I pledge allegiance to King George I, and the United Kingdom 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") 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 Twenty Minutes into the Future when the twenty minutes have passed. Robert A. Heinlein's Future History series of stories is an example of this type, 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 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.
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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 Sixties, 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.
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 Zspin-offNew 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.
The Super Dimension Fortress Macross was broadcasted 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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).
In the movie beginning, the divergence is shown when government troops shoot down the Hippies.
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.
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 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 series 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.
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.
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.
Arrowsmith is set in an alternate history Earth in which the United States of America is actually the United States of Columbia, magic is real, and the First World War is fought with and by dragons, spells, vampires and all other kinds of magical weapons and beings.
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 Uber, 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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 Apatosaurus and Stegosaurus coexist with Cretaceous dinosaurs.
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.
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 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.
The back story of the South Korean film Two Thousand And Nine Lost Memories has a time traveler prevent the assassination of Ito Hirobumi in 1909, which sees Japan retain its imperial conquests (including Korea) and ally 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.
That movie suggested that, by 2015, there'd be a Queen Diana and flying cars (other than Deloreans) would be a normal thing to see.
K20: 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.
Taken 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).
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 collapse of the Janjira NPP and the subsequent quarantine of a sizable Japanese metropolitan area is a much bigger divergence.
K.A. Applegate's Animorphs series had Megamorphs #3: Elfangor's Secret and Megamorphs #4: Back to Before which both play with this. In #3, they follow Visser Four with the Time Matrix and experience him changing the outcome of battles and other historical events to his benefit. In #4, the Drode lets Jake see what it would have been like if they had never been given the morphing powers.
#41 The Familiar is also an example: Jake goes to a potential future.
Predating all these examples is #07 The Stranger. Animorphs was fond of this trope.
Even if the trope itself is Older than You Think, writers apparently weren't expecting readers to understand what it meant as late as 1967, when an alternate reality story in Dangerous Visions spent ten pages explaining what an alternate reality story is to The Watson.
Winston Churchill penned a short story in 1932 called "If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg" — narrated by a historian in an alternate history where the South won the American Civil War. This was published in an anthology of such stories called "If It Had Happened Otherwise". Other speculations included the Islamic state of Granada surviving in southern Spain, forming a long-lasting alliance with Spain's other great enemy, England, and ultimately sending troops to the trenches in World War I.
Battle Royale. It's set in an alternate timeline where Imperial Japan won World War II and remained a fascist dictatorship. The first "Battle Royale Program" was held as early as 1947.
Ward Moore's Bring the Jubilee is a novel in which a time-traveler from a 20th Century in which the South won the American civil war accidentally alters the outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg and finds himself trapped in what becomes our world.
Hector Bywater's The Great Pacific War was actually written as fiction (it was published in 1925, the war in the book takes lasts from 1931 - 1933), but the naval conflict in the book had so many similarities to the actual Pacific war that happened soon after that it now seems like an alt-history novel.
Further complicating this is that the novel features its own Alternate Historynovel, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, whose plot involved the Axis losing World War II, with the post-war world dominated by a cold war between America and... the British Empire.
For Want of a Nail by Robert Sobel. Burgoyne wins at Saratoga, the American Revolution fizzles out, and the American colonies eventually evolve into a sort of uber-Canada. The rebels who weren't hanged migrate to Jefferson (our Texas) and meld into a Spanglish Mexico, which gives rise to an ur-state global corporation in Kramer Associates.
Interesting also in that Sobel (a professor of business history) wrote it in the form of an undergraduate-level textbook, complete with realistic footnotes and a dismissive review by an academic peer in the final chapter.
Harry Turtledove has written dozens of alternate history novels. His best known include the "Timeline-191" (or How Few Remain) series, which begins with the South winning the American Civil War in 1862, and follows this timeline through World War II and beyond; and the "Worldwar" series, wherein World War II is interrupted by an alien invasion by an empire of reptilians who have never before encountered mammals, and whose technology progresses so slowly that they're shocked to find that humans aren't using the same technology as their probe showed them using 1,000 years ago.
Turtledove's first major forays into Sci-Fi and Alternate History involved a Byzantine Imperial Agent in the 1300s, in a world where Muhammad converted to Christianity instead of founding Islam.
Two other early Alternate History novels by Turtledove are A World of Difference, in which Mars (called Minerva in the book) is a habitable (and inhabited) world, and The Case of the Toxic Waste Spell Dump, set in a world in which magic actually works.
The Two Georges (co-written with the actor Richard Dreyfuss) has a US that never left the British Empire. Gun crime is unheard of, Los Angeles is "New Liverpool", airships are the fastest civilian transport, and Sir Martin Luther King is the Governor-General of the North American Union.
The Man with the Iron Heart has Reinhard Heydrich surviving his 1942 assassination attempt and living to form a guerilla resistance movement after Germany's defeat.
In the Presence of Mine Enemies posits a world in which the U.S. remained isolationist throughout WWII, and Germany defeated all the major European powers. World War III ends with the nuclear pacification of the US. Set in the year 2009, the book follows a sect of hidden Jews as they struggle to survive during a time of political upheaval. Scenery includes: a Japanese empire, the radioactive remains of the Liberty Bell in a German Museum, and a Nazi version of "The Producers" that involves a horrible play about Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill. Notable for its realistic presentation of these, alternative-universe, modern Nazis as being good people with a bad upbringing. And the ending bears no resemblance at all to the fall of the Soviet Union. Really, honest. Well, maybe a little
This seems to be another example of Turtledove's fondness of Rubber-Band History. (in the Timeline-191 series the South turns into an analogue of Nazi Germany after defeat in WWI.)
In yet another version of World War II, Hitler's War posits what would happen if the Treaty of Munich had fallen through and Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in 1938. Long story short, the Germans expend so much energy invading the well-fortified Czechs that they fail to take Paris once they invade France. Meanwhile Stalin jumps the gun and invades Poland, bringing the Poles firmly onto the side of the Germans. Japan takes this opportunity to attack Siberia, while an unfortunate accident involving a passenger liner starts America thinking about joining the Allies. As of The Big Switch, Churchill has died in a traffic accident, the UK and France have concluded a status quo ante bellum armistice with Germany and have actually joined the Reich in its war against the Soviet Union, and Japan has attacked the United States...but in this timeline, the US was actually ready at Pearl Harbor and inflicted severe losses on the attacking Japanese.
An earlier take on America remaining in the Empire is A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah! The point of divergence is actually found much earlier than the American Revolution (or Rebellion, as it's known in this reality), with the Moors winning the battle of Navas de Tolosa in 1212 and, thus, not allowing Spain to be unified in time for Columbus's expedition. John Cabot discovered America in this timeline. Beyond that, it's unclear how this could have contributed to the failure of the Revolution.
The Stars & Stripes series envisions the Trent incident from the American Civil War blowing up into a full-scale war between the United States and the British Empire. A navigational error brings the Confederacy in on the Union side, ending the civil war, and resulting in the British getting their asses handed to them by Generals Lee, Grant, Sherman, and Stonewall Jackson.
In the West of Eden trilogy, the dinosaur-killing asteroid never hits, which allows an intelligent reptilian species to evolve.
His Hammer and the Cross trilogy has a more organized and benevolent form of the Norse religion coming into conflict both with the more traditional Norse religion and Christianity.
Robert Conroy has written six alternate history novels, none of which, despite the similarity of the Idiosyncratic Titles, occur in the same universe:
1901, about a German invasion of America, which President Theodore Roosevelt successfully repels.
1862, about Britain entering the American Civil War.
1945, about an American invasion of the Japanese home islands.
1942, about the Japanese invasion of Hawaii.
1945: Red Inferno, about a hypothetical war between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies in the spring and summer of 1945, just as World War II was ending in Europe.
Himmler's War, in which Hitler is accidentally killed shortly after the invasion of Normandy, Himmler takes over and Germany's professional military is given a much freer hand.
Rising Sun in which the Japanese submarine picket line, which in our timeline was both late and poorly organized, at the Battle of Midway is both on time and in place resulting in a devastating Japanese victory taking out all but one of the American carriers before the real battle even starts.
Lion's Blood and Zulu Heart by Steven Barnes are two alternate history novels in which Alexander the Great builds his empire not in Eurasia but in Africa. Thousands of years later, Africa is the seat of the world's most powerful nations and has colonized North America, using captives from the tribes of Darkest Europe as slave labor.
Orson Scott Card's Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus reveals that our timeline is an Alternate History created by time travel. In the previous history, Christopher Columbus started a new crusade against Constantinople instead of sailing for the new world. This give the Native American Tlaxcalan empire enough time to develop iron-working, take over North America, then successfully invade Europe after gaining the secrets of firearms from captured Portuguese sailors. They eventually sent back a recording to convince Christopher Columbus to discover the new world, so that the Tlaxcalan empire would be stopped, creating our timeline. In our future, this is discovered and several agents are sent back, creating a third timeline where the Native Americans unite and visit Europe in peace (trading instead of invading) with no colonialism.
The starting point for the hero in Roger Zelazny's Roadmarks is that he's trying to create alternate histories by changing significant events, such as by running guns to the Greeks at the battle of Marathon.
His Oath of Empire series is set in the early 7th century, where magic works, Rome never fell, and Christianity never appeared.
His other series, In the Time of the Sixth Sun has the Mongols successfully invading Japan. The Japanese flee, to America. They trade horses and steel for food and land on the West Coast. The Mexica then proceed to conquer the planet - and beyond.
Notably features the supercarrier USS Hillary Clinton, whose "murdered namesake" was the "most stalwart wartime President in American history".
Much of the entertainment value of the books, particularly the first one, is in reading of the culture clashes - occasionally violent - between the people of 1942 and the visitors from the 21st century.
In his Without Warning an energy field of unknown type and origin descends on North America wiping out all life in most of the continental US (Seattle is the only major city to survive), about half of Canada (the more populated eastern half), 90% of Mexico and about three-quarters of Cuba including Havana just before the Iraq War is due to kick off in 2003. This leads to, among other things, a rather different Iraq War since Saddam proclaims this a sign from Allah and goes on the offensive and is later joined by Iran leading to Israel nuking most of the Middle East.
The Wild Cards setting deviates from history around 1946, when the titular alien virus falls on New York City, killing many and giving some humans superpowers. Juan and Eva Peron are deposed by an American fighting force, a superpowered Islamic militant unites the Arabic countries under a caliphate, and Buddy Holly never takes the fateful flight with the Big Bopper and ends up a washed-up has-been who manages to literally tear himself to pieces and then re-build himself on-stage during one story, becoming a modern-day shamanic figure.
One of the most extreme examples is the illustrated fictional-science book The New Dinosaurs by Dougal Dixon, which presents an alternate timeline in which the Cretaceous extinction event never happens, dinosaurs remain the Earth's dominant lifeforms, mammals remain tiny insectivores, and no sapient species ever comes into existence (it's best to read it with a pinch of salt as it contains a lot of biological impossibilities, Science Marches On, and Zeerust.
This page presents a few more alternate evolution ideas, mainly focusing on different ways sapient species could have come about.
Len Deighton's SS-GB is set in a Nazi-occupied Britain. America remained isolationist, but sends a crew to destroy an experimental nuclear reactor. For deniability, they've been transferred to the Canadian Army.
