Day of the Jackboot

"So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause."
Padmé Amidala, Revenge of the Sith

Fascists, commies, theocrats and other assorted scary people live far, far away from your country. There's no way that they could take it over.

... And even if they did, people would fight them off before they could get a foothold. Nobody would help them out.

... Well, even if they did, there's no way those kind of people could come from your country, right?

Right?

This trope is when Those Wacky Nazis, Dirty Communists or people who look and act suspiciously like either of them take over the protagonist's country or hometown. Communism is a less common target for this now, thanks to The Great Politics Mess-Up.

See also Invaded States of America and Oppressive States of America for something specific to the United States - columns of foreign troops marching down Pennsylvania Avenue can be a very powerful image when the last time this happened was 200 years ago. May involve The Coup, though it doesn't necessarily need to (that trope is more on the act itself, this trope is more about the after-effects).

Compare People's Republic of Tyranny.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade is an example. Though a sort of weird one because the pseudo-Nazis are ruling Japan. It's a criticism of how the LD Party in Japan was considered to have become more and more oppressive during the '50s and '60s. In 1955 the PM was a war criminal, for example.
  • There are heavy overtones of this in Death Note once Kira is running the show.

    Comicbooks 
  • V for Vendetta was a textbook example, and a pretty good depiction of how scary Thatcherism was to some people.
    • It's worth noting in the comic the fascists took over only after the Conservatives (Thatcher) were voted out and the Labour Party left NATO, which was implied to spur war in the first place. According to Word of God, Moore only contrived that to get the nukes out so England would not be a Soviet target, as it was the only way he could think of for England to survive such a war.
    • The Norsefire party seems to be a large, bloated version of the National Front.
  • The Days of Future Past storyline in X-Men.
  • The comic book version of Cobra is currently undergoing such a storyline, with the Joes on the run, and Cobra having control of Congress and the US Military.
  • The 2000 AD strip Savage has the Volgans (a facist alternative history version of Russia) invading the United Kingdom.
  • About every other Captain Britain storyline seemed to involve an alternate version of the United Kingdom which had been taken over by Nazis.

    Fan Fics 
  • In The Conversion Bureau: Cold War Queen Chrysalis replaced Celestia and has been in control of Equestria for about a month and a half before making contact with humanity.
  • A flashback in the Last Train From Oblivion side story of The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum fits the page quote near-perfectly. The chapter where this happens starts off innocently enough - but towards the end of this segment, Celestia announces that she has taken the Crystal Throne, reveals Earth's existence to the nation, and states her intention to "spread harmony" to this new world. The zebra ambassador angrily declares that Celestia is acting in violation of the Concordia Maxima by not consulting the other species of Equus on the matter of First Contact, while Sweetie Belle, Babs, Fancy Pants and Luna are horrified by the sudden deaths of several dignitaries onboard the Great Equestrian ship. Sadly, they are voices lost in the the crowds of ponies in the streets below them that are cheering for what amounts to the birth of the Solar Empire.

