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America Is Still a Colony

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An Alternate History setting where the United States remains under the control of a European country. The most common version is where the colonists lost The American Revolution. This may be portrayed as a dystopia, especially by writers from the US, or it may simply be to show how glorious The British Empire might be if it hadn't eventually fizzled out (more common with British writers).note  The important thing is that the United States never became an independent country, and the original colonies (at least) remain under control of a foreign nation. More realistic takes on the trope will have the 13 colonies ending up quite a bit like Canada, or even as part of Canada.note 

If there was a failed revolution, then it's quite likely that the colonies will have suffered some sort of harsh reprisals, and may still be living under some sort of stern martial law. In this case, expect to find La Résistance going strong.

The colonists will often retain stereotypically British traits, such as accents,note  even though those traits were not actually affected by the war, but by distance, and, in many cases, were already somewhat established by the time the war occurred. This may be done to help remind the viewer that things are different in this timeline, or it may simply be Rule of Funny.

In any case, expect mention of Historical Domain Characters like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, in much different roles from the ones they played in our history. They may be branded as traitors, or simply remembered for much different things.note  Benedict Arnold's name will no longer be a synonym for Turncoat, and may even be a term of praise. Paul Revere will be remembered for his work as a silversmith, rather than for the midnight ride immortalized by the poet Longfellow.

Sub-Trope of Different States of America.

See also the Divided States of America, where the US never unified or the union broke up at some point; the Fallen States of America, where the US has become a third world country; the Invaded States of America, where the US has either been invaded or outright conquered; and the Expanded States of America, where the US has gotten bigger.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass has an interesting case: the Revolutionary War was lost due to Benjamin Franklin defecting for a title of nobility before he appealed to Louis XVI for assistance, but then Britain lost to Napoléon Bonaparte, and therefore no longer has control over the British Isles. They regroup as the Britannian Empire, physically in North America. Worth noting that the actual Alternate History split was earlier - Henry IX succeeded Elizabeth I, instead of James I. What 1775-6 were like in this universe is honestly anyone's guess.

    Comic Books 
  • In one issue of JLA (1997), a probability-altering villain twisted time so America never revolted, and a King George was on the throne. Amongst other things, the Capitol Building changes to look kind of like a larger version of the Houses of Parliament.
  • There's a very brief reference in JSA to a world where the heroes are the Colonial Society of Justice. For some reason, Starman and Stargirl (the only characters we see) wear Revolutionary War era costumes.
  • In Batman: Holy Terror has an interesting variation with America under British control, but not under the monarchy which has been replaced by a Puritan theocracy established by Oliver Cromwell following the English Civil War, which happened a century before the American Revolution took place.
  • The Marvel's Captain Britain Corps has at least two members (Crusader X from Earth 2122 and Captain Colonies (Steve Rogers) from Earth 4103) of realities in which America is still a colony.
  • Happens in Lilith due Lilith's interference with the Battle of Sekigahara causing the death of Tokugawa Ieiasu and the rise of the Toyotomi Shogunate: the Ishida Shogunate led a new and successful invasion of Korea, forcing the Joseon Dynasty in exile with what remained of their forces and trying to gain British support to retake their country, and as part of that their Turtle Ships were lying in ambush on the Delaware River and intercepted George Washington's army during their crossing, causing the collapse of the revolutionaries. The result was a world where the British Empire controls the continent to the Rocky Mountains and Japan controls the West Coast, with them fighting on opposite sides during the Great War (fought in the 1930s after a close call in 1914 and the collapse of Austria-Hungary and its absorption into Germany), a war that ended when the Germans dropped a Japanese nuke on London.
    • A later travel has Lilith arrive a few months years after the defeat of the Colonials and make contact with the surviving leaders of the Congress and George Washington (who suffered brain damage during the failed Crossing of the Delaware) as they travel to the Japanese colonies to try and obtain their support in restarting the Revolutionary War, but the encounter with Lilith inspires them to instead try and cause strife between Britain and Japan so they'll be able to strike in the chaos. This being the final issue, we don't see if they're successful.

  • In Wild Wild West, part of Arliss Loveless' plan for the U.S. surrender and dividing the country was to return the original 13 colonies to the U.K., "minus Manhattan", Florida (but not the former parts of Mexico) to Spain, and what was more or less the Louisiana Territory to the French. A corner in the Northwest was reserved for "Loveless Land". There was a valid reason for this beyond just a desire on Loveless' part to rip America apart: those countries were financing his experiments and superweapons.

