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Still Fighting the Civil War

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Professor Saxton: I admire Poland, madam. I believe there is a bond between our two countries.
Countess Irina: My husband, the Count Petrovski, says that in the fifteenth century your King Henry betrayed us to the Russians, hmm?
Saxton: I hope that you and your husband, madam, will accept my profoundest apologies.

Some people just can't let go of the past, but this guy really takes it to extremes. It's not even his past much of the time, but he's still bitter about real or perceived injustices that happened before he was born, and will let anyone in earshot know, given half a chance. Much of the angst seems to stem from the frustration of having to grow up "in a world I never made."

The stereotypical version is someone from the Deep South who's always complaining bitterly about "The War of Northern Aggression", but it can also apply to plenty of other conflicts, real or fictitious.

Very much Truth in Television. This is similar to, but different from, The Remnant, where a character is literally still fighting against his enemies from a war that he actually took part in, but which is now over. A Government in Exile is when the old government still exists in some form. See also Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back.


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    Comic Books 
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye and The Transformers: Robots in Disguise have several characters (mostly Decepticons) trying to keep the war going, even though it ended some years back, and everyone around them is ambivalent about it starting up again at best. Some, like Prowl or the Decepticon Justice Division are more direct about it than others - the D.J.D. refuse to stand down, even having been told the war's over, because they haven't heard Megatron say so (and when they do hear it, their boss decides it doesn't matter, and Megatron needs to die).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Meeting Daddy has as its title character an elderly Southerner (Lloyd Bridges in his final screen role) who is still proud to be a Confederate citizen (in spirit if not in fact) in the year 1998 (the year the movie was filmed), and is still flying the Confederate flag on his front porch. (The old man's prospective son-in-law, a writer from California, objects to the flag, but the old man emotionally manipulates him into putting it up for him.) When he sees activists on the TV news protesting against the Confederate flag, the old man grumpily calls them "outside agitators" - a term that by that point was about 30 years out-of-date, as it was an insult directed at Northerners who travelled to the South in the 1960s as civil-rights workers. What's especially strange about this is that Daddy is old, but not that old; he was born long after the Civil War ended! That said, his father could have fought in the war, then passed on the belief to him.
  • In The Little Colonel, Lionel Barrymore plays an embittered ex-Confederate who lost his son in the war and now hates all "Yankees". When his daughter marries a Northerner, he responds by disowning her and the couple moves away. Years later, she returns with his granddaughter, played by Shirley Temple. You can figure out the rest of the plot from there.
  • In the 1989 Black Comedy The 'Burbs, Bruce Dern plays a character who has trouble letting go of The Vietnam War, which had ended well over a decade before, despite being happily married and living in a prosperous neighborhood. While this is partly Truth in Television, the Dern character takes it to farcical extremes, behaving in paranoid "military" fashion constantly and referring to the silliest things in a grim manner. (Of course, he and his only slightly less paranoid neighbors turn out to be correct after all.)
  • Star Wars: The major threats in a lot of stories set after the Original Trilogy, such as the Sequels, are Imperial Remnant and even New Republic factions who are still fighting the Galactic Civil War, or at least, trying to gain what power they can in the aftermath of the war by prolonging it's final days. Of particular note are the First Order, who are partly descended from/led by exiled nobles and military leaders who view themselves as the true rulers of the galaxy and the Republic as a junta that unlawfully seized control. There's also periodic appearances and mentions of Separatist holdouts who continue to fight the Clone Wars long after they've ended and the CIS has been rendered thoroughly defunct, many of whom later become members of the Rebel Alliance.

