We are head over heels in love with satire. It’s entertaining. It’s good social commentary. And it’s something we don’t feel guilty about forwarding to all of our friends in the middle of the day. Satirical news, in particular, holds a very special place in our hearts because it helps us discuss important topics by considering wildly different perspectives. Here’s the thing, though: not everything that glitters is gold, and not everything that reads like satire is actually satire.

The wildly popular ‘Not The Onion’ subreddit documents some of the most “mind-blowingly ridiculous” headlines for actually true stories that wouldn’t feel out of place on the landing page of the satirical news site ‘The Onion.’ Sure, some of these might sound unbelievable at first glance, but we promise you, they’re legit. In many cases, that’s very unfortunate for humanity and our faith in it. Other headlines, however, show just how downright weird life on Planet Earth can get.

Scroll down and feast your eyes on the most impressively bizarre news headlines. Upvote the ones that surprised you the most, and let us know what you thought of them in the comments, Pandas.

Again, just to reiterate: the headlines are totally real. So be sure to share ‘em with your friends—we’re pretty sure they need a break from school and work. Oh, and if you'd like to real the original articles in full, we've added links to them underneath each pic.

Bored Panda got in touch with one of the moderators helping run r/nottheonion, redditor u/IndigoSoln, for a chat about the news. We also reached out to Lisa McLendon, the William Allen White Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications and the Coordinator of the Bremner Editing Center at the University of Kansas to get her opinion about clickbait headlines and what lies at the core of good journalism. You'll find our interviews with both the moderator and Professor McLendon below, Pandas, so be sure to read on.

#1

Meta's Threat To Close Down Facebook And Instagram In Europe Backfires As Eu Leaders Embrace Shutdown: 'Life Would Be Very Good Without'

Dangerous_Money_6875 , cityam Report

Lauren Copland
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

You know that feeling when a fake friend admits to not liking you... 'Life would be very good without'

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Redditor u/IndigoSoln, one of the moderators from r/nottheonion, was kind enough to share their thoughts about the subreddit, and the nature of modern news itself. They told Bored Panda that they personally weren't involved with the sub when it was founded all the way back in 2008, but they feel like a lot of change has occurred since then. Some of it's very obvious. Some—not so much.

"A lot of growth came from when the sub was one of the 'default' subreddits all users were automatically subscribed to when they joined. This lasted until 2017 with the rollout of a more discovery-oriented onboarding. However, by then, we were firmly in a depressing new era of onion satire," the mod said.

"The election and administration of Donald Trump, a walking SNL skit and personification of 'failed business mogul,' was the point things started going off the rails. There was rarely a day when there wasn't a news story breaking some outlandish and ridiculous stunt you wouldn't dare imagine really happening. The president serving a championship sports team fast food? Using a sharpie to 'correct' a weather map? What kind of mad world is this?"

#2

A Zoo Has Been Trying To Get Two Pandas To Mate For 10 Years. When Coronavirus Shut The Zoo Down, The Pandas Finally Did

casuspenguen , cnn Report

loty moty
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

And we find out yet again that people are the real problem

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People resonate with the content shared on the subreddit for a number of reasons. Some enjoy it because, at some point in their lives, they've probably felt that reality really was stranger than fiction. "For some, you just need to put the craziness down on paper to really make sense of it in a 'are you seeing this [crap]?' sort of way. For those with a darker [sense of] humor, it helps them laugh at the situation and deal with the helplessness," the mod explained.

"This growth in relevancy and political nature in the most hitting posts has come with a few challenges. With the polarization of opinions comes the insatiable itch to debate and argue every angle in the comments with extreme prejudice. Sometimes, this subreddit feels less like a humor sub with a dash of politics than a politics sub with a dash of humor given the intensity of things. Things have gotten so sour that we've turned to only allowing select posts on Donald Trump since we were guaranteed a rough day when one of those were allowed to grow, reach r/all, and bring in people from Reddit's front page looking for an argument."

The moderator said that the sub is an interesting place "where we've been called Nazis and the day's flavor of 'liberal'/'republican' from both sides for trying to keep the peace and maintain a somewhat respectful atmosphere."

#6

Two Denver Police Officers Suspended For Using Violence On Nonviolent People During Protests Against Police Violence

Schoritzobandit , denverite Report

Daniel Yamada
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

How to make a police officer in the USA: Hire a dull axe and shape it into a hammer.

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The reason why clickbait is so widespread, according to moderator u/IndigoSoln, is because news consumption has "dramatically shifted away from reputable sources such as newspapers and towards less than reputable sources, such as Facebook pages, random uninformed influencers, and other people willing to sacrifice their integrity for a little more attention. From there, it's become an 'adapt or die' sort of thing." They added: "Lucky for us, onionness regards the entirety of the article and not just the fluff title."