  • In S. P. Somtow's The Aquiliad, the Roman Empire didn't fall, discovered steam power, and eventually came across the Atlantic to conquer the Americas. The protagonist (Aquila, which is Latin for "Eagle") is a member of the Lakotii tribe (what we would call the Lakota Sioux), and a member of the Senate.
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy is set sometime in an alternate 2000's or so, and the third book mentions offhand that the The American Revolution is only just beginning. Some of the demons are threatened with "being sent to fight in the Colonies."
  • A novel with the appropriate title of For Want of a Nail is a faux textbook of North American history from 1763 to 1971. The point of divergence is the Battle of Saratoga, which ends in a British victory. Shortly thereafter a peace faction gets control of Congress and ends the war with Great Britain. Some revolutionaries escape to form a new nation in Texas, while Britain's North American colonies are given dominion status in the 1830s.
  • In the short story "He Walked Around the Horses" by H. Beam Piper, the parallel universe diverged from ours at the Battle of Quebec on January 1, 1776 when Benedict Arnold was killed instead of wounded. Consequently, the British General John Burgoyne triumphs over Horatio Gates at the Battles of Saratoga on September 19 and October 7, 1777. In reality, the first battle was a Pyrrhic victory for the British and the second was a decisive American victory. Following the British victory at Saratoga, George Washington was killed at the Battle of Doylestown and the American Revolution was eventually defeated. The remaining leaders of the Revolution are either dead or in exile in 1809.
  • In Megamorphs #3: Elfangor's Secret, the villain Visser Four travels back in time to alter various points of human history to make Earth of the present easier to conquer. One of these changes is warning the Hessians of Washington's approach, allowing them to ambush the Americans as they cross the Delaware and thus prevent the United States from being founded. However, there's no mention of this at the Downer Beginning, likely because another of the Visser's changes was ensuring Nelson's defeat at Trafalgar.
  • In the Lord Darcy series, history diverged around 1199: the Anglo-French Empire is still ruled by a descendant of Richard The Lion Heart, and controls most of western Europe as well as America. North America is known as 'New England' and South America is 'New France'.
  • Something of a zig-zagged trope in Timeline 3 of The Merchant Princes Series. America was, until very recently, ruled by the British throne, but in the 21st century of the books they have recently been overthrown in favour of a democratic(ish) government led by the Radical Party. And even before then, "colony" may not be the right word, since the throne moved to America in the 18th century, after France conquered the British Isles.
  • In the New Amsterdam Books by Elizabeth Bear, magic has greatly restricted the expansion of the American colonies, as a result of which, they never even tried to become independent.
  • The short story "His Powder'd Wig, His Crown of Thorns" by Marc Laidlaw (in The Mammoth Book of Alternate Histories) is set in a Britain-ruled America that seems to be loosely based on the Raj, with Native Americans in the place of, well, Indians.
  • While it's a minor plot point, in the alternate world of Seekers of the Sky, the State (successor to the Roman Empire) controls much of Europe either directly or through puppet regimes. The State also has colonies in the Americas, which occasionally clash with the dominant Aztec Empire.
  • The Tales of Alvin Maker splits the difference, with portions of colonial America splitting away as a reduced United States, another portion remaining a colony of a republican England where the Restoration never occurred, and a third part being claimed by the exiled House of Stuart.
  • In The Tower and the Fox, the American Revolution has failed due to the British use of sorcery and a monopoly on anthropomorphic animals with magically-infused blood, but John Quincy Adams and his fellows are still talking revolution in the 1800s. In addition the French Revolution failed thanks to Britain installing a Puppet King. The vulpine protagonist, the first of his kind to become a sorcerer in their own right, is loyal to the British Empire—until he travels to London and discovers how his own kind are treated there in the second book. In the third book he joins the new Revolution.
  • Tunnel Through the Deeps is a book by Harry Harrison in which, due to the fact it was John Cabot, not Christopher Columbus, who discovered North America, Spain was also never unified and unable to fund Columbus. This lead to a scenario where the revolutionary war was lost and George Washington was shot as a traitor. The main character is a descendant of Washington who feels tarred by his family's bad reputation whilst working on a transatlantic tunnel between the British Isles and the Northern American colonies. In the end, it's implied that there is growing sentiment among the colonies to peacefully secede from the Empire, with some suggestions that Washington should be the first president (even though he's an engineer, not a politician).
  • In Twig, sometime in the mid 1800s the British empire retook the US using biologically engineered warbeasts, reanimated corpse-soldiers, and industrially manufactured plagues and poisons. By the start of the story in the 1920s the US is under the control of the "Crown Empire" and nearly all of its cities have been renamed to be more British, with the exception of a few; particularly, New York was reverted to its old name of New Amsterdam, even though that's considerably less British.
  • The Two Georges takes place in an alternate timeline where George Washington and King George III were able to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the problems between Britain and the colonies. In the 20th century, the North American Union consists of most of North America and is a vital part of the British Empire. The plot of the book concerns the theft of the titular "The Two Georges", a famous painting commemorating George Washington meeting with King George. The painting is held for ransom by the Sons Of Liberty, a racist, terrorist organization seeking independence for the North American Union from Britain.
  • In The Year of the Hangman, The American Revolution was swiftly crushed in 1777. The rebellion has thus gone underground, revolting against the British in more covert ways than open war. The story ends on an ambiguous note, as the British protagonist has decided to join the rebellion, but much of its leadership like Benjamin Franklin and George Washington are now dead.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Saturday Night Live had a skit in which the Pentagon had gotten sick of politicians arguing over what the founders would have wanted. So they invent a Time Machine to settle everyone's questions once and for all. George Washington (played by Russell Brand of all people) is brought to the present, but he's so freaked out by modern times that he goes crazy and ends up being killed by Nancy Pelosi (played by Kristen Wiig). The sketch ends with the Pentagon guy (played by Jason Sudeikis) stepping outside and seeing the British flag flying over the U.S. Capitol, to which he says "Oh uh, that's not good!"
  • Sliders: "Prince of Wails" had the sliders arrive in an Alternate Universe where America was under British control and George Washington had been executed as a traitor. After rescuing Prince Harold, the heir to the British throne, the sliders say to him "Why don't you give democracy a go?" as though he should never have heard of it... despite the United Kingdom (and its predecessor states) having been a Constitutional Monarchy and Parliamentary Democracy since 1688, so he'd know what democracy is.