  • MacIan in The Ball and the Cross by G. K. Chesterton fervently supports the Jacobite cause, a century and a half after their last attempt to claim the throne was defeated.
  • In Johnny Got His Gun (set about ten years later), the protagonist Joe recalls a Scottish soldier who refused to fight against a Bavarian regiment because they were led by Crown Prince Rupert, who held the Jacobite claim to the throne of England. He's amazed the soldier's superiors didn't just shoot him for treason; instead, they rotated him to the back of the trenches until the Bavarians themselves were rotated out.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jenny Calendar's Romani uncle is extremely passionate about the need for ongoing revenge against Angel for killing a Romani girl two centuries ago. So much so he is fine with Angel losing his soul if that means denying him happiness. Angelus murders him.
  • Mal in Firefly. He actually did fight in the war with the Alliance, but his attitude during the show is mostly restricted to grumbling and griping, not trying to continue fighting for a lost cause. Doesn't mean he won't strike his own small little blows every now and then against the Alliance, though he is (for the most part) level-headed enough to know that being able to "keep flying" takes prime importance. His backstory has him continue fighting the Final Battle of the civil war, the battle of Serenity Valley, leading thousands of other Independent soldiers even after their top superiors had surrendered and officially lost the war. The comics include a terrorist group of former Independent soldiers called the Dust Devils who have vowed never to stop fighting the war against the Alliance. Interestingly, Mal was never a member. His second-in-command Zoe, on the other hand, used to be.
  • The Peacock family from The X-Files episode "Home". When Mulder & Scully come across the matriarch, she rails at them about the War of Northern Aggression. The episode is set in Pennsylvania - a Union state - so the Peacocks were either invaders from the South or Confederate sympathizers.
  • In Jack of All Trades, Jack runs into his friends Lewis and Clark, famous explorers with horrible sense of direction, who has yet to be informed that the war with Britain has ended. When they encounter Emilia (Jack's British partner) they capture her, and refuse to believe Jack's claims of her being on his side.
  • Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies is still fighting the Civil War. She constantly proclaims her admiration for "President Jefferson Davis", refusing to acknowledge anyone else. At one point she literally attacked the General Grant and his army, or at least a bunch of actors portraying them in a movie being shot nearby.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In the episode "Gettysburg", the main characters are two friends who are also American Civil War reenactors. While for one of them it's apparently just a hobby, the other one is somewhat obsessed with the legacy of the Confederacy and wishes they had won the war, arguing that the Confederate States embodied several other policies aside from slavery such as greater state rights. They are visited by a time traveler from the future who sends them both back in time to the actual Battle of Gettysburg so they can take part in it under the command of an unhinged Colonel to discover for themselves that War Is Hell and make them see the error of their ways. It turns out that the Confederate fanboy would otherwise have assassinated the first black U.S. President at a Civil War memorial ceremony in 2013. He doesn't go through with this since he ends up getting himself killed, but the murder is instead committed by the Confederate Colonel when he's accidentally transported to the future in a Cruel Twist Ending.
  • The Fred Allen Show had recurring character Senator Beauregard Claghorn, who was a parody of this type of character. The senator was the only man to buy Confederate war bonds in the 1950s, a proponent of moving the Mason-Dixon line to the Canadian border, wanted to dissolve the state of North Carolina on account of it having "North" in the name and refused money from one of his backers when the backer described the contribution as a "grant".
  • M*A*S*H: In the episode "The Tooth Shall Set You Free", Colonel Potter says the trope name almost verbatim to Maj. Weems, a racist engineer officer who's been sending blacks out to do the most dangerous duties in the hopes that he can get them wounded so bad that they'll get sent home or even killed. All this in the futile pursuit of reversing by default the Army desegregation order of 1948.
    Col Potter: Major, you're fighting the wrong war. The Civil War ended almost a hundred years ago.
  • In one episode of NCIS, a Middle Eastern suspect is amazed that the Americans are helping the British because "they burned your capitol in 1812."
  • John Kreese from Cobra Kai is a Vietnam veteran with massive unresolved issues from the horrific experiences he endured there. Unfortunately, Kreese's way of coping with those traumas is refusing to ever mentally leave Vietnam, embracing a hyper-cynical and Social Darwinist views of life and society as nothing but a continuation of the War; an unending conflict where honor is a lie and you have to be willing to do anything to survive. He passes this view on to the students in his Thug Dojo, and as a result, those kids quickly begin to devolve into a glorified street gang.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Many heels refuse to admit when they have lost, and continue acting as if they haven't for absurdly long periods of time.
    • CM Punk enjoyed the longest single WWE Championship reign since the 1980s, at well over 400 days (November 2011 to January 2013). When he lost his title to The Rock after their match was restarted once it was proven that The Shield had intervened, Punk claimed that he'd been unfairly robbed of the title, that the Rock's victory was a farce, and that his record title run was continuing despite even what WWE itself said. Eventually even he had to acknowledge that he was in a disadvantageous position, so he challenged Royal Rumble winner John Cena for his WrestleMania title shot - and lost, in what many consider to be one of the most epic WWE matches ever shown on television. Only then did Punk give up on the title, moving on to his obsession with trying to end the career of The Undertaker.
    • Curtis Axel was ambushed from behind by Erick Rowan just as he was trying to enter the 2015 Royal Rumble Match. For nearly four months afterwards, he continued to insist that he had never been eliminated (because he hadn't been knocked over any of the top ropes of the ring) - and that he was "still in the Royal Rumble." Then someone did knock him over the ropes one night, but that still didn't shut him up, and he just went on acting as if he were still in the (by now long-over) Rumble Match, setting a "record time" of untold thousands of hours! Eventually his mind snapped to the point where he just started imitating Hulk Hogan, which led to his Heel–Face Turn.
  • There was a minor heel named Jean Lafitte who claimed to be the direct ancestor of the 19th-century French pirate with the same name. Lafitte dressed up as his (supposed) famous ancestor and announced he was out for revenge against all Americans (and one Canadian) for an 1807 law that blockaded New Orleans, preventing pirates from entering the city note  This was in the mid-1990s - long, long after America had collectively forgotten that the blockade had ever happened.

