In fiction, the USA sometimes gets split up into several successor states, while at other times it might get invaded by one or more other powers. And sometimes, it even falls from power. This trope, however, reverses the common factor between the aforementioned three cases (that is, the USA being "weakened"), and instead makes it more... empowered. That is, the USA gains more territory (and more often than not turns those acquisitions into new states).
The trope has four distinct flavors:
The standard Expanded States of America has the USA be more aggressive, and use its military might (or subtle politics/diplomacy, whichever works) to annex at least parts of one or more bordering countries on the North American continent - meaning Canada, Mexico, Central America, and/or a Caribbean island nation - as additional states, if not take over said countries outright; more extreme examples of this kind have the US evolve into what is essentially United States of North America (depending on one's definition of "North America").
The more "subdued" brother, 50+ States of America, has one or more of the handful of Real Life non-state subdivisions of the USA (e.g. Puerto Rico) be turned into a full-fledged state, or one or more states being re-partitioned into a different combinationnote Which does have precedent in Real Life, as such repartitioning did happen four times so far in U.S. history, giving us the current States of Kentucky, Tennessee, Maine, and West Virginia..
United Americas, where the USA has united North America and South America (or at least all of the major states and most of the smaller ones) under its banner. The resulting superstate may or may not suffer from recurrent rebellions due to social and economic inequality being imposed by "the rich North/'Anglos'" on "the poor South/'Latinos'".
Transcontinental American Empire, where the USA annexes countries beyond the American geographic region. An irony factor can be added by having the British Isles as one subject of annexation, in a sort of role-reversal of the War of American Independence. America Takes Over the World is the Logical Extreme of this and has its very own trope page.
In Meet the Robinsons it is implied that Canada will be annexed and renamed North Montana.
In The Trojan Horse, a Canadian made-for-TV movie starring Paul Gross, Canadians vote to join the United States. Their territory becomes six new states, and Canada's former prime minister (Gross) becomes eligible to run for President of the United States, since, like the first 9 Presidents, he was born in a territory that later became a state.
Harry Turtledove's Alternate HistoryTimeline-191 series mixes this with Divided States of America in interesting ways: The United States as we know it now is split between the United States and the Confederate States of America, but both expand into non-US territory on the American continent. The USA annexes most of Canada (minus Quebec, which becomes its own puppet state) after the World War I analogue, while the CSA owns Cuba and two Mexican states.
The United States in Julian Comstock stretches from as far north as Canada to as far as Panama in the south.
In Mikhail Akhmanov's Arrivals from the Dark, it's briefly mentioned that the US is now called the USC (United States and Canada). How this is achieved is not explained, although it can be inferred that the unification was peaceful.
Tom Kratman's Caliphate has a much more militarily aggressive United States take over most of Canada under the leadership of President Buckman, ultimately becoming the Imperial States of America by the time of the book's primary setting.
S.M. Starling's The Draka series is chock full of superstates like this, the US included. Since Canada did not benefit from a large population boost following the American Revolution, it fell to the US invasion of 1812. Since they were free states, the slave-owning southerners lobbied for full annexation after the Mexican War. William Walker succeeded in establishing a Central American empire, which was then annexed along with Cuba, the rest of the Caribbean, and the Philippines. In a similar vein, The Grand Republic of Columbia (Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, northern Peru and northwest Brazil) never broke up, nor the Empire of Brazil (Brazil & Uruguay), so South America is comprised of just 4 nations. Africa and the Mideast is likewise unified, but as a brutal slaveocracy under the boot heel of the eponymous Draka.
Live Action TV
In a sketch on MADtv, a man woke up to discover that, while drunk, he had successfully run for president of the United States. During his drunken presidency, he had bullied Cuba, Saskatchewan and Germany into becoming new states.