Shelley Jackson's 2006 novel Half Life takes place in an America that tested nuclear weapons on native soil much longer and more extensively. The result has been a sharp spike in mutation. Specifically, conjoined twins have become a large and proud minority somewhat analogous to LGBT people in our timeline.
Michael Dobson and Douglas Niles's novels, Fox on the Rhine and Fox on the Front, explore what would have happened if the plot to assassinate Hitler had succeeded. Himmler maneuvers himself into the leadership spot in the Third Reich, and appoints Rommel to command the Ardennes offensive. Rommel ends up being defeated, surrenders, and defects to the Allies along with the bulk of his army group.
Naomi Novik plays with the speculative fiction version of this trope in her Temeraire series, which asks such questions as "What if dragons existed and were used as early aircraft — early as in becoming necessary weapons of the great powers by the time of the Napoleonic Wars?"
One consequence of her scenario is that Napoleon is actually able to pull off his planned invasion of England in the series' fifth book, though his forces ultimately are driven out by the British commanded by Wellington.
Diana Wynne Jones's Witch Week takes place in a world where Guy Fawkes succeeded in blowing up the Houses of Parliament. It doesn't achieve his aims (he got the timing wrong), but nonetheless, it has quite a knock-on effect...
Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt takes its starting point with the Black Death killing virtually the entire European population. The story is of China and Islam's domination of the world spread across the next thousand years as seen through the same group of characters who are endlessly reincarnated.
In Galileo's Dream a group of Knight Templar time travelers try to arrange for Galileo to be burnt at the stake believing this would lead to the complete discrediting of religion and the triumph of science.
"The Lucky Strike," a short story by Robinson, takes place in a WW2 wherein the Enola Gay and its crew were lost before the bombing of Hiroshima. The War still ends as OTL but the decision to drop the Bomb away from Hiroshima ultimately leads to a premature end of the nuclear arms race in the 1950s. MAD is never conceived.
But from that point in the 1950s, the timeline splits into three possible futures that Robinson discusses in A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions. One among them is a crash nuclear arms race after the Suez Crisis blows up into a major war, a nuclear Third World War, and rampant nuclear proliferation in the aftermath.
In Jo Walton's Small Change novels, Farthing, Ha'Penny, and Half a Crown, Britain made peace with Hitler in 1941. The first two books are set in 1949. The Reich still exists and controls all of continental Europe, though they're still fighting the Russians. A political cadre called the Farthing Set takes over the British government and starts heading down the slippery slope to totalitarianism, justifying the restriction of civil liberties by claiming the country is in danger from Jewish and communist terrorists. The US isn't a major player at all, having never recovered from The Great Depression, but there are occasional mentions of "President Lindbergh".
In Conquistador, shortly after WWII a group of veterans discover and exploit a portal into a world where Europe never discovered the New World. The ending results in the portal between the worlds shifting yet again and instead of our world one is opened to a world where it looks like the First Nations never came over either.
In the 1632 series, the modern day US town of Grantville is transported back to the year 1632, right in the middle of the Thirty Years' War in Germany. See the tropes page on this series for details on all the changes; suffice it to say that the course of the war takes some very dramatic turns, including the establishment of a more-or-less unified German nation some two hundred and fifty years ahead of our own timeline, the possible early start of the English Civil War, the takeover of England's North American colonies by France as part of a diplomatic deal, the union of Sweden and Denmark, the establishment of a "United Kingdom of the Netherlands" under the former Spanish archduke Don Fernando comprising the territory of Belgium and Holland, and a major schism in the Catholic Church involving the attempted overthrow of the Pope by a Borgia cardinal with close political ties to Spain.
In another Flint Series, Trail of Glory, the PoD is much more subtle than dropping a city in the past with handwavium. In 1812, during the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Sam Houston leads an attack against the Indian stronghold. Instead of taking an arrow between the goalposts, as he did in the original history, he slips when stepping over a rise, and gets nicked on his outer thigh by the arrow instead. The changes from this event ultimately result in blacks and American Indians establishing an independent nation in the area occupied, in our history, by the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma. More subtly, the course of the Battle of New Orleans is somewhat different; General Pakenham isn't killed in action at New Orleans, but goes on to fall in the Hundred Days campaign several months later when Napoleon attempts to reestablish his empire. American political history is becoming dramatically different in the second book; after a five-candidate election gets thrown into the House of Representatives in 1824, Henry Clay is elected President, and Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, bitter opponents in our history, become allies against Clay and end up becoming friends as well.
In the same Ring of Fire universe as 1632 is Time Spike which sends a modern maximum security prison along with 19th century American settlers, Spanish conquistadors and various groups of Indians into the Age of Dinosaurs.
In the Belisarius Series, which he co-wrote with David Drake, 6th century AD history is turned on its head by the arrival of two time travelers from the far future. One of the arrivals is a sentient crystal sent to aid the titular Roman general against a future traveler engaging in a genocidal campaign on the Indian subcontinent bent on world domination, seeking to generate a "pure" race, instead of the energy beings that mankind had evolved into in the crystal's time.
The Attolia series of books occur in a world in which Ancient Greek civilization has persisted into what would be the Renaissance in our world. People still worship a version of the Greek pantheon, and there are several rival city-states/kingdoms. However, they have developed many technologies that the Greeks didn't have, like rifles and pocket watches.
Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy series takes place in a modern day Europe with a balance of power between an Anglo-French Empire and the Kingdom of Poland, as well as the widespread use of magic. The divergence from our own world? Instead of dying at the siege of Chaluz, Richard I (the Lionhearted) survived and returned to England to rule. The general technological level in this alternate Europe is pretty much equivalent to the late nineteenth century of our own timeline, owing to the fact that scientific resources have been applied to the study and development of magical technology.
One of the originals is L. Sprague DeCamp's Lest Darkness Fall, about a modern man going back to 6th century Rome and attempting to reestablish civilization, as well as combating Goth and Byzantine armies.
Also DeCamp's "The Wheels of If" novelette in which a man from our world is sent into the body of the person he would have been in a world where Pelagius' vision of Christianity beat out Augustine's and compounded by Charles Martel losing the Battle of Tours.
Fyodor Berezin wrote the Red Stars duology, dealing with strange contacts between our world and a parallel one, where history took a radically different turn because Hitler delayed "Operation Barbarossa" by a month, giving Stalin enough time to launch his own (much more successful) offensive. The first book details a lengthy battle between a US carrier battle group from our world and a Soviet carrier battle group from the other world, with both fleets using technology and tactics unheard of by the other (for example, the other world's Soviets do not have stealth or satellite technology, while the US Navy was really surprised to see battleships and ekranoplans in the Soviet arsenal).
Berezin's The Lunar Option novel describes a secret space war between the US and the USSR in the midst of the Cold War over the possession of a mysterious artifact found on the moon by the Lunokhod 1 in 1973. Many of the key figures in the war were famous astronauts and cosmonauts, including those who were officially listed as deceased.
Resurrection Day by Brendan DuBois supposes that the Cuban Missile Crisis sparked off a nuclear war. The United States is a virtual third-world country under military dictatorship, dependent on aid from Great Britain and treated by the rest of the world as a rogue state. An alternate history novel is mentioned by the protagonists in which WW 3 was averted, though needless to say it doesn't have the Kennedys being assassinated either.
An example of "honorary alternate history" is the 1980s series The Zone by James Rouch about World War III in Europe.
Two books edited by Robert Cowley speculate on certain military events taking a different turn: What If?: The World's Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been 1 and 2.
These books were collected, along with other non-military essays, in The Collected What If?. The book has essays by such great historians as Caleb Carr, John Lukacs, John Keegan, James Bradley and Stephen Ambrose.
The Neanderthal Parallax, a trilogy of novels by Robert J. Sawyer (Hominids, Humans, and Hybrids), concerns an alternate Earth in which Homo sapiens died out, leaving Homo neanderthalensis as the world's dominant species. (Of course, since Homo Sapiens Are The Real Monsters, their world is close to a utopia.) The story begins with a neanderthal scientist being pulled into our world and dealing with the considerable culture shock.
The novel Synco takes place in a universe where the Chilean coup d'etat of 1973 was unsuccessful and Chile has become a successful communist state and the project synco has provided instant communication amongst the citizens. Synco was actually a real project in the '70s, abandoned after the coup. The novel includes many fictional versions of real-world characters.
Baen Books publishes a series of anthologies titled "Alternate Generals", which are collections of short stories with various departures from the reader's timeline, from ancient Roman times to modern history.
The parallel world in Mary Hoffman's Stravaganza books diverged from our world when Remus defeated Romulus, instead of vice versa.
A second, minor divergence. The connection is between modern Britain and 1500s Talia (Italy). So when one of the main characters from our world learns that Britain is still Catholic, he asks why. Apparently all three of Henry VIII's children were born to Katherine of Aragon, so he didn't need to start the Anglican Church in order to remarry.
Alan Goldsher's "Paul Is Undead" is what if John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison were zombies and Ringo Starr was a ninja.
Michael Chabon's "The Yiddish Policemens Union," which is set in an alternate history where the Israeli war of independence was lost and the Jewish people were settled in the Alaskan panhandle rather than in Palestine after World War Two.
Pasquale's Angel by Paul J. McAuley is set in a 16th century Florence where, thanks to Leonardo da Vinci concentrating on technology instead of dividing his attention between science and art, the Industrial Revolution came early and is centered in Italy rather than Great Britain.
David Gerrold's The Man Who Folded Himself has the protagonist, a young man with a time machine, very briefly exploring alternate histories including one where Christianity is never founded.
Orson Scott Card's The Tales of Alvin Maker series takes place in an alternate North America where magic works (in different ways among the races - Whites have inherent powers called "knacks", Native Americans have a mystic connection with the land and Africans work their magic through artifacts), Great Britain is run by the Protectorship founded by Oliver Cromwell, New England is a semi-independent colony of same, the Stuart descendants of Charles I run the southern coastal states from Charleston (called Camelot), and Napoleon rules most of Continental Europe due to never having invaded Russia and declaring a unilateral peace with Britain.
Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series involves two WWII destroyer crews (although their ships are really old, dating back to the WWI era) slipping through to a world where dinosaurs never went extinct and humans never evolved. Instead they encounter the Grik, who evolved from raptors, and the "cat-monkey" Lemurians.
Frederik Pohl's The Coming of the Quantum Cats features a whole plethora of alternates. The one we see the most of has a United States that is culturally dominated by the Arabs and in which Ronald Reagan is a liberal activist (more likely than you might think).
Poul Anderson's A Midsummer Tempest happens in a world where Shakespeare's plays are history, not invention. As a result things like mechanical clocks and cannon existed much earlier and England's Civil War occurs at the same time as its Industrial Revolution. Also Faeries and magic exist (thus the title).
Charles Stross in his The Merchant Princes Series has a world where Christianity never existed, and is thus at a medieval level of development with the east coast of America ruled by Germanic kingdoms descended from a second viking settlement of the Americas. As of book 2 there is also a second world where France successfully invaded England in the 16th century but the heir to the British throne was in the colonies at the time so all of the Americas is New Britain, a constitutional monarchy. Socially it's in the 19th century; non-universal suffrage and the King still has actual power. Technologically, it's between the early 20th century, cars are new and run on steam, and the mid 20th century, France just detonated a "corpuscular petard." As of book 4 they discover a 4th world. Not much is known except it is completely uninhabited except for dead bodies and technology that suggests this world was very advanced, including the fact that the dead bodies have totally perfect teeth, all 32 no crowns.
