Fantasy Conflict Counterpart

This trope deals with a story that features some sort of analogue of a real-world historical conflict in a fantasy or science fiction context in a different world from ours. This is especially popular in Japan, since it allows them to tell stories utilizing the era of World War II without actively mentioning the war.

See also Recycled In Space, Fantasy Counterpart Culture, and Does This Remind You of Anything?. Supertrope to Space Cold War. Compare and contrast Weird Historical War in that it depicts Real Life historical war, but with added fantastical elements.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • It's only seen through flashback, but the war between Thracia and Persia in Pluto is heavily based on the Iraq War (with robots). The United States of Thracia accuses the Middle East nation of Persia of making Robots of Mass Destruction, but before other countries can complete their investigation into whether it's true, Thracia sends troops in and starts a horrific, wasteful war that devastates the country. And this is all just a ploy to make Thracia the world's main superpower.
  • In One Piece, the New Fishman Pirates threaten the people of Fishman Island to commit Fumi-e on the late Queen Otohime's image, to shed out their loyalty to Queen Otohime (who has the exact opposite view of the Big Bad Hody Jones') which is a reference on feudal Japan's practice of purging Christians (they have their people step on a Christian imagery to prove that they're not Christian).
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, the persecution of the Ishvallan people is said to be a parallel to the Japanese treatment of the Ainu. The author was familiar with this conflict due to growing up in Hokkaido, where most of the Ainu people live.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In-Universe example in Argo: A group of American diplomats pretend to be a Canadian film crew to escape Iran. When questioned about the (fake) movie by the Revolutionary Guard at the airport, they describe the plot as the Iranian Revolution as a space opera.

  • Older Than Radio: In The Begum's Millions by Jules Verne, two competing cities are expies for France and Germany. Verne made no bones on where his sympathies were.
  • Books by Harry Turtledove:
  • The second duology of Arcia Chronicles is a fantasy retelling of the Wars of the Roses, dubbed "War of the Daffodils".
  • Yet another book series featuring an analogue to the War of the Roses is A Song of Ice and Fire, with the Feuding Families Stark and Lannister being less than subtle clues. And, even more directly, brief mentions are made of the Red and Green "Apple" Fossoways, who appear to have their own squabbles over titles and are two branches of a house. The symbol of House Tyrell, one of the major power players in the series, is depicted in the TV adaptation Game of Thrones as a dead ringer for the Tudor double rose.
  • Discworld has a few of these:
    • The historical wars between Ephebe and Tsort resemble the mythical Trojan War. In Pyramids, when there's a threat of the war re-erupting, both sides build wooden horses along the border.
    • Jingo combines elements of the Gulf War (the enemy is the Arabian Fantasy Counterpart Culture, it's mentioned that Ankh-Morpork (i.e. the West) actually sold the Klatchians their weapons for use in "pacifying" their own people, and jingoism leads to racism against Klatchian-Morporkians) and the Falklands War (the conflict is over an island that is of no real significance except that the other lot aren't getting their hands on it).
    • In the later novels, the terrorist actions of the fundamentalist "deep dwarfs" (who cover themselves from head to foot because they consider it a sin to look on sunlight) are reminiscent of The War on Terror.
  • The Nilfgaard Empire's conquest of the Aedirn Kingdom in The Witcher series, for the Nazi invasion of Poland that led to World War II. Nilfgaard itself is a totalitarian state with visions of world domination and disdain for any nation it regards as less civilised, and tactics it employs against Aedirn include False Flag Operations, Blitzkrieg raids deep into the heart of their territory (with cavalry instead of tanks), and forming pacts with Aedirn's old allies, who betray it in exchange for a share of the conquered lands.

