main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Invading Refugees
Our heroes' hometown is invaded or simply attacked suddenly by enemies, so they fight the invaders off. Later, they find out the invaders weren't actually invading, but actually fleeing from something much worse than them. Can result in an Enemy Mine in order to deal with the bigger threat. It can also result in a Mle Trois if none of the sides can put away their differences.

Alternatively, the invaders' home may have been or about to be lost to a disaster and the heroes may help them in restoring their home, finding them a new one, or preparing for the disaster when it reaches their home.

May result in the third variation of Planet Looters. See also Foreboding Fleeing Flock.


    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 

    Film — Live-Action 

    Film — Animated 

  • The Honored Matres in the Dune universe (who appear in the last two Frank Herbert novels of the series, Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune) are aggressors who attack many worlds and wreak havok in the old Empire—but it is stated they are fleeing an even more powerful and terrible mysterious enemy. The Thinking Machines.
  • Crayak, the Bigger Bad of Animorphs, is said to be fleeing something even worse than him.
  • The Abominor, a villainous robot species that turns up in a couple Star Wars Expanded Universe novels (along with their enemies, the much nicer Silentium), is known to be from another galaxy and fled from an organic species, heavily implied to have been the Yuuzhan Vong.
  • The Canim of the Codex Alera are eventually shown to be this, and the protagonists actually go to Canea and see what chased them away.
  • The Insects From Shaggai (AKA Shan) in Ramsey Campbell's Cthulhu Mythos stories. When their home planet was destroyed by a Mythos abomination, some of them fled to a succession of other planets, finally ending up on Earth. They're still pretty evil by human standards.
  • The Wildlings of A Song of Ice and Fire, the tribal society living beyond the Wall that marks the realm's Northern border, have been raiding the southern lands for as long as anyone can remember, and the Night's Watch has all-but forgotten its original mission as they focus all their resources on fighting back Wildling raiding parties. As the books begin, the Watch is getting worrying reports that the wildlings are massing together into a single horde intent on smashing their way through the Wall. What the Watch and the Seven Kingdoms are slower to come to terms with is that the reason for this sudden determination to move south is the re-emergence of the old enemy the Watch was created to hold back, the zombie-raising, icy Humanoid Abominations known only as "the Others".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Several races in the revived Doctor Who tried to colonise Earth because their home worlds were destroyed by some greater threat. To whit:
    • In series 1, the Nestene consciousness in "Rose" and the Gelth in "The Unquiet Dead" were fleeing the great Time War.
    • In series 4, the Pyroviles in "The Fires of Pompeii" had their planet taken by the Daleks as revealed in the series finale.
    • In series 5, the fish-aliens in "The Vampires of Venice" fled from the cracks in the universe.
    • In the anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor" the Zygons are preparing an invasion of Earth because their home planet was lost in the crossfire of the war between the Time Lords and Daleks.
  • In Defiance, the Votans arrive in space arks after fleeing the destruction of their solar system when its sun went nova. Though they supposedly made an attempt to negotiate for peaceful settlement before going to war.
  • In Babylon 5, the Dilgar began conquering other solar systems and doing unspeakable things to the inhabitants when they discovered their sun was about to go nova. The Earth Alliance drove them back and the nova wiped them out.

    Tabletop Games 
  • It is implied by some Warhammer 40,000 fluff that something even worse than the tyranids is chasing them into the Milky Way.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition supplement Oriental Adventures: in the section on randomly rolling up yearly events, one example of a Major Incursion was a barbarian horde that had been driven from its homeland.

    • As the Toa Metru journeyed through the Maze of Shadows, they were frequently attacked by Rahi running in their direction. After a few battles they realize these Rahi were fleeing something away from where they were heading towards.
    • The Rock Tribe from the north initially partake in the Glatorian system before straight up invading other tribes for resources. It turns out they were only doing this because the Baterra drove them out of their old home and killed a significant portion of the tribe.

    Video Games 
  • The orcs in Sacred aren't launching an invasion of the human kingdoms, they've been displaced from their homeland by the arrival of a horde of undead.
  • Warcraft III: The night elves of Northern Kalimdor initially take a dim view of the orcs and humans who have arrived on their continent and despoiled their forests, even when it becomes clear that they are refugees fleeing from The Scourge and The Burning Legion. But they eventually join an Enemy Mine alliance once it becomes clear that The Legion poses a much bigger threat to them and their beloved forests than the refugees. This alliance breaks in two by World of Warcraft.
  • The Tasen from Iji bombarded Earth to make place for them running away from Komato that want to annihilate them completely.
  • In Ultima VI, the Gargoyles are presented as demonic invaders at first but are eventually revealed to be fleeing to Britannia from the collapse of their homeworld, inadvertently caused by the Avatar's own actions in the two previous games.
  • The Vortigaunts and other Nihilanth's soldiers in the first Half-Life. Turns out, they were fleeing the Combine.
  • In the backstory for Halo 4, we find out that the Forerunners have had a history of conflict with humans, leading to the Didact's current hatred of them. In reality, humanity was just trying to wipe out the Flood, and fled from infected planets into inhabited ones.
  • In Gears of War, the Locust Horde only emerged from their underground lairs and fought humanity because their homes were overrun by another, even more dangerous entity.
  • In Sins of a Solar Empire the Vasari have been running across space from "something" that enveloped their empire for several centuries. And now they've reached the TEC's territory.
  • In Mass Effect 3, this happens with the batarians, who begin fleeing their home systems en masse when the Reapers invade. They did so in such numbers the Citadel Council thought at first the batarians were launching an invasion, but they fortunately figured out the batarians were just refugees quickly enough.
  • The original Homeworld plays with this trope: your Mothership is the refugees, escaping the destruction of their second homeworld of Kharak, and the place they're invading is The Empire that destroyed Kharak and happens to be in control of your ancestral homeworld of Hiigara. And to reach the place you have to transit through the Great Nebula, where the locals treat you as an invader in spite of being just passing through and willing to leave without damaging anything.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The Germanic peoples who invaded Roman territory in the fourth and fifth centuries were fleeing from Hunnic expansion.
    • And many that weren't from continental Europe, such as the Burgundians and the Lombards, were fleeing the climate change and accompanying famine that was coming over Scandinavia at that time.
  • Similarly, Various factions of Cumans fled into Eastern Europe from what is now the Ukraine ahead of the Mongol invasions. They became an important political force in Hungary and provided royal houses for Bulgaria and Wallachia during the 14th century.

Invaded States of AmericaMilitary and Warfare TropesI Will Fight Some More Forever

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy