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From left to right: Scott, James, Daniel and LeeLee

"Because games matter!"
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Extra Credits is an animated Analysis Channel, formerly published by The Escapist, then PATV and later self-published, which is is hosted by James Portnow (writing), Matt Krol (narration), Dan Jones and Scott Dewitt (art), the latter three's spots formely belonging to Daniel Floyd, Allison Theus and Elisa "LeeLee" Scaldaferri before they left to work on other projects. The hosts use the series as a means to cover many issues pertinent to the video games industry, in particular what goes into the creation and development of video games, what video games have to do to become recognized as a legitimate artform, and creating intellectual discourse on important issues in the video game community.

The series uses a voiceover over top of static (although animation has been incorporated as the show progressed), minimalist illustrations and funny pictures culled from various Internet sources, with emphasis on Visual Puns. This aspect is heavily inspired by another series made famous by The Escapist.

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The show strives to be both lighthearted and humorous while providing an insightful look into the inner workings of the video game industry, in a topic of the week format, often tackling many of the most prevalent and controversial topics in the gaming industry, such as topics regarding Diversity in games, piracy, video game addiction, and the unreasonable working conditions faced by many game developers. The show also manages to be thoroughly researched on the topics it is covering. This shouldn't be surprising, as James, Daniel, and Allison are all well-immersed in the industry; James is a game designer himself, Daniel was an animator for Pixar Canada (and contributor to OC ReMix), and Allison is a concept artist.

Due to a money-related misunderstanding, Extra Credits' run on The Escapist drew to a close. After a brief "hiatus" period on YouTube, they moved to PATV. Proof, if needed, that the two groups are on the same wavelength.

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As of January 2014, PATV has ended their 3rd party hosting, meaning Extra Credits primarily hosts using their YouTube channel once again.

Pre-Escapist episodes can be watched here.

The entire archive from during and after their days at The Escapist can be watched here. The episode guide can be found here.

It doesn't stop there—besides EC, a few more series started on the channel:

  • James Recommends - In which James recommends mainly under-the-radar games that you might not have tried or even heard of.
  • Design Club - In which Dan breaks down levels/elements within certain games, analyzes them, and explains their meaning.
  • Extra Remix - In which attention is drawn to artists from the video game remix community.
  • Extra History - After Creative Assembly asked them to do a short video series on the Punic Wars to advertise Total War: Rome II, the team has since made it into a weekly series on various moments in history, covering everything from Wars to Economics. Sort of like a slightly more lighthearted version of Crash Course History.
  • Side Quest - Dan and James do Let's Play, where Dan does the playing and James comments on the design.
  • Extra Frames - A more polished version of The Animations of X
  • Extra Sci-Fi - Launching on Halloween 2017, this is a series dedicated to exploring the science-fiction genre, from beginnings to contemporary, across all mediums.
  • Extra Mythology - Previewing in April 2018, this series is dedicated to exploring ancient mythology.
  • Extra Politics - An eight part miniseries that launched in June 2018 which displays various aspects of politics through the lens of gaming and mechanics.

As of October 19, 2015 - The crew has established a brand new sister channel for their more laid back videos that don't otherwise really fit the tone of regular Extra Credits: Extra Play. Currently, Extra Play runs the following:

  • Side Quest - which has been moved here, though Dan now plays alone, due to popular demand to continue the series despite James not being able to join Dan.
  • The Animations of X - Dan plays a game and talks about the myriad of animations and small details of that nature within it, currently taking a focus on the 12 principles of animation using 1 game to highlight each one.
  • The Battle of the Dans - an ongoing series of videos that will show up from time to time whenever the team's three Dans are all together, where they'll pick a game and duke it out over who is the best DAN of them all.
    • Finished. For now.
  • Hearthstone and Tea & Hearthstone- James plays Hearthstone and analyzes and discusses elements of the game.
  • Guest Play - Dan and other people who work in the gaming industry play games while discussing their careers and aspects of the game.
  • Destiny Whaaat? - James discusses some of the more confusing design decisions made in Destiny.
  • Nuzlocke Challenge - Dan Jones, the artist Dan, does a nuzlocke challenge of Pokémon Diamond.

Discussion of Extra Creditz can be found here.

On May 23, 2018, Daniel Floyd announced that he and his wife Carrie were moving on from Extra Credits to work on new projects, though he would still appear on a few more Extra History episodes which where recorded in advance. He announced that the Extra Play channel would be renamed and that his new project would be a part of it. Meanwhile, Matt Krol would take over as as the show's new narrator.

On August 21, 2018, a Kickstarter-backed board game, The Partisans, was launched. It is a 4-6 player Political Strategy Game with the Extra Politics brand.

On October 20, 2019, James Portnow also says his good-byes to the show and moving on to new ventures, though he has left plenty of scripts for them. With his departure, the last of the founding members of Extra Credits has left the show.


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    Extra Credits Trope Examples 

Tropes which Extra Credits provides an example of:

  • Accentuate the Negative: Averted. Extra Credits tries to avoid outrage and flaming and provide as nuanced a view of their topics as they can fit into a seven-minute YouTube video. At least half the time, they explain the worst of a backlash as resulting from somebody's Marketing department putting their foot in their mouth, when the actual issue was a moderately-problematic thing that could have been done better but didn't deserve the vitriol that the Internet was calling forth.
  • Adorkable: Much of the crew qualifies, but James and Matt are the biggest examples.
  • Animation Bump:
    • Episode 200 featured a fully-animated dance party at the beginning, and even a few of the usually-still shots of Dan at the lectern had more movement than usual.
    • Awesome Per Second has more detailed pictures and a flashy "Awesome Per Second" logo that pops up.
    • Episode 400 has more fluid animation than usual for the intro and outro. The switch to EC's conventional style in the middle is lampshaded, with the "production time big budget machine" apparently having ran out of fuel.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification:
    • Several abstract concepts discussed on the show are represented visually by some kind of creature. Micro Transactions by "micro-transaction-raptor", a small blue feathered dinosaur; First-Order-Optimal (or FOO) strategies by a foo dog, and user choices by a two headed kangaroo-like beast. Games themselves are represented by green rectangles (probably to emulate the green cases that Xbox games are generally sold in).
    • James is shown to have a plush-doll version of the green rectangle "Game" during the South Sea Bubble "Lies" episode of Extra History.
    • These plush-dolls are now for sale in Extra Credits' store
  • Art Shift:
    • In "Innovation", and whenever a guest artist is invited. They generally imitate the style while putting their own twists on it.
    • In season 4 they added LeeLee to their ranks, and while her and Allison's styles were mostly similar, difference between the two could be seen during certain points.
  • Art Evolution: The show's signature art style went through three iterations during its run, not counting the guest artists. The pre-Escapist videos used a crude, but bright art style employed by Floyd. After the series became weekly, Allison provided smoother art with a more pastel-type color palette. After she was replaced by Scott DeWitt during Season 6, the new artists revamped the style, making them closer to Super-Deformed.
  • The Artifact: The reason why Dan's voice is sped up was because the first Extra Credits episodes were presentations at a college. There was a 10-minute time limit, so he sped up his voice to fit the videos in the limit, and the sped-up Dan ended up staying.
  • Artifact Title: While the punny title Extra Credits is still appropriate for that series, the word Extra has become a form of branding used for many of the later series. It's a superfluous call-back to the original series.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • The Stinger for "Our Oscars":
      Dan: Big E3 Developments. New Sony handheld. New HD Nintendo console. And apparently, sports stars don't count as celebrities. I didn't know that.
    • Mentioning examples of serious "mechanics villains" in "Big Bad I - The Basics of Villains in Video Game Design":
      Dan: Maybe you want a true villain of pure evil so that the player feels like a hero fighting them, like the Enchantress, Chaos, Lavos, Maleficent, Tom Nook...
  • Ascended Extra: LeeLee, previously a guest artist, joined the team in the 100th episode. Dan Jones, also previously a guest artist, replaced her in "Big Bad I - The Basics of Villains in Video Game Design". Same goes for Scott DeWitt.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Matt mentions that he's been a huge fan of the show since the Escapist days when he makes his debut.
  • Audience Surrogate: Varied a lot before, but has recently settled as a young game designer with red hair in pigtails and freckles.
  • Author Appeal:
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: While covering the Zulu Empire, Extra History depicted topless tribal women, which the limited art style showed as having breasts but no nipples.
  • Battle in the Rain: The Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years War, and in a fitting bit of symbolism, the battle was won because both the rain and the arrows of English Longbowmen bogged down the heavily-armored French knights too much.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Poorly-made propaganda games. Well-made propaganda games don't always set their world on fire either, but poorly-made propaganda games inspire epic rants like these.
    • The big problem they have with propaganda games is willfully misinforming the audience. While Call of Juarez: The Cartel can't really be described as propaganda, it is such a disrespectful hack-job of the Mexican Drug War that it deserves everything it gets.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Given the idealistic tone of the series, they rarely criticize games unless they have a really good reason. However, there are a few episodes where they simply tear a game apart, such as the one about Call of Juarez: The Cartel, which uses lots of heavy-handed language; Daniel flat-out calls it despicable and horrid, due to its lazy design and dishonor of the subject matter.
  • Blank White Eyes: Artist Scott DeWitt's style features these when beady-eyed characters are shocked/surprised, like here.
  • Brain Bleach: In the first "Western & Japanese RPGs" episode, Allison does a search for "Eroge visual novels" while working on the episode, only to start scrubbing her eyes out with bleach on viewing the results.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Extra Credits: Mailbag #1 3m35s: "If you love games, music and game music,"
  • B-Roll Rebus: Done in a similar style as Zero Punctuation, the narrative is accompained by relevant and/or related pictures and drawings.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S":
    • James was always shown wearing his blue "J" T-shirt. This was changed after the change in artstyle in Season 6.
    • Generic characters are shown wearing letter-coded clothing, such as "D" ones for Developers and "G" for gamers.
    • Frequently used in Extra History to label the main historical figure or figures being discussed.
  • Captain Obvious: Mentioned by name in the Amnesia episode, complete with a Captain America like drawing.
  • Cardiovascular Love: In "The Division - Problematic Meaning in Mechanics":, it's used with Heart Symbols being emitted from a woman's head to portray her affection for a player character.
  • Catchphrase: James seems to have made "Hello Youtubes! Welcome back to James Recommends!" into one for the James Recommends side series.
  • Caustic Critic: A beautiful aversion. While there are things that piss off the EC team, most of their analysis are done fairly, and often conceding to the problems and troubles the other side of the debate goes through. Even their Call of Juarez: The Cartel review, which is possibly the most negative and judgmental thing they've produced, always speaks professionally and thoroughly justifies every complaint. This is in part due to James working in the industry and both being sympathetic to the troubles that lead to flawed games and not wanting alienate his colleagues. The upside is that they do then share their insights into how these problems come about.
  • Continuity Nod: After receiving her shoulder surgery, Allison's avatar has had a Bionic Arm drawn in some episodes.
  • Crossover: Extra History has a crossover with The Great War. The presenters of both shows make brief appearances in each others' videos, in EC's video on The Zulu Empire IV and TGW's episode South Africa in the Great War respectively.
  • Cute and Psycho:
    • Allison, as she grows more crazed looking as each episode wears on. Lampshaded repeatedly:
      Dan: Uh oh, Allison, put the eraser down, I'm almost done!
    • The guest artist Erin too.
  • Depending on the Artist: Dan's sleeves tend to disappear whenever he's not standing behind the lectern.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: There are in several of the stories where things suddenly take a turn for the worse through nobody's fault.
    • In the Justinian and Theodora storyline, a Plague from Egypt rips across The Mediterranean and cripples The Roman Empire. This pretty much ensures that Justinian's dream of a Restored Roman Empire will never come to fruition.
    • In the Seminal Tragedy storyline, near the end, two diplomats are working out an agreement that will minimize the effects of WWI and prevent it from becoming more than a regional conflict ... then one of the diplomats drops dead. For no reason whatsoever. Moments before he could sign the document that would prevent WWI.
    • In the Mary Seacole storyline, her business burns to the ground AND her husband dies on the same day. Not only are these unrelated, but they also happen out of nowhere.
  • Dope Slap: In "Easy Games", James delivers one to a hardcore gamer who says that real gamers work for their fun.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • At the show's inception, it was called Extra Credit and not Extra Credits.
    • Occasionally the plaque on Daniel's lectern would display "Daniel Floyd".
    • During Allison's tenure as artist on the original run of the series; she employed increasingly bizarre creatures which would represent various themes in each episode. The artists who would succeed her opted not to follow suit and employed their own stamp while keeping to the overall style of the show.
  • Epic Fail: The People's Crusade as detailed in the Extra History concerning the First Crusade. But then, it turns out that it directly helped the actual crusade in the process, causing the Turks to initially fatally underestimate what they were facing.
  • Femme Fatalons: Allison sometimes draws herself with some pretty nasty claws for the sake of a visual cue.
  • Flat Joy: What Daniel does when revealing that they're going to be talking about Call of Juarez: The Cartel. "Ta-daaa."
  • Flipping the Table: The episode "Delta Of Randomness" depicts a player doing a Rage Quit in this manner.
  • Floating Limbs: The main art style has these for all human characters that are not Daniel or Matt behind their lectern. Guest artists might or might not follow this.
  • Foil: Near the begining of the "Microtransactions" episode, Daniel says that EC is always trying to be the calmer voice, while a crude picture of EC-inspiration Yahtzee shows up, angrily saying, "What are you getting at?"
  • Heart Symbol: Multiple times in "The Division - Problematic Meaning in Mechanics":
  • Helium Speech:
    • Daniel Floyd constantly narrates the videos with a voice that's been computer-shifted into this by using Audacity. (Originally it was the result of speeding up the video of his original class project presentation in order to cut down its run time.) His videos on Extra Play show what he actually sounds like.
    • Tried briefly with Scott in one video before he just coughed and used his actual-sounding voice.
    • Scott revisited the gag for James' voice, even hanging a lampshade on it.
      James: ...wait, is this... my voice?
      Scott: It sounds like you caught whatever it is that Dan has.
      [...]
      James: And this has nothing to do with you not asking me to voice this?
      Scott: Nooo, I'm sure those two things are completely unrelated.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: A lot of the visual puns. For example, Daniel might say, "Let's dive into why", and it'll show a picture of a person preparing to dive into a Y-shaped pool.
  • Ink-Suit Actor:
    • All the characters are loose caricatures of the related characters. Dan is usually the only one speaking, but the other people involved in the project will pop up from time to time.
    • Mike Rugnetta from PBS Idea Channel makes a cameo appearance in an Extra Credits video to mention a related video on the same topic.
  • Kind Hearted Cat Lover: Matt is an excitable, goofy guy who was absolutely stoked to come onto the show! But he's not alone in this endeavor: he brought his cat, Zoey, along for the ride! With various degrees of success.
  • The Last DJ: Despite the portrayal of a Sugar Bowl community surrounding them, their criticisms of weaker aspects of gaming make them out to be a textbook example of this trope.
  • Literal Metaphor: The art sometimes does this with some figures of speech. In their Uncanny Valley episode, for example:
    *Cut to a picture of Allison chasing James and Daniel with a baseball bat around a bush*
    Daniel: So, enough beating around the bush... Whatever that means.
  • Mirror Universe: It's been argued that the show as a whole is a Sugar Bowl take on Zero Punctuation, respectively representing the polar ends of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism in respect to how they view the game industry.
  • Mood Dissonance: In the "Open Letter to EA Marketing" video, Daniel reads out-loud the original mission statement for Electronic Arts, a highly idealistic vision for the evolution of video games as an art form. While he's reading this, he shows clips of EA's various cynical ad campaigns that embrace the worst of gaming stereotypes and do little to advance the medium as an art.
  • Must Have Caffeine: The second artist, Leelee, might be this, judging from the sheer number of coffee cups in the "Energy Systems" episode.
  • Mythology Gag: The first official episode of "Extra Credits", "Bad Writing - Why Most Games Tell Bad Stories" reuses a joke from the first ever "Extra Credits" episode, "Video Games and Storytelling":
    Dan: [W]e are here to talk about (shows this poster) these.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted; Daniel Floyd is later joined by Daniel Emmons and Dan Jones. Floyd does the narration, Emmons works on Design Club, and Jones helps create the art. This fact was made into somewhat of an inside joke within the fanbase, with Daniel Floyd being referred to as 'Dan Prime', and when Dan Jones shows up, Dan Floyd lampshades this. Ultimately became less apparent once Dan Prime left.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: Allison is really good at that. Often borders on horror. Notably, after she left the team - this element of the show in terms of visuals became increasingly uncommon.
  • Painting the Medium:
    • The "Awesome Per Second" episode, in which Dan talks about the often-forgotten principle in games that a condensed amount of great is better than a convoluted amount of good. To accentuate this point, the episode is one of the shortest they've done yet but boasts some of their most detailed and in-depth art yet.
    • Played for Laughs in Scott's 2016 PAX video: when he gets to the "audio" step of making an EC video, he asks a cashier for their finest microphone and is turned of by the price tag. He then asks if anyone would notice if he used "[his] old Rock Band microphone." During this line (and only this line), the audio is marred by static and clipping.
  • Porky Pig Pronunciation:
    • "Pedagog... pedagodag..." (shows word "pedagogically" on screen) "This word."
    • Scott in one episode has trouble saying the word "palatable".
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • In "Art Is Not the Opposite of Fun," Daniel uses this trope while questioning the claim that studying what makes games unique will cause them to become worse or less fun.
      Dan: It's the suggestion that we shouldn't explore games further. That all of this inquiry and study and tampering is going to just ruin our favorite hobby. And that is a claim that needs answering. It makes no f**king sense!
    • In Call of Juarez: The Cartel towards the end.
      Dan: I'm willing to wager there's now at least one person out there who now believes more firmly that Mexicans are stealing our women because of this game, and that is f**king disgraceful. It is a shame to what it means to be a designer, and it belies the responsibility we as a group hold when producing mass media. We can do a lot better than this. We can inform, and educate, and entertain, but failing all of that we can at least be honest.
    • In "Games You Might Not Have Tried (Horror Games)," when talking about Song of Saya:
      Dan: I apologize, what the f**k did I just play?
    • In Extra Remix - Sixto Sounds, in a less heavy sense.
      Dan: Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to f**king rock out!
    • And in part 2 their Extra History segment about World War I:
      Dan: He would have to go into hiding for a while, but... holy s**t is that the archduke!?
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Dan occasionally uses this technique in his speeches.
    Dan: Do not Tangle. With the kind of people. Who install Linux. on their PlayStations. Trust me: You are wasting. Your. Time.

