Small Reference Pools: Real Life

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    Animals 
  • There's a tendency to see mammals and birds as cute creatures, fit for antropomorphization. Reptiles, amphibians and fish may get this treatment too, though not always. Insects and other invertebrates usually don't get this romanticism. This also explains why the cute animals will be namedropped more easily than icky creatures like snakes, bats, rats, crocodiles, toads, spiders, mosquitoes, flies, squids and jellyfish.
  • Household pets will invariably be dogs, cats and goldfish. A parrot or a parakeet may be mentioned too, along with hamsters, rabbits and/or guinea pigs. Tortoises, snakes and rats already fall into the more special kind of pets.
  • Farm animals are always cows, bulls, calves, pigs and piglets, horses, donkeys, goats, sheep, chickens (hens, roosters, chicks). Ducks, geese, peacocks and rabbits may appear too. Crows, ravens, mice and rats as well, but uninvited.
  • Forest animals will always be seen in a European setting. Expect rabbits, foxes, wolves, badgers, bears, rabbits, hares, weasels, marters, ermines, moles, squirrels, owls, hawks, woodpeckers, deer, skunks, pheasants and adders to appear. Blackbirds, swallows, titbirds, chickadees, jays, finches, magpies, orioles, eagles, buzzards, cuckoos, hawks, skylarks, pigeons, sparrows, thrushes and nightingales will be seen in the trees
    • Near a river or a pond you'll always find toads, frogs, sturgeons, carps, storks, kingfishers, cranes, swans, ducks, herons and otters.
    • At night you'll encounter owls, nightingales and bats.
    • Forest animals in a North American setting will add beavers, coyotes, cougars, eagles, moose, bisons, buffaloes, pumas and raccoons.
    • Forest animals in a Eurasian/Russian setting will be yacs, caribous, reindeer, bears and wolves.
  • Arctic animals will show polar bears, polar foxes, seals, walruses, whales, orcas and lemmings.
  • Antarctic animals will bring penguins, seals, walruses, whales and orcas in frame.
  • Desert animals will always be shown in North Africa or the Middle East. If they do you're bound to see camels, dromedaries, rattle snakes, scorpions, meerkats, tarantulas, lizards, fennec foxes, African buffaloes and mongoose.
    • Desert animals in North America and Mexico will be rattle snakes, gila monsters, scorpions and coyotes.
  • African savannah animals are usually lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes, okapis, panthers, ostriches, cheetahs, leopards, jackals, hyenas, gazelles, antelopes, wildebeest, water buffaloes, warthogs, mosquitoes, vultures, baboons, rhinoceroses and tortoises.
  • African jungle animals will consist of gorillas, chimpanzees, makis, leopards, panthers, geckos, chameleons, mosquitoes. Near a water side you'll find crocodiles and hippopotamuses.
  • Carribean animals? Tropical fishes, sharks, marlins, sea turtles, flamingos, manatees, iguanas, albatrosses, crabs, pelicans, seals and tropical penguins.
  • In the Latin American mountains people will only be able to name llamas, alpacas, vicunjas and condors.
  • A Latin American jungle will provide cameos by these animals only: jaguars, pumas, leopards, black panthers, anacondas, boa constrictors, vampire bats, mosquitoes, tarantulas, piranhas, anteaters, chinchillas, armadillos, howler monkeys, sloths, humming birds, parrots, toucans and flamingos.
  • South Asian and South East Asian jungles will only show Indian elephants, Indian rhinoceroses, wolves, macaques, gibbons, lemurs, langurs, proboscis monkeys (famous for their noses), orang-utans, tigers, civet cats, black bears, cranes, salamanders, catfish, komodo dragons, tapirs, gharials (crocodiles with small snouts) and the kantjil (mousedeer or chevrotain).
    • In India add some holy cows to the landscape.
    • In China pandas and cranes.
    • In the mountainous areas of Tibet most people will only be able to think of the yak.
  • Australian wildlife is probably more famous than its citizens: kangaroos and wallabies, koalas, kookaburras, Tasmanian devils, emus, echidnas, dingoes, platypuses, black widow spiders,...
  • New Zealand only has two famous animals to be known by the general public: the kiwi and sheep.
  • Ocean wildlife will be fish, like sharks, salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerels, seahorses, marlines, snappers, cat fishes, clown fishes, eels, electric eels, moray eels, eagle rays, sting rays, anemone fish, butterfly fish, lionfish and swordfish. Sea mammals will be dolphins, orcas and whales. Other species found in the sea are sea turtles, squids, octopuses, jellyfish, crabs, lobsters and sponges. In the deep sea you're bound to see a giant squid, lantern fish, flashlight fish and/or anglerfish.
  • Insect and other invertebrates wildlife will usually be ants, termites, spiders, crickets, locusts, bees, wasps, flies, dragonflies, fireflies, damselflies, mosquitoes, caterpillars and butterflies, weevils, cockroaches, moths, worms, silkworms, centipedes, scorpions, beetles, stag beetles, fleas, lice, bed bugs, cicadas and praying mantises.
  • Typical city animals will be sparrows, pigeons, mice and rats. Near a harbor you'll encounter albatrosses and seagulls too.

    Anthropology 
  • If television features American Indians, all American Indian tribes can be summed up as Cherokee (typically a white man with Cherokee ancestry), Lakota (not Dakota), Cheyenne, or Apache. And sometimes Navajo.
  • American Indian history stops in 1890. Any mention of 20th century American Indian history is a throwaway comment about Leonard Peltier or the Siege of Wounded Knee. One exception is made for World War II Code Talkers, but only the Navajo ones will be mentioned—nobody has ever heard of the Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I.
  • Regardless of their ostensible tribe, they will nearly always be played by Sioux or sometimes Cherokee actors—for some reason, virtually never by Mexicans, many of whom are full-blooded Indian, physically. Whatever the ethnicity of the actors, expect Not Even Bothering with the Accent. Because plainly, Apaches from New Mexico have the same accent as Sioux from Canada.
  • South American Indians are either Inca or from the Amazon jungle, typically Yanomamo or Kayapo (and if they are Yanomamo, they are invariably portrayed as Always Chaotic Evil, even in modern works). The "Inca"-like Indians will also include Quechuas and Aymaras - the latter of whom will show up often because they just look so interesting in their old-fashioned bowler hats.
  • Everyone in Africa is black. The only white people are the Great White Hunter or the Mighty Whitey (or sometimes Afrikanersnote , who are all racist against blacks). All black Africans will be dark black. This means they're probably Bantu or from some other Niger-Congo tribe (the tribes from which most American slaves were chosen). You'll never see the reddish-brown Pygmies or the yellowish-brown Khoisan (unless you're watching The Gods Must Be Crazy, of course). There are no Arabs, Indians, Asians or anyone else.
  • Rural Africans are all Masai or Zulu. Or from Papua New Guinea.
  • All Arctic peoples are Eskimos. All Eskimos are Inuit, even the Yup'ik, and Eskimo women, though inuit is specifically a masculine plural. There are no Russian Eskimos.
  • And all indigenous people have been completely cut off from the world, with no modern influences on their fashion or culture whatsoever.
  • All people in the Caribbean are black. There are no Indian, Chinese, or white people.
  • All Arabs are Muslim - and, to a lesser extent, vice versa. In fact, there are many Christian Arabs - mostly in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Israel, and Palestine. Similarly, there are a great variety of Muslim peoples (Albanians being European, Iranians sharing much of their linguistic and racial heritage with both Europeans and Asian Indians, Turks ultimately from East Asia, and Indonesians mostly of Malayo-Polynesian stock),note  but a Muslim character in popular fiction will always be rendered an Arab or a quasi-Arab unless his/her being of a different nationality is pertinent to the plot.
  • All Indians are Hindu. Not Muslim, not Christian, not Sikh, not Buddhist, not Jain or any of the other religions present in India. They're just funny people celebrating gods with many arms. And they will often wear turbans, even though most Hindus do not wear turbans.
  • All Russians are either ethnic Russian or Jewish. Chechens appear sporadically, and will always be depicted as Islamic extremists. What about Tatars, Bashkirs, Ossetians, Dagestanis, Chuvash, and Circassians (among others)? Good luck finding them!
    • During the Cold War, it was believed in the West that the only people living in Siberia were forced there for being political dissidents.
  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi, of course. Forget about Sephardim and Mizrahim. And their only holiday is Hanukkah (an extremely minor commemoration of military victory on the Jewish calendar that post-dates the Bible and the many more important festivals it contains). When celebrating this apparently Christmas-like occasion, it is always, always the eighth night (if the number of candles is to be believed).
  • All Americans with Eastern European roots are Jewish. Slavic Americans who are Christian won't show up very often, and when they do they're often fresh off the boat, despite the large wave of Polish, Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian immigration between the 1880s and 1920s. Despite this, completely assimilated Average Joes will often have Polish surnames for some reason, particularly if they are from Chicago.
  • All hispanics speak Spanish as their mother tongue and only Spanish (when it is not broken English littered with Gratuitous Spanishnote , that is). The men are squat, brown, and have black hair and moustaches. The women are curvy, leggy and slutty - except for the ones who are fat and have really gross facial and body hair.
  • If white Latin Americans show up, expect them to be from wealthy families. In real life, while most of the wealthiest Latin American families are white, most white Latin Americans are not rich.
  • Everyone in Latin America has a Spanish surname - even in countries like Argentina, Chile, and Brazil where non-Spanish/Portuguese surnames are just as common.
  • Everyone in Australia is of British or Irish heritage, and will most likely be blond. The few that aren't are Aborigines.
  • Italian-Americans are always from Southern Italy; Central or Northern Italian-Americans do not exist.
  • On the other hand, all Italians are Southern Italians: the other two-thirds of the populace are nowhere to be seen, either.
  • American Catholics are either Irish, Italian, or Hispanic. Forget about the American Catholics of French, Polish, German, Dutch, Portuguese, and other heritages. African American Catholics don't exist either.
  • All Southerners are devout Baptists or evangelicals. Don't mention the traditionally Catholic Southern populations like the Cajuns and Louisiana Creoles.
  • Until about the 1950s, all white Americans in fiction worth focusing on were of Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, or Irish stock. When "ethnic" whites did show up, it was just to talk in funny accents and get called "wop" and "polack" and such.
  • All Pennsylvania Dutch are Amish. The Fancy Dutch (Who are typically Lutheran, and are the origins of many "quintessential" Dutch elements such as hex signs) and Mennonites do not exist. Similarly, all Amish are from Pennsylvania. There are no Amish in other states or nations.
  • Christianity is divided into exactly two denominations, Catholicism and Protestantism. Protestantism is a single entity with no further subgroups like Calvinism or Lutheranism. Mormons are not found outside of Utah (with the exception of Mitt Romney). There is no such thing as the Orthodox Church.
    • Somewhat averted in many European countries, as the number of adherents to most other forms of Christianity besides Catholicism and one large Protestant church is low to the point of non-existence.
  • If the work in question was made outside of Japan, the only religion practiced in Japan is Buddhism. There are no Japanese Christians, and Shintoism does not exist.
  • All Scandinavians are tall, blonde and have blue eyes. And sexually liberal Atheists.

