Anachronism Stew

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"Spare me your space-age Techno Babble, Attila the Hun!"
Zapp Brannigan, Futurama

Strictly historically accurate writing, set and costume design, and dialogue is often counter-productive. Few audience members will have the historical knowledge to appreciate the differences between distant eras, and they often have muddled expectations of what they would be like. And in any case, for some eras genuine examples of or guides towards clothes, artifacts or items that they would have used in the time in question may be in short supply or sketchy at best, forcing props and costume designers to speculate or do the best with what they have. Thus, it is sometimes more effective to imply a general sense of 'the past' drawn in broad strokes rather than bog the story down with exposition and pedantry. More often, writers and producers are too lazy or have too little time to get the facts correct, or they may actually believe they have the facts correct when they don't.

As a result, historical (or futuristic) stories often confuse two or more time periods. For example, Renaissance dress may appear with 12th-century crusaders in a story set in Charlemagne's empire. Fortunately for the writers and designers, the viewers rarely notice this enough to affect the bottom line, which is all that matters.

In other words, this is The Theme Park Version of history.

Note that this is not a strictly modern trope. Medieval artists, for example, routinely dressed Biblical figures in contemporary fashions, and the Greek myth of Theseus features similar confusion.

Compare Popular History, Purely Aesthetic Era, and Present Day Past. When it's the people of the future doing this with the present, it's Future Imperfect. If the era depicted comes off as ridiculously advanced sociologically rather than technologically, that's Politically-Correct History. If it's not a specific "real" time and place but rather an invented Verse, you're looking at Schizo-Tech. Compare also Reality Is Unrealistic, when the producers get everything right... but because it's not what the audience was expecting, they're criticized for getting it wrong (which prompts them to not bother next time). Fantasy works set in secondary worlds are not examples of this, since their histories and geographies relate to those of the real world vaguely at best (through the use of Fantasy Counterpart Cultures).

Somewhere a Palaeontologist Is Crying is a related Trope on a much larger scale; Steam Never Dies is this trope on a very specific smaller scale.[1] Contrast Low Culture, High Tech, where a similar anachronism happens with a low tech culture using far advanced technologies it doesn't understand.

Examples of Anachronism Stew include:

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Samurai Champloo opens the series with a title card declaring that it is not a historical document. It then gleefully throws everything it can get its hands on (from hip-hop to baseball) into the Edo period of Japan. Doubly amusing because baseball is a hugely popular sport in modern Japan.

" (clears throat) This is not an accurate historical portrayal. Like we care. Now shut up and enjoy the show."

    • One of the first villains seen in the show is a guy with dyed blond hair, several facial piercings, wearing a tracksuit. It goes down/uphill from there.
  • Slayers has most of this in the form of the outfits some of the cast winds up wearing, mostly in the gag episodes. The most noteworthy example is in episode 16 of the second season, which involves the cast getting involved in a game similar to tennis; several wind up wearing sportswear that sticks out from the Medieval European Fantasy outfits like a sore thumb.
    • There's also a vehicle that operates like a more modern train in the third season, but it looks like a giant...thing made of stone, so it might not count.
  • Soul Society in Bleach appears to resemble Edo-period Japan in clothing and architecture. But the Shinigami use cell-phone like devices, have a highly advanced research division (complete with Mad Scientist), and several characters sport sunglasses or other modern attire.
    • Which is understandable — Edo-period stuff but they can visit the modern world. Just when you become okay with it you get a Flash Back with computers and sunglasses around the turn of the 20th century Earth time, with Jazz, in Edo period Soul Society.
      • An omake in the volume the chapter appears in has the author telling the character (Shinji) that, naturally, jazz didn't really exist at that time period in the real world, cue the comical bafflement of the jazz-loving character who must be wondering what on earth he's listening to if it doesn't exist. Of course, at that time period, modern jazz may not have existed, but its very early genesis was already beginning to flourish so... it kinda did exist, after all.
  • D.Gray-man has a slightly less frequent occurrence, which is basically anything related to Komui. While most of the technology seems fairly well-depicted for a series taking place in the late 19th century, it is unclear where exactly Komui got his hands on hover-devices and the technology to build Komurin. His standard toolset consisting of a giant electrical drill and some other power-tools are also pretty advanced for the setting.
    • General Cross dual-wields modern handguns that shoot magical homing bullets.
    • And where exactly did Komui get his hands on modern clothes while everyone else wears 19th century clothing?
      • This is actually pretty much commonplace for the entire tech division. One can only wonder why a 19th century religious organization working under the Vatican would have a tech division in the first place...
  • The places that the cast of Soul Eater go to are... varied. Medieval Japanese villages with Assassin problems, Polish villages who specialize in Golem manufacture, mixed with modern depictions of Venice, Italy and an apparently modern American neighborhood., and London (well, Tower Bridge, at least). Also, the Grim Reaper and his students all live in a city in Nevada.
  • In Gintama, aliens (known as Amanto) forcibly opened up Japan instead of Commodore Perry and crew, bringing all sorts of new-fangled technology to Edo (space travel, electric fans, bazookas, etc). And since Gintama is supposed to be a Gag Series, you get things like the main character being a big fan of Weekly Shonen Jump (most notably Bleach, since he uses a sword too), idol singers, and countless references to modern pop culture mixed in with more traditional fare, like The Shinsengumi, the Jooi resistance, and the Oniwabanshu (though disbanded in the series).
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, the Roman Empire and Germania are occasionally seen interacting with characters during the first half of the twentieth century.
    • Also, Austria is wearing decidedly modern style glasses in the mid-18th century.
    • Lampshaded at one point when America is using a Modern Era computer during World War II. England tells him to stop showing off.
    • Anime only: the holy roman empire gets woken up be an alarm clock in the 16th century.
  • Samurai Gun. Rebel samurai armed with automatic pistols fighting government forces armed with Steampunk devices and the inevitable Gatling guns.
  • Black Butler is set in London in late 1888, when Jack the Ripper was at large. The maid in the house washes clothes with a washing machine and laundry detergent sold in a box, the chef cooks food with a flamethrower, badly, and Jack the Ripper fights with a chainsaw.
    • And there are cell phones used by people who look like they're in the mafia.
    • And video games existed.
    • And Queen Vicky wears Cool Shades. Whether or not these anachronisms are intentional is far from clear.
  • Osamu Tezuka loved to throw in gross anachronisms into his historical works. The first volume of Phoenix, for instance, has an ancient Japanese general leave to read a James Bond novel (which may be a Woolseyism on the part of the translator), and things like televisions and refrigerators are worked into other volumes of the series via Bamboo Technology.
    • A phone conversation occurs in one volume set in Feudal Japan without even that Hand Wave. (It's worth noting that Phoenix works regardless, because Rule of Cool, Rule of Funny and Rule of Drama are all somehow in effect.)
    • Lampshaded in Dororo. The titular thief compares himself to Nezumi Kozō (a folk hero along the line of Robin Hood), then points out that Nezumi Kozō hasn't even been born yet. This is in addition to numerous straight usages.
    • Near the end of the Buddha series, Buddha heals Prince Crystal by placing his finger on the tumor that is killing him. One of the prince's advisors said he heard of this power before, and asks Buddha if he's E.T. A few chapters later E.T., Yoda, and Cherry (from Urusei Yatsura) make a cameo appearance.
  • Occurs in both Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero. The servants tend to be anachronistic, with most being summoned wearing very modern-looking clothing and hairstyles, and Saber and Gilgamesh wearing armour (and in the latter case, a lot of various weapon types) that did not exist at the time their legends occurred.
  • Samurai Pizza Cats cheerfully mixes modern technology & culture, along with futuristic Funny Animal cyborg things & Humongous Mecha into an Edo-period setting.
  • Kurogane has what basically amounts to a steampunk cyborg for a protagonist. It's a Jidai Geki.
  • Oh! Edo Rocket has a lot of this. Supposedly set in the early 19th century, but shows various characters using modern technology such as computers, TVs, and pocket calculators. They also often use terms that weren't used in their time period. Example: one city commissioner calls another a "bleeding-heart left-wing liberal", which the accused liberal then proceeds to Lampshade Hanging and Break the Fourth Wall simultaneously by saying, "Now, sir, that term wasn't used in this time period." The other man replies, "I'm sure the audience understands what I mean."
  • One Piece, presumably set sometime in the 15th century, features technologies such as radio, video, submarines, steam engines, surgery, and a wide variety of electronic machinery. Radio and video are lampshaded with the Rule of Funny - the signals are transmitted via handheld snails called Den Den Mushi. Yes, snails.
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, as mentioned in its page, has sword-swinging cavalry charges usually being backed up with machine gun fire from levitating bell jars. Not to mention that the Torumekian gunship pilot uniform consists of full medieval-style plate armour complete with a spiked visor helmet.
  • Gundam Wing combines World War II era fashion and technology with that of The Nineties, IN SPACE!
  • This appears to be deliberate in Princess Mononoke: It's obviously set at a very early period in Japanese history, when the Yamato people are still displacing the Emishi/Ainu, but they have European-style arquebuses, which were not introduced until the 16th century.
  • Afro Samurai takes hip hop and samurai, some Old West, a little Buddhism, cell phones, stereos... you have samurai talking gangsta style. But it works. A little Samuel L. Jackson helps. When he orders "lemonade... ice cold" at the dusty old bar, itself part oriental, part Old West... and tosses out a little Japanese... it is very cool. Then there's the heavy crossbow, with autofire, with the underslung grenade launcher. Monks with "hoes" in Oriental temples, with cybernetic hands, chanting koans between fiery preaching. China and Russia are mentioned, and from the dialogue of the monks, it seems that the story takes place in Japan.
  • In-universe example: An early episode of the Pokémon anime featured a carving of a Mewtwo on one of the external walls of what appears to be a century-old lighthouse. Please keep in mind that Mewtwo wasn't even created until the second half of the Kanto arc.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist is essentially set in a Fantasy Counterpart Culture version of the early 20th century. Everyone wears modern clothing, though occasionally you'll see characters wearing time appropriate clothing (especially if they're older). Certain places are less technologically advanced than our early 20th century, but they are also more advanced than our counterpart years; for one they have "automail", which is even more advanced than our current mechanical prosthetics.
  • Naruto is a weird example. They have legitimate ninjas and and have a society that's very reminiscent of older times in Japan, but they have more modern things like modern chain-link fences, sunglasses, the characters tend to wear more modern clothing, and at one point some characters use a VCR. They also seem to have much more modern-ish hospitals.
  • The Dragon Ball series is full of this. Technology is so advanced that objects larger than houses can be stored in a tiny, pill shaped capsule. On the other side of the spectrum the world outdoors is filled with saber tooth tigers and dinosaurs.
  • Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water: The year is 1889, and our protagonist Jean has invented a heavier-than-air powered flying machine. He later boards a submarine with electric power throughout. Oh, and the song "Happy Birthday to You" is known to all of the heroes, despite the story being set four years before the song was written.

Art[edit | hide]

  • Much religious art from the Renaissance on. This had a solid Real World justification, though. Religious paintings, especially on the walls of churches were designed for the masses, and the goal was not to depict a scene exactly as it was, but to tell the story for everyone to understand. Through the use of contemporary clothing, armor and styles, even the common people could instantly recognize "that's a soldier, that's a fisherman, that's a shepherd, that's a tax collector, that's a nobleman, that's a commoner" etc. instead of "WTF are those people in those silly clothes?"
    • This got completely out of hand by the 18th and 19th centuries, when both Pontius Pilate and Herod were depicted in extravagant Persian-type robes.
    • Historians can and do judge when forks reached different parts of Europe by looking for them in paintings of the Last Supper. Judging military equipment is a little trickier, as you can never quite predict when someone's depicting the cutting edge and when he's depicting a suitably "old-fashioned" type of armor, but that tends to be well-attested elsewhere.
  • This astronaut on a cathedral built in 1102 is another example.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The eponymous character of Leonard Le Genie is an inventor living in the 14th century. However, he has electricity, modern tools and a Cool Car available, and his inventions include computers and robots, among others. Somewhat justified by him being a genius inventor, but still...
    • Lampshaded at least once; Leonard invents a photo camera and, on having put the film in an envelope, realizes there's nowhere to mail it to. "Do I have to invent everything myself?"
  • Hellblazer occasionally falls into this, the most Egregious example being issue 186's Anvilicious portrayal of the Black War as a one-sided nazi-style genocide, completed with a barbed-wire-fenced extermination camp in 1833 (thirty years before the actual invention of barbed wire).
  • Asterix is a mixture of this and Purely Aesthetic Era. The albums set abroad in particular include lots of elements which the countries in question are famous for now (bullfighting and flamenco dancing in Hispania, anonymous bank vaults and fondue in Helvetia, rugby and afternoon tea in Britannia, etc.) Likewise the regional specialities from different parts of Gaul in Asterix and the Banquet are all based on modern French cusine.
  • Hob Gadling, a character from The Sandman, has been alive since the 13th Century and now will not die unless he chooses to. In the 20th Century, his girlfriend dresses up to visit a Ren Faire. He has several criticisms about the realism of the place (mostly that nothing is covered in shit the way it should be), and when he sees her in wench costume, she attempts to talk Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe to him. His response: "Thou lookst passing fair, milady. Save thou manglest the Queen's good English and thy tits are hanging out."
    • Delirium is this on legs. She turns up in Ancient Greece wearing a fishnet vest and miniskirt.
  • The newspaper comic strip BC had lots of these. Despite supposedly taking place, um, in the years B.C. (specifically, in prehistoric times), there were often references to modern times, especially as the strip went on; at least one strip had a character refer to the United States. It turns out that the series actually takes place After the End, with mankind reduced to the same level of technology as was had in prehistoric times...
    • Plus, especially in later years when Johnny Hart became more religious, they celebrated Christmas and made other Christian references. Which is kind of the definition of anachronistic in a strip named B.C.
  • Scion took place on a world which combined medieval-European fantasy trappings (kingdoms, castles, dragons, etc.) with sci-fi elements (holograms, bioengineering, computers, etc.).


