Your heroes have been working themselves to the bone. Victory is in sight! But what's this? [[TheEmpire Oppressive]] forces [[TheOmniscientCouncilOfVagueness outside their control]] have [[ShootTheShaggyDog undermined their plans]].

Typically the work of a StrawmanPolitical racist or sexist or some other kind of narrow-minded bigot. The heroes have failed through no fault of their own, but rather due to factors in the world beyond their control which are largely a problem with their society. Expect a DownerEnding with a possibly {{Anvilicious}} [[AnAesop message]] about the real-world social ills that [[AuthorTract motivated the author]] to write this. Alternatively there's a message of redemption where the heroes manage to overcome the otherwise insurmountable obstacles. In this case it becomes an inspirational story. In either case, the villains tend to be treated more as a [[VillainByDefault general group]] to be avoided/overcome/defeated/etc. than [[VillainDecay one man who has problems with the heroes]].

Historical settings can frequently find [[JustifiedTrope justification]] without objections from the audience, but more modern settings tend to garner objections from the demographic being portrayed badly. When done well and properly thought out, a good case of fiction mirroring life can prompt change. MoralGuardians tend to be involved either way.

This may or may not involve TheMan himself.

Compare with {{Glurge}}, where it's the villains or pitiable background characters who meet this fate- the heroes are safe in siding with the morally upright side.


[[folder: Film ]]

* The French film ''Film/{{Z}}'' does this well, portraying the work of an unnamed junta taking power in an unnamed European country... but the Greek government that prompted the movie's creation is always mentioned in the same sentence when the film is described. In this regards it is similar to ''Missing'', by the same director, which is set in Chile, though never stated, and they even mention a few of the cities (including Santiago and Valparaiso). A similar film is ''It's Raining On Santiago'', except that was explicitly about the 1973 military coup d'etat in Chile.
* Most, if not all, of the works of Creator/SpikeLee fall under this trope.
* {{Parodied}} in ''Film/UndercoverBrother'', in which there really ''is'' a '[[TheMan Man]]' who is keeping African-Americans as second-class citizens and controls a [[GovernmentConspiracy massive secret organisation]] devoted to this purpose. Also parodied with 'Conspiracy Brother', a parody of black activists who often goes on rants of this nature; however, he's also spectacularly ill-informed, liable to fly off the handle at the slightest provocation and construe ''[[EverythingIsRacist anything]]'' as being part of a conspiracy to keep black people down regardless of how innocent or nakedly ludicrous it really is, and really rather stupid.
* Also parodied in ''Film/DontBeAMenaceToSouthCentralWhileDrinkingYourJuiceInTheHood'', which has an actual random white guy running around the hood, doing everything he can to keep the black man down, to the point where he shoots one of the main character's friends to keep him out of college.
* ''Film/{{Crash}}'': The non-[[Creator/DavidCronenberg Cronenberg]] one, according to some of the characters.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* ''Literature/NineteenEightyFour'' features a man in an oppressive dystopia finding a small measure of freedom, only to lose it when the secret police catch him.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''Series/TheWire'' does this, albeit in a more nuanced manner than most - the failure of systems, and conflict between individual and group interests, are major themes of the story. At first it paints the higher-ups as {{Obstructive Bureaucrat}}s, but later seasons explore the restraints that they too experience as well as [[TheChainsOfCommanding the burdens of leadership]]. In the end, [[InherentInTheSystem the whole city and all its dysfunctional institutions are shown to be perpetuating themselves]].
* This is Homey D. Clown's worldview in ''Series/InLivingColor'' It reaches an apex in a two-part sketch (played out over two episodes) in which he is convinced by white ad executives to go in a LighterAndSofter direction, becoming a mascot for a cereal brand. He is so successful that he eventually gets an audience with TheMan himself as a result. However, rather than kissing his ring Homey bops him over the head, and reveals that his "selling out" was all an ISurrenderSuckers gambit to get the opportunity to bop The Man, whereupon he walks away from stardom on their terms and returns to his old AngryBlackMan / MonsterClown ways.


[[folder: Mythology and Religion ]]

* [[OlderThanDirt This trope is as old as the concept of oppression is understood by humanity]]. Central to UsefulNotes/{{Gnostic|ism}} cosmology is that the {{God}} of the material universe, who the Gnostics call the Demiurge and is but a pale imitation of the true God, [[GodIsEvil is very evil]], as He keeps people from succeeding in breaking out of the prison that is reality and thus from achieving true wisdom. More mainstream Christians take this view of Satan and demons.
* Satanists (the non-Hollywood kind) believe that God intended to keep us ignorant and subservient to Him, and that the serpent provided us with true free will through the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.


[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* ''{{TabletopGame/KULT}}'' is Gnosticism: The Tabletop RPG.
* ''TabletopGame/MageTheAwakening'': Here, the Exarchs are TheMan that is keeping your player characters down.


[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* In ''Webcomic/{{Sinfest}}'', [[ Lil' E accuses Jesus of being a tool for this. Jesus ignores him. Lil' E is annoyed.]]
* Zahard's monarchy in ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod''. It especially has a tendency to go against Irregulars and princesses in love.