Alternate History
I pledge allegiance to King George I of the Most Sovereign Kingdom — The United States of America...

"In 1963's The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick imagined the assassination of FDR as a 'point of divergence,' in history, triggering a domino of events starting with a weak Vice President Garner taking office. Unlike FDR, Garner maintains the stance of isolationism through the war. The Allies lose without America's help and, shortly thereafter, the Axis powers turn their attention to conquering the U.S. Which they do, in 1948."

A type of Speculative Fiction (sometimes called "Uchronia" or "Anachronism") set in a world where one or more historical events unfolded differently than they did in the real world. Often set some time after the event (called a "point of divergence", or PoD, by fans of the genre), such stories typically describe a Present Day world vastly changed by the difference, or follow another major historical event in light of the change. Sometimes linked with a Time Travel story — the point of divergence is often caused by travelers from "our" timeline (OTL in Alt-history parlance) seeking to effect a desired change. The protagonists may be original characters or actual historical figures. Lampshade Hanging occurs often in these types of stories (an Allohistorical Allusion); often, a character will stop to muse on what the world would be like if history had gone the way it did in the real world. Which, we suppose, is Truth in Television... after all, lampshading this trope is the entire point of alternate histories.

The setting of an alternate history is often described as a What If?. Popular alternate history settings include:

Often, the change's ultimate source is For Want of a Nail. If "historically unimportant" characters are involved, expect In Spite of a Nail.

A secondary type, sometimes called "honorary alternate history", consists of Speculative Fiction stories written a considerable period of time ago, and set in a time period which has since passed. This is what happens to stories set 20 Minutes into the Future when the twenty minutes have passed. This type of unintentional alternate history has its own trope: Dewey Defeats Truman, as is everything that fell victim to The Great Politics Mess-Up.

Examples of alternate history can be found in literature as far back as the 1st century BC; the Roman historian Livy wrote a treatise about what might have happened (Ab Urbe Condita, book 9, chapters 17-19) if Alexander the Great had invaded western Europe rather than the Mideast. The genre has become increasingly popular since the late 20th century, perhaps because it was a tumultuous century rich in "what if" opportunities, though TV and movie versions are less common. And given the material, it's not beyond the imagination to consider them Fan Fiction of history itself.

In real life, Counterfactual History is a real discipline, looking at reasonable conjectures. For example, historians have carefully examined the threat of invasion of Britain by Germany in 1940 and suggested that, though British defense was rushed and rudimentary at that point, so were German attack plans. Thus, Germany would almost certainly have established a beach head, but would not have succeeded in maintaining it. Unlike its literary equivalent, scholarly counter-factual history tends to focus on the short-term effects, as extrapolating long-term trends into the future has proven to be tricky even for what did happen.

For less drastic changeovers (such as slight differences between their world and ours), see Never Was This Universe. Some settings will undo these changes with Rubber-Band History.

It is different from an Alternate Universe, where the difference is in the fictional elements of the story. "What if Superman's ship landed in Soviet Russia?" or "What if Charles Xavier died before creating the X-Men?" are examples. However, the alternate universe may lead to alternate history as well: Alternate Reed Richards may change human society, Dr. Doom may give up ruling Latveria and begin to conquer or destroy actual countries, or Red Skull may be elected President. In those cases, the alternate history is a side consequence, not the basic premise.

The plausibility and realism of Alternate History is measured on the Sliding Scale of Alternate History Plausibility, an analogue of the Mohs Scale of Sci-Fi Hardness. More examples are on the Alternate History Literature page. See Also the Alternate History Tropes index. If the differences are unintentional, see Artistic License – History.

