Obedience is Law
"To plunder, to slaughter, to usurp, they give the lying name of empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace."
The Evil Counterpart
to The Republic
. The Foil
to The Kingdom
. The Shadow Archetype
to Hegemonic Empire
. The Rival
to The Federation
. The Logical Extreme
of the Rising Empire
The Empire's defining Grand Ambition
) Domination. Amassing The Evil Army
, it sets out to conquer all of its neighbours and be the sole superpower by force of arms
. Taking cues from history, it often resembles the historic Roman, German, British, Russian/Soviet, or Chinese empires in some way
. Led by The Emperor
, who is usually also an Evil Overlord
, Emperor Scientist
or God Emperor
or by some kind of theocratic cabal
. A theocracy of a Religion of Evil
will almost certainly be the Empire.
If the Empire is not Obviously Evil
, it may represent itself as the Lightbearer of Civilization, Defender of Faith, Domain of Law and Order, The Co-Prosperity Sphere, Central State of Humankind or Legitimate Regent of Humanity. People's Republic of Tyranny
may overlap with these titles. The Empire may be genuinely highly civilized, wealthy, organized, and/or vital, or corrupt, bureaucratic, sybarite and/or ossified. It may be militaristic and imperialistic, or pacifistic and turned inwards.
Of course, there's going to be some kind of Resistance
movement within its borders, and small autonomous nations without who may need encouragement by the heroes to become The Alliance
. They may also be helped by Les Collaborateurs
. There may also be one or more powers that oppose it, often kingdoms
, which may or may not band together into The Alliance
. The Empire is usually too strong to defeat militarily (unless the story is set in a war strategy video game), but taking down the leaders while they're instigating their sinister plan is usually enough. Or La Résistance
may well turn out to be nothing but a treasonous clique to overthrow the government or dynasty and replace it with something even more cruel and brutal
, or a nationalist or racist separation movement.
If the Empire and The Federation
exist in the same universe, the two are usually at war, just recovering from a war, or dangerously close to getting into one (the latter two often coincide). If The Republic
is a separate entity alongside The Federation
, you'll usually find them taking shots at one another prior to forming a pact against the Empire; they could've been longstanding rivals, they might view the other as
the Empire, or they might've been pinned against each other by
the Empire. If The Kingdom
is in the same universe, expect the Empire to occupy it (at best) or assault it (at worst); The Kingdom
could've been neutral ground, the original head/proposer of The Alliance
, or a simple victim of the Empire's bid for dominance. If the Empire is part of The Alliance
, you can make a good bet for it being the Token Evil Teammate
Note that just being called an Empire is not sufficient to qualify a nation for this trope
. Especially in a Heroic Fantasy
setting, other types of empires abound, often based on the Holy Roman Empire (and occasionally a more sympathetic take on the actual Roman, British, or Chinese Empires). These types of empires may be better described as an expansionist kingdom
, a militaristic federation
, a nationalist republic
, or a more centrally controlled alliance
Weakened or weakening versions of the Empire often become Vestigial Empires
. If the Empire has been overthrown or mostly overthrown but what's left of it is fighting to get back into power, it's The Remnant
. The Empire tends to have its Standard Evil Empire Hierarchy
For works named Empire
, see this disambiguation page
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Anime & Manga
- The Wandenreich in Bleach.
- Britannia in Code Geass.
- Zaibach in Vision of Escaflowne.
- The Gundam metaseries has several examples:
- The Principality of Zeon in Mobile Suit Gundam. Despite the misnomer (the head of state's official title was Sovereign), it practised all the human rights abuses and genocidal tendencies seen in any given "Evil Empire". The twist, however, is that they played the victim card throughout and made it seem like they were forced to declare war on the Earth Federation to gain their independence; in fact, the One Year War is known as the Zeon War for Independence on their side. And if that wasn't bad enough (since when does one invade other countries to declare secession?), the truth of the matter is Side 3 was already an independent republic under the previous founder Zeon Zum Daikun, the same man that the Zabis (specifically the patriarch Degwin) assassinated to subvert the Republic of Zeon into a totalitarian absolute monarchy. Overall, the Principality of Zeon is definitely the "evil empire" of the Gundam universe, in spite of having legions of diehard fans that would say otherwise.
- The Zanscare Empire of Victory Gundam which was bigger, stronger and more brutally oppressive then even Zeon was - their main goal was a total cleansing on the Earth Sphere (presumably so that their Jovian backers can move in) by telepathically devolving humanity to a general infantile state. Notably, execution (such as by guillotine) was a standard punishment for failure in their ranks.
- The Crossbone Vanguard and the Jupiter Empire of Gundam F91 and Crossbone Gundam. The Crossbone Vanguard was essentially a pirate themed Zeon-wannabe militia which sought to establish an aristocratically ruled dominion in Side 4, Cosmo Babylonia. Unlike Zeon however, it actually succeeded, but Cosmo Babylonia ended up collapsing on its own. Beside them, the Jupiter Empire, being more or less a precursor to Zanscare, sought to eradicate all life in the Earthsphere and then rule over the resulting wasteland. It also practiced many of Zanscare's tendencies, such as executions being commonly used for punishment, even for the most minor of crimes.
- OZ, and latter White Fang of Gundam Wing play this role. OZ overthrew the corrupt United Earth Sphere Alliance so the world could be ruled by the aristocrats of the Romefeller Foundation, and then stamped out even minor rebellions through overwhelming force (namely in the usage of Mobile Dolls). To counter them, White Fang was formed in order to free the space colonies from their influence... by plotting to devastate the Earth with the space fortress Libra.
- ZAFT / PLANT of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. While they do have reasonable cause to go to war with the Earth Alliance, they tend to get pretty dirty - creating a energy crisis, troops murdering POWs, and generally being ruthless in battle. And it get's worse when the radical faction takes over the leadership and escalates the war.
- The Earth Alliance isn't any better, they are lead by a group called Blue Cosmos who have no qualms of using nukes to destroy PLANT colonies, and want to destroy PLANT just because they're Coordinators.
