AlternateHistory provides a method for creating a setting which is almost like our world, but varies in large enough ways that they couldn't [[PlausibleDeniability plausibly]] actually be ours.

This trope covers settings which feel like AlternateHistory in this way, but don't actually have a specified point of divergence: no matter how far back in history you look, their history has ''always'' been different from ours in some way (frequently, though not always, because it contains un-[[TheMasquerade Masqueraded]] fantasy elements). InSpiteOfANail is necessarily in effect, in order to keep the setting approximately similar to the real world--indeed, sometimes the histories of these settings are more different from reality than their presents.

Compare AlienSpaceBats and HistoricalFantasy. See also CloseEnoughTimeline and RubberBandHistory. Contrast PlausibleDeniability.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* While there's a whole alternate history worked out for ''Anime/CodeGeass'', the show's mythology relies on things like a [[NoConservationOfEnergy free-energy]] supplying mineral called [[AppliedPhlebotinum Sakuradite]] (that powers [[HumongousMecha giant robots]]) and a society of [[{{Immortality}} immortals]] who give out [[PsychicPowers mental superpowers]] to people and then pass on their immortality to them, so clearly there's something different going on that isn't just caused by the differing historical events. It could be that whatever is going on is what ''caused'' history to be different in the first place. And on top of that, the most common mental superpowers involve some form of memory alteration, so that alternate history is ''[[UnreliableExpositor itself unreliable]]''.
* The 2003 ''Anime/FullmetalAlchemist'' anime's setting is explicitly a parallel universe to the real world, with a specified point of divergence, meaning it falls under AlienSpaceBats. The ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' manga, by contrast, falls under this trope: the proliferation of FantasyCounterpartCulture nations implies a great similarity to the real world, but no actual connection is ever made between the two.
* ''Franchise/DragonBall'' started off as a ConstructedWorld without any direct links to our world. However, one of the {{Non Serial Movie}}s featured UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler as a secondary villain, implying that the world is more this trope.
** The English dubbed anime occasionally make references to the real world. And at one scene, Pilaf was holding a globe resembling our Earth. Shots from outer space in the ''Super'' anime also seem to gel with Earth geography.
* While the setting of ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar'' might at first seem like it's just the world as we know it but set [[AfterTheEnd after a nuclear appocalypse]] [[YearX in the near unspecified future]], as the series goes on it shows some curious divergences from our own world. Apart from the broken down skyscrapers and cities in the deserted background (and intact ones in flashbacks), there are not a lot of signs that regular urban life as we know it ever existed, almost all people who aren't superpowered martial artists or AlwaysChaoticEvil thugs with mohawks and outfits straight out of ''Film/MadMax'' dress and behave like medieval peasants, weapons more advanced than swords or bows are incredibly rare to come by, same for any mode of transportation that isn't bikes/dune buggies/horses, there are no recognizable landmarks or indications that the territories seen used to be any real world city/region, the nuclear devastation and radiation sickness mechanics don't match anything resembling our own, and last but not least no traces of pre-war governmental rule is seen, with martial arts and the constellations being the major forces turning the gears of the world.
* The world of ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'' is virtually unknown beyond the Walls, but the story has references to the Far East and Asia, also the phrase at the beginning implies a future setting, however [[spoiler: it has been revealed that the Walls are situated on a island named Paradis which is relatively tiny compared to the larger continental landmass nearby; considering that official sources state that the area inside the walls has a radius of over 480 km, the only islands large enough to fit would be Greenland, Antarctica and Australia but the shown map doesn't resemble any of those, (in fact it does resemble an upside-down Madagascar to the east of an upside-down Africa, except that Madagascar isn't large enough, not to mention also that if was indeed a reverse map then Madagascar would be to the west)]].
* ''Anime/RoyalSpaceForceTheWingsOfHonneamise'' takes place in a world that resembles Earth during the beginning of the space age, but with many differences, some more noticeable than others.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Both the Franchise/MarvelUniverse and the Franchise/DCUniverse are like this. Both have specific differences from ours from the very moments of their creation (i.e. billions of years ago), and [[FantasyKitchenSink include all sorts of strange stuff]], not just superheroes. Even if you removed all of these elements, you end up with Earths that have several cities and countries that never existed in our world. Despite this, historical events such as the 9-11 attacks keep happening, obviously to make them feel more 'real'.
