Created By: norsicnumber2nd on October 20, 2012 Last Edited By: lakingsif on December 24, 2012
Nuked

Alternate Landmark History

When works of fiction manifest a reason for landmarks to have been built as part of the story.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
The Doctor: "The stones. These stones are great big transmitters broadcasting a warning to everyone. Everywhere. To every time zone."
River: "Stonehenge is transmitting. It's been transmitting for a while. So who heard?"

Works of fiction will often disguise Scenery Porn by providing suitable (if probably false) explanations for 'mysterious' landmarks, or related phenomena. The work will tell its audience for what reason the landmark was built, true or not, making the obvious ones more interesting. Most commonly done with Stonehenge and the Pyramids. Bonus Points for suggesting that the actual truth is a Government Conspiracy.

Often, the landmark is a facade for something concealed inside or beneath it - sometimes becoming an Elaborate Underground Base. Most things that offer an explanation for Area 51 as part of their plot count - but not if they just show us what's in there. Generally follows the Rule of Cool.

Super Trope to Eenie, Meenie, Miny Moai and Pyramid Power. Sub-Trope of Reality Retcon.

Will frequently overlap with Beethoven Was an Alien Spy and very rarely doesn't create Alternate History, being a type of Historical In-Joke.

Compare Landmarking the Hidden Base.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Outlaw Star: The beginning of the 21st episode, Grave of the Dragon (00:16-01:19), explains that Stonehenge is only one of many mysterious ruins, found on other worlds, that are believed to have been left by the same advanced alien civilization.

Comics

Doctor Who

Film
  • In Aladdin, Aladdin and Jasmine fly the magic carpet to Egypt and a shocked stonemason breaks the nose off the Sphinx.
  • In the first Alien vs. Predator film, the Aztec pyramids are implied to have been built for the Predators, who came as godlike beings to earth thousands of years ago, demanded human sacrifices, and gave humans advanced technologies (such as the one necessary to build said pyramids).
  • In From Dusk Till Dawn, the ancient Mayan/Aztec temples were implied to be places where the blood-lust of vampires was appeased.
  • In Hellboy II: The Golden Army the Giant's Causeway in the British Isles is shown to be a secret entrance to the Land of Faerie.
  • In Hop the Moai statues on Easter Island (where all the bunnies are from) are the secret entrances to the Easter Bunny's whole operation.
  • Promos for Ice Age 4: Continental Drift showed Scrat causing the continental drift, shifting Pangaea into the present landmasses.
  • In Men in Black we find out that the observatory towers in New York's Flushing Meadow Park are really moored flying saucers.
    • The third film in the series shows that the Statue of Liberty was constructed to conceal a giant neuralizer device.
  • In National Treasure: Book of Secrets the ancient mythical city of Cíbola was hidden behind Mount Rushmore. Or rather Mount Rushmore was created to hide Cíbola.
  • In The Prince of Egypt, Ramses and Moses race their chariots through the monument construction grounds, causing a worker to hack off the Sphinx's nose.
  • Animated film Rise of the Guardians explains the Aurora Borealis phenomenon as a communication method between Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and others.
  • At the end of The Rocketeer, Neville Sinclair steals the rocket pack but ends up crashing into the "HOLLYWOODLAND" sign and exploding, converting it into the now-famous "HOLLYWOOD" sign.
  • In The Santa Clause the pole at the North Pole is a keypad stand, you need the correct code in order for the Sleigh to enter Santa HQ.
  • In Starman, it's implied, though not explicitly stated, that the huge meteor crater in Arizona was built as some kind of alien spaceship landing site.
  • In Stonehenge Apocalypse, Stonehenge, the Great Pyramids, and masses of other landmarks turn out to be hiding vital catalysts for the End of the World. All the pyramids-unravelling-and-becoming-volcanoes should be fair warning, however the film fails to mention by who or what, or why, any of it was built.
  • The first Transformers live-action film reveals that Hoover Dam was actually a Sector 7 research facility that stored a lot of their finds, including the Allspark and Megatron.
    • In the second live-action Transformers film, the Great Pyramid was built to hide the Sun Harvester which a corrupt Prime had brought to Earth.
  • In 2012, the Ganges Dam in China was revealed to be hiding the construction of the Arks.

