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Richard Nixon, the Used Car Salesman

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Would you buy a taco from James Hetfield?

Sometimes writers of counterfactual stories decide to disregard plausibility in order to throw in their stories cameos by historical figures from our own timeline but in a totally different occupation. Usually this is done as something of an in-joke with the audience or the dimension-hopping character(s); seeing Adolf Hitler as a Starving Artist instead of the tyrannical dictator he was in real life would tickle anyone's funny bone. Adolf Hitler actually aspired to be an artist prior to getting into politics; he was an avid fan of Disney and was rejected (twice) by an art school. That said, the cameo doesn't need to have a root in history, but it's more fun if they do. After all, who doesn't appreciate a good Historical In-Joke?

The Trope Namer is from Harry Turtledove's alternate history novel The Two Georges, where Richard Nixon is a successful used car salesman in the North American Union. That itself was a joke about a 1960 Democratic campaign poster, showing Nixon with a Kubrick Stare and the caption "Would YOU buy a used car from this man?" Funnily enough, Nixon's parents did own a gas station when he was growing up, so him going into the auto industry instead of politics isn't too implausible.

Related to In Spite of a Nail. A subtrope of Allohistorical Allusion. Compare with Different World, Different Movies and Beethoven Was an Alien Spy. Contrast Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA:
    • The Shirou Emiya from Illya's universe is an ordinary schoolboy with no magical powers whose family keeps him Locked Out of the Loop when it comes to the supernatural. The Shirou Emiya from Miyu's universe is a badass who mastered his powers and followed a path of heroism similar to the Shirou Emiya from Fate/stay night.
    • In the alternate universe Miyu comes from, Kirei Kotomine, the Big Bad of stay night, is a washed-up priest forced to open a ramen shop to make ends meet. He's still a total prick, though. He charges absurd prices and always serves extremely spicy mapo tofu regardless of what his customers actually order.

    Comic Books 
  • In an Alternate Universe featured in The Avengers No. 147, Nixon never had a political career. Nelson Rockefeller is the incumbent US President in 1976. His immediate predecessor was Hubert Humphrey. In reality, Humphrey was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1968 but was defeated by Nixon while Rockefeller sought the Republican nomination in 1960, 1964, and 1968 but lost it to Nixon on the first and third occasions (and to Barry Goldwater on the second).
  • The Baltimore series "The Curse Bells" - set during an Alternate History version of World War I - features an unnamed German corporal / warlock, and tries to make a deal with the vampire Big Bad. He's depicted as a singularly bad guy, probably worse than the vampires themselves. Eventually we learn that although he's in the German army, he was born in Austria, and he thinks that swastikas are really cool, and he is probably considering shaving off the tips of his mustache. Ultimately, he is torn apart by vampire nuns and never gets to see his dream come to fruition, in what is perhaps the only way Baltimore's Crapsack World is better than ours. A rare case where this trope is played deadly serious.
  • Occurs in Bullet Points. James Barnes never becomes Bucky, Stephen Strange uses S.H.I.E.L.D's implants to continue his work as a surgeon and Tony Stark is just a businessman until he takes the mantle of Iron Man after Steve's death.
  • In the Alternate History 1949 that Chassis is set in, Adolf Hitler is a cartoonist. And Elanor Roosevelt is the President of the USA.
  • One of DC Comics' Elseworld stories has Bruce Wayne as Gotham City's police chief.
  • Exiles practically runs on this with the team of heroes traveling to alternate worlds where characters from the main universe won't be in the same roles they were in from the first. For example in the first arc, the team think to help Charles Xavier only to find out that in the world they were sent to, he's a criminal and Magneto is actually a good guy.
  • Hack/Slash: In Hackoween (a Crossover with Halloween Man), Cassie grabs an entertainment magazine off a newsstand and discovers that on Halloween Man's world, Rob Zombie is a big band leader.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the dictator of Nazi Germany is Adenoid Hynkel, while "Addie Hitler" is an Austrian-American silent film actor who bears a passing resemblance to Hynkel, and makes his name playing a parody of him in propaganda films.
  • One of the projects in Marvel's anthology Millennial Visions has alternate versions of Cyclops, Rogue, Quicksilver and Nightcrawler never becoming superheroes, but founding a rock band called "X-Men: Revolution".
  • In My Little Pony: Nightmare Knights, one of the ponies visiting the casino is an alternate reality version of Twilight Sparkle who, instead of becoming a beloved hero and the Princess of Friendship, is a stage magician known as "The Great and Powerful Twily". Her dialog implies that Trixie, who in the main universe is a traveling magician with little legitimate magic skill, is an alicorn princess in her universe.
  • In Warren Ellis' newuniversal, counterparts of various characters from main Marvel Universe live mostly mundane lives - Mary Jane Watson is a movie producer and drug addict, John Jameson is black and joined the military, and supervillain Jim Braddock is an archaeologist. Tony Stark is a complete moron who gets gifted with supernatural talent to make all kinds of technology from literally a box of scraps, but gets himself killed before having a chance to become a superhero ... and Thunderbolt Ross is still a General in the U.S. Army, but is bald.
  • A DC/Wildstorm crossover had the Planetary team looking into murders in the Wildstorm universe's Gotham City. There's no Batman, but their universe's Dick Grayson (the first Robin, later Nightwing) is the head of Planetary's Gotham field office, assisted by someone heavily hinted to be an alternate version of The Joker.
  • Marvel's series Powerless is all about this trope - it's set in a world where none of Marvel's protagonists or antagonists have superpowers. Peter Parker is a normal teenager, Tony Stark and Norman Osborn compete for a government's contract for their Powered Armor projects (codenamed Iron Man and The Juggernaut respectively), Matt Murdock is just a blind lawyer, Eric Magnus and Charles Xavier are senators, Stephen Strange is a stage magician and Bruce Banner is in an insane asylum. The only one who has any sort of extraordinary life is Logan, caught in political intrigue, and the protagonist of the story, who has visions of everybody's counterparts from the mainstream Marvel Universe because he is The Watcher's counterpart in that universe.
  • In Superman: Red Son, Nixon won the 1960 election but was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. In 1978, Wonder Woman opines that the US has been going downhill ever since then. By that time, John F. Kennedy is President. His father Joseph P. Kennedy (who was seemingly dead by then as he was in reality) was concerned that being the first President to divorce and remarry while in office would be JFK's lasting contribution to history. His second wife is Marilyn Monroe, who goes by her real name Norma Jean Mortenson as First Lady. She once had an affair with the head of the Moscow Police. After the United Kingdom becomes a communist country, Tony Benn is seemingly a senior figure in its government.
  • In the alternate timeline of The Uniques, Newt Gingrich became the President of the United States in the nineties.
  • One of the differences between the Watchmen universe and ours is that a couple of characters, discussing a newspaper headline reading "RR to Run for President?", dismiss the idea that the American public could possibly vote for a "cowboy actor". They, and the headline, are talking about Robert Redford. No mention is made of what happened to the RR that actually did run for (and win) President in our timeline.
  • Self-parody Marvel Comics Wha... huh...? features worlds where Stan Lee sells hot-dogs and Mark Millar is homeless, as they never got into comics.
  • Sometimes Marvel series What If? went there, mostly in humorous backups, which featured things like Wolverine working at a delicatessen or the Hulk becoming school hall monitor (he later became a principal and hired The Punisher to do his old job).

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the 16th President sees that a vampire is responsible for his mother's death, so he goes on a mission to take care of the undead and avenge his mother's death.
  • In the French movie Jean-Philippe, French rock star Johnny Hallyday is the manager of a small bowling hall and goes by his real name of Jean-Philippe Smet.
  • In The One, Agent Funsch's boss from his timeline, Agent Roedecker, is killed. However, Funsch later meets another version of Roedecker working as a gas station attendant.
  • In Shanghai Knights, Chon and Roy meet Arthur Conan Doyle while he is an inspector at Scotland Yard, and they also meet a young Charlie Chaplin who is an orphan on the streets of London. Roy arbitrarily comes up with the name "Sherlock Holmes", which inspires Conan Doyle's new novel.
  • Star Trek (2009) started out this way for Kirk in the backstory, although this was rectified by the end of the film.
  • In Yesterday (2019), John Lennon lives a quiet life into old age in a world where The Beatles never existed.

