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->"''All wars are Civil Wars, because all men are brothers.''"
-->-- '''Francois Fenelon'''

A Civil War is an intense conflict between organized groups trying to take control of a state and/or region, or to change government policies. Most Civil Wars are fought by a status-quo ruling body of the state and one or more groups that wish to change said state, though said non-state groups often fight each other as well, and it can also be between two states that both claim to be the sole rightful (nation-)state for a single nation. To be considered a "war" rather than an uprising or rebellion requires that the conflict involve regular armed force, involve organized factions, and be on a certain scale and of a certain intensity. All the sides involved have to have a genuine chance (however small) of achieving their aims in the conflict for it to be a Civil War and not just a rebellion/uprising. Where rebellions end and Civil Wars begin often isn't clear, and whether a conflict is called one or the other often depends on what the factions - especially the victorious one - [[InsistentTerminology decide to call it]].

Those fighting Civil Wars usually don't call them that, as they try to make use of [[YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters the power of language to suggest that they are in the right]]: the ruling power will term it a police action against unpopular extremist rebels. Their enemies will consider themselves People's Heroes and Freedom Fighters spearheading a populist Revolution. However, it is just as likely for a small group of rebels to claim Civil War status (as such terminology would give their struggle an air of seriousness it would not otherwise have), or likewise, for the government to use the term (to justify force that would seem excessive against a mere criminal action). How the outside world views the situation is largely WrittenByTheWinners. This is largely why wars for independence are so murky when it concerns the concept: generally, if a country fails to gain independence, expect it to be called a civil war, and if it does, expect it to be called a regular war or a Revolution (thereby implying that the two post-war countries were never one).

No matter who prevails, it is often a PyrrhicVictory, as, depending on the world situation, internal conflict provides an opportunity for exploitation or conquest by outside forces: DivideAndConquer if the villain takes advantage, and EnemyCivilWar for the heroes.

Civil Wars both real and fictional have provided excellent opportunities for stories, as depicted morality can be all over the board. The fact that both sides believe themselves to be justified allows for an authorial portrayal of [[RousseauWasRight both sides having good people fighting for what they believe in]] along with [[TheGoodTheBadAndTheEvil a couple of real bastards on both sides]]. Often, while one side may indeed be presented as morally superior, there will be a WorthyOpponent among the enemy ranks and the PerspectiveFlip is common. Along with that, there can be StarCrossedLovers pining for each other across the battlefield and families split by the tension of what they believe is right.

Many an AlternateHistory is based around one side of a Civil War prevailing over another.

This is not to be confused with Creator/MarvelComics' ''ComicBook/CivilWar'', or Music/CivilWar the PowerMetal band.

'''Examples of factual Civil Wars commonly used in media:'''

* The UsefulNotes/WarsOfTheRoses (1455-1485), famously depicted in Shakespeare's plays.
* The UsefulNotes/EnglishCivilWar(s) (1642-1651) looms large in British wargaming and historical re-enactment, but also some dramas
* UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution (1775-1783) is under-represented, but still features in US works
* UsefulNotes/TheFrenchRevolution (1789-1799) involved a series of wars within France, in the Vendee, in Brittany, Lyon and Bordeaux fought between Royalists and Republicans.
* UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar (1861-1865) features in US works
* The [[UsefulNotes/RedOctober Russian Civil War]] (1917-1922) features prominently in Soviet works and expat accounts, most famously in Sholokhov's epic novel ''Quiet Flows the Don''
* The UsefulNotes/ChineseCivilWar c.1916-1950 is a setting for a smattering of mainland-Chinese dramas and several foreign sinophiles' diaries
* The French Civil Wars in [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII 1940-44]] and [[{{UsefulNotes/Algeria}} 1954-62]] are conspicuously ''absent'' (bar Film/TheBattleOfAlgiers) - official policy under UsefulNotes/CharlesDeGaulle was that [[FanonDiscontinuity the former never happened]], and the same has largely gone for the latter as well
* The UsefulNotes/SpanishCivilWar (1936-1939) is the inspiration for Picasso's ''Guernica'' and features in the writings of Creator/GeorgeOrwell and Creator/ErnestHemingway
* The UsefulNotes/KoreanWar (1950-1953) is perhaps best-remembered as the setting of M.A.S.H. and some forgettable action-flicks
* UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar (1955-1975) is very well represented in US media, albeit featuring largely (if not exclusively) on the US's involvement.
* UsefulNotes/TheTroubles (1969-1998) are at least in the background of many works set in the British Isles in the '60s-'90s, although as with the Irish Civil War of 1922-23 ''direct'' focus on the events is very rare.
* The UsefulNotes/SriLankanCivilWar (1983-2009) is hard to avoid in local media
* [[UsefulNotes/ThreeKingdomsShuWeiWu The collapse of the Han Empire]] brought about a civil war that culminated in the rise of three separate empires. Most famous for being the origin of Literature/RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms, though the Romance throws in a lot of folklore and anachronisms.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_civil_wars And a host of others.]]