    Countries and cities 
  • To most foreigners the largest countries will be the most famous and visible in popular culture. The same applies to the cities, which will often be the capitols, but not always. If a smaller country or city manages to be mentioned it's usually because of some historic event, battle, treaty, sports event of disaster that took place there.
  • Afghanistan: Kandahar, which was occupied by American troops in 2001 made at least one city in the country more noticeable in popular culture.
  • Algeria: Algiers.
  • Argentina: Buenos Aires, which is not Brazil's capital. Argentina Is Naziland is a Discredited Trope by now.
  • Australia: Sydney, where the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge will be brought in view. Canberra, the actual capital, might get a mention, just like Perth, Queensland and Adelaide. Ayers Rock, however, will always be referenced.
  • Austria: Best known for Vienna, city of the Waltz, coffee, the Wiener oboe and Vienna sausages. The only other locations worth namedropping are the Vienna Woods (Wienerwald), Tyrol (known for Tyrolean hats, music and Tyrolean sex comedies), the Alps and Salzburg, birth place of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. And if Tyrol and Carinthia are ever portrayed, it's because of the Alps, where everybody yodels and wears lederhosen. Bonus points if they mention the Grossglockner.
  • Belgium: If it's mentioned at all it will be because the NATO head quarters are located in Brussels, a city where the Atomium and Manneken Pis can be seen and nothing else. Antwerp and Bruges may get mentioned, but that's really pushing it. History buffs know it solely for Waterloo (defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte) and the Ardennes (World War II). Culinary experts know it for Belgian waffles, Belgian fries, Belgian chocolate and Brussels sprouts.
  • Brazil: Rio De Janeiro, bringing in view Christ the Redeemer Statue, the Carnival and Copacabana Beach. The favelas are another notorious location in Rio, but the government wants you to forget and ignore this problem. Rio is still more famous than the capital city, Brasilia or largest city Sao Paulo.
  • Cambodia: Phnom Penh, if people are able to pronounce the name.
  • Canada is Toronto and Quebec. Montreal, for those old enough to remember the 1976 Olympic Games. Vancouver and Ontario, if you're lucky. Winnipeg because it sounds funny.
  • The Caribbean will only be resorts and locals who are always stoned Rastafarians. The women will be Ambiguously Brown hotties. If you're lucky, it will be a crime-infested slum full of illegal drugs and gangs. The only country portrayed will be Jamaica, or maybe the Bahamas.
  • Chile: Santiago, but only to people who don't outright think you're referring to a hot pepper, instead of a country.
  • China is fortunate enough to have three cities, Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong (the latter being a territory and not a city), and a great wall.
    • Unless it's ancient China, which is just Xian.
    • In some works (both set in Ancient and Modern China), there are also Suzhou and Qingdao.
    • Ironically, most Chinese things Americans are familiar with (the food, especially) are from Canton (Chinese name: Guangzhou), which is almost never discussed when talking about China itself. (Either that, or Canton will only be known as that town in Ohio where American football began.)
  • Congo: Known for two literary classics: Heart of Darkness and Tintin Tintin In The Congo.
  • Corsica: If people have heard of this island it will be because Napoleon Bonaparte was born there.
  • Cuba: Havana, only known for Havana cigars.
  • Czech Republic: Prague and the region Bohemia, best known for La Bohème, The Bohemian Girl, Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, the word bohémien, Bohemian crystal and art glass.
  • Denmark: Copenhagen, only known for the statue of The Little Mermaid. Theatre lovers may now it for Hamlet and claim there is something rotten in the state.
  • Egypt: Cairo, the Nile, the Suez Canal and Giza (for the Pyramids and the Sphinx).
  • The Falklands: Known for the Falkland War in 1982.
  • Finland: Helsinki.
  • France: Paris, just for the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, of course. You might get a reference to the Moulin Rouge, Sacré-Coeur, Montmartre, Champs Elysées, Arc de Triomphe, Pont Neuf, the Sorbonne, Place Concorde, Versailles, Place Vendôme, Père Lachaise and the Notre Dame in there too.
    • The rest of France will usually be the Provence, though Bretagne (to show some cliffs), Reims (for the cathedral), Bordeaux (for the wine), Bayeux (for the wall carpet), the Mont Saint Michel (to have a castle, Arles (because of Vincent van Gogh), Dijon (for the mustard), Cannes (for the Film Festival), Avignon (because of the song Sur Le Pont d' Avignon), Le Mans (for the race 24 Hours Of Le Mans), Roland Garros (for the tennis tournament), Rouen (made famous by Joan of Arc), Marseille and Nice could get a small reference if you're lucky.
  • Germany: Berlin, but it only exists as a location in spy thrillers and because of a wall that is no longer there. The only other memorable location is the Brandenburger Tor and the Berlin cabaret. Other German cities that foreigners might remember are Munich (only during Oktoberfest. It may ring a bell to sport fans, because during the 1972 Olympic Games, a bunch of competitors were murdered.), Hamburg (birth place of the hamburger), Frankfurt (Frankfurter weiners), Cologne (for its perfume), Bremen (The Bremen Town Musicians) may also receive a mention. In fairy tales only, the Black Forest will make an appearance.
  • Greece: Athens, to have a view of the Parthenon and Acropolis. Several Greek locations also thank their fame due to their association with Ancient Greek society: Sparta, Delphi, Lesbos, Crete, Mount Olympus, Rhodes, Thessaloniki, Corinthe, Epidaurus, ...
  • Guyana: Mostly notorious for the 1978 Jonestown Massacre.
  • Haiti: Port-au-Prince and the 2010 Earthquake.
  • Hungary: Budapest. Other references will likely be merely for a "hungry" joke.
  • Iceland: Reykjavik.
  • India: Bombay (almost never Mumbai), Delhi, Bangalore and Bengal. Nobody knows Agra, but they will recognize the Taj Mahal there.
  • Indonesia: Java, most famous for the Java Man, Javan coffee, Javascript and tea. Bali is best known for its gamelan music. And the volcanic island Krakatoa is remembered for its 19th century volcanic eruption.
  • Iran: Tehran, remembered for the 1979-1981 American embassy hostage crisis. Also infamous for the Iran-Contra affair, Ayatollah Khomeini, and the nuclear weapons programs.
  • Iraq: Bagdad, the capital, best known for the Saddam regime. Another infamous location is the Abu Ghraib prison.
  • Ireland: Dublin, only Dublin. Limerick might get a mention because of limericks and Tipperary because of the song It's A Long Way To Tipperary.
  • Israel and Palestine (often thrown together as one country by foreigners): Most locations Israel (and Palestine) are known for are in essence temples or holy sites, like Bethlehem, Mount Zion, Masada, Al-Asqa Mosque, The Lions' Gate, King David's Tomb, the Armenian Quarter, The Wailing Wall, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, The Damascus Gate, and the Dome of the Rock. Only the West Bank and Gaza Strip are more famous now as conflict zones than for their historical merit. The only location that exists without a strong holy or violent association attached to it is the Dead Sea, which is actually a lake, by the way. It's famous for its high salt level which makes people able to float on it without being able to sink. And even this location is actually not just Israelian or Palestinian, but also bordering Jordan.
  • Italy: The only existing cities are Rome (for The Pope, Colosseum and the Trevi fontain), Venice (boat rides with a gondolas), Naples, Milan, and - if the need arise - Florence. Pisa only exists because of the Leaning Tower and Pompeii because of the volcano disaster during the Roman era. Sicily will bring up associations with the Mafia. Non-Italians only know Genoa (the capital of the province of Liguria) for being the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. Cultivated people know Verona as the setting of Romeo and Juliet.
  • Jamaica: The plus side is that together with Cuba it's probably the only Caribbean island most people can name. The down side is that nobody knows any city or location there, save perhaps for Kingston if they have heard it mention in some reggae song. It's known mostly for reggae and Bob Marley than anything else.
  • Japan: Tokyo and Osaka. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are infamous for being the first atomic bomb targets, Kyoto for the Kyoto Protocol of 1997.
  • Jordan: Best known for the historical city Petra, but then you are already far more cultivated than most people. Otherwise best known for sharing its name with a common first name.
  • Kenya: Serengeti Park, which also crosses over with Tanzania.
  • Lebanon: Only known for Beirut, where people are either kidnapped or blown up.
  • Libya: Tripoli. Benghazi only exists for the 2011 uprising and U.S. Embassy attacks in 2012.
  • Mexico: Mexico City is the only place that exists in fiction. Acapulco might get a mention and Tijuana, but more as a Wretched Hive, where whorehouses, cheap tequila and donkeys are the main attractions. Chihuahua might be referenced too, only for the tiny dogs. More recently, Ciudad Juárez has been mentioned, but only as a place where the rule of law has collapsed.
  • Monaco: Monte Carlo, only for its luxury casino.
  • Mongolia: Most people know it only for Genghis Khan and The Horde.
  • Morocco: Fez and Casablanca, the latter only known as a movie.
  • The Netherlands: Only two cities exist, one being Free State Amsterdam, which lives in popular imagination as one gigantic red light district with coffee shops (to buy drugs) and sex shops on every corner. The other is The Hague, only known for the International Criminal Court. The rest of the country is supposedly one large tulip field with wind mills in the background, which is only in rural parts of the country.
  • Nicaragua: Got international attention in the 1980s because of the involvement of the Reagan administration in overthrowing a socialist government there.
  • Norway: Oslo gets media attention every year for the annual Nobel Prizes, but that's it.
  • Panama: The canal will be all that foreigners might be able to mention about it.
  • Paraguay: Ascunción.
  • Peru: Cuzco and Macchu Pichu.
  • The Philippines: Manila.
  • Poland: Warsaw and Gdansk/Danzig.
  • Polynesia: Some isles you might have heard from: Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, French Polynesia, Samoa, Tahiti, the Solomon Isles, the Cook Isles and the Easter Island. Apart from the Easter Island, best known for its huge Moai statues, most people wouldn't be able to name one specifically unique thing about these isles.
  • Portugal: Lisbon and Porto, but only for the porto wine.
  • Romania: One province is known by everyone who ever heard of Dracula: Trannsylvania.
  • Russia: The capital Moscow, best known for the Kremlin and nothing but snowy landscapes. St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, Volgograd might get mentioned too, but far more infamous is Siberia, which lives on in the public imagination as a mysterious place where people are sent to work in slave labor. Some older people may mention Leningrad and Stalingrad, unaware that these cities are now called St. Petersburg and Volgograd. Other cities ad regions mentioned will often be part of an independent Baltic republic now.
  • Saudi Arabia: The only place that exists is Mecca. Even its capital Riyadh is far more obscure in comparison.
  • Serbia: Sarajevo, even though it's now part of Bosnia. Only known as the subject of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's most famous recording.
  • Singapore: Singapore, what else?
  • Slovakia: Bratislava.
  • South Africa: Johannesburg, Robbeneiland (for imprisoning Nelson Mandela) and Soweto (for the 1976 government massacre). If any of the three capitals are mentioned, it'll likely be Cape Town.
  • South Korea: Best known for Seoul, where the 1988 Olympic Games took place.
  • Spain: Madrid, Barcelona (with the Sagrada Familia as its only recognizable monument) and Seville, the latter best known for The Barber of Seville. The Basque county is known for E.T.A. terrorism. Maybe Malaga only because of Picasso.
  • Sweden: Stockholm.
  • Switzerland: The only Swiss cities that exist in the public consciousness are Zürich and Geneva. The former is best known as a financial giant. The latter city is famous for being the birthplace of Calvinism and the center of the World Health Organization and World Council of Churches, among other institutions. The Geneva Conventions were also signed here, concerning the treatment of wartime non-combatants and prisoners of war. Usually one of these two cities is thought to be the capital, instead of Bern.
  • Taiwan: Cheap products are made there.
  • Thailand: Bangkok, best known for sex tourism and "One Night in Bangkok".
  • Tibet: The Shangri-La, the Himalaya Mountains and Mount Everest.
  • Turkey: Mostly famous for Istanbul, which used to be Byzantium and earlier Constantinople. The city is only well known for the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace (made famous by the film Topkapi) and the Basilica Cisterne, which is a famous underground water reservoir. Foreigners often think Istanbul is the capital, which is actually Ankara, the only other well known location in Turkey. Ankara in itself is best known for animals like the Angora cat, Angora rabbit, Angora goat and Anatolian shepherd.
    • History buffs may know the country too for the Dardanelles and Gallipoli (World War One).
  • Ukraine: Only world famous for a place nobody dares to go: Chernobyl.
  • United Kingdom:
    • England: Will take most attention away from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, however Britain Is Only London and London only The Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, the Tower, Tower Bridge, Madame Tussauds, London Underground, Royal Albert Hall and Harrods. Though in general the Big Ben seems to the only thing needed to imply you're in London.
      • Some other English locations that may get a reference: Dover (for its White Cliffs), Stonehenge, Oxford and Cambridge (if we need a university), Liverpool (well known thanks to The Beatles), Birmingham (birthplace of many British Heavy Metal bands), Southampton (known for harboring Titanic), Yorkshire (for Yorskhire pudding), Wimbledon (for the tennis) and Greenwich (for the meridian).
    • Scotland is colorful enough to be referenced, but only because of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Loch Ness, for the monster.. Still they should be glad, because outside the UK Wales does not exist for foreigners.
    • Northern Ireland is unfortunately only remembered for being a ground for terrorist bombings and violent confrontations between people of different political or religious ideologies, most notably in Belfast, Ulster and/or Londonderry.
  • The United States is to many foreigners a toss between New York City (because it is treated as Everytown, America in movies and TV shows and instantly recognizable thanks to the Statue of Liberty, skyscrapers, Central Park, Broadway, the Empire State Building, Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, Times Square, the UN Headquarters and Brooklyn Bridge), Washington, DC (home of the White House, Capitol, Pentagon and Lincoln Monument), Hollywood and a large Southwest area which can be described as Cowboy Country and is usually labeled to be in Texas, yeehaw!
    • Other American locations that have gained enough international fame to be referenced:
      • Alabama: The songs Oh Susannah and Sweet Home Alabama.
      • California: Los Angeles (Hollywood), San Francisco (Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge) and Disneyland.
      • Florida: Disney World, Miami, Cape Canaveral, the Everglades and the MTV Spring Breaks.
      • Georgia: Georgia On My Mind.
      • Hawaii: Honolulu will be the sole city known.
      • Illinois: Most famous for Chicago, where all the 1920s and 1930s gangsters hung out.
      • Indiana: Location of the Indianapolis 500 race.
      • Kansas: May bring up associations with the song Kansas City, the black-and-white scenes in The Wizard of Oz and as the residence of Clark Kent.
      • Kentucky: Fort Knox and home of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
      • Louisiana: New Orleans and the jazz center of the world.
      • Massachusetts: Known for Plymouth Rock, where the Mayflower landed in 1620 and the Boston Tea Party, which led to the American War of Independence. Inside the USA it's also known for the Salem witch hunts.
      • Michigan: Detroit, the motor city.
      • Missouri: Bookworms know it as the setting of many Mark Twain novels. Home of St. Louis and Kansas City. Ferguson has now become a household name due to the 2014 racial riots.
      • Nevada: Not every foreigner may know about Nevada, but they have all heard of Las Vegas, aka gamblers' paradise.
      • New Mexico: Either confused with Mexico or known for Roswell, where UFO's never landed.
      • South Dakota: Again foreigners might not now the state, but they will recognize Mount Rushmore.
      • Tennessee: Elvis Presley fans know it for Graceland, blues fans for Memphis, country fans for Nashville.
      • Useful Notes/Texas: Super-sized everything, cowboys, Dallas, NASA, and the Alamo.
      • Utah: Salt Lake City, best known for being Mormon country.
    • Vietnam: Known for a war, and most places that foreigners know are in reference to that time in history: My Lai, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon and Hanoi.

