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Alternate History Wank

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The orange part is all the Domination of the Draka. The blue part is the Alliance for Democracy.

"Every nationalist is haunted by the belief that the past can be altered. He spends part of his time in a fantasy world in which things happen as they should – in which, for example, the Spanish Armada was a success or the Russian Revolution was crushed in 1918 – and he will transfer fragments of this world to the history books whenever possible."

In Alternate History fandom jargon, a "Wank" is when a single nation, culture, political theory, or other group is singled out and advantaged in a story, typically disproportionately and at the expense of its contemporaries. As if the story was written by a nationalist masturbating to his nation's fictional triumph. Perhaps the British Empire has not just kept the American colonies, but expanded deep into Latin America as well. Perhaps the Greater United States rules its entire continent. Perhaps Rome, the Mongols, or Those Wacky Nazis managed to win it all and now dominate the globe. In short, the point of divergence that created the alternate history has also created a "Republic Of Mary Sue" of some sort.

"Bad guy" empires tend to be the most chosen for wank status. For every "Rome never falls" timeline there seem to be at least three "USSR and/or Nazi Germany takes over the world". Another way this trope comes about is when one historically significant person is suddenly killed or spared in this alternate timeline, leading to questionably massive changes. Such as "if Julius Caesar was not assassinated, Rome would never fall and also develop steam-powered technology." And that's a relatively tame example.

It should be noted that the success of a nation or cause is not, by itself, an indicating factor, even if said element was largely unsuccessful in Real Life. One could argue that every AH work includes some group doing better than it did in real life, since if everything happened exactly the same, it wouldn't be "alternate" history. A story where, say, Romania becomes a great power of Europe, is not in and of itself an Alternate History Wank, because there are hypothetical conditions where such a scenario might have plausibly come about and been maintained, and an author might examine such a scenario in a realistic and likely fashion.

Therefore, there can be disagreement about what precisely constitutes an Alternate History Wank. Some maintain that for a timeline to qualify as a Wank it has to be fundamentally implausible or even invoke Alien Space Bats after the point of divergence; for example a timeline where an Alien Invasion attacks all the other countries while inexplicably leaving Romania alone. For others, the timeline just has to show clear signs of favoritism towards one nation; for example, a timeline where Romania becomes the central dominating power of Europe because the leaders of other nations inexplicably become complete idiots when dealing with Romania, which conversely is blessed with personnel who are tactical geniuses and never make a wrong move, ever. Mass Teleportation of a country through time (called "ISOT") very often results in a wank, since moderns have the benefits of advanced technology and hindsight when sent back in time.

In either case, it is usually quite clear upon reading that regardless of the in-universe justifications offered, the real reason the Wanked empire is doing so well is that the author prefers them and is overtly arranging things to work out in their favour. As such, there are several common results or indicators of a Wank. Firstly, in keeping with the above points about favouritism, the reader might get a sense that the nation in question is Born Lucky: everything always goes its way, when an issue turning against it just once would have disastrous consequences. In our Romania example, it might be that Contrived Coincidences always seem to work out in Romania’s favour, otherwise-intelligent people completely fail to spot Romania’s obvious plans until it’s too late, and so forth. The inverse of a Wank is a "Screw" — essentially, giving a certain nation the Idiot Ball or Trauma Conga Line. A Wank for one nation is often a Screw for others at the same time.

Another indicator is that individual nations tend to be assimilated into large multinational power blocs, with the end result in extreme cases being that the entire world is divided between two or three super-empires — all of which are dominated by one main national or cultural group (which, perhaps not coincidentally, is usually that which the author finds it easiest to identify with and/or write about). In our example, while it might plausibly be possible for Romania to become a dominant European power, a scenario in which it rules all of Eurasia is probably a Wank. Such empires might also be implausibly long-lasting, with little or no sign of the stresses that tend to vex large empires in real life (such as internal rebellions, difficulties of long-range governing, intercultural friction, etc.)

Note that none of this is necessarily or automatically a bad thing. Sometimes a story with a purposefully hypercharged British Empire can be informative and entertaining, or valuable for some artistic purpose. Sometimes it's just a matter of doing something fun and entertaining. It just may require a lot of Willing Suspension of Disbelief.

There is a certain degree of Truth in Television here; certain nations or causes have apparently been Born Lucky or have become implausibly dominant global powers, and certain periods have essentially been dominated by one particular group or cause. The United States in particular is sometimes said to embody the closest thing to this in Real Life; Bismarck is often (falsely) quoted as saying "there is a special providence that protects fools, drunkards, and the United States of America." At the height of the British Empire, 20% of the world’s population was governed by a small island off the coast of Northern Europe. The Prophet Muhammad was an illiterate man not born into nobility, yet he founded the world's second-largest religion with a holy book considered the finest work in its entire languagenote , and an empire that spanned from Portugal to Afghanistan. The skills and achievements of Alexander the Great might seem like implausibly fanciful tales were they not real. The unification and creation of the nation and idea of China was, in some senses, the work of a single man, Qin Shi Huangdi. And the Mongol Empire lasted for over 150 years and, at its height, spanned 20% of the world's land. However, what separates these situations from a typical case of this trope (apart from actually happening) is that not everything was perfect for them. The United States hasn’t always had good fortune, with the civil war over slavery which killed about 800,000 people being a particular nadir, the British Empire was at times fiercely hated and resisted by a large number of its subjects and fell apart after the country went bankrupt during World War II,note , Muhammad was persecuted by pagans for years and his empire took centuries to reach full height, Alexander had his personal screw-ups and his realm disintegrated after he died, every pan-Chinese Empire fell apart at some point, and the Mongol Empire was too big to administer effectively and split into four separate khanates before eventually collapsing.

