Weird Historical War

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This specific flavor of Alternate History, or when the story is really historical but with unnoted elements, deals with a point of divergence that occurs during a large-scale war, usually (but not limited to) World War I or World War II. The divergence involves sci-fi, fantasy or supernatural elements added to the war's events. Examples can include use of weapons or technology that haven't been invented yet, vampire and/or werewolf soldiers, mysticism, and alien intervention.

This trope differs from Fantasy Conflict Counterpart in that this trope is the real war plus "extras", where Fantasy Conflict Counterpart is the war Recycled In Space.

World War II examples will overlap heavily with Ghostapo, Stupid Jetpack Hitler and We Didn't Start the Führer. Cold War examples will often overlap with Soviet Superscience. Often is a sub-trope of Diesel Punk and Reality Retcon.

Examples:

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     Art  

  • Polish painter Jakub Rozalski uses his paintings to document the Polish-Soviet War (1919-1921), but here waged with giant mechs and... bears?!

     Comic Books  

  • Arrowsmith is set in an Alternate History Earth in which the United States of America is actually the United States of Columbia, Magic is real, and the World War I is fought with and by dragons, spells, vampires and all other kinds of magical weapons and beings.
  • Atomic Robo features the eponymous nuclear-powered automaton in adventures throughout his 80-year backstory. So far at least a couple stories have taken place during his time as a soldier in World War II.
  • The Captain America franchise in general. The USA and Germany both have science research departments that result in Super Soldier programs, crazy technologies, weird semi-demonic villains, and more.
  • Hellboy: On the brink of defeat, the Nazis, with the help of Grigori Rasputin, are about to bring forth The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Dr. Manhattan was used as a weapon in Vietnam in Watchmen, which changed the course of the war.
  • David Brin's The Life-Eaters is premised on the idea that mass human sacrifice can create godlike beings, which the Nazis use to create Nordic gods to fight for them. Then other countries get in on the game, and things get pretty horrible.
  • Avatar Press's Über attempts to deconstruct the typical comic book trope of super humans being used in World War II, instead painting them as walking Weapons of Mass Destruction that leave plenty of Gorn behind wherever they're deployed (especially when facing regular troops).
  • Zig Zagged Trope in DC Comics: While there were several war-time comics in Real Life showcasing superheroes like Superman helping the war effort (and the Axis upping the ante in various ways), a Retcon was done eventually saying that Hitler had in his possession The Spear of Destiny, which could shut down the powers of any superhuman within a given (yet undefined) radius, which prevented any superhero from simply blitzing Berlin on his/her own and ending the war early.
  • DC had a lot of war comics, two of which adhered very closely to this trope:
    • Weird War Tales, as seen up top. For most of its run it was a horror anthology, sort of a war-themed The Twilight Zone that focused primarily on WWI and WWII and hosted by Death himself. Towards the end it was headlined by the Creature Commandos (an artificial Monster Mash created as an exercise in psychological warfare) and GI Robot (a mute, seemingly nonsentient robot fighting for the USMC in the Pacific)
    • "The Haunted Tank," which ran in DC's G.I. Combat for about 25 years. During WWII Lt. Jeb Stuart commands an M3 Stuart tank haunted by his (and the tank's!) namesake, Confederate general J.E.B. Stuart. And only Jeb can see or hear Gen. Stuart, so his crew thinks he's a little crazy. For the record, J.E.B. Stuart was a real person.
  • The 2000 AD series Fiends of the Eastern Front by Gerry Finley-Day and Carlos Ezquerra has vampires appear on the Romanian Front in World War II.
  • Guess the situation in Vampire Vixens of the Wehrmacht. Go on, guess.
  • The DC Comics Bombshells series follows the titular group of superwomen (yes, superwomen, with no supermen in sight) fighting for the Allies and preventing the Axis (or "neutral" (in the "kill everybody on both sides and conquer/destroy the world" sense)) from deploying unnatural weapons.
  • A (potentially to never be completed) Marvel What If? fancomic by James Stokoe, Spider-'Nam, has Spider-Man fighting in The Vietnam War (with Spidey costume under the G.I. gear and all). Here is a view of some completed pages.
  • Downplayed in The Boys: while Compound V (the drug responsible for supers) was invented by a German who fled the Nazis, the only attempt at having supers in combat was a cataclysmic failure, killing off a US tank division, all the supers involved, and Senator Prescott Bush. The Nazis did end up creating a single super, but he didn't participate in the war (and works for Vought American nowadays).

