Not open for further replies.
As Timeline Goes By...
Meta-Discussion: As Timeline Goes By

Just over 3 years ago on May 16th, 2020, the anniversary of Jim Henson’s passing, in the early days of the Covid-19 Pandemic, I ran with the wacky little idea of Jim Henson taking a bite out of Disney rather than the other way around. My research by that point had made it clear that it was just possible for Henson, if he played his cards right, to snag a stake in Disney and grab a spot on the board, ingratiating himself into the company. The bigger question became “then what?” And this question drove a three-year, 800+ page timeline that spanned decades and covered dozens of popular franchises. If the over 33,000 likes I received in the process are any indication, it did fairly well.


(Image source Polysyllabic Profundities)

So looking back, I naturally want to give it one big look-over. Did I accomplish my goals starting out? What were the ups and downs? What were the controversies? What were the themes? And who the hell am I to do this to begin with?

It admittedly takes a level of arrogance to tell a fictional tale using real, in many cases living people. I secretly fear some of the people I write about, or their families, will find out and be hurt or take offense. Most of them are probably pretty thick skinned after years in the business, and I’ve hardly said anything worse than what has been said by others (in fact I dare say I treated many of them far more sympathetically and empathetically than they often have been in the public discourse), and tried to retain the humanity of the people where I can. Still, I do hope nobody reading how they or their loved ones were portrayed has taken offense. So far, no one has said anything that I have seen, and no one invoked my open offer from Post Two to “opt out” either themselves or their loved ones from the TL, but perhaps I’ve been secretly blacklisted from Hollywood for crossing an invisible line, who knows?

If I offended or upset any real-world people or their families, my sincere apologies. I really intended this as a celebration of the creative spirit and of the people who make creative things happen.

Which brings us to the ultimate Meta-Question: how did I do? On a pseudo-objective scale did I accomplish what I set out to do? Let’s take a look.

And yes, I am extremely biased in this evaluation, naturally, but I’ll try to stay self-objective.

Timeline in Review

So, in 1979-80 Jim Henson, aided by his Manager Bernie Brillstein, accumulated an 8.3% stake in Walt Disney, Inc., and gained a couple of seats on the board of directors. Despite and perhaps because of the bitter divisions in the Disney family, he increasingly made himself a creative force within the company, getting named a Creative Director and then Chief Creative Officer, officially joining the company.

His additions and greenlights brought in fresh ideas and risks, enough of which paid off, ultimately stabilizing the struggling Studios. He helped new CEO Ron Miller implement changes like adding the Fantasia and Hyperion labels and launching the Disney Channel, buoyed by the hit Waggle Rock.

Son Brian, joining Imagineering, went on to get a degree in Engineering and along with Henson Creature Shop master Faz Fazakas helped drive revolutionary new improvements to practical effects (including Figment) and, eventually, digital ones as well. The Imagineering Workshop or I-Works became a true rival for Industrial Light and Magic, the “left I” to ILM’s right.

He was there in 1984 trying to keep the Studios going when Robert Holmes à Court launched his takeover attempt, and was partly responsible for putting Disney into his crosshairs. He played a crucial role in helping mend the Ron-Roy dispute enough to allow for a united front against the Kingdom Acquisitions group, though at the cost of most of his private Henson Arts company, acquired in a stock-dilution strategy that left Jim “all in” on Disney and made The Muppets a Disney IP. Even Miss Piggy played a small part in convincing kingmaker Ivan “Piggy” Boesky to sell the deciding shares to Disney.

Now partnered with new Chairman Frank Wells as the “Visionary and the Vizier”, Jim and Frank remade the Disney company in new ways, leading to the Disney Renaissance Age, as spearheaded by the 1986 hit animated feature Where the Wild Things Are. Disney studios and Resorts grew and diversified, and by the 1990s Walt Disney Entertainment was an emerging entertainment powerhouse. Avoiding a health crisis that could have cost Jim everything thanks to rival-turned-friend Dick Nunis, the 1990s saw the launch of Disneyland Valencia, the Disneytowns (which grew out of Sesame Place in Philadelphia), and the monumental, and extremely costly, Port Disney and DisneySea, Long Beach, which led to a debt crisis that led in turn to a parks partnership with Pearson PLC, which would lead in turn to Pearson launching Penguin Pictures and entering into the Big Screen Entertainment market.

This success led directly to Jim being elected Chairman of Walt Disney Entertainment in 1994.

But Mo’ Money and Mo’ Fame meant Mo’ Problems as his success, riding the more progressive turn in politics under President Al Gore, placed him straight into the crosshairs of conservative commentators. While Disney soared in the 1990s, grass roots conservative populism, shadowed by a rise in white nationalist militantism, led to terror attacks and even attempted kidnappings and assassinations. Internal strife over the controversial acquisitions of a sports stadium for the LA Rams and the problem-plagued integration of the NBC network threatened to fracture the board just in time for the 1998 Activist Investor Proxy War, where the Good Shepherd Group, driven in part by the grassroots conservative activism, snagged a stake in Disney and tried to drive Jim from it.