Compare with Fan Wank (same basic principle, but wider scope).

See also America Takes Over the World, Russia Takes Over the World, Japan Takes Over the World and China Takes Over the World for country-specific examples. Alternate-History Nazi Victory grants the Nazis far more successes than they ever had.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass is a weird case. Britannia rules half the world, but not the British Isles they take their name from, because Revolutionary France successfully invaded said isles and forced the Britannian aristocracy to flee to their North American colonies. Meanwhile, Japan, despite being a Britannian colony, seems to have been one of the last non-superpower countries, and its independence is treated as central to world politics thanks to its large deposits of Sakuradite. The series' portrayal of Japan may or may not count as the Born Lucky element of this - they aren't the dominant power, but the revolution that overturns the three-color-map-world status quo starts in Japan when a banished Britannian prince decides to help the Japanese rebels, who held out longer than any other colony, so at first, it could seem like they are, but when you look closer, the series is actually quite critical of Japan and a lot of elements of the country's behavior.

    Comic Books 
  • In the first three-part Blake and Mortimer story, Tibet (of all places) takes over the world.
  • Pax Romana has the Roman Empire undergo this, as a result of a time-traveling mission from the future.
  • The Marvel's multiversal Captain Britain Corps has a member (Centurion Britannus from Earth-4100) in which the Roman Empire never fragmented. Separately, it also has a world where the Nazis won WWII, with Hauptman Englande. Kaptain Briton is the protector of a fascistic British Empire ruled by an alt-Opul Luna Saturynne. .
  • Y: The Last Man sees Israel becoming a world power after a mysterious plague kills all the world's males, due to their extensive inclusion of women in the military.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America:
    • Canada. In this alternate history, that nation refused to hand over its escaped American slaves because it was the right thing to do and suffered with a walled US/Canadian border called the Cotton Wall. Furthermore, for this national choice, Canada reaps a great prize: all the artists of African descent (and several whites as well, including a certain Samuel Clemens) that would have enriched American culture with Rock music, Motown and many others now feed Canadian culture. As a result, Canada becomes the pop culture centre of the world.
    • The CSA itself is the same way, it's built on such a silly amount of historical fallacies that it's nearly impossible to take seriously. Though it makes rather silly Rule of Cool assumptions such as having Lincoln attempt to escape the CSA's forces by the Underground Railroad, it pales in comparison to having the CSA annex the entire North, along with large parts of South America to form a "tropical empire". And then there's the whole thing about a slave-owning society surviving into the modern day without suffering economic collapse. Despite the CSA being isolated from the rest of the world and culturally stagnant, its economy still runs fairly well.

