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Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman
In the vast complexities of the multiverse, somebody would.

Sometimes writers of counterfactual stories decide to disregard plausibility in order to throw in their stories cameos by historical figures from our own timeline, but in a totally different occupation. Usually this is done as something of an in-joke with the audience or the dimension-hopping character(s); seeing Adolf Hitler as a Starving Artist instead of the tyrannical dictator he was in real life would tickle anyone's funnybone. As a point of clarification, Nixon's parents owned a gas station, which makes a job dealing with cars understandable for a less successful/ambitious alternate Nixon. Similarly, Adolf Hitler actually aspired to be an artist prior to getting into politics; he was an avid fan of Disney and rejected by an art school. That said, the cameo doesn't need to have a root in history, but it's more fun if they do.

Related to In Spite of a Nail. A subtrope of Allohistorical Allusion. Compare with Different World, Different Movies.

Examples:

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     Comic Books  

  • Self-parody Marvel Comics Wha... huh...? features worlds where Stan Lee sells hot-dogs and Mark Millar is homeless, as they never got into comics.
  • Sometimes Marvel series What If? went there, mostly in humorous backups, which featured things like Wolverine working at delicatessen or the Incredible Hulk becoming school hall monitor (he later became a principal and hired The Punisher to do his old job).
  • One of the projects in Marvel's anthology Millennial Visions has alternate versions of Cyclops, Rogue, Quicksilver and Nightcrawler never becoming superheroes, but founding a rock band called "X-Men: Revolution".
  • One of DC Comics' Elseworld stories has Bruce Wayne as Gotham City's police chief.
  • In the Alternate History 1949 that Chassis is set in, Adolf Hitler is a cartoonist.
  • A DC/Wildstorm crossover had the Planetary team looking into murders in the Wildstorm universe's Gotham City. There's no Batman, but they encounter Dick Grayson (the first Robin, later Nightwing) and someone heavily hinted to be The Joker working in Planetary's Gotham field office.
  • In Warren Ellis' '"The New Universe'', counterparts of various characters from main Marvel Universe live mostly mundane lives - Mary Jane Watson is a movie producer and drug addict, John Jameson is black and joined the military, and supervillain Jim Braddock is an archaeologist. Tony Stark is a complete moron who gets gifted with supernatural talent to make all kinds of technology from literally a box of scraps, but gets himself killed before having a chance to become a superhero ... and Thunderbolt Ross is still general of U.S.Army, but is bald.
  • Marvel's series Powerless is all about this trope - it's set in a world where none of Marvel's protagonists or antagonists have superpowers. Peter Parker is a normal teenager, Tony Stark and Norman Osborn compete for a government's contract for their Powered Armor projects (codenamed Iron Man and The Juggernaut respectively), Matt Murdock is just a blind lawyer, Eric Magnus and Charles Xavier are senators, Stephen Strange is a stage magician and Bruce Banner is in an insane asylum. The only one who has any sort of extraordinary life is Logan, caught in political intrigue, and the protagonist of the story, who has visions of everybody's counterparts from the mainstream Marvel Universe because he is The Watcher's counterpart in that universe.
  • Occurs in Bullet Points - James Barnes never becomes Bucky, Stephen Strange uses S.H.I.E.L.D's implants to continue his work as a surgeon and Tony Stark is just a businessman that is until he takes the mantle of Iron Man after Steve's death.
  • One of the differences between the Watchmen universe and ours is that a couple of characters, discussing a newspaper headline reading "RR to Run for President?", dismiss the idea that the American public could possibly vote for a "cowboy actor". They, and the headline, are talking about Robert Redford. No mention is made of what happened to the RR that actually did run for (and win) President in our timeline.

     Film  

  • In the French movie Jean-Philippe, French rock star Johnny Hallyday is the manager of a small bowling hall and goes by his real name of Jean-Philippe Smet.
  • In The One, Agent Funsch's boss from his timeline, Agent Roedecker, is killed. However, Funsch later meets another version of Roedecker working as a gas station attendant.
  • In Shanghai Knights, Chon and Roy meet Arthur Conan Doyle while he is an inspector at Scotland Yard, and they also meet a young Charlie Chaplin who is an orphan on the streets of London. Roy arbitrarily comes up with the name "Sherlock Holmes", which inspires Conan Doyle's new novel.
  • The 2009 [1] film started out this way for Kirk in the backstory, although this was rectified by the end of the film.