It's also gradually revealed that the "main" universe, where we start, is not quite our own. In that universe, "Chemical" Ali overthrew Saddam Hussein in a (fruitless) attempt to avert the U.S. invasion.
The Thursday Next series. Winston Churchill was never born, Wales is an independent socialist state, the Crimean War lasted 135 years, cheese is a controllled substance and reading is the national pastime, occupying the cultural space of television, sport and religion in our world.
While they have heard of William Shakespeare, literature is such Serious Business that the real-life conspiracy theories about Shakespeare's authorship are taken much more seriously - your preference for Ben Jonson, Kit Marlowe or whoever else is like their equivalent of your favourite football team.
In-universe, Thursday creates an Alternate Book when she changes the ending of Jane Eyre to the one we currently know
In A. Bertram Chandler's Kelly Country, Australian outlaw Ned Kelly leads a successful rebellion against the British.
One of Terry Pratchett's earlier works, Strata, has a few divergences, Remus wins instead of Romulus, hence the Reman empire, the Vikings stayed in America, calling it Valhalla and conquering Europe in the 1300s and controversially the Earth was created old, with fossils and everything.
Also Venus has a moon which is clearly visible to the naked eye, so the Geocentric model never takes off. The plot involves finding a flat copy of Earth which has Rome not Reme, no America (hence no Valhallan empire) and a moonless Venus. Since the Flat Earth is breaking down the protagonists end up moving the population to a regular copy of Earth.
The short story "Living Space" by Isaac Asimov plays with this trope: Our Earth (Earth Prime) has an official population of roughly one trillion, but most of those people live in a house on an alternate Earth where life never came into existence — a different alternate Earth for every single family. The story picks up where one homeowner complains that there is someone or something else living on their alt-Earth. Turns out Nazis from another alt-Earth where Hitler won WWII had the same idea, only instead of giving each family its own Earth, they decided to build entire cities. Oddly enough, the protagonist gets the Nazis to leave pretty easily — they agree that since his Earth built on this alt-Earth first, it properly belongs to his Earth. However, the story ends with a report of aliens appearing on another alt-Earth, and it's implied that this may be bad news for Earth Prime.
Robert Silverberg wrote a number of stories in a universe in which Rome never fell, taking place over the course of several thousand years, and collected in a book called Roma Eterna.
Moon of Ice by Brad Linaweaver is another one where Hitler wins the Second World War. Joseph Goebbels' daughter has escaped to a libertarian United States to publish her late father's diaries, which expose the truth about the regime, as well as an SS plot to seize power and commit genocide with bioweapons of all non-Aryan races.
Elizabeth Bear's New Amsterdam is the name of New York City in her alternate world where the thirteen colonies don't rebel against Great Britain until the early 20th century, are bounded by a Canada still controlled by the French, and the Iroquois Nation on the West and magic, were-creatures and vampires all exist. In the novellette "Seven For A Secret" she revisits the world in 1938 (the original story was set in 1903) set in a Britain occupied by the Prussian Empire.
Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen have written several alternate history novels together. 1945 (Not to be confused with the Robert Conroy book above) has Hitler not declaring war on the US after Pearl harbor which results in a much quicker Pacific War with Japan but also results in our staying out of the European war and Germany winning with a Cold War on the verge of heating up between the United States and Germany in the title year. They have also written a trilogy about a Battle of Gettysburg that ends differently and thus rings several changes in the Civil War.
James Herbert's 48 is set in a London which is almost uninhabited due to a plague released by the Germans in the last stages of WWII which proved more effective than they anticipated and killed most humans except for those with AB type blood.
Lance Parkin's Warlords of Utopia features a universe where Rome never fell creating alliances with other similar universes (including one that was Amazonian and another where the Dinosaurs never became extinct) going to war against multiple universes where the Nazis won and created an interuniversal Axis empire. The Romans won because the Nazis forgot the importance of training their soldiers to fight someone with a sword and a (kevlar lined) shield. Throw in some steampunk and you've a very fun story.
Robert Heinlein's Job: A Comedy of Justice takes its protagonist through several alternate worlds but starts in one where William Jennings Bryan became president, leading to a fundamentalist Christian dominated United States.
In the world of The Big One and its sequels by Stuart Slade a legal, bloodless coup by Lord Halifax against Churchill leads to Britain opting out of WWII in 1940 leading to, among other things, its lasting until 1947 and ending with the United States nuking Germany.
He also authored The Salvation War, where on 11 January 2008 God reveals his existence and that of Hell to say "the Pearly Gates are closed, you're all off to Hell when you die to be tortured by Satan's minions"... which to say the least is not taken well.
Sergey Lukyanenko's Seekers of the Sky duology takes place in a world where Jesus Christ was killed as a baby during the Massacre of the Innocents. Despite Jesus pleading God to allow him to return to Earth, God instead leaves another baby on Mary's doorstep. This child becomes God's Stepson, known to the people as the Redeemer, and God also grants him the Word, a divine power to put any number of objects into another dimention known as the Cold. Using this power, the Redeemer becomes the next Roman Emperor but eventually grows disillusioned with humanity upon the realization that humans will never give up on war. He then orders his disciples to tie him to a pole (as opposed to a cross), which he takes into the Cold along with himself and most of the world's iron (in attempt to prevent future wars). The novels take place 2000 years later in a world where iron is treated as gold, firearms are a rarity afforded to the nobility, only a select few know the Word, and the World Wars never happened.
The author even attempts to make the novels seem contemporary (despite taking place in an Alternate Reality) by adding several characters who could be considered duplicates of real-life people, including Arnold Schwarzenegger (a trigger-happy, square-jawed officer of the Guard), Antoine de Saint Exupery (a nobleman, a retired pilot, and an amateur poet), and Gérard Depardieu (thief-turned-bishop, miracle worker).
The novel Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld shows what might have happened if Darwin had discovered Genetic engineering and tanks had been invented in the Industrial Revolution using mechanical legs instead of treads, showing the start of World War I between Organic Technology using 'Darwinists' (the Entente Powers) and Steam Punk 'Clankers' (The Central Powers).
While this scenario is not particularly likely, an unopened copy of Gregor Mendel's paper on genetics was found in Darwin's study after his death. Darwin had tried and failed to come up with an effective mechanism for evolutionary change, and yet the answer had been sitting right in front of him the whole time (in German, to be sure, which he couldn't read).
Actually not true. Darwin did not have a copy of Mendel's paper since it was a very low profile journal that published it, however he did own a few books that referenced Mendel's work in passing. Not as ironic but Darwin probably would have noticed it if he had read the right book in his library.
There are other differences too: the 1906 revolution in the Ottoman Empire that turned the Empire into a democracy with the Sultan as a puppet figure failed, so the monarchy is still in place by 1914, leading to a second (successful) revolution being launched. With the Empire in turmoil, they never enter the war. Also, Nikola Tesla invented a superweapon that manipulates Earth's magnetic field (the Tunguska Event was actually a test firing), which he plans to use to end the war. The device doesn't actually work, but the Germans think it does, so they launch a secret attack on Tesla's lab in New Jersey. The Americans find out and enter the war 3 years early, ending the war within a year.
The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack uses this to explain the Steampunk setting it features; in this world a time-traveler, attempting to prevent his ancestor from attempting to kill Queen Victoria, instead causes the death of Victoria just three years into her rule. That and some leaked knowledge of future technology changes the world into a world with genetically modified animals, geothermic power, helicopters and more, all in 1861.
In the first The Edge novel, the Weird's history is significantly different from the Broken's. For one thing, their version of North America has multiple kingdoms the size of a few states, like the Republic of Texas.
In Keith Laumer's Worlds of the Imperium series, the protagonist goes from our Earth to one where WWI and the Russian Revolution never happened, one where Neanderthals ruled, one where Napoleon beat the British, and finally one where rats became the dominant sentient species.
Mary Gentle's Ash A Secret History presents an alternate late-medieval Europe where things are rather different in countless ways; unlike most alternate history, there is no obvious past point of divergence, although one, more a point of convergence, occurs at the end of the book.
Affinity Bridge by George Mann takes place in Victorian London. Nothing notable except for the Steam Punk...and zombies... and airships.
In Leo Frankowski's The Cross Time Engineer series, a 20th Century engineer is sent back to 13th Century Poland where, using his technical knowhow and with covert help from the future that sent him there he prevents the Mongol invasion, jump starts the Industrial Revolution and turns Poland into the major European power.
Jules Verne's Paris in the Twentieth Century is of the honorary variety — written in the 1860s, and set in the 1960s. Its description of the future is surprisingly accurate, all things considered, though it does imagine a world that runs largely on compressed air.
Sophia McDougall's book Romanitas is set in the modern day in a world where the Roman Empire never fell. It now spans most of the globe, with many countries having different names and borders based on Latin names. There are still slaves, crucifixion and worship of the old gods, but they also have televisions and telephones (called longscreens and longdictors, respectively).
An early example is Murray Leinster's 1934 novella Sidewise in Time, in which an unknown phenomenon switches random chunks of the Earth's surface with pieces from alternate histories, leading to Vikings and Roman legions appearing in different American cities, Native Americans who have never seen a European, and a region where the South won the American Civil War.
In Kit Whitfield's In Great Waters Venice makes an alliance with merfolk which leads to a brief empire that spans Eurasia in the 9th Century. After it falls apart the main difference is that just about all the royalty of Europe are part merfolk.
Dale Brown books have touches of this. For example, the mess with Libya in Wings of Fire started when apparent Big Bad Zuwayy carried out a coup against the Real Life ruler Gaddafi in the backstory, written well before Gaddafi was deposed IRL.
L. Neil Smith's The Probability Broach features a "North American Confederacy" which diverged from our timeline when Albert Gallatin, rather than brokering a peace to end the Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion leads an army against Washington and overthrows the U.S. government. The result is a government requiring the "unanimous consent" of the governed, relegating the state to only a few sparse actions taken in defense of the NAC throughout its history.
In Tim Doyle's Go, Mutants!, a parody that melds Teen Wangst 50s movies and 50s sci-fi movies, aliens and humans went to war in the 50s resulting in four US states and France being wiped out. Among other things Nixon won in 1960 and was a three-termer and Ronald Reagan is Vice-President in 72 (when the story occurs).
George Mann's Ghosts of Manhattan takes place in a 1926 where the United States and the British Empire (which is substantially bigger) had a falling out after WWI and are currently engaged in a cold war.
Philip Roth's The Plot Against America features an alternate history in which an isolationist and anti-Semitic Charles Lindbergh defeats Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election.
Patricia C. Wrede's Frontier Magic series takes place in an 1800s United States frontier times where western expansion is held back by dragons and other magical creatures. While mostly our world with magic, the alternate politics and nations are sometimes touched upon.
The Celestial Empire books by Chris Roberson take place in an alternate history where the Chinese rose to dominance during the Middle Ages. They, alongside their enemies the Aztec, are the dominant cultures in the world in present day. And there are space ships.
Time and Again by Jack Finney plays with this. There is evidence, in his universe, of alternate histories: a newspaper from 1916 with no evidence that the world is in the midst of war; a man who has a campaign button for JFK's second term; an old man who swears he saw the Titanic pull into New York harbor when he was 12 years old. There are a select few people who, with special training, can travel back in time. They attempt first to avert the war, and then to stop the Titanic from sinking, and fail in both attempts. In fact, their slight alteration of the Titanic's course is what caused the ship to hit the iceberg. Oops.