    Crime 
  • Can you think of any notorious real-life criminals besides these? If not, go to Criminals.
  • Well-known street gangs? It's pretty much just the Crips and the Bloods and the Triad gangs of San Francisco's Chinatown. When it comes to fictional street gangs, most people will mention the Jets and the Sharks, or perhaps the Baseball Furies. (No love for the Foot Clan or the Red Triangle Circus Gang.)
  • Assassins? Some historical ones whose infamy lives on are Brutus, Charlotte Corday, John Wilkes Booth, Gavrilo Princip, Lee Harvey Oswald and Mark David Chapman.
  • Bankrobbers? Often 1920s and 1930s examples will be namedropped, like John Dillinger, Bonnie & Clyde, Ma Barker, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson. If you need a British one look no further than Ronnie Biggs, accomplice in the Great Train Robbery, who managed to escape and remain a free man for decades.
  • Cannibals? Alfred Packer, though usual the fictional Hannibal Lecter may be the only one most people could name.
  • Colonials/Explorers: Will often be regarded as heroes in the West. To the colonized countries themselves quite some of these explorers are actually considered to be people who brutally ravaged their lands and took away their independence. Every Western country has a tendency to sugarcoat his own candidates for the title of atrocious colonist and finger point at other countries for being more fit for that title. With that in mind some notorious examples:
    • Conquistadores: Hernán Cortés and Francisco de Pizarro are the most famous ones, with a tendency to see Pizarro as the worst one.
    • British colonialists are limited to the settlers of the American colonies, Captain James Cook, and Cecil Rhodes. The last one is more known for the Rhodes Scholarship than his impact on Africa, however.
  • Cult leaders? It will always be the corrupt frauds and/or the ones who committed a major crime that pop up. Charles Manson, Jim Jones (for ordering his followers to drink a cyanide cocktail), Bhagwan (for owning several Rolls Royces while his followers were living in poverty), the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (from his association with The Beatles and allegations that he might have sexually harrassed some of his followers) and Sun Myung Moon (because of his mass weddings).
  • Dictators? A tricky category, because to some people these statesmen may actually be benevolent leaders (usually by people who didn't experience their terrors themselves). For instance, Gaius Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte are technically dictators, but in some parts of Europe regarded in high esteem. Also leaders of democratic nations are generally not viewed as dictators by definition. To people whose countries have been invaded by their troops they may appear more as dictatorial powers. With all this mind, the popular choices are always:
    • Nazi dictators: Adolf Hitler.
    • European Fascist dictators: Benito Mussolini and Francisco Franco.
    • Latin-American Fascist dictators: Augusto Pinochet (Chili), Alfredo Stroessner (Paraguay), Juan Péron, Jorge Rafaela Videla (Argentina), Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier (Haiti), Manuel Noriega (Panama) Fulgencio Batista (Cuba), Rafael Trujillo (the Dominican Republic) and the Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua.
    • Asian Communist dictators: Mao Zedong, Pol Pot (Cambodia) and The Rulers Of North Korea (Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il and Kim Jong-Un).
      • Other Asian dictators: Ferdinand Marcos (The Philippines), Suharto (Indonesia).
    • European Communist dictators: Joseph Stalin (considered more dictatorial than any other Russian head of state during the Cold War) and Nikolae Ceaucescu (Romania), Enver Hoxha (Albania).
    • Latin-American Communist dictators: Fidel Castro.
    • African dictators: Idi Amin, Seko Seko Mobutu (Congo), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), Jean-Bedel Bokassa (Central-African Republic), Haile Selassie (Ethiopia),...
    • Arabian/North African/Middle Eastern dictators: Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Shah Muhammed Reza Pahlevi of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, Hafez-Al Assad (Syria), Hosni Mubarak (Egypt), Omar al-Bashir (Sudan),...
    • Mad Roman emperors: Caligula, Nero, Tiberius, Commodus, Caracalla.
  • Druglords? Pablo Escobar.
  • Gangsters/Maffiosi? The most famous gangster of all time is Al Capone. Lucky Luciano might get a mention too. Names like Albert Anastasia, Bugsy Siegel, Sam Giancana, Dutch Schulz, Meyer Lansky and John Gotti (whose last name really should rhyme with "goatee" rather than "snotty", but don't expect anyone to ever say it the right way) are already namedropped more by people with special interest in the material. Too most people the fictional character Don Corleone from The Godfather is the poster boy to all the real-life gangsters. Throw in Tony Soprano as well.
  • Hackers? Since most of them work under pseudonyms and are only famous for about a week they are forgotten easily.
  • Kidnappers? Bruno Hauptmann (for kidnapping the Lindbergh baby, though it's certain now that he didn't do it), Ted Bundy, Marc Dutroux, Jozef Fritzl, John Wayne Gacy, Fred & Rose West.
  • Outlaws? The Wild West seems to be the first location where these characters pop up, so naturally Billy The Kid and Jesse James will be the ones everyone knows and mentions. Film fans might add Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid too. Fans of the comic strip Lucky Luke will add the Daltons too, only to be amazed that they actually existed for real.
    • Many countries seem to have their own outlaw who managed to get a Historical Hero Upgrade for being some kind of Robin Hood character (even if that is more myth than fact). The USA has Jesse James, Australia has Ned Kelly, Italy Fra Diavolo, India Phoolan Devi, aka Bandit Queen, Brazil Lampiao and The UK Dick Turpin.
  • Pirates? Blackbeard remains the most infamous one. William Kidd, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, Calico Jack Rackham, Henry Morgan, Hayreddin Barbarossa, Bartholomew Black Bart Roberts, Stede Bonnet and Jean Lafitte are already more for people who know something about the subject. We should mention Sir Francis Drake too, but to the English he is a hero. But once again most people will rather name a fictional pirate like Long John Silver, Captain Hook, Jack Sparrow and/or Captain Blood
  • Presidential assassins? Everyone's heard of John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald. Very few people know of Charles Guiteau or Leon Czolgosz.
  • Serial killers? The only true famous one is Charles Manson. To know Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein, David Berkowitz, Andrei Chikatilo, the Unabomber and/or Richard Ramirez you have to have a bit more interest in the subject, but they too may apply as the most iconic ones. If you need a European one the most famous choices will be Jack the Ripper and/or Henri-Désire Landru, the real Bluebeard. More ancient serial killers are Vlad the Impaler, Gilles de Rais and Elisabeth Bathory.
    • Naturally the most famous fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter may be used as a poster boy for articles about the subject,if writers want to avoid giving real-life serial murderers and rapists too much publicity.
  • Terrorists? Osama bin Laden. All terrorists in fiction belong to Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, or Hezbollah - or the IRA, in those rare instances when the terrorist characters are not Middle Eastern. You'll never hear about the Tamil Tigers or Aum Shinrikyo - unless, of course, you're watching a movie or TV program actually made in the country where such a group operates.
    • In the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s Carlos the Jackal was the most famous terrorist of all time, along with the Baader-Meinhof gang.
    • Guy Fawkes is iconic in the UK, but since V for Vendetta a lot of people confuse the real-life Fawkes with V and see him as some kind of rebellious anarchist.
  • War criminals? Include any Nazi, but the most famous ones are those who escaped from being prosecuted and were given a mass mediatized trial later, like Adolf Eichmann and Klaus Barbie. For decades Martin Bormann and Dr. Mengele were the most famous ones at large, but since they have died they are no longer mentioned.
    • War criminals from other wars aren't mentioned that often. The Serbian War has Slobodan Milosevic, Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, but that's it. The most famous war criminal at large today is perhaps Joseph Kony, a Ugandan mercenary known for his army of child soldiers.

