War Is Coming: These TV Shows And Films Were Inspired By Real Wars

War Is Coming: These TV Shows And Films Were Inspired By Real Wars

Shaina Lucas - September 17, 2018

When we think of war films and TV shows, we think of documentaries, true stories, and ones that focus primarily on the war itself. Films like Saving Private Ryan, Pearl Harbor, Valkyrie, and Gettysburg have other elements to them but are specifically about World War II and the American Civil War respectively. M*A*S*H as most know, was a TV show based on the Korean War. These shows and films are full of historical facts, but some use more creative license than others. Love stories, broken friendships, and subplots taking away from the main war narrative perhaps?

However, past wars have been used as inspiration in a wide variety of genres. Genres from science-fiction to adventure to fantasy have used elements of real wars. You’ll even see battles in them or secret plots, but they are battles and plots based on historical fact. But you’d never know these films and shows that real wars are hidden deep underneath their narrative. Not to worry though, we’ve exposed five films and TV shows where real wars are hidden underneath their plot.

War Is Coming: These TV Shows And Films Were Inspired By Real Wars
Ned Stark on the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones. HBO.

Game of Thrones Is Based On The War of The Roses

Game of Thrones has captivated audiences since HBO picked up the show in 2011. The show started as a book series A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones is actually the name of the first book in the series) in 1996. The show has earned numerous accolades, awards, and branched into a spin-off series as well as toys, games, and costumes. The show is a fictional fantasy world full of dragons, white-walkers, magic, and mythical creatures in a more medieval setting.

The series’ writer, George R.R. Martin, takes painstaking time to create his world of characters, and his research. He has stated that Game of Thrones is based on England’s War of the Roses in the 1400s. The political turmoil of this war is seen in the conflict between House Stark and House Lannister. The name Lannister is lifted directly from the real Lancaster family. The infamous Red Wedding is also taken from a real event. It is based on The Black Dinner which took place in Scotland.

War Is Coming: These TV Shows And Films Were Inspired By Real Wars
Outlander Season 2. The Daily Beast.

Outlander Is Based On The Jacobite Rebellion

Outlander is another book series turned TV show that became a huge hit in 2014. Outlander is written by Diana Gabaldon and released in 1991. The series has earned many accolades and awards and focuses on Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser, a 20th-century nurse who time travels back to the 18th century. Claire is from 1945, and she is mysteriously transported back to 1743. The narrative’s core is full of human emotion and a story of love. But what makes it so compelling is it’s attention to Scottish war.

Much of Outlander’s success is owed to it’s realistic approach to the military conflicts of Scotland during the early 1700s. Primarily they focus on the Jacobite uprisings. The show also examines the build-up towards the Battle of Culloden, the shifting allegiances on both sides, and the violent reality of the Jacobite rebellion. The show’s dedication to the historical accuracy of 18th-century warfare is what makes the story so compelling, and the added love story isn’t bad either. If you’re interested, the next book in the series, Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone, will probably be released in 2019, judging by the release timeline.

War Is Coming: These TV Shows And Films Were Inspired By Real Wars
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope poster. IMDb.

Star Wars Is Based on Nazi Germany and the Viet Cong

Everyone knows Star Wars and the iconic characters of Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia. The film was released in 1977 and has become a worldwide pop culture phenomenon ever since. Since the release of the first film, it has spawned eight sequels, three prequels, a few spin-offs, toys, games, and even amusement rides. But a long time ago, in a war far, far away, there is an underlying tone to the film. We know that the premise of the film is the Rebels are trying to stop the takeover of the Empire. A Jedi is the only one who can stop a Sith Lord.

The creator, George Lucas, took some inspiration in creating this world from Nazi Germany. Lucas confirmed the historical references and the conflicts are shown in both the original trilogy and the prequels. The Empire, which Darth Vader is a part of, is based heavily on the Nazi regime. Lucas has also stated that the Vietnam War is a source of much of the plot in Return of the Jedi. In this case, The Viet Cong inspired the Ewoks and their ability to use knowledge of the terrain to defeat a larger technologically advanced force.

War Is Coming: These TV Shows And Films Were Inspired By Real Wars
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers film. LADBible.

Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the most iconic fantasy series to date. Many writers draw their inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien spent years creating his world and new languages before he started writing the series. The Lord of the Rings series is actually a sequel to Tolkien’s The Hobbit, written in 1937. The film adaptation of these novels, specifically The Two Towers, takes inspiration from both World Wars. Tolkien himself refuted the claims that the books were allegories for World War I and World War II, stating that they were not meant to be taken that way.

Peter Jackson, the film series director, had other thoughts. Jackson states that he specifically took inspiration from WWII and the Nazi regime. They were a key component for the depiction of the Uruk-hai forces. The threat of the Uruk-hai forces looms over the entire film with their black garb and scenes reminiscent of the Nuremberg rallies. Although the film is a classic fantasy book adaptation, the ominous presence of the Uruk-hai is made more powerful by Jackson’s portrayal and inspiration from Nazi Germany.

War Is Coming: These TV Shows And Films Were Inspired By Real Wars
Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette, 2006. Youtube.

Marie Antionette Was Based On The French Revolution…Obviously

Marie Antionette, like Outlander, is a bit more in your face with its war references. Marie is one of the most iconic French Queens in history. Her most famous line is “Let them eat cake” but funnily enough, she never uttered those words. The film itself leads up to the French Revolution and ends with the transfer of the royal family to their prison in the Tulleries. The film shows what life was like for the royal family when Marie and Louis marry, the aid of the French during the American Revolution, and the Storming of the Bastille.

The film shows a very accurate depiction of the Queen, also known in France as Madame Deficit. It also delves deep into her personal life including why she would spend money on extravagant things, her gambling, and her marital troubles. Near the end of the film, the riots are shown, and we see Parisians storming Versailles and destroying the palace. Before the Revolution, France was still ruled by feudalism and the old ways of the Ancien Regime. Through the eyes of the Queen, the film looks at the start of the French Revolution until the end of her days.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“French Revolution.” Wikipedia.

“Game of Thrones.” Wikipedia.

Higgins, Malcolm. “From Game of Thrones to Lord of the Rings – Movies And TV Shows Inspired By Real Wars.” War History Online.

“Marie Antoinette (2006 film).” Wikipedia.

“Outlander (franchise).” Wikipedia.

“Star Wars.” Wikipedia.

“The Lord of the Rings.” Wikipedia.