A number of 2012-focused "documentaries" wistfully wonder what the Maya would say about 2012 doomsday theories if they were still around. Evidently, someone forgot to inform the roughly 7 million living Maya, most of whom view the doomsday stuff as a load of bunk, of their non-existence.
Babylon Berlin: The Russian Trotskyists use "Long live the Fourth International!" as a rallying cry. However, this is 1929-the Fourth International was only created in 1938.
Blackadder takes a number of liberties with history, primarily for Rule of Funny. To name just one example, Blackadder the Third identifies the Earl of Sandwich as "Gerald", when his name was actually John Montagu. Presumably, this is because Edmund calling sandwiches "Geralds" sounded funnier than if he'd said "Johns" or "Montys".
In "Army Of God" Gillian and Dolly claim the Knights Templar had been suppressed by the Church (along with French King Philip IV) for being troublesome religious fanatics who (it's implied) advocated poverty too much for the elite's liking. However, this is far from the truth. While the Templars were sworn to poverty officially, like monastic orders generally, over time the Order acquired massive wealth due to charitable donations, noblemen joining them placing their assets in the Order's trust, them accepting fees for protecting Christian pilgrims' property while in the Holy Land, and being entirely tax exempt. The Templars grew into bankers, inventing innovating highly financial techniques and establishing what some have described as the first multinational corporation. Over time, they also acquired large tracts of land across Europe, not only churches and castle for Templar soldiers, but also fields or vineyards. As their power grew, so did distrust. Philip in fact took advantage of this because he was deeply in debt after taking out loans from the Order. He pressured Pope Clement V, who dissolved the Order after many of the Templars were arrested, then tried on charges of blasphemy, sodomy and fraudulent financial dealings (which most historians regard as wholly trumped up). So the motive in fact stemmed from the opposite than described here.
In "Warriors" the characters find a slave ship that is dated about a decade after slavery was really outlawed in the British Empire.
"Warriors" also invented a group of Great Dismal Swamp Maroons (i.e. black people descended from escaped slaves in North Carolina/Virginia) who sided with the Americans to fight at the Battle of Yorktown, led by a fictional leader named Oban. The Maroons stayed in the swamps except for occasional raids, and none sided with the Americans. Also, the Battle of Yorktown was also a siege rather than open combat as is portrayed.
In "Cradle Of Civilization" Magwilde claims that 4000 years ago Egyptians and Greeks were much more advanced than the people in the UK who were doing nothing but "picking their teeth." They completely failed to mention that one of the oldest known human settlements, Skara Brae, was built off the coast of Northern Scotland, is still yet standing and they had a working drainage system.
Magwilde dismisses Stonehenge as just a bunch of rocks and ultimately unimpressive compared to things like the pyramids or Petra. Stonehenge is the center of a huge complex that was one of the absolute greatest technical accomplishments of its era and and the stones themselves were likely a gigantic functional lithophone.
The entire Boudica episode is based around the idea that the Romans really captured her alive, but spread the story of her suicide to discredit her. Even leaving aside how utterly pointless this is, both the Iceni and the Romans considered a defeated leader committing suicide to be an honorable death and being captured alive the ultimate humiliation (especially as they would have publicly displayed her in a "triumph" within Rome before a cruel public execution).
In another episode, Booth claimed to be a descendant of John Wilkes Booth. John Wilkes Booth, while married, did not have any known children, legitimate or illegitimate. His brothers and sister on the other hand had children, but no one can claim direct descent from the man who killed President Lincoln.
The Borgias has quite a few examples, including valiant but doomed-to-fail efforts to reduce how evil Rodrigo and Cesare really were, making Giovanni Sforza abuse and rape Lucrezia when he actually ignored her and only consummated the marriage fairly late into it, and putting Machiavelli in as an adviser to the Medici, which he never was, about 4 years before he had any position of power in Florence (he was also a bitter enemy of the Medicis, who had imprisoned and tortured him. The Prince is sometimes even interpreted partly as a Take That! against them).
Prince Djem arrives to live in exile under Pope Alexander and is poisoned to collect a reward from his brother, Sultan Beyazid, that is used to pay for Lucrezia's dowry in her first marriage (just as poor clueless Djemannounced his intentionto convert to Christianity!). In reality, Djem arrived in Rome during the reign of Innocent VIII, Alexander's precedessor, was asked repeatedly to convert to Christianity and head a crusade against the Turks but refused, and died years later while a captive of the French Army. Also, when Cesare tells Lucrezia that Djem died of malaria, she immediately speaks of mosquitos, but the connection between the disease and mosquitos wasn't established until the late 19th century.
When the French do invade, they are portrayed as an unstoppable hegemon that makes mincemeat of the Italian mercenary armies, which was true. The idea is conveyed, however, by having the French artillery fire chain-shots (a weapon invented in the next century and used mostly in naval warfare) to make literal mincemeat of the Roman army without engaging it in combat, and the Italians are portrayed as completely ignorant of the military applications of gunpowder (or maybe it's only the show's version of Juan Borgia-the real one was in Spain at the time and missed the war altogether). French artillery also destroys Lucca after it surrenders; in real life this happened to Rapallo (a Genoese city occupied by the Neapolitans in an attempt to stop the French advance) and Mordano (a Papal fortress), while Lucca (an independent micro-republic) was liberated from Florentine occupation by the French. King Ferrante of Naples dies from the shock of hearing that the French army is coming, when it was his death that prompted the French to invade, since they disputed his succession. They take Naples without a fight and are ravaged by the plague; in real life it was syphilis and the French soldiers caught it exactly how you'd expect. Finally, the French capture Prince Alfonso (much younger and never crowned king in the series) and kill him after torturing him with a pear of anguish, a 17th century device that might have never been used in reality. The real Alfonso abdicated in favor of his son (who led the Neapolitan armies) and fled to Spanish-ruled Sicily.
A lot is made of how the Borgias are hated for being Spanish, not Italian. Juan even recalls the children insulting them when they first arrived in Rome. Alexander's kids never "arrived" in Rome because they were born there. Their mother, Italian noblewoman Vanozza dei Cattanei, is regularly described as a "Spanish beauty" in the show, her obvious Italian name notwithstanding.
Lucrezia has her first son Giovanni before Juan dies. In real life, Giovanni was named after her deceased brother. He also was most probably not actually her son, but her half-brother, sired by her father Rodrigo on a mistress (Rodrigo admitted his paternity in a papal bull). She did raise him, however, and gave birth to at least six children (dying from medical complications in delivering the last one). The rumors of her committing incest and murder (especially through poisoning) are without proof.
Charmed (1998): "The Witch is Back" made the mistake of assuming that people were burned at the stake during the Salem Witch Trials.
Combat! (1962) was a television series depicting American G.I.'s fighting Germans in France during World War II. It lasted five seasons, although historically, after D-Day France was liberated in about four months, and Germany surrendered after less than a year. Total U.S. involvement in World War II was less than four years. Same goes for M*A*S*H and Hogan's Heroes, both of which lasted longer than the wars they were set during.
CSI: NY: Episode 5.19, "Communication Breakdown," refers to an American Indian tribe known as the Montequans having been among the first settlers of Manhattan Island; the case is that of the murder of their current chief. No such tribe ever existed. The inhabitants at the time of European arrival were the Lenape.
The real U-612 operated in the Baltic Sea, not in the Atlantic Ocean (La Rochelle is situated on the French Atlantic coast). It didn't even see combat, it sank after colliding with another U-Boot, was raised, used for training and was ultimately scuttled when the Red Army invaded East Prussia.
The small Soviet vessel is sunk with two torpedoes. Historically this would have been done with deck gun.
Disney's live-action adaptation of Doctor Syn ("The Scarecrow"), not a model of accuracy to start with, starts with Walt's dishonest claim that the story is based on an historical figure rather than a fictional character. It also uses the usual inaccurate trope about the press gang—and has the firstborn son of not only a landed gentleman but the magistrate suffer this fate.note If this had happened, it would be by accident and the situation would likely have been rectified to the total ruin of whoever was responsible for taking him. Also, the King gets personally involved in the Scarecrow situation (that said, the area was rife with smuggling during the 1700s, and local priests did sometimes get involved, so that part is accurate).
