Planetary Nation

Ah, Earth. Full of many nations, territories, countries and governments. And yet when alien homeworlds are visited, we only get to see one government.

This is an Omnipresent Trope in Science Fiction where inhabited planets not named Earth are shown to have only one government. The reasons range from someone succeeding in taking over the world to being a mere Planet of Hats to the fact that politics limited to one world are unimportant to stories with interplanetary settings, or because Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale and think that the planet would be akin to a town or city instead of a large sphere that can hold hundreds of countries and billions of cities and towns.

This trope can be justified in a couple of ways. If the planet was recently colonized, there may not have been time for it to develop more than one government. The entire population could be a few thousand to a few million people living in and around the first colonization site. On the other side of things, on a homeworld or a long-colonized world, extending power over a planet is much easier than extending it into space. The one-world government can easily put down unrest on the next continent, but subduing another planet in the same system requires several orders of magnitude more effort, by any known or likely means.

If Earth is this, see One World Order.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Transformers Cybertron Gigantion and Velocitron are like this. The politics of Gigantion are not really looked at, but there is only a single city on the entire planet, presumably under one form of government. Velocitron is governed solely by who is the fastest racer. The politics of this position is not essential to the plot, so it was not looked at.

    Comic Books 
  • Averted with Flash Gordon. Ming may be Emperor of Mongo but there are a lot of Kingdoms round the planet.

  • Averted in Predators (and by extension, the rest of the series) when it's revealed the Predators have different tribes who have been at war with one another. We see at least two.
  • In Man of Steel, the whole planet of Krypton is governed by a high council. This isn't explained in depth, though.

  • Chris Moriarty's Spin Control series draws a specific contrast here. Earth's offworld colonies all have unified world governments under United Nations jurisdiction, but Earth's nation-states still exist and provide an unexpected wrinkle to any negotiations with the homeworld.
  • This is nearly always true in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. One of the few exceptions is the planet Adumar in X-Wing: Starfighters of Adumar, which contains several competing alliances of nation-states. The New Republic and Empire start out negotiating with the most powerful one without fully understanding this, leading to problems.
  • Completely averted in the soft sci-fi book Through Space To The Planets as it is shown that the planet has at least three separate governments in three different places.
  • Averted in the Chanur Novels by C. J. Cherryh. The hani homeworld is noted to have multiple countries and languages.
  • Most of the nations, planets and Space Stations in the Vorkosigan Saga are this. The few exceptions are the Cetagandan Empire and Barrayaran Empires, which are nations made up of multiple planets, and Earth, which is still split up into a gillion countries like today.
  • As usual, Honor Harrington never fails to provide examples of all tropes sci-fi, both...
    • Played straight:
      • The Protectorate of Grayson, a Cult Colony established by a bunch of Space Amish which gets rather abruptly drawn into galactic affairs due to being smack in the middle of an interstellar cold war. They grow teeth very rapidly.
      • The Kingdom of Torch, a planet of liberated genetic slaves.
      • Mesa, the planet ruled by a corporation... allegedly.
    • And averted:
      • The Star Kingdom of Manticore starts out as a single-system (but three-planet) star nation which is punching well above its weight class thanks to the Manticoran Wormhole Junction. Later events turn them into the Star Empire of Manticore. This was not Manticore's idea.
      • The People's Republic of Haven, at its height, is stated to have over three hundred star systems under its umbrella, most by forced conquest. One Meaningful Rename and dramatic governmental reorganisation later, it sheds over half of those, the rest remaining voluntarily and by their own request.
      • The Solarian League includes an almost uncountable number of star systems and is described, only partially ironically, as "the heir to all mankind's greatness". It's also so bogged down by corruption and bureaucratic red tape that it's essentially ungovernable, and by the time of the main story is falling apart at the seams.

    Live Action TV 
  • Most Planets on Star Trek are examples of this trope. When a planet isn't united, the Federation basically considers it to be in a state of civil war. Earth throughout most of its history was presumably in civil war, and (except for some arguable periods of peace) continued to be at least until around 2150 AD (almost nine decades after first contact with the Vulcans ironically enough) when the last holdout finally joined United Earth. Some Federation planets (such as Vulcan) have had Planetary Nations virtually into antiquity.
    • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Patterns of Force" a Federation scientist decides to unite the planet he's observing under one government - unfortunately, he concludes that Nazism is the best way to unite the planet.
    • One episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation had an aversion. The planet was ruled by two separate governments, the Kes(not to be confused with the character on Voyager) and the Prytt, who were engaged in a cold war with each other. The Kes were applying for Federation membership and Picard lampshaded this trope when he mentioned planets that join the Federation are usually unified. It's never said whether or not the Kes would be admitted but it's implied they won't be (though the implication is that the main issue is the Kes attitude towards the Prytt more than the technical fact of there being two planetary governments).
  • Usually played straight in Stargate SG-1, although in most cases this is because there's really only one or two settlements of note (blame the Goa'uld). Two exceptions are Langara, which has at least three major powers, and Tegalus, which has two, and in both cases each are in a Space Cold War with their neighbors.
  • Pretty much every planet in Doctor Who.
    • Galiffrey being a prominent example. Its only shown form of government if a counsel that tried to get the Doctor on trial and much later try to destroy the entire universe.
    • However averted in the first story set on another planet. Before the events of the story, Skaro was a world of two nations, the Thals and the Dals, who nearly wiped each other out in an atomic war. Averted another 3 stories later with "The Keys to Marinus", where there are various areas of the planet.

    Tabletop Games 
  • While single planetary governments are the norm in Traveller, balkanization is common enough that the Third Imperium (a very loose interstellar government) allows limited intraplanetary warfare, so long as they keep it to one planet and don't resort to nukes.
  • Usually the case for human inhabited planets in Warhammer 40K. The Imperium is so large that any given planet is usually ruled by a single governor (how he's chosen varies from planet to planet). They're usually given full control of their planet and left alone, as long as they pay their tithes and don't show signs of sedition (and they don't call for help, although that's usually less effective at getting someone's attention).

    Video Games 
  • Taris from Knights of the Old Republic seems not only be a planet with one Government, it seems to be a planet of one city!
  • This is a requirement to exit the Civilization stage in Spore to move onto the Space stage. Same goes for every other galactic empire out there, though they often have more than 1 planet; also Uprisings only happen for entire planets.

    Western Animation