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"It vas inwented in Russia."

This is the ethnic character who will, contrary to the wisdom or knowledge of all present, insist that some cultural icon, item, form of art, technology, stock quote, etc. is native to their country.

If the character is an alien, this can cross over into Beethoven Was an Alien Spy; or at least the alien will insist that they were.

This can be a subset of Cultural Posturing, but only when the character insists on this because it makes their country sound more awesome. It is always possible that they only use this trope because they believe it to be fact.

An example of Older Than They Think would not be this. This is where the character Did Not Do the Research (if not done intentionally).

Or perhaps the story is so far removed from the present day that what's Common Knowledge to the audience is Shrouded in Myth, and everyone in-story assumes the Klingons Did It First. It's also possible that the Rubber Forehead Alien or Human Alien culture does really have very human-like thoughts, and could independently have a proverb that coincidentally matches an old earth proverb. Related to Future Imperfect.

Compare Popcultural Osmosis. Often implies that Klingons Love Shakespeare.

Examples of In the Original Klingon include:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • According to the Green Lantern storyline, languages like German and Egyptian originated outside of Earth, we in fact ripped the languages from the E.T.s and whatnot.
    • No doubt explains why the Aliens Speaking English in the DCU. It's fortunate for us that linguistic drift of both America and the galaxy headed in the same direction.


  • The father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding insisted Greece created everything, even naming the kimono.
    • Also happens in the Good Eats episode "My Big Fat Greek Sandwich".
    • Like every other stereotype and character quirk in that movie, that is actually Truth in Television exaggerated for comedic effect.
    • There are dozens of musical tunes on Youtube attributed to Vangelis, including The Gael by Dougie MacLean (!) in which more than one respondent cites the synth-pop maestro's work as "proof of Greek greatness."

 It is Vangelis Papathanasiou's music! I noticed that you despise too much Greeks to imagine that one of them made a masterpiece like that!

  • "Shakespeare in the original German" goes back at least to 1941, when it was used in Leslie Howard's Pimpernel Smith ("But you must at least admit that the English translation is marvellous!") It was, of course, a parody of the idea, dating back at least to WWI, that Shakespeare was racially "Aryan," even if not an actual German himself. Similar claims were made for Michelangelo and Leonardo. (No, not the turtles.[1] ) Making this...
    • It should be noted, many German speakers who know perfectly well that Shakespeare is quintessentially English and have no truck with Nazi racial theory still think German translation improves Shakespeare. The dubious theory has it that German is simply the better-suited language in which to express his ideas.


  • Happens a bit in the Vorkosigan Saga, resulting from Barrayar being a lost colony for an extended period of time. Lots of Earth stories, jokes, proverbs, etc. are referred to as being traditionally Barrayaran, and this for a while applied to Shakespeare himself. They didn't actually ever think he was Barrayaran, but their efforts to keep his plays alive through oral tradition were so successful that Barrayar somehow "preserved" three plays unknown to the rest of the galaxy.
  • In Pale Fire, Kinbote's commentary strongly suggests that he believes Shakespeare to be of Zemblan ancestry.
  • In Robert Zubrin's The Holy Land the Minervan (yes, alien) priestess Aurora insists throughout the entire book that Shakespeare, the writer of "Rule Britannia", and Jesus were all Minervans simply on grounds that no Earthling could have been that brilliant. Admittedly, Earth is actually the home planet of the Minervans (who evolved 20,000 years before modern man, who the Minervans call "proto-human savages"), but Minerva never gives any evidence for her claims that's better than her own racism.
  • In Les Innomables, one Chinese character says Marco Polo stole the concept of pasta on his journey through China; in fact they were thought up separately.
  • Invoked in Starship Troopers, when a South American soldier jokes that "Simón Bolívar built the pyramids, licked the armada, and made the first trip to the moon." He and the main character, a Filipino, discuss that every country has its own version of history.
  • In one of the Lord Darcy tales, Lord John Quetzal mentions how Master Sean O Lochlainn attributes everything the Anglo-French have achieved to them copying ideas from the Irish. Lord John himself, an ethnic Azteque, inverts this trope by claiming that everything his own ancestors ever accomplished was copied from the Olmecs.

Live Action TV

  • There are a number of examples from Star Trek:
    • Chancellor Gorkon said in Star Trek VI the Undiscovered Country that Shakespeare is best appreciated in the original Klingon. Of course, thanks to the fan group The Klingon Language Institute, there now is a book of Hamlet in Klingon, as seen in the trope image.
      • Ironically, the inflection and circumstances in the scene make it clear that Gorkon was largely making a joke.
      • And... now a theatrical production of Hamlet has been put on in Washington, D.C. In the Original Klingon.
      • Apparently, Shakespeare wasn't the only Klingon on ancient earth. See for yourself: The Klingon Christmas Carol.
    • Chekov, who insists variously that Scotch whisky, the Cheshire Cat, Cinderella, and the Garden of Eden are all Russian.
    • Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan. "Ah, Kirk, my old friend. Do you know the old Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? It is very cold in space."
    • Star Trek VI has a couple other examples worth mentioning. Spock claims that "Only Nixon could go to China" is an "old Vulcan proverb." He also attributes a quote from Sherlock Holmes to one of his ancestors, though it is conceivable that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is one of his ancestors, since he is half-human.
      • And Chekov claims that "If the shoe fits, wear it." is a Russian proverb in the same movie. Though the current version of the saying has a complicated origin [2] none of it involves Russia.
    • Similarly, in the Deep Space Nine episode "The House of Quark", Quark claims that "Discretion is the better part of valor" is an old Ferengi saying.
    • In the Deep Space Nine episode "Explorers", O'Brien claims that Romulans are particularly prone to doing this, though he doesn't give any specific examples.
      • Considering the fact that they call themselves Romulans, and their core planets are called Romulus and Remus, not to mention the whole Romulan Senate being styled after a certain earth based senate from the past... Well, I think O'Brien was stating the obvious.
  • An aversion of a literal example, in the Frasier episode Star Mitzvah, when Frasier is tricked into thinking his blessing to his son Freddy at his bar mitzvah is Hebrew, when it's actually Klingon. A boy at the wedding translates it to Freddy, and adds, "It's much more beautiful in the original Klingon."
  • One of the running gags in Sketch Show Goodness Gracious Me was a character called 'Mr Everything Comes From India'. Some of the things he attributed to India were...
    • The British Royal Family

