It’s one thing to misremember something, but how would you explain a group of unrelated people all having the same mistaken memory?
This collective misremembering is known as “The Mandela Effect." The name comes from an event in 2010 when a surprising number of people on the internet falsely remembered Nelson Mandela was dead, vividly recalling they read in the news he had died in prison during the 1980s. In fact, he was still alive at the time and died in 2013.
While the Mandela Effect is often explained with a lot of pseudoscience and hocus pocus, like a “glitch in the Matrix” or evidence of a parallel universe, psychologists have also sought to explain this phenomenon by more scientific means. Essentially, it’s a glitch of your memory, not a blip in the fabric of space-time. Memory is constructive, not reproductive. We don’t remember events as pitch-perfect recordings, but rather as nuggets of information that we piece together as we go. That means they can be shaped by biases, misunderstandings, peer pressure, cultural associations, or other peoples' memories. As you might notice, many examples of the Mandela Effect are related to a piece of pop culture from childhood, perhaps when memories are most pliable or prone to fogginess.
Here are a few of the most well-known and prominent examples of this truly bizarre social phenomenon.
Luke *Deep Breath* I Am Your Father
If you think of a quote from the Star Wars film series, it’s most likely “Luke, I am your father.” However, even the most devoted sci-fi nerd might be confused to hear he actually says the line: “No, I am your father.”
“Life is like a box of chocolates” is another one of modern cinema’s most famous quotes. However, American antihero Forrest Gump didn’t say those exact words. The quote, in fact, was: “My Momma always said, 'Life was like a box of chocolates.' You never know what you gonna get.”
We Are The Champions *Dum Dum* Of The World
Remember that moment when Freddie Mercury belts out "of the world!" at the end of the Queen song "We Are the Champions"? Although the mustachioed frontman does sing that line in the song, it doesn’t actually end with that line.
Fruit Of The Loom’s Missing Basket
Chances are, you have a Fruit of the Loom T-shirt somewhere in your cupboard. Can you picture the label? You perhaps remember a bunch of colorful fruit laying out of a cone-shaped basket or a cornucopia. Oddly enough, the clothing brand’s logo never featured a cornucopia and always just consisted of a few colorful fruits.
The Film That Never Existed
Many people have a fond memory of comedian David Adkins, better known by his stage name Sinbad, playing the role of a genie in a popular family movie in the 1990s called Shazaam. However, there is no evidence this film ever existed. Most explanations of this oddity say it’s simply a mix up with the 1996 film Kazaam in which Shaquille O’Neal plays a rapping genie, although it remains unclear why so many share this specific memory of Sinbad playing the role.
The Berenstein Bears?
Remember the Berenstein Bears books? Despite helping thousands of kids learn to read, the series is actually “The Berenstain Bears,” with the name ending in “ein” instead of “ain.” To make matters even stranger, some people on Reddit noticed that certain old Berenstain Bears VHS and memorabilia spelled the bears’ name with an “ein” not an “ain.”
A short old guy with a top hat, big mustache, monocle, and bag of money. It must be the archetypal capitalist from the Monopoly board game. But if you’re planning on dressing up as him next Halloween, you should skip the monocle because the character never featured this addition.
Snow White’s Most Famous Moment
Another film quote that’s misremembered en-mass is the 1937 Disney classic Snow White when the Wicked Queen says, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of them all?” Actually, the quote is "Magic mirror on the wall..."
Misspelled Candy Bars
What’s the name of the candy bar that is famous for two wafer fingers covered in chocolate? Kit-Kat, right? Close, but that hyphen was never present and it was always spelled “Kit Kat.”
Another One For Star Wars Fans
Star Wars fans often have a hard time remembering that C3PO, the painfully polite translation droid, was not uniformly gold in the original Star Wars trilogy from 1977 to 1983. Despite their best memory, the right lower leg of C3PO was shiny silver, not gold.