Verisimilitude vs Conceit
The facts presented in fictional works generally fall under what might be described as verisimilitude or conceit.
Conceit consists of the basic fictional building-blocks of the universe as well as specific details of the universe, characters, or actions. For example, the year in which Gimli was born, the length of the Starship Enterprise in meters, or the badge number of Agent Mulder are conceits in their respective universes.
Verisimilitude, on the other hand, consists of those things that connect us to a story and help us to understand it by virtue of connections with our own lives or worlds. For example, Star Trek's Starfleet is well-known to be largely inspired by the real-world US Navy and British Royal Navy. We can fill in the blanks and connect with the story because we are seeing something that seems familiar to us and not some completely made-up social structure invented from whole cloth. Various aspects of police procedure as portrayed in various police procedural television shows would also count as verisimilitude, especially if the same elements come up in multiple media.
So, some examples:
- Is Agent Mulder's badge number really JTT047101111?
- Does Captain Picard really have no children?
- Is the One Ring really capable of turning someone invisible?
- In The X Files, Fox Mulder has an FBI badge number of JTT047101111. Do FBI agents really carry numbered badges?
- I've seen numerous cases on Star Trek where a starship captain disobeys the order of an admiral with no consequences if the order relates to the running of the captain's ship. Do captains in the US or Royal Navies have similar authority or was this made up by Star Trek writers?
- In episodes of these three independent police procedural television shows (cite), it is mentioned that Sergeants of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) have the authority to summarily strip badges from their beat officers without convening a disciplinary tribunal. Do NYPD sergeants really have this authority?