     Eastern Animation  

  • The Malaysian animated film War of the Worlds: Goliath combines the War of the Worlds with the World War I timeframe. Set in a 1914 after the initial Martian invasion and wherein mankind has tank tripods and technology reverse-engineered from Martian tech, the first world war threatens to break. However all that is put aside when the Martians attempt a second invasion. What was supposed to be World War I is turned into the second War of the Worlds, with the likes of Manfred von Richthofen(the Red Baron), Nikola Tesla, and Theodore Roosevelt fighting together in a united special organization against Martians.

     Film  

     Literature  

  • "The Fantastic World War II" includes stories by A. E. van Vogt, CM Kornbluth, Lester del Rey, and Harry Turtledove. Basically every story is an example of the genre of "weird WWII" in some way or another. It includes such stories about Sir Francis Drake participating in the Dunkirk evacuation, Count Dracula dining on Nazis, a Nazi teleportation device, and an entire army of cloned Hitlers.
  • The Guns of the South, by Harry Turtledove. Racists from the future travel back in time and give modern machine guns to the (at that point in The American Civil War) losing Southern army. Needless to say, they crush the North after receiving this unfair advantage.
  • Nine years earlier, Harry Harrison used a similar scenario—a racist from the future travelling back to the time of the American Civil War to help the Confederacy win using easily produced Sten guns—as the basic premise for his novel A Rebel in Time. Only here the black protagonist of the novel also travels back in time to prevent the changing of history.
  • Leviathan takes place during an Alternate History World War I fought between the Steampunk technology-using Clankers (Central Axis) and the Darwinists (Allies), who are using genetically engineered animals.
  • The non-fiction book My Tank Is Fight! by Zack Parson shows the various Real Life plans drawn up by both sides in WWII. Had any of these been built, they would have certainly qualified for this trope. Examples include the Nazi Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte, a super-large tank that would have been 35 metres long and over one thousand tons in weight, and the Allied aircraft carrier made of ice, the HMS Habbakuk. It then goes to great lengths to demonstrate why many of these ideas wouldn't have worked or would have been utterly useless, with the most successful ones being the ancestors of weapons systems developed later, such as a Nazi-made MCLOS anti-tank missile.
  • Worldwar by Harry Turtledove involves the Earth invaded by aliens during World War II.
  • The Temeraire series is the Napoleonic Wars with dragons.
  • The short stories "Missile Gap" and "A Colder War" by Charles Stross are the Cold War with added Cthulhu Mythos, inspired when he realized the two were remarkably similar in theme: the human race existing at the mercy of vast, uncaring entities with the power to end civilization at any moment.
  • Mike Mignola's Baltimore, or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire starts in the trenches of WWI, when the protagonist is attacked by vampires, their bloodlust awakened by the slaughter. Eventually, the war is inconclusively brought to an end by the outbreak of a supernatural plague. The comic book series that follows after reveals other... unusual occurrences.
  • Two of the Elemental Masters novels (Phoenix and Ashes and Unnatural Issue) refer to magic being used by spies on both sides of World War I. The second also has a necromantic summoning in No Man's Land, which goes as well as you'd expect with all that raw material around.
  • In the Rivers of London series, WW2 had a distinct supernatural flavour in the background with the Germans doing all sorts of nasty things at Ettersberg (better known as Buchenwald concentration camp) involving death magic. The battle to shut down the Nazi's supernatural weapons at Ettersberg also destroyed the Allies magical corps too.
