The Mandela Effect, simplified, is a phenomenon where a large number of people remember something that didn’t actually happen. You might be considering the last argument you had, where you and someone else remember who said what differently. The Mandela Effect, though, according to believers, is not a case of mistaken memory. Rather, it occurs when many people, often strangers, share the same vivid and specific memories of an event or phenomenon that never occurred.
The Mandela Effect is actually named after a popular example of the effect itself. Many people say they remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s. In fact, they’re positive that they saw it on the news or learned about it in school. Yet Nelson Mandela didn’t actually die until 2013.
So what’s going on? While non-believers say these instances are cases of misinformation or false memories, others have different theories. Perhaps the most popular among “truthers” (as believers are called) is that of alternate or parallel universes. “Sliding” between these different realities has created memory discrepancies and variant historical timelines. Other theories include time-travel butterfly effects, or that we’ve been experiencing holodecks (false holograms or simulated worlds) that contain occasional glitches.
While alternate universes might sound like a crazy leap, some examples of the Mandela Effect are odd, to say the least. A single crackpot remembering something incorrectly is one thing, but a huge group of complete strangers inventing the same exact memory of something that supposedly never occurred is…well, unsettling.
Nelson Mandela’s Death
The term “Mandela Effect” was initially coined by Fiona Broome in 2010. Broome vividly remembered the death of Nelson Mandela in prison in the 1980s, despite the fact that he lived up until 2013. After discovering a community of people who similarly remembered Mandela’s death, she took to the Internet to share her memory.
Soon hundreds of complete strangers were sharing that they, too, recalled the same thing. Specifically, they often recalled seeing snippets of his funeral on television, a speech from his widow, and other large, public memorials. Yet absolutely none of this happened.
One of the commenters on Broome’s site described his memory as follows:
My experience was that on a regular day, my mom and I were doing separate things with the TV on in the background. I think I was on my laptop and my mom may have also been on hers or reading a book. I believe CNN was the channel the TV was on. Nelson Mandela was mentioned as doing something, which caught both of our ears, I guess, because we both looked up and Nelson Mandela was there… walking around, present day. My mom and I both looked at each other, wide eyed and pale. I was like, “Isn’t he dead? I remember him dying….” And she said YES, and we were both discussing how on earth he was alive and no one else was shocked. We BOTH remembered the Oprah show, we BOTH remembered a specific concert that was live and shown on multiple channels… we both remembered that he died years ago in prison.
Thus, the Mandela Effect was born, and people began to find other shared anomalies in their memories of history. One of the common theories behind the Mandela Effect is that we have somehow transferred between or lived within two parallel universes. In one, Mandela died, in another he lived, and some people are recalling the events of that alternate timeline.
Shazaam Starring Sinbad
The latest example of the Mandela Effect to make the internet rounds is the memory of a 90’s film, Shazaam. Many redditors have posted recalling the family comedy, which starred Sinbad the Entertainer as a genie character. Trouble is, you guessed it, it doesn’t exist. Not one shred of evidence of this movie has been found, yet so many are insistent they remember the same thing. It’s important to note that there is a ’90s movie called Kazam, starring Shaq as a genie. Still, some specifically remember both movies separately, even saying they recall thinking Kazam was just going to be a rip-off of the Sinbad film.
Like most Mandela Effect examples, faulty memory is an easy explanation. And sure, theories of altered histories or false realities seem outlandish at first glance, but when it’s your memory that’s suddenly deemed as incorrect, the whole thing doesn’t seem so nuts. Either wa,y let’s all be chill about this so the secret overlords of the universe don’t kill us.
The Man Run Over By Tanks In Tiananmen Square
Most people remember the Tiananmen Square Protests and the iconic image of a lone man standing in the path of approaching tanks in peaceful resistance. Recalling what happened afterwards, though, is where it gets messy. Some swear that they saw video footage of “Tank Man” being run over by the tanks. But video evidence exists shows that Tank Man did not in fact get run over – he was dragged out of the way after a brief encounter with the driver of the tank.
One commenter writes: “I have a memory of watching this live with my mom, glued to the set, holding our breath, but certain that, like in any movie, the tanks would stop. They didn’t, the tank ran right over him and we were horrified. I remember feeling panicked, then later realizing that this was the first death that I witnessed in real time.”
Doesn’t seem like something you’d just misremember does it? Critics would argue that people are confusing and conflating separate incidents. Believers in the Mandela Effect might put forth the alternate theory that we are living in a simulated world such as a holodeck or matrix. Odd inaccuracies such as this are glitches and faults, not with our memory, but with the simulation surrounding us.
The Beren-what? Bears
This example of the Mandela Effect has recently taken the internet by a storm, because literally everybody remembers reading the beloved children’s books, The BerenSTEIN Bears. Except for the series isn’t The Berenstein Bears, but rather The BerenSTAIN Bears. If you’re shaking your head in defiance, you’re not alone.
