On September 26, 1983, there was a false alarm in the Serpukhov-15 bunker near Moscow which reported that four missiles were heading toward the USSR from America. In our timeline, the officer on duty was Colonel Stanislav Petrov, who realised that it didn't make any sense for the US to attack with only four missiles and logged it as a technical error, which it in fact was, rather then reporting it to his superiors. Because of his sound judgement, nuclear war was averted and countless lives saved.
In the 1983: Doomsday timeline at the Alternate History Wikia, Colonel Petrov was sent to another installation before September 26th, 1983. The officer now on duty on September 26th considers the alert to be accurate and immediately contacts his superiors. Within minutes, the leaders decide to launch the whole Soviet nuclear arsenal. Logically, the Americans react by launching as well. By the time the first alerted missile is proven to be a false alarm, it's too late. Thousands of nuclear warheads subsequently detonate over targets worldwide. Surprisingly, the People's Republic of China was attacked by Soviet nuclear missiles as well, and part of their arsenal is launched in response at the USSR.
The results of this total nuclear exchange are close to the forecasts of almost complete worldwide destruction and the "nuclear holocaust" as predicted by many scientists of this time. This results in as many as two billion people killed initially, and another two billion in the subsequent environmental disaster.
With the world largely devastated and most of the northern and parts of the southern hemisphere in ruins, the estimated 800 million survivors desperately try to keep together what is left of human society. Almost three decades later, the world is still only starting to recover.
- After the End: Twenty-seven years and counting, to be exact.
- All Hail the Great God Mickey: Played with. There are mentions of a faith worshiping Abraham Lincoln in the American survivor state of Lincoln, as well as a "Cult of the Once and Future King" (which worships the remnant British Monarchy as an extension of King Arthur) in New Britain.
- Allohistorical Allusion: A good deal present. Among others, there's a reference to a Western novel serving as a sequel to Mobile Suit Gundam. Which bears more than a passing resemblance to Turn a Gundam, though with some strange twists (eg. the Black History being an age-long plan by the Zabis).
- There's also mention of the military/horror Shadow of Tomorrow novel, which is a continuation of H.P. Lovecraft's mythos...in French.
- Alternate History: Obviously.
- Alternate Self: The "honorary citizens" page has a few author stand-ins.
- Apocalypse How: Class 1.
- Apocalypse Wow: The introduction to the timeline, which was the first part to be written, describes the destruction in horrifying detail.
- Balkanize Me: Happened to pretty much every country that got nuked. For instance, the UK is currently broken up into the Celtic Alliance (Ireland, parts of Wales, Scotland, and western England, the Isle of Man, and Brittany), Ur Alba or New Scotland (south-west Scotland), the Kingdom of Cleveland (most of north-east England), Northumbria (the parts of north-east England that aren't Cleveland's, plus northern Cumbria), the Duchy of Lancaster (Lancashire, plus bits of North Yorkshire, Cumbria, Merseyside and Greater Manchester), the Wesmorland and Furness Territories (southern Cumbria. Is a protectorate of the Duchy of Lancaster), Newolland (South Kesteven, South Holland, parts of Cambrdgeshire and Norfolk), Woodbridge (part of Suffolk), Essex (Essex, Hertfordshire, East London, Luton), and Southern England (Isle of Wight and parts of Sussex), plus small city states.
- Poland as well is mentioned to have split into two factions (one of them a remnant of the Communist government), both claiming to be the legitimate country.
- Big Applesauce: Averted with extreme prejudice; this city was hit by about two dozen warheads and decades later, scouts reported nothing but open water where Manhattan Island and Brooklyn were, and charred, radioactive wastelands covering the other boroughs and surrounding states.
- But What About the Astronauts?? : The Salyut 7 Crisis.
- Commie Land: How some view Socialist Siberia. Especially considering that it's for all intents and purposes a reformed and slightly reworded USSR. Although they did keep Pravda and the KGB are still running around. There are those in-verse who still view them as Dirty Communists due to the old Soviet connection of Doomsday.
- Cozy Catastrophe: Subverted. Places like Australia, South America and the Alpine nations (Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein) managed to get by (almost) unscathed. But even they took a heavy beating from the initial aftermath. On the other hand, they also tend to become regional powers later on as the dust settles, with countries like the Alpine Confederation and ANZ Commonwealth being one of the most stable and powerful post-Doomsday areas.
- Crapsack World: given the premise, but some parts of the world did recover. However, some lands, like the Netherlands, seemed to be doomed to being drowned and forgotten forever.
- Curb Stomp Battle: The Ur Alba war, which broke out when the militaristic semi-fascist Scottish survivour nation the war's named after attempted to invade someone else's territory, involved four other nations ganging up on the Scots and ended just over two weeks later with the total defeat of Ur Alba, who suffered over twice the casulties of everyone else combined, and the total collapse of their government and military.
- Dead Line News: Several news networks such as CNN or NBC were broadcasting the 35th Emmy Awards when the outbreak of nuclear war began. Almost all of the newscasters and reporters giving the message were thought to have died soon after their final broadcast went out.
