The Mandela Effect: Fact or Fiction?

“The past is more than a memory.”
~ John Trudell

I’ve never been one for conspiracy theory. But last weekend I came across a new concept being tossed around these days called The Mandela Effect. At first I didn’t want to believe it. But as I kept reading about more examples and proof, it grew on me. Not only that, but after some reading, a few podcasts, a couple google searches and some youtube videos I realized it’s been quite the curious water cooler topic since it’s inception 3 years ago. Having learned all of this, I felt I should bring the topic to a wider audience for discussion. It’s a captivating talking point for Medium because it’s not so much news as it is a compelling phenomenon for us to connect on and try to comprehend.

What is The Mandela Effect?

The Mandela Effect is a phenomenon created by paranormal consultant and blogger Fiona Broome who coined the term in 2010 just after attending a Dragon Con convention where she came to realize many people there believed that South African President Nelson Mandela died in imprisonment during the 1980’s. The truth is, Mandela actually died in 2013. But this wasn’t just a handful of people that distinctly remember him dying 3 decades ago. Hundreds if not thousands have made the same claim. They remember newscasts about it and conversations they had about it at the time.

But Nelson Mandela isn’t the only example of this bizarre occurrence. People have come forward with hundreds of other examples in the past few years making one wonder if these are just false memories or if there’s something more at play. Some have hypothesized even Parallel Universes, Quantum Physics, and even Time Travel could be the reason for these alternative memories.

Let’s look at some more examples of The Mandela Effect and see if any strike you as odd.

The Berenstain Bears


For as long as I can remember the popular children’s book The Berenstein Bears was always spelled with an “e” as in Berenstein and not with an “a”. I quickly realized I wasn’t alone. A quick google search reveals that most people remember an “e”. Those people would be wrong. They are indeed “The Berenstain Bears.”

There’s never been any record of them being “The Berenstein Bears.” I was so positive of Berenstein I called my parents and had them dig up the old books from my childhood. Sure enough they all read, “Berenstain”. My Dad said “Spooks!” and hung up the phone. But it wasn’t just me and my parents. This has been a phenomenon for several years.

How do you remember them being spelled?

Apart from our apparently new friends “The Berenstain Bears” there have been many different changes in movies, music, history, geography, and pop culture. Has history been altered? Are we just all suffering from a bad memory or case of cognitive dissonance? Surely an audience of thousands all could not misremember the same things. Perhaps most mysterious is the fact that it’s not that we all are misremembering something, it’s that we are all remembering the exact same things incorrectly. That’s bizarre. Is something more at play? Let’s keep going and you make the judgement for yourself.


The Line “Hello Clarice“ is Gone

The famous line from “Silence of the Lambs” that we all constantly reference actually never existed. That’s right. It’s not in the film.

Life “IS” like a Box of Chocolates is now “WAS”

We all remember Forrest Gump saying “Life is like a box of chocolates.” Turns out he now says “Was”. It just doesn’t seem right.

“Mirror Mirror on the Wall” is now “Magic Mirror on the Wall”

In the famous Disney tale of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” it turns out “Mirror Mirror…” never existed. It’s now “Magic Mirror…” and that just doesn’t seem right. What happened?

“Luke.. I am your Father.” is now “No..I am your father.”

In “Star Wars” everyone was so positive it was “Luke…I am your father” that people found a video of James Earl Jones (yes Darth Vader himself) referencing “Luke…I am your father.” Why is it now “No…I am your father”? Odd.

“Risky Business” Sunglasses and Shirt Change

Didn’t Tom Cruise have sunglasses on and a white shirt in this? Now he has no shades and a purple shirt. Really? When did that change?

The Famous “Star Trek” line “Beam Me Up Scotty”

Apparently Captain Kirk never said it and the line never existed. It’s gone. Strange.

Sinbad Genie Movie?

People have all been agreeing on this one. Ok I know there was a movie with Shaq titled “Kazaam” around the same time where Shaq played a genie but wasn’t there also a movie titled “Shazaam!” with Sinbad? I remember this. I remember the cover. The thing is, there’s no record of it. Sinbad denies it ever existed. Bizarre.


“We Are The Champions Of The….”


We all remember and love the famous Queen song “We Are the Champions” and who could forget that famous last line sung in grand unison “Of The World!!!!!!!!”. We see it at major sporting events all the time. It builds and builds towards the gigantic payoff at the end symbolizing victory and happiness. Well, I’m hear to tell you as it turns out, that ending is mysteriously…GONE. While “of the world” is there throughout the song, it’s suddenly gone in the grand climax. Excuse me? How does the ending of one of the most popular pop culture songs oddly vanish? How do you remember it ending?