    Dan: Never. sell. power.
  • Re Run:
    • Almost every episode from the show's run on YouTube was revamped for The Escapist.
    • The "Uncanny Valley" episode they uploaded to PATV was the third time they've covered that topic, once for each incarnation of the show. It was remade from scratch instead of using clips from either of the other versions.
  • Running Gag:
    • Allison's shoulder injury is sometimes rendered as a Deus Ex style cyborg arm.
    • If Dan ever says "heck", expect a tiny snake to appear somewhere onscreen.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • The Uncanny Valley episode pokes fun at the show's art and Daniel's narration.
      Dan: Smartass.
    • One episode of Extra Remix had Dan Floyd take a potshot at the OC Remix user "sephfire," which caused a bit of confusion in the comments section until Dan clarified that "sephfire" was his old screen name.
    • When loot boxes are briefly discussed in an episode on competitive gaming ladders as a suggestion for more microrewards, the on-screen loot box declares "It's me! Your favorite guy!" This is in reference to the infamously-divisive episodes of the show discussing Revenue-Enhancing Devices.
  • Series Mascot:
    • Sort of, considering the nature of the show; the little green boxed "games" complete with faces and stubby arms and legs that show up in nearly all of the regular Extra Credits videos basically serves as this.
    • The Extra History series has a mascot of sorts in the form of Robert Walpole, who cameos in every Extra History series ever since the South Sea Bubble due the Running Gag of "It was Walpole".
  • Serious Business:
    • A large part of the series's message is that video game developers should take their medium as seriously as other media.
    • The importance of balancing gaming with Real Life and the serious consequences of game compulsion was detailed over two episodes, and broke the usual style of the show by having James speak directly.
    • The breakdown of Call of Juarez: The Cartel is absolutely brutal in its treatment of the game, condemning it for multiple sins; it starts with how its lazy design indirectly encourages the killing of black people and gets more serious from there.
    • However, in the episode Toxicity, they urged players who love blaming their teammates for not winning to not treat "winning at video games" as Serious Business.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Scott (in the episodes he produces) despite literally working with him, considers James to be this, feeling like he is competing with James for fan attention and comically failing. For their part, both James and the fans enjoy the shorts he's done.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The tone of the series is extremely idealistic: it views the recognition of video games as art as inevitable, treats virtually all developments in the industry as furthering this cause, and views most obstacles in the way as easily overcome.
  • Something Completely Different:
    • Game Addiction (Part 2) where James Portnow sits down in front of the camera and discusses his own past in this area. Daniel even comments on how they tried to do it in their normal, academic style of commentary, but James simply couldn't write a good enough script while remaining objective.
    • Their episode on the controversial bills SOPA and PIPA had James, Daniel and the owners of various gaming websites speaking in live action, urging the viewer to boycott E3 unless the ESA, which is E3's main backer, withdrew their support for those bills. They followed it up the next week with a conventional episode on it however.
    • They did it again with their "Extra Credits supports Firefall" video. There was even some lampshading by the team about it.
    • Funding XCOM, where they talk about... well, funding a real-life XCom.
    • A four-part report on the Second Punic War. This actually got popular enough to generate a spinoff in the form of Extra History (where now, the topics are chosen by their Patreon patrons via votes).
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Dan is definitely not two children in a trench coat.
  • Take That!:
    • In "Games You Might Not Have Tried: 16-bit", when Daniel talks about which systems they'll cover.
      Dan: We'll be talking about Super NES games, Sega Genesis games, and [picture of TurboGrafx-16] ...yeah, just the first two.
    • In Scott DeWitt's PAX video, he explains an early animation job that he did. At one point he had to animate a scene where a demon snaps a woman's neck and kills her, and the higher-ups apparently told him that scene was too dark, and suggested a beach ball be added to make it more lighthearted. Cut to a gag slideshow of a beachball photoshopped into depressing photos, such as a poster for The Walking Dead, a screenshot of the corridor in the Silent Hills demo, on the floor in the younglings scene... and the beach ball photoshopped in the reveal trailer for Artifact.
  • The Tetris Effect: Discussed in regards to "mechanical transference", using The Witness as an example.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: In his personal YouTube channel where he posted his game design presentations before starting Extra Credits, Daniel (or rather his animated self, Cartoon!Daniel) used to express slightly more often (most likely jokingly intended) mean behavior than in during Extra Credits, such as stealing his guest's or James's notes to use them as a script and giving James's email address to the audience despite Cartoon!James jumping onto Cartoon!Daniel's desk and holding a "NO!" sign. In-universe, he didn't escape the consequences, often resulting him to be chased by his target during closing credits. It appears that this kind of behavior was solely intended for comedy. Nevertheless, nowadays Cartoon!Daniel rarely pokes fun of anyone (at least not the staff or guests) and is more often himself a target of jokes.
  • Updated Re-release: the Uncanny Valley episode, mk. 3!
    • The pre-Escapist videos (and even some of the early Escapist episodes) are more representative of Floyd's college-requisite Jade-Colored Glasses, and have been incrementally re-made with new scripts and new art whenever Writer's Block sets in...
  • Very Special Episode: Game Addiction: Part 2. Complete with An Aesop:
    James: Life will always welcome you back.

    Extra Credits Tropes Conversed 

Tropes that are discussed by Extra Credits:

  • Allegedly Free Game: In "Free to Play Is Currently Broken", Dan talks about how free to play games are targeting "whales", or players who spend lots of money on in-app purchases, ignoring players who spend little to no money. This results in games that are devoid of content without spending lots of money, and it alienates players who literally cannot afford to play a "free game".
  • The Artifact: Discussed in "In Service to the Brand", the original BioShock had features which fit the world of Rapture, but in Infinite, those features were included because they were in the originals, but otherwise didn't make sense in Columbia.
  • Boring, but Practical / Difficult, but Awesome: Discussed in the "How to Play Like a Designer, Part 2" episode in which they explain that "First Order Optimal Strategies" (which require little player effort but give good results such as the "noob tube" or "hundred hand slap") are necessary to allow new players to have a competitive edge and allow them to gain enough confidence and experience to start using more difficult but ultimately even more effective strategies necessary for more difficult levels or matches. He cautions though that any such thing needs to be carefully developed and thought through, as it can create unintentional Game Breakers which might flatten an otherwise expertly plotted difficulty curve.
  • But Thou Must!: "The Illusion of Choice" discusses how this is pretty much inevitable in most games and showcases a few tricks that game designers use to give the player the illusion that their choices are meaningful when they don't really make that much of a difference in the long run.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Warned against in the "Microtransactions" episode, with a crossed-out picture of Jareth from Labyrinth.
    Daniel: Never. Sell. Power. This is seriously micro-trans 101, but we still seem to have this temptation to squeeze the maximum amount of money out of our players by selling them things that alter the balance of gameplay.
  • Chainmail Bikini: They're actually okay with the trope being used so long as the player is the one deciding to use it. Once the power level of the equipment becomes intrinsically linked to the skimpiness of said equipment, it's no longer okay.
  • Character Derailment: invoked
    • They argue that this happened to Kratos in the God of War sequels, which was only exacerbated by Flanderization.
    • They also argue that this is basically what happened to Samus with Metroid: Other M, stating that Samus already had a workable characterization that emerged from the mechanics and backstory of the previous games, and that suddenly ramming a new characterization down the player's throat made Samus worse for it rather than better.
  • Competitive Balance: Discussed in "Perfect Imbalance" in which they, counter-intuitively, suggest that a designer should deliberately introduce an slight element of minor imbalance into play. The idea being that Complacent Gaming Syndrome will set in if everything is perfectly balanced, as players will find the optimal strategies and only play to those. However, with calculated imbalances, players are forced to adjust their strategies as the Meta Game keeps shifting. They recommend a balancing technique of "cyclical balance" as a kind of extended Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors, where Element A is obviously powerful, but has an exploitable weakness to a strategy involving Element B, which in turn has a weakness to something using Element C, etc. League of Legends is cited as a good example of this.
  • Cosmic Horror Story / Eldritch Abomination: In "Why Games Do Cthulhu Wrong", they discuss why video games can't do the cosmic horror genre any justice, at least not without subverting almost everything mainstream video games are about. Video games are usually about presenting the player with a challenge to overcome, and while portraying Cthulhu as such a challenge hits the notes of Lovecraft, it completely misses the music; true Lovecraftian horror is about forces so completely beyond humanity that just seeing one leads to madness, and that are impossible to even fight, let alone defeat.
  • Critical Research Failure: In-Universe, they really lay into Call of Juarez: The Cartel for making extremely basic errors in its portrayal of the terrible Mexican drug wars and indirectly encouraging the grossly racist "they are stealing our women" stereotype — even though, in reality, the reverse is much closer to the truth.
  • Criticism Tropes: Discussed in the "Game Reviews" episode. Analysis focuses specifically on the differences between the informational content of typical movie reviews and the informational content of typical game reviews. The former tends toward more contextual information as to how the film compares to other films, while the later tends toward more descriptive information as to what is in the product. While they concede that the descriptive information is essential, if that is all a video game review is, all reviews end up looking alike and it becomes difficult for a reader to glean perspective.
    • Four Point Scale: Also briefly touches on this, mentioning that to someone who comes into the hobby from outside of it and is more familiar with rating systems for other works such as movies, game reviews would often seem quite misleading when giving numbers.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Discussed in the episode "Hard Boiled". They explain why Darker and Edgier tends to happen with video game franchises, taking Max Payne 3 which they had just played as an example. Some of the reasons cited are misplaced ideals that Darker and Edgier makes something seem more Serious Business, assumptions about what a young audience wants to buy, and the game industry's egregious tendency to Follow the Leader.
    • Revisited in the episode "Growing With Our Heroes", which in contrast to the earlier "Hard Boiled" episode discusses some of the positive reasons why people keep being drawn more mature reboots of older franchises. A lot of it boils down to nostalgia factor, wanting to keep our "childish" things rather than discard them, but try to make them relevant to us at a different age. The key difference in whether it ends up being good or bad has a lot to do with why such a thing happened: if it is to appreciate something from a new perspective of experience that tends to work out well, but if it to try making it seem more serious in fear of judgment, then it tends to end poorly.
  • Developers' Foresight: More-or-less discussed in Negative Possibility Space.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Discussed in the "Piracy" episode. Daniel and James' viewpoint in a nutshell: if it's not available in your country or has been lost in the sands of time, then pirate away. Otherwise, if you like something, just pay for it, and don't be a dick. The episode addresses the flawed arguments on both sides of the debate:
    • For game companies: By releasing their games with annoying DRM, they just provide pirated games the advantage of being free, and giving them the additional advantage of being unrestricted and less buggy, and therefore is not going to help the developers in the long run.
    • For pirates: Any justification you have for piracy based upon the argument that "the game is not worth buying/playing" for whatever reason instantly becomes hypocritical and meaningless once you pirate said game, because by doing so you have just proven that the game is worth playing.
  • Downloadable Content: They touch upon the process behind the creation of this, particularly the reason for Day-1 DLC, in their Mass Effect 3 DLC video. They do acknowledge that publishers and developers can abuse this, but state the reasons that sometimes DLC should be necessary to not only keep up the value of the product, but increase the available content in the game, especially in shorter games.
  • Fake Difficulty/Nintendo Hard: Discussed in the "When Difficult Is Fun" episode, distinguishing what is a difficult-but-fun game and what is a punishing game. Specifically:
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Touched upon briefly in "Amnesia and Story Structure" but taken to its logical extreme in "Narrative Mechanics" where they cite Missile Command as a case-study in how a game can tell a story using only its game mechanics.
  • Gender and Sexuality Tropes: Discussed in a few episodes.
    • "Diversity" hints at the several episodes to come.
    • "Sex in Games" introduces the topic, exploring why developers might wish to include sexuality as part of theme or characterization, citing games like ICO as an exploration of intimacy even without sexuality.
    • "Sexual Diversity" uses Persona 4 as a case-study in how including some diversity of sexual orientations can greatly add to characterization in games.
    • "True Female Characters" discusses how to write female chacters. It also cements a theme through these episodes that writing a character like this requires thinking about what expectations that character's society places on them, and what aspects of those expectations they choose to embrace and what they choose to reject, saying that someone who rejects every social expectation placed on them is just as sterotypical as someone who embraces every expectation.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: In the Villains 2-parter, they pointed out narrative villains are not supposed to be evil just to make the world worse. Some could be Well Intentioned Extremists, for example.
  • G.I.F.T.: Not by name, but the episode "Harassment" lays out some ideas on how these people can be expunged from the gaming community. The later episode "Toxicity" discusses the way people treat each other online, including this.
  • In Medias Res: Discussed in the Amnesia episode (see Three Act Structure below), and in the Starting Off Right episode.
  • The Load: In the episode "Minority", they point to this has one of the bad uses of children in games, comparing it to Clementine from The Walking Dead, who is a useful ally.
  • Micro Transactions: Discussed in "Microtransactions". They believe that microtransactions can be very beneficial to gamers and to the industry, giving players the option to spend how much they want on games, from $5 to $500, instead of a flat $60 for everyone. The problem with microtransactions right now is how the industry is using them as a free-for-all gouge-fest.
  • Nostalgia Filter:
    • The topic is touched upon in "Videogame Music". Daniel ponders why gamers are more fond of the old NES themes, despite the better resources available to video game composers these days. Like most topics, he chooses the middle road, stating that there's still great soundtracks being made today, while encouraging composers to stay grounded in their roots and create a strong melody that will endure for years after the fact.
    • Discussed in more detail in the episode "A Little Bit Of Yesterday" where they discuss the popularity of Retraux games and what exactly is that certain something about those older-style games that we are trying to recapture.
  • Obvious Beta: Their episode on "Why Do We Ship Buggy Games?" goes into explanations of why this happens. Dan stresses that they are not defending buggy releases, as they tend to be bad for long-term business, but rather details the kinds of situations that put developers in no-win scenarios where it was either a buggy release or something worse.
  • Power Creep: Discussed in the appropriately-titled episode "Power Creep" as an issue that tends to subtly sneak into Long Running persistent games, be they Collectible Card Games or MMORPGs. They cover why this issue is ultimately bad for business, bad for the player, and how to mitigate it.
  • The Power of Trust: Discussed as its importance between the consumers and the producers of any technology that requires users to share personal information for the sake of functionality during the "NOT a Security Episode" episode.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Discussed in "Shovelware" which shows how this trope exploits consumers and the industry from an economical standpoint.
  • Race Tropes: Touched upon in the episode "Race in Games". In particular, they look at how the context of race-relations can inform the player about a character, using L.A. Noire as an example. They elected to go for that perspective rather than a "how to write racial minorities" bent because they were concerned that would only lead to stereotypes. They went on to say that many of their suggestions about how to handle Gender and Sexuality Tropes apply to Race Tropes as well.
  • Railroading: Discussed in the episode "The Illusion of Choice". For players to feel agency within a game, they must feel like their choices in the game are meaningful, but since any player choice requires extra work from the developers, there is a limit to how much freedom games can give; therefore, games will give an illusion of choice, keeping players on a set path with various tricks to make them think they are the ones in control. It's only bad if the illusion falls apart and the gamers realize they're being herded by the game.
  • Real Is Brown: Poked fun at several times.
    Dan: You see, there's nothing inherently wrong with cutscenes. The fault lies in how we've been using'em. The cutscene is a tool; asking games to forever abandon the cutscene is like asking the carpenter to give up his square, or the painter to never use grey or brown... or the game to never use grey or brown. [followed immediately by a picture of Gears of War].
  • Science Fantasy: This video theorizes that many of the game we play that we believe are of the Science Fiction genre (e.g. Mass Effect, Fallout, and System Shock) are, in reality, this.
  • Sequel Escalation: Discussed in "Spectacle Creep", pointing out how making games "bigger and better" eventually leads to games becoming absurd, and even losing sight of what made their predecessors so successful. This leads to a Continuity Reboot in order to get a franchise back to a more sane level, before spectacle creep sends it back into absurdity.
  • Stealth-Based Game:
    • Discussed in "Like a Ninja", which points out the differences between stealth-based games and action-oriented games, and why stealth games are either really good or really bad.
    • They also cover why it's hard to put Stealth-Based Missions in action games, because the core feeling of stealth is overcoming obstacles despite being underpowered and plays out more like a puzzle, while action games tend towards overpowering your enemies through combat.
  • Stealth Parody: Discussed briefly at the end of the "Hard Boiled" episode, where they suggest that the Modern Warfare series has become self-aware of how over the top they have gotten through Serial Escalation, and the end text of the episode recommends playing Modern Warfare 3 with the mentality that it is a send-up of modern shooters.
  • Surreal Humour: In the episode on comedy games it's noted that modern games aren't a great medium for normal jokes as the creators have no control over the timing needed to make them work, unlike less popular styles like point and click adventures where using items in certain places could trigger a funny animation or dialogue. Instead they suggest developers embrace and even invoke Good Bad Bugs and have, for instance one in 100 NPCs act in a bizarre way or give every gun a 1 in 1000 chance of firing Abnormal Ammo, like cows.
  • Technobabble: The subject of an entire episode. They link it to the difference between the extremes of the Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness, with hard science fiction on one end and future fantasy on the other, saying that the really inaccurate use of technobabble tends to come when an author cannot commit to a fantastical idea and tries to tenuously ground it with sciencey-sounding language. They then go on to briefly define a few commonly used ideas in physics to give viewers a slightly better understanding of those terms.
  • Three-Act Structure: Discussed in the Amnesia episode, particularly with video games and their habit of starting in Act 2.
  • Token Minority: Mentioned in the diversity episode as a bad solution to accusations that there aren't enough female, black, or other minority groups.
  • True Art Is Angsty: invokedDiscussed in the episode "Hard Boiled", where they show that just because Max Payne 3 is Darker and Edgier than its previous entries in its series, doesn't inherently make it more artistic.
  • Uncanny Valley: invoked Discussed in the pre-Escapist episode "Video Games and the Uncanny Valley". Brought up again in the Halloween Episode, "Symbolism 101".
  • Unfortunate Implications:
    • invokedThey note how poorly thought-out game mechanics can accidentally send very dangerous messages if designers aren't careful and responsible. As an example, they cite the convention of making certain races and groups the enemy in modern mainstream shooters, which risks dehumanizing them in the minds of players who are required to slaughter them in droves without question. They single out Call of Juarez: The Cartel as an example of a game that does this, devoting an entire episode to ripping apart the Unfortunate Implications within it.
    • For example, the only achievement in the game related to "Kill X Enemies" called "Bad Guy", and is done on a level with exclusively-black gang members (whom you purposely incited to violence). Couple that with tweaking reality to fit the narrative (in this case, using one level to depict Mexican drug cartels coming to the US to abduct American women to sell as sex slaves, when the reality is pretty much the complete opposite) and their outrage over this is understandable, even if Hanlon's Razor applied. Oh yeah, and the "heroes" treat the strippers in that latter mission as Disposable Sex Workers.
    • Once more in regard to The Division, due to the games focus on a sleeper cell stationed in America for the purpose of gunning down civilians in a time of crisis with next to no oversight beyond a single individual, no due process in their judgement, and answerable only to the head of state. They make explicit comparison to organizations like the historical Brownshirts.
  • Video-Game Movies Suck:invoked The phenomenon is brought up in the video "Why Are There No Good Video Game Movies". There's no single answer, but the biggest ones are that most people who are currently in the film industry (either executives or creative folk) aren't that familiar with video games, since video games themselves are such a new medium while other properties such as works of literature have been around for decades before being properly put into a film format (citing The Lord of the Rings as an example of this). Also films based on comic series went through a similar Dork Age.
  • Video Game Remake: "A Generation of Remasters" noted that remakes were becoming more and more common, and discussed the pros and cons of remakes. While it's a good thing as it helps preserve video games and helps new players appreciate the older classics, it is rife with problems. The people in charge of the remake might not understand the fundamentals of the original and screw it up, remakes draw talent away from making new games, and they become a crutch for game companies who see remakes as a safe bet. There is also the cost issue, as any game old enough to need a remake would cost as much as a new game to make.

