10+ Ways HBO Changed 'Chernobyl' From The Real-Life Events

Alright, folks, we're heading back into the world of Chernobyl today. Where will we stop? Nobody knows.

Unless of course, they read the title. Then they would probably be pretty aware of where we were going to stop.



The hit miniseries on HBO has taken the world by storm. Like the disaster itself, the TV show has become pretty explosive.

Was that in poor taste? It was like 33 years ago...

But I digress...


The show is remarkably historically accurate, which is part of its charm.

It gets names right, it almost gets looks down to a tee and I love how they do the attempted Soviet cover-up. Genius.


YouTube | Thomas Flight

Not everything is 100% accurate. Like that photo above! In the show, Valery Legasov wasn't wearing a mask in the scene.

So, without further ado, here are some parts of Chernobyl that were changed about Chernobyl.

Number 1: The Black Smoke.


See that pillar of black smoke rising from the destroyed power plant?

Pretty creepy, I know, but it was probably actually white vapor. A lot less cinematic and foreboding. I get it.

Number 2: Donald Sumpter.


It's nice to see Donald Sumpter (aka Maester Luwin from Game Of Thrones) getting work. However, his character, Zharkov, is completely made up for the sake of the show.

I feel like this goes without saying but I'm going to anyways, his speech is made up too.

Number 3: Hiroshima.


We can all agree that Chernobyl was a big kaboom.

But some scientists say that the way the show compares it to Hiroshima doesn't quite make sense.

Take Jan Haverkamp, for example.

Twitter | @janhaverkamp

He's a nuclear-energy expert at Greenpeace and he says Legasov's comparison doesn't make sense.

With Hiroshima, the effects of radiation poisoning were more direct. With Chernobyl, the effects wouldn't be felt for a long time.

Number 4: Helicopter Crash.


There is a helicopter that crashes as it flies over the reactor, but this didn't actually happen when the series said it did.

It actually happened months down the line from the explosion.

Number 5: Ulana Khomyuk.


She's an awesome character in the show. However, she's not real... kind of.

She's actually supposed to be a representation of all women in the sciences and military during the Soviet years.

Number 6: The Force Of The Explosion.


Speaking of Khomyuk, she tells the Council that a second explosion could shoot out radioactive debris at a force of up to 4 megatons.

This number is an exaggeration, according to our friend Jan Haverkamp.

Number 7: More exaggerations...


At one point, Khomyuk says that the explosion might affect all of Soviet Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarusia, as well as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and most of East Germany.

This too is apparently a bit of an exaggeration.

Number 8: The Volunteers.


We all remember the brave scene where three men volunteer to dive into radioactive waters to prevent a steam explosion. What martyrs. What great men.

Yeah... at least one of them wasn't a volunteer. Alexei Ananenko could have refused, but he was the only man who knew where the valves were.

Number 9: Stripping Naked.


In one of the show's light moments, a couple of miners beneath Unit 3 strip naked in order to deal with the heat.

While funny, there's a good chance that this didn't actually happen.

Number 10: Midnight in Chernobyl.


One of the sources used by creator Mazin was a book named "Midnight in Chernobyl" by Adam Higginbotham.

Apparently, Higginbotham exaggerated some things in his book, especially the Soviet denial and response.

Number 11: The Best of Pals.


We love the dynamic between Boris Shcherbina, chairman of the Chernobyl commission, and Valery Legasov, the chief scientific investigator.

However, there is no real proof that the bond between these two actually existed. Awww.