  • Harry Turtledove likes this trope a lot.
    • The Two Georges is the Trope Namer; The American Revolution was averted by diplomacy and America is still a part of the British Empire. Richard Nixon is the rich and successful owner of a chain of used car stores (not surprising considering his skill at diplomacy and negotiation). The novel, set in 1990, also features Sir Martin Luther King Jr. as the Governor-General of the North American Union, and John F. Kennedy as the editor of a pro-independence newspaper. Andrew Jackson served as Governor-General in the 1830s and oversaw the abolition of slavery in the North American Union.
    • In the Timeline-191 series:
      • A character is listening to a football broadcast narrated by a sportscaster named "Dutch". The character thinks "Dutch" could make anything sound interesting. "If anyone was a great communicator, he was the man."
      • In How Few Remain (the first installment), Samuel Clemens is a journalist in San Francisco, having given up on novel writing as a way to earn a living. Also, Abraham Lincoln, who lost the 1864 presidential election as a consequence of losing the Civil War, becomes a socialist activist; in later books he is considered one of the pivotal figures in American socialism.
      • Clemens and Reagan did at one point work respectively as a journalistnote  and sportscasternote  in real life, though not in exactly the circumstances shown in TL-191.
      • Lincoln is something of a borderline case, in that his activism is both a direct and somewhat plausible consequence of the divergence and that his alternate job was being dead.
      • There's also "Ernie," who's still a writer, but he writes biographies, is considered a hack, never travelled to Spain (though he ponders if he should) and is even more depressed than the real-life analogue. All because he got his penis blown off in The Great War.
      • In The Center Cannot Hold, set in the 1920s after the Central Powers win World War I, one character meets a Lieutenant-Colonel Heinz Guderian, who is accompanied by a very angry sergeant who keeps spouting off about Jews and Poles.
      • Baseball never became America's pastime in the TL-191 series. However, Turtledove is a baseball fan, and from time to time you'll find classic baseball players appearing in the story as football players, factory workers, soldiers, etc.
    • The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump has a brief appearance by a stern, impressively bearded US judge of Islamic origins named Ruhollah. It's briefly mentioned that he left Persia when the secularist government was formed.
    • In the short story "Joe Steele", Joseph Stalin's parents had emigrated to the United States before he was born. He becomes president of a U.S. that, under his leadership, changes into a country so different that it just might remind you of something. Leon Trotsky becomes leader of the Soviet Union.
    • In Ruled Britannia, the Spanish conquered England in 1588 and installed the Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia as the new queen (as it was the plan of Philip II in real life). The butterflies are limited because the story takes place only ten years after that, but we get to see Lope de Vega as a soldier garrisoned in London, Diego Flores de Valdés (second in command of the Spanish Armada) as the commander in chief of the Spanish occupation forces, Thomas Phelippes as Valdés' secretary and a double agent working for the English resistance, petty criminals Nick Skeres and Ingram Frizer (and notable to us only as the killers of Christopher Marlowe, who is still alive in the book) as members of such resistance, Will Adams (of Shogun fame) as a sailor in the Netherlands, Robert Parsons as the Archbishop of Canterbury and a Cardinal, and the impoverished, exiled Catholic 6th Earl of Westmoreland as a rich, influential nobleman who is the main financer of William Shakespeare's theatre troupe.
    • In Worldwar, the destruction of Washington, D.C., in 1944 leads to Secretary of State Cordell Hull becoming President. In 1961, Earl Warren (Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court in OTL) is elected president. His suicide in 1965 leads to VP Harold Stassen (he actually did run for president in 1948 in OTL) ascending to presidency.
      • In another area, a draftee after some particularly hard combat complains "I'm so tired, I'd be grateful to be dead." to which others yell "Shut up Jerry."
  • The counterfactual Author Tract The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith also features Nixon: in an alternate timeline where America became a libertarian utopia, he became a small-time crook. In the same novel, "Jim-Earl" is briefly seen selling peanuts for a living. Another work by the same author features Hitler, who immigrated to the U.S. and became a painter/embarrassing dad.
    • And Robert A. Heinlein stayed in the navy, rising to the rank of Admiral. Other sci-fi writers have used this gag in an affectionate homage to Heinlein, such as the Twist Ending to The Return of William Proxmire, by Larry Niven.
  • Michael Moorcock's famous Nomad Of The Time Streams trilogy:
    • Ronald Reagan is a jingoistic Boy Scout leader in the first novel Warlord of the Air.
    • The same novel features a greying and unsuccessful Russian revolutionary leader named Vladimir Ulyanov, now a scheming terrorist roaming the Eurasian skies in an airship.
    • Also sneaked in early on in the first novel is a "Lieutenant Michael Jagger" who may or may not be related to a certain rock star in Real Life...
    • The third novel has a feared Sky Pirate of Georgian descent, a certain Dzhugashvilli. He's the title Steel Tsar.
  • Moorcock's early story "The Pleasure Garden of Felipe Sagittarius" has a relatively sympathetic AU Adolf Hitler as a sad-sack police commander in Berlin.
  • There are a bunch in the Back in the USSA short stories by Kim Newman and Eugene Byrne. Al Capone as American Stalin, Kurt Vonnegut as the American Gorbachev, Trotsky's daughter is a commoner who marries the British Crown Prince. Lafayette Hubbard, Mitch Morrison, Charles Lindbergh and Joseph McCarthy appear as a propagandistic "troupe of war heroes" in the 1950s Communist America. Not to mention Aleister Crowley as American Rasputin! One story features Eliot Ness and Melvin Purvis meeting a homeless Texan named L.B. Johnson in the compartment of a train travelling to Nevada in 1937. One of his companions is a mute and seemingly insane tramp who wore a tiny bowler hat, "too big baggy pants" and "a too-small suit", carried a little walking stick and possessed a "sharp toothbrush moustache and wide, scary eyes" which made him look like Adolf Hitler. The Little Tramp's cultural niche is filled by the Russian character the Little Anarchist played by Lev Bronstein. Yul Brynner, Allen Konigsberg, and Roman Polański are all stars of the most popular Russian soap opera as their respective parents / grandparents never immigrated to Communist America. Grand Duchess Anastasia, the aunt of the Tsar, is still alive in 1972 and writes dozens of romantic novels. She's basically this world's Barbara Cartland. Raymond Massey is still an actor but never left his native Canada and is best known for playing American villains in British and Canadian war / propaganda films.
  • In the short story "Southern Strategy", where Germany won World War I, the League of Nations actually had some teeth and the US was invaded due to their policies towards blacks violating League rules about discrimination, Nixon ends up leading a guerrilla war in the US south, together with Martin Luther King. It Makes Sense in Context.
    • In the same story, Adolf Hitler is mentioned to be a leading force in German politics... but rather than an Ultranationalist demagogue, he is an anti-tobacco lobbyist and campaigner for animal rights (both causes the real Hitler advocated for).
    • One of Mr. King's runners is implied to be a young Elvis Presley, who ended up on the wrong side of the US segregation laws because of his black grandmother, and is mentioned as being an invaluable asset to Mr. King because he is one of the few members of his movement who can pass for white.
  • Howard Waldrop does this a lot. In one of his stories Elvis Presley is a senator, and Dwight D. Eisenhower and George S. Patton are jazz musicians.
  • In the Wild Cards universe, Fidel Castro is pitching coach for the Brooklyn Dodgers. (In the real world, a long-debunked rumor has Castro trying out for the Washington Senators but ending up going to law school instead.)
    • There's a few of these in the series - Buddy Holly is alive and well in the eighties, due to not having gotten on that plane, and Frank Zappa is a general in the US Army. Oh, and Steve Jackson Games is called Jack Stevenson Games and based in Long Island instead of Austin.
  • In Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream, Adolf Hitler emigrated to the U.S. in 1919 and became a science fiction illustrator, editor and Hugo-winning author for his novel of an embattled eugenic-elitist utopia, Lord of the Swastika.
  • There is a Kim Newman short story, "The Germans Won" (referring to the 1966 World Cup, not that other thing you might be thinking of), where John Major is a bus conductor. In the regular timeline, Major actually applied for a job as a bus conductor in his youth but couldn't do the mental arithmetic the job requirednote ; one of the explicitly-mentioned features of the story's alternate history is the adoption of a much simpler schedule of bus fares. And his manager is a man called Jeffrey who "wrote a book once", and likes to say "Not a penny more, not a penny less" when adding up the totals.
  • Averted in Newman's other "Alternate Major" story, "Slow News Day", in which he expresses his opinion of the then-current Conservative government by suggesting that, if the Nazis had won World War II they would be ... still in government. Major even succeeds the "Iron Duchess".
  • Polish author Rafał Ziemkiewicznote  wrote several stories using this motif as political satire:
    • In one story, a supercomputer shuts off all the input and reshuffles the data inside itself for a couple of hours every day, which essentially makes it an AI unable to express itself otherwise than in piles of data. Accidentally fed a WWII-never-happened alternate history novel, it treats its content as any other dataset and starts spitting out statistical data with lots of people who died in World War II alive, well and hugely successful, and most of primary timeline's political elites (expies of our world's politicians) presented as small crooks (some of them in jail). As a result, it has its funding cut by politicians offended by the simulation.
    • In another, an accident involving a Mental Time Travel machine that glitches (it's left vague whether it's tapped into an alternate timeline or never was anything more than a virtual reality thing) presents a world where Stalin became a priest in Georgia (in real life, he did study in a seminar). He actually organizes a vicious cult, but difference in scale means the death toll is much lower.
  • The Animorphs novel Megamorphs #3 featured the villain of the story, the Yeerk who formerly held the rank of Visser Four, changing Earth's history as part of his scheme to conquer the world in the present. The story climaxes with the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, but by this point, the timeline has been polluted so much that France and Germany are allies against the landing forces (Who the landing forces are is never specified, though they do speak English). In this reality Adolf Hitler never rose above the rank of corporal and is serving as the driver to the Colonel that is actually relevant to the scene. One character starts to kill him anyway because... well, because he is Hitler, and winds up doing so (while in Hork-Bajir morph with a blade to Hitler's throat, he's hit by a bullet, causing his arm to move) while still debating it. Whether it was accidental or not is left ambiguous.
  • In the His Dark Materials series, the Protestant Revolution never took place in Lyra's world, which somehow resulted in John Calvin becoming pope. (And apparently that world's popes use their full first names rather than regal titles, too. Go figure.)
  • In Kevin Long's short story "The Man Who Would Not Be King", Western pop culture needed only a few nudges to be completely different. Our hero, who goes by Aaron (he finds his real first name embarrassing), is head of security for the opening ceremonies of the world's first spaceport in 1964. Captain Burt Reynolds has returned from his triumphant landing on the moon, a victory for private enterprise (it was funded by Boeing instead of NASA); Nixon is finishing his first term as President after beating Kennedy in 1960; Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, and Buddy Holly are the reigning kings of rock-and-roll, and a struggling rock quintet from England are just beginning their first American tour; and Tommy Smothers is a Communist agitator who attempts to assassinate Nixon.
  • In the Lord Darcy series, set in a world where the automobile was never invented, Ferrari of Milan is a noted manufacturer of firearms. The Nero Wolfe pastiche even extends this to a fictional car company; Lord Bontriomphe's gun is a Heron .38, reflecting Wolfe's 1938 Heron sedan.
  • Robert Anton Wilson's Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy lives on this trope, with an alternate James Joyce becoming Pope, Adolf Hitler remaining a painter, and more besides.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Seekers of the Sky duology, several well-known figures in the real-life world are mentioned as still existing in the alternate world of the novels, despite radical differences in all other areas. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a smart but trigger-happy Guard officer of noble blood; Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is Count Antoine of Lyon, a retired combat glider pilot who writes poetry in his spare time but refuses to publish it; Gérard Depardieu is Bishop Gegard Lightbringer, a reformed thief, capable of curing cancer with divine magic.
  • H. Beam Piper's "He Walked Around the Horses":