Want proof? Here’s James Corden, Gwen Stefani, George Clooney, and Julia Roberts doing a little “We Are The Champions” Carpool karaoke. Problem is, they get to the end and realize it’s not there. Strange. George Clooney had to do it himself because the song bailed on the ending. Where is it?

Well at least “Glee” gets it right:


John F Kennedy Photo

During the tragic JFK assassination were there four or six people in the car? I remember seeing this photo in history books and only seeing four. Two in the front seat. (Governor Connally and the driver)and two in the back (Kennedy and Jackie). Turns out that’s not true. There were six.

New Zealand Location Change

Many people distinctly remember New Zealand being in a different location than where it is now. Some remember it’s location as being northeast of the continent, some further south, and some remember it as being west of Australia. In fact, a photo of a globe in the film “Dazed and Confused” verified that there was a massive land mass off the west coast of Australia at one time. Atlantis? New Zealand? Weird.


Also what is that spot of land off the south east coast of Australia? Not New Zealand but I have vague memories of seeing that on maps when I was young. Where is it now?

The United States has 52 States?

I distinctly remember learning there were 52 states. I have a vague memory of learning Alaska and Hawaii were 51 and 52. Turns out I’m not alone in this vague memory. Many people do. Perhaps some are confusing it with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia? It can’t be. I feel like I remember learning about 52 states.

Other miscellaneous Examples

The Monopoly Guy’s Monocle disappeared

I even remember it in “Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls”

Sally Field’s iconic “You like me, You really like me.” has changed.

It’s now apparently “You like me. Right now. You like me.”

Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Very odd.

Oscar Meyer is now Oscar Mayer

How could we forget the famous commercial? “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.” It was always E! Not A! The commercials and brand have all mysteriously changed.

Smokey the Bear is now Smokey Bear


“Smokey the Bear” never existed. It was always just Smokey Bear. Really?

Mister Rogers sings “It’s a Beautiful Day in THIS Neighborhood”

I thought it was “It’s a Beautiful day in THE Neighborhood” Apparently not.

“Interview With A Vampire” is now “Interview With The Vampire”

Proof there was an “A”:

Tinkerbell is missing from the Disney Logo Intro

Remember when Tink would fly in and spark the logo with her wand in the intro to all the famous Disney cartoons? Or she’d fly in and write the letters out with her wand?

She’s gone without a trace.

Jiffy Peanut Butter is now Jiff Peanut Butter

It was always Jiffy wasn’t it?

The Bolton Dinosaur

We all remember the famous Bolton Dinosaur Exhibit from pictures and in the movies. Turns out it never existed. Many people remember in the 1960’s visiting the famous Bolton Museum and seeing the impressive Bolton dinosaur exhibit. The Bolton Museum claims an exhibit never existed.There are no records of it.

An appeal was made on January 23 2006 in The Bolton News for information relating to the mysteriously missing dinosaur. The leader of the council, Alan Rushon stated:

Am I supposed to accept that my eyes deceived me, or this enormous dinosaur was a figment of my imagination? I remember as a schoolboy going on visits to the museum and standing in awe, looking at it. I raised the matter when I was on the arts committee but we were never able to find any trace of it.

To this day there is no evidence of the dinosaur ever being found or even existing.

“The Flinstones” are now “The Flintstones”

It’s now “The Flintstones”. I never remember the “T” in it.

Looney Toons is now Looney Tunes

I never remember it having a “U” in it. It was always “Toons”. Not anymore.

This is just a sample of occurrences that have been taking place since The Mandela Effect’s inception roughly 3 years ago. Are our memories really this illusory? Could we be just misremembering all of this? I suppose it’s possible. But all of us? Psychology seems to think it’s memory related. Others have speculated that it could be us brushing up against parallel universes. They think we could be living in an alternate reality from the one we were in 20–30 years ago. I find that hard to believe. Some even speculate that people are time traveling and slightly altering things as tests. Is this possible? I suppose, though hard to fathom. Whatever is going on the mysterious Mandela Effect is a recent discovery and it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere. Time will tell.

Here are my Mandela Effect YouTube Videos:

What do you think? Is it fact or fiction?

By Geoff Pilkington

You can connect with me on my website, or a recent podcast I was on discussing my theories on ADHD.