The Greatest History Never Told

our historical novels have fallen with terrible sameness into two or three grooves. We might almost say that a man is not allowed to write an historical novel except about four different historical periods, about six different historical characters; and even about them he is not allowed to take any view except that taken by the other romances on the same subject. Now, considering the countless millions of marvellous, amusing, unique, and picturesque things that have thronged on top of each other through all our wonderful three thousand years of European history, this state of affairs is as Byzantine and benighted as if no landscape painter ever painted anything but a larch tree, or as if none of our sculptors could model anything except the left leg.

A side effect of Hollywood History, these are time periods that rarely, if ever, appear in fiction. Maybe the writers/executives/etc. aren't aware of or familiar with them. Maybe they fear the ignorance of the viewers. Whatever the reason, mentioning these time periods will leave the audience confused over some details and the history buffs cheering.

Some periods really lend themselves to fiction - there's just something compelling about Ancient Egypt and Those Wacky Nazis that means it's not surprising how often they show up. However, after a while it gets a little baffling why equally fascinating periods get left out. Ancient China was as imperial and decadent as Rome, with the technological progress of Renaissance Europe and ships the size of small castles, but where's their summer blockbuster?

One not-unsubstantiated theory is that most Hollywood movies are aimed at white people. Studio executives will often fear that white audiences will stay away if there are too many people of color in a film. Places and times that white people are notably absent from won't often get featured unless a Race Lift is done to the main cast (note how many times movies set in pre-Ptolemy Ancient Egypt feature an all-white cast), or a white person or persons are inserted into the story, to give the (mostly white) target audience someone who looks like them, with whom they can sympathize. Even if the setting does have white people in it, if said people aren't part of British or American history, they can still be largely ignored by the (mostly American) Hollywood film industry..

This page is intended to be a resource of particularly interesting periods almost-forgotten, in the hope that they will get more exposure over time, if only to the wiki.

Time Periods are roughly organized into the following:
  1. Pre-History: The time before the written word, before civilization, farming, etc., and thus far too boring to depict. Older Than Dirt.
  2. Ancient History: Older Than Dirt or Older Than Feudalism. If you aren't one of the 4 main civilizations, you didn't exist. See below for more details.
  3. Middle History: Older Than Print. Typically depicted in Medieval Stasis, despite many flourishing contemporary empires.
  4. Modern History: Older Than Steam, Older Than Radio, etc.

Just some notes:
  • If you know of any works related to a given time period, please create a list under the related folder if one doesn't already exist and then add the works.
  • If a wiki page exists for the time period, please link it in.
  • If you know something about the period, and know that it isn't featured somewhere else in the wiki, please add the information to the text for that time period.
    • If said text becomes big enough, it may warrant moving to a more isolated spot on the page, such as the example Roman Empire under Christianity below. Surrounding it with folder tags will also keep it manageable
    • If said text becomes too big for a folder, recommend it as a YKTTW, using the information in the folder as a starting point. If you are successful, remove all but the basic information from this page and place it on the new one. Ensure a wiki link is available for anyone who wishes to follow up on it.

Creator Provincialism can result in a specific time period having a lot of coverage in the media of a particular region and being virtually unknown outside that area.

If you know anyone looking to do a Troper Work or Fan Fic, but who needs a setting, point them to this page.

Contrast Hollywood History, and many others. For the biology-related Sister Trope, check out Seldom Seen Species. Not to be confused with The Greatest Story Never Told.

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Pre-Ancient Times

  • After the dinosaurs died out, but before the ice ages and way before humans began migrating. The entire span between the dinosaur extinction and the ice age (a span of some 63 million years full of many prehistoric animals) do not show up in fiction that often, whether magical-based, time-travel, science-based, etc.
  • Although the Mesozoic period as a whole is rather well-represented, the Triassic period is left mostly forgotten. The mid-Jurassic and the late-Cretaceous are where most Stock Dinosaurs come from.
  • You don't get much Prehistory before the dinosaurs, either. You'll never see an eccentric billionaire extracting fossil DNA from coal deposits to create Carboniferous Park.
    • Anime and Manga
      • Ponyo takes place in contemporary times, but much of the aquatic sea life present during the abnormal-seas portions of the film are intended to be from the Devonian period (416–359.2mya), where most of the planet was submerged (which figures in a major plot point). Shown Their Work indeed.
      • The Nontolma, an undersea-dwelling precursor race from Keroro Gunsou, seem to take the form of Anomalocaris, an arthropod from the Cambrian period.
      • Anomalocaris actually seems to be pretty popular in Japan for some reason. There's both a Pokémon and Digimon based on it as well as Sandalphon's evolved form in Neon Genesis Evangelion and a character in After War Gundam X, Caris Nautilus named after them.
    • Literature
      • The underwater territory of the Transparent Adept in the Apprentice Adept series is home to sea scorpions, ammonites, and other Paleozoic sea creatures, evidently because cool.
    • Live-Action TV
      • Prehistoric Park featured a Carboniferous creature, Meganeura (a giant dragonfly). It had to be kept in a special oxygenated room due to the changes in the Earth's atmosphere since then.
  • The Ice Age itself is pretty thin as well, and when it appears, all the glaciations are lumped together with Misplaced Wildlife. Sometimes (most notably by Robert Howard and JRR Tolkien) it is used to place there a forgotten fantasy world with magic and mythical creatures.
  • Before the Creation of the Universe
  • Before the Earth was Formed
    • Live Action TV
      • The Earth Formed when the The Racnoss arrived and their ship became the core of the planet in Doctor Who.

Ancient Times (3,000 B.C. - 476 A.D.)

Hollywood History acknowledges some vaguely-recognisable form of:
  • The Grecian city-states, primarily Athens and Sparta
  • Rome
  • Egypt

It ignores:

    The Mediterranean 
Pretty much any civilisation predating Classical Greece:
  • The Minoans
  • The Phoenicians were at one point one of the richest, most powerful seafaring civilizations in Europe. Yet until they settle down in Carthage and start fighting the Punic Wars against Rome, who's ever mentioned them?
  • Sumer appears mostly when the author needs Ancient Astronauts or something comparable.
  • Mesopotamia and the Ancient Middle-East in general, with the exception of Ancient Egypt and stories from The Bible, the whole region merely provides a wildly inaccurate bunch of Always Chaotic Evil enemies of Ancient Grome.
  • The Hittites and ancient Anatolia
    • Anime and Manga
    • Film
      • The Hittites appear indirectly (mentioned as worshipers of Gozer) in Ghostbusters.
  • Urartu and Ancient Armenia

    The Americas 
  • Outside of a few offhand references, there isn't a whole lot of mention of the Aztec civilization; or them actually being conquered. (Naturally, you can bet they'd all forget that if Cortes actually had his way, the Aztecs and Tlaxcalans would have been treated as Spanish Nobility). See Mayincatec for examples, of various levels of historical accuracy.
    • Literature
      • Norman Spinrad wrote a novel about the conquest titled Mexica. From the title alone, the possible grade of historic accuracy can be inferred (hint: the Aztecs never called themselves Aztecs, they were Mexica).
    • Live-Action TV
      • The Doctor Who serial "The Aztecs" is set here (made back when the show was still supposed to have an educational element).
  • Native Americans before the coming of the Europeans. To be fair not much is known about ancient North America, due to a general lack of ancient ruins or written history to examine.
    • Even better, when there are some, they must be from ancient Egypt. Because according to Hollywood History everyone else only sucked their thumbs and waited for the Europeans' arrival.
    • Literature
      • In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol story "The Only Game In Town", a Mongol expedition is working its way down the West Coast and two Patrolmen have to stop it and keep it from getting back. (Manse realizes that in fact they are tampering with time — the Time Patrol is keeping not the untampered-with history but the one they like — because nothing really should have stopped them.)
    • The Royal Diaries series, about historical princesses, has two books about Native Americans right before and during first contact with the Europeans. Weetamoo, Heart of the Pocassetts takes place in New England in 1653, and Anacaona, Golden Flower takes place on Hispaniola in 1490.
    • Western Animation
  • God(s) bless your heart if you somehow find a story about Mesoamerican or South American civilizations besides the Aztec, or even about the Aztecs prior to the Conquest. So we don't see much about the Incas, and specially not from civilizations that predate the Post-Classical Mesoamerican Period like the Toltec, Mixtec, Classic Maya, Zapotec, or Monte Alban. Likewise, a long list of lowland and pre-Inca South American civilizations are routinely ignored. The Mound Builders or Mississippian civilization in North America, and the Amazonian civilization in South, are so obscure even the history buffs barely know of them (especially as the latter was discovered only relatively recently).