Closely related to Alternate Universe. A lot of times, this can result in OCs, if written as fanfiction. Supertrope to Weird Historical War.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Code Geass takes place in a timeline where things went really well for British imperialism; the Celts kicked Julius Caesar and the Romans off the island, Elizabeth I had male heirs, "Washington's Rebellion" failed... all with the cumulative effect of making "Britannia" the only superpower on the planet as of the early 21st century. They were defeated by Napoleon, though, forcing them to abandon Britain and relocate to what had been the colonies — that is, North America, which is entirely under their control. Napoleon's Europe-spanning empire also laid the foundation for a faux-EU before he died (likely of poisoning by one of Queen Bessie's spies). The calendar is all messed up as well, being at least 55 years behind our calendar. Technology, in the meantime, is vastly more advanced, with powerful mecha, existing in their 2010 (our 1955).
    • In other words, the main bulk of the story takes place in what our world would know as The '60s, given how ATB 2017-18 translates to AD 1962-63.
      • It bears mentioning that there are certain factors present in the world of Code Geass that indicated that perhaps it Never Was This Universe. Such as Sakuradite and Geass itself.
  • The Place Promised in Our Early Days takes place in a timeline where Japan is divided after losing WWII, between the (Soviet?) "Union" and the US.
  • Full Metal Panic! follows a present day where the Cold War never ended (due to Mikhail Gorbachev having been assassinated, and thus, the political reforms which led to the breakup of USSR never came to pass) and the arms race led to combat mechs on the battlefield — aided along by Black Technology, which comes the Whispered, rare individuals gifted with latent Psychic Powers.
    • By the end of the series, it's revealed that the villains' plan is to undo the alternate history, changing key events to turn reality into a peaceful one more in line with our own. The source of the Black Technology was, in fact, echoes caused by the Whisperer using her powers to probe backwards in time to find which events needed to be changed.
  • Mazinger Z spin-off New Mazinger was written in 1988, but the story happens several centuries after that World War III between America and Soviet Union left the planet devastated in the early 21st century. It is the early 21st century now, and not only nothing of it has happened, but also the Soviet Union collapsed shortly after the story's publishing.
  • The finale of the manga version of Chrono Crusade reveals that it falls under this genre. Demon's homeworld—a spaceship/fish/...thing called Pandaemonium—is called out of the depths of the Atlantic ocean by Aion, which causes a tidal wave that destroys New York City. Chrono goes after Aion to try to stop him, and they end up fighting in Pandaemonium. At some point in the process, it blows up, creating a ring around the Earth that's visible in the sky even in the 1990s.
    • The anime ending averts this by trying to stick to OTL. It's implied that Aion shot John Paul II.
  • Macross: The original Super Dimension Fortress Macross was broadcast in 1982 but featured an alternate history of humanity after 2009 when humans and aliens fight a devastating war over a transforming mecha battleship. It's beyond 2009 now, and we haven't even fought World War III and built mecha like they did in the series - we're behind schedule, in other words.
  • Kiki's Delivery Service takes places in a Europe where WWII never happened.
  • The Kerberos saga takes place in a world where Nazi Germany won in Stalingrad. It eventually leads to a total Axis victory... in Europe. Japan still falls in 1945. But it's the Germans who occupy and morph the country into a fascist dictatorship.
  • The 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist is set in a version of our world where alchemy worked.
  • Read or Die takes place in a British-dominant world, complete with hidden superpowers.
    • By the sequel, however, the Empire had completely collapsed, leaving the world at the mercy of various secret organizations and the United States.
  • In at least some early Universal Century timelines, it's implied that the circumstances leading up to the founding of the Earth Federation itself was due to an alternate outcome of the Cold War. This could also apply to Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, given the show's rather Anachronism Stew atmosphere and the After Colony calendar starting in the 1970s.
  • Strike Witches takes place in a world where aliens invaded in 1939 before World War 2 and forced the world to unite in order to stop them. Also the only way to stop them are by using magical imbued schoolgirls wielding rocket legs with characters like Winston Churchill and George S Patton making cameos. Officially the alternate history goes back further, with BC standing for Before Caeser, the German monarchy never losing power, and giving Japan a more active role in past events.
  • Jin involves a Japanese neurosurgeon from 2000 being transported back to 1862. He introduces germ theory (nevermind that the germ theory was actually proposed by Girolamo Fracastoro as early as 1546 and with the works of Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch already was pretty much the mainstream by 1862) and modern surgical techniques to Japan and the West, among other medical ideas. Butterflies abound from his actions. Among the results? The Meiji Restoration doesn't take place and the Tokugawa Shogunate survives.
  • .hack diverges initially around 2002 with the founding of the UN's World Network Commission in the wake of mounting cybercrime. But the real changes happen when a virus called Pluto's Kiss is unleashed on December 24, 2005, crippling thousands of computer systems worldwide and effectively crashing the Internet. This provided the ALTIMIT Corporation virtual monopoly over rebuilding the net and helped set the stage for The World.
  • Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou gives superpowers and giant mecha to everyone, and plonks them squarely after World War II. Political commentary and superpowered battles ensue.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, the titular species has existed alongside humanity since at least the 19th century, although no one is sure where exactly they came from. The CCG, an organization created to investigate Ghouls, was founded in 1890.
  • The Demon Wars of 1918 changes Japan's history in Sakura Wars TV.

    Audio Play 
  • In The Firesign Theatre's The Further Adventures of Nick Danger, the presidential interruption at the end of the piece makes it clear that the show itself is taking place in an alternate universe where the US surrendered to Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • Below Board is set in an alternate 1930s where there's a social-democratic (sort of) US government, and the Civil Rights movement is already in full swing.
  • The Cartographers Handbook is set in an alternate 1880s where the world was ravaged by a zombie plague shortly after the American Civil War.