     Literature  

  • Harry Turtledove's novel The Two Georges is the Trope Namer; the Revolutionary War was averted by diplomacy and America and is still a part of the British Empire. Richard Nixon is a used car salesman (and a very rich and successful one, not surprising considering his skill at diplomacy and negotiation). The novel, set in 1990, also features Sir Martin Luther King Jr as the Governor-General of the North American Union, and John F. Kennedy as the editor of a pro-independence newspaper. Andrew Jackson served as Governor-General in the 1830s and oversaw the abolition of slavery in the North American Union.
  • The counterfactual Author Tract The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith also features Nixon: in an alternate timeline where America became a libertarian Mary Suetopia, he became a small-time crook. In the same novel, "Jim-Earl" is briefly seen selling peanuts for a living. Another work by the same author features Hitler, who immigrated to the U.S. and became a painter/embarrassing dad.
  • Michael Moorcock's famous Nomad Of The Time Streams trilogy:
  • There are a bunch in the Back In The USSA short stories by Kim Newman and Eugene Byrne. Al Capone as American Stalin, Kurt Vonnegut as the American Gorbachev, Trotsky's daughter is a commoner who marries the British Crown Prince. Lafayette Hubbard, Mitch Morrison, Charles Lindbergh and Joseph McCarthy appear as a propagandistic "troupe of war heroes" in the 1950s Communist America. Not to mention Aleister Crowley as American Rasputin!
  • In the short story Southern Strategy Nixon ends up leading a guerilla war in the US south, together with Martin Luther King. It Makes Sense in Context.
    • Interestingly, the card game Chrononauts also features Nixon and MLK teaming up in an alternate reality — as President and Vice-President.
  • Howard Waldrop does this a lot. In one of his stories Elvis Presley is a senator, and Dwight D. Eisenhower and George S. Patton are jazz musicians.
  • In the Wild Cards universe, Fidel Castro is pitching coach for the Brooklyn Dodgers. (In the real world, a long-debunked rumor has Castro trying out for the Washington Senators but ending up going to law school instead.)
  • In Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream, Adolf Hitler emigrated to the U.S. in 1919 and became a science fiction illustrator, editor and Hugo-winning author for his novel Lord of the Swastika.
  • There is a Kim Newman short story, "The Germans Won" (referring to the 1966 World Cup, not that other thing you might be thinking of), where John Major is a bus conductor. In the regular timeline, Major actually applied for a job as a bus conductor in his youth but couldn't do the mental arithmetic the job required; one of the explicitly-mentioned features of the story's alternate history is the adoption of a much simpler schedule of bus fares. And his manager is a man called Jeffrey who "wrote a book once", and likes to say "Not a penny more, not a penny less" when adding up the totals.
  • Averted in Newman's other "Alternate Major" story, "Slow News Day", in which he expresses his opinion of the then-current Conservative government by suggesting that, if the Nazis had won World War II they would be ... still in government. Major even succeeds the "Iron Duchess".
  • There is a Polish short story where a supercomputer has its funding cut after it generates an alternate-history Show Within a Show, in which Second World War never happened, and most of primary timeline's political elites (Expies of our world's politicians) were small crooks and burglars in the second one.
    • To clarify: the computer "dreams" (shuts off all the input and reshuffles the data inside itself for a couple of hours every day) and this makes it, essentially, an AI. Unable to express itself otherwise than in piles of data. It gets fed an alternative history novel by accident, and starts spitting out statistical data of a world described in the story. With lots of people who died in the IIWW alive, well and hugely successful (This war crippled Poland in many ways). And the story is written by Rafał Ziemkiewicz.