Fan Fic[edit | hide]

  • Harry Potter Fanfic set in the Marauders era tends to ignore the fact that it's set in the 1970s. James, Sirius and the others will merrily chat on their mobile phones and use computers (both of which did exist in the 1970s, but not in the form we're familiar with today and weren't common in any case, to say nothing of the anti-technology field of Hogwarts), send text messages (which actually weren't invented until the late 1980s or popularised until the late 1990s), listen to 1990s or 2000s music and watch recent films.
    • Not that Fan Fiction set in the "modern" time period is any better. While granted it is easy to miss, a lot of writers forget that the series is set between 1991 and 1998, and a lot of the things they have the characters reference or possess shouldn't even exist yet.
    • And let's not even get started on My Immortal, much of which supposedly takes place in the 1990s. There is literally no noticeable difference between the "past" and "present" portions of the story, especially not where music history is concerned.
    • And then there's the Hogwarts Founders Fanfic, where circa-1000 A.D. Scotland is often rendered as a mishmash of High Medieval, Renaissance, Victorian, and pure fantasy elements.
      • There was one in which Ravenclaw went into exile in America, which (unless she was a Viking, possibly) would have been impossible even if you discount that she apparently got there on the train.
      • There's another one where Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff are at a pre-Hogwarts British Boarding School—in different Houses—and Ravenclaw calls Hufflepuff up on the telephone to make plans. At least they didn't have cellular phones?
      • And one where the founder era has showers, paper, tea and coffee, meetings at 15:25, springy metal net beds invented in the 1940s. The usual stuff. What's more, Hufflepuff is supposed to have been born and raised in a Finnish manor house. Tasty, as the area was then still in Iron Age, and entered history in the 1300s.
  • This fanficrants post describes a Twilight fic in which the writer tries and fails badly to avert this, by having Carlisle listen to the radio rather than play video games. In the 17th century.
  • The Umineko no Naku Koro ni fan fic "Witches & Woodlands," which takes place during the year 1986, brings up so many anachronisms that the characters are unable to ignore it: for example, one character mentions reading forums on the Internet despite that not being common practice for another decade or so; another mentions how people will behave when playing MMORPGs once they're invented, and how games will be like in the future. They even mention anachronisms within the actual series itself through their Medium Awareness, particularly when one character dressed up as a character and played a song from Touhou, which was first released in 1996; said character claims to have made the costume and song herself and plans to sue the companies behind Touhou for plagiarism. In the end, everyone agrees that all the anachronisms can be explained with some kind of retarded logic.
  • Sometimes Axis Powers Hetalia fanfictions may have technology existing at a time it should not. However, it seems more common for authors to put groups and organisations of nations in the wrong time period; two examples that have happened at least once are the WW 2 Allies having tactics meetings in the twenty-first century (although the rest of the story made it obvious that the writer at least knew the war was not still happening, so it's unclear what they thought the meetings were for), and G20 meetings occurring at the height of the British Empire.
  • In the Team Fortress 2 Troll Fic TEEN FORTRESS 2, naturally, this trope is taken Up to Eleven as Principal Business Man was writing stories while Abraham Lincoln was the president.
  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! fanfiction Decks Fall Everyone Dies, the characters write a propaganda play (to revive card games as a form of government) set in ancient Egypt. The play, according to the scenes depicting the rehearsals, involves Ho Yay, thrift shops at which the penniless duelist buys the Pharaoh's old clothes, Riverdance, Rap music, and holographic disco balls.


Films using Rule of Funny[edit | hide]

  • Pretty much every Mel Brooks movie is an Anachronism Stew.
    • Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Laser-guided arrow? Those were bleeding-edge and rare. The one shown in the Film came all the way from Jersey. And the castle with the car alarm on the portcullis, the Theme Tune Rap in 12th century England, the glowing neon exit sign over the archway in the castle, and the Sherriff of Rottingham resorting to a jackhammer to get through Marian's chastity belt. Atchoo's pumps are a case of Throw It In, as Dave Chappelle was wearing them on the set and Mel Brooks just had to throw in a joke about them. Then there's the castle repo guys, the Braille Playboy Blinkin is reading (and Blinkin's sunglasses) and the empty fruit tin cans used as heads on the training dummies.
    • Blazing Saddles is an even better example, as there are anachronisms in nearly every single scene (which is even more odd considering the period-appropriate racism was the basis of the Plot), and the Film ends with the characters in a modern theatre watching the end of the film.
  • Muppet Treasure Island has a bit of this - most of it with the rat tourists on Rizzo's cruise, but Piggy claims she got her necklace from "the shopping channel". Later, after revealing to Long John Silver where the treasure is to save Kermit, Piggy charges $300 (bucks, not English pounds) for the tip-off.
  • A Knight's Tale goes mad with this to great effect, dropping any pretense of historical accuracy and just doing whatever was the most awesome. It begins with the crowd at a joust singing and stamping their feet to "We Will Rock You" by Queen. The director explained this as a way to help the audience relate and convey the people felt the same way about their music and dancing that modern people do. Basically, it's an extension of the Translation Convention. On the other hand, professional historians have noted the impressive accuracy in regards to etiquette, costumes, speech and such, which gave the impression that the Film-makers could have made a perfectly accurate movie about a knight rising from the working class; instead, they chose to make an awesome movie with piles of anachronisms, that was also more fun. This is a film in which 14th century London has a wooden version of the London Eye.
  • Much like A Knight's Tale, Moulin Rouge also invokes this frequently, deliberately, and effectively, with characters in fin-de-siècle France singing everything from "The Sound of Music" to Nirvana.
  • Like A Knight's Tale, Marie Antoinette features a scene with modern rock music. The music is played during a ball scene.
  • Disney's The Emperors New Groove is another example of taking the "bones" of a historical milieu, in this case the ancient Inca empire of South America, and hanging a lot anachronistic (and very funny) jokes off them.
    • The sudden presence of a floor buffer was particularly confusing. But then, it was so very Disney.
    • In the category of "particularly confusing," the people in the diner singing "Happy happy birthday" to Yzma. And the existence of the diner itself...
    • And in Recycled: the Series, The Emperor's New School, which includes robots made of wood. And another made of rock.
  • Monty Python admitted that the armour (and clothing in general) in Monty Python and the Holy Grail was anachronistic; it was more 13th century than Dark Ages. Also, a French garrison in the middle of England, the fact that England supposedly had one singular king at all at that point (although considering none of the peasants know about having a king, it's possible Arthur is simply making a claim to kingship), the construction of a giant wooden rabbit, and the historian and the police cars makes for a pretty anachronistic (and hilarious) movie.
  • John Madden's Shakespeare in Love, which sports 16th century theatre production riddled with movie-producing Hollywood stereotypes.
  • Stephan Elliott's adaptation of Easy Virtue is set in the 1930s and includes songs such as "Sex Bomb" and "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going".
  • Casino Royale 1967 stars David Niven as the original James Bond, whose name and number were appropriated after his retirement for morale purposes. It's mentioned he'd been awarded the Victoria Cross at Mafeking, a siege that took place in 1899-1900. Niven is in his late 50s here, but this would date Bond as around 85 at least. Bond had an illegitimate daughter by Mata Hari, who was executed in 1917. The daughter is played by a 25-year old Joanna Pettet, but she would have to be 50 at least. But then, this movie is not at all logical or linear.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the Singing Sword sings "Witchcraft," which was written in 1953. The movie takes place in 1947. Also, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote appear in the film despite debuting in 1949.
    • In regards to cartoon characters that debuted after 1947 appearing in the film, the filmmakers Hand Wave it as them "not having made it in films yet".
  • In The Princess And The Pirate (1944), Bob Hope is a walking anachronism, being his fast-talking, wisecracking 20th century persona in the middle of a swashbuckling pirate movie.
  • Woody Allen, who has stated his appreciation of Hope, played some period roles the same way, as in Love And Death, and the segment of Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex, where his medieval court jester is trying to seduce the queen - he quips "I must hurry because soon it will be the Renaissance, and before you know it we'll all be painting!"
  • Your Highness, a fantasy comedy set in medieval times and starring Natalie Portman, James Franco, Zooey Deschanel, Danny McBride, and Justin Theroux, aims for just this. The f-bomb gets dropped several times throughout the red-band trailer, including a use of the word "buttf**k". Natalie Portman also wears a modern-looking getup of a bikini top and thong when she bathes in the river. McBride's character, Thadeous, tells his brother, "handle your shit Fabious, please."
  • Shanghai Knights is filled with this. A young Charlie Chaplin, Queen Victoria, and Arthur Conan Doyle are all in this same film. Also, you get a gatling gun and a 1930s automobile, plus Jackie Chan asking Owen Wilson "who loves you, Roy?" And finally, Roy talks about making movies in Hollywood, when at that point Hollywood had not yet existed as a filmmaking hub.
    • Machine guns did exist back then. They were brand new tech, gigantic, and had to be moved around on carts because of their weight, but they did exist.
  • Kung Pow: Enter the Fist does this intentionally and constantly, such as Betty using a cigarette lighter, or a medieval Chinese town having a Hooters, a Taco Bell, a Radio Shack, and a place that sells A LOTTA nuts, and also apparently french fries. It is one of the saner things in a film that delights in taking Refuge in Audacity though, so they are often barely noticeable.
  • At the end of Scrooge, during the reprise of "Thank You Very Much", Scrooge dons a red Santa Claus suit. This version of Father Christmas/Santa is American and didn't appear in Britain until much later (this version of the story is set in 1860, according to the Ghost of Christmas Present)
  • The song "I've Got a Dream" from Tangled involved one of the Snuggly Duckling thugs playing a piano despite the film taking place in the Middle Ages, as well as Rapunzel playing an acoustic guitar and a brief appearance of a mechanical clock during the song "When Will My Life Begin?".
    • Similarly, the song "A Guy Like You" from the earlier animated Disney film The Hunchback of Notre Dame also featured a piano in the Middle Ages.
      • Also, poledancing during the "Topsy-Turvy" number.
  • Disney's Aladdin toys with this during "A Whole New World", where classic era Roman columns are spied by Jasmine and Aladdin. Not in ruins, either. Someone at Disney must have taken it literally, because the Disney TV series had a Crossover episode with Hercules. For those playing at home: Muslim Arabia=AD, Ancient Greece=BC.
    • There's also the Sphinx being chiselled out of stone. Estimates of its age cover a huge range, but it's definitely much older than Islam.
    • The Genie's gags are 90% anachronistic in all the movies as well as the Animated Series. But it can be handwaved by "near omnipotency". Word of God (in the DVD commentary) is that the Genie can and has time-travelled.

"Al, you're not gonna find another girl like her in a million years. Believe me, I know. I've looked."

    • The female Genie in the series, on being let out of her lamp, asks if she's missed the Gold Rush (which happened in 1849). Apparently she's seen the far future too.
    • Hercules itself. Herodotus (5th century BC) is Herc's history teacher. Elucid (2nd century BC) teaches math. Ptolemy (1st century AD) teaches astronomy. And Homer (9th century BC, according to Herodotus) is a local reporter. There's more leeway for the mythological figures, who don't have dates attached to them, but Achilles is an elderly hero everyone's forgotten, even though Helen of Troy is in Herc's class!
  • The Land Before Time stars an Apatosaurus and a Stegosaurus, both of which existed in the Jurassic period, alongside a Triceratops, a Pteranodon, a Parasaurolophus, and with a Tyrannosaurus as a villain, all of which existed many MILLIONS of years later in the Cretaceous period.
    • Not to mention they meet a Dimetrodon from the Permian (The period BEFORE the dinosaur age) halfway through the movie.
  • Mulan, despite taking place in Imperial China, portrayed all of the male soldiers fighting for the Imperial Army as wearing boxer shorts under their armor! (one of which has the iconic red heart pattern, which is then flung at Mushu's face during the scene where Mulan and her friends Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po go skinny dipping in the lake) However, for some reason, they never show what Mulan's own underwear actually looks like (she may either be wearing traditional Chinese undergarments that are completely relevant to the film's setting and time period, or she may be wearing a bra and panties under all of her outfits to complement the aforementioned boxers).
    • Actually, they do show Mulan in her underwear at one point: About halfway through the song "Honor To Us All", Mulan can be seen wearing a white dress underneath her iconic pink one, which can be seen completely (although she was sitting) when she is having her hair done. What appears to be her pajamas at the very beginning of the film may also serve as her undergarments as well.
  • The opening of Toy Story 3 features Sheriff Woody vs. One-Eyed Bart in what appears to be a homage to classic spaghetti western films. And right about after Jessie and Bullseye show up, it also features a remote control device, a pink Corvette, everybody's favorite Space Ranger, a forcefield dog, a force field dog-eating dinosaur, and a zeppelin complete with energy weapons and a Star Trek transporter. Justified in that this is all an improvised story by a six-year old.
  • I Can Do Bad All By Myself: When Madea is trying to explain the account of Peter walking on the water, somehow Moses, Eve, Sigmund and Freud, and even Jonah end up in the mix. Yeah they all were in the New Testament apparently.
  • Becomes extremely evident in Pixar's Cars 2 where all of the famous world landmarks are given car motifs to fit the fact that everyone in the Cars universe is a talking vehicle. The problem is, however, that most of these landmarks are actually more than a century old, long before any cars were even invented!
    • Adding to this is that whenever either the Cars versions of the Earth and Moon are seen from space, parts of the Earth's continents resemble either small cars or car parts, while the maria on the Moon resemble the grille of a car.
  • Plunkett and Macleane has two characters who are the embodiment of this trope, Dixon and Winterburn, despite being aristocrats from ~1750 are very fond of phrases such as "geezer" and "nicely" said in the fashion of parodies of 1980-90 northerners for laughs. This is semi-lampshaded by Rochester (who is much more of the era in tone, although not in behaviour!) when he describes them as eccentric and "dear". The fact that by the time the movie was made the terms and phrases used by Dixon and Winterburn are themselves anachronistic, must surely score extra points.
  • In TMNT, four Aztec generals from over 2000 years ago are named with Spanish names. Not only did the Spanish language not exist back then, but it would not arrive to Mexico till after 1492 AD. Also includes Spexico.
    • The presence of Aztec generals is a major case of Newer Than They Think, too. The Aztec empire was created in the fourteenth century, and the ethnic group first came into the area around 6th century AD at the earliest.
  • Completely averted in the upcoming Pixar film Brave, which takes place in medieval Scotland... ...until the Pizza Planet truck shows up there for no reason.
    • Its worth noting that the appearance of the Pizza Planet truck is a recurring in-joke in Pixar films, arguably justifying this presence. It's supposed to be hidden in the Witch's hut somewhere.
    • Also worth noting is that the exact time period was made intentionally unclear (between the 8th and 12th centuries). And they also have corsets, which weren't invented until centuries later.
  • Whilst it wasn't using Rule of Funny, the British film Caravaggio, notable for an early appearance (and, in some ways, the Breakout Role) of Sean Bean, is a deliberate anachronism stew, in homage to the Real Life Caravaggio's paintings, which depicted Biblical scenes in contemporary dress.

