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N.G.O. Superpower
"A popular parlour game among historians is debating when the modern world began. Was it when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, in 1440? Or when Christopher Columbus discovered America, in 1492? Or when Martin Luther published his 95 theses, in 1517? All popular choices. But there is a strong case to be made for a less conventional answer: the modern world began on a freezing New Year's Eve, in 1600, when Elizabeth I granted a company of 218 merchants a monopoly of trade to the east of the Cape of Good Hope."

This is a Non-Governmental Organization Superpower — an organization which is on the same power tier as the most powerful nations and yet is not itself a nation.

In fiction, we often see terrorist groups and various anti-state groups capable of going toe to toe with a regular army of the state. They may be able to field aircraft, tanks, even battleships... almost as if they had billions in tax revenue and massive installed infrastructure themselves. On occasion, these groups are shown fighting battles against modern Great Powers like USA, Russia, the EU, China, or India.

NGO Superpowers usually hold a Privately Owned Society, and Mega Corp. can be a subtrope with Corporate Warfare, as can The Syndicate. The Church can be this especially if Catholic and in a medieval society. An Ancient Conspiracy may be funding it. They can run the gamut from only striking nation-states when provoked to outright initiating large-scale conventional warfare and land grabs. May also be Private Military Contractors. United Nations Is A Super Power is a specific subtrope involving the UN.

Often overlaps with Nebulous Evil Organisation and may have an Omniscient Council of Vagueness. Compare to Fiction 500. Contrast with N.G.O.. State Sec is a Sister Trope of also being a influential entity with a vast paramilitary corps that isn't part of a formal army, only that it's a governmental agency rather than non-governmental.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Walhaiksong from Tower of God can rival Zahard's government in strength and influence, especially since two of the strongest active residents, Urek Mazino and Backryung are its founders and leaders, but they are on good terms with both the government as well as the terrorist group F.U.G.
  • The "Three Ships Alliance" of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is made up of defectors from three of the show's feuding superpowers and possesses enough military (and eventually political) clout to effectively end up beating both sides of the major conflict the show centers around. Even though it effectively breaks up following this, enough of its members go underground as part of the Terminal subgroup to allow the TSA to resurface two years later in Destiny and pull a repeat performance.
  • Gundam 00 has Celestial Being, which has the resources and infrastructure to build and deploy a small but powerful army of Gundams that hold their own against the superpowers.
    • There is also the PMC Trust, a very powerful organization that essentially owns some smaller nations with their corporate power and military threat.
    • Expanded Universe explains that those orbital elevators themselves are indirectly controlled by Celestial Being and that its AI supercomputer Veda (housed in a massive starship that later serves as the flagship of all Earth forces) controls literally every piece of electronic information in the world, and is able to photoshop real-time video. The global conspiracy that includes the orbital elevators, Veda, and the GN drives sort of subvert this trope, as the nations of the world are unwittingly part of Aeolia's plan.
  • The Kei Pirates of Outlaw Star.
  • Nergal in Martian Successor Nadesico. While it constructs battleships for the government, The Nadesico is just a prototype they decided to use to rescue their personnel on Mars, recruiting a Ragtag Band of Misfits to crew.
  • The Searrs Group in Mai-HiME. Run by an Ancient Conspiracy, and able to field troops, tanks, and a Kill Sat. They even have a fleet, complete with carrier, though no helicopter or planes are ever seen. Flat "What.".
  • Mithril in Full Metal Panic! at first seems like this, but later novels and parts of the story reveals they're little more than a well-funded group of Private Military Contractors with a permanent UN contract. While more technologically advanced than the U.S. and the USSR, their entire 'Pacific Fleet' consists of a single (very advanced) submarine and they depend on small-scale surgical strikes to get the job done.
    • Even more so Amalgam, that can wipe out Mithril in single day
  • Akatsuki from Naruto initially seems to be this, until we find out that its figurehead leader also has a small country under his control. It is played straight in the Fourth Shinobi World War, where an alliance of the five strongest ninja villages goes up against... two people. Admittedly, two people commanding a massive clone army, a bunch of legendary ninjas resurrected as nigh-immortal zombies, and all but two of the world's most powerful Eldritch Abominations.
  • Blue Cosmos in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, which is a terrorist organization within the Earth Alliance, having great influence over it's goverment and military.
  • The Hunter's Association from Hunter × Hunter. Understandable considering it's a gathering of the most powerful people on the planet.
  • The Revolutionaries in One Piece are strongly implied to the this. In a Flash Back meeting between the world's kings reviewed that their leader, Dragon was a potentially major threat to the World Government, and accurately predicted a massive increase in his power base in six years. During that time, they've spread rebellions across the globe, slowly but gaining speed, as their ideals are spread. As it stands, Dragon "The Revolutionary" is titled by the World Government "The World's Worst Criminal", and the organization has become so powerful that they installed a mole into the Government's official privateers, and are believed to have the potential to unbalance the Balance of Power the between the Marines, The Seven Warlords of the Sea, and four powerful and very influential pirate lords, the Four Emperors.
    • Said pirate lords themselves can also count. Despite being put together under a single title, the Four Emperors, they are not a cohesive whole. Each Emperor operates independently of the other three and they effectively rule the second half of the Grand Line. When the Marines decided to pick a fight with the most powerful of them they brought out every single soldier and weapon they had and the Seven Warlords besides and still barely achieve victory.
      • When the World Government learned that two of the Emperors were going to have a face-to-face meeting, they were terrified by the prospect that this would result in an alliance which would be too powerful for the Marines to defeat. And a war between two Emperors is seen by the World Government as being almost as bad; while their enemies would be destroying each other, the collateral damage of a war between the pirate superpowers would still be devastating.
  • SEELE (who controls NERV) in Neon Genesis Evangelion is a small organization, but since they are the only ones who know how to avoid the End of the World as We Know It or so they claim, both the UN and the governments of sovereign countries give them pretty much anything they demand and sacrifice most of their armed forces when NERV requests it. They also control the EVAs, which could wipe out entire armies if they wanted to.
  • The terrestrial Romefeller Foundation in Gundam Wing - a cabal of rich aristocrats/industrialists who secretly plot to take over the world. They have so much clout to sponsor the Alliance's elite Specials, who were in reality a front for OZ. Which they use to stage a coup over the Alliance.
    • Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz has the outer-space Barton Foundation, who funds two attempts to conquer the Earth Sphere. The first was in the form of the five Gundams from the original series, until the Gundam Scientists hijacked their plan into a fight for colonial independence.
    • Frozen Teardrop continues the theme with the Noinheim Concern and their takeover of Mars.
  • In Gundam F91, the antagonists are the very rich and influential Ronah family, who fund an entire army (the Crossbone Vanguard) which manages to give the EFSF a bloody nose and conquers a colony cluster. Although Crossbone Gundam reveals that they were receiving assistance from the Jupiter Empire. Unusually for Gundam, they're taken down not through military force, but economic pressure from the Federation and political subterfuge by one of their own.
  • Lyrical Nanoha doesn't play this trope in the first two installments, but the organization for the Big Bad in Striker(s) could come close to qualifying as this. He may not have the infrastructure, but he definitely has the firepower, from a set of combat cyborgs for the basic operations of a single nation to entire armies of Insect and Mecha-Mooks (though the former is done by another member). He also has access to some Lost Technology such as planet-busting relics and a massive ancient foagship that can absorb almost all magic. Oh, and his source of funds are the exact enemies he is fighting.

    Comic Books 
  • HYDRA et al. in Marvel Comics. Although it started out as a governmental organization in Nazi Germany, and only became an N.G.O. after being (unsuccessfully) shut down
    • Also A.I.M. ("Advanced Idea Mechanics", originally an offshoot of HYDRA known as T.H.E.M.) and the Maggia.
