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Civil War

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"All wars are Civil Wars, because all men are brothers."
Francois Fenelon

A Civil War is an intense conflict between organized groups trying to take control of a state and/or region, achieve independence for a region, or to change government policies. Most Civil Wars are fought by a status-quo ruling body of the state and one or more groups that wish to change said state, though said non-state groups often fight each other as well, and it can also be between two states that both claim to be the sole rightful (nation-)state for a single nation. To be considered a "war" rather than an uprising or rebellion requires that the conflict involve regular armed force, involve organized factions, and be on a certain scale and of a certain intensity. All the sides involved have to have a genuine chance (however small) of achieving their aims in the conflict for it to be a Civil War and not just a rebellion/uprising. Where rebellions end and Civil Wars begin often isn't clear, and whether a conflict is called one or the other often depends on what the factions — especially the victorious onedecide to call it.

Those fighting Civil Wars usually don't call them that, as they try to make use of the power of language to suggest that they are in the right: the ruling power will term it a police action against unpopular extremist rebels. Their enemies will consider themselves People's Heroes and Freedom Fighters spearheading a populist Revolution. However, it is just as likely for a small group of rebels to claim Civil War status (as such terminology would give their struggle an air of seriousness it would not otherwise have), or likewise, for the government to use the term (to justify force that would seem excessive against a mere criminal action). How the outside world views the situation is largely Written by the Winners. This is largely why wars for independence are so murky when it concerns the concept: generally, if a country fails to gain independence, expect it to be called a civil war, and if it does, expect it to be called a regular war or a Revolution (thereby implying that the two post-war countries were never one).

No matter who prevails, it is often a Pyrrhic Victory, as, depending on the world situation, internal conflict provides an opportunity for exploitation or conquest by outside forces: Divide and Conquer if the villain takes advantage, and Enemy Civil War for the heroes. Indeed, many (real and fictional) civil wars are also Proxy Wars.

Civil Wars both real and fictional have provided excellent opportunities for stories, as depicted morality can be all over the board. The fact that both sides believe themselves to be justified allows for an authorial portrayal of both sides having good people fighting for what they believe in along with a couple of real bastards on both sides. Often, while one side may indeed be presented as morally superior, there will be a Worthy Opponent among the enemy ranks and the Perspective Flip is common. Along with that, there can be Star-Crossed Lovers pining for each other across the battlefield and families split by the tension of what they believe is right.

Many an Alternate History is based around a losing side of a historical civil war prevailing in a different timeline. A specific common Alternate History Civil War is a Second American Civil War. See also The War of Earthly Aggression, for civil wars IN SPACE!

This is not to be confused with Marvel Comics' Civil War, Civil War the Power Metal band, or Civil War the 2024 film.

Examples of factual Civil Wars commonly used in media:

Examples of famous fictional Civil Wars:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Gryps War of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam was fought between the Anti Earth United Government (AEUG) and the Titans. Both factions claimed to be operating under the Earth Federation, though when the Titans demonstrated a remarkable lack of care for whether or not Earth Federation political leaders were caught in the crossfire, the Titans were declared traitors.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist there was the Ishvalan Civil War which happened in the backstory, and devolved into a Final Solution due to the Amestrians ordering their genocide.
    • Later on in the manga, Colonel Mustang starts his own revolution to take power and stop the plans of the main villain, assisted by General Armstrong and her forces.
  • One Piece: Crocodile's entire master plan in the Alabasta Arc is to engineer a civil war in the titular kingdom by means of a few False Flag Operations designed to make the king look like a tyrant so that the people will rise up against him. All so that he can swoop in and be the hero who stops it.

  • Guernica is titled after a Basque town that was bombed as a consequence of the fighting between the Nationalists and Republicans during the Spanish Civil War by the Germans and the Italians, who had backed the Nationalist side.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix: Asterix and the Goths provides the page picture (although the names aren't those of the Goth chiefs but doctored to be the names of then-current French politicians). Astérix, Obélix and Getafix engineer an Enemy Civil War between the Goths to prevent them from invading Gaul before centuries.
  • The Marvel Civil War, with heroes supporting a Super Registration Act fighting those who refused to reveal their identities. Intended to be an Outside Man, Inside Man situation, with the pro-reg group trying to head off an even worse situation by co-operating. This also went meta, the resulting Fandom War, pitting the authors of said story arc versus most of the rest of the fandom and their fellow writers.
    • Its sequel, Civil War II, involves the Marvel superheroes once again split, this time Captain Marvel wants to use someone's precognitive powers to prevent crimes and disasters from happening. Iron Man, however, refuses to punish criminals before they commit crimes. All of this is set off by the death of War Machine and She-Hulk slipping into a coma at the hands of Thanos.
  • The Smurfs: In the comic book version of King Smurf, the title character fosters rebellion among the Smurfs with his authoritarian rule as the village's monarch, leading to more and more Smurfs choosing to side with the rebels instead of with King Smurf, even during the Final Battle when the village was breached by the rebels. By the time the dust settled, King Smurf only had about a dozen Smurfs still loyal to him surrounding him in a circle and would have been consumed by the rebels had not Papa Smurf showed up to shout "STOP!" and bring all the Smurfs back to their senses.
    • Another civil war erupted in "Smurf Vs. Smurf" where the North Smurfs and the South Smurfs fought over the correct use of the word "smurf" in compounded words and phrases (or however the language division was portrayed in non-English versions), which led to Papa Smurf seeking the reluctant help of Gargamel to straighten the whole mess out.
  • The "Divided We Fall" arc in Ultimate Marvel features an actual civil war in the US. Washington DC is blown up, and the president and all the Congress are killed in the blast. The US falls in anarchy, Sentinels take over the west, Texas declares independence, etc. Kitty Pryde and the X-Men fight against the Sentinels, and Captain America is elected president and makes all the rogue states rejoin the Union, by force if needed be.
  • Wonder Woman Vol. 2: The Amazon nation split in antiquity with those willing to accept the Olympians' punishment going to Themyscira and gaining immortality and those who weren't eventually making their way to Egypt and becoming the Bana tribe. The two tribes go to war with each other after Gaia destroys the Bana's home, but eventually call an uneasy truce with the Bana joining their immortal sisters on Themyscira.