Franchises

Literature
  • In Animorphs one of the Pyramids of Giza was built over the Time Matrix.
  • In Roman de Brut, in 1155, Wace illustrated his belief that Merlin had constructed Stonehenge with the assistance of a giant.
  • In Kurt Vonnegut Jr's The Sirens of Titan various Earthly achievements are actually the result of psychic projection from the planet Tralfamadore; Salo, a stranded Tralfamadorian on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, watched these through his telescope, decoding human monuments like the Pyramids and the Great Wall of China as messages in his own language, like, "A replacement part is on the way."

Live-Action TV

Video Games
  • In the Ben 10 Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction video game the Great Wall of China was built to hide part of an ancient Galvan artifact, the Potis Altaire.
  • In the PC adventure game The Omega Stone, several famous landmarks (the Giza pyramids and Sphinx, Stonehenge, Chichen Itza and the Moai), along with yet-undiscovered ones at Bimini and in the Aegean, were constructed as part of a globe-spanning mechanism to destroy a comet that would impact the Earth one day. Stonehenge was also calibrated to come into alignment with certain celestial bodies just in time to warn future generations that the cometary strike was imminent.
  • The upcoming game The Secret World centres itself around the concept that EVERY real world myth, urban legend, and conspiracy theory is, in fact, true and claims to have entire missions devoted to each of them. The tagline is "everything is true".

Western Animation
  • Parodying National Treasure (see above), American Dad! reveals that the Lincoln Memorial was built to conceal the headquarters of the Illuminati Illuminutty, a peanut-based conspiracy surrounding George Washington Carver's total lack of responsibility for the invention of peanut butter.
  • In the Looney Tunes short Louvre Come Back to Me, Pepe Le Pew (the skunk) visits the Parisian museum, and his trademark odour alters many famous works of art. He causes the arms to fall off of Venus de Milo.
  • In The Real Ghostbusters, the Eiffel Tower turns out to be a Steam Punk ghost trap built by...not-a-zombie-at-all Gustave Eiffel.
  • In one episode of The Simpsons set in the past, it is revealed that all the moai statues on Easter Island are busts of Lord Uglyface.
    I keep telling you, I DON'T LOOK LIKE THAT! Do another!
    Yes, Lord Uglyface.

Real Life Legends
Community Feedback Replies: 66
  • October 20, 2012
    Chabal2
    One of the pyramids of Giza was built over the Time Matrix in Animorphs.
  • October 21, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    In Starman, it's implied, though not explicitly stated, that the huge meteor crater in Arizona was some kind of alien spaceship landing site.
  • October 21, 2012
    Sheora
    Can you further pinpoint the idea for me? Is this just providing an link to a landmark with the story? Or is it actually demonstrating in plot the creation or reason? I know I've seen specifically the latter. Here's two examples from what I understand, let me know if I've got your concept right:

    • Promos for Ice Age showed Scrat causing the continental drift, shifting the Pangaea into the continents we know today.
    • In The Prince Of Egypt, Ramses and Moses race their chariots through the monument construction grounds. They cause a worker to hack of the Sphinx's nose.
    • In Aladdin, Aladdin and Jasmine fly the carpet to Egypt and a shocked stone mason breaks the nose off of the Sphinx.

    I would also put in your description that this is is a type of Historical In Joke.
  • October 21, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    ^And speaking of UF Os, in Men in Black we find out that the observatory towers in New York's Flushing Meadow park (home of the 1964-65 World's Fair) are really moored flying saucers.
  • October 21, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    The legend of Paul Bunyan says that the giant lumberjack's footprints formed Minnesota's famed "10,000 Lakes" when they filled with water. Some Tall Tales credit Bunyan with digging the Grand Canyon and Puget Sound as well.
  • October 21, 2012
    Quatic
    In the second live-action Transformers movie, the Great Pyramid was built to hide a devastating weapon (the Sun Harvester) which a corrupt Prime had brought to Earth aeons before.
  • October 21, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    @Sheora When a work of fiction provide either:

    a) An explanation for how and why some mysterious landmark (e.g. Stonehenge, or the lack of the Sphinx's nose) is there.

    or b) A much more fun explanation for how and/or why some obvious landmark (e.g. The Empire State Building) is there.

