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Series / Titanic (1996)

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Even the poster is wrong.

A full year before James Cameron's Titanic broke box office records, Robert Lieberman directed a TV miniseries about the ill-fated liner. Boasting an All-Star Cast which included Catherine Zeta-Jones, Peter Gallagher, Tim Curry, and George C. Scott, the film was aired in two parts on CBS in November 1996.

Rather than having a central love story, the film follows three subplots:

  1. Isabella is returning to America after attending her aunt's funeral. On the trip, she meets Wynn, her ex-lover, who begins to rekindle their romance.
  2. The Allison family and their new nurse, Alice Cleaver. Unlike the other two plots, this is based on real-life passengers, but only loosely, as here Alice is portrayed as a mentally disturbed child killer.
  3. Jamie, a down-on-his-luck pickpocket, sneaks aboard the Titanic after lifting a ticket from an immigrant. He meets a missionary family, and a crewman who is planning on robbing the First Class.

The production was rushed to capitalize on the hype for the upcoming Cameron movie, and is littered with inaccuracies. It also features one of the most random rape scenes in television history.

Despite being released a year before the Cameron film, there are numerous similarities between the two. In particular, the lead character is a young man from Third Class with the initial "J", who boards with a ticket that didn't originally belong to him,note  falls in love with another passenger and uses someone else's tuxedo to mingle in First Class, where he meets John Jacob Astor.

See also Hitler: The Rise of Evil, another Canadian miniseries that aired on CBS which was rife with historical inaccuracies.


Tropes featured include:

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    A - M 
  • Adaptational Dumbass: Carpathia's crew recovered only one body and then promptly buried it at sea because they were more concerned with rescuing and accommodating the traumatized survivors, yet in the miniseries Captain Rostron thinks it's perfectly acceptable to shock and psychologically torment the survivors further by laying out the corpses of their loved ones in the middle of an open deck and wasting valuable blankets and linens to cover up the bodies.
  • Adaptational Name Change: During the sinking, Ida Straus addresses her maid as "Sophia," but in reality her maid's name was Ellen Bird.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Chief Officer Wilde, Third Officer Pitman, Sixth Officer Moody, and Titanic's designer Thomas Andrews are all omitted from the film.
    • Frederick Barrett, the lead stoker in Boiler Room 6, does not appear, with his role being taken by Chief Engineer Bell.
    • The large retinue of servants that accompanied the Allison Family on the ship has been reduced down to just their psychotic nanny Alice.
  • Age-Gap Romance: The marriage between the middle-aged John Jacob Astor and his teenage bride Madeleine. It's considered a scandal among the prudish First Class passengers.
  • Age Lift: Loraine Allison was a two year old toddler at the time of the sinking, but in the miniseries she's portrayed as a bratty seven year old.
    • Captain Stanley Lord and wireless operator Cyril Evans of the Californian are played by actors more than twice their actual age.
  • Ambiguously Christian: It is never really stated exactly what denomination of Christianity Aese and the Jack Family have converted to or what their beliefs are; nor does the film explain what religion they were before they converted.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Jamie describes to Aase a "moving picture" he saw once and she is astonished by the concept, though by 1912 moving pictures were nothing new even amongst the lower classes.
      • In the same scene, Jamie also tells Aase that he was enthralled with a beautiful young film actress named "Mary Pickford." In 1912, films did not have credits and most of the actors were unknown to the general public. Mary Pickford didn't become a full blown film star (one of the very first) and a household name until 1917, five years after the Titanic disaster.
    • Third Class had baths, not showers - rare in the UK at the time.
    • While talking to Astor about "moving pictures," Jamie says he'll invest in the up-and-coming Keystone Studios, which was founded three months after the Titanic sank.
    • First class passengers are seen dancing the tango when in fact there was no dancing for first class passengers on Titanic and the tango was not even embraced by the upper classes until a few years later.
    • The term "see-through" was not used in fashion until 1950.