    Fan Works 
  • In Brother Against Sister, it's Prince Blueblood who leads the seceded part of Equestria. Apparently, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic writers love this trope.
  • In Burn Them All: An Alternate History of Westeros following the Desolation of King's Landing, one slowly builds up for years in Westeros as the various lords become split into factions between the Whites (loyalists to the idea of the king as absolute monarch), the Bronzes (who want the king reduced to a figurehead of the legislative Middle Council), and the Reds (nationalists who want to dissolve Westeros back into independent kingdoms). This eventually hits a boiling point when Viserys learns that the Bronzes intend to remove him from power in favor of his young son Tywys, and he responds by arresting all the Bronze members of the Middle Council and declaring the rest of the faction traitors, leading to open conflicts between the Whites and Bronzes in the Vale, Riverlands, and Reach; the Reds, meanwhile, who now control the Stormlands and Dorne (through a set of dynastic Baratheon-Martell marriages) declare independence, creating a third side of the war.
  • Chasing Dragons:
    • Westeros is hit with a series of these in the years following the overthrow of the Targaryens and Robert passing the crown to Stannis in order to pursue Rhaegar and his loyalists in Essos.
      • The Red Viper Rebellion: Oberyn's revolt against both the Iron Throne and Doran's rule of Dorne (when the latter refuses to support him). It ends with his forces being crushed and him being executed.
      • The Upper Mander Rebellion: A group of pious lords calling themselves the "Lords Resolute", who are angered by Stannis' apparent refusal to do anything about the reformation movement growing in Essos and his perceived tyrannical actions (such as taxing the Faith and punishing nobles instead of pandering to them), begin plotting to rebel against him. Backed by Septon Ryman's radical faction of the Faith, they eventually launch a large rebellion in the Upper Mander region, which is soon confronted by the combined forces of Stannis' loyalists and ultimately crushed by them.
      • Balon's Rebellion: At the same time that the Upper Mander Rebellion is starting to wind down, Balon Greyjoy launches his own rebellion for independence, causing the Faith to declare a holy war on the Ironborn in retaliation for them burning several major septs in the Westerlands in the process (though once Stannis is able to shift his attention away from the Reach with his loyalists, he's able to clamp down and keep the war secular). And to further complicate matters, those few Ironborn who were opposed to the rebellion decide to counter-rebel and aid Stannis' invasion of the Iron Islands contributing to the royalists' curb-stomping of the Ironborn.
      • The Trident Wars: After the collapse of the Upper Mander Rebellion, some Rymanist septons escape to the Riverlands and start spreading their message. Paranoia over this runs rampant, combined with the always fractious nature of the region, until practically every River Lord house is fighting each other in a complicated mess. Fortunately, unlike the other conflicts, Stannis is able to quickly step in and put his foot down, decreeing that people can worship whatever version of the Faith they want as long as they do it in private and don't try to convert others.
      • A three-way conflict erupts in the Vale near the end of the story, between Arryn loyalists, supporters of the Old Faith, and the Mountain Clans.
    • For a non-Westeros example: after reactionaries launch a coup against the pragmatic abolitionists that have become the ruling faction in Norvos, a few of the latter survive and flee to create a Government in Exile in Braavosi territory, leading to fighting between those who support them and those loyal to the plotters.
  • Child of the Storm:
    • Krypton is revealed to have entered one of these in its final days. On one side were the Science Council (who refused to believe Jor-El's warnings of the planet's encroaching doom), on the other was General Zod (who believed Jor-El and felt that overthrowing the Council would somehow save the planet), and opposed to both was the Cult of the Eradicator (who also believed Jor-El, but also felt that their world blowing up would be a good thing — and venerated Jor-El as their Prophet). Jor-El, depicted as a very gentle soul and a Martial Pacifist, is left absolutely heartbroken.
    • Earlier in its history, there was the Asgardian Civil War, with Odin, Vili, and Ve on one side and their older brother, Cul, on the other. The other three rose up largely because of how Cul a.k.a. the Serpent was abusing his power, over Earth in particular, which he'd transformed into the horrifying dystopia of Aesheim. Vili and Ve were killed in the war, and the consequences were so brutal that Odin had to enlist the assistance of several other pantheons to stitch Earth back together afterwards (achieved by essentially folding back time to before the Serpent's conquest and cutting off the loop, trapping Cul in his own timeline).
  • Darth Vader: Shattered Galaxy: Jango Fett mentions in the first chapter that in the five years since the previous story, the Trade Federation has been slowly splintering into at least two factions fighting each other for control.
  • In A Dragon's Roar, a second Dance of Dragons starts brewing as tensions grow between the various members of House Targaryen. It eventually hits a breaking point at Harrenhal, when Rhaegar convinces Aerys that Daeron was conspiring with the Knight of the Laughing Tree against him. This gives Rhaegar the legal authority to strike at Daeron and his allies, who counter by crowning Daeron as king and striking back — the Westerlands and Dorne outright declare for Daeron, the Crownlands and Reach declare for Aerys and Rhaegar, the Riverlands, Stormlands, and Vale dissolve into mini civil wars of their own over who to follow, and the North appears to be neutral.
  • Narrowly averted in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic The Divide. After it's discovered that Sombra was Celestia's son, Cloudsdale secedes from Equestria in disgust, with rumblings as far as the Crystal Empire of others planning the same. However, despite Chrysalis' attempt to inflame the situation, cooler heads prevail, and ultimately the situation is resolved peacefully, with Cloudsdale rejoining.
  • Earth's Alien History:
    • In the Mirror Universe, the Terran Treaty Organization undergoes a civil war when Hoshi Sato and her supporters launch a military revolution to overthrow the various constituent governments, ultimately succeeding and creating the now unified Terran Empire.
    • The Praxis War is a Klingon civil war, kickstarted when more reactionary forces led by House Duras rebel against the more progressive regime of Chancellor Azetbur.
    • The Klingons undergo a second civil war when the Kahless clone emerges and denounces Azetbur's reforms, allying with the Bloodwine Society to launch a rebellion, leading the frontier worlds against Azetbur's power base in the core, which is backed indirectly (for Realpolitik reasons) by TeTO via the Conspiracy of Light. In the end, a truce is called and the Empire is split, with Azetbur's territories becoming the TeTO-aligned Klingon Republic, and the rebel worlds becoming the Empire of Kahless, a hermit kingdom with no allies.
    • During the Goa'uld War, several Goa'uld infiltrators trigger one of these in the Ildiran Empire. They accomplish this by infesting a Designate, surgically upgrading him to turn him into a makeshift Mage-Imperator, and then use aerosolized narcotics to weaken the wills of an entire planet and its fleet to bend them to his will, turning them against the legitimate Mage-Imperator.
  • In Hail To The Queen, the Boiling Isles are caught up in one that has lasted for many years between Belos' empire and a growing rebellion. Part of the plot is Luz being left to pick up the reigns of said empire in its battle against the rebellion while trying to finish the portal home.
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, the Equestrian Civil War, when Luna first became Nightmare Moon and attempted to usurp Celestia.
  • In A Kingdom Divided some of Equestria's towns rebel against Princess Celestia.
  • Kokuten: As a direct consequence of Sasuke's Peggy Sue antics, the Uchiha Coup d'État occurs. On one side, there are the Konoha Council (the Sandaime Hokage and the Elders) and the shinobi clans. The first line of defense was the ANBU forces but as things got direr, Konoha jonin and chunin got called as well. On the other side, we have the Uchiha Clan who usually comprises Konoha's Police Forces but has decided to rebel in the face of the discrimination they suffer and ambitions that predate the village's founding. Later on, they manage to rope the Hyuga Clan into an alliance in exchange for political power.
  • An Ordeal of the Most Grievous Kind is a novelization of a run-through of Hearts of Iron IV, and features a Second American Civil War break out as the result of President Alf Landon (who beat FDR in the 1936 election thanks to a smear campaign) being assassinated in 1938. Since the shooter was a journalist who was blacklisted for suspected communist ties, J. Edgar Hoover uses the assassination as a pretext for rooting out every communist in the country (along with everyone else he and his allies, including the fascist Silver Legion, don't like). When it becomes clear that Landon's vice president Frank Knox isn't going to support him, Hoover convinces Douglas MacArthur to stage a Military Coup, dissolving Congress and declaring martial law; in response, Knox forms a new government in Boston, which quickly gains the allegiance of the governments and National Guards of all the New England states, New York, Pennsylvania, California, Oregon, and Washington, along with several army divisions under Dwight Eisenhower. And in addition to all the regular military, hundreds of militias rise up across the country in support of either the Loyalists (MacArthur's regime) or the Constitutionalists (Knox's government), which also have backing from the Axis and Allies, respectfully.
  • The Raven's Plan: This trope happens to Dorne as a consequence of the Remembering. First off, Doran and his loyalists remember how Ellaria and the Sand Snakes betrayed them in the original timeline and kill them, which enrages Oberyn. Therefore causing the confused guards to turn on each other (since they assume that there's either a coup or counter-coup going on). By the time the fighting ends when Doran makes peace with Oberyn and explains things, many visiting members of lesser Dornish Houses have been killed, enraging their families into rising against the Martells in revenge. Meanwhile, several other Houses are rebelling, simply because they smell the blood in the water and think that the Martells have been weakened.
  • The W.I.T.C.H. fanfic Ripples has one break out on Meridian following the Darkest Winter Night, between those loyal to Phobos and the so-called Council of Restoration, composed of all the noble houses which view him as a usurper and wish to depose him. However, the latter eventually collapses due to a combination of political infighting and being worn down by Phobos' military, leading to the canon Rebellion beginning.
  • In Robb Returns,
    • The Iron Islands are on the edge, due to the growing differences between those who intend to heed the Call (such as Rodrik Harlaw) and those that deny it happened (like Balon Greyjoy and Damphair). A war does eventually break out, which ends with those who heed the Call winning after Balon and Damphair are killed by Euron, leaving Balon's daughter Asha (who supports her uncle Harlaw) to take the Seastone Chair.
    • Another begins to brew up in the Riverlands, between those who follow the Old Gods and the resurgent Faith Militant.
  • Depending on your interpretation of Shell Shock's backstory from the eponymous fanfic, the conflict may or may not be a civil war.
  • Much like in the books, Son of the Seven Kingdoms has a civil war, but the number of sides is smaller:
    • The main contenders are Joffrey (who holds the Iron Throne and has the support of the Westerlands) and William (with the support of the North, the Riverlands, Dragonstone, and part of the Stormlands), while Renly and the Tyrells seek to ally with William (who is betrothed to Arya Stark) by marrying him to Margaery, Dorne and the Vale are proclaiming neutrality and the Iron Islands might end up becoming independent.
    • After Renly's death, the rest of the Stormlands flock to William, as do several Westerland lords dissatisfied with Lannister rule; the Tyrells are talked into allying with the Lannisters by Littlefinger, who also promises Tywin that he can win over the Vale; Tyrion begins trying to win over Dorne for William; and the Iron Islands still go independent.
  • Summer Crowns has a few examples:
    • Several Riverland houses which were loyal to the Targaryens (and the Freys) rise up against House Tully.
    • A nonviolent political version happens in the Reach, between the Florents (who were made Wardens of the South by the Baratheons) and the Tyrells (who want their position back).
    • Braavos borders on one between a faction which, for Realpolitik reasons, wants to ally with the slave-holders in Lys, and another which holds hardcore to the Braavosi tradition of being anti-slavery.
  • Switchblade: Over the course of the story, the situation in Japan deteriorates to the point of an outright civil war being fought in the nation between the Paranormal Liberation Front and the sides of good (collectively known as the Chain, and consisting of the Pro-heroes, police, and military forces as well as any civilians with fighting experience).
  • Timeline-191: After the End:
    • A Japanese Civil War breaks out near the end of the Fourth Pacific War, as a result of insane military dictator General Ishii ordering a purge of all (actual and imagined) political enemies he believes are about to enact a coup against him in order to sue for peace with the Compact of Democratic States. This causes many surviving high-ranking officers throughout Japan's Co-Prosperity Sphere to declare their territories independent of Ishii's regime, leading to fighting with loyalist forces in the same regions. Other officers, meanwhile, seize control of many of the Sphere's Puppet States, allegedly to ensure Ishii's control but really to establish their own fiefdoms, a series of events made even more complicated as most of those puppet states break out in open rebellion against all Japanese control. And on top of all that, Ishii's government is eventually overthrown by a syndicalist revolution, leading to fighting all over the Home Islands between syndicalists and military loyalists.
    • Rhodesia and South Africa both fall into chaotic civil wars as various militias rise up against both nations' dominant Apartheid governments. In both cases, it takes a Regime Change brought about by foreign intervention to end the fighting — in Rhodesia, the OSS (this timeline's version of the CIA) engineers a Military Coup by moderate officers disgusted by the government's radical violence against the rebels, while South Africa requires a full-scale invasion and occupation by the European Community to topple the remnants of the government and bring about peace.
    • The Ottoman Empire eventually dissolves into total anarchy, as Sunni fundamentalists and ultra-nationalists begin targeting Jewish, Christian, Shi'a, and other religious/ethnic minorities throughout the empire, who retaliate by raising their own militias and fighting back. And while we don't see the conclusion of this conflict before the timeline wraps up, narrative comments state that it results in the final end of the empire as an entity.
  • In True Potential, Kiri starts the story going through one, between the "Blood Mist" under the Yondaime Mizukage, Yagura Karatachi, and the Rebels lead by Mei Terumi.
  • Heavily implied to be the case in Welcome To The Brothel.
  • Occurs twice in Venezuela before the Alien Invasion in Worldwar: War of Equals. First between various political factions after Hugo Chavez's death and the second between Loyalist forces and supporters of the new military leadership after Nicolas Maduro is removed from power by a military coup.