    Extra History 

Tropes which Extra History provides an example of:

  • Action Girl:
    • Julie d'Aubigny was a duelist through her life, at one point dueling three noblemen at once and defeating all of them.
    • Cheng I Sao, the leader of Pirate Confederation, was able to bring the Chinese Empire to it's knees and defeat a far stronger fleet.
    • Freydis from "Wine Land", a female Viking explorer who, at one point, almost single-handedly fights off a group of Native Americans threatening her settlement by terrifying them into fleeing.
    • Joan of Arc, naturally.
  • Apocalypse How: "The Bronze Age Collapse" covers a Regional apocalypse, in which all the great Bronze Age civilizations of the fertile crescent collapse at once.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Their brief one-shot episodes on figures who they find interesting but who don't have enough material for an extensive series, examples include Odenathus, Mary Seacole (which is a 2-parter), Samuel Ha-Nagid, Federico de Montefeltro, Lindisfarne, Tiberius Gracchus the Eldernote .
  • Affably Evil:
    • Catherine the Great was just as much a serf-oppressing tyrant and autocrat as any Russian Tsar before her but she was charming, friends with Voltaire, competent and prone to occasional Pet the Dog moments.
    • Genghis Khan was fond of doctors, artisans, peasants, and created an Empire with great rights for women and freedom of religion. He accomplished this through mass-murder on an unprecedented scale, killing millions of civilians without a shred of remorse.
  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: The British Empire and the East India Company formed the first multi-national drug cartel, illegally encouraging the smuggling of opium into China and "pushing drugs on an unprecedented scale". Ironically, they did this to support their own drug habit — namely importing a staggering amount of tea from China, resulting in a massive trade deficit.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: As the Bismarck sinks, the British sailors feel more than a touch of pity for the German sailors fighting for their lives.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Gajah Mada is this. There's no doubt he was exceptionally talented in battle and intrigue, but was he totally loyal to Jayanagara or was he responsible for his death? While not outright stating the latter, the narrator does admit that it's in character for Mada.
  • Always Someone Better: Jonathan Wild carefully managed his public face, and he was damn good at it. However, it was all a fascade. Jack Sheppard, on the other hand, didn't need a fascade. He was popular enough without it.
  • Amicable Exes: Catherine the Great and Grigory Potemkin. They were lovers for a time and might have even married in secret, but Potemkin's fear that Catherine would stop loving him put such a strain on their relationship that they broke up. Yet despite this they remained close friends and trusted allies for the rest of Potemkin's life, and Catherine was utterly distraught when he died. Doubles as Better as Friends.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • The Brothers Gracchi episode ends up describing the Roman Republic as a "democracy" basing itself on the modern equation of a Republic (a Representative Elected Government) with a Democracy ("government by direct vote"). The view of the Romans and most philosophers until The Enlightenment was that Democracy was mob rule and unworkable and utopian and the Roman Republic is precisely an elite oligarchy, who would certainly take offense to hear their institutions being described as a "democracy".
    • James outright states that if a British Flag is shown in any of their episodes, then it is probably the wrong flag for that era.
    • Simon Bolivar seeing Paris for the first time in 1803. Paris is shown with The Eiffel Tower, which was only completed in 1889. This was intentionally done by the creators with adding the word "l'anachronisme".
  • And Then What?:
    • After Ghengis Khan successfully united the Mongol steppe under his banner, he moved on to conquer neighboring kingdoms to the west, east, and south, since he was a lifelong conquerer who seemed unable to settle down and enjoy the peace he had created.
    • Otto von Bismarck worked his whole life to unite many German-speaking provinces under a single German Empire. Once that goal was accomplished, he seemed to have no real plan and had to grapple with how to actually govern it.
    • After Joan of Arc swiftly routed Burgundian French and their English allies and had Charles VII crowned King of France, she seemed unsure of what to do with herself now that her holy mission from God seemed complete. (Tragically, her next bit assignment leads to her capture, trial, and execution by the English.)
  • Apocalyptic Log: The Signalman in the battle of Saragarhi report to the two nearby forts as the Sikh Officers fight to the last.
  • Arc Words: Several of the series have a phrase that gets repeated multiple times
    • The Broad Street Pump: You know nothing John Snow!
    • Otto von Bismarck: Bismarck had a plan, Bismarck always had a plan.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil:
    • The British Aristocracy in "The South Sea Bubble" are almost to a man corrupt liars who end up bringing down the national economy. In "The First Opium War", they go on to sell drugs on an unprecedented scale and use outright invasion to force China to allow this. In "Ned Kelly", the Squatter Aristocracy steal land that the government reserved for all the Australians, and when the government asked them to give some of it back (so the poor could have something), they gave up only the worst land and even then harassed poor families to get that land back.
    • The Roman Aristocracy in "The Gracchi Brothers" are greedy cowards who conquer foreign lands, enslave indigenous peoples, force Roman Veterans off their lands, and use those slaves to work that land for free (depriving Free Romans of jobs). And they use money, peer-pressure, and, fatefully, murder to keep in line any politicians who attempt to speak for the common people.
    • Genghis Khan was of this viewpoint, as he executed every aristocrat in the places that he conquered. The way he saw it, "Aristocrats offered nothing of value to the Mongols, and were the most likely to resist them successfully in the future."
    • During the pellagra episode, the Southern aristocracy actively block Dr. Goldberger's findings that pellagra is the result of a dietary deficiency rather than a pathogen because admitting that meant admitting that there was something deeply wrong and unjust about the economic system they'd created in the American South.
    • The Haitian "big whites" in pre-revolutionary Haiti take the cake. They become unspeakably rich in the indigo, sugar, and coffee trade by literally working their mutilated slaves to death. They don't even bother buying food or clothing for them, preferring to just buy more manpower from the slave ships, and the methods they use to terrorize their workforce into compliance would've been barbaric centuries before their own time.
  • Artistic License – History: Defied, in that each mini-series includes a "Lies" episode in which James talks about all the things that were simplified, mistaken, and lied about (as well as telling all the interesting stories they couldn't fit in). However, in some cases, especially those parts of history that are controversial and don't really fit a consensus, the series does lean to one interpretation and bias, which to the credit of the creators, is openly admitted:
    • Played straight with the Suleiman mini-series. The episode with him dying shows him hallucinating all his deceased loved ones (all dead, all as a result of his actions) and thinking he was young again before his life became miserable. While the miniseries was based in part on Suleiman's own poetry and writings, there is no way to know for sure what his last thoughts were.
    • Invoked for the series on "The Battle of Kursk", when the Nazi Swastika was converted into Iron Cross. The reasons for this, as stated at the start is that the Nazi logo is banned in Germany and other parts of Europe, and they want the videos to be accessible and widely exhibited, which is why they made this small compromise.
    • The series on Justinian gives his reign and overall campaign to reconquer and restore The Roman Empire a Historical Hero Upgrade. In truth, these conquests were devastating to Italy, and left Rome a shell of its former self and was the principal reason for its decay and depopulation until The Renaissance. The creators admit that they 'like' Justinian and they do insist that he was a dreamer and too overly ambitious to properly sustain his goals but this does mean that the show sentimentalizes his conquest of Italy and demonizes the Ostragoths (whose opinions, views, and side of the story is left untold).
    • More controversial is their series on The Battle of Kursk, where the first episode suggests that Stalin was rejected from membership with the Axis alliance and it portrayed Stalin for resenting this rebuff, presenting the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact not as a treaty of neutrality but as a prelude to an actual partnership between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. This neglects the political context of the Pactnote , and the fact that Stalin, as recent research has shown, used the Pact as "grace period" to rebuild his forces (much as Neville Chamberlain did with the Munich Agreement) and that the main mistake he made was believing that they would invade the Soviet Union at a later date then they did.
    • In Urbino, they blame the decline of the court on an invasion by the Borgia, but the truth is Guidobaldo fled Urbino before Cesare Borgia arrived, and a year later after the death of Pope Alexander VI, Borgia's hold ended and Guidobaldo returned to Urbino now peacefully incorporated into The Papal States. It also fails to mentions that Guidobaldo had supported the Borgia initially only to turn sides (as his father never did). The decline of Urbino had more to do with the fact that Rome envious of other city states for its fame and prestige started to reassert itself in cinquecento (The 1500s).
  • At Least I Admit It: Part of why Jack Sheppard was so popular in early 18th century London. He was perceived as a Lovable Rogue, and at least honest about being a thief (an "Honest Jack" if you will), unlike the shady English government that swindled them with that South Sea debacle.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • The SS Divisions in The Battle of Kursk, who "fought with the madness and ferocity that had come to characterize these war-criminals and butchers". One specific example within The SS was 2nd Lieutenant Joachim Kruger, who charged a soviet tank by himself despite being twice wounded. At one point a bullet ignited a smoke grenade in his pocket, and Kruger simply took his now-burning pants off and charged nude.
    • Most of the Crusaders in The First Crusade. They massacre cities, and at one point even commit cannibalism.
    • The Legion of Hell in Simon Bolivar. They come by their name honestly, murdering civilians indiscriminately, raping women, and torturing children to death.
  • Badass Boast: Admiral Yi's response to being informed that the Korean government wants to disband the navy:
    "This humble subject still has 12 ships. However small the number may be, I solemnly swear I will be able to defend the sea if I prepare myself for death to resist the enemy."
  • Badass Preacher: Gantelme, the Bishop of Chartres! Rollo the Walker and his army of Horny Vikings tried sacking the city on the way to Paris, and defeated the Frankish garrison of Chartres. But then the Bishop emerged with cross in one hand, a reliquary in the other, and an army of enraged peasants behind them. The Bishop's wild charge won, routing Rollo's army and derailing his whole campaign!
  • Bad Ass Normal: The Bow Street Constables in "Policing London - The Bow Street Runners" are this. The episode makes it clear they were only a semi-formal police force, all of whom had to work at normal day jobs in addition to fighting crime. The leader of this force, Jonathan Welsh, was grocer in addition to his police duties.
  • The Bad Guy Wins:
    • The corrupt oligarchy of the Roman Senate crushes the Gracchi and brutally kills them and their followers. Of course in less than a century later, the Republic would fall because they rejected their reforms, so it's a question of Was It Really Worth It?. For those who support the Populares, this can count as a case of Hope Springs Eternal.
    • Ned Kelly gets captured, sentenced to death, denied pardon despite the widespread petitions and protests, and is hanged. Such is life.
    • During the Warsaw Uprising, the Polish Rebellion fights valiantly against seemingly hopeless odds, without food, organization or even anti-air cannons to protect against bombers. The rebellion breaks when the Nazis begin hauling out civilian women and elderly in front of rows of tanks to be used as Human Shields. After the Polish resistance surrendered, Warsaw was evacuated, with the lucky civilians being released as refugees, and the less fortunate being sent to the Death Camps. The city was razed, leaving a mere 15% of the infrastructure intact.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Towards the end of the Punic Wars, Scipio Africanus ends up adopting many of the tactics Hannibal had used against the Romans to great effect, including using terrain to attack from a completely unexpected direction (Hannibal had his army cross the Alps in the middle of winter, Scipio besieges Carthago Nova and has his men cross a drained lagoon to attack the one part of the city that wasn't well-guarded), and deploying strong troops on the flank of an army with weaker troops in the middle then having the weaker troops fall back while the stronger flanks pincer the enemy.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: After Ned Kelly gets out of jail, the police stalk him and his family in the hopes of finding something with which to arrest him on. Kelly decides enough is enough and that if they wanted him to be a criminal then he would give them one.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Following the South Sea Bubble series showcasing Walpole's skill as The Chessmaster, it's become a Running Gag to have him frequently appear in other episodes and manipulate the events in some way.
  • Better as Friends: Catherine the Great and Grigory Potemkin. Their romantic relationship didn't work since he could not get over their Unequal Pairing or his jealous fear that she might leave him for someone else. However, severing romantic ties just strengthened their bond. They became Platonic Life-Partners who cared deeply for and worked closely with each other for the rest of his life, and he even became her wingman!
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • This is how the Admiral Yi mini-series ended. The Japanese were driven entirely out of Korea and almost all of the Japanese War-Criminals were killed by Admiral Yi while attempting to retreat, but Admiral Yi died in the last naval battle of the war and would not get to enjoy the victory he had given so much to achieve.
    • Also how the Bolivar Series ends. Simon Bolivar dies a slow lingering death of the same illness that killed his parents, he lost almost all of his friends, he watched his hope for a united South America completely fall apart, and he was not even allowed to retire. But his life was not for nothing; the show ended with the mention that he is "El Libertador", reminding us that for all his failures at government building Simon Bolivar still ended Spanish Rule in South America.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: When Simon Bolivar fights against the Legion of Hell, he matches them war crime for war crime. Bolivar has redeeming qualities, the Legion of Hell do not.
  • Black-and-White Morality: Joan of Arc is depicted as struggling with this after she achieves her goal of having Charles VII crowned King of France. Rather than routing out the English and their Burgundian allies like she expected, Charles VII instead makes peace talks and compromises. The moral greyness of making concessions to keep the peace against people she considers evil troubles her, and Charles VII promptly has her Reassigned to Antarctica.
  • Blood Knight:
    • The mini-series on The First Crusade includes The People's Crusade (the peasants who followed Peter the Hermit to Turkey and killed everything along the way) and The Barons Crusade (knights and lords who hacked and stabbed their way from Constantinople to Jerusalem).
    • During The Great Northern War, Charles XII repeatedly refuses to make peace and consolidate his gains, despite the eventual ruin of his nation's economy, diplomatic isolation, and finally, military collapse. In the end, he literally fights until he is dead.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: How they view Justinian. He build fantastic monuments and retook Rome for the Roman Empire, but spend so much of the empire's resources that he doomed it in the process.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: In the Lies episode on Admiral Yi, James notes that most of the english language works he could find on Yi paint him as an almost mythical hero who embodies the best of the Confucian ideals, while the translation of Yi's own diary is much more down-to-earth and self-deprecating.
  • By-the-Book Cop: "Policing London - The Bow Street Runners" provides an example the form of the Bow Street Constables, a group of honest and capable parish constables under the command of Constable Saunders Welsh and Justice Henry Fielding. This is notable because it was an era in which the justice system in London was horribly corrupt at all levels, yet this one police force was wholly honest in their dealings.
  • The Chessmaster:
    • Sir Robert Walpole, who in the aftermath of the economic collapse caused by The South Sea Bubble pulled all the strings to ensure that the only people punished were those whose ruined careers he could climb to greatness.
      Dan: At the last moment, somebody tipped Knight off- It was Walpole, Walpole tipped Knight off.

