It should be noted that Inherit the Wind should not be seen as an accurate representation of the Scopes Monkey Trial. It was meant to show the fallacy of fundamentalism, and so is blatently biased against the Creationists. It portrays them as raving psychotic madmen, intent on squelching all thought. Granted, there were a few like this, but the reaction was not nearly as depraved as this play makes it to be.

Inherit the Wind does not purport to be a historically accurate depiction of the Scopes trial. The stage directions set the time as "Not long ago." Place names and names of trial participants have been changed. Lawrence and Lee created several fictional characters, including a fundamentalist preacher and his daughter, who in the play is the fiancée of John Scopes. Henry Drummond is less cynical and biting than the Clarence Darrow of Dayton that the Drummond character was based upon. Scopes, a relatively minor figure in the real drama at Dayton, becomes Bertram Cates, a central figure in the play, who is arrested while teaching class, thrown in jail, burned in effigy, and taunted by a fire snorting preacher. William Jennings Bryan, Matthew Harrison Brady in the play, is portrayed as an almost comical fanatic who dramatically dies of a heart attack while attempting to deliver his summation in a chaotic courtroom. The real Bryan died in his sleep five days after the conclusion of the trial. The townspeople of fictional Hillsboro are far more frenzied, mean-spirited, and ignorant than were the real denizens of Dayton.