->''"You know, there's something I just don't understand. You're always telling me that space is big, that it's an endless frontier, filled with infinite wonders. If that's the case, you would think there'd be more than enough room to allow people to ''leave each other alone''."''
-->-- '''Joseph Sisko''', ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' ("A Time to Stand")

The Cold War! [[RecycledinSpace Recycled in SPACE!]] Considering it lasted about 45 years, the UsefulNotes/ColdWar massively influenced speculative fiction and fantasy work during and after that period.

Metaphors and analogy about [[FantasticNuke nuclear weapons]], [[BalanceOfPower superpower rivalry]], [[RedScare communism]], [[LensmanArmsRace arms races]], etc. therefore were common.

Note that this is not entirely without rational foundation, a technology capable of interplanetary (or even moreso) interstellar travel necessarily involves energy levels and destructive possibilities on a grand scale. MutuallyAssuredDestruction is quite plausible in a war between space-faring powers, making scenarios at least akin to the Cold War not entirely unlikely. To avoid such destructive confrontations, the powers involved may resort to engaging in {{Proxy War}}s instead.

Please note this entry is limited to exterior settings inspired by the UsefulNotes/ColdWar and not stories that explicitly involve the actual Cold War. Despite the name, however, it's ''not'' limited to examples set in space -- any fictional setting will do.

See also EnforcedColdWar and LensmanArmsRace.

Subtrope of FantasyConflictCounterpart.



[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/PrincessPrincipal'' has a Steampunk Cold War. Albion, an alternate-universe Great Britain, has been divided by a revolution into the Kingdom in the east and the Commonwealth in the west. In a clear analogue to Cold War-era Berlin, the [[TheGreatWall Great Wall]] separating the two nations runs very close to the royal capital of London, which has become the battleground of both nations' spies.

[[folder: Comics]]
* Long stretches of the "Great War" are described as this in ''Comicbook/TheTransformersIDW''. Veterans mention centuries long armistice periods where both sides simply planned for battles that only lasted a few hours.
* The early years of ''ComicBook/JudgeDredd'' had an uneasy peace between Mega City One and the Sov Block. They have a "war" (actually a televised BloodSport in which the winner is given territory) during the Luna-1 arc, but until the outbreak of The Apocalypse War, it's treated as a Cold War type scenario. Afterwards, it goes back to being that again, with Dredd sometimes teaming up with Sov judges though ''Day Of Chaos'' was a Sov plot.

[[folder: FanWorks]]
* In the FusionFic ''Fanfic/{{Renegade}}'', this is the state of affairs between [[Franchise/MassEffect the Citadel]] and [[VideoGame/CommandAndConquerTiberianSeries the Global Defense Initiative]]. It's less antagonistic than most cold wars, but GDI and the Citadel are at serious odds due to GDI's outright refusal to adhere to Citadel laws regarding dreadnought production or AI tech. Not to mention GDI's attack on the Batarian Hegemony....
* This state of affairs lasted for about two thousand years in the backstory of ''Fanfic/{{Game Theory|LyricalNanoha}}''. During the Dawn States era, none of the major powers ever committed their full forces against one another, for fear that another rival nation would take advantage of the opportunity. And then a SuccessionCrisis in the Belkan Empire escalated into civil war, which shattered the balance of power and led to the aptly named Warring States era.
* This trope forms the backbone of ''Fanfic/ShepherdOfTheStars''. Though both sides are technically allies, tensions between the [[VideoGame/SwordOfTheStars Orion Arm]] and [[Franchise/MassEffect Council]] have been high for decades. As the story unfolds, the Cold War slowly starts thawing until both sides are prepared to attack the moment they have an excuse.
* ''Fanfic/SuddenContact'': Per Blizzard Entertainment's fond use of DividedWeFall, it can be best described that it is almost everyone against everyone in the Post-Great War era. The main driving conflict is between the [[Franchise/MassEffect Turian Hierarchy/Salarian Union]], and to a lesser degree, the [[VideoGame/StarCraft Terran Dominion/Kel-Morian Combine]], respectively.