- Divided States of America: Though some of the American successors seem intent on reuniting the old United States.
- Eagle Land: The CRUSA pretty much sees itself as this, having originated from the US exile community in Australia with the ultimate goal of reviving pre-Doomsday America. Coincidentally, they're one of the main backers of the "American Spring"...which has brought a very mixed reaction internationally to say the least.
- The (formerly Provisional) United States, formed from communities and remnants in the Midwest, at least tries to present a more benevolent version of the above.
- The Eighties: Was very much an unpleasant time for humanity. Even at the alternate present, the world is still sort of stuck in it, technologically and culturally.
- The Federation: Crossed with The Alliance; The ANZ Commonwealth, Celtic Alliance, Nordic Union and Alpine Confederation are the most prominent ones, along with the South American Confederation. The North American Union tries to be this.
- For Want of a Nail: For want of a certain Colonel, billions of lives were lost.
- Gargle Blaster: There is an article devoted to alcohol. One of the drinks mentioned is Poi-chin, the Cleveish form of poitin, aka Irish potato whiskey, which is about 60-80% ABV, has an unoffical age limit that is three years older than the legal drinking age, and can apparently get you drunk again the day after you drink it because even plain water will bring the remaing ethenol back into solution.
- Kent Brockman News: The WCRB Newshour.
- The Kingdom: Andorra, Luxembourg, Monaco and arguably Japan fit the bill, as do the British survivour nations Newolland, Cleveland and Northumbria. And it's also implied that a reunified France would also become this in the future, due to the Duke of Orleans.
- Liechtenstein serves this role as well within the Alpine Confederation, while Hawaii tries to be this as well.
- In Spite of a Nail: Despite the significant changes brought about by Doomsday, some events mirroring those in Real Life still occur like the 2011 Earthquake in Japan. As well as the former Yugoslavia largely degenerating into a conflict zone-though the latter event happened earlier than OTL. And mass protests in the US successor states being referred to as an "American Spring," though it's implied to be instigated by both CRUSA and the Provisional USA.
- Istanbul (Not Constantinople): League of Nations, Deseret, Iberia, Somaliland, Prussia.
- It Got Worse: For other parts of the world, like China, India, parts of North America and Eastern Europe, things are still going to hell. And in the case of countries such as Hungary, Belgium and the Netherlands, they were wiped clean off the map.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Soviet General Secretary Andropov suffers a massive stroke after realising he's started World War Three on a false alarm.
- No Bikes in the Apocalypse: Pointedly averted.
- Retro Universe: Despite being set in the present day much of the world doesn't look like it would fit in our 21st century. For example technology and culture have only advanced to early 90s levels at best. Many real world defunct nations are still around or have since been revived. Communism is still a major factor in world politics. In extreme cases some less fortunate survivor communities look more like they came out of the Middle Ages rather than the modern era.
- Ruins of the Modern Age
- Schizo-Tech: Extremely common in surviour nations. For instance, a country can have a helicopter in its airforce, archers and swordsmen in its army, and depend on steam trains and literal horsepower for transportation.
- Others, such as the Philippines, tend to replace the swordmen and archers with leftover weapons from World War 2.
- Sliding Scale of Alternate History Plausibility: Type II
- The Great Politics Mess-Up: Played with. While the former United States has long splintered into various successor states, including an established "Provisional US" in the North American Union, the Soviet Union endures in the form of Socialist Siberia-though its territory is a much smaller than before Doomsday. The latter coincidentally retains the USSR name.
- The Mafia: They wield considerable power in Sicily post-Doomsday.
- Vestigial Empire: Many of the nations worst affected on Doomsday still exist into the present, but are often mere remnants of their former selves. For example the People's Republic of China only controls a small fraction of its former territory and population, while France's overseas territories outside of Europe are all that remain of the former Republic.
- New Britain literally sees itself as this, to the point that some (more often than not derisively) call it the Third British Empire. Coincidentally, the Celtic Alliance along with the Survivor Nations in Britain proper aren't too keen on their claims.
- Vice City: Matlock, a former British spa and market town that became a haven for drugs growth, gambling, prostitution, and mercenary activity after Doomsday.
- World Half Full: Most of the world's population got killed, either on Doomsday itself or in the aftermath, the Eighties were pretty much hell for most of the northern hemisphere, warlords, extremists and criminals took advantage of the situation to gain power and are still a problem to this day, large parts of the world are still uninhabitable radioactive wastelands, and several countries no longer exist. However, people still pulled through, the world is well on its way to being rebuilt (albeit with quite a few changes), there's still a lot of good people in the world, and things are slowly getting better.
- World War III
- Zeppelins from Another World: Justified in that airships use less fuel then heavier than air aircraft, an important consideration in a world where the supply of oil has been greatly reduced. The Prussia-based New Zeppelin Company is also mentioned as having become the leader in lighter-than-air transportation by 2011.