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Jun 5th 2017 at 3:53:57 AM •••

  • William Murdoch, a supposedly devout Catholic, is going for a divorcee in Julia Ogden. Then again, people are weak, devout or not. Also he was in love with her before she married another man because she knew Murdoch wanted kids and she couldn't have any. Also she's technically a widow; her husband was murdered during the divorce proceedings.
uhhh... that's not quite accurate. Willie was in love with Julia and it was two-sided, but he didn't pursue her because she'd have to divorce. Julia tried to get her marriage annuled(not the same thing) to be with him, and when she couldn't she intended to go for divorce, but Willie was against it. I fact it was supposed to be her motive for murdring her husband, since she could marry Willie if she'd be a widow.

Dec 31st 2016 at 4:18:06 AM •••

Regarding Ars Magica:

The Order of Hermes is ahistorical to real Medieval Europe. Its sexual morality has nothing to do with this trope because its sexual morality is part of the fantasy aspect of the setting.

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Dec 31st 2016 at 3:25:58 PM •••

Agreed. This is pretty much in fantastic alternate history territory, which doesn't count.

Better wait until the mod verdict on the edit war before getting rid of it though.

Edited by supergod
Dec 31st 2016 at 5:24:21 PM •••

If historical fantasy doesn't count, then I've no objection to removing it. I had thought it was relevant as one point of contention between the Order and the setting's mundane society, which more or less conforms to Medieval Europe, but if that's too broad a reading of the trope, I concede the point. Edit: Belatedly saw Mod Madrugada's clarification on the trope below. Withdrawing the example, with apologies.

Edited by intastiel
Dec 31st 2016 at 8:50:41 PM •••

The other thing is this: Do not revert someone else's reversion when they disagree with you - you're likely to cop a ban for it. Take it to discussion.

Jan 1st 2017 at 1:00:55 AM •••

Understood. I'd thought at first that the problem was that I hadn't specified that it was a historical fantasy setting rather than some generic sword-and-sorcery fantasy world. The irony that the pertinent information on the trope had been here on the Discussion page for years isn't lost on me — mea culpa.

Aug 14th 2015 at 6:51:19 PM •••

The Kinsey example is rubbing me the wrong way because not only does it mention masturbation in the same breath as Pedophilia and Zoophillia, but it implies animal abuse is worse than child abuse.

Sep 18th 2014 at 10:40:47 AM •••

Maybe. You ought to ask in Trope Talk (the forum).

Sep 18th 2014 at 11:44:20 AM •••

@rimpala: I don't know what your specific example is, but Society Marches On and/or either Dated History or Politically Correct History can probably be also applicable for works which presume that Victorian/Edwardian repressed sexual mores are representative for the past in general (And that even in the Victorian times the officially sanctioned sexual policy was always completely adhered to). Alternatively, Exaggerated Sexual Repression could be an Inversion of the Eternal Sexual Freedom.

Edited by 87.249.145.69
Madrugada MOD
Aug 4th 2010 at 12:53:13 PM •••

Cut these examples because the works aren't historical fiction. They're set in completely different worlds, fantasy worlds, alternate worlds, or the future. This trope '''only applies to fiction that is set in a historical time and place on this world. You can't be "historically inaccurate" if the setting isn't real-world Earth, in the past.

  • Discussed in ElfQuest. For the elves, sex is a fun activity you can do with friends and loved ones. They basically have no concept of jealousy or monogamy. The main elf couple's adopted medieval human (teenaged) daughter is appropriately horrified by the tribe's sexual freedom. (She refuses to have sex before marriage and, out of sexual frustration, leaves the tribe and marries the first human guy she falls in love with. Predictably, it ends in disaster.)
    • A late story which was plotted and scripted but never fully drawn has Mender seduce two human women while trying to understand human love and sexuality. It royally fucks up their lives. (Unusually for ElfQuest, it heavily averts Can't Argue with Elves.) The story was done specifically because the Pini's were worried that the elves' rampant fornication might be counteracting safe-sex education for teenage readers.