  • Civil War is about, well, a Second American Civil War.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • A civil war between loyal agents of SHIELD and HYDRA infiltrators begins in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and it is continued in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
    • Of course, there's also the Avengers civil war in Captain America: Civil War. Which, unlike its comic book counterpart, is sparked by the Sokovia Accords, a bill that would place the Avengers under the authority of the UN. Actual violence doesn't break out until a third party frames Bucky Barnes for a terrorist attack.
  • The Galactic Civil War within the Galactic Empire forms the central conflict of the Star Wars franchise, preceded by the Clone Wars, fought between the Galactic Republic and a Confederation formed for seceding Republic planets. Numerous smaller-scale civil wars are noted in the Star Wars Legends, and initially the Empire cracked down on them fiercely, unlike the Republic which usually let them be or sent Jedi to figure things out. Later the Empire was content to let them rage while chasing Rebels.
    • In the EU there's actually a Second Galactic Civil War, this one with the Galactic Alliance (post-New Jedi Order New Republic, which in itself is post-Endor Rebel Alliance) against the Confederacy, which is a group of worlds led by Corellia in an attempt to break away. It ends up shifting the power balance quite a bit; the Jedi Order even forms its own temporary government in order to end the conflict.
  • Vaincre ou Mourir: One opposing two kinds of French people during the Reign of Terror phase of The French Revolution — royalist nobles who didn't emigrate and rural Vendeans who wish for things to return as they were under the monarchy prior to the changes of the Revolution that were forced upon them and don't want to be conscripted on one side, and those who serve or embrace the revolutionary Republic on the other.

  • A civil war is an important part of the backstory in A Brother's Price. The royal family of Queensland had such a wealth of daughters that the family was split, the older half staying and marrying Michael, the younger half marrying Raphael and moving to rule recently-annexed Southland. But Michael turned out to be infertile, and the younger sisters became more and more insistent that their children be considered the heirs. This led eventually to what was called the War of the False Eldest, which ended with all of the younger sisters and their children being executed. Except, it turned out, for their boy Alannon, who was abducted by Queensland spies; he is dead by the time of the book, but the Royal Blood he passed on certainly has an impact on his grandson.
  • Most of A Song of Ice and Fire is devoted to this. They start calling it The War of the Five Kings in the second or third book. In the Back Story there are more, such as the Dance of the Dragons, the Blackfyre Rebellionsnote  and Robert's Rebellion.
  • Discworld's Ankh-Morpork has a number of civil wars in its backstory, though the narrator makes clear that many were accidental, overblown in the retelling, and generally not very competent affairs. The Civil War is generally understood to be the one that took place 300 years before the setting of the books, and overthrew the Kings of Ankh-Morpork in favour of the Patrician system. It is mentioned that while the Patrician, Lord Vetinari, has created a time of relative peace under his rule, he has done so by playing increasingly small factions against each other, to the point where, although everyone is technically still fighting a civil war, no one can do enough damage or make enough money out of it to become a threat. The Night Watch books in particular utilize the concept.
  • Don Quixote travels to Barcelona, a Spanish province that is at a Civil War at The Cavalier Years
  • The Dragon War trilogy from Dragons of Requiem is about a war between the Cadigus Empire and hundreds of Vir Requis who defect from his brutal rule in hopes of restoring Requiem to how it used to be.
  • In Dread Empire the conflict that takes place in Hammad al-Nakir is a civil war fought between royalist faction led by Haroun bin-Yousif, the King Without a Throne, and followers of El Murid's new religion. Kavelin also struggles from one — Bragi Ragnarson is hired by Kavelin's king to help him regaining control over country. Due to Shinsan interference, the king dies before Bragi makes it to the Vorgeberg, leaving his wife on the throne and ultimately worsening the situation. Bragi wins the war, but kavelinian aristocrats keep on cospiring against the queen.
  • The Wizarding Wars of Harry Potter. Presumably Voldemort had his eye on global conquest, but the books focus on his attempts to fully consolidate power in Britain, and those fighting against him from within.
  • The Hanover-Stuart Wars in Waverley.
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls is set during, and about, the Spanish Civil War.
  • In Christian Nation, a dozen or so American states that are in protest of President Steve Jordan enforcing the Fifty Blessings to be the law of the land, superceding the power of the Constitution, attempt to secede, forming the Secular Bloc States, leading to what was called a "holy war" which ultimately ends with the rogue nations being recaptured and the last holdouts of freedom and democracy being laid siege upon in Manhattan.
  • World War Z has one break out in China during the height of the Zombie Apocalypse, between the ruling Communist government (which is insistent on wasting lives on pointless human wave tactics against the zombies) and renegade sections of the military (which realize how stupid those tactics are). This war ultimately ends when a rebel submarine takes out the whole Politburo with a nuclear strike, after which both sides reunite to focus on the zombies.
  • The Silerian Trilogy: After the Valdani leave, Sileria's factions devolve into a power struggle between the Alliance and shallaheen versus the various water lords.
  • The Traitor Son Cycle: When the "visiting" Gallish knights — who, for the past year, have been raping, robbing and generally mistreating the Alban populace — manage to arrest the Queen on charges of adultery and intend to have her burned at stake, the people finally have enough and a war erupts between the Gallish faction and Queen's loyalists.
  • Victoria is all about the violent dissolution of the United States prompted by, among other things, a hyperinflation crisis, anemic response to an engineered pandemic, harsh anti-smoking laws, and federal support of rapists, murders and criminals over the common citizen in the name of racial tolerance and sensitivity. Aside from the failed efforts of the Feds to retain power, few of the successor states are inclined to get along, or even suffer each other to exist.
  • Ira Tabankin is very fond of this plot as applied to the USA.
    • The Shelter has a New Confederacy form after a breakdown in the social order from American debt and a disastrous war with China.
    • America's Second Civil War features Barack Obama suspending elections and dissolving Congress, and the resulting insurgency against him.
    • In the Year 2050: America's Religious Civil War has a Muslim majority impose Sharia law on the US, and the previous president leading a nationwide resistance movement.
    • CALEXIT has California secede from the Union following Donald Trump's election, and the subsequent civil war.
  • The Imperial Radch novels are about an unusual example: it's happening in secret, and both of the factions are led by different iterations of the Radch's ruler, Anaander Miannai. At first, anyway. Things get a bit more chaotic when Breq gets herself involved.
  • The Kurukshetra War between the Pandavas and Kauravas who are also first cousins to each other, in the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata May be the Ur-Example.
  • City of Light: Two factions exist among the priests in Vraxor's country, whose animosity slowly grows until, during the story, they erupt into open warfare.
  • The Reluctant King: Iraz falls into one at the end of the second book when Jorian abdicates for Colonel Chuivir, the royal guard commander.
  • Watchers of the Throne: In the second book, Terra nearly falls into this as Guilliman's arrival, rearrangement of the power structure, and swift departure completely upset the political balance on the planet. The conflict between traditionalist Static Tendency supporters and progressive Reform Council quickly turns bloody. It comes within seconds of turning into an Imperium-wide civil war before the Master of Assassins and the Captain-General (both secretly Reform supporters) manage to take out the enemy leadership.
  • Swan's Braid & Other Tales of Terizan: In "The Lions of Al'Kalamir" Terizan is hired by Swan to help stop one by two brothers who both have claims to the throne of the Kalazmir through retrieving the royal regalia which mark the rightful heir. However, at the end she all but insures another one by setting them against each other again in revenge as both had betrayed her.