    • The Avengers, sometimes. While at times they answer to the US government, the United Nations or S.H.I.E.L.D., at other times "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" refuse to take orders from anyone but themselves.
  • Villainous organizations like Kobra, H.I.V.E. et al in the the DCU, but the Justice League of America and a few other super teams certainly qualify. Not to mention the Legion of Doom and, under certain leaders, LexCorp.
  • Obscurantis Order in Enki Bilal's Le sommeil du monstre (The Dormant Beast) is an extremely powerful sect created by the Big Bad to make the world less stable.
  • The Grail in Preacher possesses a secret headquarters with a vast private army and many world leaders owe it their positions. At one point they are able to "persuade" a limited nuclear release against the Saint of Killers.
  • G.I. Joe: COOBRAAA!
    • Actually averted in the Marvel comics series after Cobra had taken control of an island in the Caribbean, and so was acting as a nation-state. They even have a consulate in New York City at one point.
  • Matt Fraction's Casanova has W.A.S.T.E, XSM and M.O.T.T all of whom have vast logistical resources.
  • A lot of writers seem forget this aspect of her character, often writing her simply as a hacker and information broker, but Oracle has influence and power on the scale of countries. Many heads of state personally owe her their positions, and she has access to the information and resources of almost every government agency. She has the capability of singlehandedly returning the human race to a pre-industrial society, and could hold the entire internet hostage if she chose to do so. Adding to this the fact that she can count on Superman, Batman and her own team to flex physical muscle on her behalf if she ever asked, and suddenly Barbara Gordon looms larger than a lot of the supposedly big deal people on the planet.

    Fan Fic 
  • In Weaver Nine, Weaver's Society is all but legally a nation unto itself as it claims, holds, administers and maintains territory, infrastructure, population, and a standing army with nuclear arsenal. Most obvious when Weaver offers forty citizens to the defense of Brockton Bay, more than half the number of capes the local Protectorate could gather.
  • Willard International Consulting from The Return. It funds archeological digs, can dictate to governments, has a huge R&D department which can produce superweapons upon demand, unlimited armoury inventory, has an army of special agents, several Cool Bases around the globe, is capable of producing new identities for anyone at a moment's notice, maintains a fleet of Black Hawk stealth helicopters and has a front of being just a government consultancy.
  • Team Rocket and Silph Co. both fall under this trope in the Pokémon fan fic The Mewtwo Project. Team Rocket is apparently able to field an entire fleet of various warships (including an aircraft carrier), helicopter gunships and apparently several hundred troops to take over an island. In turn, Silph Co. owns the entire island that Team Rocket is trying to take and they defend the island with autonomous autocannon turrets, helicopter gunships, patrol boats, Humvees, snipers and a shitload of heavily armed soldiers.
  • In Undocumented Features, the Wedge Defense Force is not a government, but has its own space fleet, as does it arch-nemesis GENOM (which it keeps even after it stops being their nemesis).
  • In All-American Girl, the Republic of Pirates is a far greater military threat than the real world Somali pirates ever were.
  • The Templar Order in Mass Effect Human Revolution has technology at least on par with the Systems Alliance, three supercarrier battlegroups, and millions of reserve devotees to supplement the at least 10,000 active duty troopers. Udina thinks a war between the two would be a bad idea for the Alliance.
  • Depending on the Writer, the Human Liberation Front from The Conversion Bureau can have resources more akin to those of a country rather than a paramilitary group. In those stories, it is not uncommon for the HLF to have Super Soldiers in Powered Armor or even doomsday weapons.

    Film 
  • James Bond faced off with a number of NGOs:
    • SPECTRE had enough resources to manipulate the superpowers into going to war, conduct nuclear blackmail, have their own private army, and even create a space program located in a secret volcano base. At that, a space program rather more advanced than the US and Soviet ones, with reusable launch vehicles in the mid-1960s.
    • Hugo Drax also had his own personal space program, with a highly-advanced space station. Though somewhat implausible at the time, commercial space operations are not uncommon nowadays. Drax's operations were at least partially funded by selling equipment to governmental space agencies.
    • The Carver Media Group Network already had great influence due to its media prowess. But its megalomaniacal leader wanted more, so he influenced a war between China and Britain for his gambit. To help, Carver funds a small army and builds a stealth boat.
    • QUANTUM is a shadowy group with connections to several powerful businessmen and politicians. They can manipulate nations, and they have people everywhere.
  • Star Wars offers several different flavors:
    • The Sith are all over this, even when one of them is not Supreme Chancellor or Galactic Emperor.
    • Averted with the Rebel Alliance, who present themselves as a legitimate government — in fact, the only legitimate government. For instance, Leia Organa was officially the Alliance Minister of State.
    • Jabba's crime empire and, in the Expanded Universe, Black Sun whose underworld influence is vast. The Zann Consortium in Empire at War is so powerful it could take on both the Empire and the Rebels in battle.
    • The Commerce Guilds probably used to be like this before they acquired enough power to actually be governments. The Trade Federation even has its own Senate representative.
    • The Jedi Order. Capable of fielding one of the most powerful militaries at extremely short notice, automatically given officer status in the Republic's forces, granted full law enforcement rights and immune from prosecution themselves, they none the less do not feel they answer to the Government and are keen to stress their independence in their internal affairs. Fortunately they are normally savvy enough to keep their shit in order, though Palpatine's ultimate plan hinged on the Jedi order's naivety in taking this status for granted. The Jedi feel that they do serve the Republic - but not necessarily the Republic's current government.
      • This is indeed exactly what happens in Revenge of the Sith - the Jedi Council are growing more and more concerned that Chancellor Palpatine is not only amassing too much power to himself and turning the Republic into a de facto dictatorship, but that he may be under the influence of the mysterious Sith Lord, Darth Sidious (they fail to realize he is the Sith Lord in question until it's too late), and debate whether it would be justified to remove him in a coup and rule by decree until democracy can be restored. Anakin is against the idea and calls it treasonous, and even the other Council members have serious misgivings.
    Obi-Wan: We are loyal to the Senate, not to its leader, who has managed to stay in office long after his term has expired.
    Anakin: The Senate demanded that he stay longer.
    Obi-Wan: Yes, but use your feelings, Anakin. Something is out of place.
    • The Hutt Cartel waver between this and being an actual government (pretty much an argentocracy) but when it all comes down to it they're a group of gangsters and merchants with no clear leader yet capable of fielding significant numbers of troops and warships, and controlling an area of space sometimes large enough to rival the republic.
  • The RDA from Avatar appears an example but is actually more of a subversion. Although they can construct interstellar space vehicles and manage a mining operation in another solar system, they are not a straight example as they are still reasonably limited in their power and actions, with what can only really be gained from there through corruption and secrecy - they'd still be no match for a real government in terms of military.
  • In Inception, Fischer's company is vying to become this (via de facto monopolizing the global energy market), which is what kicks off the plot.
  • Stark Enterprises seems to be one in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
    • This is backed up after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Maria Hill is hired by Stark after SHIELD is dissolved due to corruption, and she explains her decision in an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. by saying A) Stark is in the best position to protect people (even referring to his above boast) and B) the US government wants to force answers out of her but even its officials think twice before messing with Stark's legal team.
  • The organization in 12:00, with resources enough to turn a part of the Ghana into cyborgs. And they have UFOs and a secret base inside a mountain.
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: McCullen is able to afford his own personal army and outfit them with technology surpassing every other army on Earth. Given that he basically supplies every other army on Earth, that part at least is sensible.

