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Come with us back to the days of the caveman, when every woman wore furs, every man had a private club, and backyard barbecues were truly mammoth!
—Kermit the Frog, The Muppet Show
Caveman Archie: Don't you ever do anything but eat?
—Archie Comics story "Cave Man Casanova"
The days when gruff, thickbrowed club-wielding cavemen and sexy cavewomen in body-baring fur teddies roamed the earth alongside dinosaurs. Most humans were of low intelligence and communicated primarily in grunts, but this didn't stop them from inventing a sophisticated system of Bamboo Technology, most of which incorporated rocks, sinews, and small anthropomorphic dinosaurs who really didn't seem to mind the fact that they'd been locked under a counter and forced to serve as a primitive garbage disposal for the vast majority of their waking lives. ("It's a living", after all...)
Real "cavemen" were quite different — although of course, it entirely depends what point in prehistory you're focusing on. They (at least in the last 100,000 years or so) were as intelligent as modern humans and had complex language. They used bows, spears, slings, and knives as well as clubs. They lived in tents or huts, sometimes structures built of mammoth bones, and maybe the mouths of caves but never deep inside. Most prejudices about cavemen were originally applied to Australian Aborigines, pygmies, Native Americans, and black people.
If any genuine attempt is made to explore what prehistoric cultures might have been like, it could be considered to fall into the category of Xenofiction.
See Prehistoria for the video game version.
Popular tropes from this time period are:
Works set in this time period are:
- One of the episodes of Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is set in a parody of such a setting.
- Wild Rock is set in a fantastical prehistoric time.
- The 1950's comic book Tor drawn by Joe Kubert. A foreword in the modern collected edition apologetically says "Although it was already known to anyone who cared that men and dinosaurs had never dwelt on Earth at the same time...."
- Brazilian comic Pitheco, starring a caveman whose full name is "Pithecanthropus erectus da Silva" (Silva being the Brazilian equivalent of Smith).
- Archie Comics did a series of "Caveman Archie" stories with prehistoric versions of Archie and the rest of the Riverdale gang.
- "Clan of the Care Bear" in Cherry #5 features Cherry as a sexy cavegirl in prehistoric times.
- The GEICO "caveman commercials" feature stereotypical-looking thick-browed Neanderthals with Genius Bruiser personalities from this era, somehow still living in modern times and acting like an oppressed minority.
- As does Cavemen, the short-lived TV series based on the Neanderthals from the commercials.
- The 1940 movie One Million BC and its 1967 remake titled One Million Years BC. May be the origin of the trope. The 1967 version is chiefly remembered for the mind-blowing sight of Raquel Welch (Ms. Fanservice incarnate)in a fur bikini.
- The lesser known Spiritual Successor When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth (1970) is also a good example.
- Quest for Fire, one of the more accurate depictions of this period. In a piece of truly inspired casting, Ron Perlman was one of the cavemen.
- Ringo Starr's Caveman, an open parody/comedy take on the genre, is set in "One Zillion years ago".
- October 9.
- Replace dinosaurs with pyramid-building Egyptians and you get 10,000 B.C., which no one with even the slightest interest in actual prehistory, paleontology, or archaeology should bother even trying to watch.
- It's implied the leaders are in fact Atlanteans. It's stupid, but at least it isn't restrained.
- The movie was an obvious homage to One Million Years BC, and adopts the same "eh whatever" attitude towards accuracy.
- The opening scenes of Mel Brooks' Epic The History Of The World: Part I, during which the cavemen, um, "discover themselves".
- This era was featured in Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure. The cavemen don't appear until the group is about to take off, though. They're carrying burning torches.
- Year One features Hunter Michael Cera and Gatherer Jack Black as cavemen gatecrashing Biblical-narrative events. The problem is that while the story of Cain and Abel could be set at One Million BC, early Israelites like Abraham are much less so.
- And then there's those Romans showing up. Anachronism Stew all around!
- Well, let's see: Cavemen - check. The forbidden fruit - check. The first murder - check. A town featuring Arab, Greek and African merchants - check. Greco-Roman soldiers, on chariots - check. Those soldiers being from Sodom - check. A Sumerian-looking high priest - check. A Turkish-looking Grand Vizier - check. A mediaeval European-looking King - check. The Sodomites worship the ancient Canaanite God Moloch - check. Moloch requires virgin sacrifices - check. . The cavemen come from a setting that distinctly resembles like the Rockies in North America (well, the whole "edge of the world" scene anyway) - check. Most of the film is set in the Middle East - check. But hey, it's a comedy...
- At the risk of explaining the joke, their tribe were still cavemen because they were too dumb to figure out agriculture, city-building, etc. (That still doesn't explain why Cain and Abel were around the same time as the Romans, but... eh.)
- Carry On Cleo had previously depicted the Britons as dinosaur-hunting cavepeople at the time of the Roman Empire. Rule of Funny applies, obviously.
- Earth's Children is a fairly well-researched attempt to construct realistic Ice Age cultures and involves clashes between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals. Science has marched on concerning some of the material Jean Auel used, and Ayla and Jondalar's technological inventions can only be believed as allegories for the inventions of multiple generations of Real Life people, but for the most part these books are quite believable and realistic. Their biggest problem is the Anachronism Stew of Homo sapiens material culture, mixing multiple Paleolithic eras together, and arguably the near total lack of Values Dissonance in the prehistoric Homo sapiens cultures.