Films with no good excuse[edit | hide]

  • Film trailers for films with settings that take place in the past have lately been using modern music, often clashing with the time period. Two most recent examples being the trailers for The Great Gatsby and Gangster Squad
  • Almost every medieval movie will feature knights covered head-to-toe in full plate armor, regardless of what century it is. In reality, this form of armor was not developed until relatively late in the period.
  • The Brothers Bloom features costumes and props ranging from the 1930's to modern times, giving the world a charmingly timeless look and feel. People dress like it's the 1930's, dance like it's the 60's, but then use cell-phones and perform gangster rap.
  • Schindler's List, a film about the Holocaust, features the famous "Jerusalem of Gold" by Naomi Shemer...Which wasn't written until the 60s in modern Israel.
  • King Arthur (2004) does not contain really blatant anachronistic cross-overs with other time-periods, but it mashes together kings and invasions from several Dark Age centuries... and Guinevere is a bow-wielding woad-covered warrior princess, clad in a leather bra and leather outfit more suitable as a Dungeons & Dragons costume?
    • Also, England is apparently ruled by The Empire, based in Rome and run by the Church.
    • Meanwhile, Tristan's carrying a Chinese dao(maybe it was meant to be a falchion?) but wields it kenjutsu-style.
  • The actors in the 1939 American adaptation of Wuthering Heights are dressed the way producer Samuel Goldwyn wanted, and nothing about the costumes is contemporary to the setting. The movie is set in the 1780-1810 time frame, yet the hair and clothing dates from the 1840-1880 time frame. Worse, the female characters look like they were hit with a six-inch makeup cannon, even though in the time frame the only women who would have worn makeup at all (and it would not have been makeup like you see in the film) were cheap street prostitutes.
    • The same could be said for the costumes worn for the 1940 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Check out the inch-long false eyelashes on Elizabeth!
  • 10,000 BC is one of the most blatant examples, featuring, among other things, woolly mammoths, saber tooth tigers, metalworking (developed in 5500 BC), domestication of horses (first done in 4000 BC), papyrus, the telescope (invented in 1609), and the construction of the Egyptian pyramids. And the Terror Birds, 2 million years out of place.
    • Some of the anachronisms are justified by the fact that the movie is based on an idea that some Atlantis-styled civilization invented various technologies that were then forgotten because of the events of the movie, but all animal-related anachronisms still stand firm.
    • It was a homage to 1,000,000 BC, also anachronism stew.
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves managed to feature "Celts" hundreds of years after they existed as a distinct ethnic grouping. (The "Celts" are also ridiculously, even offensively, portrayed as mindless Orc-like barbarians, but that's another matter...)
    • This is actually just one of the things they ripped off from Robin of Sherwood and bastardized. In Robin of Sherwood, the "barbaric" Celts are Welsh tribesmen (and aren't referred to as Celts). But that's Hollywood (see Britain Is Only London).
    • It also had an anachronistically advanced and accurate clock, and obviously medical care even better than the present day, to judge by the ultra-quick recovery from a Caesarian childbirth.
  • Rent: the film adaptation is based in the late 80s/early 90s when AIDS was much closer to home for the types of people featured (not that it's anything to sneeze at today). However, Benny must have been some kind of prophet to conceive of a cyber studio when the Internet wasn't mainstream yet, and the references to Thelma and Louise, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the gentrification of the East Village are anachronisms.
    • Considering the original stage play was also conceived and written before the Internet became mainstream, the cyber studio was likely an oblique reference to how awesome Benny is.
  • While most of the 1996 movie Twister took place in the modern-day (thus avoiding this trope, for the most part), the beginning scenes, set in 1969, have some level of Anachronism Stew to them. In one scene, character Jo's father warns that the approaching tornado is "probably an F-5;" of course, the Fujita scale, from whence the rating is taken, was developed in 1971, two years later. Plus, the meteorologist shown on the TV giving the warning is Gary England, head meteorologist of Oklahoma City TV station KWTV; while the footage is actual archived footage of one of England's tornado warnings, England did not join KWTV until 1972.
  • The Other Side Of Midnight, which is set in the time frame just before World War II, has a scene where Catherine is taking a taxi from Union Station in Washington DC. She mentions in conversation with the cabbie that if the taxi meter goes over a dollar she's in trouble. But no cab in Washington DC would have had a meter at the time; the city cabs worked exclusively on a zone-fare system.
  • Sin City is sometimes seen as fitting this trope due to having vintage cars but the stories take place in The Nineties, the timeframe in which the comics were first published. This is evident by the Priest's 1990 Mercedes (described as being modern) and the 1980s Ferrari 348GTS driven by Yellow Bastard and if you pause the movie when it shows Marv's trial headline, it shows the date.
  • The Cider House Rules is surprisingly careful, taking advantage of the fact that the drive-in theater was invented in the 1930's and thus, around in the 1940's. It never explicitly states that drive-in has become a huge phenomenon, which would be anachronistic as that did not happen until the 1950s. However, its depiction of widespread favorable attitudes about abortion and choice of haircuts and characterizations of female protagonists bears a strong 1970s air to it that seems out of place for 1940s Maine. Supposedly justified in that it was part of Lasse Hallström and John Irving's visions.
  • In Whoopi Goldberg's movie A Knight in Camelot the main character gets sent back in time to the Middle Ages. Ok. She takes her boom box and laptop with her. She then checks the internet for information on how to build an electrical generator using a waterwheel...
  • The 2008 film Mamma Mia! is another casual mishmash. Although Sky intends to set up a website to draw customers to Donna's Villa (not possible before 1996, not likely before 2000), the lyrics to the song "Our Last Summer", related dialogue and the photographs of the fathers indicate that 20-year-old Sophie had to have been born somewhere between 1970 and 1972. And the "Donna and the Dynamo" stage costumes—implied in dialogue to be the original outfits they wore during their (brief?) stage career years before—are clearly late 1970s disco-era in style, long after Donna would have been retired and raising Sophie. Harry's car early in the film is clearly from the year the film was made, as are the styles worn by just about everyone from off the island when they arrive.
  • Lymelife is set in 1979, yet contains a reference to The Empire Strikes Back, released in 1980, and the Falklands War, from 1982.
  • In the film version of Titus Andronicus Julie Taymor deliberately uses anachronisms as a part of the stylistic choice. She's clearly making no effort to be historically accurate—she's given lavishing care and attention to the ingredients of her anachronism stew. Even though it takes place in ancient Rome, we see 1950s era kitchens, Nazi symbolism, motorcycles, and designs from the 19th century, champagne bottles at an orgy, bound books, and 1920s-style microphones at a political rally. When you see Titus' severed hand delivered in a Zip-Loc bag, you know that the director's not going for historical accuracy.
  • The latest Robin Hood (2010 film) movie has taken a lot of flak for featuring what essentially looks like the medieval Higgins boat, a design that would have certainly been impossible for people of that era to keep watertight. (The invasion itself also never actually happened, but that's a whole other trope).
    • The main character in the final battle using a war hammer about 100 years before it was invented or even needed. The war hammer was invented to deal with plate armour, especially full plate armour, that became prevalent in Europe after the invention of the firearm, seeing as it was the only form of amour that offered a modicum of protection against them. The anachronistic war hammer even appeared on several posters, that featured still from the final battle.
    • Troop transports with lowerable ramps at the front were in use in this period—the ramp even allowed horsemen to charge directly off the deck. They were used for exactly this purpose at the battle of the Tower of Galata (1203) during the siege of Constantinople in the fourth crusade. (Also, the French did actually invade England during the reign of King John, as part of the First Barons' War. It wasn't much like in the film, though).
    • Sir Walter Locksley is given a funeral pyre by the peasants, even though in the UK you couldn't legally dispose of your dead by burning them until Welsh physician William Price successfully challenged corpse disposal laws after being arrested for trying to burn his deceased infant son; thus, until the late 19th century you rarely, if ever, saw a dead Brit on fire (the most notable being Percy Shelley, whose ashes were buried with his heart, which was quickly salvaged from his funeral pyre, after his decomposing remains were recovered on the shore of Italy by close friends).
  • The Scorpion King. It supposedly takes place "before the pyramids", but, yeah. For example, a merchant in Gomorrah sells "swords made by the monks in Pompeii". And then we have the gunpowder...
    • The prequel takes this much further. Besides totally ignoring internal continuity (a character wants to go visit the pyramids), we have a character who's a fan of Herodotus adventuring with the Akkadian main character, and a reference to Mahjong, among other things.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean was full of them. Supposedly set around 1660-68, it features:
    • Weapons and uniforms that wouldn't come into use until around the American War of Independence (the British Royal Navy didn't have proper uniforms at all until 1748).
    • Jack was to be hanged on a trapdoor-style gallows (invented in the 1800s).
    • Commodore was a temporary post, not a permanent rank, held by any captain appointed to command a squadron. There probably wouldn't have been an elaborate "promotion ceremony" for Norrington.
      • Although, given his fondness for flattery, he would likely have organised one anyway
    • An Anglo concertina which wouldn't be around until about 1879, and the guitar in the same scene wouldn't have been made until just before The Great Depression!
    • Modern smokeless gunpowder (1875).
    • The use of the word 'scallywag,' which was a term coined during The American Civil War (1860s).
    • The use of the phrase "Bob's your uncle," which dates back to the 1890s.
    • The use of the word "port" to refer to the left side of a ship; this didn't become popular until the mid-1800s. The characters should still be saying "larboard" instead. (The Disneyland ride on which the film was based surprisingly averts this.)
    • Small music boxes in the form of lockets.
    • 1780s corsets portrayed as constrictive and 1620s swashbuckling gear in the same shots (Will and Elizabeth at Jack's hanging at the end of the first movie).
    • Late 17th century long, curly wigs alongside 18th century ponytailed, powdered wigs (in vogue up to the French Revolution in 1789, whereas the long curly sort went out of fashion fifty years earlier at least).
    • Late 18th century firearms.
    • 19th century teacups.
    • Singapore, founded as a city in 1819 and until then a big swamp with a coastal fishing village.
    • Barbossa's coveted green apples weren't cultivated until 1868.
    • A Roosevelt-era teddy bear.
    • One of the few 'real' people we meet appears to be King George II (allegedly...), putting the timeframe between 1727 and 1760 (so bringing a few artefacts into relevance, but not many, as well as anachron-ising many others. Also makes the economic/political conditions of the Golden Age of Piracy totally out of date.
    • Captain Edmund 'Blackbeard' Teach- c.1680-1718 is also present, though his given date of death is conveniently easy to Handwave....
  • Kelly's Heroes: Donald Sutherland and his crew of hippies are anachronistically fighting in the middle of World War II.
    • It should be noted that the kind of people that are commonly described as "hippies" (meaning, young people who reject contemporary values and lifestyles) have existed in practically every era, going back at least to the first few centuries before Christ. The fact that it was not "cool" to be a hippie until about 1967 should not rule out the existence of hippies before then. That said, a particular kind of hippie can be anachronistic.
    • Actually he's more of a Cloudcuckoolander than anything. I think fighting in a war and enjoying it goes against the tenants of hippie-dom.
  • Braveheart depicts the medieval Scots as wearing both blue woad face paint (which was characteristic of the ancient Picts and is seen in general use no later than the Roman occupation) and kilts (which didn't come into fashion in Scotland until the 1500's).
  • Batman (1989) and Batman Returns are practically crammed with anachronisms—although it's understandable, since both films were directed by Tim Burton, who is fond of this trope. The original movie is clearly meant to be set either in 1989 or Twenty Minutes Into the Future, but the organized-crime characters and some of the reporters at the Gotham Globe dress as if it's some point between the 1920s and the 1940s. Batman Returns is a little more justified, since it's set at Christmastime and so gets to employ various elements of Norman Rockwell/Frank Capra imagery - though that still doesn't explain why a newspaper being hawked in the early 1990s (and by an Extra! Extra! Read All About It! paperboy, no less!) would cost less than half a dollar.
  • Many films of A Christmas Carol inaccurately depict period clothing during Scrooge's childhood flashbacks, which would logically be set in the late 18th century, but the people are dressed 1840's style. Also, there's a jarring revealing mistake in Scrooge, where a car can be seen driving by in the background during young Scrooge and Isabel's romance sequence.
  • The Hairy Bird: The cherry-picker truck used by the Flat Critters to get to Tinka's window was a Ford C-Series cab-over. While this truck was manufactured between 1957 and 1990, the cowl insignia combined with reflectors indicates this is a model made after 1968, five years after the movie takes place.
  • It's a slight case, but in the Halloween remakes it's utterly baffling to try and figure out just when they take place. The openings with Michael Myers as a child are definitely somewhere in the early 1980s judging from the clothing and hair styles, but after the Time Skip to "Seventeen Years Later" (which should put the events with Laurie somewhere in the mid to late-nineties), people talk on post-2004 cellphones, make references to Austin Powers, and watch flatscreen televisions like they're in 2007 (when the film was made). To confuse things even more, no one references music beyond 1990, all the cars are pre-2000, and nearly all the things seen on TV are pre-1970. No one at all seems to know when the movie actually takes place.
  • The Clash of the Titans remake from 2010 features the Greek gods wearing medieval European suits of armor. Curiously, the goddesses are wearing classic Grecian attire. Also, Zeus' totem is a bald eagle- which lives in North America and thus was unknown in Ancient Greece. Wonder how many subjects were failed.
  • Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire takes place in 1914, but for some reason a fish tank full of coelacanths can be seen near the very beginning of the film! (in real life, coelacanths—live ones, at least—weren't even discovered until the mid-1930s)
    • Justified both in the movie's own logic (the man owning the coelacanths is a millionaire with access to technology far superior to anything seen in the 1910's and in some ways even superior to modern technology and a team of treasure hunters/explorers who are hired for the purpose of finding artifacts not thought to still exist) and thematically (at the time the continued existence of coelacanths was thought as fictional as Atlantis itself).
  • The Indiana Jones films have many anachronisms to them. Too many to list, in fact. Being that these took place in very specific years, there is no wonder there are so many anachronisms. In short:
    • Guns from the late 1930s in the mid 1930s, and guns from the 1940s throughout the 1930s.
    • Many vehicles out of place in time. Planes, automobiles, boats/ships, a train, and a motorcycle.
    • A train track and a couple of airports before they were built.
    • Use of various words, spellings, languages and even letters and forms of handwriting that are out of time and place.
    • Use of uniforms and national symbols.
    • A missing piece of a national park, due to when it was filmed.
    • Small pieces of technology that you wouldn't even notice were out of place: a television antenna, an LCD display timer, a metal disc cutter, a lighter, light switches, a sink faucet, a rum bottle with a plastic top, protective masks, a shoulder bag.
    • And the Afrika Korps in the 1930s (who appear to have the run of British-controlled Egypt).
    • Indy is shown to have been a Life Scout before he could possibly have been one.
  • Sucker Punch appears to take place in the 20s or 30s but all the music in the brothel is modern. And that's ignoring the fantasy adventure sequences that have Steampunk Germans mixing it up with Humongous Mecha, or medieval orcs fighting a helicopter. The ending justifies many of these strange anachronisms, though.
  • The 2003 animated Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. Sinbad, a figure of medieval Muslim legend, is somehow turned into a native of a Classical Greek setting (complete with converting him from Islam to polytheism). However, his ship remains more or less 10th-century Middle-eastern in design, as does the clothing of his crew. And one member of his crew appears to be Latino.
  • Deuces Wild has a violent gang rumble in a park set to heavy metal music. We hear the rock music on the soundtrack rather than within the movie's universe, but it's still jarring to hear guitars that loud and growly in a film set in 1958.
  • Similar to Deuces Wild above, Maverick, while surprisingly accurate in general, has a sudden soundtrack shift from the usual western atmospheric instrumentals to country-western once the poker tournament starts.
  • X Men First Class is set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but characters gleefully walk around in modern haircuts while warships fire Tomahawk cruise missiles at them.
  • Moneyball has several. The movie (based on a true story) is set in 2001 and 2002. One of the characters sings a song that wasn't released until 2008. Another character wears Nike+ (Nike Plus) shoes, which also weren't out yet. Some of the team logos and a stadium name are also out of place.
  • The Asylum film Halloween Night is set 1992. Absolutely no attempt is made to make it look like it is.
    • Not surprising, given that it's The Asylum. They make absolutely no attempt to make anything look like anything.
  • In both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, James Bond asks for a specific type of vodka martini which contains Kina Lillet (known as the "Vesper"). The recipe was included in both of the original novels of the same name, and the recipe was transplanted to the film adaptations - one problem, however, is that Lillet stopped making Kina Lillet in 1986, yet the film is a Continuity Reboot set in the 2000's.
  • 2011's Red Riding Hood takes place in what appears to be Europe in the Middle Ages, yet features a modern hair styles that would require a trip to Ulta to maintain, not to mention American accents before there was an America.
  • Chicago (2002):
    • The radio in Mama Morton's office is from the early 1930s. Table radios from that era—the original play was first staged in 1926, so it was probably set around 1923-26—came in three basic styles: wooden "coffins", metal "jewel boxes" and, for the truly stylish, Atwater Kent breadboards. The radio would also have two or three individually tuned dials and a separate speaker, possibly shaped like a horn. Also, the radio would've been powered by three or more storage batteries, so it would've been used sparingly. (AC powered home radios weren't introduced until 1927.)
  • The 13th Warrior, the movie adaptation of Michael Crichton's Eaters Of The Dead, is Beowulf, in the 10th century. In addition to the anachronisms carried over from the novel (relatively few, but see the Literature section), the main characters are Horny Vikings. One wears a Murmillo helmet, another wears a 16th-century Spanish helmet and breastplate. Also, one actress is credited as Shaharazhad, a fictional character who first appeared in probably the early 8th century CE.
  • The direct-to-video animated film Easter Egg Adventure appears to take place in the 1800s or so (there are many scenes depicting characters riding in carriages pulled by horses, and there are many places that look old-fashioned), but yet there are boomboxes and rap music.