    • When the Carpathia arrives in New York, the modern 50-star American flag is on display. It should only have 46 stars.note 
  • Anyone Can Die: Truth in Television and a well known Real Life example, although in this version it even includes individuals who didn't actually die that night.
  • Artistic License: Far too many to list here. If you want to see the extensive list, go here.
  • As You Know: When taking command of the bridge, Murdoch remarks to Lightoller "Four bells, ten o'clock." Both are experienced sailors, so they'd already know what time four bells signifies.
  • Beard of Evil: Simon, as if being played by Tim Curry wasn't indication enough.
  • Big "NO!": Jamie screams "NOOO!!!" when he accidentally falls into a lifeboat, as he promised the Jack family he would come back for them.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Over 700 people survive the sinking, but almost all of them have lost loved ones in the disaster, and several are also burdened with Survivor Guilt.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Loraine Allison is portrayed as an insufferable, loud, and spoiled brat. Presumably so the audience wouldn't get too attached to her once the final scenes of episode two roll around.
  • Call-Back: While the Carpathia is on their way to Titanic, they sight an iceberg and swerve to avoid it. Captain Rostron makes it a point to have them maintain speed, as Captain Smith earlier derided Murdoch for reducing speed.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • Many people on board refuse to believe the ship is actually sinking.
    • Alice hears the collision and tries to warn the Allisons that there is something wrong with the ship, but after days of enduring Alice's weird antics, they disbelieve her.
  • Cheerful Child: Loraine Alison, who has boundless excitement for going into a lifeboat.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Simon gives one to Jamie. No surprise, as Simon is played by Tim Curry.
  • Cliffhanger: Part 1 ends with a brandy glass falling off a table as the ship begins to sink.
  • Composite Character:
    • Captain Smith takes up the roles of Thomas Andrews and Chief Officer Henry Wilde, both of whom are absent from this dramatization of the disaster.
    • Sixth Officer James Moody is omitted from the film, with his eventual fate given to Fourth Officer Boxhall (who, in reality, survived the disaster.) Since Boxhall gets killed off instead of Moody, his famous exchange with Captain Rostron after being rescued by the Carpathia is given to Fifth Officer Lowe.
    • Madeleine Astor's private maid Rosalie Bidois and prenatal nurse Caroline Endres are combined into one woman, "Mrs. Miller."
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Beyond most film/tv adaptations of the Titanic disaster, J. Bruce Ismay is portrayed as casually undermining Captain Smith's authority, even going behind his back to order more boilers lit and the ship's speed to be increased.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Simon changes his plan to loot First Class very quickly, even bringing a sheet along so he can be disguised as a woman and sneak into the lifeboats.
  • Darker and Edgier: This miniseries somewhat stands apart from other dramatizations of the Titanic disaster due to its inclusion of sexual violence and themes of mental illness and infanticide.
  • Dated History: Alice Cleaver being portrayed as a child murderer. In defense of the miniseries, it was widely believed in the early 90s, during the resurgence of interest in Titanic, that Alice was indeed a convicted murderer. At least two books even accepted this as fact, including Don Lynch and Ken Marschall's otherwise exhaustive Titanic: An Illustrated History. Only in recent years it was confirmed that the woman who murdered her baby in 1909 was Alice Mary Cleaver, completely unrelated to Alice Catherine Cleaver, the Allison family nurse.
  • Deadly Deferred Conversation:
    • Shortly before the collision with the iceberg, Astors' maid comes to him to say that the Allison's maid is actually a child killer. As it's late at night, Astor says that he'll talk to Mr. Allison about it in the morning. Neither Astor nor Allison survives.
    • Isabella writes a telegram to her husband, telling him she's leaving him for Wynn, but it never gets sent out because the ship collides with the iceberg shortly afterwards.
    • On the night of the sinking, Smith promises to deal with Ismay and his orders to increase Titanic's speed in the morning.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall goes down with the ship (in Real Life, he survived and lived long enough to be an advisor on A Night to Remember).
    • Henry the steward appears to be based on first class bedroom steward Henry Samuel Etches. He is last shown in the water, clinging to a chair, even though the real Etches left in Lifeboat 5.