Of course, false memory experts say that this misspelling isn’t so crazy. The -stein ending is familiar from names like Einstein and Goldstein, so that’s a possible explanation for why we remember it that way. Maybe. OR it’s a glitch in the matrix and it really was Berenstein.
Either way, spelling discrepancies are often cited as examples of the Mandela Effect.
“Luke, I Am Your Father…?”
After The Empire Strikes Back premiered in 1980, the line “Luke, I am your father” quickly became one of the most quoted movie lines of all time. Except that it’s not a real quote. The actual Darth Vader quote is, “No, I am your father.” The latter quote, of course, doesn’t have as much context and therefore isn’t quite as iconic.
People quoting this moment might have added in the “Luke” to make it an obvious Star Wars reference. And from there, it could be easily misquoted and therefore falsely remembered as the actual quote. But many are quite sure that the original line did in fact use “Luke” and that the Mandela Effect is at work.
Mona Lisa’s ‘Smile’
Was Mona Lisa smiling in Da Vinci’s famous painting? Some people say yes, and some people say no. And while this itself isn’t necessarily a symptom of Mandela effect, people misremembering the painting is. People claim to have seen the painting as children showing a much more curt Mona Lisa, and then as adults re-seeing the painting and realize she has a smile.
And unlike some of these theories, there might be a scientific explanation for that. Scientists believe the painting is a sort of optical illusion. Based on how you view the painting, it changes your perception of how the colors blend together. Seeing the painting from specific angles “changes” the painting, and doesn’t always show a smile.
That Portrait Of King Henry VIII Eating A Turkey Leg
Perhaps the most bizarre examples of the Mandela Effect are the ones where the “wrong” memory isn’t a case of this vs. that but rather the ones that come completely out of thin air. A lot of people distinctly remember seeing a formal portrait of King Henry VIII eating a turkey leg. It was a famous portrait! The only issue is that it doesn’t exist. There is no such portrait of the King eating a turkey leg.
So what the actual f*ck? There have been portrayals of King Henry VIII eating bird legs voraciously in films and cartoons, so one possibility is that people are taking their memories of these instances and associating them with a portrait from that time period. Alternatively, those films and cartoons could just be based off that same mysterious portrait that definitely exists in some other reality.
The Misremembering Of The ‘Mr. Rogers’ Theme Song
Beloved children’s television host Fred Rogers has a legacy that kept on living even after he died in 2003. His show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is a classic show almost everyone growing up in the United States has seen, or at least heard of. And one of the most memorable parts of his show was his original theme song.
The song starts off with “it’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood.” Or is it “the neighborhood?” The difference between “this” and “the” has sparked debate on the Internet, but the actual lyric is “this.” But viewers aren’t the only ones who misremember. In 1992, Rogers received a Peabody Award “in recognition of 25 years of beautiful days in the neighborhood.” Awkward.
Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Which Is The Correct Saying Of Them All?
The animated film Snow White is a classic film that elevated Disney as one of the most recognized animation studios in the world. It’s memorable characters and story are things nearly everyone knows something about – especially the Evil Queen and her magic mirror.
But is the famous line “mirror, mirror on the wall,” or is it something else? Despite people remembering otherwise, the line in the movie is actually “magic mirror on the wall.” The line in the original Brothers Grimm story, however, is “mirror, mirror on the wall,” which could explain why people misremember it.
Curious George’s Missing Tail
Curious George is a monkey that everyone with some semblance of a childhood can remember. The Mandela Effect here is that people remember him having a tail, when in fact, he does not. This could be explained as a simple instance of our brains making sense of incoming information. Viewers know that monkeys have tails, so when we see the tail-less image of Curious George – a monkey – you automatically remember him with a tail in a kind of auto-complete manner. On the other hand, what kind of monkey doesn’t have a f*cking tail?! Probably one that was changed after the fact.
A lot of other cartoons and logos are remembered differently. Other possible Mandela Effect examples have been the Monopoly Man having a monocle (he doesn’t) or the Kit-Kat logo having a hyphen (it doesn’t).
The Monopoly Man Never Had A Monocle
Almost everyone has a (more than likely negative) memory of playing Monopoly. It’s the game that truly tore families apart: one sibling ripped everyone off as the banker, the other got the coveted wheelbarrow playing piece, your dad always screwed you with those damn railroads. Another way this game is dividing this county of ours is the ongoing debate over whether Rich Uncle Pennybags – better known as the Monopoly Man – had a monocle.
Pennybags did not – in fact – have a monocle. Though some people say there’s evidence to suggest otherwise, he never did.