      Dan: Oddly enough, for some reason, Knights ledger never made it to prison with him. Who knows where that went- It was Walpole.
    • Walpole is such a Chessmaster that in the Lies episode for every series, James finds some way in which Walpole is connected to the events discussed. They even released "It was Walpole" T-shirts.
    • And then there came Otto von Bismarck. He is able to prevent democracy from taking hold in Prussia, and unite Germany under his rule. Bismark has a plan, Bismark 'always' has a plan!
    • Next came Gajah Mada. He helped save Jayanagara from an uprising by manipulating the capitol city's population to support him against the rebels, and immediately afterwards executing any civilians who celebrated at a rumor that Jayanagara died (a rumor Gajah Mada started to wipe out the rule). Then when Jayanagara was killed by his surgeon, Gajah Mada installed as his sucessor one of Jayanagara's relatives who appointed him Prime Minister. Using this power Gajah Mada ruled as The Man Behind the Man for thirty years and united all of Indonesian Islands. Not to mention the theory that he arranged and covered up Jayangara's death.
    • Jonathan Wild, thieftaker general of London. He ran the biggest gang in London, making sure to keep all his thieves at a tight enough leash that he could get rid of them at any point, while at the same time presenting a public face as London's beloved crime fighter. This guy was so good at keeping up his fascade that the only thing that caused his downfall was someone who didn't need a fascade to be popular.
  • Bureaucratically Arranged Marriage: In "The History of Paper Money", John Law offered to pardon any French Prisoner who was willing to marry a prostitute and move to the Louisiana Territory.
  • The Caligula: Jayanagara proved to be this. He slept with his step-sisters, the wives of his court officials, the daughters of his court officials, the wife of his surgeon, and Gajah Mada's wife. Moreover, the animations very much suggest that these women were coerced as they are shown being extremely uncomfortable with the situation. Eventually he gets assassinated by his surgeon, possibly at Gajah Mada's prompting.
  • Call to Agriculture:
    • General Belisarius does this after finally retiring from the army.
    • Otto von Bismarck takes on managing his family estates after his mother dies and his father proves inept. This is subverted as the government gives him another post and his farming career ends.
  • Cassandra Truth: Bismarck is shown predicting WWI (he compared Europe to a munitions room full of men smoking cigars), its cause (he stated it would be something in the Balkans), and what would happen to his boss (he predicts that Kaiser Wilhelm II would lose his crown in twenty years ... and was off by four months). Nobody heeded Otto von Bismarck's warning.
  • Cats Hate Water / Animal Jingoism: During their series on Majapahit, a dog made out of water is used as a metaphor for the Indonesians' maritime expertise; said dog appears at the end of one episode in the background, prompting Zoey to enter a hilarious chase scene around Matt's legs.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Arthur Conan Doyle in "Curing Tuberculosis". The intro mentions that he was one of the journalists denied entry at Koch's medical conference, he later writes an article that exposes the extreme side effects of Koch's "cure" to the world.
  • Children Are Innocent: In "Viking Expansion - The Serpent-Riders", the unnamed Norwegian Merchant goes on his first voyage as a youth. He is shown to be uncomfortable with the fact that his father sells Irish Slaves to the Emirate of Cordoba. While he grows up to be a merchant like his father, the narration doesn't say that he trades in the same cargo.
  • Close-Range Combatant: A noted weakness of the Japanese navy in "Admiral Yi"; because the Japanese army specialise in land-based siege warfare, their navy consists mostly of troop transports that rely on arquebus fire and boarding during combat, and are vulnerable to the superior long-range cannons of the Korean navy.
  • Colonel Kilgore: Chief Tadodaho, who is determined to keep his tribe in its Forever War with the other Haudenosaunee Nations so as to ensure he continues to remain in power.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In the "Admiral Yi" series, Korean soldiers and ships are red, Japanese are yellow and Chinese are blue.
  • Confirmation Bias: A constant problem throughout history. John Snow, for instance, lived during an era where most docotrs assumed sickness was caused by noxious miasma, and they would shoo down his theories about cholera spreading through water. Even if he presented evidence that everyone who got sick had gotten their water from the Broad Street pump, they would just say that there was miasma in the area, and the pump was coincidental.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Despite being consistently outnumbered by the Japanese Navy, Admiral Yi's tactical knowledge allows him to inflict heavy losses, often without losing any vessels himself.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • Everyone involved with the South Sea Company, which at its height had to make other shipping businesses illegal simply because there wasn't enough currency in existence for both. And all the while the South Sea Company never made any actual money by trading.
    • The Honorable East India Company, which opened an opium market in Calcutta and encouraged smugglers to sell it to China despite it being illegal there.
  • Corrupt Politician: Scipio Africanus and his brother are revealed to have become this in their later careers, with Tiberius Gracchus the Elder originating as one of their clients but eventually becoming a Noble Top Enforcer.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Prince Sophie, a girl with progressive values and ideas ends up becoming the expansionist, imperialist, reactionary serf-oppressing Empress Catherine.
  • The Coup: Catherine the Great uses this to take the Russian throne from Peter III.
  • Culture Clash:
    • The main reason why the negotiations between the Christian Alfred and the Viking Guthrum were such a farce. ([Swear to me on these Holy Relics!] ”What, you mean this box of remains? Sure, whatever.”)
    • Ibn Battutah suffers this during his visit to the empire of Mali, expecting them to be pious Muslims and instead finding their beliefs to be a mix of Islam and pre-Islamic African tradition.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: When Pizarro, the conqueror of the Inca Empire, is betrayed by his own men and assassinated, it is said his last act was to draw a crucifix on the ground in his own spilled blood.
  • Creative Sterility: The Mongols under Genghis Khan. Everything they gained, they gained through conquest. During his reign they produced no significant art, literature, inventions, or scientific discoveries.
  • The Creon: Odenathus, the governor of Palmyra who helped to repel an invasion of the Roman empire by the Sassanians. Even though he probably controlled more people and territory than any other Roman noble at the height of his power, was bestowed the ceremonial title "King of Kings" and could conceivably have crowned himself emperor, he considered himself to be just another citizen of the empire and fought solely on behalf of the legitimate emperor and his heir.
  • Crisis of Faith: In "Julie d'Aubigny", Louis XVI was described being devoutly religious. However he also undermined the power of the Church to maintain his own power, and he was unwilling to crack down on homosexuality because he did not want to hurt his gay brother Philippe I. There's even one scene where he's holding up a stamp with a red circle-backslash symbol, but instead of pressing it down he's looking at his smiling brother with a conflicted facial expression.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: King Alfred is portrayed as one in part 1 of "The Danelaw." He had fallen victim twice to Guthrum's backstabbing antics, the first due to an absolutely boneheaded decision to pay Guthrum a danegeld to simply return to his conquered holdings, and the second time simply failing to calculate with knowledge on his enemy when making demands. However, Alfred manages to slip away during a surprise attack Guthrum lays on Christmas, and proceeds to wage a guerilla campaign against both Guthrum and the nobles who accepted his bribes. Alfred then proceeded to reclaim his throne and get Guthrum to fully accept the terms of the treaty, be it because of the latter's conversion to Christianity or proving to be too much trouble to be worth conquering.
    • The Haitian slaves spent so many years convincing their cruel masters that they were stupid, lazy, and incompetent (partly to passive-aggressively resist slavery) that by the time they launched their well-planned and well-organized revolt, Haiti's free castes were so unwilling to believe that they were capable of such an organized resistance that they accused each other of helping slaves for their own ends. And the other castes paid dearly for their mistake.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • The ninja that shot Oda Nobunaga was later found, buried up to his neck, and had his head sawed through over the course of several days.
    • Both Gracchi Brothers end up being murdered in extremely violent ways by the Roman Senate. Gaius' death is especially grisly since it features his head being cut off after death, his brain removed and his hollow skull filled with lead and then the rest of the body is thrown into the Tiber.
    • Haitian slaves who openly disobeyed their masters were subjected to this (thrown in vats of boiling sugar, eaten alive by insects, blown to bits by being tied to kegs of lit gunpowder, and more), so they resorted to more passive-aggressive forms of resistance.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: The episode "Palmyra Today", which consists of James describing the destruction of this melting pot's artifacts and architectural masterpieces at the hands of ISIS.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The First Opium War. Britain had more advanced ships, a stronger military, and more disciplined soldiers. Meanwhile the Chinese military was left in shambles due to mismanagement, inadequate military equipment, and poor discipline, all exacerbated by opium addiction of their soldiers, which they were fighting to stamp out.
    • Most of Admiral Yi's battles have him crushing Japanese fleet after Japanese fleet with minimal losses.
  • Cycle of Revenge: In "Kamehameha the Great", Hawaiian Natives murdered a night watchman from the ship Eleanora and stolen a boat. So in revenge for that, the Eleanora rang a bell to signal for trade ... and promptly unleashed a double broadside on the arriving natives, killing hundreds of them. In revenge for that a party of local warriors attacked the Eleanora's sister ship, The Fair American, killing four crewmen and taking Isaac Davis prisoner. This cycle ended when Kamehameha placed Isaac Davis under royal protection in order to keep good relations with the foreigners and gain access to their guns.
    • Discussed in the Ghengis Khan series. Over time, Ghengis Khan reconized that the Steppe tradition of raids and counterattacks created an endless cycle of raiding, kidnapping, and looting with no clear winner and no way to stop revenge-driven raids, kidapping, and looting. To stop the cycle, he revolutionized warfare to fully integrate the conquered into Mongol society as citizens with full rights and social mobility so they'd have no desire or means of revenge... or wipe them out entirely if they resisted.
  • Da Chief: Justice Henry Fielding, the Magistrate of Bow Street. While his official duty was to examine suspects to decide whether or not to send them to trial. He was noted as being honest and diligent in an otherwise corrupt system, and went out of his way to fight crime by organizing a group of Constables to catch thieves and gang members for him.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: When Adimiral Yi is mortally wounded during the last battle of the Korea/Japan war, one of his sons dons his armor and takes over the war drum his father was beating, so the rest of the fleet won't be demoralised by their admiral's death.
  • Defensive Feint Trap: A favored tactic of Admiral Yi's against the Japanese navy.
  • Defiant to the End: The Captal de Buch, one of Edward III's commanders in the Hundred Years War, spent his final days captured by the French, held in a dungeon because he was "too dangerous" to release. He's portrayed as attempting to strangle his guard through the bars of his cell as this is said.
  • Democracy Is Bad: Otto von Bismarck is convinced of this, so much so that he almost refused to attend a Parliament called by the King because he suspected it would be used to establish an elected Parliament. When he did attend, Bismarck was greatly offended when somebody present claimed that the promise of a constitution is the only reason why Prussia defeated Napoleon. His opponent was correct - Prussia had been promised a constitution and the political reforms were what gave the country the strengh needed to throw back Napoleon - but Bismarck took offense because it sounded like his opponent was claiming the Prussians would have refused to defend their country if it remained a monarchy.
  • Democracy Is Flawed: At the end of the Brothers Gracchi series, Dan states that democracy is not immune to human error.
    Dan: Democracy can not survive this.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Downplayed with Julie d'Aubigny. The narrator presents her as a Lovable Rogue, but she was still prone to fist-fights and duels throughout her life and on one occasion even committed arson.
  • Dirty Cop: The "policing London" examples includes examples of this.
    • Jonathan Wilde, Thieftaker-General, was secretly the head of a giant criminal of thieves. He got his throat cut open by a thief from a rival gang after he refused the man's plea-bargain, and his empire was torn apart by
    • The third episode in this series talks about Constables and Deputies in London. A large number of these were either outright corrupt or too lazy to actually do their jobs, and even those who were honest were often elderly or had to support themselves with other careers as well.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • There are many in "The First Crusade" mini-series.
      • Baldwin de Boulogne, who used Appeal to Force to take the city of Tarsus from Tancred, despite the fact that Tancred was the one to take the city and the fact that they were supposed to be allies. When the reinforcements Tancred called in from his uncle arrived, Baldwin would not even allow them to stay in Tarsus and made them camp outside the city where hundreds were slaughtered by the Turkish garrison that Tancred had spared. Baldwin reacted by locking himself indoors until his men were no longer clamoring for his blood, and later he abandoned the crusade for Jerusalem and instead took over Edessa.
      • Stephen of Blois, who before the siege of Antioch abandoned the Crusade and began marching back to Europe. On his way back he told the Byzantine reinforcements to abandon the crusade as well, putting those still on the Crusade in danger. For this, Stephen would be mocked and ridiculed for the rest of his days.
      • Hugh of Vermandos, who was sent to ask the Byzantine Emperor for reinforcements. When the Emperor refused to grant them, Hugh abandoned the crusade and returned to Europe. Like Stephen of Blois, he too would be mocked and ridiculed for the rest of his days.
    • "The Punic Wars" has Gaius Terentius Varro, a Roman Commander at the Battle of Cannae. Despite the fact that the defeat (and the subsequent loss of roman lives) was largely his fault, he was more than willing to flee the battlefield instead of staying to die with his men.
    • In "Admiral Yi", the title character is the only Korean military leader mentioned with any integrity or talent. The rest are backstabbing corrupt useless cowards. They try to get Yi arrested and killed on trumped up charges even when he is the only person saving Korea from conquest.
      • Won Kyon is especially craven, considering he ignored a Japanese invasion and then afterwards proceeded to scupper his own fleet rather than actually put up a fight.
  • Disaster Dominoes:
    • How the Seminal Tragedy of World War I is presented. They make it a point to note that as damaging as Princip's assassination of the Archduke was, it was neither the key action that triggered the war, nor did it make the events that happened inevitable. He noted that the other powers "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot had there not been so much Poor Communication Kills, had there been better timing when messages were sent and delivered, and had anyone made a real effort to avoid war.
    • Ditto with the later Cuban Missile Crisis, averted only at the last minute despite a lengthy series of unfortunate coincidences and failures to communicate mixing with the pushing of hawks on both sides dragging things to the brink.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • The British Commanders during the First Opium War used strict discipline to ensure none of their soldiers looted or murdered...but beat up a captured British soldier and they'll burn your village to the ground.
    • Like with the British above, Sultan Suleiman prevented his soldiers from looting or murdering (even executing his men for letting their horses eat grass from a peasant's field) ... yet he still massacred Belgrade for daring to resist being conquered by the Ottoman Empire. Sultan Suleiman also threatened to do the same to Rhodes if The Knights of Rhodes didn't surrender, but in the end he they capitulated to his demands. On a personal level, Suleiman had his best friend and two of his sons murdered for perceived slights.
    • The Chinese Emperor orders the execution of one of his diplomats as punishment for making a deal he dislikes. Subverted in that rhe Emperor doesn't actually go through with it.
    • Empress Theodora convinces her husband Emperor Justinian to execute a pretender to the throne. The reason this is disproportionate is that the pretender not only DIDN'T want to be Emperor, but actually hid under his bed and had to be pried away from it by the mob hoping to crown him. This also counts as Shoot the Dog, as Theadora's reasoning was that there would never be peace so long as there was another pretender.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: The third episode of the "Policing London" series mentioned how a few prostitutes robbed sailors, and how as a result the sailors in the city started burning brothels and rioting in the city. The only effect this has on the episode is to provide Justice Henry Fielding and the Bow Street Constables a chance to prove themselves further by helping the city garrison to quell the riots. No mention is made of how many prostitutes, if any, died in the arson and riots.
  • Divided We Fall: The success of the First Crusade was as much the result of in-fighting among the Muslim world as it was the result of determination on the part of the Crusaders. To start with, the Crusaders are able to sally forth and defeat a numerically superior and better-fed Turkish army at the Battle of Antioch because all the Turkish officers individually had nothing to gain from winning the battle and would have less power in their government if their boss won, so they all fled at the first opportunity. After that, the other Sunni Muslims on the road to Jerusalem actively supported the Crusaders by supplying them with goods and funds in the hopes that they would give the Shiite Muslims in Jerusalem a severe defeat.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The overwhelming opinion of the Chinese government towards opium, which they kept trying to prohibit while the British kept funneling it into their shores. Eventually their own troops get hooked, and end up losing a war against the British because of this.
  • Dirty Cop: The Australian police are shown to be this in "Ned Kelly". They look the other way when wealthy landholders steal what is supposed to be government property, then when poor farmers are driven to crime they respond by giving the harshest punishment possible. Ned Kelly later gets imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit and sentenced to three years of hard labor, and when he gets out the police stalk him and his family until he decides enough is enough and turned to bushranging.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: During the episode on The Great Northern War, Charles XII's love of war and hotheaded hubris leads him to overreach rather than consolidating his gains, leading him to invade Russia, ruin his nation's economy, and leading to their decline as a great power by turning all of Western Europe against him. But, since he also spends most of the series running around as a Young Conqueror thrashing his enemies in heroic fashion, while fighting on the front lines no less, it unfortunately also results in him looking like a romantic, swashbuckling hero.
  • Downer Ending: Given these are Real Life events, it's to be expected some of them are downright tragic.
    • The Warsaw Uprising was crushed brutally, broken completely only after Nazis began using women as human shields. The population was relocated from Warsaw, with the luckiest people being thrown aside as refugees, and the unlucky being sent to labor and death-camps.
    • Ned Kelly's mother gets sentenced to hard labor for threatening a cop with a shovel, and the man himself ends up losing his friends before being captured and hauled to a noose, resignedly saying, "Such is life."
    • Suleiman The Magnificent dies old, alone, and a shadow of the man he used to be, after his Hair-Trigger Temper had cost him two of his children, and in his final moments hallucinates his loved ones, one by one, coming to see him at his bedside.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: They like exploring how certain concepts took a while to coalesce into its familiar shape:
    • Early Christian Schisms explores how Christianity evolved carefully to a more familiar form by exploring and documenting the various divergent and contradictory attitudes rival beliefs and faiths had, each of which was declared as "heretic" by the nascent Christian orthodoxy.
    • The History of Money likewise documents in exhaustive detail how the modern economic understanding of money evolved over the years, going from being backed by pre-existing objects of value to becoming valuable in and of itself.
    • The Articles of Confederation likewise depicts the government of America during and just after the Revolution, at a time when the US Constitution and the organs of the federal government were not even conceived or planned out until circumstances made these institutions a pressing demand.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Those who exclusively watch Extra History were 2 months late to finding out Matt was taking over as showrunner, but he gets a brief cameo during the "History of Non-Euclidean Geometry" as recording in a studio.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The episode "The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire - Horror in Manhattan" ends this way. It began with 146 textile workers, most of whom were teenage girls, dying in a disaster. It ended with the passing of laws and reforms that made life better for workers across the country.
  • Eternal Sexual Freedom: Julie d'Aubigny was openly bisexual, having affairs with numerous men and women throughout her life. Justified in that this was an unusually lenient time for two reasons; the first being that King Louis XVI was intentionally funding counter-cultural artists (like Julie) in an attempt to undermine the power of the Church, and the second being that he was unwilling to crack down on homosexuality because he did not want to hurt his brother Philippe I.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: While Cheng I Sao was a ruthless pirate queen, her codified laws for her massive pirate alliance specified the death penalty for two actions: holding out on one's brother pirates after securing a score and raping captives.
  • Everyone Has Standards: While the slaves of the Haitian Revolution were vicious toward their oppressors, they often spared women, children, and overseers who weren't overtly cruel.
  • Evil VS Evil: "The Battle of Kursk" features the Soviet Red Army vs. the German Wermacht, both authoritarian and brutal regimes grinding against one another in one of, if not the largest tank battles in history.
  • Eye Scream: Hannibal is forced to gouge out one of his own eyes after it becomes infected with disease during a swamp campaign.
  • Fallen Hero: The Black Prince in the Hundred Years War became one, at least by medieval standards; in the beginning of the war, he was a shining example of chivalry, youthful vigor, and a true, proud heir to the throne Edward III was christening. After catching the Black Death, though, he became much more brutal and violent in his campaigns, slaughtering people left and right, and crushing practically anyone underneath his boots. By the end of his life his mother has died from the plague, and his father is a shell of what he once was, while also being taken advantage of by his new mistress.
