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"There's a war going on! And it's time that you knew
Every lad in this land has his duty to do."
General Genghis Kahn Schmitz, I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew

A.K.A. "The Draft".

In a nutshell the word "conscription" means forced service in one's country's armed forces or civil services on pain of prison or (worst case scenario) death.

Some people who find themselves in armed conflict aren't there by choice. Nations both real and fictional enact campaigns of conscription, forced military service, for a variety of reasons. Maybe they are a small nation overwhelmed by a superior opponent. Maybe a war of attrition has left their forces decimated and badly in need of additional manpower. Maybe making it really easy to opt into alternative non-military service is cheaper and easier (for the government) than hiring hospital orderlies and highway clean-up crews on the open job market.

In many countries the conscription serves as a Rite of Passage: a man is not considered to be a man unless he has served his conscription tour of duty. Conscription may also be the tyrant's method of breaking the will of his subjects and subjugating them to blind obedience. Another reason for conscription is to foster a sense of national solidarity; everyone will have the same experience of serving in the armed forces. Whatever the reason, conscription has a long history in both fiction and the real world.

But conscription is a double-edged sword. Like most armies, conscripts were often drawn from the lower classes of society — on average poorer, less educated, inferior in discipline, and less loyal than volunteer forces to their upper-class commanders and rulers. And the rich, powerful, talented, or well-connected could often find ways to get out of serving or serving in units with very little chances to go to actual war, anyway. It is also perfectly possible you end up, at the end of a war, with a significant number of lower class individuals with combat experience, access to weapons and a grudge against the higher echelons of society.

In cases of emergency, Lowered Recruiting Standards can occur. People with medical conditions or mental health issues, or young teens, or older people (50+) may get drafted. Or the military may release prisoners if they serve on the front.

Conscription is the Trope Codifier for Cannon Fodder and for Men Are the Expendable Gender, and Trope Maker for Slave Mooks. Draft Dodging is when someone who has been conscripted seeks to get out of it somehow (by eluding recruitment, going into exile, or having wealthy parents pull some strings. See also Press-Ganged for when this is done with brute force, or Got Volunteered for when it might as well be. Also see Pre-War Civilian Career for what they did before their military service.

Not to be confused with Drafting Mechanic.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, the reason why Kaoru is a dojo master is because her father was conscripted and then died in the line of duty, leaving her as the only person fully trained in the family kendo style.
  • One Piece: During two year Time Skip, the Marines issued the World Military Draft in order to replace the losses they suffered fighting against the Whitebeard Pirates in the Summit War. In addition to the fact that three of their most powerful soldiers (Sengoku, Garp, and Kuzan) either retired or left the Marines entirely. The two newest Admirals, Fujitora and Ryokugyu, are confirmed to have joined because of the draft.

    Comic Books 
  • Aside for the officers and the sergeants, the soldiers in Sturmtruppen are implied to be mostly conscripts, and are always surprised when the new recruit claims to be a volunteer-or, in one occasion, to have paid to enroll (the recruiters somehow convinced him it was a holyday resort, and no manner of military chore will convince him otherwise).

    Fan Works 
  • In Just A Phase, this is essentially what has happened to Taylor. After her trigger event, her father signed her over to the Wards lock, stock, and barrel, despite the fact that she wants nothing to do with the Wards.
  • In Worldwar: War of Equals, many nations enact (or in some cases reenact) the draft to fight the alien invaders numbering in the millions.
  • In The Stalking Zuko Series, the Fire Nation has conscription, which results in a fair amount of the nation being away at war, leaving behind abandoned homes. Of course, it only really applies to the the lower classes, since the upper classes can dodge the draft.
  • Discussed in The Wrong Reflection. Dal Kanril Eleya, the mirror universe counterpart of First-Person Smartass Captain Kanril Eleya, mentions in passing that she was conscripted into the Cardassian Guard.
    Dal Kanril Eleya: Anybody who scores over certain thresholds at secondary school graduation gets an offer they're not allowed to refuse — either civil service or military depending, five years minimum. They thought I had "leadership qualities", so they made me an officer.
  • In The Weaver Option, Taylor's unprecedented invasion of Commorragh catches its rulers and military completely offguard. Millions of commoners are forcibly conscripted to serve as Cannon Fodder while the actual military tries to respond, slowing the Imperial advance while posing little actual threat to them.