    • Wile pretty much everyone else is somewhere different in the alternate history posited by Piper, Talleyrand is still Prime Minister of France (but also a Cardinal now). According to one of the characters (who in our timeline became the Duke of Wellington), "His Eminence, I have always thought, is the sort of fellow who would land on his feet on top of any heap, and who would as little scruple to be Prime Minister to His Satanic Majesty as to His Most Christian Majesty."
    • When the universe-hopper describes Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, no one can figure out who this "Duke of Wellington" chap is supposed to be, as no such title exists.
  • One of the main time periods featured in The Time Ships was an alternate 1940s in which World War I was still ongoing. The Time Traveller meets Albert Stubbins, a soldier who mentions that he briefly played professional football before the war put an end to the league.
  • Frederik Pohl:
    • The novel The Coming of the Quantum Cats takes place in several alternate universes. Ronald Reagan is a retired actor-cum-liberal activist (and still married to Jane Wyman) in a Muslim-dominated Earth, while in another Nancy Reagan is President and Reagan is First Gentleman. In that timeline, John F. Kennedy was never elected President, and is still a Senator in the 1980s (instead of Ted, who died at Chappaquiddick). One of the main characters is also inferred to have been descended from an alternate Stalin who emigrated to America. Pohl also includes a joking reference to his old friend Isaac Asimov; in an alternate timeline where Russia never became the USSR, Asimov's family stayed in Russia, where he became a famous surgeon. In reality, Asimov briefly considered becoming a medical doctor, but chose biochemistry instead.
    • Pohl also wrote "The Mile High Club", a short story for an Isaac Asimov tribute book. The story featured all the members of the famous SF club the Futurians, still alive in the 1990s. In this timeline, Asimov had convinced FDR to focus on biological research instead of atomic weapons. The post-WWII research boom resulted in a number of medical breakthroughs, and Asimov became more famous than Einstein (who is mentioned in the story as an obscure physicist from Princeton).
  • George R. R. Martin in Retroperspective, which is a mix of autobiography and reprints of his old stories, mentions that his debut on professional writing scene was in magazine "Galaxy", but it happened months after they bought his story because it got lost in the office. He notes that there probably is another world, in which it was never found and he is now a journalist.
  • In the short story "Catch that Zeppelin!", Fritz Leiber writes of a person jumping sideways-and-backwards from 1973 to 1937, replete with Zeppelins, electric cars, a successful Reconstruction, and - most crucially - a completely defeated Germany at the end of 1918. It is revealed that the alternate-1937 perspective is from a very different Adolf Hitler.
  • Superfolks has several examples, including Supreme Court Justice Charlie Brown, and Roy Mack, head of the defunct Ronaldburger chain, who lost his shirt when Americans stopped eating hamburgers and now works a taco cart.
  • The Mirage is about a War on Terror in which the Christian and Islamic countries' roles are flipped, so naturally it features some. Saddam Hussein is the boss of the Baathists, who are equivalent to The Mafia in this universe, and Osama bin Laden is a war hero, prominent politician, and rumored head of intelligence agency Al-Qaeda. LBJ takes the role of Hussein, as dictator of the Christian States of America.
  • A few instances of this crop up in Orson Scott Card's The Tales of Alvin Maker, primarily with figures from American history.
    • William Blake is a roguish traveling storyteller with no permanent home or job, who apparently moved to America as a young man. He has some kind of vaguely-defined prophetic abilities, and he serves as The Mentor to the protagonist in the first book.
    • William Henry Harrison is a brutish, power-hungry warlord with a militant hatred of Native Americans, and he tries to turn the fort that he commands into his own private fortress.
    • George Washington, instead of leading the movement for American independence, became a land-holding nobleman loyal to King George (calling himself "Lord Potomac"), and led the fight to crush the American rebels trying to secede from the Crown. He was eventually executed for refusing to fight his fellow Americans any longer and is remembered as a martyr for American independence.
    • Benedict Arnold, ironically enough, was the Commander-in-Chief of the American rebel army, bringing him into direct conflict with Washington on the battlefield.
    • Benjamin Franklin, instead of being a minor but well-loved figure in the American independence movement, orchestrated it singlehandedly. He was the author of the American Compact, which the independent American colonies (those not loyal to the Crown or the Lord Protector) used to officially unite and form the United States.
  • The anthology Alternate Kennedys has John F. Kennedy and his family in many different circumstances. The cover depicts the hit record "Meet the Kennedys", featuring John, Ted, Joe, and Bobby. Another story has Joe Sr. stay in Hollywood, where his son gets the lead on Star Trek: The Original Series.
  • A marginal case in Century Rain: Adolf Hitler has survived a much-shortened World War II (since the French were paying attention and headed the Germans off at the pass). He's an old man dying of cancer in a low-security prison hospital. A protagonist, passing by, notes that he was no worse than several other dictators making trouble at the time and muses that he may as well be left alone to feed the ducks.
  • Done various times in Union and Liberty including Walt Whitman becoming a senator and a vice presidential candidate, and Paul Gauguin coming to the United States and starting a chain of department stores.
  • Reds!: A Revolutionary Timeline has Sean Hannity as a very patriotic and jingoistic writer about the history of the United American Socialist Republics. It also uses many prominent American politicians and activists as members of the communist regime.
    • After his attempt at a career in politics never really manages to take off, Newt Gingrich instead throws himself in writing political fiction and science fiction. He eventually has a popular breakthrough as an author with a series of military techno-thrillers in the 1980s, and effectively becomes the timeline's version of Tom Clancy.
    • One of the most dramatic examples is George S. Patton, who fought with distinction in the Second American Civil War... for the Socialists. In this alternate history, the USA entered the First World War three years earlier, fighting in some of the bloodiest engagements and taking roughly a million casualties. Patton returned home badly traumatised and very, very bitter.
    • Nixon himself makes several appearances, and though the story hasn't examined that part of the timeline in depth yet, it is all but outright stated that he will one day become the Premier of the UASR. There are also several hints that during his time in office, he was just about as crooked as his real-life counterpart, and gains himself a legacy as one of the ultimate Dirty Communists.
  • Pretty much every character in No Man's Land: Tales from the Weird Wars.
  • Done lots of times in No Spanish Civil War in 1936. Leon Trotsky breaking with Marxism, Lister working together with Francisco Franco, Franco dying for the Republic, Millan Astray spying the Nazis, Manuel Fraga making the PSOE a viable option... not to talk about the Spanish president Buenaventura Freaking Durruti. Barry Goldwater is a different kind of libertarian in this world. Ernesto Guevara writes books about political systems.
  • A More Personal Union includes such personages as Francis Drake, colonist captain turned revenge-driven crazed pirate, and poet-mercenary captain Black Bill Shakespeare.
  • Malê Rising liberally uses this trope with surprising results with figures ranging from Theodore Roosevelt to Leon Trotsky following different lives (and in Roosevelt's case, his sexuality).
  • In the Steampunk novel The Difference Engine, Benjamin Disraeli is a popular romance author, John Keats does artwork for the cinema and Lord Byron became prime minister.
  • The novella The Unreformed Kingdom contains appearances by the elitist US Ambassador to Britain, George W. Bush, and the Mayor of Doncaster, a certain Jeremiah Clarkson.
  • One Nation, Under Jupiter: The Prophet Muhammad was an atheist, Martin Luther was an attorney, and Kim il-Sung was a staunch anti-authoritarian.
  • Jack Vance's novelette "Rumfuddle" is about manipulating parallel histories for laughs; in one resulting timeline, all the top Nazis work at a kosher resort hotel. The protagonist and his wife turn out to be alternates of child-killers Gilles de Rais and Elisabeth Bathory.
  • Look to the West has Mozart as a general who dies defending Vienna from the French. Alexander Hamilton is Lord President of the Empire of North America, and Napoleon Bonaparte's father emigrated to Britain, resulting in "Leo Bone" joining the Royal Navy...
  • In the utopian (for Spain) short novel Fuego sobre San Juan, Francisco Giner is the Spanish Prime Minister in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt died in battle at San Juan Hill, Valeriano Weyler made the "Big Stick" speech, and Francisco Franco was an unfortunate five-year-old boy who died in a school fire when the Americans bombed Ferrol.
  • Player Two Start, set in a world where Nintendo and Sony's plans to make the SNES-CD came to fruition, spotlights a number of famous figures who wind up having different career paths.
    • Polly Klaas survives her kidnapping attempt, and the circumstances of how she did so (her would-be kidnapper tripped over her SNES-CD console, buying her father time to subdue him) earns her and her family 15 Minutes of Fame once Nintendo hears about her story. She becomes a minor Forrest Gump-esque figure over the years; she and her family move to Littleton, Colorado afterwards, where she's instrumental in causing the Columbine massacre to go out with a whimper, and in her adult life, she becomes a researcher of video games at Stanford.
    • Related to the above, Dylan Klebold never gets involved in the Columbine plot due to Klaas' influence. Word of God is that, by 2015, he's a detective with the Denver Police Department.
    • Jennifer Stigile, a voice actress in our world, here wins the first season of American Idol instead of Kelly Clarkson.
    • Alex Hirsch, the creator of Fish Hooks and Gravity Falls in our world, instead becomes an indie game developer — together with his twin sister Ariel.
    • Al Gore and Joe Lieberman are elected President and Vice President in 2000, that famous squeaker of a Presidential election going the other way instead. Furthermore, Gore does it facing off against Republican candidate John McCain instead of George W. Bush.
    • Avril Lavigne, after suffering a bout of laryngitis during her childhood, takes up skateboarding while her voice recovers... and soon discovers that she's really, really good at it. By 2000, instead of becoming a pop star, she's become a professional skateboarder who's featured in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2. In other words, she was a Sk8er Grrrl.
    • In our world, Chris-chan is the creator of the infamously bad webcomic Sonichu. In this world, a Chris Chandler who never transitioned becomes a spree killer, responsible for its equivalent of Columbine (as noted above, the actual Columbine massacre wound up fizzling out in this world), most notably with how it reignites the debate over violent video games. Many details of Chris' life, including his "girl quest" and an alternate version of the Sonichu comic (which also features characters from a hit Nintendo franchise that never existed in our world), take on a far darker meaning in this version of events.
    • Shonda Rhimes' Hollywood ambitions never bear fruit, and she instead becomes an English teacher at Manchester High School in the Richmond suburb of Midlothian, Virginia. One of her students is the aforementioned Chandler, whose increasingly rude, sexist, and all-around creepy behavior leads her to try (and fail) to report him. Sadly, she winds up as one of the 21 victims of the massacre.
    • Christina Grimmie, who in our world enjoyed some minor fame as a singer and YouTube celebrity before being gunned down by a Loony Fan, is mentioned in passing as being one of the hosts of the relaunched version of GameTV, an MTV series about video games reminiscent of our world's X-Play, in 2017.
    • Andrew Cunanan, in our world a Serial Killer who murdered five people (including, most infamously, fashion designer Gianni Versace) over the course of three months in 1997, instead becomes a spree killer, going on a shooting spree in Beverly Hills on July 31, 1997. Seven people are killed and nineteen are injured; among those wounded in the shooting is talk show host Jay Leno.
    • It is mentioned in passing that, as of 2012, Drew Barrymore is the host of Late Night.
    • Race car driver Ayrton Senna, having avoided the 1994 crash that killed him in our world, goes on to become the spokesman for the Gran Turismo series.
    • An odd aversion: Michael Jordan never takes his infamous detour into playing baseball due to his father James never getting gunned down (the criminals who killed him in our world instead go after a truck full of video game consoles).
  • One important character of Jack Yeovil's Dark Future series (part of the literature made for the universe made by Games Workshop) is retired Colonel Badass (and current government-employed bounty hunter) Elvis Aaron Presley, who decided to quit his drug addiction and focus on his military career (because a fatal concert riot at Madison Square Garden in 1961 ended with the outlawing of Rock & Roll). One scene of the series is him having a Mushroom Samba wherein he views how the real Elvis lived his last days, and he's disgusted at how the drugs completely turned him into a waste of a man.
  • What Ifs of American History, a compilation of counterfactual accounts written by prominent historians, includes one by Robert O'Connell about the Cuban Missile Crisis. The in-story author of the report is historian Newt Gingrich.