    Live Action TV 
  • Two of them on Babylon 5: The Earth Alliance Civil War, and later the Minbari Civil War. Several other civil wars are indicated or implied to happen off-screen after the show's end, such as the Telepath War on Earth and Vir's rebellion against Emperor Londo Molari on Centauri Prime.
  • Game of Thrones: Westeros has been subjected to quite a few of these, and most recently the War of the Five Kings, which was a major civil war that erupted in the wake of the death of King Robert I. In essence, the war is at first a three-way battle for the Iron Throne fought alongside two independence movements. The five kings in question are Robert's heir apparent, Joffrey Baratheon, Robert's two younger brothers, Stannis and Renly Baratheon, the "King in the North" Robb Stark, and the "King of the Iron Islands" Balon Greyjoy.
    • House of the Dragon: The Dance of the Dragons was a massive civil war between two rival branches of House Targaryen, fought about 140 years before the events of Game of Thrones.
  • Doctor Who has had at least two Dalek civil wars:
    • There was a brief war in The Evil of the Daleks, between the "Human Factor" Daleks created by the Doctor, and the normal Daleks led by the Emperor.
    • An ongoing war between Renegade and Imperial Daleks drives the main plot of Remembrance of the Daleks.
  • The Unification War in the backstory of Firefly, by virtue of its intended analogizing to the The American Civil War.
  • The fight of the Federation against the Maquis in the Star Trek franchise veers from this to portraying them as merely a terrorist group, Depending on the Writer.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation had a rather short-lived (in broadcast terms) civil war in the Klingon Empire, instigated by the House of Duras when Picard (acting as arbiter) snubbed their blatant attempt to install a Puppet King. It lasted two episodes and ended as soon as the Federation stopped the Romulans from supplying the Duras, leading to their quick defeat.
  • Star Trek: Voyager was crewed by a mix of Starfleet personnel and Maquis rebels who were forced to work together due to being stranded in the Delta Quadrant. The difficulties they had working together were a plot point in the early part of the series. One episode had them get involved in a civil war among the Q. Since A Form You Are Comfortable With was in full effect, the Q looked like Union and Confederate forces. This also applied to their weapons — despite being powerful enough to actually wound and kill Q, they looked like Civil War era rifles.
  • Supernatural:
    • Season 6 involves a civil war in Heaven, as the Council of Angels fragments after season five's Screw Destiny ending. On one side, Archangel Raphael and those who think the Apocalypse should be restarted. On the other, Castiel and those he's convinced to try this "free will" thing. There's plenty of spillover onto Earth, although most of it is left to our imagination. It gets so bad Castiel is willing to work with Crowley, then give up on free will altogether and declare himself the new God after absorbing the souls of Purgatory. This ends badly.
    • In Season 9 the remaining angels are all thrown out of Heaven and sent to Earth. Soon multiple factions are fighting a nasty civil war amongst themselves over what the angels should do next. Angels who prefer to remain neutral are hunted down and killed by all the warring factions. There is also a civil war going on in Hell as the Demon Knight Abbaddon has returned and challenged Crowley's position as King of Hell.
      • Comments from Castiel's former followers in Season 7, as well as Metatron in Season 8, suggest that the fighting never actually stopped. It's just that the spillover doesn't reach Earth again until the angels fall in mass at the end of Season 8.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • The show spends the last portion of its first season dealing with the infighting between loyal SHIELD agents and those who served HYDRA. By the time Season 2 starts, however, this conflict is over, allowing SHIELD to focus on HYDRA's external organization.
    • The second half of Season 2, however, deals with another SHIELD civil war, this time between Coulson's rebuilt but traditionally run group, and Robert Gonzales' "real SHIELD", which is dedicated to more transparency and equality among its agents, but has a more hardline approach to dealing with superhumans. That one ended when Coulson revealed Nick Fury was still alive, not to mention his connection to the Avengers. Gonzales wisely ceased further hostilities, giving into Coulson's suggestion to merge amicably.
  • Rome: Much of the series is centered around the civil wars of the late Roman Republic. In the first season Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon after he's declared an outlaw by the Senate, emerging victorious over Pompey Magnus and his allies. After his assassination the Caesarian and conservative factions declare a truce. Then a three-way civil war erupts between a rogue Mark Antony, Octavian, and Brutus and Cassius; Octavian teams up with Antony against Caesar's killers after he had just finished fighting Antony. Finally, there's a civil war between Mark Antony and Cleopatra on the one hand and Octavian on the other, who gives himself absolute power after defeating Antony to end all this infighting for good.
  • Tyrant (2014): In the second season there's an Islamic insurgency in Abbudin after a gas attack on the rebels leads them to team up with more radical elements. This becomes an all-out civil war between the Al-Fayeed dictatorship, the Army of the Caliphate, and local militia the Red Hand.
  • Season 2 of Pennyworth features England being caught in a conflict between the Raven Union (Lord Harwood's Raven Society and its military allies) and the English League (a coalition of practically every anti-fascist faction in the country).

