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“You ever think how different life could be if you could just change one thing?”
Juliana Crain
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The Man in the High Castle is a series based on the book of the same name by Philip K. Dick. A pilot episode for a live-action adaptation of the novel was released for Prime Video's 2015 season of pilots, due to its standing as a seminal Alternate History novel and one of Dick's most lauded works. After critical acclaim, Amazon ordered an entire series. A second season was released on December 16, 2016. Due to good reception, the show has been renewed for a third season, set to air on October 5, 2018.

The series begins many years after the victory of the Axis powers in the Second World War, and what was once the United States has been divided between the Japanese Empire and the Third Reich. A thin strip of neutral, lawless territory in the Rocky Mountains serves as a buffer between the two superpowers, who have been in an uneasy truce since the war's end. Juliana Crain, a woman living in the Japanese Pacific States with her fiancé Frank Frink, is given a film reel depicting an Alternate History where The Allied Powers won the war. In the Greater Nazi Reich, a man named Joe Blake carries one of these mysterious film reels toward the Neutral Zone, under orders from Obergruppenführer John Smith. Meanwhile, high-ranking politicians from both empires fear for the aging Adolf Hitler's life, knowing that the death of the Fuhrer would trigger a war far more terrible than any seen before.

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This page is for tropes associated primarily with the live action adaption (set in 1962) - tropes of the novel or common to both should go on the novel page. Beware spoilers!

It now has a recap page which seriously Needs Wiki Magic Love.


This series provides examples of:

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    A-D 
  • Adaptation Expansion: In multiple ways. Some book characters are heavily modified, their family members are introduced, and there are many wholly new characters. The plot is also greatly expanded, with much more of it taking place in the Nazi-controlled portion of the former US.
  • Adult Fear: Finding out your child has an incurable degenerative disease that will eventually kill them? Check. Living in a nation that doesn't tolerate the disabled or terminally ill? Double check. Raising him to be a good and loyal member of the State? Triple Check.
  • Affably Evil: The patrolman Joe Blake meets is a nice, friendly, helpful man... who doesn't mind the fact handicapped and terminally ill people are being cremated, the ashes falling like snow.
  • Alcoholic Parent: Tagomi, in the alternate timeline where the Allies won the war, is an alcoholic father who dies after falling off a bridge in a drunken stupor. The Tagomi that takes his place (the Pacific States Trade Minister) is shocked to hear this.
  • Allohistorical Allusion:
    • An assassination attempt orchestrated by Reinhard Heydrich is made against John Smith, in which several gunmen attack his car with machine guns and explosives. This is very similar to how Heydrich himself was historically killed in the famous Operation Anthropoid in Prague, right down to Smith getting out of the car to confront his attackers in a gunfight. In the show's timeline, however, Smith survives.
    • Hermann Göring is said to have been executed for treason some time before the events of the series after he attempted to gain power as acting chancellor during a period when Adolf Hitler was seriously ill. Göring, who had been Hitler's chosen successor for much of the war, did a similar "power grab" in real life when Hitler was confined to the Führerbunker in the last days of World War 2.
    • At the end of season 2, Hitler is assassinated and succeeded by another high-ranking Nazi, before this conspiracy is outed by Heinrich Himmler based on intelligence he received from John Smith. In a speech to the German people he notably decries their lack of loyalty to their now dead Fuehrer. Historically, Himmler also attempted to throw Hitler under the bus when he tried to make a separate deal with the Allies through backwater diplomatic channels.
    • Early in season 3, the Japanese perform a nuclear test in the Utah territory as a warning to the Nazis, alluding to the Trinity nuclear test in New Mexico where the first functional atomic bomb was successfully detonated in 1945.
    • Admiral Inokuchi is assigned as the new overall leader of the Japanese Pacific States, but seldom leaves his flagship and fleet, likely for security since the headquarters bombing. This alludes to Admiral Yamamoto, who was actually against Japan going to war against America, which made him a target for assassination by zealot Japanese militants for a time, so for his own protection he had to confine himself to his ships.
    • Chief Inspector Kido's disgust when he describes how he liberated a Japanese-American internment camp parallels the Allied liberation of German concentration camps at the end of the war.
    • The Nazi policy to eradicate and erase all United States history from before the conquest by the Reich, is named "Jahr Null" which means "Year Zero". The only time in real life that a political force named a policy "Year Zero" was in Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot, and its purpose was the total elimination of all culture, traditions, and history that existed in that country before Pol Pot's revolution.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Subverted. In the Nazi-dominated world, All Psychology is Jungian, since Sigmund Freud's writings were dismissed for his Jewish heritage, while Carl Jung was officially embraced because he was an "Aryan" (German Swiss).
  • Alternate History:
    • The main focus of the series is life in the USA after the Axis powers won World War II, with the Germans occupying the East Coast, the Japanese controlling the West Coast, and a Wild West-like "neutral zone" in the Rocky Mountains. Other differing aspects of the timeline are mentioned throughout, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt being assassinated, the entire black population of Africa being enslaved by the Nazis, and WWII ending in 1947 instead of 1945.
    • An In-Universe example includes the plot of propaganda film The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, which details a world where it was instead the Allies, not the Axis powers who won the war. It isn't the only one in-universe. At least three alternate timelines are spoken of, and as both Adolf Hitler and Hawthorne Abendsen have libraries of hundreds of newsreels it is uncertain how many alternate worlds are being implied.
  • Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome:
    • Albert Speer was able to construct all of his colossal, grandiose architectural designs in Berlin in the show's alternate timeline, and the Nazi Party as a whole were also able to fully carry out their grim agenda throughout most of the world.
    • The Japanese Empire as a whole, meanwhile, was not only able to successfully conquer the former colonies in Southeast Asia as it originally intended, but even the Indian subcontinent and the entire West Coast of the United States, fulfilling its dream of a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, and then some.
  • America Won World War II: Inverted and played straight at the same time. Obviously, America doesn't win the war in this timeline, but the timeline's main point of divergence is Franklin Roosevelt's assassination, which meant that America stayed isolationist and didn't get involved in World War II, implying that the Allies never could have won the war without America's help.note 
  • Angry White Man:
    • Childan faces discrimination from the Japanese colonists, despite his best efforts to assimilate to Japanese culture, which leads him to sell fake relics to his Japanese clients.
    • Frank is moved to exact revenge on the regime when his sister and her family are killed by the Kempetai.
    • Ed is somewhat neutral, since he values the lives of his friends or grandfather over fighting the Japanese.
  • Anti-Villain: Given the premise of the series, it should be unsurprising that the series is shot through with these. Especially given the complicated internal politics of the Reich and Japanese Empire. There are plenty of characters who will do things which are questionable-at-best but who are also clearly fighting against far worse forces in the world... or, indeed, to stop the world from ending. Suffice it to say that many of the "good guys" in this series would be "bad guys" in many other stories.
  • Anyone Can Die: In a dystopian setting this dangerous, it's no wonder that death is just around the corner. By season 3, even main characters start to bite the dust, with both Joe Blake and Frank Fink dying for real.
  • Arc Words: "A way out." First spoken by Trudy to Juliana just before the former is killed. Juliana continues to repeat this and actually seek a way out at different times all through the series. At the end of season 2, Juliana breaks down declaring, "There's no way out," then the Man in the High Castle presents what he proclaims is a Hope Spot for her.
