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YMMV / Band of Brothers

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  • Acceptable Targets: Averted. The show takes on a Black and Gray Morality with its approach to World War II. The finale even pulls off a Not So Different moment with a German commander and his men.
  • Actor Shipping: Given that the series has only about two female characters with speaking parts, there's rather a lot of same-sex ships. Eion Bailey (Webster) and Ross McCall (Liebgott) get a bit of it, due to playing the two translators. The most popular ship seems to be Michael Cudlitz and Neal McDonough, possibly because they were significantly older than most of the cast. Someone in the ten year reunion interviews asked Cudlitz if he could fight Neal shirtless. James Madio gets shipped with lots of his cast members, after numerous stories about him on set were told. One in particular says he once bit Neal McDonough on the chest for no real reason.
  • Alternate Character Interpretationnote :
    • The first episode does this with Sobel's Training from Hell. The real men regard the training as what made them as good as they were, and that he probably went so hard on them to prepare them for a war. David Schwimmer meanwhile feels that Sobel had a very tough upbringing due to rampant Anti-Semitism and that caused his harsh attitude. The episode shows that Sobel is devastated at losing Easy Company, but is that because of the blow to his ego? The cadence scene shows him getting very annoyed when the men sing to get themselves up the hill. Did he want them to fail? Or was he just jealous that they loved and respected Winters rather than him?
    • Norman Dike is thought of as cowardly and lazy given how many losses Easy Company suffered under his leadership. But many real life figures like to point out that Dike was essentially thrust into a position he was not prepared for - and his reaction is an entirely human one. But then again, the men's disdain of him is contrasted with someone like Lt Peacock - who was liked despite his ineptitude because he was a Nice Guy - and Lt Jones, who was in a similar position but earned the respect of the men quickly. The scene where Dike talks to Lipton about personal things can be read as Dike either trying to get to know his men, or trying to look like he is. The show also has Dike 'break' under pressure during an attack, when that appeared to be a mistake in research, and instead of freezing under fire, he was actually severely wounded.
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    • "The Breaking Point" puts forth the idea that Ronald Speirs was encouraging his reputation as a Memetic Badass among the men. The scene where he offers Perconte, Webb and Christenson cigarettes could be him deliberately Trolling them.
  • Awesome Music:
  • Better on DVD: Since the miniseries is essentially a ten hour long War Movie, it's a lot easier to keep track of the Loads and Loads of Characters and Call Backs when watching all the episodes back-to-back.
  • Broken Base: A minor one. Fans can't agree whether the POV character in Episode 1 is Sobel, whose training and leadership are the focus, or Winters, who actually appears throughout the entire episode and has the flashback back to Toccoa in the first scene.
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  • Catharsis Factor: "The Breaking Point" is one of the harshest hours of the series, yet ends with Spiers taking command and running through the town twice without a scratch to show for it.
  • Creepy Awesome: Spiers's mannerisms are incredibly disconcerting, such as the way he applies his combat paint (three vertical stripes on each cheek), the way he wears his helmet (pulled down so the shadow from the brim covers his eyes), and his stare (wide-eyed, never breaking eye contact, and unblinking). These make him incredibly awesome, and his actor doubly so.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • Private Albert Blithe is portrayed as a reluctant soldier, is shot in the neck and dies of his wounds in 1948. In real life, he was shot in the shoulder, recovered and remained in the US Army until his death in West Germany in 1967, serving abroad in Korea and as a military adviser in Taiwan. This rather major error is present in Ambrose's original book too. The rest of the company were unaware of this and felt awful after Blithe's family contacted the studio to correct them.
    • The book itself contains several major examples, a lot of which the TV series actually prunes; Ambrose refers to every German tank as a TigerIn fact , he says the 101st had 5000 men on D-DayIn fact , he frequently gets various technical details wrong, such as gun caliber, every German unit is described as "crack" or "elite"In fact , both he and Winters criticize Major-General Taylor (the 101st's commander) for being "on holiday" during the Ardennes assaultIn fact , he claims Easy Company was dropped by inexperienced pilots who had never flown at night and who did not have experience dropping partroopers and who took evasive action to save themselvesIn fact  and he misidentifies the British colonel rescued by Easy as "O. Dobey"In fact 
  • Draco in Leather Pants: To a lesser extent, Sobel of all people. Despite his jerkass tendencies and incompetence, he's often given some admiration for his training abilities, even by the vets who served under him who attributed it to their survival. This despite the fact that any competent drill instructor could have done just as good a job at it, while not severely compromising the morale and fighting ability of their unit to the point where every single NCO up and mutinies just before a major offensive as Sobel did. It may help that in a fit of depression, he tried to kill himself later in life, but missed and ended up blinding himself for the last of his 20 years.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Doc Roe is one of the favourites, despite minimal appearances outside his one POV episode. He was also barely mentioned in the original book. His actor Shane Taylor even expressed surprise at the amount of fans he had, as he took a hiatus from acting for several years. His episode is also ranked as one of the best out of the series.