With some missteps by the Shepherds, both sides of the Disney Family came together around Jim despite a moment where it looked like one or the other might break to save themselves. A Machiavellian turn by nominal Shepherds ally Ted Turner sealed the deal. Jim held on, but Disney lost some valuable properties to Turner in the result, and Jim partnered with the remaining Shepherds led by original Activist Investor Leonard Peltz and counter-activist Bill Ackman to rework and rebuild Disney’s finances and deal with the accumulated debt.

Bloodied but unbowed, Jim led Disney into the New Millennium in grand fashion before announcing his retirement. Forced to deal with some of the sins of his own past, in particular his relationship with estranged wife Jane and his parochial treatment of women, Jim had to grow further as a person. Despite a delay due to the Dot-Com bubble crisis, Jim was able to peacefully step aside in early 2001, handing the reigns to his daughter Lisa, who’d gone from an Intern at Lucasfilm to a producer at Amblin to the Chair and CEO of Fox Studios, a part of Triad Entertainment alongside 20th Century and Paramount. She’d eventually hand the gavel to Walt Disney Miller, putting a Disney back in the Chair for the first time in decades.

And Jim, reconciling with his wife Jane after a long and tumultuous separation, finally settled down in a new Puppetry Arts Center in rural New Mexico for a well-earned working retirement.

In the end, we have a world quite different from the one we’re in now, a multi-polar world full of promise and danger, opportunity and looming threat. The future could bring peace and reconciliation, or terrorism and war, possibly a major war between nuclear armed superpowers. Pop culture wise – and this was primarily a pop culture timeline – Disney is slightly larger, Columbia is a major player merged with Time, and the Triad juggernaut lurches on. Warner Brothers has made a much larger push into theme parks, as has Columbia. And Pearson, via Penguin, is a major player in the big and small screens.

Is it a better world? Worse? Much is in the eye of the beholder, of course. But in the end, it was the journey that mattered, not where it got us.

The Goals: Met or Not Met?

In the second post in this timeline I introduced it in the very first Meta-Discussion. I laid out the goals, the ground rules, and situation on the street, as it were. So, how did I do? Did I accomplish what I set out to do? Let’s take a look.

I took the time to lay out what this Timeline Was and Was Not.

I stated that it Was Not a “Henson-Wank…a Disney-Wank. Or a Disney-bash. Or an Eisner-bash, a Walker-bash, or a Miller-bash.”

Well, mileage will vary, of course, but I have to admit that I fell bit short on the Henson- and Disney-Wank aspect. Disney in this timeline was objectively more successful in film, theme park, TV, and Market Valuation than in our timeline, though for what I feel are plausible reasons rife with setbacks and near-disasters, and not just gratuitous “they never fail” gross wankdom. And while Jim achieved far more financially and career-wise by most professional measures than in our timeline (simply living was a huge advantage over our timeline, obviously), being the Chairman and majority shareholder in a multi-billion-dollar entertainment empire, it didn’t necessarily make him happier or more content. In fact, the timeline leaves him much more content in retirement in much more modest circumstances than a Fortune 100 boardroom and an LA mansion.


“It’s a living!” (Image source KQED)

On the Eisner-Bash, Walker-Bash, and Miller-Bash avoidance I feel that I did far better. While Eisner went through some serious hell under Turner, he ends the timeline as the Chairman and CEO of Time-Columbia Entertainment, an empire our timeline’s Eisner would likely openly covet. Walker, despite being an early foil for Jim, retired with honor, having largely made peace with Jim. Miller is a celebrated Chairman Emeritus, not “the guy who nearly lost Disney”. Even Jeffrey Katzenberg, a later foil for Jim and subject of in-universe internet hatedom, took over Warner Brothers. Probably better than being known for Quibi.

I honestly tried to portray every person in a respectful and empathetic manner, though it could be hard at times with people who have established reputations for being disagreeable and dislikeable or even dishonorable. I tried to be faithfully accurate to the real people, or at least to their public personas. At the extreme, The Reverend Jerry Falwell came across as rather unhinged, but seriously, this is the guy who launched a media blitz in our timeline to accuse the Teletubbies of being part of a Gay indoctrination campaign for toddlers and who blames natural disasters on drag queens. I hardly feel like I treated him or his associates or their beliefs unfairly.

As to what I Did Want, my goal for a “plausible exploration of what Walt Disney productions and theme parks would look like in a world where Jim Henson was a central part of the company” is, I feel, met. Some mileage may vary, but I can’t think of any areas where I went too far off of the reservation in any production or development. It could have also realistically failed spectacularly, and I left in some knife’s-edge moments when it nearly did (this is but one possibility of what might have been had Jim gone to Disney in 1980). I may have pushed the limits of the willing suspension of disbelief for some, but most of you seemed to be OK with the plausibility in most cases, even if you disagreed with the decisions.

