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YMMV / Horrible Histories

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  • Periphery Demographic: Particularly the Live Action series. It's on CBBC, the intended audience could stretch to high-schoolers but assume for the most part they're looking at the 9-12 demographic. The show beat out other adult comedy shows for an award, and the first two series have been re-edited into an adult version hosted by Stephen Fry. Arguably, the writing allows for more of a Multiple Demographic Appeal, but its popularity is largely this trope. Also counts for the books.
  • Squick: A lot of the facts in the books and series are just disgusting.
    • Even Rattus, the rat announcer who laughs at most grisly facts and openly admits to eating filth, is disgusted by the Mellified Man mock-advert, based on the real truth that in Medieval Arabia, a popular cure-all was flesh taken from corpses that had been pickled in honey for a hundred years.
    Rattus: "Y.U.C.K Yuck. And that's not a word I use often."
  • Tear Jerker: In some books, especially the ones about the World Wars.
    • Terry Deary has a real gift for finding the humour in the worst possible situations in Horrible Histories, but in Frightful First World War, he manages to sum up the worst part of the war after telling the story of men making new friends during the Christmas Truce.
      "Having to kill somebody you like, that's the horriblest history of all."
    • When the books stop with the jokes and start getting serious when talking about real life stories, chances are you're in for tears. Of special note are the stories in Measly Middle Ages (a girl unwittingly betrays her castle, kills her betrayer, then commits suicide) Frightful First World War (a German spy, on the night before he's executed, asks for his violin and plays through the night) and Savage Stoneage (an aging archaeologist commits suicide because his theories about ancient civilizations have been proved wrong and he believes he's wasted his whole life.)
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  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Many many facts (on top of the overall Black Humor and Black Comedy). Like, that Egyptians piled up dead foes' cut-off genitals after glorious battles, all the way down to the rather tragic morals in many book endings.