    Films — Animation 
  • The march song "Where There's a Whip, There's a Way" in The Return of the King strongly suggests the Orc soldiers are conscripts.
  • Mulan: The Emperor orders the conscription of one man from each family to bolster the ranks of the Chinese army. Mulan's father is the only man in their household, and he sustained a leg injury the last time he went to war that drops his odds of surviving this time around pretty damn low. Mulan, wanting to A) prove herself and B) save her father's life, poses as a man and joins in his stead.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Across the Universe (2007): Max faces being drafted, and discusses what to do with the others. He doesn't want to be imprisoned for refusing it, or flee for Canada. In the end he tries to fake an illness for a medical exemption, which doesn't work. He goes off to Vietnam, gets wounded, and then returns home.
  • Discussed in El Alamein: The Line of Fire, with the protagonist, Private Serra, being actually a college student that could have avoided the draft but volunteered who gets advised to remove the "Volontario Universitario" (College Volunteer) patch before the veteran soldiers can see it and get mad at the idiot who had actually a good reason to stay away from combat and wasted it.
  • The Bridge: In the last days of World War II, seven teenaged boys from a town in western Germany are drafted to fight for Hitler. The boys are eager enough when their draft notices arrive. Their parents are horrified, and veteran soldiers are either appalled or blackly amused when they see raw teens being trained.
  • The French Dispatch takes place in France in the 70s, a time when military service (of no more than 12 months) was required for 18-year old males. Morisot, a friend of Zeffirelli (leader of a student rebellion), defects and is arrested for desertion.
  • Gangs of New York: The latter part takes place during the New York Draft Riots. During the The American Civil War, immigrants were being drafted as soon as they got off the boats, while anyone with enough money could buy their way out of being drafted. Needless to say, this didn't sit well with New York's poor immigrant community, and it degenerated into the closest the U.S.'s ever-present class struggle got to a shooting war.
  • M*A*S*H:
    Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan: I wonder how such a degenerated person [Captain "Hawkeye" Pierce] ever reached a position of authority in the Army Medical Corps.
    Father Mulcahy: He was drafted.note 
  • In The Odd Angry Shot, the SAS—being professional soldiers—have a very low opinion of the conscripts they are fighting alongside, and refer to them as "civilians in uniform". Harry, however, tells the squad to go easy on them as they all fighting the same war, and the conscripts—unlike them—did not ask to be here.
  • The Postman: This appears to be how the Holnists get most of their soldiers, as seen at the beginning (it contrasts with the book). It also neatly explains why they happily join the Postman at the end.
  • Revolution: Ned was forced to join the British as a drummer boy. Fortunately, Tom manages to pull him out of there.
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Dr. McCoy claims to have been recruited back into service due to this. "A little known, seldom used, reserve activation clause."
    McCoy: In simpler language, Captain, they drafted me.
  • Starship Troopers 3: Marauder mentions riots over drafts. Despite Heinlein's opposition to conscription (see quotes page). In his original book, the armed forces is all-volunteer (though having the right to vote is contingent on serving, giving people a huge incentive to sign up).
  • Under the Shadow: Early in the movie, Shideh's husband receives a draft notice. When he gets back from learning where he'll ber stationed, he states he'll be smack-dab in the thick of the Iran-Iraq War conflict. After he leaves, he makes calls to Shideh to let us know he's all right.
  • Vaincre ou Mourir: The trigger of the Vendée insurgency (the repression of which would end up being the bloodiest part of The French Revolution) happens when people there refuse to enlist in the First French Republic's armies to go fighting (with a high chance of dying) against the forces of Austria and Prussia. The conscription is felt as too much for them after the Republic has already reduced the power of the Catholic Church in the country and beheaded their King, Louis XVI.
  • We Were Soldiers features a sort of inversion. While most of Colonel Moore's men are draftees, President Johnson decided against extending their service commitments before deploying his battalion to Vietnam. As a result, the men whose enlistments would end before the end of the deployment - some of Moore's most experienced soldiers - would not be deploying with them.
  • In the 2005 remake of Yours, Mine, and Ours the Beardsleys come home to a Wild Teen Party being thrown by their kids. To clear out the house Frank tells all the guests that anyone still in the house in one minute will be forcibly drafted into the U.S. Coast Guard. It works.