* The Marvel title ''newuniversal'' features mention of how this 2006 Earth is different before the White Event even hits - Hillary Clinton is President, Paul [=McCartney=] died while John Lennon is still performing, the World Trade Center is still standing, and Korean ''manwha'' is popular in America while Japanese ''manga'' is merely an affectation for specialists.
* The "World of Two Moons" in ''ComicBook/ElfQuest'' is very much like our world, except that [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin it has two moons]]. And elves, but they came later and [[spoiler:from space]].
* ''ComicBook/TheLeagueOfExtraordinaryGentlemen'' takes place in a world whose history is based on the fiction of our reality, even in ancient times. For example, UsefulNotes/TheTrojanWar is not only historical fact, but Britain was also settled by survivors of the Trojan War. The history of this Earth also includes such things as [[Franchise/CthulhuMythos Cthulhu and the other Elder Gods]] fighting a celestial war with the divine beings of the Christian theology at some point in prehistory, the [[Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian Hyperborian Age]] occured just before conventional history begins, and instead of Elizabeth I ruling England, Henry the Eighth had a half [[TheFairFolk faerie daughter named Glorianna]].
* At first, ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'' may seem like a case of InSpiteOfANail or AlienSpaceBats: the timeline appears to have diverged from ours in 1938 with the emergence of costumed heroes, and more drastically in 1959 with the birth of Dr. Manhattan, who has actual superpowers. However, a close look at the details of the comic hint that the timeline diverged a lot earlier than in 1938. In the world of Watchmen, the famous Heinz slogan is not "57 Varieties", like in our world, but "58 Varieties". Also, apparently The New York Times doesn't exist at all, it's been replaced by the fictional New York Gazette. In our world, both the coining of the "57 Varieties" slogan and the founding of The New York Times took place decades before 1938, so the implication is that there were subtle differences between our timeline and the Watchmen timeline long before the costumed heroes entered the scene. With "58 Varieties", it's theoretically possible that the new slogan simply replaced "57 Varieties" sometime after 1938, but New York Gazette already existed in 1938, as Hollis Mason's autobiography mentions the paper reporting the initial exploits of the first costumed hero, Hooded Justice. There are also other differences between our world and the world of Watchmen such as [[spoiler:the existence of a man with actual psychic powers]] that seem to be unrelated to the costumed heroes or Dr. Manhattan, therefore suggesting that world of Watchmen was never ours to begin with.
** It could also be a case of the authors [[BlandNameProduct not wanting to violate trademarks]], or even more simply, mistakes.

* ''Fanfic/HarryPotterAndTheMethodsOfRationality'' is a case of Never Was The Canon Verse. It initially appears to be a case of ForWantOfANail with Petunia marrying a scientist instead of Vernon Dursley, but as the story goes on more and more differences are revealed with no specific point of divergence from canon.
* ''Fanfic/{{Pokedex}}'' works like this, with a timeline similar to our world and many [[HistoricalDomainCharacter Historical Domain Characters]], despite how Pokemon exist in this world.
* ''Fanfic/ChildOfTheStorm'' starts off as a case of ForWantOfANail but the further the story progresses certain points of canon begins to diverge more and more. WordOfGod even confirms that the fic will evolve more as an alternate universe.

* Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Literature/{{Nation}}'' is an alternative history where the geography is a bit different (including a [[{{Atlantis}} sunken continent]] which was also [[spoiler:the cradle of seafaring, navigation and astronomy]]). Also, North America is one state.
* Lyra's world in ''Literature/HisDarkMaterials'' had a definitively different version of the Protestant Reformation than ours, as well as a society of sapient armored bears which has been around for considerably longer than that. Plus, y'know, the whole visible and living souls thing... And much more...
* ''Literature/{{Sunshine}}'' and ''Dragonhaven'' by Creator/RobinMcKinley both do this--''Sunshine'' is set in a world with [[OurVampiresAreDifferent vampire]]s, and ''Dragonhaven'' one with [[OurDragonsAreDifferent marsupial dragons]].