In Shadowrun, the North American map has been considerably redrawn, but the UCAS (United Canadian and American States) is politically and economically the most powerful successor state. It's an amalgam of the northeastern USA and eastern Canada, notably not including Quebec. However, they've lost everything west of Denver or south of St. Louis to various other interests, among them the Confederation of American States (CAS), so this is actually a zig-zag blend between this trope and Divided States of America, with Invaded States of America coming into play when Aztlan (formerly Mexico) eventually invades both California and Texas, gaining some territory but failing to annex either. Of course since Califonia is an independent nation and Texas is part of the CAS, this may be a subversion.
In Steve Jackson Games' Ogre, the North American Combined States (a.k.a. the "Combine") includes everything from Canada south to Panama, with the rest of the hemisphere mostly comprising puppet governments.
In the Fallout series, it's mentioned that the US annexed Canada shortly before the Great War.
UFO: Alien Invasion includes the United States, Canada, and Mexico as part of a "United America" (the name used in-game, not the trope distinction) as part of its general trend of lumping all future nations into Space Filling Empires.
In Mass Effect, Canada and Mexico were annexed to form the United North American States at the end of the 21st century. Outrage from the annexation sparked off a terrorist bombing of the Statue of Liberty and the Second American Civil War, which was won by unionist forces.
The United States, when it gained legal recognition by the Treaty of Paris in 1783, consisted of that portion of the modern lower 48 states east of the Mississippi River, minus Florida and the Gulf coast. It stayed that way for twenty years. Then, over a period of 45 years in the early 19th century, "Manifest Destiny" came into being and this trope was executed in Real Life.
Thomas Jefferson pulled off the land deal of the millennium when he bought the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803. This acquired for the United States the western half of the Mississippi River watershed, doubling the size of the country.note Some say that the Constitution didn't give the President the power to make such a deal, and that Jefferson himself knew that... but it was just too good to pass up.
The Republic of West Florida Was Annexed in 1809.
Florida and the Gulf coast east of the Mississippi River were purchased from Spain in 1819.
The Republic of Texas, which had been an independent nation since 1836 after winning independence from Mexico, was annexed by the United States in 1845.
The Oregon Territory was divided between Britain and the United States in 1846, with the northern portion becoming British Columbia and the southern portion (modern-day Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and western Montana) going to the United States. This expanded the USA to the Pacific Coast.
The United States at the same time launched the Mexican-American War, which resulted in victory for the United States and the annexation of a huge chunk of land that now makes up the American Southwest. For a while, the U.S. was considering annexing all of Mexico; both the hypothetical annexation and the actual land gained stirred a lot of controversy in regards to how it would affect the balance between free and slave states. See also Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back.
The outline of the Lower 48 was completed in 1853 with the Gadsden Purchase, a slice of southern Arizona and New Mexico bought from Mexico to allow for the construction of a transcontinental railroad.
The last of what is now the fifty United States was acquired in 1898, when the USA annexed the independent nation of Hawaii, three years after American plantation owners in Hawaii overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy.
Leading up to the American Civil War, many plans for southern expansion were considered, and some even initiated. President Polk authorized spending up to $100M on Cuba, and a small force of Confederate officers were sent to the Amazon delta to assess resources and potential resistance to a Confederate invasion (they claimed that they were mapping shipping routes).
There were several attempts through history to get parts or all of Canada to join the Union, either by force or by diplomacy (for instance, the organizers of the Continental Congresses sent invitations to Nova Scotia and Canada), but all serious attempts essentially ended shortly after the War of 1812, although some in areas like Alberta and Nova Scotia have occasionally semi-seriously floated the idea, especially back when it looked like Quebec might break away from Canada.
Prince Edward Island balked at the terms of the Canadian Confederation of 1867, declined to join the new nation formed by the Confederation, and entertained offers from the United States before a sweetened offer led to P.E.I. joining Canada in 1873.
A little known of fact is that the United States actually invaded Canada (then, the Province of Quebec) during the Revolutionary War and one of the commanding officers of the invasion was future Turncoat Benedict Arnold. The invasion was a failure. Later, at the Paris Peace Conference, the United States attempted to sue for the entire Province, but the British refused. They did, however, give the U.S. the southern part of the province, which subsequently became the Northwest Territory.