  • Death of a Child: Loraine Allison and the fictional Jack family all die in the sinking. Sadly, this is a well known example of Truth in Television. Loraine was the only child in First Class to perish.
  • Defiled Forever: How Aase feels after her rape.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Aase goes over one after getting raped by Simon.
  • Disaster Movie: A miniseries about a giant ocean liner sinking after hitting an iceberg.
  • Disguised in Drag: How Simon gets into a lifeboat, though it's more Hiding in a Hijab.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Some foreign video distributors marketed this miniseries as a sequel to James Cameron's Titanic (1997).
  • Dramatic Shattering: Part One of the movie ends shortly after the collision with an unattended glass sliding out of the frame and onto the deck.
  • Driven to Suicide: Just like the Jim Cameron film, this features First Officer Murdoch shooting himself after killing someone trying to get into a boat. However, this is far more malicious as it depicts him coldly shooting a stoker without any provocation.
  • Dull Surprise: The default setting of anyone who's not excessively panicking at the mere sight of water in the ship.
  • Dutch Angle: The sinking is done in near-total Dutch angles, trying to show the sinking without moving the sets. It gets a bit comical when actors are trying to be off-balance when they're on level ground, not to mention it's used soon after the collision (when the tilt was not apparent yet), along with varying between scenes and even giving the impression that the ship is heavily listing (beyond what was reported).
  • The Edwardian Era: Big hats, tailcoats, and everything in between.
  • The End Is Nigh: A homeless woman appears as people are boarding the Titanic in Southampton, saying that doom awaits the ship and tells the passengers to "repent their wickedness."
  • Evil Brit: Tim Curry.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Ismay suggests Isidor Straus joins his wife in a lifeboat, seeing that no one would object. Isidor refuses to leave, and Ismay looks at him like he's crazy.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Captain Smith, who stays on the bridge for the final plunge.
    • The Band.
    • The gentlemen in the First Class Smoking Room.
    • The Jack Family are an especially heartbreaking example.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Even if you did not know that Captain Smith doesn't survive, this makes it more obvious by showing Smith keeping a picture of his wife and daughter.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The ship sinks.
  • Gallows Humor:
    • Harold Bride calls the band playing "music to drown by." Interestingly, this line popped up in the Jim Cameron film.
    • When Phillips says that he's switched from CQD to SOS, Bride says "might be our only chance to use it." This line was used in a deleted scene from Cameron's film.
    • The bartender in the First Class Smoking Room says that all drinks are on the house. To this, Astor replies "I asked for ice, but this is ridiculous."
  • Gender Lift: John Jacob Astor had two adult children from his previous marriage, a son and a daughter. When Madeleine Astor is seen being picked up by them in New York after being rescued, both of John's children are shown to be men.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Like most of its counterparts, pretty much anyone in first class.
  • Gratuitous Rape: Poor naive Aase is violently raped and beaten by Simon Doonan while taking a shower.
  • Heaven Seeker: The Jack family and their saved Scandinavian, Aase. Aase is so into God, she does not care about the "incredible new" moving pictures.
  • Heroic BSoD: Surprisingly, averted. Captain Smith, who by many accounts became distant and indecisive upon realizing the gravity of the situation, is remarkably coherent. He criticizes Murdoch on his handling of avoiding the iceberg like someone a century later would.
  • Historical Beauty Upgrade: The plain, dumpy Molly Brown is played by glamorous Marilu Henner.
  • Historical Domain Character: Lots. Captain Smith and the other Titanic officers, Bruce Ismay, Margaret Brown, John Jacob and Madeleine Astor, the Strausses, the Allisons etc, though some are only loosely based on their real life counterparts.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: While in reality Captain Smith carried most of the blame for the sinking, this film follows the usual cliche of portraying him as a kind and gentle elderly man that is undermined and betrayed by the unscrupulous Bruce Ismay, who is more concerned with setting transatlantic speed records than the safety of the ship and its occupants.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Bruce Ismay, the chairman of the White Star Line who was savaged by the press for merely surviving the disaster is here portrayed to be a deranged speed record obsessed lunatic, undermining the crew at every turn and even going as far as heading down into the boiler room (something that could never happen in reality) and screaming at the stokers to light more boilers. Once Titanic hits the iceberg, Ismay is shown to be a sniveling, panicking idiot who snakes his way into one of the last lifeboats.