In the Vampire Empire series, vampires rise up in 1870 and drive humans out of much of the northern hemisphere.
Otto Basil's The Twilight Men is set in a rather bleak version of the Europe in 1960's. The Third Reich won the World War II and rules a large part of the Continental Europe, facing war with its former ally, Imperial Japan. National Socialism mutated into National Materialism (described as nihilistic dictatorship) while sprouting an underground, mystical cult worshiping Hitler as an Odin-like figure. The Führer himself dies of natural causes at the onset of the plot.
While it's non-fiction, the book Why the West Rules, For Now by Ian Morris includes a couple of vignettes, one positing a world where China discovered the New World and went on to dominate the globe and another, possibly in the same universe, where Prince Albert is sent to Peking as a hostage after the British fleet is destroyed by the Chinese.
Red Plenty by Francis Spufford postulates that the Soviet Union decided to outdo their capitalist rivals by creating an efficient planned economy with the help of computers and linear programming. Subverted however in that we never see the bountiful communist society of The Eighties; after Premier Khrushchev is forced into retirement his successors are more interested in maintaining the status quo than carrying out risky economic reforms, and therefore history proceeds similar to our own.
The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, shows a world in which Charles Babbage succeeded in developing his Difference Engine, and later developed an Analytical Engine(i.e. a functioning computer) during the late 1800s. As a result, the Computer Revolution took place at the same time as the Industrial Revolution, and Great Britain is now one of the most powerful nations on Earth. One of the first books ever to be called Steampunk
In the Age of Unreason series by Gregory Keyes, Sir Isaac Newton discovered the fundamental laws of alchemy instead of physics, resulting in a world where transmutation weapons tilt the balance of the Revolutionary War.
Stephen Baxter's Time's Tapestry series is essentially one of different alternate histories, all tied to one character.
Kim Newman's Anno Dracula novels are a sort of Alternate Fiction; What if Dracula was real ... and more competent than Bram Stoker's version? It gets meta when he establishes that in the AD universe, Stoker invented alternate history with his wish-fulfillment novel of Dracula getting distracted by Mina Harker and killed by van Helsing and his Ragtag Band of Misfits.
Newman is also co-writer of Back in the USSA with Eugene Byrne, in which the Communist revolution happens in America instead of Russia, and wrote the two "Alternate Major" stories (a Dystopia where John Major is the leader of Nazi Britain, and a Utopia where he cheerfully remains a bus conductor).
In Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ichiguro, the question asked is "What if human cloning was invented sooner? What if cancer was curable, but only with the use of these clones?"
Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis tells of an alternate WWII where the Nazis have psychic child soldiers and the British have sorcery.
In Mike Resnick's The Buntline Special the western border of the United States in 1881 is the Mississippi due to Indian magic.
Killing Ground, by Bruce Powe, is about what could have happened had the volatile situation with Québec separatists in the 1960's exploded into full-blown civil war.
In a real life-ish example, one of the essays in James Bond in the 21st Century has sci-fi author Mark W. Tiedemann imagining a world where Sean Connery wasn't Bond in Dr. No.
The Kingsley Amis novella The Alteration is set in a world where two events change the course of history: Martin Luther never sparked the Protestant Reformation and instead was reconciled with the Catholic Church (and is even elected Pope), and in England Prince Arthur Tudor lives long enough to produce an heir with Catherine of Aragon. The result is that most of western Europe is still under the influence of the Catholic Church and the Papacy, with the Republic of New England one of the few parts of the world where Protestantism has taken root.
The lurid and explicit dystopias peddled by the New English Library as hideous warnings of where Britain might end up are usually set Twenty Minutes into the Future and so count as a sort of alternate history. A typically ludicrous example is Striker, where under the pressure of soccer riots, civil order has broken down to the extent where football hooligans run their own patchwork of anarchic states in what was formerly Great Britain...
In Kathleen Anne Goonan's In War Times a group of time travelers extend FDR's life long enough for him to have a fifth term and prevent JFK's assassination in order to create a Mary Suetopia.
Another "honorary alternate history" is Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka's Warday (published in 1984) which depicts a "limited" nuclear war in 1988. In a case of Write Who You Know the authors recount their (fictional) experiences in the war and travel across a devastated and depopulated America to show the consequences of the war. The eastern half of the country has been destroyed by bombings on San Antonio, New York, and Washington, DC and the breakdown of order while California is pretty much untouched and has become an undeclared separate country with closed borders.
The Map Of Time takes place in a Britain where Jack the Ripper was caught. This is later revealed to be the result of time travel shenanigans. Also a time traveler attempts to create another timeline in which he is known as the author of The Invisible Man, The Turn of the Screw and Dracula by killing the authors (H. G. Wells, Henry James and Bram Stoker respectively) after they're written but before they're published.
In Eon from The Way Series, the book ends with Patricia escaping from The Way to an alt-earth where the Ptolemy dynasty never fell, and is now a member of an Mediterranean federation. The asteroid ship Thistledown also hails from an alternate universe, one where the Industrial Revolution took place in East Asia rather than Europe. The trilogyy itself qualifies as honorary alternate history. It was written in 1975 and did not anticipate the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the U.S.S.R.. In this reality 2005 has come and gone without a nuclear war.
In the 1986 novel Replay, the main character is stuck in a 25-year "Groundhog Day" Loop from 1963 to 1988. The timeline is changed only slightly on most replays, except for one where he and another replayer went public, which ended up drastically changed.
Stephen King's 11/22/63 follows a man who finds a way to time-travel back to 1958 and plans to live in the past up to the titular date and stop JFK's assassination. He succeeds in preventing the assassination, but when he travels back to 2011 he finds that the world's become a nuclear winter-scarred, bleak landscape, which is explained as due to a combination of nuclear war, domestic terrorism, constant earthquakes, and general lawlessness.
In The Long Walk, the setting appears to be America in the 1980s, except for a few blink-and-you'll-miss-it details dropped in the narrative, namely the occurrence of the "German air-blitz of the American East Coast during the last days of World War II", and the existence of April 31st and a 51st state.
The Alaska Royals series by MaryJanice Davidson takes place in a world where the Seward Purchase of Alaska never took place and it became an independent kingdom ruled by the Baranov family. Subverted in that except for Alaska being an independent monarchy everything else seems to be exactly the same.
In the Betsy the Vampire Queen series the title character creates a timeline where Christian Louboutain was never born. A tiny difference to most people but to the shoe obsessed Betsy it's worse than if the Nazis had won.
Joanna Russ's The Female Man takes place over several alternate worlds, one in which Hitler was assassinated in 1936, World War II never happened and the Depression never ended, one in which there is a literal "war of the sexes" going on in which men and women live in different nations and one in which all men were killed in a plague and women reproduce parthenogenetically. The last one is presented as a Mary Suetopia. Or perhaps a Crapsaccharine World as it's hinted that the disease was not natural but a deliberate murder of the men.
Count and Countess by Rose Christo presents an alternate history wherein Elizabeth Bathory served as Princess Regnant of Hungary. Most of the alternate history in the novel is a result of its plot device, though, wherein a very young Vlad Dracula and Elizabeth Bathory begin writing letters to one another despite the 100+ years standing between them.
James P. Hogan's The Proteus Operation begins in a 1975 where the Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan dominate the globe with only North America, Australia and New Zealand remaining free. The title project is an attempt to go back in time and prevent an Axis victory in WWII. It turns out that the rise of Hitler was engineered by another group of time travelers from an incipient Mary Suetopia in 2025 where a milder, shorter Great Depression left the Weimar Republic standing and Hitler and the Nazi Party were relegated to an obscure historical footnote. The interference of the 1970s time travelers results in our world coming to be.)
Kim Newman (again)'s Dark Future novels as Jack Yeovil are set in an alternate timeline where Kennedy's extra-marital affairs led to him losing the election to Nixon; the Cuban Missile Crisis never happened, Reagan carried on acting, the Bay of Pigs Invasion worked for America and The Vietnam War superpowers were the USSR and China. Russia never completed its manned space programme and the world is wracked by environmental collapse. Oh, and The King is still alive.
Larry Niven's Known Space series is an example of the "honorary alternate history" variant mentioned above. Many of its more fanciful aspects that happened in the late 20th century (legal rights and translators for dolphins, mining and colonies on Mercury and Venus) have changed from prediction into alternate history as the decades since the series started have passed. On the bright side, organ harvesting isn't nearly as bad as it predicted either.
The shared universe book Exile: Clan of the Claw, edited and created by Bill Fawcett (with S.M. Stirling, Harry Turtledove, John Ringo and Jody Lynn Nye among the contributors) takes place in a world where the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs never happened (apparently there are very few asteroids in that solar system according to the introduction) resulting not only in sentient dinosaurs with Psychic Powers but in an intelligent mammalian species descended not from apes but from felines.
The short story "The Prophet of Flores" by Ted Kosmatka takes place in a world where intelligent design beat out evolution as the prevailing biological theory. It has been expanded into a novel, Prophet of Bones.
In Ian Mc Donald's Planesrunner, first of a trilogy, there are ten known alternate worlds, including ours. In Planesrunner only three are explained in any detail. E2 has an Islamic Britain due to the island being located a hundred miles west of the Straits of Gibraltar instead of north of continental Europe. Oddly enough Ireland is still where it belongs. E3 has elements of both Steam Punk and Raygun Gothic. There's no oil in that world so everything is powered by coal but there are also no steam engines due to the electric motor being invented first (the very earliest was hand cranked). E4 is the most similar, 9/11 never happened, Al Gore ran again in 2004 and won. Also something odd and as yet unexplained happened to its moon. Aliens landed on and colonized it in 1963. Their presence was known by Earth's governments but not revealed for 20 years. The Moon landing in '69 was actually a diplomatic mission No one talks about E1 and it's quarantined as the result of a nanotech experiment gone horribly wrong.
In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series, the creation of an alternate history where Carthage won the Punic Wars throws the Patrol into frantic efforts to revert time. In another story a rogue agent attempts to stop the protagonist from preventing the Mongol Empire from discovering America.
Sergey Anisimov explores two alternate histories in his The "Bis" Variant series. The first book shows what might have happened had the Nazis joined the Allies in World War II against the USSR in 1944. The second novel, titled The Year of the Dead Serpent describes an alternate Korean War, possibly resulting from the first novel.
The Island of Crimea by Vasily Aksyonov postulates What If? the Crimean peninsular was an island in the Black Sea. This results in the Russian Civil War taking a different turn in 1917, when the last forces of the Whites (i.e. the Tsarists) retreat across the icy Black Sea to the island, preparing for a last stand against the rapidly approaching Reds (Communists). However, a British ship present in the area ends up opening fire on the Reds, cracking the ice and forcing their retreat. By the time the Reds are prepared to attack again, the Whites have built up considerable defenses, turning the island into a fortress. This, effectively, creates an independent Russian nation separate from Soviet Russia. Additionally, the author hypothesizes that this new nation would remain neutral during World War II and become more pro-Western during the Cold War period, having the best resorts in Europe, with the culture of Crimea being a strange blend of Russian, Soviet, and Western cultures, adding the local Tatars into the mix. It should be noted that the author's aim was to write a political satire, not a science fiction novel. Which is why the novel was never published in the USSR.