  • The Animorphs novel Megamorphs #3 featured the villain of the story, the Yeerk who formerly held the rank of Visser Four, changing Earth's history as part of his scheme to conquer the world in the present. The story climaxes with the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, but by this point the timeline has been polluted so much that France and Germany are allies against the landing forces (Who the landing forces are is never specified, though they do speak English). In this reality Adolf Hitler never rose above the rank of corporal and is serving as the driver to the Colonel that is actually relevant to the scene. One character starts to kill him anyway because... well, because he is Hitler, and winds up accidentally doing so (while in Hork-Bajir morph with a blade to Hitler's throat, he's hit by a bullet, causing his arm to move) while still debating it.
    • ...Maybe, accidentally.
  • In the Timeline-191 book series of Harry Turtledove, a character is listening to a football broadcast narrated by a sportscaster named "Dutch". The character thinks "Dutch" could make anything sound interesting. "If anyone was a great communicator, he was the man."
    • In How Few Remain (the first installment), Samuel Clemens is a journalist in San Francisco, having given up on novel writing as a way to earn a living. Also, Abraham Lincoln, who lost the 1864 presidential election as a consequence of losing the Civil War, becomes a socialist activist; in later books he is considered one of the pivotal figures in American socialism.
      • Clemens and Reagan did at one point work respectively as a journalistnote  and sportscasternote  in real life, though not in exactly the circumstances shown in TL-191.
      • Lincoln is something of a borderline case, in that his activism is both a direct and somewhat plausible consequence of the divergence, and that his alternate job was being dead.
    • There's also "Ernie," who's still a writer, but he writes biographies, is considered a hack, and is even more depressed than the real-life analogue. All because he got his penis blown off in The Great War.
    • During the Settling Accounts tetraology, which takes place during the analogue to WWII, one character meets the aide to a German officer, a very angry man who keeps spouting off about Jews and Poles.
    • Baseball never became America's past time in the TL-191 series. However, Turtledove is a baseball fan, and from time to time you'll find classic baseball players appearing in the story as football players, factory workers, soldiers, etc.
  • In the His Dark Materials series, the Protestant Revolution never took place in Lyra's world, which somehow resulted in John Calvin becoming pope. (And apparently that world's popes don't use their full first names rather than regal titles, too. Go figure.)
  • In Kevin Long's short story "The Man Who Would Not Be King", Western pop culture needed only a few nudges to be completely different. Our hero, who goes by Aaron (he finds his real first name embarrassing), is head of security for the opening ceremonies of the world's first spaceport in 1964. Captain Burt Reynolds has returned from his triumphant landing on the moon, a victory for private enterprise (it was funded by Boeing instead of NASA); Nixon is finishing his first term as President after beating Kennedy in 1960; Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, and Buddy Holly are the reigning kings of rock-and-roll, and a struggling rock quintet from England are just beginning their first American tour; and Tommy Smothers is a Communist agitator who attempts to assassinate Nixon.
  • Harry Turtledove again: The Case Of The Toxic Spelldump has a brief appearance by a stern, impressively bearded US judge of Islamic origins named Ruhollah. It's briefly mentioned that he left Persia when the secularist government was formed.
  • Another Turtledove example: In the short story "Joe Steele," Joseph Stalin's parents had emigrated to the United States before he was born. He becomes president of a U.S. that, under his leadership, changes into a country so different that it just might remind you of something. Leon Trotsky becomes leader of the Soviet Union.
  • In the Lord Darcy series, set in a world where the automobile was never invented, Ferarri of Milan is a noted manufacturer of firearms. The Nero Wolfe pastiche even extends this to a fictional car company; Lord Bontriomphe's gun is a Heron .38, reflecting Wolfe's 1938 Heron sedan.
