The War Arc is a StoryArc that concerns two or more large-scale factions (city-sized at least) in conflict with one another, with the protagonists being involved somehow. The scale will usually be very epic, with politics usually playing a role. Expect to see a BigBadassBattleSequence.

See also RescueArc and TournamentArc.
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!!Examples:

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[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Manga/OnePiece'': The Straw Hats have been caught up in a few of these from time to time.
** The first major one was Alabasta due to trying to help Princess Vivi stop a civil war in the country and the instigator, Crocodile, who started it.
** The second, Skypeia, where the Straw Hats inadvertently get caught between a war between natives of a land of Earth shot up into the sky fighting to reclaim their homeland and the current evil ruler of the sky island and his forces who rule over it.
** Enies Lobby is probably the first time where they ''lead'' the charge of the war. In this case, the Straw Hats declare war on the ''entire world government'' to [[TrueCompanions save a member of their crew]].
** The Whitebeard War saga, especially the Marineford arc, is one of a major one as dozens of incredibly powerful characters from throughout the series clash in a massive conflict between pirates and the government. Interestingly, this one doubles as a RescueArc, as the pirates storm marine headquarters to save their comrade [[spoiler: Ace]] from a public execution. It's also unusual among both war and rescue arcs for a couple of big reasons: almost none of the main cast are present (the protagonist is there, but none of his TrueCompanions) the hero is actually one of the weaker people on the battlefield, and [[spoiler: the antagonists win the war, albeit at a price. The rescue also fails, with the character they're trying to rescue getting killed.]]
** Fishman Island arc could be counted as one due to them stopping an attempted coup by human hating fishmen.
** Dressrosa arc ends up devolving into this once it was found out that the current ruler, Doflamingo, was evil and secretly enslaving people and having them be forgotten via a Devil Fruit user in the process. Doflamingo doesn't take kindly to this and traps the entire island in a cage of string where the only way out is to defeat him. [[spoiler: Plus there's the added urgency of the cage ''shrinking'' and threatening to slice everyone into ribbons if he isn't stopped.]]
* The Shinobi World War Arc in ''{{Naruto}}'' is the most recent example, but it had the Konoha Invasion arc several hundred chapters earlier, which tied in with the Chuunin Exams TournamentArc [[spoiler:and actually cut that one short.]]
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'':
** Ostensibly, the "Winter War" between the Gotei 13 and the Arrancar led by Sosuke Aizen. It was less of a War Arc than a RescueArc ramped UpToEleven, with a BigBadassBattleSequence for the remaining antagonists at the end of the Arc.
** The final manga arc is the culmination of 1,000 years of intermittent warfare between the Shinigami and the Vandenreich. The Blood War has been characterised by massacres: there was one a thousand years ago, another one two hundred years ago, and another one begins in the final arc, which includes major deaths [[spoiler:RIP Yamamoto]].
* The ongoing conflict between the Exorcists of the Black Order and the Millennium Earl's Akuma make up a good portion of the MythArc for ''Manga/DGrayMan''.
* The Arachnophobia arc and the Moon arc in ''Manga/SoulEater''.
* The war between the Kingdom of Midland and the Tudor Empire is the second plot of the Golden Age Arc in ''{{Manga/Berserk}}.''
** The Hawk of the Millennium Empire arc focuses on one between Midland (and the Apostle army led by the reincarnated Griffith) and the Empire of Kushan led by the rogue Apostle Emperor Ganishka.
* ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex'' has the British Civil War arc, and shortly thereafter, the ''WorldWarThree'' arc, the latter of which makes for the climax of the original series of light novels.
* ''Anime/SDGundamForce'' has the Neotopia Invasion arc at the end of the first season.
** The second season gives us the Ark Civil War arc.
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[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The ComicBook/GreenLantern has the ''ComicBook/SinestroCorpsWar'' (Green Lantern Corps vs Sinestro Corps), War Of Light (7 different Corps against each other) and ComicBook/BlackestNight (everybody against Black Lantern Corps).
* ComicBook/ChaosWar is this for ComicBook/TheIncredibleHercules.
* Cosmic Marvel has had multiple war arcs in last few years. ''ComicBook/{{Annihilation}}'' was a war between the Negative Zone and the normal universe, ''ComicBook/{{Annihilation}}: Conquest'' told the tale of the Phalanx's invasion of the Kree Empire, ''ComicBook/WarOfKings'' depicted the war between the Kree and Shi'Ar empires and ''ComicBook/TheThanosImperative'' was a war between the normal Universe and [[EldritchAbomination the Cancerverse]].
* ''ComicBook/CivilWar'', which focuses on heroes taking different sides and fighting about whether or not to put themselves under government control and do away with secret identities.
