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"Hello, history buffs!"
History Buffs is an ongoing YouTube series hosted by Nick Hodges which evaluates the accuracy of historical feature films and television dramas. It generally deals with how filmmakers utilize the Artistic License – History trope and how this can be a good or bad thing, often providing proper context to events that Hollywood has ignored.


Trope Buffs:

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  • Abled in the Adaptation: In his Goodfellas review, he points out that the real Henry Hill had serious learning disabilities. Since he went to school in the 1950s, he didn't have the supports available today, and so he disliked school and had trouble academically. The movie makes no mention of this, giving the impression that young Henry was just a troublemaker and a delinquent.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: He calls out Braveheart for doing this on William Wallace by claiming Wallace's family were peasant farmers and Wallace himself got his military skills from travelling over Europe after his parents' deaths when in fact Wallace's family were minor Scottish nobility and got his military skills from his noble upbringing and working as a mercenary with the English.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Nick criticizes From Hell for having Inspector Abberline played by Johnny Depp, since the real Abberline was a plain old man who was not as young and handsome as Depp.
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  • Adaptational Ugliness: Nick shows side-by-side images of Joe Pesci and the much more handsome Tommy DeSimone in the GoodFellas review.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Instead of fleeing Rome after Caesar's assassination and staying in Alexandria until the end of the resulting upheaval as she did in Real Life, the second season of Rome has Cleopatra visiting the divided capital with Caesarion, her son with Caesar, and the two visiting Mark Antony and Octavian — both of whom are trying to succeed Caesar and would have good reason to immediately kill a third competitor like Caesarion.
    • Tombstone never explains Ike Clanton's animosity with Wyatt Earp, as the real reason was because Ike had previously sold out an outlaw gang to Wyatt in exchange for reward money. Even though the wanted men were killed in another state, Ike became paranoid after fearing that Wyatt would reveal Ike's betrayal to the gang, explaining his hatred for Wyatt in the film.
  • Admiring the Abomination: At the start of the 300 review, Nick states that he is fascinated by the history of Sparta despite disliking its cruel society.
  • Adorkable: Nick having a massive fangasm on The Final Countdown over seeing modern American fighter jets laying waste to WWII-era Japanese Zeros.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: During the GoodFellas review, Nick empathizes with Henry Hill's dyslexia growing up, which ultimately led to him being effectively raised by the mob. He also seems to sympathize with the fact that Hill was forced to relive the horrible things he did in the mob long after he got out.
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  • All There in the Manual: Nick usually begins his videos by giving some background information of the history or events of the film or TV show he's watching before the review begins.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • In Braveheart, Nick point out that 11th Century Scots are wearing kilts, which in Real Life kilts would not have been invented until the 16th Century.
    • The presence of turkeys in Spain at the start of 1492: Conquest of Paradise, even though the continent the turkeys are from hasn't been discovered yet.
    • The presence of Spaniards at the end of Apocalypto, even though Mayan civilization had long since collapsed by the time the Spaniards arrived in Real Life.
    • The opening lecture in Timeline where it's suggested that English troops wore red uniforms and French troops wore blue uniforms during The Hundred Years War. The English did not adopt red uniforms until the 17th Century, while the French did not adopt blue uniforms until the 18th Century.
  • Art Evolution: Earlier episodes show Nick's animated self moving only in still shots. In later episodes the animation improved to where his lips and arms could move.
  • Artistic License – Geography: One of Nick's many sticking points with Apocalypto, where the adult protagonist has never seen a large Mayan city before even though such cities were literally everywhere in the Mayan civilization.
  • Artistic License – History: The whole point of the series.
    • Occasionally it makes some of its own, if by accident. A good example is the review of The Last Samurai, where Nick describes the arrival of Matthew Perry as being a kind of alien invasion since the Japanese were so isolated from the outside world. In actual fact, the Japanese had traded with the Dutch, the English, and other Europeans during the Sakoku era, restricting them to an area of Nagasaki and controlling their movement and activity. The Americans used Dutch accounts for research and guidance during their mission. The Japanese certainly knew quite a bit about the West even during the era of isolation.