- The Human Reform League in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, rival to the Union and AEU, and seems to be based on both Communist China and the Soviet Union. Out of the three superpowers, the HRL seems to be the worse behaved: Human experimentation on refugee children, supporting a militant group to gain control of Ceylon. They're also the most antagonistic towards Celestial Being. On the upside, the League managed to avoid the worse excesses of Zeon.
- And with Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, the Vagan have since joined the ranks of Gundam's many empires. Unlike most Gundam villain groups, the Vagans actually have a sympathetic reason backing them up: their nation began from Martian colonists who had been abandoned by the Earth Federation of the Advanced Generation universe and forced to endure living in a radioactive environment, resulting in much suffering and death. As such, the main drive for the Vagans is to escape their hellhole and return to Earth; unfortunately, they also want to exterminate Earth's native population along the way, as they see them akin to a disease that plagues their "Eden". And so just like the Zeon before them, the Vagans have no qualms committing genocide left and right, deliberately targeting civilian areas, even colonies and settlements with no Federation military presence, just For the Evulz.
- CONSENT from G Saviour. They're pretty much what happens if you combine the Earth Federation with the Principality of Zeon.
- An aversion of this trope is the Lyzelle and Elmekia Empires of Slayers. The latter isn't even visited in-series (although it's stated that it's Gourry's homeland), while the former holds two cities, one being a peaceful, bustling epicenter of trade, and the other is an otherwise peaceful village that hosts a magical tree with healing properties and gets blown up twice. If there is an evil country among in the Inner World, it's its only duchy, Kalmaart, home of the one city where a dreaded assassin lives, and (only in the novels) a village that worships the world's Dark Lord.
- Amestris in Fullmetal Alchemist. It's stated that over the past 400 years, Amestris has conquered numerous nations, and is currently at war with Aerugo, Creta and Drachma. The Amestrian government is currently planning to use the entire nation in a transmutation circle to raise an immortal army using the slain souls of the numerous soldiers who have died over the years in a plan to conquer its remaining neighbors. Or rather, this is what Father has led the Amestrian government to believe. In reality, it's the crux of his own bid for godhood.
- The Holy Empire of Glass Fleet, led by Vetti Sforza, complete with the goal of becoming the One World Order.
- The Humankind Empire Abh from Crest of the Stars. Their mode of operation is to forcibly take over planets that do not have faster-than-light travel, though oddly they do not interfere with those planets which have purchased the technology from others. In the novels this is explained by the fact that their empire began on an interstellar merchant ship, and that they still respect "vested rights". They do not seem to be overtly oppressive towards the planets they control, but they do not allow any starship not owned by the Empire to be armed or use faster-than-light travel technology. Then there's the fact that only the "space elves" in charge are able to command warships, though this is due mainly to their physiology, not overt racism.
- Information from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS Sound Stage X portrayed Ancient Belka as this. It was a powerful civilization with superior magic and technology that took over other worlds, until infighting and the Lensman Arms Race led to the destruction of their world and most of their civilization, with its remnants moving to an autonomous district in Mid-childa.
- The Hellas Empire from Mahou Sensei Negima! is a partial subversion, since the war was actually orchestrated by Omnicidal Maniac terrorists. However, they made it look like the empire started it, and the heroes fought legions of imperial soldiers and warships until they learned of the conspiracy.
- The Galactic Empire in Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Subverted insofar it's not actually that much worse than The Federation, especially after Reinhart becomes de facto ruler, rids the empire of the Deadly Decadent Court, and reforms the system to become more friendly to commoners.
- "Everyone will become one with Russia"
- The Kushan Empire from Berserk.
- This is the Methuselah's form of government in Trinity Blood.
- Played Straight, then subverted in Zoids: Chaotic Century with the Guylos Empire. They get the fancier equipment and the more villainous characters who seek to sow strife, but while initially an antagonizing force, it is discovered that it is mostly through the manipulations of the high-ranking nobleman Gunter Prozen that caused war to break out and, once the rightful ruler is returned to power, the Guylos Empire becomes a vital ally to the heroes and a more benevolent force. It keeps the name "Guylos Empire", however.
- The Digimon Emperor in Digimon Adventure 02 manages to conquer a good chunk of the Digital World, enslaving it's inhabitants via mind control rings. Once Ken undergoes a Heel-Face Turn, his empire effectively ceases to exist.
- The American Empire/Imperial Americana from Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed.
- Russia in Nikolai Dante.
- The Eggman Empire in Sonic the Hedgehog, named after Dr. Eggman.
- The Negation. They even rewrote the laws of physics!
- Empire. Full stop.
- Water & Power in Tank Girl, corrupt corporate conquistadors.
- The Colonisation Industrial Companies in Universal War One.
- The Skrull and Kree Empires from the Marvel Universe.
- The Shi'ar Empire has mostly been an aversion, Depending on the Writer and on the perspective of the characters. To the X-Men, the Shi'ar Empire has mostly been an ally (except for when they're dealing with a corrupt official or a mad emperor), but to the intergalactic rebels/pirates the Starjammers they were definitely the Empire.
- Sonic the Comic has The Drakon Empire ruled by Master Scholar head of the House of Knowledge, Sister Haggra head of the House of Magic and Emperor Ko-Dorr head of the House of War, also the creators of Chaos energy.
- MRA Trilogy's "Intergalactic Femnazi Empire", lead by the Asari and Reapers. Suffice to say, it's a major case of informed villainy, they're not seen doing anything wrong and in fact seems a relatively pleasant place to be, being only disliked by the Poe's Law subjected Straw Misogynist protagonists.
- Vakudos from Hottie 3: The Best Fan Fic in the World certainly runs the Midnight Cage and his chain of over 150 conquered alternate Earths like one. His title is "Emperor" for crying out loud.
- The Empire of Darkness in Hottie 4: Even Better Sequel
- Queen Of Shadows: In the new reality Jade finds herself in, she's Queen of a Shadowkhan Empire that's slowly conquering Japan one island at a time — they've already taken over Shikoku, and are in the middle of conquering Kyushu when the story starts.
- There's also Shendu's Dragon Empire, which has conquered about half of China and a portion of Southeast Asia. Though apparently, the Ben Shui Chosen One is keeping him from advancing westward.