    Film 
  • The page quote comes from Revenge of the Sith, the last of the Star Wars prequels, in which Chancellor Palpatine's plans come to fruition and he becomes Emperor.
  • Gabriel Over the White House is a very weird, unsettlingly positive take on a fascist takeover of the USA. It features the U.S. president declaring himself dictator, dissolving Congress so he can rule by decree, having gangsters executed immediately after military trials, and threatening war against any country that defaults on its debts to the U.S. The movie was bankrolled by William Randolph Hearst, with some script doctoring by FDR. "I want to send you this line to tell you how pleased I am with the changes you made in Gabriel Over the White House,” Roosevelt wrote a month into office. “I think it is an intensely interesting picture and should do much to help.”
  • The 1995 adaptation of Richard III had the Shakespearean Big Bad setting up a quasi-fascist monarchy in 1930s Britain.
  • Red Dawn (1984) is a 1984 war film by John Milius about a Soviet invasion of the United States. The mini-series Amerika (1987) eschews the same gung-ho approach to show a United States worn down after ten years of communist rule.
  • Although denied by its creators, entire rainforests have been destroyed in arguments over whether Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a metaphor for Communism or McCarthyism.
  • Escape from L.A. had the United States ruled by a Christian fundamentalist president, with people being sent to L.A. penitentiary island just for being Muslim (among other so-called "offenses"). He also has himself declared President-for-Life and moves the capital to Lynchburg, Virginia, his hometown. Interestingly, the state of the US military must be abysmal in this world, as a ragtag South American army is a genuine threat to the country. We can probably blame Snake for the state of the world, after he screwed up the President's speech in the previous movie.
  • The 1966 film It Happened Here depicts a collaborationist regime in a Nazi-occupied Britain, and the process by which an ordinary person can fall under its sway.
  • The German movie Die Welle (a remake of The Wave) has this happen in a high school.
  • Terry Gilliam's Brazil.
  • In the 1977 film Sleeping Dogs, New Zealand slides into fascistic martial law after oil embargoes and industrial disputes flare into full-blown civil war. This was the first film entirely produced and set in New Zealand.
  • Power Play (1978) is a British-Canadian film inspired by the non-fiction strategy book Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook by Edward N. Luttwak. A group of military officers angry at the corruption and repression of an unnamed European government plan to take over the country.
  • G.I. Joe: Retaliation: Cobra has taken control of the US government, and has branded the Joes as terrorists.
  • The 1971 Christian exploitation film If Footmen Tire You What Will Horses Do warns that communists will be taking over the United States "within the next twenty-four months". We're shown scenes of what America will be like under communist rule, which mostly consists of people being tortured, raped, and/or killed for being Christians.
  • Twenty Four Eyes, a film about life in a Japanese fishing village from 1928 to 1946, shows how life very gradually changes as the government becomes more militaristic and oppressive. The songs the students sing change from innocent to jingoistic. The school principal burns a book deemed to be subversive, and warns the Cool Teacher that she might be called a "Red" and get thrown in jail if she doesn't watch out. Said teacher eventually quits because she can't stand to prepare her children to be soldiers.
  • A Pearl In The Forest does this literally, with the first shot of the film being an actual pair of jackboots. They are worn by Markhaa, a State Sec officer and Buryat tribesman who is bringing the tyranny of Joseph Stalin to Markhaa's little village in 1937 Mongolia. He's hunting for ethnic Buryats who have fled to Mongolia to escape collectivization in Stalin's Russia. He winds up destroying the village.