    Literature 
  • The Illuminati in Duumvirate has evolved from a more traditional conspiracy into one of these, but still secret. They're technologically superior, so they intend to drop The Masquerade and start ruling openly once their internal problems are settled. They do.
  • Dale Brown books have the Night Stalkers/Scion/Sky Masters/Whatever-They're-Calling-Themselves-Now, who if not a per se superpower, nevertheless maintain air and ground commando forces capable of doing a number on proportionally much larger units from conventional militaries. They're staffed mainly by former members of and use the technology of Dreamland, which was a State Sec. In A Time for Patriots, the Knights of the True Republic are a Right Wing Militia Fanatic group with resources at least on par with the FBI.
  • The Transnational/Metanational Corporations from the Red Mars Trilogy, which grow to be more powerful than actual terrestrial nations by the time of the successful Martian revolution in Green Mars.
  • Kramer Associates from the novel For Want of a Nail. At one point they virtually control the government of the United States of Mexico (founded by American settlers fleeing after losing the Revolutionary War; the USM is a mish-mash of Mexican and American culture, extending from Alaska to Belize), before it becomes so corrupt they leave for Japanese Formosa. At which point they detonate a nuclear bomb (the only one in the entire world as of 1971) to safeguard their corporate interests. It was written by an economist.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Line of Delirium, the Family is a criminal organization masquerading as a legitimate business. Their influence spreads far and wide throughout the Human Empire, and they have access to some of the best military hardware available, partly due to them employing the services of one of the best weapons designer in the Empire. In fact, they are so powerful that The Emperor himself names the Mother (basically, the female godfather) one of the confidantes in his will. Interestingly enough, the aTan Corporation, which is constantly described as an "empire within the Empire" and holds the key to immortality, has no private army of any kind. The Emperor, however, has to tread carefully with aTan, if he wants to keep his immortality.
  • Several Frontier corporations in Andrey Livadniy's The History of the Galaxy series have their own fleets, which they use to protect their worlds from pirates and rival corporations. One notable conflict involves a Corrupt Corporate Executive ambush a Confederacy of Suns fleet in order to capture two prototype ships, after he finds out that he is under investigation. His plan is to use the ships to threaten the entire Confederacy. While his fleet is no match for the full might of the Confederacy, this full might is usually unavailable given the need to protect many other worlds from pirates and the like. This fact is even mentioned in another novel, where the Confederacy leadership is worried that their fleets are spread too thin to reliable protect themselves.
  • Manpower, Incorporated of the Honor Harrington series thinks it is a superpower, but it is just a group of slavers and generic criminals that are the big fish in a small pond. The Star Kingdom of Manticore, their most frequent enemies in the main storyline and players in a much bigger pond, regard them as little more than a nuisance, a dime-a-dozen organization with delusions of grandeur. The Mesan Alignment, however, is an actual superpower, and has been using the public facade of Manpower, Incorporated as a front for centuries, maneuvering everybody into underestimating their true strength and goals.
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo's organization, the crew of the Nautilus: The Nautilus lets him loot enough submarine treasures to put him in Fiction500, he can finance political insurrections like the Cretan rebellion, he claims the South Pole in his name, he destroys the ships of an unnamed Imperialistic Nation with total impunity. His crew is composed of men who have not place in earth and they have invented their own language.
  • The Mega Corps of Robert Aspirin's Cold Cash Wars are this. They take on the world and win! Because money.
  • The nameless corporation from Iain Banks' The Business at one point controlled the Roman Empire (though their puppet emperor only held onto it for a few months) and the novel largely revolves around its attempts to buy up a small third-world country so its senior executives can get diplomatic immunity. Not to avoid prosecution for crimes (in fact, the organization seems pretty ethical as corporations go); it's just that, once you've got your ten mansions and private helicopter, there isn't much left to buy except sovereign status.
  • In the supernatural world of The Dresden Files, nations of magical creatures such as Summer and Winter (fairies) or the vampire Courts maintain the peace among themselves through a treaty known as the Unseelie Accords. In addition to these nation-equivalents, organizations such as the wizards' White Council are also signatories, as are Monoc Industries, a supernaturally-owned corporation, and a select few powerful individuals such as the Archive. This effectively makes them "nations" by the terms of the supernatural realm.
    • And a few of the signatories are individuals and about as N.G.O. as you can get. Notable figures include a few dragons, a "semi-immortal shapeshifter guru" in the Ukraine, and Gentleman Johnny Marcone, the only plain ol' vanilla mortal freeholding lord, who has balls that drag to the ground when he walks.
    • House Raith of the White Court is also edging into the same territory as Marcone and Monoc, thanks to Lara Raith's exceptional managing of the family empire, to the point where she can, with minimal effort, pull the strings to get US military hardware deployed to Mexico for an extraction. Of course, the Raiths had a lot of power to begin with, but her more conservative and baroque father was not using those resources to their fullest. Plus Lara managed to remove the Raith family's two biggest rivals, House Malvora and Skavis, in one night.
  • Implicit in Daemon. The Private Military Contractors and other corporations leading the charge against the eponymous entity have enough power that at one point they have the NSA director put away on trumped-up charges.
  • The CHOAM Corporation in Dune. The power of the galactic nobility is mostly measured by how many shares of the company they own...as is only natural for a company that has a monopoly on a substance that extends lifespans and makes interstellar travel possible. Likewise, the Spacing Guild, who has a legal monopoly on interstellar travel.
  • The Foundation during the "Four Kingdoms period". Using it's religious influence, the Foundation could not only protect itself from being taken over, but also to de facto control the Kingdoms.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Friday, the Shipstone Corporation has a monopoly on high capacity power storage which they are later revealed to have secretly parlayed into near total control over all commercial activity on Earth. The Black Thursday incident that occurs in the novel involves hundreds of high-profile assassinations and is revealed to have been the visible end of corporate infighting. Corporations also have been known to use nuclear weapons on countries that piss them off.
  • The Newsman's Guild in Soldier Ask Not. Interstellar economics are based on the exchange of skilled professionals. Thanks to this system, and the need for collected news, the Guild is rich. Full members have access to funds that "might have made a government leader envious."
  • The Revolutionary Agorist Cadre in Alongside Night is capable of overthrowing the United States government. Granted, a government weakened by hyperinflation and without any popular support, but still... By the end of the novel, they've become a nuclear power.
  • In Arctic Rising Gaia Inc. goes toe to toe with a multinational blockading fleet.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Altrucell of How I Met Your Mother.
    Marshall: So, I've been looking over these contracts, and I gotta say, I think this might be a little out of my league. For one thing, it seems like if these contracts are not executed precisely, we will be at war with Portugal.
  • Veridian Dynamics of Better Off Ted.
    "And we never part with money unless a more powerful nation forces us to, and there are only three of those left."
  • THRUSH of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E" and KAOS of Get Smart.
    • Interestingly subverted in the fact that the first episode of The Man From Uncle has Thrush's intended conquest of a small African country to be a huge deal, potentially changing the whole nature of the organization.
  • Massive Dynamic lurks as one of these in Fringe. In the second episode, Nina Sharp tells Olivia that the corporation is technically one of the ten biggest economic entities in the world. And given its research divisions, it could easily create an army if it so wished.
  • The Blue Sun Corporation in Firefly was implied to be one of these, though they may have simply been an arm of the totalitarian government. The series didn't last long enough to make it clear.
  • The Lucian Alliance of Stargate Verse, a galaxy-spanning criminal organization with enough resources stolen from the Goa'uld after their collapse to make them a dangerous force to even the Tau'ri, the most powerful race in at least two galaxies (though this is largely attributable to the severely limited scope of the Tau'ri space navy, which has only a half-dozen ships). By Stargate Universe, they are bold enough to attack Earth directly, albeit using suicide bomber cargo ships.