Bayonet and Faith: The Russian Revolution has unintended consequences and results in conflicts and desires for freedom throughout the world. It doesn't help that people suddenly start developing strange (possibly magical) abilities which only serves to fuel the fire.
Commodore: A group of passengers board an ocean cruise liner not expecting to end up in the days of Peter the Great. Several of them decide to use their knowledge and cunning to elevate Imperial Russia above its neighbors.
The Russian Frontier: What If? Spain sold Mexico to the Russian Empire following Napoleon's defeat?
Mikhail Pervukhin was one of the first Russian authors to write in this genre. His story Napoleon's Second Life (1917) involves Napoleon escaping St. Helena to Africa and creating a new empire. The novel Pugachev the Victor (1924) involves the Cossack leader Yemelyan Pugachev, who attempted to take the Russian throne in the 18th century, succeeding in his task and becoming the next Russian Emperor.
John Barnes' Finity, set in 2062, has lots of them arranged in "braids" gathered around a major difference but with minor differences between them. The two main braids dealt with are "The Reichs" where Nazi Germany won World War II and by the mid 21st century is a commonwealth of twelve semi-independent Reichs (The Dutch, French, English, American etc) that dominate the world with Japan and Italy controlling East Asia and Africa respectively and a handful of minor democracies and "Diego Garcia" where the last remnant of the US in a Soviet dominated world is a trio of small islands in the Indian Ocean. A offshoot of the Diego Garcia braid is the "Puritan Party" one where the United States remains independent but at the cost of becoming a fundamentalist Protestant theocratic republic.
His Kaleidoscope Century is the narrative of an alternate future where the pivotal event was Yeltsin getting his brains splattered over the tank he was standing on and the coup against Gorbachev succeeding resulting in renewed and accelerated hostilities between NATO and the Soviet Union, ending in the Eurowar.
The Aztec Century is a British novel from 1993 and has the Aztecs go on world-conquering.
Matt Ruff's Mirage takes place in a United Arab States that occupies most of the Middle East, having successfully split from the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th century, that has to deal with attacks from extremist Christian terrorists. There is an Israel but it's in northern Germany with southern Germany having been occupied since the 1967 Six Days War.
Terry Pratchett's and Stephen Baxter's The Long Earth takes place in a world where, in 2015, humanity is introduced to a simple, cheap way of entering other Earths, on which alternate history scenarios play out on a geological and evolutionary time scale.
In The Boy by Robert Reed, Jesus was a woman, which caused Christianity to become a matriarchal religion rather than patriarchal. When Islam popped up in the 7th century - with a male prophet - the current Pope immediately launched The Crusades, effectively eliminating Islam as a major force. By the time the story takes place (sometime in the 20th or 21st century), men are still essentially considered second-class citizens in the western world. Asia has no major powers, and is instead broken up into hundreds of feuding city-states and small nations.
An Older Than Feudalism example: Livy pondered what might have happened had Alexander gone West and conquered Europe rather than Asia. As a patriotic Roman, he (rather implausibly) suggested that the Romans would have fought him off.
In The Nanking War by Ryan McCall, an incident during the Nanking Massacre and a slightly different Panay Incident provokes a war between Japan and the USA, Britain and Germany.
John Wyndham's short story "Random Quest" concerns a man being accidentally and temporarily shifted into the body of his alternate self in a timeline where Hitler never rose to power and thus World War II never happened; he's unable to pin down the exact moment of divergence beyond "sometime in the late 1920's" before snapping back home.
Samantha Shannon's The Bone Season is a rare example of an alternate history set in the future, in this case 2059. The PoD is 1859 when mysterious lights over Oxford England are followed by it being destroyed in a massive fire then quarantined off. Later in 1905 Edward VII is discovered to have been Jack the Ripper and to have conducted Black Magic rites that opened a portal to dark forces and the Monarchy is done away and replaced by the British Republic. This is all government propaganda. The lights over Oxford were caused by a race of extradimensional vampires from the Netherworld called the Rephaim who colluded with elements of the British government to set up a dictatorship under the guise of a Republic. Whether Edward was actually Jack the Ripper or not is uncertain. While the government claims that Voyants, people with psychic powers only sprang into existence after Edward's supposed magic rites a Rephaim reveals that it was an upsurge in the number of Voyants that attracted their attention in the first place.
War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches contains multiple examples of how the Martian invasion from War of the Worlds affected history. For example: both China and India manage to shake of colonial tutlelage and become independent 50 years earlier than in real life. China also remains a monarchy. Russia becomes a stable Constitutional Monarchy and Stalin, who never rises to power in this reality, remains an obscure revolutionary. Pulitzer is killed by Martians before having had a chance to endow the Pulitzer Prize. And in this universe, it is Henry James who wrote “The War of the Worlds”.
Atlantic Monthly magazine had a feature in one of its issues in which it asked various people on how things would have been different if 9/11 hadn't happened including a lengthy feature by Andrew Sullivan which featured changes such as Al Gore running for President and winning in 2004 and, after escalating tensions with the Taliban and nuclear terrorist attacks on four major cities (New York, Moscow, London and Los Angeles) first Afghanistan and then Pakistan get invaded.
The Execution Channel by Ken McLeod takes place Twenty Minutes into the Future in a world where Al Gore was elected in 2000, 9/11 happened anyway (but in Boston, not New York and Washington DC) and America wound up invading not only Iraq, but Iran as well.
In Larry Correia's Grimnoir Chronicles Mutants Actives, people with magic powers start appearing in the mid-19th century. There are also more mundanes departures like Teddy Roosevelt choosing a military rather than political career, becoming a general and dying in The Great War, Hitler being arrested and executed in 1929, Berlin being destroyed by Tesla's "Peace Ray which ended the war in 1918, the Great Dust Bowl being started early in 1927 by an American weather control experiment Gone Horribly wrong (in OTL the first serious droughts and windstorms hit in 1933) and the Titanic being saved by an Active from the iceberg.
Live Action TV
Spike TV ran a one-shot special, entitled "Alternate History", covering what would've happened if Hitler won World War II. It wound up being a spectacular example of Artistic License - History when covering how we get to that point. More details are provided in this review. Some examples:
The biggest is the complete exclusion of the Russian Front. You know, where the German Army got ground down? Where some of the defining battles of the war, such as Stalingrad and Kursk, were fought? Even if the Germans had managed to repel the Allies at D-Day, they still had the whole issue of millions of pissed off Soviets marching on Berlin to deal with.
Speaking of D-Day, the rationale they give for a German victory is...deployment of the Me-262 jet fighter. Let's go through why this is flawed.
One of the key aspects of Operation Overlord was aerial supremacy. The Allies controlled the skies over the Channel.
Yes, being a jet aircraft, the Me-262 had some advantages over propeller based fighters. But the jet engines didn't make it a superplane (Its performance not being critically better than any other plane constructed) - by the end of the war, Allied forces had racked up several 262 kills.
By 1944, Germany was having several problems with manufacture of jet engines - namely, they no longer had the resources to make them properly. The engines they could manufacture didn't last - they had to be rebuilt after operation, and had a short operational life.
Then there's the whole "nuke the East Coast" bit. There's a reason the Civilization games have always made The Manhattan Project a world wonder - the effort to produce a viable nuclear weapon required a massive amount of research and resources; there's a famous anecdote that when General Groves asked for such-and-such a number of tons of silver from the U.S. Treasury, he got the starchy reply that "we do not speak of tons of silver at the Treasury. Our unit of measure is the troy ounce." (He did get the silver in the end.) The production of fissionable material alone took not only massive facilities to process the material, but large amounts of power to run said facilities (which is why the facilities were built in the Tennessee Valley.) Then there was figuring out how to make an atomic bomb actually work. And the US faced all that without any serious efforts to undermine the project - whereas Germany had their program hindered by several notable acts of sabotage, such as having a major shipment of heavy water scuttled. In addition, one of the great wastes of resources Germany committed was the whole driving out or killing of the Jewish scientists. You could say that in this "Alternate History" they didn't do that, but then they wouldn't really have been, well, Nazis. Aryan supremacy was a core plank of Nazi belief systems, and they were just not pragmatic enough to compromise on that.
There was also the fact that Germany's nuclear program was actually nine separate rival programs, each actively hindering and the others and fighting for ever-dwindling budget. They were also constrained by ideologically-correct "German Physics," which threw out several relatively recently-discovered principles that made the Manhattan Project possible because they were considered tainted by association with Jews. The Nazis did everything possible to make sure that their nuclear programs would be nothing but abject failures in every area imaginable, something "Germans make nukes first" scenarios conveniently gloss over.
Hell, even if they DID manage to win the war by forcing the US and Soviets to surrender over nuclear bombs, there is no way they would ever enforce their laws in the US. The militeristic and patriotic nature of the nations would force encourage an active rebellion against their controllers. Same goes with the United Kingdom. Controlling and patrolling a nation is much harder than forcing it to surrender (as has been evidenced several times in the Middle East). Germany would be burning through resources and money to no end trying to even establish a proper police force.
Korean drama The King 2 Hearts takes place in an alternate universe where modern day South Korea is a constitutional monarchy.
The TV series Sliders used this as its entire premise. Every episode our heroes slide into a new alternate present.
An interesting episode has them slide into a world with technology decades (if not centuries) ahead of normal. This is due to World War II lasting several years longer than in our world, resulting in a different president being elected. So when Roswell That Ends Well came around, he made a decision to go public with the knowledge of aliens instead of covering it up. The resulting technological trade jump-started American progress, allowing for a manned mission to Mars to take place (apparently, the Reticulans were smart enough to not to give a primitive warlike race interstellar travel technology).
A two-part episode of Star Trek: Enterprise is set in an altered timeline where time-traveling aliens had armed the Nazis with an arsenal of devastating energy weapons, leading to the rapid conquest of Europe, Asia and at least the eastern seaboard of the U.S. It features a highly entertaining alternate-universe propaganda clip describing the bright, shining future in store for America now that it's Germany's "partner". The point of divergence was the assassination of Lenin before he could turn Russia communist, though by the time of World War 2 itself, the aliens have become open allies of the Nazis.
Saturday Night Live parodied this. For some reason all the questions came from a ten-year old kid in New Jersey, starting with, "What if Eleanor Roosevelt could fly?"
"What if Spartacus had a Piper Cub?"
"What if Napoleon had a fully armed B-52 at the battle of Waterloo?"
"What if the Aztecs had had escalators?" (Apparently it allowed them to fight off Cortez)
The BBC serial ''An Englishman's Castle" is set in an alternate 1970s, in which Nazi Germany had invaded and occuppied Britain during WWII. The protagonist is the writer of a popular soap opera (also called "An Englishman's Castle") that is set during the Battle of Britain.
Aside from the whole "aliens crashlanding on Earth" part of the story, apparently Puerto Rico is a US state and the ERA passed in Alien Nation.
Shockingly, Doctor Who has only made this central to the plot once. While the Doctor has meddled (or stopped meddling) in history all throughout the shows run, it was in "Turn Left" where we got the alternate history of "What if the Doctor was not there to defend the Earth?" Needless to say, it was pretty ugly.
In one 4th Doctor adventure Sarah Jane asks why they don't just leave to avoid getting killed since they know the Big Bad didn't destroy earth in the 19th century since she is from 20th century Earth. The Doctor explains that now that they are involved in events alternate histories are inevitable and her Earth may never exist if they don't stop the Big Bad. He even takes her to her "present" and shows her a blasted wasteland that will result if they don't go back and fix things.
