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December 10, 2017: Sir Peter Weyland is honored with the Nobel Peace prize in Science for his extraordinary atmospheric work over the polar ice cap.
Weyland Industries Timeline, the tie-in website for Prometheus

People just love handing out awards to each other. Whether it's a merit badge, an honorary degree, or a knighthood, giving someone an award simultaneously tells them, and everyone else, that they've done well. Many of the most famous and prestigious awards have become bywords for the highest achievement in the relevant field, or even in any field. If a fictional character gets an Oscar, Pulitzer or Nobel Prize, you know they must have done something awesome.

Unfortunately, sometimes authors use such awards for name value, without worrying about using them correctly. At the mildest end of the scale, a work will make changes that seem plausible for a parallel universe or future timeline, like adding a fictional category to a real award. More troublesome cases will give an award to someone ineligible, or mess up the award's name. Truly painful examples will give out horrible mismatches of real awards, for all the wrong reasons, in a supposedly realistic or historical setting.

Such an award could be the only proof that a character is good at something. Has nothing to do with giving people awards for taking the biggest artistic liberties.

Examples of Artistic License Awards include:

Nobel Prize

  • The page quote comes from the tie-in website for Prometheus, which establishes the Backstory of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. It's not a one-off accident either; the fictitious Sir Peter Weyland is later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Medicine as well.
  • The Transformers-esque anime series Faibird has an episode in which the evil Mad Scientist takes the Nobel Prize committee hostage and attempts to extort them into giving him awards in multiple categories, including Peace ("If you don't, then my evil transforming robot allies will destroy the Earth.") The good mad scientist is slow to order the committee's rescue, because he's suffered Award Snub from them multiple times.
    • There are so many things wrong with this that it's easy to overlook one: there is no "the Nobel Prize committee". The five Nobel Prizes (and the Economics prize) are awarded by four different bodies. In particular, the Peace Prize is awarded by a Norwegian committee, while all the others are granted by Swedish institutions.
  • In Real Life, there's been complaints from, uh, authoritarian governments about the Swedish government awarding Nobel Prizes to people they don't like. While members of the Swedish government are on some of the Nobel committees, they aren't government prizes and the Swedish government can't prevent the committees from giving a Nobel to anyone within their own rules.
  • The non-fiction portion of The Science of Discworld III cites a Real Life radio evangelist who'd questioned why, if evolution is for real, Charles Darwin never won the Nobel Prize. The fact that Darwin died years before the Nobel Prize (which cannot be granted posthumously) was introduced had somehow escaped his notice.
  • A sketch on Saturday Night Live in 1994 presented the Nobel Peace Prize as if it were an Oscar, with a big awards show hosted by (Dana Carvey as) Garry Shandling. The clip was then used in The Larry Sanders Show, where (In-Universe) it was Larry that Dana was doing an impression of.
  • On The Looney Tunes Show, Bugs Bunny has a Nobel Prize just for existing.

Military decorations

  • The Medal of Honor is the paramount military decoration in the United States services. It's often called the Congressional Medal of Honor, which is not its name; it's simply got "in the name of Congress" in its citation. A common "artistic license" in both fiction and Real Life.
    • The misnomer might also come from the civilian equivalent, the Congressional Gold Medal. Confusing the two is a common mistake, and also something that will get you Gannon Banned.
    • In Mars Attacks (Film), Richie and his grandmother are given the Congressional Medal of Honor by The President's Daughter, in honor of their role in stopping the Martians. Arguably, the President's daughter is the only surviving member of the Government (even though she didn't hold any office), but it's overlooked that the medal is only awarded to military personnel, not to civilians.
    • Borderline: in Frank Merriwell's School Days, the first of the Frank Merriwell books, Frank, a civilian, is voted "a medal of honor" by Congress. It's not specified as the Medal of Honor, though, so it may be the civilian Gold Medal.
    • Aversions/LampshadeHanging:
      • In an episode of NCIS the team is investigating a Medal of Honor recipient and Gibbs corrects Tony that the Medal is "awarded" and not "won".
      • In Courage Under Fire Lieutenant Colonel Serling is assigned to determine if Captain Walden should be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. A White House aide erroneously refers to it as the Congressional Medal of Honor and Serling corrects him. The aide sarcastically responds with "Tell that to Congress" but is thankful to Serling for the correction.

Other awards

  • Any time a Pulitzer Prize is awarded to a non-American, or called simply "the Pulitzer Prize", as if there were only one (and context doesn't make it clear which category is meant).
  • When Beth Ditto of The Gossip topped the NME magazine cool list, she expressed her shock that no other great female artists like Yoko Ono or Patti Smith had ever topped the list. The whole list concept was actually younger than either Ditto or the interviewer had realised.
  • Cited when Serenity won the Hugo Award: the acceptance speech (written by Joss Whedon and read by Morena Baccarin) cited several science fiction authors as Hugo winners, then added, "Gee, I hope all those people won Hugos, or Morena's gonna look like an idiot out there."
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