Both the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 and the construction of the Alaska Highway in 1940-42 prompted discussions within the U.S. government and the public about the purchase of British Columbia.
In 1869 the Dominican Republic, then known as "Santo Domingo", entered into a treaty of annexation with the United States. Santo Domingo would have become a territory of the United States with the possibility of statehood to come. The treaty was rejected by the United States Senate on a 28-28 vote (not as close as it sounds, because treaties require 2/3 Senate majorities for ratification).
50+ States of America
While not an example of territories being made states, Jon Stewart'sAmerica (The Book) does claim that one of the possibilities of the massive influx of Hispanic immigrants is the creation of new states from bits and pieces of existing ones in order to consolidate white power, such as the unification of Manhattan and Westchester into Manhattachester. The total number is mentioned to be 81.
In David Brin's Existence the United States has sixty-two states. One of them is Panhandle, formed from the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles.
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Royale," a US flag with 52 stars dates the wreckage of an old NASA mission found by the Enterprise to sometime between 2033 and 2079. Data explains that the 2 new stars are Puerto Rico and Guam.
U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico are legally entitled to apply for statehood if their citizens should vote to do. As yet, the advantages of territorial status have outweighed those of statehood for most voters; the only place where it might realistically happen is Puerto Rico - during the November 2012 voting, 54% of the population voted for statehoodnote with 61% preferring statehood if "no change" were taken off the table. The U.S. Democratic and Republican parties have stated they will honor Puerto Rico's decision.
Texas had the opportunity to join the U.S. as five states when it was annexed, although this was not exercised.
Michigan's Upper Peninsula has occasionally made noises about wanting to split from the Lower Peninsula and become a state by the name of Superior. This is usually just an attempt to attract attention to the UP's problems; people making these calls are fully aware that the chances are low (not least because the UP has only half the population of Wyoming, the least populous state).
There have also been suggestions that Eastern Washington split off to become its own state, motivated mostly by the fact that Eastern Washington is mostly conservative, while Western Washington is mostly liberal, but dominates state politics thanks to a larger population.
The state of Jefferson, which would have incorporated territory in northern California and southern Oregonnote a region that often feels neglected by the state governments and big cities far to the north and south, came the closest to becoming the 49th state (making Alaska 50th and Hawaii 51st) and were ready to file the paperwork to get the ball rolling with Congress. Unfortunately, the date they chose to do this was December 8th, 1941, the day after some more pressing issues came up. By the time the dust had settled, the movement to form Jefferson had lost its support.
There have been several attempts to make the District of Columbia into a state, though these efforts have largely been stalled since the District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment failed in 1985. Though the end effect would be a 51st state, proponents of this plan are primarily seeking representation in Congress over anything else, and would be happy with an arrangement where the city's residents become voters in Maryland (the section of the city on Virginia's side of the Potomac has already been given back to Virginia as the city of Alexandria), although Maryland's conservative political alignment is opposed to a large liberal bloc joining their population.
Any state, with the consent of its own legislature and Congress, can change its borders or have new states carved out of it. (E.g., West Virginia.note In this case, Virginia's "consent" was based on the Federal government recognizing a pro-Union government in what became West Virginia, rather than the secessionist government in Richmond, as the Virginia state legislature.)
During the local Colorado election in November of 2013, a vote was held to decide whether a few of the counties along the north-eastern part of the state would secede from Colorado and create the state of North Colorado. The vote was shot down with an overwhelming majority.note As noted above, this would require the consent of the Colorado state government. Also, the population of the counties in question is only about 30,000, less than one-tenth that of the least populous state (Wyoming).
In the Alan Dean Foster novel The Mocking Program, the US has merged with several Central American countries to form a nation usually called "Namerica" (probably a contraction of North America). The story takes place mainly in the Montezuma Strip, which runs along the former US/Mexican border.