    Video Games 
  • The Lemoyne Raiders from Red Dead Redemption II are a gang of aging raiders found in the swamplands of Lemoyne who still wear Confederate uniforms.
  • GUN: Downplayed with Sergeant Hollister and his Renegade Army, who have moved into violent attacks against anyone who crosses their paths, and still wear parts of their old confederate uniforms, mixed with war paint and feathers. Averted with Big Bad, former Confederate major and current railroad tycoon Thomas Macgruder, even during the actual Civil War, all he cared about was finding the lost Golden City of Quivira, and that hasn't changed.
  • Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood: Big Bad Barnsby was a Colonel in the Confederate army, and refused to surrender after the Union won, instead taking his men and waging a guerilla war against the U.S. He intends to use the lost gold of Juarez to raise a new Confederate army and resume fighting the Civil War openly. He also has a vendetta against the main characters for deserting his army unit during the last year of the war.
  • Splatoon: A century ago, the Great Turf War between the Inklings and the Octarians ended with the Inklings as the victors, forcing the Octarians to retreat into underground domes while the Inklings retained control over the surface. DJ Octavio, leader of the Octarian Army, remains bitter about the loss and plots to start a second Great Turf War by stealing the Great Zapfish to power up his Great Octoweapons and reclaim the surface... 100 years later. By that time, a new generation of Inklings only know of the Great Turf War as ancient history, have no particular animosity towards Octarians, and think Octavio is just a rad underground DJ, even enjoying the provocative music he aired during a hijacked broadcast. The only Inkling willing to engage in Octavio's desire for war is his old Arch-Enemy Cap'n Cuttlefish, who can only recruit his granddaughters and one random Inkling into his New Squidbeak Splatoon. After the events of Splatoon 2, many (possibly even most) Octolings end up leaving the Octarian Army to live alongside the Inklings in Inkopolis and beyond, reducing Ocatavio's forces into The Remnant fighting a lost cause.
  • The Elder Scrolls: The Reachmen are the natives of a region known as the Reach which faced repeated colonization efforts by larger powers throughout Tamriel and failed wars of rebellion to drive the Imperial colonizers out of their land. By the time of the fifth game, the Reachmen have mostly integrated into wider society and written off revolution against the occupiers as a lost cause, but a terrorist group known as the Forsworn refuses to back down and persists in waging a guerrilla campaign against the Imperials and Stormcloaks alike as if they are still amidst the ancient wars. Most Reachmen see the Forsworn as a bunch of madmen who are making things worse for everyone and getting innocents killed in a useless Cycle of Revenge, while Forsworn see their brethren who fail to follow them into battle as race traitors who are bending the knee to the occupation.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dishonored Roleplaying Game: The island of Morley attempted to secede from the Empire of the Isles in 1801, 36 years before the start of the first Dishonored game. Many of the natives still resent Gristol and support the idea of an independent Morley, some even going so far as to join criminal gangs or extremist groups like the Ox Tongues, who seek to drive out Imperial influence no matter the cost.