  • Femme Fatale: Discussed by James in the Lies section for the Justinian and Theodora as well as the Suleiman the Magnificent series. He notes that both Empress Theodora and Roxelana have negative reputations based on chronicles of its time, but he sees this as stemming from the general sexism of the culture and misogyny to women in power, as such he has tried to give both of them the benefit of the doubt. He does admit that it is likelier that Roxelana was Lady Macbeth to Suleiman than Theodora vis-a-vis Justinian. Likewise with Catherine the Great.
  • Final Solution: This trope appears a few times.
    • This was a modus operandi for Shaka Zulu. Where in the past combat between South African tribes had been ceremonial (the men from each side stood facing each other, throwing spears and taunting, and casualties are low), the introduction of European crops greatly increased the population and the competition for resources. As a result, Shaka Zulu would have his men kill all enemy soldiers, all enemy prisoners of war, and almost all enemy civilians. His conquest, and the adoption of his methods by other tribes, came to be known as "The Crushing".
    • Genghis Khan used this tactic as well. First he used this tactic against the Tartars - executing every Tartar man who was taller than a wagon wheel. After this he adopted the military policy where by he would kill every single person in any city that refused to surrender, and would kill all the aristocrats in the cities that did. By the end of his life Genghis Khan had killed millions.
    • The final leader at the end of the Haitian Revolution, tired of whites constantly going back on their promise to honor free people of color's rights and/or keep slavery abolished, orders every white in Haiti to be massacred. Even his own men were horrified, and spared every white they could.
  • Fire/Water Juxtaposition: In the Kamehameha series, the artist's interpretation of Mana is a flame inside a water droplet.
  • Four-Star Badass: Numerous examples since it focuses on many wars:
    • Belisarius, who in the name of the Roman Empire took Carthage back from the Vandals, took Italy back from Ostrogoths, drove back the Persians, and routed a nomad horde threatening Constantinople. All while outnumbered.
    • Admiral Yi, who single-handedly drove the Japanese invaders out of Korea while constantly outnumbered. The mini-series on him describes him as though he were the ONLY Korean military leader at the time who wasn't incompetent or corrupt.
    • Hannibal Barca, who makes Rome tremble and almost destroys Rome itself and later, Scipio Africanus, who un-does everything Hannibal accomplished.
  • Freudian Excuse: The first episode on Genghis Khan, who is primarily known for his brutality, discusses the young Temüjin's terrible childhood and how it taught the future Great Khan to see brutality as necessary for survival.
  • Frontline General: Inca Generals were expected to be this. It worked perfectly fine when conquering other South American tribes, but when fighting conquistadors with muskets and cannon, it often resulted in the General's death and the army being routed.
  • General Failure:
    • Most of the Korean military are portrayed as incompetent and/or corrupt in "Admiral Yi", but special mention goes to Won Kyon. When the first Japanese landing parties arrive in Korea, he misses a chance to strike the troop transports while at sea, when his ships would have the advantage, and instead scuttles most of his own fleet. Later, when he's chosen to lead an attack on the Japanese navy, he falls for an Obvious Trap, Leeroy Jenkins his forces despite being massively outnumbered, and, when he realises how outmatched he is, suffers a Heroic Blue Screen of Death and becomes incapable of giving orders to his troops, resulting in the most humiliating defeat the Korean navy suffers in the entire war.
    • The British Generals during World War 1, naturally. Due to a century of wealthy nobles being able to essentially buy the rank despite having little to no military experience, this bit them hard when a massive war with hundreds of thousands of young men's lives on the line reared out, and their lack of experience and expertise showed.
  • Geo Effects:
    • Scipio Africanus successfuly besieges the city of Carthago Nova by having 500 men wait near a lagoon to the north of the city while the rest of his army attacks the west gate. When the weather drains the lagoon, his men are able to cross and attack the one part of the walls the Carthaginians didn't station defenders at.
    • Admiral Yi chooses Myeongnyang for one of his naval battles against the Japanese because its currents have a peculiar property of changing direction every few hours. This confuses the Japanese and causes several of their ships to crash into one another when they try to retreat.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Archbishop John Hughes is as genial as you'd expect a priest to be. However, he makes it clear he will burn New York to the ground if his flock continue to be victimized.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: For the Catherine series, Frederick the Great comes off as this. He was the one whose recommendation played a part in setting up her career, his angling of geopolitics led to Catherine's husband coming to bail him out, and in gratitude, he drags his feet in helping out Russia and instead becomes the mastermind of the destruction of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth.
  • The Greatest History Never Told: The Extra History actually avert this by introducing some unfamiliar names and eras through their videos, such as Shaka Zulu and his Empire, Admiral Yi and his defense of Korea, Kamehameha the Great of Hawaii, Khosrau Anushirawan of the Sassanian Empire, and the Majapahit empire much of which is under-represented in popular culture.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Most episodes of Extra Histories try to look at things from all sides.
    • "The Seminal Tragedy" explores the events that led to World War I. The various actors in those events, from the diplomats and world leaders, to the assassins who pulled the trigger on Ferdinand, are portrayed as flawed beings whose actions were driven by a mixture of paranoia, national pride, and bad communication.
    • Subverted in The First Crusade, as during the Lies episode of that mini-series James explains that he tried very hard to look at both sides, yet found the Crusaders more reprehensible the more he researched the subject. James still made a point of mentioning the Token Good Teammates of the Christians to show that not everyone on that side of the war was a monster.
    • The Haitian Revolution is all about this, with an occasional dose of Evil vs. Evil peppered in for good measure. Pre-Revolution, all four castes (the "big whites," "small whites," "free people of color," and slaves) wanted changes that benefited themselves with little regard for the others, and all castes committed attrocities and betrayals that horrified the world (and, at times, their own allies), and no one walked away from the Revolution morally clean. (Only the slaves had the truly sympathetic motive of just wanting to not be slaves anymore, and even the best of them committed war crimes aplenty.)
  • The Grinch: During the WWI Christmas Truce, not everyone was on board with the unexpected truce. One notable example was Corporal Hitler.
  • Going Native: Princess Sophie succeeds in submerging herself into Russian culture. She learnt the language, converted from Lutheranism to Russian Orthodoxy and adopted a new Russian Orthodox name Ekaterina (or Catherine in English) and eventually is so embraced that she becomes Empress and Autocrat of all the Russias, giving a speech that promised to protect the Russian people from foreign influence, with the irony that she was German and Lutheran at birth, entirely lost on her and her audience. Incidentally, her husband Peter's downfall happened because he's a Category Traitor, a Russian Prince who is perceived as a Sell-Out who scorns Russian culture in favor of Germany.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Catherine the Great cheating on Peter III is treated as being his own fault. He was an immature man-child, he told her to her face that he was in love with someone else, and he cheated on her as well.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Emperor Justinian may have created a legal code considered so just that it's still used today, but don't expect him to be lenient if you try to remove him from his throne.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire:
    • Averted in their series on the Brothers Gracchi exposes that The Roman Republic was just as expansionist as The Roman Empire, horribly oppressive to the vast majority of the people and built on slavery and plunder, with the government catering to a small minority of privileged landowners who screw over the soldiers whose sacrifices they are leeching off. In contrast, the more autocratic-minded Populares - the party that ultimately ended up overthrowing the Republic and turning Rome into an Empire - actually cared for the common man and passed reforms in order to ensure their well-being.
    • The fifth episode on Simon Bolivar actually discusses many of the issues that made a modern Republic so difficult to create. Bolivar wanted to serve as Dictator and President for Life, but promotes constitutions with equality before the law and abolishes slavery (far before the Republic of the United States of America), yet many of the independent states want The Federation with greater autonomy and emphasizing regional powers and influences (as well as regional abuses) while Bolivar wanted a strong centralized state to govern territory bigger than the Napoleonic Empire, and create equal laws and institutions across the Continent. Bolivar's desire to promote the best features of the Empire with the best features of the Republic leads to a Golden Mean Fallacy.
  • Good Shepherd: The priests and monks who opposed Count Emicho's Crusade. Specific examples listed by the episode include the Bishop of Speyers (gave Jews in his community his protection), the Bishop of Worms (hid local Jews in his own home ... sadly to no effect as the Crusaders burned it to the ground and killed them anyway), and the Bishop of Mainz (barred the city against the Crusaders, then sent his personal guard to help defend it and the Jews inside from Count Emicho's men).
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Toussaint Louverture, the self-taught military genius who hoped to bring about a prosperous, independent, post-racial Haiti, found himself in power struggles with Andre Rigard, a former Free Person of Color who'd created a caste system in the part of Haiti he controlled with his own people on top. Each wrongfully accused the other of wanting to restore slavery and rightly accused the other of war crimes and trying to make the deliberately-dysfunctional economy of Saint-Domingue work through force. The final result was civil war... on the eve of Napoleon seizing power in France and hoping to restore slavery.
  • Hanging Judge: Salathiel Lovell, who sentenced John Law to death, is described by Daniel as being one. This also counts as an Informed Attribute because the only defendant Lovell is shown judging really did commit the murder he was accused of, and back then hanging was the prescribed punishment for murder.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Tadodaho had one after Jigonsaseh told him how greedy and cruel he's been in his life.
  • Heel Realization:
    • During the plot to assassinate Archduke Ferdinand, one of the assassins decided not to go through with it because he felt sympathy for the Archduke's pregnant wife.
    • Tadodaho has one after Jigonsaseh sharply rebuked him for his warlike nature.
  • Here We Go Again!:
    • Episode 4 of "The History of Paper Money" has a British businessman named John using a plan involving government debt paying for a new financial institution and inflating the price of an overhyped New World "trading company".
    • In the Lies Episode of "The History of Paper Money", James admits that there is still some debate as to whether the US dollar is really fiat currency (currency that isn't backed by anything and that only has value because we agree it does) or if it is just backed by petrol instead of gold (because OPEC will only accept US dollars). James predicts that we will find out once OPEC accepts other nations' currencies as well (if the US dollar is fiat then there will be no crisis, but if it isn't than there will be one).
    • During the second half of the Early Christian Schisms, whenever the disputes appeared to have been resolved, there would inevitably be either someone bringing the problems back, or a new Christian faction showing up to split the church once more.
  • Hero Antagonist: Bailing was this to Cheng I Sao, being a government official seeking to end the destructive piracy. During her sacking of the Pearl River Delta Bailing opposed her by training the village militia, hired British and Portuguese Mercenaries to aid his navy, and almost annihilated Cheng I Sao's fleet in a bay. Ultimately Cheng I Sao outmaneuvered him, and forced Bailing to pardon her entire navy and let them keep their loot.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the Palmyra Today Episode, Dr. Khaled al-Asaad (the head of antiquities at Palmyra) stayed behind during the evacuation of the city to ensure that as many historical artifacts are hidden and/or secreted away instead of running. Because of this he was captured by ISIS, tortured for the location of the artifacts (he never broke, even after a month), and beheaded. He died to save a piece of the shared human heritage.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: How Genghis Khan is interpreted.
    James: The Mongols absolutely did change the world, and that was what young Temujin had desperately wanted from the very moment he first learned how harsh, violent, and unforgiving life could be. He eradicated torture, kidnapping, and raiding from his world but at the cost of countless lives and entire cultures. Is peace bought with blood and maintained with force truly peace?
  • Historical Hero Upgrade:
    • The series on Justinian gives his reign and overall campaign to reconquer and restore The Roman Empire a Historical Hero Upgrade. In truth, these conquests were devastating to Italy, and left Rome a shell of its former self and was the principal reason for its decay and depopulation until The Renaissance. The creators admit that they 'like' Justinian and they do insist that he was a dreamer and too overly ambitious to properly sustain his goals but this does mean that the show sentimentalizes his conquest of Italy and demonizes the Ostragoths (whose opinions, views, and side of the story is left untold).
    • Their take on The Great Northern War largely focuses on Charles XII and paints him as a romantic Young Conqueror who overreached himself, and saw his defeat as the end of the Sweden's status as a great power and decline in prominence. Modern Swedes, especially those on the left and of liberal persuasion, see Charles XII as a reckless Blood Knight who refused to make peace, whose endless wars brought sufferings and hardships on the Swedish people, and whose defeat in battle actually started the process of Sweden going from absolute monarchy to a parliamentary system. Globally and culturally speaking, Sweden became more prominent after Charles XII's death, on account of its social democracy and for its contribution to theatre and film, whereas only history buffs, modern neo-nazis, and Sabaton fans even know of Charles XII.
    • A strange in-universe case for Joan of Arc. While she was a selfless hero, Matthew explains she was also primarily interested in settling a French civil war, and mostly fought Bergundian French soldiers. However, 18 years after her death Burgundians' relations with England soured, power consolidated under King Charles VII of France, and the French people retroactively cast her as a universal French hero who only fought the English. To this day, most people don't know that Joan's goal was to resolve a French civil war (and she mostly fought French soldiers), not just to drive out the English.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: An In-Universe Example. The mini-series on Justinian and Theodora mentions that Procopius, the court historian of Justinian, wrote a "Secret History" in which Justinian is depicted as a monster - not a metaphorical monster in the sense that he painted Justinian as abnormally evil, a literal monster in the sense that the historian claimed Justinian could detach his head and summon plague to ravage the Mediterranean. This book was discovered 1000 years later in an archive in a convent, and historians aren't quite sure what to make of it.
  • Hollywood Tactics: The corresponding Lies episode acknowledges that Joan's tactics were more advanced than Get 'em, but clarifies that the creators not only wanted to avoid being too bogged down in military history after the recent Siege of Vienna episode but were trying to capture Joan's leadership ability and sense of righteousness more than literally describe them.
  • Honor Before Reason: Federico da Montefeltro - the protagonist of the Urbino episode - once demanded that a merchant in his city sue HIM after he forgot to pay the merchant for the products. Federico even wrote the writ against himself personally.
  • Horrible Judge of Character:
    • Charles Elliot received word from an opium smuggler that the Chinese were planning on breaking the ceasefire, so he preemptively broke it first. The episode very much implies that the smuggler was lying.
    • When Japan invades Korea in "Admiral Yi", the Koreans initially refuse to counter-attack because they mistake the Japanese transports for a trade fleet, or possibly a Japanese ambassador coming to apologise for Japan's rudeness during previous negotions.
  • Hostile Terraforming: The Spanish would often leave breeding pairs of pigs in places they explored. The pigs would reproduce so quickly that future voyages would be able to use these pigs to resupply. However, this also damaged many native ecosystems.
  • How We Got Here: Used in a few series:
    • "Admiral Yi" opens with a shot of the devastated Japanese navy from the battle of Noryang Strait, then cuts to Yi taking a military exam 26 years earlier.
    • "Suleiman the Magnificent" opens with Suleiman as an old man standing on the banks of the Bosphorus, and the first episode is presented as him remembering taking the throne as a younger man.
    • "Mother Seacole" opens with Mary Seacole attempting to bring comfort to a dying soldier in the Crimea, then cuts to Mary's first visit to the city of London in 1821, several years earlier.
    • "Akhenaten" opens with all references to the titular pharaoh being stricken from historical records in a state-wide Unpersoning being carried out some time after his rule.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: In the beginning of the Hundred Years War, Edward III of England was a proud king fighting on behalf of the English identity and his birthright in French territories that were being confiscated by Phillip VI. He's surrounded by a brilliant court of tacticians, commanders, and knights, as well as his beloved wife and son, the latter of which is just as talented as his commanders. By the end of his life, however, his friends are all gone, and the French are beginning to make more headway and turn around the war, having learned their lesson from the earlier battles. Without his court, he was alone, his mind deteriorated from old age, having taken an adulterating mistress who was using him to steal his wealth, military, and country while shutting out his son from political influence. Inferred Holocaust: The last episode of the Punic Wars episode mentions that Rome burned Carthage to the ground, but they don't show it on-screen and they don't go into details (such as that the Romans killed off much of the city and enslaved the survivors).
  • Illegal Religion: Pharaoh Akhenaten attempted to unify Ancient Egyptian religion around a single god, Aten, by outlawing the worship of all other gods. This went over poorly with most of the citizens of Egypt, to the point that his son immediately reinstated the old religion as soon as he took the throne and Akhenaten was eventually Unpersoned by a later pharaoh named Horemheb.
  • It's All About Me: Princess Sophia's mother was, by all accounts, a very vain and narcissistic woman. She saw her daughter merely as a tool for her own social advancement, and then often openly begrudged and tried to upstage her daughter's rising status.
    • Extra History makes it clear that the Haitian Revolution probably would not have been so violent or complicated if the four castes weren't solely out for themselves. The wealthy "big whites" wanted to remove economic restrictions placed on them by France but otherwise maintain the current class and race structure since it put them on top of both. (Refusing to budge on even the tiniest black rights.) The "small whites" wanted to gain more economic advantages like the "big whites" yet restrict rights of the "free people of color" who were generally more prosperous and educated than them. The "free people of color," in turn, wanted to lift racial policies against themselves but were fine with (and actively enforced) the institutinon of slavery for other Africans. The slaves were the only ones who wanted abolition. During the revolution, pretty much all sides made and broke alliances with the others to advance their own interests at the expense of others (with even many slaves trying to screw over other slaves for their freedom/advancement), with no one able to find a compromise that worked for everything.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: After Khosrau Anushirawan conquered Antioch he took the entire population as prisoners, and instead of enslaving or executing them he built an exact copy of Antioch in his own Empire for them to live in. He didn't do this out because he cared about the well-being of the civilians - he did not, and in fact massacred civilians several times before - but because their labor would make his own Empire prosperous and would humiliate Emperor Justinian.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • After massacring countless Jews across the Rhinelands, Count Emicho quietly returned to his estate and lived the rest of his life as though nothing had happened.
    • Despite murdering his kin and ordering (or at the very least sanctioning) the massacre of Mediolanum, the Ostrogothic King Vitiges was made a Byzantine Patrician after being disposed. He got an estate outside of Constantinople and lived out his days in peace and comfort.
    • Subverted with Sultan Suleiman. The mini-series on his life made it clear that while he wasn't directly punished for the various ruthless things he did in his life, he died alone and weighed down with regrets over his life's choices.
    • John Blunt, who was mastermind behind the South Sea Bubble (making him responsible for tanking The British Economy and for all the resulting suicides), still died with a lot more money than he started out with AND he got to keep the Baronet that the government gave him as a reward for managing the South Sea Company.
    • Robert Walpole actually invoked this trope, pulling the webs behind the scenes to ensure that the only people whose corruption was discovered were those whose fall could help his rise to power. Potentially justified, as the episode claimed that everyone's corruption being revealed would result in the British Government itself collapsing.
    • The two British sailors who beat a Chinese civilian to death were tried by Charles Elliot and sentenced to a decade of hard labor back in England ... and as soon as they arrived in England the government immediately threw out the case and let those two sailors go scot-free.
    • Cheng I Sao and her whole crew, including her adoptive-son-turned-lover-turned-husband, not only get away with years of brutal piracy and racketeering with total amnesty and getting to keep all their loot, the pirate queen successfully forces the government to let her men join the army (being given handsome sums to establish themselves in that case), and gets to keep a few ships of her own for supposedly-legitimate trading. She settles down to a long, happy, comfortable life running a gambling house.
    • Despite having caused a horrible famine out of racism and classism, Charles Trevelyan was given knighthood and maintained a prosperous career in civil service.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • In order to peacefully resolve the First Opium War, the Chinese official Qisan and the British official Charles Elliot work out a reasonable deal (one which the series claims is the best China could have hoped for). In return for doing what they were told to ... Charles Elliot was fired by Lord Pamerston and Qison was given a suspended death sentence by the Chinese Emperor (though he didn't go through with it, the sentence was still too harsh).
    • Also from the First Opium War, the British officers burned entire villages to the ground and used Chinese prisoners of war as target practice.
    • The Ostrogoth massacre of Mediolanum in which they kill most of the city and enslave the survivors, refusing to spare them even when the garrison asked them to.
    • Every time in the First Crusade that crusaders Rape, Pillage, and Burn en-route to Jerusalem, and finally when they sack Jerusalem itself.
    • Likewise every time the Japanese invaders murdered civilians in Korea.
    • The Viking raid on Lindisfarne, in which the Vikings destroyed sacred religious items, murdered numerous unarmed and innocent peasants and clergymen, and enslaving the survivors.