    Video Games 
  • If you're playing as Britain in Empire: Total War, you'll be wanting to make this happen.
  • The second part of the popular Half-Life mod, "Timeline", called "Iced Earth", takes place in a world where the colonies never revolted and the US is under British rule (the Earth is also in the grip of a new Ice Age, hence the title).
  • In the world of Pax Britannica, the Eastern United States remained a British colony, eventually evolving into the autonomous United Commonwealth of America.
  • The Edutainment Game Pepper's Adventures in Time has the titular character travel back to colonial times to undo her crazed uncle's plans to turn Benjamin Franklin into a 60s style hippie. A Game Over results in America remaining under British rule.
  • Rise of Nations: Thrones & Patriots: In the "New World" campaign, the players can deviate from history quite heavily, including the European colonial powers (especially Britain) keeping the United States from gaining independence.
  • In the backstory of Shadows of Doubt, the American Revolution was routed in 1776 by the Anglo-French Empire, ruled by Louis XVI and the House of Bourbon. The Empire formed after France helped Bonnie Prince Charlie overthrow the Hanover dynasty in England in 1745, which was itself a consequence of William Lee's stocking frame knitting machine sparking an early industrial revolution in 1610 and making France very rich (a scenario averted in real life due to the assassination of William Lee's chief patron, France's King Henry IV). However, the Empire (which encompasses western Europe and North America) proves to be too large for the Bourbon Court to effectively govern, and it collapses in 1901 following a decade of rebellions. The former territories of the "Old Empire" reorganize into the democratic United Atlantic States in 1902.

    Web Original 
  • Played with in Look to the West, in which the point of divergence is George II sending his son Frederick to America. Due to his influence, the Empire of North America becomes the dominant partner in the Hanoverian holdings, to the point that at the end of the Pandoric War, Britain declares independence.
  • Subverted in this map, where British North America is given more representation in the British parliament, sowing loyalty and averting the American Revolution. However, they still obtain Dominion status in 1861 and eventually independence in 1923.

    Western Animation 
  • In one Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot episode, a time jump results in the Big Guy suit ending up in the hands of the British during the American Revolution, who figure out how to use it. Naturally, they handily win the war, and the colonies remain British with "Iron Jack" praised as being instrumental in putting down the rebellion. The problem? In the primary timeline, Big Guy was the only reason an Alien Invasion failed. In this timeline, it succeeded, with humans being slaves of the invaders. A second trip back in time is required to recover the suit and put history back on track.
  • The Fairly OddParents! had "Twistory", which eventually got banned from airing on Nickelodeon as it was considered to take the anti-British sentiment a bit too far. Timmy wishes the founding fathers to appear in his tree house to help him with a history report. Their removal from history, however, turns the US back into a British colony. Everyone gets bad teeth, all the houses of Dimmsdale turn into tudor thatched room cottages (despite construction being very past that point by 1772 in the UK) and there is no electricity due to Benjamin Franklin never discovering it — completely in ignorance of the discoveries in the fields of electromagnetism by the Englishman Michael Faraday. Timmy then has to go back in time to stop Benedict Arnold from convincing the revolutionaries to surrender.
  • The Futurama episode "All the Presidents' Heads". After Fry accidentally changes history by taking one of the lanterns that was meant to signal Paul Revere, New New York is full of London Underground signs and red double decker hoverbuses, symbols of "Western Britannia" include the Tyranny Bell and Dunkin Crumpets, and everyone wears random period outfits from the Elizabethan to the Victorian age, and speaks with really bad Cockney accents. (Fridge Logic: Even Hermes, who's from a Commonwealth country anyway.)
  • One episode of Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? had her going back in time and altering key points in the The American Revolution, which resulted in America losing the war and the Chief speaking with a bloody British accent.

  • Lyndon LaRouche, a radical American political activist and Conspiracy Theorist, believed this trope to be Truth in Television. Specifically, he believed that The British Empire (or as he called it, the "Anglo-Dutch liberal order") never actually "fell", because its financial institutions and intelligence agencies remained extraordinary powerful in a manner comparable to how medieval Venice flexed its power. He saw the City of London as the real capital of the Western world and the American political class as its puppets and collaborators, with British interests, including the royal family, involved in everything from the illegal drug trade to The American Civil War to the scientific establishment to the rise of the '60s counterculture and rock music.