* Naomi Novik's ''Literature/{{Temeraire}}'' series is set in the Napoleonic era in a world where there have always been dragons. Per this trope's close association with InSpiteOfANail, thousands of years of history with them (the first military dragonrider was a Roman legionnaire) produced a global geopolitical situation nearly identical to the real Napoleonic era... Right until the start of the series. By the third book, things start to get wildly different at every level.
* ''Literature/JonathanStrangeAndMrNorrell'' is set in Regency-era England with the addition of fairies and magic. Its medieval past is considerably different from ours, as northern England was a separate magical country.
* In Creator/DianeDuane's [[Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration Next Gen]] novel ''Dark Mirror'', written before the MirrorUniverse made its television return, Captain Picard studies his counterpart's library in an attempt to find a divergence point. After finding some truly horrifying variations on Shakespeare and Homer, he considers taking a look at the Bible... and decides it's better left alone. Turns out the universe has been dark from the beginning.
* ''Second Sons'' fulfills the trope, but inverts the normal working of it. Instead of taking place in our world [[InSpace with magic]], it exists in a perfectly plausible world that has no magic, no species that don't exist in our world, and no supernatural elements of any sort, but happens to not be ours, as is cemented by the existence of [[AlienSky two suns]].
* Creator/HarryTurtledove:
** ''Literature/TheCaseOfTheToxicSpellDump'' takes place in a universe much like ours, except [[MagiTek all the science and technology has been replaced with magic]]; somehow, this hasn't kept the CIA from employing spooks (only now they're real ghosts), and even crosswalks and hermetic seals retain their names despite their origins differing wildly from our world.
** ''Literature/AWorldOfDifference'' is based on the idea of Mars being replaced by a habitable Earth sized-planet. Earth is however almost identical to our timeline, despite the fact that "Minerva" is the brightest object in the night sky, which you would think would have an effect on mythology and astronomy. The only noticeable difference is quite late - the assassination of Mikhail Gorbachev meant TheGreatPoliticsMessUp was avoided and a US-Soviet confrontation and war scare over Lebanon leads to both sides sending separate manned missions to Minerva in 1990.
** Turtledove also has a fondness for replicating early American history in bizarre settings, such as one where the Americas were colonized by ''Homo erectus'' instead of paleo-Indians and the megafauna survived (''A Different Flesh'') or another where the entire East Coast detached at some point in the Mesozoic and became an island continent inhabited by flightless birds a la New Zealand (''Audubon in Atlantis'' and sequels).
* The world of ''Literature/GoMutants'' differs from our own in a plethora of ways, ranging from the truly bizarre (the existence of [[Franchise/{{Godzilla}} Gojira]] and other {{Kaiju}}, aliens landing on Earth and interrupting a baseball game in 1963) to some things more mundane ([[UsefulNotes/RichardNixon Nixon]] beats [[UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy Kennedy]] and is later assassinated by John Glenn), but it's definitely not even close to our universe.
* ''Literature/TheBartimaeusTrilogy'' is set on a PresentDay Earth much like ours, but different in that functioning magic exists and takes the place of more advanced technologies--and there was also an Atlantis.
* According to WordOfGod, though Urth is ostensibly a distant future of our own Earth, [[spoiler: even containing relics such as a photograph of the Apollo moon landing]], ''Literature/TheBookOfTheNewSun'' NeverWasThisUniverse.
* Several of Ted Chiang's stories take place in universes like this. For example, Tower of Babylon takes place in a world based on Babylonian myths, and Hell is the Absence of God is set in a world where {{God}} and [[OurAngelsAreDifferent angels]] are real. In Seventy-Two Letters, automata can be animated with names and preformationism is correct. There are also mermaids and unicorns, which are presented as being no more unusual than elephants or moose.
* Literature/{{Anathem}} starts out seeming like a far-future version of Earth. Things get weird very fast.
* The ''Literature/{{Deryni}}'' series feels like this. The map vaguely resembles Europe with Great Britain attached to the continent, but the countries are not those of Earth, either past or present. However, this world did manage to produce christianity and Literature/TheBible!
* In Creator/LJagiLamplighter's ''Literature/RachelGriffin'', monotheism was a flash in the pan, and magic has always worked. However, there are clues that may indicate that it's our universe, forcibly yanked onto this history by super-powerful beings.