    • He also gets a small Historical Hero Upgrade. One scene has him berating officers for lowering boats half-full and demanding that they be filled, even though this was something that Thomas Andrews did. He's also depicted suggesting that Isidor Straus join his wife in a lifeboat, as no one would object to an elderly gentleman having a seat (though it was one of the officers who actually said this.)
    • Alice Cleaver, Baby Trevor's nurse, is mistakenly portrayed as a woman with the same name who made headlines three years prior to the sinking when she was put on trial for killing her baby. Alice is gradually driven insane by guilt over murdering her child and inadvertently causes the death of Trevor’s parents and sister due to her unhinged behavior.
    • A rather strange minor example with Loraine Allison. Instead of showing her as an innocent two year old toddler, she is portrayed as a rude and nasty spoiled brat who is seven years old.
    • Fifth Officer Lowe is portrayed as the one who suggests lowering the lifeboats half-full to err on the side of caution. Murdoch and Lightoller were the ones who organized the lowering of the boats and they made the decision.
  • Hollywood History: Way too much of it.
  • Hope Spot: The film likes to play up the close proximity between the Titanic and Californian as this. One of the Californian’s Officers offers to listen in on the Titanic’s wireless traffic for a while, but the power runs out just as the distress signal is being sent. Later, they try to signal each other via Morse lamp, but the crew is either too stupid or too tired to think about turning the wireless back on to communicate directly.
  • Hysterical Woman: Alice is this, due to her nightmares/premonitions about the sinking. Bess Allison also becomes this when Alice takes Trevor, essentially screaming "MY BABY! WHERE'S MY BABY?!!" until the ship sinks.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • The Californian crew are portrayed as having this, seeing rockets and attempting to signal by Morse lamp, yet just shrugging it off.
    • Bess Allison hires Alice to look after their children, despite Alice's obvious weirdness, neurotic behavior, and complete lack of experience looking after children. Later on, even though Mrs. Allison decides to fire her, Mr. Allison still decides to retain her services, despite her behavior growing more and more bizarre.
    • The Allisons have another during the sinking, as they wait until literally all the boats are gone before deciding it would be a good idea to get their young daughter off the ship.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Trevor Allison, a small Italian boy from steerage, and Mrs. Foley's pet Pomeranian Charlie survive the sinking.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Titanic itself. Throughout the film, characters keep fawning over how beautiful, spacious, and huge the ship is, even though the set used to represent Titanic is rather claustrophobic, cheap looking, and poorly lit.
  • Irony: Jamie stealing Mr Dickie's Titanic ticket likely saved the latter's life, given the poor survival prospects of third class males.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Molly Brown yells at the officers who effectively force her into a lifeboat, saying she's going to have a word with Captain Smith about this.
    • The morning after the sinking, Mrs Foley complains about her losses, such as her wardrobe.
  • It's Probably Nothing: Astor notes with some concern that they've stopped in the middle of the night, but another passenger says they'll be underway in a few hours.
  • It Will Never Catch On:
    • Inverted. Wynn says that soon people will be flying across the Atlantic in airplanes, a full fifteen years before this first happened, in a year when airplanes were still being fine-tuned.
    • Another bizarre inversion by Wynn; he seems to already be aware that the Titanic disaster will be one of the best known events in history and tells Isabella that someday they will "brag about it" to their grandchildren.
    • Played straight when Jamie chats with Astor about investing in the up-and-coming "moving picture" business, which the latter is skeptical about.
    • The Astors' maid says she's read about these new things called "vitamins" that people are supposed to get.
    • Molly Brown boasts about how women's emancipation means there will be a woman president within the next century. Astor remarks that he won't be alive to see that.
