In The Man In The High Castle show, Tagomi is able to travel to an alternate universe where the Axis did not win WWII and the world looks much more similar to our real history.

But is the alternate universe in the show meant to be our real universe? My initial assumption was yes, but then they show

that the Japanese were able to develop a hydrogen bomb and test it in their territory.

That never happened in our reality, so does that mean the alternative universe is not our universe?

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    @Gallifreian Amazon is competing with Netflix in original content and The Man In The High Castle is one of their first big shows: amazon.com/dp/B01IS2LXBG/… Commented Dec 18, 2016 at 17:23
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    @Gallifreian its excellent, go watch it now.
    – Moo
    Commented Dec 18, 2016 at 18:32
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    How could it possibly be our universe if it contains historical elements that didn't happen?
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 18, 2016 at 18:39
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    @Hans: Of course, in a multiverse there is no "real" timeline; all parallels are equally "real."
    – Joe L.
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 9:12
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    @JoeL. I don't think the novel deals with parallel universes at all. Philip K. Dick's main subject was "What is reality?" and he explored it in various ways. Also, I am not convinced the TV series is dealing with parallel universes either. So far (fifth episode of season 2) the premise of perception of reality can still hold true.
    – user45485
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 10:12

3 Answers 3


Possibly. So far (season 2 completed) there is no evidence to the contrary.

Warning: major spoilers up to and including season 2.

The details that we see of the alternate universe correspond to our history. The Cuban Missile Crisis (and its resolution) are shown, the book Lolita, a history book of World War II as we know it.

In episode 10 (season 2's finale) we find out that Tagomi's assistent Kotomichi is from the alternate universe: he was in Nagasaki when it was destroyed with a nuclear bomb, after Hiroshima. (No date is given for either bombing.)

[...] but then they show that the Japanese were able to develop a hydrogen bomb and test it in their territory.

This is incorrect. In the alternate universe, at Tagomi's home, an 8mm film is played showing the detonation of a hydrogen bomb over the Bikini atoll. Tagomi's son says "we" tested the bomb but he considers himself American, not Japanese. He also says it was done to show "the Russians" that they had the bomb. In the MitHC universe the Russians were defeated by the Japanese and Nazi Germany and are not a world power.

Later, Inspector Kido says that this bomb was detonated in "our" territory, meaning Japanese territory, but that is from his perspective (episode 10: Fallout). In the MitHC universe the Bikini atoll is Japanese territory but in the alternate universe, where the bomb was actually developed and detonated, it obviously isn't.

Later on, Smith takes the film to Berlin in a last-ditch effort to stop World War III. Smith knows it's a film from the Man in the High Castle but he hides this fact to make the Nazis think the Japanese have the hydrogen bomb. Even though a Nazi himself, he does this to avoid the war because it would be fought mainly on American land with massive American casualties.

Although it is possible that the alternate universe as depicted is not our universe I have not seen any evidence to support it.

Aside: Despite the incredible attention to detail regarding the production design, there was one major error made in the pilot. An unforgivable error, in my opinion.

Juliana is shown to be an aikidoka and after her test/demonstration a Japanese fellow student talks to her. He is wearing his dogi (training jacket) incorrectly: right-over-left (like a women's blouse). No budoka would ever wear his jacket like that, let alone a Japanese budoka. The only time a gi is worn right-over-left is during your own funeral.

Upon rewatching the pilot I noticed another Japanese aikidoka wearing his dogi like that. Both aikidoka wear hakama and are surrounded by other hakama-wearing aikidoka so there can be no excuse for this mistake.

And then there is the pronunciation of yakuza. Both Americans and Japanese pronounce it as yaKOOza instead of YAkuza.

I have not noticed any other glaring errors but if these are not errors but intentional discrepancies (which I highly doubt) then it could be that the Nazi/Japanese-dominated world is an illusion or hallucination experienced by Tagomi.


I cannot speak to the series, as I have not watched it. But I have read the book. If the series is following the book's lead on this, then the answer is no, the alternate history is not our own. In the book it is explained that the alternate-history fiction The Grasshopper Lies Heavy was written [by 'the man in the high castle'] by consulting the I-Ching to resolve various decisions that had to be made to generate the sequence of events; although it depicts an Allied victory, the path to that victory is very different from our actual history.


In the series, it is made clear that there are many alternate timelines to the one the plot takes place in. (e.g. the one in which San Francisco is nuked because WWIII wasn't averted by Smith.) That increases the probability of one of them being our own.

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