  • Artistic License – Law: In the movie The Untouchables, Canadian Mounties help Eliot Ness and The Untouchables stop Capone's gang from transporting alcohol into the United States. While Nick admits it was a cool scene, he correctly points out since Prohibition was a US law while buying, selling and transporting alcohol was still legal in Canada, the Mounties in Real Life wouldn't help the Untouchables in the first place since what Capone's gang was doing was legal and whatever happens to them once they cross the border into the US was none of their business.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: Calls out Timeline for this. First the film assumes that people in 14th Century France spoke modern French, when in reality they spoke Middle French and Occitan. Then when the time travelers meet Lord Oliver, they are able to converse in modern English when Oliver would have been speaking either Middle English or Anglo-Norman French; likewise, Gerard Butler should have been speaking Norn, Gaelic, or Scots if he wanted to pass as a 14th Century Scotsman. Nick points out both times that the time travelers and the inhabitants of Castelgard should not be able to understand each other.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • Nick finds it absurd that in Braveheart, the Scottish were able to defeat the English at the Battle of Stirling despite the fact the former didn't wear anything but fur and kilts, which should have made it much easier for the armored English to defeat them. Furthermore, the battle in question was actually called the Battle of Stirling Bridge as it took place at a bridge and not an open field.
    • One of Nick's only serious bones of contention with Dances with Wolves is the suggestion that the 1860s Lakota-Sioux are completely unfamiliar with guns and have to be taught how to use them by John Dunbar. In reality, Native Americans — including the Sioux — were long accustomed to firearms and already used them in their conflicts with the U.S. government by the time in which the film is set.
    • Nick points out two examples of this in Timeline. First, it shows both French and English archers using longbows, when actually longbows were only used by the English and Welsh while the French used short bows and crossbows. Secondly, he points out that the Arrows on Fire trope in the film (and many others) doesn't work since rather than make the arrows powerful and deadlier, it just made them ineffective due to the extra weight. Furthermore, by the time the fire arrow reaches its target, the flames would have been blown out due to wind velocity.
  • Ascended Fanboy: If you were wondering why new videos are coming out slower, it's because Nick has been collaborating with the Vikings cast on their podcasts.
  • As You Know: Apollo 13 uses this trope since most viewers might not understand the science of space travel, so having it explained to them helps them understand the plot better.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: Nick calls out the narrator of Braveheart for being a big liar, which ironically the narrator's claim that the English calling him a liar for his story is true, since most things in the film are not historically accurate and simply made up.
  • Berserk Button: For Nick, it's films that are historically inaccurate due to the creators not doing research or they didn't care, abusing the Artistic License – History trope and putting in idiot plotlines. Mel Gibson is deemed the most guilty of this:
    • One film that pisses him off the most is Braveheart, since not only is the film historically inaccurate and lies to the audience by claiming the story is true, but it also uses Hollywood Tactics like how the Scots defeated the English with no armor, a bad romance plot between Wallace and Queen Isabella (see Improbable Age below), the director taking jabs at the English every chance he got, and the film disrespecting both the English and the Scots by ruining Wallace's character (this is because while Nick is English, he is also Scottish from his father's side of the family via Clan Robertson, hence why he makes a big deal out of this movie). You can tell how much he hated this movie by the Cluster F-Bomb he gives.
    • Nick also finds that The Patriot has excessive anti-British bias, with all of the incessant references to "shooting redcoats." It gets taken Up to Eleven when the British are depicted as burning a church with the entire population of a rebel village locked inside — a scene which was inspired not by any real-life incident during the Revolutionary War, but by the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre committed by German SS troops during World War II.
