Still Fighting The Civil War

Some people just can't let go of the past, but this guy really takes it to extremes. It's not even his past much of the time, but he's still bitter about real or perceived injustices that happened before he was born, and will let anyone in earshot know, given half a chance. Much of the angst seems to stem from the frustration of having to grow up "in a world I never made."

The stereotypical version is someone from the Deep South who's always complaining bitterly about "The War of Northern Aggression", but it can also apply to plenty of other conflicts, real or fictitious.

Very much Truth in Television. This is similar to, but different from, The Remnant, where a character is literally still fighting against his enemies from a war that he actually took part in, but which is now over. See also Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back.


  • Meeting Daddy has as its title character an elderly Southerner (Lloyd Bridges in his final screen role) who is still proud to be a Confederate citizen (in spirit if not in fact) in the year 1998 (the year the movie was filmed), and is still flying the Confederate flag on his front porch. (The old man's prospective son-in-law, a writer from California, objects to the flag, but the old man emotionally manipulates him into putting it up for him.) When he sees activists on the TV news protesting against the Confederate flag, the old man grumpily calls them "outside agitators" - a term that by that point was about 30 years out-of-date, as it was an insult directed at Northerners who travelled to the South in the 1960s as civil-rights workers. (What's especially strange about this is that Daddy is old, but not that old; he was born long after the Civil War ended!)
  • Higher Learning: Malik Williams, an Angry Black Man, is still fighting the entire 500-year history of the Americas in the mid-1990s. Conveniently enough, the California university where he is a student is named after Christopher Columbus, who becomes a target for Malik's rage. ("He was nothing but a thief and a murderer.") This despite Malik's privileged status as a former high-school track star, and the fact that, except for a gang of neo-Nazis, all of the people with whom he butts heads are black themselves, particularly his fellow athletes who resent his entitlement mentality and an erudite political science professor whom Malik finds irritating and calls a "sellout". Malik's paranoia finally does become justified at the movie's climax, when he's fighting with a neo-Nazi assassin and the police almost arrest him because he's black and he's got blood on his shirt.
  • In The Little Colonel, Lionel Barrymore plays an embittered ex-Confederate who lost his son in the war and now hates all "Yankees". When his daughter marries a Northerner, he responds by disowning her and the couple moves away. Years later, she returns with his granddaughter, played by Shirley Temple. You can figure out the rest of the plot from there.

  • MacIan in The Ball and the Cross by G. K. Chesterton fervently supports the Jacobite cause, a century and a half after their last attempt to claim the throne was defeated.

Live-Action TV
  • Mal in Firefly. He actually did fight in the war with the Alliance, but his attitude during the show is mostly restricted to grumbling and griping, not trying to continue fighting for a lost cause. Doesn't mean he won't strike his own small little blows every now and then against the Alliance, though he is (for the most part) level-headed enough to know that being able to "keep flying" takes prime importance. His backstory has him continue fighting the final battle battle of the civil war, the battle of Serenity Valley, leading thousands of other Independent soldiers even after their top superiors had surrendered and officially lost the war. The comics include a terrorist group of former Independent soldiers called the Dust Devils who have vowed never to stop fighting the war against the Alliance. Interestingly, Mal was never a member. His second-in-command Zoe, on the other hand, used to be.
  • The Peacock family from the The X-Files episode "Home". When Mulder & Scully come across the matriarch, she rails at them about the War of Northern Agression. The episode is set in Pennsylvania - a Union state - so the Peacocks were either invaders from the South or Confederate sympathizers.
  • In Jack-of-All-Trades, Jack runs into his friends Lewis and Clark, famous explorers with horrible sense of direction, who has yet to be informed that the war with Britain has ended. When they encounter Emilia (Jack's british partner) they capture her, and refuse to believe Jack's claims of her being on his side.

Western Animation
  • On one Looney Tunes short, Bugs Bunny encounters a Rebel general (Yosemite Sam) who still believes the war is on. When Bugs informs him that the war ended almost a century ago, Sam's response is "I ain't no clock-watcher!"
  • The Rocky and Bullwinkle episode "Wossamotta's Shining Season" is all about this trope. Bullwinkle and Rocky play football, and at one point the whole thing turns into a reenactment of a Civil War battle. There's a southern, Kentucky-colonel-type character who can't abide the use of the word "Civil" directing things, and a character actually says, "Shoot, they're gonna fight the whole war over again!" (But this time, the "Sooth" wins)
  • In a Deputy Dawg short, the gang encounter an old Confederate soldier causing trouble who thinks the war is still going on.
  • Commander Clash falls into this for part of his first episode of Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
  • South Park:
    • In one episode, the boys get in an argument prior to preforming for the Union in a Civil War Reenactment, prompting Cartman to join the Confederacy. We he's made fun of for joining the losing side, he tries to one-up them by getting the performers so drunk they forget it's a reenactment and fight for real. Surprisingly, Cartman builds an army that comes very close to overturning the war.
    • In another, the boys get entangled in a conspiracy started by America's oldest enemy: the British. When their invading armada get intercepted before it can reach American shores, the soldiers lament being "unable to end to Revolutionary War."