    • The Roman Senate unleash The Purge on Tiberius Gracchus and his supporters, killing and executing hundreds of them, beating Tiberius to death with wood and stone, and then dumping their bodies into the Tiber. Made worse by the fact Tiberius Gracchus wasn't really asking for a crown as he was accused of doing (he was pointing to his head to warn his supporters that someone wanted to kill him), and that the Senators who killed him were the same type of aristocrats who cheated Roman veterans out of their lands.
    • Cheng I Sao was "the most ferocious pirate China had ever known", and so is shown to do some terrible things. During her invasion of the Pearl River Delta, her Pirate Confederation sacked and extorted every village and town from Macau to Canton. The Black Flag Fleet killed 10,000 people in a single expedition.
    • Consciously averted at the start of the Haitian Revolution, as revolting slaves would spare plantation owners known for being kind to slaves. However, by the end of the Revolution everyone's hands were bloody. Special mention goes to the final Revolutionary leader, who ordered all whites to be massacred. (Something even most of his men resisted carrying out unless he was physically there to enforce it.)
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch:
    • In the Lies episode of The Opium Wars, James states that at the time of the Opium Wars there were many people in the West who considered it to be this trope. These days the British war for the right to sell drugs has somewhat less sympathy.
      John Adams: [...] the cause of the war is the kowtow - the arrogant and insupportable pretensions of China that she will hold commercial intercourse with the rest of mankind not upon terms of equal reciprocity, but upon the insulting and degrading forms of the relations between lord and vassal.
    • The defeat of Count Emicho's Band at the Siege of Mosin (during which Count Emicho's Crusaders were slaughtered almost to a man) certainly counts as this trope considering they had just finished off massacring the Jews in The Holy Roman Empire.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Once it became clear that the Pirate Confederation was falling apart, due to the Black Flag Fleet's defection, Cheng I Sao used her position of power to gain a pardon for herself and her followers (they didn't even have to return their stolen plunder).
  • Land of One City: Two examples.
    • Urbino; an Italian city-state whose ruler Federico da Montefeltro turned it into a cultural and intellectual wonderland. When he died, the Borgias invaded the city and snuffed out its influence.
    • Palmyra; an ancient eastern city-state which retained independence from the Roman Empire, saved it from Persian Invasion, and helped prolong its life by centuries. Eventually the city was fully absorbed after Odenathus died and his daughter tried to take on the Roman Empire. Sadly, the ruins of Palmyra and all of its architectural value is being destroyed by ISIS.
  • Leave No Survivors: When Ostrogothic forces were laying siege to the city of Mediolanum, they offered to spare the garrison if they opened the gates. When the garrison asked that the civilians inside be spared, "the Ostrogoths made no secret of the savage vengeance they wished to wreak on this town". Sure enough, when the Ostrogoths take the town they kill every man inside and enslave every woman and child.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: While Temujin's actions are often violent and barbaric, he nonetheless comes across as more-upright than his competition, who are no less ruthless, but are also treacherous and without his redeeming qualities or vision. Additionally, while Temujin's changes to Mongolian society often benefit him personally, he goes out of his way to protect and lift up those crushed by the system that left him behind as a child.
  • The Lost Lenore: Near the end of her life, Julie d'Abigny fell head over heels in love with Madame La Marquis De Florensac. When De Florensac died Julie retired from opera, joined a convent, and spent the rest of her days in mourning.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Since a lot of patriarchal societies ran on patralinial inheritence laws, yet paternity tests didn't exist yet, you can bet this crops up every now and again.
    • Temujin's wife Borte was kidnapped shortly after they married, was raped by a soldier, then gave birth nine months later. While Temujin embraced her son as his own, most others weren't convinced and his legitimacy as heir was never fully realized.
    • Catherine the Great, similarly, had many affairs during her awful marriage to Peter III, and while her son mostly resembled her husband, no one was ever sure if he was her husband's or one of her lover's. (Thankfully, most of Russia didn't care as long as they had an heir.)
  • Memetic Badass: Robert Walpole gets this treatment in the final episode of the South Sea Bubble episode where he ends up being being behind literally everything that wraps up the crisis (and sees him cultivate more money and power), with the effect that "It was Walpole" became a Running Gag in the comments. While researching other episodes James discovered Walpole connections where he didn't expect to find them, so they decided to add a "Walpole moment" section to every "Lies" episode showing how he (or someone he was connected to at least) either impacted or was impacted by the events they are discussing, and he is now practically the "Extra History" mascot.
  • Moral Event Horizon: invoked The murder of Tiberius Gracchus and his followers. Dan points out that since Tiberius was a Tribune, his person was considered sacrosanct. In other words, killing him was not only murder; it was sacrilege. The mob that murdered Tiberious broke the taboo and escaped unpunished, which set the stage for more violent upheaval and constant civil war that didn't end until Augustus created the Empire 106 years later.
  • Mummies at the Dinner Table: Because of the huge reverence the Incas placed on their ancestors, dead nobles retained the right to all the properties they owned in life and their descendants were merely allowed to be "stewards" on their ancestor's behalf, and mummified royals would regularly be taken to visit the properties of their relatives.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Justinian's attempt to mend the Schism between orthodox and monophite Christianity not only failed, but also laid the groundwork for a schism between Orthodox and Catholic Christianity.
    • Gavrilo Princip's assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, an act he committed in defense of Serbian interests, resulted in one of the worst wars in history (during which hundreds of thousands of Serbians perished).
    • The delays caused by those in Austria-Hungary who wished to avoid war caused the Empire to miss its brief window of opportunity to invade Serbia without objection (the episode stated that nobody would have defended Serbia in a war after the Archduke and his pregnant wife were murdered during a goodwill mission). The desire for peace ironically resulted in a regional conflict turning into the biggest war in history.
    • Simon Bolivar ended up ruining the Supreme Junta of Caracas mission to get aid from Britain due to his arrogance trying to convince the British to help Venezuela seek independence from Spain as he accidentally gave Britain's foreign minister a secret note from his superiors that they should lie to the British that the Junta are still loyal to their ally Spain and not reveal they want said aid to seek independence. As a result, not only did Bolivar humiliated and exposed the Junta delegation true mission but also made the British not help them.
  • During the Warsaw Uprising, the Americans tried to provide some relief for the Polish Resistance by air-dropping supplies into Warsaw. 85% of said supplies either got lost or landed behind German lines instead.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: The People's Crusade was such a total failure that the Sultanate of Rum completely ignored the more-competent Baron's Crusade which came after them, allowing the Crusaders to gain the momentum and footholds necessary to become a very serious threat. James even speculates that all of the Crusaders would have been defeated at Anatolia if the People's Crusade had been less of a failure.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • In The First Opium War, Charles Elliot (Britian) and Qisan (China) were both sent to negotiate a peace deal and both worked out a reasonable one. Their reward? The former was fired and ridiculed by his countrymen for the rest of his life, the later was fired and sentenced to death (though the sentence was lifted).
    • John Snow spent his life trying to prevent cholera from wiping out London again, and his work proved the link between human waste and diseases. Instead of being recognized and rewarded for this, he was ridiculed and dismissed as a crazy person by the leading scientists of the day (the leading theory was that diseases were caused by "miasma").
    • Yi Sun-sin spent his whole life serving Korea, fighting its enemies, and protecting and avenging its civilians. In spite of this he was often demoted and falsely accused. While he was honored for what he did, that only came after his death.
    • When Temüjin's family was abandoned to starve by his father's tribe, an old man from said tribe attempted to vouch for the family by stating that the wives and children of a warrior should be better cared for. In response this old man was speared to death.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: In "The First Crusade", after massacring the city of Maarat, many of the Crusaders proceeded to cook and eat the people they killed because they ran out of food and were starving.
  • Nun Too Holy: Julie d'Aubigny took monastic vows and joined a convent to rescue her girlfriend from it, starting a fire in the convent as cover for her escape. Subverted near the end of her life, when d'Aubigny joins a convent for real after a later girlfriend died.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The Haitian slaves, not very keen about the system that mutilated and disfigured their bodies while literally working them to death, but also not keen on being boiled to death in sugar vats, eaten alive by mosquitos, blown to bits by being tied to lit kegs of gunpowder, or other barbaric punishments for open revolt engaged in passive resistance by pretending not to understand orders, feigning illness, and generally underperforming. This had the useful side effect of convincing everyone else that they were stupid and lazy... and causing them to make the all-too-literally fatal mistake of underestimating their ability and will to resist.
  • Obligatory Joke:
    • Did you really think they were gonna do a series on John Snow and not make a Game of Thrones reference.
    • Did you really think they were gonna do a series on King Kamehameha and not make a Dragon Ball reference?
    • Did you really think they were gonna do a series on Medieval English kings/knights fighting the French (The Hundred Years War) and not make a Monty Python and the Holy Grail reference? (Or two? Or five?)
    • Did you really think they were gonna do a series on Joan of Arc informing French lords that she is on a mission from God and not make The Blues Brothers reference?
  • Obvious Trap:
    • In Genghis Khan #4, Temujin is given a note from Ong Khan that reads "Invite to: not a trap".
    • The Japanese Navy tries to lure Admiral Yi into one of these, sending Yi a letter with the co-ordinates of their fleet which appears to be from one of their captains trying to sell out a rival. Yi doesn't fall for it, but unfortunately this gives his enemies in the Korean bureaucracy an excuse to have him tried for treason and removed from his post, and his successor Won Kyon does fall for it when the try the same trick again.
  • Obviously Evil: The Legion of Hell, a gang of Venezuelan cavalrymen who support Spanish rule. They carried fire-hardened spears, murdered civilians, raped women, and tortured children to death.
  • Offing the Offspring: Sultan Suleiman of the Ottoman Empire. First he inherited because his father executed his two brothers, and despite vowing not to repeat such mistakes he still executed two of his sons and his grandson.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When America gives it's response to the Soviet's ultimatum in "Cuban Missile Crisis", the Russian ambassador notes that the usually bravado-filled Bobby Kennedy is completely solemn.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: invoked Discussed in the episode on Tiberius Gracchus the Elder who they note had an amazing career as a Roman politician and soldier and was someone both Gracchi brothers sought to follow in his footsteps but historically was reduced to a footnote in the history of his sons, whose actions and careers are far more important to history. As they say, that's why the brothers have five episodes while Dad just gets one.
  • Parental Hypocrisy: Genghis Khan. In his youth he murdered his elder brother and his best friend because he didn't want to answer to them. Yet when his own sons have a rivalry he tries his hardest to make them get along.
    • Princess Sophia was neglected as a child in favor of her mother's ambitions, so naturally after she became a mother (as Catherine the Great) she neglected her own son in favor of her own ambitions (for the Russian Empire).
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: When Simon Bolivar leads five hundred revolutionaries to Venezuela to liberate the colony, he has absolutely no mercy for the Spanish military and executes most Spanish prisoners of war he comes across. Meanwhile the Spanish military and their allies, the Legion of Hell, are massacring Venezuelan civilians with utter brutality.
    • Khosrau chose to humiliate Justinian in his invasion, primarily because the Romans had snubbed him first (according to him), first and foremost with proposing to adopt Khosrau not as a Roman, but as a barbarian, which was downright insulting. Secondly, Justinian had refused to make peace with Khosrau when he was the new king due to the succession crisis in Iran, and wanted to make life very difficult for Khosrau and sow as much chaos as he could into Iran. Consequently, Khosrau was eager and hungry for revenge.
  • Perspective Flip: The series on Khosrau Anushirawan is this to the series on Justinian. To clarify, in his own series, Justinian is a Self-Made Man who, with his team of capable companions, seeks to restore the glory of Rome and the unity of the Christian church. In Khosrau's series, however, Justinian is a bigoted, ambitious, Manipulative Bastard who is perfectly willing to crush other nations in the name of his imperial dreams.
  • The Plague: While it crops up in the background of several other episodes, memorably in Justinian's, the episodes on the flu epidemic of 1918 chronicle what they call the last modern one... and it's chilling.
    "This is a horror story."
  • Police are Useless: The police in the story of Ned Kelly are not only corrupt and lazy, but cowardly. When a member of the Kelly gang turned informant, four cops were stationed in his house to catch members of the gang when they arrived. Once two gangmembers arrived to kill the informant, the cops hid in his bedroom while the informant was shot infront of his pregnant wife and her mother.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Charles F. "Boss" Murphy, head of Tammany Hall, ended up supporting the progressive reformers because he saw them gaining momentum and knew he had to be on the winning side to maintain his cash-flow.
  • Precocious Crush: Princess Anna Komnenos has one on Bohemond of Taranto, who tried to overthrow her father Emperor Alexios.
  • Pregnant Badass: In "Viking Expansion - Wine Land", a heavily pregnant viking woman called Freydis almost single-handedly fights off a Native American raiding party that are attacking her village.
  • Private Military Contractors: The Urbino Episode states that these are what the city-states of Italy used to fight wars against each other and that Federico da Montefeltro commanded one as a means of bringing money to Urbino.
  • Pride Before a Fall: Britain's first attempt to negotiate an official trade agreement with China failed primarily due to the hubris of both The British and The Chinese. Both believed they hailed "from the most powerful and civilized nation in the world, with the most divine monarch", and things went downhill from there.
    • Also, Charles XII of Sweden had proved time and again to be an able field commander, a quick tactical actor, and a brave commander, fighting off countless invasions of his territory, and even pummeling Poland-Lithuania during his wars with them. And then he tried to invade Russia with only a moderate amount of men, and refused to back away even a few miles for supplies because he didn't want to concede the campaign. And that lead him to disaster.
  • Prequel: The episode on Cheng I Sao is this to the series on The First Opium War, as the Chinese Empire continued to neglect its military even after outnumbered and outgunned pirates defeated them.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Diplomacy usually breaks down in the series because both sides misread other peoples' opinions or misjudge each others' intentions, as well as due to failures to hand down orders properly through the chain of command. This is the case in both the "Seminal Tragedy" (World War I) and the Opium Wars, and nearly ends the world in nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • Principles Zealot: The ultimate dark version came on the eve of the Haitian revolution. After the French assembly voted to grant full franchise and rights to the free people of color on Saint-Domingue, the big and little whites joined forces to rise in rebellion, choosing to break away from their mother colony rather than make the smallest concession or compromise on the issue of white supremacy. The resulting chaos and civil war pave the way for the ultimate victory of their enslaved people, and the only successful slave uprising in human history.
  • Prison Escape Artist: Shah Kavadh I. "Alas, though the Fortress of Oblivion continued to have a very very cool name, it also continued to be very very bad at containing Kavadhs."
    • Jack Sheppard, an early 18th century London thief, became famous for this after breaking out of increasingly secure prisons and making London authorities look like chumps. (And London sentiment at the time was very anti-authority after the English government's South Sea Bubble screwed them over.)
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain:
    • Ned Kelly starts out as a strong kid who saves another boy from drowning, and gets a scarf for it, gets pushed into crime by an unjust system of wealthy landowners and crooked cops trying to keep his family down, tries to keep up some standards by only killing in self-defense and maintaining a rough chivalry and code of conduct among his gang, and finally gets caught after a bloody standoff following an attempt to derail a train to kill hundreds of cops.
    • Temujin starts out as a boy living in the cruel world of the Mongol steppes and scraping by to survive with his mother and siblings. But he murders his brother to gain control of the family, starting down the path that will lead him to massacre millions of civilians across Asia in pursuit of his imperial ambitions.
  • Proud Merchant Race: Discussed in the series on the empire of Majapahit, which projected power as much with its control over trade through the Strait of Malacca as through maritime force of arms.
  • Rage Against the Legal System: Ned Kelly goes on one after the the Australian police keep bullying him and his family. Treated as completely justified because the police are shown to be corrupt bullies who serve evil rich landholders at the expense of poor farmers.
  • Recurring Location: Whether by creator preference or its importance to history as the crossroads of the Old World, that many named city on the Bosphorus plays a part or is the center of many series in the show.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Tiberius Gracchus was Blue while his brother Gaius was Red.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Admiral Yi may have been one of the greatest war assets of the Korean navy and largely responsible for repelling the Japanese invasion, but that doesn't stop his enemies in the Korean bureaucracy from trying to stifle him, get him demoted out of the military and tried for treason.
  • Revenge by Proxy: See Cycle of Revenge above, and note that none of the targets of revenge had anything to do with the previous transgression. The civilians killed by the Eleanora weren't the ones who killed the crewman, the four crewmen of The Fair American weren't the ones who massacred the civilians.
    • Also discussed in Cycle of Revenge, this was common in Steppe tradition. Temujin's mother Hoelun had been kidnapped from her tribe and forced to marry Temujin's father. Over 20 years later, her tribe decide to "avenge" her by kidnapping her son's wife, just because she was a young woman from the tribe that kidnapped . (To add insult to injury, they chose not to "rescue" Hoelun since she was an old widow now, and their soldiers raped the girl they kidnapped.)
  • Rightful King Returns: After being removed from power, Chetshwayo was reinstalled as ruler of the Zulus by the British; the very people who removed him from power in the first place. The reason he was reinstalled was a combination of his popularity within Britain as an eloquent, civilized king, and that the puppet rulers the British put in power after imprisoning Chetshwayo were fighting among themselves and the British hoped he could bring some stability to the area.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • Implied to be why Belisarius disobeys Emperor Justinian and finishes off the Ostrogothic Kingdom, as the end of the Gothic War was shown as happening soon after the Massacre of Mediolanum.
    • Also implied to be the cause for the Battle of Blood River; in the mini-series on the Zulus, they murder Boer men who came to negotiate peacefully and then after they attacked the undefended wagon train where those men's families were. The next Boer wagon train to come that way was armed to the teeth and mad as hell ...
    • Played straight with Admiral Yi, who at the end of the war assaults and destroys the Japanese navy as they attempt to evacuate from Korea. The reason the episode started for him doing this is to punish the Japanese forces for their war-crimes in Korea.
    • Following the Battle of the Denmark Strait, Churchill has a personal order for every available ship in the Atlantic and they follow it as well as transmit it over the airwaves. The order? Sink the Bismarck. Sink the Bismarck. Sink the Bismarck.
  • Rule-Abiding Rebel: Bismarck was a slacker, class-clown, prankster known as "The Wildman Bismarck" but despite his rebellious tendencies, he was an anti-democratic authoritarian who supported the Monarchy.
  • Ruleof Cute: Pretty much every single video's artwork is super adorable. Especially this part of a Sengoku video.
  • Running Gag: In the Sengoku Jidai episodes,there are two words: Warrior monks. That is all.
    • Heck, even a Freaking "Super Monk" appears near the end!!
    • Robert Walpole and his connections to everything ever.
    • An otherwise wise and intelligent king making the spectacularly boneheaded decision of splitting his kingdom between all of his heirs, who then proceed to grow jealous of each other and destroy everything he created in a civil war. It happens so often that at the end of Kingdom of Majapahit: The Golden Reign, Matt hangs a mocking lampshade on it by singing to the tune of The Itsy, Bitsy Spider.
      The pretty decent king split the crown between his heirs.
      Down dropped his head, and they started throwing chairs!
      Succession crises lead to civil war,
      and the pretty decent kingdom was doomed to be no more!
    • Whenever Admiral Yi is sent to drill his men, he's shown holding a power drill to a soldier's head.
  • Science Hero: There are a number of these.
    • Dr. Joseph Goldberger spent his whole life battling diseases and catching every one of them. He'd saved thousands of lives, won five nobel prizes, and worked even when terminally ill with cancer. Specifically discussed in his episode was his discovery that pellagra was a nutritional disease rather than a germ, and how niacin could prevent it.
    • John Snow discovered how cholera was a bacteria spread through unclean water, rather than through miasma. He couldn't cure it, but he figured out how to prevent it in London by avoiding water contamination.
    • The episode "The History of Non-Euclidian Geometry" is about several of these, and how over millennia they developed geometry and calculus.
    • Robert Koch from "Curing Tuberculosis" ends up being a deconstruction. As a result of his rivalry with Louis Pasteur, he buys into the myth of a scientist as a heroic singular figure, rather than part of a community building on each other's work. This results in him abandoning the methodical practises he relied on early in his career and pushing his "cure" for tuberculosis before he can guarantee its effectiveness, leading to a medical scandal.