Naturally I got Star Wars all wrong, but everybody gets Star Wars all wrong, including George Lucas himself, so that’s hardly a fatal flaw. 😉

I also wanted to “give some attention to the wider world beyond Hollywood, though only by way of how it affects the culture” while not getting “caught up in the weeds”. I think that I mostly succeeded here, keeping the world events and politics mostly as background and not diverting things too much from the main timeline that followed the Entertainment Industry. I did this, as stated, because Random Butterflies exist (the classic “for want of a nail”) and just having everything go exactly the same seemed implausible to me, though mileage will vary. Amusingly, despite specifically using it as an example of things that I wanted to avoid for possibly derailing the timeline, I did choose to butterfly 9/11, though replaced it with other nastiness. And the world was already within the Fiction Zone by then, so the derail was relatively muted.

And plenty of you “Liked” and “Subscribed” and “Commented” and “Rang the Bell”, figuratively speaking.

Not sure if anyone tried Squarespace.

All said, I feel like I mostly accomplished what I set out to do. If things got a bit wanky in some areas, nobody went blind.

In the end, we had fun getting here.

The Themes and Story Structure

Now let’s take a moment to peek under the hood on what drove this TL’s decisions and directions. For those who don’t care about the “behind the scenes” stuff or who don’t want to learn the trick behind the magic act, feel free to skip this one.

First off, the Themes. Observant readers undoubtedly noticed the central Theme of “Time”. It was Jim Henson’s singular obsession, and may have contributed to his early death in our timeline as he rushed to squeeze it all in and his fears of dying young before it all got done became, possibly, a self-fulfilling prophesy.


(Image source Reader’s Digest)

Time and mortality and what we do with it was obviously the core theme, with Jim as the lens through which we viewed it. Even Bernie got into the gig, refuting the old “time is money” argument with “money is time”, which is a much more accurate way to look at it, in my opinion.

Related to time and money, power was a secondary theme: who has it and how they use it. Do they use their power to push down, push out, push up, or pull up? Do they share, hoard, seek, take, or reject it? Do they use their power to help themselves, to help others, or for a greater cause?

And as some of you noticed[1], the theme of Interconnectedness was an interstitial binding agent for this timeline, as the pop culture and technology drove the politics and vice versa, leading in some cases to major changes. This includes the Inviolable Law of Unintended Consequences, where even actions taken in good faith for the right reasons can have unintentional negative consequences. Speaking of power, elections affected pop culture and pop culture affected elections and elected officials used pop culture trends to their political advantage or ignored them to their peril. New technologies drove for both more interconnectedness, but also more tribalism. In short, nothing is in isolation, everything is connected, sometimes overtly, sometimes in subtle, tentative ways, and a tiny change here can lead, sometimes eventually via a cascade of higher-order effects, to big changes elsewhere. That’s the heart of the Butterfly Effect, after all.

And my thoughts on Butterflies have been thoroughly spelled out in earlier Meta-Discussions, so I won’t reiterate them now.

Another theme was Diversity, Without and Within, meaning both diversity on the larger scale outside a singular group (many races, creeds, cultures, beliefs, etc.) and diversity within subgroups. No sociopolitical, philosophical, or religious group is monolithic, and large spans of beliefs persist within all belief sets. I could easily, given the antagonistic Falwell appearance, have unilaterally made Evangelical Christians a mob of angry bigots in this timeline, and a lot of you would have happily gone along with it, but having grown up in the Bible Belt I’m fully immersed in the diversity within Evangelical Christianity, a spectrum that in my observation runs roughly from Fred Rogers to Fred Phelps. When I had Chris Farley find Jesus, at least a couple of you were convinced that he’d turn into a self-righteous, moralizing prick. Instead, he sobered up and got back to work, finding steady comedy and even drama work to the present day and maintaining his friends and contacts, or at least the non-toxic ones who will support him and won’t pressure him back off the wagon. Sure, I had Falwell being Falwell, but I deliberately took time to remind everyone about good people like Glen Keane and Pete Docter whose faith leads them to kindness, empathy, and generosity (the more that I learn about Keane in particular, the more of a Mensch he becomes in my mind, at least as of this posting). I worked to portray other belief sets in a similar multiplicative way. This Diversity Within is worth remembering in these increasingly tribalized times, and that “Not all _____” is the rule, not the exception, and that any set of beliefs, if they lead you to ignore your basic compassion, empathy, decency, and understanding, can lead one down a dark and destructive path.

And in that vein, Belief was a recurring theme, whether that was belief in a higher power, belief in one’s self, belief in others, or belief in a political opinion.

And finally, Relationships played a big part in this timeline. How do we interact with others and how do they interact with us? Friendly and antagonistic relationships were explored, and where the two crossed over. Former opponents became allies and former allies became opponents. This blurred into the themes on power, diversity, and belief.

