Four Fake Documentaries that Impacted my Sense of Reality as a Child

Ah, documentaries. You either love them or you hate them. For me, I’ve always been fond of fake nature documentaries, or ones that explain how a fantasy creature or aliens could exist. I’ve also always been fond of documentaries that explore any sort of prehistoric life. For both, I appreciate the combination of imagination and science that is used. As a child, however, I was not aware that there was such a thing as fake documentaries. I believed any documentary I saw. Naturally, believing in fictional documentaries affects how you perceive the world. Here are four fake documentaries that make child Megan think that aliens did in fact exist.



The Future is Wild

The Future is Wild is based off a book created by the prolific speculative evolution author Dougal Dixon. Dixon was behind one of my favorite books, “The New Dinosaurs,” which asks the question: “How would dinosaurs evolve if they’d never died?” It is a fake documentary about what life will be like thousands of years in the future, once humans are extinct. Some creatures featured are giant 120-ton turtles, a seal-like bird and a creature named Sharkopath. How metal is that?

As a young child of five watching this program, I remember wondering how people were able to film the future. How could they when it was only 2004? Surprisingly, I was also not fazed by the concept of all humans dying out one day. I just wanted to know how they filmed it.


Walking with Dinosaurs

This is the odd one out on the list, the only non-speculative fiction documentary. While dinosaurs are obstinately real, the documentary Walking with Dinosaurs, once more, made me believe dinosaurs survived. Or, well, perhaps that only a few had, and these British filmmakers had managed to locate the very last few. I distinctly remember seeing a shot of a CGI (computer-generated images) allosaurus walking in a museum and thinking “how did he fit in there?”


Dragons: A Fantasy made Real

This one hurts the most and was my first exposure to the difference between TV and real life. As a child, and even now, I always wanted dragons to be real. I believed in this documentary so much. They explained everything scientifically,  or at least, what sounded scientifically to me. They explained how a huge creature could conceivably fly with hydrogen gas and hollow bones, and how their fire could be created by a mix of chemicals. I ate it up, and proudly told my friends in kindergarten that yes, dragons were real, and yes, I had proof. Eventually, I learned that the documentary was fake. I cried for hours.


Alien Planet

Alien Planet convinced me that aliens have already been discovered. (Look, a running theme throughout this article is that I am a gullible person). It’s a speculative fiction documentary about what life could be like on a planet similar to ours. It follows two robots as they explore life on the planet Darwin IV, as they search for sentient life. Unlike the other documentaries here, I don’t blame myself for thinking this was real. They brought in real life scientists to explain what was happening—Stephen Hawking was even in it! How was six-year-old Megan supposed to understand that scientists lied?


So, there you have it. Four documentaries that affected how the world looked to little Megan. 


What fake documentaries made you believe in fantasy?