According to the mod, good news is far less interesting than bad news because the former usually means that, well, nothing really happened today. "There's a reason filler pieces are often good news stories. There's nothing to glean from this news other than status quo. What people are really interested in change and how it is relevant," they said.

Meanwhile, Professor McLendon, from the University of Kansas, gave Bored Panda her take on this: "I think people are drawn to things out of the ordinary, and often out of the ordinary also happens to be negative. They say 'no one ever writes about the plane that doesn’t crash' because planes normally don’t crash, so when one does, it’s newsworthy."

#8

Parents Want High School Principal Removed For Listening To Iron Maiden; Students Rally Behind Her

FlashesOfDarkonda , loadedradio Report

Gul Dukat
Community Member
2 months ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Should have read „Parents run to the hills out of fear of the high school principal; students prefer running free”

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#9

Hulu To ‘Parasite’ Haters: ‘If You Don’t Want To Read Subtitles,’ Learn Korean

YnwaMquc2k19 , latimes Report

Bernd Herbert
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

People really complained about that? About subtitles???

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As for the reason why clickbait is so widespread, it's because it works. Clickbait headlines are used because internet users click on them. "I’ve noticed shifts, though, as people catch on. You used to see all sorts of, 'You’ll never believe what happened next!' headlines—less from legitimate news outlets and more from 'content' sites—but when you read the article, you found that it was not unbelievable at all. People like to be informed, and they like to be surprised, so we’ll probably always have some sort of clickbait," the professor shared her thoughts with Bored Panda.

Professor McLendon was also kind enough to share her thoughts about the things that lie at the core of quality journalism and what those in the profession can do to improve the quality of their work.

"Accurate information is at the core of quality journalism. Legitimate news outlets figure out what’s happening, check the facts, get multiple sources, and present the news to their audience in a clear, informative way. But there’s always room for improvement," she said.

"Big picture, journalism could often be improved by ensuring sources from all sides of an event are represented. For example, a lot of political coverage is one side vs. another side with the people who are affected by decisions left out. Small picture, good editing is always important. Clarity and accuracy help readers understand and boost journalists’ credibility."

#10

Woman Named Marijuana Pepsi, Who Refused To Change Her Name, Earns Her Ph.d After Completing Dissertation On Black Names

SlappyMcGee , blavity Report

OmBoyGanesh
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Marijuana Pepsi Jackson (now, VanDyck)! She’s a sociologist hero of mine. Her thesis subject: “Black names in white classrooms: Teacher behaviors and student perceptions”. She’s got some amazing insight into the history of black naming conventions.

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Nearly 21.8 million people are members of the r/nottheonion subreddit. It’s a testament to the quality of the community, the moderators, and the subject they focus on. Their content is a mix of good humor, social commentary, and total weirdness. Somewhat of a winning combination on the internet, we feel.

The sub has been around all the way since late October of 2008, and will be celebrating its 14th birthday in just over a month’s time. While everyone’s welcome to be a member, if you’re actually planning on posting any Bizarr-o World/Totally-Not-The-Onion-y headlines there, there are a bunch of rules that you’ve got to be aware of. They help maintain the high quality of the content and keep the community healthy.

The moderators of r/nottheonion ask members of the community to not alter any of the headlines that they share. “The title of your submission should match the article's headline exactly. Copy and paste from the article, leaving out any subtitles, bylines, or other information,” they write.

“Both the title and body of your article should sound like something The Onion would write. This can be highly subjective—there's no one-size-fits-all guide to what fits here. Moderators may rule posts Not Oniony at their own discretion,” the mod team explains that there’s a bit of subjectivity involved here as well. In short, the headline should sound like something you’d find on The Onion (or the just-as-witty The Babylon Bee if you’re on the other end of the political spectrum).

#15

A Youtuber Got The Inflammatory Right-Wing Commentator Katie Hopkins To Fly To Prague To Pick Up A Fake Award Whose Initials Spelled Out The C-Word

ProfVerstrooid , insider Report

Sian E
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

For those who don't know, C**ty Hopkins is a racist, narcissistic, psychopath.

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Obviously, the headlines you share have to be from news articles. So blog or social media posts simply won’t cut it here. You should also aim to use original and reliable sources. Nothing older than two weeks of the publication date should be shared on the sub. Meanwhile, try to avoid tabloid news stories.

Outlets like The Sun, The Mirror, The Daily Mail, and others tend to overhype certain stories and sometimes strongly rely on the rumor mill and guesswork. There are plenty of capable, hard-working journalists working there. But the format of their stories is, well, that of tabloids. Naturally, that bleeds over to their headlines.