!!Examples of famous fictional Civil Wars:


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* The Gryps War of ''Anime/MobileSuitZetaGundam'' was fought between the Anti Earth United Government (AEUG) and the Titans. Both factions claimed to be operating under the Earth Federation, though when the Titans demonstrated a remarkable lack of care for whether or not Earth Federation political leaders were caught in the crossfire, the Titans were declared traitors.
* In ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' there was the Ishvalan Civil War which happened in the backstory, and devolved into a [[GuiltFreeExterminationWar Guilt Free Extermination War]] due to the Amestrians ordering their genocide.
** Later on in the manga, [[spoiler: Colonol Mustang starts his own revolution to take power and stop the plans of the main villain, assisted by General Armstrong and her forces]].

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''{{ComicBook/Asterix}}'' provides the page picture (although the names aren't those of the Goth chiefs but doctored to be the names of then-current French politicians). Astérix, Obélix and Getafix engineer an EnemyCivilWar berween the Goths to prevent them from invading Gaul before ''centuries''.
* The Marvel ''ComicBook/CivilWar'', with heroes supporting a SuperRegistrationAct fighting those who refused to reveal their identities. Intended to be an OutsideManInsideMan situation, with the pro-reg group trying to head off an even worse situation by co-operating. This also went meta, the resulting Fandom War, pitting the authors of said story arc versus most of the rest of the fandom and [[WriterRevolt their fellow writers]].
** Its sequel, ''ComicBook/CivilWarII'', involves the Marvel superheroes once again split, this time [[ComicBook/MsMarvel Captain Marvel]] wants to use someone's precognitive powers to prevent [[PrecrimeArrest crimes]] and disasters from happening. Franchise/IronMan, however, refuses to punish criminals before they commit crimes. [[spoiler: All of this is set off by the death of ComicBook/WarMachine and ComicBook/SheHulk slipping into a coma at the hands of Thanos.]]

