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"History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon."

Politically Correct History is when shows set in the past change that past to fit the cultural norms of the time in which the show is filmed, or the prejudices of those currently in power. Originally, this manifested itself through making the main characters surprisingly "enlightened" (and thus more sympathetic to a modern audience). An example of a more recent development is extras being cast without regard to race, even in historical situations where it doesn't make sense.

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This trope can run both ways. Nowadays, movies and shows depicting the past are more likely to show society and individuals being far more tolerant than they actually were. The opposite (showing a past less tolerant than it actually was) is rarer but not unheard of.

On the other hand, sometimes what appears to be this trope might really be an accurate represention that only seems wrong because previous portrayals have entrenched wrong perceptions. So it pays to do one's homework before assuming something has been made up to appeal to contemporary sensibilities.

It should also be mentioned that politicians invoking history and school books can often succumb to this trope as well, but which when and where is better discussed elsewhere, as is the question how deliberate these incarnations of this trope are.

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See also Popular History, Fair for Its Day, Videogame Historical Revisionism, Eternal Sexual Freedom, Aluminum Christmas Trees, We All Live in America, America Won World War II, Black Vikings, Colorblind Casting, Historical Hero Upgrade, Historical Villain Upgrade, and Historical Villain Downgrade.

Contrast Deliberate Values Dissonance.

Compare Fractured Fairy Tale, where this is usually Played for Laughs.

For other uses of the term Politically Correct, see Political Correctness Gone Mad.


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Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • A Bluebell ice cream ad has a cute, gentle song about "the good old days" while some kids play outdoors and their mom call them in for a snack, harkening very much to the 50s or earlier. Only thing is, a black child is playing with them, and the boy's father sits down at the picnic table with the families of his white friends to eat. Someone seems to have forgotten that racial equality didn't really begin to take off until the late 60s and early 70s, and even then, things remained quite tenuous for years, particularly out in the countryside - even if those families themselves weren't racist, they might avoid associating with black people due to their neighbors. This would be especially true in Blue Bell's primary geographic market, which is Texas and the surrounding states.

    Anime 
  • In episode 3 of The Ambition of Oda Nobuna, several characters talk of marriage. While they do talk about marrying for political gain and alliances, ultimately they conclude that it's more about love. While commoners may or may not have done this in the past (and certainly in Yoshiharu's timeline), back around this time period through much of the world nobility often married for political reasons, largely in an attempt to unite lands or nations together.
  • Black Butler:
    • The series includes significant Indian and Chinese characters, as appropriate to Victorian Britain. However, they are portrayed as encountering very little, if any, racial discrimination for people living in the age of imperialism.
    • Madame Red is not just a female doctor, but a female doctor who performs abortions, which are legal and are carried out in a hospital. Again, the series is set in Victorian Britain.

    Art 
  • Since its subject is a Jew, the David statue should be circumcised, but since the Catholic Italians of the 1500s believed an uncircumcised figure to be more ideal, David is portrayed instead with his foreskin intact for all to admire.

    Comic Books 
  • One of DC Comics's many Elseworlds storylines has the Justice League of America back in Wild West times. Wonder Woman was a sheriff and shows a heck of a lot of chest, as in her modern day outfit (though she wears pants). Sure, the town she was sheriff of was indicated to be progressive, but she spent a lot of time wandering through other towns and didn't get hassled for being a woman with guns with half her boobs hanging out.
  • In The Sandman:
    • Discussed when Hob Gadling criticizes everything while accompanying his current girlfriend to a Renaissance Fair.
      • Gadling also points out one aspect that isn't an example, telling his his black girlfriend that she wouldn't have been that uncommon a sight in medieval Britain, and that ideas about racial supremacy and racial purity are a lot more recent that most people assume.
  • Goldie Vance is set in 1960s Florida, but the subjects of racism and homophobia almost never come up. This is particularly notable in the way that Goldie, an African-American, openly pursues a relationship with a Japanese-American girl named Diane, and nobody bats an eye.
  • Both Nick Fury's Howling Commandos and Sgt. Rock's Easy Company included one African-American soldier. In Real Life the US armed forces weren't racially integrated until 1948. Eventually justified, at least in the Howling Commandos; they're a special unit hand-picked by Fury himself. If he thinks an African-American soldier is a good addition to his line-up, the military isn't going to tell him no. Per Word of God, one of the intentions when creating the Howling Commandos was to include as many minorities as possible, so readers could confront any prejudices they might have against any of those ethnicities. Stan Lee even threw in a Camp Straight. Partly an example of Reality Is Unrealistic. Black soldiers actually served in integrated rifle companies as early as 1945. Still the entire US military was not integrated until 1948. Heck, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower selectively integrated some black soldiers into his forces in 1944 in real life (he was running low on men, but even then, his aides advised strongly against it), so a small force with a leader as respected as Rock or Fury should have been able to do the same.
  • Captain America is often subject to this in recent history among fans.
    • People often express amazement that in his World War II years, Cap is depicted as a man with none of the prejudices that a typical American at that time would consider perfectly reasonable unspoken assumptions like racism, sexism or homophobia. The alternate universe series The Ultimates attempts to address this, and Cap here is significantly more reactionary and prejudiced than most any other incarnation, including the Captain America actually published in the 1940s. This led some fans to claim that this version of Captain America is an aversion of politically-correct history showing that such a man would be out of place in 21st Century post-Civil Rights America. Others argue that the Cap is more a projection of Eagleland type II in the wake of The War on Terror, (eg. the infamous "Do you think this A stands for France?") than anything else.
    • In any case this rests on a fundamental misreading of The '30s and The '40s, the era of the New Deal and anti-fascism, that Jack Kirby and Joe Simon had generally progressive views, and that Captain America wanting to fight Nazis before America's entry into the war was a powerful anti-fascist statement. Steve Rogers was an educated artist from liberal New York before he enlisted, so he probably wouldn't be that mainstream in his views. The vision of America as Eagleland-II comes from the Eisenhower fifties which was in many ways a conservative cultural backlash to The '30s.
  • The members of the actual Golden Age JSA were all white and mostly male, with Wonder Woman acting as the token female secretary. Modern depictions of that period in DC history have more women involved in groups like the All-Star Squadron, and even a few minority characters like Amazing-Man and Tiger.
  • Explicitly invoked by the writer of the DC Comics Bombshells series. The series takes place in an Alternate History version of World War 2, where according to Word of God, segregation has already been done away with and parts of the women's lib movement have already occurred. She also pointed out that thanks to Hollywood History, the contributions of black and Asian-American soldiers in WW2 have already been thoroughly ignored, which is part of the reason she wanted to work with a diverse cast in the first place.
    Another issue [we have] as Americans, especially, is we have this tendency to accept the media that's discussed the war more than the [actual] history. We have these White actors in these movies, and we have this idea that it was a White war. That completely glosses over the contributions of people of color except in these very specific and again, often brutalized and downtrodden circumstances, so I wanted to get rid of that. It's just so funny because folk have this reaction because, "Well that's not historically accurate" because they're getting other media that is in itself not historically accurate.
  • One of supporting characters from the 2018 volume of Exiles is a Gender Flipped, lesbian version of Bucky Barnes, who openly flirts with women. Despite living in the 1940s, none of the soldiers she fights alongside comment on her sexuality or behavior.
  • Astérix is not very politically correct at all, but lapses into this occasionally (possibly to indicate how weird the Gauls are compared to the Gallo-Romans and Romans, but also possibly as part of Purely Aesthetic Era). For instance, How Obelix Fell Into The Magic Potion When He Was A Little Boy (which shows the education in the Gaul village) and The Big Fight (which shows the Roman-style education in a village run by a chief with a huge Foreign Culture Fetish for all things Roman) show little girls being educated alongside little boys, being taught things like language and Maths - and young adult Panacea is said to have returned from studying in the city with the implication it was at something like a university. We don't know very much about how the Brittanic tribes educated their children, but we do know that the Romans very rarely educated girls.
    • The Gauls mostly fit the popular description from Cicero - that the only two things they care about are getting drunk and fighting - but the more unsavory descriptions of their culture from the same accounts are omitted, since some of it includes cannibalism and human sacrifice that would make them much less likeable heroes, not to mention hard-to-draw behaviour like wearing complicated tattoos.
  • Goldie Vance is set in a 1960s era world where racist, sexist, and anti-LGBTQ attitudes seem to be nonexistent; for example, the protagonist is a black woman who enters a lesbian relationship with Diane, an East Asian woman, and no one sees it as unorthodox.

    Fanfiction 
  • Enforced in the Neon Genesis Evangelion fanfic A Century Apart. Due to the death toll of the Second Impact in 1900, armies from all parts of the world, including Imperial Japan, are forced to accept women, but the older officers are still grumpy about this. If the Second Impact didn't happen, there would be no difference.