In the early Lensman novels, North America is a single united nation, and the most powerful on Earth. Part of the climax of First Lensman is Rod Kinnison running for President of North America, in an election that obviously parallels those of the United States.
Background materials for the Honor Harrington series establish that after western Europe, the next-largest source of the Manticore System's first wave of colonists from Old Earth was the North American Federation. The NAF's boundaries aren't specified, but presumably it consisted of the United States and Canada, quite probably as well as Mexico.
Initially left as an Implied Trope in the Star Carrier series but later explained. The United States of North America is made up of the USA, Canada, Mexico, and several smaller countries (Guatemala is mentioned by name). At the same time, these nations retain a measure of autonomy, as several ships are mentioned to be Canadian or Mexican.
In the fourth novel, Mexico and Honduras secede from the USNA, when the latter comes into armed conflict with the Confederation.
From the Front Mission franchise, the United States of the New Continent, whose in-universe abbreviation is "U.S.N.", is formed of the North and South America; the English-dubbed versions of the games (after Front Mission 4) rename it "United Continental States" (in-universe abbr.: "U.C.S."). Suffers from continuous unrest due to economic disparity along North-South lines, frequently requiring quashing revolts with military force.
In Halo the USA, Canada, and Mexico all merged into United Republic of North America.
The same thing happened in Mass Effect, forming the United North American States. Unlike the Halo example, in the Mass Effect backstory the decision to do this triggered a Second American Civil War in 2096.
Transcontinental American Empire
Anime and Manga
Gundam 00 has a relatively low key example with the Solar Energy Union, usually just called the Union, comprising all of North and South America, the Caribbean nations, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. There aren't a lot of details but while the member states maintain at least some degree of autonomy, the Union President resides at the White House and it is implied that the United States provides the bulk of Union military forces.
Watchmen, takes place in an Alternate History where the United States of America includes the 51st state of Vietnam ... or at least speculation in the newspapers that such might happen in the near future.
In Superman: Red Son, Superman, who in this Alternate Universe landed in the Soviet Union as a baby and was indoctrinated by Josef Stalin and eventually becomes the Soviet Premier, integrates almost all the world (minus the USA and Chile) into the Soviet Union and enforces his rule through harsh methods like forcible lobotomies on dissidents. However, when Superman tries to annex the United States, President Lex Luthor outsmarts and seemingly kills him. In the aftermath, the liberated nations in the former Global Soviet Union now sign up to join Lex's new Global United States.
The Global United States later colonizes the entire Solar System, thus taking this trope to interplanetary levels.
1984: in-universe, Goldstein's Book states that the superstate of Oceania, one of only three world powers, came about in the late 1940s when the United States merges with the British Empire. Of course, this is presumably before the Revolution. Oceania is not a continuation of the United States, and there is no indication that the Americas are more important than Britain, even though the latter's name has been changed to "Airstrip One". The Party's official ideology is called IngSoc in New Speak, or English Socialism in Oldspeak (English). And while there are references to America on a couple occasions (mainly the bit with the photo of three Inner Party members from New York), Oceania has no actual capital aside from a number of regional headquarters, and it's mentioned that it is specifically designed in such a way that no one place is considered the 'center' in order to prevent the perception that any given area is under foreign domination. However, the currency in Airstrip One is dollars and cents, and Oceania's anthem, Oceania 'Tis for Thee is a parody of an American patriotic song, My Country, 'Tis of Thee (itself the American lyrics to God Save The King). However, due to the state of information in the story, it is possible that Oceania is the entire world, and that the other superpowers are fictional, Oceania is only the former United Kingdom and it is like a quasi-North Korean state, or some other possibility.
The Saturday Night Live "TV Funhouse" cartoon "Saddam and Osama" (portraying Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden as the heroes of an '80s-esque action cartoon supposedly broadcast in the Middle East) has Dick Cheney mention that they're planning to rename Iraq "East Dakota".