** The Batarian Hegemony is closely allied to the KMC and loathed by the Hierarchy, Union, and Dominion.
** The Salarian Union see the Dominion and KMC as useful pawns in their soon-to-be war against the turians.
** The Union and Dominion are supporting the Irune Ultranationalists, who they share a mutual grudge with against both the Hierarchy and KMC, respectively.
** The Umojan Protectorate is technically allied with the Dominion, but their relationship is deteriorating once the truth of Tarsonis is revealed.
** The Independent Terran Systems Alliance has major distaste for the Dominion and KMC, especially the latter for practicing piracy and slavery.

* The first two ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' novels have a cold war going on between the Star Kingdom of Manticore, and the People's Republic of Haven, that has been ongoing for half a century before the first story starts (The war goes hot halfway through the third book). Several recent books concern about the Cold War between the Mantico-, ahem, Grand Alliance and Solarian League, which became hot rather quickly thanks to [[spoiler:[[TheManBehindTheMan Mesan Alignment]] manipulating [[UnwittingPawn the League leadership]] behind the scenes and]] [[WhatAnIdiot the League's bosses' own stupidity]].
* ''Literature/{{Embedded}}'' has a Cold War ongoing between the NATO-style United Status and the Warsaw Pact-style Central Bloc. It's mostly identical to the original Cold War, except that the two powers are more opposed politically instead of ideologically. Also, thanks to the vast room available on the hundreds of colony worlds, the two factions aren't brought into conflict very much.
* A significant portion of the ''Anime/LegendOfGalacticHeroes'' falls into this, as by beginning of the series the centuries long war between TheEmpire and [[TheFederation the Alliance]] generally devolved into the Cold-War-with-occasional-skirmish mode and it took the rise of Reinhard and Wen-Li -- the eponymous Heroes -- to the top of their respective societies, for conflict to intensify again.
* Urras in ''Literature/TheDispossessed'' is in the midst of a cold war intentionally reminiscent of the real one, with the players being the liberal, parliamentary republic A-Io and the socialist totalitarian regime Thu. When a war breaks out, they don't attack each other but rather help different sides of a conflict in the underdeveloped country of Benbilli, which bears a suspicious resemblance to [[UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar Vietnam]].
* Creator/CJCherryh's ''Literature/AllianceUnion'' has one with three factions: Sol(Earth)/Alliance/Union. All are capitalist, though it is noted that Union citizens mostly descend from eastern block.
* In the Franchise/StarTrekNovelVerse, the [[Literature/StarTrekTyphonPact Typhon Pact vs the nations of the Khitomer Accords]]. Six previously antagonistic races, the Breen, Gorn, Tholians, Tzenkethi, Romulans and Kinshaya, formed new galactic superpower the Typhon Pact, which is a rival to the United Federation of Planets. The Federation responded by expanding their alliance with the Klingons to also include the Ferengi and the Cardassians, while also courting the Talarians. Now there are two large political blocs competing politically, economically, and technologically. They've even had their Cuban Missile Crisis in the novel ''Brinkmanship''. Basically, the entire franchise is built around a Cold War.
* Leonid Kudriavtsev's novel ''Agent of the Star Corps'' takes place during a ceasefire between two galactic power blocs: humans and their allies, and the vicious Radnits and their mercenaries. Interestingly, the brutal war preceding the ceasefire is specifically referred to as the Massacre. The only reason for the ceasefire is to rebuild and replenish the ranks before starting another Massacre. Meanwhile, both sides heavily engage in typical Cold War activities, such as espionage and subterfuge. The novel itself deals with Mikhail Brado, a [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Star Corps agent]], who arrives to a planet in the Radnit sphere of influence (i.e. the planet's corrupt government is deep in the Radnits' pocket). Shortly after that, he finds his partner murdered in his hotel room and must flee, as a planet-wide manhunt is declared for him. Brado must use his training, as well as his contacts, sleeper agents, and drop sites on the planet in order to evade capture, discover why his partner was killed, and escape back to human space with his findings. Oh, and there's a [[BountyHunter Sniffer]] on his tail, who has an uncanny ability to see through any disguise and can also seemingly escape any deadly situation unharmed.