  • In For Want of a Nail, Abraham Lincoln is cast as one of two lawyers who helped develop the Indiana Northern railway line
  • In one of the realities of The Adventures Of Tom Stranger Interdimensional Insurance Agent, Adam Baldwin was elected President of the US after a Libertarian wave, following the phenomenal success of a certain sci-fi western series. Guess who narrates the audiobook.
  • Due to James Dean being drafted into a war with martian ants in Go, Mutants!, his movie career never took off apart from a few B Movies when he was older.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On The History Channel's The Universe, in an alternate universe, George W. Bush never became Governor or President. Instead, he became Commissioner of Baseball. That was actually based on (almost) real history: Bush had wanted to be the Commissioner of Baseball, but couldn't get the job, so he went into politics instead.
  • A Saturday Night Live opener that pretended to be "President Al Gore"'s State of the Union address, made a comment that Bush was the Commissioner of Baseball, and had vowed to hunt down steroid users "wherever they may hide".
  • Doctor Who:
    • In one episode, the entire Universe except Earth and the Sun (actually an infinitely exploding TARDIS) are erased from history (long story), creating an alternate reality that consists of Earth alone in the void. In this universe, stars are a loony belief held by fringe "Star Cults", for which Richard Dawkins is a spokesman or other important figure.
    • One of the Big Finish audio plays did this with an in-universe character, introducing an alternate-universe version of Davros, the creator of the Daleks, who had grown up on a Skaro at peace and become a loving family man rather than a genocdidal megalomaniac. Unfortunately, he gets merged with a bunch of other Davroses by the Daleks, and his identity does not survive the merger.
  • A number of these appear Stargate SG-1.
    • The two-part episode "Moebius", in which the team travels back in time 5,000 years for the first 20 minutes of the episode, and then the story follows their counterparts in the alternate timeline created. Despite a point of divergence 5,000 years back, all the main cast are clearly the same people, with Carter and Daniel in much more boring jobs. Averted with Teal'c, who's still First Prime of Apophis. Zigzagged with O'Neil, who now runs a tour boat, but his pre-Stargate miltary career was implied to be unchanged. Also, Robert Kinsey is now President while Henry Hayes is Secretary of the Interior.
    • And then of course there's the alternate reality seen in season 10 where Hank Landry is the President instead of being head of Stargate Command. Rodney McKay, meanwhile, went into the private sector and became a billionaire.
    • In Stargate: Continuum, the alternate Carter had joined NASA, and died heroically in a space accident. Which makes a little more sense than her working a minor desk job at the Pentagon, given her talents and family connections. Before he found out about the Stargate Program, her father had offered to get her into the astronaut corps.
    • The Stargate Atlantis episode "Vegas" featured an alternate reality where Sheppard left the Air Force after the incident in Afghanistan and ended up as a cop in Vegas. Also, McKay appears to be a typical government bureaucrat, in addition to his scientific genius. He's also much more confident in his interactions with people.
  • Lois & Clark had an alternate universe where Charlton Heston is President of the United States, and the nation is full of gun nuts waging open warfare on the streets. Elvis Presley is still alive and also held the office sometime in the past.
  • In the French 70's mini-series Le voyageur des siècles (The traveller of centuries), the protagonists prevent the French Revolution and end up in an alternate 19th century where Napoléon Bonaparte is a clothier whose wife mocks him for trying to imagine what the French Army should do to win the war, while Dr Guillotin is known for patenting a machine for cutting sausages.
  • On the Saturday Night Live hosted by Ron Reagan, in one skit, a la Back to the Future, he lives with his parents, Democrats and retired film stars Ronald and Nancy Reagan. When he travels back to the '50s, he causes Ron Senior to switch to the Republican party and drop acting for politics and when he goes back to the future, he arrives back at "his" house, now occupied by another family whose government assistance was cut by President Reagan. The single mother isn't too happy with him.
  • In a segment on Real Time with Bill Maher called "It's a Significantly Less Wonderful Life", Maher re-imagined the lives of Republican figures if they hadn't been born into wealth and privilege. Mitt Romney was a Mexican immigrant and greeter at Staplesnote , Paul Ryan was fired from his long-term job at McDonald'snote  after taking toys out of Happy Meals, George W. Bush was a homeless Vietnam vetnote , and Donald Trump was a retired elementary school janitor who worked at KFC.
  • In-universe example in The Man in the High Castle, where in the fourth season John Smith finds out that in an alternate world where the Allies won the Second World War, he left the military and became a traveling insurance salesman.
  • In one episode of Sliders, Nixon was a blood-sucking vampire. Literally. A Deleted Scene from the pilot mentioned that Ronald Reagan was the Mayor of San Francisco in 1995 and that he was best known as an actor for playing the first Howard "Mr. C" Cunningham in Happy Days. Given that it featured at least two or three parallel universes in every episode, these sorts of in-jokes were fairly frequent. For instance, in one universe Kurt Cobain is still alive in 1996 and has just released a Christmas album while Donny and Marie Osmond's latest album is described as "filthy". Throughout the series, many real-life people who never got to the White House are said to be president in the various universes including J. Edgar Hoover, Oliver North, Susan B. Anthony, Joycelyn Elders, Howard Stern, and Ed Wood, who was considered one of the greatest Presidents in US history in his universe.
    • One of the more plausible alternate Presidents of the series was Adlai Stevenson in "The Return of Maggie Beckett". In the parallel universe featured in that episode, the Germans broke the Allied lines at the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 and World War II continued until 1947. Given that Eisenhower was disgraced because of this failure, Stevenson won the 1952 presidential election (which he lost to Eisenhower on Earth Prime) and revealed that the US government had made contact with aliens called the Reticulans at Roswell in 1947.
    • In the first parallel universe that Quinn visits in "Pilot", John F. Kennedy is serving his ninth term as President in 1995 but does not intend to run for re-election in 1996. His First Lady is Marilyn Monroe. Elvis Presley is still alive and regularly performs at the Mirage in Las Vegas.
    • In "Summer of Love", Snoop Hippie Dogg is a musician on a world where the counterculture movement took place in the 1990s instead of the 1960s.
    • In "The Weaker Sex", Jane Pauley is the Pope on a world where the traditional gender roles are reversed.
    • In "The King is Back", Michael Jackson is a rapper. He was a member of Public Enemy, left the band and later rejoined.
    • In "The Good, the Bad and the Wealthy", Lyndon Johnson and George H. W. Bush are former Presidents of the Republic of Texas.
    • In "Time Again and World", Julius and Ethel Rosenberg assassinated John F. Kennedy.
    • In "Obsession", a young psychic had a vision of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865 and was able to prevent it. Lincoln was so impressed that he created the office of Prime Oracle and charged him with the responsibility of predicting natural and man-made disasters. In this world, John F. Kennedy died in 1995 at the age of 78. The attendees at his funeral included his brother Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.
    • In "Greatfellas", the series' co-creator Tracy Tormé's real-life father Mel Tormé is a country-western singer, a Bible thumper and a government informant. According to the younger Tormé, "everything he's not in this life." Whether he still has a son named Tracy in this world isn't mentioned.
    • In "As Time Goes By", Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the Chief Justice of the United States rather than an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
    • In "The Prince of Slides", it is never stated outright but it is heavily implied that Thomas Jefferson was the one who established the American monarchy after the colonies achieved their independence from the British Empire and that he reigned as the first King of the United States with Sally Hemmings as his queen. The evidence for this is the recently deceased King Thomas and the fact that Danielle's title Duchess of Hemmingshire.
    • In "Stoker", Janis Joplin is still alive in 1997 and a health nut while no one has ever heard of Bob Dylan.
    • In "Prophets and Loss", no one has ever heard of Abraham Lincoln. The sliders' money is believed to be counterfeit as it bears his image. Similarly, Maggie has never heard of Thomas Jefferson, indicating that he either never existed or never became a major figure in the American Revolution on her world, which was seen in "The Exodus".
    • In "World Killer", it is mentioned that Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart were never film stars in Maggie's world.
    • In "Asylum", Charlton Heston is the President of California, which became an independent country after the Kromagg invasion, and is an advocate of gun control. (In reality, Heston supported the Gun Control Act 1968 before he became a gun advocate and President of the NRA so this version of him seemingly never changed his mind on the issue.) In the same episode, this trope is combined with Les Collaborateurs and Historical Villain Upgrade in the case of Margaret Thatcher. After the Kromaggs invaded, Thatcher collaborated with the Kromaggs when they invaded her Earth. She agreed to give them access to the oil reserves in the North Sea in exchange for leaving the United Kingdom alone. After the end of the Kromagg War, collaborators came to be known as "Thatchers."
    • In "Net Worth", it is mentioned that Audrey Hepburn was a famous stage actress on Colin's world, which as previously seen in "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" is about 140-150 years behind Earth Prime. She was Colin's first crush. His parents had a photograph of her in their house.
    • In "Way Out West", Ellie Starr mentions that her father fought with Norman Schwarzkopf at Gettysburg on a world which resembled the Wild West. On this world, the American Civil War seemingly happened about 140 years later than on Earth Prime.
    • In "Roads Taken", Robert Dornan is the Governor of California, which is under siege by troops from the UN and Mexico.
    • In "Revelations", Jackie Robinson was the first black man to be accepted as a saxophonist, which had previously been an all-white art form. He is the subject of the biography Bebop King: The Life of Jackie Robinson - The Greatest Saxophone Player This World Has Ever Seen.
  • Supernatural. In "My Heart Will Go On", Balthazar has created an alternate universe where the Titanic never sunk. When confronted as to why he did this, he claims it was because he hated the movie.
    Sam: Wait, so you saved a cruise liner because—
    Balthazar: Because that God-awful Céline Dion song made me want to smite myself.
    Sam: Who's Celine Dion?
    Balthazar: Oh, she's a destitute lounge singer somewhere in Quebec, and let's keep it that way, please.
  • Occurs in-universe in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Tapestry". Picard gets a chance to change his past, only to find that in his altered present, he's an altogether unremarkable junior science officer with no real potential for advancement. He quickly begs to be allowed to go back and restore his past.
  • Another Q-related example takes place in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Death Wish", in which a suicidal member of the Q-continuum (nicknamed Quinn) requests sanctuary on Voyager, with the Q from TNG acting as the representative of the continuum establishment. To show how much influence a Q has on history, he calls forth "witnesses" from the past, including Commander Riker, a hippie from Woodstock, and Sir Isaac Newton, and reveals that Quinn was the one who dropped the famous apple on Newton's head. Q explains that had Quinn not done so, Newton would have died alone and forgotten in a Liverpool debtor's prison, a suspect in several prostitute murders.
  • In Timeless, as a result of actions by time travelers, Alice Paul (a key figure of the women's suffrage movement) isn't even a footnote in history in the new timeline, with her role being taken up by Grace Humiston (in addition to her OTL role as a detective).
  • In The Flash (2014), H.R. Wells, who comes from the alternate world of Earth-19, mentions "an incident involving Vice President Al Capone."
  • In Legends of Tomorrow, an attempt by the titular team to rescue their amnesiac leader Rip Hunter from the Legion of Doom leads them to a film school in the 1960s. They rescue Rip, but they suddenly find that Ray Palmer and Nate Heywood have lost their skills in science and history, instead becoming a heart surgeon and a yoga instructor. It turns out, that the film school was the same one that George Lucas attended, and the attack by the legion scared him so badly that he dropped out and became an insurance salesman. He was even awarded "Salesman of the Year" in 1977, 1980, and 1983. Without Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ray and Nate never pursued their respective careers. Fortunately, the Legends are able to convince George to stay and restore their teammate's powers.
  • In Blackadder Back And Forth, Blackadder gets Shakespeare's autograph and then beats him up as revenge for having to study his plays in school. He leaves his pen behind and returns to a new timeline where William Shakespeare never wrote any plays and is mildly famous for inventing the ballpoint pen.

