Lies We Accept As Truth


Juliet Window

How many things do we accept in life without demanding proof? There’s that old tale of the little girl asking Mommy why she cut the legs off the Thanksgiving turkey before putting it in the oven, and Mommy saying, “because that’s what my Mommy did” and it turns out that 11 generations earlier, the oven was too small for the whole bird, so the legs were cut off so it would fit. And for 11 generations, no one questioned anything, but just cut the legs off before putting the 12-pound turkey into the behemoth of a modern oven.

We do that stuff all the time, even with our favorite movies. There’s a real chance that your favorite movie scene never actually happened. No, calm down, you haven’t “slid” into a dimension where The Simpsons never happened. It’s simply our collective memory messing with us yet again. We’ve talked about this before, but we assume you’ve already forgotten about it, or got it all twisted around in your head, so here’s a brand-new batch of cultural milestones that never existed.

The Monopoly Man Never Had A Monocle

Monopoly Monocle

You know Rich Uncle Pennybags, the Monopoly man — white mustache, top hat, tuxedo, cane, monocle, unearned sense of smug superiority. He’s downright iconic. Just look at all these Monopoly men, women, and children …

But here’s the weird thing: Rich Uncle Pennybags never had a monocle. Seriously, go to your closet and dig up the Monopoly box inevitably buried near the back. And before you ask, no, his design hasn’t changed at all since he was introduced in Monopoly’s Community and Chance cards in 1936:

The most likely explanation for this widespread confusion is the existence of another popular monocle-wearing mascot who shares many traits with Pennybags (the cane, the top hat, the air of douche-ness), but has two important differences:

One, he does have a monocle, and two, he’s a mutant peanut.

You’d think that last thing would keep confusion at bay, but toss on a top hat and cane, and they’re all the same to us, anthropomorphic nuts be damned.

There’s No Balcony Scene In Romeo And Juliet

Juliet Balcony

Picture a scene from William Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet, perhaps the least accurate teen romance ever written. (Not a single breakdancing scene! Not one!) Chances are you imagined a wistful Juliet on a balcony, wondering wherefore her beloved Romeo could be, before he reveals that he’s been right there the whole time, spying on her like a creep.

The balcony has shown up in every single movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, from the one with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes to the one starring a bunch of CGI gnomes, for some reason. In fact, that scene is so embedded in our collective psyche that it has transcended art, and now there’s a type of balcony known as a “Juliet.”

Only one problem: Shakespeare never wrote a balcony scene. His script (the one they forced you to read in high school) only mentions Juliet looking out of a window, with no balconies, porches, fire escapes, or anything of the sort.

In fact, Shakespeare couldn’t have written a balcony scene in this or any play, because balconies weren’t a thing in England during his lifetime. This exotic architectural innovation didn’t make its way to the country until decades after Shakespeare’s death. Romeo may as well have rolled up in an Uber, as far as chronology is concerned.

We owe this iconic moment to plagiarism, the unsung hero of history. In 1679, Thomas Otway put on a play under the self-spoiling title of The History And Fall Of Caius Marius. A more accurate one would have been “Romeo And Juliet, Except In Ancient Rome.” One scene even features the heroine calling out, “Marius, Marius, wherefore art thou, Marius?”

But Otway did make one enormous contribution to the scene: He set it in a balcony. This struck such a chord with audiences that it began to show up in versions of Romeo And Juliet, and this never stopped. It’s like if Michael Bay borrowed a plot point from a Transmorphers movie … which is an improvement, now that we think about it.

There Isn’t A Painting Of Henry VIII Holding A Turkey Leg

Henry Viii

Anyone with a modicum of historical awareness knows Henry VIII by his trademark goofy hat, weak beard, funny-looking legs, and massive gut. And how did he get that gut? It probably had to do with the turkey leg he always had in his hand, as is seen in virtually every modern depiction of him. From children’s books, to shows like The Simpsons, to whatever a “mad magazine” is supposed to be.

Henry VIII loved his turkey almost as much as he hated wedding anniversaries. Obviously, this reputation for meat-guzzling comes from the classic painting depicting him with a turkey leg in his hand. You know, the one by … uh, give us a second … come on, Wikipedia … ah, here it is! No, wait, that’s a glove.

The shocking truth is that no such painting exists. In fact, there are no classic paintings that depict King Henry VIII with any piece of food in his hand, nor of him eating at all. Other than the unsubstantiated claim that he was the first English king to eat turkey, there’s also no evidence that Henry liked or even encountered this type of meat. As far as anyone can tell, the image of Henry as the bane of flightless birds comes from a 1933 film, which devotes a full minute and a half to him disappearing a chicken into his gut. That, or it’s a scheme by Big Turkey to promote their product as the snack of kings. It could go either way.

Hannibal Lecter Never Said “Hello, Clarice”

It’s the single most famous moment in The Silence Of The Lambs. Clarice Starling stands in front of Hannibal Lecter’s cell, him looking at her through the bulletproof glass all creepy calm, sneering: “Hello, Clarice.”

That’s our intro to the character, and it’s a great one. Anthony Hopkins is so damn intimidating that he can turn a simple greeting into an endlessly layered threat. The scene became iconic for a reason. We can hear the words right now, their exact inflection. You read this in his voice: “Hello, Clarice.”

Those two words have since become the go-to reference line, from fan fiction sites to newspapers. They made it into posters, T-shirts, and even cute animal memes. But that line doesn’t appear in the film. In fact, it can’t. In the scene you’re picturing, Hannibal is meeting Clarice for the first time, and eating people doesn’t grant you psychic powers (though that would be an interesting twist in the series). He never even says “hello.” The closest he comes to the line is at the end of the movie, when he phones Clarice about his recent escape and begins the conversation with “Well, Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming?” Which is far more unsettling, but doesn’t fit on an image macro as well.

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