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Top 10 Historically Inaccurate TV Shows

Imagine stepping into the past through the portal of your television screen. From the blood-soaked arenas of ‘Spartacus’ to the turbulent reigns in ‘The Crown,’ these shows promise a historical deep dive. Yet, they don’t always hit the mark.

Top 10 Historically Inaccurate Tv Shows

This analytical review unpacks the top ten historically inaccurate TV shows. It’s a fascinating exploration of how series like ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘The Tudors,’ and ‘Outlander’ sometimes sacrifice historical truth for captivating storytelling.

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Despite bending timelines, tweaking character portrayals, or mixing historical events with fiction, these shows continue to enthrall audiences. Their historical missteps, while intriguing, are a testament to the power of compelling narratives and unforgettable characters.

Key Takeaways

  • Some TV shows, such as Game of Thrones, Vikings, Marco Polo, and The Last Kingdom, are based on historical or fictional events, but they blend these events with fictional elements and may have inaccuracies in timelines and character portrayals.
  • Other shows, like The Tudors, Reign, Knightfall, and The Crown, focus on historical monarchies or figures and also blend historical events with fictional elements, taking liberties with historical events and characters.
  • Spartacus portrays ancient Rome and the slave revolt against the Roman Republic, but it takes creative liberties with historical details and is known for its graphic violence and explicit content.
  • Outlander revolves around time-traveling and historical events, blending romance, adventure, and historical fiction, but it also makes alterations to historical events and characters.

Game of Thrones: Historical Liberties

Game Of Thrones Historical Liberties

Game of Thrones, while captivating audiences with its complex characters and medieval-inspired world, often bends historical accuracy for the sake of dramatic storytelling. The show’s historical liberties have had a profound impact on pop culture, shaping our understanding of medieval times, despite its fantasy context.

Though the series doesn’t proclaim itself as historically accurate, the fusion of real-world history and fantasy elements is undeniable. This deviation from historical accuracy parallels the Vikings’ portrayal of fact vs. fiction. Both shows have prioritized entertainment value, creating visually stunning, emotionally resonant storylines that have gripped audiences worldwide.

This approach, while artistically valid, has sparked debates among history buffs and casual viewers alike about the balance between historical accuracy and entertainment in television.

Vikings: Fact Vs Fiction

Vikings Fact Vs Fiction

While Vikings is undeniably an engaging spectacle, it’s important to note that it doesn’t always adhere strictly to historical facts, often blending reality with fiction for dramatic effect. The show’s historical inaccuracies are prevalent throughout, from character timelines to cultural representations.

  1. Ragnar Lothbrok, the central character, is presented as a legendary Norse figure, but historical evidence of his existence is scant.
  2. The Viking’s use of horned helmets, a common misconception, is falsely depicted in the show.
  3. The timeline of events and characters often don’t align with recorded history.
  4. The portrayal of cultural clashes, much like in ‘The Last Kingdom’, tends to be dramatized for effect.

Nevertheless, these embellishments don’t detract from the show’s thrilling narrative and vivid depiction of the Viking era.

Marco Polo: Cultural Inaccuracies

Marco Polo Cultural Inaccuracies

The Netflix series ‘Marco Polo’ is another striking example of a TV show that blends historical truths with fictional elements, resulting in significant cultural inaccuracies. While the show does provide some insight into the Mongol empire’s majesty, it often misrepresents the rich tapestry of cultures woven into the 13th century.

Cultural inaccuracies in Marco Polo abound, from the wrong attire and language use to the over-dramatization of certain historical events. These mistakes, while enhancing the show’s entertainment value, contribute to a distorted perception of the past.

Much like the historical timeline errors in ‘The Last Kingdom’, these inaccuracies serve as a reminder that while historical dramas can educate, they shouldn’t replace actual historical research.

The Last Kingdom: Timeline Errors

The Last Kingdom Timeline Errors

Shifting focus to another historical drama, ‘The Last Kingdom’ also grapples with a fair share of timeline errors that distort the portrayal of real historical events.

  1. The Battle of Edington, a pivotal event, is shown as happening too early, creating a ripple effect of inaccuracies.
  2. Character portrayals also fall prey to time distortions; King Alfred the Great, for example, appears much older than his historical age during key events.
  3. The show compresses several decades into a few short years, scrambling the actual chronology of historical events.
  4. Important figures like Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, are introduced too soon, warping historical timelines.

These timeline errors, though unintentional, contribute to the overall historical inaccuracies, making ‘The Last Kingdom’ a thrilling, yet not always accurate, watch.

The Tudors: Dramatized Monarchy

The Tudors Dramatized Monarchy

How does ‘The Tudors’ dramatize the monarchy, you might ask? Well, it takes a juicy bite outta history and spits it back with a dash of creative spice. The Tudors, known for its dramatized monarchy, paints a vibrant picture of Henry VIII’s reign.