    Fashion 
  • All big fashion designers before Calvin Klein (the only American most people can think of) have been French (Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent) or Italian (Valentino, Giorgio Armani, the Versaces). Occasionally Mexican designer Oscar de la Renta will get a mention - though often simply to be humorously confused with lightweight boxer Oscar de la Hoya.
  • Fashion models:
    • Claudia Schiffer
    • Naomi Campbell
    • Cindy Crawford
    • Heidi Klum
    • Twiggy (maybe)
    • Anna Nicole Smith was originally a model, but don't expect anyone to remember that anymore.
  • If you ever see a man wearing a hat and he isn't a cowboy or into sports, chances are it will be a fedora (which is, admittedly, Truth in Television); trilbies, homburgs, and porkpies are unknown. Bowlers, or derby hats, are sometimes mistaken for top hats. The only hats women ever wear are "fancy" hats (pillboxes, berets, etc.).
  • Any long coat, badass or not, will be referred to as a trench coat. Never mind that a trench coat is always a raincoat, and usually has particular features including double-breasted closure, epaulettes, a half-cape, and straps to cinch the cuffs. Your overcoats, your dusters, your greatcoats, your macintoshes? All trench coats.
  • All men between the ages of 20 and 50 in The Seventies wore bell-bottomed trousers and had outrageously long sideburns. When they got dressed up, their suits were always in fruity pastel colors (blue, especially) or had a wild plaid or paisley pattern. (See also Popular History.)
  • All teenage girls in The Eighties wore leggings, oversized T-shirts, and bands or scrunchies in their (flamboyantly teased) hair. All businesswomen wore suits with gigantic shoulder pads. (Again, see Popular History.)
  • Whenever a fur coat is mentioned by type, the majority of them are mink. Others are mentioned, but not quite as often, and usually just to highlight whether the fur is less expensive (such as rabbit) or more expensive (hello, chinchilla and sable) than mink. Leopard furs are worn only by Tarzan, Jane, The Flintstones the Flintstones, hookers, and porn stars.
    • This is so common that when Joe Namath infamously wore a coyote fur coat to the 2014 Super Bowl, several news outlets called it a "mink coat" - even though coyote fur looks nothing like mink.
    • If someone in a cartoon (and sometimes in other media) has a fur stole, it will almost always be the full fox with the head, legs and tail still attached or some variation thereof. This is often played for laughs, as in an episode of the 1980s reincarnation of The Jetsons in which Jane's mother wore one and when she tossed her head back in disgust the fox did the same.
  • Common male hairstyles in fiction:
    • Buzz cut (for "patriotic" Americans and military personnel)
    • Mullet (if the character is a redneck or a hockey player)
    • Fifties-style pompadour (if the character is a snobbish redneck)
    • Mop-top (for nerds)
    • '80s Hair (for rock musicians, bikers, and the occasional urban redneck)
  • Common female hairstyles:

    Geography 
  • Central America is one country. In fairness, it was, for a while. About 180 years ago.
  • Canada is a small country consisting only of Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and rural Quebec (and possibly the Yukon, although that's as likely as not to be part of Alaska instead), despite which everyone will talk like they're from Newfoundland, which none of these places are anywhere near. It's always winter, with lots of snow, even though Vancouver has warmer and less snowy winters than, say, New York.
  • The only islands in the Caribbean are Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica, and The Bahamas (which aren't actually even in the Caribbean).
  • The Bahamas are one place (despite the hint in the name). The Cayman Islands get a mention as the only place besides Switzerland to have an offshore bank account, though no one seems to know where they are.
  • Haiti is the only French-speaking area. Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, and Saint Barthelemy do not exist. And Haiti's history only goes back 50 years, despite it being independent for over 200.
  • South America consists solely of Brazil, where they speak Spanish, and Generic Banana Republic Dictatorships led by either a Nazi sympathizer, drug lord, or corrupt military commander.
  • Asia consists of Russia, India, China, Japan, and Korea, unless the work is about The Vietnam War. (If it is, Vietnam itself does not exist except as a backdrop for American characters.)
    • There's no such thing as Central Asia... except for Kazakhstan.
    • The Korean War is precisely the same thing as the Vietnam War. Koreans will be portrayed as living in straw huts, and they certainly don't have three major cities—Seoul exists, but it looks like the poor parts of Shanghai. Pyongyang is only whichever Kim dictator's weird little palace/bunker. Busan is purely apocryphal. Incheon? What's that?
  • The Middle East consists of Israel plus any country that the US is currently at war with. Everywhere ends in -stan. (Ironic, since the suffix -stan is from the Urdu language, which actually originated in South Asia.)
  • If your characters visit Europe, they will only go to England, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Greece, the Netherlands and/or Austria. And they will always visit the capital cities, but then suddenly deviate into other countrysides typical for that country as if they are only a few miles away from the capital. The only exception is Italy, because besides Rome, you can also visit Venice,Tuscany,Milan, Pisa and the Isle of Sicily.
  • When you visit Paris the Eiffel Tower HAS to be present somewhere in the background! And Arc de Triomphe. If your characters visit other landmarks it will be the Louvre and only to see the Mona Lisa.
  • Scotland is the same country as Ireland unless the author is from the UK. Northern Ireland doesn't exist even if the author is from the UK except in works specifically about the Troubles, the same is true for Wales only without the exception, and for a long time Cornwall didn't exist even in this trope entry. There is no such place as the North of England either unless the author is from the UK, and North East England, with notable aversions, is only ever inhabited by "Geordies" {even if they're from Durham or (gasp) Sunderland}.
  • There are no distinct countries in eastern Europe (or central Europe, because it's part of eastern Europe).
  • Africa is Egypt, South Africa, and a Generic Tinpot Dictatorship headed by a corrupt, violent Oxford University graduate. If you want a jungle setting, there are Congo and Cameroon, and maybe the island of Bioko (or Fernando Pó, in older works, unless it's misspelled "Fernando Poo", as it commonly is, and therefore gets laughed at). For savannas, there Tanzania, Kenya, and if you are lucky, Botswana.
  • There is no Oceania, except on the rare occasion that Australia exists. New Zealand doesn't exist at all. (However, if it does, it's known only for producing Rachel Hunter, and sometimes Peter Jackson.)
  • The Pacific Islands consist of Fiji, Hawai'i, occasionally Samoa, and more often some undefined beach with lots of grass skirts. You can just forget about Papua New Guinea.
  • All Deserts Have Cacti since all Westerns were filmed at Kirk's Rock.
  • Iceland is a frozen rock with lots of Eskimos and one Björk somewhere near the North Pole. And now, also that darn flight-impeding volcano that no one can spell, much less pronounce.
  • The only place in Indonesia are Bali (home of dancing girls in Pimped Out Oriental Dresses) and Java (home of tigers, prehistoric humans, and - apparently - coffee).
  • Jane Austen's geography of England is quite varied. You learn something about Bath and also that many English counties end in -shire. Derbyshire of Pride and Prejudice is probably the most famous as Mr Darcy's Big Fancy House Pemberley is situated there.
  • In the United States, you can travel from Chicago to Disneyland or Philadelphia to the Grand Canyon in about three hours. The Midwest? What's that?