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy indicates a few times that the American colonies, which never became independent in this setting, are gathering resources and wizards to fight a fantasy version of The American Revolution. This has the wizardly rulers of Britain very concerned.
  • Lammas Night, by Katherine Kurtz, follows the magical Battle of Britain that was fought alongside the publicly-known one, with archmage Adolf Hitler's Nazi coven fighting the witches and mystics of the British isles.
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell has magicians helping out in the Napoleonic wars.
  • Appears in the backstory of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: apparently World War II was caused in part and fought largely by warring demigod children of Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. The effects were so devastating that they vowed never to have children after the war. Only Hades kept it.
    • In the sequel series, The Heroes of Olympus, the American Civil War was apparently caused by feuding Roman and Greek demigods.
  • Declare adds a supernatural background (specifically concerning the Jinn) to WW2 and particularly the Cold War.
  • A variation in Night Watch. Some novels claim that Others secretly fought one another on both sides of World War II (yes, Ghostapo was real). Leningrad (now St. Petersburg again) was a particularly fierce battleground due to the city itself being full of magic. People still occasionally find powerful artifacts left over from those battles.
  • Briefly discussed in the Mediochre Q Seth Series, where a flashback to World War I has Pigeon mention a rumour that mancers on the German side had been working on Magitek weaponry. Whether those rumours were ever true is not mentioned.
  • The 1632 novel series takes place during the Thirty Years' War—and adds to this a whole town from late 20th century America, introducing new technology and societal concepts to the 17th century.
  • Orson Scott Card's The Tales of Alvin Maker series has magic that's super real. Also, Joseph Smith as a superhero. This may or may not be the explanation for why world history is so wildly different.
  • Deconstructed in Lavie Tidhar's novel The Violent Century, which is mostly set during World War II. The USA, the UK, Germany, and the Soviet Union all have superpowered people before the war begins (due to a Mass Super-Empowering Event during the inter-war period), but as the novel progresses it becomes clear that history hardly changes at all, with even superpowered individuals being too small and petty to change the horrors of mechanised warfare and the Holocaust.
  • The book Shambling Towards Hiroshima is mostly written as a memoir (and potential suicide note) of an old B-Movie actor (of the type that wore rubber suits for a living a la Godzilla) and his involvement on "Project KNICKERBOCKER", an attempt by the United States Navy to create Real Life (In-Universe) Kaiju to unleash as Weapons Of Mass Destruction on the Japanese. It turns out that said monsters were not only almost impossible to breed in the customary size, but the man-sized prototypes, even if seemingly lethal, were very calm. The actor's involvement in the project was to wear a rubber costume based on the monsters' looks in order to film propaganda movies of their supposed effectiveness.
  • In Fred, The Vampire Accountant, the titular character is told that The American Revolution only succeeded with the help of supernatural beings, especially dragons. Apparently, supernatural creatures wanted a land of their own, far from the Old World, so they made a deal with the Founding Fathers, which is still in force to this day. During The American Civil War, the wording of the contract forced all supernatural beings to fight on the side of the North (since the contract was signed with the "Union").
  • The SNAFU anthology book series by Cohesion Press centers around military operations that end up going wrong because of the operators running into rampaging Monsters.

