45 Mandela Effect Examples That Will Make You Question Reality

Photo: Getty
nelson mandela

Have you ever been positive you remembered something correctly, only to come across "proof" that your memory was false?

If so, and most of us have, you might be interested to know that what you experienced was an example of a perplexing, yet fascinating phenomenon called the Mandela Effect, and you are probably far from the only person to make the same mistake regarding the same (apparently false) memory.

What is the Mandela Effect?

The term was coined in 2009 by author and paranormal researcher Fiona Broome "to describe a collective false memory she discovered at the Dragon Con convention, where many others believed that former South African President Nelson Mandela died during his imprisonment in the 1980s."

Broome recalls the origins of the Mandela Effect theory of collective false memory during conversations at Dragon Con as follows:

"Between speaking to audiences, many of us would start discussions about quirky, fun topics. It was a way to relax... The discussion started when Shadow [then a Dragon Con security manager] mentioned that — like me — other people remembered Nelson Mandela’s tragic death in a South African prison, prior to late 2009. (In this reality, Mandela died [on December 5], 2013.) Apparently, others in the green room shared that memory. Many others joined the conversation. It was a fascinating discussion that spun into weird and hilarious tangents."

Mandela Effect Definition

According to Know Your Meme, the Mandela Effect "refers to a phenomenon in which a large number of people share false memories of past events, referred to as confabulation in psychiatry. Some have speculated that the memories are caused by parallel universes spilling into our own, while others explain the phenomenon as a failure of collective memory."

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Broome's writings about this theory obviously struck a chord with the global community, so much so that as of this date there are 184,000 members of Reddit's r/MandelaEffect subreddit, and an entire episode of "The X-Files" revolves around an instance in which agents Scully and Mulder "fall victim to the Mandela Effect."

While some believe the Mandela Effect is the result of a parallel universe, others believe these memories we have are real, but documentation of the facts changed in the course of government cover-ups.

Is the Mandela Effect caused by deepfakes?

Given the lightning-quick pace at which technology is advancing the quality, ease of accessibility, and cost-effectiveness of apps, software, artificial technology, and other means by which tech-savvy individuals can create fake audio, video, and photography, it's not unreasonable to wonder if the growing list of false memory examples credited to the Mandela Effect isn't at least partially to blame on what is known as "deepfakes."

For the record, deepfakes are "synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else's likeness."

There are possible scientific causes behind the Mandela Effect.

More rational-thinking folks tend to believe our memory simply plays tricks on us over the years, in a way similar to how words and phrases change as they pass from person to person while playing a game of "Telephone."

False Memories

Unfortunately, humans don't have the best memories. Often, recall is distorted by time or trauma, leading to inaccurate memories. When this happens as a group, it's called collective false memory.


As people try to recall a memory, they relay is as they remember it even though that memory might not be accurate. If someone else is struggling to remember that same thing, they can easily be convinced by someone else's memory of it. This leads to a snowball effect of "honest lying," which may explain the Mandela Effect.

Whether it's caused my a simple memory mistake or alternate realities converging, what’s most fascinating about the Mandela Effect is that so many individuals all over the world share the same, specific false memories from particular time periods, across a wide variety of categories.

List of 45 Mandela Effect Examples

1. You've never watched Sex in the City.

It’s "Sex and the City," though many people insist they remember it being “in the” at some point.

2. Rich Uncle Pennybags, AKA the Monopoly man, has never worn a monocle.

Actually, he doesn't, and he never has.

Photo: Matt 20 on Monopoly Fandom Wiki

It's possible that people are just confusing him with Mr. Peanut, the Planters peanut mascot, who also wears a top hat and carries a cane with him.

3. The Queen in Snow White never said, "Mirror, mirror on the wall."

This line from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," Disney's first animated feature film, is probably one of the most iconic of all time. A movie based on the class Brothers Grimm tale released in 2012, was even called "Mirror Mirror" after the famous line.

But what if I told you we've all been remembering it wrong? That’s right! n the 1937 movie, she clearly says, “Magic Mirror on the wall.”

And yet, I have never met one single person who remembers it that way.

4. Forrest Gump never said, "Life is like a box of chocolates."

In the 1994 movie, "Forrest Gump," the title character made famous by Tom Hanks says, “My momma always said life is like a box of chocolates.” Or does he?

