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Trivia / Chernobyl

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  • Approval of God: Many survivors of Chernobyl approved the series's portrayal of the disaster, including General Nikolai Tarakanov, who commanded the liquidators on the roof, and some of the surviving Russian miners from the digging operation beneath Reactor #4. The primary people who didn't like it were (naturally) the Russian government.
  • Banned in China: Rather predictably, the series was criticized in Russia for being anti-Russian propaganda, and the Communists of Russianote  launched a lawsuit against the creators. Though it’s still reportedly very popular among the country’s citizenry.
  • California Doubling: The series is mainly shot at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant in Lithuania, a decommissioned RBMK plant very similar to the one in Chernobylnote . Many of the Lithuanian crewmembers were old enough to remember life in the Soviet era and helped make sure that they got the little details right.
    • The city of Kaunas doubles for every urban area depicted in the series, including Pripyat, Kiev, Minsk and Moscow.
  • The Cast Showoff: Alexej Manvelov, who plays Garo, also sings the rendition of the Russian folk song "Chorny Voron" ("Black Crow") that plays in Episode 4.
  • Creator's Oddball: Craig Mazin had previously written comedies such as Scary Movie 3, Superhero Movie, Identity Thief and the two sequels to The Hangover.
  • Deleted Scene:
    • The script included a scene where another reactor worker, Gorbachenko, carried a wounded colleague (Shashenok) and realized later that he had left a hand-shaped radiation burn over his back. While Gorbachenko is told to find Shashenok in the show, the latter is never shown.
    • The scene with Yuvchenko meeting Kudryavtsev and Proskuryakov in the corridor went for longer, with Yuvchenko being asked if Degtyarenko needed a doctor and Yuvchenko saying "no".
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    • Mazin wanted to include the moment when radiation was detected in a Swedish nuclear plant and identified as coming from the Soviet Union, but it would be too similar to Ulana's introductory scene and he obviously wanted to reference the Soviet scientists that discovered the cover-up over the foreigners that did it independently.
    • The original script for Episode 3 featured a May 1 parade in Minsk, held as scheduled in order to transmit normalcy. The party official that meets Khomyuk in the previous episode would phone his superiors and express worry because winds had been blowing from Chernobyl, but he would be told to join the parade as expected.
    • Dyatlov was going to have a delirious dream while hospitalized. He would see his son, who died from leukemia after Dyatlov was involved in another radiation accident at a nuclear submarine base in The '60s. An unnamed character would later dig up Dyatlov's file and speculate that his recklesness came from a desire to "conquer the atom" after the incident. The scene would have been meant to cast Dyatlov in a slightly sympathetic light, implying that his stubbornness and refusal to accept the truth stemmed partially from an obession with "defeating" what had killed his son, and parts of the scene with Dyatlov being delirious can be seen in a trailer. However, Mazin cut this subplot entirely after deciding that it was armchair psychology speculation and that it detracted from the timeline of the Chernobyl disaster.
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    • Another scene (taken from the book Voices of Chernobyl) would reveal that one of the puppies was still alive after being thrown in the pile. The soldiers would then try to Mercy Kill it before it was engulfed in cement, only to realize they were out of bullets. Mazin hated the scene while he was writing it already and ended cutting it after filming because it felt too sadistic in an already bleak arc.
    • The formation of the Elephant's Foot, a extremely radioactive formation of silca and traces of uranium created by the accident in one the plant's steam corridors, was scripted, but it is unknown if it was filmed.
    • In the script for Episode 4, the episode would have an extended ending in which Pavel greets a new fresh-faced recruit.
    • The script for Episode 5 would have featured Fomin's suicide attempt prior to the trial. This also would have lead to a scene featuring Shcherbina's family while he discusses the situation with Legasov.
    • The script also makes clear that Zinchenko dies, showing her vomiting and blistering from her hand as Pripyat is evacuated. She is later mentioned among the dead in another scene where Khomyuk goes through the statements of the victims.
  • Development Gag: In Episode 5, Dyatlov chides the staff and threatens to ensure that they never work at another nuclear power plant ever again, listing the plants at Kursk, Ignalina, Leningrad, and Novovoronezh. The series was actually shot at the RBMK nuclear power plant at Ignalina.
  • Fake Russian: None of the main cast is actually Eastern European. They're mostly natives of the UK and Ireland, with a couple of Swedes in the midst (Stellan Skarsgard, David Dencik, Fares Fares) who speak in a variety of British accents. Many of the extras are Lithuanian, however.