    • Speirs actually appears far less than you'd expect - not really joining Easy Company until Episode 7. You wouldn't know it from the amount of fans he has. It helps that he's a Memetic Badass in and out of universe.
    • Liebgott and Malarkey, especially after the heartbreak both characters have to go through. In Malarkey's case, his actor Scott Grimes was a recognisable enough name from Party of Five and a music career.
    • George Luz was one in real life too (since he had 1600 people attending his funeral). Since he provides about 85% of the funny moments, it's understandable.
    • Christenson, Miller, and Janovec have a lot of fans thanks to the Retroactive Recognition of the actors who played them.
    • See One-Scene Wonder below for the minor characters.
    • Out of the actors themselves, James Madio (Frank Perconte) after numerous stories about him on set surfaced. When the ten year reunion interviews were organised, Madio was one of the first interviewed and then got brought back for a second - after the rest of the cast had so many good things to say about him. Likewise while filming, the role of Perconte was originally very small. But Madio's performance impressed them enough to give him more lines - which explains the character's extended screen time in Episode 9.
    • Matt Hickey who played Private O'Keefe was surprised that his character was so remembered - despite appearing mostly in the 9th episode and only having one scene in the 10th.
  • Estrogen Brigade:
    • Doc Roe has quite the collection of female fans. When people were organising the ten-year-reunion interviews, a huge number of fans were inquiring about his actor Shane Taylor. In the actual interview, they comment that most of them were female. It's discussed in other interviews too, theorising that it must be down to the Cajun accent. It also helps that he's known to be one of the friendliest and affable cast members at reunions and conventions.
    • Skip Muck is beloved by female fans too. Quite impressive for a supporting character who only has minimal lines and is killed off in the seventh episode. According to Malarkey's book, he was quite the Nice Guy in real life too.
  • Friendly Fandoms: Weirdly enough with Supernatural of all things. There are more crossover fan fictions than you'd expect. It's even more surprising, given that the only connection the two shows have is that Richard Speight Jr stars in both - and in minor roles at that.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In-Universe. In the ninth episode, Janovec is reading a newspaper as the Company is being transported by truck. Luz asks what the paper is about. Janovec replies that the paper details the reason why they [America] are fighting the war is because "The Germans are bad... very bad", which Luz finds quite amusing. Later, the Company discovers a concentration camp and find out just how bad the Germans were.
  • Genius Bonus: Approaching Bertchesgarten, Webster is seen writing in his journal. His journals were a large source of the information that was used by Ambrose to write Band Of Brothers.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The opening interviews in the very first episode, "Currahee," feature one of the men saying "Well, our country was attacked. It's different—it wasn't like Korea or Vietnam; we was attacked. And, you know, it was a feeling that, uh, maybe we're just dumb country people, where I come from, but a lot of us volunteered." The day that episode premiered? 9 September 2001. Promos were actually pulled post 9/11 due to the combat violence shown and how it might upset people.
    • The year after the show aired, Stephen Ambrose, the author of the book the series was based upon, was embroiled in a large plagiarism scandal implicating almost his entire academic career.
    • In the first episode, Muck comments that their fellow countrymen fighting in the Pacific Theater have it easier than them since they'll be on tropical islands with native girls feeding them coconuts. Then The Pacific came out and showed what the fighting against the Japanese was actually like. The real Bill Guarnere is on record saying that what the Marines went through was worse than anything Easy did.
  • Hate Sink: The homicidal I Company replacement from Episode 10 is treated as such in-universe. After drunkenly murdering two Germans and a British officer for not giving him gas, he then shoots Sgt. Grant in the head for trying to apprehend him. Grant would somehow survive, but this did nothing to stop the other members of E Company (including Spears) from collectively beating the replacement within an inch of his life after he had been brought into custody.note 
  • He Really Can Act:
    • General reaction to David Schwimmer being cast as Sobel was What The Hell, Casting Agency? - which went away within a few minutes of Sobel's first scene.
    • At the time, most people felt that the only reason Colin Hanks was cast as Lt. Henry Jones was because his dad was one of the series producers. However, he managed to prove himself as well.
    • Ross McCall was mainly known for bit parts in TV shows and small movies beforehand. He credits the miniseries with helping him start a career over in America. In real life many people expressed shock at discovering he was actually British - his Fake American accent being just that convincing.
