What in the world is the Mandela Effect? In a nutshell, it’s having memories that don’t match with current reality and history. Fiona Broome, one of the people who coined the term, launched a website in 2009 to document the phenomenon, explains that the Mandela Effect “is what happens when someone has a clear memory of something that never happened in this reality.” But why is it called the Mandela Effect? Well, that brings us to our first example.
In her explanation of “The Mandela Effect,” Broome cites how she and a number of other acquaintances have clear memories of activist and former South African president Nelson Mandela dying in a prison years before his actual passing, complete with a televised funeral. However, in reality, Mandela passed away in 2013 from a respiratory tract infection. This raised the question: How can so many people, strangers even, have the same memory of something that didn’t happen as they remember it?
What could we possibly remember incorrectly about that curious little monkey from popular children’s literature? There’s some debate about whether or not the character is illustrated with a tail. Many remember Curious George as having one in the books written by H.A. Rey. But, no, George never had a tail.
While we’re on the subject of children’s book characters, we’d be remiss without mentioning that sweet country bear family The Berenstain Bears. Wait, do you think we’ve hit a typo? Many report the family name spelled Berenstein, with an “ein” instead of an “ain.” But, no, they are the Berenstains. Always have been and likely always will be.
Ah, the Monopoly Man (“real” name: Rich Uncle Pennybags). Ever the shrewd business tycoon, he was always dressed to the nines in his top hat and monocle. He did wear a monocle, didn’t he? Apparently, he did not. Guess Rich Uncle Pennybags had great vision after all because he was never drawn with the eyepiece. Many of us just picture him that way in our alternate memories.
In 1932 American aviator Charles Lindbergh experienced the unthinkable: His 20-month-old son was kidnapped. While a host of people remember the event remaining a cold case, with the child never to be seen again, that’s not what happened. Sadly, the toddler’s body was found a little more than two months after the initial kidnapping took place. According to an autopsy report, the child had been killed by a blow to the head not long after he was abducted.
They’re the most popular Stone Age family, but with such international recognition, why is it so many people don’t know how to spell the Flintstones‘ family name? A lot of times, the first “t” in Flintstones is dropped, with the animated brood referred to as the Flinstones. Nope, their name has always had two of the letter “t.”
The Flintstones aren’t alone with misspellings, these are the most expensive typos ever to have happened.
In other animated Mandela Effect oddities, Bugs Bunny and crew are all members of the Looney Tunes family. Yes, that’s Tunes, not Toons. This alternate memory is a little more understandable. After all, they’re cartoons, so spelling it Looney Toons would make a heck of a lot more sense, don’t you think? There actually is a logical explanation for it, though!
As per The Mandela Effect website, one of the more notable alternate memories is the canonisation of Mother Teresa. It appears a large segment of the population recalls her becoming a saint back in the 1990s. This, however, isn’t the case. According to CNN, Mother Teresa was declared a saint in 2016 by Pope Francis.
In a galaxy far, far away, the Mandela Effect exists. Yes, the phenomenon has even infiltrated Star Wars. While even the most die-hard of fans quote a quintessential moment in Return of the Jedi as Darth Vader saying, “Luke, I am your father,” that’s not what he said. In actuality, Vader said, “No, I am your father.”
Here’s another cinematic discrepancy that we apparently all remember incorrectly: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Who could forget the way in which the Evil Queen says the phrase, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Most of us. Because that’s not what the villain says. The actual line is, “Magic mirror on the wall…”.
This one might make you question your entire childhood. Remember the character that popped up in all of those wildfire prevention PSAs? Smokey the Bear, that’s him. Or is it? While he’s commonly referred to as Smokey the Bear, his “real” name is simply Smokey Bear, and his website confirms it.
There’s a good chance at least once in your life you’ve presumed a celebrity or public figure has passed, when in fact they are very much still alive. Actor Abe Vigoda might be the most Mandela Effect example of this. Vigoda, who actually died in 2016, was reported dead by a number of different media outlets for some 30 years prior.
Aaaah, chartreuse – such a lovely shade of pink, isn’t it? Or do we mean green? There’s a divide about whether or not chartreuse is in the green family or a reddish-pink. We’re here to tell you that it is actually a yellow-green colour and reportedly gets its name from the liqueur called Chartreuse.
Today, Cinderella’s Castle in Disneyland parks around the world sits in the Magic Kingdom just beyond Main Street – an iconic symbol of the theme park. Do you remember when the castle served as the main entrance to the Magic Kingdom? Lots of people do! The only problem is the castle has always been in the exact same spot and was never located near the admission turnstiles.