  • The Peacekeepers of Farscape are basically Private Military Contractors crossed with Law Enforcement, Inc. with a 12,000 cycle history of intimidating governments both planetary and interstellar.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Ashcroft Foundation of Cthulhu Tech embodies this trope. A globe-spanning, super-wealthy research institute and multinational, not only is it a pillar of the New Earth Government, but it invented many key inventions that define the age, from the D-engine to A-cells.
  • The traitor forces in Warhammer 40,000. Justified in that the traitor forces do possess their own hidden arsenals, manufacturing facilities, and raid the Imperium pretty frequently for equipment, resources, and slaves. They did also start as a huge number of troops mutinying against the God-Emperor so it would make sense to have at least some equipment lying around.
    • The Adeptus Mechanicus have a complicated relationship with the rest of The Imperium of Man, having a form of quasi-independence that does not fall under the standard imperial rules, their own standing army, and practical monopoly on the trade, research and creation of technology. They also technically worship a heathen god, which is Hand Waved as being 'an aspect of the Emperor' by the rest of the Imperium because standing on principle and provoking a crusade would effectively tear the Imperium apart.
    • Rogue traders have the legal framework from the Imperium to operate pretty much with impunity. Warrants of trade permit them to trade with xenos, travel outside Imperial space at will, and amass as much material wealth and temporal power as they can get, and the only limits the Adeptus Terra can enforce on them are those written into the warrant. Well-established rogue trader dynasties have private security whose quality rivals the best the Imperial Guard can offer, fleets of Warp-capable transport and combat ships, and are the government of many planets beyond Imperial space.
  • VIPER in the Champions universe, as well as Doctor Destroyer's organization.
  • Most of the Mega Corps in Cyberpunk 2020 have private armies at their disposal, the most noteworthy being Arasaka and Militech, who basically supply corporate security and soldiers to everybody else. There have even been a few all-out Corporate Wars in the canonical setting.
  • The Hypercorps of Eclipse Phase go back and forth between this and Mega Corps. The nominally democratic Planetary Consortium (Mars and Luna) is run by them, but they also act independently, with enough resources and staff to do anything if they really wanted.
  • The Zhentarim of the Dungeons & Dragons world Forgotten Realms are officially a trade organization, but have become effectively the sole government in the area surrounding their headquarters at Zhentil Keep. They have their own private army and for a time the leader of the organization was also the highest ranking priest of Bane, one of, if not the, most powerful evil gods.
    • The Harpers are a loose decentralized organization of rangers, bards, and other people who get around a lot, who keep track of the activities of dangerous evil organizations and churches. Their network of spies and informants in the Heartlands and the North is very extensive and they often warn local rulers of any threats that are too big for the agents to handle themselves in a quiet fashion. In addition, they count among their numbers many of the most powerful mages in the entire world and there is quite a number of formerly active agents in the courts and high ranking positions of many nations.
  • In the Eberron setting of Dungeons & Dragons, the dragonmarked houses probably qualify. They're explictly forbidden from owning land or titles of nobility, but each house has a near-monopoly on some aspect of the magitech the world runs on (the dwarven House Kundarak controls banking, the gnomish House Sivis controls communication, the human House Cannith controls manufacturing, etc.). The result is a kind of McDonaldization of the world: people prefer predictable House-approved merchants and services over taking a chance on an independent that might be better, but could equally likely be worse.
    • The Order of the Emerald Claw is a terrorist organization of self-proclaimed Karrnathi patriots who are everywhere and have their fingers in everything. Since it's run by Erandis "Blood Of" d'Vol, who also runs the religion that bears her name, this probably puts Vol as one of the mightiest non-government authority figures in the entire setting even without factoring in her status as a high-level wizard and lich; a level 1 commoner with the amount of support Vol can call on would be able to shake the pillars of the world.
  • Most AA and all AAA-rating Mega Corps in Shadowrun outstrip governments in power (and in the case of one, Aztechnology, practically is the government of the entirety of Latin- and South America). The UN has been replaced by the Corporate Court, where the seven AAA megacorps are the equivalent of permanent security council seats.
  • Comstar in BattleTech, with its monopoly on FTL communication. It officially holds to a strict code of neutrality, and its members are banned from taking part in the politics of the successor states. Somewhat subverted in that they are the governing authority of Terra.
    • Later on Comstars splinter group the Word of Blake took things to the next level. The WoB overthrew Comstars hold on Terra, and set themselves as true superpower. When the Second Star League disbanded, they threatened the Great Houses to return to the Star League under threat of war. The WoB started the Jihad which would spread through out the Inner Sphere.
    • A few of the largest mercenary units can also fall here; some of them own entire worlds and can change the course of an entire front by deploying entire regiments of well trained and equipped troops.
  • Implied in Strike Legion; one of the suggested missions in the rulebook involves taking care of gangs, which suggests some seriously powerful gangs if they're deserving of Legionnaire attention. A single Legion team is considered more dangerous than a full battlefleet, in a setting where the starships making up said fleet regularly take and deal out Earth Shattering Kabooms.
  • The Guild of Exalted is a network of merchants and manufacturers that spans almost all of Creation, and spent centuries as the only entity with wealth and power comparable to the Realm (albeit applied purely to the goals of increasing its own profits, rather than the cultural manipulations and conquest of the Realm). The collective actions of its factors could cripple nations, and its leaders are individually wealthy enough to compare to mighty trade-nations.
  • In Rifts, these are common, with the industrial giant Triax having massive sway over the New German Republic, H-Brand in the Otomo Shogunate having not only a similar partnership but it's own separate army, Armatech being a major power in the Republic of Japan, and the nation of Ishpeming is referred to by the name of the weapon's manufacturer Northern Gun more than it's own proper name!
    • All of those in turn are small fry next to the interdimensional arms dealer Naruni Enterprises, who is so big and powerful that only galactic powers like the Coalition of Civilized Worlds in the Three Galaxies could stand up to them in any kind of real conflict and win.

    Video Games 
  • in System Shock 2, laws allow a corporation to own any place where 60% of the population is employed by said corporation; Tri Optimum owns almost the entire United States. Furthermore, Tri Optimum controls the world's governing body (which was created specifically to regulate megacorporations), has a massive private army, manufacturs almost all the world's goods, and has a monopoly on space travel.
  • The Shinra Electric Power Corporation in Final Fantasy VII started out as an arms manufacturer and discovered a fantastic new source of energy for an industrial world, and by the time the game begins, it is not only a Mega Corp., but also the closest thing the world seems to have to anything resembling government on more than a local scale, complete with a huge and well-provisioned military, public works, and a (defunct) space program.
  • Before the events of Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn, Interpol viewed the Brotherhood of Nod as just another terrorist organization, until they realized just how widespread that organization was and uncovered secret dealings between Nod and major US defense contractors. When Tiberium arrived on Earth, Nod quickly exploited the alien substance to gain the financial and military resources to challenge the Global Defense Initiative in open war, and though Nod suffers major defeats, each time it's able to come back with ever more advanced technology and greater numbers. The manual for the first game actually detailed their operating assets quite well, and revealed that even in Tiberian Dawn, Nod's net worth was over 250 billion dollars. By the third game, Tiberium Wars, the Brotherhood has grown into an actual state by offering humanitarian aid, governance and protection to the inhabitants of the Tiberium-ravaged "Yellow Zones," who consider GDI to have abandoned them in favor of the affluent, pristine "Blue Zones."