  • Artistic License – Engineering: The Nazis have rebuilt downtown Berlin according to Hitler's master plan, with swastika-festooned megastructures all over the place, most conspicuously the truly-enormous Volkshalle. Unlike Wolfenstein: The New Order, which handwaved it with a "super concrete," no attempt is made to explain how such enormous structures can stand in a city built on a swamp.note  Another engineering problem with the Volkshalle is also left out, namely that a dome that size would have its own indoor precipitation because of the humidity brought in by 100,000 or more people standing inside.
  • Artistic License – History:
  • Assassin Outclassin': In season 3, Trade Minister Tagomi is repeatedly targeted by Nazi assassins for his previous participation in smuggling classified nuclear technology out of the Reich. On one such occasion, the assassin bursts right into his home, but Tagomi overpowers and kills him thanks to his Kendo skills.
  • As You Know: Dialogues are usually loaded with this kind of exposition, with characters retelling general details about the setting or retreading info about plans they obviously have gone about before or known for a long time.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Hawthorne was counting on Juliana to specifically ignore his insistence that George Dixon's survival was key to preventing nuclear war, and that she would instead kill him to save Thomas's life, thereby ensuring John Smith would make it to Berlin to stop Heusmann. Given the fact that he's The Man in the High Castle and has seen hundreds of different futures, planning that far ahead wouldn't be too difficult for him.
    • Smith visits Heydrich in prison, ordering the alarm sounded and presenting him with his dress uniform, to tell him that his co-conspirators have succeeded and he is being released. Before letting him out, Smith asks who his co-conspirators are. Heydrich, knowing he will be able to kill Smith once he's out, is all too happy to tell Smith that Heusmann is behind the plot before Smith shoots him dead and shuts the false alarm off.
  • The Big Board: When General Onada explains the impending Nazi attack to his soldiers, he demonstrates his defense plans on a huge planning board with little figures.
  • Big Brother Is Watching You: Juliana's halfway house residence in New York City is bugged with surveillance equipment by the SS.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Axis Powers and surprisingly, the Resistance, mostly towards Julianna, who has become one of their targets following helping Joe Blake at the end of the first season and being blamed for Karen's death at the beginning of the second season.
  • Bilingual Bonus: As is to be expected, various German and Japanese lines are sprinkled throughout the series — albeit mostly just one-liners.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • The Origami man who Juliana meets in Canon City. Although initially hinted that he is also a member of the resistance, it is later revealed he is an undercover member of the Sicherheitsdienst (the SS intelligence agency) and tries to kill her once she hands him the film.
    • Martin Heusmann despite being a Blue Blood, pretends to have little ambition beyond his work. It gets him named Acting Chancellor.
  • Bounty Hunter: The Marshal is a vicious bounty hunter who works for the Nazis to hunt down death camp escapees and resistance fighters in the Neutral Zone. Since the land is unclaimed by either the Germans or Japanese, people like him effectively are the law there.
  • Bury Your Disabled: In the eugenics-supporting alternate world created by the Nazis, the infirm are one of the groups targeted for extermination by the authorities.
    • During Joe Blake's drive through the country from NYC to the Rocky Mountains, he passes a hospital that burns its chronically sick patients at the end of every week.
    • John Smith, a high-ranking SS officer in America, is horrified to learn that his son has a degenerative muscle disease, since it means he will have to be euthanized.
    • Smith"s older brother, whom he worshipped as a child, died of the same disease. His wife mentions how such people are not allowed to suffer, not knowing she was talking about her own son.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When Smith captures Abendsen, he says: "John, I wondered if we'd ever meet again." Smith has to order a bunch of clerks to dig through old files to figure out who the hell he is.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Nuclear weapons are officially called "Heisenberg Devices" in this timeline. "Atomic" is occasionally used as well, as is "H-bomb" (short for "Heisenberg" in this case).
  • Cliffhanger:
    • Season one ends with Tagomi waking up in what appears to be our world's 1962 with no explanation given.
    • Season two ends with Juliana reunited with either a very-much-alive Trudy or her alternate-history counterpart, and Lem approaches Tagomi with additional films from the Man.
    • Season three ends with High Castle now the Nazis' prisoner, Himmler shot in an assassination attempt and the threat of a potential power struggle looming over the Reich, and Juliana escapes to another reality but not just before getting shot by Smith.
  • The Chosen One: Conversed; most of the older generation of Germans sees the children of the Lebensborn program as this.
  • Les Collaborateurs: The American war veteran now working in the Nazi government's police force, plus Captain Connelly and John Smith himself apparently, who appears to be American while also being a high-ranking SS officer.
  • Cool Car: For all its faults, if you're a fan of classic German cars this world is impressive: government officials are taken around in Mercedes S600 limos, while even taxicabs in the former US are as often as not made by Mercedes-Benz. Granted, as the series is set in 1962 these are all new cars at the time... but the degree to which the cars are everywhere is still impressive, especially since it seems clear that US automakers are still in business. And for fans of the small, budget-model European cars from the 1950's and 60's (Citroens, Fiats, Volkswagens, etc.), these are spotted all over San Francisco. These were apparently meant as substitutes for equivalent Japanese models, which are likely too rare for the series' production to obtain for filming.
  • Cool Guns: Multiple varieties show up. The resistance mainly uses Thompsons and Colt 1911's, with some old-school .38 wheelguns for good measure. The Marshal has a sawed-off Winchester 1887 lever action shotgun. GNR Nazis use Mauser Kar98K bolt-action rifles and MP-40 SMGs, likely hand-me-downs from the Wehrmacht, who are seen to be replacing their WWII-era inventory with HK G-3 automatic rifles and MP-5 SMGs. The Japanese use Nambu pistols, with Arisaka Type-38 and -99 bolt-action rifles equipping their rank-and-file soldiers. They have just adopted the Howa Type-64 automatic rifle, but it's so new that only elite units like the Imperial Guard have them yet. The new guns are all at least slightly anachronistic, but it's excusable in the alternate timeline, in which they could have been developed earlier. The assassin who shot the Japanese Crown Prince uses an even more unlikely Dragunov SVD rifle, though it's unclear whether it's supposed to be an actual SVD or standing in for a fictional weapon. In Season 2, Gary Connell favors a Browning HiPower, which fits perfectly because it was manufactured before WWII in both Belgium and Canada, and after they captured Herstal, the Nazis had FN continue production of the "Pistole 1935" for issue to the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe. Walther PPK pistols also pop up here and there. Guns (and their value and cachet) are a Discussed Trope since multiple characters are interested in acquiring and selling them: Childan deals in authentic antique weapons while Frank works at a foundry that churns out reproductions.
  • Cool Plane: Even if it's got a swastika on the tail, it's hard not to have your heart skip a beat at the sight of a Concorde sitting on the tarmac in San Francisco... in the early 1960s, over a decade before they went into service IRL. The fact that it is made clear that Lufthansa is running multiple flights each day across the US and across the Atlantic (barely an episode goes by without hearing the sonic boom of one) is, when compared with the total global fleet of them ever, quite impressive. Taken Up to Eleven in the second season when we see the Berlin airport. There are Concordes lined up at the gates as if they were 737s today. The implied fleet size alone is staggering.
