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Anime & Manga
- Code Geass: Britania enforces ethnic inequality. You get 20 years for going on a drug binge, they have public mass executions, etc. Brittanian gangsters, by contrast, live in huge buildings visible to everyone and don't seem to fear any legal repercussions whatsoever. One gangster nearly kills a (Brittanian) student to protect his reputation as a chess player and is only stopped by a sudden attack from Zero's Black Knights. They also act more or less with impunity. But what do they expect when the Emperor openly approves murder and theft in his public speeches as strength overcoming weakness?
- The nation of Borduria. When Tintin and Captain Haddock sneak into the country to rescue the kidnapped Professor Calculus, they repeatedly manage to evade the Bordurian army, police force and secret service, to the point where they manage to get rid of the Bordurian agents sent to tail them by getting them drunk. Humorously, it was lampshaded by Herge himself, who named the agents Kronik and Klumsi.
- Same go for San Theodoros, where the two dictators, General Alcazar and General Tapioca, are both so ineffective they constantly overthrow each others in the blink of an eye.
- The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum: It was already well-established that TCB!Equestria (aka, the Solar Empire) is a Crapsaccharine World, but it's not until the Calm Before the Storm side story comes along and shows just how bad it all really is. First off, the truly massive number of newfoals coming into Equestria has overstretched their resources to the breaking point. Making things worse is that the barrier vaporizes everything in its path (agriculture, infrastructure, buildings, materials, and information about how to create these things), leaving the conquered lands useless to the Imperials; in short, the barrier may be the only thing truly giving the Solar Empire a fighting chance against humanity (as it's clear the war would've been over in less than a week without it) but they they're also screwing themselves over badly as they're destroying the very resources they could've used to more easily shoulder their explosive population growth and colonize Earth. Moreover, the war has gone on for so long and has been so brutal that morale is at an all-time low, with only fanaticism and terror being able to hold their heads above the water, and even that is failing.
- In Wish Carefully, Harry decides to strike a deal with Voldemort and the Death Eaters with a Magically Binding Contract wherein he and the other Light-aligned wizards will leave Britain and make sure that the dark side will never have to deal with Muggles or muggleborns ever again. It isn't long after the Light exiles leave that the Death Eaters learn that it was regular honest Light supporters who had provided nearly all the goods and services that kept everything running smoothly. One specific example is given of the time when the Ministry of Magic's magical lifts began breaking down. Not only had the clerk who oversaw the maintenance left in the Exodus, so had the artificers he had previously contracted. In the end, the Death Eaters had to hire expensive goblin artificers simply because none of them had the kind of skills necessary to fix the problem. And that's not even getting to the fact that the pureblood supremacists' inbreeding is producing nothing but squibs and their population is slowly dying out, as well as how Voldemort just becomes more and more unhinged to the point that by the time Lucius Malfoy is an old man on his last legs, everyone has come to hate Voldemort so much that the Malfoys and several other Death Eaters are gathering together to either kill Voldemort themselves or to deliver him to Harry Potter so that he can kill him for them.
Films — Animation
- The Lion King has Scar allude in his Villain Song to the tremendous injustice he suffered when Mufasa became king instead of him, and implies that he's been scheming to take the throne for years. Scar proves to be an expert Chessmaster in murdering Mufasa and manipulating Simba into running away, but when he finally obtains the power he craves he proves to be utterly incompetent at actually wielding it. Under his leadership, he indulges the hyenas' greed (forcing the prey to leave), his subjects starve, and the hyenas who form his power base are grumbling long before Simba ever comes back. For some reason he thinks the grumbling is because he hasn't secured the succession, rather than the fact that everyone's starving.
Films — Live-Action
- Terry Gilliam's Brazil is pretty much this. Starting with the fact that the plot is triggered when someone arrests Buttle [shoemaker] thinking he's Tuttle [renegade plumber] because of a typo... Buttle dies under torture because they look at the wrong medical chart as well.
- In Charlie Chan at the Olympics, much play is made of mocking the bewilderment of the "ruthlessly efficient" German police detective facing an international murder-and-espionage plot ("Such things do not happen in Berlin!"). The film was made in 1936.
- Possibly the most Nazi line of all time, in The Train: "I'm tired of your inefficiency, Dietrich!"
- The Wicked Stepmother of A Cinderella Story is utterly incompetent at running the diner she inherits: she constantly belittles its workers, eventually forcing them to quit en masse, and the only reason it still has any customers is because of Rhonda's exceptional people skills. note
- This appears to be the main function of the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter. It didn't start out totally fascist (the incumbent Minister of Magic comes off as a very unflattering Expy of Tony Blair more than anything), but it surely didn't come off as very democratic. For example:
- The main wizarding prison is located at Azkaban, which is staffed by Dementors, evil creatures which suck the joy out of people. A place which by all accounts is A Fate Worse Than Death. There are apparently no other Wizarding prisons, so you get sent there whether you were convicted of murder or insurance fraud. It doesn't seem to bother any of the authorities that such an extreme punishment is guaranteed to turn anyone sentenced there either insane or evil (usually both) within a few weeks, not to mention driving criminals to extreme methods to avoid imprisonment; knowing this was in store for them, no wizard would ever surrender to the authorities. Additionally, since Dementors are Always Chaotic Evil, Dumbledre repeatedly warns the Ministry of the folly of using them as wardens, as Voldemort could make them all defect without a second thought simply by providing them with more opportunities to fill their bellies - simultaneously adding a legion of dark creatures to his followers and effortlessly releasing all the Death Eaters imprisoned in Azkaban. All this would be bad enough if everyone sentenced to Azkaban was actually guilty, but... Well, see below.
