Real Headlines That Sound Like Onion Headlines

Friday, August 03, 2012


This Olympic week was ideal for The Onion-esque absurdity in real life. An Olympic celebration choreography malfunction left London’s mayor suspended from a zip wire holding tiny British flags. Multiple badminton teams were suspended for not trying hard enough. Each one of these stories prompts the refrain: “It sounds like an Onion headline!” We called former Onion editor Joe Garden to ask him why these real life headlines don't quite pass muster. 

Also, we're running a contest: submit your real life Onion headlines to Best entry gets one of our glorious, glorious On Caffeine mugs

Beth Orton - (Four Tet Remix) Carmella


Joe Garden

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [19]

HunterJE from Seattle, WA

Late but too perfect not to post: "Maine GOP Head Suspects Voter Fraud Because ‘Dozens, Dozens Of Black People’ Voted" (

Nov. 15 2012 04:02 PM
Vicki Dunaway from Lincoln City OR

Unfortunately too late for your contest, I found this headline on a newspaper called The Background Investigator (vol. 12, #9; Sep 2012):

"Indiana Really Messes Up"

I'm a mail carrier and just happened to catch this very Onion-y headline as I was sorting mail. I could just hear Doyle Redland reporting! (The subtitle is "Worsening a Bad Law", Fort Wayne Journal Gazette editorial.)

Sep. 26 2012 11:12 PM
Clem Dickey from San Jose, CA

From the Los Angeles Times, two days after the 1971 Sylmar earthquake:

"Man Survives 48 Hours in Veterans Hospital"

Sep. 09 2012 09:10 PM
Buff Maniscalco from Westfield, MA

Living in Atlanta I loved the early morning headlines of the Journal Constitution. Usually the were changed by lunchtime.

Two of my favorite were; Thursday July 18, 1996 - "Final Bribe Paid, Games Ago" and from Friday February 13, 1998 - "Presidential Tool Ruled Unconstitutional" (meaning the line item veto.)

Sep. 06 2012 11:28 AM
Jonathan Kay from NYC

I was so confident in my submission!

Swiss Woman Living Entirely On Sunlight Dies Somehow

Aug. 28 2012 09:57 AM
Reynold Watkins from Pasadena, CA

"gateway sexual activity"

Aug. 27 2012 11:35 PM
Robert from

"Body found in Cemetery"

Aug. 20 2012 04:25 PM
Joe from

Mexican Cartel Declares War on Cheetos

Aug. 15 2012 04:10 PM
Ed from

‘Fresh Prince’ replaces Harry Potter as entertainment for Guantánamo prisoners

Aug. 15 2012 03:14 PM
Joe Rodd from

"Kangaroo breaks out of German animal park; fox and boar suspected accomplices"

Aug. 15 2012 03:11 PM
Lawren Quigley-Jones from Cambridge, MA

I think this one is intentional and it's a blog, so I'm not sure it counts.

Hipsters stunned as vintage cameras fail to make them professional photographers

Aug. 15 2012 10:25 AM
TMGLost from Hooterville

Man With Parkinson’s Arrested For Not Appearing To Enjoy #Olympics Event Amazingly, NOT from @theonion

Aug. 11 2012 10:37 PM
TJ Geezer from Rosarito, Mexico

I love it that the humor column by Andy Borowitz gets cited here as Onionesque. Yes indeed, everything he writes is Onionesque. Borowitz recently published a "campaign letter" from Mitt Romney to "the poor people" urging them to send in small donations, as tiny as $10,000 if that's all the poor people can afford. The New Yorker just started publishing his Borowitz Report humor e-letter, something he's been writing for awhile.

Aug. 10 2012 08:07 PM
Doug from Anchorage

That NPR story about the "end" of History was kind of lame (although I usually enjoy the show, Talk of the Nation). It was about how to divide up history courses. Uh, this happens in most subject areas. Constructing a course is almost always about compromise. There is always more literature, more chemistry, more art, more medicine, more STUFF. So you make some decisions. And, if you're lucky, you don't have that many people looking over your shoulder as you make them.

Aug. 08 2012 10:07 PM
Scott Brazil from

Low and behold, I did need not to look any further than the NPR wensite for one: "Rogue Condoms Appear In Olympic Village; Organizers Take Action."

Aug. 08 2012 02:02 PM
Peter Kelly from Chicago, IL

If you haven't already heard of this blog, it's dedicated to the phenomenon of misunderstanding Onion headlines as real headlines on facebook and the consequential reaction. It's hilarious, brilliant, and worth exploring for this story in particular.

Aug. 07 2012 10:32 AM
David Villa from Austin

Alas, I was fooled!

Aug. 06 2012 09:15 PM
David Villa from Austin

I don't know if the headline is Onionesque, but the content certainly is:

Mars Rover Should Not Get So Much Attention, Say Higgs-Boson Scientists

Aug. 06 2012 01:23 PM
Dave Delaney from Nashville, TN

I am a huge fan of the Onion. One of my favorite stories being believed as real was their mock announcement of Apple's MacBook Wheel.,14299/

In 2009, I was working with a large mobile accessory company. We were exhibiting at MacWorld, and our booth was directly across from Apple's.

I had seen the faux news story about Apple's latest product, a new laptop with no keyboard. We all found it hilarious, but many people missed the source on the story.

When I walked over to say hello to the staff at Apple's booth, they informed me that people kept asking them for details about the MacBook Wheel. One person even told me at our booth that he had seen an early prototype.

Aug. 04 2012 09:03 AM

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