  • Dark Skies: King Serrick drafts all able-bodied men in Mudaire to fight the invasion by the enemy Derin. The nobles promptly leave the beleaguered city together with their private guards and within Mudaire's walls, women take over most of men's roles.
  • In Joe Haldeman's The Forever War, instead of conscripting people at random, they conscript all the smart and fit people for military service. Too bad things go horribly wrong on Earth soon afterwards.
  • The Horatio Hornblower series, Trope Codifier for Wooden Ships and Iron Men, features English press gangs roving the countryside, looking for men to rip away from their families and livelihoods to forcibly turn into seamen. Hornblower himself illegally presses men from merchant ships at one point and turns over escaped prisoners he'd promised freedom to the King's service in another book (this is actually a popular myth; impressment was limited to merchant crews during wartime. Pressing landsmen was an invitation to deep trouble for any officer who tried it).
  • In the first Richard Bolitho novel, Captain Bolitho relies on the fear of the press gang to crew his ship, by sending it above a port town to lie in wait for the civilians who run to hide from the press gang when they hear it's coming.
  • In Malevil, Vilmain's roving army gives captured men a choice: join or die.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's Rilla of Ingleside, World War I brings political uphevel to Canada: people who have voted for one party all their lives feel obliged to switch because they think instituting conscription is wrong, or is both right and necessary.
  • The Empire in the Star Wars Expanded Universe prefers volunteers, but as seen in The Thrawn Trilogy, they took conscripts too. Captain Pellaeon despairs a little, seeing his Chimera, one of the strongest ships in what was left of the Empire, crewed by youths and conscripts. It becomes averted once Thrawn gets his hands on some cloning cylinders and starts pumping out clones in droves. In fact, he's even able to use the fact that the Empire no longer needs conscripts as a way to soften the blow for the planets that he successfully conquers.
  • Myth Directions: In order to steal the MacGuffin from a public square, Aahz and Skeeve pretend to be members of the local military and claim that the city is being invaded. Aahz then declairs that if anyone wants to volunteer they should step forward, or else go home. The square is soon deserted, and Aahz chuckles about how nobody likes the Draft.
  • Played with in Spike Milligan's Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall:
    "Just fancy," said Mother as she carried Father upstairs for his bath, "of all the people in England, they've chosen you, it's a great honour, son."
  • In The Black Obelisk (1956) by Erich Maria Remarque the protagonist, a World War I veteran reacts to claim by his compatriot that the abolition of conscription in Germany, enforced by the Versailles Treaty equals to "slavery" with: Strange how different the ideas of slavery can be! In my opinion, I came closest to it when I was a recruit in uniform.
  • The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted. One can't help thinking it's a gripe session by Harry Harrison over being drafted for the US Army Air Forces during World War II.
  • Also appears in Harrison's Bill the Galactic Hero: Only in the most technical of senses does Bill "volunteer" to join the army.
  • The Dresden Files book seven, Dead Beat, has wizard Harry Dresden being drafted into the Wardens of the White Council, after they suffer a disastrous loss in the war against the Red Court. The captain of the wardens hands him a Warden's cloak and tells him he's a Warden, now. He doesn't really like it (he has bad memories of both Wardens and the Council), and frankly neither does the White Council, but accepts it.