  • Robert Anton Wilson's Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy lives on this trope, with an alternate James Joyce becoming Pope, Adolf Hitler remaining a painter, and more besides.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Seekers of the Sky duology, several well-known figures in the real-life world are mentioned as still existing in the alternate world of the novels, despite radical differences in all other areas. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a smart but trigger-happy Guard officer of noble blood; Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is Count Antoine of Lyon, a retired combat glider pilot who writes poetry in his spare time but refuses to publish it; Gérard Depardieu is Bishop Gegard Lightbringer, a reformed thief, capable of curing cancer with divine magic.
  • Lampshaded subversion: while pretty much everyone else is somewhere different in the alternate history posited by H. Beam Piper's "He Walked Around the Horses", Talleyrand is still Prime Minister of France (but also a Cardinal now). According to one of the characters (who in our timeline became the Duke of Wellington), "His Eminence, I have always thought, is the sort of fellow who would land on his feet on top of any heap, and who would as little scruple to be Prime Minister to His Satanic Majesty as to His Most Christian Majesty."
    • When the universe-hopper describes Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, no one can figure out who this "Duke of Wellington" chap is supposed to be, as no such title exists.
  • One of the main time periods featured in The Time Ships was an alternate 1940's in which World War I was still ongoing. The Time Traveller meets Albert Stubbins, a soldier who mentions that he briefly played professional football before the war put an end to the league.
  • Frederik Pohl:
    • The novel The Coming of the Quantum Cats takes place in several alternate universes. Ronald Reagan is a retired actor-cum-liberal activist (and still married to Jane Wyman) in a Muslim-dominated Earth, while in another Nancy Reagan is President and Reagan is First Gentleman. In that timeline, John F. Kennedy was never elected President, and is still a Senator in the 1980s (instead of Ted, who died at Chappquidick). One of the main characters is also inferred to have been descended from an alternate Stalin who emigrated to America. Pohl also includes a joking reference to his old friend Isaac Asimov; in an alternate timeline where Russia never became the USSR, Asimov's family stayed in Russia, where he became a famous surgeon. In reality, Asimov briefly considered becoming a medical doctor, but chose biochemistry instead.
    • Pohl also wrote "The Mile High Club", a short story for an Isaac Asimov tribute book. The story featured all the members of the famous SF club the Futurians, still alive in the 1990s. In this timeline, Asimov had convinced FDR to focus on biological research instead of atomic weapons. The post WWII research boom resulted in a number of medical breakthroughs, and Asimov became more famous than Einstein (who is mentioned in the story as an obscure physicist from Princeton).
  • George R. R. Martin in Retroperspective, which is a mix of autobiography and reprints of his old stories, mentions that his debut on professional writing scene was in magazine "Galaxy", but it happened months after they bought his story, because it got lost in the office. He notes that there probably is another world, in which it was never found and he is now a journalist.
  • In the short story "Catch that Zeppelin!", Fritz Leiber writes of a person jumping sideways-and-backwards from 1973 to 1937, replete with Zeppelins, electric cars, a successful Reconstruction, and - most crucially - a completely defeated Germany at the end of 1918. It is revealed that the alternate-1937 perspective is from a very different Adolf Hitler.
  • Superfolks has several examples, including Supreme Court Justice Charlie Brown, and Roy Mack, head of the defunct Ronaldburger chain, who lost his shirt when Americans stopped eating hamburgers and now works a taco cart.
