In the parlance of Alternate History fandom, a "Wank" is where a single nation, culture, political theory, or philosophy is singled out and advantaged, typically disproportionately at the expense of its contemporaries. Perhaps the British Empire has not just kept the American colonies, but expanded deep into Latin America as well. Maybe the Greater United States rules our world's Canada and Mexico. Maybe Rome, the Mongols, or Those Wacky Nazis managed to win it all and now dominate the globe. In short, the point of divergence that created the alternate history has also created a "Republic Of Mary Sue" of one sort or another.
This treatment is really popular for famous empires, though "bad guy" empires tend to be the most popular for wank status. For every "Rome never falls" timeline there seem to be at least three "USSR and/or Nazi Germany takes over the world". Another way this trope comes about is when one historically significant person is suddenly killed or spared in this alternate timeline, leading to changes that are, at best, questionable. Such as "if Julius Caesar was not assassinated, Rome would develop steam powered technology and bring the barbarians to their knees". And that is a relatively tame example.
It should be noted that the success of a nation or cause is not, by itself, an indicating factor, even if that nation or cause was largely unsuccessful in Real Life. Indeed, exploring what might have happened had unsuccessful groups or ideologies been more successful is arguably the whole point of Alternate History. An Alternate History where, say, Romania becomes a central dominating power of Europe is not in and of itself an Alternate History Wank simply because there are some hypothetical conditions where such a scenario might have plausibly come about and been maintained, and an author might examine such a scenario in a realistic and likely fashion.
Therefore, there can be some disagreement about what, precisely, constitutes an Alternate History Wank. Some maintain that for a timeline to qualify as a Wank it has to be fundamentally implausible or even invoke Alien Space Bats after the point of divergence; for example a timeline where, say, Romania becomes the central dominating power of Europe because aliens arrive on the planet and attack all the other countries in Europe while inexplicably leaving Romania alone. For others, the timeline just has to show clear signs of favoritism towards the authors preferred nation; for example, a timeline where Romania becomes the central dominating power of Europe because the military leaders, diplomats and politicians of the other nations inexplicably become complete idiots when dealing with Romania, which conversely is blessed with leaders who are tactical geniuses and never make a wrong move, ever.
In either case, however, it is usually quite clear upon reading the timeline that regardless of the in-universe justifications that are being offered, the only real reason the empire that is the centre of the Wank is doing so well is that the author obviously prefers them and is overtly arranging things to work out in their favour. As such, there are several common results or indicators that suggest that a Wank might be taking place. Firstly, in keeping with the above points about favouritism, the reader might get a sense that the nation in question is Born Lucky: everything always goes its way, when an issue turning against it just once would have disastrous consequences. In our Romania example, it might be that Contrived Coincidences always seem to be working out in Romanias favour, otherwise seemingly intelligent people completely fail to spot Romanias obvious plans until its too late, and so forth.
Another indicator is that individual nations tend to be assimilated into large multinational single-state power blocs, with the end result in extreme cases being that the entire world is divided between two or three super-empires — all of which tend to be dominated by one main national or cultural group (which, perhaps not coincidentally, is usually that which the author finds it easiest to identify with and / or write about). This tends to result in a situation where, as with the page image, the map of the world can essentially be shaded with two or three colours. In our example, while it might plausibly be possible for Romania to become a dominant European power, a scenario that results in a world where the entire part of the map incorporating Europe, Asia and the Middle East is a monolithic entity with no internal borders, which is shaded one colour on the map and all of which might as well be simply called Romania makes it likely that a Wank is taking place. Such empires might also be implausibly long-lasting, with little or no sign of the kinds of stresses that tend to vex large empires in real life (such as supply lines, internal opposition, regional differences, etc.).
Note that none of this is necessarily or automatically a bad thing. Sometimes a plausible timeline with a purposefully maximized British Empire can be informative and entertaining, or valuable for some artistic purpose. Sometimes it's just a matter of doing something fun and entertaining. It just may require a lot of Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
Note also that there is a certain degree of Truth in Television here; certain nations or causes have apparently been Born Lucky or have become implausibly dominant global powers, and certain periods have essentially been dominated by one particular group or cause. The United States in particular is sometimes said to embody the closest thing to this in Real Life: Bismarck is often (falsely) quoted as saying "there is a special providence that protects fools, drunkards, and the United States of America." At the height of the British Empire 20% of the worlds population was governed from a small island off the coast of Northern Europe. The achievements of Alexander the Great might seem like the stuff of implausibly fanciful tales had they not actually happened. The unification, and in some sense, the creation, of the nation and the idea of China was, in some sense, the work of one man, Qin Shi Huangdi. And the Mongol Empire lasted for over 150 years and, at its height, spanned 20% of the surface of the world. However, what separates these situations from a typical Alternate History Wank (aside from the fact that they really happened) is that not everything was perfect for them; the United States hasnt always had good fortune (one word: Vietnam), the British Empire was fiercely hated and resisted by a large number of its subjects, Alexander had his screw-ups and personal failings, every pan-Chinese Empire fell apart at some point, and even the Mongol Empire eventually collapsed.