    Your examples are spot-on, too.
  • October 21, 2012
    Chernoskill
    • In the first Alien Vs Predator movie, the Aztec pyramids are implied to have been built for the Predators, who came as godlike beings to earth thousands of years ago, demanded human sacrifices, and gave humans advanced technologies (such as the one necessary to built said pyramids).
  • October 21, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    I'm pretty sure there was something where the US Government purposefully sank Atlantis for some reason, but I can't remember what it was.
  • October 21, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    And as this is a Reveal Trope, spoilers shall not be hidden.
  • October 21, 2012
    MrRuano
    The first Transformers live-action movie reveals that Hoover Dam was actually a Sector 7 research facility that stored a lot of their finds, including the Allspark and Megatron.
  • October 21, 2012
    StarSword
    • In the Stargate Verse, the pyramids of Giza were originally landing pads for Goa'uld motherships.
  • October 22, 2012
    TheNinth
    I thought that the Statue of Liberty wasn't a Weeping Angel exactly, but had been inhabited by the Angels? Either way... it doesn't fit, because there's nothing in the story to say that the Statue of Liberty was put there specifically because it was or to house a Weeping Angel.
  • October 22, 2012
    SharleeD
    • In the adventure game The Omega Stone, several famous landmarks (the Giza pyramids and Sphinx, Stonehenge, Chichen Itza and the Moai), along with yet-undiscovered ones at Bimini and in the Aegean, were constructed as part of a globe-spanning mechanism to destroy a comet that would impact the Earth one day. Stonehenge was also calibrated to come into alignment with certain celestial bodies just in time to warn future generations that the cometary strike was imminent.
  • October 22, 2012
    m8e
    • In one episode of The Simpsons set in the past, it is revealed that all the moai statues on Easter Island are busts of Lord Uglyface.
      I keep telling you, I DON'T LOOK LIKE THAT! Do another!
      Yes, Lord Uglyface.
  • October 22, 2012
    Sheora
    OK, so it is a plot relevant alternate interpretation for the creation of a well known landmark. Whether shown onscreen or simply described. Right?
  • October 25, 2012
    Sheora
    The examples are also going to need a sort. Maybe you should do an alt sorting and do it by landmark?
  • October 25, 2012
    makesadifference
    Possible title: Alternate Landmark History?
  • October 28, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    In the Looney Tunes short Louvre Come Back to Me, Pepe Le Pew visits the Parisian museum, and his trademark odor alters many famous works of art. He causes the arms to fall off of Venus de Milo.
  • October 28, 2012
    MiinU

    Anime and Manga

    • Outlaw Star: The beginning of the 21st episode, "Grave of the Dragon" (00:16-01:19), explains that Stonehenge is only one of many mysterious ruins, found on other worlds, that are believed to have been left by the same advanced alien civilization.
  • October 28, 2012
    JonnyB
    In From Dusk Till Dawn, the ancient Mayan/Aztec temples were implied to be places where the blood-lust of vampires were appeased.
  • October 29, 2012
    MiinU
    bump.
  • November 14, 2012
    MiinU
    bump
  • November 14, 2012
    KarjamP
    I think the trope needs a better name.

    How about "The Truth Behind The Mysterious Landmark"?
  • November 14, 2012
    MiinU
    ^@KarjamP - The current name is better. It's short, and effectively sums up what the trope is about.
  • November 14, 2012
    KarjamP
    ^ It's also ambiguous: for all we know, it could be talking about the true real-life purposes of those landmark. (like according to The Other Wiki, most of the Egyptian pyramids were created as tombs for pharaohs doing the old and middle kingdom periods). Therefore, documentaries on landmarks of confirmed purposes like the pyramids WOULD count under that name.

