters is wrongfully attributed to Cherub Shakespeare.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: Homer does this a lot:
    • In "Bart the Genius", Homer confuses Albert Einstein with Thomas Edison: "Einstein probably changed himself into all sorts of colors before he invented the light bulb."
    • In "They Saved Lisa's Brain", Homer confuses Stephen Hawking with Larry Flynt, presumably because they are both wheelchair patients.
    • After meeting Prime Minister Tony Blair in "The Regina Monologues", Homer mistakes him for Mr. Bean.
    • In "Homer the Great", Moe says the following about Homer: "He's gone mad with power. Like that Albert Schweitzer guy." (Moe probably meant the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who did go mad near the end of his life, though not with power. Or it might be a reference to Adolf Hitler, if we remain in the German sounding names department.)
    • In "Marge vs. the Monorail", Mayor Quimby introduces Leonard Nimoy (of Star Trek fame) by saying the Star Wars phrase: "May the force be with you!" Nimoy asks if Quimby knows who he is, to which Quimby answers: "Weren't you one of The Little Rascals?"
    • In "Marge In Chains", Lisa compares Lionel Hutz to lawyer Clarence Darrow, whereupon Hutz asks: "Was he the black guy on The Mod Squad?", confusing Darrow with actor Clarence Williams III.
    • In "Yokel Chords" Krusty thinks Stephen Sondheim was the one who wrote Cats.
    • A Real Life example: while the episode "Bart to the Future" did indeed mention that Donald Trump would be elected President of the United States, it did not include a clip of Trump announcing his presidential campaign in a manner similar to how he would do so in real life. Those clips came from the YouTube short "Trumptastic Voyage", which came out a month after his campaign launch.
  • Family Guy:
    • In the episode "Brian Wallows While Peter Swallows" Brian sings about Neil Armstrong, whereupon Meg confuses him with Louis Armstrong: "Was he the trumpet guy?"
    • Played for laughs when Brian fought to change the name of James Woods High School to Martin Luther King Jr. Peter mistakes King for Martin Landau, Martin Lawrence, Dean Martin, Martini and Rossi, Martin Sheen, Charlie Sheen, and Tom Berenger.