Compare with Fan Wank (same basic principle, but wider scope).
See also America Takes Over the World, Russia Takes Over the World, Japan Takes Over the World and China Takes Over the World for country-specific examples. Alternate History Nazi Victory grants the Nazis far more successes than they ever had.
- Code Geass is a weird case. Britannia rules half the world, but not the British Isles, because Revolutionary France successfully invaded said isles and forced the Britannian aristocracy to flee to their North American colonies. Meanwhile, Japan, despite being a Britannian colony, seems to have been one of the last non-superpower countries and its independence is treated as central to world politics, thanks to its large deposits of Sakuradite. The series' portrayal of Japan may or may not count as the Born Lucky element of this - they aren't the dominant power, but the revolution that overturns the three-color-map-world status quo starts in Japan, when a banished Britannian prince decides to help the Japanese rebels, who held out longer than any other colony, so at first, it could seem like they are, but when you look closer, the series is actually quite critical of Japan and a lot of elements of the country's behavior.
- C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America:
- Canada. In this alternate history, that nation refused to hand over its escaped American slaves because it was the right thing to do and suffered with a walled US/Canadian border called the Cotton Wall. Furthermore, for this national choice, Canada reaps a great prize: all the artists of African descent (and several whites as well, including a certain Samuel Clemens) that would have enriched American culture with Rock music, Motown and many others now feed Canadian culture. As a result, Canada becomes the pop culture centre of the world.
- The CSA itself is the same way, it's built on such a silly amount of historical fallacies that it's nearly impossible to take seriously. Though it makes rather silly Rule of Cool assumptions such as having Lincoln attempt to escape the CSA's forces by the Underground Railroad, it pales in comparison to having the CSA annex the entire North, along with large parts of South America to form a "tropical empire". And then there's the whole thing about a slave-owning society surviving into the modern day without collapsing into a third world country. Despite the CSA being isolated from the rest of the world and culturally stagnant, its economy still runs fairly well.
- The Angevin and Polish empires of Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy mysteries. The stories are set in an alternate timeline where most of the Northern Hemisphere is divided between two great ruling powers: the Anglo-French Empire, which extends over most of Western Europe (except Italy) and the Americas and is ruled by the Plantagenets; and the Polish Empire, which has conquered virtually all of Eastern Europe. The timeline splits in 1199, when Richard the Lion-Hearted doesn't die from the crossbow bolt at the siege of Chalus-Chabrol, but recovers, repairs his ways, and goes on to be a great king... Oh, and did we mention that these books take place in the 20th century, and that both empires are still going? Sure, it doesn't look anywhere near modern, but that's just because they use Magitek instead of normal tech.
- The Domination of Draka (South Africa) in S. M. Stirling's series on The Draka. The premise is that a colony in OTL's South Africa gains independence from Britain around when the United States of America did in our timeline, upholds horrific ideals within its borders (including slavery), and manages to take over the world by the end of the series (yes, sadly the image chosen for this very page was just the beginning of the wankitude). The civilized nations of the world just ignore the threat of a large, slave-holding, militaristic empire until it's too late.
- The Roman Empire in the Slaveworld novels. The empire never fell, sparing the world from The Dark Ages, resulting in a Crapsaccharine World free from pollution and social unrest.
- The Roman Empire again in Kirk Mitchell's Germanicus trilogy (Procurator; The New Barbarians; Cry Republic). The division point is in the distant past compared to the time of the books, and is the trial of Jesus before Pontius Pilate — Pilate frees him instead of having him crucified, thus Christianity never rose, the Roman Empire never fell. It holds most of Western Europe and has provinces in North America and Africa. The Serican Empire (Chinese) hold much of Asia, and are making inroads into the Americas. The Aztecae control South America and southwest North America.
- The Roman Empire yet again. In Roma Eterna, the failure of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt, as well as a convenient victory over some barbarians, lead to a world where Rome remained divided and never fell. The Americas were fortified by a Dane, which prevented Rome from capturing them. Mohammad gets offed before he can give rise to Islam — by a Roman who thinks he'll create the Caliphate.
- The Roman Empire again again again. In the Romanitas series of books by Sophia McDougall, the survival of Emperor Pertinax leads to Rome controlling Europe, India, South America, half of Africa and most of North America. Japan controls the whole of Oceania, South East Asia, and parts of Siberia. China is reduced to a buffer state between the two. There's also an independent Africa which broke away from Roman control.
