PSA: Yes, Some People Think “The Martian” Was Based on a True Story

the martianThere are some stories that sound so improbable that you think they’re an urban legend, but then those stories turn out to be true.

Take, for example, The Martian. Buzzfeed published a story last week which informed us that some movie-goers are leaving the theater under the impression that this SF blockbuster is based on a true story.

The Martian, the new movie by Ridley Scott starring Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded on Mars, is being rightly praised for its fairly accurate portrayal of science.

But maybe it was too realistic, because an alarming number of people out there have come away from the film thinking it is based on a true story.

While I would usually assume that someone was pulling a hoax on either Buzzfeed or its readers, in this case the report is real. Some people really do think that The Martian, a story which was originally self-published online by its (non-astronaut) author, really happened and wasn’t just invented to entertain readers.

I would normally pass on this type of gossip as hearsay, but I was listening to the radio this morning while running errands and I heard one DJ say, in all seriousness, that The Martian was based on a true story. I won’t tell you the person’s name or the radio station, but I can assure you that they were not joking.

Scary, isn’t it?

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Anthony Pero14 October, 2015

    That is… really funny. Stop trying to refute this. Lets just agree to keep our mouths shut and laugh at them.

  2. Greg Strandberg14 October, 2015

    Why is America $18 trillion in debt? A secret space program would account for much of that “lost money.”

    Maybe there is a deep space program, space marines, and all the rest of it. Perhaps one of them was lost on Mars or another planet, maybe even shot down.

    Could Andy Weir have been selected through psych-protocols and implanted with the ideas for this book?

    Let’s not be afraid to speculate.

  3. fjtorres14 October, 2015

    What is sadder:
    1-the people who think THE MARTIAN is real
    2-the people who think the Apollo moon landings were faked
    3-a high level politician who believes NASA doesn’t inspire like Hollywood and then makes sure it can’t?

    Why be surprised now?

  4. fjtorres14 October, 2015

    That secret Space Marines program uses a modified ballistic submarine renamed the ASS VORPAL BLADE. And the things they’ve seen…!

    1. Nate Hoffelder14 October, 2015

      Don’t make fun. That ASS could wipe the floor with any conventional warship.

  5. fabrizio venerandi15 October, 2015

    To be honest, after seeing the film , I thought to myself , it seems one of the American films that at the end comes out the words : ” based on a true story .”

  6. fjtorres15 October, 2015

    As good as the movie is, when you get down to it, it’s really just a remake of Apollo 13. 😉

    1. Nate Hoffelder15 October, 2015

      @ Felix Did you know that there are people who think that was real as well? 😉

    2. Nate Hoffelder15 October, 2015

      @ Felix A friend on Twitter also pointed out the similarities with “Robinson Crusoe on Mars”:

  7. Lori G.15 October, 2015

    My high school science teacher was at the same showing as we were. He swore up & down that was based on a true story. Sad. But, on a happier note, he can sing all the lyrics of Taylor Swift songs!

  8. Moriah Jovan15 October, 2015

    What is WRONG with those people?! Didn’t they see TOTAL RECALL?!

  9. Karl26 January, 2016

    Yeah, well, I’m sure there are people who think that My Favorite Martian is based on a true story, too.


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