The Indus Valley civilization flourished for some 600 years from 2500-1900 BC, but their writing is still undecipherable, limiting what archaeologists can learn. As early as 2000 BC many regions of South Asia entered the "Iron Age." A great many cultural and scientific achievements originated in South Asia, and yet very little is depicted about its history.

    The History of Rome 
Even with Rome, it seems that all stories are set in the late Republic or early-to-mid Empire. You hardly see;
  • The Roman Kingdom (whose oversight is Older Than They Think — even the later Roman sources that survive today are unreliable and heavily mythologized).
    • In Gladiator, a senator describes Rome as being founded as a Republic, rather than a kingdom. Word of God is that this statement was incorrect within the film itself.
  • The Pyrrhic War
  • The Punic Wars.
    • Again in Gladiator, the Punic wars are invoked. One of the Gladiator Games is a recreation of the Battle of Zama. Maximus played the Punic side, and defies history by winning.
    • In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol story "Delenda Est", the Punic Wars prove to be the crucial era, and the climax lies in ensuring that the Scipios survive a battle.
  • The Christian Roman Empire (Not to be confused with the Holy Roman Empire — Charlemagne et al). In the last days of The Roman Empire, Christianity was on the rise. Fear of persecution, invasions from outsiders, and the quickly deteriorating interior was forcing the empire to give up more and more power to the religious figures and the land owners. In order to try and stabilize the empire, it was divided into two sections: East and West. The East would eventually become the Byzantine Empire, and would survive for a long while. The west would continue to break apart and enter into Medieval Stasis for the next 500 years. In fiction, it's depicted either as if there was no difference at all to pre-Christian Rome, or teeming with Corrupt Churchmen who run the place as if it belonged to them.
    • The German-Italian-Romanian two-part film epic Kampf um Rom (1968/69), based on the novel Ein Kampf um Rom ("A Struggle for Rome", 1876) by Felix Dahn, is set during the Eastern Roman Empire's invasion of Ostrogothic Italy.
    • A number of medieval epics and Norse sagas (both descending from earlier Germanic stories) centre on Theoderic the Great (aka Dietrich of Berne = Verona), who set up a kingdom in Italy after the Western Roman Empire collapsed.
    • Attila the Hun appears in a few movies and also in various medieval epics (as Etzel in German, and Atli in Scandinavian versions).
    • King Arthur is set in late Roman Britain.
    • Agora is set in Roman Egypt during this time period.

    Other Ancient Era Examples 
  • Pre-Qin Dynasty China rarely shows up unless regarding Confucius (The "Spring and Autumn" era)
  • The Hellenistic world is a fascinating era of scientific advances, syncretic cultures, the beginnings of the non-theistic model of the universe, war on a massive scale, treachery, debauchery, terror, beauty, the first massive clash of monotheism and polytheism, and, unless you count Rome: Total War, a complete media blackout.
    • Thaďs of Athens by the Soviet writer Ivan Yefremov is set in the early Hellenistic period at the times of Alexander the Great. Originally published in 1973, it was first translated into English in 2011.
    • While famous for 'Gates of Fire' (Thermopylae), Steven Pressfield has also written a couple of books about Alexander the Great. Special mention goes to 'The Afghan Campaign', for being set entirely in Central Asia and for making an excellent read alongside the then-current Afghan War.
    • Christian Cameron has written the Tyrant series, dealing with the latter part of Alexander's reign and the subsequent Successor conflicts. Even the first book, set while Alexander is still alive, is mostly set on the Black Sea coast and deals with the politics of Greek colonies, Macedonian expansion and the Scythian tribes who live there.
    • There are also of course several plays, films etc. about Cleopatra VII, the last Ptolemaic Queen of Egypt.
  • Ancient Africa, apart from Egypt (see below), didn't exist as far as entertainment media believes. That's the second-largest, second-most-populous and longest-inhabited continent on the planet. Hollywood History goes Cradle of Life -> millennia of Darkest Africa -> a hugely advanced civilization appears out of nowhere along the Nile (must have been put there by Ancient Astronauts), then Moses flees to Israel and nothing much happens until the Boer War (or possibly Live Aid). This is despite Africa having had several great civilizations throughout its history, such as the Ethiopian empire, Carthage, the Berbers, the Zulus... Even from a European perspective, there's the "Scramble for Africa" in the late 1800s, when several competing empires carved the continent up into colonies.
    • There are quite a few films, novels etc. set in the "Scramble for Africa" era, especially if they involve British explorers or their fictional equivalents (She and other stories by H. Rider Haggard) or battles between the British and various African people and civilizations.
      • The Zulu wars are obviously covered in Zulu and Zulu Dawn.
      • The war in Sudan against the "Mahdi" appears in The Four Feathers and Khartoum (1966).
      • Portuguese exploration of Angola is explored in Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba.
  • When it comes to Ancient Egypt it's almost always portrayed as an Anachronism Stew of both the Old and New Kingdoms, where you might see for example the Pyramids of Giza being built during the New Kingdom. Also, King Tutankhamen gets severely overplayed despite what a minor pharaoh he actually was (it actually says something that his tomb was the one that got overlooked by looters for over 2000 years). Most of Ancient Egypt's 3000 year history is ignored.
    • Actually looters got into his tomb not once, but twice. Thing is they were caught both times, and that his why his tomb was such a mess, the second time the guards sorta just threw all the treasure back in and sealed it back up, which is why the entrance sealing stone thing had a section with different seals on it when Carter finally found it.
  • The entire history of the Byzantine Empire. The turbulent and splendid reign of Justinian I is somewhat better represented than the rest of the empire's history.
    • Literature
      • Harry Turtledove has a PhD in Byzantine history, so several of his books feature this period while others, set in more modern times, occasionally lampshade the fact that this area is considered extraordinarily obscure even among historians..
      • The Belisarius Series is an Alternate History set in this era.
      • The John the Eunuch Mysteries by Mary Reed, set in the reign of Justinian I.
  • The Great Persian War (AD 602-628). An epic 26-year struggle between Persia and the Roman Empire that started when Shah Khosrau II declared war on Rome to avenge the assassination of his benefactor Emperor Maurice by the tyrannical usurper Phocas. Emperor Heraclius rises up and overthrows Phocas and leads a massive campaign to drive out the Persians, who have conquered half of the Roman Empire. Why is this ignored? Perhaps, in addition to the general ignorance on the Byzantine Romans and the Sassanid Persians, is the futility of the entire war, as just a few years after the end of the war, the Arab Caliphate shows up and conquers Persia and most of the Roman Empire.
  • The ancient Celtic Peoples — Gaels, Welsh, Britons, or Gauls — mostly show up as a stock Barbarian Tribe for the Romans to fight. There's a limited amount of French and British work depicting them, particularly their resistance to the invasions of Julius Caesar and, later, Claudius. Like so many of the examples on this page, it doesn't help that they didn't have any recorded history of their own.
    • On the other hand, Ireland and Wales do have extensive oral histories and legends — few of which are well-known to the general public.
    • Comic Books
      • Astérix the Gaul is probably the most prominent.
      • Alix
    • Film
      • Fiction about King Arthur is occasionally set in this time period (such as in the 2004 movie).
    • Live-Action TV
      • Terry Jones' documentary series Barbarians makes a point of exploring the diverse tribes which the Romans lumped together under the term, including the Gauls.