    Films — Animated 
  • Inverted in Mulan, of all the surprising places. In the original Chinese folktale, Mulan is an almost all-powerful figure who gets away with practically everything, despite being a woman — this in a time where being a girl was... not so much fun. In the Disney version, the simple repercussions of her merely being female are treated more seriously. For example, in the original story, when she reveals herself to be a woman, everyone in the army is totally cool with it. In the Disney Animated Canon version? She is automatically declared a traitor, is spared death only because the army captain Owes Her His Life, and is abandoned in the mountains to meet whatever fate may come to her despite the fact that she's injured.
    • Mind, the original Mulan had been their general for a while and saved the empire by literal force of arms and stuff already by the time she voluntarily revealed herself. This probably helped, but does not make a suitably dramatic story.
    • Mulan was actually criticized for taking this too far, as in this time period women were not as oppressed as would become the norm in later dynasties (beginning with the Ming Dynasty), and there was no law in China prescribing death to women impersonating a man to serve in the military, nor was that part of the original story. It was added by Disney for dramatic purposes.
  • Mulan II, however, plays this trope completely straight when Mulan goes on a crusade against arranged marriage. Traditions and societies are very resistant to change, especially in a country as all-fired huge as China. Famed war hero or not, you couldn't just defy the Emperor's orders and marry off the princesses to your own soldiers. Even in the most open-minded of Chinese dynasties, something like that wouldn't have gone over very well. The fact that she managed to be completely pardoned for it and be able to give a lecture about how arranged marriage — something she was knowingly and willingly ready to do in the first movie — is bad makes the entire film one big Politically Correct History movie.
  • The Disney-esque Anastasia shows the Tsars as benevolent, white-hat rulers and their rule as a time of peace and prosperity. Their downfall was caused not by injustices setting off an uprising, but by a "spark of unhappiness" sent across Russia by the evil magician Rasputin. This is played in contrast to how terrible and cold Russia became under the Soviets, with the citizens of St. Petersburg singing, "Oh, since the Revolution, our lives have been so grey!" This is what made Anastasia so infamous in Russia, where people know very well what really caused the February 1917 coup/abdication: the lackluster war effort and near-starvation in the urban centres over the winter of 1916-17, caused in turn by the Romanovs' 'light touch'/'hands-off' approach to government (ironically done for fear of antagonising the people), though in fairness the Romanovs were decent people overall, just incompetent at government.
    • Ironically, a previous film by Don Bluth, An American Tail, does touch on the atrocities of Tsarist Russia: the protagonists are Jews fleeing from a Russian pogrom.
  • Zig-Zagged in The Princess and the Frog. The movie takes place in the Disney Animated Canon, so its outlook is brighter than the real world. However, Old South attitudes are still present, if gently handled: Tiana and her mother sit in the back of the trolley and clearly live in "that" part of town. Further, the realtors selling the sugar mill Tiana wants to buy are very condescending towards her in a combination of racism and sexism at the idea of a black woman running a restaurant. However, Big Daddy LeBouf has no qualms eating at a black-owned diner, or with his daughter marrying a Latin(ish) royal. Tiana's restaurant proudly serves and employs people of all races.
  • ParaNorman takes this trope and shoots it in the head, buries it in a shallow grave, and digs it up just to shoot it a second time. Although never openly addressed as such, the Puritan town leaders are driven by their religious fundamentalism to executing a twelve-year old girl on suspected charges of witchcraft just because she talks to ghosts. Granted, she was a witch, but the movie never budges an inch on the fact that fear motivated religious fanaticism causes basically everything that happens in the story.
  • In Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire, which is set in 1914, the Atlantis expedition includes, among others, a female Hispanic mechanic, a half-African, half-Native American medical officer and a female second-in-command. A justification is provided, though: the team's core is comprised of mercenaries - which put petty little things like ethnicity aside in the Search for More Money - and was assembled by Crazy Awesome Eccentric Millionaire Whitmore, who doesn't care much about what people say is 'impossible'.
  • Zig-Zagged or Downplayed in Everyone's Hero. It's set during the Great Depression, and while nobody really mentions race at all, you might notice that everybody in the Major League happens to be white while everybody in the Cincinnati Tigers happens to be black. (The latter is especially noticeable since they're seen crammed into a bus together.)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Whether The Birth of a Nation (1915) qualifies as politically-correct history or merely Jim Crow propaganda is something of a Mind Screw. The film did reflect the Dunning Thesis of Reconstruction, which claimed that the South were victims of the Northern Republicans and dangerous egalitarian sentiment to which the heroic(!) Ku Klux Klan was a tragically necessary corrective. This view of Reconstruction was the political orthodoxy of the time. Especially striking to modern viewers is the scene where the Klansmen and Northern whites who have settled in the South join forces to, as the title card puts it, "defend their Aryan birthright."
  • Gone with the Wind is more politically correct than Birth of a Nation in terms of building consensus. It is pro-South, via its focus on the sufferings of a Southern Belle and the loss of her plantation, however it avoids the controversial racism of Griffith's film via avoidance of blackface, and changing a Klan meeting in Margaret Mitchell's novel into a more "innocent" night of gentlemen getting drunk, which makes the film's basic internalization of the Dunning thesis more palatable to the mainstream audience. More dubious is its portrayal of the relationship between Scarlett and her slaves as one of friendship rather than one of master and slave.
  • Song of the South gets criticized for portraying Uncle Remus as a happy-go-lucky Magical Negro who enjoys his life in the post-Civil War Deep South, which some see as an apologia for Jim Crow, which was still going on at the time.
  • Kingdom of Heaven is essentially the tale of a bunch of 12th-century secular Humanists fighting for peace and tolerance, opposed by Templars both literal and figurative. Appropriately enough, one historical figure's name was changed from "Barisan" to "Godfrey", a homonym for his anachronistic stance on religion. Near the end of the film, Bloom's character gives a speech to the defenders of Jerusalem, in which he argues that the Christians have no special claim to the city above the claims of the Jews and Muslims. The population is shockingly open-minded about this statement. Just to make sure viewers got the point, all the priests were self-serving jerks, and the villains were turned into Templars, despite them having been secular nobles in Real Life. At one point a monk of the The Knights Hospitallers, heavily implied to be a case of an Angel Unaware to boot, straight-up tells the protagonist that God prefers "right action" to religion.
  • The 1972 musical 1776 originally featured a musical number in which the "conservatives" of the Continental Congress express their unwillingness to jeopardize their personal positions and wealth by supporting American independence. Though the song was historically accurate, producer Jack Warner's good friend President Richard Nixon objected to the scene on the basis that it depicted "conservatives" in a negative light, in spite of the difference in meaning between the term then and now. In an instance of Chief Executive Meddling, Warner had the sequence removed from the film at Nixon's behest, though a surviving copy can be found on the DVD.
  • Mel Gibson's The Patriot exaggerates British atrocities during the American Revolutionary War whilst downplaying similar actions from the American side to non-existence.
  • Sherlock Holmes
    • Sherlock Holmes (2009) in which Rachel McAdams plays Irene Adler. Adler has no problem running around London in very tight pants, and is depicted as something of a Victorian era Catwoman.
    • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: Holmes and Watson openly and blatantly dance together in a room filled with diplomats, and receive nothing but a few odd looks. This is in a film set in a time where homosexuality was not just frowned on but illegal (cf, Oscar Wilde). Then again, and as The Dandy trope shows, many things we consider "obviously" homosexual were not at the time. The fact that Holmes nonchalantly changes from a female dancing partner to a male one to the same female again during the same song would more likely be seen as an extravagant joke rather than as an honest confession that Holmes plays for both teams. In any case, it was not against the law for two men to dance, only have sex.
  • Some viewers mistakenly accuse Hollywoodland of this trope, due to the presence of black patrons in an upper-class Hollywood restaurant in the 1950s. On the commentary, however, the director defends this, saying that in the 50s many of these restaurants were not segregated, and a number of popular Jazz musicians did frequent them.
  • A weird in-universe example occurs in the movie C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, where the South won the American Civil War. After the war ends, there's a strong effort to repaint the North as misguided, with the issue of slavery swept under the rug. As the announcer put it, "The Civil War became civil". This parallels our own timeline's whitewashing of the horrors of the antebellum south.
  • In Annie Get Your Gun, Annie gives up her sharp-shooting career to marry Frank Butler. In reality, the opposite was true: Butler began courting Annie Oakley after losing a sharp-shooting contest to her, and their marriage helped launch Oakley's public career. Considering it was made in the 50s, the film was politically correct history — for its time.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was incredibly progressive for his time, advocating interracial marriages and women's suffrage, in a time when both were borderline illegal and even talking about them without showing signs of repulsion could cause one to be ostracized; however, similarly to Uncle Tom's Cabin, "A Scandal in Bohemia" has been misinterpreted nowadays by some as being denigrating towards women, because it shows "the Woman" who is able to outwit a man as someone remarkable — never mind that man was Sherlock Freaking Holmes. Therefore, in the 2009 movie, Irene Adler went from the only woman able to outwit Holmes (three unnamed men are also mentioned in the books) to the only person to be able to outwit Holmes. Part of the reason she outwitted him was that his plan to beat her basically relied on her being an easily-led moron, and he found it remarkable that she wasn't, so in essence Holmes lost because his attitude was biased in a sexist manner.
  • Played with in Wild Wild West. Jim West is treated pretty much exactly as you'd expect a black man to be treated in the late 19th century... even though he's a commissioned officer in the Army, prior to when the first black man actually held such a rank at the time.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger: The film was criticized for including Gabe Jones as part of the Howling Commandos, due to the fact that the army was still segregated at that point in history. However it's largely moot anyway since the Howling Commandos were handpicked by Captain America in the first place: strike forces assembled from different army units are "temporary" and don't have to adhere to certain regimental regulations, so Cap may have found a good use for Loophole Abuse. Otherwise, the film does a good job of averting this. Dum Dum is suspicious of Jim Morita since the latter is a Japanese-American and the lyrics to Cap's USO show song call the Germans "krauts".
  • The live-action Beauty and the Beast (2017) has a racially diverse French village, with the priest himself being black. While that may be theoretically possible (though unlikely) in 18th Century France, the large number of black courtiers dancing in the prince's palace is not really possible. Then there's the interracial marriages among the French elite, Belle's two-centuries-out-of-place feminism, and commoners at the castle.
  • In King David, starring Richard Gere, King David falls in love with Bathsheba and sends her husband, Uriah, to the front lines of an army to die. In the movie, Bathsheba claims that Uriah whips her to make David more sympathetic. In the actual story from The Bible, there is no mention of Uriah beating his wife, and even that wouldn't have been used to justify David's actions. The whole point of the story was that even King David was a flawed person. The film keeps a scene from the Bible in which the prophet Nathan chastises David for his sins, which leads to a Broken Aesop.
  • In the Chinese martial arts biopic Ip Man, there are several changes to history to make the film more Communist-friendly. In the film, the title character is a bourgeois martial arts teacher who is forced to join the working class during the Japanese invasion. He then leaves the mainland for Hong Kong to escape the Japanese. In reality, Ip Man had a day job as a police officer and never worked as a laborer. Also, he was a supporter of the Kuomintang, the enemies of the Communists. He fled to Hong Kong to escape the Communists, not the Japanese.
  • 55 Days at Peking shows the ordeal of foreigners in China during the Boxers' 55-day siege of the Legation Quarter in Peking before the armies of the Eight-Nation Alliance show up and put down the Boxer Rebellion. There's no mention of what happens next.
  • The Shirley Temple movie, The Littlest Rebel, has Shirley being friends with the slaves that work on her father's plantation. When someone questions why the slaves would want to be freed, Shirley says, "Makes you think, doesn't it?" As if there's no problem with slavery.
  • A Man for All Seasons: Sir Thomas More is shown as a calm and rational judge who politely but firmly discusses his views with others. In reality, he was a Knight Templar who ruthlessly supported the suppression of "heretics," which included all Protestants. It also leaves out the scatological language he and his contemporaries used on both sides of the religious debate.
  • The titular character in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010) is rebellious in ways which wouldn't even have occurred to girls of her day. She holds attitudes which would have shocked and offended proto-feminists of the era. Her father's former business partner offers her (an unmarried 19-year-old girl) a 50/50 partnership in a fledgling business as if it were no big deal and only a little strange.
  • To some extent in X-Men: First Class. Sexism is still present, but the racism of the era is glossed over.
  • The film Gladiator has Emperor Marcus Aurelius attempting to prevent his son Commodus from becoming emperor, stating his wish to end the Empire and return Rome to being a Republic, before being murdered by Commodus. In reality, none of this happened; Marcus specifically set up his son as his successor, and certainly no Roman emperor at this time would ever have considered returning to the Republic, nor was there ever a great deal of nostalgia for the Republic. After all, Julius Caesar was far more popular and well liked than the Senate.
  • Annie (1999) features an interracial couple during a time period where it may not have been illegal as it was in New York City, but it certainly would have been frowned upon. Daddy Warbucks was a chairman on many boards and worked with the president. An interracial marriage may have caused him political and financial ruin.
  • Kenneth Branagh's As You Like It (set in a British Colony in late 19th century Japan) ends with two interracial marriages. Being based on a Shakespeare script with ethnically ambiguous characters, this is never commented on.
  • If the movie Xica da Silva (released as Xica in the United States) is to be believed, at least some 18th-century Brazilians were well versed in Marxist-Leninist theory.
  • Hostiles: While the film has plenty of Deliberate Values Dissonance in regards to the treatment of Native Americans in 19th century America, it completely avoids the subject of racism toward African Americans. The film portrays an army detachment with a black corporal whose race is never directly addressed. None of the white soldiers bat an eyelash at serving with or taking orders from a black man. While "buffalo soldiers" did serve in the Indian Wars, they were always in segregated units. The United Stated military did not begin desegregation until 1948. Rosalie also has no reaction to a black man presiding over the funeral of her family.
  • Warm Springs:
    • Tom Loyless, manager of Warm Springs inn, was forced out of the newspaper business because he had "offended the sensibilities of a local civic group." In Real Life, Tom Loyless had been one of the few newspaper editors in Georgia to support Leo Frank, whose trial and lynching led to the rebirth of the KKK.
    • One of the black employees in the Warm Springs inn is surprised when a polio victim from New York wants to shake his hand.