** 11 years later, it got a sequel, ''ComicBook/CivilWarII'' this time with the focus on a Inhuman being discovered who can see into the future and it being argued by the heroes if they should use his powers to stop disasters before they happen or leave it be before they end up [[SelfFulfillingProphecy causing the disasters themselves]].
* ''ComicBook/SecretWars'' in which a being named the Beyonder pits good and evil in an experiment to see who would win. It got a sequel sometime later, a somewhat sequel in "Beyond" a few years down the line with a similar premise and a remake in 2015 which had the remnants of the destroyed main and Ultimate Marvel universes fused together into one planet ruled over by Doctor Doom.
* ''ComicBook/AvengersVsXMen'' had the two superhero teams facing off over the fate of a mutant girl who, supposedly, will inherit the Phoenix Force when it returns to Earth and the conflicting sides trying to handle the situation to prevent a disaster.
* ''ComicBook/InhumansVsXMen'' which saw the X-Men trying to defeat the Inhumans before the Terrigan Mist, which turns out to be fatal to mutants, kills them.
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[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''RolePlay/WeAreAllPokemonTrainers''
** The AU arc has the backdrop of the Scolemis dictatorship and the Resistance fighting one another, only for it to take a direct role when they have their generals invade Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn directly and have the J-Team fight them there during the latter portion of the arc. Later on following Napoleon's rebellion, it turns into a MeleeATrois between him, the Resistance, and the Scolemis loyalists.
** The Conquest Arc takes place in the middle of a war between Spectra and its allies/conquered states, Nixtorm and its allies and, Illusio and its allies.
** Return to AU has as its setting a massive world war with various disparate resistance movements fighting against the forces of the Seven Jerk Dragons hellbent on taking over the world and placing themselves above humanity and other Pokémon.
* ''Fanfic/TheVizardTrilogy'' revolved around the war between the titular Visoreds and the Shinigami.
* The ''FanFic/PonyPOVSeries'':
** The majority of the [[BadFuture Dark World Series]] is the Mane Six breaking free of [[EvilOverlord Discord's]] control and acting as LaResistance against his control of the world, having some epic battles against him and his many minions [[spoiler: as well as his [[TrueFinalBoss puppet master]], [[KnightTemplar Nightmare]] [[FutureMeScaresMe Eclipse]]]].
** The Shining Armor Arc grows into one of these between Equestria and its allies (represented by Cadence and Shining Armor's Harmony Guard) and the [[TheEmpire Hooviet Empire]] under the control of [[GeneralRipper General-Admiral Makarov]], ultimately culminating in BigBadassBattleSequence [[spoiler: and a CosmicRetcon]].
** The Wedding Arc becomes one of these as the vastly outnumbered Mane Six and their allies have to fight against the Changeling occupation of Canterlot.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* Books 21-25 (and beyond?) of the Literature/{{Gor}} series are focused on the war between the city-state of Ar and Cos, the island Ubarate. Tarl, our protagonist, is on the side of Ar; but Cos won the war...so far.
* Creator/MercedesLackey has The Mage War in her ''Literature/HeraldsOfValdemar'' books.
* Book 7 of Literature/HarryPotter has the war between Voldemort's Death Eaters and the wizards of Hogwarts.
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' has a massive MythArc about the SecretWar between Red Court vampires and the wizards' White Council, which breaks out in ''Grave Peril'' and comes to an abrupt end in ''Changes''.
** A much shorter one occurs in "Summer Knight", where Harry gets embroiled in [[spoiler:a war between the [[TheFairFolk Seelie and Unseelie (Summer and Winter) Courts.]]]] While it doesn't directly affect the humans in Chicago below them, the weather gets crazy and threatens to go cataclysmic. Harry is way outclassed, but ends the battle by [[spoiler:killing [[BigBad Aurora]]]].
*** "[[BattleCry I don't believe in Faeries!]]"
* The ''Literature/NewJediOrder'' is a nineteen-book War Arc within the Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse between the New Republic and the [[ScaryDogmaticAliens Yuuzhan Vong]].
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[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/BabylonFive'' featured the Narn-Centauri war, the Shadow war, and the Earth Civil War.
* A few ''Franchise/StarTrek'' series mustered some of these into their runs.
** Season 3 of ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' has the eponymous Enterprise racing to stop the Xindi from launching an attack on Earth.
** ''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]'' famously featured the two-year war between the Federation and the Dominion, but it also had the Klingon-Cardassian war and the second Klingon-Federation war (before both sides discovered they'd been played like cheap fiddles).
** The ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' writers wanted to make "Year of Hell" a season-long arc, but the executives said no, and it was instead made into a two-parter.
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[[folder:VideoGames]]
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfXillia'' features the protagonist, Milla, trying to stop a war between Rashugal and Auj Oule over resources. When that fails, she and the rest of the party have to run across a battlefield to try and convince Gaius, the king of Auj Oule, to not use the Lance of Kresnik. [[spoiler:They fail, and the weapon is fired, causing a global catastrophe that makes the fighting stop, if only because now the world's on the brink of collapse.]]