     Live Action TV  

  • There was a 2013 mockumentary on The History Channel called "The Great Martian War". It blended film footage from World War One with CG of Martian tripods. Watch some footage of it here. There was also a video game based on the film.
  • Young Indiana Jones occasionally delved into this during the course of World War I. In a Halloween special, Indy faces an eccentric Romanian general that is actually a vampirized Vlad Tepes planning to create a vampire army and take over the world (his first attack is on a POW camp, resulting on soldiers from both sides being vampirized and joining his ranks). In another special, he infiltrates a German airbase and destroys an experimental plane design of Anthony Fokker that is capable of crossing the Atlantic years before this was accomplished on real life, which the Germans intend to use to bomb New York City.
  • White Rabbit Project: The episode "Crazy World War II Weapons" showcases some of the Real Life attempts by the Allied forces to create wonder weapons. Reality Ensues as even the ones that actually worked when tested (which include such things as pigeon-guided smart bombs) were too Awesome, but Impractical.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Pinnacle Games published a Weird Wars line of d20 games taking place in Real Life past and future wars with supernatural additions. For example, Weird War II had the PCs playing Allied soldiers during World War II, but the Nazis had mutant soldiers, characters could use haunted vehicles and cast spells, and there were monsters. Lots of monsters. The Updated Re-release of the game line for Savage Worlds so far includes World War I ("Weird War I"), World War II ("Weird War II"), The Vietnam War ("Tour Of Darkness"), and the Roman Empire and its campaigns of conquest ("Weird Wars Rome").
  • The GURPS "World War II" line included Weird War II. Want to use rune magic to send giant monsters against the alien supersoldiers working for the other side? It's in here. (note: Despite the name similarity, this isn't part of the Pinnacle series.)
    • After the Hellstorm in 1945, a number of real-world wars still went ahead with China facing stiff resistance from magic Tibetian monks in their invasion of 1950 and Iranian Revolution takes place while Shah is being treated for vampiric leukaemia in the United States in 1979. The supplement, "Funny New Guys" focuses on roleplaying the Vietnam War if it were fought using wizards and dragons.
  • Dream Pod 9's Gear Krieg setting is a World War II which has both sides using Pulp Weird Science and most importantly Humongous Mecha of varying types (Mini-Mecha and Transforming Mecha modeled after and standing in for real-world military hardware, for example).
  • Secrets Of The Third Reich. World War II is still going on in 1949 (and going further into Alternate History as things go on) with an All Myths Are True Fantasy Kitchen Sink situation, with such things as Nazi zombie troopers, vampires, Powered Armor soldiers and Mini-Mecha being fought with Captain America Expies made from technology obtained from the Roswell UFO, a British Hero Unit that is a reincarnation of King Arthur, soldiers with Psychic Powers and Weird Science Military Mashup Machines.
  • In Deadlands, The American Civil War was complicated by the sudden awakening of magical forces. The war now includes features like zombies and Steampunk mad science devices. While not the main focus, the supplement Deadlands: Noir also provides info about how World War I went in this universe and the Hell On Earth expansion provided some info on how World War II went.
  • The Call of Cthulhu RPG has a supplement called "Achtung Cthulhu!", which is about Cthulhu Mythos and World War 2.
  • The miniature game DUST Tactics is about an alternative history World War 2 featuring walking tanks, powered armour, Nazi zombies and the like.
  • Spirit of the Century, being set in the Roaring Twenties, naturally includes a fair amount of detail on what your "Centurions"—basically pulp heroes—got up to during WWI, including it as one of the major phases of the character's background. There's also an option to play during the war with younger and less formidable Centurions, in case you'd like to dodge artillery shells while pottering around France in your jetpack.
  • The Tabletop RPG Godlike has as its base setting a World War II where all sides have managed (through various means) to create or obtain superhumans and deploy them on the front lines (and its expansion, Brave New World, provides some information on how The Cold War went on the same universe). The system prides itself on being incredibly lethal even for the most powerful of player builds/supers, and thus seriously exposes that War Is Hell.
  • Played with on the Old World of Darkness and New World of Darkness game series: while multiple members of the Fantasy Kitchen Sink factions that comprise the settings did work during World War II (and other conflicts); they remained deep in the shadows and the byline and when the games get to the point of talking about World War II proper they explicitly mention that none of them had absolutely anything to do with Adolf Hitler's monstrous actions (Word of God is that they decided that having, for example, the Camarilla as the one responsible for The Holocaust would have been in horrifyingly bad taste).
  • The tabletop strategy game Konflikt '47 has World War II still going on long after the war ended in Real Life (like the title says, the "current day" within the game's timeline is 1947), the Soviet Union splitting from the Allies... and all sides using Mad Science (a new era that was kick-started by the Manhattan Project), like Nazi Zombies (and disposable robot troops), Mini-Mecha and Powered Armor used as "armored cavalry", tanks packing Tesla Coil cannons...