  • In Memoriam: A title card after the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue reads "In memory of all who suffered and sacrificed."
  • Life Imitates Art:
    • The popularity of the series (including among Russian citizens) led to it being harshly criticized by the Russian government, who, in a very Dyatlovesque move, insisted that the (scrupulously researched and praised for its accuracy even by actual Chernobyl survivors) series was a work of "Western propaganda" and immediately set about commissioning their own Chernobyl series showing the "truth" that the reactor was actually sabotaged by the CIA. Which basically just goes to prove Mazin's point.
    • One month after the series concluded, a massive fire took place in a power plant of Moscow. And two months later, it was announced that a radiation leak detected over Europe in 2017 had been identified as originating from Mayak (where a nuclear incident larger and deadlier than Chernobyl already took place in 1957, but the Soviet Union managed to keep secret for decades). Then the state-owned corporation Rosatom denied these findings...
  • Newbie Boom: See The Red Stapler entry below. Chernobyl and the Exclusion Zone already had a fairly decent base of enthusiasts and tourists that witnessed a significant increase in numbers after the series aired.
  • Orphaned Reference: Dyatlov's claim to "have seen worse" in the early minutes of the disaster was originally foreshadowing the reveal of his backstory as a radiation poisoning survivor from another incident, twenty years prior. However, all other references to his backstory were cut from the final show.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • A possible example of podcasting against type: the show's official podcast is presented by Peter Sagal, better known to NPR listeners as the host of the humorous quiz show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!.
    • Paul Ritter is probably much better known for his comedy work in television than for serious dramatic roles; here he plays a pathologically superior braggart and bully with terrifying zeal.
    • Creator Example - Craig Mazin's previous works included Scary Movie series and its spiritual successor Superhero Movie, The Hangover sequels, and Identity Thief. Here, he has made a serious drama about the real-life nuclear disaster.
    • Even director Johan Renck qualifies: While he's directed some TV episodes in the latter years (for shows like Breaking Bad, for example), most of his resume consists of directing music videos.
  • The Red Stapler: The miniseries has sparked a renewed interest in the Chernobyl disaster, with many people coming forward on social media and recounting their stories about it. It has also triggered a surge in tourism for the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
  • Sleeper Hit: The show premiered to so-so ratings, despite being promoted during the final episodes of Game of Thrones. However, word of mouth soon spread and every episode since has been higher-rated than the last. It also has gained the top popular vote for any TV series ever on IMDb.
  • Throw It In!:
    • The scene in Episode 5 where Shcherbina remarks on a caterpillar crawling on his hand was not scripted, and was improvised with a real one that the crew happened to find on the set.
    • The moment in the trial where the microphone is too far away from Legasov and a soldier rushes to place it correctly was not scripted. The microphone was genuinely misplaced, and director Johan Renck thought to send one of the actors playing soldiers to fix it without stopping recording.
    • While rehearsing the same scene, Jared Harris accidentally dropped one of the cards used in the lecture. Harris, Mazin, and Renck all agreed to keep the accident instead of using the "good" take.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • In the beginning, actors were going to speak English with a vague Eastern European accent, but this was changed when the creators realized that they got too distracted acting their accents to act their characters properly, and the result sounded inappropriately comical - hence Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian characters speaking with British accents.
    • Mazin was originally contracted for six episodes but ended combining two scripted episodes in one.
    • Per the six-part plan, the line "It's not 3 rem. It's 15,000." would have been the last said in the second episode.
    • The construction of the infamous containment Sarcophagus around Reactor 4, the building of which was rushed and haphazard due to the radiation, is not shown. A picture of the Chernobyl New Safe Confinement, which replaced parts of that structure and was completed in 2010, is shown during the final episode's epilogue.
    • In the script, Yuvchenko carries his son on a toy cart, instead of over his shoulders.
    • The script also goes further into Zinchenko's fate. While in the show she is last seen next to Vasily while futilely trying to object to the hospital's evacuation, in the script she is treating Mikhail and Oksana's children when the evacuation begins, and almost gets in a fight due to her refusal to evacuate. Later, she begins blistering from her reddened hand, like Misha, and vomits on a street bin as she heads for the evacuation bus. A scene in the final episode, also scripted but not included in the show, counts her among the victims of ARS.

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