Literature[edit | hide]

King Arthur stories[edit | hide]

  • More often than not, the Knights of the Round Table are portrayed in plate-and-mail armor with big chargers that didn't get to Western Europe until hundreds of years after these myths supposedly took place. This dates back to Malory.
  • Knights living in huge stone castles. There were no new stone fortifications built in Britain between the 6th century and the 11th century. Most of the old Roman forts were abandoned, dismantled for their stone, or repurposed. All of the great castles were built following the Norman Conquest.
  • The Knights of the Round Table themselves, as feudalism had not yet arisen in the Roman-era Britain when the historical Arthur is believed to have lived.
  • Almost all of the familiar characters in the Arthur mythos originated in different places and eras, and were all mashed together into a single story by various authors, starting with Geoffrey of Monmouth centuries later.
  • The majority of the anachronisms in the Arthurian mythos came from French poets reading the works of Geoffrey, changing society/technology to coincide with medieval French society/technology, along with hammering in tales not even related to either the Welsh legend or Geoffrey's work and epic attempts at forming this mishmash into a coherent story.
  • The Once and Future King carries this farther than most, even apart from those anachronisms introduced by backwards-living Merlyn.
  • White's book was, in turn, referenced by Terry Pratchett's story Once and Future, where Mervin, a time traveller stuck in the past, adds to already anachronistic setting of the Arthurian mythos. He ends up re-enacting the King Arthur legend... except for that final twist...
  • The "courtly love" mythos—including the very existence of Sir Lancelot—and the Grail legends were introduced to the Arthurian legends by remorseless Retcon.
  • Tristan and Iseult were originally a completely distinct story; many modern retellings blend them into the Round Table.
  • The all-time champion of Arthurian anachronism was Wolfram von Eschenbach, greatest of the medieval German poets. Parzival, his version of the Grail Quest, adds sixth century Africans who worship Jupiter and Juno while practicing high medieval courtly love. Furthermore, they're associated with Arab wealth and philosophy, meaning Wolfram understood them as Muslims.
  • Peter David's Knight Life series of Arthur in the modern era. Percival, who gained immortality by drinking from the Grail cup while healthy, is portrayed as a Moor.
  • King Arthur Pendragon deserves mention for resolving the Anachronism Stew of the Arthurian legends by having King Arthur's reign magically feature technology advancing at super speed from Dark Ages to high medieval, until history re-asserts itself after the Battle of Camlann.
  • Justified and Lampshaded in A Hard Day's Knight, in which the shiny armor worn by Arthur and his vassals was forged by armorers acting under the explicit instructions of Merlin, who'd peeked into the future to see how later generations of warriors were kitted out. This also explains why Arthur could kick ass on every other military force in 6th century Britain: his guys were more or less invulnerable to the weapons of his rivals.
  • Merlin's Mistake by Robert Newman: It's set in the thirteenth century, and viewpoint character Brian's father was lost fighting "paynim" in the Holy Land, but Camelot is still the center of power, and much of the action concerns an apparently independent British city-state, both facts that would've been very surprising to Edward I, King of England in this period. Even more extreme (and funny), the "mistake" the title refers to was that Merlin accidentally gave Brian's new friend Tertius "all possible knowledge" of the future—specifically, of the twentieth century:

"Do you know what a nuclear reactor is? A computer or a laser? ... No one should for about seven hundred years. Well, I know about them. I understand systems analysis and why the law of parity is invalid...."

    • There's a scene, too, where the heroes encounter a seeress at a group of standing stones. She agrees to give them some information, and starts by transforming the standing stones into a cluster of 1970s-vintage computer banks. Not that Brian recognizes them as such, but the description is clear, and Tertius asks politely, "Is that a 501, my lady?" (No; that'd be bigger than she needs.)

Other[edit | hide]

  • Michael Crichton's Eaters Of The Dead is remarkably true to real history, aside from the obviously fictional and fantastic nature of the "Eaters of the Dead" themselves, and the fact that the real ibn Fadlan never traveled all the way up north to help the Vikings fight Neanderthals, given that much of the book is based on a historical figure's travelogue. As a result, it's so much cooler. However there's one minor anachronism... in the basic premise. The plot of the novel is obviously meant to be a "real life" inspiration for Beowulf, a poem that most scholars think was written at least a century before ibn Fadlan lived.
  • Also used by none other than the poet Homer. The Iliad and The Odyssey were set in Achæe (Mycenæan-Era Greece), but contain a wild mixture of elements from the Archaic and Classical periods with a few Mycenæan leftovers thrown in for good measure. For example, boar-tooth helmets were Mycenæan, but funeral pyres belong to a later era.
  • The ancient Irish epic Tain Bo Cuailnge features chariot warfare, but there is no archaeological evidence that chariots were ever used in Ireland. This suggests that the tale (or parts of it) is very old indeed, dating to the time when the Celts still lived in continental Europe. But Cú Chulainn's "warp-spasm" is possibly inspired by Viking berserkers of the 9th-10th centuries.
    • Cú Chulainn's 'warped man' status didn't need any help from the berserkir. In the Classical Age, the gestatae of both the old Germanic and Celtic tribes were renowned for freaking right out in battle and thus going OFF.
  • Chris Elliot's novel, The Shroud of the Thwacker, set in the 1890s, features gas-powered cellphones, among other things.
  • One for the Morning Glory Where it is lampshaded as well; when Sir John drinks tea, he wonders whether it is really suitable to be drinking tea, and the Duke dismisses that as a consideration only for those lands that are merely actual.
  • Gene Wolfe's New Sun series of novels take place a looong way in the future (the techno-fantasy "post-historical" era where Stone-Age Man, the Modern Era, and the Galaxy-Spanning Imperial Era are all lumped together as the "Age of Myth"). The basic technology and society is late medieval. But at some point time travel had been commonplace, so remnants of all eras of history are common - military energy weapons right along with swords, antigravity craft and ox-drawn wagons, sabretooth tigers and starships, electricians organized like a medieval craft guild, medical men just as likely to use genetic engineering as an herbal infusion, etc. One of the appendices even points out that there are three separate levels of technology: the "smith" level (basically medieval), the "Urth" level (roughly 20th century plus some genetic engineering) and the "stellar" level (highly powerful artifacts that can only be obtained from extraterrestrials.) It's all justified by the fact that the planet has been exhausted of most resources and can no longer sustain a technological society or educate most of its inhabitants, but the old knowledge remains in a few places.
  • Using its metaphorical nature as an excuse, Stationery Voyagers doesn't even try to get around the fact that 21st-century values are clashing with 50's values in The Seventies in a culture war on a 70's-themed world that has Ford Pintos next to aliens with muellexic technology, and Mosquatlons dressed like it's still World War II...in Bulgaria; where angels and gay militants open fire on each other in the streets while blocking traffic, in a time before power windows and power steering. And non-militant ones trying to keep the main protagonists from getting hurt.
  • The Aeneid features Aeneas, fleeing the destruction of Troy, landing at Carthage...which wasn't founded until hundreds of years later.
    • Understandable as the whole thing was pretty much literate propaganda. Also, the Cyclops and things did better in Hellenic Greece when a lot of the Mediterranean was still only vaguely known, as compared to the 'salty lake' of Roman times.
  • The Mistborn series is built on this. While at first glance it appears to be your standard medieval setting, it turns out there are working pocket watches, gunpowder (though it isn't used), and a knowledge of metallurgy and medicine that rivals our own. Turns out this was intentional: What do you think happens when the world is ruled for a thousand years by an immortal god-emperor who doesn't like change? Said god-emperor, while deliberately stagnating many technological developments, also develops the canning process (metal cans were invented in 1810) and other advancements but keeps them strictly under his own control.
    • As well, the knowledge of metallurgy is a Justified Trope given that the magic used by the world's nobles is run on specifically mixed metals.
  • The Bible has been known to contain a few anachronisms since often the "books" composing it were written some time after the events were supposed to have taken place. For example: the descriptions of armor, especially that worn by Goliath, in 1 Samuel 17 are typical of Greek armour of the 6th century BC rather than of Philistine armour of the 10th century BC.
  • George Macdonald Fraser's The Pyrates is a colossal Anachronism Stew, with seventeenth century pirates riding around in catamarans and using face cream. Fraser was a diligent researcher and knew exactly what he was doing, even lampshading it in several places. It's all more than justified by the fact that the novel is hilarious.
  • The Princess Bride actually uses the invention of stew to clarify its chronology. Most definitely Rule of Funny and metahumor. William Goldman often states that the time he's talking about is before one thing, but after another—often putting them in ahistorical order, as when he says it's set "before Europe and after America". (Unless he means "after Vespucci's voyages but before the Maastricht Treaty"...)
  • Secret of the Sixth Magic by Lyndon Hardy has an in-universe example (for another universe's history) -- the sorcerer Farnel is said to have lost out in competitions against other illusion-crafters, because his simulations of famous historical events succumbed to Anachronism Stew. Apparently this trope isn't just universal, it's multiversal.
  • Andrzej Sapkowski (Witcher) intentionally includes some elements of that in his medieval-esque settings, like "genocide" when that word wouldn't have existed yet (to make a point that wars don't really change) or various orders reminiscent of those by Nazi generals to derive the war of any mysticism and allegory and show how seemingly senseless cruelty is justified by tactics.
  • The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists by Gideon Defoe, is set in the 1800's and yet there are things like tap water onboard a pirate ship, crazy golf, after eight mints, and Coco-Pops. It's not as a jarring as other examples though, as it's all played for laughs.
  • This is pretty much the signature style of Andrei Belyanin, whose novels are deliberately filled with anachronisms. Justified in several cases due to magical settings and/or Time Travel. Since his books tend to be humorous in nature, the readers don't mind it in the least. The attempts of a modern-day cop at lecturing a medieval tsar on the concept of "innocent until presumed guilty" (instead of the tsar's usual Off with His Head approach to all suspects) and the need for a proper investigation are downright hilarious. Sometimes, though, it makes no sense, such as in Jack the Mad King, where Jack is talking with a giant using modern-day street slang.
  • This is generally averted for historical settings in Time Scout, as the authors attempted to be as accurate as possible. However, the time terminal that forms the main setting is deliberately a stew, and justified, as every time gate is surrounded by a lot of shops and restaurants based on that time period's theme, and the time terminal's residents wear whatever they want and tend to wander. Connie Logan, proprietor of Clothes and Stuff, is walking Anachronism Stew, wearing multiple articles of clothing from multiple periods as she tries out new designs for comfort and wear. She switches out multiple items over the course of a conversation. As for the historical destinations, the authors tried, but made a few mistakes. Not egregious.
  • While the main setting of Septimus Heap is a classic Medieval European Fantasy, it also features doorbells, submarines, elevators especially in the fifth book.
  • Historia Regum Britanniae has castles in Ancient Greece.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Doctor Who. Think Hartnell stories with bouffant Sixties hair in ancient Rome or the French Revolution or the Middle Ages. Most of the time, of course, the series inverts this with alien-generated anachronisms (such as the Meddling Monk's gramophone records, tobacco and marker pens in medieval England).
    • The Doctor likes to Enforced Trope this trope himself sometimes, in order to impress people. Why would you have Roman Centurions and Victorian Reptile Women battling space-monks armed with lightning swords? Because its cool.
    • Happens again in "The Wedding Of River Song". This taking place in a 'modern day' London where Charles Dickens shows up on morning talk shows, pterodactyls are the equivalent of pigeons, Roman soldiers ride the tube, and everyone takes balloon cars to work. In this case, all of time collapsed into a specific fixed point; all of history was now occurring at once but all the clocks stood still.