    • He goes nuts at Apocalypto, which while accurate in some ways in portraying the Mayans, gets some things wrong like: how the protagonists had never seen a Mayan city despite how Mayan cities were everywhere, a girl suffering from smallpox despite smallpox not yet appearing in the Americas at that point, the Mayans practicing Aztec human sacrifices, and finally — the one that broke the camel's back with Nick — was the final scene in which the Spaniards arrive, something that did not happen until long after the Classic Mayan civilization collapsed.
    • Provided that the films have perfectly valid excuses for taking huge artistic licenses, such as being told from the point of view of a biased narrator, films like 300 actually manage to subvert this for Nick.
  • Brick Joke: Used with clips from the "shine box" scene in GoodFellas to make fun of Joe Pesci's rap song (yes, you read that right).
  • Cool Chair: Nick — or rather, the animated version of him — has one.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Nick praises shows or movies that correctly shows values and attitudes of the past which by our modern standards are appalling. Hence, he gives praise to Vikings for not shying away from protagonists of the show having no problem of killing, raping or enslaving.
  • Droit du Seigneur: Braveheart claims the English nobility practice Primae Noctis on the Scottish commoners but Nick calls this out as the practice of Primae Noctis is fictional and never really existed.
  • Historical Beauty Update:
    • In his review of From Hell, Nick notes that the real Inspector Abberline wasn't a young man, and certainly wasn't as attractive as Johnny Depp.
    • He also points out an inversion; the real-life counterpart to Tommy DeVito, Tommy DeSimone, was a tall, well-built, ruggedly handsome man. Joe Pesci, on the other hand, is not.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade:
    • Nick is disgusted by the portrayal of Christopher Columbus in 1492: Conquest of Paradise. Contrary to the film's depiction of Columbus as a benevolent rogue and visionary, Nick rightfully points to abundant evidence that the real Columbus was a borderline Ax-Crazy war criminal and profiteer. He is also baffled that people still insist Columbus was a hero despite his genocidal actions and the fact that he neither discovered the Americas or proved the Earth was round.
    • Also at issue is the treatment of the American Revolution in The Patriot, especially where slaves are concerned. The movie suggests that George Washington's promise to free black men who fought for the Revolution embodied the American ideal of equality, when in fact the Americans were desperate to counteract a similar offer made to the slaves by the British and stop them from gaining an advantage. Not only did American ideals not apply to non-whites at the time of the Revolution, but most of the black men who fought for the Americans ended up never being freed. Mel Gibson's character Benjamin Martin technically counts, as one of the inspirations for the character, Francis Marion, was a slave-owner whose slaves fled his plantation and enlisted with the British... which, as Nick points out, says a lot about the man.
    • Alexander the Great gets a couple of ones by omission in Oliver Stone's Alexander, most notably the incident where he marches his men back to Babylon through the perilous Gedrosian desert and ends up losing 12,000 men. The film depicts this as a blunder made by Alexander, when most scholars agree that Alexander was deliberately punishing his men for threatening to revolt over not being able to return home.
    • In The Last Samurai, Moritsugu Katsumoto is portrayed as an honorable warrior who refuses to use guns and rebels against the Japanese government out of noble intentions as he feared his country was losing its traditions as a result of the government's modernization programs. In reality, the man Katsumoto was based on, Saigo Takamori, had no problems in using guns and was an early supporter of the government's modernization programs. His reason for rebelling were more selfish as he opposed the government's plans to end the special laws and privileges the samurai used to enjoyed, like the right to kill peasants with impunity.
    • Dances with Wolves does this to the Sioux, corresponding with a Historical Villain Upgrade for the Pawnee. While the film portrays the Sioux as victims of harassment by the Pawnee, the reality was the other way around. Historically, the Pawnee were a small, weak tribe that were oppressed by the much larger neighboring tribes, including the Sioux. Nick justifies this by suggesting that John Dunbar is giving a biased account favoring his friends the Sioux.