Wherever possible, the Fictional Works within this timeline reflected these themes. They even changed our timeline’s works, such as Indiana Jones 3 moving from Crusaders to Anubis to better fit themes of time and mortality. The 1984 Hostile Takeover and 1998 Proxy War sagas both played with the dynamics of time, power, and relationships as the Disneys and the Hensons dealt with each other and the challenges around them.

Look back at things now and perhaps you’ll catch a few more examples.

I also, without consciously realizing it (I am actually writing this paragraph only days before this posts), wrote a Metamodern Timeline. I used the tropes and techniques of Postmodernism (e.g. Deconstruction) to consciously explore the nature of our beliefs and the unintended lessons of our fiction, and analyzed from a meta-perspective what this says about us. But rather than cynically “tear it all down” by having Jim fail in his quest or succumb to the larger Hollywood cynicism, I chose to write a sincere timeline about sincere people making a real meaningful difference. Themes of power include the classic “one person really can make a difference, for good or ill”, though with the caveat “if given the power and opportunity and support”.

And one final Fun Fact: I used a Chiastic, or Ring Structure. You know, that thing the Star Wars Prequels do not have, despite wishful thinking to the contrary. Or at least I made an honorable attempt at it. Look back at things and see if you can catch the pattern and see the rhymes and reflections as things come full circle.

The Politics and Controversies

And, almost needless to say, not everyone agreed with every decision, and not just the ones involving Star Wars. Many of my decisions on world events, such as a surviving Yugoslavia, didn’t meet the sniff test for many, particularly given the seemingly tiny change that ultimately drove it (an airing of a single documentary). I can understand the disagreement, though I reject the notion espoused by some that the Yugoslavian cultures were doomed to tear each other apart, which smacks to me of Cultural Determinism (“those wacky Slavs will never get their shit together”).

We can respectfully disagree.

The politics of the timeline were obviously controversial, though this timeline was never intended to be a partisan political screed. I wrote by my values, but tried to avoid writing by my politics, if that makes any sense, which is much easier said than done in this hyper-tribalized political atmosphere, and subconscious beliefs undoubtedly slipped in. It’s also complicated by the fact that I let the individuals speak for themselves, meaning that it was easy for some to assume that I personally held the beliefs espoused by the character when I necessarily didn’t. Jim Henson was a non-partisan Progressive Hippie Dreamer type, and his values and politics affected the politics of Disney, leading to a faster leftwards lurch. As such, as the hub around which the whole timeline rotated, naturally his politics and values would feature most prominently, though I did work to include multiple social and political viewpoints, and tried not to Strawman anyone, which can be easier said than done with people who can come across as real-life cartoon strawmen.

I also made a concentrated effort to be “true” to the individual person I portrayed, warts and all. Having Jim turn into a Union Busting Arch Capitalist would have pleased some viewers, but would have been wildly out of character. Having him be a paragon of flawless decency rather than a man who cheated on his wife and on his short-lived vegetarian diet would have pleased others, but also been out of character. I tried to treat all others with similar nuance, which is easier said than done in some cases. I didn’t always achieve my goals, in hindsight, but that was inevitable.

I’ve been accused, subtly and not so subtly, of political hypocrisy, which to some degree is undoubtedly true as to some degree everyone is a hypocrite thanks to Confirmation Bias, but I’ve tried to not commit gross hypocrisy or act in bad faith. I’ve tried to let all characters, regardless of viewpoint, speak for themselves, particularly when I disagree with them. Also, it’s funny to me when the accusations are based on what a character said when speaking from their own perspective, and it was particularly amusing to me when I’d added deliberate blindsides and hypocrisy to that character.

At one point, naturally given the current political atmosphere, a troll accused me of being “woke”. Am I “woke”? Well, if you go by the original grassroots meaning of the word, am I aware of systemic racism and sexism and queer-phobia? Well, yes, I am. I mean duh, I’m not blind. I can see that women get paid less for the same work and non-whites followed by security in stores more. I remember how, of all the folks in my organization when we went on work travel to Arizona, that only the Puerto Rican got “randomly searched” at the Border Patrol checkpoint every time. And in doing the research for this timeline I was struck again and again how white male actors and producers and directors and executives can produce bomb after bomb and still find meaningful work at major studios, while the non-white and female ones get “one strike” before getting effectively blacklisted or “banned to Indies.”

I didn’t always notice such things or I rationalized them away when I did, but at some point, if you’re not totally firewalled off from reality, you can’t help but see things. And the truth is, my already somewhat nuanced political beliefs have evolved over time, and most of you would be amazed were you to see my actual voting record (none of your business, by the way), as I doubt that it will universally align to your assumptions.

That said, am I “woke” by the current definition intended by the accuser? What day of the week is it while you’re reading this? “Woke” has, under the current hyper-partisan political tarbrush, come to mean anything and everything and therefore come to mean nothing. It’s whatever the accuser needs it to mean, like “politically correct” and “socialist” and “nazi”.