    Comic Books 
  • Julius Caesar conquered Gaul (modern France), defeated Vercingetorix and annexed the territory to the Roman Empire. All of it? Yes. All of it. Astérix is based on an alternate history scenario: Caesar defeated only most of the gauls, with the exception of an Undefeatable Little Village that resists, then and ever, the invader. All the conventional Roman warfare is useless, because the village druid created a magic potion that gives Super Strength. All Asterix stories are either about a futile attempt of Rome to conquer this village in some non-standard way, or Asterix and Obelix making a visit to some other ancient civilization (all of them, however, were just humoristic expies of modern countries, rather than realistic portrayals of their ancient counterparts).
  • Back around 1994, the Epic Comics series Lawdog revolved around the idea of travel, sometimes accidental, between alternate histories and alternate worlds, and a square-jawed tough cop who patrols the roads between the worlds and tries to protect the more civilized and peaceful Earths from things like invasion by technologically advanced Nazis who won World War II in some timelines, or contamination by aggressive and dangerous lifeforms from an Earth where evolution took some very different turns one or two billion years back.
  • Some of the comics that Alan Moore created for America's Best Comics and DC Comics lean toward Alternate History. Tom Strong, for example, lives in a city designed by architect Winsor McCay (in our world, the cartoonist creator of Little Nemo.)
    • The existence of costumed vigilantes (and one actual superpowered being) in Watchmen caused several major differences from real-world history (e.g. the United States won the Vietnam War; Richard Nixon is still President in 1985; the threat of the Cold War going hot is all too real even in the late 80s; electric-powered cars became commonplace in the US).
    • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen initially starts out as a steampunk crossover of characters of Victorian literature, but in following volumes all of fiction begins to intertwine with actual history. Half-fairie Queen Gloriana rules instead of Elizabeth I, postwar Britain sees the rise and fall of the Ingsoc regime and there's a war in Qumar in the Noughties.
  • Give Me Liberty, by Dave Gibbons and Frank Miller, about the United States under the more and more authoritarian Republican president Erwin Rexall, which eventually fall apart after an assassination attempt leaves him in a coma.
  • DC Comics' Tangent books take place in a world where the Cuban Missile Crisis ends in Florida and Cuba nuking each other at roughly the same moment, turning the Cold War hot. The resulting world, compared to ours, is ahead of the times technologically (paper books are seen as antiquated and quaint) but behind the times culturally (the hippie movement has only recently begun). Despite being published by DC, this alternate reality was not a divergent DC universe; Amazons, the Justice Society, Gotham City, there's nary a concept from the DCU to be seen. This is due to the premise of the world, which takes DCU names and applies them to entirely different concepts.
  • Arrowsmith, by Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco, is a fantasy take on this trope. At the forging of the Peace of Charlemagne (the Pax Nicephori in the real world), the various hidden magical races of the world decided to make their existence openly known to humanity, also joining in the peace treaty. The United States of America is actually the United States of Columbia in this series, which takes place during this world's version of World War I. Dryads, trolls, dwarves, etc. live among humanity, magic co-exists side-by-side with technology. The Industrial Revolution is causing a magical revolution, as spells become mass-produced for the first time in human history.
  • Omega Complex is set in a world in which US president John F Kennedy wasn't assassinated; he ends the Vietnam War and gets elected for a second term, during which he sponsors research into the effects of radiation on humans.
  • Vertigo's DMZ is a variant that alters recent American history, in that the reaction to 9/11 and the ensuing change in U.S. foreign policy, was a far more violent and self-destructive one and led to the USA erupting into a second civil war. The end result is a less than perfect union, with the resultant factions being the so-called Free States, the United States and the titular DMZ (formerly known as Manhattan).
  • Samaritan from Astro City prevents the Challenger disaster and destroys his own timeline. He apparently remains in existence because of his connection to the fundamental forces of the universe.
  • Ian Edginton and D'Israreli's Scarlet Traces and Scarlet Traces: The Great Game are unofficial sequels to The War of the Worlds. Both involve a Great Britain where it became an even greater world power through the reverse engineering of the failed Martian invasion technology, which later leads to a war on Mars. However, the setting is a Crapsack World, with many living in poverty, and a increasingly fascist state developing.
  • Jour J has this has the premise of each voulme.
  • Ministry Of Space by Warren Ellis is an alternate history in which the UK captures all the WWII German rocket scientists before the US and USSR can. Thanks to this and the iron will of Space Ministry head John Dashwood (who funds research with stolen Nazi gold), the UK space program reaches the moon by 1960, and has colonies on Mars and the asteroid belt before the end of the 20th century.
  • Pat Mills' Invasion, which ran in the 80s, was a straightforward story in which the USSR is conquered by the renegade Volgan republic which then launches an invasion of all Western Europe in the then near future of 1990. When the series was resurrected in the 2000s and set in what had become modern times, it was simply declared an alternate history in which, during the 90s, Russian dissidents break away and form the Volgan republic, which then manages to conquer all of Russia, and thus the events of Invasion occur in the 90s. Each Story Arc of Savage opens with the words "Another Britain" to reinforce this.
  • Block 109. Adolf Hitler is killed in 1941. Nazi Germany wins the war against the Western Allies but is losing the war against USSR. Features Hitler's dreamed capital of Germania, some Stupid Jetpack Hitler stuff such as Nazi nuclear weapons, futuristic aicrafts, futuristic soldiers in armors, mechas and even zombie-making virus.
  • Lilith: The titular heroine gradually alters history. First in small ways, leaving an almost unnoticeable effect on history, and then in major ways. Like averting the assassination of Emperor Commodus, and reversing the outcome of the Battle of Sekigahara.
  • The Boys has a point of divergence in World War II, when a formula that can turn people into superhumans is invented and immediately, unsuccessfully weaponized. The ongoing attempts to turn superheroes into something that can be used in war instead results in the superheroes being the focus of a massive media empire. Most notably, an attempt by a powerful but completely untrained group of superheroes to board the plane that knocked down the World Trade Center causes the same plane to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge instead.
  • The Patient Zero arc of Crossed Badlands (issues 50-56) confirms that Gordon Brown was Britain's prime minister when the civilization-ending Crossed pandemic began, thereby making him (presumably) the last ever Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in that world.
  • Milo Manara's Borgia series is more or less faithful to history, but the last book goes off the rails: the King of France dies in the eruption of the Vesuvius, Savonarola is sodomized to death by the Pope on a bed of spikes, Cesar Borgia conquers cities with Leonardo da Vinci's working superweapons and flying machines, etc. Though the end sort of snaps back with the death of Cesar in Spain.
  • The Blake and Mortimer series obviously diverged from our history at some point before the 1940's : Tibet rose as a superpower (the Yellow Empire) at that time, accumulating enough super-weapons to conquer the world through a Blitzkrieg World War Three, before being defeated by a world Resistance movement led by the British Empire thanks to their superior super-weapons. Then, during the 1950's, the Soviet Union almost managed to conquer the West thanks to Soviet Super Science and even though its plan was foiled at the last moment, it's very likely it would have resulted in World War Four. However, the series has very little continuity and those wide technological and geopolitical divergences are not really taken into account in other episodes.
  • In Über, the Nazis successfully create an army of near-unstoppable superhumans – but only in April 1945, when Germany was already an utter ruin. Thus, as one character describes it, it's not so much a story of "Germany winning" as one of "everybody losing". The course of World War 2 rapidly changes as the series progresses, with a new German offensive on the Eastern Front, the destruction of most of Paris, and the partial defeat of the US Navy by Japanese superhumans.
  • Mini Comics Included features the Literary Commandos; in their world, just about every celebrated writer in history is, uh, not a writer (except for Charles Dickens, who is a One-Book Author and whose only book is crappy and long forgotten). No, instead they're either members of the elite Literary Commandos, who guard the timestream, or among the cadre of villains who threaten it. Members of the LC include the taciturn archer Marksman Twain, the cunning ranger Virginia Wolf, and the massive wrestler Thomas Pain.
  • The Royals Masters of War, has the presence of super powered royalty though much remains similar to real life history. Their intervention in the Second World War, however, makes more drastic deviations from our timeline. With the war ending with the bombing of Hitler's bunker in Berlin by the RAF, guided by one of the British Royals.
  • Ex Machina is a minor example, where the main character managed to save one of the Twin Towers during the 9/11 attacks.
  • Liberality for All, made in 2005 and set in 2021, has Al Gore win the 2000 American presidential election instead of George Bush (Word of God says this is due to Ralph Nader dying in a car crash beforehand), which somehow results in a future where al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein still rule Afghanistan and Iraq, and American conservative pundits are fugitives.