    Real Life 
  • This is also a phenomenon you can find in real life. Word-by-mouth conversations about certain incidents often cause certain quotes to be put in other people's mouths that sounds way more sensational and/or sophisticated than what they said in reality. In some cases they even weren't the ones who uttered that particular quote or, even worse, hadn't said anything at all! It happens with historical figures, but also with everyday people.
  • Older Than They Think also ties in with this trope. Younger generations often credit people they are familiar with with inventing or pioneering things that most of the time were already in vogue years or even centuries earlier. It's of course difficult to blame somebody for being unaware of stuff that happened way before their own time.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Another variation is that people only look at people within their own country or culture as the big pioneers, inventors or trendsetters, while other countries may have been way ahead of them years earlier. A well known example were European colonials looking down on the "primitive" cultures in Asia, while being unaware that the Middle East, India, China and Japan - to name a few- already had advanced civilizations when people in Europe still lived in caves and tribes.
  • Some people think that Julius Caesar never said "Tu quoque, fili?" ("You too, my son?") and claim that it was a line William Shakespeare thought up for his play about Caesar. Actually, "Tu quoque, fili?" is taken from chapter 82 of Suetonius' biography of Caesar as something some people reported Caesar said. Suetonius (died ca. 150 A.D.) notes that Caesar was said to have spoken the phrase in Greek ("kai su, teknon?"). (Shakespeare actually used the words "Et tu, Brute?" in his play, but he was not the first to use that particular wording either.)
  • Henry Ford is sometimes believed to be the inventor of the automobile. Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz actually invented the vehicle twenty years before Ford. He wasn't even the first person to invent the assembly line method of mass production (that would be Ransom Olds, the founder of Oldsmobile) though Ford and other figures in his company did significantly improve it.
  • Marie-Antoinette never actually said "Let them eat cake." The actual line, (actually from a book by a Jean-Jacques Rousseau which was written while Marie Antoinette was still known as Maria Antonia of Austria, although it was published much later) had nothing to do with cake whatsoever. The line is "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche," which means "Let them eat brioche." Brioche is a variety of bread.
  • Ronald Reagan is often believed to have ended the Cold War, while Mikhail Gorbachev is probably a more logical candidate for that title. The Russian leader made a lot of social changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, more than any Soviet leader before him. Many notable historians such as John Lewis Gaddis suggested that the USSR was "a sandpile ready to slide" by the 1980s, whoever was in power in what country. Case in point is that the actual fall of the Berlin Wall and dissolution of the USSR took place after Reagan left office.
  • Variations on the phrase "People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf" have been attributed to George Orwell. In reality, though the phrase does accurately convey his views, it is a paraphrase of a statement by Orwell in which he paraphrased the meaning of the poem Tommy.
  • On the subject of Rudyard Kipling, he did not write the popular Edwardian poem "The Green Eye of the Yellow God", which was written in an imitation of the style of Kipling's "Barrack-Room Ballads" by J Milton Hayes.
  • Many people assume that any horror film made in Britain in the sixties or seventies must be Hammer Horror. Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, and And Now the Screaming Starts! are by Amicus Productions, and Curse of the Crimson Altar, The Blood Beast Terror, Witchfinder General, The Blood on Satan's Claw, and The Creeping Flesh, are by Tigon British Film Productions.
  • Yogi Berra was famous for his quips that were deliberately redundant or self-contradictory, such as "It ain't over 'til it's over" and "Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded." Within his own lifetime, he became falsely accredited with many others, which he eventually rebutted in classic Berra fashion: "I really didn't say everything I said."
  • Monty Python also suffers from this. A lot of films featuring only two or three members from the Monty Python team will be confused by the general audience for being a "Monty Python film". Cue to their disappointment when it turns out to be something totally else, despite not having the name "Monty Python" in the title! The only Monty Python film not having the name in the title is their first one: And Now For Something Completely Different.
    • When it was first released, Terry Gilliam's Jabberwocky was promoted as being a sequel to Monty Python and the Holy Grail in some countries. Apart from being a comedy in a medieval setting, directed by Gilliam and starring Michael Palin it is not a Python project, nor a sequel to "Holy Grail".
    • A Fish Called Wanda (and Spiritual Successor Fierce Creatures) only features John Cleese and Michael Palin. The film was directed by Charles Crichton and is a (somewhat madcap, admittedly) pretty straightforward romantic comedy featuring none of the intellectual, absurd and often controversial comedy Python was infamous for.
    • Erik the Viking is a comedy in a historical setting, directed by Terry Jones and also features him and John Cleese in a cameo role. Despite all that it has nothing to do with Monty Python at all.
  • In the 2000s and 2010s there was a tendency for British people to assume that all prestigious and/or Darker and Edgier American drama series were HBO products, including ones that actually were by rival channels like Showtime. This reached its peak when Sky launched its Sky Atlantic channel for imported US drama with blanket references to HBO in the publicity, despite the fact that many of its highest-profile initial licenses were not HBO shows.
  • The 16th-century French physician Nostradamus wrote several predictions about the future, each of them in rhyme. To this day several false predictions attributed to him can be read on the Internet. They're often easily detected, because some numskulls try to rhyme them in the English language, rather than French.
  • In 1950, during the crowning ceremony of Belgian king Baudoin I, a Communist party member, Julien Lahaut shouted: "Vivé la République" ("Long live the Republic") through the hall. Lahaut was assassinated a week later. Decades later, research has pointed out that Lahaut didn't shout this slogan at all. It was the politician standing next to him: Georges Glineur. Still, the quote is still associated with Lahaut to this day.
  • There is a list of quotes circulating around the internet, ostensibly said by an American politician. They include such dunder-headed quotations as "I'm not indecisive. Am I indecisive?" or "A zebra does not change its spots." Depending on which politician is in the spotlight at the moment, this list of quotes has been attributed in total to just about every President, Vice President or presidential candidate in US history since Nixon. Who knows who, if any, of them actually said what, or if any of the quotes are accurate, but as this list has been circulating the internet since there was an internet, they likely were never said by any politician who only came to public prominence well afterward.
  • The expression "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" was popularized by Carl Sagan and is almost universally attributed to him, but various phrasings of this date back to David Hume, who wrote "A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence."
  • The quote "That which does not kill you only makes you stronger" or a paraphrasing thereof is usually attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche. While he uses it, it is actually older and originates in Paradise Lost by John Milton.
  • There is an Adam Adamant Lives! episode "Ticket to Terror", which begins with a London Underground train arriving at a station with all its passengers mysteriously skeletonised. Many people of the generation who watched it assume that it must have been a Doctor Who story.
  • "First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you." is often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi; it was actually said by labor union activist Nicholas Klein. (Also, the last two steps are often mangled as "then they fight you" and "then you win" respectively.)
  • "People who oppose you will in later years claim that they met you": This is said to be a quote about either Martin Luther King Jr. or Lyndon Johnson. The quote has been attributed to, among others, Johnny Depp and Matthew McConaughey.
  • Jim Henson wasn't the creator of Sesame Street. His puppets were used for the show, but the creators of the show itself were Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett. Not even the Jim Henson Company makes the show, it's made by Sesame Workshop, formerly known as Children's Television Workshop.
  • "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad" is a quote that's often contributed to Shigeru Miyamoto, and is said to have been his response over concerns about the prolonged development of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which taking a (then-unthinkable) three years in production. However, it was a different game producer entirely who said this: Jason Schreiber, when talking about GT Interactive's Unreal in the June 1998 issue of GameFan (which similarly saw what was then considered a prolonged development). Someone on Usenet would claim that it was a in-house motto at Nintendo and Rare a few months later when defending Ocarina of Time in an argument, and by the early 2000s, many had come to associate it with Miyamoto directly.
  • The Tagalog poem "Sa Aking Mga Kabata" (lit. "To My Fellow Youth") is widely attributed to Jose Rizal, who supposedly wrote it at the age of eight and is taught as such in schools. A number of inconsistencies were noted by historians however, particularly his command of Tagalog,note  English and Latin, something he learned later in his life. Tagalog was also based on Spanish orthography, particularly the use of the letters 'C' and 'U' instead of 'K' and 'W' as used to this day. It is now believed that the poets Gabriel Beato Francisco or Herminigildo Cruz may have actually penned "Kabata". Rizal did however write "A la juventud filipina" (transl. To The Philippine Youth), which presented a wholly different view on the Spanish colonisers but was similarly addressed towards the youth.
  • In Germany, several years ago, it became a meme to deliberately misattribute famous quotes. It was basically the successor of another meme in which at least two sayings were combined into one.
    "Nobody has the intention to build a wall!"
    Emperor Hadriannote 


Video Example(s):


What Einstein Would Say

When Nerv needs money fast, he turns to a wise voice for motivation... or, so his dream-logic-y self thinks.

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Main / WrongfullyAttributed

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