* In [[FanFic/EquestriaAHistoryRevealed Equestria: A History Revealed]], the Equestrian Civil War, when Luna first became Nightmare Moon and attempted to usurp Celestia.
* Depending on your interpretation of [[http://www.fimfiction.net/story/90939/1/shell-shock/the-tower the backstory of Shell Shock]], the conflict may or may not be a civil war.
* Heavily implied to be the case in [[http://www.fimfiction.net/story/88520/1/welcome-to-the-brothel/das-laufhaus Welcome To The Brothel]].
* In FanFic/AKingdomDivided some of Equestria's towns rebel against Princess Celestia.
* In [[http://www.fimfiction.net/story/129154/brother-against-sister Brother Against Sister]], it's Prince Blueblood who leads the seceded part of Equestria. Apparently, ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' fanfic writers love this trope.
* Occurs ''twice'' in Venezuela before the AlienInvasion in ''FanFic/WorldwarWarOfEquals''. First between various political factions after [[spoiler: Hugo Chavez's death]] and the second between [[spoiler: Loyalist forces and supporters of the new military leadership after Nicolas Maduro is removed from power by a military coup]].
* ''Narrowly'' averted in the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' fanfic ''[[http://thejboy88.deviantart.com/gallery/44076506/MLP-The-Divide The Divide]]''. After it's discovered that [[spoiler: Sombra was Celestia's son]], Cloudsdale secedes from Equestria in disgust, with rumblings as far as the Crystal Empire of others planning the same. However, despite Chrysalis' [[FalseFlagOperation attempt to inflame the situation]], cooler heads prevail, and ultimately the situation is resolved peacefully, with Cloudsdale rejoining.
* Much like in the [[Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire books]], ''FanFic/SonOfTheSevenKingdoms'' has a civil war, but the number of sides is smaller: the main contendants are Joffrey (who holds the Iron Throne and has the support of the Westerlands) and William (with the support of the North, the Riverlands, Dragonstone and part of the Stormlands), while Renly and the Tyrells seek to ally with William (who is betrothed to Arya Stark) by marrying him to Margaery, Dorne and the Vale are proclaiming neutrality and the Iron Islands might end up becoming independent.
** After Renly's death, the rest of the Stormlands flock to William, as do several Westerland lords dissatisfied with Lannister rule; the Tyrells are talked into allying with the Lannisters by Littlefinger, who also promises Tywin that he can win over the Vale; Tyrion begins trying to win over Dorne for William; and the Iron Islands still go independent.
* In ''FanFic/RobbReturns'', the Iron Islands are on the edge, due to the growing differences between those who intend to heed the Call (such as Rodrik Harlaw) and those that deny it happened (like Balon Greyjoy and Damphair).
** Another begins to brew up in the Riverlands, between those who follow the Old Gods and the resurgent Faith Militant.
* The ''WesternAnimation/{{WITCH}}'' fanfic ''Fanfic/{{Ripples}}'' has one break out on Meridian following [[TheCoup the Darkest Winter Night]], between those loyal to Phobos and the so-called Council of Restoration, composed of all the noble houses which view him as an usurper and wish to depose him. However, the latter eventually collapses due to a combination of political infighting and being worn down by Phobos' military, leading to the canon Rebellion beginning.
* ''[[http://wiki.alternatehistory.com/doku.php?id=timelines:tl-191_after_the_end Timeline-191: After the End]]'' features a Japanese Civil War break out near the end of the Fourth Pacific War, as a result of insane military dictator [[GeneralRipper General Ishii]] ordering a purge of all (actual and imagined) political enemies he believes are about to enact a coup against him in order to sue for peace with the [[TheAlliance Compact of Democratic States]]. This causes many surviving high-ranking officers throughout Japan's Co-Prosperity Sphere to declare their territories independent of Ishii's regime, leading to fighting with loyalist forces in the same regions. Other officers, meanwhile, seize control of many of the Sphere's {{Puppet State}}s, allegedly to ensure Ishii's control but really to establish their own fiefdoms, a series of events made even more complicated as most of those puppet states break out in open rebellion against all Japanese control. And on top of all that, Ishii's government is eventually overthrown by a syndicalist revolution, leading to fighting all over the Home Islands between syndicalists and military loyalists.
** Rhodesia and South Africa both fall into chaotic civil wars as various militias rise up against both nation's dominant Apartheid governments. In both cases, it takes a RegimeChange brought about by foreign intervention to end the fighting -- in Rhodesia, the OSS (this timeline's version of the CIA) engineers a MilitaryCoup by moderate officers disgusted by the government's radical violence against the rebels, while South Africa requires a full-scale invasion and occupation by the [[UnitedEurope European Community]] to topple the remnants of the government and bring about peace.
** The Ottoman Empire eventually dissolves into total anarchy, as Sunni fundamentalists and ultra-nationalists begin targeting Jewish, Christian, Shi'a, and other religious/ethnic minorities throughout the empire, who retaliate by raising their own militias and fighting back. And while we don't see the conclusion of this conflict before the timeline wraps up, narrative comments state that it results in the final end of the empire as an entity.

* The Galactic Civil War within the [[TheEmpire Galactic Empire]] forms the central conflict of the ''Franchise/StarWars'' franchise, preceded by the Clone Wars, [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything fought between]] the Galactic Republic and a Confederation formed for seceding Republic planets. Numerous smaller-scale civil wars are noted in the Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse, and initially the Empire cracked down on them fiercely, unlike the Republic which usually let them be or sent Jedi to figure things out. Later the Empire was content to let them rage while chasing Rebels.
** In the EU there's actually a ''Second'' Galactic Civil War, this one with the Galactic Alliance (post-Literature/NewJediOrder New Republic, which in itself is post-Endor Rebel Alliance) against the Confederacy, which is a group of worlds led by Corellia in an attempt to break away. It ends up shifting the power balance quite a bit; the Jedi Order even forms its own temporary government in order to end the conflict.
* ''Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse'':
** A civil war between loyal agents of SHIELD and HYDRA infiltrators begins in ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'', and it is continued in ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD''.
** Of course, there's also the Avengers civil war in ''Film/CaptainAmericaCivilWar''. Which, unlike its comic book counterpart, is sparked by the Sokovia Accords, a bill that would place the Avengers under the authority of the UN. Actual violence doesn't break out until a third party frames Bucky Barnes for a terrorist attack.