Well, if you go back and watch the opening scene (see below), Forrest actually says, "My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates.”

That doesn’t even sound right!! But it is.

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5. Darth Vader never said, "Luke, I am your Father."

Although this statement is one of the most iconic in film history, what Darth Vader actually says to Luke Skywalker in 1980's "Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back" is, “No. I am your father.”

You definitely shouldn't be too hard on yourself for getting this one confused, considering Darth Vader himself, James Earl Jones is right there with you.

6. The lyrics of Queen's famous song, "We Are The Champions," does not end with "... of the world."

Most people singing along to the 1977 song from Queen distinctly remember the last line as, "We are the champions... of the world." But that is incorrect.

7. There is no movie titled "Shazaam" starring Sinbad.

Or was there? This may be one of the most perplexing, if not the most perplexing, Mandela Effect examples of all. People swear that they saw a movie starring comedian David Adkins, aka Sinbad, as a genie named "Shazaam" at some point in the 1990s, but this would have been impossible given that such a movie was never made.

Many believe this is actually a case of confused memory since there was a movie called "Kazaam," which was made in 1996 starring pro basketball player and sometimes actor Shaquille O'Neal. But Sinbad may have cleared this all up for us on Twitter in 2016, when he explained that he did once host an afternoon of Sinbad the Sailor movies in what looks like a genie's outfit.

8. Your mom never read "The Berenstein Bears" to you.

And sorry, but nope, your dad never read those to you either, because the actual name of that busy bear family is, and always has been, The Berenstain Bears.

These books were created by married co-authors Stan and Jan Berenstain, and their son, Mike, took over as author following their deaths.

9. C-3PO's body was never all gold.

This really seems like a simple mistake for most of our eyes to have made.

The lower section of C3P0's right leg is actually silver, but the distinction is difficult to see unless you are specifically looking for it.

10. You have never watched the "Looney Toons."

Sorry if the somehow dampens your childhood memories, but while they were cartoons, the actual brand name is "Looney Tunes."

11. The evil Gremlin was Stripe, not Spike.

Again, this one seems like an understandable gaff. "Gremlins" was a film for kids and most of us who saw it back in 1984 probably remember the way his hair spiked up in a mohawk better than anything other than how gosh-darned adorable the movie's hero Gizmo was.

12. The evil fur lover in "101 Dalmations" is not Cruella DeVille.

​The lady's name is Cruella De Vil, thank you very much.

As in, Cruella De-Vil ... Cruella DEVIL ... Get it??​​

13. The Wicked Witch of the West didn't ask her "pretties" to fly.

Most of us who have seen "The Wizard of Oz," which pretty much should mean everyone on Earth, vividly remember the scene in which the Wicked Witch of the West instructs her army of flying monkeys to "Fly, my pretties, fly!"

Except she never does that. ​What she actually says is simply, "Now, fly! Fly!"

Similar, yes, but decidedly not the same.​

14. Hannibal Lecter never said, "Hello, Clarice."

When Jodie Foster's FBI agent-in-training Clarice Starling meets Anthony Hopkins' infamous prisoner, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, for the first time in The Silence of the Lambs, he greets her only with a simple, "Good morning."

Don't worry. He's still one of the creepiest fictional characters of all time.

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15. Humphrey Bogart doesn't ask Sam to "play it again."

In fact, despite the statements in many discussions of the Mandela effect, not only does the heartbroken nightclub owner Rick Blaine never say one of the most famous movie quotes of all time, i.e., "Play it again, Sam," in the classic film Casablanca, but he never even says, "Play it, Sam" when requesting the soulful tune, "As Time Goes By."

As he soaks his sorrow over losing Ingrid Bergman's Ilsa to Victor Laszlo in yet another glass, Bogey merely barks to the piano playing Sam, "Play it!" And Sam, of course, complies.

16. Beloved Pokémon Pikachu never had a black tip on his tail.

For reasons unknown, many Pokémon fans remember their beloved Pikachu having a black tip to his tail. But alas, he does not.

17. Curious George never had a tail at all.

And as for that naughty but adorable little monkey named Curious George, he never had any tail at all! Well, maybe ...

18. There was never a portrait of Henry VIII holding a turkey leg.

According to Broome, "The turkey leg reference is popular, whether or not the painting exists. For example, in the 15th season of The Simpsons, the Margical History Tour episode closes with a reference to Henry VIII holding the world turkey-leg eating record."