* InvokedTrope in ''Franchise/TheDarkTower'', the story's beginning is set on "Mid-World" a [[AfterTheEnd post-apocalyptic]] world that's hinted to be our future's, but as the story progresses many parallel universes start appearing and bleeding into one another, it is shown that many of these universes have diverged from one another at certain points, some wildly (for example in one universe, the one from ''Literature/TheStand'', humanity has been decimated by the [[ThePlague super-flu Captain Strips]]) or more subtly (one has the "Takuro Spirit" car brand and make, people drink Nozza-Cola and eat Boing-Boing Burgers). All of these is noted by the characters.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The MirrorUniverse in ''Franchise/StarTrek'' is said to be of such a nature. In the ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' episode "In A Mirror Darkly", mirror Phlox says that he's looked through the USS Defiant's database and found consistent differences in history and culture--with the exception of Shakespeare, whose plays were "equally grim in both universes".
** On a larger scale, while some of the non-canon novels tried to retcon events such as the Eugenics Wars (stated to have taken place in TheNineties), there hasn't been a single consensus as to what actually happened. ''Voyager'' and ''Enterprise'' both have time travel stories that take them to around the time of the episode's air date (late 90s and early 2000s, respectively), and no mention of the Eugenics Wars is made, yet Augments still exist and make an appearance on ''Enterprise''.
** One episode of [[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries The Original Series]] implies that Literature/SherlockHolmes was a real person in the Star Trek universe, and Spock's ancestor on his mother's side.
* The TV series ''{{Series/Kings}}'' apparently ''does'' take place on Earth, but the exact location of the fictional countries is never revealed and the precise historical era remains a mystery (though the society and tech ranges from UsefulNotes/ColdWar to TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture levels). The only clear-cut reference to our world is a throw-away line about Franz Liszt.
* The AlternateUniverse seen in ''{{Series/Fringe}}'' looks to be this way as there is no set divergence point mentioned, as of yet. But the map of the US clearly shows different borders for states plus most of California is missing, [[ZeppelinsFromAnotherWorld the Zeppelins]], Martin Luther King Jr. is on the twenty instead of Andrew Jackson, and their technology is a little more advanced, although a lot of what was shown was created by [[spoiler:"our" universe's William Bell]].
* The FlashSideways on ''Series/{{Lost}}'' was this to the show's main timeline. It was first shown to the viewers following a major cataclysmic event in 1977 which was implied to be the reason for timeline divergence. Later episodes however revealed that small differences between two timelines existed even before that date. [[spoiler:In the end, the mainstream world was revealed to be a StableTimeLoop and the FlashSideways was in fact the Afterlife all along.]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** The alternate universe Mickey and the Tylers settle in is implied to be something of this sort; they mention many earlier points in history that are all different, but [[InSpiteOfANail later ones really aren't any more different than earlier ones]]. [[WordOfGod The original intent]] by [=RTD=] was that it was a reality where the Doctor failed to save Queen Victoria in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS28E2ToothAndClaw "Tooth and Claw"]], and they considered showing that in the episode before deciding it would be too confusing -- while citing ViewersAreMorons is tempting, remember it aired two episodes before the Cyberman two-parter that introduced this reality and likely would have required a major infodump by the Doctor.
** The alternate universe seen the the Third Doctor serial [[Recap/DoctorWhoS7E4Inferno "Inferno"]] is similar.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The world of ''TabletopGame/{{Deadlands}}'' initially appears to have a simple point of divergence on July 3, 1863, when supernatural events start occurring - beginning with the dead at Gettysburg getting up and trying to eat their comrades. It turns out that the supernatural has ''always'' been around, but was "locked away" from this dimension sometime during the Middle Ages until Raven brought about his "Reckoning."
* ''TabletopGame/CastleFalkenstein'' is set in an alternate Victorian Era with faeries and dragons.
* Several worlds in the ''[[TabletopGame/InfiniteWorlds GURPS Infinite Worlds]]'' setting, most bizarrely the United States of Lizardia (its history is just the same as ours, ''except the people are intelligent dinosaurs''). Parachronic researchers usually claim these worlds were created in [[CosmicRetcon reality quakes]], but they can't always ''prove'' it.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Strangereal in the ''VideoGame/AceCombat'' series is an alternate version of our Earth with virtually identical nature and humans and a roughly PresentDay tech level, but the continents are completely different (their shape often hints at an amusingly warped and twisted version of our real landmasses). The countries and nations are completely fictional as well, but are all thinly-veiled {{Fantasy Counterpart Culture}}s.