(Image source Pinterest)

Sometimes controversies were minor. Unintended Consequences and Unfortunate Implications. Often this was a deliberate choice on my part to add verisimilitude, and sometimes they only became clear to me once I was alerted to them. Either way, since verisimilitude was the goal, not Utopia, I left them in and even deliberately cultivated them on occasion. Sometimes a reader noticing an Unintended Consequence spawned a whole new post running with it.

But perhaps the biggest controversies were things that I fully expected, and indeed fully intended, to be controversial. You don’t grab the third rail and not expect to get shocked. I chose to use it as a power source to drive thought and discussion. The largest of these third rail topics involved the earlier #MeToo resulting from the Borking of Clarence Thomas. His is a name currently all over the news following some shocking revelations of financial ties to powerful men and accusations of corruption associated with them, but at the time of my original posting, Thomas, though controversial for his politics, was an overlooked “old guy on the court who didn’t say much”, and ironically one far less controversial at that time than some of the newer Justices.

When I “went there”, reader reactions largely fell into three camps: First were the “avengers” as I thought of them, who wanted each and every person accused of abuses in our timeline to suffer horrible consequences for their crimes in mine, to include those who “hadn’t done anything yet” because their accused crimes lay years or even decades in the future. Next were the “redeemers” who wanted me to reform and “save” the malefactors. Third were the “vindicators” who wanted to see the accused vindicated from the “false” accusations. I had a little bit of all three happen. Some of the accused suffered badly (Cosby, Weinstein), some got the opportunity to reform and seemingly did (Whedon), some got the opportunity to reform and backslid (Lasseter), and some largely got away without anything more than a temporary bump in their career (Moonves). I chose this path not because I wanted to please all (you should know me by now), but because it seemed the most realistic because that’s exactly what happened in real life with the 2010s #MeToo from our timeline.

And in the name of verisimilitude, I deliberately muddied the waters on whether the results were justice, injustice, or something else, because reality is rarely clear or cut and dry.

Naturally all three camps were disappointed.

Were I “fishing for approval” instead of exploring where the butterflies led, I could have had Jeffrey Epstein devoured by rabid coyotes and then crapped out into a burning landfill in 1994 and earned a hundred “Likes”, but his crimes apparently didn’t begin until well after the central timeline continuity ended (the first accusation stems from 2005; he may well have done wrong earlier and it wasn’t recorded, but that’s speculation). I guess that I could have gone “Precog” like in Minority Report (“You are under arrest for the future crime of…”) and had him preemptively killed at random or possibly I might have indicated that he “learned not to be a creep” due to the greater awareness of such things in this timeline, but instead I leave Epstein to whomever wants to actually go there in a guest post.

Expect controversy should you do so.

The biggest controversy was probably O.J. Simpson’s fate. Some celebrated that he “reformed” and found a new life thanks to his friend Ron Miller. Some were irate that I let him get away with years as an abusive prick. Some were content that having his career and family taken from him were “enough” punishment, others very much were not. It was a huge mix of controversy, agitation, hand-wringing, and judgement all around.

And that was the point.

I wasn’t presenting the outcome that I thought was “right” or “just”, I was presenting the outcome that seemed the most plausible for a wealthy and well-connected man[2]. Compare his fate in this timeline to József Barsi’s, who committed similar crimes but wasn’t wealthy or well-connected. There’s a reason I had both events happen one after the other. Had my goal been to do “what was right” or “see Justice done” I’d have had Nicole take O.J. out in self-defense with a snub-nose .38, or had him arrested and jailed for battery. Instead, she lives and he’s out of her life, but was she really freed or empowered by this result?

I deliberately created a muddled and muddied situation. Is O.J. really repentant or just playing the game? Does even he know for sure? Did “Justice” happen, or not? Or did the rich and privileged help shield each other from the consequences of their bad actions yet again?

What do you think?

In fact, in all of these Third Rail issues my goal wasn’t to give answers or give opinions or steer readers to a conclusion, my goal was to hold up a dark mirror to the reader and ask: “what do you think, and what does your answer tell you about you?”


(Image source Billboard)

And if any of this pissed you off or offended your sensibilities, my apologies. But verisimilitude, since it’s ultimately intended to reflect reality, is a bastard sometimes.

What I Learned Along the Way

Coming into this timeline I knew next to nothing about Disney, business, the stock market, corporate takeovers, or proxy battles. I knew nothing about IP rules, Hollywood business practice and “Hollywood accounting”, or fair use practices beyond what I needed to know to write this TL without the Legal Weasels coming for me. Although an Engineer by training and practice (Electrical turned Biomedical), I really had little understanding of the business of civil engineering and land development (thanks, @El Pip!!). I’ve only been to a Disney resort once, and that was Shades of Green at WDW for a conference. I made it to Downtown Disney, but never had the time to actually visit any of the parks, as I was in meetings all day (I rode the monorail and saw the top of Spaceship Earth beyond the trees).

They say “write what you know.” Well, LOL, I missed that by a mile!

Lesson: don’t be limited by the familiar. Be willing to tackle subjects beyond your understanding, but (as the next lesson tells) be ready to learn and avoid making assumptions.