"City of Death" has a doozy even when the episode aired, people were pointing out that life began on Earth about 3-4 billion (thousand million) years ago, not 400 million. Given a lovely Hand Wave from producer Graham Williams:
"The good Doctor makes the odd mistake or two but I think an error of 3,600 million years is pushing it! His next edition of the Encyclopedia Galactica will provide an erratum."
Another thing the atmosphere of primordial Earth would have been unbreathable and poisonous.
"Four to Doomsday" has the Maya civilization being twice as old, or more, as it actually was.
In the Victorian-era set stories "Ghost Light" (1989) and "Tooth and Claw" (2006), different villains plot to overthrow Queen Victoria and seize the throne for themselves thereby, it's explained, becoming rulers of the most powerful country in the world. The only problem with this plan is that Victoria was a mostly powerless symbolic figurehead, and the villains' plots make about as much sense as a modern-day villain planning to control Britain by replacing Elizabeth II (which, incidentally, is used as the basis for the villain's plot in Johnny English). The British monarch has not attempted to veto a Bill of Parliament since Queen Anne, and has not appointed a government that did not have the confidence of Parliament since King William IV. The first example may be justified by the villain in "Ghost Light" being very stupid and over-confident, although that doesn't excuse the second.
"The Shakespeare Code" repeatedly shows plays being performed in the Globe Theatre at night. Plays in Elizabethan England were performed during the day, since several hundred years prior to the invention of electric lighting, they would have had no way to light the stage properly when it was dark. This one can be chalked up to the fact that all of the scenes at the Globe were shot in the real-life Globe, which, like the original which it is a replica of, stages its plays exclusively in the daytime, resulting in very limited daytime shooting time for the show to use.
"The Next Doctor" is explicitly set on December 24, 1851. There is a splendid full Moon that night and early that morning though on that precise day, the Moon was actually a waxing quarter.
"The Pandorica Opens": The Doctor accurately points out that Stonehenge was already ancient by 102 AD/CE... but it was also a lot more complete back then, having been gradually quarried over the centuries before becoming a public site. Of course, rebuilding Stonehenge would have been beyond the show's budget.
"Rosa" is, for the most part, a very historically accurate telling of Rosa Parks' story except for one detail that can probably be chalked up to budget: her 1943 encounter with James Blake, unlike its depiction in the episode, actually took place during a torrential downpour.
In a justified case, given the sexism of the period, King James I/VI states as a fact that his mother murdered his father. Lord Darnley's murder is actually a hotly debated subject among historians, though his wife Mary, Queen of Scots arranging it in revenge for the killing of her secretary David Rizzio has been a quite enticing theory.
Becka Savage chopping down a tree. A lady of her social standing would surely have ordered a servant to do it instead. However, it is pointed out that she married up, so the social etiquette may not have occurred to her.
All of Russia, hundreds of years, millions the tsar killed, then it was Lenin, then Stalin. Ten thousand, twenty thousand, but here you have, like, what? Malls few dead Indians. Twenty million Russian died fighting Hitler. Twenty million. I see from your face that you cant even imagine that. The pogroms, the starvation, twenty million more. Mothers cooking and eating their babies. Thats why the snow falls white, to hide the blood.
Charles Dickensdid get his start in writing as a journalist with the Pen Name "Boz", but did so years after the setting of the first season.
The Anatomy Act was passed later, in 1832. However, it did indeed follow revelations that body snatchers were murdering people to provide their bodies for dissection. The act did not outlaw unconventional medical practice.
In 1827 Mary Shelley was thirty, but is played by an actress a decade older. Who also plays her at age seventeen in a flashback. Charles Dickens was a mere fifteen, but is an adult here, played by a thirty two year old actor.
Ada Lovelace was only fifteen in 1830. Here the actress playing her is at least twice that age.
Sue: That's what they said about a young man in Chicago in 1871 who thought he'd play a 'harmless prank' on the dairy cow of one Mrs. O'Leary. He successfully ignited its flatulence, and the city burned, William! That young terrorist went on to become the first gay president of the United States: Abraham Lincoln!
In season 2, Sue says that Will and the new football coach will be "sorrier than the Mexican Indian that sold Manhattan to George Washington for an upskirt photo of Betsy Ross!"
Agnes Nutter is described as the last person burned for witchcraft in England. However, people convicted of witchcraft were hanged in England, rather than burned. Even so, as isn't shown getting tried, the event may have just been "mob justice" as led by the witchfinder.
Noah's flood is presented as a local event that destroyed the Iraqi flood plain and not much else in 3004 BCE. While this is a real event, it occurred circa 2900 BCE. It doesn't line up with the Ussher timeline they used for the day of creation either, which puts the flood in 2349 BCE.
Tom Cullen doesn't look much like the real Guy Fawkes, particularly because Fawkes had long ginger hair rather than the cropped hair and black beard he sports here. This was a deliberate decision on the part of Cullen and the show's creators to make Fawkes stand out from the rest of the cast.
The Plotters' last stand is condensed. In the series, their wet gunpowder is ignited by a fallen candle during the firefight with the king's men, but in reality this was caused by a random spark from the hearth before the king's men even arrived. Also, in real life, there were 200 soldiers, while in the series there are only about 20.
Catesby didn't rescue John Gerard from prison. His escape was masterminded by Nicolas Owen, a Jesuit priest who is not featured in the series. After his escape, however, Gerard did seek out Catesby.
Philip Stewart is implied to fall out of favor with King James as a result of trivializing the Gunpowder Plot, but Philip enjoyed royal favor throughout the rest of James' life, and even into the reign of Charles I.
The series implies that Robert Cecil wrote the anonymous letter to Monteagle revealing the Gunpowder Plot in order to warn the King and hide his own deal with the Spanish behind the King's back. This is an artistic invention. In reality, while there is no concrete proof of the letter's authorship, historians generally agree that it was almost certainly written by Sir Thomas Tresham, cousin and father to various conspirators.
Catesby is portrayed as if he's a wanted outlaw and vagabond, but mere days before the assassination attempt, he was still in good enough graces with the court that he was scheduled to go hunting with the king.
Used as a plot point in an episode of Head of the Class where the students are taking part in a historical reenactment competition, the principal Dr. Samuels insists on some popular history inaccuracies - for example their Marie Antoinette must say "Let them eat cake." The students call him out on the fact that she never said that. He maintains that the judges will not know that she didn't say it and will in fact expect her to say it, and will deduct points if she doesn't say it. So she says it, and the team loses for historical inaccuracy.
Heroes: In the episode "Four Months Later", legendary Japanese samurai Takezo Kensei turns out to really be an Englishman. It surprises Hiro but no one else seems to bat an eyelid, even though in 1671 Japan foreigners weren't just uncommon, they were forbidden in the country on penalty of death.
The Series had the MacLeod clan leader living in a hut with the clan. But historically, and today, the Scottish clan leaders lived in castles—the MacLeod clan leader still lives in Dunvegan Castle today.
Additonally, Glen Finnan, the birthplace of Duncan and Connor, is way outside MacLeod lands.
And there's the infamous "Battle of Waterloo with snow" episode, "Band of Brothers" (not to be confused with the TV miniseries by that name) the producers just couldn't wait for a snowless day to film, they had to work with what they had.
Houdini & Doyle: The series opens in 1901, with Adelaide as a constable in the Metropolitan Police Service (Scotland Yard), and she is identified several times as Scotland Yard's first female constable. Women officers were not admitted to the MPS until 1919. Also Doyle and Houdini never solved crimes together of course. In fact, they didn't even meet until 1920.
The real Houdini didn't debut his signature "Chinese Water Torture Cell" feat until 1913.
Thomas Edison actually did try to invent a machine for communicating with the dead, but it was in the late 1920s shortly before he died.
Houdini's mother, Cecilia Steiner Weiss, actually died in 1913, not 1901. It also happened in New York, not London.
Instead of being shot by Leon Czolgosc, US President William McKinley is almost killed by another anarchist whom Doyle manages to stop at the last moment though he's shot himself in the process. Perhaps the show has gone into full-blown Alternate History now, since it's at the same location and time the real McKinley was shot.
Houdini is portrayed as not believing in God or an afterlife. The real man stated he was a religious Jew, with his skepticism being toward the alleged scientific proof of an afterlife. He believed in it on faith nonetheless.