    Historical Periods 
  • The prehistoric (13.7 billion to 5,000 BC)
  • The Stone Age (One Million BC to 4,000 BC)
  • The Classical/Bronze Age, (4,000 BC-500 AD) overlapping with Ancient Grome.
    • Roman-centric works have a tendency to focus on the period surrounding the fall of Julius Caesar and the rise of Augustus Caesar. The fashions and politics depicted will be from this period no matter what century it is.note .
    • Ancient Egypt is portrayed as pyramids and pharaohs' tombs and not else. Never mind that its history lasted for more than three millennia, and brought as many changes as you'd expect in such a long span of time.
    • Most depictions of ancient societies in general forget that these were living, developed cultures that changed constantly over the centuries in terms of fashions, politics, attitudes etc. You'll be lucky if other ancient societies of the Mediterranean are mentioned at all.
  • The Middle Ages (500-1500 AD)
  • The Renaissance (1500-1800 AD; actually ended in the 1600s at the latest)
  • that in-between time when everyone wore powdered wigs (unless they were pirates)
  • The Victorian era (1800-1900 AD)
  • The Wild Wild West (also 1800-1900 AD)
  • Everyone living between the fall of Rome (late 400s A.D.) and The Sixties will have a stereotypically repressed Victorian view of the world. Though with young women in the fifties, it will always just be a facade.
  • Speaking of which, every single human society before The Sixties was at least as sexist as Victorian times. Women were never allowed to do anything of economic worth. And racism in its present form has existed in every historical era everywhere (except in nonwhite countries; there everything was cool).
  • America has its own chronology:
  • China
    • The Ming Dynasty.
    • Red China.
      • Expect mainland Chinese media to focus on little else but the Second Sino-Japanese War and the latter half of the Chinese Civil War. Media in Hong Kong are more likely to be concerned with the Ming and Qing Dynasties, but are otherwise exclusively focused on other settings directly concerned with Hong Kong (or in some cases, Shanghai) within the past 200 years.
  • Ancient Rome began with Caesar and ended with Nero. Their only enemies were the Gauls, Germanic tribes, and rival factions during civil wars.
    • A small exception may be made for works depicting the destruction of Pompeii, during the reign of Titus.
    • If your British optional enemies also include Boadicea (or some other spelling of her name) and the Picts. Oh and they never reached Ireland and their only inventions were Coliseums, aqueducts and central heating.
    • The Fall of Rome was caused by the Huns.
  • The entire history of Japan consists of early Tokugawa shogunate and Meiji restoration, despite the fact that this doesn't leave the latter with much to restore. If World War II is depicted in a Japanese work, it will only be to show the suffering of good ordinary people, probably in the countryside, and will be strangely divorced from all actual context.
    • The Sengoku is popular as well. Before that, not so much.
  • World War II:
    • In American shows and movies, during World War II, all of the Allies are Americans and the Axis consists of either mindless umlaut-sputtering Nazis or sadistic Japanese killers. Definitely no Italians, Hungarians, Romanians, Bulgarians, or Yugoslavs.
    • The War started when Germany invaded Poland (never mention the Munich Agreement, known as the Munich Betrayal or the Munich Dictation in former Czechoslovakia). There might have been some blitzkrieg in France and some rumble around Stalingrad.
    • Nothing much happened until Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The Allies fought some naval battles with the Japanese and then after D-day everything just seems to have resolved itself though there were some bumps in the road like the Battle of the Bulge and the atom bomb on Hiroshima (Nagasaki is often forgotten).
    • There were concentration camps, as presented for example in Schindlers List. The Holocaust only took place in the camps, and the only death camp was Auschwitz. Which is always mentioned without its second name, Birkenau.
    • Any and all Holocaust survivors/victims are Jewish. Slavs, homosexuals, Gypsies, handicapped, or communists rarely get mentioned.
    • The Enola Gay was the only plane involved in the bombing of Hiroshima. The Great Artiste and Necessary Evil did not accompany it, and by extension the Great Artiste was not accompanied by the Bockscar and Big Stink for the Nagasaki bombing.
  • The only Mongol is Genghis Khan (whose title is likely to be misspelled as Ghengis Kahn or similar), and the only Hun is Attila (and he's always "Attila the Hun"). Mongols and Huns are the same thing.
  • When was the last time you saw Russia pre-Revolution? Peter the Great? Catherine the Great? Who were they? Didn't they rule the Soviet Union sometime between Lenin and Stalin?
  • In works not made by/for Jews, ancient Israel consists entirely of the Roman period (i.e. the very end), and the debut of Christianity was really important (apparently in spite of the fact that few noticed it for a few centuries).
  • British Schools would have you believe history is just the following:
  • If the history of the rest of the British Isles is ever mentioned then it will probably consist of 'Braveheart' and not much else if you're from outside the Isles. However Irish and Northern Irish history gets expanded somewhat- but even then only to English occupation, the Easter rising (if your lucky)and The Troubles.
  • In Canadian history, the following happened:
    • Settlers
    • Confederation! (And therefore, by extension, Sir John A. MacDonald.)
    • World War One
    • The Great Depression
    • World War II
    • Pierre Elliot Trudeau
    • Maybe a vague mention of some stuff specific to the province where children go to school. For examples, Manitobans know something called "the Riel rebellion" happened, but not much else (including the fact that there were actually two such rebellions).
    • At some point Canadians burned down the White House. And Laura Secord might have been involved? She's female!
  • Spain was ruled in succession by the Moors, the Inquisition and Franco. (Francisco Franco died way back in 1975, before most of today's generation were born, so it's high time we came up with something after him.) There was also a civil war at some point that must have lasted a hundred years or so, given that it is the only event of note in Spain's 20th century - though oddly, only the small town of Guernica received any bombs from the air in that war, and the only people involved were Franco himself, George Orwell and maybe Ernest Hemingway (was it just a long bar brawl?).
  • France's history:
    • Caesar and the Gauls.
    • Charlemagne (and that was his actual name, it doesn't mean 'Charles the Great').
    • Lots of kings called Louis, all of whom were the same person. Cardinal Richelieu might have been present at some point, and if so the then The Three Musketeers were real, historical figures.
      • If a fiction work is set in 18th century France, there will be a reference to how the people are poor, starving and angry, and how the court is oblivious and wasteful. Even if it is set a lifetime before the 1789 revolution.
    • Revolution, which just consisted of cutting people's heads off.
    • Napoleon.
    • Les Misérables.
    • The Western Front of World War I was in France? And French soldiers actually fought in it? There was an Eastern Front too?
    • Surrender to the Germans. Whether the Germans even invaded first is unknown.
    • Some guy called Charles De Gaulle did something.

    Military 
  • If you need famous military people all attention will usually go to those in highest rank, namely the generals. Just see Military Personnel, to get an idea.
  • World War One
    • WWI media are almost always set on the Western Front, and almost nothing about the Eastern Front (Russia & Romania vs. Germany/Ottoman/Austria-Hungary/Bulgaria), the Italian Campaign (Italy/UK/US/France vs. Germany/A-H), never mind the Balkans, Africa, or the Middle East.
    • Except in Australia, where World War One media inevitably focus on the Gallipolli campaign of 1915, despite the fact that more Australians fought (and died, for that matter) in France than in Turkey.
    • Most often it features the British Empire and the US vs. Germany. The French don't appear nearly as often - never mind that France mobilized just as many men as the UK and was the setting for much of the Western Front's battles. The other countries are rarely mentioned at all.
    • Except for Lawrence of Arabia, but it's rarely mentioned that this was part of World War One.
    • All British WWI brass were upper-class, incompetent, and indifferent as to their failures or the resulting loss of life.
  • World War II:
    • Military fiction and documentaries set on the battlefields of WWII usually revolve around a select few well-known battles:
      • If it is about US forces it is usually about Normandy and The Bulge.
      • British get North Africa and Market Garden.
      • The Soviets get Stalingrad and the capture of Berlin.
    • It would seem the only battle which didn't happen in Europe was El Alamein.
    • It's very rare to see a depiction of any battle in the European Theater before 1942 or 1943 (probably because people don't like to hear about the Allies losing). The Eastern Front is horribly under/represented in Western works, despite the fact that the vast majority of the fighting and 90% of the casualties occurred there. There are war movies which somehow manage to avoid even mentioning the Soviets! The invasion of Poland is often mentioned, but never depicted (except in Family Guy). The invasions of Denmark, Norway, and the Low Countries never happened. There was no fighting in the Balkans either, and the only resistance movement was French (and occasionally Polish, but certainly never Yugoslav or Greek, except in Alistair MacLean books). Even in Family Guy, the invasion is depicted in seconds with no resistance. No Polish soldiers are ever seen. So it hardly counts, and not just because it perpetuates an incredibly offensive cliche.
    • No Canada and Juno Beach, even though it was one of the most successful victories in Normandy. It's all Utah and Omaha, since all the Americans died. A movie about Dieppe, where the Canadians were simply cannon fodder, is a rare sight. Dieppe hasn't been likely shown outside of Canadian TV.
    • It's rare to find stuff about the Pacific Theater that was made within the last 20 years or so. Both the Medal of Honor and Call of Duty series took 5 games before either of them had a campaign set in the Pacific. Most likely because if all 10 games are put together, every major event in the European theater from 1941 onward was already done.
    • When the Pacific Theater does get portrayed, the entirety of it was apparently Pearl Harbor, sometimes Midway, something about a flag on Iwo Jima, and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Leyte Gulf, the largest sea battle in history, apparently never happened. And it is a fight solely between Japanese and Americans. Filipinos, who were major players, are never shown.
    • There are a few mostly Soviet films about The Battle of Kursk, it goes largely unnoticed despite being the largest land battle in history: 3.4 million Soviet and German troops, 10,000 tanks, 54,000 artillery pieces etc. Mind-boggling in both scope and obscurity to the general public.
    • The Battle of Prokhorovka is another one of the biggest battle of the armored forces ever fought, yet it gets rarely mentioned.
    • The Axis consists of Germany and Japan plus maybe a few Italians in North Africa. Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Finland (not technically part of the Axis, but it did have an alliance with Germany against the Soviets), Thailand, Iraq, and the numerous puppet regimes are almost always ignored.
  • The American Civil War
    • It lasted three days, in 1863, and the entire war started and finished near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Also, all Confederate soldiers wore gray uniforms.
    • Other battles that might get mentioned are Bull Run (and always the first battle there, and only because some picnickers foolishly came along to watch the show), Antietam (because it almost looks like and sounds like "Vietnam", which is just cool), and Appomattox (because that's where General Lee surrendered - and don't be surprised if people mispronounce it so that it rhymes with "tomahawks", when it's actually "appa-matticks").
    • The only naval battle during the war was between the Monitor and the Merrimac (which never had its name changed to CSS Virginia when it came into Confederate hands).
    • Even among Civil War buffs, knowledge of the war often remains restricted to Virginia and a few specific Western battles like Shiloh and Atlanta. Other campaigns - Grant's Siege of Vicksburg, Union landings along the Carolina coast, the capture of New Orleans and subsequent campaigns in Louisiana, constant fighting in border states like Missouri and Kansas, the entire naval war - are generally ignored. And anything west of the Rio Grande? Totally ignored. Only the hardest of hardcore buffs know about the Battle of Glorieta Pass in New Mexico Territory, or can tell you what the political scene was like in California at the time (pro-Union around San Francisco, pro-Confederate everywhere to the south).
  • The Crimean War is remembered, if at all, for the Charge of the Light Brigade. In other words, a small portion of an indecisive skirmish (Balaclava) gains more attention than the huge, decisive battles at the Alma, Inkerman and Sevastopol, let alone Russia and Turkey's brutal fighting in the Caucasus or various naval campaigns. For American readers, it would be like if Ball's Bluff or North Anna River were the best-known battles of the Civil War.
  • The Anglo-Zulu War ended after the Brits won at Rorke's Drift, right? Actually that and Isandlwana were just the first round: six months of fighting with far larger battles lay ahead.
  • Custer's Last Stand remains far more recognizable than any other battle or massacre in the 100+ years of American Indian Wars.
  • Western accounts of The Russian Revolution tend to ignore or downplay the 1918-1921 Civil War.
  • There was The Boer War in South Africa at the begging of twentieth century. The Brits thought they would win easily, but they didn't. It was harder than they had thought. The Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers were bigger pain than they had imagined, but they beat them later. There might have been the first concentration camps.
  • The Vietnam War and The Korean War are the only wars that happened in their respective countries. Never mind the fact that they had other conflicts with certain nations with major consequences in the long run. If one considers Ho Chi Minh (or his followers, after he died in 1969) to have been the main actor in the Vietnam War, then that war lasted for more than thirty years (first against the Japanese, then against the French, and then against the Americans).