Meredith Vieira: Crowds lined the mall today as Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill returned to the Buckingham Senate on his personal mammoth.

  • Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, in their Universal TV series, live in a world where not only are all myths and legends true, but are also all happening within a few seasons of each other. The Argonauts sailed just a few years before Julius Caesar ruled, and Hercules was old friends with Vlad Tepes.
    • The producers explained early on that they were perfectly aware of this and did it simply to add to the Camp value, further explaining the one rule they had was that anything BC was fair game, and AD was off limits. They missed the boat on that rule a lot: Boudica's rebellion in England (60AD), and Vlad Tepes/Dracula, who was a medieval ruler, Genghis Khan and his three sons, and the episodes in the modern world. King Arthur manages to get around the rule thanks to Merlin using magical Time Travel.
    • Don't forget that they also often show inventions that haven't been invented yet, ala The Flintstones. One episode had Hercules playing basketball. Another involved a giant spiderwoman, which lead to a "website" quip.
    • Nothing quite compared to the episode where Xena and Gabrielle are joined by a teenage Greek bard named Homer, who proceeds to tell them the story of... Spartacus.
    • Almost as bad was the episode featuring Hippocrates and Galen, with Galen being the older of the two. (Galen was born in 129 CE, about 500 years after Hippocrates died.)
  • Jeeves and Wooster is set in an idealized version of England at an indeterminate point between the World Wars, and largely picks and chooses on matters of detail—Bertie Wooster drives a mid-'30s car, for instance, but Prohibition is still alive and well when he visits the US, and perhaps more jarringly, the establishing shots of the city use Stock Footage in which the World Trade Center (finished in 1973) is clearly visible.
  • Highlander the Series, with its historical flashbacks practically every episode, contains too many examples to list.
  • In season 2, Heroes sent Hiro Nakamura back in time to 1671, where he meets a wandering English samurai. 1671 is well into the isolationist period in Japan, when any foreigner would be arrested and killed by local authorities. Granted, at first it seemed he always wore a mask to prevent people from knowing his true identity, but this was soon forgotten.
  • The Tudors consistently featured women wearing long, billowy sleeves that covered their hands. While this technically was Tudor-era fashion, these sleeves did not come into fashion until Queen Anne Boleyn wore them. Therefore, episodes that take place before Anne ascended the throne are historically questionable.
  • Blackadder. While it gets the eras correct (there is a firm difference between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance) it moves around in each era quite erratically. This is most notable in Blackadder The Third, which is ostensibly set during the 1810s, but features Samuel Johnson working in his dictionary (1750s) in one episode, the French Revolution (1790s) in another, and the Napoleonic Wars in the Season Finale (as well as Nelson featuring in Blackadder's Christmas Carol alongside George). Arguably, this is Rule of Funny-based Anachronism Stew.
    • Said Season Finale also features a mention of The Prince and the Pauper. The author wasn't even born until five years after the character mentioning the story died in real life. William Pitt the Younger died in 1806, yet features in the first episode. The Duke of Wellington features - he didn't become Duke until 1814, and only met Nelson in 1805, when he was major-general at the age of 36. The battle of Trafalgar (1805) hasn't happened yet. The battle of Waterloo was ten years after Trafalgar. And the Peninsula war, which was 1808-1814. Wellington didn't become duke until said war was over.
    • In-universe examples also turn up, as in series 1's "The Archbishop". Among the relics ostensibly crafted by Jesus during his early life as a carpenter are a cigar stand and a crucifix.
  • The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. The entire series. For a series taking place in 1893 we have such things as rockets and rocket powered rail cars, functional tanks, and in one instance a Zeppelin. This show also provides an interesting explanation for the acronym U.F.O. as an Unearthed Foreign Object.
  • The granddaddy of the Futuristic Western Sci-fi genre is The Wild Wild West.
  • The producers of Hogan's Heroes blew their entire costume budget on reproduction Nazi uniforms, so minor cast members had to bring their own gear. This means that anyone not a P.O.W. or in Nazi uniform will be dressed in contemporary fashions of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
  • Kings, being a modern retelling of the story of the Biblical David (who is believed to have lived c. 11th century BCE) is already loaded with kinda-sorta anachronisms, but a particularly interesting one takes place in the fifth episode (sixth if you count the two-hour pilot as two eps), Judgement Day, wherein Jack (King Silas's son) makes reference to "cutting babies in half" (i.e. Solomonic wisdom to decide disputes). Solomon was David's son.
  • The New Adventures of Robin Hood featured all of the historical accuracy of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys or Xena: Warrior Princess (but without the same quality of acting). A particularly fun gadget is the dart launcher mounted in Robin's bracer.
  • Rome is generally very, very good in its depiction of Ancient Roman life. However, many of the suits of armor the characters wear would have been bleeding-edge technology in the year the film is set (assuming any examples existed at all).
  • Maid Marian and Her Merry Men: Virtually everything that happens. Despite being set in The Dung Ages, it still manages to have a Rastafarian (identified as such), a telethon and sell-by date laws. Amongst many other examples.
  • Kamen no Ninja Akakage is set in Warring States Japan, the main characters use high-tech weaponry like flying machines and guns to fight kaiju.
  • A flashback to the early life of vampire Darla in Angel occurs, according to the caption, in the Virginia Colony in 1609. As anyone who's attended Virginia public schools knows, in 1609 the colony consisted solely of the struggling Jamestown settlement, which, in 1609-1610, went through what's known as the Starving Time and was almost abandoned. Yes, by 1609 the colony included a few women, but it certainly wouldn't have had an Olde English style inn to shelter Darla while on her deathbed waiting for a vampire master to drop in and turn her. All the writers had to do, to make the chronology plausible, would have been to add a couple of decades and set the flashback in, say, 1629.
  • Justified in Stargate SG-1. A lot of the planets that they travel to, especially in the early seasons, are based off Earth civilizations (which, naturally, have not evolved at all in the centuries or sometimes even millennia that have passed, and all of which inexplicably speak English). Some, though, have changed a little bit, so we often see medieval-like cities with spaceships and teleporters. This always makes sense in context, but is still noticeable.
    • As Mitchell points out in one episode, referring to an Arthurian stash of gold with a clearly alien device hidden in it: "Which one of these things is not like the others?"
    • Possibly the best example is the entire episode Camelot from the end of the 9th season. Within about 10 minutes we go from Mitchell having a sword fight with a knight in armour to one of the most epic space battles in the entire franchise.
  • One episode of The Big Bang Theory is bookended by the gang coming from/going to a Renaissance Faire, with Sheldon commenting in the intro: "Worst. Renaissance. Faire. Ever." and then listing all the common anachronisms relevant to Faires... and, on the outtro, the gang returns to a Faire, Sheldon now wearing Spock's uniform (including ears), holding a tricorder, and commenting as if he were on Star Trek, visiting another planet. (Could be a reference to a mid-nineties UK national LARP meetup, where one of the players spent a day playing just such a character.)
  • The episode "Atomic Shakespeare" from Moonlighting, while set at a semi-Shakespearean, Semi-European time & place, had Bruce Willis as David as Petruchio on a horse with the BMW logos on its saddle blanket. Oh, and it also had Ninjas.
  • Merlin - based on the legend of King Arthur a supposed king of dark age Britain - has people of various races in what would, at the time, have been a Celtic Britain as well as armour and architecture from the late medieval period and Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe (justified given that few people would want to hear it in Old Celtic, Old English, or even Middle English without subtitles), with the worst example being lighting candles with matches (strike matches weren't invented until 1805!). However, the programme-makers have repeatedly stated that the show is supposed to be set in a "fantasy" imaginary Britain and isn't intended to be accurate.
  • Wonder Woman was filmed in the 70s. The first season was set in the 1940s. The anachronisms are abundant, but subtle:
    • A black Marine corporal is seen in Washington DC before there were any black Marine corporals.
    • Steve Trevor wears military ribbons on his uniform before they've been issued and before he would have had a chance to earn them. Later in the first season, after he would have had time to earn them, he stops wearing them.
  • Mash is a frequent offender. The series has an inconsistent timeline jumping back and forth during the Korean War (June 1950 - July 1953), but some egregious examples include:
    • A pinball machine in the officer's club that wasn't produced until the 1970s.
    • Pictures of the UH-1 Huey in the officer's club. The Huey began devlopment in 1952, and did not see active service until after the Korean War.
    • One episode references Godzilla (first released in Japan as Gojira in 1954, and not released in the US as Godzilla King Of The Monsters until 1955), and another references The Blob, not released until 1958.
    • Radar, and sometimes other characters, occasionally do celebrity impressions (James Cagney, John Wayne, etc.) but quote lines from films made long after the Korean War.
    • One examples teeters precariously on the borderline between averting this trope and being another Egregious example. In one scene, Charles brags to Hawkeye and BJ that he once had dinner with Audrey Hepburn. Hawkeye and BJ scoff at the idea that such a famous beauty would have anything to do with Charles...untill he shows off a photograph of the two of them teogehter. The problem is that Hepburn didn't become a truly major star untill the release of Roman Holiday, a film that came out exactly one month after the Korean War ended. However, she did have some measure of fame during the War. She starred in the original Broadway production of Gigi from 1951-52. So it's at least possible that Hawkeye and BJ had heard of her druing the War, but given where they're from (Hawkeye's from Crabapple Cove, Maine, while BJ's from Mill Valley, California) it's extremely unlikely.
      • Within that same scene, Charles states he's never seen any of her movies. She had been in some movies by that time, but mostly in bit roles...with one big exception, where she had a major supporting role in the 1952 Brittish film, The Secret People. Once again, possilbe but unlikely someone during the war would refer to her movies.
  • In Honey I Shrunk the Kids (the TV Series): Amy travels back in time to 1976 to date her history teacher. One scene shows an arcade, the Pong machine is not an anachronism, but in the background you can clearly hear people playing Asteroids, Donkey Kong, and Pac-Man; also they want to play Space Invaders. Space Invaders did not come out until 1978, Asteroids in 1980, and Donkey Kong and Pac-Man in 1981.
  • Young Blades is set in 17th century Paris with anachronisms based on Rule of Funny. Based on an interview with Bruce Boxleitner, they were intentionally going for a tone and effect similar to Hercules and Xena.
  • Danger 5 features the eponymous Five-Man Band fighting Hitler and his Nazis in the 60s, in a setting which includes robots and dinosaurs.
  • Happy Days ended up like this. The first two seasons tried fairly hard to stay true to the '50s setting, but as the show became more popular, the producers started putting in references to trends of the '70s and '80s, and the actors started letting their hair and clothes look more contemporary.
  • Community - played for laughs in the Season 3 Christmas episode as Troy and Abed get Pierce to join the glee club with their song "Baby Boomer Santa" that reconstituted the last sixty years with lyrics like "And when the Commies gave the polio to Doris Day - Santa helped the Beatles chase McCarthy away!"


Music[edit | hide]

  • P.D.Q. Bach pretty much ignores the fact that what we think of today as "classical" music actually happened over several centuries and is divided into distinct stylistic periods. Peter Schickele is quite aware of this, but ignores it in favor of parodying as many different things as possible, and lampshades the eclecticism of PDQ's style many times. Then there are the anachronisms which are more obvious to the layperson, such as "Iphigenia in Brooklyn" or the "Bluegrass Cantata" or "Classical Rap" (though Schickele claimed to have altered the original lyrics of that one).
  • In Brazil this trope is better know as "Samba do Crioulo Doido", after a song, roughly translated as "The Crazy Nigger's Samba". It is about a Samba composer that had to learn some Brazilian history because law dictated all Carnival music had to be based on it (Truth in Television). When asked to do something about the current politics, he goes insane and writes a Samba whose lyrics mixes several important Brazilian history figures from different centuries in a story where nothing makes sense.
  • The video for Glukoza's Schweine is all over the place. The Pig Army (clearly a nazi parody) is armed with G43's, MP 40's, MG 34 s, Zeppelins, Triplanes, Sd.kfz 250's, and Renault FT's. Meanwhile the Rebel Army Leaders use a G36, a Kalashnikov, an RPG-7, 2 MPL's, a Vickers MG, giant War Elephants, and Pterodactyls. The Rebel Army itself is comprised mainly of Samurai with some Ninjas using swords and pistols respectively.
  • The Italian progressive rock group Jacula has one weird example - in the mid 1980's they re-released their debut album In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum, supposedly originally released in 1969. The audio production however is very consistent with that of mid 80's Doom metal, and the album also includes the use of samplers (which did exist in the 60's, but their use certainly was not widespread), most notoriously a loop of flowing water that was also used in former band member Doris Norton's 1984 album "Personal Computer".
  • Not even Satan is immune to this trope. The Rolling Stones' Sympathy For The Devil includes the boast "I laid traps for troubadoures/Who get killed before they reach Bombay" [presumably in a TARDIS].


