Darth Vader is an imposing figure on the dark side.
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Reality Shift: Exploring The Mandela Effect Throughout Pop Culture

Although you may not know it, the Mandela Effect may have crept into your psyche and influenced how you think about pop culture today. 

First off, what is the Mandela Effect? Simply put, it is when a large number of people erroneously remember an event in movies, advertisements, or real life. This strange happening was named after Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid revolutionary and eventually South African President. It was Fiona Broome, a paranormal researcher, that indicated that she believed Mandela died in prison in the eighties and had “real” memories of the tragic event. 

A Little Background Info

Well, that wasn’t the case. Mandela was released from jail and lived until 2013. She was baffled by what she believed, and more flabbergasted that upon some research, many other people (hundreds, and even thousands) shared her same (false) memories of the events of Mandela’s life. She then started a website about this phenomenon, and the Mandela Effect was born. 

This odd way of thinking has saturated into many aspects of daily life. From movies, to mascots, to comic strip characters and real-life tragic events, here are some of the most bewildering examples of the Mandela effect in popular culture. Which do you still believe as fact? 


The Empire Strikes Back was a juggernaut in the cinemas back in 1981. Continuing the story of Star Wars, but making it darker and grittier, Empire surprised many people, especially when Darth Vader said to Luke, “No, I am your father.” Yes, that’s right. It wasn’t, “Luke, I am your father.” As many people adamantly believe. This is the Mandela Effect, in an easy-to-relate, iconic movie line!


Nope, it wasn’t Loony Toons, but rather Loony Tunes (like in music). This decades-old logo that was at the beginning of most cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and Daffy Duck is often misspelled and remembered incorrectly even today. 


Anthony Hopkins portrayed the fictional serial killer, Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs movie back in 1991. His performance was both brilliant and incredibly creepy at times. Many people imitated his famous line, “Hello Clarice.” However, that wasn’t the line. It was, “Good morning, Clarice.” But apparently Hopkins said it with goosebump-inducing tension that audience members remembered it differently. 

Moonraker is a fan favorite of all James Bond lovers.
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In the James Bond film, Moonraker, Jaws, the steel toothed assassin, found love in the form of a small, pig-tailed girl named Dolly. She smiles in the film at the oversized henchman and to this day, thousands of people remember her with braces (even me). The fact is she never was shown to have braces in any version of the film.


Snow White is a classic Disney film, loved by millions. The quote from the Evil Queen is known to many as, “Mirror, Mirror, on the wall…”, but in reality, it was said as, “Magic mirror on the wall…” How hundreds of thousands of people remember the former version is still a mystery. 


Though it’s been parodied many times in commercials and spoofs, Tom Cruise dancing in his underwear in the movie Risky Business is an iconic scene of cinema. However, what most people believe is that Cruise was sporting a pair of dark Ray Ban sunglasses during his dancing scene. He was not, and this is another fine example of the Mandela Effect’s influence on a vast number of people. 


Curious George, tail or no tail? If you’re like thousands of other people you would say, tail, and you would be dead wrong. The mischievous Monkey created by Margaret and H.A. Rey had no tail in any of the famous books. The tail is just a fabrication in the minds of many, ill-informed people. 


It was an event years ago. Ed McMahon would be seen walking up to a non-descript suburban home with an oversized check stating that the homeowner just won the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes. Well, that never happened. In fact, McMahon didn’t even work for that company, but instead was the pitchman for the competition in the form of American Family Publishers. 

Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, is it man or woman?
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The painting of Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci has been imagined by many people with a larger, more prominent smile than what was painted hundreds of years ago. This mass remembrance is a long-time example of the Mandela Effect. The closest to a smile that most experts agree upon is that the Mona Lisa exhibits a smirk, at best. 


The Monopoly Man has been around for generations. Remember him? He sported a tux, a top hat, a cane, and a monocle, right? Wrong! He never had bad eyesight and never worn a monocle throughout this decades-long career as Monopoly’s mascot. The most accepted solution to this Mandela Effect is that most individuals confuse him with Mr. Peanut, who did sport a monocle. 

Other Worlds? 

Although there are many explanations as to why a vast amount of people remember a certain event the same way, one of the more extreme involves alternate realities. This theory states that there are an infinite number of parallel universes in existence and people continuously and unconsciously shift between them. This would explain how, at times, thousands of people would bet anything that a specific scene, name, or image was fact. While the other camp of individuals would say their event was fact too. Essentially, they could all be true, it would all depend upon what dimension you were in at the time. 

1 Comment

  • You’ve heard the old “anti-war” song For What It’s Worth (“There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear…”)? But it wasn’t written to be an anti-war song, it was about a small riot in Los Angeles when a popular night club was being shut down and the police got involved. Later, people sort of adopted it and to this day people think it was a VietNam thing. Read Dave McGowan’s book about the Laurel Canyon music scene and find out how your rock icons might not be what you think they are, or were.

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