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Great War of Eberron started out as this when the regions of the empire of Galifar got into a Succession Crisis. Over the course of the 100-year long war, the regions splintered into independent countries, then further splintered into smaller nations.
  • The Horus Heresy is one of the biggest setting-defining events of Warhammer 40,000, despite the fact it took place ten thousand years ago in the past. This is due to the fact that the war was so devastating that it resulted in the deaths of trillions, caused the Emperor to essentially die, and cost the Imperium thousands of years of technological innovation, transforming it into a Fascist, but Inefficient dictatorship/theocracy, besieged on all fronts by hostile forces and stuck in Medieval Stasis.
  • Happens frequently in BattleTech. The Free Worlds League tend to break out in civil war from time to time (and that time being any time they're actually given the spotlight), and Clan Fire Mandrill was known to be just as bad prior to its annihilation in the War of Reaving. Then there was the FedCom Civil War instigated by Katherine Steiner-Davion for control over two states, which ended with the permanent separation of the Federated Commonwealth back into its original states, the Federated Suns and Lyran Commonwealth. It was such a large-scale war that the time from 3062 to 3067 was known as The FedCom Civil War Era.
  • The major inciting event that creates the world of Aldea in Blue Rose is a magical civil war. The Republic falls to an Empress, who then is backstabbed by a cabal of sorcerors that fight over the remains of the land. The war churns through the living soldiers, then the undead ones, and finally demonic troops until all but one of the Evil Overlords are destroyed. The Good Kingdom of Aldis is just a post-Apocalyptic magical land where the survivors have gotten fed up with magical civil wars.
  • The primary setting of Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok: an eternal winter has set in, the end of the world approaches, and Viking society collapses: cue lots of civil wars for what's left.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Golarion's equivalent of the Roman Empire, Taldor, fell into a civil war amidst a bloody war with Qadira to the south, which resulted in the entire western half of the empire seceding under the rule of Cheliax.
    • Much later, King Gaspodar of Cheliax worked to dismantle the country's entire government in preparation for the patron god of humanity, Aroden, to return from heaven and rule as God-Emperor as prophesied. When Aroden died on the appointed date instead, Cheliax quickly fell into dynastic struggles that turned into a free-for-all civil war when Gaspodar was assassinated. The House of Thrune ultimately came out on top of the Battle of a Hundred Kings with the backing of the Church of Asmodeus, but the civil war and subsequent internal power struggles allowed for most of the remaining provinces to secede.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age:
    • The first game contains a brief civil war between Loghain and the Ferelden nobility, who aren't happy with him seizing power during the Blight.
    • Dragon Age II shows the beginning of a civil war between the mages and templars which could potentially spread across the world. The player is forced to choose a side, which is more difficult than it sounds. The conflict is more widely depicted in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
    • As of Asunder (which takes place shortly after II), civil war is also on the horizon in the Orlesian Empire, the most powerful human nation in the setting. This is further detailed in The Masked Empire and resolved (for the time being) in Inquisition.
    • One of the Awful Truths revealed about the elves in Dragon Age: Inquisition is that this is how the original elven homeland was really destroyed, or at least weakened enough for Tevinter to conquer it.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • There have been numerous throughout the series' backstory. To note:
      • While each race of Mer (Elves) split off from the ancient Aldmer under typically unfriendly circumstances, most of the groups left under peaceful self-exile. However, the very first race of Mer to split off, the Maormer (Sea Elves) of Pyandonea, were banished after starting a Civil War in the ancient Mer homeland of Aldmeris. They were forbidden to ever return to their homeland.
      • The very first Atmoran migrants to Tamriel (ancestors to the modern Nords) were said to have crossed the northern seas to escape the constant Civil Wars plaguing their homeland.
      • The First Cyrodiilic Empire came to an end after centuries of civil conflict. Most prominent was the conflict between the two sub-groups who make up the Imperial race — the Colovians (hardy highlanders who have more in common with the Nords) and the Nibenese (cosmopolitan heartlanders famed for their "merchant nobility"). The Colovians split with the declining empire, leading to dozens of squabbling petty kingdoms vying for control. It would be centuries until Reman Cyrodiil came along to reunite the people of Cyrodiil and found the Second Empire.
      • The continent of Yokuda, to the west of Tamriel, saw a bloody civil war waged between the Ansei, or "Sword Saints", and the forces of the Yokudan Emperor, Hira, who was attempting to consolidate power by eliminating the Ansei. After urging from his son and fellow Ansei, the legendary Frandar Hunding reluctantly led the "greatly outnumbered" forces of the Ansei against the corrupt Yokudan Emperor Hira. Frandar and the Ansei were victorious, but were considered "red with blood" by the citizens and chose to self-exile to Tamriel following the conflict. (Yokuda itself would be "sunk beneath the sea" not long after.)
      • Hammerfell, home of the Redguards, saw a civil war erupt in the late 2nd Era between the Crowns, descended from Yokudan nobility, and the Forebears, descended from the "Warrior Wave" of Ra'Gada (including the Ansei) who secured Hammerfell for the migrating Yokudan people. The civil war left both sides weak and allowed Tiber Septim to easily capture Hammerfell for his new Empire.
      • The War of the Red Diamond in the 3rd Era is one of the most famous of modern times. After the death of Emperor Antiochus Septim, his 15 year old daughter Kintrya II took over as Empress. However, her aunt, the infamous "Wolf Queen" Potema, accused Kintrya of being a bastard and therefore illegitimate. Potema declared her son (nephew to Antiochus), Uriel III, as the rightful heir. Potema and Uriel were joined by the disgruntled leaders of several of the Empire's provinces in starting the war, as well as an alliance with the aforementioned Maormer, who invaded southern Tamriel, creating a two-front war for the strained Empire. Kintrya would be captured by Potema's forces and would die in captivity. However, her supporters, now led by her uncle Cephorus, would strike back and kill Uriel III, ending his claim to the throne. Cephorus would take over as Emperor, defeat most of Potema's forces, and then kill Potema herself after a protracted 10 year insurgency. It was the largest conflict the 3rd Empire of Tamriel had faced since it was founded, and would remain as such until the Oblivion Crisis.
    • In Skyrim, a major side-arc to the story (which is almost as expansive as the main quest itself) revolves around the Civil War raging in Skyrim between the Imperial forces and the Stormcloak rebels (with the Aldmeri Dominion looming in the background). The Dragonborn can join either side and lead it to victory, or negotiate a temporary peace (to focus on the whole "world getting eaten by dragons" issue). The war itself is a sterling example of Grey-and-Gray Morality and Both Sides Have a Point in action, neither side is "right" and both sides have negative aspects. To note:
      • The Empire is trying to hold onto Skyrim because it needs both the resources and the manpower, especially since they expect a full-scale second "Great War" with the Aldmeri Dominion (see below) in the near future. Skyrim also acts as a vital transportation hub, connecting the heart of the Empire (Cyrodiil) to all of its other remaining provinces. The Stormcloaks (rightfully) criticize the Empire for not understanding the people of Skyrim or their culture (agreeing to the ban on Talos worship in the White-Gold Concordat with the Dominion to end the first Great War was the final straw for many Nords). Many (even beyond the Stormcloaks) also believe that the Empire's vast bureaucracy and weak leadership clog their government with inefficiency. However, the Empire is generally considered fair and just rulers by the common citizens, and even many Nords feel that Skyrim has a worse chance against the Dominion in a war on their own, so they've backed the Empire. Skyrim also has a long history as one of the Empire's greatest supporters, and the 3rd Empire (of which the current Empire is a remnant) was founded by a Nord (Talos Stormcrown, aka Tiber Septim). Many Empire-supporting Nords believe that no "true" Nord would abandon such a long-time ally. The Empire only agreed to the White-Gold Concordat in the first place because, while they did successfully recapture the Imperial City from the Dominion, they were too weakened (even with Skyrim's backing) to continue the war. They also don't bother to really enforce most of the Concordat's provisions, including the provision banning Talos worship, and blame the Stormcloaks causing a scene over it for the Thalmor starting to enforce it in earnest.
      • The Stormcloaks are the Nords who've chosen to secede from the Empire, believing that Skyrim stands a better chance without the Empire bogging them down and behind a strong leader (Ulfric Stormcloak). They find the Empire's decision to agree to lop-sided peace terms with the Dominion to be disgraceful and even offensive, to both the warrior sensibilities of the Nords and to their religious beliefs. However, most Stormcloaks also display a noticeable degree of Fantastic Racism against non-Nord races (with plenty of "Skyrim is for the Nords" rhetoric, and their mistreatment of the Dunmer and Argonians in their headquarter city of Windhelm), and their rebellion is perceived by Empire-supporters as ill-timed and short-sighted, especially in the face of the true threat of the Dominion.
      • Behind it all lies the Aldmeri Dominion, under the leadership of the Altmeri religious extremist Thalmor. Following the Great War, they instigated the Civil War hoping to weaken the Empire by depriving it of its strongest remaining province while bleeding both sides dry for an eventual Dominion takeover. There is even evidence that they tortured and brainwashed Ulfric Stormcloak as a prisoner in the waning days of the Great War and then unleashed him to accomplish exactly this task. With that said, they may have underestimated Ulfric's leadership and inspirational abilities, as he quickly proved to be more effective than intended....
      • If The Dragonborn gets involved and ends the war early for either side it completely derails the Dominion's plans in this regard. Whoever wins in this case will be a much more powerful foe as a result of the decisive (early) victory, and will have a Thu'um using, dragon-commanding damn-near Physical God as their champion. The only "wrong" choice for the Dragonborn is to do nothing in regards to the Civil War.
      • Serana lampshades the whole thing in the Dawnguard DLC, if you choose a neutral response with respect to who should be Skyrim's High King.
        Serana: Who is Skyrim's High King?
        Dragonborn: That's actually a matter of debate.
        Serana: Oh great, a war of succession. Nice to see things didn't get boring while I was sleeping.
  • In the backstory of Fallout, the series' Alternate Timeline equivalent of The European Union known as the European Commonwealth devolved "into quarreling, bickering nation-states" fighting each other over what little oil and uranium remained during the Resource Wars following their failed conquest of the Middle East. This likely exacerbated the Great War, as there wasn't a unified Europe (or even Western Europe) to stand against Red China and help avoid global Mutually Assured Destruction.