Real Life
  • Among Argentines, This attitude towards Las Malvinas is so common that it borders on Hat status for the entire nation.
  • The Neo-Confederate movement has a lot of adherents in the Deep South of the U.S.A., often overlapping with white supremacist groups.
  • Many people in the South like to display the Confederate flag, even sometimes in official places such as state buildings or on license plates. This invariably causes controversy between those who see it as a matter of historical southern pride and those who take issue with its Unfortunate Implications. The Other Wiki has a whole article on the subject.
  • Some Russians still stubbornly fly the flag of the former Soviet Union. Much like with the Confederate flag, there is considerable debate over the legacy of the hammer and sickle. Some view it as a harmless symbol of socialism and/or Russian patriotism. Others believe it is a symbol of totalitarianism on par with the swastika.
  • Some of the former East Bloc states. In Poland there are still people who resent the fall of the Bloc. Also see: Why We're Bummed Communism Fell.
  • The Balkans take this trope Up To The Eleven with their long history of ethnic and religious tensions, as well as meddling by various outside forces. The Ottoman conquests and subsequent rebellions against their rule, the whole mess with Austrian expansion into the Balkans that led to the First World War, the Balkan Wars, World War 2, the Yugoslav Wars... some people who live there are still re-living these conflicts to this day.
  • The main two political parties of the Irish Political System are in many ways this, with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael being directly descended from the Anti-Treaty and Pro-Treaty factions of Sinn Féin in the Irish Civil War. Both parties have since become in effect political machines, with personalities and historical and regional loyalties driving voting patterns more than policy. This is particularly true of Fianna Fáil, with its development into a "party of power" advancing the interests of the monied elite (starting around the premiership of Charlie Haughey, the wealth-obsessed Irish Nixon). Fine Gael has gained a few principles (becoming a Christian Democratic party with conservative views on social issues but with a more social view of economic policy, in line with Catholic social teaching), but as their longstanding alliance with Labour (with whom they strongly disagree on social policy and who are substantially to the left of them on economic policy) shows, they've historically only been marginally better than Fianna Fáil in this respect. (However, after the Ahern and Cowen FF administrations revealed some truly spectacular corruption on FF's part, people have been rethinking this conception.) The party calling itself Sinn Féin right now is The Remnant of the original party left after Éamon de Valera led pragmatic Anti-Treaty members (who recognized they had been beaten) to found Fianna Fáil. This Sinn Féin continued fighting, with varying degrees of intensity (greatest during The Troubles) until the early 2000s.
  • Thomas Frank's What's the Matter With Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (2004) argues that the entire American political system (or at least a good chunk of it) is driven by right-wing resentment toward the legacy of the cultural excesses of The Sixties, for which the Democratic party Takes The Heat, despite having nothing to do with the various apolitical revolutions of the '60s and even opposing them more often than not. This, in turn, has led to reflexive resentment against the Great Society, the New Deal, and even the Progressivism of the 1900-1920 period (which, ironically, was primarily a Republican movement). "With a little more effort," writes Frank, "the [conservative movement] may well repeal the entire twentieth century."
  • In South Africa, there is much controversy over the old pre-1994 flag, which has come to symbolize The Apartheid Era. That Nelson Mandela himself embraced some Afrikaner iconography after being elected president seems not to have entered into the issue.
  • The overwhelming majority of the Vietnamese diaspora identify themselves with the flag of the defunct South Vietnam, as most of them are refugees who fled from the communist victory in The Vietnam War. Some of them even consider the current Vietnamese flag (which was formerly the flag of North Vietnam) to be offensive. Meanwhile, the South Vietnamese flag is banned in the unified communist Vietnam.
  • When Baseball great Ty Cobb first came up from Georgia t join the Detroit Tigers in 1905, he was subjected to some light hazing, to which he responded violently. This led his teammate Sam Crawford to comment—verbatim—that Cobb was "still fighting the Civil War" in his mind, treating the other players as "damnyankees" before he even met them.note