    • James Madio was coming off a So Bad, It's Good sitcom called USA High. Needless to say people who were used to seeing him as Bobby Lazzarini were pleasantly surprised at his "Reason You Suck" Speech to O'Keefe in Episode 9.
    • Damian Lewis's most notable job before getting cast in this was as an infomercial host. Dick Winters became his career defining role.
    • To a lesser extent, Donnie Wahlberg. He had gotten a lot of positive attention for his One-Scene Wonder role in The Sixth Sense but he was still best known for New Kids on the Block. Given that his POV episode is the biggest WHAM Episode of the series, it definitely had this effect. In fact, his next role in Boomtown was written for him after the producer saw him in this.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight:
    • A strange example. In Blithe's episode, he's shown getting over his trauma and fighting heroically before his injury. The show claims he died in 1948 but it was later revealed that he had managed to live another twenty years and serve in Korea too.
    • The part in Episode 6 where Eugene has a Heroic BSoD and takes a while to tend to Welsh's burns. It's a Call-Back to when Eugene chewed Winters out for his Worst Aid on Moose. What's notable is that Winters doesn't yell at Eugene in retaliation, immediately realises the stress he's under and tells him to go to the aid station and get a hot meal.
    • Scenes of the men bonding can be extra heartwarming with the knowledge that the actors were like that with each other in real life.
    • Col Sink's Rousing Speech to the men in the first episode. Watch the Ron Livingston Video Diaries and you'll see that the speech parallels one that Captain Dale Dye gave to the actors for real after they'd successfully completed boot camp.
    • The final episode reveals that Lewis Nixon eventually found happiness with a woman named Grace. Again on the first part of the Ron Livingston Video Diaries, the real Grace appears to give Ron her approval.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Both James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender have small roles in different episodes. Yep, this stars both Professor X and Magneto before they were famous. In a dark bit of coincidental irony, Fassbender can be seen among the soldiers who discover the Concentration Camp. On a lighter note, Fassbender's character doesn't speak German - when in real life he's half German and fluent in the language. Likewise Fassbender has said that he went in originally to read for the role of Speirs. If he had gotten the part, his role as Magneto would be all the more hilarious.
    • Rick Gomez's role as Luz is this to Final Fantasy fans. Not too long after this series, he would go onto voice two characters in different games. Both of them soldiers (Zack in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII and Gippal in Final Fantasy X-2). Gippal especially is the wisecracker of his Band of Brothers in the former Crimson Squad.
    • Eion Bailey plays a Harvard student of Literature, who went on to become a writer. Fast forward to Once Upon a Time when he's once again playing a writer who carries around a manual typewriter with him - and actually is a storybook character (Pinocchio). What's more is that the real life Webster wrote a book about sharks and Bailey's character in Once Upon A Time nearly gets eaten by a whale.
    • A meta example. James Madio (Perconte) and Rick Gomez (Luz) bonded a lot in the ten day boot camp. During filming they then discovered that their characters had been best friends in real life too.
    • Ross McCall (Liebgott) ended up engaged to Jennifer Love Hewitt for a while. Fellow cast member Scott Grimes (Malarkey) had previously starred alongside Hewitt on Party of Five and tried to date her - unsuccessfully. That's not to mention that he lived with Matthew Settle for a while too - who played a Romantic False Lead of Hewitt in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.
  • Ho Yay: There seems to be a, presumably unintentional, undertone of this in Winters' interactions with a young Frenchman on the Paris Metro in the episode "Crossroads". It's especially noticeable when the young man snaps off a smart salute and Winters turns away with a knowing smirk on his face.
  • Iron Woobie:
    • Bill Guarnere who finds out the day before the jump into Normandy that his brother has been killed.
    • David Kenyon Webster. According to Eion Bailey, Webster enlisted despite being a Harvard student, out of a sense of duty. He didn't want any special privileges from being a WASP but still had to endure those taunts anyway. He didn't let that deter him and earned their respect.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Sobel could be considered one in Real Life, according to The Other Wiki. He was a Drill Sergeant Nasty who proved himself wholly incompetent in the field, but eventually tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the temple. The bullet severed both optic nerves, permanently blinding him before exiting the other temple, and he lived for another twenty years. Worse yet, when he finally did die, no one came to his funeral. No one from Easy Company, not his ex-wife, and none of his children. The only person to show him any concern is Guarnere, who pays his membership dues into a veterans group composed of Easy Company vets, but otherwise has nothing to do with the man. Even worse is the manner of his death: malnutrition in a VA assisted-living facility. The reason he was buried without a service is because the VA didn't actually contact his children until after he was buried.
