Sometimes when something truly bizarre or shocking happens, a common phrase we hear is “you just couldn’t make that up.” Most often, it’s true, real life can be far weirder than anything out of the minds of a Hollywood screenwriter or an author. Realistically, many of our favorite movies or TV shows originated in some way, shape or form when somebody in the entertainment industry saw some news story, was inspired by a real-life crime, or even sometimes a personal experience. But there are those rare occurrences, coincidental or not, where life actually imitates art. A strange or shocking occurrence in the real world, a political scandal, even a murder will have been predicted or mimicked by an event that had already been made up in the mind of a screenwriter or novelist. With that in mind, here are the strangest cases of life imitating art for a change.
10. The “Weekend at Bernie’s” Scam
Weekend at Bernie’s was an 80s comedy about two friends who kept up the impression that their boss wasn’t actually dead. They touted him around in public, attended a party at his house and used his corpse as a means to avoid a mob hit. Funny stuff. In January of 2008 in a not so funny attempt to misuse a corpse, two pensioners decided to take the dead body of their friend to collect his social security check. The problem was, their friend, who they rolled around in a wheel chair, was completely uh, dead, and had even begun to show signs of rigor mortis. Needless to say, the duo didn’t cash in on the $355 they were hoping for.
9. Schwarzenegger for President?
Remember the 90s action film Demolition Man? Not only was it awesome for its depiction of a futuristic society, and Wesley Snipes’s killer blonde hair, but it was also noteworthy for declaring Arnold Schwarzenegger President of the United States, which in 1993, a year removed from Terminator 2, was a hilarious proposition. Well, Arnold didn’t make it to the White House due to the American constitution requiring all Presidents be American by birth, but he did make it to Governor of California, and had he had his way and seen the Constitution amended, he probably would have see the Oval Office as well.
8. Police Dog that Inspired Movie about a Police Dog Suffers the Same Fate
Jim Belushi and his crime-fighting partner, Jerry Lee, a German Sheppard, were the stars of the 1989 film K-9. The movie was based on a real life police dog named Koton from Kansas City. While the film was a box office success, it was a critical failure, no doubt in part because of the depressing as hell ending when Jerry Lee is shot dead in the line of duty. Sadly, in 1991 Koton, the real life Jerry Lee was killed himself when he was shot during an attempted murder.
7. Russell Crowe Kidnapping Plot
Even the Gladiator himself isn’t even impervious to plots against him. In 2000 when Russell Crowe was promoting the film Proof of Life in which he plays an expert kidnapping and hostage negotiator, it was revealed that there was a kidnapping plot against him, allegedly involving terrorist organizations. The threat was so serious that both the FBI and Scotland Yard not only investigated the plot but actually accompanied Crowe wherever he went for a time.
6. Ankle Bracelets Were Inspired by a Comic Book
In the 1970s an issue of a Spider-Man comic book contained a plot device where one of Spider-Man’s foe was tracking the web slinger via a bracelet on his wrist. Coincidently enough, a judge from New Mexico was an avid Spider-Man fan and took the idea of electronic tracking off the ink of the comic strip and put it onto the ankles of felons. The judge contracted a computer company to develop the technology and had the bracelets introduced in the New Mexico judicial system in 1983, with Florida following soon after. The rest is history.
5. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Embodies his Creation
Sherlock Holmes is arguably the most well know and well loved fictional detective of all time. Holmes creator and author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was prolific in his writing of Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories, and was meticulous in the detail he provided for readers, so much so that he must have learned a few things along the way. At one point in his life, Doyle actually became a real life Sherlock Holmes and helped solve two separate cases involving wrongly accused criminals. In one of the cases, Doyle actually saved a man from the gallows after pouring over the evidence against him and disproving the prosecutions case. No doubt, Dr. Watson would approve.
4. Detroit Declares Bankruptcy
In the second RoboCop film a dystopian vision of the Motor City is depicted. Detroit has gone bankrupt, the streets are riddled with crime, and all public services are now in the control of private contractors, spiking a massive rise in poverty and street crime… Talk about foreshadowing. Even the media noticed the plot similarities to the reality of present day Detroit when the city filed for bankruptcy in 2013. In Detroit in 2014, all that’s really missing is the presence of RoboCop to clean the place up and restore Detroit to its former, and rightful glory.
3. The Prediction of Current World Affairs
In 1979 no one would have ever predicted the rise of China, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the United States mired in a deep financial crisis. Except screenwriters Phil Proctor and Peter Bergman who imagined just that in their film Americathon which starred the late John Ritter. Set in 1998, the film was eerily prophetic for predicting that China would become an economic powerhouse, the U.S.S.R would cease to exist, America would owe massive amounts of debt and reality TV would become a national pastime. Oh, and people would pay exorbitant amounts for fancy coffee. There’s actually plenty more instances of life imitating art in the film – seriously, see it for yourself. The film’s tagline “…see Americathon at your local theater before you see it happening in your own front yard!” could not have rung more true.
2. Margaret Thatcher’s House of Cards
While the current American Netflix version of House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey revolving around U.S. politics is by far the better known incarnation of the show, the original British House of Cards was far more prophetic. The show, which aired between November and December of 1990, and was based upon a novel of the same name published in 1989, actually predicted the fall of long serving British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The “Iron Lady” was Britain’s PM from 1979 until late November of 1990, over a year after the novel was published, and nearly a month after the television adaptation began airing.
1. Bryan Cranston is Not the Only Walter White
This just seems too fortuitous not to have been some sort of inspiration for the creators of the massive hit show Breaking Bad but apparently, a coincidence is all it is. Yes, in the show Bryan Cranston plays a character named Walter White who cooks and sells meth, and around the same time as the show’s premier in 2008 a guy named Walter White was arrested in Alabama for, indeed, cooking and selling meth. While the fictional Walter White managed to evade capture long enough to give us 5 seasons of incredible television, the real life Walter White is serving 12 years in an Alabama prison on drug and weapons offenses.