* A civil war is an important part of the backstory in ''Literature/ABrothersPrice''. The royal family of Queensland had such a wealth of daughters that the family was split, the older half staying and marrying Michael, the younger half marrying Raphael and moving to rule recently-annexed Southland. But Michael turned out to be infertile, and the younger sisters became more and more insistent that their children be considered the heirs. This led eventually to what was called the War of the False Eldest, which ended with all of the younger sisters and their children being executed. Except, it turned out, for their boy Alannon, who was [[AMatchMadeInStockholm abducted by Queensland spies]]; he is dead by the time of the book, but the RoyalBlood he passed on certainly has an impact on his grandson.
* Most of ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' is devoted to this. They start calling it The War of the Five Kings in the second or third book. In the BackStory there are more, such as the Dance of the Dragons, the Blackfyre Rebellions[[note]]except for the last, the War of the Ninepenny Kings. By that point Blackfyre support in Westeros had been exhausted enough by the repeated failed rebellions that the only open Westerosi supporters during the war were exiles, and the war never actually reached Westeros proper[[/note]] and Robert's Rebellion.
* Literature/{{Discworld}}'s Ankh-Morpork has a number of Civil Wars in its backstory, though the narrator makes clear that many were accidental, overblown in the retelling, and generally not very competent affairs. It is mentioned that while the Patrician, [[MagnificentBastard Lord Vetinari]], has created a time of relative peace under his rule, he has done so by playing increasingly small factions against each other, to the point where, although everyone is technically still fighting a civil war, no one can do enough damage or make enough money out of it to become a threat. The Night Watch books in particular utilize the concept.
* Literature/DonQuixote travels to Barcelona, a Spanish province that is at a CivilWar at TheCavalierYears
* ''The Dragon War'' trilogy from ''Literature/DragonsOfRequiem'' is about a war between the [[TheEmpire Cadigus Empire]] and hundreds of Vir Requis who defect from his brutal rule in hopes of restoring Requiem to how it used to be.
* The Wizarding Wars of ''Literature/HarryPotter''. Presumably Voldemort had his eye on global conquest, but the books focus on his attempts to fully consolidate power in Britain, and those fighting against him from within.
* The UsefulNotes/HanoverStuartWars in ''Literature/{{Waverley}}''.
* ''Literature/ForWhomTheBellTolls'' is set during, and about, the UsefulNotes/SpanishCivilWar.
* In ''Literature/ChristianNation'', a dozen or so American states that are in protest of President Steve Jordan enforcing the Fifty Blessings to be the law of the land, superceding the power of the Constitution, attempt to secede, forming the Secular Bloc States, leading to what was called a "holy war" which ultimately ends with the rogue nations being recaptured and the last holdouts of freedom and democracy being laid siege upon in Manhattan.
* ''Literature/WorldWarZ'' has one break out in China during the height of the ZombieApocalypse, between the ruling Communist government (which is insistent on wasting lives on [[GeneralFailure pointless]] [[ZergRush human wave tactics]] against the zombies) and renegade sections of the military (which realize how stupid those tactics are). This war ultimately ends when a rebel submarine takes out the whole Politburo with a nuclear strike, after which both sides reunite to focus on the zombies.
* ''Literature/TheSilerianTrilogy'': After the Valdani leave, Sileria's factions devolve into a power struggle between the Alliance and shallaheen versus the various water lords.
* ''Literature/TheTraitorSonCycle'': When the "visiting" Gallish knights - who, for the past year, have been raping, robbing and generally mistreating the Alban populace - manage to arrest the Queen on charges of adultery and intend to have her burned at stake, the people finally have enough and a war erupts between the Gallish faction and Queen's loyalists.
