Thu
Aug 25 2011 10:00am

Let’s Consider World War II a Shared World

It seems like at some point most of our favorite onscreen science fiction heroes end up within, or at least affecting, World War II. The storytelling appeal of this era seems obvious. It was a century-defining conflict that was long and varied, with clear heroes and villains. Inserting your own hero into this backdrop grants your story an epic scope, to say the least, but the most alluring aspect of World War II might be the focal point it became for all events that came after it. Insert your SF character into World War II and watch them spin out a whole series of events differing from how things really played out.

Whatever the case, a lot of our favorite characters seem to perpetually exist there, so we started wondering just how populated World War II would get if we considered it a shared universe.

We’ll start off with the most obvious World War II tourist: The Doctor.

We know the Doctor is returning to WWII in this Saturday’s forthcoming Doctor Who episode, “Let’s Kill Hitler.” But he could likely hang out with other versions of himself there too. The Ninth Doctor is present during the London Blitz in “The Empty Child” and the Eleventh Doctor was hanging out with British Daleks in “Victory of the Daleks,” again during the Blitz. That’s two different Doctors within a 10 month span of time of each other!

If the two Eleventh Doctors — the one in London and the one in Germany — wanted to shoot over to Russia Northumbria, England [Thanks to the appropriately named Fenric25 for the correction!], they could probably meet up with the Seventh Doctor from “The Curse of Fenric.” There’s also ANOTHER random Eleventh Doctor in a prison camp depicted briefly in “The Impossible Astronaut,” which means if a Doctor pow-wow were to occur in some kind of central WWII country it would feature 3 Elevens, 1 Nine, and 1 Seven, and this is just what we’ve seen on screen!

It gets a little wilder if you throw Captain Jack Harkness into the mix. There’s at least four versions we’re aware of: the con-artist Jack with Nine and Rose, the Torchwood Jack with Tosh who meets the “real” Jack Harkness, the Jack who has to travel through the 20th century all over again after being ditched by Nine and Rose, and then the Jack who is buried underneath the ground in Cardiff somewhere.

But what about some of our other favorite characters? Could all these versions of the Doctor and Jack meet up with Indiana Jones? What would Torchwood have to say about the Ark of the Covenant? Would the Doctor be able to sort out the Holy Grail from The Last Crusade?

Actually, all of this might be directly related to the temporal cold war from Star Trek: Enterprise. Remember those ugly Nazi aliens who invaded WWII-era New York and the Enterprise had to come shoot them down? It seems to me those aliens probably are using technology from the Trickster’s Brigade in an attempt to stop Starfleet/The Federation from ever forming. If we keep extrapolating, that means that Indiana Jones is probably unwittingly an agent of either Torchwood sent to fight the Nazis and obtain specific alien artifacts for the institute. (Indy’s dad and Marcus Brody seem to have some U.K. ties.)

And if you look at him in a certain light, Red Skull kind of resembles a red version of one of those Enterprise aliens, meaning he is actually a time-traveling alien, too. Captain America could then be seen as probably a very early version of the genetically enhanced soldiers that end up causing the Eugenics Wars in the Star Trek universe.

Captain America is a good version of Khan. Because Indiana Jones is made immortal at some point by that potion he gets in The Last Crusade this means he’ll be able to advise Captain America in the future when the Cap gets unfrozen. I also think that it’s fair to say that all the various incursions from the Doctor are the reasons why there are so many contradictory Captain America and Star Trek timelines out there. In fact, because WWII is so pivotal, it’s possible numerous potential futures are all splintering out from that time period all the time. Every time someone like Jack or the Doctor shows up it gets even worse and more splintered.

Further, the idea of America never entering WWII seems to be a hot topic of conversation at these potential historical pop-character crossover parties. We met a little parasite in the last episode of Torchwood that lived in the 1920s. The plan with this one was to convince FDR not to enter the war. Just like Edith Keeler from classic Trek’s “City on the Edge of Forever!” Is it possible the Trickster’s Brigade stole this idea from Kirk, Spock and Bones after hanging around in that soup kitchen and checking out Spock in that sweet beanie? Until we go back in time ourselves, we may never know for sure.

We could extrapolate on this forever, and we haven’t even scratched the surface. What other onscreen heroes and villains are messing around in World War II? Chime in below!


Stubby the Rocket is the mascot of Tor.com and was originally built during World War II, with each rivet lovingly bolted by a cadre of Rosies.

