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Amazing Pictures That Went Viral But Were Later Discovered As Fake


Photography has never been more popular than it is today, partly since smartphones today have better cameras than past photographers could have dreamed of. With the amount of pictures being taken constantly, there are some truly incredible shots posted around the Internet, but some make you question their authenticity. 

Graphic design is also easier than ever before, with the ability to adjust images with absolute precision, where even keen eyes can be fooled. While there are plenty of astounding photos that making the rounds around the web, some are just too good to be true. Feast your eyes on the images that made waves on social media, but were later discovered to be fabricated…

 Selfie Danger

Photo: L – R –

Airline pilots have to undergo rigorous training before taking passenger into the skies. Whether hauling cargo, fuel, or passengers, strict rules of compliance must be followed before a pilot is considered worthy of a flight license, one of which certainly covers using a selfie stick mid-air. 

This photo may have inspired some fantasies of high-flying selfie magic, but anxious passengers who aren’t ever sure what’s going on the cockpit were relieved to find that the plane was sitting stationary on the runway as it was captured. There weren’t any photos from 20,000 feet.

Moon Melon

blue watermelon

Health nuts and junk food junkies got in line when this photo was released of the infamous “moon melon,” a bright blue version of its rosy cousin. Thousands reposted in hopes of finding the infamous fruit and biting in for a sweet, juicy taste to see if it tasted like the regular version.

Unfortunately, moon melon searchers came up short, as the vibrant blue fruit does not actually exist. This expertly-crafted photoshopped image caused quite a stir in the foodie community before being debunked. It disappointed many an appetite looking to try some on a hot summer evening. 

Bear Chasing Cyclist

bear chasing cyclist
Photo: Uplift

At first glance, seeing this photo of a grizzly bear chasing a cyclist seems downright terrifying. As it was widely-circulated online, those who stepped back from the picturesque frenzy noted that were certainly some things about it that didn’t sem to add up.

First of all, the biggest question is realizing that no self-respecting cyclist would find himself racing along a snowy highway without proper gear, that would keep him warm from head to toe. We weren’t too surprised to learn that the cyclist was superimposed into the scene.

Black Lion

black and white lion
Photo: Way Come

Lions by nature have a certain impressive and majesty about them, no matter what form they come in. It was even more eye-catching when this image of a rare black lion has been circulated the Internet for years, gathering with it thousands of shares and comments over its beautiful appearance.

Sadly, the black lion was fabricated. This photo is actually a digitally remastered photo of an albino lion that has been living on an art website since 2012. Albino versions of the “king” do exist, but there has not been a dark-colored equivalent discovered in nature.

Architectural Blunder

Photo: Know Your Meme

Wouldn’t it be the most ironic thing if a college of architecture and planning had built a sign that didn’t fit perfectly above its entrance? Evidently someone thought the idea was funny enough to shift the sign slightly, causing an Internet stir upon its release.

In actuality, this sign was actually as perfectly-planned and precise as the college syllabi that are released from the school’s esteemed faculty. We do get a good laugh from seeing the botched photo and what it means for disappointed college students everywhere. 

Cow On A Car

cow on car

Perhaps this car found itself in dairy country, or maybe the driver stopped for a photo op with the bovine beauty during a country outing. The end result of this photo crafting is pure magic, with the cow coming to rest on the car’s hood. It looks too good to be true. And in fact it is. 

While you might not be too happy to emerge from the grocery store to find this creature taking a rest on top of  your sedan, viewers took a liking to the image and circulated it around the globe several times. People then realized that given the weight of the cow and the inevitable damage it would do to the car, the photo couldn’t have been real. 

Frantic Photographers

bear chasing photograhpers
Photo: MitchRyan’s Blog

You’d think that the fact that these photographers outnumber the bear in the picture would inspire a bit more bravery, but understandable they’re on the run when they spot the large grizzly. This viral image may make you gasp as you contemplate what you’d do in this situation.

It is highly unlikely that this moment straight out a movie was caught on camera for all to see. It’s also been revealed since the photo’s release made its way around social media that the bear image was a stock photo that four friends decided to edit in just for fun.