    Fan Works 
  • The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum does this to one Equestria (called the Solar Empire or TCB!Equestria). There are often numerous differences mentioned between the (mostly) canon universe and the TCB one, such as genocidal purges of the Changelings and a war with the Crystal Empire. There's also the existence of totem-proles (a surveillance network similar to telescreens) and the genocidal war against humanity. All of which came about because TCB!Lyra Heartstrings decided to go off on a little scuba diving trip with her buddies and uncovered a little Artifact of Doom that turned Celestia into its Brainwashed and Crazy puppet (Prime!Lyra on the other hoof denied the the invite to practice for the Canterlot Royal Orchestra tryouts). Whoops.
  • In Aeon Entelechy Evangelion history starts to diverge in 1930, when the discovery of the Elder Thing City (which causes the USA to drop its Isolationist policy and join the League of Nations) and the prolonged World War II (The War ends in 1946 with the atomic bombing of Berlin by the western allies to deny the Russians).
  • Many AARs on the Total War, Civilization and ''Paradox series inevitably result in alternate histories of varying types.
    • Notable examples include A Scotsman in Egypt and I Am Skantarios.
    • Similarly, although less commonly, games where you can have all sides played by an AI can be used as "random history generators". These tend to be less protagonist-based than AARs stemming from a player nation, but usually a lot wackier, because AIs are stupid.
  • The Hogwarts Exposed Timeline on posits the impact of the events of the Harry Potter books happening in our world... and exposed to the public in the late 1990s.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia has a good deal of alternate histories and universes within its collective. One notable, though dark, example is All He Ever Wanted
  • Battlefield Gallia is essentially a World War II story that imagines the world of Valkyria Chronicles existing alongside ours. For the Axis, Allies and Soviets, at least, things get weird very quickly.
  • It's not the focus of the story, but there is a Watchmen fanfic where Dr Manhattan is monologuing about various alternate incarnations of himself he is aware of, with one world having a noteable divergence in the past, where "It is Mithraism that becomes the driving force of western civilization, and the people of the city we know as New York wear golden bulls around their necks, and it is Christianity that lies forgotten in the dusts of history."
  • The Son of the Emperor is basically what happens when you combine The Napoleonic Wars with My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Historical hijinks and world-changing events ensue.
  • The Uplifted series are about what happens when the Quarians decide to uplift Humanity in order to bring an end to their exile and retake Rannoch. Unfortunately, Russia in 1942 might not have been the best place for first contact. In the second part of the story, the Quarians begin to collaborate with the Junkers in order to bring down Hitler's government. Also features a love story between a Quarian and an SS officer. It's rated M for a reason, the author is not shy about showing just how racist the average person was back then, or any of the other nastiness of that war.
  • In All-American Girl and Ed, Edd n' Eddy Z, 9/11 never happened. In the former's case, al-Qaeda also never existed.
  • In Emperor, a Harry Potter fanfic, history changes when Robert Schuman fails to convince the European governments to work on what would eventually become the European Union, leaving the continent divided, Britain militarized and the threat of war hanging over everyone's heads. Turns out that the failure of Project Manhattan was an even earlier point of divergence.
  • In The Conversion Bureau: Cold War, a xenocidal Princess makes contact with humanity to announce how she plans to wipe them out... in 1986, to the leaders of the world's most powerful nations.
  • Strike Witches Quest has said witches exist in history with minor effects with major ones occuring as a Martian invasion hits at the same time as Pearl Harbor, resulting in the countries of the world uniting to fight back. One of the side effects of the invasion is most of the nefarious leaders/powers are removed either by the Martians or by others taking advantage of the situation.
  • Pokeumans claims that the original Neanderthal humans lived alongside creatures that we would recognise today as Pokemon, until they started abusing their privilege and companions. This one could have actually happened, though - eventually the Legendaries undid everything they taught humanity and all evidence of their existence before leaving for a different dimension. This then has repercussions in the modern day - BIG repercussions.
  • In The Last War by Jan Niemczyk, the democracy movements east of the Iron Curtain are crushed by the USSR and loyalist forces. A renewed Cold War simmers on until April, 2005 when it finally boils over. There are no battlefield nukes any more, so World War III does not go nuclear in the first hour after the bullets and pretty much everything else start flying.
  • In Im Giving You A Night Call, As a Post-Conqueror of Shamballa verse, this is to be expected. In that story the first Edward and Alphonse Elric were prominent figures in the Second World War and defused the tension of the Cold War and implied to have had a hand in the creation of their world’s Amestris.
  • Pacific: World War II U.S. Navy Shipgirls has The Korean War begin and end differently, namely the US Seventh Fleet being wiped out at the beginning thanks to an Alien Invasion. Additionally, it has France secede from NATO in the 1960s, as well as a more militaristic (and less economically successful) Japan, and finally a less influential United States.
  • The Kantai Collection fic Eternity has a naval portion of WWII go a little differently:
    • Directly inspired by Indestructible Spirit, due to politics the ship that was to become IJN Kongou stayed in England and became HMS Indestructible. Thus Hiei became a lead ship of her own class, and somewhere down the line the Japanese decided that they in fact did need a 4th battlecruiser, so they built it and named her Kongou. Something the shipgirl did not appreciate.
    • Hood was captured instead of sunk, which had driven Churchill into frenzy and directed many efforts to sink her despite the navy's resistance. Attempts to sink her failed, but the British got back at Germans by capturing Bismarck instead. Both survived the war, and after the brief return to their original countries' service they transfered to their "captors'" navies as symbols of European solidarity.
    • And the main For Want of a Nail that sets the premise of the fic, is the USS Enterprise damaging IJN Yamato enough in the Kure Raid that she was unable to participate in operation Ten-Go, leading to her capture by the Americans. Years later when Admiral Halsey was unable to get support to retire Enterprise as a museum ship, he made a deal with the General MacArthur: He helps the general in convincing the government to refit Yamato and formally add her into US Navy, and in return the General will help him in convincing the Japanese to buy Enterprise as a precaution against the Communists. They succeed, and Yamato became USS Montana, while Enterprise became JDS Yonaga, whose long service with JMSDF earned the titular nicknane Eien, Eternity.