  • The Mirage is about a War on Terror in which the Christian and Islamic countries' roles are flipped, so naturally it features some. Saddam Hussein is the boss of the Baathists, who are equivalent to The Mafia in this universe, and Osama bin Laden is a war hero, prominent politician and rumored head of intelligence agency Al-Qaeda. LBJ takes the role of Hussein, as dictator of the Christian States of America.
  • A few instances of this crop up in Orson Scott Card's The Tales of Alvin Maker, primarily with figures from American history.
    • William Blake is a roguish traveling storyteller with no permanent home or job, who apparently moved to America as a young man. He has some kind of vaguely-defined prophetic abilities, and he serves as The Mentor to the protagonist in the first book.
    • William Henry Harrison is a brutish, power-hungry warlord with a militant hatred of Native Americans, and he tries to turn the fort that he commands into his own private fortress.
    • George Washington, instead of leading the movement for American independence, became a land-holding nobleman loyal to King George (calling himself "Lord Potomac"), and led the fight to crush the American rebels trying to secede from the Crown. He was eventually executed for refusing to fight his fellow Americans any longer, and is remembered as a martyr for American independence.
    • Benedict Arnold, ironically enough, was the Commander-in-Chief of the American rebel army, bringing him into direct conflict with Washington on the battlefield.
    • Benjamin Franklin, instead of being a minor but well-loved figure in the American independence movement, orchestrated it singlehandedly. He was the author of the American Compact, which the independent American colonies (those not loyal to the Crown or the Lord Protector) used to officially unite and form the United States.
  • The anthology Alternate Kennedys has John F. Kennedy and his family in many different circumstances. The cover depicts the hit record "Meet the Kennedys", featuring John, Ted, Joe, and Bobby. Another story has Joe Sr. stay in Hollywood, where his son gets the lead on an 1960s sci-fi show.
  • A marginal case in Century Rain: Adolf Hitler has survived a much-shortened World War II (since the French were paying attention and headed the Germans off at the pass). He's an old man dying of cancer in a low-security prison hospital. A protagonist, passing by, notes that he was no worse than several other dictators making trouble at the time and muses that he may as well be left alone to feed the ducks.
  • A major theme in Ill Bethisad.
  • Pretty much every character in No Man's Land: Tales from the Weird Wars.
  • Done lots of times in No Spanish Civil War in 1936. Leon Trotsky breaking with Marxism, Lister working together with Franco, Franco dying for the Republic, Millan Astray spying the Nazis, Manuel Fraga making the PSOE a viable option... not to talk about the Spanish president Buenaventura Freaking Durruti. Barry Goldwater is a different kind of libertarian in this world. Ernesto Guevara writes books about political systems.
  • Done various times in Union and Liberty including Walt Whitman becoming a senator and a vice presidential candidate, and Paul Gauguin coming to the United States and starting a chain of department stores.
  • Reds! has Sean Hannity as a very patriotic and jingoistic writer about the history of the United American Socialist Republics. It also uses many prominent American politicians and activists as members of the communist regime.
    • One of the most dramatic examples is George Patton, who fought with distinction in the Second American Civil War... for the Socialists. In this alternate history, the USA entered the First World War three years earlier, fighting in some of the bloodiest engagements and taking roughly a million casualties. Patton returned home badly traumatised and very, very bitter.
  • A More Personal Union includes such personages as Francis Drake, colonist captain turned revenge-driven crazed pirate, and poet-mercenary captain Black Bill Shakespeare.
  • Malê Rising liberally uses this trope with surprising results with figures ranging from Theodore Roosevelt to Leon Trotsky following different lives (and in Roosevelt's case, his sexuality).