  • Martín Fierro: The gauchos (Argentina’s misceginated population) were Press-Ganged by the civil authorities to fight the indians in the frontier. The protagonist was singing in a pulpería (bar) when The Judge arrested all the men that were there so they will fight the indians in the frontier. After hearing The Judge promises, Fierro agrees to go. Everyone else was forced to. Fierro believes in Good Is Dumb, so he ignores that The Government plans to invoke Cannon Fodder with all the Gauchos, who are the misceginated, ignorant and savage population, and use them to exterminate the Native population, so they can be replaced with European immigrants that could be easily civilizated.
  • The Unknown Soldier: The vast majority of the characters of this WW2 war novel are conscripts. They have varying levels of motivation. Most of them would just want to go back home again, but at the same time, most of them also feel love for their home country and wish to protect her. It's all Truth in Television, as the story takes place in Finland, during the Continuation War, and mostly tells the story from the point of view of the rank and file.
  • Isaac Asimov's "In a Good Cause—": On June 17, 2755, Richard Altmayer and Geoffrey Stock have been drafted for the war against the human world Santanni. Stock chooses to serve, and is promoted to Major by the war's end. Altmayer instead chooses to refuse the draft and goes to jail.
  • Guns of the Dawn: The novel's premise has the fictional country Lascanne start drafting women due to suffering heavy casualties and having no more men left to recruit. This shocks Lascanne's citizens, since the country has strict gender roles that normally have women Stay in the Kitchen.
  • The Winter War by Antti Tuuri: The narrator is one of many called-up Finnish reservists, and he notes that there's a variety of people already among the four hundred men of their municipality. Units are formed on geographical basis, so the narrator fights together with his neighbors and his brother, and other units in the story are generally referred to by the soldiers' home town or region.
  • Rod Allbright Alien Adventures: The Galactic Patrol has this, and it gets brought up on two main occasions.
    • First, in book 1, Grakker effectively drafts Rod into being a local deputy. Rod doesn't realize he meant it at first, and thinks being called "Deputy Allbright" is just Grakker's way of bossing him around. It's not until book 2, when it's casually mentioned that they have a record on him, that he realizes he really is an official member of the Patrol.
    • Second, in book 3, Grakker tells the story of how he met Snout and BKR, and explains that his cousin Rakfratz had put his name in as a candidate, and he was summoned to his homeworld's capital take the qualifying test. Said test has a point where, if you score above it, GP service is mandatory; Grakker scored over a hundred points above, and was thus drafted and shipped off to their training academy.
  • Shadows of the Apt: Exaggerated by the Wasp Empire. Its colossal armies come mostly from mandatory enlistment of every male citizen of age. With the Empire having a Stay in the Kitchen policy regarding women, that means all manual labor needs to be done by slaves.
  • In the The Saga of Tanya the Evil, it's mentioned that the only Germanians with enough magical potential to become aerial mages who aren't drafted are those who enlist voluntarily before their draft card arrives in the mail.
  • Gaius Amidonia from How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom instituted conscription to replace losses suffered after a night time ambush by Elfrieden forces.