  • The Angevin and Polish empires of Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy mysteries. The stories are set in an alternate timeline where most of the Northern Hemisphere is divided between two great ruling powers: the Anglo-French Empire, which extends over most of Western Europe (except Italy) and the Americas and is ruled by the Plantagenets; and the Polish Empire, which has conquered virtually all of Eastern Europe. The timeline splits in 1199 when Richard the Lionheart doesn't die from the crossbow bolt at the siege of Chalus-Chabrol but recovers, repairs his ways, and goes on to be a great king... Oh, and did we mention that these books take place in the 20th century and that both empires are still going? Sure, it doesn't look anywhere near modern, but that's just because they use Magitek instead of normal tech.
  • The Domination of Draka (South Africa) in S. M. Stirling's series on The Draka. The premise is that a colony in OTL's South Africa gains independence from Britain around when the United States of America did in our timeline, upholds horrific ideals within its borders (including slavery), and manages to take over the world by the end of the series (yes, sadly the image chosen for this very page was just the beginning of the wankitude). The civilized nations of the world just ignore the threat of a large, slave-holding, militaristic empire until it's too late.
  • The Roman Empire in the Slaveworld novels. The empire never fell, sparing the world from The Dark Ages, resulting in a Crapsaccharine World free from pollution and social unrest.
  • The Roman Empire again in Kirk Mitchell's Germanicus trilogy (Procurator; The New Barbarians; Cry Republic). The division point is in the distant past compared to the time of the books, and is the trial of Jesus before Pontius Pilate — Pilate frees him instead of having him crucified, thus Christianity never rose, the Roman Empire never fell. It holds most of Western Europe and has provinces in North America and Africa. The Serican Empire (Chinese) hold much of Asia, and are making inroads into the Americas. The Aztecae control South America and southwest North America.
  • The Roman Empire yet again. In Roma Eterna, the failure of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt, as well as a convenient victory over some barbarians, lead to a world where Rome remained divided and never fell. The Americas were fortified by a Dane, which prevented Rome from capturing them. Mohammad gets offed before he can give rise to Islam — by a Roman who thinks he'll create the Caliphate.
  • The Roman Empire again again again. In the Romanitas series of books by Sophia McDougall, the survival of Emperor Pertinax leads to Rome controlling Europe, India, South America, half of Africa, and most of North America. Japan controls the whole of Oceania, South East Asia, and parts of Siberia. China is reduced to a buffer state between the two. There's also an independent Africa that broke away from Roman control.
  • The Eastern Roman Empire (better known to most as the Byzantine Empire), and the Malwa Empire before its collapse in the Belisarius Series. Justified in that they're both being aided by supercomputers from the future to advance technologically. The point of the series is a series of geeky military thought experiments inside some truly epic war novels, rather than an attempt to build a complete and plausible alternate-history timeline.
  • Life: Dougal Dixon's The New Dinosaurs is a faux-nature book about how dinosaurs continued to evolve after the K-T extinction failed to happen. It's got shades of this trope, in that the lucky reptiles somehow manage to come up with close equivalents of nearly every major ecological type of mammal — baleen whales, anteaters, squirrels — rather than sticking with body plans and strategies of survival that'd already been working fine for them.
  • "Libertarianism": The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith.
  • The Kaiserreich AND the United States of America in Robert Conroy's Nineteen Oh One, accompanied by gratuitous (and historically inaccurate) use of All Germans Are Nazis tropes and general Stupid Evil by the Germans. In 1901, any European nation attempting to fight America would be instantly set upon by the other Great Powers of Europe; by this point, the alliance systems that led to World War I were already largely in place, and such a clear violation of American historical neutrality, even after the US's war with the decaying remains of the Spanish empire, would be an easy pretext for war-not to mention that Germany's navy at the time was substantially weaker than the Royal Navy (which was easily the most powerful Navy on the planet and would remain the largest until 1944), precluding the sort of overseas invasion that Conroy portrays. It should be noted, though, that the novel is based on perfectly real German Empire plans to fight war against USA in late XIX century. Both nations earlier barely avoided war over Samoa (due to (un)convenient hurricane, that disabled both sides squadrons), and German Navy actually made plans from 1899 to 1906 to attack America, land an army and took over Boston - all to force US to give Philippines and Puerto-Rico over to Germany.
  • Harry Harrison's Stars And Stripes Forever. This features the British Empire declaring war on the United States after the Trent Affair, which somehow results in the Union and Confederacy conveniently patching up their differences and teaming up on Britain (even managing, at one point, to mount a land invasion of the British Isles).
    • It gets much worse as the series progresses. The first book portrays Britain as a middle-ages style monarchy rather than the parliamentary democracy it actually was by this stage, with military technology and tactics 50 years out of date and all British characters presented in a ridiculously stereotyped fashion and portrayed as inhumanly stupid, evil and prone to rape and pillage to a degree which would make the Vikings proud, while of course Americans are portrayed as all utterly heroic, enlightened and invincible (they also instantly adopt 21st-century views on race and gender). Additionally, Canadians are shown as poor brainless slaves of the British Empire yearning for the US to annex them (which the US promptly does for their own good).
    • The second book has the same problems but with the addition of the US invading and conquering Ireland, somehow making all the centuries-old problems between Protestants and Catholics magically disappear.