- According to the Pensieve, trials seem to be decided more on the personal opinions of the judiciary (by simple majority vote) than on any actual consideration of evidence. Hagrid and Sirius weren't even afforded the luxury of a trial in the first place!
- The practice of being an Animagus requires government registration. We see how well this works because over the course of the books we know of at least four characters (James Potter, Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew, and Rita Skeeter) who are illegal practicing Animagi. The relative ease with which they acquired their powers seems to indicate that this isn't really a magic type that can be easily regulated.
- Once Voldemort is exposed, the Ministry of Magic spends most of their time trying to pretend he doesn't exist. At one point this goes so far as to accusing Harry of lying when they detect him using powerful magic in the presence of a Muggle. Harry does this because he's being attacked by Dementors, and the Ministry at no point bothers to offer an alternate explanation as to why Harry would cast a spell whose only use is repelling dementors, in violation of a wizarding law which he was well aware of - apparently he was just doing it to aggravate the ministry. (In fairness, the Patronus does have some uses outside of Dementor-stopping, being able to repel certain other Dark creatures and send messages, but he's got owls for the latter and the former wouldn't change anything.)
- When Voldemort does take over, his regime is incredibly inefficient: the Weasleys, Hagrid, the Lovegoods, anyone that has the faintest connection with Harry should have been captured within hours, and used as hostages to make Harry turn himself in. "Mudblood registration" was clearly supposed to be the Fantastic Racism equivalent of the yellow badge, instead of just the Death Eaters killing them as soon as they found them.
- The functioning of wizarding society is so utterly inefficient, even the sports consist largely of an implausible number of penalties, few if any of which are ever called except by snarky commenters since overzealous refs tend to get banished to the Sahara. On the other hand, the only Wizarding school in all of Britain still uses "throw the 12-year-olds in a forest with actual human-eating monsters for a night to straighten them out" as a routine form of punishment. Likewise, dueling is illegal, but taught as an extracurricular activity. The ministry might have the right to imprison lawbreakers indefinitely with no reason given, but the law is so incomprehensible, it's hard to imagine any part of society functioning even to the limited degree shown in the books. Driven home by how the sole sympathetic Ministry worker we see is so hopelessly corrupt, he'd "have to drag himself before the tribunal if he ever raided [his own] home". (Arthur Weasley— his job is enforcing the prohibition on enchanting technological artifacts, and his passionate hobby is collecting enchanted technological artifacts. This is one of the protagonist's beloved father figures.)
- Not to mention how hindered they are by their Fantastic Racism against the muggles. The muggle and wizarding governments are apparently aware of each other, but only if you count the Minister for Magic occasionally popping into the Prime Minister's office without warning to give him vague updates on the magical world. One has to imagine that if they'd maybe asked muggles for some help, things like security cameras or guns would have given them a real leg up against the Death Eaters (though it's hard to say for sure, as technology tends to go haywire around magic or not work at all).
- The government of "looters" in Atlas Shrugged started out with relatively minor regulations to the economy and ended up with Directive 10-289, which basically overrides the economic freedoms of everybody in the nation. Resource shortages, societal collapse, starvation, and trains not running on time ensue. The fact that John Galt is withdrawing as many productive people from society as he can also helped in the deterioration.
- The WW2 novels by Sven Hassel have the supposedly efficient war machine and civil administration of the Nazis actually be corrupt and massively wasteful of resources and human lives. Wholly Truth in Television.
- The Final Empire in Mistborn has elements of this; the Lord Ruler is concerned with the survival of humanity, but is largely detached from directly ruling it, leaving control of his government primarily to the Obligators and nobility. These groups are more interested in backstabbing each other than they are in running a productive empire. Of course, the whole system turns out to be good for two things-perpetuating itself and terrorizing the lower classes (having an immortal Physical God at its head helps) so it still takes a ridiculous amount of work to overthrow.
- The Lord of the Rings: The chapter The scouring of the Shire shows us that Otho and then Sharkey with their army of men had seized power over the Shire, destroying the government, changing the Hobbit’s institutions to spy on them and arresting those who oppose them, looting under the excuse of "fair distribution", giving a lot of stupid rules, building ugly buildings and destroying all of the forest and polluting the rivers. And the army of men is nothing but bandits that are defeated relatively easily.