Blast Off

Photo: Richard Silvera

This viral image of a powerful space shuttle has received several million shares online. Depicting a truly picturesque clear blue sky and a dramatic cloud breakthrough, it was later revealed to be heavily edited to help and promote the United States space program.

In reality, this space shuttle was poised on solid ground on a foggy day, awaiting orders for take-off. Even the original photo is pretty impressive enough in itself. We have to wonder why there was a need to edit in the first place, and if the decision to take some artistic license did more harm than good. 

Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe

marilyn monroe

Hollywood legends Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe together in one room would almost be too much beauty and poise for people to handle. These two were contemporaries at one time, but to our knowledge, this peaceful pose of the two famous actresses never actually occurred.

Marilyn Monroe has been the subject of many photoshopped wonders, and she’s graced pics with everyone from Taylor to Elvis and countless others. Who knows if Monroe and Taylor would have been friends or rivals? Let your imagination start their conversation.

Crab Pose

woman squatting

We’re not sure if this lady just happens to be a yoga enthusiast, or was she down for a publicity shot while in line at the bank? Imagine walking into your local branch and seeing this sight before your eyes. Just how long do you think has she been waiting, anyway?

While the edited photo would not have been possible, the real photo of this woman has her precariously perched on one leg, complete with one shoe off. We’re all for making yourself comfortable while running errands, but there’s a reason businesses ask people to keep their shoes on. 

Why So Serious, Man?

Photo: L – R –

Heath Ledger’s portrayal of Batman’s nemesis The Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight was truly iconic. The role helped secure an Academy Award win for Ledger after his tragic death before the film’s release. His commitment to the role is now legendary and has many convinced that he was the best one to inhabit the character.

While filming in downtown Chicago, it looks like the Australian actor was certainly having a good time on set with some nice skateboarding moves. Though it wouldn’t feel like a big leap for Ledger, or The Joker for that matter, to embody his inner Tony Hawk in between takes, alas the leap he does over Batman is certainly not an ollie.

Explosive Afternoon Outing

einstein biking
Photo: Meme Center & California Institute of Technology

It’s quite known that genius Albert Einstein did enjoy a good bike ride between vigorous mental exercise sessions. He was seen cycling around Santa Barbara quite frequently on sunny days. As someone who regretted his work on the Manhattan Project, we doubt he would have been gleaming with delight at the scene behind him. 

The explosion taking place in the first photograph occurred seven years after his death, so it wasn’t even something that would occur during his lifetime. The smile on his face and the bike ride were completely genuine, however, as referenced by the second photo.

Purple Mountain Majesties

purple forest
Photo: BakLOL

A visually stunning forest of vibrant purple trees, rolling hills, and serene skies inspires nature lovers to embark on a quest to find where this magical location may be. Sadly, it doesn’t exist in reality. From location to color, almost every aspect of this photo is indeed fabricated.

The original photo was taken of the Shotover River in picturesque New Zealand. The river is so turbulent that no fish live in it. The trees are a vibrant and lush green, and the surrounding scenery is every bit as breathtaking, even without violet enhancement. 

Rice Wave

fried rice
Photo: different type of Art

Chefs are continually raising the bar for their fellow culinary professionals. Japanese chefs are famous for their showmanship and food preparation prowess. This photo played on that concept, with an impressive rice wave almost frozen in midair. 

Countless chefs tried to replicate the signature fried rice wave, and they all came up disappointed after cleaning up the remnants of failure. This wave does exist, but it lives as a sculpture in a fake food shop in Tokyo. But the nonchalant expression of the man in the photo should have been a tip-off of its fabrication. 

Big Turtle Mountain

turtle mountain
Photo: Photographic Pictures

Animal lovers and nature enthusiasts were verily disappointed to learn that this photo of “Big Turtle Mountain” was not real after all. The doctored photo is an impressive display of a rocky cliff face in the shape of something resembling a turtle head.

Mother Nature is truly amazing with her displays of beauty and coincidental showmanship, but Pilot Mountain in North Carolina does not in fact resemble a reptile in any way. It’s yet another photo with clever editing done to help provoke some smiles.