    • The third and final book takes AH wanking to plain silly lengths, with the US now advanced to WWI level technology complete with tanks, dreadnought warships, production lines and other such advances (while still set in the 1870s by the way) thus putting the US over 100 years above the UK in technology, and culminates in the US conquering Britain, giving independence to Scotland and "introducing" democracy to the poor British masses.
      • Interestingly, the British claim they already have a representative system, only to be casually brushed away by the conquering Americans, saying it's not the same as theirs, so it must be wrong.
    • The whole 'land invasion of Ireland and Britain' scenario also conveniently ignores or downplays the fact that to do so, the Americans would have to cross the Atlantic — a body of water dominated by the British Royal Navy, which during the 1860s and 1870s was widely renowned as probably the most powerful and efficient military force on the planet and which, a handful of ironclads aside (which were not as effective as the author suggests), the American navy would have been poorly equipped to face in actual combat.
      • There is a Curb-Stomp Battle (if that can even be called a battle) described in one of the novels that has a British ironclad stopping an American convoy heading for Ireland, protected by a new American ironclad. The American captain is itching for a fight, so he pretends that the tiny cannon that the British warship fires to the side in order to get the Americans to respond counts as an act of aggression and blows the British ship away with 2 volleys. Oh, and nothing bad happens to him as a result of this. There is a total of three battles described in the books that result in the British gaining the upper hand: one where they accidentally attack a Southern town instead of a Northern outpost, one where a Highlander regiment takes a fort in New York, and one where a British ironclad sinks an American one. That's it. The rest are all complete victories for the Americans.
  • In Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream, a post-apocalyptic Nazi style Germany conquers the world and begins to expand to the stars (it's ridiculous on purpose). Note that this happens in the book-within-a-book. In the alternate timeline that the story "really" takes place in, a Nazi Germany without any strong political leader was crushed under the U.S.S.R's boot. The Soviet Union proceeded to stomp all over most of Eurasia and South America as well.
  • In a way, Poland after the first set of the Conrad Stargard novels, although it would be more accurate to say, "Conrad Stargard's Army Empire"...
  • Possibly the Ur-Example is Napoleon And The Conquest Of The World (Napoléon et la conquête du monde 1812-1832) by Louis Geoffroy in 1832, which - as the title suggests - had Napoléon Bonaparte act slightly differently in the 1812 invasion of Russia with the result that he conquers the entire planet by 1827 (before dying in 1832). Never mind that Napoleon was dead by 1821 (and that he died of cancer, so military success would not have prevented this).
  • The Confederate States of America in Timeline-191 by Harry Turtledove. Having defeated the Union in the civil war, they extend their border to the Pacific, defeat the United States a second time and then abolish slavery, all in the course of a year. However, the trope is effectively averted in the rest of the series, which demonstrates the disadvantages the country would suffer (inferior industrial base and population available for the army compared to the USA, for example) and sees the Confederacy getting crushed in the First World War.
    • And yet later played rather straight with the US conquering and occupying all of Canada save Quebec (which becomes a satellite) in World War I and later the whole of the old CSA in WWII.
    • Also played straight with Imperial Japan. Although it's treated as a Wild Card and isn't given a lot of focus, Japan seems to come out on top all the time. They're probably the only country that gains more than it loses from both world wars. By 1945 they control most of South East Asia and are in a position to seriously threaten Australia and India and to demand that Russia hand over parts of Siberia. Some of the viewpoint characters speculate that the Cold War analogue in this timeline will involve the USA and Germany trying to prevent Japan from acquiring nuclear weapons.
  • This appears at first to be the case in Fyodor Berezin's Red Stars duology, where a parallel world is discovered where the USSR is dominant thanks to Adolf Hitler delaying Operation Barbarossa (thanks to British interference in Greece), causing Joseph Stalin to attack first and crush Germany within 2 years. Subverted in that this is a Crapsack World, where democracy is non-existent, and the two superpowers take potshots at each other with H-bombs. Our Russia and US decide to destroy that world and likely succeed.
  • Given that Atlas Shrugged clearly doesn't take place in the "real" 20th century, it can be argued to be an Objectivist Wank. (Inverted, in that the Strikers are proven utterly correct not by conquering the world (though they may do so after the end of the book), but by watching the rest of the world shred itself.)
  • The British Empire (and the other imperial empires) in The Two Georges, although it's played with. With the obvious exception of North America, the British Empire and its dominions aren't that greatly different from what they were at the height of the British Empire anyway, and it's often suggested that the Empire has gradually become more like the OTL-Commonwealth, except with Britain remaining more influential. Technological development has been much slower than in OTL, however, because of the distinct lack of World Wars - the real-life 'Pax Britannica' of the 19th century has lasted right through to the end of the 20th.
    • A still more egregious example is Harry Harrison's "Tunnel Through the Deeps" (whose magazine publication had the more fitting title "A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!"). Besides the failure of the Spanish Reconquista leaving Britain NO competition to take over the entire Western hemisphere, it is full of analogs of OTL figures Harrison dislikes reduced to snickering caricatures, and disregard for geography. (Saxony is NOT across the Rhine from anywhere!)
  • Turtledove is most often a fan of Germany-ruled Earths, be it Nazi (In the Presence of Mine Enemies, Shtetl Days, Ready For The Fatherland, The Last Article) or Imperial (Curious Notions, Uncle Alf).
  • The Byzantine Empire in Agent Of Byzantium series of short stories by Turtledove. Turtledove is in his element here, as he holds a PhD in Byzantine history. In this version, Prophet Mohammed, rather than starting Islam, becomes a Christian saint (not too far from the reality, in some sense—Islam and Christianity are much more closely related theologically than one might expect, and Islam was at least initially treated as just another Christian heresy) and consequently, no crippling military threat from the East to Byzantine /Empire materialized.