    Literature 
  • Parodied in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, where history and logic are rewritten, often to polar opposites of what they had been, based on the whims and imperatives of the Party (a party orator switches "We have always been at war with Eurasia" to "Eastasia" in mid-sentence). The protagonist is employed in the department where outdated history and contradictory facts are consigned to the "memory hole."
  • As a genre, historical mystery fiction (and to an extent historical fiction in general) often has some amount of this in order to keep the character sympathetic. There is definitely a continuum of this though. On one end, the title character of the Brother Cadfael series is one of the most kind and humane characters imaginable and in one book/episode reacts tolerantly toward a couple who had sex in a church. On the other end, Judge Dee is a polygamist, who (in keeping with the justice system of the time) uses beatings and torture in interrogation and sentences people to horrific forms of death. However, he is notably pragmatic about using these methods and the author likely understood that any more descriptions of torture would lose the Judge the reader's sympathy. In all fairness, medieval secular mores were rather more relaxed than those preached by the Church, and Cadfael came late to his vocation. Moreover, Judge Dee hates having to watch the executions, which makes it simple to avoid too much description; it also helps that the people he sentences to horrible deaths almost always really deserve it.
  • Parodied in Dave Barry Slept Here. A couple pages into Chapter Four: The Colonies Develop A Life-style, the Lemony Narrators interrupt the action to notify the readers that "a review committee... has determined that, so far, this history book is not making enough of an effort to include the contributions of women and minority groups. Unless some effort is undertaken to correct this situation, this book will not be approved for purchase by public school systems in absolutely vast quantities." Whereupon the narrators/authors "just now remembered... that during the colonial era women and minority groups were making many contributions, which we are certain that they will continue to do at regularly spaced intervals throughout the course of this book." They do... whenever the narrative remembers to mention it, anyway.
  • In the young adult book After by Francine Prose, the school slowly starts to try to brainwash the students. One of the protagonist's friends points out that the documentary playing on the bus that day is on World War II, and was stating that the atom bombs were dropped on Japanese wilderness areas. He says, " Dude, Listen to that. I don't think that's true." followed by another friend asking, "How stupid were we?"
  • Discussed throughout the 1632 series by Eric Flint, in regards to the commonly held perceptions of history by the citizens of a 20th century town transported into the middle of the Thirty Years' War, compared to the real historical facts. One example is a discussion between a modern man and a 17th century Russian noble about the possibility of abolishing slavery in Russia. The modern man is shocked to find that most of the upper nobility are quite indifferent to slavery, but the petty nobles and non-noble farmers are violently opposed to slavery abolition. The Russian explains that the real reason for this divide is that the cash-rich upper nobility can afford to go without slaves, but for the land-rich and cash-poor, having a major part of your property taken away along with your ability to get the crops in at harvest time for some vaguely defined moral principle with no foundation in legal or religious precedent is highly unpalatable. He then takes a dig at the American belief in the Aristocrats Are Evil trope.
    • Ironically, at the described time while there was indeed legal slavery in Russia, it wasn't practiced much, as serfdom, which was discussed above, but which was much more relaxed in the early 17 century (in fact, until exactly the times of the novels, the serfs in Russia had the right to change their employer twice a year) was more economically efficient. It was the Peter the Great reform that ostensibly banned slavery, which was responsible for the worsening of the serfs' lot. It was not well thought out, and instead of abolition of chattel slavery its provisions allowed the landowners to reduce the serfs' rights, turning all of them essentially into slaves.
    • The discussion described above was essentially taking place verbatim in the Russian high circles in the Catherine the Great's reign. Catherine and some of her advisers were hoping to abolish serfdom, but were unable because of the pressure from the lesser nobility — who comprised much of the army and the civil service, and whose livelihood depended not on the wages from the Crown (which in Russia was just as land-rich and cash-poor as its subjects), but on the rents from their estates in the country. The poor soils, unreliable climate and underdeveloped agricultural technologies of the time pretty much precluded any deviation from the old-timey manorial system, if they wanted any semblance of reliability.
  • The German kids edutainment series "Viel Spaß mit..." (Have fun with... <insert people from history here>). While they don't gloss over the fact that the Romans had slaves, or that pigs would run around in medieval cities, the characters (typically from a Nuclear Family, with focus on the kids) act more like modern people, so the Values Dissonance doesn't take over and make the protagonists unrelatable. For example, the daughter of the Roman family is married off at the age of 16 instead of 12 - the latter is mentioned as being standard then, but the family does it differently. And of course, they always treat their slaves / servants well.
  • Recent editions of Mark Twain's works that remove offensive language (one word that seems to offend above all others). This is so much the case that it's spawned uncensored versions of Twain's works.
  • J.T. Edson's The Hooded Riders had a similar premise to The Birth of a Nation above. Scheming, thieving carpet-bagging scum were out to shoot practically every good Southern cowboy stone dead (even taking ex-slaves along, who fortunately couldn't shoot straight, nossir) and steal their farms in a dastardly plan to take over the United States. Dusty Fogg and his companions (one of whom is a half-Commanche dog soldier who rides a horse with no bridle and can smell your shadow a mile away) borrow the concept of wearing white hoods from the Ku Klux Klan, intimidate the sheriff's assistants and pay off the loans of every put-upon, hapless smallholder in the tri-county area. And then the President of the United States shows up, and the carpetbaggers try to murder him too! But he's saved by Dusty Fogg, the intrepid Texas Ranger! After which, the Hooded Riders renounce their KKK regalia, even though they appreciate the need for folks to protect their womenfolk from A Fate Worse Than Death, because they don't need to operate in darkness any more. The president has seen the light and now everyone knows that Reconstruction is a con. This would be almost in So Bad, It's Good territory but for a fairground fight between Dusty Fogg (who just happened to have learned Jujutsu from his uncle's Japanese manservant, improbably enough) and an angry, drunk strongman who happens to be black. The strongman loses the fight, loses his temper, tries to knife the intrepid Texas Ranger and gets killed stone dead. Then everyone tells Dusty Fogg to run and hide because those new law enforcement types from the North just won't understand, and will definitely try and convict him for murder! Add in a Southern belle who knows how to talk to "colored folks" to get information out of them, by banging her fist on the table and using the right imperious tone, and you really wish J.T. Edson had stuck to his Son of Tarzan series.
  • The Help is receiving criticism for this. The book is about a woman writing a book about African-American maids in The '60s. While it does show some of the indignities they had to face, it doesn't emphasize the things such as sexual assault and other horrors that occurred, referring to them only briefly.
  • Brother Eagle, Sister Sky by Susan Jeffers, according to Publishers Weekly review on Amazon, is "is an adaptation of a speech delivered by Chief Seattle at treaty negotiations in the 1850s". There are only three little problems. It's "not well served by images that ignore the rich diversity of Amerindian cultures (even Sealth's own Northwest people) in favor of cigar-store redskins in feathers and fringe", as a review in School Library Journal put this — i.e. The Theme Park Version. The author insists that "an ancient people were a part of the land that we love and call America", that is long gone, while 1854 is hardly "ancient" and Seeathl's people are still living and kicking — specifically, as it turns out, her book. And scavenging of New Age gold material from this speech is plain cherry-picking — since, quoth the linked review, "make a 'beautiful environmental statement' out of that, if you can":
    ... And when the last red man shall have perished... the streets of your cities and villages... will throng with the returning hosts that once filled and still love this beautiful land. The white man will never be alone. Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not altogether powerless.
  • L. Neil Smith's The North American Confederacy series.
    • There is a major inconsistency between the special emphasis on the property rights of individual citizens that differentiates The North American Confederacy from the present timeline and the fact that slavery is abolished entirely in 1820 C.E., with no apparent backlash at all. The author, being a libertarian, probably thought that better economic systems make better people. Never mind that back then, only white people were considered to be citizens and the African-descended slaves were considered to be the property of their masters. If the individual property rights of citizens were given especial protection all along, especially with the attitudes of most white people in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, slavery would most likely have been abolished later than in our timeline, if it was abolished at all.
    • In The Gallatin Divergence, he has 18th century characters talking about discrimination over "sexual preference". Although he clearly considers some sexual preferences preferable to others.
  • In the Christian Middle Ages, legends and epics about old-time heroes often recast their protagonists as Christians, even if in their time and place they clearly would have been pagan. Beowulf, for example, has Beowulf and Hrothgar invoke the Christian God, while 6th century Scandinavia was still untouched by Christianity.
  • In Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series, the title character is a thinly veiled portrait of Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS, Card's faith. He's portrayed as The Paragon and the issue of polygamy is dealt with by stating that any women claiming to be married to him other than his first wife are either deluded or being put up to it by his enemies (in actual fact his plural marriages to women, along with theological sanction for them, are well recorded).
  • Strongly discouraged in How Not To Write A Novel. The authors note that having a historical character who possesses socialist/neo-conservative/etc viewpoints which did not even exist at the time the novel is set in, or a rebellious protagonist who questions the never-before questioned values of a historical society (from the perspective of the author's never-questioned Western values), will tend to violate a reader's Willing Suspension of Disbelief.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hogan's Heroes showed anachronistic ethnic equality views by characters, with the only major implication of Kinchloe's blackness being that he can't impersonate Germans in person (although he's great at it over the phone). This may be excused by the idea that being in prison together forces them to ignore such issues to fight the larger enemy, and that the group has very strong unity. No excuse for most German characters not thinking much of Kinchloe's ethnicity, though.
  • Though Star Trek is usually pretty good at pointing out the errors of our past, this is played straight in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Time's Arrow", where Guinan (a Human Alien who is played by Whoopi Goldberg and thus is indistinguishable from a human of African descent) is depicted as a wealthy socialite in 1893 who goes to parties with white people who don't seem to have a single problem with her. In fact in the episode she's extremely well-liked and respected by pretty much the entire town. Probably helps that Guinan is a highly-empathetic, centuries-old alien with experience to match, so she might just be that good at making friends. It doesn't hurt that she's best buddies with Mark Twain, who was a huge backer of Civil Rights for women and African Americans. In addition, San Francisco was more tolerant than the rest of the United States... of everyone except Asians.
  • Discussed in-universe in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang", in which Sisko, who is African-American, is annoyed at the popularity of Vic's holosuite program, which gives a politically-correct depiction of 1950s Las Vegas which leaves out the 1950s USA's racial segregation. Sisko points out that in the real 1950s, neither he nor his also-black girlfriend would have been allowed into the casino, even as menial staff members. She argues however that it's defensible as being how that era should have been in reality.
  • The CBC Mockumentary Jimmy MacDonald's Canada, despite being about a 1960s-era conservative pundit with pseudo-fascist views on children's hockey, never has him make any ethnic slurs, beyond a dismissive reference to Italians. The character probably is a monstrous racist, but it wouldn't be very funny to present.
  • Sometimes-averted-sometimes-not in M*A*S*H. Black people are referred to by the historically correct term "Negroes" on the show, even by the good guys. However, later episodes gave Major Houlihan second-wave feminist views, even though the show is set more than ten years before The Feminine Mystique was first published. You could chalk this up to Houlihan being ahead of her time, except that the episode "Inga", written by Alan Alda as a love letter to the feminist movement, seems to have all the characters acting as though the 1970s women’s movement already happened, breaking any illusion that the show is really set in the early 1950s. (That episode won an Emmy, of course.) There's also the black Dr. Jones, who was Brother Chucked halfway through the first season, supposedly because the producers discovered that no black doctors served in the Korean War (they were wrong: the real M*A*S*H unit that was the basis of the original novel and by proxy the series itself had a black surgeon among its medical staff). However, it was played as a joke that he was nicknamed "Spearchucker" because he threw the javelin in college. Of course, it was also tongue in cheek, in that everyone knew it also had racial connotations. In another episode, Hawkeye permanently turns down imminent sex with a beautiful woman, because she complains about "those gooks (Koreans) marrying our (white) people." He gives her a speech as well. In another episode, Hawkeye "schools" a redneck soldier who complains about getting a transfusion of "black blood," by painting him brown and claiming that he ordered watermelon for dinner, etc. Not to mention repeating the urban legend that Dr. Charles Drew, the African-American surgeon who started the US blood bank, was refused care at a Southern hospital after being in a car accident and thus died from his injuries (false, though he did protest against segregation of the blood supply).
  • The BBC's Robin Hood
    • Tuck & the Abbess of Rutherford can seem like this, but Black people have lived in England since the Roman Conquest. While Black members of monastic orders and nunneries would have been quite rare, it's not impossible.