How I Met Your Mother: Robin describes the division-winning 2004 Vancouver Canucks as "a scrappy, little underdog team that prevailed despite very shaky goaltending and, frankly, the declining skills of Trevor Linden." All of these features are incorrect. Far from scrappy underdogs, the Canucks were favorites to win the division from the get-go; goaltender Dan Cloutier had his best season as a professional and was near the top of the league in every statistical category; and Trevor Linden's skills had not been relied upon as a core feature of the team for the better part of a decade.
A minor example, but an eye-roller nonetheless: the Human Target episode "Imbroglio" attempts to show badass Guerrero as an opera aficionado, but he identifies composers Rossini & Verdi as being from the Baroque era (neither is).
Sulla is portrayed as a populist who despises the Senate; in fact, he was a member of the conservative Optimates faction and marched on Rome to reverse the changes implemented by Caesar's father-in-law Marius and the Populares faction he led.
It's implied that Caesar spares the pirates who ransomed him after they have been paid. After his rescue, he actually hunted them down and had them all crucified.
In the second part of the pilot, Ray Palmer and Martin Stein realize that they can track the missing piece of Ray's supersuit because it emits alpha particles; the problem is that they have traveled back in time to the mid-seventies, when alpha particles were supposedly "unheard of". Alpha particles were in fact discovered in the last years of the nineteenth century. Of course, the idea that you can track something by alpha particle emissions is also an example of Artistic License Physics.
In the fourth episode, the team visits the Soviet Union in 1984 in an effort to find out more about Vandal Savage's operations from a Soviet scientist. Ray Palmer, supposedly an educated man, approaches her and, in an effort to gain her confidence, offers to invest in her research. Read that again: to invest in her research. In the Soviet Union. Where all decisions about scientific research and what to invest in were made by the state. For some reason Ray is not arrested as an obvious foreign spy (or lunatic). Then, later, Leonard Snart is walking that same scientist home, and, as they walk down a clean, well-lit street, several cars, including a Volkswagen Beetle, are visible parked along the street. Ask anyone old enough to remember life in the Soviet Union about the availability of foreign cars, or really any cars, in the Soviet Union. It is true that high-ranking Party members would have had access to foreign luxury cars, but no one high-ranking enough to have a foreign car would have had an economy car like a Beetle. Then there is their ability to walk down the street without a care in the world, as though they were not in a police state. Lastly, by 1984 the Soviet Union was, while authoritarian, hardly a North Korea-esque hellhole; not in the major cities, in any case. They received Western tourists with reasonable regularity, and allowed Western media to be consumed legally, as long as it wasn't obviously anti-Soviet. There was even a fledgling punk-movement going on among the youth, in spite of the authorities' attempts to stamp it out.
In the episode "Camelot/3000", the team visits a shamelessly anachronistic Camelot, including armor and weapons that won't be invented for over seven hundred years. The team historian dresses in period-appropriate clothing, insists that the rest of the team look like they're going to a ren faire, and is very put out when the people of Camelot think he looks weird while everyone else looks normal. While it's normal for Arthurian myth to only pay lip service to history (most stories portray the knights in full plate, for example, despite being set hundreds of years before it was invented), the episode actually justifies it: a time traveler came from the far future to hide an artifact and created Camelot based on the Arthurian legends, knowing that it would be better at protecting the artifact than some minor backwoods kingdom.
The main plot of the series involves Piero de' Medici plotting to overthrow the Duke of Florence. Except there wasn't a Duke of Florence in Leonardo's time, and Piero was the de facto ruler of the city himself (the later Duke of Florence was Piero's great-grandson, simply formalizing the Medici rule).
Interestingly, in one episode Piero give his son Lorenzo a potted history of how his grandfather Giovanni invented modern banking, which is more or less accurate (except that he says Giovanni "arrived" in Florence, when he was actually born there).
Another major inaccuracy is the presentation of Niccolò Machiavelli. Not only was Machiavelli not black, when the program is meant to be set (1467), he hadn't even been born. Machiavelli was born in 1469 and Michelangelo Buonarroti, who turns up as a Jerk Jock, was born in 1475, a full eight years later! Moreover, Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci didn't know each other when they were teenagers, mostly because of the seventeen year age difference. The pair only met as adults much later (and only once, because Michelango loathed Da Vinci).
The series Life on Mars (2006) sees Sam Tyler being hit by a car on the Mancunian Way in the present and "awakens" in 1973 on wasteland, with a nearby hoarding advertising the "Highway in the Sky", which was how the Manchester Evening News referred to it upon opening. The road opened in 1967.
Cardinal Cisneros appears next to Queen Isabel in 1491. TVE has acknowledged that it is an anachronism because Cisneros was not in the Castilian Court until one year later, and was not made Cardinal until 1507, long after Isabel's death.
While the actor is the same that played Cisneros in the series Isabel (Eusebio Poncela), he seems to be way older, closer to what he looked like in the sequel Carlos, Rey Emperador which was set 12 to 24 years later depending of the episode. It's likely that Poncela shot his scene between takes of the second series.
The Spanish Inquisition was actually less harsh than depicted here. Only unrepentant defendants would in fact be sentenced to death. This issue never even comes up at the trial shown, but it would be the key one for real Inquisition tribunals. In any case, Torquemada definitely would never dare ignore an edict from the Pope or the Queen. He also wasn't bent on sending an accused to the stake as shown here.
Episode 6's time door is in a confession booth... even though confession booths had not been invented yet in 1520.
The tag at the beginning of Episode 9 identifies the location of El Cid as "Valencia, year 1079". However, El Cid did not go east until the following year, and arrived in the Valencia region for the first time around 1087.
Episode 12 has Pacino going undercover as a priest and being horrified when he realizes that he has to say mass and he has no idea about how it is done. He manages in the end, but nobody finds strange the fact that he says mass in Spanish even though Catholic mass was still said in Latin in 1808.
Constanza and Don Fadrique's wedding in 1212 begins in Latin, but switches to Spanish later on. We probably can attribute this to Translation Convention.
The Loarre castle crew speaks Spanish in the 11th century, when Aragonese would be appropriate.
This hilarious exchange from MythBusters during the Benjamin Franklin myths episode:
Tory: We just killed a dead president! Grant: Ben Franklin was never president...
Averted when Göring reminds Dr. Gilbert that Nazi antisemitic laws were inspired by English and American racist theories (actual defendants used American forced sterilization laws as a defense to their own-essentially a tu quoque fallacy).
Wilhelm Keitel is referred to as an admiral, when in reality he was a field marshal.
Jackson is shown struggling with his examination of Goering, before rallying and getting the better of ol' Hermann. In reality, observers agreed that Goering left his encounter with Jackson unscathed. Jackson, while a fine orator who wrote a great closing statement, hadn't been a trial lawyer in decades and the inexperience showed.
There's the early episode regarding sensitivity training.
Michael: Abraham Lincoln once said, "If you are a racist, I will attack you with the North."
Later in an episode where Michael sends Jim on a scavenger hunt, one of the clues states "You will find me in the parking lot under the first president." Jim, seeing through the mistake, checked under a Lincoln.
In another episode, Michael hires a Benjamin Franklin impersonator for Phyllis' bachelorette party. He refers to Franklin as having been a United States president, despite the actor's attempts to correct him.
The Outer Limits (1995): In "Ripper", Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride and Mary Jane Kelly are depicted as being killed over several days. In reality, their murders took place over the course of more than two months from 31 August to 9 November 1888.
Claire and Geillis Duncan are prosecuted for witchcraft. The year is 1743, and the British Parliament had abolished this crime in 1735. Under the Witchcraft Act they passed, it was made a crime to accuse someone of this. It's brought up by their attorney, but they're being tried in a church court, which is a separate jurisdiction. The last real Scottish prosecution for witchcraft was in 1727.
Claire and Geillis are condemned on the testimony of a Catholic priest. In a Church of Scotland court. Catholicism being illegal at the time, and Catholic clergy subject to imprisonment, a priest would keep as far away from a Church of Scotland court as he could; nor would such a court accept testimony from a priest.
Characters from the Highlands are often heard using words from the Lowland Scots language to give the English dialogue a more Scottish flavour. Historically very few Highlanders in this period would've spoken Scots, as English was considered the language of prestige and was the medium of instruction in schools, while Gaelic was the vernacular. After the language had been neglected by the Scottish government and the Lowland nobility for the better part of a century, it had been replaced by English even in some parts of the Lowlands.