    Films — Animated 
  • While the exact setting is ambiguous, 9 takes place in an alternate version of the early 20th Century (according to brief shots of newspapers that apparently show a date in the 1930s) in which the Industrial Revolution never ended, resulting in advanced robotics and artificial intelligence occurring nearly a century ahead of schedule (unfortunately, it doesn't end well).
  • The Pixar film The Good Dinosaur takes in a world where the K-T extinction event never happened and Jurassic dinosaurs like Apatosaurus and Stegosaurus coexist with Cretaceous dinosaurs and animals that evolved after the K-T extinction like long-horned bison and human beings.
  • Though it's never addressed onscreen, Big Hero 6 has this trope in its backstory. The film's setting San Fransokyo is an Alternate Universe San Francisco, which was rebuilt by Japanese immigrants using architectural concepts from their home country after the city was damaged during the 1906 Earthquake.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Roland Emmerich has suggested that while the two upcoming Independence Day sequels take place in present day, they will have a more futuristic feel, most likely due to 20 years of reverse engineering alien technology. Plus, the destruction of Earth's major cities marks a significant point of divergence that dramatically changes the past 20 years of history; up until that, their 1996 looked to be essentially the same as Real Life's.
  • It Happened Here, a 1966 film positing a Nazi-occupied Britain.
  • The 2004 film CSA: The Confederate States of America takes the notion of the South winning the The American Civil War and plays it to the hilt. Though instead of forming its own country, the entire USA goes Confederate. The turning point comes when England and France aid the Confederacy and turn the tide at Gettysburg. All non-Christian religions are outlawed save for Judaism (Jews live in a reservation on Long Island). They advocate enslaving all non-whites, and TV ads catering to slave-owning middle class members are commonplace.
  • Good Bye, Lenin! plays with this trope— the protagonist's mother is a dedicated East German communist who is in a coma when the Berlin Wall falls. When she reawakens, he constructs an elaborate alternate history to avoid shocking her into another heart attack with the news that her beloved East Germany is no more.
  • District 9 takes place in a world where an alien ship landed in South Africa in 1982, interrupting Apartheid in favor of something almost exactly the same as Apartheid...with explosions.
  • Inglourious Basterds, and according to some fans by extension the entire universe of Quentin Tarantino movies, takes places in an alternate WWII era in which Hitler and his three biggest men. Goering, Goebbels and Borrmann are killed by the Basterds in June 1944.
    • May have already been alternate history because Goebbels is referred to as Hitler's Number Two and his real right hand Himmler is never mentioned.
    • If The Hateful 8 is part of the same universe, then the divergence is much earlier.
  • The backstory of the South Korean/Japanese action film 2009: Lost Memories has a time traveler prevent the assassination of Ito Hirobumi in 1909, which alters history in that Japan retains its imperial conquests (so Korea is still under Japanese rule in the present-day) and allies with the United States in World War II.
  • Fatherland, the movie adaptation of Robert Harris' novel with Rutger Hauer, features this with Nazi Germany winning World War II and covering up the Holocaust. Better than it sounds.
  • The Rocketeer is revealed to be one of these. Howard Hughes has already invented a jetpack, the Hindenburg disaster never happened which means the Nazis are still using Zeppelins in 1938, and the Hollywoodland sign ends up losing the "-land" eleven years early.
  • Back to the Future Part II: Biff Tannen created an alternate version of 1985 when he gave the Timeline-Altering MacGuffin to his younger self in 1955. As a result, he became "the luckiest man on Earth" by betting on everything from horse racing to boxing and always winning due to the answers in the almanac. He founded Biffco, a company that dealt with toxic waste reclamation. He bought out police departments, and altered the state of international history, by prolonging the Vietnam War and getting Richard Nixon elected to his fifth term.
  • The Man in the Iron Mask is implied in the end to take place in one. With the real life Louis XIV basically ousted from power, his twin brother proceeds to become the greatest monarch in French history and possibly prevent the circumstances leading to the French Revolution in the process.
  • K-20: Legend of the Mask is set in late 1940s Japan in an alternate timeline in which World War II never happened. As a result, the country is already a world leader in technology. Much of the technology was invented by Nikola Telsa, who received far more support and recognition in this timeline than he did in real life.
  • The Blues Brothers is a somewhat more mundane example than most. Not long before the movie was made the Illinois state legislature had debated a law that would revoke the tax-exempt status of buildings owned by churches that weren't themselves used as houses of worship. In Real Life the law didn't pass but in the film it did, necessitating the boys take on their Mission from God to get money to pay the taxes on the Catholic orphanage they grew up in.
  • In Captain Berlin Hitlers brain was saved by his personal physician Dr. Ilse Von Blitzen
  • X-Men:
    • The ending of X-Men: First Class seems to imply that the Americans and Soviets drop the Cold War to wage war against mutants, but in X-Men: Days of Future Past Retcon, the government apparently covered up what happened to avoid alarming the public, thus the Cold War proceeds as it did in real life.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past takes it even further than First Class. For starters, 1973 technology has advanced somewhat faster than the real world: the Sentinels were built, plastic weapons to counter Magneto have been developed, and mutant-gene scanners exist (when the mid-70s marked the period when genomics started to take off). There's also the bit where Magneto drops a baseball stadium around Richard Nixon's head in front of international television, or the little number where the mutants get into a full on brawl during the Paris Peace Conference, which drastically changes world events by bringing mutants to public attention.
  • Subtle example in Godzilla (2014). While the Pacific nuke tests being covert attempts to kill Godzilla falls under Historical In-Joke, the 1999 collapse of the Janjira NPP and the subsequent quarantine of a sizable Japanese metropolitan area is a much bigger divergence.
  • The 2014 documentary America asks what the world would look like if the United States never existed. Unfortunately, the film never answers that question, dropping that concept altogether. Never Trust a Trailer, indeed.
  • The Philadelphia Experiment II. A scientific experiment sends a stealth fighter carrying nuclear bombs back in time to 1943. The Nazis capture the jet and use it to bomb Washington D.C. and win World War II.
  • A minor example in Ted. In 1985, a child's wish to bring his teddy bear to life came true. News spread rapidly, making Ted into a celebrity. 27 years later, no one really notices the animate teddy bear anymore.