Germanic Peoples, similarly with the Celts above, are rarely depicted properly, particularly in their pre-Christian pagan tribal forms. (Except in the case of the vikings, see middle ages below). The only thing people remember was that there were some kind of Goths who, strangely, didn't wear any black lipstick.

Slavic Peoples, due mainly to little to no contact with history-recording cultures prior to Christian influence, experience this to an even greater degree. The history of Slavs before their first historically recorded states (Rurik's in the East, Mieszko's in Poland, Asparukh's Bulgarian Khanate, and so on) is a blank slate, on which only the local hurrah-patriots dare to draw what they please.

Illyrians, Dacians, Thracians are in even worse situation than the Slavs, as the only modern nations that can claim descent are the Romanians and the Albanians, and even then, the details are still under dispute. This is in spite of their definite importance in the Antiquity.
  • Film
    • At the very least, there is a Romanian film The Dacians.
    • Spartacus is probably the most famous Thracian and shows up in quite some media. Who may or may not bother to mention he's a Thracian.
    • Some Illyrian characters appear in the sequel to The Scorpion King, and they even get speaking roles.
  • Video Games

The Scythians and their related peoples ruled the steppes until they were supplanted by the Turkic peoples in the Middle Ages, but fiction has all its "horse nomads" slots taken by the Mongols.

Middle Ages (500 - 1500 A.D.)

  • Due to Medieval Stasis, many cultures other than the Vikings during this age aren't shown until The Crusades and The High Middle Ages. Nevermind that technology and history weren't static during this period, especially in the much-ignored Arab and South Asian civilizations of the period.

  • Ireland was a rich culture and stable society long before the Vikings and then the British turned up; Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma series is rare in depicting seventh-century Eireann and its surprisingly modern attitudes, for example, towards women's rights. The Irish also evangelized the British Isles and much of Europe, but the rise of Roman Catholicism eventually overshadowed the Celtic variety.
  • Unless you're reading the Cadfael mysteries or watching their TV adaptations, you'd think the Anarchy never happened and the only civil war England ever had was the one with Cromwell.
  • The Khmer Empire. Ruled most of Southeast Asia from around 800-1400AD, and had a capital at Angkor, the largest pre-industrial city ever discovered.
    • Eternal Darkness had a chapter set in a Cambodian temple in 1150 AD. The other chapter in this location, however, took place in 1983.
  • The Carolingian and Ottonian periods of the Holy Roman Empire
  • The Empire of Mali — maybe the most powerful state of the 11th Century due to its gold mines
  • Central Asia was called into existence by the mighty GENGHIS KHAN, who proceeded to rule for several centuries as the ruler of any Hordes from the East who might be needed to harass Europeans. After this it went back to being shepherds for a while before becoming the stock screwed up place run by warlords to provide some necessary tension between the U.S. and Soviets/Russians during the Cold War.
    • There is Genghis Khan, of course, and the Conqueror series. The real ghost period is after Genghis Khan - the only reason for Borat being set in Kazakhstan is its current status as The Unpronounceable (if you don't try very hard) Throwaway Country no-one knows anything about.
    • According to some historians (e.g. Peter Turchin) Central Asia was more important as a centre of civilization than either Europe or China — the only reason they were perceived as savages early on is that Europeans and Chinese kept encroaching on their territory, and they logically tried to defend it!
    • Afghanistan might occasionally get some mention in a story involving the British Raj.
  • The Kingdom of Cilicia. Formed by Armenians fleeing the Seljuk Turks in 1080 along the southern coast of Anatolia just north of Cyprus, it was a key player in the Crusades on the side of the Christians, and later allied itself with the Mongols against the Islamic Mamluks, though on the losing side. They were conquered by the Mamluks in 1375, the king fleeing to France. If you're lucky you might see a brief mention of it in history books dealing with the era.
  • The Indian sub-continent definitely didn't exist prior to the arrival of the British.
    • For that matter you only get a look at Euro-Indian matters once "the Raj" was an established fact. You never get to see the early part of Anglo/Indian relations and it's never mentioned that the Portuguese and French were there for quite some time before there was a British presence at all.
    • Anime and Manga
      • Buddha by Osamu Tezuka.
    • Literature
      • Jahanara, Princess of Princesses, a fictionalized diary of the real princess Jahanara (daughter of Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal) takes place in 1627, around the time the British are first exploring India.
  • South East Asia doesn't exist prior to the Vietnam War or, if you are very very lucky, the arrival of European traders. "Asia" then means feudal China, samurais, ninjas and kung fu. Not a lot of Hollywood movies are set "now" in SE Asia either (at least ones that don't think the whole area is mired down in some form of guerrilla war), though countries in the region do have fairly active local film industries.
    • There are a few involving western backpackers; The Beach springs to mind.
  • The Islamic Golden Age of the 9th to 13th centuries doesn't get much play outside of the Crusades (at least it has a trope). Successive Persian empires are largely absent also.
    • Literature
      • Louis Lamour's The Walking Drum (intended to be the first of a series, but unfortunately he died before completing any others), is set in the 12th century and features a protagonist who lives in an old Roman house in Brittany, travels through the Moorish Empire (including Cadiz and Cordoba), Paris (where he remarks on how backwards its inhabitants seem compared to the Moors, especially with their lack of books), the Russian steppe (where the merchant caravan he is traveling with is attacked by Pechenegs, a tribe of Turkic nomads that was renowned for their fierce fighting at that time), and Constantinople, ending in modern-day Iran and the Fortess of Alamut (home of the original assassins). At the end of the book, he plans to travel even farther east to the Indian subcontinent. All in all, the book is a fascinating look at civilizations and a time period rarely even mentioned by other authors (or, for that matter, in a world history class).
      • Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road is set in the Khazar Empire circa A.D. 950.
  • Pretty much all of the Crusades except the Third one and the immediately preceding years of Hattin and the reconquest of Jerusalem. If it doesn't have Richard I or Saladin in it, people are not interested.
  • The Hundred Years War
    • Film
    • Literature
      • Timeline
      • Bernard Cornwell visits the earlier portion of the period in his The Grail Quest trilogy, around the time of the Battle of Crécy, and again, around sixty years later, in Azincourt, which focuses on the eponymous Battle of Agincourt.
      • Joan of Arc is a pretty popular character. On the other hand, neither Edward III or the Black Prince appear very often.
      • Both Edward III and the Black Prince appear in the aforementioned Grail Quest series.
      • There are a number of plays, sculptures etc. based on the episode of the Six Burghers of Calais, in which Edward III obviously appears.
      • World Without End
      • Captives of Time, a novel set in France during the Hundred Years' War which also deals with the Black Death and technological change.
      • The Black Arrow, an 1888 novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, actually set after the Hundred Years War during the War of Roses (and featuring Richard Crookback, future Richard III.)
    • Theatre
      • The Hundred Years War is partially dealt with in Shakespeare's History plays, especially Henry VI Part I
      • And of course Henry V.
  • The Northern Crusades. The Crusades were not only fought in the Middle East, but also Northeastern Europe, where Western European powers fought old Prussians, Russians, and Lithuanians, with enormous historic consequences (such as the creation of Prussia). Not to mention Germans and Danes fighting against the Pomeranian Slavic tribes and Finland becoming a naturalized part of Sweden. Nobody outside the region knows much about these though, although it is a frequent topic among Russian, Polish, and Lithuanian literature.
    • Sergey Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky.
    • The Knights of the Cross, a Polish novel. Later part of the period.
    • While not Crusades-related per se, The Cross-Time Engineer sci-fi series by Polish-American author Leo Frankowski set in Medieval Eastern Eurpoe. In it, a modern-day Polish engineer is transported back to 13th-century Poland to fight off the Mongol horde and various other threats to the Kingdom with superior technology.
  • The Kalmar Union. A seemingly forgotten European State that just happened to be the biggest state in the world at it's time, and included besides all of the Nordic Countries, portions of Britain and Germany as well. It lasted from 1397 to 1523 and saw years of war between a rebellious Sweden and her Danish masters. Civil War in Sweden between the anti-union and the pro-union side. Pirates. More Nasty Parties and late medieval nastiness than you can shake a bastard sword at. But unfortunately Scandinavia seems to have ceased to exist after 1066 in the popular conscious.
  • While you might occasionally hear about medieval Russia and the other Eastern Slavs they interacted with, the medieval Western Slavs are never portrayed except perhaps passingly as inhabitants of an oppressed backwater province of the Holy Roman Empire, the Hapsburgs, or whichever Islamic empire was around in the time period being shown.
    • Kingdom Come: Deliverance takes place in the Kingdom of Bohemia (taking up much of the territory of the modern Czech Republic and several other Central and Eastern European countries) circa 1403, and deals with events such as the Succession Crisis resulting from the death of Charles IV and subsequent kidnapping of Wenceslaus IV by his brother Sigismund, the Western Schism of the papacy, and the events leading up to the Hussite Wars. Made by Daniel Vávra and a bunch of other Czechs.
  • The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. You might be forgiven for not ever knowing there were countries between Russia and Prussia/Austria, because the three spent a lot of time going to war trying to get them wiped off the map. Formed by the union of Poland and Lithuanian essentially coming together purely to fight off the Germans and the Russians, it was actually a huge super power that encompassed almost a dozen modern day states including most of Belarus and Ukraine. It was continuously defeated in war and partitioned off between the three countries until it ceased to exist.