  • The Way of Kings (2010): In the flashbacks, the citylord of Kaladin's town has his cousin Highlord Amaram institute a draft. Amaram asks for volunteers first, but when that isn't enough he starts drafting from a list his cousin provided. Since the citylord has a grudge against Kaladin's family, they're very worried—but Kaladin's father is immune to the draft due to being a surgeon (an essential role) and Kaladin is immune as his apprentice. Kaladin's brother Tien, barely of legal age, is drafted instead. Kaladin joins up to keep him safe (he can't take Tien's place, but he can volunteer on his own). Amaram, knowing what a raw deal this is, promises to keep him as a messenger boy for the first few years. Amaram, being Secretly Selfish, forgets about this promise the second they're out of town, and Tien gets killed when the army sacrifices the squad of untrained messengers as bait. Kaladin spends the next few years becoming the best soldier the army has ever seen.
  • Terra Ignota: Among the horrors of the Church Wars, America's reenactment of the draft was considered the most appalling, discrediting the concept of birthright citizenship. In protest, various other nations and NGOs opened their borders and encouraged Americans to dodge the draft as part of a greater project to redefine the relationship between nation-state and citizen.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Army Game centres on a group of National Service army conscripts assigned to the Surplus Ordnance Department at Nether Hopping, Staffordshire in Britain's post war years. Billeted in Hut 29, the men are determined to work little and have fun.
  • Andor: Cassian was concripted by the Empire out of prison, he managed to hide the fact that he shortly thereafter deserted because almost everyone he was serving with was killed in battle so there was no one to report on him.
  • Babylon 5:
    • It is mentioned in passing that Earth had a planet-wide draft at least as far back as the Earth-Minbari War, although Captain Sheridan had joined some time before that.
    • Technically speaking, the Centauri civilians are all women and children: upon reaching adulthood everyone serves in the military (either the royal armed forces or a House militia) for a tour, upon which he can choose if staying in active service or becoming a reservist that can be recalled in service in case of necessity. Also, when things get really bad, they can raise battalions among their slaves.
  • M*A*S*H: A pretty large percentage of the cast. In fact, for the first three seasons all of the main cast (and most of the recurrers) except Margaret were draftees. This also extends to a number of Korean one-time characters, who were quite literally kidnapped off the street. Averted for the other nurses; whether regular army or not, they had to volunteer to serve in Korea.
  • The Revolution: In the episode "Rebellion to Revolution", African American slaves were conscripted on both the American and British sides.
  • Misfits: In an alternate timeline where the Axis powers won WWII, Simon is conscripted into the Nazi-run security force.
  • An episode of The Partridge Family revolves around Danny getting a draft notice even though he is clearly too young. Shirley even goes in and tries to point this out, to the point of pulling out his birth certificate, but no one pays attention.
  • Similarly, an episode of Diff'rent Strokes has Arnold being conscripted by accident despite being far too young to join the military. He has a dream where he finds himself in the military and various members of his family are depicted as being officers that he has to report to.
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: Due to the Salem Accord, a pact whereby witches agreed on military service with the Massachusetts Colony and then the US, they're conscripted for it into the modern day. "Conscription Day" is even a national holiday. However, some families that have lost many members in combat are exempted. Tally's is one, but she volunteered to serve in the Army anyway. Raelle feels this is slavery by another name on the other hand. A witch terrorist group called the Spree also believes this.
  • This is how Michael Burnham ends up on the U.S.S. Discovery in Star Trek: Discovery. Captain Lorca (or rather his mirror universe counterpart) cites a regulation that allows a Starfleet captain to conscript anyone, even a convicted mutineer like Burnham, as an able crewman during a time of war.