    Western Animation 
  • On one Looney Tunes short ("Southern Fried Rabbit", 1953), Bugs Bunny encounters a Rebel general (Yosemite Sam) who still believes the war is on and is still following orders given to him by Robert E. Lee to blast any Yankee that tries to cross the Mason-Dixon Line. When Bugs informs him that the war ended almost 90 years ago (as of the time of the cartoon's release), Sam's response is "I ain't no clock-watcher!"
  • The Rocky and Bullwinkle episode "Wossamotta's Shining Season" is all about this trope. Bullwinkle and Rocky play football, and at one point the whole thing turns into a reenactment of a Civil War battle. There's a southern, Kentucky-colonel-type character who can't abide the use of the word "Civil" directing things, and a character actually says, "Shoot, they're gonna fight the whole war over again!" (But this time, the "Sooth" wins)
  • In a Deputy Dawg short, the gang encounter an old Confederate soldier causing trouble who thinks the war is still going on.
  • Commander Clash falls into this for part of his first episode of Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
  • South Park:
    • In one episode, the boys get in an argument prior to performing for the Union in a Civil War Reenactment, prompting Cartman to join the Confederacy. When he's made fun of for joining the losing side, he tries to one-up them by getting the performers so drunk they forget it's a reenactment and fight for real. Surprisingly, Cartman builds an army that comes very close to overturning the war.
    • In another, the boys get entangled in a conspiracy started by America's oldest enemy: the British. When their invading armada get intercepted before it can reach American shores, the soldiers lament being "unable to end the Revolutionary War."
  • Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures: "The Spectre of the Pine Barrens" involves Team Quest running into a pair of Feuding Families still waging the Revolutionary War deep in the woods of New Jersey (one family were the descendants of a Red Coat that stole the real Declaration of Independence and the other were the descendants of the soldier sent to recapture it — they managed to keep their lines going by dressing up as The Jersey Devil and kidnapping kids every once in a while). When Team Quest tries to explain to them that the war is long over, the British lost and the Declaration was remade and signed, both sides get pissed, call them spies, and try to kill them.
  • Beast Wars: A recurring theme and major backstory element of the series is that many Predacons are still sore about their ancestors — the Decepticons — having lost the Great War, often because they feel the now-ruling Maximals — descendants of the Autobots — are oppressing them for the Sins of Our Fathers. Some Preds feel it more than others and actively scheme to get revenge by restarting the war in Predacon favor; this includes the Tripredacus Council, the corrupt rulers of the Predacons who are secretly playing the long game, and the series' main villains, Megatron and the crew of the Darksyde, a band of criminals and wannabe revolutionaries who want to start the revolution now and view the Council as weak for engaging in Realpolitik instead of taking the fight to the Maximals.

    Real Life 
  • Among Argentines, this attitude towards Las Malvinas is so common that it borders on Hat status for the entire nation.
    • The British, meanwhile, tend to be more than happy to remind the Argentines exactly who won that war, occasionally in the form of sending one of the most advanced warships on the planet to patrol the area, but are generally less interested.
  • The Neo-Confederate movement has some adherents in the Deep South of the U.S.A., often overlapping with white supremacist groups.
    • An entire town in Brazil, called Americana, was founded by Confederates emigrating after losing the Civil War (and looking for a place where they could still hold slaves, as Brazil did not ban slavery until 1888). Descendants of the "Confederados" have lived there ever since.
    • Many people in the South like to display the Confederate flag, even sometimes in official places such as state buildings or on license plates. This invariably causes controversy between those who see it as a matter of historical southern pride and those who take issue with its Unfortunate Implications. The Other Wiki has a whole article on the subject.
    • After the Charleston church shooting perpetrated by Dylann Roof, sentiment quickly grew to remove the Confederate flag from the Confederate memorial on the South Carolina statehouse grounds. That kicked off a trend of examining the use and sales of the flag, with several major retailers such as Amazon and Wal-Mart pulling merchandise. Other states have begun debating Confederate memorials and flags, and the United States Congress has even debated whether or not to allow Confederate flags on Confederate graves in national cemeteries. Atlanta NAACP chapter president Richard Rose suggested that the relief sculpture at Stone Mountain Georgia be removed. Numerous rallies in support of the Confederate flag have been held in Southern states in reaction. Far from starting and ending with the removal of the flag from the monument in South Carolina, the debate over whether or not display of the flag at all is appropriate in the 21st Century has kicked into high gear once again.
    • Somewhat inexplicably the flag used for this purpose is almost always the Army of Northern Virginia battle standard/ second Naval Jack, not any of the Confederacy's actual national flags; the actual Confederate flags are surprisingly obscure as a result. One amusing example was Georgia bowing to pressure and removing it from their state flag in 2003... only to replace it with the ''actual'' first Confederate flag with the state seal tacked on. This went almost completely unremarked, and remains their flag to this day.
    • A lot of pro-Confederacy monuments and watered-down history textbooks from the late 19th century up until the Civil Rights movement is thanks to a group of wealthy Southern women called The Daughters of the Confederacy being big pushers of The Lost Cause as much as they could including textbooks, resulting in an arguably disturbing inversion of Written by the Winners in a lot of textbooks even reaching as recent as the present day.
    • The Southern Strategy has been a highly successful political strategy for over half a century now by appealing to anti-black racism in what was historically the Confederacy.
  • The main two political parties of the Irish Political System are in many ways this, with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael being directly descended from the Anti-Treaty and Pro-Treaty factions of Sinn Féin in the Irish Civil War. Both parties have since become in effect political machines, with personalities and historical and regional loyalties driving voting patterns more than policy. This is particularly true of Fianna Fáil, with its development into a "party of power" advancing the interests of the monied elite (starting around the premiership of Charlie Haughey, the wealth-obsessed Irish Nixon). Fine Gael has gained a few principles (becoming a Christian Democratic party with conservative views on social issues but with a more social view of economic policy, in line with Catholic social teaching), but as their longstanding alliance with Labour (with whom they strongly disagree on social policy and who are substantially to the left of them on economic policy) shows, they've historically only been marginally better than Fianna Fáil in this respect. (However, after the Ahern and Cowen FF administrations revealed some truly spectacular corruption on FF's part, people have been rethinking this conception.) The party calling itself Sinn Féin right now is The Remnant of the original party left after Éamon de Valera led pragmatic Anti-Treaty members (who recognized they had been beaten) to found Fianna Fáil. This Sinn Féin continued fighting, with varying degrees of intensity (greatest during The Troubles) until the early 2000s, and are now Ireland's main left-wing party.
