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Different World, Different Movies
Don't think we have an article for that.

You're just like Indiana Jones; a role played by Richard Dreyfuss in our universe!
Alternate History Artie Ziff, The Simpsons, "Treehouse of Horror XXIII"

This is a fictional counterpart of Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman — in Alternate Universes, your favorite books, movies or music might have never been created or may be different, sometimes even beyond recognition.

When the creators actually did the research, this may be based on What Could Have Been. It may also be related to Celebrity Paradox: In the fictional universe, actors who play the main characters usually don't exist, so other people took their other roles.

Or sometimes it's just done for sake of making a funny pun on a popular real-life work's title.

Examples:

Comic Books
  • In Ex Machina, created by Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris, the main character considers hiring Vaughan and Harris to make a graphic novel based on his life, but decides to go with Garth Ennis and Jim Lee instead.
    • Also, one of the first major clues as to where the protagonist's strange powers come from? A reveal that there have been radio transmissions received that feature unreleased/unproduced B-sides of famous musicians.
  • Alan Moore likes playing with this trope. The existence of superheroes in Watchmen and Top 10 leads to superhero comics never gaining popularity; instead, pirate and Slice of Life stories take their place. In particular, the pirate comic that features prominently in Watchmen is meant to represent what Moore himself imagined he'd be writing in this universe instead of Watchmen.
  • In the Marvel Universe, Marvel Comics had lost the rights to Captain America comics, which are now owned by a small company which gets bought by one of Cap's big fans.

Fan Works
  • In the nuclear-powered future of Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space there's an advertised kaiju movie Greenzilla (created by the evils of alternative energy) and a documentary Who Stole The Gasoline Powered Car? A popular weekly serial The Y-Not Files has two stalwart G-Men seeking to debunk the lunatic conspiracy theories spread by the evil Marijuana-Smoking Man. A Petting Zoo Person is writing a sci-fi story about a shapeshifting alien disguised as a man who stumbles into a camp of huskies in Antarctica and starts taking them over one by one; it's called Who Grows Hair?
  • The objective of MediAvengers, especially with the two very different movies covering the same Battle of New York. One is a big action movie directed by Michael Bay with Nicolas Cage as Iron Man (a role he actually had considered in our universe), the other is an indie thriller by David Fincher ironically casting Edward Norton as Bruce Banner (reversing The Other Darrin Mark Ruffalo).

Film — Animated

Film — Live Action

Literature
  • Regularly played with in the Nightside series, where many stores offer items from alternate histories. This includes alt-history media works, such as Beatles rap albums, pornographic versions of Agatha Christie mysteries, and Orson Welles' epic Batman movie Citizen Wayne.
  • In "Swellhead", one of the signs that the characters are slipping into an alternate universe is that the hero finds a copy of 2001: A Space Odyssey written by Ray Bradbury.
  • Idlewild by Mark Lawson has John F. Kennedy surviving his assassination attempt in Dallas and winning a second term as President. Thirty years later, there's a mention of Oliver Stone making a movie titled LBJ, about "The best President we never had".
  • In the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures, Fitz has assembled a collection of parallel universe Beatles records, including "Feel the Love", their Live Aid song.
  • Discworld:
    • Moving Pictures has CMOT Dibbler get the idea for a romance movie he intends to call Blown Away. It also features a movie-in-making where a man in a lion costume is telling another character the movie is about following a yellow sick toad.
    • A recurring theme in the second and third The Science of Discworld books is making sure the right works get written, because otherwise humans don't make it off Roundworld before it's "snowball time". In the second book, humans suffered a lack of imagination because William Shakespeare never existed, and stunted versions of his plays were instead written by Arthur J. Nightingale ("I'm nae listening to them, they've got warts!" - The Short Comedy of Macbeth). In the third, scientific progress was halted to some extent when Charles Darwin wrote Theology of Species. (Or when Charles Darwin never went on the Beagle at all, and his place was taken by Preserved J. Nightingale, who went on to write Watches Abroad.)
    • While talking about the development of life on Earth in The Science of Discworld, they also say that intelligence appears to be a useful enough trick that something would develop it sooner or later, they speculate that if sentient crabs had evolved on the Earth in humans' place, three of them might be writing 'The Science of Dishworld'', about a bowl-shaped world that's carried on the backs of gigantic marine invertebrates.
  • In Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191, Sam Clemen's daughter is reading Louisa May Alcott's After the War Was Lost.
    • In another, Armstrong Grimes mentions Humphrey Bogart starring in a movie called The Maltese Elephant. note 
  • In Harry Turtledove's Ruled Britannia, some of Shakespeare's plays got different titles, at least. One of his major hits there was Prince of Denmark. He's also noted to be working on Love's Labours Won, whose plot is notably changed to accommodate the Catholic hegemony. The plot centers around two new plays he writes: King Philip, a tribute to the late King of Spain who conquered England, and Boudicca, which sparks a rebellion that drives the Spanish out of England. While he wrote King Philip more or less under orders from the Spanish authorities, he did put his full energies into it, and later asks that it be performed.
    • Incidentally, Shakespeare apparently did write "Love's Labours Won", though it was lost.
  • In Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series, we have Rescuing Private Renfall, a reference and homage to the movie Saving Private Ryan starring James Dean. Dean also starred in The Battle of Chicago a depiction of an in-universe battle between the US Army and invading Space Lizards paralleling Stalingrad.
  • Done in a very meta way in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. Eddie Dean mentions The Shining as a film, which is initially a bit of a internal joke, as Stephen King wrote that too. It becomes much more significant later as Stephen King appears as a character within the story (in a different universe), along with the presence of characters from other Stephen King novels (which may also come from different universes). In the case of the Shining example, Eddie doesn't make a connection between it and meeting Stephen King later.
  • In one of the many parallel universes featured in Outrageous Fortunes: A Novel of Alternate Histories by Steven W. White, Return of the Jedi was still entitled Revenge of the Jedi and George Lucas based much of its action on Kashyyyk rather than Endor and had the Wookies rather than the Ewoks help the rebels destroy the second Death Star. Chewbacca even had a love interest! It seems these were part of Lucas' original plan for the film.
  • Anno Dracula:
  • In The Yiddish Policemens Union, Orson Welles succeeded in making his film adaptation of Heart of Darkness.
  • Another take on this trope is alternate histories with their own alternate fiction.
    • The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick contains an alternate 1960s California controlled by the Japanese after a defeat of the Allies during WWII. There is mention of another alternate reality, apparently revealed to an author who writes a book about such an alternate in which the US does not lose WWII. This is slowly revealed not to be "our" alternate, but one dreamed up by the writer, and of no special significance.
    • Resurrection Day, by Brendan DuBois, is set in a United States that has become a military dictatorship after the Cuban Missile Crisis turned hot. JFK is blamed for having started the war, but at one point an alternate history fiction is mentioned that proposed what would have happened to US history if he'd evaded the crisis. Needless to say, there's no out-of-the-blue event involving him being assassinated by a lone gunman.
  • Small Change. Several references are made to a science fiction novel titled 1974.