Since starting this timeline, I have learned more about all of that than I could care to learn. I read books, watched YouTube videos, and immersed myself in subjects totally divorced from anything I’d ever personally experienced. I dug up out-of-print books on the 1984 Disney Hostile Takeover attempt. I watched ride-through videos on Disney attractions and dug through vintage blueprints on cancelled Disney resorts in order to bring slightly modified versions of things that exist in our timeline only on paper, with a little help from my friends (thanks @Denliner!!). I read Google-translated Spanish web pages to glean tiny bits of information from Disney’s failed Pago resort. I enlisted the help of others (including many of you) who had that knowledge or experience. And I still missed important details and had to occasionally retcon things or just accept my “mistakes” and go forward.

Lesson: research is critical. Don’t half-ass the research. And know that no matter what, you will miss something. So as a reader/viewer/listener, don’t get hung up if the creator misses something “obvious” to you. They had to juggle 10,000 things, so missing a few hundred is inevitable.

In addition, I had to learn to write in the voices of so many different people from different social, political, racial, ethnic, gender/sexuality, and religious backgrounds. I had to put myself in the heads of CEOs, famous people, directors, producers, artists, actors, corporate raiders, televangelists, internet activists, journalists, terrorists, politicians, abusers, abused, Incels, bubbly Muppet enthusiasts, and snarky critics. I’ve had to “speak” for George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Roy Disney, Jim Henson, Ted Turner, Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and so many other titans of the industry, not to mention politicians, businessmen, and social influencers.

Forget standing on the shoulders of giants, I had the hubris to speak for their alternate world selves! I’m sure if any of them see my words they’ll call me out for getting it all wrong or possibly blacklist me.

I tried my best to honor them and be true to them.

I also learned my capabilities and limitations as a writer, managing to push more areas from the latter area to the former through force of repetition. I picked up new skills, new voices, and new knowledge. I heard from a variety of voices and pushed myself well beyond my comfort zone. And if I occasionally failed, then it was because I took that risk. And in doing so I gained confidence and competence as a writer and a person (I now know that I can complete a major 800+ page creative work).

Lesson: push yourself, take risks, accept the occasional setback or embarrassing failure. This is how you learn and grow and adapt. If you’ve never failed, then you’re not really trying. You’re not really taking true creative or personal risks, but playing things safe, and the result will in most cases be mediocrity.

The actors that I respect most are the ones with both Oscars and Razzies on their shelf. It means that they took risks. And those like Halle Berry that show up to accept both Win the Game.

In taking these risks I had to push beyond my understanding, but I also critically knew that there were things that I didn’t know and brought in others who did. Whether it was (in no particular order) all the folks like @Pyro and @nick_crenshaw82 and @CountDVB and @Ogrebear and @Nerdman3000 and @LordYam and @ZeSteel that had insight on various comics or @Otakuninja2006 and @Shiny_Agumon and @TheMolluskLingers and @Migrant_Coconut on various animation and Anime or folks like @Plateosaurus and @Nathanoraptor and @GrahamB who knew Kaiju and dinosaurs or folks like @Denliner and @El Pip and @Nerdman3000 that knew theme parks and construction or @jpj1421 on politics and sports, @Kalvan on electronics, @ajm8888 on Japan, and @Damian0358 on Yugoslavia and the WWF. Not to mention the many contributions of regulars like Natty, Platy, NM3k, nc82, @MNM041, Mr. Harris, @Igeo654, @Unknown, @Neoteros, @TGW, @ExowareMasses, @kirbopher15, @TheFaultsofAlts, @Ogrebear, @WhovianHolmesianChap, @Goldwind2, @myuacc1, @Daibhid C, @Asperman1, @DisneyLord99, @OldNavy1988, @Cataquack Warrior, @HonestAbe1809, @Caellach Tiger Eye, @Sunflare2k5, @The Lone Ronin, @TheKennedyMachine. and so many others over the months.