The series is pretty much about alternate histories in practice, they are just subtle about it. Over the years many incompatible histories and futures are shown from adventure to adventure. Showrunner Steven Moffat has outright SAID that continuity errors aren't continuity errors, we just haven't seen the episode where the Doctor's travelled back in time to change history.
However these become a major plot point in the 8th Doctor's earliest stories in Big Finish Doctor Who. In "Invaders from Mars" there is a different number of U.S states and Orson Welles doesn't recognise Shakespeare. "Time of the Daleks" elaborates on what happened to Shakespeare, and in "Neverland" it is revealed that the Doctor saving Charley Pollard is causing the Universe to be infected by Anti-Time, which is destroying the Web of Time.
In JAG there really was a smoking gun connecting Saddam Hussein to Al-Qaeda, discovered by U.S. troops in one of Saddam's palaces, as seen in "Lawyers, Guns and Money". However this information appear to be classified (for some reason), because a year later Harm, Mac & Bud prepare their defense arguments before the International Criminal Court in "People v. SecNav" and Mac explicitly states that there is no smoking gun connecting Al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein.
Parodied in the 2012 Royal Canadian Air Farce special in a hilarious case of Russian Reversal. When the Soviets won the 1972 Summit Series against Canada, the Soviets then proceeded to conquer the country and turn it into Soviet Canuckistan for real. Canada now flies the hammer and sickle, eats at Vladimir Hortons (a parody of Tim Hortons), and hockey greats like Paul Henderson were forgotten. Fortunately, Paul Henderson himself wakes up from his nightmare.
As pointed out in History of Power Rangers the Power Rangers franchise takes place in a universe where the Earth's Moon has a breathable atmosphere and apparently Earth normal gravity. Also it was still being visited by astronauts until Rita Repulsa was freed, by said astronauts.
Additionally, the city of Los Angeles was first settled by the British and is called Angel Grove, and a number of other cities have alternate names, indicating similar alternate histories; most prominently, Boston was named Corinth in Power Rangers RPM.
!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.
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.
Alternate histories are a key element of the Feng ShuiTabletop 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 RPGTraveller 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 to appear over Mount Fuji that in 2011.
"Aces and 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.
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.
Metal Gear Solid 3 does this by explaining that the Cold War happened because the Soviet Union, China and America originally plotted together to combat the Axis Powers and that after the war there has been a power struggle to reobtain the vast amount of wealth they have pooled. Other oddities created by this include the existence of the Cobra unit and mobile nuclear death machines.
Used subtly in Assassin's Creed I, to explain the differences in construction styles from history (which to the expert border on Schizo Tech, but to the layman are nearly invisible and easily justifiable through Scenery Porn and Rule of Cool) and also to insert the Assassins and the Templars into the political mix. So, you have several buildings in a Gothic style that wouldn't come in vogue for hundreds of years, and several people who died historically during the time of Assassin's Creed I were "revealed" to have been killed by Altair (your targets in-game). Also, the Twenty Minutes into the Future framing story, with plagues sending people illegally migrating to Mexico and year round hurricanes, not to mention the presence of the Animus itself, suggest a far different history than our own. However, this is all covered up by the Templars.
Fallout: In the Fallout universe, The Sixties never occurred, and the sociopolitical standards of The Fifties continued well into the 21st century, with all the extenuating political, artistic, and scientific implications:
The Cold War never ended, and China became the United States' ultimate enemy.
The US invaded Mexico and annexed Canada.
Computing evolved to the degree at which robots were commonplace and sentient computers were uncommon; however, said computers are still powered by vacuum tubes and have monochromatic monitors.
Cold fusion was discovered, (from Power armor research) and even some cars run on nuclear batteries (as evidenced in Fallout 3, when you blow up a car and a mushroom cloud forms).
There are minor changes in the history of the Fallout universe pre-WWII; witness, for example, Alien abductions at least since 1603 and the Sunset Sarsaparilla est 1918. Abraham Lincoln's gold-plated Henry repeater actually existed — although in the Fallout universe, it was chambered in .44 Magnum, rather than .44 Henry.
Red Alert 3 confuses the situation even more, when a Soviet time travel experiment causes Einstein to be removed from time in the '20s, causing a 3-way war between the Allies, the Soviets, and the Japanese.
The old PlayStation 2 game Ring Of Red asks what if the atomic bombs were never dropped, and instead, the US and Soviet Union invaded Japan... Oh, and what if Humongous Mecha were developed in the war.
The game Freedom Fighters takes place in an alternate history in which two key things changed - first, the Soviets invented the atomic bomb and used it to end the World War II in Europe, and secondly, the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved in their favor. The strategic and political repercussions of these changes allowed the Soviet Union not only to survive, but to begin an invasion of the US in the early 21st century.
Resistance: Fall of Man takes place in an alternate history where, in the 30s, The Virus appeared and swept across Europe in place of the Nazis. The game takes place in the early 50s, by which time it's reached England.
According to the website for the first game the point of divergence for the timeline was Spain declaring war on the United States before the USS Maine incident. For some reason after that event, the White Russians won the Russian Civil War, the United States did not pass the Smooth-Hawley Tariff Act so it only faced a recession instead of the Great Depression, and without economic collapse Germany stayed with the Weimar Republic until all of Europe fell to the Chimera.
The real POD was when The Virus arrived in Russia shortly after the Tunguska incident.
The Big Bad erases the Origin Points; Events/places/people where history began thus altering the intended future, however the heroes restore the Origin Points but instead of creating the intended history, they create alternate versions of it; for example in the intended history Aeroharmonics was never perfected, but after the heroes defeat Dr. Jaming, Aeroharmonics was developed and mastered.
After completing The World Ends with You, you can access the "Another Day" chapter, which takes place in an alternate storyline in which the main characters take on completely different lives; Neku's passion in life is a Mini-Game that has become Serious Business, Higashizawa is a booth babe, Konishi is Beat's teacher, among other things. Collecting Secret Reports reveals that Another Day is an alternate, parallel timeline, one of many that people of higher powers can jump to.
Chrome Hounds: The game is set in 2006, with the USSR still in existence, the US out of touch with mostly everyone, and most importantly: Humongous Mecha being deployed in warzones.
Mace: The Dark Age exists in a world where neither Christianity nor Islam existed. Without these religions, Europe and Arabia is heavily Balkanized. Meanwhile in Asia, Genghis Khan's descendants continue to rule.
The 1946 expansion pack of the IL-2 Sturmovik combat flight sim series focused on an alternate World War II, which got prolonged by a year due to a botched Operation Overlord. It featured many prototypes of Cool Planes of both the Allies and Axis, most of which never got into the air or even off the drawing board due to the end of the war. A lot of these are early jet fighters.
Same thing but on the smaller scale of Medieval Europe happens in Knights of Honor. You start out in a historical correct situation, but you (and the AI) change history simply by playing the game. Space-Filling Empire happens a lot, but thanks to political unrest it almost as often devolves into Balkanize Me.
The Sunset Invasion DLC for Crusader Kings II guarantees it, creating an alternate history where the Aztecs invade Europe in the Middle Ages.
Date Warp involves a setting in which The American Revolution never happened, and the area equivalent to the USA is split into Atlanta, which is part of the British Commonwealth, and Eldorado, which isn't.
Battlestations Pacific, has an entire campaign based around this, ending in the US signing a surrender treaty on the Californian shore.
According to Jumper, attempts at creating "ultimate soldiers" began as early as 1888.
The tutorial campaign of Empire Earth 2 follows the Aztec Empire through an alternate history where it wins against the conquistadors, establishes an independent nation, helps the Americans defeat the British, and ends up fighting a war with a fascist Inca Empire in the 1930s.
The Modern Warfare games take place in an alternate future where an ultra-nationalist faction in Russia, nostalgic for the USSR of old, takes over the country and battles it out every now and then with NATO. Apparently, history diverged around the events of Chernobyl.
For World at War, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, the point of divergence instead goes back at least as far as October 1945, with Germany developing another super-weapon that just so happened to fall into Russian hands after the war, with the consequences being that the Soviets are ready to unleash that weapon on America at the height of The Vietnam War. There's also more than expected going on with Manuel Noriega and Operation Just Cause - not to mention the whole Nazi Zombies business.
Covert Front has three main points of divergence: a technological revolution in the 19th century that leads to a Steam Punk world, World War One beginning in 1901, and scientists inventing a device that can spontaneously create whatever a hooked-up person is thinking of.
The Doomsday expansion for Hearts of Iron II has for its titular campaign an alternate 1945/46 where the Allies and Soviets declare war on each other almost right after World War II ends. Some of the series' mods, such as Kaiserreich, take the concept further.
This is based on a real life contingency plan by the western Allies, called Operation Unthinkable, for an attack on Soviet forces, using captured and rearmed German troops as auxiliaries. It was ultimately ruled unfeasible, as the Red Army outnumbered Anglo-American forces 3:1, had better and shorter supply lines, and nuclear weaponry could not be produced fast enough to be effective. See the other Wiki.
The Armageddon expansion includes a campaign where World War II happened differently. Multiple points of divergence occurred.
The Russian Revolution failed while Ukraine seceded to become the Cossacks. The Bourbon dynasty continues and manages to merge the Spanish and French branches. Africa and South America embraces Communism after the fall of former European colonies. India becomes a Republic after the British lost control. Siam unifies Southeast Asia to repel colonial forces. Sweden annexes its neighbors. The United States annexed Canada at the cost of recognizing the Confederates. The United Kingdom, Persia, Italy and Japan fell to Communism as a result of poor leadership. China continues to be a Republic without it splintering into warlord groups. Prussia and the Ottoman Empire attempt to restore their glory. And finally, for some reason Tannu Tuva is the only nation in the world that didn't pick a side.
The RTS version of Axis & Allies features two campaigns: one for the Allies and one for the Axis. The Axis campaign diverges with the Battle of Crete going well for the Germans. Afterwards, Rommel takes El Alamein and the Suez Canal, followed by Manstein seizing Stalingrad. The Japanese invade Australia, depriving the Americans of a staging area in the Pacific. The Allies launch the D-Day Invasion, but Rommel and Rundstedt drive them back, setting the stage for victory in Operation Sea Lion. The Japanese then stomp out the last British resistance in India and later aide the Germans in the capture of Moscow. Finally, Admiral Yamamoto wipes out the American fleet, captures Midway and Hawaii, leaving the Americans unable to continue fighting.
Mini-Manhattan in Prototype has its tallest in-game building resembling one of the former World Trade Center towers, if only vaguely.
Making History is all about creating this, without a particular alternate timeline in mind.
Illusion of Gaia turns out to be this, to an extreme degree- a comet that contains Dark Gaia passed by the Earth at some point and scrambled history severely. Certain things still exist but the planet was quite messed up. After defeating Dark Gaia in the end, the planet is restored to its modern 20th century.
Until the sequel, Terranigma, where Dark Gaia comes back and completely wipes out the Earth again. The hero is sent out to the surface to revive everything, turning the world into a mix between Alternate History and Anachronism Stew- Christopher Columbus exists alongside modern New York and futuristic Tokyo.
The original Mega Man (Classic) series takes place in early 21st century (the earliest games actually marked the year 200X instead of 20XX) and because it's already 2012 by now, it's safe to assume that the series takes place in an Alternate Techline where robots evolved quite fast during the Cold War.