- Fallout: Equestria and its Expanded Universe has the Pegasi Enclave, which rules Cloudsdale with an iron hoof and which emerges from seclusion to conquer the Equestrian Wasteland as well.
- In the Pony POV Series, the Shining Armor Arc reveals the existence of the deer-dominated Hooviet Empire, a thinly-veiled expy of the Soviet Union (with elements of 1984 for flavor), which serves as Equestria's greatest rival. As it turns out, the Empire was supposed to collapse decades before the current story, but when the Shadow of Chernobull escaped its can, it — in the form of Makarov — altered reality and history to fulfill the Hooviets' desires to keep the Empire alive and vital. When he/it is eventually erased by the Blank Wolf, all the changes made to reality are undone, leading to a world where the Hooviets collapsed on schedule, dissolving into numerous free states, much like its real world counterpart.
- Sonic X: Dark Chaos: The Demon Empire is an autocratic and top-heavy Hegemonic Empire that rules half of the entire universe. The Angel Federation is the only thing keeping the Empire from ruling all of it. Slavery is legal (although heavily regulated) and Demon law is both harsh and unbending. Despite all of it, it's considered the closest thing to a unified culture the universe has; nearly every world uses Demon kredits, even if they live far on the frontiers.
- Ages Of Shadow: Under Boaz's leadership, the Shadow Walkers emerge from hiding to begin carving out a kingdom in the Middle East known as the Himinate (after Boaz's title, Himinion). It expands for several decades, until King Cheherazad, backed by Persia, manages to take down the Shadow Walkers' leadership, scattering the remainders.
- A Brief History of Equestria has the Griffon Empire and the Mongrellian Horde, both of which collapsed by the time of the Warming. And then a couple of generations later, Talonhoof the Reviled took control of the remnants of both by force and fused them together into a single massive nation, which he then led in a war of extermination of Equestria.
- In the Hasbroverse, the Griffin Kingdoms reformed as the Griffin Empire. Two of the kingdoms broke away before that happened and joined Equestria; Gilda and Gustav's families are both from those regions.
- The Galactic Empire from Star Wars. In the Star Wars Expanded Universe it continued to fight the New Republic for years, losing ground. Then, in the Hand of Thrawn Duology, Supreme Commander Pellaeon made peace between the Imperial Remnant and the New Republic.
- The Confederacy in CSA: The Confederate States of America. First, they conquer the North. Then, they conquer all of Central and South America (Truth in Television, as that was the Confederate's plan if they had won the war), as well as the Caribbean. Then, as an Axis country in World War II they conquer Japan. A throwaway line suggests they've recently done the same to the Middle East.
- The Necromonger Empire of The Chronicles of Riddick serves as an example of an empire that travels from place to place, and doubles as a Religion of Evil.
- One Nation Earth in the Apocalypse film series by Cloud Ten Pictures. The design of their logo is based on the Eye Of Providence pyramid design of the Great Seal of the United States.
- The United Citizen's Federation of Starship Troopers is this, being a Federation In Name Only. Their supercilious self-image just means they have to conquer the Klendathu Arachnids as revenge, who would actually qualify as the Empire themselves if they weren't the ones being invaded at the time.
- The dreaded Ko-Dan Armada waiting beyond the frontier of the Star League in The Last Starfighter.
- The upcoming G.I. Joe: Retaliation will have America become this after Cobra has Zartan become the President of the United States. This means that G.I. Joe will become La Résistance with the help of Joseph Colton.
- The Persians in 300 are elevated into a dark realm built upon mass slavery and imperial deification, and are out to conquer Greece because Xerxes apparently just felt like it. Mostly they're an endless horde of Mooks for the Badass Army of the Spartans to fight, with the occasional monster ninja and demonic executioner here and there.
- The Confederacy in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The vampires effectively control the south, using the slave system as an endless supply of food. With Adam's death and the end of the slave system, the empire collapses and most of the vampires flee the country.
- Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning: when Pirk recreates the P-fleet by conquering Earth with the help of the Russian president and advanced technology, he quickly disposes of the president and titles himself Emperor. However, his "glorious rule" then takes a swan dive, as the new empire seems more concerned with building a Space Navy than worrying about the people. They also find out that, being unable to reverse-engineer the FTL drive means that they're stuck in the Solar System without any other habitable worlds to conquer.
- The Radch in Ancillary Justice. Its economy is structured around a state of constant expansion, its populace is monitored constantly (though on a planet it's unlikely someone will be paying attention to an ordinary person at all times), dissidents get "reeducated", and it has a habit of turning people on newly absorbed worlds into meat puppets for their AIs at the slightest excuse.
- The Aztec empire in El Conquistador, from the Argentinan Federico Andahazi
- Kalpa Imperial it's about the cyclic empire that goes through endless circles of birth and destruction, with good and ad emperors, an endless dispute with the Savage South, war periods, and such.
- Mordor and its client states (Harad, Umbar, Rhûn, and Khand) ruled by Sauron, in The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.
- Morgoth's empire in The Silmarillion.
- Saruman attempted to set up one at Isengard, but failed.
- Númenor, especially at the end of the Second Age. Númenor began as The Kingdom, but transmuted into the Empire - and was mighty enough to even conquer Mordor and humiliate Sauron.
- In David Wingrove's Chung Kuo series, the world is run by the Seven and called Chung Kuo.
- The Galactic Empire in Isaac Asimov's Empire and Foundation novels is a state which has already achieved this goal in the distant past - by the end of the Foundation series, the Foundation is on its way to achieving the same. Partially subverted in that Asimov doesn't treat these either of these political entities as overtly villainous.
Asimov's Empire is explicitly modeled on The Roman Empire, and the Foundation's therefore bears some resemblance to Byzantium, the Greek-centered "Eastern Roman Empire" that lasted a thousand years longer - but not exactly, as it was set up specifically to reestablish the Empire within a single millennium.
- In the Empire series, only one novel (Pebble in the Sky) has the Galactic Empire. The Currents of Space has the Trantorian Empire, which is the same polity as the Galactic Empire but before it had grown to cover the entire galaxy (it's still not presented as overtly villainous). The Stars, Like Dust has the Tyranni, a relatively small empire of some fifty worlds, who are presented in a villainous light, although not entirely unsympathetic
- Although the Terran Empire in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover novels didn't start this way, by the time of its collapse it was a full-blown example of this trope.