And hat tips to my regular readers (in no particular order and I sincerely hope I caught you all!) like @Kaiser Chris, @theg*ddam*hoi2fan, @Pokemon Master, @scretchy, @LelouchOfTheBarBrawl, @uztgft, @jolou, @Stretch, @GooseElite, @NHobson, @GJohn902, @ZeSteel, @John Fredrick Parker, @Unmentionable Alligator, @MatthewFirth, @mortonofski, @MrCharles, @Pyni, @Ducko, @Victoria, @Victoria2, @Rinasoir, @Tomailo, @Pepeis, @RomanceNinja, @Dude-a-Buck, @Josh e b, @Mackon, @Neal Caffrey, @Bevillia, @Universal Century, @Operation Shoestring, @Curtin99, @Anja, @Clorox23, @Rosenheim, @Kennedy Forever, @Demon SpaceCat, @Snake Oil Salesman, @nbcman, @Finn Morgendorffer, @TheDetailer, @Son of Sphinks, @Servo1991, @GJohn902, @MightyXRay, @Missingnoleader, @Bbone91, @Dom Dom, @Indiana Beach Crow, @StomperYoshi, @FireIvory, @Workable Goblin, @Spooner The Trinity, @uztgft, @lukedalton, @Temmybear, @nathanael1234, @tobg999, @Duc4AlternateHistory, @Garrett_Cartoonist, @Pesterfield, @Droman, @wietze, @Jon Lennox, @Admiral Matt, @Petike, @CrazyGeorge, @Windhover, @tornadobusdriver, @fasquardon, @Brainbin, @Electric Monk, @Blakout9, @ShyGuy, @Arrowfan237, @farmerted555, @cats9119, @akoslows, @rwbyfan, @TheBeanieBaron, @robertcooper, @Gallinatus, @Samarkand, @Nicholas Leo, @TrevorFromStarWars, @Bene Tleilax, @Kyle Robinson, @scretchy, @Anthony07, @Haru89, @King of Danes, @AG_AG, and “new names” currently working their way through the TL like @Pepeis, @Jaime Rider, @EarthmanNoEarth, @Space Murica, @Little Top, @Campstrike, & @Tannenberg, and to all of the others who have mostly or totally lurked in the background. You all were the engine that drove my work!

Huge round of applause for you all!


For you (Image source Tenor)

And sincere apologies for anyone whom I missed. I appreciate every comment, correction, question, suggestion, Like and Love. I appreciate the Turtledove Award and the many later attempts to get me a second that I didn’t need nor really want.

So final Lesson: never be afraid to ask questions, accept good faith corrections, enlist help, and know what you don’t know and gracefully accept assistance from those who do.

And when you succeed, remember the people who got you to where you are today, because no matter how hard you worked, you’re where you are because of those who were there with you along the way.

A Last Meta-Farewell to All of You

So with that said, here’s a final Meta Moment to officially give you all my formal farewell. Thanks to you all for the innumerable ways you supported my timeline. Thanks again to all of the above who helped and contributed, thanks to those who have populated and keep populating the TV Tropes page, and thanks to all of my readers, those of you making your presence known through comments and likes/loves, and to those of you lurking in the background, quietly observing.


(Image source

My final gift to you all is this timeline going forward. The Guest Thread is open indefinitely. And I’ll leave this one open for Q&A going forward.

There are three in-universe posts left in this timeline saying goodbye to Bernie Brillstein, Jim Henson, and some of our other central characters before formally closing out the timeline. After that, it’s entirely up to you to Forever Wave our Banner High.

[1] Hat tip to @ZeSteel, for one.

[2] Many of you have likely noticed by now how I like to “pair” my posts based upon similarities in subject or theme. Some of you may have seen how I paired the O.J. post to the Hulk post. Perhaps you concluded that I was using the Hulk post to comment upon the O.J. one, which I even threadmarked “Anger is a Monster”. Fun fact: the opposite is true. I was using O.J. to comment upon some of the unfortunate implications of the Hulk, namely how the Hulk and Bruce Banner are frequently framed as “different people” (“the other guy”). It’s the Green Monster of Anger that’s the problem, and kind-hearted Bruce is its original victim, and therefore not responsible for Hulk’s actions, right? Over the years some runs on the Hulk have acknowledged this Implication and commented upon it or even gone with it, using it as a greater metaphor for taking responsibility for one’s actions and not deflecting it onto the Green Monster, but not always. The best adaptions, and the MCU fell short here in my opinion, don’t just acknowledge this, they run with it, with Bruce’s healing beginning only with the admission of his own guilt. The old Hulk TV series with Bill Bixby did fairly well here if I recall (“You won’t like me when I’m angry” took ownership with “me” and “I”), though its episodic nature and requirement for “reset” with every episode limited the potential for a longer form growth arc. The MCU sort of short-cut this arc (the “Professor Hulk” reconciliation happened off screen between films) and it weakens what could have been a profound character study via metaphor.
Last edited:
Geekhis, if you so wish to say goodbye after creating your magnum opus, Tony Stark-style...



WE will cover your bases in your passing. And don't you forget it.
Geekhis, if you so wish to say goodbye after creating your magnum opus, Tony Stark-style...



WE will cover your bases in your passing. And don't you forget it.


Another theme that's emerged, @Geekhis Khan, in this TL... luck. Aside from, obviously, the people who were saved or killed, we've seen luck as a major element in an actor's success.

For instance, Hank Azaria playing Aquaman - who was The Justice League's big scene-stealer (and has a hit solo film, as mentioned in the Catwoman post, coming soon) - propels him far closer to the metaphorical "Big Time" than he ever was OTL. And then he plays Jack Swallow (who, fun fact, was originally Jack Swallows - named to give the TTL version of a friend - seemingly cursed with chronic misfortune - who worked three thankless years at a costume shop, some comfort).

Meanwhile, Johnny Depp looks to be staying in the indie circuit, with the occasional Tim Burton/Richard Stanley (again, forgot to mention... he's a much bigger name here than he was OTL) film to pay the bills. And Wayne Brady's rise to the top was pretty self-explanatory.