    • Edward Jenner from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ke6tT3_QTuM History of Vaccines - Killing Smallpox - Extra History]], who cured smallpox and developed modern vaccination.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: How Justinian's ambition to rescue the Byzantine Empire ends up. Aside from his code of laws and the Hagia Sophia, almost all he fought for was undone at the very end, and in less than a century all his territorial gains will recede once more and the dream of reviving The Roman Empire would remain a dream.
  • Second Love: In "Viking Expansion - The Serpent-Riders", the unnamed Norwegian Merchant that the story follows ends up being divorced by his wife because she didn't want to share the demands of his career. He ends up remarrying, and his second wife is the one who buries him when he dies.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: When Grigory Potemkin was Catherine the Great's lover, the fact that she had all the power in their relationship made him afraid that she would break up with him. This fear put such a strain on their relationship that she decided it would be best for both of them if they saw other people.
  • Serious Business: The "Early Christian Schims" does a good job in explaining how and why debates on whether Christ was both man and God, or part-man and part-god, or all man and all god and other smaller hairs split between these examples were deadly serious in the later Roman era and played a role in the shaping of Christianity.
  • Sexual Extortion:
    • In the third episode of "Policing London", it was mentioned that one unnamed previous Justice in this era would offer prostitutes lenient sentences "in exchange for their services". It was mentioned to highlight just how corrupt the justice system in London during this era had become.
    • As one of the many abuses that built the slave society of pre-revolutionary Haiti, so many Frenchmen had so many coerced sexual relationships with female slaves that it literally created an entire social class, the free people of color.
  • Shocking Defeat Legacy: The Opium Wars were this for China, as it marked the first of many cracks in an Empire that had seen itself as stable and prosperous and entirely isolated. The treaties are known in China and other parts of Asia as "the unequal treaties".
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: In episode four of The First Opium War mini-series, Charles Elliot's ship was smashed against a rock. He survived, but had to swim several miles to shore to avoid being imprisoned and perhaps killed by a nearby Chinese ship. He reached the shore, was greeted by British soldiers ... and promptly told that he had been fired months ago.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slasher Smile: Appears sometimes.
    • The Mongols have these whenever they go raiding.
    • The surgeon who killed Jayanagara was also sporting one before taking his revenge.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil:
    • Drawings of slavery are used in "The Brothers Gracchi" when discussing slavery's economic aspect on Rome. Said drawings show slaves covered in dirt and utterly miserable. One scene shows two slaves performing backbreaking labor while a Roman Aristocrat sits back and watches them.
    • "Catherine the Great" goes into detail about the horrors of Imperial Russian serfdom, which for all intents and purposes might as well be slavery.
    • Addressed directly in their series on the Haitian Revolution, and, as if to emphasize that it's going to be dark, the background of the first episode's thumbnail is pitch-black, with a shackle in the foreground.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: At the beginning of the Hundred Years War, the English were the Slobs to the French's Snobs, with French being the language of nobility and English being the language of the peasants and commoners. This is even displayed in how the two armies fought; the French relied on heavily armored, aristocratic knights, while the English relied heavily on the humble, lightly-armored peasant longbow archers.
  • Smug Snake: Hitchens, like Johnathan Wild, also used thief-taking to build his own criminal empire. Hitchens, however, was far more brazen in his corrupt activities. When Wild moved in, Hitchens was completely outclassed.
  • The Sons and the Spears: The Native American tribes united under The Great Law of Peace adopt a bundle of arrows as the symbol of their new nation, in recognition of the fact that they are stronger as a united whole than as individuals.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Despite almost single-handedly fighting off a raiding party while heavily pregnant, Freydis from "Wine Land" ends up being scolded by the men of her village for her unwomanly behaviour.
    • A random peasant girl claims to receive visions from God Himself to lead the French army to victory against the English and their Burgundian allies and have King Charles VII crowned the rightful king of a united France? Ha ha! Yeah right. Run back home, girlie. Oh wait, you might be legit? Ehh... just stand there and look pretty. War rooms and battlefields are no place for a teenage girl—hey wait, get back here!
  • Superweapon Suspense Subversion: In the opening of episode 3 of the Cuban Missile Crisis, as tensions run high between Russia, Cuba and America, Dan describes a Soviet bomber dropping a bomb 20 times as powerful as the one used on Hiroshima ... it's a standard atmospheric test taking place in the Arctic Circle, and was scheduled before the crisis began.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Charles XII's death, which is a famous real-life case of this. The narration emphasizes how anti-climactic it was, and how the musket ball that killed the King was a soft sound in the night wind.
    • Takeda Shingen is shot in the middle of a siege and dies.
    • Uesugi Kenshin dies without an heir right before his attack on the Oda.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Because of the way military and political hierarchies functioned in the Inca Empire, generals were discouraged from acquiring too much glory during their campaigns, as it made them potential rivals to the emperor and increased the risk of him ordering their execution when they returned home.
  • Take Up My Sword: In "Policing London - The Bow Street Runners", Henry Fielding basically assembled what was the first real police force in London and did so out of a personal desire to fight crime. The episode ends with him dying of gout and serosus, and with his brother John Fielding taking over his post.
  • Take That!: In "Law of the Splintered Paddle", Dan says that Kamehameha wanted a stable system, not one riven by conflict. The first part of the sentence is accompanied by the Windows XP logo, while the latter has Kamehameha angrily throwing a rock at the logo for Windows Vista.
  • Token Good Teammate:
    • Tancred of Hauteville in the First Crusade. During the Sack of Jerusalem, he went out of his way to try to save civilians and even gave his banner to a group that was taking shelter in a Mosque in the hopes that others would see it and spare them. Despite having Tancred's banner, the civilians in the mosque were slaughtered by the Crusaders anyway. In fact, he's the only Crusader commander for whom capturing a city doesn't result in a violent massacre.
      • Many bishops, priests, and monks also gave sanctuary to Jews during the Rhineland massacre... and many were massacred alongside the people they tried to defend.
    • Charles Elliot in The First Opium War. He was the ONLY British person in this story who is even trying to be fair to rhe Chinese; he disapproved of the opium trade, he tried to reach a reasonable peace agreement with the Chinese, and he wanted to minimize bloodshed. In return for these good deeds ... he was fired and sent back to Britain.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Jayanagara didn't just sleep with the wives and daughters of his court officials, he also slept with his current surgeon's wife. Before a major operation. Moreover he slept with Gajah Mada's wife, even though Mada was the one with all the real power.
    • Catherine the Great's first husband, Petter III of Russia. Not only is he a petulant, alcoholic Manchild who alienates everyone at court, but he openly scorns the Russian language, culture, and religion, openly buddies up with foreign leaders that Russia is at war with, and then gives back all the land that Russian soldiers spent seven years fighting and dying to obtain. He then ignores his advisers when they try to warn him that a plot to overthrow him is in motion... until the mob is knocking at his door. Then he ditches his guards to camps out alone at his private island palace, rather than do... anything else. When he learns the coup is led by his own wife (whom he's mistreated their entire marriage) the best counter-offer he can think of is that they share the empire. It's unclear whether he really died in a drunken tavern brawl a few months later or assassins (possibly hired by Catherine) used the brawl to Make It Look Like an Accident, but either way, it's clear that his demise was self-inflected and long-coming.
  • Tragic Dream: Toussaint Louverture hoped to build a peaceful, racially-integrated post-slavery Haiti, and to bind up the wounds of war. Despite his incredible ability, he fell short, partly due to structural problems of an economy designed to be dysfunctional thrice over, partly due to feeling he had to enforce autocratic actions he disliked through military force to keep the fledgling nation together and free, the machinations of France and the other global powers, power struggles among the revolutionaries blossoming into civil war... He'd lost that battle before Napoleon's armies even invaded Saint-Domingue.
  • Troll: Khosrow I of Persia was this to Justinian. During his war he did everything he could to humiliate Justinian. In one example he took the city of Antioch, captured all the civilians, and burned Antioch to the ground. Then instead of enslaving or ransoming the captured Antioch civilians, he built a new city in his empire called Weh Antiok Khusrau (literally translates to "Khosrow's better version of Antioch") and had all the people of Antioch live there.
  • Tragic Hero: Both Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus come of as this. They wanted the best for the people of Italy, but face opposition, betrayal, cruel murder and ultimately the consequences of their actions pave the way for the end of the Republic.
  • Undying Loyalty: Admiral Yi Sun-sin was repeatedly screwed over by his own government, falsely accused and imprisoned for crimes he didn't commit, demoted from naval officer to the rank of common soldier multiple times, but still fought and died to save his country. Its little wonder he was called "The Martial Lord of Loyalty" after his death.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Charles VII of France to Joan of Arc. After she personally leads his armies to victory against his Burgundian enemies and restores his crown as King of France, he tries to have her Kicked Upstairs by honorably discharging her with a knighthood, then has her Reassigned to Antarctica when she won't retire quietly, then after she's captured by the English he doesn't even bother trying to get her back, since he's already replaced her with a new spiritual adviser (a peasant boy with the stigmata), and barely seems to react after she's tried as a heretic and burned at the stake.
  • Unperson: Because of the damage his religious reforms did to ancient Egyptian society and the economy, Pharaoh Akhenaten's name is stricken from all historical records by one of his successors. It's only due to a lucky archaeological find of several intact cuneiform tablets that modern archaeologists even know of his existence.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Tsar Nicholas II, in the days immediately preceding World War I, wanted to call off the mobilization of Russian forces in a last-ditch effort of averting the global conflict. Unfortunately, a young aide de camp accidentally hit his Berserk Button of being an indecisive ruler by saying "We know how hard it must be for you to decide". While likely meant as a sympathetic gesture, this offhand comment sparked one of the largest, deadliest wars in global history.
  • The Usurper: Kamehameha the Great. He was prophesied at birth to hold this position, and after the previous king died Kamehameha used his control over the war god to take over the kingdom.
  • Values Dissonance: invoked Discussed by James in some of the Lies episodes where he describes how certain customs and events were seen differently in its time than modern audiences would:
    • The Ottoman court's approach to succession, where upon taking the throne, the crown prince would murder his brother, nephews and in-laws is something that strikes audiences as especially cruel and bloody. The Lies section notes that this was the historical practise of Ottoman succession, and he notes that this kind of inter-family purge was meant to prevent the kind of Succession Crisis based Civil War of the kind in Western Europe, and to keep the family dispute from spilling on to the people.
    • In The First Opium War mini-series, the main criticism of the British government is that they were imperialists who resorted to drug dealing after their incompetent diplomacy failed them. The stigma against opium and drugs, as well as the negative stereotypes associate with drug dealing did not really exist in its time. In Britain it was perfectly legal and even used as a medicine, and at that time it was seen as purely a trade dispute. In the Lies section, they note that many observers such as President John Adams supported the English position seeing the Chinese Emperor as a monarch oppressing merchants, while Karl Marx with typical snark noted that the English did evil, but this evil probably played a role in helping the Chinese society modernize itself, albeit in a way that the English did not intend or aim to achieve. James largely sees it as Poor Communication Kills, the British did not really bother researching and learning about Chinese society before making their demands, while the Chinese underestimated the English, having grown complacent in isolation.
    • Lampshaded in Killing Smallpox, where Edward Jenner invents the first vaccine by exposing a person to cowpox, a milder form of smallpox... and he tests this on his gardener's eight-year-old son. Matthew even pauses to acknowledge that medically experimenting on a human child would be seen as wildly unethical today, but at the time it would be seen as practical, since smallpox was so endemic that children were the only ones unlikely to have contracted smallpox or cowpox already.
  • Villain Protagonist: Cheng I Sao was a brutal, greedy pirate warlord, and the episode makes no bones about the horrors she inflicted on the innocent people of China. But she was also a capable, daring commander and organizer, and her success was as much a result of the crippling problems facing Qing China as her merely being ruthless.
    • The First Crusaders are depicted as the greedy, entitled, back-stabbing, fatally stupid, power-hungry mass-murderers they were. Their entire (accurate) quest, motivations and actions for obtaining it are depicted so unsympathetically that their Islamic enemies come off as Hero Antagonists.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Johnathan Wild, subject of the first episode of the "Policing London" series, manage to get himself the post of Thieftaker General, one of the most prestigious positions in law enforcement at the time, while secretly acting as the kingpin of a very powerful criminal empire.
  • Vindicated by History: Admiral Yi spent his life being kicked around by the nation he was trying to protect. Once he was dead, he was mourned by all of Korea and hailed as a legendary hero.
  • Visionary Villain: Charles Trevelyan sought to transform what he felt were the natural predisposition of the Irish toward sin and laziness, by using the famine to force the Irish into being more hardworking and self-reliant. He transformed it, for the worse.
  • Visual Pun:
    • When talking about Kavadh becoming a Mazdakite a kite with Mazdak's face on it is shown.
    • Any time Dan talks about Yi "drilling his men" in "Admiral Yi", it's depicted as him holding a power drill against a soldier's head.
  • War Elephants: Hannibal's famous use of elephants against the Romans is discussed in "The Punic Wars"; Dan notes that given most Roman soldiers had probably never heard of or seen an elephant before they went into battle against the Carthaginians, it's probably the closest thing to a "humans versus monsters" fight that's ever occurred in real life.
  • War Is Hell: This series does not hide the horrors of warfare. From the exuberantly high casualty rates to the widespread atrocities, war is shown in its bloody detail.
    • "The Seminal Tragedy", "The First Crusade", and "The Punic Wars" are especially gruesome in their descriptions of war's horrors.
    • It is this mindset that causes Hiawatha (a man who lost his wife and eldest daughter to warfare), Jigonsaseh (a woman who spent years making peace between individual warriors from rival tribes), and The Peacemaker (who convinced his tribe to abandon warfare) to set out to unite the Five Haudenosaunee Nations under The Law of Peace.
  • Warrior Heaven: When Eric Bloodaxe, the last Danelaw King, is killed by one of his own men his family commissions a poem showing him ascending to Valhalla.
  • Wham Line: The South Sea Bubble mini-series ends with The Narrator dropping the anvil on the dangers of letting political power and big money "oversee" each other in the "interest" of common people, and finishes with this:
    Dan: I think it is a good lesson. I hope we learn it someday.
  • What Could Have Been: When describing the events leading to Archduke Ferdinand's assassination, Daniel explains that if the Archduke visited Serbia on a day that wasn't a rallying point for Serbian Nationalists then the visit would likely have gone down as a footnote in the story of a long and successful Austrio-Hungarian Emperor's rule. This claim even includes a drawing of a textbook from an alternate universe (in which Ferdinand wasn't assassinated), detailing what a great ruler he would have been.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: ...to surrender all the French lands conquered by England during the Hundred Years War, in exchange for a french noblewoman as a bride and an incredibly vague promise of peace? King Henry VI, that's who.
  • We ARE Struggling Together:
    • The Chinese revolutionaries of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Sun Yat-sen (the subject of the relevant series) was the one who came closest to uniting them before the 1947 revolution, and is still regarded as the father of modern China by both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Taiwan, but even his influence wasn't enough to keep the various factions from turning on each other in the 1910s and 1920s.
    • Similarly, the Latin American revolutionaries in the Simón Bolívar series. The same factionalism which kept the colonists from overturning Spanish imperial rule before the Penninsular War undermined their attempts to unite against the restored crown of Spain, and would repeatedly give the Spanish openings to try to retake their South and Central American possessions. Later, after Spain was finally ejected for good, Bolívar's attempts to unit the former colonies into a Republic of Gran Panama ran aground on factionalism, provincialism, and Bolívar's own intransigence towards the governments he'd help establish.
    • Even before the revolution began, Haiti had four social classes all struggling with each other. The "big whites" who owned the plantations wanted to keep everyone else in their place while breaking free of French mercantilist policies to market their huge stock of agricultural goods elsewhere. The "little whites" wanted to get rich upon immigrating, and resented both the "big whites" for their wealth and privilege, and the free people of color for often having more wealth and education than themselves. The free people of color resented having many openly racist laws (proposed and supported by "little whites") stripping their rights with a fairer system still in living memory. And, of course, all three groups looked down on and oppressed the slaves, who lived in unspeakable conditions and misery, and plotted to get their freedom through violent force of arms. After the French Revolution proper begins, both whites and free people of color in the slave-owning castes are too busy wrestling with one another over power, especially the whites who fight the French government and attempt to gain independence rather than give up white supermacy, to see the slave uprising coming right under their nose. And once it begins, the other parties never manage to crush the rebellion and reinstitute slavery because of their inability to unite, and the whites' unwillingness to compromise on racial supremacy.
    • Tragically, the freed Haitians end up fighting each other over power after repulsing several foreign and domestic enemies, but it's averted in the end, when Napoleon sends an army to reinstitute slavery, with the explicit aim of asserting white supremacy long-term. None of the freed slave factions want that, and the threat of it unites them against the invaders like nothing else could.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • In the "Lies" episode for Ned Kelly, the person who wrote the episode even conceded that despite being a murderer and a hostage-taker Ned Kelly was still trying to combat oppression in Australia.
    • Father John Joseph Hughes threatened to burn New York to the ground if the mayor allowed a rally that was amost guaranteed to turn into an orgy of anti-Irish violence.
  • The Wicked Stage: Played Strait with Julie d'Aubigny, who spent years as a singer at the Paris Opera. During her tenure, she dueled and slept with many of her co-stars regardless of gender.
  • The Wise Prince: Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. He was a supporter of Serbia, which made his assassination by a Serbian all the more horrific in the eyes of The Austro-Hungarians.
  • The Woobie: In the "Lies" episode of The Seminal Tragedy mini-series, James speculates that Franz Joseph I of Austria could have been seen as this. James specifically mentions how the man had to watch his entire family die around him (his daughter died of illness, his son committed suicide, his wife and nephew were assassinated).
  • Worthy Opponent: François Capois, also known as Capois the Death, was leading a charge when his horse was blown apart by a cannonball at the Battle of Vertières, then his hat shot off his head when he stood up. Undaunted, he continued to lead the charge. The entire French army cheered and applauded his bravery, and even General Rochambeau, a racist who'd imported man-eating dogs to put down the insurrection, had a horseman ride out to the enemy lines to complement him.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Enforced with Kamehameha the Great and his Law of the Splintered Paddle. He outright stated that every man, woman, and child should be safe to sleep on the side of the road and that anyone who attacked them would be executed.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: In "Wine Land", Freydis leads her group of explorers to murder some rival settlers, but the men from her group refuse to kill the five women in the rival group, forcing Freydis to kill them herself.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: In "Wine Land", when Freydis gets sick of tensions between her party of explorers and a rival party led by two brothers, she manufactures a crisis, claims one of the brothers struck her and badgers her husband into helping her get revenge.
  • Written by the Winners: An interesting aversion in the case of the Haitian revolution, since the eventual winners, the enslaved peoples who won their freedom, were deliberately kept illiterate by their former owners and couldn't keep records of their own, forcing a bit of detective work in piecing together their history.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: The 21 Sikh officers manning the communication post of Saragahi. When the Afghan tribes rebelled against British Rule, these officers fight them off for as long as possible. Every single one of them is killed, but they take down hundreds of rebels with them and their sacrifice allows Fort Gulistan and Fort Lockhart to fortify themselves and suppress the rebellion.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters:
    • Gavrilo Princip and his fellow conspirators. While James portrays them in a very negative light on the basis that they murdered two innocent people and started the worst war in history, he does mention in the "lies" portion of The Seminal Tragedy that Gavrilo is seen as a hero in Serbia and that there is a statue there to honor him.
    • The Viking attack on Lindisfarne is shown from both perspectives. It's presented initially from the perspective of the monks and the dominant narrative is of a pagan attack on Christendom; peasants are slaughtered in their fields, monks and holy men are slaughtered in their church, sacred artifacts are stolen and dismantled, and the survivors are taken away as slaves. Then the episode shows the perspective of the Vikings; they saw Christians and other monks as busybody fundamentalists who attacked their religious beliefs and swindled them in trade. Also shown is how the vikings established great trade routes, and how they saw the weak state of Christendom as an opportunity to gain massive amounts of wealth and to forge new kingdoms for themselves and for their people.