King Henry VIII is perhaps best known for his six (yes six!) marriages but history buffs also recall an infamous portrait of the monarch standing with a turkey leg in one hand. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a turkey leg but this alleged portrait never happened. Absolutely zero evidence today of Henry VIII holding the aforementioned turkey leg despite the widespread alternate memory alluding to it.
When the Challenger space shuttle exploded 73 seconds after lift off, it shocked the world. But the date of the tragedy is sometimes hotly contested, with memories of it occurring in 1983, 84, or 85. It, in fact, happened on January 28, 1986. It’s possible the alternate memory exists because space shuttle Challenger had experienced successful missions previously, including its initial launch in 1983.
This feels like a particularly odd one but there are a host of people who remember being taught, at one time, that there are 52 states in the United States, as opposed to the reality of just 50. What could this stem from? Maybe folks are confusing states with the addition of U.S. territories, like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Either way, this one is a doozy for The Mandela Effect.
With so much renewed publicity around rock icons Queen since the release of Bohemian Rhapsody in 2018, music lovers are taking a closer look at their hit “We Are the Champions.” It became an accepted notion that lead singer Freddie Mercury passionately ends the song by singing “of the world!” But that didn’t happen in the recording, as evidenced by the lyrics.
The 1984 cult classic was a hit with kids and adult moviegoers, but those who saw the movie remember the name of the villainous Gremlin differently. Some say his name was Stripe, while others insist he was Spike. As it turns out, the sinister Gremlin was, in fact, Stripe, though there is a licensed t-shirt available on Amazon under the name of Spike, adding to the confusion.
The television series M.A.S.H. delivered a lot of heartbreaking deaths throughout its 11 seasons. Some viewers of the show clearly recall the sad fate of Cpl. Walter “Radar” O’Reilly, played by Gary Burghoff, but in fact, that character appeared through season eight and was very much alive during his send-off episodes. In fact, Burghoff was one of two actors to reprise his M.A.S.H. role from the original movie upon which the series was based.
The hit HBO series which spawned two feature films following the exploits of four best friends living and loving in New York is still beloved by legions of fans who watch its reruns that seem to run continuously on TV. But there’s a discrepancy in the show’s title. There are fans who swear the pilot episode of the series was titled Sex in the City. After all, lead character Carrie Bradshaw was writing about sex, love, and relationships in the Big Apple. But, nope, the title has always been Sex and the City.
In another example of a household name remembered with an alternate spelling, odour eliminator Febreze comes to mind. With a spray here and a spray there the product is intended to eliminate unpleasant odours and replace them with a fresh, breezy scent. Perhaps that’s why you’ll find plenty of people who swear it is (or at least at one time was) spelled Febreeze. However, in this reality, the stuff is Febreze. No extra “e” needed.
If you want to DIY your home care products, try these insanely easy hacks for making your own.
Loveable droid C-3PO is a Star Wars legend, known for his gold figure. But if you recall C-3PO as being gold and only gold, that’s the Mandela Effect hard at work. You see, the droid actually has a silver piece on his right leg, from about the knee joint down through his foot.
We love a hyphen as much as the next person, but one does not exist in the name for chocolatey treat KitKat. In fact, there’s no space between the “Kit” and the “Kat,” either. You’ll find plenty of chocolate lovers who insist at one point in time a hyphen joined the two, but we regretfully inform them they are wrong.
For a footwear brand that has been in existence since 1992, there’s still plenty of debate about how the company’s name is spelled. So which is it – Skechers or Sketchers? It’s decidedly Skechers, shoe fans. It’s an easy mistake to make. After all, if you were referring to a drawing you’d spell it sketch. But this isn’t about pencil and paper, it’s about shoes. And this classic brand is Skechers.
It’s interesting that so many deaths of public figures are remembered quite differently from person to person. Reverend Billy Graham is one such example. Some swear that remember watching the evangelist’s funeral on TV at least a decade ago. But, in reality, the American Graham passed away recently in 2018. Either way, there’s a slew of people remembering the televised funeral of another prominent public figure – the Mandela Effect at work again.
Despite receiving critical praise for an impressive body of work in Hollywood, Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t win his first Academy Award until 2016. That year he took home the Best Actor trophy for his role in The Revenant. But many swear up and down that the actor scored an Oscar before this, which is categorically not the case. Sorry, DiCaprio fans! Had been nominated, but never went home a winner prior.
The 1988 comedy was a huge hit for Tom Hanks. The actor portrayed Josh, a young boy who wishes he was “big” and then wakes up to find himself in the body of a full-grown adult. While just about everyone can agree the movie is all sorts of sweet and hilarious, there are conflicting reports about an alternate ending. In this version, they say “kid” Josh is seen sitting in a classroom only to notice a female classmate who turns out to be Susan, “big” Josh’s love interest. It’s insinuated that Susan returned to the fairground machine and wished she could be a kid again.