     Live Action TV  

  • On History Channel's The Universe, in an alternate universe, George W. Bush never became Governor or President. Instead, he became Commissioner of Baseball. That was actually based on (almost) real history: Bush had wanted to be the Commissioner of Baseball, but couldn't get the job, so he went into politics instead.
    • Parodied on a Saturday Night Live opener that pretended to be "President Al Gore"'s State of the Union address, which made a comment that Bush was the Commissioner of Baseball, and had vowed to hunt down steroid users "wherever they may hide".
    • In his liberal-talk-radio days, Al Franken often stated that Bush would've made a great Commissioner of Baseball but was far over his head as president.
  • A number of these appear Stargate SG-1
    • The two-part episode "Moebius", in which the team travels back in time 5,000 years for the first 20 minutes of the episode, and then the story follows their counterparts in the alternate timeline created. Despite a point of divergence 5,000 years back, all the main cast are clearly the same people, with Carter and Daniel are in much more boring jobs. Averted with Teal'c, who's still First Prime of Apophis. Zigzagged with O'Neil, who now runs a tour boat, but his pre-Stargate miltary career was implied to be unchanged. Also, Robert Kinsey is now President while Henry Hayes is Secretary of the Interior.
    • And then of course there's the alternate reality seen in season 10 where Hank Landry is the President instead of being head of Stargate Command. Rodney McKay, meanwhile, went into the private sector and became a billionaire.
  • In Stargate Continuum, the alternate Carter had joined NASA, and died heroically in a space accident. Which makes a little more sense than her working a minor desk job at the Pentagon, given her talents and family connections. Before he found out about the Stargate Program, her father had offered to get her into the astronaut corps.
  • The Stargate Atlantis episode "Vegas" featured an alternate reality where Sheppard left the Air Force after the incident in Afghanistan, and ended up as a cop in Vegas. By coincidence, Dr. Keller became a coroner there as well.
  • Lois and Clark had an alternate universe where Charlton Heston is President of the United States, and the nation is full of gun nuts waging open warfare on the streets. Elvis Presley also held the office sometime in the past.
  • In the French 70's mini-series Le voyageur des siècles (The traveller of centuries), the protagonists prevent the French Revolution and end up in an alternate 19th century where Napoleon Bonaparte is a clothier whose wife mocks him for trying to imagine what the French Army should do to win the war, while Dr Guillotin is known for patenting a machine for cutting sausages.
  • On the Saturday Night Live hosted by Ron Reagan, in one skit, a la "Back To The Future", he lives with his parents, Democrats and retired film stars Ronald and Nancy Reagan. When he travels back to the 50's, he causes Ron Senior to switch to the Republican party and drop acting for politics and when he goes back to the future, he arrives back at "his" house, now occupied by another family whose government assistance was cut by President Reagan. The single mother isn't too happy with him.
  • In one episode of Sliders, Nixon was a blood-sucking vampire. Literally. A Deleted Scene from the pilot mentioned that Ronald Reagan was the Mayor of San Francisco in 1995 and that he was best known as an actor for playing the first Howard "Mr. C" Cunningham in Happy Days. Given that it featured at least two or three parallel universes in every episode, these sorts of in-jokes were fairly frequent. For instance, in one universe Kurt Cobain is still alive in 1996 and has just released a Christmas album while Donny and Marie Osmond's latest album is described as "filthy." Throughout the series, many real life people who never got to the White House are said to be president in the various universes including J. Edgar Hoover, Hillary Clinton, Oliver North, Susan B. Anthony, Joycelyn Elders, Howard Stern and Ed Wood, who was considered one of the greatest Presidents in US history in his universe.

     Tabletop Games  
  • In Britannica-6, a '"GURPS'' sourcebook/adventure describing an alternate Steampunk universe stemming from a different history of the British royal family, one of the example characters is Charles Dickens, a journalist specializing in science and technology. "He wrote a few short stories, most concerning heroic engineers, but never found much money in it."
  • Gurps Alternate Earths has lots of them. Malcolm Little (Malcolm X) as VP of the rest-US in a world where the CSA successfully seceded. David Duke as POTUS in a world where The Nazis win World War II and the US become their fascist satellite. Jabir ibn Hayyan as a Roman chemist inventing mustard gas in 767. Swedish king Charles XII invading Britain. Roman emperor Heraclius founding a new empire in Africa after Constantinople falls. And Adolf Hitler ending up in an insane asylum painting more watercolors.
    • The sequel had some more of these. Alissa Rosenbaum writing novels about heroic rail builders in Nationalist Republican Russia. Japanese admiral Hiyoshimaru fighting European pirates for the Ming emperors. St. Bernhard of Clairvaux and St. Dominic de Guzman converting still-pagan Scandinavia to a somewhat different Christianity. Ibn Sina inventing calculus in 1006. Jan Masaryk elected Archon of an Austrian empire turned republic. And finally, Otakar Przemysl kicking out the Mongolian oppressors from the Holy Roman Empire in Centrum.
    • One of the most insane examples in Infinite Worlds is Otto Skorzeny, head of ISWAT. In his home parallel (the one with Jan Masaryk), he was a freedom fighter for the Republican Alliance that emerged from the wreckage of the Austrian Empire. He's a firm believer in liberty and equality for everyone, and he absolutely hates Those Wacky Nazis. Especially other versions of him.
  • Exalted does this with its own fictional characters in Shards of an Exalted Dream, a supplement that presents alternate-universe takes on the setting. In particular, the Scarlet Empress (who rules the world in the canon setting) is shown in numerous lesser roles on the cover and as a Gundam-inspired mecha pilot in Gunstar Autochthonia; Kejak Chejop, who is in charge of the anti-Solar Bronze Faction in the default setting, is the head of its ideologically opposed pro-Solar Gold Faction in the modern one.
  • Marcus Rowland (author of Forgotten Futures) wrote a scenario for the Doctor Who RPG Time Lord, called "Curse of the Conqueror", in which John Wayne becomes President instead of Ronald Reagan and starts World War III.