    This is especially if the true purpose isn't common knowledge.
  • November 14, 2012
    StarSword
    Which is where makesadifference's Alternate Landmark History comes in.
  • November 14, 2012
    KarjamP
    ^ That's better.

    Better than mine, actually.
  • November 16, 2012
    fulltimeD
    Literature:

    Kurt Vonnegut Jr's The Sirens Of Titan: various Earthly achievements are actually the result of psychic projection from the planet Tralfamadore; Salo, a stranded Tralfamadorian on Titan, a moon of Saturn, watched these through his telescope, decoding human monuments like the Pyramids and the Great Wall of China as messages in his own language, like, "A replacement part is on the way."
  • December 1, 2012
    saintdane05
    Another Doctor Who example

    • The Easter Island statues are built in the likeness of the Doctor ("They just Worshiped you there!")
  • December 1, 2012
    lakingsif
    I think that's there as the Noodle Incident, isn't it?
    A Noodle Incident mentioned in The Impossible Astronaut tells us that they were built to worship the Doctor instead.
    'they' being the Moai.
  • December 1, 2012
    OmarKarindu
    This trope often overlaps (usually by implication) with Beethoven Was An Alien Spy.

    Comic Books

    Film
    • The first Men In Black movie reveals that the towers at the New York World's Fair are really disguised flying saucers. The third film in the series shows that the Statue of Liberty was constructed to conceal a giant neuralizer device.

    Western Animation
    • In The Real Ghostbusters, the Eiffel Tower turns out to be a Steam Punk ghost trap built by...not-a-zombie-at-all Gustave Eiffel.
    • Parodying National Treasure, American Dad reveals that the Lincoln Memorial was built to conceal the headquarters of the Illuminati Illuminutty, a peanut-based conspiracy surrounding George Washington Carver's total lack of responsibility for the invention of peanut butter.

    Real Life
    • The famous "Winchester Mystery House'' was built continually and haphazardly for 38 years. Why? Sarah Winchester, heir to an arms manufacuring fortune, was convinced by a spirit medium that she needed to keep building the house. The reason given is either that Winchester would die if the construction stopped, or that she needed to keep adding rooms for the spirits of every person killed by a Winchester rifle.
  • December 7, 2012
    chicagomel
    Tracker did this. Cole said visitors from Migar (probably Cirronians, since they were trying to hide the Doomsday Device from the Vardians) built the Great Pyramids and Stonehenge. T Hen he adds what appears to be a joking mention of Christopher Walken, though when Mel says that later, he acts like it wasn't.
  • December 7, 2012
    MetaFour
  • December 7, 2012
    StarSword
    Would the OP please sort his examples?
  • December 7, 2012
    MiinU
    You missed the Outlaw Star example.
  • December 8, 2012
    lakingsif
  • December 8, 2012
    JonnyB
    At the end of The Rocketeer, Neville Sinclair steals the rocket pack but ends up crashing into the "HOLLYWOODLAND" sign and exploding, converting it into the now-famous "HOLLYWOOD" sign.
  • December 8, 2012
    lakingsif
    So should this be renamed to Alternate Landmark History - and should Doctor Who get its own section?
  • December 8, 2012
    StarSword
    ^Yes and yes, IMHO. Just like the Ancients in the Stargate Verse are so neglectful they had to give them their own folder on Neglectful Precursors, and Star Trek needed its own folder on Space Is An Ocean.
  • December 9, 2012
    lakingsif
    Should I re-write the top part as it's not really much to do with Landmarking The Hidden Base except they both involve landmarks.
  • December 9, 2012
    triassicranger
    The incident of Aladdin causing the sphinx's nose to be broken is already listed on another page. I can't remember its name, but I know it mentions Unhygenix from the Asterix comics being responsible for Stonehenge (at least in the English translation).
  • December 9, 2012
    StarSword
    ^^I agree. Compare Landmarking The Hidden Base, not subtrope of.
  • December 9, 2012
    lakingsif
    Do you think this is better?