    Literature 
  • One of the original examples is likely Sinclair Lewis' 1935 novel It Can't Happen Here, which is about Fascism taking root in the United States.
  • In the early 1950's, novelist Taylor Caldwell (better known for her historical romances) wrote The Devil's Advocate, set in a near future in which America had been taken over by a dictatorial regime called "The Democracy" which incorporated elements of both Communism and Fascism and relied on backing from the military to stay in power.
  • Harry Potter. The Death Eaters in Book 7, although in The Film of the Book of Book 5, Cornelius Fudge's ministry had some elements of a cult-of-personality.
  • The totalitarian New Order in the Witch & Wizard trilogy by James Patterson.
  • The Trauma 2020 novels by Peter Beere (A future so terrible, you won't want to live long enough to see it!) were set in a fascist dystopian Great Britain.
  • The Alternate History novel Resurrection Day, by Brendan DuBois, is set in a United States that has become a military dictatorship after the Cuban Missile Crisis turned hot. Elections are still held, but because the Democratic Party is blamed for starting the war, the US is the equivilant of a one-party state, with the military holding the actual power.
  • The Cold War novel The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth details how a hardline communist faction within the Labour Party could take over Britain. And on the other side of the political spectrum, A Very British Coup by Chris Mullin has British conservatives and the CIA plotting to overthrow a socialist Prime Minister.
  • George Orwell's 1984 is probably the most famous example. In the author's own words, the book "is NOT intended as an attack on Socialism or on the British Labour Party (of which I am a supporter) but as a show-up of the perversions to which a centralised economy is liable and which have already been partly realised in Communism and Fascism... I believe also that totalitarian ideas have taken root in the minds of intellectuals everywhere, and I have tried to draw these ideas out to their logical consequences. The scene of the book is laid in Britain in order to emphasise that the English-speaking races are not innately better than anyone else and that totalitarianism, if not fought against, could triumph anywhere."
  • K is for Killing by Daniel Easterman is about a United States in 1940 ruled by a coalition of Charles Lindbergh's America First Committee and the Ku Klux Klan led by D.C. Stephenson. Has concentration camps and the Federal Bureau of Internal Security headed by J. Edgar Hoover.
  • Robert A. Heinlein wrote Sixth Column (aka The Day After Tomorrow) in 1949, in which the PanAsians take over a United States which had retreated into isolationism. In Heinlein's Future History ‘verse, the USA goes through a period as a fascist Christian theocracy, begun by televangelist Nehemiah Scudder.
  • The 1970s young-adult novel Sleep, Two, Three, Four! depicts a fascist-ruled United States in 1983. The President (obviously based on Richard Nixon) rules with an iron fist, minorities are confined to walled ghettoes, people with disabilities are shipped off to "health camps," and the government secretly hires squads of thugs to terrorize suburban neighborhoods through home-invasion robberies.
  • Philip Roth's The Plot Against America is kind of a Spiritual Successor to the Sinclair Lewis novel, and uses the idea of Lindbergh becoming President and instituting Nazi-lite policies.
  • SS-GB by Len Deighton is a story if Hitler had invaded England and won. The name means SS-Great Britain. The book Fatherland seems to take a lot of its story from SS-GB. Both are excellent stories but if you read SS-GB first (it was written first) you tend to think Fatherland is more of the same. If you read Fatherland first you might think Seinfeld Is Unfunny.
  • Tracer by Stuart Jackson, set in a 1999 Britain controlled by a neo-fascist government as a result of the AIDS crisis. The protagonist is a policeman whose job is to track down AIDS carriers — he gets caught up in a power struggle involving the old political parties who are trying to wrest power back from the new Hard Right.
  • The sci-fi trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton about psi-boosted private investigator Greg Mandel is set against a Britain recovering from a communist dictatorship.
  • Jo Walton's Small Change trilogy (Farthing, Ha'penny, and Half a Crown). They are set in an alternate England in which Rudolph Hess successfully brokered peace, and the main character is Inspector Peter Carmichael, who works for the Fascist dictatorship government. A number of the characters are inspired by people like Unity Mitford- upper class high society people who favored appeasement during the 1930s and afterward.
  • The Children's Story by James Clavell. A young teacher comes to class to tell the students about their bright future with their new government. She's is chillingly charming, especially in the film adaptation (which may or may not be on YouTube) and quite successfully converts her class. Watch it and tell me you wouldn't fall for it.
  • The Resistance Trilogy by Clive Egleton depicts La Résistance to a Soviet-occupied Britain.
  • Jack London wrote The Iron Heel, which details the long resistance against a then-futuristic American fascist state.
  • In Harry Turtledove's In The Presence Of Mine Enemies, Nazi Germany conquered most of Europe (including England) during World War II, and the United States in the 1970s.
  • Seven Days in May is one of the more realistic depictions of this trope, in which a conservative general plots a Military Coup against the President of the United States after he signs a controversial treaty to abolish nuclear weapons. Both the novel and The Film of the Book go into detail showing how a real-life coup could plausibly happen, and address the often-neglected area of public support — the President is down to 29% in the polls, whereas the general is highly popular.
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood is based in the theocratic and misogynistic "Republic of Gilead", which has seized control of most of the United States.
  • Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler has the U.S. become a theocracy in which non-Christians are put in concentration camps.
  • The "Day of the Rope" in The Turner Diaries — though according to its author, this is actually a good thing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The article's picture is from the Star Trek: Enterprise episode where the crew ends up in an alternate past where, due to Lenin being assassinated by a time traveler prior to the Russian Revolution, Germany, with little opposition to the East, is winning the war and has already captured much of the Eastern Seaboard. While they are hinted at being pushed back by the Allies, a group of aliens are offering the Germans advanced weapons.