  • Cool Train: New York has an elevated monorail system. Berlin has an even more extensive network implied.
  • Conspicuously Public Assassination: Attempted against the Crown Prince of Japan. The assassin intends to be caught and serve as a Pretext for War.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: Obergruppenfuhrer Smith, faced with the choice of killing his son or turning him over to the Nazi authorities, takes the third option and kills his physician and destroys the medical records in order to continue to hide his son's illness. When the physician's widow asks for an autopsy, Smith quickly has the body burned to hide the evidence of murder.
  • Crapsaccharine World: In contrast to the Neutral Zone the Greater Nazi Reich (and, to a lesser extent, the Japanese Pacific States) are far more developed and livable, and in some cases even enjoyable, assuming you aren't one of the persecuted minorities. However, the show goes to great lengths to reveal what happens when someone stops being protected and starts to come into the eyes of the state. Juliana was perfectly happy with her life until her sister was murdered by the Kempeitai, Frank was doing just fine until Juliana disappeared and he lost almost his entire family, but the worst has to be what has started to happen to Obergruppenfuhrer Smith, not for the severity, but because he is the one man who has the most to gain from the society he's helped build. In episode 8, he learns that his son is suffering from a degenerative disability and will go into full paralysis within a year. Since the Nazis don't want to create cures for such disabilities, as they would lead to an impure human race, he is given only one option-eventual euthanasia. It's clear that no matter how much faith he has in the Reich, this turn of events is shaking that faith, because he loves his wife and children more than anything, and had previously deluded himself into believing that by joining the Nazis he was making a better world for them.
  • Crapsack World: Because of the German and Japanese occupations, the infrastructure is maintained mainly with an eye to keeping their respective parts of the USA functioning. Consequently in the Neutral Zone, the relative lawlessness means that roads and buildings are at best indifferently maintained. Some buildings even still have World War II-era propaganda posters stuck on them only half-covered by Nazi or Japanese symbols.
  • Dead Alternate Counterpart:
    • It is revealed that in this timeline Reichsmarshall Herman Goering and his family were executed on Hitler's orders because Goering tried to usurp power from his boss after he fell into a brief coma several years prior to 1962. This mirrors Goering's similar real life attempt at a coup when the Third Reich collapsed in 1945.
    • Inverted with Trade Minister Tagomi, who visits an alternate universe (from his perspective) where the Axis Powers lost World War II and his wife and son are both still alive and living in San Francisco. He spends considerable time there with them. His counterpart in our timeline is implied to have jumped off a bridge.
    • Frank Fink watches one of the Alternate Universe reels with Juliana, where he witnesses himself being executed by Joe Blake as part of a Nazi death squad. This is in a reality where the Space Cold War between the Nazis and Japanese "turned hot", and San Francisco was nuked and invaded by the Reich.
  • Deadline News: After Adolf Hitler's death, an illegal news broadcast in the Greater Nazi Reich exposes the truth to the public before the newsman is shot to death on live television.
  • Dimensional Traveler: Kotomichi, Tagomi, and alternate-Trudy stumbled onto how to pull this off and go into alternate timelines, but exactly how it works is a mystery. The Man in the High Castle is suspected to also be a "traveler", but is not. The finale of Season 3 shows Juliana become one, vanishing right before Smith's eyes. Word of God suggests that individuals can only travel to alternate timelines where their own counterpart is already dead, which Tagomi finds about his counterpart (although that man's family are all completely unaware that he is gone). These people are also implied to be the real source of the alternate timeline films popping up throughout the setting, having carried them over from these other realities.
  • Dirty Communists: It's mentioned that Stalin was executed in 1949. Presumably the Soviet Union was also divided between Germany and Japan, like in the novel. Maps seen in the background confirm this although a map John stares at in season 2 shows Siberia and Central Asia as a sort of neutral zone with the European SSR being Nazi ruled and the Far East SSR being Japanese ruled. It's unclear if said neutral zone is still somewhat Soviet or that the inherent lawlessness of Siberia and Central Asia makes for a good place for miscreants to be sent to.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Reprisals. Every Japanese soldier killed by Resistance is responded by executing ten random American civilians on the side of the street.
  • Divided States of America: Between the Nazis, Imperial Japan, and the lawless Neutral Zone.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • "The Marshal" carries around a deck of playing cards containing the faces and information of enemies of the state.
    • When the Crown Prince is shot, his wife remains by his side in a pink kimono splattered with her husband's blood, and refuses to take it off.
    • The way Tagomi and a German agent (Wegener) are conspiring to deliver nuclear secrets to the Japanese science minister resembles to some extent how the Soviets partially developed their own atomic bomb project, through espionage about the American nuclear project.
    • In one episode, the Resistance member Sarah is wearing a stereotypical outfit worn by women members of radical groups in the 1960's & 70's.
    • Obergruppenfuhrer Smith plots to save his son Thomas by sending him to Argentina to be hidden away. This is similar to the Ratlines in our version of history, which were a system of escape routes to South America for high-ranking Nazi officials to escape capture once the Allies occupied Berlin.
    • The drugs Dr Adler prescribed to Lucy Collins are the same types that Dr Theodor Morell routinely administered to Hitler. note 
    • The "officially" stated purpose of Jahr Null ("Year Zero"), to "Cast aside the old and the past, and bring forth the new and the future," with the unleashing of the Party youth (the students) out into the streets as the instruments and public demonstration of this new policy, is modeled more from Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution in China from 1966 to 1976, rather than Nazi Germany's Kristallnacht in 1938, which the series' Himmler boasts about and compares Jahr Null to.
    • After the inauguration of Jahr Null in the finale of Season 3, young people march through the streets with torches chanting "blood and soil", a disturbing reference to the Neo-Nazi "Unite the Right" rally held in Charlottesville in 2017.
  • Dream Intro: The season 2 episode "Land O'Smiles" opens with Frank Fink performing a Judaic prayer with his deceased sister Laura and her children before gas suddenly starts to come down from the ceiling when he wakes up from this nightmare.
  • Dub Name Change: Some Japanese characters are renamed to more mundane sounding names in Japanese version of the series as they have rather obscure or unnatural sounding name. For example, Trade Minister Tagomi becomes Tagami (田上), Mr. and Mrs. Kasoura becomes Kajiura (梶浦). This is carried over from the translation of the original novel.

    E-H 
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Obergruppenführer John Smith is a dyed-in-the-wool jackbooted Nazi who casually orders horrific treatment of prisoners and stages fake executions of his subordinates to test their loyalty. He's also a devoted husband and father whose home life is pretty much the American Dream right out of a Norman Rockwell painting... with swastikas. Smith's agony is palpable when the doctor explains his son's condition.
  • Europeans Are Kinky: When Joe goes to a party with the other lebensborn, he finds that they are extremely liberal with drugs and sex, to his surprise: some even discuss sharing girlfriends. This is a reference to the counterculture practiced by hippies during The '60s in our timeline. By everything that's been shown of the conquered United States, it's ironically much more culturally conservative than the heart of the fascist empire. In fact, there seems to be a two-tiered legal system wherein, for instance, open displays of homosexuality are allowed for European nationals, but prosecuted for Americans. At least until Himmler has her carded off back to Germany for "re-education".
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Adolf Hitler, of all people. He's horrified by the idea of a nuclear war with Japan, if only because he wants his "Thousand-Year Reich" to actually last that long, because he correctly recognises how devastating it would be to the entire world.note 
  • Fallen States of America: The live-action pilot episode gives a glimpse of just how fallen America's become under Nazi and Imperial Japanese control, as American culture is gradually altered by significant German and Japanese influence.
  • Fantastic Slur: Although "jap" is heard here and there, Americans in the JPS usually use "pon" (short for Nippon) to derisively refer to their Japanese overlords. And in the GNR, instead of the slurs that Americans (in "our reality") have referred to Jews, Smith and others in the GNR call them "semites", which was the derogatory term for Jews used in Germany.
  • Fictional Counterpart:
    • JFK International Airport is now Lincoln Rockwell International Airport, named after the founder of the American Nazi Party George Lincoln Rockwell (who we may presume is now a high-ranking collaborator).
    • San Francisco International Airport is now Pan Pacific International Airport.
    • Obergruppenführer Smith's son Thomas attends Fritz Julius Kuhn High School, named after the leader of the German American Bund.
    • In the pilot episode, we see a map tracking Joe's journey to the neutral zone, and it shows that the city of St. Louis, Missouri has been renamed New Berlin. It makes sense that the GNR would not want one of its major cities to be named after a French monarch.
  • Fictional Country:
    • The Greater Nazi Reich, which is comprised of the former USA from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains. It is a puppet state of Nazi Germany.
    • The Japanese Pacific States, which is comprised of Hawaii and the former mainland USA from the West Coast to the Rockies, and part of the 'Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere' controlled by the Empire of Japan.
  • Fictional Holiday: A widely celebrated holiday in the Greater Nazi Reich is 'VA Day', which is short for 'Victory in America Day'.
  • Filth: In the last episode of season 3, Wyatt visits an old friend of his in New York City to ask for his help, who has since become a pornographer. Wyatt is seen skimming through a pinup magazine called Raunchy Rich, and notices a camera pointed at a BDSM room, while mockingly noting that his interracial content could get him in trouble with the Nazi authorities.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Subverted. In season 3, Helen Smith starts visiting a psychotherapist to process her grief over the death of her son Thomas. She starts to develop feelings for the doctor after being distant with her husband John and even tries to kiss the man, but he puts a stop to it by instantly informing her husband and resigning. This is partly because he's well aware of the phenomenon of transference, and partly because John Smith is a very high-ranking Nazi official who had already threatened his life before.
  • Foreign Ruling Class: Both puppet states established in the former US are dominated by their foreign overlords. In both cases, simply proving you're one of the ruling class is enough to get cops to leave you alone for most transgressions.
    • The Americans in the Pacific Coast States are essentially second-class citizens, compared to the Japanese that seem more directly in control of the government. In fact, the Japanese are contemptuous towards even Japanese-Americans who settled there before the war, basically considering them traitors to the homeland.
    • The Germans are initially less hands on, with (depressingly) plenty of Americans willing to work with them, but by Season Three, the Greater German Reich is actively and spectacularly obliterating American history and replacing it with a "pure Aryan future".
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • Discussed. Joe discusses the fact that he would be a different, and worse, person if he had not met Juliana. This is later demonstrated to horrifying effect in a newsreel depicting an Alternate Timeline in which SS officers, including Joe, cold-bloodedly execute survivors of San Francisco, including Frank.
    • There's also the much broader aspect of the Crapsack World Alternate History setting, which seems to have resulted from Franklin D. Roosevelt's assassination in this setting.
    • In the "regular" universe, Tagomi's wife and son died during the war, and in the "alternate" universe, Juliana is married to Tagomi's son.
  • Free-Love Future: Berlin in the 1960s has developed a counterculture among the Nazi youth who indulge in casual sex and drug use. By contrast, the Nazi puppet state in the United States has a stronger emphasis on Stay in the Kitchen values.
  • Freezeframe Bonus:
    • In "Pilot", the markings on the police car that pulls Joe over say "Missouri Autobahn Patrol" instead of the more Americanized "Highway Patrol". Also, every police officer in the Reich has SS runes on the collar of his uniform.
    • Furthermore, all GNR vehicles have "Arbeit Macht Frei", the infamous phrase on the gates of Auschwitz, as the tagline on their license plates.
    • In "Sunrise", Joe Blake is briefly seen watching a children's cartoon called 'American Reich', about two detectives who work for the Reich Police. The narration is straight out of Dragnet.
    • In "A Way Out", Wegener's son is reading a "Ranger Reich" comic (Ranger Rick).
  • Fun with Subtitles: Played with, even more than usual. One episode of Season 2 starts out with Childan and a Caucasian woman, the latter of whom is clad in a kimono and made up to look like a geisha. Childan spends a minute or two teaching her to say a very particular sentence in Japanese, which she assumes to be dirty talk. When she says it "with real feeling", we FINALLY get to see the subtitles kick in and translate the phrase to mean "You are truly a man of great culture and rare taste". They then proceed to make out.
  • Gambit Pileup: A common theme.
    • The Crown Prince's speech. The Crown Prince wants to give a speech cementing peace between the Japanese and German empires. The trade minister and a German agent are conspiring to deliver nuclear secrets to the Japanese science minister. A conspiracy of Nazis want to assassinate the prince and take the blame for it in order to spark a war. And hapless Frank Frink just wants to show up and kill the Prince in revenge for his family being murdered by the Kempeitai.
    • Canon City. Juliana wants to learn the truth about the resistance. No less than three different Nazi agents are trying to find her and either claim the film, kill her, kill each other, or some combination of those. Meanwhile the true resistance member is trying to get the film without blowing his cover.
    • The climax of Season 2. Heusmann's plans for nuclear war near completion. Tagomi brings back a film he hopes will avert the war, accidentally drawing Kido away from a room in the Japanese headquarters that Frank and the Resistance car-bomb. Kido would have been killed anyway, though, had it not been for Frank attempting to shoot him, causing him to jump out of the way of the blast. This bomb kills all the senior command except Kido, helping him to bypass the chain of command and show the film to Smith. Meanwhile, Juliana inadvertently saves Smith from being arrested by the SS while trying to save his son, allowing him to reach Berlin and reveal the film. Smith bluffs that the footage is of a Japanese hydrogen-bomb test in "their reality", which unnerves the leadership into resuming peace with Japan. Smith also shows Himmler evidence of Heusmann and Heydrich's treachery. Phew!
  • Gas Chamber: Laura and her children are killed in a gas chamber inside the Kempeitai headquarters that's made to look like a suburban waiting room with Zyklon-D. The claim that the agent is 'odorless' is something of a simplification - the nerves are simply rendered incapable of conveying the information to the brain.
    • Kido even mentions to Frank that they have made "improvements" to the Zyklon-D the Nazis used.
  • God-Emperor: The Japanese people still consider their emperor a living god in this timeline. This is mentioned to be vital to capturing him when the Nazis are planning the invasion of their former ally because he holds such sway over them.
  • Gratuitous German: Comes with the territory, but of varying quality. Kenneth Tigar (Heydrich) for example has an extreme accent, Carsten Norgaard (Wegener) speaks fluently and almost flawlessly, and Wolf Muser (Hitler) is, well, a native speaker (just to name three).
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Lots of examples.
