10 Based On True Story Movies That Never Happened

When "based on a true story" means absolutely nothing.

Leo Di Caprio Catch me if You Can

There's no claim a movie can make that will invite a more immediate wealth of skepticism from viewers than "the following is based on a true story."

The claim is so abusively overused in cinema that, for many, it instantly causes them to cast healthy doubt over the events they're about to witness.

Yet Hollywood keeps claiming that even the most absurd movies are grounded in some basis of fact because, above all else, that rooting in apparent truth is a massive sell for a lot of potential paying customers.

Over the years we've seen some extremely dubious movies claim they were based on events that actually happened, and then for that claim to even be accepted by general audiences, only for it to end up being complete bull.

These 10 films are, at the absolute most, colossally dramatised embellishments of events that weren't nearly as dramatic in real life, but in all cases, the bulk of the events depicted never even happened at all. Nope.

Artistic license is obviously a thing that needs to happen in order to maintain dramatic momentum and sell tickets, but these films took excessive liberties by just... making stuff up...

10. 12 Angry Men's "Real" Court Case Was Made Up

Leo Di Caprio Catch me if You Can
United Artists

Sidney Lumet's unforgettable 1957 courtroom drama 12 Angry Men was penned by screenwriter Reginald Rose, having been adapted from his own 1954 play of the same name.

Rose claimed that the script was inspired by an actual jury trial he served on, though recent research suggests that's actually not true at all.

The film famously involves Henry Fonda's passionate juror Davis swaying a jury to acquit an 18-year old defendant of murder on the basis of reasonable doubt, but a new biography about Rose casts doubt upon any real-life inspiration.

Though Rose has never named the case that apparently influenced his story, Professor Phil Rosenzweig's new book "Reginald Rose and the Journey of 12 Angry Men" identifies it as 1954's "The People v. William Viragh," a case that Rose never served on.

While the case in the film has superficial similarities to the real case - they were both murder trials - Rosenzweig surmises that, at best, Rose was part of the jury pool but ultimately rejected, as he wasn't listed as one of the actual 12 jurors.

As much as we'd all love to believe that 12 Angry Men, a testament to one person's ability to enact real change, is rooted in reality, Rosenzweig ultimately concluded of Rose, "As a good dramatist, he used his imagination."


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.