    • And then we have Djaq, who is at least given a reason why an Arabic Muslim woman would be in Medieval England. However, after her introductory episode almost no one remarks upon the fact that a) she's obviously not English, b) she's not a Christian in a time and place where that would be unimaginable, c) she's a woman who dresses and acts like a man, and d) she's from a nation who the King of England is currently fighting.
  • In an episode of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Kimberly travels back in time to Angel Grove of the 1800s. At the local saloon, the Identical Ancestors of her fellow Rangers, who are white, Latino, black woman, and Korean, respectively, are casually sharing drinks with one another. In another episode, Tommy's clone was also casually accepted in 1700's Angel Grove after the morphed White Ranger uses a magic artifact to put him in ye olde clothing.
  • Little House on the Prairie has some examples. Filmed in the 1970s and set in the 1800s, some of the characters are anachronistic:
    • When Charles finds out a local boy is beaten by his father, he takes action to help the boy. Social attitudes in the 1800s regarding parental discipline were much different from those in the 1970s.
    • In "The Long Road Home", Charles and Mr. Edwards get a job hauling explosives with Henry (played by Lou Gossett, Jr.). In the episode, only one person shows any form of racism against Henry, although later in the episode, Henry is told he can't ride in a passenger car with the other passengers because of his color. It's not clear whether the porter is racist or is just enforcing the rules. The same porter was just as mean to Charles and Mr. Edwards in the beginning of the episode when they tried to ride in the same passenger car, but were railroad employees, not paying customers. In the end of the episode, the one racist has a change of heart and jokingly claims he was kicked out of the passenger car because he was Irish.
    • In "The Fighter," black boxer Joe Kegan goes up against local white men in almost every fight. The only time race is mentioned is when he explains to Charles that the reason he got into boxing is so he could punch white men without getting "hung." No one ever mentions his race, not even when he and his manager are renting a room.
  • An episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody which involved a dream wherein the characters lived in the Revolutionary War era involved the African-American character Moseby being the proprietor of an inn, which would be unusual but not impossible in the late 1700s. The Asian-American (a racial group which did not exist in the colonies at that time) London Tipton was also shown as some sort of rich heiress. It can be excused by the fact that the character having the dream is not the smartest character on the show to begin with, and the fact that it was All Just a Dream in the first place, though.
    • Esteban blatantly points out how they would make a democracy (America), but how Carey (a woman) or Zac and Cody (children) would not receive a vote.
  • Zig-zagged in Doctor Who with Reality Is Unrealistic:
    • The show regularly has black characters in historical settings, but these are often either based on real life (such as black Secret Service agents in the 1970s) or due to episodes being set in fairly cosmopolitan places (e.g. Renaissance Venice) where one might actually have seen races mixing together. In one episode, Martha asks if she should be worried about being a black woman in old-time London, but the Doctor points out that there are other black people walking around unmolested.
    • Played straight in "The Fires of Pompeii", where Caecilius' family has a mysterious lack of slaves. The episode also avoids characterizing the city's loose sexual mores, without any erotic artwork or references to brothels.
    • Played straight in "The Eaters of Light", in which Classical Roman concepts of sexual orientations and attitudes to same-gender sexual activities are somewhat simplified and idealised to make them more palatable to modern viewers.
    • There is some evidence to suggest that The Doctor and/or the TARDIS creates a Weirdness Censor in their vicinity. They only rarely don period appropriate clothing, but it's usually only mentioned in passing by the locals and The Doctor's ability to simply step in and take over any situation with little or no identification or authority are hints at this. It wasn't until a Fourth Doctor story where one of his own companion realizes she's hearing the Italians speaking English. It's a sign her mind has been tampered with.
  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. takes place in a steampunkish, deliberately anachronistic Old West where we see very little evidence of racism. The part-black, part-Cherokee Lord Bowler is treated respectfully by most of the characters (only in the pilot does one character call him a "half-breed"), and various episodes feature nonwhite characters who are treated more or less as equals to the whites, including a black woman set to become the mayor of a town.
  • The Vampire Diaries has several flashbacks to the American South during the American Civil War. Though black servants are shown, they are never referred to as slaves and are never shown being mistreated. This is discussed in detail here and here.
  • Merlin
    • The show has a black Guinevere, along with her brother Elyan, as well as the black knight, Pellinore. While there may have been Africans in Arthurian Britain, it's unlikely that there were many Afro-British knights or queens.
    • 13th century romances have the Saracen (Arab) Sir Palamedes, and the Moorish (North African) Sir Morien. The writers of Merlin have also pointed out that real-world post-Roman Britain was also short on dragons and fey.
    • All the angsting over Arthur being in love with a servant girl. Love marriage is a rather modern phenomenon especially for royalty. A true prince of that (or most) ages would marry for politics and have Gwen on the side for romance. This is brought up in the show itself by Uther, who's outraged at Arthur for doing this.
  • Sleepy Hollow:
    • The show stars a Revolutionary War-era British soldier who had a change of heart and joined the American side, and fully supported an end to slavery, as if having an anti-American racist for a main character was deemed too challenging for their audience.
    • While there were people opposed to slavery back then, Icabod's remarkably progressive attitudes do seem a little convenient.
    • He also doesn't bat an eye at homosexuality. He mentions that von Steuben was homosexual, which is accurate, but that doesn't necessarily mean that Crane would be completely unfazed by it.
    • Perhaps in an attempt to counterbalance this, he makes a remark about women wearing pants.
  • Downton Abbey zig-zags its handling of politically sensitive issues. It would seem that whilst the series' creators are prepared to present attitudes towards pre-marital sex in a realistic way, they are not quite brave enough to depict their characters having a realistic, period-correct attitude towards sexuality and race — most likely for fear of offending a contemporary audience's sensitivities, and to ensure the series' hero characters remain likeable. We can all cluck our tongues in guilty amusement at Violet's out-dated, ultra-conservative views, but to show her as an actual "racist" would kill her character, no matter how realistic that may be. Examples follow:
    • The series' handling of homosexuality. While the 1920s were certainly less conservative than later decades, it seems just a little unbelievable that Thomas's homosexuality would be waved off with an "everybody's gay sometimes" from Lord Grantham, and he would receive a promotion for his trouble. Lord Grantham mentions in passing that sex between men isn't a completely new idea to him, as he attended Eton; like many single-sex living situations, English boarding schools of the time were fairly rife with sexual contact ranging from consensual to horrifically abusive. Homosexuality wasn't acceptable per se, but you also weren't supposed to complain if you were kissed (or more) without your agreement.
    • Jack Ross, a black jazz singer. When Jack comes to Downton, Carson is rather awkward around him and makes rather innocently insensitive comments, but the Crawley family is accepting and enjoys his singing at Lord Grantham's party in a manner that is unrealistically blasé. Only Edith and Rosamund voice any kind of realistic (for the period) concern about his presence, but both Robert and Violet are unphased, in spite of Violet's established patrician ideals.
    • Jack has a romantic relationship with Lady Rose, and frequently goes out in public with her, which would be a major scandal in the 1920s. Rose doesn't care about his race and doesn't think other people should. Mary, who was horrified of a (white) Irishman dating her sister, appears to be okay with it on a moral level, if not on a practical one:
    Jack: If we lived in even a slightly better world, I wouldn't give in.
    Mary: It may surprise you, Mr. Ross, but if we lived in a better world, I wouldn't want you to.
  • In Atlantis, the world with Atlantis in it is based mostly on Greek Mythology and culture. However, many of the characters seem to find public violent games, tournaments, public executions, etc. horrible. In ancient Greece, people would pay to see these. Why else would they exist?
    • Generally this is sometimes subverted though, as said violent games and such are always shown drawing huge crowds who often cheer and clap when someone kills another. Even hero Hercules talks happily about all the food available during one such tournament, usually when the heroes voice concern about them its more out of somebody they care about might die or the methods of execution are legitemently incredibly cruel even for the time period (most famously the brazen bull that cooks people alive).
  • Zig-zagged in the Canadian period crime drama Murdoch Mysteries, set in late-Victorian/early-Edwardian Toronto. While the racial and sexual biases of the era are prominent in the background, and often inform the cases being investigated, the central characters seldom espouse them, and if so only during subplots that require introspection and are resolved by learning the corresponding 21st-century value:
    • Murdoch, a Catholic, initially receives some stick from Brackenreed for being a "Papist", but this is dropped relatively early.
    • Murdoch also must come to terms with Dr. Ogden's abortion, both as a moral dilemma and because she's his One True Love.
    • In one episode, Brackenreed worries that his son might be gay because he wants to play a female part in a play. This leads to the boy getting hurt badly in rugby trying to impress his dad. While the boy's ultimate reasoning for wanting the female role (she had more lines) is later revealed and accepted, it doesn't come before Dr. Ogden has to talk Brackenreed into accepting his son's possible sexuality. In an episode set nearly seventy years before the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada.
    • Justified in the cases of Dr. Ogden and Dr. Grace, as two rare female physicians and pathologists during that period. Indeed, Dr. Ogden's unabashed statements of progressive views led to marital strain during her first marriage to Dr. Garland. In later seasons, we see her start an underground women's health clinic teaching birth control (which she was briefly arrested for), and vehemently object to the Marital Rape License of the period. Dr. Grace, meanwhile, engaged in a same-sex relationship. Both were involved in the nascent suffrage movement of the early 1900s.
  • Timeless:
    • Very much subverted, as Rufus is quick to point out that as a black guy, "There is literally no time in American history that would be awesome for me." In the bar, several of the patrons appear ready to jump and lynch him right there, and at the police station he nearly gets beaten with batons for protesting being called "Boy".
    • Traveling to 1865, Rufus notes how "my people's history sucks" and has to put up with being looked down on even when he's posing as a soldier.
    • Rufus uses this in a trip to 1962 Las Vegas, able to get some information as no one looks at a black waiter. "I'm invisible. It's like my superpower."
    • In "Space Race," Rufus shines a light on the plight of Katherine Johnson, a black woman who was the linchpin of the Apollo 13 project, but was relegated to the basement and ignored by history. She's happily surprised when Rufus calls her his hero, but utterly gobsmacked when an elderly white man (who is another time traveler) says the same thing.
    • Lucy has less pronounced problems, but they are still present. Rufus reacts to the constant racism with little more than weary resignation, but Lucy is always surprised when she is reminded of the rampant and unquestioned sexism of the past. In "Space Race" she poses as a secretary and given drink orders with casual sexual harassment, and in "Last Ride of Bonnie & Clyde" she tries to open an account at a bank and is asked if she has the permission of her husband or father.
  • Dead of Summer, which ostensibly takes place in 1989, has the openly, flamboyantly gay Blair working as a counselor at Camp Stillwater, and facing little real issue over it. While this wouldn't be at all unusual in 2016, in 1989 gay people were still Acceptable Targets in the popular consciousness, and the idea of a summer camp hiring a gay man to work with children would've been met with complaints from parents furious that the camp was "endangering" their sons, to say nothing of the attitudes he would've faced from his fellow counselors (especially Alex, a walking '80s Jerk Jock archetype). The fact that Drew has difficulty coming out as trans to his family and peers, whose reactions are far more mixed than they are towards Blair being gay (even Blair himself, who'd been attracted to him, gets squicked out upon learning that Drew is biologically female), is more believable, but even then, this reflects the time in which the show was made, when transgender rights had replaced homosexuality as the controversial, hot-button sexual issue of the day.
  • Parodied in a sketch from the first episode of With Bob And David, in which a white filmmaker creates an extremely sanitized movie about American slavery, where black slaves (or "helpers") are treated with respect and compassion by their white masters.
  • Vegas (2012) featured one half of a lesbian couple as a Body of the Week in a Period Drama set in 1950s Las Vegas. On the one hand, the victim was disowned by her father, but Sheriff Lamb exhibits no problem at all with this relationship, regarding the decedent's partner no less sympathetically than he would any other grieving widow.
  • The 2008 miniseries adaptation of Sense and Sensibility emphasizes that Eliza Williams, the girl that Willoughby impregnated and abandoned, was just fifteen; Brandon and Elinor are outraged by it and it makes Willoughby's later attempt to deny any fault especially reprehensible. This is due to the modern understanding of the age of consent; a 25-year-old having sex with a 15-year-old is rape even if either party claims it was consensual (the 1995 film dealt with it by aging Eliza up to 20). In Austen's time it was uncommon to marry so young, but not considered immoral or illegal.
  • Similarly, in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice, Wickham trying to elope with Darcy's sister Georgiana. In his explanatory letter, Darcy's voiceover is a somber "she was then but fifteen years old," compounding Wickham's offense. In the book, Darcy's letter reads "she was then but fifteen years old, which must be her excuse," because she would have been considered responsible for such a disgraceful marriage but she wasn't experienced enough to know better. That said, Wickham pursuing young ladies who are just barely out in society still reflects badly on his character, much like older guys who exclusively date 18 to 20 year old women.