  • Exactly how it happened isn't shown, but in The High Crusade, Israel manages to take over the world. This is rather amusing when they run into an interstellar empire ruled by the descendants of would-be Crusaders.
  • In the Temeraire series, Imperial China, which though isolationist is a superpower Europe must take care not to offend, the Incan Empire, which was devastated by European diseases but massacred the conquistadores and is in the process of rebuilding, and the Tswana who manage to drive all would-be colonists out of Africa. Even Napoleonic France gets in on the action, becoming the premier European power and managing to invade Britain. Justified in that the presence of rather sentient dragons helps level the playing field around the world and mitigate some of the trends that would have caused the massive age of imperialism in our world — the most reliable counter to a dragon is another dragon, and when even muscle-powered societies can hatch and raise them...
  • Once again, the Roman Empire in Sergey Lukyanenko's Seekers of the Sky duology. The key event here is the death of Jesus as a baby, resulting in another child becoming the Messianic Archetype and using Religion is Magic to become The Emperor of Rome. After becoming disillusioned with humanity, he ends up, effectively, committing suicide and takes most of the world's iron with him in a vain hope that, without iron, humanity would stop fighting (he obviously hasn't heard of the Bronze Age). The use of Functional Magic taught by him results in Rome never being conquered or dissolving. By the 20th century, it's dominating Europe and has colonies in Africa and the Americas. Partly subverted in that the State (that's what it's called now) is not the most powerful nation and is about on par with the Russian Khanate (Russia conquered by the Mongols and remaining this way) and can't match China's technological superiority. The Aztec Empire and the Ottoman Empire are weaker players here, regularly bullied by the big boys.
  • Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card has Tlaxcala take over the world and become a Modern Mayincatec Empire. The key event here is Columbus leading a new Crusade to retake the Holy Land instead of sailing West. This allows the more progressive Tlaxcalans to defeat the Aztecs and establish a bloodthirsty empire that didn't shy away from technological development. Then a Portuguese ship stumbles on the New World, and its crew is captured, tortured for information (specifically, the means to make firearms and build oceangoing ships), and sacrificed. The diseases spread by the sailors only serve as a divine sign from their bloodthirsty god that they must sail East and conquer for more sacrifices. They do exactly that, and the fragmented Europe can't do a thing to stop them.
    • Interestingly, this is the original history in-universe, and our real-world history comes about as a result of time travel. ...And is later changed by more time travel.
  • The Man in the High Castle:
    • By modern AH standards, the Nazis and Japanese conquering the USA by 1947 is rather unrealistic (even Hitler himself, in his long-term plans, thought conquering the USA would not be possible for the Germans until The '80s). In fairness, though, Dick did not have access to much of the data about WWII that was still classified when he wrote the novel in The '60s but has become common knowledge.
    • Interestingly, this trope is also used by the book-within-a-book The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. The aftermath of World War 2 in that story has Britain and America splitting the world instead, with the USSR being a nonentity. And the British Empire, thanks to the authoritarian leadership of Churchill, would eventually beat the Americans. It could be that Dick realized the certain futility of what he was doing with the book itself, and so lampshaded it by introducing the book-within-a-book. It's also played for a certain amount of irony as well; notice how, aside from the Allies winning the war, almost the exact opposite of what Amendsen proposes as happening in The Grasshopper Lies Heavy happened in the actual world. It was the Soviet Union, not Britain, that became America's post-war Cold War opponent. Far from ruling Britain like a warlord, Churchill was kicked out of office barely two months after Germany's defeat. Far from the British Empire getting stronger and stronger, his replacements began the process of dismantling it. And so on.
  • "Atomic Roulette" by Andrzej Pilipiuk has Polish Second Republic. A time traveller goes back to the '30s, provides the Polish government with all possible knowledge about the war to come (as one of the characters notes, the sole map of deployment of the German army before the Invasion of Poland was more than enough) and all possible know-how for the next century. By the early '60s, Poland is the leader in modern technology. The action takes place somewhere in the 2000s, where it's the only superpower in the world, Germany is a rump state with industry on the level of some African country, France and Britain as "punishment" for their inactivity against Germany were razed and now have food revolts and constant shortages on a daily basis, America is lagging behind with technology and industrial development (courtesy of Polish spies) and a sizable chunk of Africa is painted red and white (going as far as the Polish army stabilizing Somalia and succeeding). It also won against a rebellion in Polish Indochina. Oh, and there are no atomic weapons in this world aside from Polish ones, as everyone involved in the Manhattan Project or any atomic research was murdered by Poles. Hell, thanks to the time traveller's data, they killed everyone involved with development of anything important, making research of any other country lag behind considerably, while Poland itself leads in very futuristic techs (red mercury, AI research and stuff like that). A wank to end all wanks.
  • One Nation, Under Jupiter: Ghana controls most of West Africa, while Japan is more of a colonial power than it ever was in real life. Partially subverted with Nova Roma: While it's very much a superpower, it suffered great loss along the way and no longer controls any of the territory of the former Roman Empire.