* ''Franchise/SentouYouseiYukikaze'' features a 30+ years long cold war between the United Nations' expeditionary force the Faery Air Force against the [[InscrutableAliens JAM]]. It was once a hot war when [[AlienInvasion the JAM tried to invade Earth]] but has now settled into a cold war, complete with a LensmanArmsRace and a long stalemate. A huge plot twist in the novels ([[AdaptationDistillation not the anime]]) was that [[spoiler: the JAM never knew humans existed until very recently, which meant humanity was the proxy victim of a war that the JAM thought they were fighting against our computers and technology.]]
* In Creator/StephenBaxter's ''Literature/{{Proxima}}'', [[ChinaTakesOverTheWorld China]] and the [[UnitedNationsIsASuperpower United Nations]] get into one at the turn of the 23rd century over the latter's refusal to grant the former access to [[AppliedPhlebotinum kernal technology]]. [[spoiler:It goes hot in 2213, and when China attempts to [[NoMacGuffinNoWinner destroy the kernals altogether]] via ColonyDrop the result is a [[EarthShatteringKaboom Mercury-Shattering Kaboom]] and a [[ApocalypseHow sterilized Earth]].]]
* Explicitly played out in Creator/PoulAnderson's "Kings Who Die", in which a proxy war is being fought across the inner solar system between Western and Soviet space forces in order to prevent a larger-scale war on Earth itself.
* An example with SufficientlyAdvancedAliens in the ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' series. Two essentially godlike beings, Ellimist and Crayak, have been locked in a struggle to respectively sustain life or destroy it since roughly the time of the dinosaurs, but [[MutuallyAssuredDestruction if they ever actually fought one another directly they'd destroy each other and take the entire universe with them]]. This forces them to act through proxies in ways small enough to avoid the other's notice.
* In ''Literature/TheExpanse'', both the book series and [[Series/TheExpanse TV adaptation]], it's shown right from the start that this has been the standard relationship between Earth (now [[UnitedNationsIsASuperpower unified under the United Nations]]) and Mars (an independent former colony). Both are struggling for influence over the resource-rich colonies in the Belt, and have a long-running distaste for each other. Things escalate and destabilize as the series goes on, due to such things as the [[YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters Outer Planets Alliance]] trying to make the Belt colonies an independent power in their own right, several conspiracies by [[NGOSuperpower corporate powers]], and most importantly, [[spoiler: the discovery of a sentient alien technology]].
* Books two through six in the ''Literature/KrisLongknife'' series (which only cover a couple of years in-universe) have a cold war between two rival blocs of planets: United Sentients, led by Wardhaven (which is ruled by Kris's family: her father is Wardhaven's prime minister and her great-grandfather Ray is appointed king of the alliance at the end of book one), and the Greenfeld Alliance/Empire, ruled by the Peterwald family. Their dispute is primarily a [[FeudingFamilies family rivalry]] that goes back several decades, and takes the form of a series of {{Proxy War}}s that tend to involve Kris wandering into a Greenfeld-backed coup attempt and foiling it. [[spoiler:At the end of book six, Kris finds a way to bury the hatchet with Vicky Peterwald and foils an assassination attempt against her father Henry, leading to a low-level EnemyCivilWar in Greenfeld space from a purge of their StateSec and a thaw between Greenfeld and U.S.]]
* Creator/JimButcher's ''Literature/TheCinderSpires'' begins with a cold war between Spire Albion and Spire Aurora that is based roughly on various Age of Sail interbellum, mainly the Anglo-Spanish conflicts in the Caribbean (with touches of the Napoleonic Wars) but in a [[TheSkyIsAnOcean sky-sailing setting]]. Captain Grimm is a {{privateer}} for Albion when the war goes hot.

* Multiple cases in the ''Franchise/StargateVerse'':
** The Asgard and the Goa'uld prior to ''Series/StargateSG1'', whose relations are governed by the Protected Planets Treaty. This treaty forbids Goa'uld invasion of certain worlds, and requires that the Goa'uld as a whole stop any rogue Goa'uld from doing so, but simultaneously acknowledges that humans exist to be hosts for the Goa'uld, and thusly are to have limited technology so as to never pose a threat to the System Lords. When Jack O'Neill questions why the Asgard stand for such a thing, and why they even allowed the Goa'uld to gain such power in the first place, Thor explains that the treaty is actually a complete bluff. The Asgard are so occupied fighting the war with the Replicators that they do not have the resources to actively combat the Goa'uld, forcing them to accept this "peace."