* ''Literature/{{Victoria}}'' is all about the violent dissolution of the United States prompted by, among other things, a hyperinflation crisis, anemic response to an engineered pandemic, harsh anti-smoking laws, and federal support of rapists, murders and criminals over the common citizen in the name of racial tolerance and sensitivity. Aside from the failed efforts of the Feds to retain power, few of the successor states are inclined to get along, or even suffer each other to exist.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Two of them on ''Series/BabylonFive'': The Earth Alliance Civil War, and later the [[spoiler: Minbari]] Civil War. Several other civil wars are indicated or implied to happen off-screen after the show's end, such as the Telepath War on Earth and Vir's rebellion against Emperor [[spoiler: Londo Molari]] on Centauri Prime.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': Westeros has been subjected to quite a few of these, particularly the Dance of the Dragons which was a massive civil war between two rival branches of House Targaryen, fought 170 years before the events of the TV series, and most recently the War of the Five Kings, which was a major civil war that erupted in the wake of the death of King Robert I. In essence, the war is at first a three-way battle for the Iron Throne fought alongside two independence movements. The five kings in question are Robert's heir apparent, Joffrey Baratheon, Robert's two younger brothers, Stannis and Renly Baratheon, the "King in the North" Robb Stark, and the "King of the Iron Islands" Balon Greyjoy.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' has had at least two [[EnemyCivilWar Dalek civil wars]]:
** There was a brief war in ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS4E9TheEvilOfTheDaleks The Evil of the Daleks]]'', between the "Human Factor" Daleks created by the Doctor, and the normal Daleks led by the Emperor.
** An ongoing war between Renegade and Imperial Daleks drives the main plot of ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS25E1RemembranceOfTheDaleks Remembrance of the Daleks]]''.
* The Unification War in the backstory of ''Series/{{Firefly}}'', by virtue of its intended analogizing to the UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar.
* The fight of the Federation against the Maquis in the ''Franchise/StarTrek'' franchise veers from this to portraying them as merely a terrorist group, DependingOnTheWriter.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' had a rather short-lived (in broadcast terms) civil war in the Klingon Empire, instigated by the House of Duras when Picard (acting as arbiter) snubbed their blatant attempt to install a PuppetKing. It lasted two episodes and ended as soon as the Federation stopped the Romulans from supplying the Duras, leading to their quick defeat.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'':
** Season 6 involves a civil war in Heaven, as the CouncilOfAngels fragments after season five's ScrewDestiny ending. On one side, ArchangelRaphael and those who think the Apocalypse should be restarted. On the other, Castiel and those he's convinced to try this "free will" thing. There's plenty of spillover onto Earth, although most of it is left to our imagination. [[spoiler: It gets so bad Castiel is willing to work with Crowley, then give up on free will altogether and declare himself the new God after absorbing the souls of Purgatory. This ends badly.]]
** In Season 9 the remaining angels are all thrown out of Heaven and sent to Earth. Soon multiple factions are fighting a nasty civil war amongst themselves over what the angels should do next. Angels who prefer to remain neutral are hunted down and killed by all the warring factions. There is also a civil war going on in Hell as the Demon Knight Abbaddon has returned and challenged Crowley's position as King of Hell.
*** Comments from Castiel's former followers in Season 7, as well as Metatron in Season 8, suggest that the fighting never actually ''stopped''. It's just that the spillover doesn't reach Earth again until the angels fall in mass at the end of Season 8.
* ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'':
** The show spends the last portion of its first season dealing with the infighting between loyal SHIELD agents and those who served HYDRA. By the time Season 2 starts, however, this conflict is over, allowing SHIELD to focus on HYDRA's external organization.
** The second half of Season 2, however, deals with another SHIELD civil war, this time between Coulson's rebuilt but traditionally run group, and [[WellIntentionedExtremist Robert Gonzales]]' "real SHIELD", which is dedicated to more transparency and equality among its agents, but has a more [[FantasticRacism hardline]] approach to dealing with superhumans. That one ended when [[spoiler:Coulson revealed Nick Fury was still alive, not to mention his connection to the Avengers. Gonzales wisely ceased further hostilities, giving into Coulson's suggestion to merge amicably.]]
* ''Series/{{Rome}}'': Much of the series is centered around the civil wars of the late Roman Republic. In the first season Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon after he's declared an outlaw by the Senate, emerging victorious over Pompey Magnus and his allies. After his assassination the Caesarian and conservative factions declare a truce. Then a three-way civil war erupts between a rogue Mark Antony, Octavian, and Brutus and Cassius; Octavian teams up with Antony against Caesar's killers after he had just finished fighting Antony. Finally, there's a civil war between Mark Antony and Cleopatra on the one hand and Octavian on the other, who gives himself absolute power after defeating Antony to end all this infighting for good.