The 'Ameristralia' meme is about the USA and Australia joining as one nation, although it's not clear whether Australia's six states would join the USA's fifty states, or some other option is envisaged. This is probably because it's a joke and no one really cares.
This is actually the current state of the United States since 1898, when it formally annexed Hawaii. It also has several other overseas possessions, mainly in other parts of the Pacific.
A hilarious academic proposal by the American migrant to Australia David Moser was that Australia become the 51st state of the US, for the advantages of, among other things, being able to "have teams in the NBA (basketball), American League (baseball) and NFL(gridiron)", despite the fact that virtually no Australians follow baseball, or even understand or care about gridiron. note We like basketball as a school sport, but it doesn't have much of a following otherwise. For a short time this was covered in the media and made waves on the internet.
Given that Australians currently have compulsory voting, if Australia were to join the United States, Australians would exert a disproportional influence at the ballot box.
Mixed types and Other
Anime and Manga
The Atlantic Federation from the Mobile Suit Gundam SEED universe. It is originally comprised the US, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, the UK and Ireland. It later invades and annexes South America, which itself was its own superstate - the United States of South America.
In "Mobile Suit Gundam 00" there is the Union of Solar Energy and Free Nations, consisting of the nations of both North and South America, Austalia, and Japan.
The United Americas from the Alien franchise, mentioned in Expanded Universe supplementary material. It comprises the two Americas plus the UK.
The superstate of Oceania from 1984, encompassing the Americas, Britain (a.k.a. "Airstrip One"), Ireland, the Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, and southern Africa below the River Congo. Well, that what the Party claims. The only parts that we know are under the Party's control is "Airstrip One" (Britain); it's all too possible that the rest is just a propaganda sham, which is par for the course in this setting.
In the Year 2889 by Jules Verne makes reference to "the hundred-starred flag of the Union", and it's later made clear that the United States has includes all of both Americas as well as Great Britain. (In fact, it's implied that there are only five countries in the world: the United States, France, Russia, China, and Australia.)
In the Wild Cards universe, both Puerto Rico and Cuba are US states.
Hearts of Iron has the Armageddon campaign that portrays an alternate universe where the United States forfeited the Civil War in order to shift their focus on their war on Canada which they succeeded in resulting them to change their name to the United States of North America. Of course, since this is a strategy game, this can be expanded into the of the other flavors listed on this page.
The alternate history series Decades of Darkness has an American Empire in all but name. Most of, but not all, of the traditional states are present, albeit some with different names and boundaries. They have also acquired/conquered Mexico, most Caribbean islands, and Central America and divided the territory into new American states. And finally, there is a lone American colony in West Africa. Subtracted from this is most of real-world New England (and New York), which separated via secession just a few decades after the Revolution and later joined with Canada in a pro-Britain North American bloc.
Later on the USA also conquers Colombia, Peru, Chile and parts of Brazil and lays claim to an Antarctic territory. This coupled to their earlier acquisition of Alaska from Canada means that the USA now claims to stretch not just "From Sea to Shining Sea", but also "From Pole to Frozen Pole".
Real Life (Sort Of)
One of the long-term goals of the Confederacy following their victory in the American Civil War was to have been aggressive expansion into Central and Southern America. They got hung up on the step before that, though.
There's a conspiracy theory that there is a plan to merge the US, Canada and Mexico into the North American Union, analogous to the EU. It's unclear how much truth there is to this plan in the halls of power, though given the nature of the US Constitution, it would be far easier for Canada and/or Mexico to apply for statehood than it would be to form a superstate. Additionally, it is arguable how much the EU, or something like it, counts as a "state"note 'State' meaning "country". Since the conspiracy to bind the formerly-British States together in a political union a la 'The Articles Of Confederation' (out of which the USA got its 'Bill Of Rights') the USA has become a state in itself and not just an alliance/collection of states. Though (like Australia) the USA's states are still called 'states', they're only administrative regions/provinces/sub-states .