The Mandela Effect

So on Good Mythical Morning today they talked about a thing that they called the Mandela Effect. The reason for the name is basically a group of people got together and all realized that they thought that Mandela had died in prison, but also knew that he was President for a time. Now that is an example of not remember history events correctly, but this same sort of thing happens with movies and many cultural artifacts, especially when it comes to remembering lines. Now a lot of the references on the show were movie lines, but here are a few more that David and I thought of.


One of the more quoted lines from Casablanca is “Play it again, Sam”. At the same time this is not actually what is said in the movie. It does break down the line to the basic essence of what is being said, but is definitely a misquote.

You played it for her, you can play it for me. If she can stand it, I can. Play it!

Star Trek

“Beam me up, Scotty” is a well known phrase in the cultural lexicon. The funny thing is that it was never actually used in the original show or movie. There are variations of this phrase, but those words in that exact order were not actually used.

Scotty, beam us up.


The line from Hamlet that is well known is “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well”. Again we run into the same thing that we have seen before where through the cultural taking on the quote it has changed to something new and ends up not being the line actually from the play.

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio

Why Does This Happen

A lot of the ones that were mentioned in the video we already knew about besides the additional ones listed above. It is interesting how these things happen. Some of it is that the quotes being appropriated for different uses, which changes the context they live in. The line from Forest Gump for instance is said in context of what his mother used to say, but you take away the my mother used to say bit than the tense of the sentence needs to change. If you do not know that Darth Vader is talking then just saying “No, I am your father” is not enough. There is a reason that these quotes live on, but sometimes it kind of feels a little like a game of cultural telephone to see what actually ends up existing in the cultural space versus what is actually seen in the movie.

Another place that you can see this done is through famous images that are in the public domain. We see them so many times out of context that when we see the original that there can sometimes be a disconnect between what we know of the piece of art versus what we are looking at. It is a similar sort of dissonance that happens when the image or quote gets churned through the lens of culture at large.

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