Modern Ages (1500 A.D. - current)

  • Includes:
    • People (re-)discovering science;
    • People going on mighty quests of imperial missions, which in turn give recognition to many other civilizations.
    Europe before 1914 
  • Eastern Europe. Any of it, really before the breakup of the Soviet Union (though it's mostly a shifting mass of Throwaway Countries even then). Renaissance Dalmatia? Medieval Vienna?
    • Literature
      • There's the Sienkiewicz Trilogy, a three-book epic set in 17th Century Poland and Lithuania. Of course, its author was Polish.
      • Sienkiewicz's The Knights of the Cross takes place around the time of the Battle of Grunwald (1410). In general this time period gets a lot of attention in Polish literature and film but is not really known outside of Poland.
      • Poland-Lithuania deserves special mention, as it was ahead of its time politically (it influenced the American Founding Fathers) and its history is filled with wars, invasions, and generally having the odds stacked against it.
      • There is Taras Bulba, a novel by Nikolay Gogol (a Ukrainian), which was adapted into movies several times but was financially unsuccessful when it was turned into a Hollywood movie in 1966. "Taras Bulba" was also adapted into an orchestral rhapsody by the Czech composer Leos Janacek.
      • The Polish-Lithuanian empire also appears as the invading enemy in Glinka's opera Ivan Sussanin (aka "A Life for the Czar") and in Pushkin's play Boris Godunov and the well-known opera (by Musorgsky) adapted from it. The Time of Troubles, with its major Russo-Polish war and civil wars in Russia, is the setting of those Russian operas and dramas, and little else.
      • That era also appears in Friedrich Schiller's final unfinished play, Der falsche Demitrius ("The false Dmitry").
  • Most stories set in Tudor times take place under the reigns of Elizabeth I or Henry VIII, while Henry VII, Queen Mary I, and Edward VI are rarely touched upon.
    • Mary's reign is sometimes touched on, but usually to establish the social, religious, and political background of an Elizabethan piece, rather than as the focus in and of themselves.
    • It doesn't help that Edward VI and Mary I ruled for very short periods of time (around twelve years combined), whereas Henry VIII and Elizabeth I ruled the rest of the period from 1509 to 1603. Henry VII's absence is a little harder to justify, seeing as he ruled for over twenty years. However, his reign was one of peace, and usually forms the backdrop of any work on Henry VIII. That said, in The Tudors, Henry VIII briefly alludes to Perkin Warbeck's failed rising in Cornwall.
    • Literature
      • Patience, Princess Catherine by Carolyn Meyer starts in 1501 when Catherine of Aragon goes to marry Arthur, but instead marries Henry VIII.
      • Nine Days a Queen: The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey by Ann Rinaldi is about the 9 day reign of Lady Jane Grey, the cousin of Edward VI. She reigned between Edward VI and Mary I.
    • Live-Action TV
      • The Wars of the Roses are mentioned in Blackadder
    • Theatre
  • The Scottish Second Wars of Independence, the Armee Ecosse of the 15th century (pretty much the entire Scottish army is hired by the King of France) the Scots who fought in the Wars of the Roses, the battle of Flodden... For some reason, there seems to be this belief that Scottish history goes straight from Bannockburn (1314) to the battle of Culloden (1746), which misses out the intervening 432 years.
  • The Thirty Years' War
  • The first half of the Eighteenth Century
    • Okay, there were some guys named Peter the Great and Charles XII. Allegedly, they were monarchs and fought a war.
    • The aforementioned Peter had a daughter? Troops under her almost conquered Prussia? You must be kidding me.
  • The Paris Commune of 1871. 72 days and a rather brutal ending. It would create a lovely backdrop for a story along the lines of the movie Gangs of New York. Admittedly, there is The Voice of the People by Jean Vautrin, but there seriously needs to be a movie or more historical fiction about this little episode of history.
    • The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco covers it extensively, albeit through an Unreliable Narrator.
    • The Voice of the People was also adapted into a series of graphic novels by Jacques Tardi.
    • Bertolt Brecht wrote the play The Days of the Commune.
    • In Babettes Feast, Babette is mentioned to have been a former Communarde.
    • The Soviet movie The New Babylon, set in a Paris department store before and during the Commune.
      • It could be argued that the rest of the Franco-German War of 1870/71 is known even less.
  • The Crimean War (1853-1856). With the Ottoman Empire in decline, the growing Russian Empire began expanding ever further south. France and Britain joined forces to stop them. Despite forming the setting for Tennyson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and the life's work of Florence Nightingale, very little attention is paid to this war.
    • In the Alternate History of the Thursday Next novels, the Crimean War is still going on in the 1980s, against a still-Tsarist Russia. Thursday's brother died there, and she met her husband while they were both on compulsory military service.