A lot of the Marvel and Star Wars casting falls into this - with Aleksa Palladino, Jon Hamm and Liev Schrieber all getting big parts (Padme, Wolverine, Howard Stark) in Marvel or Star Wars films very early on in their careers, propelling them to the A-list and making them far bigger names. Why? There's one big answer to it: luck. It's all a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

Acting, as this TL says (although, technically, this was about music), is a roll of the dice half of the time– some people get lucky on their first roll and land the big parts, others don’t (that doesn’t make those who don’t any less talented). Luck is a massive factor. Or, as this TL says;

And the only honest answer that I can give is dumb luck. Be seen by the right people with the right connections at the right time. The truth is that some of the most talented musicians in the world can languish in obscurity for decades while some hack with three chords to his repertoire becomes an international superstar.

And, sometimes, luck can be subjective. Here's a couple of good examples of this.

Robert Downey Jr got the part of Superman, bringing his own unique smart-arsed charm to the character, and making him a Big Name far earlier than he did OTL... How well did that really work out for him?

Not well.

The stresses and scrutinies that come with fame drove him into the worst aspects of addiction far sooner than OTL, culminating in an arrest for reckless driving/DUI - which is a PR nightmare for WB and nearly leads to Downey losing his DC gig. At his lowest point after the incident, Downey realises how shit things have gotten for him and ends up in rehab and takes it seriously...

And then, two years sober and turning his life around... he dies in a random car accident because of a distracted driver. His already grieving family end up having to launch a libel lawsuit because there's some assholes in the right-wing media and tabloids looking for the next story claiming that he didn't in fact quit.

Another case is Aleksa Palladino - her breakout role in Drifters impresses Steven Spielberg and George Lucas enough to cast her as Padme in the Star Wars prequels. Great, right?


Sexist angry trolls aside, with Ken Branagh's marriage disintegrating over an affair with a young actress, Palladino ends up the subject of salacious rumours about an affair - with the same assholes I mentioned with RDJ accusing her of being a homewrecker. Basically implicated in a situation she has nothing to do with.

So Revenge of the Sith comes along and she says "F*** this", dumps the agent who started the mess in the first place and uses the paycheck to define her own career - she's not appearing in blockbusters or in the public limelight anymore (except for occasional returns as Padme, presumably)... yet she's doing what makes her happy now.

Sometimes luck can be a bit muddy - was Palladino lucky to get the role of Padme... or was she lucky to get out before fame ate her up and shat her out? Or perhaps both? Guess it depends on your point of view.
Last edited:
Thank you so much for everything and I am learning similar lessons over with my timelines, especially with having to try to deal with that and my writing style, which can be rather text-booky. I've certainly tried my best with research (though I probably could've done better in some cases), and I appreciate the input and suggestions of everyone who comes and gives it.

I've certainly made my own odd decisions that people had beef with XD.

But I'm glad I was able to help and would still be happy to talk and support you.
Oh @Geekhis Khan I am so happy you made this time line and the fan line and I am so happy you and all the other collaborators got to help and have some fun. Of course we cannot forget Mrs. Geekhis too. While it is sad to see this end it was fun to read it and be apart of it.

I hope to see your next batch of content whenever that happens. I wish you and Mrs. Geekhis happiness and health.

For the rest of my fellow story collaborators, I know I can't name all of you as my memory on names like that is terrible. But without you we would not have as complete a pop culture Timeline. May you each get good luck on your future writing.
I really enjoyed this timeline overall, and wish you and the Missus the best of fortune in all future endeavors, Mister Khan
Well @Geekhis Khan , thank you for bringing one of the greatest pop culture TLs onto the internet. I'm glad me and @MNM041 , @Nathanoraptor , and all the rest of us could be a part of it. When it's done you spend all the time you'd like with your family and friends, while we keep it alive in the guest thread until the day we decide it's time.
Thank you, @Geekhis Khan, both for this TL and for letting us be a part of it.

I wish you luck in all your future endeavours and I hope we do you proud keeping this TL alive until we decide it's time (or, more likely, we run out of pages ;) ).
Gonna be hard to see this come to an end, but it has been one hell of a creative, fun, thought-provoking, and sometime bizarre ride. I wish you all the best going forward my friend, and I look forward to soon binging the whole TL from start to finish. (And maybe contribute something myself, when I can finally get my idea in order.)

A big salute to the one of the best threads on this site. ❤️🤟

Deleted member 165942

I haven't been as active here as I used to be and I impulse created this account due to another timeline, but I came here for probably the last time to say my thanks to @Geekhis Khan for creating this wonderful timeline and I enjoy adding my own two cents to the conversation and some of my own ideas, most of them didn't take off because of my own issues. I will never regret opening the original timeline on a whim because this is honestly one of the greatest thing I have ever read in this site.

Best of luck to wherever you go next my friend.
Not open for further replies.