  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • Hingashi was engulfed in a civil war known as the "Age of Blood" in which rival clan heads constantly went to war with each other for territory and control over the island nation. The war was so bloody and gruesome that Hingan citizens are mostly content to live under the corrupt and decadent bakufu that replaced it out of fear of another immensely destructive war.
    • The Garlean Empire suffers this twice, the second one terminally:
      • The first time occurs in the post-MSQ storyline between A Realm Reborn and Heavensward. The previous emperor, Solus zos Galvus, passes away of old age with no heir, leading to a civil war over who would take over. Solus’ grandson, Varis, ends up the winner.
      • In the middle of Shadowbringers Varis is killed by his own son, Zenos, who refuses the throne as he wants to fight the Warrior of Light. Thus, the Ist and IIIrd Legions go to war over their own preferred ruler replacement. However, the Ascian Fandaniel is Playing Both Sides in his mad scheme to kickstart the Final Days, destroying the empire in its wake.
  • Halo:
    • The Great Schism, which started in the last year of the Human-Covenant War when the Covenant's Prophet of Truth thought that the Sangheili/Elites had outlived their usefulness and thus tried to wipe them out with the help of the Jiralhanae/Brutes. It didn't work out so well for him; the Sangheili, along with several Unggoy and Mgalekgolo, ended up allying with the humans to destroy the Covenant once and for all. That said, conflict still continues between the Elites and Brutes.
    • After the Covenant falls, both the Elites and Brutes begin fighting amongst themselves as much as they've been fighting against each other; the most notable of these intraspecies civil wars is the conflict between the Arbiter's pro-human Elite-led Swords of Sanghelios, an ancient Elite religious order known as the Servants of Abiding Truth, and Jul 'Mdama's anti-human Elite-led Covenant revival. In particular, the civil conflicts on the Elite homeworld have become so destructive that its population has fallen to less than half of what it was during the time of the Covenant.
    • Before the Covenant War, humanity itself was on the brink of civil war, as the fighting between the UNSC and the Insurrectionists spread across the Outer Colonies, leading to the creation of the SPARTAN-II program. The conflict was mostly put on hold once the Covenant started attacking, but after the Covenant War and the Great Schism, the Insurrectionists have begun rising up in force again.
    • The backstory notes that the Forerunners fought their own fair share of civil wars before their ecumene was solidified.
  • The Carja of Horizon Zero Dawn are engaged in one by the time Aloy reaches their capital of Meridian. The previous king, Jiran, was a religious fanatic who thought he could prevent the increasing violence of the machines by sacrificing heathens (any non-Carja) to the sun. His son Avad eventually objected, and joined forces with warriors of the Oseram, taking Meridian and killing Jiran. Jiran's remaining followers, led by high priest Bahavas and Jiran's champion Helis, escaped to the summer palace of Sunfall with Jiran's youngest son, founding the faction known as Carja-In-Shadow and taking the civil war into full gear. Over the course of the game, Aloy can rescue the young prince and bring him to safety in Meridian, and deal a sizeable strike to the Carja-In-Shadow's forces by killing Helis, effectively ending the war in Avad's favor.
  • Knights of the Old Republic:
    • The series revolved around the Jedi Civil War, in which the Jedi Knights Revan and Malak defected from the Republic, became Sith Lords and led an army of Sith, Dark Jedi, and ex-Republic soldiers in an attempt to take over the galaxy.
    • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords has the player resolve a civil war on the planet Onderon in which General Vaklu tries to seize control from his cousin Queen Talia in order to secede from the Republic with the help of the Sith. The Light Side route has you support Talia alongside Jedi Master Kavar, while the Dark Side route has you support Vaklu and help him betray the Sith.
    • If the decision to continue from the Dark Side ending of the first game is made at the start of KOTORII, it's revealed that after Darth Revan rallied the remaining Sith to Korriban and regained his memories, he left to find the True Sith alone. Without his guidance, the classic Sith Chronic Backstabbing Disorder went into full effect and a Sith Civil War started for control of the planet, resulting in a very empty academy with the survivors picked up by the Sith Triumvirate. In the canonical Light Side version, the Sith are driven from Korriban entirely by the Jedi following the events of the first game and devolve into feuding warlords before being united under the Triumvirate.
  • In Mass Effect 3, the Robot War between Quarians and the Geth was actually spawned by a Civil War between Quarians who sympathized with the Geth and Quarians who wanted to destroy them all. The Geth only took up arms to defend their friends, but this eventually became "defend themselves" when the quarian sympathizers were rendered into a non-entity.
  • The backstory for Star Trek Online reveals that this is pretty much the state of affairs for the Romulans post-Shinzon that got worse post-Hobus Supernova. The backstory dealt with the war between Tal'Aura's Romulan Star Empire and Donatra's Imperial Romulan State in the aftermath of Shinzon's rebellion while the main bulk of the Romulan Player Character deals with Sela's Romulan Star Empire (ran by the Tal Shiar) going up against D'Tan's Romulan Republic.
  • The Alliance-Hierarchy War in Star Control is also a civil war for humanity, because there are humans on both sides: the Earthlings on the side of the Alliance, the Androsynth on the side of the Hierarchy.
  • Happens repeatedly in StarCraft. The big reveal in Legacy of the Void is that the Xel'Naga more or less wiped themselves out this way. A rogue faction of Xel'Naga led by Amon grew weary of their duties (they wanted to be gods, not shepherds) and tried to break the Cycle by artificially uplifting the Protoss and the Zerg to use them as weapons. The rest of the Xel'Naga objected and fought against Amon's mad scheme. By the time the dust settled, nearly all of the Xel'Naga had perished.
  • Alderaan is going through one in Star Wars: The Old Republic, kicked off by a Succession Crisis that split a people that were already divided over their leaders' decision to secede from the Republic. Like many of the conflicts in the game, it was another Proxy War fought between the Republic and the Sith Empire, with the Sith backing the disgraced House Thul and the Republic, in response, throwing their support behind the more respectable House Organa (yes, that Organa). A third faction in the conflict is House Ulgo, who forcibly stole the throne from the ruling House Panteer and is pretty much hated by almost everyone. Both the Republic and Imperial planetary quests end with the player dethroning the Ulgos—and either capturing or killing their leader Bouris Ulgo—leaving their respective Houses in a better position to win the war.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, the Erebonian Empire enters a civil war between the Noble Alliance and the Imperial Military at the end of the first game. The whole of the second game is devoted to trying to stop it.
  • Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth: Most of the game's plot has to do with the Yamato Civil War, started when their God-Emperor died and usurpers attempted to turn his daughter Anju into a puppet ruler. She escaped, but the usurpers put a fake up in her place. As a result Anju needs to gather an army and reconquer her own capital city to restore herself... but most of the Yamato Empire is skeptical as to whether she's the real Anju or not.
  • In the backstory of Deus Ex, after a massive earthquake that sank Southern California, many states on the west coast broke away after feeling like they'd been abandoned by the federal government. The first was Utah, who declared in independence in 2031 and annexed what was left of Nevada and Arizona. They were quickly followed by Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, as well as fringe groups in Texas. This began the Northwest War, the end result of which was the reabsorption of all these states, continued martial law in some parts, and the rise of the NSF. Some comments by JC hint that the U.S. is on the verge of a third civil war.
  • In Hearts of Iron, it is possible to encourage civil wars in foreign countries and send arms and volunteers to help one's favoured side win. The Spanish Civil War is also present in this game.
    • Practically a staple of the mod Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg, presenting an unusual alternate world as a result of Germany winning World War I:
      • China is embroiled in civil war at the very start of the game, not too dissimilarly to how China was in 1936 in Real Life.
      • The United States always sees itself in the Second American Civil War between the Federal Government as the first party and, depending on how 1936 and early 1937 go, one to three other factions, namely the Combined Syndicates of America, the American Union State, and the Pacific States of America.
      • Like China, Spain is also likely to fall into civil war, but a three way one between the Alfonsists, the Carlists, and the CNT-FAI.
      • The collapse of British imperial rule in India sees the subcontinent divided into three states: the pro-Entente Dominion of India, the monarchist Princely Federation, and the syndicalist Bharatiya Commune.
      • Russia can see a second uprising of the Bolsheviks if whoever is in charge of Russia handles things poorly enough (in this timeline, the first uprising failed massively, which discredited Leninism as the chief ideology of the political left and syndicalism — which was successful in Britain, France, and Italy, replaced it).
    • In the Equestria at War mod there can be several civil wars:
      • The Lunar Civil War, which erupts if the racial tensions between batponies and the rest of the population are not resolved, and sees Princess Luna's supporters on one side, and Celestia loyalists on the other, with many regions breaking away.
      • The Kingdom of Olenia can enter a civil war to overthrow King Johan and restore Princess Velvet, or to abolish monarchy altogether and create a communist state.
      • In the County of Longsword a three-way civil war erupts between Count Pallas Dusktalon's Reformisten, Conrad Silvertalon's moderates, and Starry Night's communist partisans.
      • The Grand Duchy of Feathisia can erupt into a civil war if the political crisis is handled poorly.
  • The plot of Sierra Ops revolves around a war between Earth and its Martian colonies, which desire independence.
  • Valkyria Chronicles II: Gallia erupts into a civil war two years after they expelled the Empire's invasion when Cordelia Gi Randgriz reveals her family's Darscen lineage to the public and the anti-Darscen nobles unite under the banner of House Gassenarl to purge the Darscen influence from Gallia. Because the Militia cannot be summoned in internal conflict, the Gallian government calls upon the cadets of Lanseal Royal Military Academy to help quell the Rebel's attacks.
  • Crusader Kings II: Whenever a faction's demands (such as the installment of a claimant of a title, changing the succession laws, independence or lower Crown Authority/increase council power) are not met, a civil war will break out between the supporters of the faction and the liege and his/her loyal vassals. A civil war can also break out when a vassal or a liege tries to enforce his/her claim to a title held by a vassal or the liege. The Byzantine Empire frequently has civil wars.
  • In Long Live the Queen, if Duchess Arisse judges Crown Princess Elodie to be a poor leader, she may garner support from the other nobles to start up a civil war against her for control of the kingdom of Nova. How this turns out is primarily dependent on Elodie's grasp of military matters, alongside other factors that influence the forces available to either side. If Elodie wins, Arisse is executed and her followers fall back under Elodie's fold. Otherwise...