- The Barrayaran Empire and the Cetagandan Empire of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga both qualify at any point they're feeling expansionist. Barrayar's at the peak of one, and starting to slide down, during Shards of Honor and Barrayar, but by the time of The Warrior's Apprentice, it's mostly caught up colonizing a new world (one it didn't have to conquer; it was uninhabited by sentient species) and helps fight off the Cetagandans, who are still messing about. By A Civil Campaign Cetaganda's calmed down too.
- Persian, Ottoman, Hapsburg, and Chinese influences all show up in the Imperium of the Dune novels. While it doesn't receive a villainous portrayal (indeed, the heroes run it in some books), it doesn't exactly receive a heroic one either. It appears mainly as a status-quo form of society that keeps working because it's what the characters can build in their circumstances (particularly the civilization's dependence on the Bene Gesserit and Spacing Guild, who both rely on a natural resource found only on one single planet).
- Tanya Huff's short story "A Woman's Work" showed a well-maintained, organized and competently led empire, all thanks to a Queen who very clearly has the Evil Overlord List memorized (the story plays it for a comedy, with some direct references to the list).
- The Gurkish Empire from The First Law, complete with a Path of Inspiration.
- Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time introduces the Seanchan Empire as a civilization with its stability dependent on enslaving natural
sorcerers channelers, and a universal delusion that the slave-masters are not themselves capable of channeling. Aside from the slavery and aristocracy, their strong socialist policies make them fairly popular among the conquered.
- The slave-master part is partially justified as if they hadn't ever had a slave, they would be incapable of channeling.
- Shara is another empire nearly as big as Seanchan on the opposite side of the world; it's mostly alluded to throughout the series without really being described, but supplemental materials paint of picture of an extremely insular, oppressively regimented society that's arguably even harsher than Seanchan, though far less expansionistic. In the last book, one of the Forsaken shows up at the Last Battle with a Sharan army in tow.
- The Eastern Empire in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series. A mild subversion, as the Empire is only evil at the top levels of the bureaucracy - when the armies wash over your country and start building roads, adequate housing, and utilities, most people figure they know what they're doing and don't put up a fight.
- Mijak in Karen Miller's Godspeaker Trilogy.
- The Empire in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle, which consists of a single country ruled by a king.
- One of the few "bad" things in Marge Piercy's Mary Suetopia in the novel Woman on the Edge of Time is that they still have war, and their agrarian, utopian society is fighting a war of attrition with an evil technocratic, cyborg, robotic empire. But, they must not be doing too bad, since while their utopia takes up most of the Earth, the evil empire is resigned to Antarctica, space, and the moon.
- The CoDominium (CD) in Falkenberg's Legions by Jerry Pournelle. Technically The Alliance, consisting of the United States and the USSR, the CD becomes an interstellar empire, with Earth's nations really disliking the Alliance. It's also collapsing, because the US and USSR still hate each other.
- Eventually the CoDominium military forces leave the Earth when the USA and USSR blow each other to pieces (and other nations join in), to relocated on the planets Sparta and St. Ekaterina, where they found a full-bore aristocratic empire of their own. The last line of 'The Prince of Spartans' is "AVE. AVE LYSANDER, IMPERATOR".
- Inverted, played with and otherwise Deconstructed in the Honor Harrington series. Manticore may finally revel in some good old-fashioned imperialism, but that doesn't stop them from being the nice guy of the series, while alleged Federations are either corrupt bureaucratic monstrosities that are falling apart at the seams (League), or alternate between that and bloody tyranny (Haven). Although Haven has gotten a lot better lately. You can make a pretty good case that are now as much the "good guys" as anyone else. Right now the only reason they're fighting Manticore is over a really big misunderstanding (details would be a major spoiler). Indeed, the only true black in the series now are the people behind genetic slavery — everyone else is various shades of gray.
- In C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, Calormen is a subtle instance. First introduced in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as "a wise, wealthy, courteous, cruel and ancient people," they are also so heavily into the slave trade that the Duke Bern predicts war with Calormen as a result of Caspian ending slavery in the Lone Islands. Although this war is apparently averted (it is not mentioned in The Silver Chair), the prequel The Horse and His Boy details Prince Rabadash's attempt to conquer Archenland, with a long-term eye on Narnia, some thousand years before. The curse on Rabadash is explicitly described as making life easier for small countries nearby, as he cannot conquer them himself, and is afraid of the power generals would amass if they did so for him. Of course, as The Last Battle details, Calormen does eventually conquer Narnia, but their triumph is short-lived.
- Both subverted and played straight in The Malazan Book of the Fallen. The Malazan Empire is aggressive and expansionistic, but they're not evil. In fact, in the third book one of the leaders of the forces fighting against them comes to the conclusion that many of the cities they'd conquered were better off under the Malazans than they had been under their previous rulers. The Letherii Empire, on the other hand...
- And the Pannion Domin, a theocracy of cannibals, is worse than Lether, to the point that most of the Domin is dead wasteland with only the fringes still supporting life. Fortunately, its also the smallest and least powerful of the three major empires of the current timeline (Malazan, Letherii, and Pannion Domin).
- The Malazans may not be "completely" evil, but they are far, far from a strict subversion of this Trope, with their conquering and assimilating every single tribe that they encounter into their own religion and way of life is pretty damn evil. However, as is said above, their enemies are Not So Different.
- Played straight and subverted in Mistborn: The Original Trilogy. The Final Empire controls the whole world and is a truly terrible place to live but its leader, rather than being power-mad, is a Well-Intentioned Extremist trying to protect mankind from an Omnicidal Maniac. After killing him and throwing the world into chaos, the heroes wind up having to create an empire of their own to stand up to the real Big Bad.
- Inverted in David Weber's Safehold series, where the Empire of Charis is created by the protagonists. This is done out of survival since the Church of God Awaiting was trying to annihilate Charis and has been preparing steadily for another go after the first attempt failed. The Harchong Empire from the same series plays it straight though, as it practices outright slavery.