- The Eastern Roman Empire, and the Malwa Empire before its collapse in the Belisarius Series. Justified in that they're both being aided by supercomputers from the future to advance technologically. Tropes Are Not Bad in this case—the point of the series is a series of geeky military thought experiments inside some truly epic war novels, rather than an attempt to build a complete and plausible alternate-history timeline.
- Life: Dougal Dixon's The New Dinosaurs is a faux-nature book about how dinosaurs continued to evolve after the K-T extinction failed to happen. It's got shades of this trope, in that the lucky reptiles somehow manage to come up with close equivalents of nearly every major ecological type of mammal — baleen whales, anteaters, squirrels — rather than sticking with body plans and strategies of survival that'd already been working fine for them.
- "Libertarianism": The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith.
- The Kaiserreich AND the United States of America in Robert Conroy's 1901, accompanied by gratuitous (and historically inaccurate) use of All Germans Are Nazis tropes and general Stupid Evil by the Germans. In 1901, any European nation attempting to fight America would be instantly set upon by the other Great Powers of Europe; by this point, the alliance systems that led to World War I were already largely in place, and such a clear violation of American historical neutrality, even after the US's war with the decaying remains of the Spanish empire, would be an easy pretext for war-not to mention that Germany's navy at the time was substantially weaker than the Royal Navy, precluding the sort of overseas invasion that Conroy portrays. Conroy seems to have a thing for Plucky 'Murica fighting back from the brink of destruction to destroy the Enemies of Freedom (tm).
- Harry Harrison's Stars and Stripes Forever. This features the British Empire declaring war on the United States after the Trent Affair, which somehow results in the Union and Confederacy conveniently patching up their differences and teaming up on Britain (even managing, at one point, to mount a land invasion of the British Isles).
- It gets much worse as the series progresses. The first book portrays Britain as a middle-ages style monarchy rather than the parliamentary democracy it actually was by this stage, with military technology and tactics 50 years out of date and all British characters presented in a ridiculously stereotyped fashion and portrayed as inhumanly stupid, evil and prone to rape and pillage to a degree which would make the Vikings proud, while of course Americans are portrayed as all utterly heroic, enlightened and invincible (they also instantly adopt 21st century views on race and gender). Additionally Canadians are shown as poor brainless slaves of the British Empire yearning for the US to annex them (which the US promptly does for their own good).
- The second book has the same problems but with the addition of the US invading and conquering Ireland, somehow making all the centuries-old problems between Protestants and Catholics magically disappear.
- The third and final book takes AH wanking to plain silly lengths, with the US now advanced to WWI level technology complete with tanks, dreadnought warships, production lines and other such advances (while still set in the 1870s by the way) thus putting the US over 100 years above the UK in technology, and culminates in the US conquering Britain, giving independence to Scotland and "introducing" democracy to the poor British masses.
- Interestingly, the British claim they already have a representative system, only to be casually brushed away by the conquering Americans, saying it's not the same as theirs, so it must be wrong.
- The whole 'land invasion of Ireland and Britain' scenario also conveniently ignores or downplays the fact that to do so, the Americans would have to cross the Atlantic — a body of water dominated by the British Royal Navy, which during the 1860s and 1870s was widely renowned as probably the most powerful and efficient military force on the planet and which, a handful of ironclads aside (which were not as effective as the author suggests), the American navy would have been poorly equipped to face in actual combat.
- There is a Curb-Stomp Battle (if that can even be called a battle) described in one of the novels that has a British ironclad stopping an American convoy heading for Ireland, protected by a new American ironclad. The American captain is itching for a fight, so he pretends that the tiny cannon that the British warship fires to the side in order to get the Americans to respond counts as an act of aggression and blows the British ship away with 2 volleys. Oh, and nothing bad happens to him as a result of this. There is a total of three battles described in the books that result in the British gaining the upper hand: one where they accidentally attack a Southern town instead of a Northern outpost, one where a Highlander regiment takes a fort in New York, and one where a British ironclad sinks an American one. That's it. The rest are all complete victories for the Americans.
- In Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream, a post-apocalyptic Nazi style Germany conquers the world and begins to expand to the stars (it's ridiculous on purpose). Note that this happens in the book-within-a-book. In the alternate timeline that the story "really" takes place in, a Nazi Germany without any strong political leader was crushed under the U.S.S.R's boot. The Soviet Union proceeded to stomp all over most of Eurasia and South America as well.
- In a way, Poland after the first set of The Cross Time Engineer novels, although it would be more accurate to say, "Conrad Stargard's Army Empire"...