    • Tombstone, along with other films about Wyatt Earp and his posse, have always portrayed them as good lawmen fighting the evil outlaw gang to protect the town of Tombstone. In truth, Wyatt and his posse were vigilantes who disobeyed the law to ruthlessly kill the gang for the murder of one of his brothers.
    • In Captain Phillips, despite the film portraying Phillips as a heroic character who allowed himself to be taken hostage by Somali pirates to save his crew, the captain never did that. Furthermore, the film omits out the fact that Phillips was responsible for the pirates attacking his ship in the first place, as he ignored warnings from his superiors to avoid the area with high pirate activity to save time and money.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade:
    • In GoodFellas, Paul Cicero is depicted as an intimidating but Affably Evil Mentor to Henry Hill who doesn't commit any violent acts onscreen. In reality, Paul Vario (the basis for Cicero) was just as vicious as Jimmy Burke/Conway and Tommy DeSimone/DeVito, and we see a documentary clip of the real Hill recalling Vario's assault of a barmaid with a baseball bat. Also, while the film doesn't give this treatment to DeSimone/DeVito in the slightest, Nick does mention his attempted rape of Henry's wife Karen, which the film omitted. The rest of the film is largely an aversion, however, and its realistic portrayal of The Mafia is why Nick favors it over The Godfather.
    • Also pointed out in his look at Casino. Lefty Rosenthal, the real-life inspiration for Ace Rothstein, was significantly more controlling and abusive towards his wife. In the movie, the worst Ace does to Ginger is threaten to kill her for tying up their daughter. Rosenthal, however, was significantly worse to his wife Geri, beating her and cheating on her. Unlike Rothstein, who reluctantly made Ginger wear a beeper after she tried to kidnap their daughter, Rosenthal made Geri wear a beeper before she tried to run off because he wanted to make sure he was in control of her.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • Nick also tackles examples of these, most notably the treatment of the English/British in Braveheart and The Patriot, both Mel Gibson films. He cites the church-burning scene in particular, pointing out that if such a thing really happened, it would have been a major rallying point for the rebels.
    • He also laments how due to the popularity of the movie Amadeus, Antonio Salieri is unfairly treated by the public as a jealous composer who hated Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart when in truth both men were friends in Real Life and respected each other's works.
    • Then there is the treatment of Servilia, Atia, and Octavia in Rome. The real Servilia was only tangentially involved in the plot to assassinate Caesar. Atia was not hyper-promiscuous but was in fact considered a role model of Roman piety. Octavia never had an incestuous relationship with Octavian and had a good reputation similar to Atia's.
    • He also criticized From Hell for its negative portrayals of Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline and Sir Charles Warren during the Jack the Ripper murders. In the film, Abberline is shown to be an opium addict and has an affair with Mary Jane Kelly, Jack's last victim, even though the Real Life Abberline was never a drug addict and was devoted to his wife. Warren gets it worse, being portrayed as an arrogant aristocrat who looks down on the lower class, an Obstructive Bureaucrat who constantly tries to stop Abberline's investigation, and a racist who is fine with scapegoating London's Jews for the murders (neglecting to point out that his command to destroy the graffito blaming Jews for the killings was to prevent anti-Semitic riots) which is nothing like the Real Life Warren.
    • In The Wolf of Wall Street, for all of Jordan Belfort's vices, he and his colleagues never threw dwarves at a giant bullseye, since they feared a lawsuit and bad PR if their clients knew about it. The film depicts this incident anyway.
    • Geri McGee and Lenny Marmor (Ginger McKenna and Lester Diamond) get this in Casino. Contrary to the film's depiction of Ginger as a greedy ex-prostitute and Lester as her former pimp, Geri and Lenny were high school sweethearts who already had a daughter together by the time Geri met Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal (Sam "Ace" Rothstein). Geri was also never a prostitute. Conversely, the film omits Frank's history of infidelity and domestic abuse to make Sam more sympathetic at Geri/Ginger's expense.
