25 Satirical Headlines for Real Historical Events

Posted by , Updated on March 23, 2024

What if satirical news site The Onion had always been a part of society? And what if tongue-in-cheek news titles were regularly in circulation? Perhaps, it would’ve brought more laughter amidst conflict, but there’s no certain way to know. Instead, let’s imagine a world where The Onion has always been around! How would it have dramatized the Spartans triumphing over Persians? Or reported Caesar’s horrific assassination? Those incidents themselves aren’t laughing matters. They’ve shaped the course of our history and came into being through much struggles and sacrifices. Still, it seems that enough time has elapsed for sarcastic headlines to evoke humor. Moreover, prepare to learn something new.

This is basically a lesson in history disguised as a big piece of satire. It’s interesting what you can learn, even from the silliest articles. So, whether you are an avid satire reader, a history buff, or just dropping by to see what all the commotion is about, these are 25 Satirical Headlines That Describe Real Historical Events Perfectly.

Featured Image: pexels


Austrian Army Attacks Itself, Loses

Austrian Army Attacks Itself, LosesImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

The Battle of Karánsebes was a shameful day for the Austrians. On September 17th, 1788 the Austrian army was scouting for Ottoman forces when two Austrian regiments mistook each other for the enemy and attacked. The Ottomans allegedly showed up on the scene two days later to find 10,000 dead Austrian soldiers.

Note: our sources concerning this battle are anecdotal


Cleopatra Brought Rolled Up in a Rug To Julius Caesar. Egypt And Rome Are Now Allied.

Cleopatra Brought Rolled Up in a Rug To Julius Caesar. Egypt And Rome Are Now Allied.Image: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

After Julius Caesar seized Egypt, the empire’s former ruler, Cleopatra (who had previously fled Egypt due to an uprising), saw a chance to stage a comeback by ingratiating herself with the new ruler. The problem was that Julius was a hard man to get to with numerous body guards. Her plan was as ridiculous as it was simple…she would be brought to him rolled up in a rug. It worked, Julius fell in love with her and reinstated her as Queen.


Man Wears Shiny New Hat, Incites Riot

Man Wears Shiny New Hat, Incites RiotImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

John Hetherington, the inventor of the top hat, is said to have caused a riot when he first wore it.


British Officer Takes On Nazi Army with Longbow, Wins

British Officer Takes On Nazi Army with Longbow, WinsImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

Lieutenant-Colonel Jack Churchill was well known for fighting nearly the entirety of World War II with a longbow, bagpipes, and a Scottish broadsword. His companions even called him “Mad Jack.” He was popular for his personal motto, “Any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed.”


Driver Takes Wrong Turn, Global War Ensues

Driver Takes Wrong Turn, Global War EnsuesImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

When Archduke Franz Ferdinand (the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary) visited Sarajevo, he survived an assassination attempt wherein several Bosnian revolutionaries threw a grenade towards his motorcade. After returning from visiting the survivors at the local hospital, Franz’s driver took a wrong turn and incidentally, one of the revolutionaries, Gavrilo Princip, was standing right there on the street corner. Gavrilo, who was disappointed that they had failed in their initial assassination attempt, couldn’t believe his luck. He pulled out his pistol, shot the Archduke and his wife, and caused an international political crisis. Within a few days Austria-Hungary had declared war on Serbia and the rest, as they say, is history.


Canada Politely Asks For Independence, Receives Independence

Canada Politely Asks For IndependenceImage: pixabay, Source: wikipedia

Okay, it’s not quite that simple, but the essence is true. On July 1st, 1867 the British North America Act established Canada as a self-governing colony of the British Empire. The peculiar thing about this “act of independence” was that its causes consisted mostly of trans-Atlantic debate and political discourse. Compared to other “acts of independence,” like the American Revolution, it was nearly absent of violence.

Note: there were riots and civil disturbances, but they were largely insignificant, at least in relative terms.