 "They all live in the same family house together... Indian. All work in the family business... Indian. All have arranged marriages... Indian. They all have sons; daughters no good... Indian. Children live with their parents until they are married... Indian! Except Prince Charles. He's African... If he was Indian he'd have smaller ears!"

 "Come on, you've seen the film. He runs faster than a speeding train. There's only one country where you can run faster than the trains!"

    • Santa Claus

 "Think about it, yar! Big beard, huge belly, terrible suit... Indian!"

    • Picasso

 "You've seen his portraits: a nose here, an ear there. Go to Delhi and look at the beggars; they look exactly the same!"

    • Jesus

 "He is as Indian as they come. He works for His Father... Indian. Parents have children without having sex... Indian. Fed five thousand people with two loaves and five fishes... Indian picnic!"

  • In Babylon 5, G'Kar mentions that the humans have a saying, "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." He then plays the trope straight by saying that they probably stole it from the Narn.
    • Justified. It's heavily implied (and in one case, outright stated) that other alien races had been altering aspects of Narn culture to suit their plans, G'Kar has no hard evidence that it didn't originate with his people. The few humans he knows, however, do not seem to fit this philosophy, but it fits his own remarkably well.
    • Babylon 5 also features a major aversion, in the form of "Swedish meatballs". When an old friend arrives on the station, G'Kar prepares Swedish meatballs. His friend asks, in wonder, how he got this Narn delicacy all the way out here. G'Kar admits that these are a Human dish called Swedish meatballs, and not the extremely similar Narn equivalent. It appears that almost every humanoid species eventually created something similar to this dish. Apparently, the Vorlons really, really like Swedish meatballs.
  • In Hogan's Heroes, the group tries to help a downed Russian pilot. The pilot keeps insisting that Russia is superior (a Russian invented the telephone, the Volga is the longest river in the world, etc.) This is justified because he had been fed this sort of propaganda all his life.
  • On Red Dwarf The Cat insists that his race invented those little drawings that are sometimes found accompanying the text in a book. They call them pictures.

Tabletop Games

  • In the BattleTech universe, members of the quasi-mystical cult/organization known as ComStar are traditionally rather prone to claiming historical quotes and bits of wisdom from other sources as statements of their by now legendary founder Jerome Blake.


  • In Pygmalion and My Fair Lady, Higgins claims that English is "the language of Shakespeare and Milton and the Bible."

Video Games

  • The old edutainment game Reading Galaxy had this as its premise. The in-universe game show that the player participates in features a panel of several aliens all claiming to have been the original author of some piece of Earth literature. It's the player's job to prove that the books were written by their human authors by stumping the phony in trivia about the book.

Web Comics

Real Life

  • Truth in Television: The Soviet Union claimed that many famous inventions were really made by Russians. They went so far that some comedians started parodying this claim with their joke about the greatest inventor ever, "Lenard Vishinsky".
  • More Truth in Television: There are people, mostly (especially) in the United States, who claim that God wrote the Bible in English, and that the 'original' Greek and Hebrew texts were corruptions (possibly Satanically influenced) -- only the King James Version is the 100% accurate, divinely-inspired Word of God (despite it actually containing a number of glaring mistranslations).
    • This one is very Serious Business in certain parts of the U.S. To a large chunk of Americans, using or suggesting a biblical translation other than the KJV is tantamount to treason and can lead to very unpleasant consequences.
    • Fun fact: Back in the early 20th century, a Texas governor was once said to remark, upon a suggestion that the state start also publishing things in Spanish, "If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for Texas." (considering the state's titanic demographic shift since then, this statement is incredibly ironic)
  • In The Real Frank Zappa Book, Zappa relates his Sicilian father's theory that everything was invented by Sicilians, up to and including The Roman Empire...
  • A "You know Jesus was _____ because..." joke has been made for pretty much any race or nationality, such as the Indian one listed above under Goodness Gracious Me. Others include black (because he liked gospel, called everyone "brother" and couldn't get a fair trial) and Puerto Rican (because his name was Jesus, his mother's name was Maria and he was utterly sure she was a virgin).


  1. They're Russian
  2. An old english phrase "if the cap fits, wear it" modified by the tale of Cinderella which itself, footwear theme intact, goes back at least as far as ancient Egypt and is an excellent example of this trope.
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