    The Americas before World War One 
  • The Spanish Empire. You can even have entire book or movie sagas about pirates of the Spanish Main with no Spanish showing up ever.
    • Film
      • The villains of Almost Heroes are a random clan of Spaniards led by a conquistador named Hidalgo, who seem to be wandering the American mid-west in the very early 1800's for reasons not thoroughly explained in the film itself.
    • Video Games
    • Literature
      • Zorro anyone? (not to mention the numerous TV and film adaptations)
  • Let's just say Latin American history and save a lot of space. But if we must go for details:
    • The Conquest process was longer and more difficult than it is often given credit for. Mayan uprisings continued for a long time and the Inca had a few words to say to the new white boys in town.
    • Colonial rule of Spain over the biggest part of the continent. This is even obscure in Latin America, as most countries just jump from colonization to independence war.
    • That little ordeal with a certain Simon Bolivar. I heard some wars were fought around there in the south.
    • Mexican history is pretty fucking surreal. There was a Mexican-French war. Seriouslynote . And there was once a Mexican Empire. Twice, actually.
  • The French and Indian War.
  • For that matter, anything which happened in the future U.S. before independence, unless it involved Pocahontas, the Pilgrims, or witch trials in Salem. The entire period of British colonial rule over the thirteen American colonies is almost always treated as nothing more than one hundred fifty years of empty space between the arrival of the Pilgrims and the American Revolution.
  • The United States post-revolution and pre-Civil War is rarely covered in the media.
    • "North and South" by John Jakes takes place during the two decades preceding Fort Sumter.
    • The Dear America series has 4 books in this time period, two are about settlers moving west, one is about the Alamo, and one is about an Irish immigrant who works in a factory.
    • A Gathering of Days is set in New England circa 1830.
    • Part of the Leatherstocking series by James Fenimore Cooper is set in this era.
    • Tecumseh achieved a measure of popularity in Germany, becoming the hero of a series of novels and an East German movie.
    • The much-filmed Moby-Dick is also partly set in ante-bellum New England.
    • Amistad.
    • Sleepy Hollow is set in countryside New England in early 1800s.
    • Almost Heroes once again, is set in the early 1800's, and is about a rival party to the Louis and Clark expedition trying to reach the Pacific before they do.
  • The Barbary Wars. You'd think people might be interested in a movie about the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps fighting pirates, especially since it's the first war ever fought by the newly independent U.S.. Overshadowed by the Napoleonic Wars.
    • Film
      • There is also Tripoli (1950) with John Payne and Maureen O'Hara as the Comtesse D'Arneau in the inevitable yashmak. Rather a dull affair.
    • Literature
      • They do get a mention in one of the Horatio Hornblower books, Hornblower and the Hotspur, where the Hotspur is moored in a harbor not far from the USS Constitution, which is on her way to deal with the Corsairs in Tripoli.
    • Live-Action TV
      • And again in the Hornblower telefilm "Duty", which features the USS Liberty on a similar mission (name changed due to Rule of Symbolism).
  • There was the Quasi War, between the United States and the Republic of France. Seems Hollywood doesn't see a market for a movie where the U Sof A gets to go beat up the French. Overshadowed by the French Revolutionary Wars.
  • Speaking of pirates, no love for the War of 1812? Not even the Battle of New Orleans? Pirates, Choctaws, Arkansas flatboat men and Tennessee Davy Crockett types curb-stomping one of the best armies in the world despite being outnumbered nearly 3:1. Or alternatively, plucky Canadians whomping American invaders' butts and British burning down the White House. Yet, other than Eric Flint's Rivers of War, not a lot.
  • The Independence Wars of Latin America
  • The Mexican-American War of 1846-1848.
    • Remember the Alamo! (Technically part of the 1836 Texan War of Independence from Mexico, but still counts as an example since most people don't know anything about the entire period).
      • Plenty of Texans at least remember the Alamo. Far fewer remember Goliad, which fell to Mexican forces around the same time and saw more Texians killed. Any other battles save the Battle of San Jacinto are far less likely to be remembered. Good luck finding anyone at all who is familiar with the exploits of the short-lived Revolutionary Texas Navy or the Texas Navy of the Republic.
    • Literature
  • America's Old Northwest
    • Literature
      • The Leatherstocking Tales of James Fenimore Cooper, which include a little story called Last of the Mohicans, cover this setting (which was a main contributor to the French and Indian War as well).
  • Other than an offhand mention in Citizen Kane the Spanish-American War (1898), hasn't appeared very often.
    • One of the very very few works set in this conflict is the 1997 TNT two-parter Rough Riders, a realistic take on war in the style of ANZA Cs or Band of Brothers.
    • Doubly obnoxious because Kane was significantly based on William Randolph Hearst, who is sometimes credited for instigating the Spanish-American War. In fact, Kane is given a line ("you provide the prose poems, I'll provide the war"), which is quite similar to a line allegedly spoken by Hearst about the same war ("you furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war"). Oddly, Hearst is mentioned at a different point in the film, indicating that he still exists as himself in the Kaneverse.
      • It was briefly mentioned in Mad Men with an old veteran proclaiming he was a Rough Rider
      • It was also a backstory in the Black Western Posse, where the black protagonist served as a corporal in Cuba.
      • Also a war in John Jakes' novel Homeland where the patriarch of the Crown family becomes a general in Cuba and was wounded. His nephew serve as a photographer and filmographer as well,too.
    • Also highly glossed-over is the The Philippine–American War, which was a direct result of the Spanish-American War. Most of the films that deal with that war are mostly Filipino and from that POV. There are exceptions to the rule such as the film Amigo and The Real Glory, centered on the U.S. point of view.
  • Generally speaking the United States between the Civil War and the First World War, except for the frontier, which has the entire Western genre. The Civil War's home front and period freshly after has been the background to works such as Gone with the Wind and Gangs of New York, but apart from that nobody seems to have much of an interest in the orderly part of the USA in that era.
  • The Haitian Revolution. Notable as a) the only slave uprising successful in creation of an independent country, and b) Danny Glover's dream project (hampered by the obvious lack of a White Male Lead).

    Other Examples 1500- 1913 
  • While the Japanese have numerous stories about the Sengoku and Bakumatsu eras, those periods of history are not well known outside the country. (The Last Samurai does not fit in either category and is not very historical anyway. Earlier periods are even less known.
  • There is disappointingly little on the Boxer Rebellion, given every great power in the world put aside their differences and united to save Europeans and Chinese Christians from persecution.
  • The Taiping Rebellion! One of the largest and bloodiest conflicts in history, led by a guy claiming to be the younger Chinese brother of Jesus Christ. Caused more deaths than the First World War. Number of movies about it? Zero.
    • The Chinese film "The Warlords". So make that one.
    • One of the Flashman novels takes place during this conflict.
  • The Opium Wars
    • Film
      • A lot of kung fu movies take place during this period in China, though outside of that it's virtually unknown.
    • Literature
      • Spring Pearl: The Last Flower in the discontinued Girls of Many Lands collection is about a teenage girl during this time.
  • The Boer War. Are there even any British or South African movies that cover it?
    • Film
      • Breaker Morant is an Australian one.
      • The Nazi propaganda movie Ohm Krüger, in which a young Winston Churchill appears inspecting a concentration camp for Boer women and children.
      • For Churchill's version of the story, there is always Young Winston (1972).
      • In the 1960 version of The Time Machine, which is set in 1899, George (the time-traveler) is told that he should be coming up with inventions to help Britain in the Boer War, but he doesn't like the idea of creating machines which contribute to death and destruction. Obviously, it's a metaphor for the Cold War arms race.
    • Live Action Tv
      • The war figures prominently into the backstories of some Downton Abbey characters.
      • The war is also a background event during the appropriate seasons of Murdoch Mysteries. In one episode, Inspector Brackenreid, a former soldier, briefly enlists; in another, young Winston Churchill tours Canada telling his tales from the Boer War and winds up a murder suspect.
    • Western Animation
      • Lord Chumley from The Transformers mentions having been alive during the Boer War, noting that everyone's forgotten about it.
  • The Russo-Japanese War: Russia gets a major prestige and morale fall (with well-known results), while Japan establishes itself as the first Asian industrialized power and joins the club of great powers of the Age of Imperialism.
    • Film
      • The Japanese film 'The Battle of the Japan Sea' covers the naval battle of Tsushima (1905).
      • It is mentioned in the Bio Pic Nicholas and Alexandra, which covers the reign of Czar Nicholas II, and includes some of the outrage on Russia's home-front at their loss in the war.
      • The 1980 film 203 Hill covers the Japanese siege of Port Arthur, while the NHK drama series Saka no Ue no Kumo does the entire war from the Japanese perspective.
      • The Russo-Japanese War sparked of the Russian Revolution of 1905, which appears in a number of films, most famously The Battleship Potemkin.
    • Literature
      • On Russian, there was Tsushima by Novikov-Priboi who was a revolutionary propagandist back then, which mostly tells about how crappy was the Empire Before.
      • Rasplata by Semyonov, former imperial Russian captain, which managed to be even more obnoxious in painting the exact opposite picture.
      • Several novels by Valentin Pikul, such as Wealth and Cruisers. Pikul's novel Wealth is this trope squared, since it describes the most obscure front of that war, namely Kamchatkan guerrilla resistance against Japanese landings.
      • The Russo-Japanese war was done by Sidney Reily Ace of Spies. It was a "nice little war" from the days when everyone considered each other a Worthy Opponent. It just got overlooked.