    Music 
  • Skyclad "discussed" (if using a bloody axe counts) attempts to gloss over less-than-pretty moments in a song aptly named "Think Back And Lie Of England".
  • The Rastafarian reggae song "Rivers of Babylon" is based on Psalm 137 but leaves out the infamous passage about smashing Babylonian infants against rocks.
  • The video of "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club is set in Missisippi in the 1800's, but features black and white people equally on the steamboat party.
  • Parodied in the "I Was Not A Nazi Polka" by the Chad Mitchell Trio (written less than twenty years after World War II), where a group of Germans loudly proclaim that all Germans hated Hitler and that the amount of Nazis numbered "two or three at most." This was an actual attitude held by some Germans at the time.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Deadlands takes place in an alternate history version of the Old West. In this version, the South freed its slaves and the Civil War's drain on manpower allowed females to gain greater social status. The rulebook stipulates that only villains be racist.
  • Handwaved in Clockwork And Chivalry. So much has changed so fast, including the introduction of clockwork automation and alchemy to warfare (leading to the Battle of Naseby ending in an incredibly bloody stalemate which saw more people die more swiftly than anyone thought possible beforehand) and the unexpected mid-war capture, trial, and execution of King Charles, that it's shaken faith in the traditional order and allowed women and other disenfranchised groups an opportunity to grab for greater rights and recognition.