  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Mr. Conklin's Induction Notice", Walter Denton plants an induction notice in Mr. Conklin's mail. Mr. Conklin falls for it, although he is middleaged and had been a Major during the war (World War II had ended only six years before the episode aired).

  • The Bible has laws concerning the matter of conscripting Israelite men into the military. In Deuteronomy chapter 20, when Israelite men are being called to war, they are commanded to be excused from military duty if (1) they have built a house and they have not yet dedicated it, (2) they have planted a vineyard and have not yet eaten of the grapes, (3) they are betrothed to a wife and have not yet married, or (4) they are genuinely fearful of heart, and their fearfulness could potentially discourage their fellow soldiers from fighting at their best. Another law in Deuteronomy says that a newly married man of Israel should be excused from military duty for one year so that he may "cheer his wife".

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Whenever a large threat appears the Imperial planets in the surrounding area conscript men and women into the Imperial Guard in large amounts and teach them an extremely rough form of the basics while on their way to the fight. Their helmets have a white stripe on the top so they can be easily identified and sent to die to help out actual trained guardsmen. Not that volunteers aren't commonplace, like most of the Imperium it depends on the world.
    • And some of those worlds' entire militaries (of which at least 10% are sent to the Guard) are composed of conscripts, for example: every single Cadian serves at least four years due to their proximity to the Eye of Terror (Cadia is a "fortress world"), every firstborn son of Vostroya as penance for the planet refusing to provide soldiers to other Imperial planetsnote  during the Horus Heresy, and many Hive Worlds just round up their underhive gangs and order them towards the enemy. Unlike other examples, Cadian Shock Troops and the Vostroyan Firstborn have the hats of being considered the premier Imperial Guardsmen, and very disciplined, specialized at urban and winter warfare respectively. The troops within both regiments are standardly True Companions with each other.
    • A different form of this is Penal Legions, men and women recruited from penal colonies and the prisons of normal worlds which are even more expendable. They often go into battle wearing collars that can be remote detonated.
    • Possibly the most extreme example of this in the Imperium can be found in the Death Korps of Krieg. While "normal" worlds pay their debt through the manufacture of goods, Krieg's only resource is its people: every single human born on Krieg is conscripted to service in the Death Korps. This is taken to such an extreme that the use of near-forbidden technology is needed to maintain any form of population. In this case, it's because Krieg is a Martyrdom Culture (they think they still haven't atoned for their planet not being at 100% loyalty during the Heresy), and where commissars are usually assigned to "bolster" morale in other regiments, with Kriegers they need to make sure the soldiers don't make a Senseless Sacrifice every five minutes.
    • It is not uncommon for entire generations of a planet to be drafted in a pinch.
    • The Imperial Navy recruits all its non-skilled workers by press-ganging everyone too slow to escape from the "recruiters". Those souls then load the starships guns and other necessary functions. With ropes. While being whipped.
    • And then there's Commander Chenkov, whose strategy is based entirely on "send all the infantry towards the enemy at once", using them to clear mines by walking over them, attack fortresses and defenses without benefit of artillery, sends troops against Tyranids without tanks or artillery (Tyranids being the guys who replenish their forces by eating dead bodies), shooting those Guardsmen who are somehow more afraid of the enemy than him, whose regiment has been refounded dozens of times, and has a special rule that brings reinforcements every turn. There are orks who take better care of their troops then him, yet somehow it keeps getting him victories and medals.
  • Warhammer:
    • Bretonnian men-at-arms are feudal levies (see Real Life section), with the notable exception of Grail Pilgrims.
    • Skaven Clanrats are conscripts. Skavenslaves are, as the name implies, Slave Mooks.
    • As are Goblins in Orc armies.
    • The High Elves are one of the more surprising examples of this trope. As is the case with most elves in fiction, they're a Dying Race, and so conscription is necessary to allow the tiny elven population to maintain a decent standing army. Spearmen, Archers, Lothern Sea Guard and bolt thrower operators are conscripts.
    • Kislev Kossars are revealed to be conscripts in Total War: Warhammer III (with CA and Games Workshop confirming they plan to backport this in the launch of Warhammer: The Old World). Since Kislev quite literally guards the Gates of Hell (being on the border of the Chaos Wastes), however, Kossars tend to be seen as badasses by virtue of needing to be accomplished warriors to survive so close to the Chaos Wastes.
  • Eclipse Phase:
    • All citizens of the Titanian Commonwealth are required to give three years of civil service, with an emphasis on military and security. And like Switzerland those who served in the militia are required to own an assault rifle, as well as a suit of Powered Armor. Oddly their Anarchist allies don't object to it much.
    • On the other hand, the generally fascistic Jovian Republic doesn't conscript, but military service is required to earn citizenship à la Starship Troopers, and there's immense social pressure to enlist.
  • Battletech: The Taurian Concordat practices universal conscription, even in peacetime, as part of its national character. Every Taurian Citizen serves one tour of duty with their self-defence forces, and service to the Taurian state is a tradition and source of national pride to the Taurians. It is also a signal to their much, much bigger neighbours that the Taurians can and will punch above their weight class if invaded, which keeps the Federated Suns and Draconis Combine from trying.
  • Traveller: While not explored in much detail, this is a possibility during character creation.