     Theme Parks  

  • Nearly Played Straight in EPCOT Center's World of Motion. A scene in the attraction had guests pass a used car lot with a salesman chatting up customers. As an in-joke, the designers originally intended to use the Richard Nixon face mask from the Hall of Presidents for the salesman, invoking this trope nearly fifteen years before the Trope Namer. However, CEO at the time Card Walker had ties to the Republican party, and management was afraid that he wouldn't be amused seeing Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman in the attraction. Nixon was eventually added to the attraction, though in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo in the Egyptian scene.

     Video Games  

  • The Kaiserreich mod to Hearts of Iron 2 does this a lot (because it's trying to avoid using the OTL historical figures) Stalin is head of the Georgian Mafia in Chicago, Mussolini is minister of transportation in the Socialist Republic of Italy, Hitler is dead and his wartime letters home (along with those of many other soldiers') has been published by Ernst Röhm, who for some reason wears a Charlie Chaplin-style mustache, Mosley is a leader of a radical left faction in Syndicalist Britain, which includes Eric Blair and a gay C. S. Lewis.
    • Mussolini can subvert this trope - it is quite possible for him to end up as the self-described totalitarian leader of an Italian state. It just happens to be a far-left ('National Syndicalism') state rather than a far-right (Fascism) one.
    • Especially since Mussolini started out as a leftist, then had a change of heart. Fascism in general is well known for being the exemplar of Pandering to the Base in terms of ideologies: it was whatever the public wanted it to be.
  • A borderline example in Covert Front. A painting of a young Albert Einstein is on the wall of the hotel room in Zurich. While Einstein did much of his famous work in Zurich, it wouldn't be for decades and in 1904 he was working at the Swiss patent office. Either someone didn't do their homework or in this universe, Einstein decided to earn a bit of money on the side as an artist's model.

     Web Comics  

  • Roswell Texas has a lot of them. Lyndon B. Johnson is apparently a small time crook of some, Hitler immigrated to Texas and took art lessons from that Diego Riviera, and ended up marrying his and Frida Kahlo's daughter.(The Nazi party still came to power.) Also, Charles Lindbergh and his son are president of the Federated States at different points in the story.
  • In Homestuck, the Alpha universe is a reset of Earth intended to make the eventual players of Sburb more apt to win the game, and as such sports numerous differences in combination with outside influence on the universe, resulting in this trope (generally Played for Laughs). Harry Anderson became a private investigator due to not getting a role on Night Court, Guy Fieri joined the Supreme Court, Donald Glover won an Oscar for the role of Geromy before being assassinated, and the Insane Clown Posse are DUAL PRESIDENTS. Oh, and Betty Crocker is a former alien queen who owns a multiglobal empire, but that was true in the other universe. (It's implied she jumped between them.)

     Web Original  

     Western Animation  

  • The New Scooby-Doo Movies often did this, for example portraying Don Knotts as a policeman and Dick Van Dyke as a carnie.
  • Most episodes of Time Squad had a variation of this trope, as the show's premise was that the timeline "decays" and the characters need to convince historical figures to get back to their actual roles in history. Beethoven was a professional wrestler, Leonardo da Vinci was a beatnik, and one episode even featured Albert Einstein as a used car salesman.
  • Done in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command in an alternate universe, in which Buzz is a supervillain and Zurg is a fry cook at a diner.


Retro UniverseOtherworld TropesThe Savage South
Putting on the ReichAlternate History TropesRubber-Band History
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