Take care to check if the headline you’re sharing is actually true and not satire. Some well-respected news sites actually have their own satirical sections: for example, the legendary Borowitz Report on The New Yorker. (As a side note, Pandas, if you haven’t already, check the BR out; it’s great stuff… as is The New Yorker as a whole.)

#17

Pregnant Texas Woman Driving In Hov Lane Told Police Her Unborn Child Counted As A Passenger

jab116 , chron Report

Kate
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

She contested the ticket and it was dismissed. So was a second ticket for the same thing. She has since had a healthy baby girl.

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Writer, editor, and journalist Ariane Sherine, from London, told Bored Panda during a recent interview exactly how to make a headline stand out from the crowd.

“Work out what in the article people want to know most, and then write a headline that suggests they'll learn that if they click on it—but ensure the payoff is just as good as the headline promises,” she told us.

“Clickbait works because people are desperate to know the 'one weird trick that doctors don't want you to know!' or similar. When it turns out that the trick is actually something really mundane, readers feel cheated," media expert Ariane explained to Bored Panda that clickbait works only as long as the content in the article is worth the audience’s attention.

She added that bad news stories are usually more dramatic than good news, meaning there’s more entertainment to be had, even if the topic is making you miserable.

“This instinct towards drama and not empathy doesn't show humanity in its best light,” the writer said. “They [the readers] want to ogle at what's happened because it's dramatic and entertaining and scary, but it's also a warning of what could happen to them if they're not careful,” she noted that articles about bad events are akin to car crashes.

#19

Nevada Man Who Claimed To Have Proof Of Illegal Voting Pleads Guilty To Voting Twice

69_mgusta , trigtent Report

kathoco
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Well, he wasn’t wrong - there was illegal voting.

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#20

After Permit Approved For Whites-Only Church, Small Minnesota Town Insists It Isn't Racist

VonDrakken , nbcnews Report

Lauren Copland
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

church identified as white supremacist group........ WHAT

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#21

Okc Jailers Face Cruelty Charge; Playing 'Baby Shark' On Loop Is 'Inhuman,' Prosecutor Says

drpraetorius , tulsaworld Report

Don't you wish you knew
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I have to agree. And I'm glad I got here early, so no one I don't have to see the comments of typing out the song so it's stuck in everyone's head. 🤣

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Media and entertainment expert Mike Sington, from Los Angeles, recently spoke with Bored Panda about why people tend to flock to negative news stories more than positive ones. He also shared his thoughts as to why internet users love expressing their hate for something on social media.

"People enjoy being part of a gang that can pile on, and hate things, on social media. Plus it can be done anonymously, from behind a screen, in the comfort of your home," he said.

#22

Doordash Spent $5.5 Million To Advertise Their $1 Million Charity Donation

bubblydeadpan , brokeassstuart Report

Lauren Copland
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Look! Buy from us! We're good, I swear. We even spent a million on charity and then continued to post a 5.5 mil ad!

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#24

Dogs Cannot Get ‘Autism’, British Veterinary Association Warns After ‘Anti-Vaxx’ Movement Spread To Pets

heinderhead , telegraph Report

Draperdorf
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Autism is not caused by vaccinations anyway, so it's a completely moot point.

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"It’s much harder for positive, wholesome news to stand out. The negative tends to upset us or anger us, which grabs our attention viscerally,” Hollywood’s Ultimate Insider told us.

For instance, one thing that many people enjoy (even some of them won’t admit it) is seeing public figures and celebrities fall from grace. These are people that internet users look up to. Some of them even put them on a pedestal.

#25

Never Forget The CEO Who Bashed Millennials Over Entitlement Despite Being Handed Job By Dad

dronestruck , pedestrian Report

Valerie Frederickson
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

What was Rich Boy’s name and did he go to Harvard or University of Spoiled Children?

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#26

Facebook Wants To Attract Young People, But Gen Z Teens Say It's A 'Boomer Social Network' Made For 'Old People'

Moll-3 , insider Report

DforDory
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Ok then, where can I pick up my pension?

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"So when they fall from grace and mess up, there’s almost a sense of relief. It can be enjoyable to some people because the celebrity becomes more relatable. People realize things can go wrong in a celebrity’s life, so they’re really not that different from myself," he said.

#28

Don't Eat Or Inject Yourself With Disinfectant, Warns Fda Commissioner

TheGiant1989 , cnn Report

Kate
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

No no... if you think that'll cure you, by all means...

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#29

Anti-Vaccine Group Sues Facebook, Claims Fact-Checking Is “Censorship”

Kane_richards , arstechnica Report

M Kawai
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

All you have to say is "anti-vax group" and you know something idiotic is guaranteed to come next.