  • Jerkass: The crew is even more snobbish and disrespectful towards steerage than they are in the Jim Cameron film. Late in the sinking, one of them just walks past a locked gate and snickers at the steerage passengers trapped there, saying the lifeboats are for First Class only.note 
  • Jerkass Has a Point: On one of the lifeboats, Simon argues they shouldn't return to rescue survivors in the water, due to the danger of the boat being swamped by hundreds of panicking people. While it seems callous not to try and help, he was probably right.
    • Hazel Foley defiantly tells Officer Lowe that she's not going to leave her "helpless little dog" on a sinking ship before stepping into a lifeboat with her pet Pomeranian.
  • Jitter Cam: The first half of the miniseries uses this to simulate the ship rolling while at sea, even though the voyage was remarkably smooth and calm. Naturally, none of the actors try to compensate for walking on a rolling deck.
  • Just Following Orders: Boxhall asks why they're going so fast, to which Murdoch says they have their orders.
  • Justified Criminal: Jamie, who plans to rob the ship with Tim Curry, but has a change of heart and decided to help save the other steerage passengers instead.
  • Karma Houdini: Isabella is not held accountable or suffers any consequences for her affair with Wynn or the fact that she was ready to leave her husband and daughter before he died in the sinking. Essentially 1,500 people died just to cover up her five day long affair.
  • Karmic Death: Tim Curry's character rapes Aase, loots the First Class staterooms during the sinking, and then gets into a lifeboat disguised as a woman. After a scuffle on the lifeboat following the sinking, he is hit by an oar, which breaks his neck and he falls into the ocean, with all the money he stole floating on the surface.
  • Kill the Cutie: The sweet Clarinda and Black Billy Jack, and their adorable children, all die in the sinking.
  • Large Ham: Tim Curry as Simon.
  • Le Film Artistique: The ship's final moments are portrayed as a surreal montage of abstract close-ups and cross-dissolves.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Wynn mentions to Isabella that they'll tell their grandkids about being on the Titanic, saying that it's a perfect story with action, danger, and romance.
  • Lifesaving Misfortune:
    • Mr. Dickie having his Titanic ticket stolen by Jamie. Given the poor survival prospects of Third Class males, this probably saved his life.
    • Jamie accidentally falling into a lifeboat while trying to operate a davit.
  • Love Triangle: Isabella with Wynn and her husband, Edward. Edward is not present for most of it, though.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Just before she leaves the ship in a lifeboat, Isabella reveals that Wynn is the father of her daughter.
  • Made-for-TV Movie: By Hallmark and aired on CBS.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Due to the women and children first policy when filling the lifeboats. One of the most famous Real Life examples: almost 75% of the female passengers survived, compared with less than 20% of the men.
  • Missed Him by That Much: While fleeing for the lifeboats with baby Trevor, Alice passes Mr. Allison in a stairway and calls out to him, but he doesn't hear her.
    • Third Officer Groves on the Californian offers to listen in on the Titanic's wireless traffic around midnight, but the power for their set runs out just as Phillips is sending the distress signal.
  • Mr. Exposition:
    • Captain Smith and J. Bruce Ismay. A good number of their lines are facts about the Titanic, from how much food they are carrying to the horsepower of the engines.
    • Mrs Foley serves the same purpose, pointing out notable First Class passengers and their backstories.

    N - Z 
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: The large Jack family are a thinly veiled stand-in for the Goodwins, all of whom perished in the disaster. (Oddly enough, the characters WERE named Goodwin in the original script, so the name change is a bit of a mystery.)
  • Nouveau Riche: Molly Brown. But, as Mrs Foley puts it, "too rich to ignore".
  • Old Flame: Isabella meets her ex-lover Wynn during the crossing, and after some passive aggressive banter, they rekindle their affair.
  • One Last Smoke: One of the First Class gentlemen can be seen smoking a cigar as they have a final toast.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Tim Curry's Irish accent.
    • A number of characters are played by American or Canadian actors with dodgy English accents, notably Mike Doyle who gives Jamie a Cockney accent that would make Dick Van Dyke blush.
    • Averted by George C. Scott, who doesn't even bother giving Captain Smith an English accent.