** The planet Langara prior to "Homecoming" was engaged in a cold war between the three dominant superpowers. When two of those superpowers ally in "Shadow Play," the third, Kelowna, launches a preemptive strike with a naquadria bomb. This terrifies all combatants enough to prevent further hostilities until [[spoiler:Anubis arrives in "Homecoming" and renders their internal conflicts moot]].
** In "Icon", the cold war on Tegalus between the Rand Protectorate and Caledonian Federation is disrupted by SG-1's arrival, which allows a religious extremist faction to rise up in Rand, eventually overthrowing the government and starting a war which reduces most of the continent to rubble. The SGC helps the Rand loyalists regain control, but the international tensions remain into season nine's "Ethon", when the Ori give the Rands a KillSat. [[spoiler:[[DownerEnding The two sides ultimately wipe each other out.]]]]
** The ''Series/StargateAtlantis'' episode "The Game" centers around what the SGC contingent at Atlantis thinks is a computer game left by the Ancients. In reality, they're controlling ''actual countries'' on [=M4D-058=] ([[NeglectfulPrecursors it was an Ancient sociology experiment]]), and have created a cold war that's on the brink of going hot.
** This is set up in ''Series/StargateUniverse'' as a background plot. With the power vacuum following the collapse of the Goa'uld Empire and the devastation caused by the Ori, Earth and its allies finds itself vying for power with the Lucian Alliance, an interstellar criminal syndicate. Several ''Universe'' episodes show that the Lucian Alliance is becoming a serious opponent, with post-Goa'uld humans advancing just as rapidly as the Tau'ri (the pilot has two Lucian Alliance Ha'taks proving themselves to be a challenge to the latest Tau'ri battlecruiser) and using infiltration and subterfuge to undermine Earth. Also, Earth is fighting with one hand tied behind its back, since the vast majority of the population has no idea that aliens are even real.
** In the post-Atlantis novel ''Homecoming'', it's stated that Earth currently only has 4 functional starships: ''Daedalus'', ''Odyssey'', ''Apollo'', and ''George Hammond'' (formerly ''Phoenix''). With the ''Korolev'' destroyed by the Ori and the ''Sun Tzu'' out of commission for the foreseeable future thanks to the Super-Hive, the Tau'ri are seriously lacking in available ships, and no new hulls have been laid down due to the global economic crisis. By contrast, the Alliance has plenty of old Goa'uld warships to refit and use for their own purposes.
* The basic concept has featured in ''Franchise/StarTrek'' between the Federation and multiple alien races at different times:
** The Klingons in ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'' were outright metaphors for Soviet expansionism. TheFederation was the idealistic, peaceful Western (read: American) society. The Klingons took up the loud, arrogant, warrior stereotype of the Russians, while particularly in ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' the Romulans assumed the sinister, backstabbing, espionage/sabotage-laden stereotype of the Soviet Union, especially the Tal Shiar, which was the KGB in disguise. In an extremely apropos metaphor, the Klingons and Romulans switched from being allied to at war to being allies again at the drop of a hat. The Romulans also have their similarities to the Chinese, the secretive and testy on-and-off allies of Soviet Russia, and their relationship with the Vulcans - same species that broke into two factions - mirroring the state of Asian countries divided between communist and capitalist halves - mainland China and Taiwan, North and South Korea, North and South Vietnam, etc.
** ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' opened in the middle of a cold war between the Federation and the Cardassian Union that started with the Cardassians acting covertly to subvert the peace treaty between them, arming proxies on Bajor and in the Demilitarized Zone. Beginning in season two this was overshadowed by the Dominion engaging in an intelligence war with the Federation in preparation to invade, which ultimately took the form of them installing a puppet state in Cardassia as a foothold to conquer the rest of the franchise's home space.
** ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' featured a TimeTravel cold war called the Temporal Cold War. Interestingly, the incipient Federation played the part of the Third World in this conflict, being used as a pawn between two secretive factions who were neither of them the ''nice'' guys, even if one was the "good" guys. A future version of the Federation was ''at least'' one of the sides of this rather confusing, and clearly not thought entirely through, cold war.
* The ''Series/DoctorWho'' stories "The Armageddon Factor", "Timelash".
** Also "Frontier in Space," in which a third party[[note]] The Daleks, anyone surprised?[[/note]] is provoking a (second) war between the humans and their enemies, the Draconians.
* ''{{Series/Farscape}}'' is set against the backdrop of rapidly rising tensions between the Peacekeepers and the Scarran Empire. There's even a superweapon arms race analogue of sorts in the form of wormhole technology, which both sides are eager to acquire and only one man in the galaxy knows the secrets of. The war finally turns hot in the miniseries.
** The reason the war turns hot is because Scorpius, who has been place in command of a border fleet, assumes the hostilities will start any day now, and decides to strike first and deal a decisive blow to the Scarrans. The Grand Chancellor is, naturally, angry, as he doesn't believe that the Peacekeepers can win the war. Scorpius is, effectively, GeneralRipper in this regard, similar to rogue generals in many UsefulNotes/ColdWar-era novels.
*** Interestingly, his tactics actually do nearly win the battle. The only reason the battle is lost is because Scorpius orders his command ship to retreat when he finds where Crichton is and the rest of the fleet to cover them. As a result, only his ship makes it out.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** The early seasons have an ongoing cold war between the declining Centauri Republic and the aggressively expanding Narn Regime, owing largely to their shared history (the Centauri previously enslaved the Narn, before being forced off by a rebellion). Though it began with the Centauri being the more sympathetic party, by the time it turns into a shooting war in the second season, revelations have turned it into a case of GrayAndGrayMorality.
** The major driving cold war in the series is the Vorlons and the Shadows, who seem to have an agreement to fight the war primarily through proxies amongst the younger races. Sheridan forces the Vorlons to turn it into a hot one... and then both sides start to blow up planets, [[spoiler:which forges an alliance among the younger races and other {{Precursors}} that ends with them forcing both Vorlons and Shadows to leave the galaxy]].
** After Babylon 5 secures its independence from [=EarthGov=] following the extremely unconstitutional and fascist actions taken by [[PresidentEvil President Clark]], they essentially go into a cold war period that lasts for the next season. Sheridan and his forces are busy dealing with the Shadows and Clark is trying to further secure his power base on Earth. Once the Shadow War ends, this turns into a propaganda war. The cold war ends when Clark commits his worst atrocity, having his ships fire on refugee transports resulting in the murders of 10,000 innocent civilians, [[ThisIsUnforgivable enraging Sheridan into beginning full armed conflict]].
** The backstory has the centuries-long cold war between the Centauri Republic and the Orieni Empire, at the time the major powers among the Younger Races after the Minbari-and with the latter already isolationists, the only real obstacle to complete control of local space. The Centauri were fine with the state of being, as while their technology was slightly inferior in most areas it was improving faster than the Orieni's and they also had more territory and the greater economy (both of which fed into the faster technological improvement), so they expected to eventually become strong enough to be able to quickly overrun the Orieni... Then, right as the Centauri were about to develop ArtificialGravity (the biggest advantage the Orieni had over them), they realized the Orieni were equipping Drazi raiders with advanced weapons by catching them in the act, causing a conflict so devastating entire worlds were razed as ''collateral damage'' before the Orieni power was shattered, with the victorious Centauri starting their path to decline due the devastating losses suffered and the conflict paving the way to a civil war.
* ''Series/TheManInTheHighCastle'': Between Germany and the Japanese Empire in this alternate universe, as they are the two victorious superpowers of World War II who both possess nuclear weapons that could destroy the whole world. They are officially still allies but are wary of the other's intentions. It is predicted by high-ranking members of both governments that when the terminally ill Adolf Hitler dies, it will escalate into full-blown warfare. [[spoiler:Throughout season 1 a faction within the German government led by Reinhard Heydrich tries to usurp power from Hitler and launch a nuclear war against Japan, but this plot is eliminated at the last second.]]