Radio[edit | hide]


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • King Arthur Pendragon takes a mix of all the main Arthurian myths, mostly Malory, and sets it in sub-Roman Britain. The appearance of medieval technology later in Arthur's reign is explained by magic and it all fades away after the Battle of Camlann with history re-asserting itself.
    • Pendragon is not above shout outs to later history either, including Merlin prophesying that the Pope would live in Avignon, and King Arthur quoting John F. Kennedy "ask not what your country can do for you..." before the Battle of Badon Hill.
  • Parodied in the Tabletop Games Diana Warrior Princess and Elvis The Legendary Tours, which take the Anachronism Stew approach to modern-day pop-culture.
  • Quirkily lampshaded by the Sourcebook GURPS Middle Ages. Its opening chapter includes a sidebar that actually explains the concept of Anachronism Stew by pointing out all the historical mismatches in its own cover art.
    • Also acknowledged in GURPS Camelot, the Arthurian sourcebook. There are three Arthurian settings mentioned - the Mythic one (Geoffry of Monmouth style, with plenty of anachronism), a Realistic one (as close as research can get us), and the Cinematic one (based on movies, with chrome armor and French castles and all the other goodies - not so much Anachronism Stew as an Anachronism Smoothie).
  • Mythic Russia has a few that are pointed out and Justified Trope in the book. The Russians drink vodka even though it hadn't yet become popular historically, because "what is a game in Russia without vodka?" The Mongols are Tengrist pagans even though the Golden Horde had converted to Islam by the time it was set, partly because it's easier to handle in the game's Religion Is Magic system and partly because of plain old Rule of Cool.
  • The Pirates Constructible Strategy Game by Wizkids is a naval combat game set sometime before, during, and after the American Revolution/War of 1812 era. When the first set came out, things were fine, but with each new expansion, they seem to be intent on adding a new crazy mechanic. They get alright Handwaves most of the time, but it is still silly. They are currently halfway between this and Fantasy Kitchen Sink. Some of these include:
    • Sea Monsters/Titans
    • Cursed pirates
    • Submarines (based off Jules Verne)
    • Vikings (Handwaved as being northerners who believe Norse Mythology)
    • Bombardiers (Ships with long-range and flame cannons attached to their decks)
    • Turtle ships (which at least existed around the time)
    • "Switchblades" (metal ships with giant pincers attached to the sides)
  • The old Atlantean Trilogy by Bar Games mixed Anachronism Stew with All Myths Are True, and came up with an alternate Earth where Atlantis coexists with Avalon, Amazons rub shoulders with gypsies, and you can sail from Hyperborea to Nazca. Never mind it's supposed to be set in 15,000 BC, and the continents' geographies are radically different?
  • The defunct trading card game Anachronism was built on this trope. The idea was that you could play as, say, Ivan the Terrible while wielding a claymore, wearing Japanese armor, and with Aphrodite on your side.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • Anachronism Stew is common in the works of William Shakespeare, because theatre of that time took a completely different approach to historical drama. Regardless of when or where a play was set, costumes and patterns of speech from the (then) present day were used, and there was never any attempt at historic realism as we understand it today. Some examples:
    • Julius Caesar, which contains references to striking clocks despite the fact that the first mechanical clock would not be invented until the mid-13th century.
    • Also of note, Julius Ceasar makes reference to a doublet, a close fitting jacket that wasn't around in Roman times.
    • There's also King Lear, in which the Britons of pre-Christian Britain worship Greek gods, arguably the only pagan gods with which Shakespeare's audience would be familiar.
      • Lampshaded by the Fool, who speaks a mock prophecy that he claims Merlin will make, since "I live before his time."
      • This is the result of massive Latinization or Hellenification of the past names, and obsessive attempts to match pantheons of other countries to the Greco-Roman one in the Middle Ages, result of the ideas of the superiority of the Latin language - scholars even made attempts to change English grammar to match Latin! Of course the same process had been going on even back when the Roman Empire and Greek nations still thrived.
    • Titus Andronicus is filled with them. The play is set some time in pretty generic Ancient Rome and it is filled with references to Christianity.
    • Hamlet (fl. 12th century) is a member of a religious denomination that won't exist for 300 years and attends a university that won't be founded for 200 years...
      • Even worse: Hamlet is based on events taking place in 8th century Denmark, and Denmark didn't convert to Catholicism (the only game in town) until the middle of the 10th century. So the original Prince of Denmark was not Christian at all. Shakespeare made him Christian to make him more interesting to Shakespeare's audience.
        • There's an essay on Hamlet that points out that his religion is actually key to interpreting his actions. If he is a Protestant then he believes the virtuous dead go straight to heaven, and therefore his father's ghost must be damned (and, presumably, completely unreliable). If, on the other hand, he's a Catholic, then he'd expect his father's soul to be in purgatory, and therefore a credible witness to Claudius's misdeeds.
    • Many performances of Troilus and Cressida deliberately use this trope by placing the heroes of the Trojan War into settings like World War I style trench warfare, in order to emphasize parallels with modern war. The play itself has an interesting and subtle example - Hector covets the fancy armor of a Greek soldier, but the few descriptions of the armor indicate that it is clearly in a modern British style instead of ancient Greek armor.
  • Medieval mystery plays did this deliberately—either to emphasize relevance to contemporary concerns (King Herod was recast as a scheming aristocrat sending out his knights to kill babies to protect his power base. Also, he was a Muslim), or just for comic effect (Noah exclaims "By St. John!" while arguing with his wife; the shepherds invoke about 5 different saints, the cross of Christ and the Virgin Mary before the angel turns up to tell them that a saviour has been born in Bethlehem... which is within walking distance, despite the fact that the shepherds have mentioned that the action is taking place in the vicinity of the English village of Horbury).
  • Probably played with a lot in Japanese Kabuki theater due to government restrictions on content, costumes, and even hair styles: a play that referenced a current issue would claim to be set in another era, except the characters might just happen to be wearing contemporary clothes.
  • The musical adaptation of Spring Awakening is based around this trope. While taking place in a provincial German town in 1890, in moments of emotional intensity, the characters whip out microphones to deliver interior monologues in rock music fashion, complete with concert lighting. These songs make no attempt at being time period appropriate: the characters sing in modern slang and the lyrics mention telephones and stereos, among other things.
  • The 1971 Broadway adaptation of Two Gentlemen of Verona spliced early-seventies rock music into Shakespeare in a similar fashion.
  • In one production of Jesus Christ Superstar, Pilate whipped Christ with his microphone cord.
    • One filmed version had a scene in which Judas was chased by helicopters and tanks.
  • Although it's set in 1587, the male (and one female) characters of Mary Stuart wear relatively modern outfits (e.g. business suits), as well as speaking in contemporary British Accents.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Super Robot Wars gets pretty insane with the sheer weirdness of how they reconcile most of Schizo-Tech, though usually the base level of technology (at least for humanity) is about on par with that of Zeta Gundam. However, past that bare minimum the mecha range anywhere from uber futuristic to looking like an escapee from a museum, and even their fuel sources range anywhere from plain gasoline to fusion engines to outright Applied Phlebotinum. It also kinda helps that in the case of series with a definite anachronistic touch, like The Big O, Turn a Gundam, Giant Robo, or Sentou Mecha Xabungle, there is generally a good reason why such dated looking tech exists in the same universe as the futuristic stuff.
  • In Out Run 2006, one of the last tracks is located in some ancient Mexican ruins. However, these ruins are more of a mishmash of all the ancient ruins in Mexico. In this track, you can see the big Olmec stone heads from when Egypt was still ruled by the pharaohs; the big Pyramid of the Sun from when the Roman Empire was about to conquer pretty much all Europe; human-sized columns, known as atlantes, built by the Toltecs when Europe was waging the Crusades; and big Aztec and Mayan temples made shortly before the Spanish conquistadores came to kick some butt. However, since the ruins do look like ancient Mexican ruins, a trained eye might as well not care much about that, maybe finding it rather amusing.
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein features cyborg monsters, futuristic heavy weapons (even by today's technology) such as the Venom (a hand-held minigun) and Tesla Cannon (which appears to cast Level 6 Chain Lightning), and Helga von Bulow's female Elite Mooks, who wear Stripperiffic or Spy Catsuit-type outfits.
    • This is more of an example of Schizo-Tech or Mad Science. The Venom Gun is a Gatling Good weapon that would have to be mounted on a vehicle to be used today, and the Tesla Gun is just plain impossible. Most of the Nazi science in the game is as fantastic as the zombies and undead knights.
  • Shadow Hearts: From The New World causes problems with its attempt to jump on the "What really happened in Roswell" bandwagon... as the game is set in 1929, 18 years before the Roswell incident. Not that this is anything new for Shadow Hearts, or that the series has ever tried for historical accuracy in the first place. Let us put it this way: one of the people in the crashed vehicle is a Magical Girl vampire.
    • The historical inaccuracies start in the first game, with Mata Hari's bikini and cell phone. Not to mention my history textbooks have all failed to mention Japan had combat robots during WWI.
    • Shadow Hearts IS this trope. We've got the heroes zipping around in a giant nuclear-powered flying ship which can circle the globe in no time flat. We've got Anastasia (yes, THAT Anastasia) running around taking Polaroids. We've got Johnny wielding a cellphone (whereas Mata Hari's was a clunky 80's model, his is a modern fliptop phone with viewscreen). We've got people going into outer space. We've got supercomputers popping up everywhere. We've got genetically enhanced apes with human intelligence and laser guns. All before 1930. Not that any of this is a problem.
  • The Monkey Island series has this in spades, cheerfully throwing vending machines, electric devices and Elvis pins into the 17th century Caribbean. Of course, given the tone of the series, this is often cheerfully lampshaded, as when Guybrush complains about the shoddy, 17th century electrical wiring.
  • Samurai Shodown is a clearinghouse of this. The games are set in 1788-1811, yet Texas and San Francisco are part of the United States, Amakusa Shiro (1621-1638) and Hattori Hanzo (1542-1596) are both alive, Prussia is a feudal kingdom with castles, armored knights, and an Arthurian king, the White House has its modern appearance, and there are robots.
    • Jubei Yagyu (1607-1650), and the two principals and their stage are based on a legendary duel that happened in 1612. At least these are big names who could justifiably be put together in an "all-star" swordfighting game. Houston and San Francisco are a lot harder to justify, as there are plenty of colonial locations that would be suitable (Boston and Atlanta, for example).
    • One of the ninja characters is a blonde-haired blue-eyed American surfer from California. This does not gel with the stated year of the game in several respects.
    • One of the other characters marries Queen Victoria, who wasn't even born until 1819.
  • Koei's Dynasty Warriors series is full of this, including ancient Chinese girls in shorts and Emperors-in-the-making who use modern slang.
  • Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy. Despite being set in Ancient Egypt, it has a Gentleman Adventurer dressed like he's from the 1800s, a mini-game that includes what appear to be Christmas trees, Chihuahuas (yes, in Ancient Egypt), and more.
    • Although what the game calls "Chihuahuas" are much larger and resemble an entirely different breed of dog, and when mummified they turn into something resembling a pug.
  • Lionheart, while set in an Alternate Earth, is still an example because the ages (and locations) of several historical figures were fudged to get them into the game.
  • Bushido Blade, which featured a huge mishmash of characters using weapons from wildly disparate time periods and cultures in what appears to be isolationist Japan. However, the game is set in the modern day, which becomes apparent about three missions into the campaign.
  • Rome: Total War, despite starting out looking like a fairly historically accurate game, devolves into silliness pretty quickly from a historian's perspective. "Egyptian" troops are portrayed using sickle-swords and chariots and generally dressing like stereotypical Egyptians from, say, the New Kingdom era (i.e. centuries before the game's time frame). The Egypt of the time was thoroughly Hellenized; having them dress up like characters from The Mummy makes about as much sense as a World War II game where the Japanese fight with katana and yumi-ya.
    • The developers admitted that they knew that Egypt was Hellenized, but made them that way because they did not want to have yet another standard Hellenic faction. Fortunately the nice people behind the Europa Barbarorum mod has created a very cool and as historically accurate as possible Ptolemaic army.
      • The developers have also admitted ahead of time that Empire: Total War would have its anachronisms, such as the presence of steamships even though the game's timeline ends by 1800.
  • It would be easier to list the things that aren't anachronistic in Soul Calibur's version of the 16th century.
    • Let's see: there's no electricity or telephones, aaannnnd... we're done.
  • The second half of Mafia II took place in 1951, and yet most of the songs that you'll hear during the 1950s portions of the game weren't released yet.
    • And so do the vehicles. Even the 1940s chapters had some anachronisms, like with Al Hirt's "Java" being played on the radio despite the song being released in 1964.
  • The Western adventure Gun, set some time after the Civil War enables you to enter a series of Texas Hold 'Em Poker tournaments to win money and completion percentage. However, the Texas Hold 'Em variant was actually invented in the early 20th century.
  • Sierra's Quest for Glory series is a mixture of different mythologies and technologies making up different regions of the game world, ranging from the medieval pseudo-germanic Speilburg to the almost victorian-era Mordavia, as well as random pop-culture references, x-ray glasses, and junk dealers trying to sell you used World War 1 gas masks.