But it’s not all accurate. The show’s famous for historical inaccuracies, like condensing Henry’s sisters into one character and fast-forwarding through his numerous wives. Yet, it’s these same inaccuracies that make it exciting. The Tudors doesn’t aim to be a history lesson but an entertaining spectacle.

It prioritizes drama over historical precision, giving us a larger-than-life Henry and his tumultuous reign. In essence, ‘The Tudors’ shows us that sometimes, a pinch of fiction makes history a lot more palatable.

Reign: Historical Romance Over Reality

Reign Historical Romance Over Reality

Diving into the realm of historical fiction, ‘Reign’ certainly prioritizes romance and drama over historical accuracy, creating a compelling narrative that’s more about entertainment than factual representation.

The portrayal of romance in ‘Reign’ often overshadows the historical accuracy of the show’s events.

  1. Mary, Queen of Scots: The show’s protagonist’s life is highly romanticized, with her historical troubles often overlooked in favor of engaging storylines.
  2. Francis II of France: His character is used as a romantic interest, with his real-life short reign and health issues largely ignored.
  3. Nostradamus: Contrary to historical records, he’s depicted as a young, handsome seer.
  4. Timeline: It’s often manipulated for dramatic effect, leading to significant inaccuracies.

Despite its historical inconsistencies, ‘Reign’ remains a captivating watch for the romance and drama enthusiasts.

Knightfall: Warped Medieval Chronicles

Knightfall Warped Medieval Chronicles

Reign’s trend of prioritizing drama over historical accuracy continues with ‘Knightfall’, a show that takes significant liberties with its depiction of medieval times.

Historical inaccuracies in Knightfall are evident, as the show distorts medieval events for dramatic effect. The portrayal of knights in Knightfall leans towards fictionalized chivalry, often depicting them as more romanticized than reality would suggest.

While the spectacle of knights battling for the Holy Grail has its charm, the show often overlooks the gritty reality of medieval warfare. It’s clear that Knightfall’s creators were more interested in constructing complex characters and dramatic story arcs than adhering strictly to the annals of history.

Despite these inconsistencies, Knightfall remains a captivating watch, provided viewers take its historical claims with a grain of salt.

Spartacus: A Distorted Roman Era

Spartacus A Distorted Roman Era

Where does ‘Spartacus’ fit into this lineup of historically inaccurate shows? Well, it holds a notable place, mainly for its take on the Roman slave revolt. The show does a remarkable job at entertaining audiences but falls short when it comes to historical accuracy.

To break it down:

  1. The depiction of Spartacus himself is overly dramatized, straying from the historical figure.
  2. The timeline of events is often skewed, creating a distorted picture of the Roman era.
  3. The series over-emphasizes the gladiator culture, which wasn’t as prominent during the actual slave revolt.
  4. Lastly, historical inaccuracies in Spartacus abound in the portrayal of Roman society, including the social norms and political system.

In short, while ‘Spartacus’ succeeds as a thrilling spectacle, it’s not a reliable source for understanding the Roman slave revolt.

The Crown: Royal Exaggerations

The Crown Royal Exaggerations

‘The Crown’s portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, while captivating, isn’t without its fair share of historical exaggerations and creative liberties.

The series is ripe with royal scandals, some of which have been amplified for dramatic effect. For instance, Prince Philip’s speculated infidelity has been exaggerated, causing a stir among viewers. Similarly, the portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II often leans towards the dramatic, with the stoic monarch shown breaking character more frequently than she likely did in real life.

While the show’s creators have openly admitted to taking creative liberties, the embellishments can sometimes blur the line between fact and fiction. Despite these inaccuracies, ‘The Crown’ remains a fan favorite, demonstrating the power of a well-crafted narrative, even if it strays from historical truth.

Outlander: Time-Traveling Inconsistencies

Outlander Time Traveling Inconsistencies

‘Outlander’, despite its captivating blend of romance, adventure, and historical fiction, often stumbles in its portrayal of historical events due to its time-traveling premise. The time-traveling inconsistencies in Outlander can be confusing for viewers who are sticklers for historical accuracy.

  1. Inconsistency in Time: Characters jump between different centuries with ease, but often their knowledge and behavior don’t align with the time period.
  2. Technological Anomalies: Modern medical procedures are applied in the 18th century, causing a historical mismatch.
  3. Language Barrier: The series overlooks the difficulty of understanding and speaking old Scottish Gaelic.
  4. Historical Events: Some events are altered or completely omitted for narrative convenience.

Just like in Reign, where historical romance often battles with reality, Outlander’s charm lies in its blend of fact and fiction, despite its inaccuracies.


While these shows may play fast and loose with the facts, there’s no denying their ability to grip audiences worldwide.

From ‘Game of Thrones’ epic tales of fantasy, to ‘The Crown’s’ royal dramatizations, these series take historical liberties to new heights.

Despite timelines being twisted, cultures being confused, and monarchies being made more melodramatic, these historically inaccurate series continue to reign supreme in the realm of TV.

Proving that sometimes, a good story trumps historical accuracy.

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