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Alternate History / Film

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Films — Animation

  • While the exact setting is ambiguous, 9 takes place in an alternate version of the early 20th Century (according to brief shots of newspapers that apparently show a date in the 1930s) in which the Industrial Revolution never ended, resulting in advanced robotics and artificial intelligence occurring nearly a century ahead of schedule (unfortunately, it doesn't end well).
  • The Pixar film The Good Dinosaur takes in a world where the K-T extinction event never happened and Jurassic dinosaurs like Apatosaurus and Stegosaurus coexist with Cretaceous dinosaurs and animals that evolved after the K-T extinction like long-horned bison and human beings.
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  • Though it's never addressed onscreen, Big Hero 6 has this trope in its backstory. The film's setting San Fransokyo is an Alternate Universe San Francisco, which was rebuilt by Japanese immigrants using architectural concepts from their home country after the city was damaged during the 1906 Earthquake. This is furthered in Big Hero 6: The Series, which revealed that the "earthquake" happened two weeks earlier than it did in real life and was acutally the result of a failed experiment involving an artificial star instead of a natural event.
  • According to commentary of director Brad Bird The Incredibles takes place in an alternate 50s-60s version of present day Earth.

Films — Live-Action

  • The 2014 documentary America asks what the world would look like if the United States never existed. Unfortunately, the film never answers that question, dropping that concept altogether. Never Trust a Trailer, indeed.
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  • Back to the Future Part II: Biff Tannen created an alternate version of 1985 when he gave the Timeline-Altering MacGuffin to his younger self in 1955. As a result, he became "the luckiest man on Earth" by betting on everything from horse racing to boxing and always winning due to the answers in the almanac. He founded Biffco, a company that dealt with toxic waste reclamation. He bought out police departments, and altered the state of international history, by prolonging the Vietnam War and getting Richard Nixon elected to his fifth term.
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula fuses the titular vampire character from Dracula with the historical Vlad III, where the infamous voivode is condemned to vampirism after blaming God for the suicide of his wife, Elisabeta.
  • Bright takes place in a universe where mankind coexisted with several mythical creatures since the dawn of time and significant events from 2000 years ago such as an Evil Overlord trying to take over the world still affect contemporary's society.
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  • In Captain Berlin, Hitler's brain was saved by his personal physician Dr. Ilse Von Blitzen
  • The 2004 film C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America takes the notion of the South winning the The American Civil War and plays it to the hilt. Though instead of forming its own country, the entire USA goes Confederate. The turning point comes when England and France aid the Confederacy and turn the tide at Gettysburg. All non-Christian religions are outlawed save for Judaism (Jews live in a reservation on Long Island). They advocate enslaving all non-whites, and TV ads catering to slave-owning middle class members are commonplace.
  • Captive State: The film starts in what's an alternate 2018, since the rest was 2027, nine years later.
  • District 9 takes place in a world where an alien ship landed in South Africa in 1982, interrupting Apartheid in favor of something almost exactly the same as Apartheid...with aliens.
  • Fatherland, the movie adaptation of Robert Harris' novel with Rutger Hauer, features this with Nazi Germany winning World War II and covering up the Holocaust. Better than it sounds.
  • Most films in the Godzilla franchise, including the Alternate Continuity happy Millennium series, kept Tokyo as Japan's captial after the events of Godzilla (1954). The second film in the afromentioned Millennium series, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, not only changed the events things so Godzilla wasn't destroyed by the Oxygen Destroyer—but that Japan's capital was moved to Osaka as a result of the rampage.
    • Subtle example in Godzilla (2014). While the Pacific nuke tests being covert attempts to kill Godzilla falls under Historical In-Joke, the 1999 collapse of the Janjira NPP and the subsequent quarantine of a sizable Japanese metropolitan area is a much bigger divergence.
  • Good Bye, Lenin! plays with this trope-the protagonist's mother is a dedicated East German communist who is in a coma when the Berlin Wall falls. When she reawakens, he constructs an elaborate alternate history to avoid shocking her into another heart attack with the news that her beloved East Germany is no more.
  • Hitler, Dead or Alive turns out to be the point of divergence for this, since Hitler is successfully assassinated.
  • Independence Day: Resurgence takes place in an alternate 2016 where the events of the 21st century were drastically altered by the War of 1996 in the previous movie. For the last 20 years, humanity has enjoyed a prolonged period of peace and stability after uniting against a common foe, which means events like the War on Terror have been avoided. They also had a significant jump in technological advance after they learned how to reverse engineer the invader's tech, creating smartphones and drones sooner than their creation in our timeline and allowing the colonization of other planets.
  • Inglourious Basterds, and according to some fans by extension the entire universe of Quentin Tarantino movies, takes places in an alternate WWII era in which Hitler and his three biggest men. Goering, Goebbels and Borrmann are killed by the Basterds in June 1944. May have already been alternate history because Goebbels is referred to as Hitler's Number Two and his real right hand Himmler is never mentioned.
  • It Happened Here, a 1966 film positing a Nazi-occupied Britain.