Most of the accents in the show bear fairly little resemblance to the way English would be spoken by a native speaker of Scottish Gaelic. Justified in that this accent would likely not be as recognisably "Scottish" to American or international viewers (it's often said to sound more like an Irish or Welsh accent).
In general, most of the less well-educated Highlanders, such as Angus and Rupert, would likely not have been able to speak any English at all. For obvious reasons, this is altered in the show.
During preparations for the Battle of Culloden, a Jacobite soldier can be seen wielding a large two-handed Claymore, a sword which had not been used for around 100 years at this point.
Claire introduces Jamie to the word "fuck", which he is initially bewildered by, the suggestion being that it wasn't a word used in Scotland. Though not as common as in English, prominent Scots writers had been using the word since the 16th century.
The Jacobite rebellion is presented as very much an England vs Scotland conflict in the show (not helped by the fact that the terms "English" and "British" are occasionally conflated). The truth is far more complex, as there were a number of Jacobites in England, and certainly not all Scots supported the cause. Within Scotland itself, it could probably best be characterized as Catholics and Episcopalians vs Presbyterians. Still, there would have been no real reason to suspect Claire just because she happened to be English. In the 18th century in particular, Highlanders would likely have had more loyalty to their clans, and, more broadly, other Highlanders, than they would have had to the nation of Scotland.
The difference between Highlanders and Lowlanders in the 18th century was far larger than is depicted in the show. Their languages, political systems, culture, and music were all completely separate from one another. For a modern viewer, the difference can be thought of as being roughly equivalent to that of somebody from France and somebody from Germany.
The term "Sassenach" (literally "Saxon") was used by 18th century Highlanders to refer both to the English and the Lowland Scots—essentially a person who didn't speak Gaelic. In the show, it is presented as meaning only "English person."
The show gives the impression that there was some settlement of Highland Scots in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. However, nearly all of the Scottish-origin people who settled in the Appalachians were Scots-Irish, descended mainly from lowland Scots farmers who had moved to Ireland in the 17th century, and had very little cultural overlap with the Highlanders. The location of Grandfather Mountain as the setting of the North Carolina Highland Games was chosen not because of an immigrant connection but because the real location the Highlanders had settled—the Cape Fear Valley, where Jocasta Cameron's plantation is located—was deemed not atmospheric enough (too flat).
Peter is portrayed as head of the German-American Bund in LA, though opposed to key Nazi doctrines. The organization was pro-Nazi from the beginning, headed by Nazis and begun under their order. Here it's portrayed more as a kind of German-American fraternal organization with Nazi sympathizers who are members but no full commitment to Nazism.
The race riots that are portrayed within the series didn't occur in 1938. The last one in season one is based on the Zoot Suit Riots, from 1943.
Ellen being forced to flee Kingsbridge because she is accused of witchcraft, instead of just because she is having an open relationship with Tom but refuses to marry him.
St. Adolphus' skull being crushed during the destruction of the old cathedral, then promptly replaced with another skull by Prior Philip.
Jack's father having his tongue cut and then being burned at the stake, instead of just hanged.
For dramatic purposes, the miniseries shows both King Stephen and his son Eustace alive in 1156 when they were both dead by 1154. Additionally, the miniseries has Eustace die in battle, when the real Eustace died of natural causes.
King Stephen and Robert of Gloucester are both depicted being captured at the Battle of Lincoln. In fact, Robert wasn't captured until the autumn, fighting against Stephen's wife and brother at the Rout of Winchester, with Maud impotently trying to govern the country for the six months or so in between.
In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, the city of Angel Grove was colonized by the British in the early 18th century. The city of Angel Grove is in southern California. Which coast were the original 13 colonies on, again?
Power Rangers Samurai fudges a samurai tradition or two, particularly naming Lauren as the rightful Red Ranger instead of Jayden. She's the firstborn, but in feudal Japan gender trumped age and official titles would've been inherited by sons first. But try putting that bit of sexism forward in modern America. This is a byproduct of importing the storyline wholesale from its Japanese base, Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, wherin Shiba Kaoru is Princess and true head of Shiba House, while Takeru, another vassal, is merely holding the position in her place. She ends up adopting him in the end, making him the next head of the Shiba house.
While Henry had two acknowledged bastards, and one vaguely acknowledged one, none of them was by Diane and none of them were named Sebastian. However, it was rumoured that his bastard daughter, Diane de France, by Filippa Duci, was in fact the daughter of Diane de Poitiers.
By the 16th century paganism was a long spent force in Europe. Not so here where they have apparently replaced the Huguenots as the main group of heretics in France (though paganism does not actually qualify as "heresy"). And in no way would a woman like Diane de Poitier be connected with them.
One early storyline has Mary seeking aid against England from, of all countries, Portugal... England's oldest ally, an alliance that was 250 years strong at the time the series was set and 700 years strong at the time it was made. There is a suggestion that Tomas is using his personal troops to further his own agenda, but for Mary to even ask shows a staggering ignorance of international alliances.
The writers evidently got their ideas about Bohemia from Shakespeare. It never had a seacoast, much less merchant vessels and at the time was not even an independent nation, but merely one part of the vast Holy Roman Empire-which was an old enemy of France. Why they didn't just use them is a mystery.
Francis and Mary were both firmly anti-Protestant, which the show alters to Francis being blackmailed into his edicts against the religion as the only way to keep them sympathetic in this day and age.
Monarchs could only be officially crowned at a coronation once in their life. Mary was crowned as an infant in Scotland and thus when she became Queen of France, could not be officially crowned with Francis. Furthermore, Kings of France were crowned in Reims, not in their throne rooms.
Antoine couldn't make Kenna a queen by marrying her unless he actually took the right to the throne away from his son, the future Henri IV of France, since Antoine is King by marriage to Jeanne III of Navarre. With her death, he would lose his right to the throne, even if he could be regent. However, kings of Navarre by marriage in the past did indeed take the title from their children.
Elizabeth saying that as a relative of Mary she has a claim to the Scottish throne is nonsense. Elizabeth was not descended from the House of Stuart, her aunt (Mary's grandmother) merely married into it, so couldn't claim Scotland by birthright. The Earl of Arran, Mary's distant cousin and former regent, was next in line genealogically.
Joanna of Castile is portrayed as an atheist who declares her disbelief in God to both her sister Catherine and her husband. However, though Joanna was reportedly impious and expressed religious skepticism, it never went this far. Reportedly, she really was tortured for saying skeptical things, and thus would presumably refrain (even or especially assuming this included atheism).
Isabella of Castile never fought in battle. While she was present at the siege of Granada in 1492, it was mostly for morale reasons. It was considered unbecoming of a woman (especially the Queen) to fight. After all, dead queens cant produce heirs.
While several of his fellow humanists worked as tutors to aristocratic children during their careers, Thomas More never did.
Another episode featured a Roman Empire with 20th Century technology (the only explanation being a handwave about a scientific law of parallel planetary development) They were threatened by an underground that turned out to be the equivalent of Christians. In fact, early Christians were never politically opposed to the Empire, a misapprehension probably caused by their scapegoating in Nero's reign.
I wonder if the Emperor Honorious, watching the Visigoths coming over the seventh hill, could truly realize that The Roman Empire was about to fall. This is really just another page of history, isn't it? Will this be the end of our civilization?
In reality, Honorius was not in Rome when it was sacked by the Visigoths in 410. He was in Ravenna, which had been the capital city of the Western Roman Empire since 402. Furthermore, Picard's comment suggests that the Western Empire fell as a direct result of the Visigoth siege. Although the Empire's power was rapidly diminishing and its prestige was severely weakened by the sack, it did not collapse until 476, 66 years later, when Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustulus and proclaimed himself King of Italy.
Taken: In "Beyond the Sky", strange lights are seen in the sky over Lubbock, Texas on July 11, 1947 as a result of John's departure from Earth. In reality, the Lubbock Lights were not seen over the city until August 1951.
Time After Time: Stevenson expresses astonishment over how anyone can buy guns in 2017 New York City without questions asked. However, it was actually easier to do this in 1893 London. Licenses to buy guns weren't even needed until 1903.