    While author Andrzej Sapkowski, who is Polish, might've intended the conquest of Aedirn to be the metaphor of the Nazi invasion of Poland (with the Soviet Union gaining the Western Ukraine and Belorussia from the under-the-table deal with Germany), ironically his Czech fans reportedly tend to interpret the same events as the Nazis' annexation of the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia, with Poland getting Silesia in the similar secret deal (both real situations were similar, so this is not surprising).
  • The Honor Harrington series draws a lot of inspiration for its setting and events from The Napoleonic Wars, but with the land battles ported to Space Navy battles. The comparison goes Off the Rails around book nine.
  • Tanya Huff admitted in the afterword of Valor's Choice that she based the book's major battle on Rorke's Drift. The fight involves hordes of adolescent Silsviss (standing in for the Zulus) trying to kill a small force of Confederation Marines (standing in for the Brits) in a dug-in position, with the battle finally being won by the Marines because the Silsviss leader was killed by his second-in-command, who then withdrew after offering a show of respect (mirroring the Zulus quitting the field).
  • Some claim that Fred Saberhagen's Berserker Fury - where our heroes recover from the sneak attack on Port Diamond to win the battle of 50/50 - was somehow influenced by real World War II events. Apart from all the places and ships being thesaurus equivalents, and the battle tactics being exactly those of the Battle of Midway, it's difficult to see why that is.
  • In Second Apocalypse, the Holy War has very clear parallels to the Crusades, with the Inrithi as the Christians, the Fanim as the Muslims, and the holy city of Shimeh as Jerusalem.
  • Short story "Lynortis Reprise" from Kane series is set in a fantasy equivalent of World War I Western front - complete with trench warfare, (magical) poisonous gases and tragic fate of numerous young men crippled in combat.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Firefly was partially inspired by journals of Confederate soldiers on the frontier from The American Civil War, and the Unification War and aftermath has its similarities (Alliance occupation troops in the series' present = Union occupation troops during Reconstruction, for instance). However the comparison isn't perfect, as the Independent Faction started out independent instead of trying to secede and failing, and while it's left vague exactly what freedoms the independents were fighting to protect, it pretty obviously wasn't the freedom to own slaves.
  • Dinosaurs: The two-parter "Nuts to War", filmed shortly after the first Gulf War, had the two-legged dinosaurs go to war with the four-leggers over pistachio nuts in "Operation We Are Right."

    Video Games 
  • The developers of the FreeSpace 2 mod Blue Planet: War in Heaven have stated that the war between the United Earth Federation and the Galactic Terran-Vasudan Alliance is meant to be the Vietnam War in space. In both cases we have one side being far more powerful than the other but forced to fight a limited and conservative war due to political divisions and murky objectives while the much less powerful but more ideologically convinced side is simply trying to hold its own and ultimately push the other side out by costing them enough blood. Similarly to the Vietnam War, there is no clear-cut good guy.
  • The Wing Commander series was conceived as a sci-fi version of World War II aircraft carrier operations in the Pacific Theatre (with some Top Gun mixed in).
  • Ace Combat:
  • Gemfire, by KOEI, is best described as Romance of the Three Kingdoms in a Standard Fantasy Setting version of the Wars of the Roses," down to the king being from House Lankshire. And Ishmeria being shaped like England and Wales (including the Isle of Man) and the king's bastard heading up House Tudoria.
  • You can't get any more obvious when your title is Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, with even a black lion and white lion standing in for the red rose and white rose. And there's even a 2-for-1 special in that the major event that shaped the game's backstory was the Fifty Years' War, an obvious analogue of the real life Hundred Years' War.
  • Tactics Ogre, written by the same mind behind Final Fantasy Tactics, features the nation of Valeria torn apart between three ethnic groups after the last great unifier died. It's a huge analogue of The Yugoslav Wars, even moreso given that the game originally released in 1995 when the wars were in full swing. It also qualifies as a Space Cold War, given that the conflict on Valeria is being influenced by agents from Xenobia (analagous to CIA operatives) and the Holy Lodis Empire is supporting one of the factions with a significant military presence (analogous to Soviet "advisers" propping up a local friendly government).
  • Mount & Blade mod The Red Wars is set in the 20th century equivalent of the original gamenote  and is inspired by World War 2 (with some World War 1 and Russian Civil War elements in it), three of the major factions involved being obvious expies of URSS, Nazi Germany, and Sweden/Finland.
  • Valkyria Chronicles:
    • The First Europan War appears to be based on World War I, as it was started by the assassination of the crown prince of the East Europan Imperial Alliance, featured the first use of tanks, and became bogged down in trench warfare. However, with no equivalent to America in the setting, the trench warfare became so inconclusive that the Empire and the Atlantic Federation basically gave up and signed a ceasefire.
    • In contrast, the Second Europan War that forms the backdrop to the game bears only a passing resemblance to World War II's European theatre. It started twenty years after the first one and features the Empire steamrolling its enemies for the first stage of the war, but the similarities pretty much end there as at no point in World War II did Nazi Germany invade Switzerland (for which Gallia is a Fantasy Counterpart Culture).
  • The Game Within a Game of The Writer Will Do Something is like this, though no one wants to admit it; creative director Josh insists on referring to an "early, self-consciously studied war-is-bad desert battle the second major combat encounter as 'Afghanistan' so indefatigably that a panicked PR flack made him undergo emergency deprogramming right before E3 last year, lest he slip and actually say such a thing out loud to the press."

    Western Animation