A True Story in My Universe

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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This is where the events of a work are made into a film or book that is considered Based on a True Story, or similar, within the story itself (but not outside it). This often comes with Legendary in the Sequel.

Note: This is In-Universe only.

Compare and contrast Direct Line to the Author and Recursive Canon.

Examples of A True Story in My Universe include:

Anime and Manga

  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love is usually referred to as a movie made after the actual events of the series- in the Macross universe it's essentially "based on a true story."
    • This is lampshaded in Macross 7, in which Mylene and Basara appear in a remake of the movie, and Max and Miriya (who were there for the original events) comment on some of the exaggerations and distortions therein.
    • Macross Frontier had an episode which adapted the events of Macross Zero into a movie, which was mainly an excuse to lavishly reanimate some of the more distinctive bits of Macross Zero, as well as allude to similarities between the characters of both series. It was based on Bird Human, the biography of one of the main characters of Macross Zero.
  • Sound Stages reveal that Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The Movie First is an actual film being produced in the Nanohaverse about the childhood of Nanoha and Fate, with those two serving as technical advisers to make sure that the facts are reasonably accurate and that the battles are as realistic as possible.
  • Baccano! the first light novel, The Rolling Bootlegs, begins with a Japanese tourist being told the events of the book by a mysterious young man, who is later revealed to be Firo Prochainezo.
  • The manga version of Chrono Crusade hints at this—a few chapters at the end "quote" from Azmaria's memoirs, hinting that the manga may be a fictionalized version of her book.
  • The epilogue (yeah, that epilogue) of Digimon Adventure 02 seems to suggest that the whole series was Takeru's book.


  • In Marvel Universe continuity, there is a "Marvel Comics" company that re-tells the exploits of various heroes as comic books. They're quasi-journalists, and their work is thus used as historical research in legal comedy series She-Hulk. In continuity, the Fantastic Four regularly popped by the Marvel offices to lambast the staff who were supposed to be telling their stories over plot elements that they didn't like. Similarly, Steve Rogers not only lectured writers and editors for making him too violent, but also at one point penciled his own comic.
    • Similarly, Astro City has established the presence of several comic-book publishers; some are direct analogs in the real world (DC, Wildstorm), but others are strictly fictional (Bulldog, Rampart). It is further stated that some publishers chronicle the real-life exploits of the Astro City superheroes, though laws require these comics to adhere to published facts and secure licensing rights. The story "Where the Action Is" details one such publisher who repeatedly gets into trouble for exaggerating and/or misrepresenting the behavior of the real superheroes and villains... and cosmic entities.
    • Most issues of What If? are told by the Watcher, who watches not just the usual Marvel Universe, but the whole multiverse.
    • Also in Marvel Comics, The Sentry originally was based on a supposedly lost series of comics from the golden age, featuring a more traditional invulnerable-and-superstrong character. The new series dealt with why nobody remembers this classic character existing before in a very meta-way. They come up with a save-the-world explanation in the fictional universe for his fictional nature... then it gets complicated.
  • Most citizens of Marvel Earth believe the Frankenstein Monster to be a fictional character, and don't realize Shelley's novel was based on real events. Ditto for almost every character from Norse and Greek mythology.
  • DC Comics exist in the DCU. They use superheroes' status as public figures to publish "true crime" stories about their adventures.
    • It's probably safe to say that Batman doesn't have one, but Superman gives all the profits of his comics to charity. Can't be certain about who has one and who doesn't with the others, though I know that the Teen Titans have one (Impulse gave the company their real names because he didn't know that wasn't how everyone did it. He called Superman "Dirk" for months).
      • Batman does appear in the DCU's DC Comics; a late 1960s Batman comic's plot revolves around the (DCU) Batman comic and its writer.
    • Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew uses this aspect in its Earth-C setting: Cap himself works for his world's DC Comics, which publishes adventures of the (fictional to them) "Just'a Lotta Animals"... eventually discovering that the characters were real, existing on the parallel world of "Earth-C-Minus." (The story even involves the heroes consulting Earth-C's Gardner Fox—an actual fox, natch—for advice on this phenomenon)
  • IPC's comics used this frequently.
    • 2000 AD had (and still has) The Mighty Tharg, an alien on a quest to strengthen humanity by exposure to 'Thrill-power', which he does by publishing a comic.
  • Goody Two-Shoes was a supervillain. Kinda. He appeared only once, had nuclear-powered shoes, and kicked the hell out of the Thing by himself. Then the Thing managed to defeat his terrible foe. Then, the "real" Thing read the comic-book and went to the editorial absolutely pissed. We realize then that Goody Two-Shoes was defeated with a flick from the Thing, and they made up the whole fight to make the story interesting. Then the Thing does them something... uh... interesting.
  • Alan Moore takes this to its logical extreme in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in an Alternate Universe of Victorian England wherein all of 19th-century fantasy and detective fiction was based on true events, as was much of what came before.
    • That was to start with. Recently, it turns out it's a universe in which all fiction is true. But yes, we have things like Mina being familiar with Allan Quatermain through having read H. Rider Haggard's accounts of his adventures.
    • Alan Moore claims to have met John Constantine of Swamp Thing and Hellblazer fame in real life, more than once... Maybe he just ran into Sting and he happened to be in a trenchcoat and a playful mood.
      • We must consider two very distinct possibilities. Either Alan Moore is out of his friggin mind, or that he believes so much in certain things, that they become real, and his sanity forces him to forget lest he obliterate himself.