    • The GDI was this trope at some point, but it is a bit unclear when it entered it (UNGDI was explicitly reliant on Security Council funding and answered to the same during Tiberian Dawn, making it ultimately an arm of government [multiple governments, but still government]) and when it left this trope behind to be a government that just happened to have descended from the military arm of the United Nations. By the third game the replace the UN as the governing super power, and have total authority in the remaining Blue Zones.
  • The GLA from Command & Conquer: Generals also averts this for the most part and justifies it when it occurs. They have no air or naval power at all, while their ground forces are either converted civilian vehicles or obsolete Soviet surplus. But the trope is played straight in Zero Hour when they kick out the Americans from Europe by capturing and using their own weapons against them, from attack helicopters, spy satellites, heavy tanks to their Particle Cannon.
  • The Private Military Contractors in Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., who invade the USA. As Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation puts it, "Where were they hiding all this material? The fucking Moon?"
  • Mass Effect 2 has Cerberus, a human supremacist terrorist organization which, due to generous covert funding from major human organizations, owns multiple deep-space habitats, funds multibillion-dollar resurrection projects, builds bleeding-edge spacecraft, and decks its people out in spiffy uniforms.
    • Mass Effect: Invasion ramps it Up to Eleven: They invade Omega with a small army of elite soldiers, a dozen cruisers, and a battleship/dreadnought. Said battleship/dreadnought is basically a super weapon platform that can depopulate an entire planet in a day.
    • They pretty much abandon all subtlety in Mass Effect 3 and deploy a couple of light mechanized infantry regiments to locations they are interested in. You also encounter at least one cruiser and a fleet of shuttles supporting these troops. At first this seems like a strange jump in resources from one game to the next but its revealed that they are forcibly converting people into Husks and using advanced jamming technology to wrestle control of them from the Reapers. So in essence they can kidnap people and forcibly convert them into loyal mooks.
    • In Mass Effect 2, the various mercenary organizations like the Blue Suns and Eclipse have their own private armies and navies; there's even one system in the game where you can read the history of a major revolution that involved Eclipse's private navy engaging in open war with the system's fleets. The Eclipse and Suns, while stateless, have vast holdings across the Terminus systems and fingers in criminal ventures throughout both Terminus and Citadel space. In particular, the Eclipse alone hold a major presence on the Asari world of Illium (they appear to virtually own the docks in the city where most of the action takes place); the Blood Pack have political clout in the krogan homeworld; and the Blue Suns control three whole planets. All three run a lot of the crime on Omega, including slave trading, element zero smuggling, and red sand trade.
    • The Shadow Broker has his own small army of well equipped and highly experienced troops who rival special forces units of the most powerful military powers and he has is base on a custom built ship that permanently hides within a storm too violent for most ships to get close to. However, his trade is the gathering and selling of information and anything ever recorded by his dozens if not hundreds of opperatives and their uncountable masses of agents and informants goes over his desk and ends in his databases, giving him the power to decide essentially any war, election, investigation, or contract competetion, if the customer can pay. And it also serves his own goals. His power is such that the fact that he manages to keep the information he gives out from causing serious and/or catastrophic imbalances in power from occurring is in of itself impressive to his agents.
      • Or her.
    • To a lesser extent, the Nos Astra Stock Exchange, judging from the horrified reaction of the Asari investor talking with the Volus moving his assets callously to profit on a humanitarian disaster.
      • Speaking of Nos Astra, if you investigate Illium in Mass Effect 3 you will discover that the tycoons and merchant-princes who rule it have decided to fight back against the Reapers... by using their unimaginably immense wealth to finance a mercenary fleet of incredible proportions. They manage to hold Illium against the Reaper assault for weeks and by the end they still have enough liquid assets to make a considerable impact on the overall war effort.
    • Aria T'Loak's syndicate on Omega. With control of the trade capital of the Terminus Systems, a scarily good espionage net and Aria's playing everyone off against each other, Aria has Vetinari Job Security. How powerful is Aria? In Mass Effect 3, even after being deposed from her power base in Omega, she can provide enough troops and ships to rival the fleet contributions of the entire Salarian Union. Even better, once she reclaims Omega, she reveals the existence of an eezo hoard so immense it has the same military value as an entire army of geth or krogan. It is also worth noting that one of the reasons why Cerberus is able to afford to field all its aforementioned gear and manpower in Mass Effect 3 is directly due to them seizing Omega from Aria and using its massive resource stockpiles.
  • Vector Industries in Xenosaga definitely counts. Not only are they the wealthiest corporation in the galaxy, they maintain the entire galactic infrustructure through the U.M.N., they make up roughly half of the galaxy's equivalent of the military industrial complex, they are responsible for production of Realians, and their corporate headquarters is a ship so massive that it can qualify as an artificial planet. The kicker? Their CEO, Wilhelm, is not only The Chessmaster to such a degree that he controls Vector's top corporate competitor, Ormus (the majority religious organization in the galaxy), as well as being the former head of one of The Federation's top subcommittees, effectively making him The Man, he's also a freaking Cosmic Entity with godlike powers that has been using an Artifact of Doom that allows him to see the future. If he wasn't too busy trying to avert The End of the World as We Know It (albeit through very questionable means), he might as well just crown himself God Emperor For All Eternity and be done with it.
  • The Metal Gear series features this quite often. Non-state players in the game of international espionage and secret warfare range from terrorist groups to renegade former government special forces units to PMCS to mysterious international conspiracies. Almost all of these groups have access to cutting-edge technology - nanomachines, genetic engineering, and of course Metal Gear itself - and so are capable of military actions that threaten those of actual nation-states. The most important examples include Militaires Sans Frontieres, Outer Heaven, Liquid's verison of Outer Heaven, and World Marshall Inc.
    • Averted, however, with Philanthropy: it consists of, at most, five people and an airplane.
  • In the Modern Warfare series, the Ultranationalists under Zakhaev and later Makarov are able to go toe-to-toe with the national government of Russia and win, though since it's a civil war they're mostly using existing Russian hardware. After the Ultranationalist takeover, there's Makarov's splinter faction within the Ultranationalists, which manages to have a tremendous amount of influence within the Ultranationalist government, to the point that he is effectively able to declare war on Europe and the United States once the existing, moderate Ultranationalist Russian president is removed from power and his advisers are killed. In multiplayer, the Taliba- err, OpFor and Brazilian favela militias can somehow call down a wide variety of air support, from relatively small time UAV-launched missiles to stealth bombers, AC-130s and even a nuke.
  • The story's a bit of a hash, but the Mantel Corporation of Haze has apparently replaced the armed forces of every country in the world.
  • Armacham Technology Corporation in FEAR has no fewer than four major underground bunkers/facilities, an army of thousands of mercenaries, and the equipment and technology to create and arm a thousands-strong force of cloned supersoldiers.
    • This gets turned Up to Eleven in the sequels. In a specific example, the first levels of the DLC of F.E.A.R 2, Reborn consists of a massive battle between Armacham and Replica forces. This includes dozens of elite operatives on both sides, fifth-generation fighter jets (think things on par with the F-22 Raptor), helicopter gunships and Powered Armor dropped from orbit. All of it—including the Replica slaughtering them—is the property of the Armacham Corporation.
    • The first game's Perseus Mandate expansion includes the Nightcrawlers, a mercenary group out to steal material from Armacham. One of your allies who goes digging for info on them actually refers to them as a "free-standing private army", noting that there's next to nothing about them but they know everything about the FEAR organization. Even after you personally kill two- to three-hundred of them, up to and including the guy commanding the whole operation, The Stinger reveals that they considered those losses "acceptable".