Junk dealer from Wages of War: Just look at all these almost-new items, every one a guaranteed anachronism!

  • The Resistance series of games, despite being set in the 1950s, feature futuristic weapons and machinery. However, this can be explained with the fact that they are all Chimera inventions rather than human.
    • Resistance also occurs in an alternate timeline that diverged right before the Spanish-American War, Nikola Tesla got lucky with his inventions, and the Chimera technology helped later.
  • Most of the Castlevania games aren't too bad about this, but many of Symphony of the Night's recovery items simply did not exist in the late 18th Century. Hamburgers weren't around to start with, but how can they also be "100% US grade A?" There wasn't even have a Department of Agriculture at the time!
    • Also, there's enemies who use GUNS, or skeletons riding MOTORCYCLES. (The ones in So TN used Muskets, which were around back then. The Gatling Guns in Bloodlines make sense too, as it takes place right before World War II anyways.)
    • Arguably averted in the Chronicles of Sorrow games, which are set Twenty Minutes Into the Future.
    • And in Order of Ecclesia, tin men and even robot enemies in the early 1800s! While a few such things did exist at the time, they were in no way advanced enough to fight.
      • Not that those things are any more advanced than Frankenstein's Monster, which fits right in with the setting despite showing up as many as 400 years before the events of Frankenstein.
    • In Harmony of Dissonance, you can find an "Old Radio" as a decoration for your room. Despite the fact that it takes place in 1748.
    • Castlevania: Curse of Darkness has a room-decorating side-quest where you collect chairs. As seen here, probably half of the chairs don't belong in the 15th century. That's before mentioning some of the weirder weapons, such as a guitar. However, this game also features a time traveller.
  • The Sengoku Basara games and anime takes several Samurai warlords, some of which lived decades apart, places them in the late Sengoku era, and throws in such anachronistic elements as shotguns, miniguns, rocket launchers, a horse with Harley Davidson exhaust pipes, Humongous Mecha and more.
  • While the tech trees of the Civilization games are fairly historically correct, in practice it's quite common for a civ to be defending a city with rifleman, longbow archers and club-wielding warriors at the same time, and that time maybe around 700AD.
    • If you focus on developing science, you may find your mechanised infantry assaults are facing pikemen and musketeers.
    • In Civ: Revolutions, there's a goody hut that can grant an advanced unit. Getting a tank in the Bronze Age is a happy event that allows one to steamroll the rest of the world in extremely short order.
    • An even more fun example: finding Christianity well before the switch from BC to AD.
  • The Legend of Zelda is ostensibly set in a world in Medieval Stasis. It also happens to have boomerangs, telephones, photographs, electric switches, crane games, complex mechanical mechanisms in a simple clock tower, grappling hook pistols, pipelines, 17th-18th Century pirates, modern-looking mines (for mining), combination operated safes, sumo, steam-ships and motorboats. One of the newer titles added trains, steam-powered tanks, turrets, and throwaway jokes about films and electric bills.
    • And a neon sign and jukebox.
    • Link also gets a robot buddy in one game. This same game also has a mechanic character who's building a washing machine, and where the robots come from, there is hover technology (complete with Tron Lines) and cloaking devices. Making this really hilarious is that this is supposed to be the earliest game in the timeline. Granted, though, the robots, hover tech, cloaking devices and whatnot are implied to be from a Precursor civilization that has long since been wiped out.
  • The normal gameplay in the Age of Empires series is fairly accurate. However, one anachronism has been introduced for combined Rule of Funny and Rule of Cool: you can get a car in the second game by entering the cheat code "how do you turn this on." Try it.
    • A car that shoots bullets and can level entire cities. That and tricycle-riding babies with bazookas in the first game.
    • The first game also had cheat codes to get astronauts armed with laser guns or miniature nukes.
    • The third game had a monster truck that runs everything over. Yes, even buildings.
  • Wolfenstein (2009): right there after the first level in the first black market room, there is a table with a bunch of bundles of money, easily recognizable for almost all Germans who are old enough to play this game: 100-DM bills (100 Deutsche Mark) in the new variant, that was introduced October 1, 1990. So Nazis not only use Psychic Powers now, they also have Money that won't be around for another 50 years...fantastic!
  • The Backyard Sports series take place in the late 1970s-early 1980s, judging by the appearance of pro players in the games, yet many characters talk of 1980s events (such as Italy winning the World Cup) as being long before their time. Lampshaded by Barry Bonds in the 2001 edition, where he says that his father played in the majors a long time before he was a kid, and then realizing time doesn't go that slowly.
  • Ganbare Goemon has this to an extent. The American and French film industries hadn't started up when Japan was in the Edo period. Also, Ridiculously Human Robot and Super Robot that is also ridiculously human.
  • Yo-Jin-Bo has a bunch of 1850's ronin who like to Shout-Out to modern pop culture. The technology is generally consistent with 19th century Japan, but it's never explained how they know about things like Back to The Future and Mr. T.
  • Though Assassin's Creed I shows a surprising amount of research (for a video game), they made many mistakes that do not agree with the history and architecture of Ancient Jerusalem at all. This includes Ottoman flags for the Turks (100 years too soon), the Lions' Gate (300 years too soon), and a golden dome on the Dome of the Rock (750 years too soon!), and many others. However, this is explained in-game, with most of history being either deliberately distorted by the Templars or the Pieces of Eden; the history shown in-game is supposed to be the setting's "actual" history, taken directly from the memories of those who were actually there.
    • Similar issues abound in Assassin's Creed II, such as the circumstances surrounding Caterina Sforza's husband (who was supposed to have died in the incident with the Orsi, not by her hand), and some of the paintings you can buy (for instance, Titian's "Venus Anadyomene" wasn't painted until 1520, quite some time after the end of the game). There are also issues with some of the armors you can buy, and weapons you acquire being a tad ahead of their time, just like in the first game.
  • Bloodline Champions has a general "tribal" theme for the characters, but the Gunner bloodline fires two weapons that resemble flintlock carbines, as well as a mortar and rockets. The Engineer bloodline uses a 'boomstick', flamethrower, a jet pack, a tractor beam, shrink/enlarge device and can deploy an "EMP Pulse" where there are no implications of electronics in the setting otherwise whatsoever. With pretty much everything but the jet pack firing out of one weapon.
  • The Elder Scrolls series. One of the Daedra wears a pocket watch, and Sotha Sil has an entire clockwork city, despite the fact that there is not a single clock to be found anywhere in Tamriel. There are also robots, airships, newspapers, a stock market, and the easy availability of books suggests some equivalent of a printing press (nothing like this is seen in-game, but there is a publishing company in Tribunal).
    • The said Daedra with the pocketwatch is Sheogorath so it's excusable.
    • All advanced machinery is the product/legacy of the Dwemer and gets the "high-technology Dwarf" excuse or Sotha Sil and gets the A Wizard Did It excuse. Vvardenfell researchers point out that Dwemer technology suffers number of reconstruction hurdles beyond their racial extinction (so there's no one to explain anything...) such as complicated enchantments and metallurgy and the lack of standardized part construction in modern society. They're more like puzzle golems than conventional machines.
  • Several Star Wars video games actually contain fictional anachronisms. For example, Knights of the Old Republic and its spinoff MMORPG The Old Republic, which are set nearly 4,000 years before the original trilogy. Including, but not limited to, the use of the title "Darth" long before it was supposed to have originated (the Darths of KotOR have since been retconned as the first to use the title in Star Wars Expanded Universe canon); Chiss (a race virtually unknown in the galaxy until after the original trilogy) as a player character race in Old Republic; and the use of carbonite to freeze living beings (remember, the whole point of freezing Han in The Empire Strikes Back was to see if it was even possible to survive the process). Most can be hand waved by claiming that records from the Old Republic era are spotty, leading to information and technology being lost and rediscovered.
    • This is to say nothing of the appearance: lightsabers, starships and clothing looked far more primitive in the Tales of the Old Republic comics, yet in KotOR, they are indistinguishable from "modern" times.
    • All of this pales in comparison to the state of the galaxy during the Sith Wars and following dark ages, which took place between the aforementioned MMO and the Ruusan reformation 1,000 years before The Phantom Menace. Records of the era are extremely spotty both in-universe and in real life, but there are reports of platemail-and-swords being the primary implements of war... while starships are still the primary mode of transportation.
  • Old DOS game God of Thunder plays with this constantly. Ignoring the premise of Thor having to go kill Loki, we have:
  • Team Fortress 2 has a trailer for the game's debut on the Mac in which a few classes are seen wearing earbuds. Even though the game is set in the 60s and earbuds wouldn't appear until at least 30 years later.
    • Considering that the game exists in an alternate universe where Shakespearicles (Shakespeare with muscles) invented the two-story building, America, and the rocket launcher, and where teleporters and cloaking devices are advanced enough to be used in battle, this should actually be classified as Schizo-Tech.
    • There's also the mysteriously unexplained high-tech computers and modern English warning signs in DeGroot Keep, a 10th century battlement.
      • Not entirely unexplained, as one of the unused textures for the stage is a ticket booth, implying that the two teams are just fighting in a tourist attraction. That also explains the Demoman's family portrait being inside the castle and the announcer and sirens still being around.
    • The Mac update comic has the characters visiting a store that sells modern-day items. However, this comic was later confirmed by the dev team to be non-canon.
    • A community-made item, "The Boston Boom-Bringer", is a boombox that can be equipped to Scout, and it plays hip-hop beats whenever the player taunts.
    • Most everything can be explained by the existence of the transformative element Australium, which considerably boosts the intellect of anyone brought into contact with it. It just so happens that the only cache lies under Australia, and thus Australia has become the most technologically advanced nation (inventing cloaking, teleportation, and mastering the entire spectrum of the mustache sciences).
  • Swords and Soldiers has the Vikings, the Aztecs, and the Chinese fight over a giant pepper.
  • Call of Duty Black Ops is especially anachronistic in regards to its weapons due to it featuring many modern firearms despite being set during the Vietnam War in the 1960s, with entire guns and configurations appearing far before they're supposed to. The game handwaves it by claiming that all the weapons are 'prototype versions', despite things like the Kiparis only being developed in 1978, the SPAS-12 shotgun only entering production in 1979 despite being used in 1968 in-game, and worst of all, the inclusion of the FAMAS F1 FELIN (the base weapon was only developed in 1978 and the FELIN variant only came into existence in the late 1990s). Strange in some cases, in that an earlier version of an anachronistic gun would have existed for some time at points in the game.
    • This isn't entirely new to the series. Some missions in earlier Call of Duty games feature the STG-44 chronologically before it was actually produced. Call of Duty 4 also had one section where Russian mercenaries in 1996 had frequent access to the G36, which hadn't even entered service anywhere yet at that point.
  • There's one of these in Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army, in a bit of optional dialogue. Talk to Dr. Tsukumo after Ep. 9, and give the second answer to make him reference Schrodingers Cat. The game is set in 1931 - four years too early for that! Whoops. Not too egregious, thanks to the pun ("Now, I know you like cats...", referencing the fact that Gouto follows Raidou everywhere.) and the fact that it's optional.
  • Fable III has quite a bit of this sometimes bordering on Steampunk. It seems that the creators just threw in everything and anything associated with the Industrial Revolution (a nearly 200 year long period) whether they really did existed at the same time or not. Of course Albion is a made-up land where magic exists, so they can get away with it though it is still kind of jarring to see a Sherlock Holmes Expy placed in such an environment.
  • Sands of Time is supposed to take place around the ninth century. But the capital city, Babylon, has the famous Hanging Gardens... which were destroyed around a thousand years before that point. Must be all that time travel.
  • The various Lego Adaptation Games don't even try to be consistent within the setting, let alone the time period. All of them run on the Rule of Funny though.
  • Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker features weapons that weren't developed in Real Life for a few years. It also adds technology that had been invented years on within the series universe. A walkman also appears in the game that was first made in 1979, not 1974. MSF can also invent the MP3 player during this time. Handwaved as Snake has a plethora of geniuses at his disposal.
  • The first mission of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is set before the commencement of Operation Torch in Africa, but Grillo somehow acquires an American jeep.
  • Harvest Moon often has modern items like TVs, but never has the farming industry face any amount of industrialization.
  • Phantasy Star runs on this trope since it follows events in a solar system that routinely experiences catastrophic events. This leads to a combination of current people with varying levels of technology dealing with cyborgs and genetically engineered creatures from previous eras.
  • Caleb, the protagonist of Blood, makes very frequently pop-culture references. The problem is, the game is set in 1928, decades before most of the things he references came into existence. Even worse when you consider that Caleb is actually from the Civil War era.
    • The Other Wiki also mentions that aside from the purely sci-fi gadgets like the Tesla Cannon, the spraycan he uses with a zippo lighter as a makeshift flamethrower will only be invented a few decades after the game is set.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising takes place in ancient Greece, and among Pit's arsenal are gun-blades, Magitech lasers, and cannons. Health recovery items include hamburgers, sushi, and chocolate. Never mind that Pit can't seem to stop referring to the story as a game.


Visual Novels[edit | hide]


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • No Need For Bushido, while technically set in imperial Japan, cheerfully features a hodgepodge of ninjas, Taoist monks, an order of scantily clad female assassins, giant anime-style swords (well, ok, one giant sword), Hong Kong kung-fu action movie fighting styles, and modern-day references. And TWO blind kick-ass fighters. Also, birdfish. Don't forget the birdfish. (The NNFB fanmixes take this anachronism with modern day references even further, to absurd but often hilarious extremes)
  • Arthur, King of Time and Space gleefully throws the anachronisms into the "fairy tale" arc (the standard Arthurian romance with the standard medieval trappings) with two justifications: the author (and to a lesser extent, the characters) knows the sources are flawed and anachronistic in and of themselves, and half the anachronisms are Merlin's fault, since he has the gift of foresight (at one point, for example, using a fly swatter to kill a fairy spy).
  • Dinosaur Comics, of course. While inherently unrealistic (talking dinosaurs), they oftentimes reference human events, which obviously would take place many millions of years in the future. This is often lampshaded.
    • There's anachronisms in every strip: The third panel has T-Rex about to step on a house that's next to a car, and the fourth panel has T-Rex about to step on a person.
  • Perry Bible Fellowship: this strip shows a technologically advanced future civilization for whom the history of the second millennium seems to be a big blur.
  • In Order of the Stick's Azure City, not only are there sewers, but there are three tunnels, clearly labeled "Ocean," "Anachronistic Sewage Plant," and "Obligatory Sewer-Themed Labyrinth." Such things have been lampshaded.
    • And in Cliffport, there's a municipal park. Amid high-rise buildings.