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'' has the conflict with [[TheDragon Saren]] and the geth in the first game. Notable battles include Saren's attack on Eden Prime (the prologue), the geth besieging the human planet-colony of Feros, the brawl on Saren's headquarters at [[WhamEpisode Virmire]], a side-quest that has TheHero attacking several bases to prevent the geth from launching an invasion, and [[BigBadassBattleSequence the Battle of the Citadel]] as the finale.
** The second game, notably, avoids this from the main plotline, but the possibility of a second war between the geth and quarians is addressed several times. Additionally, the EnemyCivilWar between the TrueNeutral geth and the AlwaysChaoticEvil heretic geth is brought to light, but we never see the actual fighting take place, and we can end it for good during the SixthRanger's loyalty mission.
** In the Arrival DLC, [[BigGood Admiral Hackett]] outright states that war between the humans and batarians could erupt, following the destruction of a batarian-occupied system. Didn't turn out to be true, since the batarians were [[ButtMonkey unfortunate enough]] to be in the Reapers' way as they headed for Earth.
** VideoGame/MassEffect3 features the intergalactic war against the Reapers and their Husks, the conflict with a massively strengthened Cerberus, and the quarians retaking their homeworld from the geth, all going on ''at the same time''. The developers have repeatedly said that ''Mass Effect 3'' is the start of World War II IN SPACE!...
* ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'' has the Human-Covenant war as its first MythArc, with the Covenant's [[CivilWar Great Schism]] as a late side-effect which carries past ''VideoGame/{{Halo 3}}''. In the post-war era, this was then mainly replaced by the wars the Covenant remnant have been fighting with both the Swords of Sanghelios and the UNSC.
* A major plotline in ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'' is the conflict between the Imperial Legion and the Stormcloak rebellion led by Ulfric Stormcloak. The player is free to help the Empire quell the rebellion or the Stormcloaks fight off the Legion and have Skyrim become an independent nation.
* VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas centers around a war between the [[TheFederation New California Republic]] and [[TheHorde Caesar's Legion]], with [[TheChessmaster Mr. House]] serving as a potential third party. You're given the opportunity to support any three of those. That or decide to [[DarkhorseVictory oppose all three and rule Vegas yourself]].
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'': From halfway through Disc One until the end of Disc Two is a long one, showing Brahne's bid for power - even going as far as [[SummonMagic stealing her daughter's powers]] to do it. She actually makes good progress on her goal of owning the entire Mist Continent - [[spoiler:[[HoistByHisOwnPetard too bad Kuja turns Bahamut back on her]]]].
* Chapter 3 of ''VideoGame/BravelyDefault'' more or less boils down to this, combined with RescueArc; the party helps the defensive Shieldbearers turn the tide on the Swordbearer rebellion, while rescuing a captive from their main base. The side quests from this chapter involve eliminating high-ranking Swordbearer commanders.
* ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyModernWarfare'' 2 and 3 are more or less the war arcs of the Modern Warfare with most of the world fighting World War 3 against Russia after Russian extremists instigate it by framing the U.S for a suppose terrorist attack on Russian soil. Granted in the first game you fight in a few wars too but they're mostly foreign civil wars and a means to an end to track down the main villain. The second game however shows how the Big Bad got Russia riled enough to begin the war shows the start of the invading forces attacking Washington D.C and U.S Soldiers fighting to reclaim the White House as events go on elsewhere to find the real culprit. 3 is a continuation of this with the war in full swing while the main characters close in on the mastermind and try to prevent his plans from escalating further.
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[[folder:Webcomics]]
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' has the Battle for Azure City.
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[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'' has the "war" between the ''vastly'' incompetent or undesirable Reds and Blues, but we barely see any sort of firefights between them (Battle Creek flag zealots notwithstanding), and it's actually just a training scenario used by {{Super Soldier}}s; the last detail is kept secret from the Reds and Blues themselves.
* ''Literature/{{Worm}}'' has the Extermination arc where heroes and villains in the city join forces and are joined by heroes from elsewhere to fight off Leviathan. If it sounds uneven, it was: there are many casualties on the side of the heroes and villains but Leviathan will recover without a problem. Later, the Crushed arc covers the fight against Behemoth.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' is about stopping a war that's already going on, sort of making it a [[MythArc series-long]] War Arc.
** ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'' actually see the events leading up to one between the Equalists and the Benders. The final season has the world near on the brink of another world war, this time by the Earth Kingdom.
* The WesternAnimation/TeenTitans spent the near-entirety of the fifth season battling the forces of the BrotherhoodOfEvil, ending just before the final episode.
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