World War One

The problem with World War I is that World War II has Nazis, which makes it a straight Good vs Evil fight and therefore more popular with writers. And even within World War I, most media concentrate on the British Sector of the Western Front and, occasionally, Gallipoli, and ignore everything else entirely. You'd almost be forgiven for wondering why they called it a "world war" at all, since it was apparently just Brits fighting Germans in France...

  • The Eastern Front. How many people have written about the Eastern Front, other than people from the region itself? 20 million Russian, Austrian, German, Bulgarian, and Romanian soldiers were fighting from the Baltic to the Caucasus, military strategy and tactics were being revolutionized, and empires were being broken up and new nations were being created.
  • One will never hear of Indian and Nepalese soldiers, and Russia disappears between 1914 to 1917, when it is mentioned they surrendered (they didn't until the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918; until that, it was a zig-zag from "War until victory" by the Provisionals and proto-Whites to "Neither Peace nor War" by Reds). Oh, and Arabia doesn't get much coverage. Arabs and oil, what's that? And everyone forgets that the countries all owned colonies, leading to fights in various parts of Africa.
    • Lawrence of Arabia
    • The African Queen
    • Shout at the Devil
    • The Tarzan novels Tarzan the Untamed and Tarzan the Terrible take during the East African Campaign of World War I.
    • The "cinematic novel" series with a nearly untranslatable to English title "Смерть на брудершафт"note  By the author of the Erast Fandorin series, is set between 1914 and 1917 and revolves around espionage and counter-espionage on the Eastern front.
    • Since the War on the Eastern Front directly led to the two Russian Revolutions of 1917, it appears quite often as a backdrop to movies about the latter, e. g. Eisenstein's October and Pudovkin's The End of St. Petersburg.
    • The 2010 film Legend of the Fist: Return of Chen Zhen may be the ONLY notable piece of media that shows Chinese coolies fighting for the British empire, if only briefly. The first scene of the movie features Chen Zhen (played by Donnie Yen) and a squad of coolies in France. They fight Germans. It is awesome. After this, though, the action moves to Shanghai and we Time Skip to the time of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
  • The last book of the popular Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery features Anne's daughter Rilla as the protagonist. The book deals with what was going on in Canada for the families that sent loved ones overseas. It's a very moving piece that shows war from the point of view of those that want to do whatever they can, no matter how small, to help out the cause.
    • Rilla of Ingleside is a unique case in that it is the only Canadian novel written from a women's perspective about the First World War by a contemporary.
  • You'll occasionally get some inkling that the French armed forces may have been involved in some capacity...
  • Did you know Japan fought on the Allied side in World War I? It's barely mentioned, but many of their Chinese holdings they got during this time.
    • Siege of Fort Bismark is an adventure-comedy dealing with the battle for Fort Chintao.
  • The Beauty and The Sorrow is a book that covers many perspectives of real people who lived during the war through their memoirs, letters, and other written works. Written with a post-modernish novelish tone though.
  • The Boy Allies discusses some American teenagers fighting for the French before the U.S. entry.
  • Also not to be forgotten, All Quiet on the Western Front.
  • The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy, follows the characters of The Good Master into the World War I era. Because they are children, it stays off stage, but a father goes off to fight, the farm gets Russian POWs to work, etc.
  • Ella of All-of-A-Kind Family was the last in a series about a Jewish family in New York City. It covers the Meatless Days, and Wheatless Days, and buying bonds, and two boyfriends, of the oldest girl and her best friend, go off to fight.
  • Also ignored is the Spanish Flu, one of the worst Pandemics in human history.
    • But then it was very much overshadowed by the war when it happened (ironically enough, as far more people died during that time due to the flu than due to the war), and there aren't many works in general about pandemics, probably because they would be too depressing.
    • Two reasons the Spanish Flu was overshadowed include wartime censoring (reporting on the disease's effects were suppressed due to wartime morale concerns pretty much everywhere except neutral Spain, leading to the impression that Spain had it far worse, leading to the name), and because the disease finished running it's course within a year of the end of the war.
    • Anime and Manga
    • Film
      • In a flashback to George's childhood from It's a Wonderful Life, Mr. Gower's telegram says that his son died of influenza. The Spanish Flu isn't mentioned explicitly, but the fact that the telegram is dated "May 3, 1919" makes it pretty clear.
      • The Spanish flu shows up briefly in Northern Light, the short film shown at Fort Edmonton Park.
    • Literature
      • Twilight mentions it as part of why Edward became a vampire, which technically makes it part of a major pop-culture phenomenon of the 2000s-2010s.
      • Kate Atkinson's Life After Life uses it as a main plot point (the flu kills the protagonist several times over).
    • Live-Action TV
      • Prominently featured in an episode of Downton Abbey - only one episode, mind, but the series tends to Time Skip several months between each one. Used for a Tonight Someone Dies plot, as several major characters contract it.
  • Also ignored is the entire Middle Eastern front against the Ottoman Empire. Then again, that very front was actually relatively lively when compared to the Western Front and wouldn't make a good material for a War Is Hell theme so prevalent when it comes to World War I. Of course, one problem is some of the controversy surrounding this time in the Ottoman Empire, and that modern Turkey really doesn't like anyone talking about certain things too much detail, namely the fate of its Christian minorities during the war. So writers usually won't touch it, though writers of Armenian descent are almost expected to do at least one book about the Armenian genocide. Good luck finding anything about the Assyrians or Pontic Greeks though (who suffered genocides at the same time).
    • Film
      • Lawrence of Arabia would beg to differ when it comes to the war front.
      • And The Lighthorsemen.
      • Gallipoli, based on a battle that is well-known in Australia and Turkey, but obscure elsewhere.
      • Ararat's Movie Within A Movie covers the Siege of Van in Ottoman Turkey.
      • The Lark Farm (La Masseria Delle Allodole), an Italian-made film (based on the novel Skylark Farm by Antonia Arslan) about the deportation of Armenians at the time of the war. Apparently the Turkish government bribed a lot of European movie theaters not to show it.
    • Literature
      • The Forty Days of Musa Dagh by Franz Werfel. Turkey has been preventing anyone from adapting it into a movie for decades now.
      • The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian.
      • The Armenian genocide is part of the backstory in Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut.
  • Rumor has it there was also a front between Austria and Italy.
    • Literature
      • Which just involved Ernest Hemingway driving an ambulance, drinking, bedding a nurse, drinking some more, driving an ambulance some more, and reflecting upon the futility of war.
  • Nobody yet mentioned the conflict with which this war began in the first place: between Austria and Serbia. Or the event which triggered it: the assassination of the Austrian crown prince.
    • Film
      • A little-known Made-for-TV Disney Original Movie, Principal Takes a Holiday, which briefly mentions the assassination in one scene. The same movie also mentions the American economic recession in the 80s. For a Disney Original, it was surprisingly intelligent.
      • There are a number of European movies about Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his assassination.
    • Video Games
  • Russian Civil War that followed the Revolutions of 1917 is well depicted only in Soviet/Russian cinema. And even there everyone remembers only the major fronts, namely two: Reds vs Kolchak and Reds vs Denikin/Wrangel, plus sometimes the chaotic fracas in Ukraine. Civil War on the Caucasus? Battles vs Yudenich and Miller? Quelling of the Basmach rebellion? The post-Kolchak White remnant in the East? What's that?
    • The Far East is relatively well-represented in a weird way, thanks to the fact it involved one of the greatest psychos of this entire period: the self-styled khan Baron von Ungern-Sternberg. Alternate history loves him to the point that there are stories in which it's specifically mentioned he died without achieving anything counterhistorical.
    • Film

World War II

Although World War II is done to death in pop culture, a number of fronts are rarely ever mentioned.