- Possibly the Ur-Example is Napoléon et la conquête du monde 1812-1832 by Louis Geoffroy in 1832, which - as the title suggests - had Napoleon Bonaparte act slightly differently in the 1812 invasion of Russia with the result that he conquers the entire planet by 1832. Never mind that Napoleon was dead by 1820 (and that he died of cancer, so military success would not have prevented this).
- The Confederate States of America in Timeline-191 by Harry Turtledove. Having defeated the Union in the civil war, they extend their border to the Pacific, defeat the United States a second time and then abolish slavery, all in the course of a year. However, the trope is effectively averted in the rest of the series, which demonstrates the disadvantages the country would suffer (inferior industrial base and population available for the army compared to the USA, for example) and sees the Confederacy getting crushed in the First World War.
- And yet later played rather straight with the US conquering and occupying all of Canada save Quebec (which becomes a satellite) in World War I and later the whole of the old CSA in WWII.
- Also played straight with Imperial Japan. Although it's treated as a Wild Card and isn't given a lot of focus, Japan seems to come out on top all the time. They're probably the only country that gains more than it loses from both world wars. By 1945 they control most of South East Asia and are in a position to seriously threaten Australia and India and to demand that Russia hand over parts of Siberia. Some of the viewpoint characters speculate that the Cold War analogue in this time line will involve the USA and Germany trying to prevent Japan from acquiring nuclear weapons.
- This appears at first to be the case in Fyodor Berezin's Red Stars duology, where a parallel world is discovered where the USSR is dominant thanks to Adolf Hitler delaying Operation Barbarossa (thanks to British interference in Greece), causing Joseph Stalin to attack first and crush Germany within 2 years. Subverted in that this is a Crapsack World, where democracy is non-existent, and the two superpowers take potshots at each other with H-bombs. Our Russia and US decide to destroy that world and likely succeed.
- Given that Atlas Shrugged clearly doesn't take place in the "real" 20th century, it can be argued to be an Objectivist Wank. (Inverted, in that the Strikers are proven utterly correct not by conquering the world (though they may do so after the end of the book), but by watching the rest of the world shred itself.)
- The British Empire (and the other imperial empires) in The Two Georges, although it's played with. With the obvious exception of North America, the British Empire and its dominions aren't that greatly different from what they were at the height of the British Empire anyway, and it's often suggested that the Empire has gradually become more like the OTL-Commonwealth, except with Britain remaining more influential. Technological development has been much slower than in OTL, however, because of the distinct lack of World Wars - the real life 'Pax Britannica' of the 19th century has lasted right through to the end of the 20th.
- A still more egregious example is Harry Harrison's "Tunnel Through the Deeps" (whose magazine publication had the more fitting title "A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!"). Besides the failure of the Spanish Reconquista leaving Britain NO competition to take over the entire Western hemisphere, it is full of analogs of OTL figures Harrison dislikes reduced to snickering caricatures, and disregard for geography. (Saxony is NOT across the Rhine from anywhere!)
- Turtledove is most often a fan of Germany-ruled Earths, be it Nazi (In the Presence of Mine Enemies, Shtetl Days, Ready for the Fatherland, The Last Article) or Imperial (Curious Notions, Uncle Alf).
- The Byzantine Empire in Agent of Byzantium series of short stories by Turtledove. Turtledove is in his element here, as he holds a PhD in Byzantine history. In this version, Prophet Mohammed, rather than starting Islam, becomes a Christian saint (not too far from the reality, in some sense—Islam and Christianity are much more closely related theologically than one might expect) and consequently, no crippling military threat from the East to Byzantine /Empire materialized.
- Exactly how it happened isn't shown, but in The High Crusade, Israel manages to take over the world. This is rather amusing when they run into an interstellar empire ruled by the descendants of would-be Crusaders.
- In the Temeraire series, Imperial China, the Incan Empire and the Tswana who manage to drive all would-be colonists out of Africa. Even Napoleonic France gets in on the action, becoming the premier European power and managing to invade Britain. Justified in that the presence of rather sentient dragons helps level the playing field around the world and mitigate some of the trends that would have caused the massive age of imperialism in our world.
- Once again, the Roman Empire in Sergey Lukyanenko's Seekers of the Sky duology. The key event here is the death of Jesus as a baby, resulting in another child becoming the Messianic Archetype and using Religion Is Magic to become The Emperor of Rome. After becoming disillusioned with humanity, he ends up, effectively, committing suicide and takes most of the world's iron with him in a vain hope that, without iron, humanity would stop fighting (he obviously hasn't heard of the Bronze Age). The use of Functional Magic taught by him results in Rome never being conquered or dissolving. By the 20th century, it's dominating Europe and has colonies in Africa and the Americas. Partly subverted in that the State (that's what it's called now) is not the most powerful nation and is about on par with the Russian Khanate (Russia conquered by the Mongols and remaining this way) and can't match China's technological superiority. The Aztec Empire and the Ottoman Empire are weaker players here, regularly bullied by the big boys.
- Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card has Tlaxcala take over the world and become a Modern Mayincatec Empire. The key event here is Columbus leading a new Crusade to retake the Holy Land instead of sailing West. This allows the more progressive Tlaxcalans to defeat the Aztecs and establish a bloodthirsty empire that didn't shy away from technological development. Then a Portuguese ship stumbles on the New World, and its crew is captured, tortured for information (specifically, the means to make firearms and build oceangoing ships), and sacrificed. The diseases spread by the sailors only serve as a divine sign from their bloodthirsty god that they must sail East and conquer for more sacrifices. They do exactly that, and the fragmented Europe can't do a thing to stop them.
- Interestingly, this is the original history in universe, and our real world history comes about as a result of time travel. ...And is later changed by more time travel.
- The Man in the High Castle:
- By modern AH standards, the Nazis and Japanese conquering the USA by 1947 is rather unrealistic (even Hitler himself, in his long-term plans, thought conquering the USA would not be possible for the Germans until The '80s). In fairness, though, Dick did not have access to much of the data about WW2 that has become common knowledge since then but was still classified in The '60s when he wrote the novel.
- Interestingly, this trope is also used by the book-within-a-book The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. The aftermath of World War 2 in that story has Britain and America splitting the world instead, with the USSR being a nonentity. And the British empire, thanks to the authoritarian leadership of Churchill, would eventually beat the Americans. It could be that Dick realized the certain futility of what he was doing with the book itself, and so lampshaded it by introducing the book-within-a-book. It's also played for a certain amount of irony as well; notice how, aside from the Allies winning the war, almost the exact opposite of what Amendsen proposes as happening in The Grasshopper Lies Heavy happened in the actual world. It was the Soviet Union, not Britain, that became America's post-war Cold War opponent. Far from ruling Britain like a warlord, Churchill was kicked out of office barely two months after German's defeat. Far from the British Empire getting stronger and stronger, his replacements began the process of dismantling it. And so on.
- "Atomic roulette"' by Andrzej Pilipiuk. A time traveler goes back to the 30s, provides the Polish government with all possible knowledge about the war to come (as one of the characters notes, the sole map of deployment of the German army before the Invasion of Poland was more than enough) and all possible know-how for the next century. By the early 60s Poland is the leader in modern technology. The action takes place somewhere in 2000s, where it's the only superpower in the world, Germany is a rump state with industry on the level of some African country, France and Britain as "punishment" for their inactivity against Germany were razed and now have food revolts and constant shortages on a daily basis, America is lagging behind with technology and industrial development (courtesy of Polish spies) and a sizable chunk of Africa is painted red and white (going as far as the Polish army stabilizing Somalia and succeeding). It also won against a rebellion in Polish Indochina. Oh, and there are no atomic weapons in this world aside from Polish ones, as everyone involved in the Manhattan Project or any atomic research was murdered by Poles. Hell, thanks to the time traveler's data, they killed everyone involved with development of anything important, making research of any other country lag behind considerably, while Poland itself leads in very futuristic techs (red mercury, AI research and stuff like that). A wank to end all wanks.
- One Nation Under Jupiter: Ghana controls most of West Africa, while Japan is more of a colonial power than it ever was in real life. Partially subverted with Nova Roma: While it's very much a superpower, it suffered great loss along the way and no longer controls any of the territory of the former Roman Empire.
- One of the parallel worlds in The Worldfan duology presents us with a Modern Mayincatec Empire. Apparently, in this world, all the disparate native peoples of the Americas recognized the threat posed by Europeans. They banded together and drove the invaders out. Unified, they formed a powerful empire but had no way of crossing the oceans until a geological cataclysm reformed Beringia landbridge between North America and Asia, allowing hordes of Native Americans to pour into Eurasia. Apparently, no nation could stand against them, resulting in all of Europe and Asia coming under Native American control. Australia remained out of reach, and Africa did the same thing as the Native Americans and banded together to resist the invasion. How all those different and warring cultures could band together so seamlessly isn't stated.
- Several episodes of Sliders dealt with other countries becoming major world powers.
- The first episode had Russia as the dominant world power, after capitalism fell. The Real Life Domino Theory is referenced and, apparently, became reality in that world.
- Another episode had Saddam Hussein using a bioweapon that attacked the Y chromosome, wiping out much of the male population of the Earth. Because they were furthest from the epicenter and least affected, Australia became the dominant world power on that Earth.
- Still another had the American Revolution fail, and America wound up as a part of the VERY large British Empire.