Furry Feline

cat with eyebrows

How many of us would adopt a cute kitten from our local adoption centers if it were adorned with mustache and eyebrows? This viral photo circulated widely among cat enthusiasts, with many wishing they could take home the distinctive-looking pet with facial hair. 

Feline fanatics were saddened to learn that the edited photo included superimposed eyebrows. The mustache does seem to be impressive by itself, and we’re sure that this cat is appreciated for his unique beauty, regardless of the amount of facial hair or eyebrows displayed.

Dwarf Giraffe


The dwarf giraffe is a photo that has been circulated around the Internet thousands of times, with many convinced that it portrays a real creature. While dwarfism does occur naturally in the wild, many animals who are born with the condition do not usually live long enough to be captured on film.

This photo was revealed to be a photoshopped version of a life-sized giraffe. Any giraffe measuring that small would be especially vulnerable and an easy target for predators, and while the doctored version is pretty adorable, we have yet to confirm that someone has seen one this small in the wild.

MGM Lion

Photo: L – R –

For decades, Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) has used its iconic lion Leo for promotion of television shows and films. There have been many urban myths that exist around the ferocious feline. Animal activists were up in arms about Leo’s perceived mistreatment.

The fake photo is a really a blend of Leo and a different lion, with the latter being strapped to a table for a routine veterinary visit. We still aren’t sure how MGM owners were able to capture Leo’s trademark roar and immortalize it for decades of entertainment.

Moon On A Skyscraper

moon on skyscraper
Photo: Panda

Photographers can’t help but of dream of a moment when their clever camera angles can be immortalized for all the world to see. This photographer must have been over the moon as he captured this shot that perfectly manages to blend nature and human ingenuity.

Unfortunately, as cool as it looks, this edit was determined to be some clever photoshopping work. Mo Aoun moved the moon into position to make the photo more fantastic and appealing to viewers. We don’t care that this image is fake, as we fancy the thought of this moment taking place.

Madagascan Monkey

Photo: L – R –

The Internet makes us all suckers when it comes to pictures of cute animals. In fact, half the images on the web are of just cute animals. This Madagascan Monkey has been shared millions of times online, with many viewers marveling at how something this cute can exist in the animal kingdom.

While there are cute and cuddly species living on this planet, we are sad to report that the Madagascan Monkey photo is nothing more than an edited photo of a doll. This image is just a collection of the “Inari Fox” model that was created by a Russian doll company called Santani. 

You’re Gonna Need A Bigger State

Photo: L – R –

No fake photo countdown would be complete without a likeness of a shark in the most unlikely of places. After 2017’s Hurricane Irma took residents of Texas by surprise, this photo surfaced and caused quite a stir, just when you thought hurricanes weren’t scary enough. 

It’s highly unlikely that a shark would be found anywhere close to a busy Texas freeway, so photography experts quickly determined that it was a fake. This photo has shown up after many major hurricanes like Sandy or Harvey. Naturally photos like this are perfect fodder for jokes and memes as the photo on the left shows the famous Left Shark.

Poor Paris

desperate shirt
Photo: Tonight

Poor Paris Hilton. She seems to have gotten such a bad rap due to her enormous wealth, cushy life, her luxurious upbringing, and over-the-top lavish lifestyle that have trolls clamoring to the keyboard. This photoshop job of her wearing this shirt really stirred up some controversy.

Hilton’s T-shirt read “Stop Being Desperate,” which is no less offensive to some, but at least it didn’t completely have the tone-deafness toward lower-class Americans that a shirt that says “Stop Being Poor” would have. Hopefully people realize that they weren’t being slighted by the heiress as she stepped out for yet another decadent night on the town.

Diwali Festivities

indian lights

Diwali celebrations light up the night sky in India every year, but few contemplated how this would look on a grander scale when a picture is taken from space. This photo depicts a space-age view of what the world’s second-most populous country looks like during this joyous holiday. 

Unfortunately, in reality, the celebration of lights would not be this fantastic in a photo taken from space. When the image’s authenticity was debunked, it was revealed that this photo is a regular shot of India via satellite, with some clever color enhancements added for visual appeal.