- The Dark Empire of Granbretan in Michael Moorcock's Hawkmoon books.
- The Medes in the Queen's Thief books.
- The Hrum Empire in the Farsala Trilogy, which was based on Ancient Rome.
- The Imperial Order in the Sword of Truth. Richard himself also inherits the D'Haran Empire, and starts adding to it. His is a good version. It's also an example of The Magocracy, since the ruling Rahl dynasty were magic-users.
- In Robert E. Howard's "The Hyborian Age", the Back Story to Conan the Barbarian, Aquilonia's greed for conquest destroyed the Hyrkanians even though their civilization was flourishing.
- In "The Scarlet Citadel," Conan is lured into a trap so that an empire can extend itself by annexing Aquilonia.
- The Wasp Empire in Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt series.
- The Global Community in the Left Behind series. Christ's Millennial Reign in Kingdom Come only gets viewed as this by the Other Light faction due to the 100 years of age limit for unbelievers imposed on the "naturals" who enter or are born in this time period.
- In The Chathrand Voyages, two of these form the center of the storyline; Arqual is fairly progressive and cosmopolitan, but also aggressively expansionistic, while its Arch-Enemy the Mzithrin is an insular, theocratic regime. Neither empire is exactly what you'd call "nice"- we see more of Arqual's oppression of its subject peoples up close (because many of the main characters are Arquali or from Arquali-occupied territory), but the Mzithrin have the dubious distinction of producing the Shaggat Ness.
- The Kingdom of Witchland and its many vasall states in E. R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros.
- An Exercise in Futility has the Kalharian Empire. They aren't so bad, really, provided they conquered you a long time ago.
- David Eddings has played with the concept. The Belgariad and related works has the Tolnedran Empire, which is one in name only, in order to concrete its similarity to Rome, and the Mallorean Empire, which in the first series is nothing more than a source for countless cannon fodder and in the sequel is expanded and explored in greater depth, revealing a rich and diverse multiculture who almost universally serve the Big Bad only because they're forced to, and are freed from his grip by the end of the series without any major political upheavals. The Tamuli, sequel to the unrelated Elenium series, explores the Tamul Empire in a similar way (except without the cannon fodder-providing empire role in the first series — that role was served by Zemoch, which thoroughly collapsed when it lost both its immortal (and only) emperor and its god at the end of The Elenium).
- The Empire of Nilfgaard in the Witcher series. An expansive power ruled by an iron-fisted emperor which routinely uses terror tactics against the enemies' populace, it is also the place of flourishing economy where Trains Run On Time, scheming wizards are rare, and there is less racial prejudice or religious fanaticism, though an occasional coup d'etat does happen.
- The Earth Alliance in the History of the Galaxy series, despite the name, had all the makings of an empire. The President ran things by himself and didn't need anybody's permission to declare an all-out war against the colonies, justifying that they needed to offload extra population (a single city on Earth is mentioned to have a population of billions) and the colonies wouldn't go fo it (they never actually asked the colonies outright). Their way of subjugating a colony? No declaration of war, although the sudden nuking of two major cities probably counts as one, followed by an invasion. When the invasion is unexpectedly repelled, the fleet admiral has the planet so thoroughly nuked that it remains uninhabitable for the next 1000 years. What follows is the First Galactic War, with the Free Colonies desperately trying to hold their own against the much more advanced and militarized Earth Alliance. After 30 years, the colonists finally manage to defeat the Alliance, and only because one of the Alliance top brass has decided that the war should end and turned off many defenses in the Solar System.
- The Harammins had their own empire, including two slave races. However, they deliberately contained themselves in a large star cluster, never expanding, remaining static for nearly 3 million years with rulers suffering from Immortality Immorality.
- Not long after the end of the First Galactic War, there was an attempt by a small power on the fringes of human space (calling themselves the Stellar Caliphate) to take advantage of the post-war situation and establish an empire of their own. They nearly succeeded, and even then they were only thwarted by former soldiers of the defeated Earth Alliance. The newly-minted Confederacy of Suns didn't believe that there ever was a threat and would likely have fallen under the onslaught of the Muslims on a holy mission.
- A non-evil variant in Harry Turtledove's Worldwar with the Race, to the point where they can't conceive of any other form of government but absolute monarchy. This belief is further reinforced by the two previous races they subjugated, also reptilians. So when they arrive to Earth (which they call Tosev-3), they are baffled by (among many other things) by the wide variety of forms of government present on this planet. The only word they can come up with these forms of government in their language is "not-empires". Voting is derisively called "snout-counting". The Race have a Manifest Destiny-like belief on a galactic scale. They see their Emperors as ruling the entire galaxy (if not universe) by divine right. Their "evilness" can be described with the glee they express when they slaughter human soldiers or drop nuclear bombs on cities. They only reason they hold off on using nukes is because they don't want to damage the planet, which they want to settle. They're also highly hypocritical.
- Magravandias in Storm Constantine's The Chronicles of Magravandias.
- Every major power is an Empire in Belisarius Series. The difference is not between Evil empire and good "something besides empire", it is between "that's just how humans arrange their affairs empire", and "Really evil empire".
- Fred Saberhagen's The Empire of the East is about the war between the Free Folk and the titular empire. This one is one of the more thoroughly evil examples.
- The Yeerk Empire in Animorphs, complete with conquered planets and slave races.
- The Enterran Empire from The Diving Universe. The main character, Boss, keeps claiming that she doesn't have any particular desire to come into conflict with it; but the events of the novels cause her to keep butting heads with it again and again, and things seem to be inevitably marching towards all-out war.
- Weavers of Saramyr: The Saramyr Empire, starting out as an expansionist monarchy, complete with genocide.
- In Poul Anderson's "Time Lag", Chertkoi, which ruthlessly seizes planets to exploit. Though they argue for it on the grounds their population needs the resources, they also regard it as Might Makes Right.
- Age of Fire: The Ghioz empire, under the rule of the Red Queen, is the primary threat in book four, Dragon Strike, as the Queen attempts to Take Over the World. And she comes pretty close, too.
- The Dragon Empire, based in the Lavadome, has controlled most of the Lower World since before the series started. And after Ghioz's downfall, the Copper engineers the creation of the Grand Alliance as a means to condition the hominids of the Upper World to willingly serve the dragons and thus expand the empire under the pretense of peaceful coexistence and unity.