  • Heritage Disconnect:
    • Joe grew up knowing that his father was a high-ranking Nazi official, and felt angry at his father for not having raised him. Once he realizes his father's true intentions, he embraces his heritage.
    • Sarah was a Japanese-American interned in Manzanar. When the Japanese occupied the Western United States and freed them, she and her family faced disdain because they were seen as having betrayed their country for coming to the US. This leads her to become part of The Resistance.
  • Historical-Domain Character:
    • The Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan (while unnamed, they're presumably Akihito and Michiko) feature prominently as characters at the start of the first season.
    • Several historical Nazis also make appearances, with Reinhard Heydrich halfway through season 1, Adolf Hitler in the season 1 finale, and Heinrich Himmler in season 2.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Jahr Null street chaos that Himmler unleashed and gleefully encouraged made it possible for the sniper-assassins to target him, and then escape into the rioting crowds.
  • Hotline: Inspector Kido and Obergruppenfuehrer Smith are shown to have this between their offices during season 2. Whether they already had this for some time before, or newly set it up just after Kido first came to personally see Smith in season 2, is not revealed. By their rapport, it appears that they have known one another for some time and respect each other as soldiers.
  • Hunting "Accident": Obergruppenfuehrer John Smith discovers a plot by senior Nazis to assassinate Hitler and start a war with Japan. He's invited to a hunting party where he is to be quietly killed for knowing too much.
  • Hypocrite: Residents of the Greater Nazi Reich are contemptuous of the Japanese notions of superiority that are standard in the Japanese Pacific States while flouting their own.
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    I-L 
  • I Am Spartacus: In season 3, a bounty hunter tracks down a small community of Jewish refugees posing as Catholics somewhere in the Neutral territories. After he holds one of them at gunpoint, Frank Fink, who is still alive, stands up and tells him to take him instead, since he's also a Jew. One by one, everyone else also stands up and tells him to take them too, before he's shot from a distance by a gun-toting inhabitant.
  • I Fight for the Strongest Side: Prior to the show's events, John Smith fought in the US Signal Corps against the Nazis. When the US lost, he joined the Reich and kept his US service medals hung in his office. Kido questions him about why he would continue to keep his medals displayed in service to the United States, and Smith replies, "To remind myself of the failures of command." note 
    • Joe Blake undergoes a Face–Heel Turn in Season 3 and has come to embrace this belief wholeheartedly.
  • Idiot Ball: When the Marshal is pursuing Joe and Juliana, Joe gets the drop on him and knocks him out. Rather than killing him or just tying him up, they immediately run, and the pursuit continues when the Marshal wakes up. It gets worse when, after he knocks out the Marshal, he neglects to pick up the man's gun, then immediately complains that he doesn't have a gun on him.
  • Illegal Religion:
    • When Smith and his family attend a funeral, the procession clearly takes place in a church with all Christian imagery stamped out. Nazi emblems adorn the building. Hitler actually did have plans to replace Christianity with a new religion centering on himself, according to papers uncovered by the Allies. Judaism was banned in Nazi Germany already.
    • Imperial Japan has followed suit.. Christianity has been banned in the Japanese Pacific States, with its practice being punishable by death. Forbidden religious texts are kept under strict lock-and-key in the PSA. At one point, Tagomi looks up some of the texts, one copy (presumably for historical purposes) kept in a vault.
    • Even a Neutral Zone book shop owner only sells Bibles under the table. The Marshal finds this out and confirms with his reaction that it's basically contraband, even though the Neutral Zone technically has no laws.
  • Informed Judaism: Frank is Jewish on his mother's side. Early on, he frequently mentions having to hide this fact from the Japanese, though this proves futile since the Japanese know about this. The death of his sister and his family galvanizes him to secretly practice his religion along with another family.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Frank's brother-in-law Phil has to hold a Shinto funeral for his wife and kids, with Christianity being illegal and Judaism punishable by death. The Japanese Shinto priest officiating the funeral gets their names wrong, prompting an angry correction from Frank, who obviously considers the whole thing an insulting farce and shows signs of tragic bigotry. Still, the priest seems sincere, and Phil's Japanese coworkers and bosses in attendance seem genuinely sorry for their loss.
  • Interdimensional Travel Device: Throughout the series, various characters are able to visit parallel universe through some form of meditation, causing the film reels showing these worlds to spread. In season 3, the Nazis build an interdimensional travel device through technological means in an abandoned mine in order to conquer other worlds.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The opening credits are overlaid with an eerie take on the Rodgers and Hammerstein song "Edelweiss."
  • Irony: Peace depends on Hitler not dying. And then Himmler helps to prevent a worldwide holocaust.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: After Heussman's failed usurpation of the Reich leadership, Josef is forced to personally execute his father to prove his loyalty to the Nazi Party. Afterwards, his godfather and new Fuehrer, Heinrich Himmler, pats him on the cheek and has him Reassigned to Antarctica.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black:
    • All over the place, due to the setting. Adolf frakking Hitler of all people comes across as this in comparison to Reinhard Heydrich's faction, whose goals are by all accounts a nuclear war with Japan.
    • The conclusion of Season 2 astonishingly makes Heinrich Himmler into this as well, as he and his SS halt the unleashing of nuclear war against Japan, and take down the mastermind behind Heydrich's faction.
    • As oppressive as they are, the Japanese are slightly more tolerant (although Judaism is forbidden) compared to the Reich. It appears that their anti-semitic laws are simply in imitation of the Nazis (probably for good relations with them), while they have nothing against Jews.
  • Lowered Recruiting Standards: In season 3, Inspector Kido is introduced to a new member of his staff to replace some of the people killed in the previous season's bombing of the Kempeitai's offices, a half-Japanese man born in the United States whose proficiency in Japanese is not up to standards. Kido begrudgingly gives him a chance to prove his loyalty to the Empire. This man later turns out to be a mole.

    M-P 
  • Make an Example of Them: In season 2, when the Nazis prepare to invade the Japanese Empire, Obergruppenfuehrer John Smith's post is reinforced by SS troops from Germany to deal with the mounting resistance movement on the east coast. His new subordinate, Gruppenfuehrer Keller, advises to raze a town of 80,000 people where resistance activity is highest. Smith says he'll take him up on his suggestion, then immediately countermands the order when Keller leaves the room.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: The "regular universe" counterpart of Trade Minister Tagomi, who is a Japanese immigrant in San Francisco, was apparently deeply disapproving of his son's relationship with Juliana and thinks he is giving up his cultural heritage. His son counters that in America he can be both.
  • Mandatory Motherhood: Bearing children is considered the greatest female virtue in the Greater Nazi Reich. When Juliana defects to the GNR in Season 2, she is told by a doctor performing an inspection who's specialized in "racial science" (among other things, measuring her skull and skin tone) that she has an injury which may render her infertile and endanger her chances for a visa. Juliana later becomes close with a Stepford Smiler among the Nazi elite who has had problems becoming pregnant. She fears her social position may be endangered because her husband has started to move on.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: In the finale of season 3, Hawthorne Abendsen explains to John Smith that the Nazis' plans to invade other dimensions and all the effort they put into building an Interdimensional Travel Device will be for naught, since people can only travel to dimensions where their counterparts are dead.
  • Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow: The roles are Inverted with Frank and Sarah. In public, Frank is expected to be submissive toward Sarah since she is ethnically superior to him within the Japanese regime. (This is in spite of the fact that Sarah is scorned by the Japanese regime for being born and raised in the United States.)
  • The Mole: Someone from Smith's staff leaked out his official schedule to the resistance on orders from Heydrich. Smith killed the aide and made it look like a suicide.
  • Monumental Damage: In season 3, the Nazis initiate a plan to tear down former American monuments, such as Mount Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty, and replacing them with ones exalting National Socialist ideology.
  • Moral Myopia: John Smith is committed to Nazi ideology except when it's his own son that needs to be euthanized because of his chronic illness.
  • Mugging the Monster: Narrowly subverted. When Kido and Kotomichi visit Denver late in season 3, two bounty hunters almost pick a fight with the Chief Inspector of the Military Police and the Oyabun of the Yakuza. They decide to let the matter slide before they both unknowingly would have ended up face-down in a ditch.
  • Multiversal Conqueror: After learning of "Travellers", visitors originating from alternate universes, the Nazis embark on a project to build an Interdimensional Travel Device, dubbed the Nebenswelt, in order to conquer those other universes. However, their efforts may be in vain if the Man in the High Castle is to be believed.
  • The Neutral Zone: North America is divided between a Nazi German puppet state in the east and an Imperial Japanese puppet state in the west. The large swath of area in between centered on the Rocky Mountains is a demilitarized zone unclaimed by either of the Axis states. As such there is no overt totalitarian oppression or racial policies, but at the cost of pretty much being a lawless hellhole instead, with decades-old infrastructure decaying and Wild West-style justice.
  • New Old West: The Neutral Zone has a distinct Wild West feel to it despite existing within an alternate 1960s world dominated by the victorious Axis Powers, being a near-lawless frontier setting roamed by bounty hunters, gangs of outlaws (trading in horses for motorcycles), grifters, and small-town settlers. Several of the main characters who visit it spend much of their time in season 3 hanging out in a saloon to boot.
  • Nightmare Sequence:
    • In season 2, Frank Fink dreams about visiting his sister and her children and joining them in a Judaic prayer before gas starts pouring down from the ceiling, killing them all.
    • In season 3, John Smith has a dream about spending the day fishing with his dead son Thomas, before Thomas vanishes and the lake turns out to be filled with dead, bloated corpses.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The "Japanese Crown Prince" is not referred to by name. Presuming nothing was changed about the Japanese Imperial succession, that would be Akihito (the present Emperor of Japan)... but that's never stated explicitly. His wife (presumably the present Empress) is also never named; though given cultural differences between timelines (e.g. affecting marriage rules for the Imperial Household) it could be someone else. That said, the actress does resemble a younger version of the present Empress even if she is never formally named.
  • Nuke 'em:
    • In "Sunrise", it is revealed that the Nazi's leveled Washington DC with an A-bomb during their invasion of the United States. "Fallout" further shows that John Smith and his wife where there to witness the explosion from a nearby town before the end of the war. The Nazis still have nuclear weapons at their disposal, which contribute to their ongoing cold war with the Japanese Empire.
    • One of the newsreels, from another alternate timeline (there are clearly a large number of them), shows this happening to San Francisco. It isn't clear whether this is a possible future for this world (as the characters think it might be) or an alternate past where the Cold War between the Germans and Japanese went hot.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging:
    • Juliana's mother tells her that she was afraid that her other daughter Trudy is dead because she had the same foreboding feeling that she had when her first husband died during the war, but is sure that Trudy's alright because the feeling went away the next morning. Juliana knows all too well that her sister is most likely dead by this point because of their involvement in the resistance.
    • After Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith is told that his only son has a degenerative muscle disease and that he should euthanize him, he's conflicted between his love for his son and what he feels is his 'duty' to give him a painless death. While he's looking at family pictures of his now deceased brother (who had the same affliction), Smith's wife Helen says that she thinks it's a good thing to kill the infirm, ignorant of her child's condition.
  • Only One Me Allowed Right Now: One of the metaphysical laws of dimension-traveling between alternate universes is that a person cannot co-exist with another version of themselves in the same reality. Therefore, one can only travel to a universe where their counterpart is dead.
  • Out of the Closet, Into the Fire: Homosexuality is completely outlawed in the Greater Nazi Reich and punishable by death. The relatively more humane Japanese occupiers in the Pacific States don't condone it officially, but don't care if it's carried out in private. Ed brings this up while traveling through the Neutral Territories and he runs into an openly gay man, since he's used to being more careful about such things.
  • Pet the Dog: Chief Inspector Kido arranges for a "hostess" he has become friendly with to be set free, and gives her a bundle of cash to start a new life.
  • Police Brutality:
    • Frank is arrested and detained by the Kempeitai (Japanese Military Police) for his Jewish ancestry. Whilst in custody, he is stripped naked, brutally beaten and threatened with execution by firing squad or extradition to Nazi-controlled America.
    • It shouldn't be a surprise that the SS in the German-occupied portion of the United States also resort to torture tactics to force information out of their suspects. Obergruppenfuehrer John Smith actually orders one of his men to beat a captured member of the resistance to death even though he's unconscious and can't answer any questions.
  • Police State: Both the JPS and GNR, despite offering the illusion of a level of freedom, are strictly monitored and policed by their respective governments.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • Some of the more evident sci-fi elements from the original novel (the Nazis have drained much of the Mediterranean Sea and turned it into arable farmland. There's also mention of them launching space exploration and establishing colonies on Mars and Venus) are completely omitted or cut off in the series. However, the drainage plan is later mentioned in season 2, indicating that it simply hasn't been implemented yet.
    • It is also left ambiguous as to how long flights take to travel. The novel mentions that Concorde flights are in commercial use, making flights from San Francisco to Berlin last about 2 hours. Given that these flights have not been successfully implemented in our timeline even over five decades later, it would be impractical to mention them in the series.
  • Prevent the War: Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire were the victors of World War II, but have been in an uneasy truce with each other ever since. The Nazis in particular want to take the Master Race idea to the next logical step and wipe out their last potential enemy to achieve total world domination. Since the aging Adolf Hitler is one of the few opposed to this, his death may spell more disaster for the world. Throughout the series, members of both the German and Japanese governments conspire with each other to prevent a devastating nuclear war.
  • The Purge: It is implied that after their occupation of the USA, the Nazis and Japanese purged all religious literature. This results in books such as the Bible being a rarity, with Juliana even remarking that she hasn't seen one since she was a small child.

    Q-T 
  • Raster Vision: Appears on the TV sets (which aren't quite period-correct, see Schizo Tech, below).
  • La Résistance:
    • The GNR and JPS are having a hard time dealing with anti-occupation fighters. The Neutral Zone also has anti-occupation resistance hideouts.
    • The Crown Prince mentioned that resistance forces in the Asia-Pacific occupied territories of the Japanese Empire are weakening Tokyo's grip on the Empire.
  • Rousing Speech: General Onoda makes a surprisingly good one to his officers as it appears nuclear war with the Nazis is at hand, complete with his officer's sword. (At least until a concealed bomb explodes...)
    Onoda:It is now clear that the Nazi dream is a world in which we no longer exist. To them, like the Jews, and the Slavs, and the Gypsies, we are something foreign. Thus, the war machine of the Reich is poised to attack us. The men in this room may not live to see sunrise, but our grandchildren will survive! And, we must never forget, the Emperor is immortal! TENNO HEIKA... BANZAI!