- Yet still another had Mexico win the Mexican-American War, retaining all the territory that they lost to the US in our world (California, Nevada, Utah, most of New Mexico and Arizona, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming) belonging to Mexico. This version of Mexico is more prosperous than the (significantly smaller) US, and whites are treated as poorly as Mexican immigrants are treated in the US.
- There's also an episode about Texas remaining an independent republic, then proceeding to annex the Mexican territory ceded to the US. Modern technology and culture coexists with The Wild West mentality, and duels are a legal and common way to settle differences or conduct hostile takeovers.
- In the GURPS tabletop gaming supplement GURPS Alternate Earths 2, one of the settings is an alternate 19th century in which Ming China rules practically the entire world.
- Ming-3 is merely one example of this trope in the GURPS Infinite Worlds setting, which is loaded with such examples. Aztec Earth, Roman Earth, Japanese Earth, Islamic Earth, the list goes on. One other notable example is the self-explanatory "Reich-5".
- For the curious, Reich 1 has the US and Germany fighting a pre-nuke World War III in 1951. Reich-2 has a five-way rivalry between the US, Germany, Japan, Russia and Britain, Reich-3 has the Axis preparing to wipe a besieged "Fortress America" off the map, and Reich-4 has the victorious Nazis trying to maintain order after they beat the US in the 1950s and "won" a Pyrrhic nuclear war with Japan in 1979. Reich-5 has the same divergence point as The Man in the High Castle, but has managed to become even worse. Oh, and thanks to a blunder by Homeliners, one of their Stupid Jetpacks is now alternate history-hopping.
- We also have a minor Deconstruction in Centrum's universe: There, Prince William the Aetheling didn't die in a ship crash, allowing him to unite the British Isles and start the empire far, far ahead of schedule, effectively skipping the High Middle Ages and going directly to The Renaissance, with the Angevin Empire leading the whole way. The cultural ideals, however, did not evolve to fit with the tech level, with their feudalistic leanings eventually leading to a full-scale nuclear and biological war. By the time the survivors somehow managed to pull their act together, they've evolved into a completely different society as a backlash.
- Ming-3 is merely one example of this trope in the GURPS Infinite Worlds setting, which is loaded with such examples. Aztec Earth, Roman Earth, Japanese Earth, Islamic Earth, the list goes on. One other notable example is the self-explanatory "Reich-5".
- Dystopian Wars plays this trope mostly straight, but takes effort to subvert it as well to add a tinge of real-life politics to the world of Dystopian Wars.
- The major forces in the Great War are larger versions of historic empires and kingdoms, like the Federal States of America (North America plus all land down to and including Peru), but also almost historic instances like the Kingdom of Britannia, which is actually smaller than it was at that point in real life.
- Subverted as well, as there are many smaller countries with little to no connection to the larger forces, like the Kingdom of Denmark, of all things.
- Dust: Super-tech reverse-engineered from the wreck of a crashed UFO found on the Antarctic provided the Axis (who deposed Hitler from power) with the capacity to turn the Russian campaign into something more manageable, allowed them to succeed when they performed Operation Sealion, and at the time of the "present day" on the game's setting they have now started a campaign of limited ground warfare on the coasts of the United States. The best hope the United States has is their own super-tech, engineered from that which they have captured from the Axis and a recent UFO crash on Roswell, New Mexico...
- The Wolfenstein games take place in a in World War II where the Nazis get their hands on vastly more advanced technology than the Allies/occult powers from another dimension. The New Order goes one step further and has them well on their way to completely taking over the world.
- Chrono Cross fell hard into this trope. Guardia, a kingdom that stood for a thousand years, defeated Magus and his army, and is now defended by Crono, Marle, and Lucca who are mighty time traveling heroes... is taken down by Porre on the southern continent, in the span of less than 15 years.
- We don't really know the extent of the changes caused by their time travel. It might very well be that the elements from Chrono Cross gave an unfair advantage over natural magic from Chrono Trigger, especially when trained in their use by Dalton. If they had elements at all. We also don't know the order some of the events happen, so Lucca's death could very well have happened prior to the war ever starting, and Crono & Marle (and maybe Lucca) would not likely have the capabilities to stand up to a total army, especially if they had superior training in their abilities. Though how Porre, a single small town in Chrono Trigger, would even would have the manpower to raise such an army remains an open question.
- A staple of most of Paradox Interactive's Grand Strategy games.
- A lot of Europa Universalis After Action Reports take this form, as it takes place in the colonial era. "What if England took over all of the Americas?" "What if the Spanish completely took over Africa?" "What if Asian countries colonized Australia?" and so on.
- Hearts of Iron takes place during the late Industrial Era, near the beginning of World War II, and makes for several great possibilities, such as the classic "What if the Nazis won the war?" or "What if the United States embraced Communism?"
- Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun takes place toward the end of the Colonial Era and through the Industrial Era, featuring several events such as the Civil War, Wild West, and culminating in World War I, and all associated possible alternate futures.
- Crusader Kings II lives and breathes this trope, to the point where you have your pick of several starting eras, and can change the starting date to send things in a different direction (such as, famously, Munster conquering all of Ireland starting in 1066, a scenario commonly referred to as Tutorial Island by fans).
- The Aztec Empire in the non-canon DLC Sunset Invasion, where the Aztec Empire manages to launch a full invasion of Europe in the 1250s after reverse-engineering captured Viking longships from Vinland. Note that the Aztec Empire was not founded until 1427; this, combined with other impossibilities, leads to its inclusion being mocked by diehard history simulation fans. Overall, the scenario is supposed to be silly, acting mostly as a handwavy mechanic to balance how easy it was to start in western Europe, far away from invading Mongols and likely distanced from the Islamic factions.
- Similar to the Paradox Interactive grand strategy examples, Rise of Nations' Risk-esque "Conquer The World Campaign" often results in this trope.
- In Empire Earth II, the African campaign is set in the not-so-distant future and concerns a new energy source that can hold a lot of kinetic energy which allows Kenya to become a force to be reckoned with.
- Empire Earth II's learning campaign had one as well concerning the Aztecs, who repel the Spanish invasion, ally with the United States, and later go to war with a fascist Inca Empire (which has aligned with the Axis Powers in World War II), culminating in a nuclear missile strike on a major Inca city.
- The first Empire Earth had one, too: the authoritarian Novaya Russia emerges following the collapse of the Soviet Union and, in the course of just its first leader's lifetime, conquers Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, and then in the remainder of the 21st century conquers China and begins threatening the United States.
- All of the Total War games have this as the campaign objective.
- Correction: All world-scale strategy games have this as a campaign objective. It is made worse in the Total War games by the fact that many large and historically powerful factions start the campaign with imperial overstretch; they have too much land to protect with too few troops, their treasury does not allow for rapid buildup, and they are often at war with many other nations straight away. It is invariably easier (if slower) to win the campaign by starting as a small and insignificant nation, directly invoking this trope.
- It may be worth pointing out that the Total War series started out with Shogun, which was set on a much smaller scale, and the conquest of the whole map was perfectly historical (Tokugawa Wank?). It became weird when the same mechanic was translated onto Medieval Europe, then made slightly more sense in the ancient Mediterranean.
- Then made even less sense with Empire: Total War, where you can conquer the world with the Maratha. While it's true historically that the Maratha were able to conquer most of India from the previously-reigning Mughal Empire and their navy was strong enough to keep the British and the Portuguese out, they were eventually handily beaten by the Brits, resulting in the British-controlled India.
- The Shogun II "Fall of the Samurai" DLC not only allows you to replay the Boshin War and, for example, restore the Shogunate, you can also Take a Third Option and declare your faction a republic and conquer Japan all on your own (this is loosely based on the Republic of Ezo, which was quickly crushed by the Emperor).
- Homefront, while not technically an alternate history yet, qualifies anyway. The backstory involves the current North Korea uniting with South Korea, and in just 15 years, becoming powerful enough to conquer half of the continental United States. Not forgetting Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Brunei, East Timor and Papua New Guinea.
- Note, however, that this was based on Executive Meddling. The original plan for Homefront was for the invading army to be from China, only to be changed at the last minute because of its political implications.
- In Homefront 2, the point of divergence is moved back to 1972 (though it may actually be farther back, given that the intro cinematic says that North Korea was already technologically superior to the US at that time). A North Korean starts the computer revolution out of his garage, creating Silicon River and making the North Koreans the world leader of technology. By 2004, the APEX corporation, this universe's equivalent of Apple, is the sole supplier for America's phones, tablets, and military equipment. After bankrupting itself in the Middle East for 2 decades, America is essentially annexed by North Korea after APEX shuts off all of America's military equipment through a backdoor they had installed.
- Freedom Fighters might qualify as this. The point of divergence is 1945: Russia drops The Bomb on Berlin, instead of the USA dropping it on Japan. As a result, Russia takes over the world.
- It is also worth noting that during the entirety of the invasion in New York City, the only evidence seen of anything approaching U.S Government-backed resistance are three—count 'em, three—NYPD officers, one of whom is injured.
- Winning the Soviet campaign in either Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 or its expansion pack, Yuri's Revenge, leads to the Soviet Union conquering the known world.
- The real-time strategy Aztec Wars is set in a world where an Aztec chieftain one day got an idea to conquer the entire world... and proceeded to easily do just that, apparently managing to utterly steamroll Africa and Europe. Of course, it probably helps that they have a host of military units unknown in our timeline, including fireball-toting priests and Spider Tanks.