[[folder: Tabletop Games]]
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Traveller}}'' the Imperium is in a cold war-like state with the Zhodani on the Spinward Frontier, and the Solimani Confederation on the Rimward.
* Five way in ''TabletopGame/EclipsePhase'' between the [[OneNationUnderCopyright Planetary Consortium]], Autonomist Alliance, [[BananaRepublic Jovian Republic]], Lunar-Lagrange Alliance, and Morningstar Constellation. The main impediment to open warfare being the expense of physical space travel, or lack of excuses for war in the Consortium and Constellation's case[[note]]the Consortium's constitution allows member states to secede, and the Constellation did so.[[/note]]
** Also note that the Consortium is a Corporatocracy while the Autonomists are a mix of anarcho-capitalists, [[CreatorsPet anarcho-communists]][[note]]not an oxymoron, robots and {{Matter Replicator}}s handle logistics[[/note]], democratic communists, and interplanetary gypsies.
* This is the basic relationship between the Imperium of Man and the Tau Empire in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}''. In the mid-8th Century M41 the tau demonstrated during the Damocles Gulf Crusade that man for man, they're at least as competent at warfare as the Imperium. In the long run, the Imperium would win a campaign to wipe out the Tau, but it would require committing more forces than are present in the Damocles Gulf, which would mean stripping other regions of the galaxy of Imperial military resources, and there is too great a risk other threats to the Imperium would use that to gain a foot. Conversely, the Tau recognise that if they provoke the Imperium too much, the humans may decide the benefits of exterminating them outweigh the costs. So for the past 250 years or so the two empires have only fought what amounts to a series of border skirmishes (one planet changed hands seven times before the tyranids ate it), and both sides are also pragmatic enough to [[EnemyMine ally in the face of mutual enemies]] such as the necrons and tyranids.

[[folder: Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic'': The setting for the game, is a cold war that was established, when, after invading TheRepublic for decades, [[TheEmpire the Sith Empire]] sacks their capital, and forces them to sign a peace treaty. The Empire's motivation for signing the treaty, which gives the empire a bunch of strategically insignificant worlds, is a great mystery, and the Emperor disappeared soon after it was signed. This cold war brings the idea of an arms race to it's logical conclusion: planet destroying weapons, besides the usual proxy conflicts and special forces operations. Both sides are positively chopping at the bit for the war to go hot again, and the facade of peace breaks down over [[ThreeActStructure the three acts]] of each of the game's eight class story-lines.
** Interestingly, the novel ''Deceived'' reveals that the original goal was to ''destroy'' Coruscant with orbital bombardment, as there was no way for the Empire to hold it before the Republic took it back. The peace talks were originally just a distraction. However, at some point, the Emperor inexplicably decides to sue for a ceasefire, using Coruscant as a bargaining chip. Naturally, not all Sith are happy with this outcome.
** Turns out, the whole idea was {{Invoked}} by said Emperor. He wanted the whole galaxy wiped out, except for him, [[AGodAmI so that he could rebuild it all to his liking.]] What better way than to force the two biggest superpowers into a ceaseless, galaxy-spanning war of attrition where a body count in the ''trillions is all but guaranteed?'' Oh, and he embezzled the war spoils of The Empire to his "side project" Eternal Empire in Wild Space that was unknown to ''everyone'' until both factions were weak enough for him to bust out said side project and crush them both.
* ''[[VideoGame/{{X}} X3: Terran Conflict]]'' has a cold war between the Earth State ([[PlanetTerra 'Terrans']]) and their 700 year old LostColony, the Argon Federation. The Terrans are paranoid that the Argon are dabbling in [[AIIsACrapshoot artificial general intelligence research]], and the Argon fear the Terrans' extremely advanced technology. ''Terran Conflict's'' main plot follows some of the events that set off the [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge war]] that takes place in the expansion pack, ''Albion Prelude'', when the Argon blow up the jewel of the Solar System, Earth's [[RingworldPlanet Torus Aeternal]] and sic artificially intelligent fighters on Earth's fleet. This war ends up being a ShaggyDogStory: as the Argon push the Terrans back to the inner planets, the [[{{Precursors}} Ancients]] shut the whole jumpgate network down and trap everyone in the entire X-Universe where they are.