Timecop: Dr. Easter tells the others Sir William Gull was Jack the Ripper, saying the evidence fits him best, and the show later confirms this. Gull is in fact disclaimed by most scholars for a number of reasons (perhaps foremost his being over 70 at the time, and weakened due to a stroke).
The team goes back to Nazi Germany in December 1944, less than a week before Germany's last major offensive in which very cold weather played a key role. Nonetheless, there is no sign of winter anywhere (probably due to California Doubling) nor are any of the characters dressed as though there could be a blizzard in a few days.
Clyde Barrow never used a Thompson submachine gun in his crime spree. His preferred streetsweeper was the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle, of which he stole at least a half-dozen from a National Guard armory. In the show, he empties a drum magazine from a Tommy Gun at Ranger Frank Hamer's posse before switching to the BAR.
The electrical grounding is presented as a solidly known fact for the cause of the Hindenburg crash, when it's actually just one of numerous theories. The actual cause is unknown.
The idea that Lincoln's death is all that prevented the post-Civil War South from turning into a racial paradise is, to put it charitably, quite naive. However, in context, Lincoln's death did cause reprisals against the South which affected race relations. Also his death did slow down the advance of civil rights for African-Americans.
According to Lucy, the Department of Energy conducted atomic tests near Las Vegas in the early 1960s. That agency was created in 1977. Its existence in 1962 rather than its predecessor the Atomic Energy Commission may be due to a historical change brought about by a previous mission.
While Judith Campbell was intimate with both President Kennedy and mob boss Giancana, her autobiography states that their relationships were entirely personal and that Giancana did not ask anything about Kennedy. Judith did say in later interviews that she transferred information and money between them, as we see in the show, but both liberals and conservatives have pointed out that this doesn't match with what is known about Kennedy and his staff, and that she is likely an unreliable witness, especially in light of her history of mental health issues and cancer diagnosis.
Zigzagged with Ian Fleming's appearance: the official record says he only went on a single field mission which was at a different time, but the real truth of wartime espionage naturally remains mysterious - so who's to say there weren't more? He also says he's with MI6, when in reality he was with the Royal Navy's Naval Intelligence Division. His brother Michael Fleming did die in 1940, but he wasn't killed by a V-2 attack; while serving as a captain in the BEF, he was severely wounded and captured during the fighting retreat to Dunkirk, and later died in a POW hospital.
Katherine Johnson helps the team get back in contact with Apollo 11, when she wasn't actually at mission control that day but at a meeting in the Poconos, watching it on the news like everyone else. Of course, it's possible that the slight changes to history made by Flynn and the Lifeboat team have resulted in her being at mission control instead of at the meeting.
The series has portrayed the outcome of the Cold War as having been on a razor's edge, with characters speculating that the failure of the moon landing or Von Braun being captured by the Soviet Union could have led to the United States losing the Cold War. In reality, the forty-year standoff of the Cold War was decided on much more than who was currently leading in ballistics technology.note Leadership in electronics played a much larger role, with the West providing the innovation and the Soviets pirating US, Japanese, and British designs. This was due to Brezhnev's de-emphasis on electronics and computing for ideological reasons. Not until the 1980's did the Soviets attempt to close the gap, and they did have some good computer designs, but the damage had already been done.
Bonnie and Clyde are shown to be the dashingly handsome and daring bank robbers who are folk heroes. The real pair were unattractive sociopaths who weren't that famous in their own time. Also, rather than go out of their way not to hurt people, the pair had no problem killing innocent people in their robberies. Clyde Barrow did try to cultivate a "Robin Hood" image, but he tended to get homicidally violent if anyone stood up to him or didn't comply with his demands fast enough for his liking.
Subverted with H.H. Holmes as the real man and his "Murder Home" were even worse than what the show has. And unlike in the series, Holmes lived longer to commit more murders and then gain infamy by being America's first well-known serial killer.
In order to capture Jesse James, who escaped assassination in St. Joseph, Missouri, the team enlists the help of Bass Reeves, a federal marshal for western Arkansas and the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). The distance involved precludes the team contacting Reeves in a timely fashion. Additionally, the theory that Reeves was the inspiration for the Lone Ranger (on which The Other Wiki casts doubts — see here), despite never actually being a Texas Ranger, is treated as fact.
In "Karma Chameleon" Rufus is trying to strike up a conversation with a lady in the bar. He notices Manimal playing on the bar's TV and mentions he's a fan, whereupon she mentions she likes the show too. Leaving aside the probability of Rufus even being aware of a show that was cancelled the month he was born after only 8 episodesnote Rufus mentions he was born in December 1983 and thus would have been conceived sometime in March—hence his concern about travelling to that time period. Manimal is widely regarded as one of the worst TV shows ever and was never aired in syndication nor released on video until a limited DVD run in 2012. the episode takes place in March 1983. The show didn't even premiere until September 30. They're watching a show that doesn't even exist yet.note What's even more amusing is that Manimal, like this series, was also an NBC property—part of NBC's disastrous Fall 1983 lineup in which none of the nine new shows that premiered were renewed for a second season. The production staff if nobody else should have been aware of this. The lady is also a fan of Flashdance and Staying Alive, with both came out in 1983... on April 15 and July 15 respectively. (Not to mention the latter was (and is) nowhere near as popular than the movie it was a sequel.) Not to mention that March 3, 1983 was a Saturday and The A-Team aired first-run on Tuesdays... (and Rufus states the episode they see on TV is "The Beast from the Belly of a Boeing"... which first aired in May. Given that both The A-Team and Timeless were co-produced by Universal, you'd think someone would have noticed).
Additionally from "Karma Chameleon", the characters are trapped in a hotel bar during a storm severe enough that the police have advised everyone to stay off the roads. Weather records for the area in March 1983 show no unusual weather patterns.
In "Public Enemy #1" after Eliot Ness is killed the team enlists the help of Richard Hart (a/k/a Jimmy Capone), another Treasury agent. Hart was based in Omaha, Nebraska, which is a seven-hour drive from Chicago in a modern car on a modern interstate highway. In a 1930's vehicle at nightnote Most cars had a top speed of 40 mph and their headlights were significantly dimmer than those on more modern cars on less-than-optimal roadsnote While most cities had paved roads, most rural areas did not the trip should take much longer, and yet the team manages to make the round trip in the space of one evening. This doesn't address the team's ability to get gas for the car without period currency...or why, given the transportation situation in the era, they wouldn't have simply grabbed the next train out. A day train out/night train back (or vice-versa) combination would have been much more believable than betting on driving.
A minor case is Ernest Hemingway being said to have invented the term "the lost generation" to describe the people who fought in World War I. He popularized the term in his novel The Sun Also Rises, but he actually borrowed it from his friend Gertrude Stein.
Which is lampshaded in the episode when Josaphine Baker confesses to Lucy she believes Hemingway 'stole it' from Stein.
The real David Rittenhouse had no son, though he did have two daughters and two stillborn children of unknown gender.
In "The Darlington 500" the team travels to 1955 to prevent the assassination of the heads of Ford, GM, and Chrysler by a sleeper Rittenhouse agent at the titular race. The head of Ford Motor Company at the time was Henry Ford II, the grandson of Henry Ford—established in "Last Ride of Bonnie and Clyde" as a Rittenhouse member himself. Given what we know about the organization, Henry Ford II is also a member of Rittenhouse. The conspiracy is trying to assassinate one of its own members. Additionally, Wendell Scott, the first sanctioned black NASCAR driver, is shown assisting the team. Scott would not race in NASCAR events until 1961. The race is also shown taking place on a dirt track. The actual race took place on a paved track.
In "The Salem Witch Trials" William Stoughton is identified as the governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Although Stoughton was the chief magistrate in charge of the trials, he was in fact the lieutenant governor. The governor himself, William Phips, is credited with stopping the trials and executions.note Perhaps not coincidentally, Phips' own wife was among the accused.