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS Alternate Earths has lots of this:
    • In the first volume, there's Malcolm Little (Malcolm X) as VP of the rest-US in a world where the CSA successfully seceded. David Duke as POTUS in a world where The Nazis win World War II and the US become their fascist satellite. Jabir ibn Hayyan as a Roman chemist inventing mustard gas in 767. Swedish king Charles XII invading Britain. Roman emperor Heraclius founding a new empire in Africa after Constantinople falls. And Adolf Hitler ending up in an insane asylum painting more watercolors.
    • The sequel had some more. Alissa Rosenbaum writing novels about heroic rail builders in Nationalist Republican Russia. Japanese admiral Hiyoshimaru fighting European pirates for the Ming emperors. St. Bernhard of Clairvaux and St. Dominic de Guzman converting still-pagan Scandinavia to a somewhat different Christianity. Ibn Sina inventing calculus in 1006. Jan Masaryk elected Archon of an Austrian empire turned republic. And finally, Otakar Przemysl kicking out the Mongolian oppressors from the Holy Roman Empire in Centrum.
    • One of the most insane examples is Otto Skorzeny, head of the elite cross-time strike force ISWAT. In his home parallel (the one with Jan Masaryk), he was a freedom fighter for the Republican Alliance that emerged from the wreckage of the Austrian Empire. He's a firm believer in liberty and equality for everyone, and he absolutely hates Those Wacky Nazis. Especially other versions of himself.
    • In GURPS Infinite Worlds: Britannica-6, a setting sourcebook using the same framework that describes an alternate Steampunk timeline stemming from a different history of the British royal family, one of the example characters is Charles Dickens, a journalist specializing in science and technology. "He wrote a few short stories, most concerning heroic engineers, but never found much money in it."
  • Exalted does this with its own fictional characters in Shards of an Exalted Dream, a supplement that presents alternate-universe takes on the setting. In particular, the Scarlet Empress (who rules the world in the canon setting) is shown in numerous lesser roles on the cover and as a Gundam-inspired mecha pilot in Gunstar Autochthonia; Kejak Chejop, who is in charge of the anti-Solar Bronze Faction in the default setting, is the head of its ideologically opposed pro-Solar Gold Faction in the modern one.
  • Marcus Rowland (author of Forgotten Futures) wrote a scenario for the Doctor Who RPG Time Lord, called "Curse of the Conqueror", in which John Wayne becomes President instead of Ronald Reagan and starts World War III.
  • The card game Chrononauts features Nixon and MLK teaming up in an alternate reality — as President and Vice-President.