* Played with in ''Videogame/BattleZone1998'', set in the late [=1960s=] [[AlternateHistory of a different history]] of Usefulnotes/TheSpaceRace. On Earth, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union are as they always have been: tense. However in space, [[TheGreatestStoryNeverTold a secret war is raging]] between the Nation Space Defense Force and the Cosmo Colonist Army over control of the alien [[ImportedAlienPhlebotinum Biometal]] that allows incredibly powerful technology (such as {{Hover Tank}}s) to be constructed [[RidiculouslyFastConstruction in seconds]]. The Apollo moonshot missions were merely a cover-up for the US to begin shipping soldiers to the Moon; Apollo 11 is within walking distance of a massive military base on the other side of a hill.
* ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerTiberianSeries'': This is a possible interpretation of the relationship between GDI and Nod between games. It's not a straight example since both sides are still Earthbound, but it fits if you interpret the trope broadly as "fictional cold war".
* ''VideoGame/EscapeVelocity'':
** Despite being a declared war, the fighting between the [[TheEmpire Federation]] and the [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy Auroran]] [[TheAlliance Empire]] in ''Nova'' has devolved to this, with frequent border skirmishes. Reason being, the last time the war went full-scale, both sides struck far behind the lines and millions of innocents died, forcing the combatants to devote the bulk of their forces to HomeGuard duty. Every main storyline but the Pirate one[[note]]the least conclusive overall -- there's a hint in one of the storylines that the purpose of the player showing up is to nudge humanity towards unification, which ultimately happens as a result of every storyline except the Pirate one, which just puts a rebel faction in a slightly better position[[/note]] leads to the end of the cold war, one way or the other -- although it [[GameplayAndStorySegregation isn't represented in-game]].
** ''Override'' has a similar situation approached from the opposite side -- there actually ''is'' a peace treaty between the United Earth and the Voinian Empire, but outside Pax Station (''literally'' outside -- the system sees regular skirmishes), no-one seems to actually care about it (in fact, if it wasn't for Pax Station it wouldn't even be known there ''was'' a peace treaty, since the reasons given on both sides for not making major offensives are all practical). The Voinian storyline ends with the Voinians thinking they have a project they're sure will bring humanity to its knees but won't involve a human in, while the United Earth storyline has the player act as the catalyst for a broader anti-Voinian alliance that helps the UE push the frontier closer to Voinia (WordOfGod made clear that ''Override's'' mutually exclusive storylines all happened, just not with the same human pilot involved in all of them, and that the Voinian war-winner project was the Voinian Dreadnaught -- of which you blew up the first one before it even reaches UE space earlier in the UE storyline, buying time to think up counters).
* The sequels to ''VideoGame/{{Elite}}'' (the ''Frontier'' series and ''Elite: Dangerous'') feature a cold war between the democratic Federation (centered around the Solar system) and the absolutist Duval Empire (centered around Achernar). They do not battle each other directly with huge starfleets (this is a cold war, after all), but you can sign up for an espionage or sabotage mission for either, or [[PlayingBothSides both]], as a deniable asset. You'll be awarded with money, ranks, titles and military decorations.
* ''VideoGame/TacticsOgre'': This is happening between Lodis and Xenobia, complete with using Valeria (itself resembling Yugoslavia after the death of Josip Broz Tito) as a proxy battleground.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'': Rozarria = NATO, Archadia = Warsaw Pact, Nethicite = Nuclear Weapons, Dalmasca = any country that got a proxy war in it such as Korea and Vietnam. This game could even be viewed as what would happen if during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Cuba was researching ancient magic that would let them mass-produce even more nuclear weapons. All in all, this is why so much of the plot of the game is about politics and faction leaders while your party tries to get an edge in on the coming conflict Rozarria and Archadia both don't trust the other to back down and don't want to do so themselves for fear of appearing weak, and while Archadia's nethicite research is allowing them to acquire more and more power, Rozarria is itching to seize the chance to make the first move before Archadia can. [[spoiler:This is why the game's climax centers around stopping the battle between Archadia and the Resistance, because it's the chance Rozarria has been waiting for and if they get involved the dreaded world war will begin.]] This game's plot was written by [[CreatorThumbprint the same]] [[Creator/YasumiMatsuno guy]] who wrote ''Tactics Ogre.''
