We've all heard of the Mandela effect. It's a phenomenon in which groups of people remember something from the past differently and usually insist their memory is correct, only to find out it's completely wrong. One user on TikTok took this to the extreme when he created one of his own with a video about a fictional TV show called Ships of the Northern Fleet.
It started with a video where he proposed that other users stitch his video in to relay fun facts and behind the scenes information about a show that never existed and see how long it took for other TikTok users to see the videos and wonder what the show is in real life.
From there, it skyrocketed into fake fans making tons of videos about a show that isn't real while everyone else on TikTok who hadn't seen the initial video proposing the stunt was left to wonder what it all meant.
What is 'Ships of the Northern Fleet'?
According to the TikTok user who began the prank, Mister Nickel, Ships of the Northern Fleet is a fake TV show for which he made up an entire backstory. He said in his initial video that other users should assume it was a steampunk pirate series that aired for several seasons on TV and may have been based on a book.
That was really all of the information he gave, along with the name of a character who never existed in this fictional TV show.
Then, other users started playing on the joke and going along with it. They stitched the end of his video with their own, some citing their experiences as extras on the fake TV show. Others have even shown fake props that they said were used in Ships of the Northern Fleet.
Again, the show never existed, but other users on TikTok wanted to join in the fun of creating fan videos for it in an attempt to cause other users to wonder what the show is. And, honestly, it has worked.
'Ships of the Northern Fleet' now has a legit "fandom."
While Ships of the Northern Fleet isn't a real TV show, and Mister Nickel assured viewers in his first video that it never will be real, the other users who have made videos to go along with the joke have created a sort of fandom for the prank. No one has come out to say it's all fake and many have even tagged other users who claimed to have been actors in the fictional show.
It's a whole thing right now. One person on TikTok even made a video saying there was a Ships of the Northern Fleet Easter egg in the Disney Plus show WandaVision. Again, that's impossible because Ships of the Northern Fleet isn't real. But it just goes to show how far these users are willing to go to keep an inside joke going with internet strangers.
There are even nicknames now for "fans" of the show, like "fleeters" and "shipwreckers." And Mister Nickel has even made a fake theme song to go along with the video, which he encouraged other users to share on TikTok. His profile also features a link where people can purchase merchandise with the logo he designed for the fake show, the proceeds of which he promised will go to charity.
Now, there's no telling how far the TikTok prank will go.
The Ships of the Northern Fleet gag started on Feb. 4, 2021, and by the following day, there were already dozens of videos dedicated to keeping the joke going. Someone even made a subreddit dedicated to the show that never was, called SOTNF. In it, Redditors are sharing their fake memories and memes related to the faux TV show.
For a show that isn't real, Ships of the Northern Fleet has garnered serious traction.