Elfquest is set in a Fantasy world


  • Shakespeare in Love has Viola de Lesseps leap into bed with The Bard. They spend a lot of nights together happily copulating even though (1) she had been promised in marriage to Lord Wessex, and (2) she was a virgin, and (3) this is in Elizabethan England. Her only worry is what will happen to Will if they are found out.
    • Not that uncommon at the time. Much is made of the fact that Shakespeare's wife was pregnant when they were married, but this was true for about a quarter of brides at the time. And Viola is like Juliet: young, impulsive, damn the consequences. When you're that age, you don't think of the future because there's hardly any space for it next to the enormous present. (Incredibly Lame Pun?)
    • This is a very good example of mistaking historical accuracy for Politically Correct History because of the assumption that the entire past was Victorian. Extramarital sex was epidemic in the Renaissance. Some men had fifty or more illegitimate children. Even princesses got into it.
    • Though it should be noted that the punishment for adulterous woman in the period was burning at a stake. It happened, but was quite a bit more risky than, for example, in the above mentioned Victorian period, which was rampant with suppressed sexuality, and had at least slightly more civilized laws.

Not inaccurate and filled with Natter — the punishment for adultery was burning at the stake? really?


  • Justified by the alternate reality of Watchmen: the film version has Silhouette, a lesbian superhero in the 1940s, enter into what is implied (in the brief moments we see it) as being quite a public relationship with another woman. In the original, Silhouette (not the only gay superhero active during this era) is, if not exactly deep in the closet, a lot more discreet about her sexuality, as would be more fitting for the time. Then again, it's also something of an aversion of this trope since someone ends up brutally murdering Silhouette and her girlfriend and writing LESBIAN WHORES on the wall in blood.
    • Of course, recall that the famous photo is snapped on the day that a six-year-long war (one that involved practically every country in the world, to boot) has just ended. I imagine the people being so overjoyed that - for the moment, at least - everything else going on would just seem irrelevant.

Alternate History world.


  • Naomi Novik's Temeraire series is a possible example: in the dragon-riding Napoleonic-era British Aerial Corps, casual sexual relationships are common, and the main character even regularly sleeps with the mother of one of his midshipmen (the nepotism issue is brought up only once, and dismissed quickly). However, the trope's possibly justified: some dragons that are necessary to the Corps will only accept female captains, it's a life that doesn't really lend itself to steady married relationships, especially within the mores of the time - and yet captains need to have children, because their dragons will outlive them, and it's easier for a bereaved dragon to accept its former captain's son or daughter. Outside the Corps, sexual mores seem to be exactly as they were in the real world during that time period, and characters who aren't associated with the Aerial Corps are shocked and appalled to learn how the Corps treats sex and gender. Said mother also scrupulously adheres to the rhythm method; not that she doesn't love her daughter, or the Corps might not need more girls, but she's the captain of a very important dragon and it was "damned inconvenient".
    • It wasn't just the unmarried sex that was shocking: very few people outside the Corps even realized that some aviators (who are, undoubtedly, soldiers) were women and most who learned were scandalized by that. Even most officers in the other branches of the military didn't know this part.

Fantasy World


  • Jacqueline Carey's Kushiels Dart. The main character, Phèdre, is a member of a Sacred Prostitute order, which is perfectly normal by the slightly-rewritten Christian Bible alluded to in the books. Birth control is never even mentioned, but said character has sex with half the city (and numerous barbarians) without pregnancy becoming an issue.
    • This is somewhat explained in later books that apparently D'Angeline women don't become fertile until they perform a rite to Eisheth to open their wombs to seed. Said character never performs this rite out of fear that her children would be "tainted" by her legacy as an anguisette.

Fantasy World


  • Completely inverted in Stationery Voyagers. Sex is so dangerous in that universe, that terrorists have devised ways to weaponize sexual enhancement drugs. Anyone who escapes physical punishments for deviancy of any kind usually becomes a basket case down the road, and self-loathing is a common side effect of premarital sex, even for non-Minshans. Only villains walk away from a one-night's stand unfazed, and even then only until their Karma Meter maxes out.