  • One of the parallel worlds in The Worldfan duology presents us with a Modern Mayincatec Empire. Apparently, in this world, all the disparate native peoples of the Americas recognized the threat posed by Europeans. They banded together and drove the invaders out. Unified, they formed a powerful empire but had no way of crossing the oceans until a geological cataclysm reformed Beringia landbridge between North America and Asia, allowing hordes of Native Americans to pour into Eurasia. Apparently, no nation could stand against them, resulting in all of Europe and Asia coming under Native American control. Australia remained out of reach, and Africa did the same thing as the Native Americans and banded together to resist the invasion. How all those different and warring cultures could band together so seamlessly isn't stated.
  • 1632: Grantville, a small, coal-mining town turns into the ultimate Type 1 Eagleland wank, when it starts to meddle in the matters of 1630s Europe and reforms as United States of Europe.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Several episodes of Sliders dealt with other countries becoming major world powers.
    • The first episode had Russia as the dominant world power after capitalism fell. The Real Life Domino Theory is referenced and, apparently, became reality in that world.
    • Another episode had Saddam Hussein using a bioweapon that attacked the Y chromosome, wiping out much of the male population of the Earth. Because they were furthest from the epicenter and least affected, Australia became the dominant world power on that Earth.
    • Still another had the American Revolution fail, and America wound up as a part of the VERY large British Empire.
    • Yet still another had Mexico win the Mexican-American War, retaining all the territory that they lost to the US in our world (California, Nevada, Utah, most of New Mexico and Arizona, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming) belonging to Mexico. This version of Mexico is more prosperous than the (significantly smaller) US, and whites are treated as poorly as Mexican immigrants are treated in the US.
    • There's also an episode about Texas remaining an independent republic, then proceeding to annex the Mexican territory ceded to the US. Modern technology and culture coexists with The Wild West mentality, and duels are a legal and common way to settle differences or conduct hostile takeovers.
  • On Legends of Tomorrow, the heroes accidentally let Julius Caesar get his hands on a modern history book that warns him about how he dies. Somehow, Caesar avoiding his assassination results in a 21st Century where, not only does the Roman Empire still exist, but it's taken over the world.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise two-part episode "Storm Front". A successful German invasion of the U.S. East Coast probably would have needed all of the Wunderwaffen Vosk was working on. It's mentioned that the Third Reich controls all of continental Europe, the British Isles, much of Africa, Moscow, and a map shows that they've advanced halfway down the East Coast. This is actually lampshaded by the Generalmajor, who says there's a lot of talk that Germany has advanced too far, too quickly.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the GURPS tabletop gaming supplement GURPS Alternate Earths 2, one of the settings is an alternate 19th century in which Ming China rules practically the entire world.
    • Ming-3 is merely one example of this trope in the GURPS Infinite Worlds setting, which is loaded with such examples. Aztec Earth, Roman Earth, Japanese Earth, Islamic Earth, the list goes on. One other notable example is the self-explanatory "Reich-5".
      • For the curious, Reich 1 has the US and Germany fighting a pre-nuke World War III in 1951. Reich-2 has a five-way rivalry between the US, Germany, Japan, Russia, and Britain, Reich-3 has the Axis preparing to wipe a besieged "Fortress America" off the map, and Reich-4 has the victorious Nazis trying to maintain order after they beat the US in the 1950s and "won" a Pyrrhic nuclear war with Japan in 1979. Reich-5 has the same divergence point as The Man in the High Castle, but has managed to become even worse. Oh, and thanks to a blunder by Homeliners, one of their Stupid Jetpacks is now alternate history-hopping.
      • The Caliph, or "Islamic World", is a notorious example. The Islamic Golden Age not only never ended, but got turned into a higher gear. Then, in 796, the printing press was developed, speeding things up even further. So while the nominal date of this particular parallel was only 1684 when Homeline agents arrived for the first time, the technological level is just pure science fiction, exceeding Homeline by centuries of development, with the contemporary level being reached somewhere around 1100s. In fact, the technology of Caliph is so advanced, both Homeline and Centrum try to steal as much of it as only feasible, as the world of Caliph is at a verge of global war that can potentially wipe it out entirely.
    • We also have a minor Deconstruction in Centrum's universe: There, Prince William the Aetheling didn't die in a ship crash, allowing him to unite the British Isles and start the empire far, far ahead of schedule, effectively skipping the High Middle Ages and going directly to The Renaissance, with the Angevin Empire leading the whole way. The cultural ideals, however, did not evolve to fit with the tech level, with their feudalistic leanings eventually leading to a full-scale nuclear and biological war. By the time the survivors somehow managed to pull their act together, they've evolved into a completely different society as a backlash.
  • Dystopian Wars plays this trope mostly straight, but takes effort to subvert it as well to add a tinge of real-life politics to the world of Dystopian Wars.
    • The major forces in the Great War are larger versions of historic empires and kingdoms, like the Federal States of America (North America plus all land down to and including Peru), but also almost historic instances like the Kingdom of Britannia, which is actually smaller than it was at that point in real life.
    • Subverted as well, as there are many smaller countries with little to no connection to the larger forces, like the Kingdom of Denmark, of all things.
  • Dust: Super-tech reverse-engineered from the wreck of a crashed UFO found on the Antarctic provided the Axis (who deposed Hitler from power) with the capacity to turn the Russian campaign into something more manageable, allowed them to succeed when they performed Operation Sealion, and at the time of the "present day" on the game's setting they have now started a campaign of limited ground warfare on the coasts of the United States. The best hope the United States has is their own super-tech, engineered from that which they have captured from the Axis and a recent UFO crash on Roswell, New Mexico...