    Video Games 
  • A few examples from the Civilization series:
    • In the original Civilization, Conscription was a scientific advancement that allowed you to build the Riflemen units, which were the single best defensive force in the entire game (with the exception of the Mechanized Infantry).
    • In Civilization III and IV, there is an option to draft units from your cities: each use of the "draft" button turns one unit of population into the "basic" unit of your time. Since in both games, conscription requires the technology Nationalism (in III, it is required directly; in IV, Nationalism is required for the Nationhood civic, which is the only civic that allows you to draft units), this generally starts with Riflemen (or equivalent; the English in IV got to draft their unique unit, the Redcoat, generally considered far more awesome), and then Infantry and Mech Infantry later on. Drafting causes unhappiness in both games, and the units receive an upgrade penalty.
    • In VI, there are two Policy Cards that have names that tie into the [Trope Name], Conscription and its upgrade Levée en Masse. While neither give you a new unit like the original game or force population into units like III or IV, it does reduce the maintenance costs of units (by 1 or 2 respectively) being a very useful Policy Card for civilization or any playthrough. Conscription is gained at State Workforce, one of the last Civics in the Ancient Era and Levée en Masse is earned at Mobilization, one of the first for the Modern Era.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert gives us... Conscripts. In the two games the poor saps have appeared in, they're the cheapest basic infantry unit. Let's put it this way: The other factions have scouting units that cost more than the Conscript.
    • Their respective personalities varied from the second game to the third game. In the Red Alert 2, they were mildly patriotic but mostly unwilling basic soldiers. In Red Alert 3, propaganda improved, and they became incredibly jingoistic morons, eager to throw themselves at anything declared an enemy. They will eagerly attack an Apocalypse tank while yelling, "Field promotion, here I come!"
  • The Right of Conscription is available to the Grey Wardens in Dragon Age, which allows them to conscript anyone they need into the Wardens, from prince to commoner. Generally, though, the Wardens only conscript exceptional people to get them out of trouble with the law or otherwise save them, i.e. conscripting a highly-skilled thief to save him from the gallows, a magi who unintentionally helped a blood mage and is facing Tranquilification as a result, or conscripting an elf who is facing trouble with the city guard after fighting through a noble's estate to save their female friends from being raped.
    • As well, the Grey Wardens are only interested in the very best. Everyone else doesn't have good odds of surviving the initiation. They're all picked because they demonstrated their strength. It's shown in Awakening that they don't have to conscript people in trouble with the law, as you can conscript a rogue who has nowhere else to go, an elven keeper who has personal reasons for fighting Darkspawn, and a dwarven warrior with prior experience fighting Darkspawn who wants to join, in addition to the rogue mage facing execution for a crime he didn't commit. Oh, and another dwarven warrior who's already part of the cheerily-named "Legion of the Dead", and thus doesn't have much to lose.
    • It should be noted that condemned people aren't recruited in order to save them as much as to assure their loyalty by giving them a way out. Seeing that the alternative is taking a dirt nap, condemned individuals are also usually much more willing to be conscripted than most fellows, which results in better motivated recruits. The Gray Wardens are above all pragmatic, not merciful. And the Wardens also have a very important secret which they don't tell new recruits until it's too late for them to do anything about it, namely that when you join the Wardens you're actually just trading one death sentence for another, and the death sentence that comes with being a Warden might very well be worse than what was previously in store for you. The best case scenario is that you survive the intiation but end up with a drastically shortened lifespan and have nightmares for the rest of your days. The worst case scenario is that you die horribly during the initiation. If you try to back out of said initiation, you are executed so that you don't tell anybody what it entails. The reasoning behind this last one, according to Alistair, is that if people knew what they'd be forced to sacrifice after joining the Grey Wardens, a lot fewer people would be willing to join. Hence the deception.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, Blackwall explains that the strength of the Right of Conscription varies greatly, depending on whether or not there's a Blight. During the Blight, everyone is for it. In-between Blights, it works as well as a Warden's tongue.