    Theme Parks 
  • Nearly played straight in EPCOT Center's World of Motion. A scene in the attraction had guests pass a used car lot with a salesman chatting up customers. As an in-joke, the designers originally intended to use the Richard Nixon face mask from the Hall of Presidents for the salesman, invoking this trope nearly fifteen years before the Trope Namer. However, CEO at the time Card Walker had ties to the Republican Party, and management was afraid that he wouldn't be amused seeing Richard Nixon the Used Car Salesman in the attraction. Nixon was eventually added to the attraction, though in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo in the Egyptian scene.

    Video Games 
  • The Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg mod to Hearts of Iron II does this a lot (because it's trying to avoid using the OTL historical figures): Josef Stalin is the minister of security for Georgia; Benito Mussolini is minister of transportation in the Socialist Republic of Italy; Adolf Hitler is dead and his wartime letters home (along with those of many other soldiers') has been published under the title Mein Kampf by Ernst Röhm, who for some reason wears a Charlie Chaplin-style mustache; Oswald Mosley is a leader of a radical left faction in Syndicalist Britain, which includes Eric Blair and a gay C. S. Lewis.
    • Mussolini can subvert this trope - it is quite possible for him to end up as the self-described totalitarian leader of an Italian state. It just happens to be a far-left ('National Syndicalism') state rather than a far-right (Fascism) one.
    • Especially since Mussolini started out as a leftist, then had a change of heart. Fascism in general is well known for being the exemplar of Pandering to the Base in terms of ideologies: it was whatever the public wanted it to be.
  • In Titanic: Adventure Out of Time, if the player escapes the sinking ship with a painting, it turns out that it was actually painted by Hitler and being the only artwork recovered from the ship makes him internationally famous. This, in turn, keeps him on the path of artistry and prevents him from forming the Nazi party, thus preventing World War II.
  • In Wolfenstein: The New Order, one of the resistance members if Wyatt was spared in the beginning is a man known only as "J" who looks and sounds a whole lot like Jimi Hendrix and is eventually revealed to BE Jimi, when he goes out blasting the Star Spangled Banner as loud as he can. In the sequel, BJ ends up meeting an actor who is most likely Ronald Reagan, who in a Nazi-conquered world did not pursue politics.