  • 100 years later, Red October is still a hotly disputed political issue in Russia, that divides people and parties more than their actual political positions. Some, especially the communists, praise Lenin and his victorious Red faction. But there's also a sizable fandom of the nationalist/monarchist White Movement, who believe the whole Russian Revolution was staged by German intelligence, and consider Tsar Nicholas II a saint. Ironically, while nationalists and communists hate each other because of differing views on history, they actually share a lot of common ground, both being conservative, generally anti-Western and nostalgic of some past era, either Imperial Russia or Soviet Union.
  • "Tankies" note are a sub-section of communist living outside the former communist world and still defend the old Soviet Union with a near religious fervor just as they did during the Cold War and take an authoritarian line in political matters. Unlike "necro-patriots" living within the former Eastern Bloc (who generally acknowledge the hardships even if they miss it for one reason or another) or other groups of socialists who have denounced the USSR, tankies insist the USSR was a paradise ruined either by incompetent liberalizing leaders or the CIA. The fact that the largely anti-authoritarian Western political left hasn't and doesn't like them, adopting social democratic and green politics on the reformist side, and more hardline democratic socialism as well as anarchism on the revolutionary side over Marxism-Leninism, and the right doesn't care doesn't seem to have dawned on them. Even the few remaining nominally communist states, including China, Laos, and Vietnam, have mostly abandoned central planning for market economies. Regardless, tankies are the inverse of the "not real communism" types of socialists, insisting that China, Laos, and Vietnam are "building socialism adapted to new material conditions" and that anyone that doesn't believe China or any other so-called "Actually Existing Socialist states" to be still building communism are "ultra-leftists" that do not understand how socialism works.
    • There is a bit of split within tankies between "classic tankies"note  and "Sino tankies," the latter of whom are the mentioned sympathizers of China. The former classic tankies are a double shot of this trope, effectively still fighting the Cold War and the post-Mao Market Reforms. Rather than supporting China, classic tankies view China and all so called "actually existing socialist states" as traitors to the socialist cause, supporting instead anti-Revisionist Stalinist Communist parties like the Communist Party of Greece, as well as various Maoist or hardline Communist insurgencies such as the Filipino New People's Army and the Indian Naxalites.
  • In South Africa, there is much controversy over the old pre-1994 flag, which has come to symbolize The Apartheid Era. That Nelson Mandela himself embraced some Afrikaner iconography after being elected president seems not to have entered into the issue.
  • The overwhelming majority of the Vietnamese diaspora identify themselves with the flag of the defunct South Vietnam, as most of them are refugees who fled after the communist victory in The Vietnam War. Some of them even consider the current Vietnamese flag (which was formerly the flag of North Vietnam) to be offensive. Meanwhile, the South Vietnamese flag is banned in the unified communist Vietnam.
  • The modern Cossack communities are intensely proud of their heritage, and have been known to insist that the Cossacks are "still on the march" - as if neither czarist Russia nor the Soviet Union ever existed.
  • Despite the last attempt by the House of Stuart's supporters to reclaim the throne having been the Jacobite rising of 1745, Jacobites exist to this day, and insist the Stuarts' descendants are still the rightful kings of Britain.
  • In Spain the situation is a bit odd as the fascists won the Spanish Civil War but in addition to being allied to Hitler, they were also monarchist and the Second Spanish Republic was never restored. To this day the flag of the Second Republic is still flown by some leftists and two major leftist parties, PSOE, the main social democratic party and ERC, a regional Catalan party with a pro-indepencence bent, claim continuity to their pre-Civil War selves and have either a sizable Republican wing (PSOE) or "Republican" in the name (with ERC standing for Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya — Republican Left of Catalonia). On the other hand the Spanish right wing includes (the descendants of) high ranking Franco regime functionariesnote  and they have a relationship with the era from 1939 to 1975 that is a lot more chummy than any mainstream party in Germany would be with the era from 1933 to 1945.


Video Example(s):


Lewis and Clark

When Jack reunites with his war-buddies Lewis and Clarke, they still think that the Revolutionary War is still going on. When Jack tries convincing them of the truth, they take one look at Emilia and presume that not only is the war still going, but that Jack had gone turncoat and that the island (which they think is US territory) is under British occupation.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / StillFightingTheCivilWar

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