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A popular comedy trope: Someone references a famous invention or work of art and credits it to the wrong creator or inventor. Usually done to showcase the ignorance of the character. In morality tales this can lead to an actual explanation of the referenced person's actual achievements.

Not to be confused with Plagiarism or Taking the Heat. Wrongfully Attributed only occurs when a character, a group or the general public has a wrong perception about who did the actual deed.

Also happens a lot in Real Life as a result of misconceptions or confusing associations. A deed is attributed to a more famous person associated with the concept instead of the actual creator. For instance, Henry Ford is often called "the inventor of the car", which he wasn't: He merely industrialized automobile production on a mass scale. When you hear a classical music piece and have to guess the composer, it's easier to assume it's Mozart or Beethoven. Sometimes a person is wrongfully credited for a certain deed because his name, image or style is somewhat similar to another creator. You can hardly blame someone for confusing Theodore Roosevelt with Franklin Roosevelt, for example.

Some famous quotes are actually misquotations. See Beam Me Up, Scotty.

When adding examples, explain what exactly is being wrongfully attributed.

Examples of Wrongfully Attributed include:


  • In The Big Lebowski, the Dude and Walter try to remember a certain quote by Lenin, causing Donny to think that they are talking about John Lennon.


  • Many people assume that Hans Brinker in Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates is the boy who plugged a dike with his finger. In fact: Hans reads about the story in class, but has no part in it whatsoever.


  • Classical music is often attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or Ludwig Van Beethoven.
    • In a slight subversion, the "Toy Symphony" has frequently been attributed to Haydn. It is actually by Mozart. Leopold Mozart, Wolfgang's father.
    • A number of cantatas used to illustrate why Johann Sebastian Bach was a superior composer to his contemporary Georg Philipp Telemann turned out to have been composed by none other than Telemann. Bach had liked them enough to copy out the entire scores by hand for his own use.
  • Almost every reggae song has been attributed to Bob Marley by the general public.
  • People who weren't fans of The Sex Pistols often confused Johnny Rotten with Sid Vicious and vice versa.

Western Animation

  • Captain SNES: Alex tries to reassure a giant sandworm (which he thinks is a Shai-Halud) that he's got no problem with scientology. Alex (and the author) confused L. Ron Hubbard with Frank Herbert. The author retcons it by claiming this.

Western Animation

  • All Animation Is Disney: People who don't know much about animation attribute almost every cartoon to Disney. In some cases the confusion is not so far-fetched: The films of Don Bluth could stylistically easily be mistaken for being Disney films.
  • The Simpsons: Homer does this a lot:
    • In "Bart the Genius", Homer confuses Albert Einstein with Thomas Alva Edison: "Einstein probably changed himself into all sorts of colors before he invented the light bulb."
    • In "They Saved Lisa's Brain", Homer confuses Stephen Hawking with Larry Flynt, presumably because they are both wheelchair patients.
    • After meeting Prime Minister Tony Blair in "The Regina Monologues", Homer mistakes him for Mr. Bean.
      • In "Homer the Great", Moe says the following about Homer: "He's gone mad with power. Like that Albert Schweitzer guy." (Moe actually meant the German philospher Friedrich Nietzsche, who did go mad near the end of his life.)
        • It is not made clear if Moe was mixing Schweitzer up with anybody, and while Nietzsche did go mad, having no power he did not go mad with power.
      • In "Marge vs. the Monorail", Mayor Quimby introduces Leonard Nimoy (of Star Trek fame) by saying the Star Wars phrase: May the force be with you!"
      • In "Marge In Chains", Lisa compares Lionel Hutz to lawyer Clarence Darrow, whereupon Hutz asks: "Was he the black guy on The Mod Squad?", confusing Darrow with actor Clarence Williams III.

Real Life

  • Some people think that Julius Caesar never said "Tu quoque, fili?" ("You too, my son?") and claim that it was a line William Shakespeare thought up for his play about Caesar. Actually, "Tu quoque, fili?" is taken from chapter 82 of Suetonius' biography of Caesar as something some people reported Caesar said. Suetonius (died ca. 150 A.D.) notes that Caesar was said to have spoken the phrase in Greek ("kai su, teknon?"). (Shakespeare actually used the words "Et tu, Brute?" in his play, but he was not the first to use that particular wording either).
  • Jesus Christ: Often believed to be the reason people celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. Pagans already held winter rituals and festivities centuries before Jesus' birth.
    • Of course, given the sheer number of pagan (and Jewish) festivals, it would be hard to come up with a date that had not been used by some religion before...
  • Christopher Columbus: Often called the "discoverer" of America. Leif Erikson actually discovered the continent 400 years earlier.
    • I'm pretty sure the Native Americans that had been living in America for thousands of years will be happy to hear that Leif Erikson "discovered" America a mere 900 years ago.
  • Henry Ford: Sometimes believed to be the inventor of the automobile. Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz actually invented the vehicle 20 years before Ford.
  • Marie-Antoinette: Never actually said, "Let them eat cake."
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