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'':
** This is essentially the relationship that has developed between the Systems Alliance and the Batarian Hegemony. The Hegemony completely withdrew from Citadel controlled space, due to the perceived slight that the Citadel Council were playing favourites and giving Humanity worlds and systems to colonise that rightfully belonged to the Batarians. The only thing that has prevented the conflict from breaking out into interstellar war is that the Batarians are painfully aware that even if the Council races didn't get involved, the Alliance has them far outgunned.
** This ''was'' the initial relationship between the Turian Hierarchy and the Systems Alliance, due to the brief First Contact War leaving a lasting enmity between the two superpowers. By the start of the first game, this has lessened into more of an EnemyMine situation, where the two are reluctantly willing to [[TeethClenchedTeamwork work together]], before evolving into FireForgedFriends over the course of the second and third game.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Xenogears}}'', Shevat and Solaris have officially been at war for centuries, but they are locked in a Cold War-like status quo because both use the superior "gate" defensive technology that prevent any side from dealing significant damage to the other.
* The real conflict in ''VideoGame/PerfectDark'' is not between the [[HeroesRUs Carrington Institute]] and [[{{Megacorp}} dataDyne]], but rather [[TheGreys the Maians]] and [[TheReptilians the Skedar]]. Earth itself is considered [[InsignificantLittleBluePlanet a backwater]], and the only reason the Skedar have even bothered to take an interest in Earth is because they're losing the war against the Maians but have learned about the existence of a LostSuperweapon under the ocean that was left behind by a third alien race [[{{Precursors}} who are long gone by now.]] To compound matters, humanity isn't considered a player in this war; the Skedar plan to activate the weapon on Earth just to ''test'' it, and if successful, then they'll deploy it against the Maians.
* There's a Cold War going on in the background of ''VideoGame/WindChildBlack'', between the Tceitchkan Imperium and the Kingdom of Thibasene. It's been going on for decades, and there are occasional border skirmishes and spy deployments, but nothing overly violent. [[spoiler: one of the antagonists wants to turn the Cold War hot so he can take over the Imperium.]]
* Arguably the situation of ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'', both The Alliance and the Horde are continent-spanning superpowers, never completely at ease with eachother due to a ''long'' history of grievances. WordOfGod even refers to it as a Cold War.
* Part of the universal, pre-route-split backstory of ''VideoGame/FireEmblemFates''. Hoshido and Nohr had always struggled with tense relations, but Hoshido's king being murdered brought things to a cold war, kept there only by each side having a royal of the other held hostage. The prelude of the game breaks the balance, and the BigFirstChoice happens just as the war turns hot.
* Cold War is a possible conflict situation in ''VideoGame/SwordOfTheStars''. Empires at cold war cannot enter each others' territory without declaring full scale war (with the accompanying diplomatic ramifications), but fleets meeting in neutral territory will result in a firefight.
* Declaring Rivals in ''VideoGame/{{Stellaris}}'' is essentially this. Declaring a rivalry gives you a bonus to influence, which is essential in extending your borders. Notably, your rival doesn't have to reciprocate, which can lead to a situation where your ships in Rival Territory could still move about until said rival responds by declaring you a rival (or at the least, closing borders).
* TheEmpire of Mor Ardain and the Kingdom of Uraya have been in a tense standoff for years as of the start of ''VideoGame/XenobladeChronicles2''. There's a DMZ called Temperatia between the two, and with Indol controlling [[EmpathicWeapon Blade]] distribution, they're helping prevent the the situation boiling over. [[spoiler:Not even the "pro-war" faction of Mor Ardain actually want a conflict, since the Ardanians are being aggressive due to a resource crisis and armed victory would be Pyrrhic at best, but Torna have [[FalseFlagOperation other ideas]]...]]