  • The Wolfenstein games take place in a World War II where the Nazis repeatedly get their hands on vastly more advanced technology than the Allies and/or occult powers from another dimension. The New Order goes one step further with technology stolen from an ancient sect called the "Da'at Yichud", and has them well on their way to completely taking over the world.
  • Chrono Cross fell hard into this trope. Guardia, a kingdom that stood for a thousand years, defeated Magus and his army, and is now defended by Crono, Marle, and Lucca who are mighty time-traveling heroes... is taken down by Porre on the southern continent, in the span of fewer than 15 years.
  • A staple of most Paradox Interactive Grand Strategy games and the After Action Reports posted on its forum, since a competent player can fairly easily bring any nation much more success than it had in real life.
    • Crusader Kings (takes place 769-1453): "What if the Mongol Empire never fell?" "What if a native ruler united India?" "What if a Crusader King succeeding in Christianizing the Levant?" and so on.
      • The Aztec Empire in the Crusader Kings II DLC Sunset Invasion, where the Aztecs launch an invasion of Europe in the 1250s after reverse-engineering captured Viking longships from Vinland. Note that the Aztec Empire was founded in 1427; this, combined with other impossibilities, leads to its inclusion being mocked by diehard history simulation fans. Overall the scenario is supposed to be silly, its main purpose is to make life in western Europe harder, as the region is usually more peaceful due to being distanced from the Mongols and religious conflicts.
    • Europa Universalis (1444-1821): "What if England colonized the entire Americas?" "What if the French Revolution wasn't crushed and spread democracy throughout the world?" "What if the Byzantines reclaimed all their old territory and beyond?"
    • Victoria: An Empire Under The Sun (1836-1936): "What if China fought off the western imperialists?" "What if Mexico defeated the US and became the dominant power of the New World?" "What if Russia remained monarchist?"
    • Hearts of Iron (1936-1948): "What if the Nazis won WWII?" "What if Poland or France defeated Germany all by itself?" "What if the United States embraced Communism?" "What if [insert impoverished minor European nation here] reclaimed and restored its most powerful historical empire and became a tide-turner in the war?"
  • The Hearts of Iron IV mod The New Order: Last Days of Europe plays with this — it is done straight before and during World War II for the Axis powers (mostly because it would be hard to pull off a crushing Axis victory without it), but the moment the Axis won, the timeline stopped giving them breaks, to the point that some slight wankish moments later on (such as Spain and Portugal uniting into a fascist Iberian Union) are direct counter-reactions to how badly Germany screws things up and the Reich appears to be on the brink of collapse by the start-date — 1962, less than two decades after WWII ended.
  • Zig-Zagged with Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg, which started out as a strong subversion, but as the development of the mod progressed, it turned into bigger and bigger Imperial Germany wank. After the Kaiser refused to reenact unrestricted submarine warfare after the sinking of RMS Lusitania, the USA does not get involved, leading to the failure of the Entente offensive in the west. Paris falls and the German Empire wins World War I in 1921 with a strategic stalemate against Great Britain. Then the mod goes just silly, as the battered and barely holding together Germany first sends expeditionary forces to Russia and does what the Entente couldn't - allowing a White and Tsarist victory. Then they launch an expedition to China and fight a massive war there with both local warlords and Japanese. At the end of it all, Germany one way or another controls half of Europe (via puppet states), almost all of Africa, Malaya, Indochina, most of China... By 1936, the German Kaiserreich is the foremost power in Europe but it has a desperate manpower shortage, it has failed to prevent hostile syndicalist revolutions in France and Britain, its colonial empire is highly unstable and it suffers under a huge stock market crash immediately from the game start. Other events can see a right-wing Russia backstabbing Germany by siding with the Internationale to reverse the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, and a Second American Civil War resulting in a syndicalist victory. It's surprisingly likely for the country that lends the mod its name to be destroyed in only the first 5-10 years.
  • Similar to the Paradox grand strategy examples, Rise of Nations' Risk-esque "Conquer The World Campaign" often results in this trope.
  • In Empire Earth II, the African campaign is set in the not-so-distant future and concerns a new energy source that can hold a lot of kinetic energy which allows Kenya to become a force to be reckoned with.
    • Empire Earth II's learning campaign had one as well concerning the Aztecs, who repel the Spanish invasion, ally with the United States, and later go to war with a fascist Inca Empire (which has aligned with the Axis Powers in World War II), culminating in a nuclear missile strike on a major Inca city.
    • The first Empire Earth had one, too: the authoritarian Novaya Russia emerges following the collapse of the Soviet Union and, in the course of just its first leader's lifetime, conquers Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, and then in the remainder of the 21st century conquers China and begins threatening the United States.
  • All of the Total War games have this as the campaign objective. It is made worse by the fact that many large and historically powerful factions start the campaign with imperial overstretch; they have too much land to protect with too few troops, their treasury does not allow for rapid buildup, and they are often at war with many other nations straight away. It is invariably easier (if slower) to win the campaign by starting as a small and insignificant nation, directly invoking this trope.
    • The Total War series started out with Shogun, which was set on a much smaller scale, and the conquest of the whole map was perfectly historical (Tokugawa Wank?). It became weird when the same mechanic was translated onto Medieval Europe, then made slightly more sense in the ancient Mediterranean.
    • Then made even less sense with Empire: Total War, where you can conquer the world with the Maratha. While it's true historically that the Maratha were able to conquer most of India from the previously-reigning Mughal Empire and their navy was strong enough to keep the British and the Portuguese out, they were eventually handily beaten by the Brits, resulting in the British-controlled India.
    • The Shogun II "Fall of the Samurai" DLC not only allows you to replay the Boshin War and, for example, restore the Shogunate, you can also Take a Third Option and declare your faction a republic and conquer Japan all on your own (this is loosely based on the Republic of Ezo, which was quickly crushed by the Emperor).
    • In the Great War mod for Napoleon: Total War (set on World War One European front), winning the campaign requires to do much better than how it historically went (for instance, conquering German territories as France while in OTL's Great War the Entente never breached in Germany's territory).
  • Homefront, while not technically alternate history at the time of release, qualifies anyway. The backstory involves the current North Korea uniting with South Korea, and in just 15 years, becoming powerful enough to conquer half of the continental United States. Not forgetting Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Brunei, East Timor, and Papua New Guinea.
    • Note, however, that this was based on Executive Meddling. The original plan for Homefront was for the invading army to be from China, only to be changed at the last minute because of its political implications, which required a timeline giving them a lot of sudden lucky breaks.
    • In Homefront: The Revolution, the point of divergence is moved back to 1972 (though it may actually be farther back, given that the intro cinematic says that North Korea was already technologically superior to the US at that time). A North Korean starts the computer revolution out of his garage, creating Silicon River and making the North Koreans the world leader of technology. By 2004, the APEX corporation, this universe's equivalent of Apple, is the sole supplier for America's phones, tablets, and military equipment. After bankrupting itself in the Middle East for 2 decades, America is essentially annexed by North Korea after APEX shuts off all of America's military equipment through a backdoor they had installed.
  • Freedom Fighters (2003) might qualify as this. The point of divergence is 1945: Russia drops The Bomb on Berlin, instead of the USA dropping it on Japan. As a result, dominance in the Cold War shifts in their favor, and they remain strong enough to slowly take over the rest of the world, with the US being the last free nation until the Soviets invade in 2003.
    • It is also worth noting that during the entirety of the invasion in New York City, the only evidence seen of anything approaching U.S Government-backed resistance are three—count 'em, three—NYPD officers, one of whom is injured.
  • Winning the Soviet campaign in either Command & Conquer: Red Alert, its sequel Red Alert 2, or the latter's expansion pack Yuri's Revenge, leads to the Soviet Union conquering the known world.
  • The real-time strategy Aztec Wars is set in a world where an Aztec chieftain one day got an idea to conquer the entire world... and proceeded to easily do just that, apparently managing to utterly steamroll Africa and Europe. Of course, it probably helps that they have a host of military units unknown in our timeline, including fireball-toting priests and Spider Tanks.
  • A mild example in the Fallout series. The Soviet Union never became a world superpower in this universe, and so China became the communist opponent to the United States in the Cold War, which wouldn’t end until the Resource Wars kicked off in 2052, during which China invaded Alaska and the US annexed Canada as a result. It's ultimately irrelevant to the games themselves because after fifteen years of the Resource Wars, eleven years of the subsequent Sino-American War, and then the Great War lasting about two hours, there's not a whole lot left of either power.