    • A case of Artistic License - History, because anti-communism was the driving force behind the rise of fascist governments, and if the bolshevik revolution had failed, Germany and Russia wouldn't have ended their infamous... cooperation.
    • Also Lenin was smuggled into Russia by Imperial Germany exactly beacuse he was planning to make peace with the Germans.
  • Kenneth Johnson wanted to make a mini-series based on Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here. The project was originally called "Storm Warnings." It became V when the network suggested Americans would be more likely to find the specter of Soviet Russia taking over scary than a homegrown fascist movement. Johnson felt this would destroy the entire point of the source material, and instead chose to make the oppressors aliens.
  • Babylon 5 had President Clark's administration, complete with the Gestapo-style (with black armbands) Night Watch.
    • This is an especially noteworthy example as the show spent two years showing us the EarthGov's slow slide into tyranny.
  • Rutger Hauer TV Movie Fatherland (based on a novel by Robert Harris), set in a 1964 where the Nazis won.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Turn Left". In an alternate universe where the Doctor died prematurely, it allowed for a spaceship with a nuclear-powered drive to wipe out London. The whole of Southern England had to be evacuated, and the UK was plunged into depression. They were awaiting aid from the US- but then one fifth of their population was killed in the Adipose Plot. Even more people died, and cars started expelling toxic gas thanks to the Sontarans, and things were only stopped at the sacrifice of Torchwood. Eventually England fell under martial law, and - despite there being seemingly no work for the general population - began sending immigrants to "labour camps".
    • The 1960s story "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" has Daleks conquering Earth in the 22nd century, but still hits all the standard tropes of the "if Germany had invaded the UK in World War II" alternate history.
    • The 1970s story "Inferno" has a Mirror Universe in which the UK is a fascist state. It's left unclear whether this was due to a successful conquest by Nazi Germany or a successful home-grown fascist movement.
  • One episode of Lois and Clark. They seemed surprisingly ready, with all the swastika banners and uniforms in place.
    • They'd had years of preperation while establishing their "all-American" identities.
  • The first episode of Sliders has the timelost group get stuck in a world where the Soviet Union won the Cold War and took over America, and "The People's Court" is simply an extension of the People's Police and the People's Prison.
  • There was a miniseries in The Eighties called Amerika, about a Soviet takeover of, well, guess where. It involved an ambiguous ending that made it appear that the Americans were preparing a rebellion, without actually saying who wins in the end.
  • An after-school special called The Wave (and its novelization) has this happen successfully in a High School as part of a social experiment conducted by a history teacher. It was remade in 2008 by the Germans as Die Welle.
  • An episode of Misfits took place in an alternate timeline where Germany won World War II and Britain was made into a Nazi province. All things considered, the differences between the timelines are not that great but still disturbing. The community center is now a detention center for delinquents and undesirables, and people with powers are being rounded up so that Seth the Power Dealer can transfer their abilities into high-ranking Nazi officers. Shaun, the apathetic and slightly corrupt social worker from the real timeline is now an apathetic and very corrupt Nazi official. Curtis and Alisha, being black, are reduced to second-class citizens- Alisha's drink-driving would have earned her a prison sentence if Shaun hadn't chosen her as his "personal assistant." As a final insult, Simon has been conscripted into the local Nazi regiment, and is bullied into executing defenceless prisoners.
  • Community gives us this... at a community college. It comes after the Star-Burns wake, with Chang in the role of the Dear Leader and middle-schoolers as Blackshirts.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Gul Dukat takes control of the Cardassian government and arranges Cardassia's membership of the Dominion before then attempting to justify his actions to both the Cardassian people and the rest of the Alpha Quadrant. His leadership of Cardassia is only a disaster for the Alpha Quadrant; for Cardassia itself, it's a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions (when the Cardassian people revolt against the Dominion with Bajoran and Federation help, the Dominion commits genocide, destroying over eight hundred million civilians; Cardassian history will not remember Dukat's leadership fondly).
  • On Revolution the Monroe Republic has shades of this but Monroe is really just a dictatorial warlord and has no real ideology behind him. In season 2, the Patriots, The Remnant of the old US Government, start taking over the Eastern Seaborn and are a much straighter example with their fanaticism and brainwashing camps. The protagonists are living in a small town in Texas when the Patriots arrive to 'save' the town from a savage tribe of raiders. They soon find out that the Patriots hired the raiders themselves to create a pretext for the presence of Patriot troops. Soon enough martial law is invoked.
  • A 1968 made-for-TV movie, ''Shadow On The Land'' depicted a Fascist dictatorship ruling a near-future, Alternate History USA and the resistance to that regime.
  • Defiance: Season 2 opens after a 9 month Time Skip, during which the Earth Republic has taken complete control of the town. While the E-Rep's propaganda talks about how much safer and prosperous they've made the town, there's also the fact that the gulanite miners are worked so hard that half of them have become drug addicts to cope with it, and accidents are common. Meanwhile, those who speak out against the E-Rep are either locked up, or suffer "accidents".
  • In the TV series Game of Thrones, the Lannister takeover of the Iron Throne is made to invoke this. They have faceless goons in armor that was specifically made to resemble the Teutons from Alexander Nevsky marching all over the Seven Kingdoms, their tyrannical king voices his desire to abolish local feudalism and become an autocrat, and on reconquered territories they rely on collaborationists installed by force and hated by the local population.
  • In OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let's Go Kamen Riders, some time-travel shenanigans lead the heroes to an alternate timeline where Shocker (after uniting with many of the evil factions of other Rider series) already took over Japan and is close to getting the world as well.