In "Mrs. Sherlock Holmes" the events of the episode result in the death of women's suffrage activist Alice Paul while in police custody. Lucy notes upon their return to 2018 that she was completely erased from history. While Alice Paul's enormous achievements in her 92-year lifetime would not have come to pass (or would have been otherwise accomplished by others) it's important to note that as of 1919 she was a leading voice in the suffrage movement and had already endured a five-week prison sentence during which Paul and others were beaten and tortured. While Paul may only be known to scholars of the movement in the new timeline it seems extremely unlikely she would have been forgotten about completely. If anything she would have become even more influential as an Inspirational Martyr for the cause, given the circumstances of her death. Also, the very premise of the episode (that Paul's arrest would stop her delivering a speech for suffrage that would persuade President Wilson to support it) is wrong. Wilson had already come out in favor of it a year before in his State of the Union address, after which his support succeeded in getting it passed through Congress. Her protests had already changed his mind.
The Tudors: The show has Thomas More being drawn on a hurdle to his execution. In real life, this only happened if you were being hanged, drawn and quartered; More's sentence had been reduced to simple beheading. Wolsley died of a fever, not suicide (although this one is portrayed as being covered up). These are just two of many changes from history.
In "The Last Flight", Flight Lieutenant William Terrance Decker, who has traveled forward in time from March 5, 1917, mentions the disappearance of the French flying ace Georges Guynemer. In reality, Guynemer disappeared on September 11, 1917.
In "Long Live Walter Jameson", the immortal title character reads an excerpt from the diary of Major Hugh Skelton (one of his previous identities) in which he recounts how he participated in the Burning of Atlanta as a member of the 123rd Illinois Infantry on September 11, 1864. He did so reluctantly as he believed that General William Tecumseh Sherman's suppression of the Confederates was too brutal. In reality, the Confederate General John Bell Hood destroyed munitions to prevent them from falling into Union hands as his forces evacuated Atlanta on September 2, 1864. General Sherman ordered Atlanta to be burned on November 15, 1864 at the start of his march to the sea.
In "Back There", Clara Harris refers to Henry Rathbone as her husband shortly before they go to Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865. In reality, they were only engaged at the time. They eventually married on July 11, 1867.note Rathbone murdered his wife on December 23, 1883 and was committed to an asylum for the criminally insane, where he remained until his death in 1911.
In "The Odyssey of Flight 33", after Flight 33 arrives in what is later revealed to be 1939, the crew make contact with LaGuardia Airport. In reality, the airport was established in that year under the name Glenn H. Curtiss Airport and did not become known as LaGuardia Airport until 1953.
"Death's-Head Revisited": Dachau KZ's actual commandant was SS Obersturmbannführer (equivalent to a lieutenant colonel, not captain-the SS didn't use normal ranks anyway) Martin Gottfried Weiss. Weiss didn't escape, but rather was hanged along with forty two SS officials at Dachau for their crimes in 1946.
In "The Thirty-Fathom Grave", it is mentioned that the submarine 714 was sunk during the First Battle of the Solomon Sea on August 7, 1942. In reality, the battle took place from August 8 to 9, 1942.
In "Sounds and Silences", Roswell G. Flemington tells his psychiatrist that if he had been at Trafalgar, Horatio Nelson would have kept both his eye and his arm. In reality, Nelson lost the sight in his right eye (but not the eye itself) during the invasion of Corsica on July 12, 1794 and his right arm in the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife on July 23, 1797. The Battle of Trafalgar, in which Nelson was killed, was fought on October 21, 1805.
In "The Encounter", Arthur Takamori admits to Fenton that his father, the foreman of a construction gang at Pearl Harbor, was a traitor as he signaled the Japanese planes that attacked the base on December 7, 1941. In reality, there were no Japanese-American traitors at Pearl Harbor. The resulting controversy meant that this episode was not rerun in the United States until 2016.
In "The Once and Future King", the front page of The Commercial Appeal gives the date as Monday July 3, 1954. In reality, July 3, 1954 was a Saturday.
The Twilight Zone (2002): "Cradle of Darkness" portrays Alois Hitler as a German nationalist who wanted Austria and Germany united, along with being antisemitic and bigoted toward Romani. It's implied he was the source of Adolf Hitler's views. The real Alois is not known to have had these opinions however. Adolf Hitler first got into far-right politics after Alois died as a student in Vienna. Furthermore, his elder half-siblings Angela and Alois, Jr. are neither seen nor mentioned in the episode even though he was raised along with them.
The Vampire Diaries presents an interesting case. At the 50s Decade Dance, one of the songs played is "My Boyfriend's Back" from 1963. However, it very well could have been to show that 2009 teenagers don't know much when it comes to 50s music.
While the series depicts Lord Melbourne and Queen Victoria as sharing a romantic spark, the real-life Melbourne was reportedly more like a father figure to Victoria. This is contentious, as numerous histories of Victoria dating back decades do suggest that there was some romantic inclination, with Elizabeth Longford's ''Victoria R.I." describing them as "one of the romances of history" and others referring to them as "half-lovers". There is no indication that Victoria considered proposing marriage to Lord M as depicted in the series, and the series depicts Lord M as more robust and attractive than the real-life counterpart, but on the topic of whether the two actually fell for each other in some way, there is no agreement in the history books. Victoria's own Word of God (her published diaries), offer no help given they were heavily censored by her heirs after her death, but even then Lord M dominates her memoirs.
The real Duke of Cumberland left England for Hanover a year before Victoria's coronation and didn't return until the early 1840s.
The Lady Flora Hastings affair occurred months after the Coronation, not during it. Some historians have implied that Lord Melbourne was as much to blame for it getting out of hand as Victoria; in the series, the blame falls on Victoria, her judgement being clouded by her paranoia about and dislike of Conroy, and it is characterized as a learning moment for the young queen.
Victoria's coronation is substantially truncated from the real event, and also omits some of the more chaotic moments (such as the archbishop putting a ring on the wrong finger; the only suggestion that the event didn't go smoothly is the fact her crown is placed at a slightly awkward angle and appears close to falling off). The crowning also took place more than a year after she ascended the throne (most British coronations take a year or more to arrange after the death of the preceding monarch, which is why Edward VIII was never crowned), whereas the series makes it appear that it took place not long after she became Queen.
A major figure in Victoria's early reign, Baron Stockmar, is Adapted Out of the series entirely. In real life, he was King Leopold's physician and acted on his behalf in terms of preparing Victoria to meet Albert and also acted as a mentor to her (in addition to Lord Melbourne). In the series, Stockmar's function is transferred to Leopold himself, and Lord M is depicted as her sole (political) mentor.
Historically, Victoria considered her uncle Leopold her "best and kindest advisor", not least for setting up her marriage to Albert, whom unlike in the series she was immediately taken with after meeting him a year before becoming Queen. In the series, Leopold is depicted as manipulative and disliked by Victoria, although ( they finally bond in the final episode of Series 1, though in Series 2 rifts erupt).
Edward Oxford's assassination attempt occurred in June 1840 when Victoria was four months pregnant. In the series, it happens shortly before Victoria gives birth to her daughter in November 1840. The episode also indicates that Oxford's pistols were not loaded; in reality, they were.
The Duchess of Sutherland's marriage was a happy one. Also, by 1840, she had seven living children. Her husband makes a brief appearance in Series 2 and the fact she has children is mentioned in brief, but her kids are never seen.
The show has George Sutherland, Harriet's husband dying from a hunting accident in the 1840s. In real life, he didn't die until 1861, after an illness, at the age of 75.
In the second series, the Duchess of Buccleuch, Mistress of the Robes, is played by Dame Diana Rigg, who is in her seventies. The real Lady Charlotte Anne Montagu Douglas Scott, Duchess of Buccleuch, was in her thirties when she entered Her Majesty's service.
The second series has Dash dying at around the same time that the retired Melbourne (apparently) succumbs to his own deterioration. In reality, Dash died in 1840 whereas Melbourne died in 1848 (in fact, he was still Prime Minister until 1841).
Victoria's attitude exhibited during the Irish potato famine is at odds with histories of the period.
Similarly, her attitude towards her children is also at odds with the histories that suggest Victoria was rather resentful of them. The first episode of Series 2 does touch on this, but dismisses it as Victoria exhibiting what would today be called postpartum depression.
Series 2 strongly suggests that Albert is Leopold's illegitimate son. Although the narrative intentionally leaves the truth of the matter ambiguous, the only historian who notably promoted this idea was David Duff in a 1972 biography, with only circumstantial evidence, and the claim is generally considered to be without merit by historians.
The timing and circumstances of Edward Drummond's assassination are changed significantly from real life (although he did die shielding Robert Peel from a bullet), while his same-sex relationship with Lord Alfred Paget is pure fiction.