- Timothy Zahn's Blackcollar has the alien Ryqril Empire that has recently conquered the Terran Democratic Empire. Not much is known about the latter, but the former is a typical tyrannical empire that freely uses "scorched earth" tactics (basically, destroying what they can't take) and employs More Than Mind Control to condition loyal human subjects. It's pretty much stated that the only reason La Résistance is even mildly successful is because the Ryqril are busy conquering yet another race. However, it's outright stated at the end of the first novel that the titular team has to be careful not to prove too much of a nuisance for the Ryqril, lest they pull back some of the forces engaged on the front lines to utterly crush La Résistance.
- The Sirian Empire in Eric Frank Russell's Wasp. While technologically behind the Terrans, they outnumber us 12-to-1. The novel focuses on spies (called "wasps") being sent to Sirian worlds to start sabotage and information wars to disorganize the planets before the Terran fleet arrives to invade.
- The Human Empire in Sergey Lukyanenko's Line of Delirium is about a century old, having been formed during the Vague War against pretty much every alien race. Despite great odds, the Empire managed to win (some alien character wonder how this could be since Humans Are Average). While not the strongest interstellar power, it is definitely up there, especially after the formation of the Trinary Alliance with the Bulrathi and the Meklar (two of humanity's fiercest enemies during the war). Emperor Grey has ruled since forcing the previous inept (and unnamed) government to hand control over to him. While it's definitely an empire, there are also some elements of The Federation as well, with most worlds having a lot of self-governance. In fact, during the events of the novels, the Emperor remains mostly hands-off, preferring the Empire to run itself (i.e. why mess with what works?). Thanks to the aTan technology, Resurrective Immortality is possible for the richest few percent. Not only does this mean that Grey can rule forever but that many of the best and the brightest need not die of either natural or unnatural causes (the Silicoids complain that aTan has skewed the Balance in humanity's favor)). The second book features an example of the dark side of the Empire (no pun intended). When a border colony attempted to secede several decades prior, the Emperor sent the Space Navy to force its submission, while secretly assembling a volunteer force to travel ahead of the fleet and massacre the population. Also, in the first novel, when three Imperial planets were invaded by the fast-breeding Sakkra, the Emperor had the three colonies undergo Orbital Bombardment with meson charges, making them uninhabitable, then proceeded to drive the Sakkra to extinction.
- Also from Sergey Lukyanenko, the Human Empire in Genome. While it's certainly a powerful interstellar nation, it's about evenly matched by the Czygu. Should a war break out between the two empires, one would be utterly destroyed, while the other one would become a Vestigial Empire. However, there are indications that the Empire is already showing signs of decay. Few in the outer fringes even know the name of the current Emperor.
- Again from Lukyanenko, the State in his Seekers of the Sky duology is descended from the Roman Empire that has never collapsed in this Alternate History. It dominates most of Europe and has colonies in Africa and the Americas. The Possessor is The Emperor, ruling from the State's capital in Lutetia (Roman name for Paris). The State is not inherently evil, although the Possessor can be ruthless at times. All the other major powers in this world are empires as well, even if not all of them are called thus. Besides the State, we have the Russian Khanate (think Russia + Mongolia), the Chinese Empire (the most technologically-advanced nation), and the comparatively weak Ottoman Empire. There's also the far-off Aztec Empire, but it's barely referenced, only that there are occasional conflicts between the Aztecs and the State's colonies in the Americas.
- An interesting variation in Vladimir Vasilyev's The War for Mobility story arc. The villainous Shat-Tsur Empire are former slaves of one of the members of The Alliance. While this would normally lend them a measure of compassion, the fact that they are not merely retaliating for the years of slavery but are determined to dominate the galaxy (not to mention slaughtering over 70% of their former masters, many of whom are innocent) using the enormous armada they have assembled under everyone's noses means they fall squarely into this trope.
- A variant in Terry Brooks' Shannara series, wherein the group that calls itself The Federation is actually The Empire. Originally a coalition of Southland city-states, The Federation swallows up the Eastland, Westland, and Borderlands prior to the Heritage Of Shannara quartet, then spends the next several centuries fighting to keep them. A proudly racist state that believes wholeheartedly in the superiority of humanity, The Federation are used as dupes by The Shadowen, The Morgawr, various Demon lords, and every other supernatural villain coming down the pike.
- In the series Acacia, The Acacian Empire who deal in slavery and drugging the population as well dealing in black magic in the past. They're not the only evil empire in this book though and they're certainly not the worst...
- Several examples from Star Trek that The Federation encounters from the outside, like the Dominion and the Romulan Star Empire, and the Mirror Universe version of the Federation itself, the Terran Empire (insignia pictured above).
- The Klingon Empire in the original series qualified until they allied with the Federation. Prior to the Dominion War however, it temporarily reverted back to its original practices, namely with the conquest of Cardassia.
- According to some non-canon sources, the Terran Empire arose from the American Empire, which was originally a much more militaristic and strength-based United States, before Teddy Roosevelt renames it and crowns himself Emperor. Interestingly, unlike a typical monarchy, the title of the Emperor is not hereditary.note In fact, very few Emperors actually died of old age. Most were assassinated by those who then took up the mantle. Only one actually retired.
- The Cardassian Union is an imperial military dictatorship, run by several military officials in governing body known as the Central Command, rather then one Emperor. It is more similar to the USSR or Oceania then a traditional empire, controlled by a political body. The Cardassian Occupation of Bajor has shown the Cardassian Union to be particularly brutal.
- The Federation itself is compared to one in-universe, with several characters pointing out that despite their outward appearance of benevolence, there's something incredibly insidious about how they worm their way into situations and make it so that other races come to need them, while others point out how they're Not So Different than the Borg, since they assimilate all kinds of people and cultures while no-one even notices.
- The Alliance of Firefly, though since the main characters are all anti-heroes, it's suggested that from another point of view the Alliance might be considered The Federation. However, the Academy, which is a subset of the Alliance, is firmly on the side of evil.