  • Improbable Age: Nick calls out Braveheart for claiming William Wallace had sex with Queen Isabella, whose son became King Edward III, as a big lie and impossible since not only was Edward III born ten years after Wallace's death, Isabella wasn't married yet to King Edward II during the events of film as she was still living in France and was nine years old!
  • The Mafia: Calls out the trope as a whole for overly romanticizing "honor-bound" Italian-American gangsters — especially as applied in The Godfather — when the real gangsters were psychotic scumbags who terrorized everyone and routinely turned on each other.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer:
    • Nick feels the need to explain that, yes, Joe Pesci really did have a Gangsta Rap song.
    • Does the same when he shows that, for real, Mozart composed a choral song about licking his ass.
  • Not So Different: Nick notes that despite being personal and geopolitical enemies, Stalin and Hitler shared a paranoid hatred of Jews.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: In his review of Dunkirk, Nick takes a moment to criticize complaints about the movie lacking representation of women and people of color.
  • Politically Correct History: Another thing that Nick doesn't like, since it hides the fact the past wasn't that great for some people.
    • A scene in The Patriot shows the Continental Army offering freedom to black men if they fight against the British, embodying the American ideal of equality. The Continental Army's motives for doing this were less than noble in reality, as they were trying to counteract a similar offer being made to blacks by the British. Most blacks who fought for American independence ended up being sent back into slavery.
    • One of the wives of the soldiers in We Were Soldiers is white yet is shocked to learn stores outside of the Army base practice segregation. However, something like that should not have been unknown to her, since the movie is set during the Civil Rights Movement, where the news reported about it.
  • Pop Culture Osmosis: Nick sets up the Death of Stalin review by stating that while most people associate Adolf Hitler with pure evil, Josef Stalin was also right up there and it would have been perfectly appropriate to celebrate his death.
  • Show, Don't Tell: Nick criticizes the fact that a scene depicting Mark Antony's famous eulogy at Julius Caesar's funeral was cut from the second season of Rome, instead having a bit character give a secondhand summary of the speech. This not only removes a pivotal scene from what is supposed to be a depiction of events following Caesar's death, but the dumbed down substitute doesn't explain why Antony's eulogy was a masterpiece of political demagoguery.
  • Shout-Out: In his review of Tora! Tora! Tora!, he cites The Nostalgia Critic for providing a basic and accurate summation of his feelings for Pearl Harbor
  • The Spartan Way: In the 300 review, Nick goes through Sparta's child-rearing practices in detail.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Nick admits in his GoodFellas review that he sympathizes with Henry having a difficult time in school due to his learning disabilities, saying that he had a tough time in school for similar reasons.
  • Take That!:
    • In his review of Tora! Tora! Tora!, he mocks Pearl Harbor for its historical inaccuracies, jingoistic themes and disrespect to the survivors of the attack.
    • He does two of these in his review of GoodFellas: he criticizes countdown-style YouTube shows for "liking" cool scenes in movies without even understanding what made them cool, and is critical of The Godfather for showing a fake, romanticized view of the Mafia that was unduly influenced by Mafia pressure behind the scenes.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Despite the many faults he finds in Alexander, Nick praises Oliver Stone for correctly portraying Alexander the Great as a bisexual despite backlash by protesters during the film's release.
    • Even though he finds plenty of glaring omissions and inaccuracies in Rome, Nick actually likes Brutus's Suicide by Cop at the Battle of Philippi even though it isn't really how he died.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Nick points out some films were actually based on books and stories and not Real Life. He also calls out horror movies like Annabelle for using this trope as a gimmick despite the true stories in question not being verifiable.
  • Viewers Are Morons: He criticizes the American producers of Master and Commander for changing the antagonists' nationality from American privateers in the book to Napoleon's French Navy due to this trope and thinking American viewers would be confused and not know who to root for.
  • You Are What You Hate: In Timeline Nick points out that the English villain Lord Oliver's negative reaction to the French character François is pretty hypocritical, since because Lord Oliver is an English noble during The Hundred Years War, he is arguably French himself.

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