  • Photo Montage: The opening credits feature a series of photographs of the Titanic during its construction.
  • Please Wake Up: Isabella, when she sees Wynn's corpse on Carpathia.
  • Pretty in Mink: A number of the dresses on the first class ladies feature this.
    • Isabella wears a white fur cape when she and her old boyfriend go to his room for a tryst.
    • Mrs. Astor is handed an ermine cape as she stands outside in the cold air.
  • Race Lift: A minor one; the Allison Family were French Canadian, not American, as portrayed in the miniseries.
  • Racist Grandma: Mrs. Foley mentions that the Strauses are Jewish in a hushed voice, demonstrating mild Anti-Semitism.
  • Ramming Always Works: Captain Smith chastises First Officer Murdoch for trying to swerve around the iceberg instead of hitting it head-on to minimize damage. In summary, at best, ramming would have likely killed many of the people who were sleeping in the bow. Not to mention, the first instinct of any competent sailor is not to ram their ship into an obstacle.
  • Rape as Drama: Probably the most jarring and random example ever.
  • Retirony: Captain Smith. It's even suggested that he's retiring the moment the ship reaches New York.
  • Rich Bitch: Hazel Foley is a very painful stereotype.
  • Shout-Out: One wonders if they gave Chief Engineer Bell a Scottish accent simply so they could have the rather forced line of "The pumps cannae take much more, Cap'n!"
  • Shown Their Work:
    • One of the few things they actually got right is Titanic splitting in two, making this technically the first film to accurately depict the sinking, even though the break-up itself is seen only in two brief shots due to budgetary constraints of a made-for-tv movie.
    • Despite the many inaccuracies mentioned in the Artistic License page, the miniseries does reference a number of obscure events about the sinking:
      • On April 9th, there was a tour for the press and photographers aboard the ship. However, it was not a press conference, with reporters grilling Ismay about the lack of lifeboats.
      • There was a lifeboat drill scheduled for Sunday morning, which was cancelled for unknown reasons (suggested here because Captain Smith "didn't want to interrupt the Sunday services").
      • Wireless operators Phillips and Bride did fight with a stoker who attempted to steal their lifejackets just as they were about to leave for the boat deck.
      • Phillips did communicate with the wireless operator on the Californian, Cyril Evans, shortly before the collision. Evans was relaying to Titanic that his own ship had stopped for the night due to ice, but Phillips was trying to clear a huge backlog of messages for Cape Race and angrily told him to "shut up" and "keep out". With that, Evans shut off his wireless and went to bed.
      • Bride mentions to Isabella that they have only just got the wireless working again. Titanic's wireless did indeed break down on April 13, and Bride and Phillips took it upon themselves to fix it.note 
      • It is also one of the few Titanic adaptations to include the Allisons, albeit it botches their story horribly.
      • Captain Rostron is shown ordering his crew to cut off heat and hot water taps, to redirect every ounce of steam into the engines. The crew of Carpathia actually did this, reaching a speed of 17.5 knots (well beyond their rated maximum speed) and shaving nearly an hour off their travel time, though that may also be because Titanic was actually thirteen miles east of their reported location.
      • Fifth Officer Lowe yells at Ismay when he starts to panic and tries to interfere with the loading of the lifeboats, which did happen.
  • Skewed Priorities:
    • Bess Allison. When told to go to the boat deck, she is more concerned about what to wear than the fact there is an emergency. After Alice runs out with baby Trevor, screaming about how they're going to drown, she stands in the hallway yelling for Alice and saying she doesn't have his sugar water.
    • Ismay chides the officers for arming themselves during the sinking because many of the passengers are very influential, even though the ship is already sinking and at least half of those aboard are going to die.
    • Mrs. Foley is more concerned with having her dog accompany her in the lifeboat than her husband. The following morning, when it is apparent that many aboard Titanic have not survived, she complains loudly about her losses: her entire Paris wardrobe, twelve pairs of good shoes and she doesn't even have any face powder.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Count the number of people who mention that the ship is unsinkable.