Fantasy World


  • Both averted and played straight in Black Dogs. Two of the main cast are in a lesbian relationship, and Lyra, who was bought up conservative, is somewhat uncomfortable. Also, one of the partners actually asks thinks to ask Lyra if she's okay with it. Played straight when one of the lesbians provides Lyra with the fantasy equivalent of the morning-after pill, to her profound embarrassment.

It's got anthropomorphic dog-men, for pete's sake. It's a fantasy world.'


  • In the Torchwood episode "Captain Jack Harkness", Jack and his 1940s namesake (it's complicated) fall for each other and end up having a slow dance together and make out. At a busy RAF Officers' Club. In 1941. They get a couple of slightly puzzled looks, but apparently no repercussions.
    • Anyone named Captain Jack has a Steve-Jobs-like Reality Distortion Field that makes anything and everything they do either normal or awesome.
      • A number of theories have insisted that the "real" Captain Jack's pending death is only reported to be a combat death — he was really shot in the back by his men for being a poofter the next day.
    • Meanwhile, Captain Jack's Doctor Who debut, the "Empty Child/Doctor Dances" two-parter, provided a couple nice subversions: first by having Nancy get out of a tight situation by calling a man on his homosexual activities, then dealing with her own shame at the revelation that Jamie was not her brother, but her out-of-wedlock son.

Torchwood makes no pretense of being historically accurate...


  • Inversion: Pick any slash fiction. Even fandoms like Star Wars, Star Trek and most glaringly Hercules The Legendary Journeys are guilty of the assumption that homosexuality is taboo.
    • Not any slash. Harry Potter slash functions under the idea that gay is the default setting for most people and heterosexual pairings are unusual. Given that the Wizarding world is generally portrayed as being more prejudiced than our society, it's rather jarring.
      • It's likely more a function of Wizarding prejudice being different rather than worse. Some people may be bigoted towards Muggles and Muggle-borns, others towards half-breeds and non-humans, most of them might not care much for werewolves, but there also doesn't seem to be any sort of problem with interracial relationships (Dean and Ginny, Cho and Harry, Cho and Cedric) or intergenerational relationships (Tonks and Remus) the way that they would at least raise an eyebrow in Muggle society. It's also worth noting that nowhere in Dumbledore's biography does it suggest that he's gay, implying that wizards may not care about that kind of thing.
  • Frequently (and unsurprisingly) also often played straight in fanfics set in, oh, say, the Stargate universe, in which supposedly the characters are under the authority of the modern US military, notorious for their "Don't ask, don't tell," policy and yet no one thinks anything of Jack and Daniel engaging in an openly acknowledged sexual relationship. Or The Sentinel, in which the slash fandom has often has the main character, a cop in a sexual relationship with his male, civilian partner with nary a raised eyebrow. In the mid nineties in Cascade, Washington. It really depends on whether the author is interested in playing the forbidden love card or not, regardless of appropriateness.

None of these works are even trying to be historically accurate historical fiction. Harry Potter is a Fantasy World. Stargate is set in an Alternate World. Star Wars is set in some other galaxy completely, Star Trek is set both in the future 'and in an Alternate World, Hercules The Legendary Journeys is set in the Greeceof mythology.


Edited by Madrugada Hide/Show Replies
Aug 4th 2010 at 2:25:04 PM •••

I added the Torchwood example back. The scene happened in a historical time period. Claiming that Torchwood isn't supposed to be historically accurate is just an excuse; I don't recall any writer or producer ever saying that, and even then, that only speaks to the reason why it's historically inaccurate. It still is, so should be listed.

Aug 4th 2010 at 2:55:15 PM •••

Seconded. It's a spinoff of a show about a time traveller who travels to meet many, many real historical events and figures. Yes, aliens are included in Doctor Who as well, but the way it's played (in stories set prior to the early 21st century, anyway) is some degree of plausability. The justification there seems to be "Torchwood sucks" (which it did, but by this episode it had started getting its act together, though Your Mileage May Vary)

Feb 8th 2017 at 2:10:32 PM •••

Is there a citation for " Actually played straight, as it's implied that the following day the other man was killed by his squadmates, who covered for their actions by claiming he was shot down by Germans." It's the spoilered end to the Torchwood example. I don't remember that part of the episode, and I don't see it referenced in anything about the episode online.

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