    Theater 
  • Although what was "politically correct" was considered different back then (and entirely mandated by censorship), William Shakespeare's King Henry VIII falls squarely into this trope, carefully avoiding the more morally ambiguous things he did, such as beheading his second wife, Anne Boleyn.
  • His Richard III is a perennial bone of contention for historians, since its based entirely on official propaganda, framed Richard III and his friends as "evil" or "manipulated" and everyone else as "good". When since this was the Wars of the Roses there was plenty of good and evil to spread around. For instance, Shakespeare's play makes George of Clarence into a noble victim killed by Richard III when he was actually a corrupt backstabbing Prince who King Edward IV finally killed. The marriage to Anne Neville is portrayed as a seduction when all reports indicate that it was a love marriage. It also portrays Richard III as a tyrant and Obviously Evil when he was indeed a progressive monarch and highly popular in the North and his main enemies were the Woodville-Yorkist nobility.
  • On a similar note, Macbeth goes a little out of its way to show Banquo as a victim and a cool dude in general, as, by that time, King James was on the throne and he was supposedly descended from the historical Banquo. Note in particular the scene of the kings begotten by Banquo appearing before Macbeth — the last one is supposed to be James himself.
  • Henry V has another interesting historical example.
    • The scenes in France prominently depict the soldiers at Agincourt as a diverse (for the UK) group from England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. The real army was only English and Welsh. In fact, Scotland was allied with France during the Hundred Years War.
    • The fact that the (vastly outnumbered) English Army had put the PoWs to the sword is downplayed as a purely retaliatory measure because the French did it first, mentioned in a throwaway comment from good ole' Hal.