Specific to the TV series

  • Acceptable Targets: To a certain extent. They get away with a surprising lot of irreverence toward traditional sacred cows, but they're also a) a children's show and b) one focusing largely on Western European cultures. Thus any controversial aspects of Arabic, African and Asian cultures are entirely avoided.
    • Oliver Cromwell and, by extension, the Puritans, thanks to the whole "ban Christmas, makeup, sports and theater" thing that happened once Cromwell took power over England. It gets mentioned in two of the Stuart-era songs and one Stuart-era skit is Cromwell throwing his own relatives in prison for celebrating Christmas.
  • Actor Shipping - Oh boy howdy yes. Pretty much every member of the main cast with everyone else, with a healthy selection of the supporting cast thrown in for good measure. The most popular ship, however, is likely "Baybond" (Mathew Baynton and Ben Willbond). This wasn't helped by the hair sniffing between the two during the original Alexander the Great sketch.
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  • Awesome Ego: Many characters are portrayed with massively over-the-top egos, but some of them are very likable, especially William Shakespeare (who's justifiably proud of his impact on English literature and language) and Charles II (who boasts of how much all the people love him and how he brought back fun to England.)
  • Awesome Music: See the sub-page.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The "Dick Turpin" song is all about Dick Turpin not deserving the Draco in Leather Pants reactions he apparently gets. Of course, given their plan for this was to take the resident Mr. Fanservice, dress him up and put guyliner on him, then have him sing about it, one can wonder how well they actually thought this through.
  • Growing the Beard: As of the second series, or more specifically as of all the awards the second series won, and the adult adaptation that resulted there from.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Ho Yay: Yes, it's there. Check out the hair-sniffing business in the Alexander the Great sketch for a start.
    • A very weird example is Death asking for a "kissy" on an autograph from Draco (the ancient Athenian law-maker, not the kind in leather pants.)
    • In the "Phillip and Mary" sketch, Phillip responds to the Priest saying "how about a kiss?" at his and Mary's wedding by kissing the Priest. On the cheek, but still.
    • Also, the Historical Paramedics:
      Geoff: Nigel, treacle!
      Nigel: (puts hand on his shoulder, tenderly) Yes, honey?note 
      Geoff: No, no, get the treacle.
    • In the Admiral Nelson sketch, as he is mortally wounded during the battle of Trafalgar and deliriously mumbling, Lieutenant Thomas Hardy happens to hear him say "Kiss me, Hardy." Hardy then starts to argue with the ship surgeon that yes, Nelson really did request 'a bit of a snog'.
    • Charles II and Thomas Blood ("The man who tried to steal the crown jewels"). Charles — while looking like a puppy — is saying "I love him". Or earlier: "You must come round to the palace for tea."
    • The camp Pharaoh who clings to the Viking's arm in the cosmetics ad sketch.
    • Read up on Spartan pederasty. Then watch the "Spartan High School Musical" number.
    • Danke magazine.
    • And then there's the extremely camp Georgian gents Lord Humbertold and Lord Cumberland in Series Four who somehow manage to ooze Ho Yay by doing little more than standing next to each other.
    • "Monstrous Musicians" has a sketch about Elvis Presley's provocative dance moves causing the camerapeople of The Ed Sullivan Show to zoom in more and more on him to hide them. Throughout the sketch, a female cast member keeps swooning at his moves until the end, when Elvis proves he can achieve the same effect with his face alone and the male cast member swoons.
    • "Ridiculous Romantics" has a sketch about the Sacred Band of Thebes, an ancient Greek fighting force made up of 150 pairs of male lovers. Pretty much the only thing that keeps it from going to subtext to full text is that they never outright say the characters are lovers. They do, however, call them "couples", the whole joke of the sketch is that they all argue Like an Old Married Couple, and in the lead-in to the sketch, the ancient Greek contrasts them to people who were separated from their loved ones by war. Then of course there's the very basic fact that the sketch is part of an episode expressly about romance.
  • Jerkass Woobie: The show's version of George IV has overtones of this. It helps that Jim Howick has a singing voice fine enough to actually make fits of royal self-pity touching.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Their portrayal of Jonathan Wild.
  • Nightmare Retardant: Scary Stories tales hosted by Vincenzo Larfoff, which don't turn out to be scary in the end... much to the host's vocal frustration.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: Spoofed in Victoria & Albert's love ballad: "The press watched every smile and flirt/Called us Alboria, but I preferred Vicbert!"
  • Tear Jerker: It's mentioned the Heartwarming page, but the sketch based around the Christmas truce turns right into this towards the end. After the soldiers have exchanged their greetings, we return to the modern day sports announcers. What really makes the scene a tear-jerker is the look on their faces, but what they say counts as well, especially with the quiet pause after it. After all, they know how it's going to turn out.
    Steve: Touching scenes there. It's hard to know how these troops are going to go back to trying to kill each other tomorrow.
    Other Announcer: Maybe they won't, Steve. Maybe they won't. *pause* Merry Christmas.
    Steve: Merry Christmas.
    • Another good example comes in the first series, after a skit about children signing up for the Hitler Youth. It's a shining example of Mood Whiplash done well, as the usual background music drops, and there is not a single pun uttered as we are informed of how children in the Hitler Youth were effectively the only protection for the German capital by the end of the Second World War.
    • These actually pop up quite often. The treatment of the Aztecs under the Spaniards starts off funny, as a computer game called 'Warrior,' and devolves into Rattus explaining that the Aztecs had little chance against the superior Spanish weaponry - and none for the Spanish germs. Ten thousand died of smallpox.
    • This song about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
    • This song, for big fans of the show, mixes this with a Heartwarming Moment.
  • The Woobie: Poor vilified Richard III.
    • While many of the Historical Masterchef candidates advance to the next round by threatening the judges, they pass the World War Two-era German housewife because then she'll have a chance to eat more.

Appeared in the BBC Audio Series:

  • Awesome Music:
    • The Joan of Arc song performed by a young Terry Deary and a group of French villagers in the style of a campfire song.
    • Terry Deary's Henry VIII song that he performs to his history class, in which he compares the king to Adolf Hitler, Attila the Hun, Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and Jack The Ripper.
      Young Terry: [why he did this] I think he was nasty because he was fat and ugly — just like Albert Dodge, the school bully. If he were thin, he'd be a nicer man.
    • The gospel-like Ancient Rome song "Bring Me Back Me Legions".
  • Tear Jerker: The World War Two story about a starving girl in a badly-bombed area looking for food. She comes across a blind man who gives her a letter to deliver to his friend with the house's address. Instead, the suspicious girl goes to the police who investigate overnight. Later, they turn up at the girl's house with the news on the case and recall visiting the place where the blind man's friend lives, and the friend that answered the door looked uncomfortable and sneaks out the back when no one's looking. The police claim no wonder he left because they discovered dead bodies in his cupboard, and why were they there? The blind man's friend was selling human body parts for butchered meat from the people that arrived at his house, meaning that the girl would've been lead to her death by the blind man if she was really naive. Think that's bad? The teacher didn't think so, until Terry points out that this story happened in GERMANY, which gives you a good reminder that people in the countries the Allies were fighting against were suffering just as much as your people.


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