Aztec Wars: The Aztecs decided to move out of the Americas before their discovery by Columbus, and proceeded to conquer most of the world. The Russians and Chinese are the only ones holding out against them. All sides use Steampunk liberally.
Nuclear Union has the following opening line to illustrate just how significantly things have diverged;
"Every child knows the glorious story that lead to today. When the Capitalist Alliance lead by the Americans refused to allow our defensive screen in Cuba, in 1962, and then attacked us with nuclear weapons. However our Motherland and the Soviet Forces were better prepared than the dogs knew. We leveled them, and half the planet, to show our sickle is sharp and the hammer hits hard indeed!"
Enigma: Rising Tide is a naval simulation game set in alternate 1937, where Imperial Germany (now called the German Weltreich) dominates Europe, as a result of the RMS Lusitania never being sunk, and the US never joining World War One. There are three sides in the game: Germany (maintaining a large fleet of U-boats and battleships), US (carriers and destroyers), and the League of Free Nations (submarines and the HMS Hood). The LFN is composed of Imperial Japan and the British government-in-exile headed by Churchill. Interestingly, the ending of chapter 1 (chapter 2 was never made due to the developer going out of business) implies that the Americans are evil in this version of history, as their surprise attack on Scapa Flow, crippling the German fleet, has clear parallels to Pearl Harbor in our history. Chancellor von Richthofen (yes, that one) gives a speech eerily similar to FDR's own following the attack and declares the end of the age of the battleship. The ending cutscene shows the Bismark and the Tirpitz being converted into a new class of ship - the battlecarrier, featuring a flight deck but still having large forward-facing guns.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution, while taking place in the future, reveals itself to be this in the background material. For starters, the level of prosthesis technology had advanced to such a degree that in the early 2000's, U.S Soldiers were using early mechanical augmentations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another point of divergence is that Blackwater completely broke up, rather than reforming into Xi, allowing for the rise of Belltower.
Battle Zone 1998 takes place in the 1960s, during The Space Race. However, instead of simply launching a couple of men into space, the USA and the USSR have been launching hundreds of soldiers to the moon and other planets in order to find more of the Bio-Metal that allows them to create extremely advanced Hover Tanks in mere seconds. The first mission starts off panning around the Apollo 11 lander sitting on the lunar surface, then spins around to show an entire military base in the background, with a hover tank driving towards it.
Battlezone II: Combat Commander takes place 30 years after the first game. Bio-metal is now public knowledge, though the real events of the Space Race are still top secret. The International Space Defense Force possesses huge interplanetary carriers, laser cannons, and fusion reactors.
Body Harvest starts out as this. The aliens attack in 1916 in the middle of World War One, and then slowly annihilate mankind by returning once every 25 years to consume entire countries.
Naval Assault: The Killing Tide uses an alternate history World War 2 with some major alterations to benefit the naval combat of the game. The Nazis emerge victorious over the Soviets in 1943 and as a result of the Royal Navy not sinking the French fleet at anchor Germany is able to press both of their fleets into German service greatly strengthening their naval surface forces but the Royal Navy still controls the North Atlantic. Apparently the Japanese never attacked Pearl Harbor as the US is at peace when the Germans launch a massive surprise naval attack in 1944 all up and down the American east coast hoping to cripple the American navy and ensure their own Naval Blockade of England is a success. History proceeds quite differently as the Allies which consist of only the US and UK at this point launch a land invasion of France via the Bay of Biscay which is quickly routed by German forces and the US Navy is forced to retreat back to the US where it's revealed with most of the US military either in England or retreating from the failed Biscay landing the German military is able to successful land and occupy Long Island New York and are transporting two nuclear warheads to the territory in order to force the Americans to surrender. The US Navy destroys all of the German Naval forces around New York harbor and successfully intercepts the submarine transporting the nukes, however it's very obvious the war is nowhere near over yet as the game ends.
March Of War takes place in alternate Diesel Punk version of the 1940s with World War 2 being waged by six superpowers and alliances.
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.
XKCD - Their version of the Matrix. While still considered a great action sci-fi movie with disappointing sequels, it features several bizarre departures from the version we have. For instance Neo taking both the red and blue pill, crushing them up and snorting them with screwy results
Twice Blessed is set in an alternate version of our world, where history was changed drastically at some point when magic was discovered by "Archmage Plato".
Radioactive Panda makes a throwaway joke about how George Lucas suffered a fatal heart attack in 1993; the characters lament that they "only" got to see Spielberg's vision of the prequel trilogy, which won 14 Oscars.
In Roswell, Texas set in 1948 Davy Crockett survived the Alamo, assassinated Santa Anna and used his influence to keep Texas an independent nation. A running gag is historical figures with very different life stories. Just a couple of examples: Meir Kahane, Malcolm Little (Malcolm X) and George Lincoln Rockwell are all Texas Rangers. Walt Disney is President For Life of California with Marion Michael Morrison (John Wayne) as his Army Chief of Staff
Also it is hinted that the Queen of England is some kind of undead or at least immortal creature/machine, and that something happened in the Americas at some point in the past to make them effectively inaccessible.
Templar Arizona takes place in, to quote the author, "a slightly irregular Arizona that fell off the back of a truck somewhere, and now all the power outlets are a weird shape and a couple of wars never happened." Specifically the titular town exists on what in our world is the Navaho Reservation, there is or was a guerilla war going on in Australia between the government and the natives and both Greco-Roman and Egyptian Mythology have a bigger cultural background presence.
El Goonish Shive presents us with a glimpse into one, in which the Uryuoms made public contact with Earth as far back as the American Revolution. One character, who has memories of that timeline, remarks that she's utterly screwed in this world's history class because of it.
Word of God in author notes for And Shine Heaven Now reveal that the Millenium invasion caused this to happen, though she never worked out many of the details beyond Bill Clinton dying in office during the invasion, Gore taking office and winning in re-election, and increased security measures meant that 9/11 never happened. Oh, and vampires and zombies never became 'trends' cause so many people were affected by the invasion. So, on the bright side, no Twilight.
She also notes that this is an alternate universe in the sense that the Doctor has another planet as his favorite, as opposed to Earth in canon.
Word of God is that Questionable Content takes place in a worrld where the space program didn't go into the crapper after Apollo resulting in technology spinoffs including AI robots as a common part of society, cyborg limbs and a privately owned space station think tank.
In The Red Star, a widow from an alternate Soviet Union recounts their defeat at the hands of an alternate Afghanstani. With Magitek.
Hotblood! is an alternate Earth where humans and centaurs live side-by-side. This trope comes in because some historical figures have been replaced with centaur equivalents.
The That Guy with the Glasses universe to a small extent. It mostly reflect our own world but their are small divergances such as Super Mecha Death Christ killing Hitler a year early.
The many, many, many varied (and often well researched and highly detailed) scenarios created over the years by the members of AlternateHistory.com. They also created a weekly comedic AH-themed forum series, AH.com: The Series - in which the members explore various Alternate History timelines. You can access the site and its discussion board here.
Decades of Darkness (see here and here) is a very long story about a universe where seven US states (the New England states, New York and New Jersey) seceded from the US in 1810 and formed the Republic of New England, after the premature death of Thomas Jefferson. As a result, the USA keep slavery as an institution long into the 20th century, and became generally nastier. (The author describes DoD as "The Draka, but in a realistic fashion".) If printed, it would qualify as a doorstopper. A novel taking place in the world of DoD is planned.
A World of Laughter, a World of Tears by statichaos is an ATL where Dwight D. Eisenhower suffers a heart attack on the campaign trail, forcing the Republican Party to search for a fresh candidate in the 1952 Presidential Election. Who do they pick? Walt Disney. Don't let the premise fool you, though — this timeline is extremely dark, and every update turns it more and more into a World Half Empty. Has a sequel coming at some point in the near future.
Superpower Empire: China 1912 - The attempt to turn China into a republic after the fall of the Qing dynasty peters out, and instead a neo-imperial regime is set up. By preempting China's fall into warlordism, civil war and revolutionary upheaval, it fast-forwards its resurgence as a great power.
No Spanish Civil War in 1936 by Dr. Strangelove. Francisco Franco receives an answer to a letter that went unanswered in our world, there is no military rebellion against the government, and the shaky Spanish democracy survives long enough to join the allies in WWII. All sort of hijinks ensue, including an anarchist as president of Spain, Leon Trotsky creating a new revolutionary ideology, Galeazzo Ciano leading Fascist Italy until the '70s, the Japanese invading Australia, the Germans reaching Moscow... only to be utterly defeated at the gates of the Kremlin and much more.
For All Time starts with FDR dying two weeks after Pearl Harbor, and leads into what is perhaps the ultimate Crapsack World. The equivalent of NATO falls apart, the Soviets gain ground everywhere (they take Italy, Austria, Turkey, Iran, all of Korea, and Hokkaido, among others), France collapses after a string of inept fascist dictators (capped off by Jean-Bedel Bokassa) American race relations take a long dive off the cliff, the Nuclear Weapons Taboo is flagrantly averted, the Reverend Jim Jones gets elected US President, and to top it all off, the Soviets get Andrei Chikatilo as their last General Secretary. Emphasis on "last" — he destroys Soviet Russia in a nuclear civil war, but not before nuking China and the Middle East.
We'll Meet Again, where America stays within the British Empire... just... only to lead to a world ruled by sadists, dominated by war and genocides everywhere...
The Chaos Timeline is called by its author Max Sinister "the Mount Everest of Alternate History": A realistic timeline which starts with the death of Genghis Khan, thus erasing his conquests from history, and continuing it until the present. With the result that history changes a lot compared to our world, although some patterns seem to reappear. Features among other things a New Roman Empire, a German technocracy and a Socialist western Europe.
The Pax Napoleonica timeline, examining a world where Napoleonic France wasn't so down on its luck in the later years of the Napoleonic Wars. The TL is currently in the 1970s.
The Austria Never Forget Thy Past timeline by Imperial Vienna starts off with the restoration of Karl von Habsburg as Archduke in 1919. As time passes, Austria reclaims most of its pre-WW1 territory (except the Hungarian half), Switzerland plunges into civil war, the Bourbons and Nazi-backed Bonapartes battle for France, a different World War 2 unfolds and Otto/Franz Josef II averts the Holocaust. The Archduchy still succumbs to a (bloodier) Anschluss, though underground Habsburg cells thwart the Nazis with the covert help of Erwin Rommel. Noted for its monarchist undertones and being oddly "romantic". The current TL stopped in 1945, with a second version in the works.
Reds!, a series by Jello Biafra (no, not the punk front man), depicts an alternate history in which President William McKinley was not assassinated, and in the resulting political climate (which marginalized Progressive reformers due to Theodore Roosevelt never becoming president), socialism becomes much more popular in the United States. After a much more brutal World War One (made more brutal, ironically, by the well-meaning attempts of internationalists like William Howard Taft to build stable international alliances), the American populace is radicalized and heavily divided, a powder keg ready to explode, until the Great Depression sparks a revolution in the United States.
Green Antarctica by DValdron. A world that is to all appearances like ours, until Captain Cook discovers an enormous, technically sophisticated civilization in Antarctica that has been developing on its own, quite unaware of the rest of humanity. The people there are not friendly. The timeline starts with the colonization of a more livable Antarctica by humans, and the development of society and technology therein.
A Greater Britain by EdT postulates a world in which Oswald Mosley never becomes a fascist and instead becomes Prime Minister of Britain.