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#30

School Boy Takes Microwave To School To Carry Books After School Bans Bags

Sam596 , lincolnshirelive Report

Mayra
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Missed opportunity to take a mini fridge to school

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#31

United Nations Official Visiting Alabama To Investigate 'Great Poverty And Inequality'

1maxwellian , al Report

Whitey Black
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Alabama? Know it well. I spent 25 years in Alabama one weekend.

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#33

Us Military Could Lose Space Force Trademark To Netflix Series

jigsawmap , cbr Report

Daniel Yamada
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

The US Space Force is starting its own officer training academy. People who attend will be called Space Cadets.

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#36

UPS Loses Family's $846k Inheritance, Offers To Refund $32 Shipping Fee

ginger_bredman , newsweek Report

Viktor
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

So they shipped something worth 846k but skimped on the insurance? Sounds like self-inflicted damage…

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#37

Texas Gov. Excludes Gun Control From Special Committees On School Shootings

buy_iphone_7 , axios Report

YourSecretSanta
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

If you have not figured out by now, it seems they will do everything to try and stop school shootings except change the one thing that will stop school shootings - gun laws

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#39

North Korean Founder Kim Il Sung Did Not Have The Ability To Teleport, State Media Admits

ExplosiveGrotto , rfa Report

Lauren Copland
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I choked on this one. Obvs he can teleport!

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#40

White House: 'The Science Should Not Stand In The Way' Of Reopening Schools – As It Happened

NameReservedForYou , theguardian Report

Gul Dukat
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

"Lack of intelligence should not stand in the way of getting a job in this government“, she added.

Nikki Hilton
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Don't forget, "I will never lie to you," as she lied about lying.

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Leo Domitrix
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

"The science" did stand in the way. And, particularly in 2020, that saved lives. The longer we live with/around Covid-19, the more our species adapts. Particularly those of us who get the damn booster shots . You get 'em for polio, measles, flu, etc. so why complain that it's not a one-stop-shot? Oy.

JC
Community Member
2 months ago

This comment is hidden. Click here to view.

Orr those of us who just treat it like the chicken pox...get, get it over with, move on, don't live in fear. Had it several times, each less severe than the previous bc of my body's naturally built immunity. Got nothing against the shots, but this way works just as well.

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idrow1
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Isn't there a minimal standard of intelligence and common sense required to be in politics? Obviously not, I guess.

Susanne B
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Not until the voters posses those standards

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Thatkamloopsguy
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

She should have become a porn star, then at least her mouth would be good for something.

Pamela Worthington-Smack
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Well it certainly didn't stand in the way of negligent homicide committed against of hundreds of thousands of Americans by the people most sworn to protect them. Why should children be exempt from the consequences of public policy?

Nazda Pokmov
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Much better on the eyes than the one currently holding the job

Seabeast
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Right, because appearance is the only qualification for holding a public service position. 🙄

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David H
Community Member
2 months ago (edited)

This comment is hidden. Click here to view.

except that headline that went viral was clickbait. They took a single line out of context for a fake quote that was the opposite of what she said; "You know, the president has said unmistakably that he wants schools to open.  And I was just in the Oval talking to him about that," McEnany said at a White House press briefing. ""You know, the president has said unmistakably that he wants schools to open.  And I was just in the Oval talking to him about that. And when he says open, he means open in full -- kids being able to attend each and every day at their school. The science should not stand in the way of this. And as Dr. Scott Atlas said -- I thought this was a good quote -- 'Of course, we can [do it].  Everyone else in the… Western world, our peer nations are doing it. We are the outlier here. The science is very clear on this, that -- you know, for instance, you look at the JAMA Pediatrics study of 46 pediatric hospitals in North America that said the risk of critical illness from COVID is far less for children than that of seasonal flu.The science is on our side here"

Seabeast
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Sigh. It isn't just the kids that you have to worry about though, is it? It's their teachers, their parents, their elderly grandparents, that neighbour with the high risk factors. School is not a bubble populated only by children.

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#41

Ben Affleck Finally Achieves Lifelong Dream Of Not Having To Play Batman Anymore

sslloooww , avclub Report

Monday
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Poor chap. That movie bombing wasn't his fault.

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#42

Sheriff Says Atlanta Shooting Suspect Was “Fed Up” And Had A “Really Bad Day”

voidworship , revolt Report

Lauren Copland
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Guys, c'mon. He was having a rough day! "HE KILLED SOMEONE' YEAH BUT--

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#43

Arizona Plans To Execute Prisoners With The Same Deadly Gas Used By The Nazis At Auschwitz, Documents Show

Sardasan , insider Report

loty moty
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

How many inmates are they planning to execute? Entire prison population?

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#46

People Are Accusing Robinhood Of Stealing From The Poor To Give To The Rich After It Limited Trading On Gamestop Shares <