    Works of fiction will often disguise Scenery Porn by providing suitable (if probably false) explanations for 'mysterious' landmarks, or related phenomena. The work will tell its audience for what reason the landmark was built, true or not, making the obvious ones more interesting. Most commonly done with Stonehenge and the Pyramids.

    Bonus Points for suggestion that the actual truth is a Government Conspiracy.
  • December 9, 2012
    lakingsif
    Do you think we need a page quote. Doctor Who provides a fair few.
  • December 9, 2012
    StarSword
    A good page quote is never unwelcome. Let's see some examples.
  • December 10, 2012
    lakingsif
    The Doctor: "The stones. These stones are great big transmitters broadcasting a warning to everyone. Everywhere. To every time zone."
    River: "Stonehenge is transmitting. It's been transmitting for awhile. So who heard?"
    The Doctor: "One problem at a time. There's force-field technology inside this box. If I can enhance the signal I could extend it all over Stonehenge. Could buy us half an hour."
    etcetera
  • December 10, 2012
    StarSword
    Drop the third line and it's great.
  • December 11, 2012
    Statalyzer
    We already have a trope for things like the a HISTORICAL landmark coming into being because of the actions of the characters (e.g. the sphinix's nose).
  • December 11, 2012
    StarSword
    ^What trope?
  • December 11, 2012
    Kernigh
    This yttkw wrote:

    > Sub Trope of Alternate History.

    This probably belongs under Reality Retcon, not Alternate History.

    Alternate History changes historical events, like if Germany won World War I, or if King Faisal kept Syria. Reality Retcon (also known as Secret History) keeps real historical events, but provides alternate explanations for those events.
  • December 11, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    "Obviously"?
  • December 12, 2012
    StarSword
    Yeah, I'd drop the "obviously" from the page quote, too. Don't think it's really the Trope Codifier, either.
  • December 13, 2012
    lakingsif
    All taken, anymore examples?
  • December 15, 2012
    triassicranger
    @StarSword: It's Historical In Joke. It was the trope I was trying to talk about earlier.
  • December 17, 2012
    bwburke94
    For Alternate Landmark History... IT IS LAUNCHING TIME!
  • December 18, 2012
    lakingsif
    ^ I can only count 4 hats, think wait for a fifth.
  • December 19, 2012
    triassicranger
    ^ That's because I revoked a hat because I don't think the trope is ready for launch. Why? Because of the overlap with Historical In Joke that I think should be resolved before we launch this.
  • December 19, 2012
    lakingsif
    ^ If the event in Aladdin comes under both this and Historical In Joke, can't we just keep it?
  • December 19, 2012
    triassicranger
    ^ Consider my hat revocation revoked.
  • December 19, 2012
    lakingsif
    It's launching time?
  • December 20, 2012
    Karma_Meter
    "Often inside or beneath, the landmark becoming a facade to hide whatever it was constructed to conceal - sometimes becoming an Elaborate Underground Base."

    Does this seem a little confusingly worded?
  • December 20, 2012
    lakingsif
    ^ I think I'll change that, then. How about "Often inside or beneath the landmark, whatever is being concealed is hidden by the landmark facade - sometimes becoming an Elaborate Underground Base."
  • December 22, 2012
    KarmaMeter
    ^ That certainly seems less likely to require some rereads to understand, but it also seems slightly clunkier/maybe a tad phonetically repetitive.

    I recommend something like this: "Often, the landmark is a facade for something concealed inside or beneath it - sometimes becoming an Elaborate Underground Base."

    After that I'll throw my hat in, if it matters after there are already five.
  • December 23, 2012
    KarmaMeter
    This looks ready to launch.
  • December 23, 2012
    lakingsif
    I'll launch it later then, see if anyone disagrees.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=0p7wwfdrkgnsq83e6lhtrxuj&trope=AlternateLandmarkHistory