    Web Comics 
  • Roswell Texas has a lot of them. Lyndon B. Johnson is apparently a small-time crook of some, Hitler immigrated to Texas and took art lessons from that Diego Riviera, and ended up marrying his and Frida Kahlo's daughter. (The Nazi party still came to power.) Also, Charles Lindbergh and his son are president of the Federated States at different points in the story.
  • In Homestuck, the Alpha universe is a reset of Earth intended to make the eventual players of Sburb more apt to win the game, and as such sports numerous differences in combination with outside influence on the universe, resulting in this trope (generally Played for Laughs). Harry Anderson became a private investigator due to not getting a role on Night Court because Alpha!John Egbert got the judge's seat instead, Guy Fieri joined the Supreme Court, Donald Glover won an Oscar for the role of Geromy before being assassinated, and the Insane Clown Posse are DUAL PRESIDENTS. Not President and VP. Dual Juggalo Presidents. Oh, and Betty Crocker is a former alien queen who owns a multiglobal empire, but that was true in the other universe. (It's implied she jumped between them.)
    • Although Betty Crocker/The Condesce was the one who set most of that up.

    Web Original 
  • The Onion:
  • A Giant Sucking Sound, Ross Perot wins the 1992 election, which alters the career paths of many famous people.
  • The short film ''It's A Wonderful Life! (with captalism), has the protagonist (vaguely hipsterish middle-class youth) gets transported by a wish-granting fairy to a world without capitalism (i.e. where America is a Soviet-esque hell-hole). When confronted with the fact he now has no Xbox, is told by the fairy that that greedy Bill Gates works in a bowling ball factory somewhere so win some, lose some, right?
  • THE MONUMENT MYTHOS, given that it takes place in an alternate universe, has several examples:
    • The sculpter of the Statue of Freedom, Thomas Crawford, put his own (and later his own daughter's) remains inside the statue in order to control it as a way to exact his revenge on America.
    • James Dean, instead of dying in car crash, became the 37th president of the US instead of Nixon.
    • John D. Rockerfeller briefly worked in the oil industry before becoming president of the US and never was an oil tycoon. Though after what happened, he wished he was.
    • Walt Disney apparently found his purpose driving an ambulance during World War I, as one of the best hospitals in America is the Walt Disney Medical Center.
    • Al Gore and Hillary Clinton won the 2000 and 2020 presidential elections.
    • The most significant change is undoubtedly George Washington's role. While he still serves as a founding father for the United States, he became an entity living in Earth's core known as the "Horned Serpent" after climbing one of the Special Trees inside Wonderland. Eventually, he was cut into pieces by Maize Machines in order to serves as a power source for their computers, with his head being kept under control under the Statue of Liberty, which is used as a slaughterhouse to feed him. In the season 2 finale, he is responsible for transforming the entire universe into the Cornerworld after the Airforce One Angel accidentally destroys the Earth in their fight with Freedom.
    • Ed Dwight managed to get into NASA and became the first man on the Moon.
    • Two odd cases have appeared in the Nixonverse : while the Nixonverse versions of Frank Sinatra and Richard Nixon are the singer and politician we all know, their Deanverse counterparts are respectively the D-Day Knight and God.
    • Unlike his real life counterpart, Elon Musk was able to successfully reach Mars and colonize it as American territory in 2023 during the third season.
    • Rod Serling became a high-ranking FBI Agent, tasked by James Dean to track down Howard Melrose.
  • The New Deal Coalition Retained timeline is based on the divergence point that President Eisenhower's Chief of Staff Sherman Adams dies in a car crash right after his reelection. This affects how his administration is run going forward, which ripples outward and affects the rest of the world, resulting in numerous examples of this trope:
    • After Eisenhower, you have Presidents Richard Nixon in 1960 (R), Nelson Rockefeller in 1963 (R), John F. Kennedy in 1964 (D), George Wallace in 1968 (D), Ronald Reagan in 1976 (R), Donald Rumsfeld in 1984 (R), Lee Iacocca in 1992 (D), Ted Bundy in 1996 (R), and James Meredith in 2001 (R).
    • Charlton Heston becomes a Congressman.
    • Ted Bundy becomes a County Prosecutor in Washington after framing another killer for his crimes. Later, he manages to be elected Governor and, as noted above, eventually President. Also, he marries Jennifer Aniston.
    • Jim Jones becomes Mayor of San Francisco. Later, he serves as Chairman of the Progressive National Committee, and then Governor of California.
    • Charles Manson attempts to assassinate Martin Luther King Jr.
    • Barack Obama Sr. becomes President of Kenya. He later gains custody of his son after his mother and stepfather die in a car crash; Barack Jr. goes on to serve as personal aide to his father's ally Idi Amin and eventually succeeding his father as President.
    • Prince Charles marries Julie Nixon instead of Diana Spencer and becomes King of Britain in the '70s.
    • Jane Fonda is tried and executed for treason after she travels to North Vietnam and speaks in their favor, condemning the American war effort.
    • Bobby Kennedy becomes a Supreme Court Justice.
    • Leslie Nielsen becomes Prime Minister of Canada.
    • John Glenn becomes Governor of Ohio.
    • Antonin Scalia becomes Governor of Texas, and later a Senator.
    • Unlike reality, Robert Bork's nomination for the Supreme Court is confirmed, and he ends up as Chief Justice.
    • Henry Kissinger becomes Director of the CIA.
    • Dick Cheney serves as Secretary of State until a near-fatal heart attack causes him to resign. He is then replaced by John Danforth.
    • Instead of Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham marries John Heinz, who in turn becomes Governor of Pennsylvania. Clinton, meanwhile, marries Maria Shriver and eventually becomes the US's ambassador to the UN.
    • Mitch McConnell acts as President Rumsfeld's Chief of Staff.
    • Colin Powell is appointed commander of NATO forces in Europe.
    • Enrico Berlinguer's disagreement with hardline Stalinist thought leads to him splitting from the Italian Communists and forming a more center-left workers' party, which partakes in an anti-Communist coalition. In this capacity, he serves as Minister of Justice, and later Prime Minister.
    • Gerhard Frey moves away from Neo-Nazi thought to more mainstream right-wing politics, and ultimately becomes Chancellor of Germany, a position from where he engineers the restoration of the Kaiser as a constitutional monarch. Georg Friedrich is chosen to be the first to hold this title.
    • As a child, Narendra Modi's family flee India as refugees after a war with Pakistan, and end up in the US. He still goes into politics, though, and ends up as a Representative from Texas.
    • Mishima Yukio, while embracing nationalism as in OTL, never attempts the infamous failed coup but instead starts a populist political movement and successfully becomes the Japanese Prime Minister.
    • Steve Bannon serves as a merchantman commander during World War III.
    • John Hinckley composes the Academy Award-winning score for the movie about Bannon's exploits in the Atlantic during the war.
    • Colin Mitchell becomes Prime Minister of Britain. And when he's killed during the Second Blitz, Winston Churchill the Younger is elected to replace him.
    • Slobodan Milošević serves as a Warsaw Pact military commander during WWIII.
    • Lech Wałęsa's political policies lead to him being exiled from Poland by the communists after the hardliners retake command. He's then smuggled back into the country during the chaos of WWIII and forms a secret rebel army which eventually rises up to help liberate the country.
    • Vladimir Zhirinovsky serves as Governor of the Irkutsk Oblast during WWIII and ends up seceding from the Soviet Union when it becomes clear they're losing.
    • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn gets into Soviet politics during its reformation phase and eventually stages a coup at the end of WWIII, dissolving the Soviet Union and becoming President of the Free Russian Republic.
    • Gennady Yanayev denounces the insane hardliners running the Soviet Union during WWIII and establishes a breakaway state in the Urals which becomes the last Soviet remnant after the USSR is dissolved.
    • Donald Trump serves as President Bundy's Secretary of the Treasury, while Mitt Romney is his Secretary of State.
    • Vladimir Putin still becomes President of a post-Soviet Russia, but stricter term limits than OTL mean that he's only in office for six years. Afterwards, he becomes Russia's ambassador to the UN, quickly being elected Secretary-General.
    • Pablo Escobar abandons the drug trade during WWIII (correctly foreseeing that the government will crack down on the cartels as part of the homefront), enlists in the military, and becomes a war hero. He goes into politics post-war but is driven from the country before he can successfully get elected President.
    • Bernie Sanders becomes Mayor of New York.
    • Elon Musk becomes a guerrilla resistance leader in Entebbe Pact-occupied parts of South Africa during the Great Southern War.
    • Steve Jobs goes into the field of privatizing space flight instead of personal computers.
    • Andy Griffith becomes a senator.
    • Howard Schnellenberger and Paul Ilyinsky both serve as Governor of Florida.
    • Tom Clancy becomes a senator.
    • Ruth Bader Ginsberg becomes a senator instead of a Supreme Court justice.
    • Mariska Hargitay goes into politics after Law & Order wraps up, and succeeds Sanders as Mayor of NYC.
  • Malê Rising has created a slew of these. To name a few:
    • Jules Verne became the Prime Minister of France, twice.
    • Leo Tolstoy becomes the leader of Russia after the First Russian Revolution.
    • Harriet Tubman becomes a member of Congress for South Carolina and later, even governor.
    • Confederate General James Longstreet went to the Ottoman Empire after the American Civil War, converts to Islam, and later helps with the Underground Railroad.
    • Meanwhile, Theodore Roosevelt becomes a socialite instead of a President. Also, he's gay.
  • In The Ruins of an American Party System, the Trope Namer is inspired as a young man to become an FBI special agent. And his storyline is one of the most popular in the timeline.
  • A More Personal Union has Francis Drake as a colonist captain turned vengeance-crazed pirate, and William Shakespeare as a mercenary captain and really a woman.
  • Kentucky Fried Politics contains a lot of examples of this trope:
    • The Colonel becoming Governor of Kentucky and later President!?