  • Early drafts of the script of Star Wars describe it as having come from records called the "Journal Of The Whills." Given how much George Lucas has muddied the waters, though, it's hard to know what he intended in 1977.
  • The Cult Classic Lobster Man from Mars is about an amateur film-maker showing a producer his debut movie Lobster Man from Mars.
  • The Blair Witch Project billed itself as a documentary that included found footage. According to the movie poster, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 has a card at the front that explains that a group really did go on a killing spree after watching the first Blair Witch, and the first Blair Witch is treated as fiction. "Book of Shadows" is a dramatization of these events, and "Shadow of the Blair Witch" is the documentary of these events.
  • In Incident at Loch Ness, a faux-documentary by Zak Penn, starring Werner Herzog, the filmmakers claim to be shooting a documentary about the myth of the Loch Ness monster, but begin to encounter signs that it may not be a myth. Like Crichton's Eaters of the Dead, it is (or seems to be) a genuine documentary at the beginning of the film; where it crosses into fiction is debatable. The conceit of a genuine documentary is held on to the bitter end (the DVD even includes "commentary" by Zak Penn as he interviews a series of people and discusses the bad blood between himself and Herzog due to events in the film).
  • The Spanish film Voyage to Nowhere (1986) features an old Carlos Galván telling the story of his life to a biographer. In those scenes, Galván himself admits that his recalling of events cannot be 100% correct and, at some points, he had intentionally taken another people's sentences as if they had been his. Simply because it looks cooler that way, you know.
  • Copacabana: a performer-turned-agent (played by Groucho Marx) gets his girlfriend (played by Carmen Miranda) two separate, simultaneous gigs at the Copacabana - one as herself in the main room, and as "Madame Fifi" in the nightclub. At the end of the film the owner of the Copacabana decides to make a film about it, starring them, and we see the Big Production Number in the film.
  • Scream 2 has the movie Stab, which is the in-universe movie made about the events of Scream.
  • In The Human Centipede 2 the previous film is shown to exist on DVD.
  • Mentioned in Hook, the film "sequel" to Peter Pan. Wendy Darling and Peter Pan had adventures that Wendy later told to J.M. Barrie who, we presume, made a few changes, which accounts for the inconsistencies between the book and film. For example, Captain Hook is eaten by the crocodile in the book whereas in the film, Hook escaped the crocodile and killed it instead.
  • In a direct reference to Marvel's In-Universe counterpart mentioned above under "Comic Books", 2017's Logan has a scene where Logan sees Laura reading an X-Men comic book and mentions that most of what's in it didn't happen, and the part that did, didn't happen the way they tell it.