  • Schizo Tech: On the one hand, the Germans have developed Concorde-like planes that can go from New York to San Francisco in two hours, but on the other, ordinary people seem held back to an approximately early-1950s standard of living.
    • Also referenced, with the Japanese noting (somewhat ruefully) that the Germans go about in "rocket ships" (e.g. the Concorde-like planes) while they're stuck using ocean liners to cross the Pacific. Germany clearly isn't exporting their advanced technology (and the odds of the Japanese government paying for their officials to take a German-owned/German-operated flight within their empire seem quite low).
    • This is also shown in the level of weapons technology used by various groups. While the American resistance still uses Tommy guns and Colt pistols, the Nazis have moved up to weapons which shouldn't have been developed for several years, with Wehrmacht troops armed with advanced MP5's, and Japanese troops with Howa Type 64's, despite neither of them being developed until 1964 in our world. The sniper rifle used to (possibly) kill the Crown Prince is a Soviet rifle that is about correct for the era, but shouldn't even exist in this universe.
    • TV screens are CRTs, which are correct for the 1960s, but many use the 16:9 aspect ratio, which only took hold decades later.
  • Secret Keeper: It's strongly implied that Hitler and the Nazis' upper echelons know of alternate timelines.
  • Seer: Juliana becomes this through season 3, as she finds herself able to experience flashes of memories from her own alternate reality counterparts when she encounters things closely linked to those alternate Julianas. Looking for the first time at a photo of Tagomi's deceased son Noriyuke causes her to experience the memories of the other Juliana married to the still-living alternate Nori. And then viewing a High Castle film showing another counterpart of her being brought as a prisoner into a mine shaft and then shot dead by Joe Blake, pushes Juliana to crucial decisions concerning Joe, and also enables her to locate that mine where the Reich's dimensional travel experiment is located, and find allies who become vital to rebuilding the Resistance.
  • Seppuku: This is still a method of execution in Imperial Japan and its territories. An Imperial Guard officer is seen committing public seppuku after the crown prince's attempted assassination, and Kido is expected to do so if he can't find the would-be assassin.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Theme Song "Edelweiss" was popularized internationally in the The Sound of Music. Captain von Trapp sings it to mourn Austria's Anschluss with Nazi Germany. In this case, now the United States has been conquered by the Axis Powers. Still, this version is far creepier than the Von Trapp version.
    • The end credits of the season 2 finale have "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" from Cabaret playing in the background.
    • During season 3, when learning for the first time about "travelers" and parallel realities, Smith remarks of it sounding like "something out of Fredric Brown" (perhaps referring specifically to What Mad Universe).
    • In the prologue of season 3 episode 8, Heinrich Himmler oversees the Liberty Bell being melted down and reforged into a swastika, which seems to reference a similar scene from Game of Thrones featuring Tywin Lannister having the Stark House ancestral sword melted after his victory over them.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • In the book, Juliana is a judo instructor, while the series makes her a student of aikido. In the 1960's, judo was relatively well known as "the gentle way" in contrast to the more militant karate style. However, aikido - still a relatively obscure martial art in the 2010's - is definitively linked to the Japanese pacifist movement and better fits the tenor of the depiction of the Japanese as quasi-benevolent invaders.
    • However also inverted on occasion, most notably in the incongruous Japanese used in places. Continues to be inverted with the Japanese in Season 2, where some of the characters indicate that the Japanese would call something "パーフェクト" (paafekuto), an English loanword for "perfect". Except that, since the Japanese won in this timeline, and the U.S., rather than Japan, was put under occupation, it is unlikely that they would have developed the Cultural Cringe that took place in our timeline, and would consequently have been unlikely to borrow so heavily from the English language when their own words would suffice. (The native Japanese word for perfect, by the way, is 完璧 (Romanized as kanpeki).)
    • Minister Tagomi and Inspector Kido addressing General Onada with the honorific "kakka ", which roughly translates as "your honor" or "your excellency", would be realistic to the culture in Imperial Japan. (But for viewers who know Spanish, it is hilarious to listen to.)
    • 1962 Berlin in the story's timeline has been rebuilt in the style of the monumental, triumphalist architectural designs of Hitler and Albert Speer. How they got the soil to support the weight of the enormous structures (Berlin is built on a swamp) is not explained.
  • Sigil Spam: If you think the copious amount of Swastikas you see at the Nazi Embassy in SF or on the East Coast is bad, just wait until you see Berlin. Regarding the historical Nazis' fondness of their symbol, this counts as Truth in Television though.
  • Space Cold War: Between Germany and the Japanese Empire in this alternate universe, as they are the two victorious superpowers of World War II. They are officially still allies but are wary of the other's intentions. It is predicted by high-ranking members of both governments that when the terminally ill Adolf Hitler dies, it will escalate into full-blown warfare.Throughout the first season, a faction within the German government led by Reinhard Heydrich tries to usurp power from Hitler and launch a nuclear war against Japan, but this plot is eliminated at the last second. This is even more central to the plot in season 2. Heussman, revealed to be behind the plot in the previous season, frames Japan for Hitler's death, bringing the two nations to the brink of (a pretty much one-sided in Germany's favor) nuclear war. Thanks to a bluff made possible by Tagomi's visit to our timeline and Juliana preventing John Smith from being arrested by the SS, it is averted at the last minute.
  • Standard '50s Father: Despite being the 1960's, John Smith fits this trope almost perfectly. In his first scene at home, he joins his family for an elaborate breakfast, firmly but lovingly chides his son for studying at the table, and gives a heartfelt speech about values and appropriate goals. This is especially jarring to the audience, since he's wearing his Nazi officer's uniform throughout the scene. This contradiction later comes home to roost when he's informed that his son is genetically "defective" and has to be euthanized.
  • The Starscream: Reinhard Heydrich is plotting to assassinate Hitler so he can succeed him as Fuhrer and annihilate Japan with nuclear weapons. He specifically dismisses loyalty as an "overrated virtue" when called out on his lack of honor. However, Hitler was already aware of Heydrich's intentions and arranges for him to be assassinated first.
  • State Sec: Two of the most infamous Real Life examples of the last century feature heavily in the plot; Nazi Germany's SS and Imperial Japan's Kempeitai.
  • Stepford Smiler: Many of the housewives among the Nazi elite in the Greater Nazi Reich are implied to be purposely projecting a positive image to the outside world but are in fact scared both of each other and of being seen as subversive in any way. John Smith's wife can barely contain her anguish at knowing that her son would be killed by the state if his disability was revealed, and Juliana meets another woman among the group who is scared that she'll be brushed aside by her husband if she can't bear him children.
  • Stock Episode Titles: "Revelations," "End of the World."
  • Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: When the Nazis apprehend Hawthorne Abendsen, he threatens to shoot himself since he knows that they need him alive for their plans. However, John Smith is already holding his wife hostage, so he's ultimately forced to back down.
  • Super Breeding Program: Joe Blake discovers in season 2 that he was born as part of the Lebensborn program in 1935 before his mother took him to the United States prior to the war. He initially feels angered and weirded out by this because the older generation of Germans treat them as some sort of destined group. He meets a German girl in Berlin and others who were also part of the same program.