* ''Series/{{Tyrant}}'': In the second season there's an islamic insurgency in Abbudin after a gas attack on the rebels leads them to team up with more radical elements. This becomes an all-out civil war between the Al-Fayeed dictatorship, the Army of the Caliphate, and local militia the Red Hand.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The Literature/HorusHeresy is one of the biggest setting-defining events of ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', despite the fact it took place ten thousand years ago in the past. This is due to the fact that the war was ''so'' devastating that it resulted in the deaths of trillions, caused the Emperor to essentially die, and cost the Imperium thousands of years of technological innovation, transforming it into a FascistButInefficient dictatorship/theocracy, besieged on all fronts by hostile forces and stuck in MedievalStasis.
* Happens frequently in ''TabletopGame/BattleTech''. The Free Worlds League tend to be at civil war with each other from time to time, and the Clans don't always agree with one another and fight each other just as often during their Invasion. Then there was the [=FedCom=] civil war instigated by Katherine Steiner-Davion for control over two states.
* The primary setting of ''[[{{TabletopGame/FateOfTheNornsRagnarok}} Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok]]'': an eternal winter has set in, the end of the world approaches, and Viking society collapses: cue lots of civil wars for what's left.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''Franchise/DragonAge'':
** The [[VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins first game]] contains a brief civil war between Loghain and the Ferelden nobility, who aren't happy with him seizing power during the Blight
** ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'' shows the beginning of a civil war between the mages and templars which could potentially spread across the world. The player is forced to choose a side, [[GreyAndGrayMorality which is more difficult than it sounds.]] The conflict is more widely depicted in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeInquisition''.
** As of ''Literature/{{Asunder}}'' (which takes place shortly after II), civil war is also on the horizon in the Orlesian Empire, the most powerful human nation in the setting. This is further detailed in ''Literature/TheMaskedEmpire'' and resolved (for the time being) in ''Inquisition''.
** One of the [[AwfulTruth Awful Truths]] revealed about the elves in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeInquisition'' [[spoiler:is that this is how the original elven homeland was really destroyed, or at least weakened enough for Tevinter to conquer it.]]
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'', there's a civil war raging between the [[FantasyCounterpartCulture Imperial]] [[UsefulNotes/TheRomanEmpire Legion]] and the [[FantasyCounterpartCulture Stormcloak]] [[HornyVikings rebellion]]. [[PlayerCharacter You]] can negotiate peace between the two sides (on account of the pressing threat of the entire world getting eaten by dragons), or join up with one. (Or negotiate peace, then join up with one side and end the war anyway.) The civil war itself is a sterling example of GreyAndGrayMorality and BothSidesHaveAPoint in action, neither side is "right" and both sides have negative elements:
** The Empire is trying to hold onto Skyrim because it needs both the resources and the manpower, especially since they expect a full-scale war with the Aldmeri Dominion in the future. Skyrim also acts as a vital transportation hub, connecting the heart of the Empire to all of its other territories. While the Empire is criticised for not understanding the people of Skyrim or their cultures, they are generally considered fair and just rulers by the common citizens. However, the Empire's vast bureaucracy and weak leadership clog their government with inefficiency.
** The Stormcloaks view the Empire as an oppressive foreign power that is weak and unfit to rule Skyrim, and are violently opposed to the Empire's ban on the worship of the human god Talos (a clause that was reluctantly added to the peace treaty the Empire signed with the Thalmor). However, the Stormcloaks carry a noticeable degree of FantasticRacism against non-Nord races, and their rebellion is perceived by many as ill-timed and short-sighted, especially in the face of the true threat of the Thalmor.
** The entire war was instigated by [[spoiler:the Aldmeri Dominion. The Thalmor's intent was to soften up the Empire for another invasion attempt, though they realize they may have underestimated Ulfric. The Dragonborn getting involved and quickly ending the war in favor of either side will completely derail this plan since it means the Thalmor will either have to face a united Empire or a two front conflict against the Empire ''and'' Skyrim. The only truly "wrong" choice for the Dragonborn is to do nothing.]]
* ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'':
** The Great Schism, which started in the last year of the Human-Covenant War when the Covenant's [[BigBad Prophet of Truth]] thought that the [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy Sangheili/Elites]] had [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness outlived their usefulness]] and thus tried to wipe them out with the help of the [[KillerSpaceMonkey Jiralhanae/Brutes]]. It didn't work out so well for him; several Sangheili ended up [[EnemyMine allying with the humans]] to destroy the Covenant once and for all. That said, conflict still continues between the Elites and Brutes.
** After the Covenant falls, both the Elites and Brutes begin fighting amongst themselves as much as they've been fighting against each other; the most notable of these intraspecies civil wars is the conflict between the Arbiter's pro-human Elite-led Swords of Sanghelios and Jul 'Mdama's anti-human Elite-led Covenant revival. In particular, the civil conflicts on the Elite homeworld have become so destructive that its population has fallen to less than half of what it was during the time of the Covenant.
** Before the Covenant War, humanity itself was on the brink of civil war, as the fighting between the UNSC and the Insurrectionists spread across the Outer Colonies. The conflict was mostly put on hold once the Covenant started attacking, but after the Great Schism, the Insurrectionists have begun rising up in force again.
** The backstory notes that the [[{{Precursors}} Forerunners]] fought their own fair share of civil wars before their ecumene was solidified.
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', the RobotWar between Quarians and the Geth [[spoiler:was actually spawned by a Civil War between Quarians who sympathized with the Geth and Quarians who wanted to destroy them all. The Geth only took up arms to defend their friends, but this eventually became "defend themselves" when the quarian sympathizers were rendered into a non-entity.]]
* The backstory for ''VideoGame/StarTrekOnline'' reveals that this is pretty much the state of affairs for the Romulans [[Film/StarTrekNemesis post-Shinzon]] that got worse [[Film/StarTrek post-Hobus Supernova]]. The backsotry dealt with the war between Tal'Aura's Romulan Star Empire and Donatra's Imperial Romulan State in the aftermath of Shinzon's rebellion while the main bulk of the Romulan Player Character deals with Sela's Romulan Star Empire (ran by the Tal Shiar) going up against D'Tan's Romulan Republic.
* The Alliance-Hierarchy War in ''VideoGame/StarControl'' is also a civil war for humanity, because there are humans on both sides: the Earthlings on the side of the Alliance, the Androsynth on the side of the Hierarchy.
* Happens repeatedly in ''Franchise/{{Starcraft}}''. The big reveal in ''Legacy of the Void'' is that [[spoiler:the Xel'Naga more or less wiped themselves out this way. A rogue faction of Xel'Naga led by Amon grew weary of their duties (they wanted to be gods, not shepherds) and tried to break the Cycle by artificially uplifting the Protoss and the Zerg to use them as weapons. The rest of the Xel'Naga objected and fought against Amon's mad scheme. By the time the dust settled, nearly all of the Xel'Naga had perished.]]
* In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfHeroesTrailsOfColdSteel'', the [[VestigialEmpire Erebonian Empire]] enters a civil war between the Noble Alliance and the Imperial Military at the end of the first game. The whole of the second game is devoted to trying to stop it.
[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/{{Follower}}'' starts with the United States on the brink of a civil war, [[FromBadToWorse and it just goes down hill from there]].