- And then The Movie came and the Alliance crossed the Moral Event Horizon with what went down on Miranda. At least not until the Operative shows up on Serenity's dock with a Heel Realization to get off his chest, suggesting that even the Alliance has members too moral to tolerate that, and isn't unanimously 'evil'.
- The Scarrans and the Peacekeepers, mortal enemies in Farscape. They're both bad enough that Crichton feels that destroying the entire universe is a better option than allowing either side to gain supremacy over the other. The Peacekeeprs are a slight variation, though, since, by agreement with the other races, they are not allowed to control any planets. They are still a force to be reckoned with and are obsessed with racial purity.
- The Dalek and Sontaran empires in Doctor Who, along with basically any Empire. Subverted in the Classic Series with the Draconian Empire, which is more The Kingdom than anything else. The portrayal of the Earth Empire varies.
- The Federation in Blake's 7, despite the sarcastic name (its logo is the Star Trek Federation's, given a hard twist to the right).
- The Zangyack in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger.
- In Andromeda, the Nietzschean plan during their rebellion against the Systems Commonwealth was to form a strong Nietzschean Empire with the Drago-Kazov pride forming the ruling dynasty. However, during the last major battle of the war, the Battle of Witchhead, a large Nietzschean fleet (constituting 15% of their total strength at the start of the conflict) suffers heavy losses when they destroy the last High Guard ships (with some help from Hunt). No longer having a strong position, the Drago-Kazov pride is unable to stay in charge, reducing the unified Nietzscheans into a bunch of squabbling prides who are more concerned with power than creating civilization. Cue 300 years of total chaos.
- The Commonwealth itself originally started as the Vedran Empire before it became more egalitarian and switched to a republican form of government. This was mostly the result of necessity, as the Vedran Empire has grown so large that its client races began to vastly outnumber the ruling Vedrans. The conversion to the All Systems Commonwealth is likely the only thing that saved the Empire from collapse.
- In Stargate SG-1, the Goa'uld Empire was an evil empire in name only (the "empire" part, they're a proudly evil bunch). Territorially it was the most powerful grouping in the Mily Way Galaxy, but in fact it is deeply fractioned between numerous regional System Lords who constantly fight each other for supremacy and after the death of The Emperor Ra in the original movie any semblence of unity is long gone. This initially worked in the humans' favor so they could focus on taking out each threat one by one, but frequently one of the Goa'uld would emerge victorious over the others to fill the Evil Power Vacuum and attack Earth directly.
- The Coalition States in Rifts can be given a little slack for establishing order in the post-Cataclysm world... but not for enforcing illiteracy, destroying pre-Rift artifacts, and brutally hunting down and persecuting D-Bees, magic users, and psychics with chilling coldness.
- And Emperor Prosek's decision to consciously adopt Adolf Hitler as his role model really doesn't help. Although Prosek is not nearly so racist or anti-magic as he pretends. He just finds it useful for keeping the public simultaneously scared and ready to fight at his command. Also, the simple act of him successfully declaring himself "emperor" the Coalition States is in line with this trope, as they were originally more democratic than they are under his rule. This is a major source of tension between Chi-Town and Free Quebec, and also causes concern on the part of the New German Republic.
- Rifts is full of these, mostly ruled by monsters. Atlantis, the Gargoyle Empire, the Vampire Kingdoms, the Phoenix Empire, etc.
- The Realm of Exalted is a classic example.
- Warhammer 40,000 has two major examples. And those are, by comparison, the good guys.
- The Imperium of Man is notable for it's sheer scale, A million worlds and with a population in the quadrillions, it fights thousands of wars at any given moment, its soldiers number in the trillions, and it has existed for ten thousand years. One man, even the greatest man, is nothing, even the death of millions matters little in the Imperium.
- The Tau, who are also The Federation made up of many different races including human turncoats while the Imperium wipes out all alien life they find.
- Various Chaos Warlords (both human and not-quite-humans-any-more) also sometimes manage to carve out they're own mini-empires, usually numbering a few dozen or hundred worlds. These are either eventually crushed by an Imperial Crusade or collapse into anarchy because, you know, they're chaos...
- The Empire of Warhammer, on the other hand, averts this trope, being based on the Real Life Holy Roman Empire
- The Skaven fit the trope better, they have a massive underground empire that dwarfs the Empire, and all the other Old World nations combined. They have the potential of taking over the Old World, if they would put aside their Chronic Backstabbing Disorder for one minute and not try to eliminate each other while fighting their enemies.
- The Third Imperium of Traveller is more like The Federation with hereditary nobles than an example of this.
- The First Imperium when the Terrans contacted it in the Interstellar Wars(which is as far back as Traveller sourcebooks go) was a Vestigial Empire. The second was essentially the first following conquest by the Terrans but the size and senility of the first Imperium simply overwhelmed their bureaucratic resources causing the Imperium to collapse entirely almost as soon as the end of the Interstellar Wars.
- Greyhawk has the Empire of Iuz, while the Forgotten Realms has Thay.
- In the Points of Light Dungeons & Dragons setting, the empire of Bael Turath was most definitely this, even forcing their entire populace into a Deal with the Devil when the empire was in danger of collapsing due to their own decadence.
- Inverted in Anima: Beyond Fantasy with the Empire of Abel and the Azur Alliance -as well as before things got screwed up, when the Empire is described as a benevolent entity (at least for humans and not supernatural stuff).
- In BattleTech, the Draconis Combine fits this to a tee. In fact, it's repeatedly stated in the sourcebooks that the Kurita family (who rules the Combine) believes that it is their destiny to rule all of humanity one day.
- While the Star League acted like The Federation when dealing with the Inner Sphere its treatment of the Periphery states was less than charitable. They were conquered in a brutal invasion and then heavily taxed and denied a say in League policy.
- All of the Successor States are empires. The Draconis Combine is less subtle about it than the others, but all five are cut from the same ruthless cloth and are ruled by dynastic emperors. Their primary opposition, the Clans, are The Horde, and the closest thing in the Inner Sphere to a democracy, the Free Rasalhague Republic, which got conquered by Clan Ghost Bear, and the Outerworlds Alliance, which later merged with Clan Snow Raven. Though the Clan did allow Rasalhague to retain their parliament and Elective Monarchy, however Princes tend to be Ghost Bear Khans ever since they claimed Prince Ragnar as a bondsman.