In the actual portrait, however, there is no food of any kind to be seen.

Photo credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons

19. The Mona Lisa's facial expression may or may not have changed.

I can remember being taught that part of what made DaVinci's most famous lady so special was the fact that her expression is so subjective to the viewer. Is she smiling? Is she bored? Is totally blase?

Now, some believe her expression literally changed over time, and that the face in the painting clearly shows a slight smile.

Given that the scientific school of thought that "the painting is an optical illusion, and changes based on where you are viewing it from. Seeing the painting from specific angles makes the colors 'blend' in different ways, which alters her facial expression," perhaps this is the result of her having been photographed over the years from different angles.

Or perhaps not...

20. Adolph Hitler had brown eyes, but many think his eyes were blue.

One of the most striking memories people have of Hitler is the hypocrisy inherent in his espousing the superiority of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Aryan race when he himself possessed brown hair and brown eyes. Relatively recently, however, photographs have emerged showing the World War II tyrant with eyes of the bluest blue.

His mustache has mysteriously appeared to have shape-shifted as well.

Hmmm... Photoshop? Or... Photoshop. We say Photoshop.

21. Was Amelia Earhart found alive or was she never found?

Most of us remember hearing of the mysterious Amelia Earhart who disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island during her 1937 circumnavigational flight across the globe.

According to one question on Reddit, however, some believe that "there was a brief period where people were shocked that Amelia Earhart was lost for a while during her world flight, and it made the news, but then they found her in the ocean and brought her back and she died of old age but was still quite the pioneering woman."

There is also a widely believed conspiracy theory that Earhart was taken prisoner, and subsequently killed, by the Japanese after crash landing on Marshall Island, and that there was a cover-up by the U.S. government.

The theory appears to have been debunked by a Tokyo-based blogger who claims "the image was part of a Japanese-language travelogue about the South Seas that was published almost two years before Earhart disappeared."

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22. You've never used Febreeze to freshen up your clothes. It's spelled Febreze.

Since when has it ever been spelled with only one "e" in the middle?

Photo credit: Ajay Suresh on Wikipedia

Apparently, since always.

23. Kit Kat was never spelled with a dash.

Some people seem to remember there being a dash in Kit Kat, making it “Kit-Kat,” but there isn’t one.

Photo credit: Scott Ehardt on Wikipedia

24. You've never eaten "Jiffy" peanut butter.

It's technically called Jif, even though people remember this popular brand of peanut butter being called “Jiffy” and having a campaign that told mothers they could fix their kids a snack “in a jiffy.”

The actual slogan, however, was this: "Choosy mothers choose Jif!"

Pretty sneaky, sis ...

25. You've never eaten Fruit Loops for breakfast.

You may very well, however, have eaten quite a few bowls of Froot Loops.

Some say it was originally called "Fruit Loops" and then was changed to "Froot Loops,” while others believe it went from “Froot Loops” to “Fruit Loops." Many people claim this change happened during their childhood, while others say they just noticed it in recent months.

In the video below, the YouTuber speaking says that he has found "residue," citing three "articles" he found online in which the cereal is spelled "Fruit Loops."

What this gentleman calls residue, I might prefer to call it poor editing. But IDK.

26. You've never eaten at either Chic-fil-a OR Chik-fil-a.

This is a crazy one. There are a lot of people who insist they remember the popular fast-food chicken restaurant being known as Chic-fil-A, and there are even some who think it was Chik-fil-A. However, neither of those are correct.

The chain has allegedly, supposedly, and reputedly always been spelled "Chick-fil-A."

27. You have never, ever worn a pair of Sketchers. Your beloved shoes are Skechers.

This beloved sneaker brand has been worn by many people for years. I specifically remember the brand name being spelled “Sketchers,” but apparently, I am wrong.

When we mentioned this particular false memory to Skecher's Director of International Sales, Audra Williams, she replied, "One of my biggest pet peeves! Especially in the press. How does that get to print and not get caught by an editor???"

But Ms. Williams, they used to be "Sketchers"... right?

"Nope! Never," she insists. "But I have been correcting people for 21 years. Ha!"

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28. You've had 'Double Stuf' Oreos, not 'Double Stuff.'

Some people recall those Oreos having extra cream filling being Double Stuffed, with two Fs, which makes grammatical sense.