    Theme Parks 
  • Several attractions at Disney Theme Parks are like this, most notably Pirates of the Caribbean, which was actually bowdlerized into being more politically correct. This is probably justified, as one attraction that isn't, The American Adventure, was loaded with Unfortunate Implications.
  • Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Texas was laid out with six sections representing the six flags that have flown over the state: Spain, France, Mexico, The Republic of Texas, The Confederacy and The United States. In the 1990s, the park renamed the Confederacy section to "Old South" for obvious reasons.

    Video Games 
  • Much of the background story of the first Gabriel Knight game involves American pilgrims raiding an African village for slaves. This is hardly what happened in those times; in most cases, slaves were bought from African slavers, who had them on sale as spoils of tribal strife.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Subverted in the first Metal Gear Solid, where Master Miller identifies Naomi Hunter as a fraud because of her family's inconsistent history: Naomi claims her Japanese-born uncle was a member of the FBI in the fifties, but Miller later points out that the head of the FBI at the time, Edgar Hoover, was a well-known racist and wouldn't have allowed him in the bureau.
    • Played straight in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The Boss was a woman who led a group of specialists during the invasion of Normandy in World War II. Women were allowed in the army as nurses or other kinds of logistic support, but almost never as armed forces and certainly not in a command position. She presumably got to do more than that out of a combination of being just that good and being a descendant of one of the original Philosophers. It's also mentioned through later details about her past in Peace Walker that not everyone was entirely happy with a woman having a non-logistical role, which was in part the reason why she was blamed for a mishandled space mission that allowed the Soviets to beat America to space in the first place, and later for why she was set up as the fall-guy for the Virtuous Mission and Operation Snake Eater during the events of MGS3.
  • In Operation Darkness, K Company, 1st Platoon, or the "Wolf Pack", allows women into front line roles — something that isn't allowed even in the modern British Army, and which would be wildly anachronistic for the World War II setting of the game. Somewhat justified by the unusual nature of K Company, 1st Platoon — the British Army doesn't traditionally allow werewolves or Mad Scientists to act in front line roles, either — and lampshaded when Jude assumes that because he's being transferred to a unit containing a woman, he's thus being moved off the front lines.
  • Pirates of the Burning Sea provides equal male and female options for all factions. There's absolutely no way a woman would have been able to openly serve in the French, British, or Spanish navies of the time — women have long been considered unlucky to have aboard ships, and would have been considered too timid, flighty, and incompetent to serve in the military. Pirates were less traditionalist, and there were indeed some female pirates known to history... but they tended to try to pass as male. In addition to the issue with "women are bad luck", female clothes of the period were highly impractical, and it was generally not a good idea to be visibly the only woman in a crew full of rowdy sailors who have been on the sea too long.
  • The Sakura Wars series is set in the 1920s, but seems to show many more opportunities for and much less discrimination against women (and, in the New York-based Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love, non-Europeans) than would be expected in that time period. Of course, this is a setting with demons and Humongous Mecha, not historical fiction.
  • Age of Empires III is notable for completely glossing over slavery and the genocide/relocation, though much of the times and places the game takes place (the colonial east coast mere years after the first British colonies, the Great Lakes and Rocky Mountains just before the American Revolution, and the western frontier at the dawn of railroads, respectively) wouldn't have featured any of that in the first place. The first Expansion Pack, The WarChiefs, slightly rectifies the latter by showing the Red Cloud's War and the Battle of Little Bighorn.
  • Assassin's Creed has tended to appeal to Reality Is Unrealistic and historical revisionism. But even then, it does feature huge dollops of politically correct history:
    • While Assassin's Creed I was considered daring in its time for having an Arab protagonist and portraying a revisionist view of The Hashshashin, many noted that it ended up making The Crusades a backdrop to a secular dispute between two secret societies, when this was a major conflict professed to be driven by religion. Most Assassins likewise tend to be Secular Heroes with the brotherhood featuring "liberated nuns" like Sister Theodora in Assassin's Creed II or harmless and theologically suspect priests like the one on Connor's homestead in Assassin's Creed III.
    • Patrice Desilets mentioned that in Assassin's Creed II he wanted to make Leonardo da Vinci's homosexuality explicit and mention the fact that the real-life Leonardo faced charges for sodomy in Florence, but the producers insisted they remove it. While Leonardo's homosexuality is hinted at in the vanilla game of both II and Brotherhood, only the optional DLC for Brotherhood features a direct acknowledgement.
    • Despite the fact that the games are set in events central to Jewish history — the Crusades, the Renaissance, the French Revolution — none of the major games feature Jewish NPCs or supporting characters in any of the playable main and side missions, with barely any mention to the institutional and systemic anti-semitism operating in this timenote . There's also the fact that the games demonize figures like Pope Alexander VI and Maximilien Robespierre who were rare major political figures who contributed positively to Jewish rights while having the Assassins ally with the fiercely anti-semitic King Philip IV to persecute Jacques de Molay. Likewise, the depiction of Rome in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood does not have the famous Jewish quarter, filled with refugees from Spain and France, patronized by the Borgia's support. It took until Assassin's Creed: Syndicate for the series to feature major Jewish NPCs — Karl Marx and Benjamin Disraeli.
    • Assassin's Creed: Syndicate features Victorian London gangs which are remarkably gender diverse. Every gang in London not only has female members, they all have an equal number of females members who wear men's clothes and are treated on an equal level as the male members. This in an era which treated its working class women so poorly it gave rise to Jack the Ripper. On another note, one of the Frye Twin's friends is Ned Wynert, a transgender man who successfully runs a criminal enterprise without, from what we see, anyone having any problem with him being transgender.
    • Assassin's Creed Origins is set in Ptolemaic-Era Egypt during the reign of Cleopatra VII. A lot of the plot is set in Siwa oasis but makes no mention of that region's historically renowned and documented traditions of same-sex relations and homosexual marriages dating to the ancient world. Similar to the erasure of Jewish history in early games, the Hellenistic Judean community of Alexandria is missing. The presence of slavery in the Ptolemaic-era is neglected and not referred to, and the game's portrayal of politics in The Roman Republic falls squarely in the Good Republic, Evil Empire dichotomy.
    • Assassin's Creed Odyssey does this in spades.
      • When you play as Kassandra, the game more or less ignores the strictly enforced gender roles of Ancient Greece, especially Athens; by modern standards these would be considered nothing less than misogynistic. A woman was seen as more or less property of her “oikos” (family unit), and wouldn’t have been able to make any decisions for herself. Notably, there's also no difference between interacting with men in Athenian controlled regions vs Spartan controlled regions, even though the two city-state cultures differed significantly in their treatment of women. Sparta came the closest to modern standards of gender equality, with women being able to own land, receive an education, and run businesses. However, Spartan society placed the heaviest importance on women bearing strong offspring, and aren't known to have ever sent them into battle. Similarly, both Alexios and Kassandra would have been maligned in Athens as foreigners, and would've had their movement and social standing heavily restricted.
      • The game is pretty cavalier about women soldiers general. Half the bounty hunters are females, and while neither of the Spartan or Athenian armies employ women, women are frequent among bandits and pirates. Keep in mind that to the Ancient Greek, the idea of women soldiers (who they may have seen in Scythian societies to the Eurasian east) was so fantastical and unbelievable that it literally became the stuff of myth in the Amazons.
      • The practice of pederasty, common among Greeks of the time, goes obviously unmentioned.
      • The Greek practices regarding prostitution are included in the game, but the game glosses them over by using the ancient Greek terms and never defining them for the audience. It will often use the term "hetaera(e)" for various female character of high societal standing - in particular for Aspasia (Who was one in real life), but the game never goes into detail explaining that the term means to avoid offending audiences (Or raising that ESRB rating). note  The closest the game gets is noting that Corinth is known for its prostitution, and mentioning how there are a lot of Hetaerae running the town, letting the player add 2 and 2 together.
  • A major facet of Empire: Total War is your faction's participation in the 18th century's colonial/maritime economy, but Creative Assembly really tries their damnedest to ignore the fact that African slavery was arguably the most vital cog in that economy. Two of the "trade theaters" in the game are West Africa and East Africa/Madagascar, and they exclusively produce...ivory. Slavery is also glossed over on the flavor texts for the plantations; the most mention that the practice gets is the late-game "Abolition of Slavery" technology... Though Revolutionary France abolished the practice in 1789, it was reinstated by Napoleon. The long game's ending year of 1799 was long before any American/European nation permanently abolished slavery.
  • World of Tanks includes the following:
    • Black and white people in the same tank crew during World War II.
    • No Swastikas.
    • Adding the ability to give Soviet and Chinese troops better rations although this could just be Gameplay and Story Segregation since every nation has a food related consumable note  with the same effect (improving crew performance).
  • Interestingly, World of Warships zig-zags this. US Navy commanders, for example, are strictly white this time around, though there are still No Swastikas for the Germans.
  • In Sid Meier's Ace Patrol, the player can have both male and female pilots, despite the games taking place during the World Wars, and only the Soviet Union had female combat pilots during WWII (and, of course, the USSR is absent in the WWII-set Pacific Skies). The second game, at least, does give you the option to disable female pilots in order to be more historically accurate.
  • In Silent Storm, both sides of World War II has men and women of all races serving together in all branches of the military. This would only be true for the USSR.
  • Most of the games in the Civilization franchise gloss over slavery. The Call To Power series explicitly has a Slaver unit (as well as an Abolitionist unit), but beyond that slavery is largely abstracted. Civs I through III basically ignore it completely; III has a different graphic for "workers" you "capture", and they work at half the normal rate but don't cost upkeep. In IV, you have the option of Slavery for your Labor civic, but all it does is lets you rush a project at the cost of population. It's mostly gone from Civ V as well, although you can demand "workers" from City States.
    • Colonization only does two parts of the Rum trade triangle - the third were slaves. However, the game allows the player to massacre Native Americans if they wish to, which leads to a mild What the Hell, Hero? towards Sid Meier in the Prima guide.
    • However, slavery wasn't completely glossed over in Colonization. While slaves are not used as a trade good, they are present as actual colonists - they are as productive as regular colonists at producing raw resources, but almost useless for manufactured goods. Indentured servants, essentially people who have sold themselves into slavery for a certain time until paid off by their labour, fall between slaves and free colonists in productivity. So while the slave trade itself is not depicted (and would be difficult to include sensibly since Africa is not present at all), slavery as a source of cheap labour for the fields is.
  • Played with in the BioShock franchise:
    • Rapture, the setting of the first and second games, was constructed after the end of World War II and lasted into the end of the 1950s, when it all went to hell. Nonetheless, it is presented as being racially integrated and openly accepting towards homosexuality, transexualism, and pornography. This is justified, however, as Rapture was envisioned as a libertarian utopia that was not to be constrained by the social, political, and religious mores of its day. Although this is not to say period appropriate prejudices don't exist. Both games do contain racial and sexual prejudice that lingers in some of its citizens. "Changing your race" or sex is treated in the manner of improving negative features, some of the splicers are overtly racist or sexist in their dialogue, and one of the main characters in the second game is a black woman who happens to live in the poorest part of the city...