    • Ismay insists to reporters in Southampton that "we're not going to need lifeboats".
    • Smith describes his career at sea as "uneventful" and not worth writing about.
    • Mr. Dickie loudly boasting about his Titanic ticket in a crowded pub whilst sitting next to a thief hiding from the police. In fairness, he does seem to be very drunk.
  • That Mysterious Thing: Isabella tells Madeleine Astor that her husband, "Helped me at a terrible time in my life." We never learn what this "terrible time" was about.
  • There Are No Coincidences: Wynn claims it is fate that he and Isabella should be reunited on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Turns out it wasn't, and he already knew that she would be on board.
  • This Cannot Be!: Captain Smith's reaction to learning that they've hit an iceberg.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Allisons, for waiting until the last minute to put their daughter on a lifeboat.note 
  • Took A Level In Jerk Ass: Simon starts out by helping Jamie avoid being spotted by a policeman in a pub. Then he's outed as a thief who is planning to rob the First Class passengers. Then he rapes Aase, throws her overboard and tries to hijack a lifeboat at gunpoint.
  • The Unfair Sex: Isabella is treated very sympathetically for a woman who, four days after bumping into an old boyfriend, decides to divorce her husband (whom she admits is a decent man who helped her at a difficult time in her life) and give up her daughter in order to go gallivanting off to Bolivia with said lover. Oh and just for good measure, the daughter her husband thinks is his was actually fathered by the ex-boyfriend. Then she makes it off the ship, discovers her lover did not survive and also learns that thanks to the sinking, her Dear John wireless message to her husband was never sent. She is happily re-united with her family and apparently decides to carry on as if nothing happened.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Simon explains his plan for robbing First Class to Jamie. They'll stake out the staterooms while everyone is at dinner, then clean them out on the last night of the voyage. Afterwards, they'll hide the loot in Mr. Astor's loo and Simon's plumber friend onboard will sneak them out in his toolbox. This plan gets shot to hell once the ship starts sinking, so Simon simply goes ahead with looting the staterooms and Purser's Office while everyone is fleeing for the lifeboats.
  • Vertigo Effect: The effect is used on First Officer Murdoch in the moments before Titanic hits the iceberg.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Ismay becomes a sniveling coward the moment he learns the ship will sink.
  • Villain Protagonist: Jamie, a thief who steals his ticket to get on Titanic, steals John Jacob Astor's wallet and plans to rob the First Class state rooms and purser's office with Simon. He does eventually do a Heel–Face Turn though.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Benjamin Guggenheim is pointed out by Mrs Foley, who notes his scandalous backstory (despite being married, he was travelling back to America with his mistress), but he is never seen again. Not even for the real Guggenheim, when he declined to wear a lifejacket and put on his best clothes, declaring that he would go down like a gentleman. Everyone else mentioned by Mrs Foley - the Astors, Molly Brown, the Strausses - at least gets some screen time.
  • Widow's Weeds: Well losing her aunt instead of her husband, but Isabella was expected to wear black for a certain period of mourning, and she causes a stir when she breaks that early.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Mr. Dickie has saved all his money to buy a ticket aboard the Titanic, and it's stolen the night before the voyage. He shows up at the dock right as the ship is leaving, meaning he's either spent all morning trying to go to the police, or he just woke up, in which case he'd have missed the ship anyway. Either way, it's unlikely he'd have survived the sinking.
  • You Are Too Late: Captain Rostron and the Carpathia were among the heroes of the night, but they arrived too late to help 1500 of the 2200 passengers aboard Titanic.
    • Captain Smith tells the Allisons that there are no more lifeboats once they finally realize they need to save their daughter.
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Ismay threatens Lowe in this fashion after Lowe scolds him for interfering in the lifeboat launch. It doesn't work and Lowe puts him in his place.
    Ismay: Do you know who I am?
    Lowe: I don't care if you're the bloody Prince of Wales, you move back or I'll knock your teeth down your throat!
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Mrs. Miller tries to tell Astor that the Allisons hired a murderer as their nanny, but he dismissed her wish to speak to them in the middle of the night.