Created By: Darkhorse on April 10, 2013 Last Edited By: Darkhorse on April 12, 2013

This History is Better

Resolving grief over historic events by creating a version with a happy ending

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Sometimes, life just don't come up sunshine and flowers. There are times when horrible stuff happens that make everyone wish events had turned out differently.

In fiction, it can.

A very different sort of Ripped from the Headlines - this time the Hindenburg was saved by a plucky dog, the Titanic didn't sink, and Stalin went off to become a florist. This is history, but not as it happened. Rather, it's how we might wish it had happened.

Something of a shot at catharsis, this trope is for when a storyteller takes a tragic historic event, often stopping to file the serial numbers off, and gives it a happy ending. YMMV if this is disrespectful or not, but it is often hard not to appreciate the sentiment.


  • The Animated Titanic three guesses what happens.

  • The A-Team Season One. The Jonestown massacre, of all things. The worst ever mass killing of American civilians in history (before 9/11) that took place in the remote jungles of South America. The charismatic Jim Jones leads a huge group of people to an isolated patch of infertile to start a new Communist Utopia to escape a nuclear holocaust he had predicted. Incredibly isolated and interdependent, their paranoia grew and grew. Sure that the US government was about to swoop in at any moment and panicking that a deal to relocate the commune to Soviet Russia wasn't going fast enough, Jim apparently snapped during a visit by a US senator and ordered his security detail to catch up to him at the airport and mow him down. Which they did. Seeing no other way out, Jim ordered that the group, who numbered several hundred, including children, take their lives as a form of 'Revolutionary Suicide'. In the wake of this, the writers of the A-Team produced a story where the A-Team busts into 'Jamestown' and saves the hundreds (0k, dozens) of cultists from their monk-robe wearing captors and everyone lives. Apart from being in the desert the most glaring change is that the fictional cultists are very strongly religious - the real life Jonestown didn't have a church at all and Jones himself was an admitted atheist who despised Christianity and started a church in order to hijack the religion and replace it with radical Communism. The People's Temple was in actual fact a Communist organisation that praised the Soviet regime and regularly met with its representatives. Sadly, the A-team weren't around to bust up the real thing and the actual residents probably wouldn't have been too pleased if they had - the idea they would be attacked by Capitalists was the very reason they killed themselves. The second most glaring flaw (if you know the history) is that Jim didn't have James's taste for finery - he lived in one of the communal houses with the others.

Community Feedback Replies: 7
  • April 10, 2013
    Uh, ok, your a-team example is longer than the entire description and has a very complain-y tone. Gotta pair that Wall Of Text down.

    EDIT: Wait, this is Disneyfication, that includes giving a historical event a happy ending it didn't have.
  • April 10, 2013
    • Avatar The Last Airbender has two warring tribes who tell two different versions of the same story, about how the ancestors of the other tribe wronged their ancestors. Aang tells a third, more neutral version of the same story in order to get both tribes to reconcile and co-operate (then admits that he lied and his version of the story is probably not correct).

    • In one episode of The Simpsons, Marge bowdlerises the ending of a story about Joan of Arc, so that she gets rescued by Prince Charming instead of being burned at the stake.
  • April 11, 2013
    Well, I thought some historical context might help, but there is stuff there I can remove. I'm thinking this could be specific enough to split though since Disneyfication mostly deals with fairytales rather than actual history (Sorry Astaroth, Airbender doesn't count).
  • April 11, 2013
    Inverted in Grave Of The Fireflies: the author dealt with his Survivor Guilt by having himself die of starvation.
  • April 11, 2013
    • The Emmerich Kálmán operetta Marinka gave the Mayerling affair a happy ending in which Rudolph and Marinka, instead of dying, escape to America.
  • April 11, 2013
    A subtrope of Artistic License - History.

    Motives other than catharsis include making it Lighter And Softer so it's kid-friendly: Disneyfication of historical events.
  • April 12, 2013
    Does the history needs to be our Real Life history or can it be in-universe history as well? Because if it's the latter than the Avatar example definitely counts.