In 101 Dalmatians, a ginormous litter of doggies (101 as the title suggests) must escape the sinister plot of the film’s villain, Cruella DeVil. DeVil’s goal is to make a fur out of pups’ own beautiful coats. Ask Disney fans and some will insist Cruella’s is, or at one time was, spelled DeVille. At least in terms of Disney films, the character has always been DeVil.
And we have yet another cinematic head-scratcher on our hands. Forrest Gump brought a lot of attention to a delicious box of chocolates. While most movie lovers remember the quote as, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get,” Gump actually says, “Life was like a box of chocolates.”
Astronaut Neil Armstrong, a pivotal figure in space exploration history, passed away in 2012. Yet many thought he died later than that, meaning they believed he lived longer than he actually did. The Mandela Effect website says this could possibly be attributed to a story about the one-year anniversary of his death that boasted a misleading deadline. This is one of those rare instances where a celebrity was actually believed to still be alive rather than deceased earlier.
There are some movie scenes so iconic that they get copied over and over again. Tom Cruise’s Risky Business dance scene is one such example. In the 1983 classic, the actor dances around the house in a collared shirt, tight whities, and socks…but wasn’t he also wearing sunglasses? He’s often remembered as donning shades during the epic scene, but in reality, there were no sunglasses present.
How many times have you heard the phrase, “Hello, Clarice,” spoken in a creepy voice as a reference to The Silence of the Lambs? If you’re at all interested in pop culture, probably at least a dozen. But Anthony Hopkins never once uttered those words as Hannibal Lecter in the film.
The assassination of John F. Kennedy while travelling in a Dallas motorcade shocked the world, with many people to this day still reflecting on where they were the moment they heard the devastating news. Often people only remember there being four people in the car, including JFK and Jackie Kennedy, but in fact, there were six passengers. The additional people in the car were Agent Bill Greer, secret service agent Roy Kellerman, Governor John Connally, and Nellie Connally.
JRR Tolkien created an incredible world with Lord of the Rings and fans of the books were thrilled when they were turned into films. However, Gandalf is often misquoted as saying the famous line, “Run, you fools!” In fact, he actually said, “Fly, you fools,” not “run.”
There’s always been a lot of back-and-forth talk about whether or not the Mona Lisa is smiling in the famous Leonardo da Vinci painting. But there is a segment of the world’s population that actually believes her expression has changed over time. Conspiracy theory or Mandela Effect? You be the judge.
Well here’s a cookie conundrum and, no, it’s not about whether or not the Oreo should be eaten whole or taken apart and consumed. Those with a sweet tooth recall seeing the deluxe version as being branded Oreo Double Stuffed cookies. But in reality, it’s spelled Oreo Double Stuf. That’s it, just “stuf.”
Colour us surprised! For years we thought we were using White Out correction fluid to gloss over any typewriter or pen mistakes. It turns out we were actually using Wite-Out. How a generation of people could have a different idea of the spelling of this product is truly baffling. But, hey, that’s the Mandela Effect.
Unlike the Mandela Effect, these 12 crazy conspiracy theories turned out to be true.
There are dozens of Pokemon characters, but bright and cheerful Pikachu is easily the most recognisable character from the franchise. Somehow, though, there are plenty of people who believe Pikachu’s tail includes a black zig-zag across it. In reality, the character’s tail has always been drawn as completely yellow with no such zig-zag or stripe of which to speak.
Fictional character Carmen Sandiego rocks a trench coat like nobody’s business as she travels about the globe. The double-breasted coat is a bold red, but there are folks who remember her wearing a yellow version at some point in time. However, there is no visual evidence of this alleged yellow piece of outerwear anywhere online.
Ultimately actor Patrick Swayze passed away in 2009 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed 20 months before the disease took his life, but there are plenty of fans who distinctly remember Swayze beating the cancer and going into remission. If only that was the case.
Didn’t you just love Shaquille O’Neal playing a genie in the movie Shazaam? If so, you’re living in an alternate universe because the former NBA player never appeared in a film by that name. The movie in question was, in fact, titled Kazaam, yet it is incorrectly remembered by, well, mostly everybody.
Internationally movies can have different titles when translated into other languages and these examples are downright surprising.
In an absolutely notorious acceptance speech, Sally Field is quoted as saying, “You like me, you really like me!” The line has been repeated over and over again. But the actress, who won an Oscar for Places in the Heart, actually said, “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me.”
Sign up here to get Reader’s Digest’s favourite stories straight to your inbox!