     Ideology 
  • All Marxism is a crude pastiche of Leninism, Stalinism, and/or Maoism. Luxemburgism, Left Communism, Marxist Humanism, Council Communism, Eurocommunism, Trotskyism, Situationism, and all the other various forms, many quite vehemently against the tendencies that began with Lenin, don't exist. If you tell people (especially in the US) about them, they refuse to believe they are any different from Leninists, Stalinists, etc. Lenin himself is often mixed up with Stalin. In truth, Lenin's policy differed strikingly from Stalin's and Lenin fiercely opposed Stalin's line in his final years, telling his supporters to get rid of Stalin as the man was starting to scare him. (Insert Ominous Latin Chanting) After Lenin's death, then again, Stalin loved to imply that he and Lenin had been great friends.
  • The most important facet of Fascism is racial and national persecution as well as the notion of the race purity. Fascism was also founded by Adolf Hitler and the only fascist country was the Third Reich. Maybe Italy if you're lucky, but only as somewhere for Mussolini to come from. Nothing ever happened in Fascist Italy! Notably averted with Life Is Beautiful, a movie about an Italian Jew that starts off comedic and ends heart-wrenching.
  • It's ironic that "fascist" is synonymous with "racist" since Mussolini's movement didn't have an explicitly racist ideology. Mussolini didn't even believe in Hitler's ethnic cleansing since the Italian dictator felt that non-European peoples should be conquered and "converted" to European culture (which made his ideas little different from 19th century imperialists); it was Hitler who introduced the ideas of racist ideology, ethnic cleansing/extermination, and enslavement. Franco's fascist government (particularly the diplomatic service) didn't share the Nazi's racial ideologies, though Franco himself didn't mind them too much either. Franco was ok with serving them, such as by cataloging the Jews in Spain on Hitler's orders, but on the other hand, he was fine with his government's resources being used to to protect or evacuate Jews in Nazi-occupied countries (much to the chagrin of the Nazis) as well. In the end, tens of thousands of Jews escaped Nazi Europe through Spain.
  • Media would have you believe that all 'Aryan Race/Aryan Union' ideology was Hitler's doing. In actuality, it was all Himmler's doing (Hitler actually laughed at him for that), and was worse than Hitler. The July 20 Bomb Plot held Himmler's assassination just as vital as Hitler's.
  • All Capitalism (a Marxist term) is based on crony-ism and obsessed with money, even though Adam Smith pointed out in The Wealth Of Nations that wealth is goods and services, not gold or silver. It is also industrial, even though America was a wholly agrarian nation at the founding.
  • There's a widespread misconception that capitalism is a conservative economic principle, when in fact it always was - and still is - liberal. (Admittedly, the current habit of automatically associating liberalism with leftism and/or socialism has done a great deal to confuse the issue.) More than that, capitalism (at least if it's free-market capitalism) can be said to be subversive and even countercultural, as economist Thomas Frank discusses in his book The Conquest of Cool. Although much of what is now called "Stalinist" actually started with Lenin. Stalin's main additions were the cult of personality, adoption of supposedly "rightist" attributes (patriotism, pre-revolutionary military dress) and considerable paranoia. Things like the secret police, political repression, and prison camps all came from Leninism.
  • Don't expect anyone to realise that the USSR was never, in fact, communist. While it adhered to a communist ideology as an ideal, it never achieved communism.

    Philosophers 
  • Socrates drank hemlock and died. Also he knew that he knew nothing.
  • Plato wrote something about a cave.
  • Aristotle gave us the Golden Mean Fallacy.
  • Diogenes lived in a barrel and snarked at Alexander the Great.
  • The phrase "I think, therefore I am" indicating that René Descartes popped into existence long enough to make one pithy comment, which states that only people who think can be proven to exist — and then, only to themselves — then disappeared again.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche. Usually referenced by being a Nietzsche Wannabe. Also, everyone knows he had a Badass Moustache and went mad later in life. Also said God is dead at one point.
  • Ayn Rand, if the character mentioning her is supposed to be edgy or in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.
  • Jean Paul Sartre: Existentialist who was together with Simone de Beauvoir and said that Hell are the others. Smoked a pipe and was cross-eyed.