  • K-20: Legend of the Mask is set in late 1940s Japan in an alternate timeline in which World War II never happened. As a result, the country is already a world leader in technology. Much of the technology was invented by Nikola Telsa, who received far more support and recognition in this timeline than he did in real life.
  • The Man in the Iron Mask is implied in the end to take place in one. With the real life Louis XIV basically ousted from power, his twin brother proceeds to become the greatest monarch in French history and possibly prevent the circumstances leading to the French Revolution in the process.
  • The One has the Big Bad entering every single dimension of a multiverse in order to kill that universe's counterpart of him to become more powerful. The first universe we see resembles 2001 Earth only it was Al Gore who was President instead of George W. Bush.
  • The Philadelphia Experiment II. A scientific experiment sends a stealth fighter carrying nuclear bombs back in time to 1943. The Nazis capture the jet and use it to bomb Washington D.C. and win World War II.
  • The Postman: The film is set in 2013, and it's said the Postman survived "the war" with the last great cities destroyed when he was a child. Because at the end he is revealed to have been born in 1976, plus the other references to what occurred which fits with a nuclear war, there probably was one during the early 1980s. The book came out in 1985, so it fits with the prospect then.
  • The Mockumentary Punishment Park takes place in an alternate 1970. After the Vietnam War escalates, Richard Nixon implements the McCarran Internal Security Act, which authorizes federal authorities to detain persons deemed a risk to internal security without referring to Congress. Anti-war protesters, civil rights activists, feminists, black militants, and conscientious objectors are tried by special tribunals, then given a choice: either spend their time in a federal prison or spend three days in the titular punishment park. There, they will have to travel across 53 miles of the hot California desert in three days, without water or food, while being chased by National Guardsmen and police as part of training. If they succeed and reach the American flag at the end of the course, they'll get to go free. If they fail and get "arrested", they'll be sent to prison anyway. The story is about a joint British-West German film crew following groups of these people during their excursion.
  • Quest for Love: World War II never happened in the parallel universe. The two universes diverged in 1938. The exact nature and cause of the divergence is not specified. Again as was the case with the short story, the League of Nations still exists and nuclear fission is still no more than a theoretical possibility. Other differences include the Vietnam War having never happened either, no one having managed to reach the summit of Mount Everest by 1971 (a book entitled "Everest: The Unconquered" was published in that year), the first human spaceflight having not yet taken place, heart transplants being unknown to medical science, televisions being more primitive, abortion still being illegal throughout the UK, the News Chronicle (which merged with the Daily Mail in 1960) still being published in 1971 and the building of blocks of flats being banned in Pimlico (which did not suffer the same devastation during the Blitz in Colin's universe without World War II).
  • The Rocketeer is revealed to be one of these. Howard Hughes has already invented a jetpack, the Hindenburg disaster never happened which means the Nazis are still using Zeppelins in 1938, and the Hollywoodland sign ends up losing the "-land" eleven years early.
  • A minor example in Ted. In 1985, a child's wish to bring his teddy bear to life came true. News spread rapidly, making Ted into a celebrity. 27 years later, no one really notices the animate teddy bear anymore.
  • The backstory of the South Korean/Japanese action film 2009: Lost Memories has a time traveler prevent the assassination of Ito Hirobumi in 1909, which alters history in that Japan retains its imperial conquests (so Korea is still under Japanese rule in the present-day) and allies with the United States in World War II.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit is set in a version of 1947 Los Angeles, CA where animated characters are real, physically tangible beings and they coexist with humans. A newspaper in one scene shows that the protagonist detective, Eddie Valiant, once helped to clear Goofy's name (yes, the Disney character) from accusations of being an enemy spy.
  • Wonder Woman (2017) (and by extension the DC Extended Universe) not only sees an Amazon warrior intervening in one of the most destructive conflicts in human history revealed to be engineered by the God of War in his plot to destroy humanity, but also takes several divergences from our history: Erich Ludendorff, a real-life German general, kills the entire German High Command with poisonous gas for wanting to sign the peace treaty with the Allies and he gets killed by Wonder Woman, even though the real-life version would only die of cancer in 1937.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • The ending of X-Men: First Class seems to imply that the Americans and Soviets drop the Cold War to wage war against mutants, but in X-Men: Days of Future Past both governments apparently had covered up what happened to avoid alarming the public, thus the Cold War proceeds as it did in real life.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past takes it even further than First Class. For starters, 1973 technology has advanced somewhat faster than the real world: the Sentinels were built, plastic weapons to counter Magneto have been developed, and mutant-gene scanners exist (when the mid-70s marked the period when genomics started to take off). There's also the bit where Magneto drops a baseball stadium around Richard Nixon's head in front of international television, or the little number where the mutants get into a full on brawl during the Paris Peace Conference, which drastically changes world events by bringing mutants to public attention.

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