However, if you take a close look at the packaging, there's only one F in Stuf.

29. Your bologna has a second name, but it's not Meyer.

Oscar Mayer bologna has an extremely memorable jingle that literally spells out the name of the brand, so there's no reason why anyone should think it was ever spelled differently.

However, some do, claiming that Oscar's last name was once Meyer instead of Mayer.

30. Stouffers never made Stove Top Stuffing.

I'm a sucker for Stouffers macaroni and cheese, so you could probably convince me that they're responsible for Stove Top Stuffing. However, the two brands are and always have been separate.

31. The Fruit of the Loom logo never had a cornucopia.

Many people remember the Fruit of the Loom logo featuring the fruit falling out of a cornucopia. While the logo has gone through quite a few iterations since its 1893 debut, not one included a cornucopia.

32. That addicting cheese square snack is a Cheez-It.

Perhaps it's because you can never eat just one single Cheez-It that has people recalling those cheesy little squares Cheez-Its or even Cheez-Itz, but apparently, the box has never featured plural form.

33. There are two Ts in Flintstones.

We have a habit of not pronouncing all of the letters in some words, which may be why we remember the family from the iconic cartoon as The Flinstones instead of the correct Flintstones.

34. No one knows what color chartreuse is.

Some people swear that chartreuse has always been a shade of pink, while I could've sworn it was a shade of yellow.

Apparently, it's booger green, just like the liqueur of the same name.

Photo: Pinterest

35. Your "Risky Business" Halloween costume shouldn't include sunglasses.

Remember that iconic "Risky Business" scene in which Tom Cruise slides across the room lip-synching in nothing but a button-up, socks, and sunglasses?

No, you don't, because that scene actually didn't include sunglasses!

Though Cruise definitely sported classic black Ray-Ban Wayfarers throughout the film, they didn't make an appearance in this scene.

36. Gandalf doesn't say "run, you fools."

In "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings," Sir Ian Mackellan as Gandolf tells his companions to flee as he dangles from a cliff with one of the most quoted lines from the film — one that people actually tend to get wrong.

While many people say "Run, you fools!", the correct line is "Fly, you fools!"

To be fair, both quotes are technically correct. Apparently, the "run" version was released in theaters, but in all DVD releases the line starts with "fly."

37. "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" theme song.

When this earworm gets in your head, if you sing "it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood," we've got some news for you: it's actually "a beautiful day in this neighborhood."

38. There are still only 50 United States.

Apparently, some Americans believe that there are 52 states. Perhaps an easy mistake to make if you take into account U.S. territories and the Capitol, though none of those have gained statehood (yet).

39. Smokey Bear doesn't have a 'the' in his name.

Though many people refer to the U.S. Forest Service mascot as Smokey the Bear, he's actually never had a 'the' in his name.

40. The Ford logo has a curl in it.

With a catchphrase like "Built Ford Tough" and an image as one of the most masculine vehicles on the market, did you know that the logo is actually quite feminine?

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

41. Ricky Ricardo never said "Lucy, you've got some 'splaining to do!" on "I Love Lucy."

Despite being one of the show's famous catchphrases, that actual phrase doesn't actually exist.

People are probably mashing together "Lucy, I'm home!" and the many instances Ricardo asked Lucy to "'splain."

42. Patrick Swayze died in 2009.

The actor succumbed to his battle with pancreatic cancer in 2009. However, many people remember him beating cancer.

43. The Lindbergh Baby is not a cold case.

Charles Lindbergh's baby was kidnapped in 1932. Sadly, the baby's remains were found 2 months later and his killer was convicted.

However, some people don't recall the baby ever being found.

44. The Apollo 13 crew never said "Houston, we have a problem."

Another famous and oft-quoted line that people always get wrong.

According to NASA itself, the actual line is "Houston, we've had a problem here."

45. The Tiananmen Square 'Tank Man' didn't get run over.

Even if you weren't alive when it happened, you've probably seen the powerful imagery of a man standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square during the 1989 protests. During these protests, a man stood in front of a line of tanks to block their path.

While many people distinctly remember that man being run over, he was actually pulled away from the tanks.

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Deputy Editor Arianna Jeret, MA/MSW, has been featured in Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Yahoo Style, MSN, Fox News, Bustle, Parents and more. Find her on Twitter for more.

Hannah Kern is an avid writer with a passion for delving deep into interpersonal relationships.