Roman Donut Conquers Gaul

Roman Donut Conquers GaulImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

During the Battle of Alesia, Caesar was surrounded, outnumbered, and deep in enemy territory. The Gauls were fortified on a hill, and more were closing in. Caesar decided to build a wall around the fortified Gauls and then build a second wall around the first one (his men were between the two walls). Thus he effectively split the enemy, stole the high ground, and won the day.


Unsinkable Ship Hits Iceberg, Sinks

Unsinkable Ship Hits Iceberg, SinksImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

Yes, it was the Titanic


Australia Loses War Against Flightless Birds

Australia Loses War Against Flightless BirdsImage: pixabay, Source: wikipedia

It was called the Emu War, and it was an actual incident that involved the Australian military trying to control the population of Emus.


Liechtenstein Invades Italy With 80 men. Comes Back With 81.

Liechtenstein Invades Italy With 80 men. Comes Back With 81.Image: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

This happened during the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. Apparently an Austrian officer joined up with them on the way back.


Keep reading to hear about more wars.


Latest Rasputin Assassination Unsuccessful

Latest Rasputin Assassination UnsuccesfulImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

Rasputin was a self-styled Russian holy man who managed to gain favor with the ruling Czar family due to his supposed “healing power.” This earned him some enemies among the Russian nobility who ended up trying to kill Rasputin on several occasions. He survived being poisoned, stabbed, and shot before finally being drowned in a freezing river.


Truman Defeats 'Dewey Defeats Truman'

Truman Defeats 'Dewey Defeats Truman'Image: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

Every exit poll showed that Dewey would win the US presidency. He was charming, charismatic, and popular. Truman was the complete opposite…quiet and unknown. People were so sure of the outcome that the Chicago Tribune even ran a headline saying “Dewey Defeats Truman.” But in one of history’s most unexpected upsets, Truman won. In fact, he won by a landslide. As in it wasn’t even close.


Local Witches Don't Use Magic To Stop Fire, Burn To Death

Local Witches Don't Use Magic To Stop Fire, Burn To DeathImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

Embodied by the Salem Witch Trials, public hysteria related to witchcraft was pretty common in 17th century Europe and North America. Women were occasionally accused of being witches, put on trial, and either hung, burned at the stake, or drowned.

Note: the idea behind this headline is largely symbolic. (The Salem Witch Trials consisted almost exclusively of hangings so this headline doesn’t necessarily refer to that specific incident, although the picture does.) Many “witches” around the world, however, were burned at the stake and this headline only seeks to point out of the irony of such a situation, regardless of the method of execution.


Tallest Man In World Saves Two Dolphins With His Long Arms

Tallest Man In World Saves Two Dolphins With His Long ArmsImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

When Chinese veterinarians were unable to extract plastic from the stomachs of a few dolphins, they called in Bao Xishun to pull the plastic out manually.


Scientist Who Talks To Pigeons Builds Death Ray And Earthquake Machine

Scientist Who Talks To Pigeons Builds Death Ray And Earthquake MachineImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

Nikola Tesla was a prolific and somewhat eccentric inventor who was known as the archetypal “mad scientist” by much of the public. The headline refers to some of his incredibly strange inventions, one of which was a supposed “death ray” that could be used by the military. The “earthquake machine” that is referenced was actually his electro-mechanical oscillator which he used to generate electricity. At one point Tesla had claimed that the machine was responsible for a mini-earthquake in downtown New York City. As for the talking to pigeons part, Tesla just really loved to feed pigeons. He even stated on occasion that it gave him purpose.


American Fat Man Unleashed, Levels Japanese City

American Fat Man Unleashed, Levels Japanese CityImage: youtube, Source: wikipedia

Fat Man was the name of the one of the nuclear bombs.