    Politics 
  • American Presidents
    • George Washington: Has golden teeth (which he hadn't), chopped down a cherry tree (which he never did), couldn't tell a lie (that's one, right there), father of the USA.
    • Thomas Jefferson: Did a lot of important stuff that most people don't remember.
    • Abraham Lincoln: Had a beard, a high hat, born in a log cabin, shot in a theater, four score and seven years ago.
    • Theodore Roosevelt: Hunter who believed in carrying a big stick, teddy bears were named after him.
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt: Wheelchair user during World War II who said we had nothing to fear but fear itself.
    • Harry Truman (even though the papers said Dewey won)
    • John F. Kennedy: Went to bed with Marilyn Monroe, claimed to be a Berliner, had a missile crisis on Cuba and was shot while driving in a car by someone we still haven't identified properly.
    • Lyndon Johnson: Got the USA deep into the Vietnam War.
    • Richard Nixon, made V-signs with his hands and got caught for burglary in the Watergate hotel, but was pardoned and now lives on as a head in a jar in the year 3000.
    • Gerald Ford (whom no one voted for. Also, he fell down a lot, and couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time.)
    • Jimmy Carter: Peanut farmer who failed to get hostages out of Iran, until the day Reagan was inaugurated. Wimp who was attacked by a swimming rabbit. Has risen to much greater stature in his post-presidency for his humanitarian work.
    • Ronald Reagan, will mention Nancy at some point, forget what he was talking about, fall asleep, say Tear down this wall, nuke the USSR or say "Well".
    • George H.W. Bush (read my lips, no new taxes), Gulf War, enemy of Homer Simpson.
    • Bill Clinton, who did nothing for eight years but have an affair with an intern.
    • George W. Bush: a dumb Man Child who got rid of Saddam, but plunged the USA into an endless war in Iraq.
    • Barack Obama: First black American president and lets leave comments about what he'll be remembered for until his term is properly finished.
    • The current and previous three or four at any moment in time
    • In some cases, it's only Washington, Lincoln, and the most recent one(s) (right now, George W. Bush and Barack Obama).
  • Al Gore, Dan Quayle, Spiro Agnew, Walter Mondale, Dick Cheney, and Joe Biden are the only Vice Presidents.
  • Some people are able to work out that LBJ must have been Vice President at some point if he became President when JFK was shot. But that logic doesn't extend to Lincoln; after Lincoln was shot there just wasn't a President.
  • American First Ladies
    • Martha Washington
    • Dolly Madison
    • Mary Todd Lincoln
    • Eleanor Roosevelt: The First Lady all presidential partners have to live up to.
    • Jacqueline Kennedy: JFK's widow, who later married Onassis.
    • Betty Ford: Created a medical center.
    • Nancy Reagan: Wanted everyone to just say no, consulted fortune tellers
    • Hillary Clinton: Dominant or bitchy, depending what your side your on.
    • Michelle Obama
  • America's enemy of the moment (or America itself, Depending on the Writer).
  • A full list of America's enemies throughout history:
  • The only Ancient Greek states are Athens and Sparta, which only existed during the Persian wars, and the Empire of Alexander the Great. Also, Sparta didn't exist until 300 came out. Hellenism does not exist at all. Greek history after the Roman Empire is too insignificant to merit mention.
  • Ancient Egypt:
    • Cleopatra VII and Tutankhamun are the only Egyptian pharaohs. Ironically, although she was the last pharaoh of Egypt, Cleopatra was ethnically Greek.
    • Queen Nefertiti, whom most people wouldn't recognize by name, but would recognize a certain statue of her. Incidentally, Nefertiti just happens to be King Tut's stepmother. And his mother-in-law.
    • Ramses II: Hooray, Ramses the Great is known as well. Or just "The Pharaoh from the Exodus."
  • Ancient Rome:
    • Caesar, August, Nero,Caligula and Claudius. Constantine the Great is known to Christians for making Christianity the state religion. Hadrian is known for Hadrian's Wall. Marcus Aurelius, Caracalla, Elagabalus, Commodus, Tiberius also regularly pop up in lists of daft Roman Emperors.
  • England (and it really is just "England")
  • France:
    • France had only one president, Charles De Gaulle, mostly remembered for his activities during World War II and long presidential term during the 1950s and 1960s. And his height makes it impossible to overlook him.
    • The current head of state, whoever that is, might get mentioned.
    • Marie Antoinette (who liked cakes more than bread and was the only person who died in the guillotine... besides her husband). She was Austrian and married King of France, which to be fair some films and books do mention.
    • All the Kings of France were called Louis, except for Charlemagne and Napoleon.
  • Grand Duchess Anastasia (who will be called a "princess")
  • Princess Grace (in works from before her death in 1982)
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (even though he's not the true leader of Iran; that would be the Ayatollah)
  • Applies to Strawman Political. The only conservative character we ever seem to see is either the "Bible-thumper" or the Corrupt Corporate Executive. The "paranoid libertarian" conservative (most famously seen in Dr. Strangelove) was a popular stock figure during the Cold War and has recently been making a comeback.
  • Any character noticeably more left-wing than average and created after the 1960s will most likely be either a New-Age Retro Hippie or a Dirty Commie. The Bourgeois Bohemian has been showing up with increasing frequency since about the late Eighties.

    Science 
  • The biggest problem with studying the origins of life and the universe is the ludicrously small reference pool of 1 (we only know of one life-bearing planet, and one universe that sprang into being).

  • Most people have heard of Carbon-14 dating (and 9 times out of 10, it doesn't even work like it does on television). It's the default dating method in the public conscious. What most people are not familiar with is Uranium-Lead Dating, which is much more accurate and has a much wider range of dates (1 million to 4.5 billion), Rubidium-Strontium, another form of dating closely related to U-Pb Dating, or the others: Uranium-Thorium, Potassium-Argon, and Samarium-neodymium, all of which are older, more reliable, and have a wider date range than radiocarbon.

  • Asked to name a periodical for scientists, the average American will name National Geographic (which isn't one) or maybe Scientific American (which is, if you're feeling generous). Asked to name a scientific journal, they might come up with the AMA Journal or, if they were science geeks in school, Nature.

    Scientists 

    Universe in Science Fiction 
  • Ask someone to name all the planets in the solar system, and they'll eagerly respond with "Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus (which will always be giggled about), Neptune, and Pluto" (which is now technically a "dwarf planet"). This is largely thanks to popular mnemonics such as "My very educated mother just served us nine pizzas" or even the deliciously meta "My very excellent memory just served up nine planets." Ask someone to name all the moons in the solar system, and..."Well...there's 'the Moon'...and...uhhh..." (no mention of, say, Titan, or Phobos and Deimos).
  • If it's not just stars, the background is either the Crab Nebula, or the Horsehead Nebula.
  • The only stars anyone visits are Rigel, Alpha Centauri, Antares, "Orion", and the "Belt of Orion" (the latter two of which aren't even individual stars). "Alpha Centauri" is always one star. Alpha Centauri B does not exist, or so would have you media believed. Neither does Proxima Centauri, despite being closer.
  • Betelgeuse is popular, but only because it sounds funny (and has a Chaotic Neutral Monster Clown from Beetlejuice indirectly named after it).
  • When it comes to stargazing, the only stars are Polaris, the Big Dipper (which Polaris will be thought to be in) and Sirius... and that last one only occasionally.
  • The only galaxies are the Milky Way and Andromeda. Perhaps justified, as those are two of the only known galaxies lucky enough to have names that are not cryptic (Wolf-Lundmark-Melotte), or numbered (Andromedas I through X), with the exception of the Triangulum galaxy. Admittedly, that last one really should be used more often because its name is awesome.
  • The only comet is Halley's (which always gets mispronounced "Haley's" thanks to a pioneering 1950s musical group).
  • The only asteroids that exist are the ones on a collision course with Earth. The one exception is usually Ceres (despite now being a dwarf planet), because it's the largest asteroid and - as it will always, and proudly, be pointed out - it's "as big as Texas."
  • The only crewed space missions ever were "John Glenn's flight" (Friendship 7), Apollo 11, Apollo 13, the Challenger disaster, maybe the Columbia disaster, and whatever one is going on right now.
    • The only individual astronauts to be discussed by name are John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride, and Christa Mc Auliffe.
    • Yuri Gagarin is the only Russian who ever went there.
  • The only robotic space missions ever were the Voyagers and Pioneers (which may be conflated), some form of Mars rover, and whatever ones have recently been in the news.
  • Sputnik 1 is the only satellite ever to rate a name, which usually won't include its number in fiction. Often it'll turn up intact decades after launch, despite the real one's having burned up in the atmosphere after only three months in orbit.
    • In Western fiction, it's often also Russia's sole achievement in space exploration besides Mir.
      • And dog-killing.
    • The Hubble Space Telescope is the only astronomical satellite that exists, and any particularly-impressive space image will be attributed to it, even those beyond the actual Hubble's capabilities.
  • Light-years, and to a lesser extent, parsecs, are the only units of astronomical measurement (Astronomical Units, or AUs, are reserved solely for "hard" Sci Fi). Any alien race capable of star travel encountering humans will instinctively know how long a light year is, even if there's no way they could know how long a year is on Earth. Add to that "hours" and "days". (Sometimes aliens acknowledge that their hours and days differ, though.) Even a depressingly large number of human beings mistake light years for being a measurement of time instead of distance.
  • If aliens visit Earth, they'll almost always be from Mars (or, if they're female aliens, from Venus). If you are watching TV in the 1950s. No aliens are ever from Mars any more.

    Universities 
  • As far as right-pondians are concerned, the USA has the sum total of four significant colleges or universities or whatever you're calling them: MIT (which is a spawning ground for nerds); Harvard (the smart kids); Yale (the rich kids); and Brown (the Butt Monkey). They also know of Princeton, but only because of its association with Einstein.
  • Left-pondians are no better; the only British Unis are Oxford, Cambridge and the London School Of Economics.
  • For the Asian continent, there is Stanford, Berkeley, and UCLA.
  • It has its own trope: Ivy League for Everyone.