[[folder:Web Original]]
* After the takeover of Molossia (now ''WebVideo/{{Kickassia}}''), the people of Website/ChannelAwesome fracture over the spoils, resulting in one of these: WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic against everyone else.
* One of these ended a dynasty in the [[Wiki/TheWorldbuildProject Acasi Empire]], which in turn ended [[WarIsHell a twenty-year war between the empire and the neighboring city-states of Rhael]].
* ''Literature/DecadesOfDarkness'' sees a lot of these:
** The [[AlternateHistory divergence point]] is Thomas Jefferson's early death in 1809, starting a series of events that results in New England (along with a disillusioned New York and New Jersey) seceding from the Union, with military help from Britain.
** Spain eventually has its own civil war, which eventually causes it to split back into Castile and Aragon.
** In Brazil, anti-slavery/pro-democracy forces within the military eventually stage a coup against the royal family, who escape with support from the Americans, resulting in the country being divided between an American puppet state in the north and a republic in the south.
** Near the end of the timeline, their losses in the Great War cause [[spoiler: Britain and France]] to break apart into a number of bickering smaller nations.
** Also near the end of the timeline, there's a civil war in Canada (here an autonomous kingdom instead of a dominion) between supporters of the monarchy and a democracy movement. This one isn't resolved by story's end, but it's speculated in-universe that the republicans will succeed in breaking western Canada away, leaving a rump kingdom in Ontario; left unresolved is the fate of Wisconsin, which is the most heavily divided between the two sides.
* In ''Literature/TheFalconCannotHear'', the assassination of President-elect UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt in 1933 means there's no New Deal to help the United States successfully recover from the Great Depression, causing tensions to continue to rise between various left- and right-wing groups and the government, coming to a head when the Bonus Army [[spoiler: kills the President and Vice-President]] in 1937. Army Chief-Of-Staff Douglas [=MacArthur=] subsequently stages a MilitaryCoup to try and stabilize the situation, but that just ignites the powder keg and kicks off the Second American Civil War, which has no less than ''five'' major factions -- [=MacArthur=]'s "Khaki" military government, which controls D.C., the Rockies, Alaska, and the overseas territories; the American Soviet Republic, which stretches from Chicago to NYC; the "White" coalition of fascists and business interests led by Huey Long, which control the South, Texas, part of the Southwest, and eastern New England; the Provisional Government, or "Blues", an alliance of prewar liberals and democratic socialists, who control upstate New York, the Upper Midwest, western New England, and the West Coast; and the Continental Congress, an alliance of farmers dissatisfied with the other factions, which controls the Midwest and Plains. And that's not mentioning smaller players -- North Dakota, which declares independence; Maine, which becomes highly autonomous and plays the other factions for greater independence for itself; B.R.O.W.N. (the Bannerman Revolutionary Organization of Willing Negroes), a black militia in White territory; and Henry Ford, whose private armies turn Detroit into his personal fiefdom.
** And all of the above is pretty much just the basic set up. Things get a bit more complicated later on: [[spoiler: after [=MacArthur=] dies in a hurricane, the Whites take control of D.C., the Japanese seize the Pacific possessions, and the rest of Khaki territory dissolves into warlordism, leaving a rump government in the Alaskan panhandle. The Blues defeat Ford, and then form the [[TheAlliance Red Oak Pact]] with the Congress and Maine. This inspires the Blue-friendly East Coast soviets to break away and form the American Workers Collective, which forms the Popular Front with the Blues. Later, the Japanese invade the West Coast in support of the Whites, causing the Red Oak Pact/Popular Front, the ASR, most of the Khaki warlords, B.R.O.W.N. and a [[NeutralNoLonger no longer neutral Canada]] to band together. They drive back the Japanese, defeat the Whites, bring North Dakota to heel, and then defeat the ASR and the remaining independent warlords]]. With these final acts, the remaining factions gather for a PeaceConference in Toronto, officially ending the war and forging a new United States federal government.
* In ''Literature/TheRuinsOfAnAmericanPartySystem'', a three-way civil war breaks out in Germany in the 1920s between the Nazis, the Communists, and a more centrist authoritarian government that supports a restored monarchy. [[spoiler: The latter eventually wins.]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The war for Mobius on the ''WesternAnimation/SonicSatAM'' cartoon.
* In ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'' in general, the default state of Cybertron seems to be a state of civil war to provide a reason for robots to shoot each other. There have also been various internal conflicts within both Autobot and Decepticon, and occasionally Maximal, Predacon, and Vehicon ranks.
* Book 2 of ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'' starts off with the Northern Water Tribe imposing martial law on the Southern Water Tribe. Considering that the Southern Water Tribe does not recognize Northern leadership and has been allowed to self-govern for almost a century or even longer, this predictably resulted in an insurgency.
** The end of Book 2 revealed that [[spoiler: the civil war was built on false pretenses. Northern Chief Unalaq ([[AlternativeCharacterInterpretation probably]]) didn't give a crap about what the South was doing. He instead wanted unfettered, exclusive access to the Southern Spirit Portal located in Southern Water Tribe territory, and the simplest way to do that was to impose martial law as justification to plant a military base around the portal.]]
** The [[BalkanizeMe balkanization]] of the Earth Kingdom happened off-screen shortly after the events of Book 3. The reunification of the Earth Kingdom led by Kuvira also happened off-screen and was mostly glossed over. However, considering that Kuvira had an ''army'' and used it to [[GunboatDiplomacy intimidate city leaders to submit to her leadership]] makes it easy to speculate that the reunification of the Earth Kingdom likely wasn't gentle.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' Imaginationland Trilogy, the war between the Good and Evil Imaginary characters orchestrated by a terrorist cell. Each side had their own separate territory in Imaginationland.