Victoria and Albert have fewer children at the end of Series 2 (the final episode being set in 1846) than they had in real life by this point. Fortunately, the beginning of Series 3 rectifies this, with the first episode, beginning in 1848, depicting Victoria and Albert with 5 children (and a 6th, Louise, on the way).
Lehzen was dismissed in 1841, which would be near the beginning of Series 2, but the show has her dismissed at the end of Series 2, around 1846. The circumstances are much the same, but the change in chronology means that Princess Victoria is much older. In real life, she was an infant at the time of the incident.
Averted with the character of Prince George, who appears in the Series 1 episode "Brocket Hall", as a disinterested suitor for Victoria who is pushed forward by the Duke of Cumberland. It has been pointed out that the Duke of Cumberland's son, Prince George of Cumberland, was blind in Real Life, which is why he wasn't considered a candidate for Victoria's hand by everyone except his father, while Prince George we see here does not have this disability. However, the Duke at one point refers to him as nephew, meaning that this Prince George is Prince George of Cambridge, the son of the Duke of Cumberland's youngest brother, the Duke of Cambridge. George of Cambridge was considered as a potential husband for Victoria, but, as shown in the series, he was not interested in becoming Prince Consort.
One of Victoria's suitors is the handsome Russian Grand Duke Alexander, who ends up marrying a Danish princess instead. While Grand Duke Alexander did visit Victoria early in her reign there was never any intention of marriage, for the simple reason that Alexander was the heir to the Russian throne. Furthermore it was Alexander's son who eventually married a Danish princess.
During the 1854 cholera outbreak, Florence Nightingale is depicted saying that she doesn't believe in miasma theory. In fact, Nightingale was a strong proponent of miasma theory throughout her life. Furthermore, the show has Nightingale reasoning that miasma theory must be false because she hasn't caught cholera from her patients, but that's exactly what miasma theory would predict. It was the opponents of miasma theory, the "contagionists," who believed that disease was spread from person to person. (Of course, we now know that certain diseases are spread from person to person, but it happens that cholera is not one of them.)
On that note, the episode with the 1854 cholera outbreak features, as a subplot, the 1847 Cambridge Chancellor election. In the show's universe, both events have apparently been relocated to circa 1848-49.
Vikings: This show is based on legendary sagas set during the single murkiest period of Medieval history, so liberties with historicity are to be expected.
The name "Lodbrok" is sometimes used as a surname for people related to Ragnar. However, Lodbrok is a nickname for Ragnar specifically (meaning "Hairy Breeches"), much like "Ironside" for Bjorn and "Boneless" for Ivar. The Vikings had no concept of surnames and used patronymics (naming after one's father) instead. Ragnar's actual second name was "Sigurdsson," and all of his sons would have been "Ragnarsson."
"Rollo" itself is the Latinized form of the Norse "Hrólfr", the modern form being "Rolf". Similarly, "Lagertha" is a Latinized form of the Norse "Hlaðgerðr" or "Hladgerd".
Earl Haraldson describes Britain as a mythical land to the west, even though archaeology indicates that the British and the Norse had been trading for centuries if not longer.
The attack on Lindisfarne happened in 793, Ragnar Lothbrok was presumably killed in the 860s. While not totally impossible, especially since the dates concerning him are not very precise, it is highly unlikely that he lead the attack on Lindisfarne, or was even born at this point.
Likewise Rollo as well as King Horik are around way too early. Rollo's birth year is tentatively given as 846, Horic became king around 813 and sole king of the Danes in 827.
The presentation of Norse law: Haraldson is shown prosecuting a man for murder. In actuality, that would have fallen to the deceased's next of kin.
Women are shown casting votes in Norse society. While it may be true that Norse women enjoyed a better position than that of mainland European women, the Norse weren't quite this progressive. Voting would be cast in the name of the whole household.
Vikings didn't practice capital punishment as such. Rather, those convicted of heinous crimes were declared outlaws; which is to say, they are literally outside the protection of the law, and may be killed with impunity.
It is said that Horik's father was killed by his brothers and that he ascended to his throne by defeating them. In history, Horik's father, King Gudfred was killed by a housecarl. After that, Horik's uncle Hemming (a cousin of his father) took the throne but did not last long. Then, Horik drove out Harald Klak and thus became sole king of Denmark as he was the only son of King Gudfred alive.
Earl Haraldson mentions Russia. Russia did not yet exist in the 8th century. As a matter of fact, it was being founded by a confederation of Eastern Slavic tribes led by a Swedish subset of the Vikings, "the Rus". Thus, "Russia".
King Ecbert already being a famous king when the Vikings raid Wessex around 800 AD, when in reality he just assumed the crown at best. His characterization on the other hand, is accurate. He did actually try to become Brytenwalda, at least.
Ecbert briefly notes a wife is the husband's property and the husband is free to do to her what he likes. This was not the case in Anglo-Saxon culture, which esteemed women very highly for the time and as equal companions to men. The attitude of "a woman is a man's property" would only become a part of Anglo-Saxon culture in the Norman Conquest and beyond.
In Season 2, episode #4 ("Eye for an Eye") former monk Aethelstan gets captured by the Saxons, who proceed to crucify him for apostasy; he only gets saved by the intervention of King Ecbert and despite the protest of an Anglo-Saxon bishop. Crucifixion was not a lawful punishment anywhere in medieval Europe; it had been abolished by the Christian Roman Emperors in the 4th century because by that time the Cross was adopted as a symbol of Christianity, and its further use as a means of execution would have appeared impious if not sacrilegious to a Christian. While the Middle Ages considered apostasy a severe crime that could result in capital punishment, even a bishop could not lawfully order an execution without a trial.
Characters make several references to "Charlemagne," but this is a French version of his name ("Karl, der Große" or in English "Charles the Great") popularized after the Norman invasion of England. It's used here so that modern viewers can recognize the famous figure. Also, he was still alive in the period the show takes place.
Aethulwulf of Wessex never married a daughter of King Aelle. He did marry a woman named Judith, but she was the daughter of the Frankish King Charles the Bald, and she didn't bear him any sons because he died shortly after.
When Aelle and Ecbert join forces, the gathered Saxons begin chanting, 'God save England!'. In truth, the concept of a united country called England wouldn't emerge until some time after the period this show is set.
Horik I did not die at the hand of Ragnar Lothbrok. But then, they also might have been the same guy.
Some of the Vikings' clothing and gear is not appropriate to the period. For example, Ragnar's signature chainmail is very form-fitting, when the actual Viking mail was always quite loose.
Habard mentions in a conversation with Aslaug that one of his bastard sons became Olaf, Grand Duke of Kyiv. Not only is there no such figure amongst the Ruthenian princes (there is a prince after Rorik called Oleg, but the Norse rendering of his name is Helgi), but Kievan Rus wasn't anywhere close to being created in the early eighth century. On the other hand, Ragnar is reported to have lived in the mid 9th century, when Kievan Rus was being formed, so this may just be another example of the show fast-forwarding history.
King Ecbert never slaughtered an entire village of pagans for no reason. Though this is probably more due to the fact that there weren't any pagan villages in England during his reign. The settling of Danish and Norwegian pagans on English soil wouldn't begin until the 860s with the Danleagh, or Danelaw. King Athelred the Unready, another king of Wessex, actually did do exactly this in real life as a means of rebelling against the Danes. It didn't work out well for him.
With the Franks:
The Siege of Paris as presented in the show is a fusion of The Siege of Paris of 845, the only fully historical appearance of a Viking chief named Ragnar, from which the show takes the King being Charlemagne's grandson and Ragnar Lothbrok's presence, and the Siege of Paris of 885 from which the show takes the presence of Rollo, the figures of Count Odo, Sinric and Sigfred (Siegfried in the show) and the overall set up of the battle.
The Oriflamme was never used by the Franks. It's first use was by the medieval French Kingdom during the 12th century.
The Emperor wears a crown styled with the lilies of France, and also his throne displays them. This famous symbol of France was not acquired by Charlemagne's descendants, but rather by the House of Capet, who didn't exist yet.