 Star Island

star island
Photo: Bullard Watson

Nestled in the crook of a crescent moon beach lies a star shaped island, and it looks like an idyllic version of absolute paradise. This aerial shot may just inspire a sky dive to be on an island of solitude if you want to get a head start on your vacation plans.

While managing to indeed look quite realistic, this photo is sadly not real. The star-shaped island was added for visual effect and juxtaposition, though the moon-shaped beach does exist. The island of Molokini lies between Maui and Kahoolawein in Hawaii.

Venice Ice

frozen venice
Photo: & Design

Venice is a beautiful city any time of the year, by its very nature of its existence. Its warm Mediterranean climate makes icy canals highly unlikely, so this photo of iced-over canals is not the real deal. You’re much more likely to get a chilly breeze when traveling on the canals on a cooler day.

This photo is an edited composite of two photos, one of Venice canalside and one of frozen Lake Baikal in Russia. It shouldn’t surprise people that Russia’s climate is much more likely to give you a frosted experience for months at a time than Italy’s. 

Big Brother IS Watching


Author George Orwell warned us in his award-winning novel 1984 about some of the real potential dangers that society could face from government control and surveillance that is left unchecked. This photo outside his home is the essence of irony, given its location.

A strategically-placed CCTV camera siting outside the home of none other than Orwell himself, but it is not necessarily authentic. Its post can be traced back to a photo released back in 2012, when it was traced over 60,000 times. Odds are that it’s very likely the case of someone going for irony. 

Lenticular Clouds

lenticular clouds

Cloud formations are naturally fascinating, and the phenomena of lenticular clouds is no exception. They can be identified by their long, slender shape, and many people end up often mistaking them for something more mysterious, such as Unidentified Flying Objects.

When these majestic clouds do occur in nature, there is no need to enhance their appearance. This viral camera trick shows a series of lenticular clouds on top of each forming a cone in the sky. It would come to light soon after release that the photo was indeed not real.

Deforestation Woes

Photo: Panda

Environmentalists are constantly concerned with protecting and preserving our planet for decades to come. There are no shortage of predictions that forecast future ills and pitfalls that may come as a result of our planetary neglect. Sometimes though, there may be some exaggeration happening. 

In this doctored photo, we supposedly see the same patch of land ten years apart. 2009 shows it has a lush cross-section of forest, while 2019 has the same area dusty and barren. Is there a bit of environmental manipulation going on here? We’ll let you decide.

Delicate Balancing Act

fake castle
Photo: Deniculi

This magical place looks like it comes straight from the pages of a fantasy novel or fairy tale. It would take a brave soul to enter the castle gates and keep everything inside at a delicate balance as to not upset manmade structures or the nature that supports it.

This clever blend of pictures using photo editing software is what truly brings together East and West. The rock formation that the castle perches on is found in Thailand, while the castle itself is located in Germany. It’s not nearly as precariously scary as the original image looks.

A Little Dab’ll Do Ya

first dab
Photo: 10 News

One of the images that has made waves all over social media seems to portray what appears to be the very first dab in history. It looks like a battalion of soldiers during World War I letting off some steam, and doing the popular dance pose made famous by NFL quarterback Cam Newton.

Alas, the photo wasn’t captured during World War I, as indicated by soldier uniforms. It was taken on the set of the 2017 film, Dunkirk. The film was both a critical and commercial hit as are many Christopher Nolan films, yet fans didn’t seem to recall the dab moment on film.

Immense Iceberg


Self-help and motivational professionals use the term “tip of the iceberg” to determine our inner/outer relationship with the rest of the world. This photo is often used for dozens of posters relating to the topic of the self that there is more going than the observer can see.

This image, while impressive, is not real. Icebergs below the surface are much larger (about nine times as larger)  than their surface area, but there’s no way a photographer could have captured both so perfectly. Photographer Ralph Clevenger makes a masterful composite of four different images together. 

Night Flight

constellations and hot air balloons

This beautiful farce depicts two hot air balloons rising above a sparkling starlit sky. Inspiring thousands to change their desktop backgrounds and hang up posters of the image, this photo circled for months before being picked apart by clever editing specialists.

