7. Sheng Long's Existence In Street Fighter II
What you think: Street Fighter's most infamous character was born from the need to keep gamers enthralled and replaying a release over and over in the hopes of unlocking this near-mythical character who was touted by magazines and instruction manuals to be in there... somewhere.
What actually happened: It was all a ruse brought about from an initial mistranslation, one that a 1992 issue of EGM then used to sell copies of their magazine, trolling gamers more brutally than the siege of Minas Tirith. Basically, as Ryu's Dragon Punch ("Shoryuken") translates audibly as 'shnglóng' in the Chinese phonetic alphabet of pinyin, this meant his original Japanese victory line of "If you cannot overcome the Rising Dragon Punch, you cannot win!", became "You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance" on Western shores.
Capcom could probably have contained the whole thing if not for gamers getting in touch with the magazine, who then printed a totally fake article (yes, really) describing a completely made up way to unlock Sheng in the game. Without the internet to verify anything and word of mouth being king, tens of thousands of us tried our best to unlock the fighter. EGM's tactics included avoiding taking any damage for 10 whole rounds against the screen-filling M. Bison, which they said would then make Long appear.
Naturally it was nigh-impossible, and although many instruction booklets for SF II mentioned Sheng as being Ryu and Ken's teacher (validating a generation of gamers into thinking he was still in the game) it wasn't until SF IV when new character Gouken appeared as a direct response from Capcom, translating Sheng Long's name into a new moniker, finally bringing him to life in some form.