34 comments
Ellen Fremedon
2. Ellen Fremedon
Make that four Jack Harknesses-- Con Man Jack; immortal Jack, going through history the long way; the Jack who came back in time with Tosh, and the Jack buried under Cardiff. And probably others, since Jack implies in "The Empty Child" that this isn't the first con he's pulled in the Blitz.

(Also, "Curse of Fenric" is set in the north of England, not in Russia.)
Gary Rothkopf
3. Fenric25
Just a quick correction-in "The Curse of Fenric", the Seventh Doctor and Ace visited a naval base in Northumbria, England, not Russia. There were Russians, of course, trying to infilitrate the base and getting involved in the battle with Haemovores and such. Otherwise, good article, fun to read :)
Ellen Fremedon
4. Jason P Hunt - SciFi4Me
One could speculate that a fifth "Blackadder" series would have been set during WWII. And since it's never been offiically established that each Blackadder was a descendant of the previous, it's possible he could have been like Flint - immortal and constantly re-inventing himself.
Ellen Fremedon
5. Jason P Hunt - SciFi4Me
Plus, "Eureka" "Lost In Space" "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" "Taken" and "Futurama" all have events in 1947, in the aftermath of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War.
Ellen Fremedon
6. Smaug's Li'l Brother Puff
I think for Indy to be truly immortal he would also have had to stay on the inside of the Grail temple. As it is, we know the water gave him longer-than-average life because he was 92 at the beginning of Young Indiana Jones and looking every minute of it. :-D
Chris Lough
7. TorChris
Ah, quite right, Ellen and Fenric! We've made the corrections.

Also, I LOVE the idea of Blackadder rooting around in this universe. Nice one, Jason.
Ron Hogan
8. RonHogan
"One could speculate that a fifth 'Blackadder' series would have been set during WWII."

Rowan Atkinson himself bandied about the idea that he'd like to have set the fifth series in a POW camp.
Ellen Fremedon
9. Bryan Rasmussen
"Rowan Atkinson himself bandied about the idea that he'd like to have set the fifth series in a POW camp."

Most of it would have been him finding clever ways to help Colonel Klink stop Colonel Hogan's crazy schemes without getting everyone, especially Blackadder, killed. The rest of it would have him wiggling out of being executed for treason.
Ellen Fremedon
10. Alden Ash
Let's not forget Wolverine would be there, as well as the very young Hellboy and the initial BPRD, the Rocketeer, and Golden-Age Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, among others.
Ellen Fremedon
11. Alden Ash
And Namor, a young Magneto, and Maus.
Ellen Fremedon
12. Pendard
If you think World War II is crowded, try the Roswell a few years later! The Roswell UFO is real in almost every sci-fi universe!
Drew Holton
13. Dholton
I seem to remember the characters in the original Battlestar Galactica had an episode around the D-Day invasion. And surely Sam Beckett of Quantum Leap had at least one WWII episode?
And heck, what if Hurley and Ben from Lost get bored with the Island?
Michael Burke
14. Ludon
That was the pilot for Galactica 1980 which lifted elements from Time Tunnel and The Day The Earth Stood Still among others.

Two other characters adding to the crowd would be Phineas Bogg and Jeffery Jones from that campy series Voyagers! which was meant to be an educational re-hash of Time Tunnel.
Ellen Fremedon
15. AlBrown
In the new Captain America movie, when the Red Skull finds the Cosmic Cube in the Norwegian town, he scornfully says something like, "And the Fuhrer has people digging around in the desert," which appears to be a criticism of the effort to dig up ancient artifacts portrayed in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Another link between the Cap universe and the Indiana Jones universe!
Ellen Fremedon
16. JCHicks
Love this. So many possibilities for crossovers.

There was also Duncan MacLeod trying to blow up Hitler in Operation Valkyrie ...
Ian Johnson
17. IanPJohnson
Plus you have the Inglorious Basterds running around Nazi-occupied France.
Jack Flynn
18. JackofMidworld
Does it have to be a movie? If we branch out into novels, all of a sudden you've got Hitler's troops working on their own time-travel, sans TARDIS (Dean Koontz's Lightning) while Robert R McCammon's Wolf's Hour has a Russian-born Lupine Wavelength Haemovariform who's trying to undermine der Fuerher, too!
Ellen Fremedon
19. Jason P Hunt - SciFi4Me
Also consider that Mayberry is a part of this shared universe as well, since a certain James T. Kirk and Edith Keeler walked past Floyd's Barber Shop one quiet night...