     Video Games  

  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert involves Albert Einstein developing a time machine during World War II, finally completing it in 1946 and using it to eliminate Hitler in 1924, just as he is exiting Landsberg Prison. This has less-than-ideal results: the Pacific War seems to proceed as usual, but World War II breaks out in 1946, with the European Allies (now including Germany, Turkey, and Spain) fighting against the Soviet Union in a war involving attack helicopters, nuclear submarines, Lightning Guns, spy satellites, energy shields, and space-time teleportation. The United States, which had provided support to the European Allies for much of the war, eventually enters when it seemed that the USSR was on the verge of overwhelming Europe and Asia. The direct sequel features a third World War in the 1970's, initiated by a Soviet invasion of the United States.
  • Operation Darkness involves werewolves and firestarters, Jack the Ripper, and a descendant of the Van Helsing family working as Allied commandos versus Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany. Hitler is an archmage and has allies including a vampire. Oh yeah, Hitler can also summon a dragon and skeleton warriors to even out the odds.
  • In Ring of Red, Nazi Germany had been able to create Armored Fighting Walkers or AFWs in order to give the Wehrmacht a fighting edge against Allied troops. Due to the European terrain, they only saw limited service and instead, were used by North and South Japanese troops before and after the Japanese War when Japan was divided by the Allied Forces.
  • The Silent Storm series features the use of human-sized mecha called Panzerkliens, which were supplied by a terrorist group called Thor's Hammer to both Allied and Axis forces in order to reap off the profits while they waited for both factions to weaken each other off before they would start plans to take over the world.
  • Sengoku Basara features various wars in Feudal Japan, and some of the playable characters uses modern equipments such as chainsaws, variety of guns, and at least one Humongous Mecha.
  • In Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land (set during World War I), you lead a small squad of British and American investigators in the Eastern French battlefield, attempting to stop the German to create an army of Undead and Eldritch Abominations. The game then received a prequel DLC campaign in which you play as Docktor [sic] Kaul, the Big Bad of the main campaign.
  • Strikers 1945: It is World War II as a Shoot 'em Up with various historical gigantic vehicles being able to transform into gigantic robots, and at least one fight with an alien creature.
  • Shellshock 2: Blood Trails adds zombies to the Vietnam War. A Mad Scientist developed a zombie virus to sell as a weapon, but upon being turned away, decided to show them all by releasing it as a plague which affects both sides.
  • The Wolfenstein series has Nazis experimenting with both the supernatural and hyper-advanced technology, courtesy of the SS Paranormal Division and Mad Scientist Wilhelm "Deathshead" Strasse respectively, pitted against the Allied OSA (Office of Secret Actions) agent BJ Blazkowicz. The first couple of games in the modern series take place in 1943 and have the weird stuff happening "offscreen" from the real war, and it's implied that it was all covered up. However, Wolfenstein: The New Order pushes things into full-on Alternate History territory, with Deathshead's super-tech causing the war to last until 1948, whereupon it ends with Nazi Germany crushing the Allies and taking over the world.

     Webcomics  

     Western Animation  

  • The second Justice League story arc, The Savage Time, involved the League going back in time to the European Theatre in order to Set Right What Once Went Wrong (in this case, Vandal Savage sending back a laptop full of information that his younger self uses to provide the Nazis with super-weapons like gigantic mono-wheel battle tanks). A later episode involved an island museum of Silver-Age style war machines.
  • Not 100% following this Trope, but still pretty close: A quick gag on an episode of The Simpsons is that of Professor Frink bringing a giant Steampunk Mecha-Spider (a la The Wild Wild West) to a Civil War re-enactment. The other side is quickly curb-stomped.

     Real Life  


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WeirdHistoricalWar