"I reckon there's been a lot of chaps in our position, down across the years. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Makes you wonder how much of the world is true."—Fred Abberline, From Hell
Writers never let the facts get in the way of a good story. If reality doesn't fit the plot, it can be changed. History and myth are the most common targets of this - it's much easier to convince the viewers that a 9th century pope was actually a woman disguised as a man than that the current pope is female.
When this Reality Retcon is a story premise Plausible Deniability is generally the aim, but the retcon remains a clear, deliberate, and direct contradiction of generally accepted facts.
Common examples are:
- Ancient Astronauts: Gods or legendary figures were really aliens.
- Ancient Conspiracy: All history is just a charade, staged by a secret society.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: An historical character had a secret life.
- The Gump: An original and/or unlikely character is The Man Behind the Man causing well-known historical events.
- Julius Beethoven Da Vinci: Many historical characters were all the same long-lived person.
- ET Gave Us Wi-Fi: The development of human technology got a boost somewhere from little green men.
- Historical In-Joke: history is rewritten for the sake of a single joke.
- Retroactive Legacy: Pretending that a given debut work is actually the latest in a longer series going back years.