As they revealed the photo’s fake nature, photographers cited that bright light from the stars could only be captured with long exposure time. This would have blurred large balloons in the foreground, spoiling the image. Even if the picture isn’t authentic, it still looks impressive. 

Statue Of Liberty

statue of liberty

The Statue Of Liberty has been standing tall since it was originally built in 1875 and then gifted to the United States in 1885.  This over-the-top shot was reported to have taken place when New York and New Jersey suffered the effects of  Hurricane Sandy in 2012, but it was quickly determined to be cleverly edited.

The Jake Gyllenhaal blockbuster entitled The Day After Tomorrow contains this devastating shot of Lady Liberty being pummeled by the waves around her. The statue that symbolizes independence and strength to so many seems like it’s battling the waters, but will not go down easily.

 Harbour Bridge Flood


Australia is known for some epic storms, many of which affect the infamous Harbour Bridge area. Each year with the advent of storm season, this photo is circulated far and wide across the Internet, inspiring many would-be travelers to not venture out and just stay home.

In the photo, a waterfall completely looks like it’s engulfing the Harbour Bridge in Sydney. Spokespeople from the Australian government have debunked the photo every time they see it resurfaces, citing that cars would not be allowed to pass in such conditions.

Lightning Strike

purple lightning tree

This image would be extremely cool if it were real, right? If you were to Google a lightning strike, you may end up seeing this clever portrayal of electricity in action. Sadly, it’s not a very accurate depiction of what happens when lightning does strike.

Color changes aside, it’s far more likely that the tree would be completely fried by a lightning strike of this magnitude. Never underestimate the power of a well-placed strike on the damage it can cause, and it’s best to exercise caution when filming outdoors during thunderstorm conditions.

Puny Platypus

smallest platypus

The platypus is one of those creatures that you really have to see to believe. The animal is a delightful blend of land and water, but its strange and truly distinctive appearance has always made people turn their heads. So, naturally, seeing an extremely tiny pint-size version of one was truly a sight to see. 

As many retweeted and posted so that friends and family could check out this micro-creature, it came to light that this photo was a plastic likeness of a baby platypus. The stark differences between real and fake were so pronounced that many took their posts down for fear of social media disgrace.

Fake Moon

fake moon
Photo: Imgur

The New York City skyline is a wonder in of itself. The historic buildings are legendary and make for a picturesque cityscape. When you add the majesty of the moon to the backdrop, it’s a photo game changer. Silhouettes of city skyscrapers are perfectly illuminated against a background of soft light.

One thing that tips viewers off to the fallacy of this photo has to do with the size. The moon, which happens to be photoshopped into this picture, is unrealistically large when compared to the rest of the scenery below. It’s certainly a cool image, but one that was manipulated. 

Influencer Editing

influencer editing

No one is more adept at editing and retouching photos than a social media influencer. Blogger Amelia Liana got herself into a bit of hot water for presenting her photo of the iconic Taj Mahal in India. The Indian government demanded a recall of the photo after its release on her Instagram page. 

Apparently, the beautiful editing and retouching weren’t enough to impress those government officials. Liana had removed any other tourists from the shot and warped the temple image to such a degree that even the retouching needed some more re-editing.

Plankton Petri Dish

Photo: Ultimate Aquatic Sport Protection

The original post of this image stated that this actually represents the amount of plankton in a drop of seawater, which honestly shocked and impressed viewers. This photo went viral before we found out the real deal behind the overpopulation.

The photo is indeed real, but its caption is a bit misleading. This image in actuality represents the amount of plankton in a swimming pool-sized sample of water from the ocean. Even with that however, this plankton would fit into a small glass of juice. 

Fat Cat

man holding fat cat
Photo: Cordell Hauglie

Cat fans, this one is for you. There’s more than enough of this fat cat to go around, and while we wish that the very large feline in this photo was real, we know that this cat would require a care plan that would be quite rigorous to help maintain. 

Some crafty editing has jumbo cat significantly larger that its real-life counterpart. The real cat is actually quite normal in size and temperament. This fluffy cat, while not particularly spectacular may very well be a low-maintenance blessing to the family who cares for him.