  • !Hero: The Rock Opera tells the story of Jesus in an Alternate History where Jesus wasn't born until the modern age, where the world is ruled by a One World Order named I.C.O.N. which has banned all religions except for Judaism.
  • "The Night Chicago Died" tells of an event that never happened, a full scale, city wide battle between the Chicago police force and Al Capone's mob.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Players in the card game Chrononauts each represent a character from a different timeline altering crucial events in modern history in an attempt to set things back to what his or her own present. One character is a sentient cockroach whose presence requires starting World War III.
  • Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution takes place in a universe where Project MK Ultra was successful.
  • Alternate histories are a key element of the Feng Shui Tabletop RPG, with old timelines being erased and new ones being created as various factions gain or lose power in a conflict known as the Secret War. Most people don't notice when history changes, because their own histories have been rewritten to conform to the timeline alterations as well. However, Secret Warriors who have been to The Netherworld, an alternate dimension that facilitates Time Travel, retain memories of their former lives when these changes, known as "Critical Shifts," take place.
  • The entire premise of the GURPS: Infinite Worlds campaign is based on one version of Earth (ours, known as "Homeline") discovering the means of traveling to hundreds of other alternate dimensions as reliably and economically as domestic air-travel is today, and engaging in a trans-dimensional cold war with a different version of Earth ("Centrum") with similar technology. Homeline's biggest concern is never, ever letting any other worlds figure out that travel between parallel universes is possible (let alone how to do it). Steve Jackson Games published two sourcebooks for the 3rd edition of the game, which detailed at least ten distinct worlds and offered seeds for dozens of variations.
  • The tabletop and video game Crimson Skies exists in an alternate history where the United States broke up during the Depression and zeppelins actually succeeded as a transport product.
  • The Tabletop RPG Traveller originally came out in the mid 1970s. The rather optimistic timeline of its official background universe, in which antigravity was invented in the 1980s and FTL travel in the 1990s, quickly became alternate history (and now seems to be officially accepted as AH, instead of trying to retcon it away).
  • Similar to the above, Battletech's timeline originally began with the fall of the Soviet Union… in 2011. After several messy attempts to retcon it to the Russian Federation or a re-established USSR, the writers have just declared it official AH as well.
  • Timemaster. Members of the Time Corps (based in AD 7192 Earth) try to prevent their opponents, an alien race called the Demoreans, from changing human history to make it more to their liking.
  • Deadlands starts by asking, "What if things that went bump in the night appeared in the middle of the American Civil War?" Their answer? Said war drags on for a decade longer than it "should," human technology springs forward in leaps and fits, and humanity potentially winds up dropping supernatural nuclear weaponry on itself. Better than it sounds.
  • When Shadowrun originally began in the late '80s it wasn't alternate history. But since it passed 1999 when a Supreme Court decision gave corporations the right to their own militaries and 2001 when they gained extraterritoriality, effectively making them independent nations, it's become this. Nor did a dragon appear over Mount Fuji in 2011.
  • Aces & Eights has a very in-depth alternate reality, just so players can't go about hunting down political figures just to say that they changed history.
  • Gear Krieg, a table-top game determined to answer the age old question "What would the world be like if Hitler had had a jetpack?"
  • Continuum is broadly about the players time-traveling to prevent this trope from occurring, since at best it usually has the effect of wiping out numerous time-travelers further Up the timeline.
  • Microscope: a World Building game in which this is a definite possibility when players don't want to create a completely new Constructed World.
  • In Rocket Age Rocket travel becomes a reality in 1931. As such, humanity expands out into the solar system.
  • Through The Ages: Emphasised by the use of real-world names for wonders and leaders. Gandhi as president over a nation of scientists kept happy by Bread and Circuses? Isaac Newton builds the Taj Mahal and discovers computers? Elvis Presley conducts espionage, declares Holy War and builds the Kremlin? All are plausible occurrences and add significant amusement to the game.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Rose Guns Days, Japan lost WWII not because of the bomb in 1945 but because of a natural disaster in 1944. Japan (or at least Tokyo) is flooded with American and Chinese government meddling, "helping" with reconstruction − and bringing millions of immigrants with them. Japanese traditions are cast aside, finding a job outside of mafia or prostitution without fluently speaking English or Chinese is nigh-impossible, and in 1947 pretty much everyone living in Tokyo already has a second Western name, in the way that Amakawa Jun took the name "Jeanne". By 2012 Tokyo is more of a bilingual country with English and Chinese, and speaking Japanese has become very rare.