  • Talkative Loon: After his capture, the Man in the High Castle produces an endless stream of random gibberish while in his cell, causing the Nazis to wonder if he's actually speaking in code.
  • Terraform: In season 2 Reichsminister Heusmann shows Joe Blake plans for the creation of new land and energy by draining the Mediterranean, something carried over from the book (although there it was already implemented). This was based on the real "Atlantropa" plan by German scientists who favoured a "southern policy" of European settlement in Africa over the conquest of territory in Eastern Europe preferred by the Nazis. The younger generation of Nazi youth oppose this plan, as environmentalism is gaining traction in the Reich.
  • Travelling at the Speed of Plot: The events in the series are mostly set in San Francisco (occupied by the Japanese), New York City (occupied by the Germans), Canon City (the neutral Rocky Mountains), and also Berlin starting from the end of season 1. Characters will often travel from one place to the other within the same episode, though it's not always clear how much time has elapsed in between. Season 2 suggests that the events of the previous season only took 2 weeks. Some of this is explained by high speed air travel, but at some points they'll just take a car drive across several states instead.
  • Treachery Is a Special Kind of Evil: In the Axis-dominated world, execution is already a disturbingly-common punishment for dissidents, so traitors to the Nazi or Japanese causes are given an outright Cruel and Unusual Death. For instance, after a mole within the Kempeitai is exposed by Chief Inspector Kido, the traitor is bayonetted to death by a dozen soldiers charging on him in turns.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: When Julianna is sedated by members of The Resistance, she experiences a flashback montage which includes attending her father's funeral and attempting suicide by standing in front of a bus.
  • Two Decades Behind: The fashions, music, and technology seen in the alternate 1962 are much closer to those found in the late 40s and early 50s in our timeline. This is obviously due to the ruling Axis powers suppressing artistic and cultural innovations deemed "degenerate".

    U-Z 
  • Video Phone: Particularly in season 3, high-ranking characters frequently communicate with each other through black and white video phones.
  • The War Room: The Nazi leadership has a command bunker in Berlin to oversee their global strategic forces and nuclear arsenal in a room very reminiscent of the War Room from Dr. Strangelove.
  • We Have Reserves: When the Nazi German leadership is planning an imminent nuclear attack on the Japanese Empire, their analysts predict heavy loss of life in the American territories especially during the first stages of the war, in the order of tens of millions. Himmler dismisses these losses as acceptable since the Americans are a "late addition" to the expanded Nazi empire.
  • Wham Episode: The season 1 finale, "A Way Out", ends with Tagomi waking up in a world where the Allies won the war, the US still exists, and John F. Kennedy is president.
  • Wham Line:
    • The "Pilot" episode reveals Joe Blake as a deep-cover SS operative reporting directly to Obergruppenführer Smith.
    • In Season 2, Heydrich's identification of the mastermind of the conspiracy against Hitler.
    Heydrich: "Heil Heusmann!"
  • Wham Shot:
    • Juliana and Frank view a different film in Kindness which shows a mass execution, and among the executed is... Frank.
    • In "Duck and Cover", Tagomi finds Juliana Crane is his daughter-in-law in an alternate timeline.
    • Juliana sees Trudy alive and well at the end of Season Two.
    • Season 3's "Baku" opens with a home movie of John and Thomas, until a store display of TV sets show Martin Luther King on TV. It's another of High Castle's films being watched by Smith.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A world building example. The fate of Fascist Italy as well other nations aligned with (but not part of) the Axis, such as Finland and Franco's Spain, have so far not been explored in the show.
    • All of the above countries along with Canada, Sweden, Romania, Hungary, Portugal, and Mexico were still independent in the book. A map shown in season two shows that Canada has been divided and all the other countries except Mexico are occupied by the Nazis. (This could however mean they are just politically aligned with them or puppet states.)
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: Subverted in "Kasumi". Nicole takes Thelma to an underground lesbian bar in New York City, where the clientele are all Lipstick Lesbians, fitting with the retro 1940s aesthetic of the series.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Multiple examples especially in season 2.
    • After Julianna spends all the Resistance's money to save Joe, a confirmed Nazi Spy, Lem is standing right next to her when she reveals her betrayal. Many people would have just put a bullet in her and shoved her into the water.
    • Resistance soldier Gary decides to kill Julianna after she meets the Man In The High Castle, because she has seen his face. Despite the Man telling him not to. Depending on exactly when the Man left them, he could just as easily have stabbed an unconscious Julianna to death in the boot, but he waits far too long, to the point that Julianna wakes up, escapes, and causes a Japanese guard post to get into a firefight with Gary, Lem & Karen that gets Karen killed.
    • Later on another resistance leader, Susan, decides to kill Julianna for her defection to the Nazi's. This time, an underling surprises Julianna with a choking wire, instead of just shooting her or stabbing her in the back from behind. Julianna escapes and kills both the underling & Susan.
    • Reinhard Heydrich wants John Smith on his side because he controls the American Reich. Heydrich gives Smith until he receives a phone call regarding the success of their assassination attempt on Hitler. Instead of making good on his promise, even after John refuses to join the coup, he waits long enough for John's aide to shoot a mook guard, letting John get the drop on Heydrich.
    • Eventually averted with John after he captures Heydrich. After tricking Heydrich into giving up the leader of the coup, Heydrich is immediately executed by gunshot to the head.
    • The second assassin sent by Himmler to kill Trade Minister Tagomi would've succeeded if he'd used a gun. Instead he inexplicably brought only a knife, and then tried to kill with his bare hands after getting disarmed. Armed with only a Kendo staff, the elderly Tagomi still managed to disarm the guy, fight him off, and then kill him. And Himmler even chose the guy because he was a crack shot.
  • World Building: There are a lot of references made about the overall state of the hellish world that the Axis Powers created in their victory, for instance Nazi Germany taking over the European colonies in Africa and replacing them with even more brutal regimes resembling the Congo Free State.
  • Written by the Winners: This trope is in full effect here.
    • Several characters of the Greater Nazi Reich sometimes mention the "American genocide", referring to the mass murder of the Indians in their history. By accentuating these negative events, the victors portray the Americans they conquered as a savage people with a tendency to brutally kill off whoever gets in their way, making the victors look more sympathetic (or, alternatively, as proof that the Americans already had Nazi-like tendencies before the Axis invaded).
    • The Nazis also refer to their genocide against the Jews as their war against Semite terrorists. This chillingly shows that the winners of a war can portray the losers as terrible as they want them to be, distracting the people from their own wrongdoings.
    • The opening of Season 2 shows some Nazi students praising the fact that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned 600 and 300 slaves, respectively. It is fitting since in our timeline, these facts are glossed over or underappreciated.
      • One student responds to this fact with a sarcastic "God Bless America", implying that these facts are also emphasized to paint the former US as a nation of hypocrites.
  • Yakuza: Given the Japanese control over the Western US, it's not surprising to learn the Yakuza are in control on the illegal side of things. Even the feared Japanese military police don't usually cross them, since they have connections in high places.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: Downplayed. The shot of the Times Square in the first episode has some zeppelins visible in the sky and the establishing shots of New York contain them now and then. But as a whole the show prefers to use Concordes with their distinctive sonic booms to set the "this is an alternate universe" feeling.

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