    • BioShock Infinite, which takes place in 1912 in the Steam Punk sky city of Columbia, averts this for the most part. The game doesn't hold a single punch when it comes to depicting the extreme levels of racism, xenophobia, and ultra-nationalism that permeated American culture in the early 20th century. In fact, Columbia is actually canonically extremist even for its day, which is part of the reason it seceded from the United States. The only social aspect of Columbia that is incongruous for the time period is the equality experienced by women, who can be seen serving on the front-lines of Columbia's police force, military, and rebellion. This is again justified, since one of Columbia's architects was a brilliant, independent female scientist and it's implied that the leader of Columbia, Zachary Hale Comstock, has been making an active effort to rid Columbia of sexism since he was grooming his "daughter" Elizabeth to lead Columbia as a messiah-like figure.
      • Strangely enough, though, you'll never hear any actual racial slurs uttered. There's one instance of a sign that's been vandalized with "HEEB" (in Finkton's slums, which means it was likely scrawled by one of the city's oppressed minorities), and Fink's pronunciation of "negro" in one voxophone is very clearly skirting close to the line, but the line is there.
  • Fallen London is set in the Victorian era and concerned with Victorian values like scandalous manners, but the game treats men and women equally for the most part, with exceptions being mostly for flavour and comedy. Apparently women can't vote in Fallen London, but it's not as if it would do much even if they could. Both male and female characters are treated respectfully by others and Everyone Is Bi by default (although the player can choose to only pursue one gender or no-one if they choose).
  • The titular Order in The Order: 1886, which is a continuation of Arthur's Knights of the Round Table, has no qualms letting women into their ranks to fight for them, as evidenced by Isabeau/Lady Igraine as well as the other female knights seen throughout the game. Of course, the game takes place in an Alternate History with Steam Punk technology and a centuries-old war against lycans (ahem, "half-breeds"), so obviously some aspects of the Victorian era would be different.
  • Only three professions are forbidden to women in Darklands, specifically friar, priest and bishop (and most male PCs will never get those jobs either). Women can become knights, soldiers or students as easily as males. Also, the Jewish population is completely absent from the game, even in large cities, and nobody ever mentions them. The only exception are the few names in German, like Judenmarkt (Jewish Market).
  • In-universe in After the End: A Crusader Kings II Mod, which takes place in a post-apocalyptic Future Imperfect Feudal Future. The great power of the Southeast is the Holy Columbian Confederacy, but they seem blessedly unaware of what the Civil War namesake they got all those snazzy flags from was actually about. African-Americans can be found ruling the new Confederacy as easily as anyone, and one of the figures they venerate is "King Martin Luther" — implicitly a misreading of Martin Luther King.
  • Empire Earth's German campaign starts in WWI and continues into WWII, starting with the Blitzkrieg and ending with an Alternate History mission where Operation Sealion is implemented and England is successfully invaded. At no point is it mentioned that you are, in fact, working for the Nazis, the Chancellor is never named, and of course there's that whole Holocaust business that goes unmentioned.
  • The developers of Call of Duty: WWII have gone on record stating that, for the multiplayer modes, they want the players to have their choice of how to customize their character, regardless of historical propriety. The ability to play as a black female German soldier spawned a minor meme, since this would have run completely counter to almost everything the Nazi party believed - the whole "master race" thing was very heavy on the white Aryan race, and they also believed the only role women should have had in serving their country was birthing a lot of boys to grow up to actually defend it. It's not that much better for the American side, either, as women were only allowed in logistical roles, and while blacks were allowed to serve on the front lines at least as far back as World War I, they were in segregated all-black units like the 92nd Infantry Division - which, incidentally, was the only segregated unit to fight in Europe, and only saw combat in the Italian campaign rather than in Germany.
  • Battlefield V is the first game in the Battlefield series to feature full-fledged character customization and female avatars, something that's been requested for years. Only problem is, the game is set in World War II. The reveal trailer depicts a squad of four British soldiers consisting of two white men, a black man, and a woman with a prosthetic arm all fighting together as equals and featuring designs that aren't authentic to the era in the slightest. It was even more blatant when the box art was revealed, featuring a woman standing front and center of the WWII shooter, despite the fact that out of over 100 million people who fought in the war, less than 1% of them were women - and the vast majority of those (over 800,000) were in the Soviet military. To say that fans hated the blatant pandering of the trailer would be putting it mildly, especially since it was supposedly a "return" to the roots for the series. It's also been pointed out that the only real issue people took with having all that is the setting — no one would've had a problem with it if all this was in a modern or futuristic shooter.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: In-universe, with the Initiative's Milky Way museum. The whole joke is that all the entries, especially those related to the krogan, are about how everyone got along all the time, and never did anything bad to one another, evidently to not trouble any aliens species they run into.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, the black Jack Fury leads the Howling Commandos, who as mentioned, are pretty diverse during World War II. Of course, seeing as that particular WW2 was between the Allied Nations and Hydra as well as the Nazis, it can probably be excused as an Alternate History.
  • Subverted in the 90s X-Men cartoon, where a time-traveling Storm is told she is not welcome in a restaurant. At first, she thinks it's because she is a mutant, then once she realizes it's because she's black, she says that discrimination by race is almost quaint.
  • An episode of Justice League Unlimited featured Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern chasing a Mad Scientist back to the Wild West, where they disguised themselves as law enforcers. Nobody they met saw anything odd about a woman or a black man as a lawperson. Though this might be an unintended aversion, as there were black lawmen and cowboys at the time, but they sort of faded out of the limelight until recently.
    • An earlier episode, "Legends," before the series changed names, had the League follow a villain inside an in-show comic book and pair up with equivalents of the Justice Society of America, who were of course still in The Golden Age of Comic Books mentally. The Chick invites Hawkgirl to help cook. And when Green Lantern's childhood hero complimented him with "You're a credit to your people, son!", Green Lantern could only reply, "Uh... yeah." It was an incredibly subtle bit of animation where you could see John's thoughts written all over his face... he obviously knew that the other man wasn't trying to be insulting, he just came from an era where statements like that probably were the equivalent of being racially sensitive. (The fact that the present day Green Lantern did not meet an actual Golden Age DC superhero but the equivalent enabled the script to get away with more. Actually, an earlier draft of the script had just that scenario, but you tend to think that DC Comics might have a problem with any incarnation of one of their superheroes portrayed as a racist.)
  • Sabrina: The Animated Series, "Witchery Science Theater": No one in the old B-grade movie that Sabrina and friends find themselves trapped in found Sabrina's Afro-American Secret Keeper best friend the least unusual. Then again, it was a Show Within a Show and not actual time travel.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers, a time travel episode to World War II features Caucasian, Asian and African American soldiers all in the same company. It also features a handlebar mustached Führer, who, while clearly intended to be Hitler, isn't. Strangest. Censorship. Ever.
  • The cartoon Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat has the Magistrate having three daughters and NO sons. No-one says anything about it. In real life, he would have been pressured to keep trying for a son or take another wife — the Kingdom could NOT be passed down to girls! Also, in real life, no matter how dumb the Magistrate is, his wife wouldn't dare talk to him as she did (in a henpecking, almost bullying, mother-like way) or she would have been beheaded!
  • The 90s Fantastic Four cartoon had a Time Travel episode where the heroes are transported to ancient Greece during the battle of Marathon. The Thing asks whose side they're on and Reed Richards responds, "The Persians were brutal tyrants, while the Athenians invented democracy." While neither side was a bastion of liberty by today's standards, participation in Athenian democracy was denied to women, foreigners, and slaves (i.e., over two-thirds of the population). Meanwhile, while the Persians were conquerors and slavers they were conspicuous for how they tolerated the customs and institutions of the peoples they conquered — their general policy was that as long as they paid proper tribute to the empire and didn't rebel, their conquered states could self-govern, maintain their traditions and beliefs, and generally go on much as they had before being conquered. This is generally believed to have been a major contributor to the success of their empire, as it tended to make rebellion a much less attractive proposition than it might otherwise be.
  • Lampshaded on Histeria!. Any time their depiction of history got a little less than family-friendly, network censor Lydia Karaoke would step forward and complain. Many of Lydia's complaints were more along the lines of Have a Gay Old Time, however.
  • A Christmas episode of The Simpsons, set at Christmastime during World War II, shows the neighborhood of the Simpson family (or, at least, the family being portrayed by the Simpsons characters) as racially integrated. Although there were some integrated neighborhoods in the 1940s, that has not commonly been portrayed in popular culture, either then or now - and it is certainly odd to see it on The Simpsons, which is famous for its cynical brand of humor and historical generalizations.
    • Not to mention it showed Marge as a combat rifleman in the war, even though women are only just now being allowed in direct-combat roles in the U.S. Army.
      • That was more Played for Laughs than for political correctness. The joke had been that Marge had been drafted from the Simpson family instead of Homer because Homer was too fat to fit into the foxholes and ended up working on the weapon assembly lines instead.
  • King of the Hill had an episode dealing with this. Hank, dismayed at the fact that the school's Texas History textbook skips important events like the Alamo in favor of pop culture, produces a re-enactment of the Alamo with another man who's supposedly just as outraged. However, that man's script is a revisionist version of the story where the Texans are all braindead, drunken cowards (and one wears a dress, to boot). The man defends his version by saying the facts are unclear (and citing Oliver Stone's JFK); after briefly considering trashing the set, Hank realizes it's wrong to censor someone just for disagreeing, and presages the play with a speech about the bare facts regarding the Alamo.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has this in-universe, when Aang accidentally infiltrates a Fire Nation elementary school and their history turns out to be systematic propaganda, including revising the comet-powered genocide of Aang's pacifistic race as a mighty victory over the mighty 'Air Nation' armies. Given they also obviously killed all the babiesnote , this isn't a story likely to hold together long against serious examination, but it makes the majority of students who hear it much less likely to start wondering about the rightness of the cause than the truth would.
    • Under Fire Lord Zuko, what is politically correct changes dramatically from the regime probably instated by Fire Lord Azulon, who presided over the chronological bulk of the war and making it a feasible long-term project. Something Sozin almost certainly never anticipated and Ozai never had the patience for.
  • The Legend of Frosty the Snowman takes place in a stereotypical 1950's suburban community, but racism doesn't exist. Kids of different races hang out, and it's socially acceptable for Tommy to be attracted to Sara.
  • When Jem and the Holograms go back to 1781 Vienna and 1944 London, Shana, Aja, and Raya never face any racism.


Alternative Title(s): Deliberate Values Resonance

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