    Western Animation 
  • Justice League featured a relatively conventional version of this in the three-part story "The Savage Time". The immortal Vandal Savage sending back a laptop computer with detailed notes on the history of the Second World War, the German Reich and on advanced 21st century technology. Past!Savage then uses this knowledge to invent powerful weapons that the Nazis use to repel the Allies on D-day, and presumably the oncoming Russian armies (though there's zero mention of that). He then proceeds to... get this: sent warplanes with an invading army to America, probably because the situation at home was just that good. In the end, it resulted in a world where at least America (but most likely all of it) is ruled by Savage with an iron fist.
    • In that same episode, two high-ranking German officers groan that while Adolf Hitler himself was a pain to deal with, he at least listened to his generals, unlike Savage. Anyone who knows anything about Hitler knows that he was famous for ignoring his strategists' advice and making impossible demands of them. This may have just been a flub on the writers' part, though.
    • In another episode ("A Better World"), we're introduced to an alternate universe where Lex Luthor became President of the United States; this, The Flash dying before the episode starts, and a speech from Luthor on how he and Superman need each other to be of any importance to the world, end up leading the remaining members of the Justice League to become the Justice Lords.
  • Much more lighthearted: Freakazoid! found himself flung back in time a little before 07 December 1941, and saw a few Japanese planes coming towards Hawaii. The end result after he interferes? The Cubs win the World Series, world peace breaks out, cold fusion works, Euro Disney is a success, Sharon Stone becomes a good actress and President Brain rules over the US.
  • In Evil Con Carne, the League of Nations never disbanded, Abraham Lincoln is still alive and President and the world is fairly peaceful, save for the Villain Protagonist leading a terrorist group trying to Take Over the World. Since it pretty much shares canon with The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, it seems that the Soviet Union never fell either.
  • The Fairly OddParents has one of the screwed-up wishes of Timmy Turner result in England winning the Revolutionary War; the biggest changes in the present day are things like people drinking tea instead of coffee, flying the Union Jack, saying things like "Pip pip and cheerio," and society tending to Victorian dress, clothing, etc. The usual mayhem results as Timmy tries to set things right; naturally his parents don't notice any difference at all.
    • When Jorgen banned Timmy and his fairies from ever returning to March of 1972, he said they'd still be allowed to visit other months of that year on the proviso they don't interfere with the election of President McGovern. However, nothing in the series has been described as being a consequence of Richard Nixon losing that year's presidential election.
  • There was a similar variation in Futurama as Fry, Leela, Bender, etc try to restore things after scrambling the American Revolution in a vain attempt to "improve" the Fry family history.
    • For some reason changing the Revolution often tends to be played for laughs, with the alternate outcome largely cosmetic.
  • The Family Guy episode "Road to the Multiverse" had Stewie and Brian travel through multiple universes, some that fall under this. Stewie's ultra bred pig came from a universe where Christianity never existed, causing the world not to experience the Dark Ages and technology being more advanced.
    • In the episode "Back to the Pilot" Brian and Stewie went back in time to January 31st 1999. While they were there Brian successfully warned his past self about 911, which allowed Brian to prevent the Twin Towers from falling. As a result however George W. Bush never got reelected because he was unable to use terrorist propaganda in his favor. As such he recreated the Confederacy in Texas and spread it through eight unknown states which triggered the Second Civil War. In the future because of the Second Civil War the world has been turned into a post-apocalyptic warzone due to nuclear war.
    • In another episode, Peter asks Death to go back in time to the day he first asked Lois out. He ends up partying the entire day and messes up his chance. Peter and Brian go back to the present and find that things have radically changed for the better. Al Gore became president and turned American into a green paradise. Crime is virtually nonexistent, and technology has, apparently, reached the level of The Jetsons. However, Lois is married to Quagmire. Brian begs Peter not to go back in time again, but Peter is determined to get Lois back. He ends up fixing things... almost. Roger lives with them now.
  • Steven Universe, though this wasn't made explicitly clear within the show itself until the latter half of the first season. Various differences include gem imagery on American currency, the existence of the state of "Delmarva"note , and the fact that the Gems (Crystal or otherwise) and their artifacts have been on Earth for around 6,000 years.
    • In the episode "Love Letters", it's revealed that the equivalent of Hollywood in the Steven Universe...universe is in Kansas.
    • It's revealed in "Keystone Motel" that Pennsylvania is instead called Keystonenote  in their world.
    • It's been confirmed that World War II never actually occurred.
    • There are also several geographic differences, implied by their general appearance as new channels of water on the map to be wounds on the landscape from the war 6000 years ago, which might also serve by the butterfly effect to explain some of the more unusual bits of alternate history.
      • The show consistently portrays Florida as being an island off the coast of Georgia rather than an attached peninsula.
      • Alarmingly, an enormous crater sea — with a Gem facility right at its center — has replaced about half of Russia's landmass.
      • A made-with-creator-input graphic novel has a globe in the background reveal the fact that there's a massive channel between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean where the Nile Delta, Sinai, and Israel/Palestine should be, which has far more alternate history implications than the show could ever possibly address (or be allowed to address).
  • The Boondocks: Huey imagines what would happen if Martin Luther King had been put into coma instead of being assassinated. He wakes up in post-9/11 America, and is deeply mortified by modern black culture. He finally snaps and launches into a huge N-word-laden tirade about how all his sacrifices are being wasted by today's generation, and then goes into exile in Canada. His words trigger a massive social movement, Oprah Winfrey being elected president, and the Creators of BET apologizing for its existence.
    Huey: It's fun to dream.