    Web Comics 
  • Follower starts with the United States on the brink of a civil war, and it just goes downhill from there.
  • Unsounded:
    • Several soldiers admit that the over a decade long "Foi-Hellick Affair" is a civil war, even though the powers at be insist on treating it as a small uprising despite an entire ginnal managing, for a brief period, to break free of the Aldish government and get rid of the Dammakhert. Lemuel and several others note that the war is only a prelude to the outright civil war Alderode's internal tensions have made unavoidable.
    • In the khert Duane sees a fraction of a future Aldish civil war in which Gefendur Alds are slaughtering Ssaelit Alds.

    Web Original 
  • After the takeover of Molossia (now Kickassia), the people of Channel Awesome fracture over the spoils, resulting in one of these: The Nostalgia Critic against everyone else.
  • Red vs. Blue: A planet-wide example, no less. In Season 11, the Blood Gulch Crew gets marooned on the planet of Chorus, which they soon learn is stuck in a perpetual battle between the Federal Army of Chorus and the rebellious New Republic. The Civil War ends in a truce after Season 12, when it's revealed that Charon Industries had been covertly prolonging the war by assassinating leaders on both sides in order to loot the planet for its vast alien artifacts. The United Army of Chorus eventually ends up driving out Charon's mercenaries, and the planet vows to remain independent from the UNSC.
  • The Worldbuild Project: One of these ended a dynasty in the Acasi Empire, which in turn ended a twenty-year war between the empire and the neighboring city-states of Rhael.
  • Decades of Darkness sees a lot of these:
    • The divergence point is Thomas Jefferson's early death in 1809, starting a series of events that results in New England (along with a disillusioned New York and New Jersey) seceding from the Union, with military help from Britain.
    • Spain eventually has its own civil war, which eventually causes it to split back into Castile and Aragon.
    • In Brazil, anti-slavery/pro-democracy forces within the military eventually stage a coup against the royal family, who escape with support from the Americans, resulting in the country being divided between an American puppet state in the north and a republic in the south.
    • Near the end of the timeline, their losses in the Great War cause Britain and France to break apart into a number of bickering smaller nations.
    • Also near the end of the timeline, there's a civil war in Canada (here an autonomous kingdom instead of a dominion) between supporters of the monarchy and a democracy movement. This one isn't resolved by story's end, but it's speculated in-universe that the republicans will succeed in breaking western Canada away, leaving a rump kingdom in Ontario; left unresolved is the fate of Wisconsin, which is the most heavily divided between the two sides.
  • In The Falcon Cannot Hear, the assassination of President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 means there's no New Deal to help the United States successfully recover from the Great Depression, causing tensions to continue to rise between various left- and right-wing groups and the government, coming to a head when the Bonus Army kills the President and Vice-President in 1937. Army Chief-Of-Staff Douglas MacArthur subsequently stages a Military Coup to try and stabilize the situation, but that just ignites the powder keg and kicks off the Second American Civil War, which has no less than five major factions — MacArthur's "Khaki" military government, which controls D.C., the Rockies, Alaska, and the overseas territories; the American Soviet Republic, which stretches from Chicago to NYC; the "White" coalition of fascists and business interests led by Huey Long, which control the South, Texas, part of the Southwest, and eastern New England; the Provisional Government, or "Blues", an alliance of prewar liberals and democratic socialists, who control upstate New York, the Upper Midwest, western New England, and the West Coast; and the Continental Congress, an alliance of farmers dissatisfied with the other factions, which controls the Midwest and Plains. And that's not mentioning smaller players — North Dakota, which declares independence; Maine, which becomes highly autonomous and plays the other factions for greater independence for itself; B.R.O.W.N. (the Bannerman Revolutionary Organization of Willing Negroes), a black militia in White territory; and Henry Ford, whose private armies turn Detroit into his personal fiefdom.
    • And all of the above is pretty much just the basic set up. Things get a bit more complicated later on: after MacArthur dies in a hurricane, the Whites take control of D.C., the Japanese seize the Pacific possessions, and the rest of Khaki territory dissolves into warlordism, leaving a rump government in the Alaskan panhandle. The Blues defeat Ford, and then form the Red Oak Pact with the Congress and Maine. This inspires the Blue-friendly East Coast soviets to break away and form the American Workers Collective, which forms the Popular Front with the Blues. Later, the Japanese invade the West Coast in support of the Whites, causing the Red Oak Pact/Popular Front, the ASR, most of the Khaki warlords, B.R.O.W.N. and a no longer neutral Canada to band together. They drive back the Japanese, defeat the Whites, bring North Dakota to heel, and then defeat the ASR and the remaining independent warlords. With these final acts, the remaining factions gather for a Peace Conference in Toronto, officially ending the war and forging a new United States federal government.
  • In The Ruins of an American Party System, a three-way civil war breaks out in Germany in the 1920s between the Nazis, the Communists, and a more centrist authoritarian government that supports a restored monarchy. The latter eventually wins.
    • During the partial decolonization of Africa in the 40s following the conclusion of the Second Great European War, civil wars break out in Libya and Ethiopia between their pre-war royal governments and strong Soviet-backed Communist movements.
    • After Gandhi's assassination, tensions in India boil over, leading to open conflict between the British and their loyalists, Hindu and Muslim nationalists, and Communist revolutionaries.
  • No W has a few examples:
    • Venezuela, after a coup against Hugo Chavez. The US initially backs the military junta that removed him, but eventually pulls out, restoring momentum to the communists.
    • Russia, after Moscow is targeted by a nuclear attack by Chechen terrorists, which results in the death of most of the top government. After that, Russia falls into a civil war between several rival factions.
    • In Egypt, one breaks out after Mubarak's death, and the Muslim Brotherhood being blocked from the subsequent elections. Eventually, they nuke Cairo, and take over the country.
    • Several commentators are worried that the United States is heading towards one as well, in reaction to President Santorum's increasingly fundamentalist tyranny.
  • The Washington Burns timeline has a few examples:
    • Due to the slaveholding South gaining more control over the federal government, while simultaneously a very aggressive abolitionist movement takes hold in the North, sparks naturally fly, with the final nail being the draconian measures taken by President James Hawthorne to enforce slavery. In 1859, New England and New York break with the Union and form the Confederation of American States, with the intent of seceding fully if Hawthorne isn't removed and the government isn't reformed. And things get more complicated when several state governments object to Hawthorne trying to militarily crush the CAS rather than negotiates, leading to clashes between state militias and the Union army; this leads to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky and Appalachia (OTL West Virginia) denouncing Hawthorne as unfit to be President and forming the Free States Alliance, declaring themselves the legitimate US government and allying with the CAS, with the intent of reconciling them once Hawthorne is defeated. Then the slave and Native American revolts in the South start on top of this... The war ends when the Union angers Britain by violating their neutrality, leading to them aiding the FSA/CAS/slave/Native alliance in crushing the Union forces, leading to Hawthorne's surrender and the reunification of the US in 1862.
    • A second American civil war breaks out in the early 1900s, when the hard-right wing Nationalist governments of several Western states grow dissatisfied with Liberal and Federalist rule and declare independence. This lasts less than two years, before the Union utterly crushes the rebels and reabsorbs their states.
    • There's a civil war in the 1850s in Texas between those who want independence and those who want to stay part of Mexico. Though this quickly becomes a sideshow to a Mexican civil war between Republicans and Imperialists. Thanks to American intervention, it ends with a compromise that sees Mexico divided between a Republican north and Imperial South, and Texas divided between an independent east and a west that stays in Mexico as part of the new republic.
    • The Austrian Empire breaks down into a civil war in the 1880s between supporters of royal authority and various republican/nationalist movements. It eventually ends with the remaining royals taking asylum in Rome, while the empire dissolves into various new republics along nationalist lines.
    • A brief one occurs in Britain in 1900 after it's revealed that Prince Edward and his conservative allies has attempted to seize power from his sister Queen Victoria II and her reformists by keeping her locked up (for her "health") and using her son Victor as a Puppet Regent. Once she's broken free by her husband and word gets out of what's happened, Scotland and half of England flock to her and turn on Edward's forces. Edward ultimately loses, killing his nephew and himself rather than let himself be captured and Victor be freed.
    • Japan erupts into revolution against British occupation just before the turn of the 20th century, which soon turns into a decade-long civil war between those who want an imperial restoration and those who favor republicanism (with both sides also having xenophobic conservative and liberal globalist factions). In the end, the republicans win.
    • Mexico undergoes a second civil war in the 1910s, with its root cause being the fallout between Emperor Jorge II and his son Raul, which leads to Jorge disinheriting Raul and naming his daughter Gabriella as his heir instead. When Jorge dies, Raul crowns himself Raul IV, and his followers go to war with Gabriella's loyalists. The war carries on until Raul dies, with his generals then crowning his pampered son as Raul V; as he's viewed as a Puppet King, the Raulists lose support, until the younger Raul is finally killed by Loyalist forces. After that, the war essentially ends, though it takes time to hunt down the remaining Raulist leaders.
    • A civil war erupts in Spain in the 1940s, when a communalist uprising seizes control of Barcelona, and then on top of that, military forces in favor of a republican reform also rebel against the monarchy, driving them out of Madrid. This leads to both rebel forces fighting each other and the monarchist loyalists, who are backed by an international coalition until the republicans and communalists join forces, driving the monarchists out of the country.
    • The 40s also see a civil war in Russia, where republican and regional nationalist forces rise up against the Tsar across the empire. Further complicating things are military forces in Siberia, while technically Tsarist loyalists, set up their own de facto regimes thanks to the distance and chaos. Eventually, the Tsar's regime is overthrown, and the Russian Empire dissolves into several independent states (like the real life Soviet Union).
    • The Ottoman Empire avoids collapse by several decades by means of reforming itself as a federation, with the various provinces having increased autonomy. But at the beginning of the 50s, the central government tries to rescind that and consolidate its own power. This causes nationalist and liberal movements across Ottoman territory to all rise up in revolt and eventually overthrow the central government, causing the federation to dissolve into several independent nations.
  • New Deal Coalition Retained:
    • The Soviet Union dissolves into infighting when it becomes clear it's losing World War III, which gets even worse after the peace terms forced on them by NATO. On top of numerous nationalist rebellions in the SSRs, the major factions also include Zhirinovsky seizing power in Siberia and creating a fascist state, the democratic reformers who take over European Russia, and a Communist rump state in the Urals.
    • Brazil breaks down into one after WWIII, between the military-backed Estado Novo regime in the south, Communist and Republican rebellions in the north, and indigenous peoples' rebellions in the Amazon territories. Eventually, the Estado Novo make peace with Republicans and grant the natives freedom in order to end the fighting and finish off the communists... which lasts until an Estado Novo plane is shot down over Republican territory, kicking the fighting off again.
    • Peru erupts into this post-WWIII between loyalists of dictator Francisco Morales Bermudez's corrupt regime on one side, and the Neo-Incan revolutionary movement/cult led by Pachacuti on the other.
  • Magic, Metahumans, Martians and Mushroom Clouds: An Alternate Cold War:
    • A four-way one breaks out in Egypt between those supporting the resurrected Ramses XI's takeover, the remaining supporters of the ousted General Naguib, and Muslim and Communist forces each seeking to take over for themselves. Thanks to American and Israeli support, Ramses wins.
    • After coming into his powers, Sabhas Bose launches a revolution against Jawaharlal Nehru's government in order to take over India. Later, following Bose's death, many of his metahuman lieutenants fight to succeed him, while uprisings by the Sikh population, Nehru loyalists, and the Communist Party of India (who want a "purer" socialism than Bose's Soviet allies provide) also occur; this conflict ends with Bose's appointed second-in-command M.S. Golwalker managing to crush all rebellions and secure his control.
    • One breaks out in Spain after Francisco Franco digitizes his consciousness into a supercomputer to try and rule forever, as Luis Blanco and his supporters (who want to reform the country) rebel against him, as do the forces of Alejandro de Valcarcel (who just wants power for himself); likewise, several left-wing groups launch insurgencies, as do Moroccan and Catalonian nationalist forces. In the end, Blanco emerges victorious, as Valcarcel is killed and Franco and his forces are reduced to a compound in the Pyrenees, though the nationalist separatists also succeed.
    • After Nergal wipes out the Iraqi government in 1979, the country dissolves into chaos as numerous factions — army cliques, Baathists, Islamist militants, minority nationalist/separatist groups, a Sumerian-obsessed metahuman backed by Nergal himself — all start fighting for control of the country. With none able to gain an edge, they end up locked in a bloody stalemate.
    • The Red Spring is a brief civil war in the Soviet Union in 1978, wherein Valery Sablin leads an uprising in Leningrad against the corruption of the central government, which is copied in several other cities, only to end suddenly when Koschei summons an implied Eldritch Abomination to wipe out the rebels.
    • Uganda, Sudan, South Africa and Chile are all noted to collapse into years-long civil wars after their governments are collapsed by the Daemon invasion of 1983.
  • The Dream SMP has had two so far. First, the Dream Team (plus another friend named Punz) warred against the L'Manburg faction (WilburSoot, TommyInnit, Tubbo, Fundy, and TheEret who defected during the war), who sought independence from the main server, which ended with the Dream Team winning the main conflict, but Dream granting L'Manburg independence anyways in exchange for two music discs owned by Tommy (a major source of conflict between him and Dream). Later, Jschlatt winning the L'Manburg election and declaring himself a dictator bent on conquest (banishing Wilbur and Tommy in the process) triggers another war, fracturing the country with a conflict between his faction and Wilbur's faction, now named Pogtopia.
  • Kentucky Fried Politics:
    • A Chinese civil war breaks out in 1975 when Lin Biao and other hardliners attempt to stage a coup against Mao for opening the country to the west, only for him to escape and rally his loyalists against them. Then things get more complicated when Deng Xiaoping starts gathering supporters for a "third way" midway between Mao and Lin's ideologies. By the end of the year, Mao has died from poor health and stress, and Lin has been killed by Deng's forces, allowing Deng to take total power.
    • Happens in Syria in the late 90s upon the death of Hafez al-Assad. Since he died before he could formally install his son Bassel as his official successor, it creates enough of a loophole for his Vice-President Abdul Khaddam to declare himself the legal heir, with the two and their respective loyalists quickly coming to blows; things are then made even more complicated when Hafez's brother Jamil steps in and presents himself as a compromise candidate, which just creates another faction fighting for control. In the end, Jamil submits to Khaddam and helps him defeat Bassel, who flees into exile.
  • While it takes a few chapters to get there, a Second Russian Civil War is the main draw of The Death of Russia, with the stage for it set following an alternate 1993 coup that sees Yeltsin die. While mainly pitting the Far-Right against a communist faction that quickly become dominated by Stalinists, ethnic minorities and other factions in Siberia and the Far East also rise up to achieve independence or (in one certain case) restore some sanity to Russia by combatting both extremists.
  • The Footprint of Mussolini: After Hitler is killed in Operation Valkyrie, Germany breaks out into in-fighting between the coup plotters and Himmler, with the latter declaring himself Führer and being supported by the SS and Nazi loyalists in the army, while the rest of the army flocks to Beck's provisional government in Hamburg and Rommel's Allied-backed "Free German Army" on the Western Front.
  • Reds!: A Revolutionary Timeline has the Second American Revolution/Second American Civil Warnote  break out in 1933 when anti-communist forces assassinate Socialist president-elect Norman Thomas. The revolution ends with the Union of American Socialist Republics stretching from sea to shining sea, and the White forces fleeing to Cuba.