Isaac's Empire by Basileus Giorgios is an ongoing work following the trials and fortunes of a surviving Byzantine Empire.
Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72 is a timeline where John Julian McKeithen, the governor of Louisiana, runs for president in 1972. This leads to, among other things, a deadlocked election (thanks to George McGovern and George Wallace running for president), President Agnew because of the deadlocked election, an awesome gambit to get Agnew out of office, China turning into our present-day North Korea, a worse Vietnam War (where we win, at least for now), a worse Troubles thanks to Edward Heath staying in office and appointing Margaret Thatcher, and lots of other nasty turmoil and unrest.
Fight and be Right by EdT is a timeline where Randolph Churchill's political career takes off and he dominates Brittish politics for 20 years, by the '40s Al Capone is president of France, the Federation of Worker's Republics is suppressing an Islamic insurgency in Egypt, a social-democrat German Empire dominates Central-Eastern Europe, Czarist Russia is still a big kid on the block and Israel is in Western Australia and Yiddish-speaking.
Damsels and Dirigibles is a timeline that brings hot chicks and airships together in an interwar (1918-1939) setting. Along with gas masks, ridiculously conspicuous uniforms, and sabers, Damsels and Dirigibles intends to create a unique aesthetic style that is chock full of fanciful anachronisms and all around pulpy fun. Although this timeline has a rather dull point of divergence (the Hague Convention of 1899), the plentiful (albeit amateur) illustrations and harrowing tales should nullify any historical boredom you happen to come upon. Original illustrations, whether they be sketches or fake newspaper clippings, periodically accompany updates, and naturally they heavily feature the titular damsels and dirigibles. Also the Cthulhu Mythos (or at least At the Mountains of Madness) is true.
Images of 1984 by Will Ritson is a timeline that plays with the premise and events of Orwell's novel. Namely that "Oceania" is little more than Britain turned into a rogue state, albeit more draconian and isolated than North Korea. It gets worse before getting better..
Canadian Power: The Canadian Forces as a Major Power by theMann has Canada retain its CV capability when Pierre Elliot Trudeau buys the HMS Eagle from the United Kingdom to replace the aging Bonaventure in 1972. Robert Stanfield and David Lewis force a non-confidence vote that leads to Stanfield becoming Prime Minister, through the accquisition of the Eagle, and later, military hardware like F-14s intended to go Iran before its revolution, Canada becomes a military power.
An Alternate History of the Netherlands tells how the Dutch managed to liberate all of Belgium in the Dutch War of Independence and was able to become a superpower by the end of the 20th century. This includes a Communist Balkan Union and a Sweden that swallows Russia after the Great Northern War.
XXC is a well-done, albeit sometimes confusing, timeline in which an entierly plausible, and yet divergent, 20th century is created, featuring, among other things, Artist!Hitler.
O Renascimento de um Império is a surprisingly thorough saga chronicling Portugal's rise as a world power from 1750 onwards. In the process, it turns into a multicultural (or at least multiethnic) empire, where the Kingdom works hand-in-hand with an independent Anglican-style Portuguese Catholic Church. On the other hand, their road to glory isn't clean.
The Anglo/American – Nazi War charts a world where the Nazis didn't back up the Italians in North Africa, thus freeing up troops and supplies to win the battle of Stalingrad. Stalin, enraged at the defeat, purges the Red Army's leadership, paving the way for the Nazi conquest of the Soviet Union. With the Western Allies lacking an opening to invade Europe, Hitler is free to enact all his dreams upon the continent. At least until the Nazis make the miscalculation to break their ceasefire with the Western Allies...
A Prussian on the Spanish Throne starts in 1870, with Spain looking for a new King after Isabella II was kicked out of Spain. A For Want of a Nail happens: a Spanish politician decides not to tell the French Ambassador about the Government's preferred candidate for the throne, Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. With that small change, in a Prussian becomes the King of Spain and Spain modernizes really fast, becoming something very unlike the RL Spain of the time. Has a Crowning Moment Of Awesome when Spain and Germany beat the USA in this timeline's Spanish-American War (called The War of the Two Oceans). Sadly defunct.
An older example from the forum would be 1983 Soviet Union ISOT to 1984, which has the USSR of that time transported for reasons unknown into Orwell's dystopia. Once they get their act together, the result is one Curb-Stomp Battle after another over the three superpowers. It says a lot that even at their most questionable actions and motives, compared to the others the Soviets are very much the good guys.
A More Personal Union by Thespitron 6000 follows up what would happen if Francis II, the sixteen-year-old king of France in 1560, were to survive an autumnal cold that in our history killed him. As a result, he stays married to Mary, Queen of Scots, and forty-five years later, France is Protestant, there's been a proto-World War, and slavery has been outlawed in English North America, which has two thriving colonies. In 1605.
Es Geloybte Aretz by Carlton Bach posits the sudden death of Wilhelm II in the same year as his ascension, meaning that instead of a idiotic prick compensating for physical infirmities, Germany is ruled temporarily by a sane, populist, and wise regent, who is succeeded Wilhelm III, who has, in turn, become a cosmopolitan, intelligent, forward-thinking young lad. Germany, obviously, is on track to become a much happier place here.
A Giant Sucking Sound: Ross Perot wins in 1992, starts up a new party, and the world is very different in a few year: Intervention in Rwanda, Slobodan Milosevic continues being President of Serbia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky becomes President of Russia, and sooooo much more.
Cato's Cavalry by Marc Jones has a Centurion in Fifth-Century Britannia invent the stirrup, changing the military and political situation radically.
A sadly defunct-for-years website contained rules for a tabletop RPG set in alternate world where, in the Old World, the hominid family tree branched out into half a dozen sentient species that were all analogous to various fantasy races (elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, orcs, goblins, and of course humans), while in the New World dinosaurs never went extinct and gave rise to several races of intelligent saurians (all with culture similar to the Aztecs). Also, dragons. Completely illogical, but fun.
Shattered World starts with a war between Nazis and Soviets in, which goes better for the Soviets as Stalin didn't purge the officer corps. A very short ceasefire occurs, just before a WORSE World War Two that is still ongoing in 1949, with nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons being commonly used. There's even a wiki for it.
Ansem Retort has one, where Ronald Reagan turned into the Incredible Hulk to tear down the Berlin Wall, Jimmy Carter did not exist, the Flying Spaghetti Monster created time, and a time-travelling Sinistar ate the Challenger.
Later, Xemnas starts changing history. Chicago was destroyed, Canada was the Soviet Union instead of Russia, and Michael Bay was an Oscar winning visionary. That last one was what clued Riku in that history was changing and he wasn't just losing it.
Ill Bethisadis a world that diverged from ours rather often since Roman times. The Holy Roman Empire never fell, the USA don't exist as such and nuclear weapons are used a bit more freely. History is still remarkably similar. For example, the Second World War is started by the German chancellor Hessler. Many aspects of this particular universe seriously disregard the basic rules of casauality, so it's one of the softer, less realistic alternate histories, but still rich in content and plenty of fun.
A Day in Time takes place in an Alternate History were the bombing if Hiroshima drew the attention of hostile aliens, which invaded Earth and attempted to wipe out humanity. The protagonists are refugees living on the moon. Now that one of them has gone back in time to World War II, it seems likely that we're going to see a new alternate alternate history as well.
ThisOnion Article is about a new show on the Sci Fi Channel that is about a world where Germany didn't win World War II. Apparently a Nazi Victory stops the Syfy from changing its name.
Nineteen Eighty Three Doomsday involves a world where a worldwide nuclear exchange between the Soviet Union and the United States happens on September 26th, 1983. The United States has ceased to exist, the Soviet Union is a rump state in Siberia (still called the USSR), the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand is the most powerful nation on Earth and South America is an economic powerhouse.
Other parts of the world range from well-off (parts of Europe, Canada) to isolated (Japan) to apocalyptic (Eastern Europe, China)
Aztec Empire has the Aztecs surviving their encounter with the Spanish. Today, its borders include Mexico and parts of the United States stretching past Louisiana, but not, curously enough, Baja California.
Great White South has Antarctica as a habitable, if not particular friendly, continent. The South Pole is, of course, a Neutral International Zone.
Ohga Shrugs features a world where the PlayStation is never invented, leaving Sega and Nintendo the chief players in the video game console market to this day.
The Salvation War is pretty much one of these being written in real time. On the story's starting date in 2008, God announces to the world that the gates of Heaven are closed, and humanity should just lay down and die, accepting that they'll go to Hell. Unsurprisingly, a significant portion of the population takes issue with this and declares war on Hell, and then Heaven. All kinds of real life figures factor into the story, and some real events are worked in shortly after they happen.
The RDNA-verse is one, and in part an Axis Powers Hetalia AU. It follows an alternate Earth where where the course events (at once distinct and very familiar) turned generally for the better. That was until an upheaval called the Terror changed history irreversibly in the 1920s...among other things as various stories unfold over the next 100 years. The name itself comes from one of the prominent countries: The Royal Dominion of New Austria, which would have been Mexico in OTL.
Enthalpy is set in 2001. A giant wall was constructed in Earth's orbit to deflect the (real-life) asteroid AL 00667. Also, children drive hovercrafts and advanced genetic engineering allows for the creation of giant insects and cans that spray instant pig clones.
The Speculative Evolution Forums have a fair amount of alternate histories, such as one project in which the K/T Extinction happened in the Jurassic, and one in which all fantasy creatures really exist.
It was a thinly-veiled ship-fic between her and her old physics TA.
The SCP Foundation gives a real freaking scary example. One SCP is a small object that the Foundation calls "the Red Sea Object". The Foundation discovers that the object can be used on mirrors to open a portal to an unknown world filled with futuristic technology and bizarre humanoid monsters that attack and absorb any living thing they see. Eventually while exploring they discover a journal belonging to a third alternate universe's version of an SCP agent. The journal reveals that the strange world is an alternate version of Earth and tells what happened to it. An omnicidal, god-like being known only as He arrived on that version of Earth during the Industrial Revolution and caused a huge tech boom before starting a massive Earth that both left most of humanity destroyed but also turned those who weren't killed into the humanoid monsters that now roam the Earth. Not only that but there are numerous copies of the Red Sea Object that are all linked to other parallel universes, and there's a possibility that He could use the Red Sea Object copies to travel to any of those alternate worlds... including ours.
There is one object in the Spanish branch, a VHS player that when a movie tape is inserted it plays the What Could Have Been version of the film, but when a documentary is inserted the display is this trope. A documentary about Mandela's road to unite South Africa becomes one about racial riots that destroyed the country; another about the fall of Carthage becomes one about its rise (complete with radical changes in alphabet and dominant language); and documentaries about the Cuban missile crisis and the evolution of man displayed results that were expunged, and the latter was apparently so disturbing the O5 forbid further experimentation with historical non-fictional material.
Worm is set on an earth whose timeline diverged from ours some thirty years ago when people started developing powers. A parallel earth known as Earth Aleph also exists where this did not take place, but the two were joined up when a tinker created a portal between them, allowing communications and media to spread. The protagonists watch both earths' versions of the Star Wars prequels and conclude both suck.
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 hordes (though there's zero mentionof 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 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, we're introduced to an alternate universe where Lex Luthor became President of the United States.
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.
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 PresidentMcGovern. 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 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.
In the 1970s, the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst initiated a wargames reeanactment of WW2, if Operation 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. 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.
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.
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.