'Breaking Bad' to 'Lost': Strange cases of real life imitating TV shows

Yahoo Contributor Network

Artists aim to imitate life, but some of the time, real life takes its cue from art. Usually, this is a pretty good thing. Take a look at a series like "Star Trek," which inspired generations of scientists to create technology, such as voice recognization software, universal translators, and the iPad. But other times, things get downright weird. Here are some interesting examples of real life imitating a TV show.

"The Office"

In one Season 9 episode, Nellie plays a prank where she convinces Andy that he's related to Michelle Obama. In reality, Ed Helms (who plays Andy) really is related to Michelle Obama -- albeit pretty distantly. He's also a distant relative to Mitt Romney, John McCain, and fellow NBC star Amy Poehler.

"Breaking Bad"

The main character of "Breaking Bad" is a methamphetamine cook named Walter White. Oddly enough, four years after the show premiered, an Alabama sherriff's office started a manhunt for a real guy named Walter White. His crime: cooking meth. Strangely enough, the real-life Walter White started cooking in 2008…the same year that the show premiered.


Dr. House works at the fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. At the time the show premiered, Princeton didn't have a hospital in Plainsboro. But as of late 2011, the University Medical Center at Princeton on Witherspoon Street shut down and was replaced with a brand new hospital: the new University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. Coincidence? Probably. But you gotta wonder if the decision was made to capitalize on the success of the show.

"Better Off Dead"

While "Better Off Dead" was canceled due to low viewership, the show still managed to predict a real-life incident that was strangely similar to the plot on one episode. In the episode, Ted's company had a bit of a scandal on its hands when a scanner failed to recognize the faces of African-Americans. Weirdly enough, less than a year later, Hewlett-Packard came under fire when their MediaSmart line of webcams also failed to recognize the faces of dark-skinned users.


Real life and "Lost" have so much in common that Cracked wrote an entire article about their similarities. One striking example is the way that John Locke's cured paralysis is actually possible in real life. There's something called hysterical paralysis where a person, who lost the ability to walk, can one day regain the ability out of nowhere. Cracked suggests it may happen in as many as 300 out of 100,000 people with paralysis. There's also an island in the Pacific that bears some resemblance to the mysterious island from "Lost" -- minus the smoke monster, hopefully.

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