    • Perconte snapping at O'Keefe in Episode 9 is a pretty dickish moment for the character. But it just goes to show how horribly he's been affected by the war, and how he just wants to go home (which he hasn't seen in two years). The fact that he clearly looks horrified at what he's just said seals the deal.
  • Memetic Badass: Speirs. The stories about just how many Germans he gunned down after giving them cigarettes and various other exploits get more fantastical with each telling.
  • Never Live It Down: Eugene Roe is frequently remembered for his O.O.C. Is Serious Business moment where he yells at Winters and Welsh for their Worst Aid. You'd think it was his only scene - and it doesn't even happen in his POV episode.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Father/Captain John Maloney makes a short yet memorable appearance in episode 3 "Carentan", and later a similarly short one in "Bastogne".
    • From the fourth episode, the blonde Dutch girl in the red dress who excitedly starts kissing the soldiers when they arrive in her town. She just looks so giddy to see them.
    • The British man on the bike who gets "captured" in the first episode.
    • The unnamed German MP at the crossroads in the last episode. Summed up rather succinctly by Janovec's reaction.
    German MP: It is the end of my second war.
    Janovec: Jesus!
    • The absolutely nonchalant Sherman tank gunman from "Carentan", followed shortly by a German soldier who gets hit and falls into the path of a retreating tank and gets squashed by the tracks.
  • Periphery Demographic: Despite being aimed at middle aged men, the series has a huge amount of female fans - some of whom are drawn by the appeal of numerous men in uniform (if the amount of Shipping videos on Youtube are anything to go by). Additionally it's not uncommon to find younger fans who are interested in the history - and indeed may have been introduced to it by seeing it in school.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: How the Easy Company men come to see Lt Henry Jones after he acquits himself well on his first patrol and the chaos that follows it.
  • Retroactive Recognition: The series features a ton of actors who weren't well known at the time, but went on to great careers of their own. These days, it can be hard to believe that at the time, the biggest name in the cast was David Schwimmer.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • Watching the interviews of the real members of Easy Company at the beginning of each episode becomes more interesting after finding out who is who in the final episode.
    • As the miniseries has Loads and Loads of Characters, watching the episodes back allows the viewer to pick up little details they may have missed that also double as Genius Bonuses for those who know about the history. For example, the first episode briefly shows Liebgott shaving another man's head into a mohawk - the real Liebgott was a barber by trade and helped shave some of the men's heads.
  • Special Effects Failure: During the Carentan battle, one of the windows wobbles when a soldier bumps into it, showing it's plastic not glass.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Julian's death in "Bastogne" would have been more meaningful had they gone with the real life account of how he and Babe had been friends who went through basic training together instead of him being a replacement who was partnered with Babe during the battle. What makes this especially strange is that Babe still says they both promised they would see the other's mother if they were killed - so for all intents and purposes they act as if they were long friends in spite of the throwaway line about Julian being a replacement.
  • Tough Act to Follow: This miniseries was critically acclaimed and is one of the highest rated shows on IMDB - with fans continuing to grow over the years. A Spiritual Successor in The Pacific - chronicling the exploits in the Pacific Theatre - didn't make as much of an impact.
  • Vindicated by Reruns: While the miniseries was critically acclaimed from the beginning and won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries, its viewership was rather low due to the events of 9/11 and HBO halting its entire marketing campaign as a result. Reruns and home video releases allowed it to reach more viewers and become one of the most popular miniseries of all time.
  • The Woobie:
    • Most fans can agree on Malarkey, particularly during and after episode 7, when two of his best friends lose limbs during an artillery barrage, two more are killed in another barrage, and a fifth suffers a nervous breakdown as a result. Doc Roe is also a common woobie for the fans after seeing Episode 6, which brutally depicts what a combat medic would have gone through in the war.
    • Luz, too. He actually has to see his best friends get blown to bits. It's entirely possible he's something of a Stepford Smiler afterwards, cracking jokes because it's all he can do to not fall apart.
    • Pvt. Blithe has a mental breakdown, is not seen by the company for a long time. He finally gets over it and is shot for his trouble. Furthermore, he makes it to Master Sergeant by the Korean War, but is not given credit by the show for the accomplishment because he was believed dead (he never showed up to the reunions), and none of the Easy Company members thought to try and contact him before his death. All the surviving Easy Company members felt horrible about the situation when they learned AFTER the show aired in 2001, almost forty years after he died.
    • Liebgott for being the only Jew in the company and having to see what the Germans did to his people. It becomes even harsher when one learns that the real life Liebgott was a child of first generation German immigrants and that he was made to convert to Roman Catholicism during his childhood by his parents to hide his Jewish ancestry.


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