  • Notably, the battles between Japan and China.
  • The Polish-Soviet War and Polish September Campaign also deserve better coverage than they get. Also, the Polish resistance is hardly ever mentioned.
    • A bit appears in the work of film director Andrzej Wajda (a Pole), e. g. Ashes and Diamonds.
    • The 2014 first-person shooter Enemy Front is about an American reporter embedded with many European resistance groups and telling their stories to the world. The fact that it covered many lesser-known theaters of World War II such as Poland and Norway was a selling point in its (modest) marketing campaign. Half the missions are related to the Warsaw Uprising, and the final mission is the fall of Warsaw. Not unexpectedly, it was a Polish studio that made the game.
    • Sabaton made the song 40:1 about the battle of Wizna, which despite such elements as a ridiculously lopsided Last Stand and a Heroic Vownote  is hardly known outside Poland.
  • Same about the fall of Western Europe in spring 1940. It is rarely depicted besides some French TV films, and these tend to focus on the exodus only (defeat announced on the radio, people fleeing massively on the roads as far as they can while some German planes are shooting at them). It always seems like the French and British forces didn't fight at all, which is entirely false.
  • Generally speaking, the period 1939-early 1942 (except for the attack on Pearl Harbor) tends to be neglected in film, for two reasons. One, this was before the U.S. became involved directly, thus not getting much interest from Hollywood. The second reason is that it was only in 1942 that the Allies (including the Soviets) actually started winning significant victories and keeping ground, unlike the back and forth in North Africa.
    • The major exception is the Battle Of Britain.
  • The North African front. It seems to have everything one can desire what with exotic cities, no pesky civilians wandering around the battlefield except for Bedouin who can take care of themselves, and even a climate that is more fun to contemplate (Libyan desert dust sounds less unpleasant to fight in than French mud). And lots of potential Scenery Porn. And even some Real Life Badass characters who might have been made by a movie. Plus a Worthy Opponent Foe Yay kind of spirit that is a throwback to Ye Goode Olde Days.
    • Film
      • Patton
      • The Desert Rats, a 1953 war film about the World War II siege of Tobruk
      • The English Patient,
      • Ice Cold in Alex
      • Raid on Rommel
      • And The Desert Fox. North Africa is actually pretty heavily covered.
      • Not to mention a little film called Casablanca.
      • Sahara, 1943 film starring Humphrey Bogart, takes place in June 1942, on the eve of the Battle of El Alamein. Also 1995 remake starring James Belushi.
    • Live-Action TV
      • The Rat Patrol, an American TV program (1966-1968)
  • The other African fronts. Involving e. g. Free French and Vichy forces in various parts of the continent (e. g. the British attack on the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir in 1940) and Italian-occupied parts of East Africa (Eritrea and Abyssinia). A rare example of the latter is The Best of Enemies (1961) starring David Niven and Alberto Sordi.
  • Also the various actions in the Middle East, e. g. the Allied campaign against the Vichy forces in Syria and Nazi attempts to bring an Axis-friendly government to power in Iraq.
    • The fact that these two fronts involved the Allies fighting the French rather than the Germans is a major reason everyone prefers to forget them.
  • Burma, which earned the nickname 'The Forgotten War' even while fighting was still going on. This is despite the fact that it's essentially Britain's "jungle war" equivalent to the Pacific Theatre.
    • Film
      • The Bridge on the River Kwai.
      • Objective: Burma!, in which American troops parachute in to destroy a Japanese base, then face a difficult journey to safety. A particular exemplar of this trope (and America Wins the War) for downplaying British involvement in a mostly British and Australian campaign. Released in the UK in 1945, it was withdrawn a week later after anger from veterans, the military and (it was said) Winston Churchill himself.
    • Video Games
      • Commandos 2 includes one mission set in Burma.
  • The Italian Front on the other hand... The Italian campaign also vanishes from even history books after the fall of Rome and the Normandy invasion. It's as if the rest of the country ceased to exist for a year... all the fighting up to the borders of Switzerland, Austria and France gets ignored.
    • Comic Books
      • A comic called 'D-Day Dodgers' is set during this period, and references how the whole campaign became just a sideshow.
    • Film
      • Anzio.
      • The Audie Murphy Story may happen in Italy, but it's not made obvious.
      • Large chunks of Patton.
      • Tea With Mussolini, focussed on a group of British and American political prisoners led by an ambassador's wife who has deluded herself into believing she's a guest of honour of her beloved il Duce.
      • It's not all that uncommon: The English Patient and Life Is Beautiful. Although none of these movies focus on the combat, suggesting that other aspects of Italy are what appeal to filmmakers.
      • The Tuskeegee Airmen tells the story of how the titular squadron escorted the B-17s of the 15th Air Force from its base in Ramitelli to bombing missions in Germany and eastern Europe. Since most of the action takes place in the air, one could argue that the fighting in Italy itself was bypassed, but the movie also covers the squadron's role in the conquest of Sicily and Italy as well.
    • Literature
      • Catch-22,
      • A Thread of Grace is set primarily during the eighteen months between Italy's surrender and V-E Day, covering various factions in the former Nazi-allied, now Nazi-occupied nation.
    • Video Games
      • It does feature in a few of the Call of Duty games, however, usually depicting the notorious Battle of Monte Cassino.
  • The fact that some seven million Slavs (mostly Poles, Czechs, Russian P.O.W.s and other), Gypsies, homosexuals, mentally handicapped people and political dissidents as well as six million Jews died in the Holocaust is hardly ever mentioned.
    • Live-Action TV
      • One exception to this is the 70s miniseries Holocaust in which these groups (and the identifying badges they were forced to wear) are all mentioned and Gypsies are briefly shown in one camp scene.
  • Any coverage of the battles in Crete and Greece?
    • Literature
      • There's The Guns of Navarone.
      • Some of Alistair MacLean's other books also take place in Greece or other parts of Eastern Europe.
      • Captain Correlli's Mandolin by Louis de Berničres (and its film adaptation).
  • The Russo-Finnish War (both of them) might have gotten more play if the Finns hadn't been on the side of the Nazis. Otherwise, it seems made for TV, especially the Winter War which easily lends itself to a David Versus Goliath story.
    • Film
      • There are a number of Finnish films, as well as Russian ones such as The Cuckoo, where one Finnish and one Russian soldier argue over the hospitality of a Sami woman.
      • Another Russian film is The Dawns Here are Quiet, in which a small group of Soviet trainees in Karelia (near the Finnish border) have to fend off a larger German paratrooper force.
  • The Russian Front of World War II has the same disadvantage as the Thirty Years War. The main contenders were Evil Versus Evil, everyone else was just trodden on and so on. Whereas in the West it doesn't quite feel that way to contemplate it. Especially so for minor powers on the Eastern front, like the Hungarians, Romanians or the Soviet-backed Polish force, which aren't always remembered even in the respective nations.
  • The German campaign in the Balkans, and the Yugoslav, Greek and Albanian resistance movements which came after it.
    • Film
      • Force 10 from Navarone is set in wartime Yugoslavia.
  • Few people have even heard of the German presence in Greenland, where a group of 15 Greenlanders were able to fend off the Germans on dogsled.
  • Also forgotten is the fact that over 130,000 Japanese in America and Canada were persecuted and put into concentration camps because it was feared they were spies for the Japanese government after Pearl Harbor.
    • Film
    • Literature
      • Obasan by Joy Kogawa.
      • Under the Blood-Red Sun and Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury
      • Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata
      • ''The Moon Bridge" by Marcia Savin
      • Snow Falling On Cedars is set during the 1950s, but the backstory for several main characters revolves around the fallout of the forced internment of the Japanese.
      • Journey To Topaz follows a Japanese-American girl and her family (excluding her father, who was perceived as a bigger threat and separated from them) and their experiences in the concentration camps.
  • The Soviet-Japanese War of 1945 never gets used, maybe for fear of Ending Fatigue.
    • Masaki Kobayashi's Ningen no joken/The human condition trilogy: the protagonist winds up in a Soviet POW camp after being captured during this conflict.
    • The Last Emperor had a very brief shot of Soviet paratroopers landing on an airfield in Manchuria right when Pu Yi was going to try to escape China. A paratrooper then opens the door to his plane and captures him.
  • The history of the smaller Axis countries (e.g. Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia) during World War 2 is generally ignored, or they are simply presented as being occupied by the Germans.
  • Hardly anybody knows about Australia's involvement in the war, despite the fact that this was the one time in the 20th century that the Australian mainland was attacked by a foreign country (the Japanese bombing of Darwin on the northern coast).
    • Film
      • Kokoda focuses on a fierce battle in Papua New Guinea between Australian and Japanese forces.
      • Australia climaxes with the Japanese bombing of Darwin.
  • The fall of Singapore. An entire Japanese army basically bicycled their way through a dense jungle, outmaneuvered, and outfought the British garrison stationed there. Winston Churchill considered this the worst disaster that had happened so far in the war (and considering this was a year after Dunkirk, that was saying a lot).
    • Video Game
      • Medal of Honor: Rising Sun has one mission take place in occupied Singapore as you attempt to infiltrate a meeting between Japanese & Nazi officials.
  • While many films have been made about naval battles during the war, relatively few works have focused on the merchant marine and civilian cargo ships that were risking life and limb shipping supplies to Britain and the Soviet Union across an Atlantic that was infested with German U-boats.
    • Film
      • The Long Voyage Home is a John Ford film about a merchant vessel that must bring a cargo of ammuntion to Britain from the United States in 1940.
      • It comes up several times during The Imitation Game, though naturally the main focus is on Alan Turing's codebreaking. At the climax, they have a matter of minutes to either report an upcoming attack on a merchant convoy (and risk letting the Germans know they've cracked Enigma), or letting the convoy sink so that they can save more vital targets.
  • Concerning Alan Turing, almost everyone knows of his and Bletchley Park's work in cracking the Enigma. Nobody outside of Poland seems to have ever heard of Marian Rejewski and his crew pioneering the cryptanalysis of the Enigma, including the cracking of earlier varieties of the device, obtaining the actual hardware, etc. etc. long before the Brits got to it, then turning the results to the Western Allies at the onset of the war. This lack of knowledge is slightly justified in that the British government refused to let them into Bletchley Park, leaving the continuation of the work to Turing.