Man Gives Up Dreams of Being an Artist and Opts for Genocidal Psychopath

Man Gives Up Dreams Of Being An Artist And Opts For Genocidal PsychopathImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

Before Hitler rose to power in Germany, he was actually an artist who lived quite a Bohemian lifestyle in Vienna. It wasn’t until after the death of his mother (on whom he relied financially) that he was forced into homelessness. This was also right around the time that he was rejected from art school. Eventually he found his way into the military during World War I and rose through the ranks to the top of the Nazi party.


British Pig Wanders Into American Potato Field, Starts War

British Pig Wanders Into American Potato Field, Starts WarImage: pixabay, Source: wikipedia

The Pig War of 1859 was a bloodless conflict that occurred on the San Juan Islands between Canada (Great Britain at the time) and the United States concerning the vaguely defined border. It started when a British farmer’s pig wandered onto an American farmer’s field and started eating potatoes. The American farmer shot the pig which led to a dispute between the farmers and eventually a military standoff between the two nations. Fortunately, the dispute was resolved without any shots being fired.


British Sailor Gets Ear Cut Off, Starts War

British Sailor Gets Ear Cut Off, Starts WarImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

Spain was growing weary of British smugglers and traders off the coasts of Spanish America. This led the Spanish military to begin boarding British ships in order to check and make sure they were complying with the treaties that were in place between Spain and Britain. During one such incident off the coast of Florida, a British captain by the name of Robert Jenkins had his ear cut off by a Spanish officer. This led to an escalation of tensions and eventually to the War of Jenkins’ Ear in 1739.


City Wins War, Loses Next Day

City Wins War, Loses Next DayImage: pixabay, Source: wikipedia

According to legend, after the Greeks had besieged Troy for over 10 fruitless years, they finally came up with a plan. One day, the Greek military sailed away leaving nothing but a big horse. The Trojans, thinking they had won, ran out to celebrate. They wheeled the horse into the city not knowing that there was a contingent of Greek soldiers hidden in its belly. That night the Greeks climbed out and let the rest of the Greek military in to ransack the city.


Woman Discovers Radiation Therapy, Dies Of Radiation

Woman Discovers Radiation Therapy, Dies Of RadiationImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

Marie Curie was a Polish born physicist who was also the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for her research into radiation. Unfortunately, people didn’t know about the damaging effects of ionizing radiation back in Marie Curie’s day (because Marie was the one of the first people to do any research on it)! This eventually led to her death at the age of 66 when she developed aplastic anemia as a result of too much exposure during her many years of research.


War Over, Battle Of New Orleans Continues

War Over, Battle Of New Orleans ContinuesImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

Although the War of 1812 was officially ended by the Treaty of Ghent on December 24th, 1814, between January 8th and 18th of 1815 Andrew Jackson led American forces against a significantly larger British force that was trying to take New Orleans. The Americans were successful, but thanks to the fact that news didn’t travel very fast back then (and the British troops didn’t realize that peace had already been signed) the final major battle of the war actually took place after the war had already ended.


Europe Exiles Napoleon As Punishment For Coming Back From Previous Exile

Europe Exiles Napoleon As Punishment For Coming Back From Previous ExileImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba (off the coast of Italy) after being defeated by the Allies in 1814. He managed to escape, however, and once again took control of France. His army was defeated yet again at the Battle of Waterloo and Napoleon was then exiled to Saint Helena in the South Atlantic where he would remain until his death.


Persians' Cats Defeat Egypt

Persians' Cats Defeat EgyptImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

Cambyses II knew how much the Egyptians venerated their cats so he decided to put thousands of cats on his front line. The Egyptians were too scared to fight for fear of injuring the cats, so they surrendered.


Assassin Who Assassinated JFK Is Assassinated

Assassin Who Assassinated JFK Is AssassinatedImage: wikipedia, Source: wikipedia

For the non-Americans here, Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who allegedly killed JFK, was shot and killed while in police custody.


If you enjoyed these funny headlines, you’ll also enjoy these: 25 Unintentionally Funny Newspaper Headlines.