* To some degree, ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}''. Sure, the point of historical divergence can be pinned down to the 1940s, but their laws of physics (especially involving nuclear physics, of course) are different enough that it would mean that the real point of divergence would have to have been sometime during the ''very formation'' of the ''Fallout'' universe.
* What ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' shows of the world outside of [[FantasticGhetto Gensokyo]] seems to put it in this trope. {{Youkai}} and magical creatures co-existed for millennia with humans (and some still do), {{Physical God}}s were actively worshiped until [[GodsNeedPrayerBadly disbelief threatened their ability to work miracles]], some of the first humans left Earth to form a new society on the moon, and magic was (and to some extent still is) quite common--but the history of the world nevertheless progressed quite similarly to our own.
* The MMORPG ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes'' is much like this; even though the history of its Earth follows many of the same events as those in our world, there is no clear point at which they diverge, as events such as the magic-laden wars between Mu and Oranbega take place thousands of years in the past.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'', probably. It hasn't been confirmed yet, but while it possibly takes place in an early, exaggerated industrial revolution no amount of FanWank has had any success nailing down a potential point of divergence (but at least a couple centuries back, given that Rembrandt is implied to have been a spark). And unlike most examples, InSpiteOfANail doesn't appear to be present, the closest being vague allusions to historical characters like Louis XIV ("Storm King" instead of "Sun King") and the aforementioned Rembrandt (although only as "Van Rijn", and he's known not as a painter but as a brilliant builder of beautiful and incredibly advanced clanks, which even other Sparks have trouble replicating), and even then only the names indicate a connection.
** [[AllThereInTheManual The Secret Blueprints]] states that the divergence point was the development of science itself - in our timeline, it was a series of itinerant hiccups until the Industrial Revolution; Hero of Alexandria's steam engine was suppressed by conquerors who didn't want to give up slaves, Leonardo da Vinci's work was suppressed by an ignorance-enforcing Church with the power to burn people alive and claim their possessions. In the GG verse, the instant SCIENCE was discovered, Sparks seized power from warlords and demagogues.
** "West Pole" makes little sense in our world. Even if it's in the ShowWithinAShow, their planet must have something different. Or the pole is defined by a field which doesn't exist in our world.
*** Given how the Americas are mentiond off-handledly, but apparently not reachable (least not anymore) along with the mentions of a group known as the "Sons Of Franklin", the American colonization happened until ''some'' event led to no longer there being contact (and may or may not be tied to the West Pole thing.)
* Earth in ''Webcomic/TheAdventuresOfDrMcninja'' seems like our Earth with RuleOfCool cranked UpToEleven, but King Radical reveals the truth. It is a world trapped between two dimensions, the Radical Land and some boring universe, and those realities are bleeding into Cumberland, creating the weird mix of awesome and boring, implying that our world is the boring universe.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* The ''WebOriginal/CivBattleRoyale'' takes place on a cylindrical planet on which every civilization appeared simultaneously in 4000 B.C.
* ''The Roleplay/GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse'' is PresentDay Earth plus mutants, magic, sentient apes, intelligent robots, aliens, demons, superheroes, supervillains, high technology, and pretty much anything else that can be dumped into it by way of the RuleOfCool. There are about a dozen places that a person could technically point to and say "that's the divergence point", but the truth is that the universe is just ''different'' from ours.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/CodenameKidsNextDoor''. According to the protagonists, adults are genetically- and biologically-engineered kids, and the large majority of recorded history is actually a kid-adult [[TurnedAgainstTheirMasters civil war]]. It's hard to tell just how much of that is false propaganda, but there ''is'' a masquerade that predates the American Revolutionary War. Not to mention there is a sea somewhere in the continental United States filled entirely with asparagus instead of water.
* One could assume all the AlternateHistory in ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse''' derives from [[AlienInvasion gems attempting to colonize Earth]] around 4000-3000 BCE, which even includes altered landmasses from the early stages of HostileTerraforming. However, maps also show a big piece of real life northwestern Africa is instead located in South America. So apparently Earth was somewhat different by the Mesozoic period, tens of millions of years before gems arrived.