- The blog novel Fartago is set at around the time Homo habilis, the first Hominid species, gained awareness. However, much of the novel's references underscore the fact that most portrayals of these early Hominid species portray them as a lot like us, but minor references in the novel prove the writer, Tony Caroselli, actually knows what he's talking about and is only making stuff up for comedy's sake.
- The Ram series, a Finnish children's book series by Maijaliisa Dieckmann, is about a girl called Ram living in prehistoric times, supposedly in what is now Finland. Her parents die on a long hunting trip and she is left to take care of her little brother alone with the grudging help of the neighbours who have too many children and elders to feed to care for two orphans. For emotional support, she turns to her dead grandmother who she believes is the family's spirit protector. The books also deal with discrimination as Ram's family is originally from another clan and they are thought of as outsiders in the village. In a later book she leaves the village with her brother to find her parents' original clan and rejoin her distant relatives. The author is a well-known and respected historical novelist so the depiction of the era is very accurate and life-like.
- The Stephen Baxter book Stone Spring which is set at the end of the most recent glaciation. The prehistoric inhabitants of the land that once connected Britain to the rest of Europe embark on an ambitious mud wall building to hold off the rising tide.
- Garfield His 9 Lives, where Garfield's first life is a sabretooth cat. The animated special takes one step further:
Narrator: In those days, the first everything was crawling up out of the sea: the first snake. The first chicken. Crab grass. The first real estate salesman.
- Bone From a Dry Sea, by Peter Dickinson, is partly set four million years ago in a culture based on the aquatic ape hypothesis, and partly Meanwhile in the Future following the archaeologist who's digging up its remains.
- The first story An Unearthly Child of the original Doctor Who. No dinosaurs, however.
- "Mammoth Journey", the last episode of Walking With Beasts, was set during the Pleistocene. And yeah, it was pretty darned accurate.
- The finale of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, which occurs 150,000 years before present day, veers into this. The proto-humans the main characters observe, however, seem to avert the traditional cavemen stereotypes with Baltar commenting that they use tools and have a primitive society but is unsure if they have a comprehensive language. It is an educated guess that this also becomes the way of life of the Colonials thanks to Lee Adama's decision to get rid of all technology and live a primitive, simple life.
- Played absolutely straight in the "search for the Quantasaurus Rex" arc of Power Rangers Time Force, where Wes and Eric see Triceratops, Stegosaurus and get chased by an irate Tyrannosaurus, before Wes finds fairly advanced wall-paintings of the aforementioned Quantasaurus Rex.
- The syndicated comic strip Alley Oop
- Another comic strip example: Johnny Hart's B.C., which also seems to be taking place in a bizarre Alternate Universe filled with modern humor (if you can call it that) and Fundamentalist Christianity. Johnny Hart is a (young-earth) creationist, so he may actually believe dinosaurs roamed the earth with cavemen. The low quality of the later Hart years was more tragic given that it was a pretty good comic strip before he saw the light and began filling it with Author Filibusters expounding his theology.
- Then there's the theory that the strip isn't really set in the prehistoric era at all, but rather a post-apocalyptic future.
- Many thought that the fundamentalism didn't really work in a strip named for the abbreviation of "Before Christ". Word of God had it that the strip was actually named after a college in Hart's hometown, but whether this was originally the case or just a Retcon dreamed up after Hart's conversion is unknown.
- With Hart's death and the strip passing into new hands, the overt Christianity references have been tossed back overboard.
- And the unfunniness with it. It's suddenly good again.
- Gary Larson occasionally depicted dinosaurs and cavemen together in The Far Side, and not without some shame on his part, even though it was for the sake of humor. See the page quote for Somewhere a Palaeontologist Is Crying.
- Frank and Ernest make frequent stops here.
- The Journeyman Project briefly has you go back 200 million years into the past for a few minutes to obtain a disc containing the entire history of the world, which was placed far enough back in time that the likelyhood of someone tampering with it would be minimal. It is after this task that you begin your real mission.
- The Flintstones, naturally
- The Ice Age movies are the Talking Animal version. It manages to sneak in dinosaurs inside blocks of ice. Somehow the onset of the ice age and its ending were only a sequel's width apart.The third movie has living dinosaurs, but they at least have the decency to live in a Lost World. And the fourth will add the continental drift! Geology means nothing to Blue Sky.
- Histeria! made this (and the time before it) the subject of the episode "The Dawn of Time".
- In an episode of Sheep in The Big City, General Specific and Private Public end up here while trying to chase Sheep through time. This being a Post Modern show, the first thing they encounter is a sign reading "Welcome to the most clichéd time portal of all." (which leads Specific to believe they are in "1975 New Jersey").
- The Super Mario World cartoon ran with the fact that the game was set in a place called Dinosaur Land and had the show set in the Stone Age, populating the place with lots of cavemen, including Oogtar the Not-Toad.
- Looney Tunes did three shorts of this type: Prehistoric Porky, which takes place in One Billion, Trillion BC and shows Cavepig Porky's near-fatal chase with a saber-tooth tiger, Daffy and the Dinosaur, which takes place "millions and billions and trillions of years ago" and shows a caveman hunting Daffy Duck, and Pre-Hysterical Hare, where Bugs Bunny finds a caveman's documentary about life in 10,000 B. C. E.
- In one episode of The Fairly Odd Parents, Timmy wishes there was no such thing as technology, so Cosmo and Wanda turn the clock back to the stone age.
- The Backyardigans sometimes pretend to be cavemen, though the dinos are optional.
- The Phineas and Ferb episode "The Tri-Stone Area", set in 27, 000 B. C., where Phineas And Ferb invent the wheel.