- Recently Clan Wolf has renamed itself into the Wolf Empire thanks to an alliance with a branch of House Steiner, whom they later invaded.
- Microscope: One of the common basic structures for stories is the rise and/or fall of an empire.
- In Rocket Age the human superpowers are this to the rest of the solar system, especially the Nazis.
- Toa Empire from BIONICLE fits this trope. When Takanuva is sent into an Alternate Universe, he ends up in a world where Toa "protect" Matoran by forcing them under their rule and killing anyone who dares to object.
- Girl Genius: The Wulfenbach Empire, founded by Baron Klaus Wulfenbach during the chaos following the Other's reign of terror and based around the principle of "don't make me come over there!" Given that most rulers in the setting are Mad Scientists this generally means that Klaus is putting down a rebellion quite often, and few of them are good, possibly even the one our intrepid heroine finds herself forced into simply by being a lost heir to one of the more influential (and crazier) Spark families.
- The worst part of this is that the Wulfenbach Empire is the most effective government in the known history of Europa. The last Empire on its scale was the semi-mythical Storm King's domain centuries ago. In fact, after a two year timeskip in which the Wulfenbachs have lost most of their territory from rebellions, the Empire is thought of as a lost Golden Age and many fiefdoms suddenly finding themselves under attack beg to rejoin. All that after just two years.
- Homestuck: It's never seen in action being that the main characters are all teenagers, but the Alternian Empire from which the trolls hail was reportedly a formidable and dominating conquering force constantly at war across the universe, seeking to conquer and add more territories to its own. After hundreds - possibly thousands - of years of this, the Vast Glub and the meteor apocalypse on Alternia put an end to that.
- The Monster and The Girl: the Bright and Glorious Empire of One Hundred Galaxies
- Last Res0rt has the People's Republic of Celigo, which is allied with the Star Org (and it's up for debate which half is really in control).
- In Nip and Tuck Show Within The Show Rebel Cry, the Federation is an Empire.
- The Order of the Stick: Elan's father Tarquin not only controls his own three-pronged empire, but he uses his understanding of the world's narrative structure to deduce that it MUST succeed for a significant amount of time...or else there would be no drama in a lone hero opposing it someday!
- The Souballo Empire from Our Little Adventure is probably going to be the main antagonistic force of the comic.The adventuring group is about to get on a boat to the continent where its holds a huge foothold.
- In Sinfest, Slick grumbles this, and Monique points out they can be rebels.
- The Grand List of Console Role Playing Game Clichés sums it up rather eloquently in the last rule of politics: "Kingdoms are good. Empires are evil."
- Tech Infantry has several factions, both human and alien, that occasionally or always fit this trope. The Earth Federation was determined to be the only government of the human species, and aggressively expanded at the expense of various alien empires, who were trying to do the same to them. Then they get replaced by the Middle Kingdom after one faction finally wins the seemingly endless human civil war, and they are even worse in this department. Various alien empires, from the Arachnids to the Jurvain also fit the trope.
- Decades of Darkness has the *USA and the Brazilian Empire.
- In the Chaos Timeline... well, since this is a realistic (hi)story, it's a question of your POV. The New Roman Empire, the German Technocracy and others might all qualify.
- Open Blue has two rival empires, Avelia (A mix of Imperial Spain and Great Britain) and Sirene (Imperial Germany), and a Vestigial Empire, Yaman (Imperial Russia). The Back Story features the Iormunean Imperium, a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to Ancient Rome, as precursors armed with weapons blessed by their god who suffered a Götterdämmerung. Ironically, the three present empires are all part of a larger Federation, the Axifloan Coalition.
- The Galactic League of Extraterrestrial Exploration from Starship
- The Enforcers of the Plot Continuum, the PPC's Evil Counterpart, are dedicated to multiversal conquest and apparently already rule large sections of their multiverse. On finding out about the prime multiverse, it's been hinted they've now set their sights on it.
- The Sith Council and The Galactic Empire are modern factions in The Gungan Council that have the most planets out of any other faction.
- Pixiv Fantasia I: Aizerun. The empire holds an ideology that basically amount to fantastic fascism. A country of Beastmen used to exist in its southern territory. Used to.
- The Fire Nation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It's even All There in the Manual that they're conquering the world for the same reason real empires did: they industrialized first and now need resources.
Originally, Firelord Sozin (Ozai's grandfather who started the war) wanted to spread the Fire Nation's culture and prestige all over the world by establishing illegal colonies on the Earth Kingdom's land. After the genocide of the Air Nomads due to Sozin's fear of the reborn Avatar his descendants suffered extreme Motive Decay and more than a little Sanity Slippage.
- There is a strong amount of irony in the Fire Nation being The Empire, though. It may be the most militaristic, but it's citizens aren't oppressed, it's the only region at the time to have women in the military, it's the only region where the ruler seems to rely on and respect a woman (in this case Ozai with his daughter, Azula) and while other regions use stones or bending to get around and are overall ridiculously set in old and outdated ways, the Fire Nation is technologically advanced.
- The post-war Earth Kingdom in The Legend of Korra has traits of an empire, being the largest nation there is. It is ruled by the previous Earth King's evil and tyrannical daughter, Hou-Ting. Unlike her predecessors, the Earth Queen's rule is more centralized, though she still relies on the Avatar to collect shipments of taxes from villages outside Ba Sing Se. After her assassination, Kuvira spent three years bringing order to her chaos-ravaged land under the orders of the United Republic of Nations, only to strike out and form her own Earth Empire.
- The Irken Empire on Invader Zim.
- ThunderCats and ThunderCats (2011) reveals that the Cats' civilization, though initially presented as The Kingdom, has become this, through a belief that Cats Are Superior, and serious cases of Future Imperfect and Written by the Winners. Though not straight-up evil, it's clear that militarism, Animal Jingoism, Fantastic Racism and a Fantastic Caste System are all a part of everyday life. So while it's a nuanced take on the trope, one can easily have mixed feelings when the Lizards and Mumm-Ra destroy it.