    • Lyndon Johnson is elected early, defeating Nixon in 1960. His successor is the Colonel.
    • John F. Kennedy is the Secretary of State for the Johnson administration and launches an unsuccessful campaign for the Presidency in 1968.
    • Similar to Kennedy above, Jimmy Carter becomes a Secretary of State for Walter Mondale.
    • Ray Kroc deciding to enter politics as well.
    • Lee Harvey Oswald is remembered as the man who killed Che Guevara during the Cuban War. His actions become the subject of a best-seller titled Call Me By My Real Name: Confessions of a Fallen Hero.
    • John Lennon going from Beatle to Liverpool MP, then Labor Party leader, and finally Prime Minister of the UK.
    • Bob Ross going from soldier to famous artist, to governor of Alaska, then head of the EPA, and then Paul Wellstone's Vice-President.
    • Ditto for Lee Iacocca, Harry Shearer, Kelsey Grammer, and even Bernie Goetz.
    • Kevin Spacey becomes an electrician due to his family never moving to the West Coast and his father's death in 1965 from falling a row of stairs during a blackout.
    • John McCain becomes an Admiral instead of going to politics, and while recovering on Hawaii meets and marries Ann Dunham, becoming Barack Obama's stepfather. Barack "Rocky" McCain thus grows up a Military Brat, becomes Chief of Staff to Vice-President James Meredith, and in 2008, is a Republican state senator in Montana.
    • Donald Trump and George W. Bush are retired baseball players, and they even get into a brawl on the field at one point. Trump decides never to pursue a political career after the assassination of Iacocca, and instead decides to go into independent moviemaking with Tommy Wiseau.
      • In addition, Trump's line of ex-wives include Sarah Palin and a member of the British royal family.
    • Rudy Giuliani doesn't become mayor of New York. He instead becomes husband to the NY mayor: Mary-Anne Trump.
    • Bernie Sanders is the CEO of the progressive-leaning Tumbleweed Magazine.
    • Vladimir Putin, after being crippled by friendly fire from a fellow KGB officer during a riot, turns on the Russian government and becomes an outspoken community organizer, who is frequently interviewed by international news.
    • Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants IOTL, deciding to create a seafood restaurant chain called SpongeBob’s Undersea Cuisine, which itself gets a tie-in animated series co-produced with Klasky-Csupo, called The SpongeBob Zone, running from 1997-2001.
    • Timothy McVeigh is a computer programmer and left-wing activist responsible for launching Operation Lockjaw against the United States government. He also works for Commodore International and Microsoft.
    • Al Gore becomes a famous documentary film director, looking at important topics like climate change.
    • Bill Clinton becomes the Governor of Alaska from 1978 to 1986 and pursued an unsuccessful run for the presidential nomination for the Democratic Party. He later moved to California for a career as a lawyer and attempted to run for Congress in 2010 but the sexual pestering scandal puts an end to his political aspirations there.
      • By the way, the person who beats him in the primary of his 2010 Congress run and goes on to become a House Representative? Monica Lewinsky.
    • Joe Biden is elected to the Senate in 1984 after serving as Delaware's Governor from 1977 to 1985. Ever since his decades-long political career had ended in the Red Wave of 1996, Biden became a member of the liberal lobby group Centrist Circle and the Amtrak Board of Directors as well as serving as a part-time lecturer at the University of Delaware.
    • After his MLB career had ended, Roberto Clemente serves as a Goodwill Ambassador under the Mondale administration as well as the chairman of the Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Later, Clemente would become the first Black Hispanic Governor of Puerto Rico.
    • Geert Wilders moved to the United States and becomes a political strategist for the Republican Party after failing to become a prominent actor in Hollywood.
    • Estus Pirkle entered into politics first by becoming Governor of Mississippi and later running an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1992 rather than remain an obscure preacher whose teachings would serve as the inspiration for the 1971 film If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?.
    • Herman Cain becomes the first black CEO of the National Restaurant Association but also becomes a chief executive for Burger Chef and KFC in addition to being elected to office as a GOP Senator from Georgia.
    • James Rolfe is a prominent critic on OurVids who is the creator of "Paper-To-Screen Adaptations", a webseries that analyzes good and bad adaptations of popular media. He was also a writer that worked on the animated series The Defenders of Dynatron City and later became an actor as well as working with Paramount to develop a "movie about video games movies" with Crispin Glover.
    • Doug Walker (The Nostalgia Critic in OTL) becomes an actor turned scriptwriter much like Rolfe.
    • Dick Cheney served as Governor of New Mexico.
    • Newt Gingrich was the Communications Director for the Denton Administration from 1981 to 1985.
    • Larry Sanders becomes interim Prime Minister in 2015.
    • Cory Booker becomes a professional dietician.
    • Vladimir Nikolayev serves as President of Russia in The New '10s.
    • Instead of becoming the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski instead becomes the pseudo-leader of an online anarchist/primitivist cult known as the Forest Fellowship. Eric Rudolph is a member of this group and gets arrested in 2014 for bombing a tech business.
    • Jeff Bezos becomes Director of NASA.
    • Justin Trudeau goes into acting instead of politics, though he does do some political activism.
    • Both Rodger Bumpass and Bill Fagerbakke pursue different careers with the former becoming a film actor and director while the latter became a renowned linebacker for the Houston Oilers and the Minnesota Vikings (though he does still become an actor). Likewise, Tom Kenny is also a film actor, as is Maddie Blaustein.
    • Matthew Cox becomes a hugely successful gunrunner under the alias "Tommy Gun Thompson", who after his arrest becomes famous for a tell-all autobiography that eventually gets a movie deal.
    • Andrew Yang becomes Mayor of Columbus, Ohio.
  • Twilight of the Red Tsar:
    • Bill Clinton, Hu Jintao, and Barack Obama are historians and political writers.
    • Andrei Sakharov becomes an important member of the Council of National Salvation.
    • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn still writes about his life as a Gulag prisoner. He also becomes an influential figure in the CNS during the Civil War and the main editor of the Solzhenitsyn Report which consists of documents revealing the darkest secrets of the Soviet government.
    • Vladimir Zhirinovsky, known by his Jewish surname, Eidelstein, becomes a far-right politician in Israel.
  • The Fire Never Dies:
    • Leon Trotsky (known ITTL by his birth name of Leon Bronstein) moves to the United States and joins the IWW, becoming the leader of the New York Committee of Public Safety and eventually a general in the American Red Army.
    • Tom Clancy, Condoleeza Rice, Aaron Sorkin, and Matt Ward are the authors of some of the in-universe historical texts.
    • Huey Long is arrested at the start of the Second American Revolution in 1917 as a suspected socialist sympathizer (on account of him being an attorney who specializes in worker's compensation cases). He and his fellow detainees are soon broken out of jail and join a Red partisan group.
    • Many notable labor activists, such as Bill "Big Bill" Haywood, Vincent St. John, and William Trautmann, successfully run for political office. Others (also including Haywood) become military commanders in the Second American Revolution.
    • Newt Gingrich never goes into politics and is instead a highly successful author of Alternate History.
  • Red Alert 3: Paradox:
    • Most of the individuals who would have become President of the United States in real life have instead fallen in line with the Confederate Revolutionaries. Nixon himself is not only a Confederate officer, but also was a car salesman. John F. Kennedy not only survived his assassination (a plot by the Cult of the Black Hand which got foiled by their nemeses, the Order of the Talon), but went on to become head of the Confederate Navy after his presidency ended. On top of all that, Joseph McCarthy is revealed to have become President for the Federalist Party, the party from which Howard T. Ackerman is part of, and is the one responsible for the weaponized Mount Rushmore seen in the Allied campaign.
    • Nikita Khrushchev is a lowly grain farmer who complains about how Trofim Lysenko's influence over Soviet agriculture has ruined his livelihood. Similarly, Mikhail Gorbachev was instead a Soviet Conscript who got unceremoniously killed in action.
    • The Confederate Deck of 52, an in-universe lore article about the Confederates' most wanted targets, includes several historical figures in different positions than what they ended up doing in real life. For example, Lyndon Johnson is Secretary of American and Pacific Civil Affairs, while Martin Luther King Jr. is in charge of the Allied Poverty Reduction Programme. In addition, rather than becoming President like in Red Alert 2, Michael Dugan is instead a senator of Illinois. In contrast, General Benjamin Carville has thrown in his lot with the Confederates.
    • Benito Mussolini failed in his invasion of Ethiopia, leading to his execution by partisans occurring in 1938.
    • The Walt Disney Company is ironically a subsidiary of the Mediterranean Syndicate, which stems from the Syndicate orchestrating the assassination of Charles Mintz (the man responsible for Walt losing the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit), which in turn not only allowed Walt to keep Oswald but drew him and his company into the Syndicate.
    • Wernher von Braun became the wartime superhero Captain Rocket, the inspiration for the modern Allied Rocketeer Corps. He is also responsible for killing Boris, the Soviet commando from Red Alert 2.
    • Due to Adaptation Expansion regarding how Cherdenko made himself Premier of the Soviet Union in the alternate timeline he created, it is revealed he orchestrated the deaths of most of the Soviet characters from Red Alert 2 such as Alexander Romanov, Vladimir, Bronislav, and even Yuri himself (with Cherdenko ensuring the last one became a complete Un-person). Only Zofia was spared, and even then Cherdenko had her assigned to a post in the middle of Kazakhstan.

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


President John D. Rockefeller

Later events would make him wish he were an oil tycoon like his real life counterpart described by the dimensionally-displaced children.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / RichardNixonTheUsedCarSalesman

Media sources: