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Series / Grant (2020)

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Grant is a three-part Mini Series/ Documentary series, producer by Leonardo DiCaprio that aired on The History Channel in 2020.

Through a combination of expert interviews and filmed dramatization, the series explores the life of Ulysses S. Grant and how he grew to become one of America's greatest military leaders who led the Union to victory in the American Civil War and, evenutally, President of the United States. It also examines Grant's humanity and vulnerabilities and seeks to create a three-dimensional image of an important historical figure few people actually know much about.

Tropes for the series include:

  • Accidental Misnaming: When Grant arrives at West Point, he finds that he's been registered as "Ulysses S. Grant" rather than "Ulysses H. Grant."note  The administrator has no sympathies and his fellow cadets tell him that it's actually a good thing as he now shares his initials with his country.
  • The Alcoholic: The first episode touches on Grant's supposed alcoholism. He's shown drunk in the years he's forced to spend alone in the Pacific Northwest away from his wife and children. The historians being interviewed say that his drinking was exaggerated by those who saw him as a villain.
  • Cavalry Officer: Discussed. Grant was one of the finest horseman to come out to West Point, but he couldn't get assigned to a cavalry unit and ended up in the infantry.
  • Cigar Chomper: Grant's early successes in the Civil War lead to his being sent thousands of cigars by a grateful public. Afterwards, he's rarely seen without a cigar in his mouth in the filmed segments. The interviews mention that Grant could smoke up to 20 cigars a day.
  • The Determinator:
    • One trait that shines in everything that Grant does in his dogged determination. No matter what hardships he experiences, he faces them head on and does so with as much dignity as he can muster. He would become The Dreaded to many Confederate officers because of this trait.
    • At the end of his life, Grant was dying painfully of cancer which made even the act of drinking a glass of water agonizing. However, he held onto life through sheer force of will to complete his memoirs and have them published so he could make sure his family could rebuild their finances.
  • Disappeared Dad: Because the US Army stationed him in the Pacific Northwest for years, he's a stranger to his eldest son, Frederick, when he finally returns home. The interviews mention that Grant's second son, Ulysses, Jr., was two-years-old by the time his father finally laid eyes on him.
  • Dissonant Serenity: The interviews and films segments both show that Grant somehow became calmer when situations got more stressful. This trait served him well in war, as he could make cool decisions in the heat of battle while his enemies panicked and make mistakes.
  • Four-Star Badass: Grant is so badass on the battlefield that the American government makes him the first three-star general of the US Army since George Washington and eventually creates the four-star position of General of the Armies just for him.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: After his first discharge from the military, Grant toiled on the field alongside his slave and sold firewood when times got truly desperate. Played with in the fact that Grant never saw this as degrading.
  • Friendly Enemy: Grant is literally friends with some of the Confederate officers, whom he knew from West Point or previous military service. He tend to extend the attitude towards all Confederates though, treating them respectfully in person and offering lenient terms of surrender, earning their postwar gratitude. Some of his men show this as well, sharing bread with starving Confederates after their surrender at Vicksburg.
  • Historical Beauty Upgrade: Grant's wife in real life was cross-eyed; she is played by a much younger actor.
  • Historical Domain Character: All those featured in the filmed segments of historical figures.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The interview segments point out that Grant was lauded as a hero in his lifetime and up until the early 20th century, which is when revisionist histories sympathetic to the Confederacy begin casting Grant as the villain in the Civil War.
  • Horseback Heroism: During the Mexican-American War, Grant rode out alone into heavy fire to get troops much needed ammunition. During the ride, he used his equestrian skills to hunch down at his horses side and used his mount as a shield against enemy bullets.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Robert E. Lee, who comes from the closet thing America has to aristocracy. The commentators contrast him sharply with Grant, who came from humble origins and takes a more modern view of warfare.
  • The Pollyanna: Grant was quite the optimist. When W.T. Sherman tells him "We've had the devil's own day, haven't we?", to which Grant responds "Lick 'em tomorrow."
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Even when he was broke and offered a four-figure sum (enough to buy a house in those days), Grant frees William, his slave, because he finds slavery to be abhorrent.
  • Soldiers at the Rear: During the Mexican-American War, Grant serves as a quartermaster, but still gets a chance to demonstrate his skills and heroism.
  • Suspiciously Small Army: Reenactments only depict small skirmishes between a few dozen soldiers. Larger battles are depicted through maps with moving graphics and historical illustrations.
  • War Is Hell:
    • The Battle of the Wilderness, where the battleground becomes engulfed in flames and the air is filled with the screams of the wounded who are trapped and burning alive in the conflagration.
    • The Battle of the Crater, where poor Union leadership turned a Union advantage into a turkey shoot for the Confederates. The Confederates gave no quarter to the colored units and white officers desperately began shooting their own men in an attempt to earn mercy and be taken prisoner instead.
  • We Have Reserves: Grant keeps pressing the attack against the Confederates because he knows he has a numbers advantage.
  • Worthy Opponent: Grant and Lee view each other as this. After hearing about each other's exploits in different theaters, by the last year of the war they're practically itching to face off directly.