  • The Congo War (aka "Africa's World War", aka the deadliest human conflict in post-WWII history) is surprisingly obscure both in fiction and in real life - it was hardly ever mentioned on the news, for some reason, despite involving eight countries and killing 5 and a half million people.
  • Despite being used as an Expy for the Vietnam War in Mash (which ran about five times longer as a TV series than the war it alleged to depict was a 'hot' war) the Korean War/Conflict/Action is not only largely ignored in fiction but in Real Life as well. It's occasionally mentioned as a Backstory for elderly American veterans now that WWII vets are becoming thin on the ground (as far back as The '80s, when WWII vets were still fairly common, a middle-aged character obviously too young to have been in WWII would sometimes be established as a Korean War vet). A possible exception to the "Forgotten War's" status in the English-speaking world is among people with an interest in military aviation, since the Korean War has a fair degree of notoriety in aviation circles as the first conflict in which jet aircraft fought against each other (both sides had jets in World War II, and used them in combat, but they were relatively few in number and opposing jets never encountered each other).
    • Newspaper Comics
    • Film
      • Clint Eastwood has played a number of Korean War veterans, most notably in Absolute Power, Gran Torino, and Heartbreak Ridge.note 
      • The film adaptation of The Bridges At Toko Ri.
      • The Hunters, another late 1950s film adaptation of a novel about the air war in Korea.
      • The 2004 Korean film Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War is the biggest-budget Korean War film made to date, breaking box office records in Korea. It is a must-see for anyone interested in this conflict, though those with weak constitutions should be advised that there is much Gorn involved.
    • Literature
      • Robert B. Parker's detective Spenser was stated to be a Korean War vet in some of the earlier novels.
    • Live-Action TV
      • Jim Rockford of The Rockford Files served in the Korean War.
      • Covered in Mad Men, since this is where Dick Whittman became Don Draper.
      • Both Blanche's late husband and Dorothy's ex-husband were mentioned to have been Korean War veterans in The Golden Girls.
      • Trevor Ochmonek, the wacky neighbor on Alf, was a Korean War veteran.
      • In That '70s Show, Red is a World War II and Korean War vet. The show starts off in the year 1976.
    • Video Games
      • Sabre Ace Conflict Over Korea, a 1997 flight sim.
  • The Spanish Civil War doesn't get a lot of play, except in Spain. Mostly serves as a backstory for a Knight in Sour Armour character types in fiction set in the late Thirties to Fifties.
  • Maybe too modern, but the space programs post-Apollo. The Space Race from Sputnik to Apollo-Soyuz was only the first twenty years out of fifty, but that's when all the movies are set.
    • Film
      • Space Cowboys starring Clint Eastwood, James Garner, Billy Bob Thornton, and Donald Sutherland as four over-the-hill 1960's test pilotsnote  recruited for a sensitive Space Shuttle mission.
    • The Challenger disaster has been the subject of a 1990 ABC made-for-TV-movie and a 2013 BBC/Discovery Channel docudrama. The later was much better regarded by critics than the former.
  • Latin American history in the 20th century and after:
    • The Cuban Revolution. Who was that t-shirt dude again?
    • The dictatorial regimes in most of Latin America during the Cold War. There is barely any country where nothing interesting happened. The Salvador Allende coup d'etat in Chile, the Tlaltelolco Massacre in Mexico, the Sendero Luminoso terrorist attacks in Peru, the opressive dictature in Argentina (and Uruguay, and Brazil and several other countries) and the extremely bloody conflicts in Central America, such as the genocides in Guatemala under Lucas and Rios Montt, El Salvador and Nicaragua. A lot of this are just recently starting to be studied on their home countries. Though the thing is, the main villain in a lot of this stories is often regarded to actually be the U.S. itself as they are blamed for helping regimes and sabotaging elections when the countries elected communist sympathizers which makes it all more morally confusing.
    • Literature
      • In the Time of the Butterflies is about the Mirabal sisters, who were anti-government activists in the Dominican Republic during the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Proxy conflicts of the Cold War excluding Vietnam.
  • The Warlord Period in Republican China (1916-28) doesn't get a lot of attention except in a few military books published by Osprey and movies filmed in Mainland China.
    • The Sand Pebbles.
    • The 2011 Chinese film Shaolin takes place during this period. Andy Lau & Nicholas Tse both play warlords.
  • The period of Mao Zedong's rule in China gets occasional publicity as the time when China took over Tibet, or in stories about intellectuals exiled to the countryside. Don't expect much about how the Communists won the civil war, or about the famines Mao caused. Doesn't help that the Chinese government really doesn't like talking about this period, and China's now-enormous movie-going public means filmmakers have to be pretty careful about what they make if they want their films to pass approval by the censorship bureau and get a piece of the Chinese market.
    • Literature
      • Dreams Of Joy by Lisa See deals with a Chinese-American girl going to China to visit her biological father, believing Mao's propaganda, and ending up married and working on a commune in rural China during the Great Leap Forward.
      • Lili: A Novel is about a Chinese woman who gets out of jail in China, and although it doesn't take place during Mao's rule, she does discuss the problems that happened during that time period.
  • The Great Purge and The Gulag don't get a lot of publicity outside of Creator/Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's work. Though Josef Stalin killed more people than Hitler, perhaps the fact that he was less picky about what race they were makes it less reviled.