Vaarsuvius: I'm simply saying that the architectural motifs found here in the city of Cliffport are inconsistent with the presumed medieval time period.
Durkon: It be magic.
Vaarsuvius: Yes, fine, I grasp the premise that any sufficiently advanced - and in particular, reliable - magic would be indistinguishable from technology, I merely find the implementation here haphazard, at best.
Durkon: Meh. It could be worse, ye know.
Vaarsuvius: Oh?
Durkon: They could have magic trains.
Vaarsuvius: Point taken.

      • And is then played straighter by Redcloak here.

Redcloak: (...) but I'm the one who has to make the magical lightning-powered trains run on time.

    • The C.C.P.D., complete with sirens (on the horses), sketch artist and mayor yelling at Da Chief for failing to catch the murderer when elections are coming up, and underlings being yelled at by said cigar-smoking, coffee downing chief. One double serving of Anachronism Stew, coming right up.
    • It's subtle, but look at this comic. Where did Hayley get a metal detector? And more importantly, where the hell was she keeping it? (Same questions apply to Roy and his sextant...)
      • Being set in the world of D&D v3.5, I'd imagine they kept them in their always-present-but-never-seen backpacks, capable of holding as many items of any dimensions as there are spaces on their character sheets and with the ability to protect their contents from damage of any kind, be it fire, water, acid, sudden force, etc. Would that all backpacks were D&D backpacks.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Ms. Jones' students watch a documentary hologram about the founding of the Court. The characters in the hologram include a guy who looks like he stepped out of The Cavalier Years or The American Revolution, and another fellow wearing a modern trench coat, an article of clothing which wasn't introduced until World War I. Shortly afterwards, Jones points out that "this simulation is an artistic representation".
    • Although she said that in regards to an indistinct glow, represented as such because they didn't know what it was. And present was also the man who designed robots. Maybe the others just liked to dress that way.
  • The idea of anachronism stew was theorized, later defictionalized, and generally slammed in this Xkcd comic.
  • Hark, A Vagrant! is all about this.
  • Hellbastard Comics starts with an alien war that interrupts Satan's viewing of Bridezillas in what is later revealed to be the pre-Napoleonic era and just gets better from there.
  • Blade Bunny takes place in a historical mashup of feudal Japan and ancient China, with robots one of which has futuristic guns and a Bunny Girl in a microskirt.
  • San Three Kingdoms has no problem using modern machine guns.... in 208 AD. Or sniper rifles (Cao Cao is sexy...)
  • This Penny Arcade comic has a flashback to 1988 showing characters using a Powerglove (introduced in 1989 and quickly flopped), reading Nintendo Power #31 (December, 1991), talking about Thundercats (ran from 1985–89), and drinking a New Coke (introduced in 1985 and quickly flopped). To be fair, the date is only implied, and everybody didn't immediately quit drinking New Coke, playing with Powergloves, or referencing cancelled cartoons. But the overall impression is a mishmash of things associated with the '80s, regardless of which part of the '80s (or early '90s) they actually came from.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Anachronauts plays with the concept, as different variations of Earth in different technological (or magical) eras exist on the same planet.
  • Homestar Runner: The "Old-Timey" era is supposed to take place in the 1930s, but makes reference to any number of events ranging from the 1800s to the 1950s.
  • The Town is easily one of the worst offenders. Having characters with technology and cultures from every time period yet to exist and several that haven't and likely won't ever.
  • This creepypasta.
  • Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog has this baked into its very concept, and that's not even getting into all the pop culture references...
  • The Gungan Council features an in-universe example, where an Imperial I Star Destroyer can be in the same fleet as a Sith battlecruiser, and no one minds.
  • TheEpic Rap Battles of History. A lot of times, this explains how the contestants know each other, period.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Bart: It's like a history lesson come to life!
Lisa: No it's not, it's entirely inacc-
Bart: Quiet, here come the ninjas!

      • And the credits mention Robot Zorro, among other strange characters. With James Earl Jones as the voice of the Magic Taco.
      • The ending rap playing over the movie credits also suggests that Zorro will "cut your butt from a '52 Ford."
    • In "Lisa's Substitute", Mr. Bergstrom asks the class to identify three things wrong with his cowboy outfit. Lisa points out his belt says state of Texas despite Texas not being a state yet, he has a revolver before it was invented, and there weren't Jewish cowboys. He says he was also wearing a digital watch and notes for the record that there were a few Jewish cowboys.
    • When the kids play Cowboys and Indians, Nelson fires with a "Killmatic 3000". Bart tells him they didn't have that back then and Nelson retorts "records from that era are spotty at best."
  • Parodied in Futurama (set at the turn of the fourth millennium) -- the 1999 theme park "Past-o-Rama" featured Albert Einstein and Hammurabi disco-dancing in a hot air balloon. With Hammurabi saying 'Dynomite!'. Some wires got severely crossed there.
    • With cowboys on hover-scooters and wielding laser rifles hunting mammoth, while talking like Surfer Dudes.
  • In Cats Don't Dance, when the animals are on the out-of-control ark, they crash through a movie production in progress, which seems to be a nod to Cecil B. DeMille's version of Samson and Delilah. Except that the columns that Samson is pulling down are part of a Parthenon-style Greek structure, and after the ark crashes through the set, we get a gag shot of Danny and Sawyer suddenly wearing Egyptian costumes.
    • Well, old Cecil himself enjoyed serving up a good bowl of Anachronism Stew, especially in the name of Fan Service or Spectacle. The Art Deco sets in Cleopatra come to mind (although Art Deco itself was partly inspired by Ancient Egyptian finds).
      • Also, consider the fact that the movie is set in 1939, a time when Biblical epics were not in vogue. DeMille stopped making them shortly after the Hays Code went in effect, and would not revive them until the aforementioned Samson and Delilah about eight years later.
    • The ending credits which has gag movie posters of the main cast in various famous movies of the 20th century. Them starring in Beetlejuice is an eye-raiser considering the film's timeline is the 1930s.
      • The turtle probably would still be around for Beetlejuice if it had a real turtle's lifespan, but most of the others' careers shouldn't even have lasted out the 1940s.
  • Batman the Animated Series is another deliberate example. It features Art Deco-style buildings and gangsters sporting fedoras and tommyguns, yet computers are common and nobody bats an eye about women having actual careers.
    • VCR's and video games are also common, yet all TV is broadcast in black and white.
    • Justified, since the series seems to make nods to the time period in which Batman was invented (the 30s)..
  • Ice Age throws together many animals which did not coexist in either time or place (or both, such as the dodos). At the very least, they're all from after the dinosaur age, and most are from the actual Ice Age.
    • Except the sequel, which has dinosaurs (including the aforementioned T. Rex) that survived the KT Extinction Event (when the last of the dinosaurs died off). They suggest that there is only a small population, but the movie still takes place less than 2 million years ago, meaning that they're about 63 million years out of place.
  • The Flintstones, for the simple fact that humans and dinosaurs couldn't possibly coexist... of course, this is due to Rule of Funny.
    • This, however, gets to the Point of Mind Screw when The Flintstones Christmas Carol takes place in 10 million B.C., which means 10 million years before the birth of Christ, Comically Missing the Point of the holiday existing in the first place.
    • They also have a lot of modern-day technology, albeit in more primitive form.
    • They also speak modern English, even though Old English was first spoken in the Middle Ages.
  • In Gargoyles, the flashbacks set in and right after 994 AD (when the eponymous Gargoyles got stoned) have their problems. For one thing, the Normans, who conquered England in 1066, built the first stone castles on Britain since the 6th century, which would make the Gargoyles' home castle an impossibility.
  • The "Starboy and the Captain of Outer Space" film from Home Movies is possibly the most Anachronism Stew-y cartoon ever made. For example, the 3 main villains are George Washington, Pablo Picasso and Annie Oakley, who try to destroy the human race by killing their hostages: Shakespeare, Oliver Twist and the Mermaid Queen.
    • Another Home Movies episode takes place at a medieval fair where Brendon and Jason put on a play about the friendship of King Arthur and Robin Hood... and the episode is titled 'Renaissance'. It invokes the Rule of Funny showing Brendon's grasp of history, but it's also typical of these fairs.
    • In yet another, Melissa once portrays Susan B. Anthony as a gun-nut. The 'B' stands for 'Bitchin.
  • Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers has alarms, modern plumbing, a production of The Pirates of Penzance, mentions of peanut butter, fast food, an airhorn, etc.
    • Most of this is Lampshaded in the character commentary.
  • Ratatouille is supposed to be set after DNA paternity tests' discovery (after the 1990s). But all the technology shown are so old-fashioned (Ego uses a typewriter, for instance), that some French reviewers believed the movie was supposed to be set in the 1950s.
    • Though considering all the audience saw was a very select group of very, very eccentric people, it could just be their oddities. Ego especially seems like a character who'd dislike a computer.
  • Every episode of Dino Babies had the characters retelling a famous story set millions of years in the future.
  • One episode of Ruby Gloom has a cameo by one of Misery's ancestors who started the Great Fire of London. As you recall from your history lessons, that was in 1666, but the character is wearing a medieval costume complete with tall pointy hat.
  • Extremely evident in the original Transformers cartoon where the robot modes of all the Transformers (especially those of Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Starscream, and Soundwave) resemble their eventual Earth modes even in the distant past and on planet Cybertron.
  • Kingpin Life of Crime takes place in "a past that never happened". The game features, among other anachronisms, 90's rap music by Cypress Hill, people with cyborg-style body modifications, cars from the 30's and 40's and Guns from the 20's.
  • The time setting of Alfred J Kwak is considerably vague. In general it seems to take place somewhere during the 20th century, but among other things Professor Paljas has access to advanced supertech, and a mediaeval Middle Eastern kingdom also seems to exist.

^ The actual time period of Samurai Jack's birth was never stated, thought presumed to be Feudal Japan but his youth had quite a few inconsistencies. He learned mounted combat from the Mongols, wrestling from Roman gladiators, and archery from Robin Hood himself! The time periods here are all over the place and impossible from a purely historic perspective.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Just about any event of the Society for Creative Anachronism, where you can see examples of everything from sixteenth-century German armor to Moors to Vikings to Romans to Samurai all competing in the same tournament, or a Viking chatting with an Elizabethan lady over a display of Catholic prayer beads. Not a result of Did Not Do the Research so much as the basic structure of the organization; anything before 1600 AD is fair game for re-enactment. Individuals will generally be faithful to a period in their dress, though this also varies.
    • Then again, they do give you fair warning. It wouldn't be a Society for Creative Anachronism if they weren't creatively anachronistic, now would it?
    • Medieval Re-enactors in the UK used to annually attend the Battle of Tewkesbury each year, but until recently, it was well-known for allowing pretty much anyone with vaguely medieval kit (garb to SCA types) onto the field. At one of the last events before it changed to a more authenticity-based re-enactment, it wasn't uncommon to see 9th century Vikings, the (ubiquitous) kilted Scotsmen and Normans from 1066 fighting against bill blocks.
    • Renaissance festivals in general are often actually more of a pastiche of Middle Ages, Renaissance, and even Fantasy (including fairies, etc.).
      • Not to mention Sci-Fi, what with the occasional incursions of groups of people in Star Trek uniforms pretending to be an Away Team.
        • Or the obligatory Imperial Stormtrooper in a kilt, with a sword on his hip.
  • Cowboy Action Shooters love this Trope. While costumers are encouraged to wear

appropriate costume, there is no rule forbidding (for example) a Confederate soldier from using an M1887 Winchester shotgun. Part of this is because the governing organization permits and encourages Western movies to be used as inspiration, and classic Westerns are notorious anachronism stews.

  • During the 2008 campaign, then-Senator Joe Biden said "Now, when this country entered the Great Depression, our president, Franklin Roosevelt, went on television and spoke of how to get this country out of it." The Daily Show had a lot of fun with this, since 1) Herbert Hoover, not Roosevelt was President at the time, and 2) Television barely existed...
    • Hoover did appear on an early television broadcast, though. (And yes, this was either while or just before he was President, not at some point before he died in 1964.)
  • Great Britain still has Kings, Queens, Princesses, Dukes, Counts, Knights, and even chiefs in a modern technological society. That is just beginning all the stuff you can find.
  • Modern printings of Old English works gleefully use the letter 'W', which would not be created for a few hundred years; however, the only other option would be to use the contemporary letter wynn ('Ƿ'), which was abandoned due to constant confusion of it and 'P'.
  • People taken in by this Trope often turn up at antiques markets or pawnshops, honestly believing that some dusty old item they found in the attic is much older (or occasionally much newer) than it actually is.
  • People's memories can be this way. Some people being interviewed about their experiences surviving the great Johnstown Flood of 1889 years after it happened mentioned that they checked their wristwatch - even though wristwatches didn't become popular until the 1920's, 30 years later.
  • Sam Wineburg's Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts argues that most of us see time as a sort of dual choice: the present and "the past," which includes everything from cavemen to toga-wearing Romans to medieval kings and knights to Elvis Presley, and that it's really a fairly unnatural (and therefore difficult) act to periodize the past and think of it as a flowing narrative rather than a list of events. In fact, most people up until relatively (in a historical sense) recently wouldn't think of history any other way. If you told that Medieval artist in the opening of this topic that he was wrong in painting Jesus in Medieval Italian attire, he would just scratch his head and look at you with a puzzled expression.
  • As mentioned on the Real Life page, most people's lives invoke this to some extent as different people have different incomes and priorities, and the service life of much modern technology reaches deep into obsolescence. So, any given person might own the very latest desktop computer but still be using a Nokia "Brick", or they might have an iPhone 4S and a '92 Civic, for example.