    Extra Sci-Fi 

Tropes which Extra Sci-Fi provides an example of:

  • Apocalypse How: An entire set of videos were devoted to examining various fictional apocalypses, and what messages they had for their times, as well as today.
  • Art Evolution: Extra Sci-Fi's artwork has also evolved, starting with a more or less Extra History style for humans and humanoids, then mixing that style with a more realistic style for humanoid aliens and monsters, and now currently tends to reserve its classic style mostly for real life figures — though the styles do still mix to the point of having realistic humans mixed with super-deformed humans in the same frame.
  • Author Filibuster: On the one hand, Robert A. Heinlein's quasi-libertarian politics show through in his science fiction writing and make for fascinating and influential ideas and topics of discussion. On the other hand, they are frequently perhaps a bit shallow and sophomoric where it counts, such as exploring free love in a manner that, in practice if not in philosophy, basically just lets the male main character sleep around without getting attached, ignoring that the colonists in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress were only able to build their superior libertarian society thanks to a supercomputer built with government funding that they steal for themselves, or presenting and idealizing a government in Starship Troopers which demands harsh government service to earn franchise. And they describe his later work as degenerating into an almost obsessive examination of incest.
  • Colbert Bump: Invoked. They are not so subtle trying to do this with obscure but important Science Fiction authors. James completely shamelessly dedicates an entire episode to Lord Dunsany, the forgotten father of Fantasy, up to the point of publishing an edition of his short stories in order to "Save him from Obscurity."
  • Dystopia: A video series goes through the origins of the dystopian novel, discussing where the genre came from and how we can interpret it today.
  • Fair for Its Day: Invoked.
    • In the Weird Tales episode, they say that Robert E. Howard was an avowed feminist... for the time (1920s and 30s).
    • Their opinion of Isaac Asimov. He was progressive for his time but bits of post-war America culture still influence his works, in particular his belief that obedience to rightful authority is a cornerstone of morality in his robot stories.
    • Pointedly averted with John W. Campbell. They flat-out describe him as a racist and explicitly state that they see no reason to sugar-coat that statement, before going into damning detail about his impassioned defenses of slavery and segregation. They also make no bones about his authoritarian politics and love of Scientology.
  • Info Dump: The earlier science fiction stories in the first science fiction magazines, before Campbell revolutionized the genre, thought it was important to always use the medium to teach the reader about how the marvelous devices within worked. Unfortunately, this didn't exactly make for riveting fiction.
  • New Wave Science Fiction: Detailed in one part of the video series about the early work of William Gibson, and touched on in a few others, as the sea change away from the Golden Age of idea-driven science fiction towards a more literary approach to the genre.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Invoked. This happens to Isaac Asimov. His ideas were mind-blowing at the time they were released but they were so influential that they seem unoriginal to modern readers.
  • Space Opera: Discussed in their video on Asimov's Foundation stories. While the idea of an interstellar empire is laughable in any logistical sense, and psycho-history is essentially ridiculous, the Hand Wave lets the writer explore a great story with great themes anyway.
  • Warts and All: Their even-handed video on John W. Campbell. On the one hand, a talented writer and editor who almost single-handedly dragged the genre into the Golden Age, with his exacting standards for science and writing quality and his desire to make it into something meaningful beyond pulpy escapism or a dry vehicle to educate, who pushed forward the careers of many of the science fiction's greatest early masters. On the other hand, a narrow-minded reactionary, authoritarian bigot, frequently enthralled by pseudoscience, who, by using his influence to limit what could and could not be published, based on his personal vision and private bugbears, put arbitrary limits on what science fiction was or could be that the next generation of authors would need to outgrow.

    Misc 

Tropes which Extra Mythology provies an example of:

  • The Cameo: Red and Blue make a cameo on December 3, 2018 episode, "Izanami and Izanagi" to promote a crossover for their Jorogumi video.
  • Explaining Your Power to the Enemy: The Warlock in "Warlocks and Warriors" tells the soldier that the only way to kill him would be to burn his body on a pyre of aspen logs, then kill all the vermin that burst from his body.
  • Fire Keeps It Dead:
    • In "Wendigo", the hearts of the wendigo family are burned in a fire to melt the ice around them and prevent them from resurrecting.
    • In "Warlocks and Warriors", a fire of 100 aspen logs is the only thing that can finally kill the warlock.
  • Framing Device: Each video is framed as Matt telling two people at a campfire one of the myths.
  • Mood Whiplash: Izanami has just unleashed the Shikome on Izanagi and is going to chase the god out of the underworld.
    Matt: It was then, everyone decided...it was slapstick time~! (cue Yakity Sax)
  • Nightmare Face: The Strigoi. Check the page image of the Nightmare Fuel page for the disturbing imagery.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Izanami and Izanagi" has Izanagi being chased by the Shikome as Yakity Sax plays in the background.

Tropes which James Recommends provides an example of:

Tropes which Design Club provides an example of:

Tropes which Extra Remix provides an example of:

Tropes which Side Quest provides an example of:

  • Catchphrase: "Argh, dog!" every time Dan gets jumped by a dog.
  • Death Montage: Doesn't happen quite as often as you might expect during Dan Plays Dark Souls, but one notable example is when he tries to fight Seath the Scaleless, and repeatedly gets flattened by his tail lash attack, as they edit out all of the return trips back to the boss chamber, only for Dan to die extremely quickly, forcing him to do it again.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Dan sometimes overlooks something he passes right by. He encourages commentators to let him know he passed something interesting after the fact so he can come back and check it out, but prefers if people avoid spoilers.
    • A particularly strong example is in the Tomb of the Giants, throughout which Dan repeatedly complained that he wished he had some kind of light source. That he did not make the connection to the Skull Lantern he found a few hours earlier in the Catacombs is understandable, that he picked up another Skull Lantern in the Tomb and missed the hint there is less so. Lampshaded by Dan himself in the comments after he uploaded it.
      Dan: Skull Lantern, cool. Already got one, but that's alright [...] I'm tired of not being able to see any— [...] I do not enjoy not being able to see.
      Dan: [later in the comments] If only I possessed some sort of EQUIPPABLE ITEM which happened to double as a light source!
  • Rage Quit: Dan was able to stand up to pretty much everything the Dark Souls trilogy could throw at him... until near the end of Dark Souls II he realised that he had to fight his way through the entire final stage of the Dark Chasm of Old (which cost a Human Effigy even to attempt) before he could even take a shot at beating Darklurker. Then he just threw in the towel.
    Dan: All right. I'm feeling prepared to give this one more- [Killed Mid-Sentence] ...OK.
  • Rule of Cool: During the #3 play for Bound, Dan says that the artist/animator in him believes strongly in the rule of, "I don't care, it's cool."
  • Standard Snippet: The intro to all three seasons features the famous opening riff from Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger"—appropriate for a series that's all about gitting gud while having the crap beaten out of you.

Tropes which Extra Frames provides an example of:


Alternative Title(s): Extra History

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