A lot of Norsemen seem to have no trouble with letting their wives getting on top of them during sex, while in history it was considered something of a taboo. A man who allowed such a thing to happen was reckoned by other Norsemen to be unmanly and submissive. The show portrays it with modern sensibilities in mind. When Lagertha gets on top of Ragnar during one of their sex scenes, she compares him to "a wild bull," with no connotations of submission.note If anyone has an Old Norse sex manual detailing this, I'd like to know. This is just speculation.
Ragnar never converted to Christianity. Not even as a ruse.
That poem Ecbert recites to Judith is from T. S. Eliot. No wonder she says that she can't understand a word he's saying.
Harald Finehair, the equally semi-mythological first king of Norway, appears in Season 4. He is generally thought to have lived (if he ever existed at all) during the latter half of the 9th century, well over 80 years after the raid on Lindisfarne, and his surname of "Finehair/Fairhair" was an acquired nickname he obtained upon founding the kingdom of Norway (traditionally held to have happened 872, 7 years after Ragnar's death).
When Aethelwulf and Alfred visit the Pope in Rome, the guards are seen dressed as Centurions from the Imperial era, a type of armor that had been long since abandoned before the Western Roman Empire fell, let alone in the 9th century.
Historians have pondered the plausibility of the accounts of shield maidens being a real aspect of ancient Norse culture outside of the sagas, with no real conclusion. However, because the show is based on the sagas, and Action Girls fulfill the Rule of Cool, shield maidens are decisively portrayed as very commonplace.
Oh Allah, where do we even begin with the Mediterranean scenes in series 5?
Ifriqiya, or rather, el-Maghrib el-Adna; the Lower-Western Maghreb, isn't a desert. In fact, you would have to pass an immense swathe of the area before you even hit the desert, which is located in the far south.
It was also a rich, highly developed city from 745 AD. More than 60 years before the events depicted on the show. In series 4, it isn't even a city, but is rather depicted as a series of lavish tents belonging to a seemingly mostly nomadic people.
Zidayat Allah probably would never have offered slave women to satisfy his guests sexual urges, as Islamic law, as it was understood at the time, expressly forbade coercion of slave women to perform sexual favors given that intercourse has to be consensual or else it is considered to be deviancy as far Islamic morality is concerned. On the other hand, those laws would not have been in place if they weren't commonly broken, and slaves had very few ways of actually legally accusing their masters of abuse. And as some slaves were specifically trained for providing sexual pleasure, their consent would have been taken for granted. Not to mention that Zidayat Allah is decidedly not portrayed as a virtuous Muslim.
While Zidayat Allah and the Aghlabid dynasty was heavily criticized by the Qadis (Islamic religious authorities) for sinful behavior (mainly due to their decadent and extravagant lifestyles), it's very likely he probably never engaged in cannibalism. There's also little indication in contemporary sources that he was quite as Machiavellian as the show depicts, nor is it likely that he had extensive links with the Rus Vikings.
Euphemius was never placed under house arrest, executed, and then cannibalized by the Aghlabids. He was actually stabbed to death by a Byzantine garrison when he went there on behalf of the Aghlabids to negotiate their surrender in around 828 CE, after he defected to the Aghlabids to conquer Sicily.
Euphemius never abducted a nun named Kassia from the Byzantine Emperor. It's possible that this was based on a Byzantine account that Euphemius rebelled against the Roman Emperor when he was denied the opportunity to marry his betrothed, Homoniza.
The Aghlabid warriors would have worn mail or gambesons and would be wielding maces or straight Arabic swords modeled after the Roman gladius during the 8th and 9th centuries. Instead, they're wearing robes and wielding the more iconic curved scimitar; itself a Turko-Mongol weapon that would only be adopted by Islamic kingdoms after the conversion and rise to power of Turkic Muslim Khanates after the 10th century.
Likewise, the Byzantine garrison at Sicily looks more like Seljuk Turkic warriors rather than 8th century Eastern Roman men-at-arms, and are also wielding the same curved scimitars the Aghlabids are using. Even more strange, they're all wearing riding boots despite being stationed on an island.
Aethewulf had four sons with Alfred being the youngest. Alfred's brothers all became King of Wesex before him but did not reign long and the succession passed to the next brother. Aethelred was king before Alfred and when he died, Alfred became king. Alfred was already a seasoned warleader and served as his brothers Number Two for a while. Alfred was chosen king by the nobles because he was the most experienced of all the candidates.
Voyagers!: In "Agents of Satan", Bogg is convicted of witchcraft at the Salem witch trials on November 13, 1692 and is sentenced to burn at the stake. In reality, none of the 19 people convicted of witchcraft in Salem received this sentence; they were all hanged. Giles Corey was crushed to death for refusing to enter a plea.
Watchmen (2019): Veidt claims to Trieu he's remained abstinent because Alexander the Great was, as sex is a distraction. In reality, Alexander the Great married multiple times and fathered at least one son and possibly two (opinion on whether Heracles of Macedon was actually his is split, but it was at least seen as a plausible enough that Heracles's mother though claiming it worth a try). He was also quite likely in a relationship with his childhood friend and second-in-command Hephaestion (Diogenes of Sinope famously quipped that Alexander was "ruled by Hephaestion's thighs", they compared themselves to Achilles and Patroclus, and Alexander's mourning for him is legendary). This may be an error of the character and not the writers. While it's true Alexander was noted for self-control in sexual matters, where Veidt got this idea that Alexander stayed celibate is anyone's guess.
On The West Wing, many of President Bartlet's historical anecdotes are inaccurate. Wingnuts often explain this as evidence that the President himself is not infallible, or (perhaps more of a stretch) that the series is set in a universe with a slightly different history (after all, if the current world political leaders are different, and the American election schedule is even two years off, why not some other things as well?). More weight is given to the alternate reality theory by the existence of the nations of Qumar and Equatorial Kundu, and their pivotal role in many episodes. No such real nations exist.
The crimes of the "wilding" group are downplayed. In the series, we only see the homeless man get punched, but in reality he was beaten up and then a bottle was broken over his head. In the series, the group only jostles and intimidates the couple riding the tandem bicycle. In reality, the group tried to pull them off their bike, but the couple managed to escape.
When the Central Park 5 are placed in a cell together in the show, they each admit to and apologize for falsely implicating each other. In reality, the boys were all too ashamed to admit anything, and each claimed to have not given any testimony to the police.
While waiting in their shared cell, the boys share grim predictions for their future. In reality, they still didn't have a very clear grasp of the ramifications of their statements. One later said that he thought the whole issue was over once he made bail.
In the show, Antron loses all hope and thanks his attorney for doing the best he could after watching his father blow it on the stand. In reality, Antron didn't thank his attorney until after being pronounced guilty.
Why Women Kill: Beth Ann claims her husband's murderer was put to death in 1973. In truth from 1967 to 1977 no executions took place in the US, due to legal cases staying and then commuting them. His death sentence would have been commuted along with the rest.
The Wonder Years: Many anachronisms with plot-relevant music being released later than the date the episode takes place. The pilot takes place in 1968; Tommy James and the Shondells' "Crystal Blue Persuasion" was released in 1969, and the book "Our Bodies Ourselves" was published in 1973. "Alice in Autoland" is set in 1973; Johnny Rivers' "Swayin' to the Music (Slow Dancing)" wasn't released until 1977, and the plumbing fixtures are from the '80s-'90s. "Scenes from a Wedding" takes place in 1972, and Jim Croce's "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown" was released in 1973. "Heart of Darkness" takes place in 1968-1969; The Doors' "Riders on the Storm" was released in 1971.
World on Fire: A rather jaw-dropping instance of this in episode 1-4, when Grzegorz runs into a British tank unit. In Poland, in 1940. Or it may be that Grzegorz runs into the tanks in Belgium. Because in the next episode he has somehow teleported or Apparated hundreds of miles, across Germany, to wind up on the beaches of Dunkirk.
"The Exile" features Charles II attempting to assassinate Oliver Cromwell while the latter is attempting to sign a peace treaty with Louis XIV. The episode ends with the main character convincing Louis to recognize Charles as the rightful King of England and reject Cromwell's treaty. In reality, Charles II and Louis XIV were cousins, and Charles spent most of his life in French courts due to the political problems in England, so there's no way they wouldn't have known each other.
In the very next episode, "Da Vinci's Notebook", Siroc states, "As everybody knows, da Vinci died in Paris." Actually, he died in Amboise, over 100 miles away.