  • Historical wargaming is the Trope Maker for this trope. Both amongst the professionals (read: military) and hobbyists.
  • In the 1970s, the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst initiated a wargames reeanactment of WW2, if Operation Seelöwe (Sea Lion), the invasion of Britain by Nazi Germany, had taken place. The result was a complete disaster for the Germans. Although they would have managed to land and gain a foothold, they would have been bogged down first by the Home Guard, then bombed to submission by the RAF, and finally have their means of escape cut off by the Royal Navy. Their supply lines would have been cut, and on third day they already were starving and suffering for lack of ammunition and fuel. There simply was not enough harbour capacity in Southern England to supply the invading force. With that done, Germany would have lost quite a chunk of its army to the enemy, and would probably have never been able to initiate another such action against Britain for the rest of the entire war, provided the USSR would have still been in their way. One of the planners remarked that it was a pity they had never tried, as it could have shortened the war quite considerably.
    • The commanders of the both sides were the actual generals who would have commanded the participating troops also in the Real Life.
    • The Nazis never tried because their generals had had come to the essentially same conclusion: Operation Seelöwe hadn't even a snowball chance in Hell to succeed, especially after they've lost the aerial Battle of Britain, so the plan was quietly swept under the rug.
  • Similar to the above, it's a common practice amongst military academies to wargame or speculate about what would have happened if General X had done Y instead of Z, partly because it helps show why Y was a better or worse choice than Z.
  • The roadside attraction "Professor Cline's Dinosaur Kingdom" features an alternate version of the The American Civil War where the Union army was armed with dinosaurs.
  • There are several usenet groups to discuss various alternate histories, like soc.history.what-if, though they don't get much traffic nowadays, with the decline of interest in newsgroups in general.
  • This promotional video by the Anti-Defamation League imagines how history might have changed had the likes of Martin Luther King or Anne Frank escaped their untimely demise, before challenging the viewers to stand up against the hatred that ultimately killed them.
  • YouTube series "What If" by Alternate History Hub, hypothesizes various historical situations with a few possibilities. Keeping in mind, of course, what happens is the result of numerous factors and cautioning that their scenario is just one of many. A few examples include "What if the Black Death Never Happened," "What if Napolean Never Rose to Power?" and "What If The South Won The Civil War?"