Wonder what the Doctor would have thought of Barney Fife?
Ian Johnson
20. IanPJohnson
Some other events that took place during WWII:

~ The Watchmen saw action in Europe.

~ The Pevensie children were moved out of London during the Blitz, and into the country.

~ The father of Pink Floyd (the fictional character, not the band) was killed on the beach at Anzio, leading directly to the events of The Wall thirty-five years later.

~ And in a cellar in Wych Cross, England, Dream of the Endless was imprisoned…

Someone needs to turn this into a shared-world anthology. I'd buy it in an instant. Hell, I'd write a story for it in an instant. (If only to have a socially-acceptable outlet for writing a Doctor Who/Pink Floyd/Narnia/Sandman crossover fanfic…)
Ellen Fremedon
21. Kit Russell
@13Dholton: Off the top of my head, I remember that the Quantum Leap episode where Al leaped instead of Sam took place during or just after WWII; Al leaped into a soldier who had just returned from being in a German POW camp.

@15AlBrown: When the Red Skull said the line about the Fuhrer having people digging around in the desert, I laughed out loud (much to the confusion of my friends); I'm working on a book about exactly that.

I vaugely remember in the James Bond novels that his backstory was he'd fought in WWII? Which fits in nicely with the "James Bond is a Time Lord" theory.
marian moore
22. mariesdaughter
I had a similar frisson in watching the Doctor Who episode when he is caught messing with Apollo 11's capsule. Wasn't there a similar event in Star Trek? They catch a guy messing with an Apollo capsule?
Ellen Fremedon
23. bubcat
At least two Sanctuary episodes in WWII. I must say Jack th Ripper looked good in an SS uniform.

And what about The Escapist, from Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay?
Michael Burke
24. Ludon
@22 MariesDaughter
You are thinking of the episode Assignment Earth. They used stock footage from NASA of an Apollo-Saturn V stack but in the story the rocket is launching a nuclear weapons platform - not a moon mission vehicle.
Ellen Fremedon
25. a-j
Kit Russell@21
You're absolutely right. In the Fleming novels we are told that Bond carried out two assassinations (of a Japanese cypher clerk and a Norwegian traitor) during the war and was also at the Battle of the Bulge.

There's also all those occult goings-on on a remote Scottish island according to the beginning of Hellboy.
Ellen Fremedon
26. AusJeb
Bedknobs & Broomsticks also takes place during WWII, offering more magic and Nazis in blitz-era London.
Ellen Fremedon
27. irritated_bob
Don't forget all the irritating little historians waiting interminably for their retrieval teams in Connie Willis' inexplicably award winning Black Out/All Clear novels.

Luckily they'll not really pollute the timeline because they never do anything interesting.
Kristin Franseen
28. musichistorygeek
Let's not forget Sherlock Holmes (and Watson, Lestrade and Moriarty), magically transported to WWII for the films starring Basil Rathbone. To be fair, some of these were intended as wartime propaganda films, but they really don't provide an explanation for why Holmes is still so spry and solving mysteries and not keeping bees somewhere on the Sussex Downs...

Offscreen, Holmes also is...the age he should be during the war in Michael Chabon's The Final Solution and Mitch Cullin's A Slight Trick of the Mind.
Ellen Fremedon
29. Kamahl
7 Was also in WWII twice more in the Big Finish Audio "Colditz", (Second time being to fix up the fact that he destroyed history the first time)
Ellen Fremedon
30. Kamahl
7 Was also in WWII twice more in the Big Finish Audio "Colditz", (Second time being to fix up the fact that he destroyed history the first time)
Ellen Fremedon
31. RichieB
There was a 2000AD story that involved historians & researchers traveling back in time to Nazi germany for research. One got 'outed' because the uniform was wrong, one thing led to another & it turned out everyone there had been replaced by a time traveller... Including Hitler.
Ellen Fremedon
32. Sawmill
Add in to the mix the excellent Connie Willis novels Blackout and All Clear, which involve time-traveling "historians" from 2060 visiting London during the Blitz.
Ellen Fremedon
33. Dr. Thanatos
Adding to the fun and games always associated wtih Nazis:

The Proteus Operation

The Man in the High Castle

and let's not forget :
Rocket Ship Galileo, or Nazis on the Moon!
Ellen Fremedon
34. pjz
And don't forget that Lazarus Long's granddad is there as a surgeon until he gets rescued by his aughter and Lazarus Long himself is there somewhere getting his butt shot off.

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