    Magazines 

    Music 
  • "Stars & Stripes" by KMFDM, complete with the Stock Phrase:
    Divided and conquered. Gripped by fear. Wishful thinking that it can't happen here

    Videogames 
  • The opening movie for the Playstation version of Final Fantasy II basically opens with this.
  • Freedom Fighters opens the game with this sort of thing before moving on to La Résistance. Elements of this trope can be seen throughout the game, including the military-controlled broadcasts that are seen between levels.
  • Vandal Hearts utilizes both sides, everyone is done-up in red and seem like James Bond style communists, but the Man Behind the Man and The Starscream is a short dark haired guy named Dolf...
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert depicts the Soviet Union taking over Europe and the USA in dramatic fashion. In their RA ending they occupy London and especifically Buckhimghan Palace, in RA2 alone, they destroy the Pentagon, bombard the Statue of Liberty into rubble, mind-control the US president, turn the Eiffel Tower into a giant tesla coil, shut down Wall Street (complete with infantry march), and start expanding into space.
  • In Day Of The Tentacle, the mutant Purple Tentacle enacts a totalitarian, racist takeover of America and the world.

    Web Originals 
  • A complicated example appears in Reds. Given how divided the United States had become between the left and right, the Great Depression proves to be more than the republic could handle. When the Workers' Communist Party wins a landslide election victory, the panicked establishment sees no way out but a military junta. With the constitution suspended, the Army mobilized to put down opposition, and KKK death squads murdering anyone who gets in the way, it was only a matter of time before the left took up arms as well. From the perspective of the average modern reader, neither outcome is desirable.

    Western Animation 
  • The Justice League arc "The Savage Time" begins with the League returning to Metropolis to find Nazis marching in the streets. Turns out someone used Time Travel (again) to make Germany win World War II.
  • In The Fairly Oddparents, Fairy World gets taken over by their bureaucratic and business-oriented cousins the pixies. Everything becomes boring and corporate (and buried in paperwork!), and the pixes try to make everyone “Stop Having Fun” Guys.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the occupation of Ba Sing Se by the Fire Nation. We see tanks, rhinos, and faceless firebending soldiers line the streets and Fire Nation sigils adorn the Earth King's palace. Mere hours previously, the residents of the city thought this impossible.
    • Something similar happens with the Equalist takeover of Republic City in The Legend of Korra, with troops and mecha-tanks in the streets and Amon maintaining a queue of benders to depower. They go so far as to mount a giant replica of Amon's mask on the statue of Aang, indicating either extreme commitment or way too much time on their hands.