- The The New Order: Last Days of Europe mod for Hearts of Iron IV plays with this — it is done straight before and during World War II for the Axis powers (mostly because it hard to pull off a crushing Axis victory without it), but the moment the Axis won, the timeline stops giving them breaks (at least for Germany; what has been hinted about Japan thus far suggests they're doing better), to the point that some slight wankish moments later on (such as Spain and Portugal uniting into a fascist Iberian Union) are direct counter-reactions to how badly Germany screws things up and the Reich appears to be on the brink of collapse by the start-date — 1962, less than two decades after WW2 ended.
- Refreshingly averted by Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg. The Kaiser refusing to reenact unrestricted submarine warfare after the sinking of RMS Lusitania leads to the USA not getting involved, leading to the failure of the Entente offensive in the west, Paris falls and the German Empire wins World War I in 1921. By 1936, the German Kaiserreich is the foremost power in Europe but it has a desperate manpower shortage, it has failed to prevent hostile syndicalist revolutions in France and Britain, its colonial empire is highly unstable and it suffers under a huge stock market crash immediately from the game start. Other events can see a right-wing Russia backstabbing Germany by siding with the Internationale to reverse the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, and a Second American Civil War resulting in a syndicalist victory. It's surprisingly likely for the country that lends the mod its name to be destroyed in only the first 5-10 years.
- A single comic of Dresden Codak has the protagonist writing "Dinosaurwank" alternate prehistory fiction. The asteroids that caused the Permian and Cretaceous extinctions didn't hit the earth in her alternate history, resulting in absolutely absurd symbiotic relationships between species, including a pair of species where one evolved for intelligence while the other evolved for obedience and dexterity.
- The various Strangerverse timelines from AlternateHistory.com invoke this trope. The entire point of the timeline is to have a certain country that will eventually end up covering the entire Earth. The story itself is that a time traveler from the future came to the past and gave Applied Phlebotinum to a major historical figure that will help his country in doing this task. Examples include:
- Averted in the timeline Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail '72, where the alternate candidate getting in leads to a deadlocked presidential election. The setup is an alternate Democrat facing Richard Nixon in the 1972 presidential election, but it takes some...surprising twists and turns.
- This fanfic does this to The Philippines, in the Command & Conquer universe.
- The story of Byzantine Emperor Skantarios Laskaris (based on a Total War scenario) turns into a wank as Skantarios' opponents never seem to understand how he is vulnerable and strike back at him, which allows him to crush opposing forces one by one and doggedly reconquer Eastern Europe and the Near East for the Roman/Byzantine Empire.
- Another story based on a Total War playthrough, A Scotsman in Egypt, has Scotland wanked. After taking a drunken jaunt through Egypt, they kick the English and Irish out of the British isles, take complete control of the Papacy, become the superpower in Europe, effortlessly beat back the Mongol invasion, and eventually has a Scottish expedition to the Americas.
- A rare in-universe example occurs in SCP-140 from the SCP Foundation. The object in question is a Reality-Writing Book detailing the history of a civilization called the Daevites. When the book was first found, the Daevites were destroyed by Qin Kai in the 3rd century BCE. However, when the book comes into contact with a fluid that can be used for writing such as ink or human blood (which is, naturally, the most potent writing fluid), the text changes to state that the Daevites recovered from their defeats and rebuilt elsewhere and eventually return to glory, and it is currently written that the civilization was destroyed by Genghis Khan, about 1400 years later. This on its own would not be remarkable compared to many other objects in containment except for the fact that these changes in the written history are retroactively applied to the world, with corresponding archaeological sites appearing. Each time the book has such an expansion event, their history gets closer and closer to modern times. This is especially bad because the Daevites are Obviously Evil, performing gruesome human sacrifice, utilize Black Magic, and are a Human Subspecies with much longer lives and therefore often superior intelligence to standard humans. Furthermore, they have infiltrated our society and are actively working to expand their history further.
- Kilian Experience features a parodic version of this, where Kilian plays New Zealand in a playthrough of Hearts of Iron IV. After seceding from the United Kingdom in 1936, New Zealand finds that without its aid, Britain was "practically defenseless" against the Nazis, causing a domino effect that led to the Nazis defeating the Soviet Union and the United States capitulating. This leads to New Zealand battling the Axis, which it manages thanks to taking over Australia, drafting seventy million sheep into the army, taxing dwarves, and teaming up with the last pockets of American resistance in Delaware (which Hitler never bothered to conquer, as it is "the New Zealand of America"). By the end of the video, things are mostly the same as ever - except Sweden became fascist, Finland now controls North Africa, Estonia "kinda rules Brazil", New Zealand refuses to give up Australia, and the United States and Canada have been replaced by the Delawarian Empire.