  • Goldeneye Rogue Agent has both Dr. No's and Goldfinger's criminal organisations. Both sides have access to vast numbers of soldiers, military vehicles and munitions. Goldfinger is capable of manufacturing a weapon of mass destruction, and No has enough troops and munitions to occupy Hoover dam (which he is apparently able to base in a tiny Caribbean island, and arm from a few small factories hidden in Hong Kong).
  • Various evil organizations in both superhero games Champions Online and City of Heroes, such as the aforementioned Viper and Argent in Champions Online, and Nemesis, the Council, and Arachnos in City of Heroes.
  • Ace Combat games have a distressing number of these. In the first game and Joint Assault, the enemies are nominally a terrorist group; in 2 they are rebels; in 3 and Advance they are a Mega Corp. and in the second part of Zero they are a mishmash of disgruntled former soldiers, but all feature some mix of WMDs, Airborne Aircraft Carriers/supermassive bombers and entire units of conventional forces.
    • Ace Combat 5 also has North Osea Gründer Industries. They display they have the power and means to fund covert coups in both Osea and Yuktobania and get moles in both militaries to prolong the conflict and ratchet up its intensity. They also have access to a Kill Sat and nuclear weapons. However, the leadership is made up of former members of the Belkan high-command and all of the above are former Belkan resources, including their double agents, so it makes more sense.
  • While not explicitly stated to be so, the Gas Miners' Guild of Freelancer must be one, given that they fought the Eighty Year War with Rhineland... and won.
    • Justifiable as the GMG received financial backing from Kusari who was waging a proxy war against Rheinland at the time. It is also mentioned Rheinland lost more ships to the Crow Nebula rather than combat. Effectively, the GMG was using the space equivalent of guerilla warfare to fight against Rheinland.
    • The Outcasts and Corsairs are a subversion. At first, they seem to be incredibly powerful Space Pirates, fielding ships that can go toe-to-toe with first-line military equipment. But if you explore the Edge Worlds, you find out that they are really nation-states in their own right, complete with their own planets.
  • The MegaCorps in Tachyon: The Fringe have their own private fleets. GalSpan (short for the Galactic Spanning Corporation) is the largest one, having their own sector of space. The only true government only has power in the Sol sector, enforced by Star Patrol. GalSpan's fleet includes carriers, cruisers, frigates, minelayers, fighters, bombers, etc. The Bora Mining Guilds are also not a true government, but their fleet is a match for GalSpan in brute force if not technology. However, most of these are hastily-converted cargo haulers.
  • The backstory for Nexus: The Jupiter Incident describes a war between IASA and several Mega Corps. The latter win, leaving Earth the only place where IASA has power. The most powerful of these is the Kissaki Syndicate, although this is due to them using Imported Alien Phlebotinum. Several early missions involve the Player Character in command of a corporation-owned corvette forced to fight much heavier ships of rival corporations. In fact, one of these battles involves saving a sister ship of the player's, which is flying an IASA banner and is openly attacked by two OSEC heavy corvettes.
  • The Twilight's Hammer Cult from World of Warcraft fits this. Other similar entities such as the Shadow Council and the Cult of the Damned are parts of larger organizations and often act as a State Sec for them. The Twilight Hammer is not. While it is under the control of the Old Gods, it's structure is otherwise independent from a larger entity. Despite this, Twilight has shown itself to be capable of taking on the armies of the Alliance, the Horde, the Dragonflights (with some support), the Guardians of Hyjal and the Burning Legion.
  • Morgan Industries from Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, though it could be considered a government.
  • Any Mega Corp. in Ground Control, but especially the Crayven Corporation and the Order of the New Dawn. Both have their own interstellar warships and huge armies, as well as colonies, but are not considered official governmentsnote . The sequel averts this, as the game is about two governments duking it out (well, one being Curb Stomp Battled by another).
  • In Team Fortress 2, two feuding Mega Corps, RED and BLU, each secretly control half of the world's governments. To add to the intrigue, the woman overseeing the feud is the CEO of both companies, as well as the CEO of a Weapons Supply Company...
    • The Mann Vs. Machine update introduced Gray Mann, who succeeds in assassinating his brothers and proves he has the resources to take on Mann Co. and the people running it. With a whole lot of robots.
  • The original Army Of Two had the mercenary Strategy and Security Corporation, which hired the players and intended to (through an elaborate plan which involved killing a lot of American troops) take over as the military of the United States (the players eventually stop them).
    • And then the sequel introduced the mysterious 40th Day Initiative, which more or less blew the hell out of Shanghai because their leader Jonah wanted to prove that when all order in society collapses, humans are nothing but animals which will do anything to survive. It didn't work. The 40th Day Initiative evidently had literally thousands of troops, some of whom were wearing extremely heavy and advanced armour, along with tanks, jet aircraft and hundreds of cruise missiles. They evidently stood toe-to-toe with the Chinese Military and actually fought them off for several days (until their leader was killed, anyway).
  • In the Armored Core series, the world is entirely ruled by Mega Corps, with no trace of any governments.
    • In the 4-FA continuity, this is taken Up to Eleven, where before the events of the game, these {Mega Corp}}s destroyed the world's governments and took over the world in under a month using a small number of extremely advanced mechs. And they're still in control at the end of FA, unless the ORCA Path is chosen, in which case the revolutionary ORCA Brigade (also an N.G.O. Superpower) take over the world instead, then let humanity out into space.
  • The Umbrella Corporation has access to what must be billions in research equipment, a highly qualified scientific staff that they can dispose of without a thought, numerous installations all across the globe that they either hide from their host governments or operate with their permission and not just a private army but a private black-ops special forces group with helicopter and fighter jet support. And that is not counting The Virus that can turn people into zombies or giant clawed monsters. The movies take this even further, suggesting that the corporation has access to a powerful satellite network, stealth bombers and nuclear weapons.
  • In Culpa Innata NGOs have gotten so powerful that they disbanded the UN. That may or may not be a bad thing...
  • Earth Control of Martian Gothic Unification has literally taken over the world. The company can even punish "disloyalty to the company" with a death penalty.
  • The Kurvasz, a Hunter Guild in Solatorobo, had (Red destroyed one) four battleships including the Golden Roar and used them and legions of infantry with Mini-Mecha to intimidate local governments.
  • In Jungle Strike, the Player Character (a lone helicopter pilot) takes on a drug lord with enough money to build a private army and purchase top-of-the-line aircraft and nuclear submarines.
  • The X-Universe games have many of these. Space Pirates and the space Yakuza field battleships, carriers, frigates, and fighter wings despite having no government, no taxes, and no known ship production facilities - though this may be explained by their capital ships being cobbled together from the wrecks of old ships. The MegaCorps, like the Optimized Technology And Shielding corporation, field their own capital ships, fleets of transporters, and patrol their home sectors with frigates and corvettes. Beginning with Reunion, the player him/herself can effectively become one after acquiring a Player Headquarters.
  • Treasures Of The Deep's Simon Black. At first, he seems like a pretty run-of-the-mill arms dealer/black marketeer. But as the game progresses, he manages to reveal that he has resources that are outside the bounds of all reason. Along the way, you discover he has built nuclear reactors in the Great Barrier Reef, shot down a space shuttle in orbit and sent a heavily armed recovery team to destroy it before the U.S Navy could recover it. What takes the cake are the final two missions. Simon's military capabilities are such that he can take on a U.S Navy Carrier Battlegroup and has a Seawolf-class attack sub, which in all likelihood his organization built itself.