Live Action TV

Tabletop Games
  • GURPS Infinite Worlds, set in a world with regular cross-dimensional travel, includes a list of "alternate bestsellers" that were brought home from other Earths. These include a complete Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens, an account of the WWII invasion of Japan by Admiral Robert Heinlein, and a biography of Fidel Castro's years as a pitcher in the American League.

Video Games
  • In Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, you can find posters that advertise the movie BadFellas, which is an obvious parody of Goodfellas.
  • BioShock Infinite shows Elizabeth opening a dimensional "tear" to a 1980s street with a theater showing Revenge of the Jedi (the original proposed title for Return of the Jedi). In the game proper, it's La Revanche du Jedi.
    • Similarly, Columbia's liberal use of space-time anomalies means they have access to many songs well before their invention, leading to strange, 1912-esque versions of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," and others.

Webcomics

Web Original
  • Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72: The timeline periodically refers to which films won that year's Academy Awards. At first they're mostly the same films as our timeline, but as the years go on and changes accumulate, more and more different films appear—often reflecting the different influences from the changes in the global situation. The timeline also mentions changes in television: for example, Gene Roddenberry made Star Trek: Phase II, Star Wars was never made after George Lucas died in a car crash, and All in the Family had a different arc based on the increased poverty in this world's version of the United States. According to Roger Ebert, the fourth Dirty Harry movie featured "A washed up old quarterback who couldn't act," because Clint Eastwood was sick and tired of creating racist propaganda. There's also an in-universe 1984 film.
    • Wall Street also changes drastically. Back to the Future is also heavily changed by the political climate and various other butterflies-for starters, Biff and George work at the local telephone company, (which is important later) but besides that, everything goes as planned, save for a 1980s "brick box" cell phone hidden in Doc's car, which is a Camaro this time. However the movie has a very tragic ending- George ends up with the phone, and the timeline's communication technology advances ridiculously fast, making the Mc Flys incredibly rich-but at the cost of Marty not existing. The filmmakers confirm that it was a dig at the current political climate, especially its historical revisionism. Pale Rider is different as well, as is The Coca-Cola Kid, which, in the American cut, features the protagonist getting the local eccentric committed to a psychiatric institution and claiming his current assistant is a Communist spy. Someone was trying to write a message about the current political climate there...
  • Look to the West: No media after about the 1760s is the same as our timeline's. Periodically examples of literature, art and music are discussed. One major change is that, because Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart became a military leader rather than a musician, classical music has not had the influence of his works. Architecture is also very different: the alternate French Revolution favoured utilitarian buildings rather than neoclassicism like OTL, so neoclassical architecture is less discredited, and increased trade with India and China means there is a fashion in Europe in the 1820s for emulating Oriental styles of architecture. Speculative Fiction, here known as paracthonic romance, has different traditional tropes and genre boundaries. For instance, what OTL would consider "hard" sci-fi is instead considered a branch of speculative romance (i.e. alternate history) rather than scientific romance (i.e. science fiction).
  • A World of Laughter, a World of Tears: Due to the increasing conservatism of President Disney's America, many filmmakers and musicians flee to Europe, leading to a much different pop-cultural development. Orson Welles encounters Ed Wood, hires and befriends him, and films a version of Faust, which becomes a massive success; the Quarrymen are a jazz-fusion combo; Motown takes off in England...
  • That Wacky Redhead has this as its main focus — it starts with Lucille Ball not selling Desilu Studios to Paramount, and continues with the accumulating changes from there. They naturally start out in television.


Dimensional TravelerOtherworld TropesDream Land
Die or FlySpeculative Fiction TropesDigitized Hacker
Dewey Defeats TrumanAlternate History TropesDivided States of America
Deliberate Values DissonanceImageSource/Video GamesLighthouse Point

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