  • A single comic of Dresden Codak has the protagonist writing "Dinosaurwank" alternate prehistory fiction. The asteroids that caused the Permian and Cretaceous extinctions didn't hit the earth in her alternate history, resulting in absolutely absurd symbiotic relationships between species, including a pair of species where one evolved for intelligence while the other evolved for obedience and dexterity.

    Web Originals 
  • Atlas Altera could be considered a wank for the concept of diversity itself, but also for all the stateless nations today — this world has dozens of Australian Aboriginal and Native American states, not to mention the rest of the world. In terms of religion, pretty much every religion other than Christianity and Islam gets wanked (and even Islam spreads further than in our world, being the majority in several states in South America, Australia, and Papua).
    • This world has 23 Jewish states (more than half of which are in Africa).
    • All around the world, indigenous peoples managed to hold on to and revitalize their original religions and cultures; the Hauniuism of Polynesia, Incanism of South America, Toltecism of Central America, the Kachinaism, Wakandaism, and Kappism of North America, the Sarnaism of India, and the Donipoloism of Southeast Asia, to name a few. All of these are state or at least majority religions in several countries.
    • Zoroastrianism (here called Mazdaism) has a much more extensive reach, dominating Central Asia and reaching as far west as Anatolia and the Balkans.
    • Gnostic religions like Druze, Manichaeism, Mandaeism, and Bogomilism all have their own states.
    • Likewise for Jains, Sikhs, Yazidis, and Yarsanis.
    • African diasporic religions like Vodou and to a lesser extent Rastafari are also widespread, and many nations back in Africa follow Vodou or a related tradition.
    • Hinduism is prevalent across the Indian Ocean, from Mozambique and Madagascar to Papua and Australia.
    • Buddhism has spread throughout East Asia, including far-east Siberia, and the Pacific Northwest of North America.
  • The various Strangerverse timelines from invoke this trope. The entire point of the timeline is to have a certain country that will eventually end up covering the entire Earth. The story itself is that a time traveler from the future came to the past and gave Applied Phlebotinum to a major historical figure that will help his country in doing this task. Examples include:
  • Averted in the timeline Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72, where the alternate candidate getting in leads to a deadlocked presidential election. The setup is an alternate Democrat facing Richard Nixon in the 1972 presidential election, but it takes some...surprising twists and turns.
  • This fanfic does this to The Philippines, in the Command & Conquer universe.
  • The story of Byzantine Emperor Skantarios Laskaris (based on a Total War scenario) turns into a wank as Skantarios' opponents never seem to understand how he is vulnerable and strike back at him, which allows him to crush opposing forces one by one and doggedly reconquer Eastern Europe and the Near East for the Roman/Byzantine Empire.
  • Another story based on a Total War playthrough, A Scotsman in Egypt, has Scotland wanked. After taking a drunken jaunt through Egypt, they kick the English and Irish out of the British isles, take complete control of the Papacy, become the superpower in Europe, effortlessly beat back the Mongol invasion, and eventually has a Scottish expedition to the Americas.
  • A rare in-universe example occurs in SCP-140 from the SCP Foundation. The object in question is a Reality-Writing Book detailing the history of a civilization called the Daevites. When the book was first found, the Daevites were destroyed by Qin Kai in the 3rd century BCE. However, when the book comes into contact with a fluid that can be used for writing such as ink or human blood (which is, naturally, the most potent writing fluid), the text changes to state that the Daevites recovered from their defeats and rebuilt elsewhere and eventually return to glory, and it is currently written that the civilization was destroyed by Genghis Khan, about 1400 years later. This on its own would not be remarkable compared to many other objects in containment except for the fact that these changes in the written history are retroactively applied to the world, with corresponding archaeological sites appearing. Each time the book has such an expansion event, their history gets closer and closer to modern times. This is especially bad because the Daevites are Obviously Evil, performing gruesome Human Sacrifice, utilizing Black Magic, and are a Human Subspecies with much longer lives and therefore often superior intelligence to standard humans. Furthermore, they have infiltrated our society and are actively working to expand their history further.... note 
  • Kilian Experience features a parodic version of this, where Kilian plays New Zealand in a playthrough of Hearts of Iron IV. After seceding from the United Kingdom in 1936, New Zealand finds that without its aid, Britain was "practically defenseless" against the Nazis, causing a domino effect that led to the Nazis defeating the Soviet Union and the United States capitulating. This leads to New Zealand battling the Axis, which it manages thanks to taking over Australia, drafting seventy million sheep into the army, taxing dwarves, and teaming up with the last pockets of American resistance in Delaware (which Hitler never bothered to conquer, as it is "the New Zealand of America"). By the end of the video, things are mostly the same as ever - except Sweden became fascist, Finland now controls North Africa, Estonia "kinda rules Brazil", New Zealand refuses to give up Australia, and the United States and Canada have been replaced by the Delawarian Empire.
  • The french alt-history youtuber AlterHis uses this trope willfully to ludicrous extents in his "The Glorious Destiny of X", detailing a (generally irrelevant to start with) country's rise to greatness. Such rise includes things such as Québec being the first on the Moon, North Korea discovering the world's largest reserves of oil and diamonds by sheer luck, Picardie becoming independent then creating the religion of the Holy Beetroot using Donald Trump's money, and Moldavia conquering the entire world in one day using the Russian army (well, three. On the first they were out of vodka and on the second they got Distracted by the Sexy).
  • The Fire Never Dies wanks not a nation, but two organizations: the Industrial Workers of the World and the Socialist Labor Party. Instead of suffering various schisms and setbacks, the IWW experiences a meteoric rise to power. The SLP, meanwhile, reconciles with the Socialist Party of America and achieves results neither party got close to in our history. By 1916, the IWW (which was only founded in 1905) has become the dominant labor union in the United States, while the SLP controls multiple state and municipal governments.

Alternative Title(s): Republic Of Mary Sue, Alternative History Wank