Billy Graham’s Funeral
Perhaps even more widespread than the memory of Mandela’s premature death is the belief that Billy Graham died, which, despite being in his 90s, he hasn’t done yet. However, a strange number of people all remember seeing a televised funeral for Graham. Specifically, they remember the funeral procession – attended by former U.S. presidents – and a coffin with a white sheet draped over it. Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth Graham, did die in 2007, and some of her funeral service was shown on TV. Yet this doesn’t match the common description of Billy Graham’s remembered funeral.
Deaths of famous figures are often remembered differently and cited as examples of the Mandela Effect. Another explanation put forth is time travel. Sure it sounds insane, but if such a thing was possible, and someone had traveled backward in time, there would be slight alterations and adjustments to history. These small changed events could be the result of a ripple effect from manipulations of the space-time continuum. Obviously.
The Color Chartreuse
When you picture the color “chartreuse,” what do you see? A dark reddish/purplish color similar to maroon? Or a bright shade of yellow/green? The latter is correct, and chartreuse was actually given its name based off the shade of the French liqueur. However, many are adamant that chartreuse was, at one point, a red/purple color. It’s easy to imagine a child mistaking the fancy, long name for a different color than it actually was.
What’s more eerie is that everyone mistakes it for the same exact shade. Clearly, someone went back in time and changed the color of chartreuse for some very important reason that altered the course of history forever.
Missing Lyrics Of ‘We Are The Champions’
Remember singing this iconic Queen song as a kid anytime you beat anyone at anything? Many recall the lyrics of the song ending with: “We are the champions….of the world!” But if you listen to the song now, it doesn’t end with “of the world.” The song simply ends.
While it does seem like something is frustratingly missing from the final chorus, the “of the world” lyrics are included earlier in the song. So the probable explanation here is that people singing the song added the part from one chorus into the end chorus. Still, many people vehemently swear that the lyrics have changed.
A Famous Serial Killer Who Never Actually Killed Anyone
Lucian Staniak, also known as the Red Spider, was a vicious serial killer from Poland who preyed on young women. He is also not real. Despite there being plenty of information about Staniak online – and plenty of details of his alleged murder – he never really existed.
His crimes were actually committed by two teenagers living in Poland, and somehow the legend of the Red Spider was born. Despite a 2015 film debunking Staniak’s existence, people still believe he was real.
Forrest Gump Said What?
Forrest Gump famously said “life is like a box of chocolates…” Or was it “life was like a box of chocolates?” The 1994 drama Forrest Gump gave us plenty of memorable quotes, but this particular one seems to have some people in a hot debate. Did Gump say “is” or “was?”
One Internet sleuth believes the line is “was,” and he’s got the proof.
Sex In The City? Nope.
What was the name of the popular HBO show featuring four female friends and their sexual and relationship antics around New York City? Sex in the City. Or was it Sex and the City? It’s actually the later, despite many people saying otherwise. Why do people remember the name of the show differently? It’s possible people clipped the word “and” when hearing the title, and phonetically substituted ‘n for in. Makes sense.
The title mishap is so common, Google automatically redirects people searching for Sex in the City to the correct title.
Oscar MAYER Weiner Mobile
For those of you young enough to remember the Oscar Mayer song, this case of Mandela effect doesn’t add up. If you recall the jingle: “My bologna has a first name/It’s O-S-C-A-R/My bologna has a second name/It’s M-A-Y-E-R.”
But here’s the thing: people actually believe Mayer is spelled Meyer, so much so that many debate it on the Internet about it. Some go so far as to say they even remember the song spelling Mayer with two es.
The Pikachu Tail Controversy
Pikachu is arguably one of the most well-known Pokémon in the world. Which is why it’s sort of funny people can’t remember what his tail looks like. There’s a hot Internet debate whether Pikachu’s tail is brown, yellow, and black or if it’s just brown and yellow. Some people remember its tail with a black tip, while others maintain the coloration is just another example of the Mandela effect.
So which is it? Pikachu’s tail actually has no black tip.
C-3PO Was Never All Gold
When Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiered in 2015, people were shocked to see C-3PO had a silver leg. But actor Anthony Daniels said the leg was always silver – people just didn’t realize it.
“It would reflect the gold leg, and it would reflect in the desert, so it acted more like a mirror,” he told USA Today. This came as a huge surprise to longtime Star Wars fans who seemed to remember the robot with two gold legs. But as Daniels explained, people probably were just seeing the gold reflected off the silver.
The Controversial Kit Kat Bar
When you need a break, what kind of candy do you grab? A Kit Kat bar of course! Or is it Kit-Kat? Despite many people remembering the beloved candy with a hyphen, Kit Kat bars actually don’t have one.
Gimme a break!
If you’d ask anyone to recite a line from the 1991 thriller Silence of the Lambs, odds are they would respond with, “Hello, Clarice.” The famous line has become synonymous with the movie, and yet it’s most definitely never said. Hannibal Lecter tells Clarice “good evening” when she first meets him.
The line is said, however, in the sequel Hannibal. This was a nod to the misquoting from the first movie.