    Western Animation 
  • The war for Mobius in the Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) cartoon is technically this because Robotnik used to be the King's Minister of War, and the King's daughter, Sally Acorn is one of the most important Freedom Fighters.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars it's mentioned that the Mandalorians had two back-to-back civil wars that are shown in detail in Star Wars Legends.
    • The first one (referred to as the Mandalorian Civil War) was fought between The Social Darwinist Death Watch and the more honorable True Mandalorians led by Jango Fett and his adoptive father, which ended with no winner as the Death Watch was fragmented and the True Mandalorians were wiped out by the Jedi following a Frame-Up.
    • The second one (known as the Great Clan Wars) started the same year the first ended, as clan disputes escalated into full-scale hostilities that ended years later thanks to the efforts of Duchess Satine, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Qui-Gon Jinn.
  • In Transformers in general, the default state of Cybertron seems to be a state of civil war to provide a reason for robots to shoot each other. There have also been various internal conflicts within both Autobot and Decepticon, and occasionally Maximal, Predacon, and Vehicon ranks.
  • Book 2 of The Legend of Korra starts off with the Northern Water Tribe imposing martial law on the Southern Water Tribe. Considering that the Southern Water Tribe does not recognize Northern leadership and has been allowed to self-govern for almost a century or even longer, this predictably resulted in an insurgency.
    • The end of Book 2 revealed that the civil war was built on false pretenses. Northern Chief Unalaq (probably) didn't give a crap about what the South was doing. He instead wanted unfettered, exclusive access to the Southern Spirit Portal located in Southern Water Tribe territory, and the simplest way to do that was to impose martial law as justification to plant a military base around the portal.
    • The balkanization of the Earth Kingdom happened off-screen shortly after the events of Book 3. The reunification of the Earth Kingdom led by Kuvira also happened off-screen and was mostly glossed over. However, considering that Kuvira had an army and used it to intimidate city leaders to submit to her leadership makes it easy to speculate that the reunification of the Earth Kingdom likely wasn't gentle.
  • In the South Park Imaginationland Trilogy, the war between the Good and Evil Imaginary characters orchestrated by a terrorist cell. Each side had their own separate territory in Imaginationland.