  • Cordis Die, Raul Menendez's terrorist syndicate from Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, makes use of the billions of dollars Menendez himself made off of decades of drug and gun-running to fund a massive mercenary army, backed up by various terrorist and anti-government organizations, capable of challenging both the US and Chinese armies, as well as huge amounts of state-of-the-art weapons, vehicles, and combat drones. The contributions from his followers - think Occupy Wall Street with roughly two billion people - must help as well. It only gets worse once he successfully hacks the US military's entire drone force to do his bidding, allowing him to launch simultaneous attacks on the major cities of both superpower nations.
  • It's unclear what it's exact role is, but this is a possible explanation for the Pokémon League. Since there are regions without Pokemon Leagues (Orre, the Orange Islands in the anime), there's strong evidence to suggest that it may not be their equivalent to a world government, but it definitely has some sort of high influence over the Pokemon World. In some cases, like Unova, the Pokemon League directly exhibits a clear level of control over the region, with Gym Leaders being one of the most powerful members of their communities, and the Elite 4 and champion seemingly serving as watchmen over the region as a whole.
  • The Consortium from Act of War is basically this. Lots of money and lots of fancy weapons to wage war against America and give players an excuse to blow stuff up.
  • The Corpus in Warframe are a proto-Mega Corp. with enough military might to stalemate the Grineer. Unfortunately, they're no friends of yours either.
  • The Carrington Institute from Perfect Dark, an R&D company that manufactures weapons and develops new alien technologies, has its own soldiers and carries out Corporate Warfare with its rival, dataDyne, is one of the few non-villainous examples of this trope.
  • The Space Pirates in Sins of a Solar Empire, though they start off as minor irritants, can eventually grow to deploy armadas large enough to hold players' forces at bay while killing off whole planetary populations.
  • In Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, the Universal Petroleum Corporation and guerrilla People's Liberation Army of Venezuela are both able to deploy enormous armies while neither of them are non-government entities. Their armies include tanks, armored personnel carriers, helicopters, and a number of fixed-wing aircraft able to drop airstrikes for you, and they're both more than willing to sell you all of the above. UP has massive oil revenues (they own all the oil rigs in Venezuela) used to support their troops, who are all part of an American PMC called Tactical Solutions, while the PLAV's troops are supplied by both a massive swing of counter-revolutionary reaction to Ramon Solano's takeover of the country, and many of their weapons and supplies are given to them covertly by China. There's also the Jamacian pirates, who don't have quite as much weaponry but do have access to enough black-market firepower that they've become firmly entrenched in the northern islands and none of the military forces in the region have been able to dislodge them.
  • The Grey Wardens of the Dragon Age setting are this in spades. An elite military organization with thousands of members in every country across the continent, they are the only ones willing and indeed able to protect the world from the darkspawn, near-mindless creatures whose only purpose is to destroy all life. Consequently, they command a great deal of respect from the people, and are given a lot of leeway when it comes to things like the law. The Wardens do what they must.
    • As a note, however, the Wardens are typically not capable of going toe to toe with large national governments. While it would be reasonable to expect them to be capable of slowly conquering the Free Marches city state by city state, their major strength when projecting military force is that the majority of Wardens end up collecting a large amount of favours within a few years, to say nothing of various treaties signed by nations and other NG Os. Wardens are powerful, but they cannot spread their power over a large area.
  • The Hyperion corporation in Borderlands 2, which is the biggest and wealthiest business in the galaxy. Hyperion CEO Handsome Jack bought up the whole planet of Pandora and is hell-bent on turning it into his perfect paradise and reviving an ancient alien warrior so he can use it to take over everything. Granted, there are no centralized governments on Pandora to oppose him, just a scattered collection of small settlements. Hyperion also has its own military, featuring both robots and human soldiers; this doesn't seem unique to them, though, as some other manufacturers (namely Dahl, Torgue, and, in the first game, Atlas) are said or shown to have their own fighting forces.
    • All of the corporations in the setting seem to be this, with armed conflicts between them seemingly common.
  • Atlas Corporation from Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare are the largest Private Military Contractors on Earth, so powerful and influential that it has a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
  • In Civilization: Beyond Earth, the American Reclamation Corporation is the Mega Corp. and is sending out expeditions to colonize other planets; the rival playable factions are all supranational blocs.

    Webcomics 
  • Hereti-Corp from Sluggy Freelance. Even if you take away all their Mad Scientist gadgets, they were still able to send hundreds of heavily armed soldiers to capture Oasis.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation
  • 'The Syndicate' in the Whateley Universe. It has an army of mooks, an elite cadre of trained killers, robot soldiers, cyborg warriors, dropships, you name it.

    Western Animation 
  • G.I. Joe: "Cooooooooooooobraaaaaaaaaaaa!"
  • In Metalocalypse, Dethklok has a fleet of helicopters the size of jumbo jets, a bus that easily dwarfs small apartment buildings, an army of fanatically loyal roadies called the Kloketeers who have the authority to use lethal force anywhere in the world, Mordhaus (Which means "murder house" in German) which is shown being held aloft in the third season by a massive bank of rocket boosters that are active 24/7/365, and in the season two finale perform a concert in a capsule launched by a multistage rocket very similar to the ones used in the Apollo Program. The absurdity of this doesn't go unnoticed, as the band is described as the world's seventh-largest economy.
  • In Justice League, Amanda Waller outright states that the Justice League is easily the most powerful force on the planet. In an alternate universe, they took over the world after the death of their Flash. And in that alternate universe they only had six members. In the main DCAU universe, they'd expanded to include pretty much every superhero on Earth, and had an orbital Kill Sat in their possession.
  • In one episode of Gargoyles, Xanatos is called on for referring to an attack on his home an "invasion", since he's a private citizen, not a country. He replies that he's head of a major multinational corporation, and has more money and resources than many countries.
  • In The Legend of Korra, the Equalists are a pretty textbook example of one of these. By season's end, they've built a large enough military force to not only completely take over Republic City within a day, but also to single-handedly fight off the United Forces' subsequent counterattack with minimal effort. They're able to field airships, motorcycles, armoured cars, Mini-Mecha, and even an entire air force, and have huge hidden factories and airfields to manufacture, store, and maintain them all.
    • Which is pretty much due to Future Industries being an NGO Superpower in and of itself...

    Real Life 
  • The British East India Company once effectively ruled the entirety of the Indian sub-continent, Maharajas and princes surrendered their realms before its board of directors, it had armies and fleets in its name to "Protect the outposts of the Empire".
    • Its role in the Opium Wars (making the British Empire beat down on China so it could peddle opium there at their leisure) also lend it major supervillain cred.
    • Several other countries had these too, with roughly the same freedoms to exercise power. During the 17th century, the British company regularly got its ass kicked by the Dutch, and the actions of that company were such that the idea of locating the International Criminal Court in The Hague would have seemed ludicrous.
  • The modern Russian East Siberia and Far East Development Corporation, was said to be the modern East India Company. Then the project was scrapped and replaced with a government ministry.
  • The Hanseatic League is perhaps one of the earliest examples. An alliance of merchant guilds that joined together for greater profit dominated the Baltic Sea and the North Sea for a few centuries. Also they were a loose and ill defined group they managed to force a lot of local rulers to grant them tax and toll exemptions for their trading posts and home cities. Major achievements include forcing the King of England to allow them to build an outpost in London and declaring war on Denmark.
    • Within the Holy Roman Empire, which was a confederation of several electors, dukes, and dozens of lesser princes that were united by their allegiance to the emperor, many wealthy cities were autonomous territories that did not have any lord and bowed only to the emperor himself. The cities of Hamburg, Bremen, Lübeck, and Cologne were governed by a council of merchants, which in reality meant by the Hanseatic League. For a time, Lübeck and Cologne were the largest cities of the entire empire and even today the modern federal states of Hamburg and Bremen are officially named "Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg" and "Free Hanseatic City of Bremen", even though the organization has ceased to exist over 300 years ago.