  • The Heralds of Valdemar books by Mercedes Lackey may possibly be an example—frequent reference is made to Herald-Archivist Myste (Lackey's Author Avatar; her nickname is "Misty") who is occasionally said to be collecting accounts of the adventures recounted in the books.
  • The comedy/crime novel Jimmy the Kid features some bumbling crooks who plan out a kidnapping based on a novel, Child Heist by Richard Stark. While Child Heist doesn't actually exist, Richard Stark is another pseudonym of Jimmy the Kid's author, Donald E. Westlake. This makes the latter novel an extended running gag on this trope, as Westlake pretends that Child Heist exists within Jimmy's world.
  • Much of the plot of Bram Stoker's Dracula is about the construction of the book itself and how Mina Harker's compilation of the characters' journals, interview transcripts, and the like helps the characters deduce Dracula's identity and nature and ultimately defeat him. To some extent, the book is practically an advertisement for that wondrous new invention, the typewriter.
  • In The Dresden Files, it's heavily alluded to that Dracula was pretty much commissioned from Bram Stoker, so people would have a defence against the Black Court. In Grave Peril, Harry mentions that the Black Court is almost nonexistent, thanks to that book. And, in one of the recent "extra" stories, it's pointed out that the Necronomicon was actually a Grimoire of great power—until the White Council found it and published it all over the place, and by making it available to every minor mage and wannabe in existence, effectively nullified the power by spreading the effect over the entire world.
    • In an interview with the author, a fan asked whether H.P Lovecraft was onto something in the same way. The answer - yes. Oh Crap.
  • Both The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings are revealed at the end to share the same title as a book written by the lead character at the end of each (There and Back Again: A Hobbit's Holiday and The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King, respectively). Bilbo's uncompleted "Translations from the Elvish" is claimed to be the (then-unfinished) Silmarillion.
    • The hypothesis was also used to excuse a Retcon of The Hobbit. In the original edition of the book, Gollum is quite willing to hand over the Ring itself as a prize for winning the riddle contest—utterly out of character given the plot of The Lord of the Rings, so later editions change that scene. The preface of The Lord of the Rings justifies the correction by noting that Bilbo himself wrote the original The Hobbit as memoirs and, already slightly corrupted by the Ring, lied about how he got it when he put the tale to paper; Gandalf eventually talked him into revealing the truth.
    • The Red Book itself is said to have a companion volume of "Translations from the Elvish", which presumably contains the source material of The Silmarillion. Many of those texts are attributed to specific Elvish scribes.
      • The Akallabeth (one of the stories in The Silmarillion) is attributed to Elendil, a Man, and supposedly came from a copy of the Red Book as preserved in Gondor, rather than as one of Bilbo's translations.
  • Inferno, a modern retelling of the Inferno from Dante's Divine Comedy, mentions that Dante's description and maps of Hell are accurate, and have been used by other visitors. Phlegyas, boatman across the swamp in the fifth circle, is particular annoyed that Dante gave away the phrase that means he has to transport the speaker to the City of Dis.
  • Bertie Wooster, narrator of the Jeeves and Wooster series, makes several references to himself as the author.
  • In the Knight and Rogue Series Makejoye writes a play about a handsome but poor lad and a dashing bridand who was forced into a life of crime thanks to corruption in politics competing for the same lovely high class lady who'd run away from her uncle. Just in case it's not obvious that the play is really about the actor Rudy, the unredeemed Michael, and the runaway Rosamund, he has all of them playing the appropriate roles.

Live Action TV

  • Some people believe that the show Wormhole X-Treme! is actually a way to create plausible deniability for a real Air Force project called "Stargate". As the Air Force will tell you, this is a complete lie.
    • Of course, not only is that what they'd say if it was a complete lie, its also exactly what they'd say if it was complete truth. Not that anybody ever saw the show. It was on cable, after all.
  • The series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise was controversially framed as a non-interactive holodeck recording being viewed by Next Generation characters Troi and Riker, who occasionally paused the episode to discuss things. Early rumors suggested that the entire series would be revealed to be a holodeck recording (or worse, a simulation), but there's no evidence of this in the aired episode. A lot of fans still found it to be an inadequate send-off, although others who viewed it as a send-off to the entire franchise (since, for the first time in 20 years, there were no further Star Trek shows or movies in the pipeline, and, as of now, this is the last Star Trek show or movie set in the original continuity) were a bit more accepting of the shifted focus.
    • Of course, this allowed some of the fridge logic to ret-con the episode as a piece of doctored history.
    • As was done by the Enterprise novel "The Good That Men Do," which proposes that what Riker watched was Trip's cover story, and that he'd really gone undercover in Romulan space.
  • Similarly, the final episode of the fourth season of Babylon 5, "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars", includes a segment in which a holographic recreation of several historical figures (the main characters of the show) is being generated for propaganda purposes; although based on genuine historical data, it is being deliberately distorted to support an anti-Alliance agenda. Or at least it is until one of the characters takes matters into his own hands.
  • Supernatural: In Monster at the End of the Book, Chuck is seeing visions and writing them down, believing them to be fiction. However, it turns out later that they are a divine prophecy telling the actions of the main characters, and that his writings will eventually become holy texts.

Tabletop Games

  • It should be noted that giving samples of "genuine in-world text" is one of best methods to demonstrate a setting's flavour and encourage non-OOC style.
  • The Dresden Files RPG is presented as a draft version of an in-universe RPG based on the setting, with notes and queries by assorted characters, and text marked for deletion with angry notes from Harry Dresden about not giving away White Council secrets.