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Tesla Tech Timeline

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Need to establish a setting where Lightning Can Do Anything, but don't want your reader/viewer/gamer to stop and think too hard about the scientific ramifications of it? Easy: Add Nikola Tesla, his inventions, or even just inventions carrying his name and suddenly you have handwaved even the most bizarre uses of electricity.note 


Want to have a Lightning Gun? Have it be created by Nikola Tesla and no one will bat an eye. Shock and Awe-power-granting inventions? One of the conspiracy theories regarding Tesla is about him having mastered artificial lightning! Turn the Eiffel Tower into a giant Tesla Coil? Absolutely - it has 'Tesla' in the name!

Why this works is because, as the Useful Notes page on Tesla will tell you, Tesla garnered a reputation as a brilliant scientist and utter madman who was unfairly marginalized by the scientific and industrial establishment of his day, particularly Thomas Edison. This reputation, which has only strengthened in the modern day with the rediscovery of Tesla's work, is perfect for spawning all sorts of myths and conspiracy theories regarding just what the man was creating in his laboratories. Sometimes, this results in Edison getting a Historical Villain Upgrade to Corrupt Corporate Executive in these timelines for wanting to suppress Tesla's supposed genius.


In a Tesla Tech Timeline, Lightning Guns are some of the more mundane uses of electricity, so expect a lot of electricity arcing everywhere whenever you travel to one.

One step up the industrial ladder from Steampunk, which is more about brass gears and steam engines than shiny steel and electricity. It may overlap with Diesel Punk, which likewise uses electricity as an available power source and often has Art Deco aesthetics, but is usually much less visually grimy and bleak. It may be part of Soviet Superscience — after all, all that advanced technology needs a sufficiently different power source from its Western counterparts.



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     Comic Books 
  • Atomic Robo is all about this trope; Tesla created the titular Atomic Robo and many of his adventures center around the technology he invented.
  • Subtly implied in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. An electricity fuse box in the first issue is labelled "Edison Teslatron", suggesting that in this timeline Edison and Tesla co-operated instead of competing. (And also, they were probably fictional versions of Edison and Tesla from books like Edison's Conquest of Mars and other works featuring Tesla with this trope, suggesting that they were both ludicrous-tech geniuses).

    Fan Works 

  • Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, of all movies, employs a combination of this and Magitek. In the film's world, Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower in Long Island was never demolished, and so Slappy's plot is to use it to grant extra power to his spell to bring Halloween to life, broadcasting it much further than just one little town.

  • Leviathan is set in an alternate, more advanced version of 1914, and Tesla has invented massive Tesla Cannons, and even a tower that supposedly can create a "Death Ray".
  • The Master Key, defied, where Tesla or Edison could have touched the Master Key of Electricity and gotten super-advanced tech, but didn't. Or perhaps only Edison could have...
  • In The Prestige, Tesla invents a device that can perfectly duplicate physical objects (seemingly creating matter from nothing, no less) and it's even capable of cloning humans (in the book, there's some Clone Degeneration, but in the movie, they're apparently perfect clones). This invention should have revolutionized everything, but its owner only ever uses it for a stage magic trick, and it's eventually destroyed before anyone else learns about it.
  • The Astounding, the Amazing and the Unknown by Paul Malmont. After Nikola Tesla dies under mysterious circumstances, a team of pulp magazine and sci-fi writers attempt to track down a possible superweapon he invented, possibly related to the Wardencyffe Tower. It's left ambiguous as to whether there really was such a weapon however, as the whole story is related by an Unreliable Narrator (pulp writer L. Ron Hubbard).

    Live-Action Television 
  • Modern day technology in Warehouse 13 is much the same as it is in reality, with the exception of a handful of devices used only by agents of the Warehouse to track down dangerous artefacts. This includes electrical handguns and rifles created by Tesla himself, two-way video communication devices created in the 1920's by Philo Farnsworth, and a slew of other devices that may or may not be Magitek.

     Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS supplement Alternate Earths. One of the campaign settings is Gernsback, where Nikola Tesla succeeded in creating technologically advanced inventions that revolutionised the world.

     Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed has Tesla being discredited by Thomas Edison using the same experiments as he did in Real Life - this is not just because he sees Tesla as a competitor, but also as part of a Historical Villain Upgrade since he is part of the Templars. Tesla, his career and laboratory destroyed and with a little prodding from the assassins, uses the Wardenclyffe Tower to send a particle beam across the globe to blow up a Templar research station, causing the Tunguska event.
    Tesla (as he flicks the switch): "Rot in Hell, Edison."
  • In Bioshock Infinite, one of the things that Elizabeth can bring in through a tear is a Tesla Coil to zap enemies. Given the nature of Elizabeth's tear powers, it's likely that Bioshock Infinite itself isn't a Tesla Tech Timeline, but Elizabeth can pull things from a timeline that is.
  • Close to the Sun is a Survival Horror game set aboard the Helios, a Tesla-designed super-cruiser the size of a small island. In this world, Tesla's technology succeeded in propelling him to fame and fortune over Edison, and he used his influence to create the Helios as a haven for scientists and free thinkers from all over the world, where they may pursue their creative ideas completely free of any financial, corporate, governmental, religious or moral restraints. The similarities to Andrew Ryan and his Rapture have not gone unnoticed... especially since it all goes horribly wrong.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert: Tesla himself is never mentioned beyond a brief reference by Albert Einstein in a pre-mission cutscene in the Allied campaign, nor actually shown note , but boy do the Soviets love to use Tesla coil-like weapons and inventions. That being said, the aforementioned brief reference in the Allied campaign had Einstein note that the principles behind the newly discovered Soviet superweapon, the Iron Curtain, reminded him of some experiments that Tesla was working on, implying that the Iron Curtain (and possibly the Soviet Union's "Tesla tech") may have been derived from Tesla's research (whether he willingly provided it to them or not).
    • Tesla coils show up in all the alternate timelines of Command & Conquer: Red Alert - not as transformers, but as the Soviet Union's advanced base defenses. Tesla Troopers and Tesla Tanks, meanwhile, are the Soviets' Lightning Gun-armed troops.
    • The second game introduces "Tesla Reactors" as the Soviet Union's counterpart to the Allies' generically named "Power Plants" as the default source of electric power, and has a Soviet mission where the primary objective is to turn the Eiffel tower into a giant Tesla coil to lay waste to Paris and force the French to back down from their plans to join the rest of the European Allies against the USSR, and demoralize the rest of Europe as well.
    • The third game's events are caused by the Soviets travelling back in time to assassinate Albert Einstein. Their time machine is basically a cockpit surrounded by tesla coils.
  • Tesla shows up in The Order: 1886 as part of the titular Order, having created science weapons like the Arc Gun and Thermite Thrower for the protagonist and his allies.
  • In Resistance: Fall of Man, Tesla receives a patent for his VTOL designs in 1928. By the 1950's, it's become a standard military aircraft.
  • Tesla The Weatherman Has Nikola Tesla fight against the evil Thomas Edison and his army of DC-powered robots with a power-glove like invention that allows him to control lightning strikes and levitate objects among other things.
  • The flavor text in the video-game tie-ins for Atlantis: The Lost Empire identify your main weapon as a "Teslator." It could be turned into an ice-gun or a goo-gun. Rather surprisingly, this weapon never appears in the movie proper—presumably Disney Interactive was squeamish about including firearms in a first-person shooter.
  • Some electrical weapons in We Need to go Deeper were created by Tesla, including a Tesla Gun and a chargeable Tesla Crank.

     Web Comics 

     Web Original