  • No NGO could ever match the resources of even small nation states, but that does not mean they can not match them in influence. The CEOs of large energy companies have far more impact on the world stage than the president of, say, the Maldives.
  • Google. They are our primary source of online information, can control our web browsers, and now our phones; Google Electric and Google Space do not seem entirely implausible. The company went (verbally) toe-to-toe with the Chinese government in 2010 and fought it to a draw, pretty much deciding that China - the world's most populous country and thus one of their largest potential markets - wasn't worth it.
    • Not to mention that they've sued... the USA
    • Google Space might not be that far off, for they are at least influencing it: Google Lunar X-Prize.
  • Non Government Terrorist organizations have been the target of the 10 year long War On Terror, which by no means has been a tale of a string of crushing victories. The Taliban has less money than Pepsico, and yet it has fought a coalition of half a dozen major countries to a standstill.
    • Yes, but Pepsico doesn't own its employees or its employees' money. Terrorists have no problem appropriating other people's money for their own to augment their finances.
  • The International Red Cross and Red Crescent is a peaceful example. Members displaying their symbols are protected under international law and the Geneva Conventions, and it has resources and personnel rivaling just about any nation.
  • The old United Fruit Company. Two Words - Banana Republic. When they came calling, you paid up your protection money and did as they ordered, or else...
  • The Roman Catholic Church influences the religious - and sometimes even political - beliefs of people all over the world and its leader also runs a tiny country.
    • For centuries it was more powerful than any government in Europe. Starting at around 1050, kings and emperors needed their permission to take the throne, and excommunication would have all your neighbors attacking you along with a good chunk of your nobles rebelling. Serfs often paid as much in tithe to the church as to their lord.
    • That's...a huge oversimplification. A huge part of the early history of the Church was the power struggle (sometimes outright Cold War) between the Holy Roman Emperor (later the King of France too) and the Pope. The conflict basically boiled down to: the Pope can offer me prestige, but the Emperor can offer me land, allegiance, and money. Of course, given that France and the HRE were essentially the superpowers of the time, whilst the Papal States were anarchic, shockingly-run, and economically backwards, the temporal power of the Pope was severely curtailed, especially by the time the House of Hohenstaufen were done with him.
  • The Knights Templar were one of the most powerful organizations in Crusades-era Europe. They were the best Christian military force during the Crusades and established a financial empire that stretched across the Christian world. They were exempt from any law in Christian land, which was everywhere they operated and answered only to the Pope himself. They invented one of the earliest forms of modern banking. They had entire fleets of ships, built numerous fortresses in the Middle East and Europe and owned the whole of the island of Cyprus. However, after the Crusades, their influence waned and this came back to bite them in the ass. King Philip IV of France decided to take advantage of this by having their leaders tortured into confessing to heresy and burnt at the stake. Despite the heresy accusations, it was really so Philip could avoid having to pay a gigantic debt owed to the Templars. They were then arrested and had their assets seized. The sheer power and size of the organization has led a few to suggest they still survive as a secret society to this day. These theories are (possibly) supported by the fact that Philip found the Templars' treasure vaults empty, leading to speculation that the the Templars took it elsewhere beforehand. One popular theory is that the surviving Templars helped Switzerland (conveniently located just outside of France) achieve independence, and went on to found the famously secretive Swiss banking system.
  • The Rothschild family. With their insane amounts of wealth (one of the France based Rothchilds had 100 million more francs than the REST OF THE BANKERS OF FRANCE COMBINED) funded both sides of several wars, owned huge amounts of government bonds, declared NOBILITY, and were able to fund such actions as the De Beers diamond monopoly, and that is only the stuff we know about. How much power, businesses, or wealth the family had or has is a mystery.
    • The Rothschilds are today only a shadow of their former might. World War II was an economic disaster for them, wiping out their real assets, and as the Rothschilds gave up marrying their cousins to keep the wealth within the family, the family wealth has diluted. Nevertheless, they still remain rich.
  • Serco The Biggest Company You've Never Heard Of is in control of state schools, prisons and air traffic worldwide. They're also responsible for nuclear weapons in the UK along with other Military contracts.
  • The Hudson's Bay Company, in the 1600s and 1700s, effectively ruled a large part of the modern-day Canadian landmass.
  • The Mafia - its income is supposed to be over 100 billion US dollars/year.
    • The Mafiya, especially in the early 90's after the fall of Communism. There was a time when entire nations were armed by the black market weapons deals that Russian criminals made with Russian military suppliers. One U.S Federal operation exposed a Miami-based Mafia boss named Animal and his attempts to purchase a nuclear submarine for drug-running purposes. Animal reported that the man selling it to him asked "do you want that with, or without missiles?" Animal thought he was joking, but he was evidently dead serious.
    • The power of the Mafia was even larger during the Prohibition era. With the outlawing of alcohol came one of the most lucrative and profitable illegal trades in history, as mafia bosses like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano imported premium alcohols on the cheap and sold for immense profits or sold local-brewed liquors in addition to their already-extensive drug rings. Couple this with the fact that the United States was undergoing an economic boom following the end of World War I, and you've got a perfect storm wherein the private armies of the country's biggest mafia bosses were numerous and well-equipped enough to be able to take on the might of the United States Army(granted, this US army was heavily cutback following WWI).
  • This list attempts to track and rank the 175 biggest "economic entities" in the world as measured by GDP and total revenue. According to that, in 2010, the biggest NGO was Wal-Mart. It's 24th in the list, behind all the most powerful countries in the world, but ahead of Norway, Venezuela, and many more countries you've probably heard of. More entities on that list are corporations than are countries, and not every country in the world made the list. In fact, there are colleges out there (Harvard is among them) whose annual budget is greater than the GDP of some small countries.
    • The list was updated in 2011. Not much changed.
  • Pick any of the great statesmen of the later Roman Republic (Caesar, Pompey, Crassus, Augustus, etc.). Although they were formally assigned military command by the government, their real power came from personally raised armies of loyal troops built out of vast personal fortunes. It' snot surprising that the situation that allowed this eventually degenerated into civil wars. The ultimate example is Augustus: the entire Roman Empire was a formalisation of his own personal authority massively outstripping that of the state to the point that it overtook and became the state.
  • Al Qaeda, and powerful terrorist groups in general, are essentially these. They generally receive their funding and equipment via organized crime or foreign governments, and wield significant political power in certain areas of the world (in some cases, more than the actual local government). A growing school of thought amongst some political scientists and sociologists is that, due to globalization and the imbalance of power and technology between the first and third world's, these kind of powerful, non-state entities can be expected to become increasingly more prevalent as the 21st century goes on.
  • Whilst how "non-governmental" they really are is debatable, the emerging Chinese energy companies Sinopec and PetroChina are considered by some to be the latter day successors to the East India Company and the United Fruit Company.
  • It's commonly claimed that Apple is the world's most valuable company. This is entirely false. It is the most valuable company whose shares you can actually buy. It is assumed to be worth around seven hundred billion US dollars. The world's most valuable company, period, laughs at that: Owned by the Saudi royal family, Saudi Aramco is estimated to be worth ten trillion dollars. It has the world's largest oil reserves. It owns the world's largest oilfields. It produces almost four trillion barrels of oil every year, and has a revenue of three hundred and eleven billion dollars. It has diversified its assets into manufacturing, services, defense, and mining. In some ways, Saudi Arabia is not so much a country with an oil company, but an oil company with a country.
  • The Islamic State of Iraq & Syria looted over $425 million overnight, which the linked analysis describes would be enough to pay an army of 60,000 fighters as well as organizational operating expenses for a year.


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