  • The Legion or Knights in For Honor are stated to use conscription in "desperate times", when the need is bad enough. Forcing both civilians and convicted criminals into service with little training. The Legion's heavy class, the Conqueror, having been recruited this way.
  • Valkyria Chronicles: The nation of Gallia had an extensive universal conscription program (universal as in applies for both men and women) that linked with public education; with weapons training are being taught at schools as compulsory subjects.
  • The Orcs in World of Warcraft, as part of being the local Warrior Race, seem to conscript their members more than any other player race in the game. But since they're a heavy warrior culture, and dying in battle is considered their greatest honor, none seem to mind.
    • Garrosh Hellscream forced out a draft during his time as warchief and considered draft-dodging to be the same thing as treason in his eyes (punishable by trial by combat at best and outright execution at worst). He also conscripted Magnataurs (Mammoth centaurs) by holding their children hostage.
  • Mass Effect - the turians (Space Romans) have this as part of their highly regimented society. Military / state service begins with boot camp at fifteen. The Systems Alliance aka the humans start conscripting all extrasolar colonists when the Reapers invade and occupy Earth.
  • You can enforce this in the Tropico games. This lowers the education standards for soldiers, but it has the downside of increasing the chances of them rebelling or leaving the island. Plus, the soldiers you get from this edict are nowhere near as good as those that aren't conscripted.
  • Found in newspaper articles in the opening of We Happy Few. After the German Empire invaded Britain and forcibly recruited the locals into their war with the Soviet Union, they conscripted as many people as they could into their army, with the conscription age being lowered to 13. This may have caused the Very Bad Thing, the sheer guilt of which almost destroyed Wellington Wells.
  • In The Elder Scrolls, the Redguards of Hammerfell provide a unique case, as Hammerfell does not have a traditional standing army. Instead, every adult Redguard is expected to have a grasp of basic weaponry and combat to act in defense of their homeland if needed. Those who show exceptional skill are then accepted into Hammerfell's various knightly orders, which act as Hammerfell's first line of defense.
  • Most of the soldiers fighting for the Garlean Empire in Final Fantasy XIV are conscripted from conquered territories. This keeps the able bodied from staging any sort of uprising by keeping them in line as soldiers, and the empire offers incentive for service by promising full Garlean citizenship to those who provide twenty years of service.
  • Zeus: Master of Olympus: Soldiers are taken from the common citizens (rock-throwing Rabble in Greece, Archers in Atlantis) and the elite (Hoplites/Horsemen and Spearmen/Charioteers), who actually need armor and horses to progress to better housing. While Rabble/Archers are generally not too unhappy to be serving, keeping them in the field for a long does horrible things to your economy since that's your workforce fighting instead of working. Their patriotism also has limits, since you can only send elite regiments to fight abroad (both to defend allies and conquer rivals). It's also possible to have so many elites that they take up all your available military slots, removing conscription entirely in practice.
  • Ravenmark:
    • The Commonwealth of Esotre is a small nation, so it's forced to rely on conscription to maintain an army sizable enough to deter potential enemies. Conscripts include both humans and dwarves. The basic Sotran unit is Fusilier Militia, made up of recent recruits, who haven't even served a year. As such, they accuracy with their fusils is terrible, and it takes them 3 turns to reload, so they generally prefer to fight with their bayonets. Those who survive their first year earn a plume-tailed beret and become Fusilier Linesmen. They have much better accuracy and can reload fast enough to fire every turn.
    • While the Empire of Estellion has no shortage of volunteer troops, all seeking to attain nobility (after 22 years of exemplary service), the Kaysani invasion has left the Imperial Mark struggling. This has resulted in Rooks mustering militia from common folks to plug the gaps. Unfortunately, they are untrained rabble, who drop like flies. They do, however, slow down the enemy even as they die.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel franchise has Erebonia's National Mobilization Law, which is passed in the wake of the attempted assassination of Emperor Eugent III, supposedly at the hands of Calvardian agents. The draft targets any male Erebonian citizen from the ages of 18-45.
  • In Age of Mythology the main military buildings of each civilization come with the Levy upgrade, after which, the Conscription upgrade is available. Both upgrades make training units faster. The description of the technology does mention that historically it was a last resource since, unless conscripts were well led and highly motivated, they usually performed poorly.
  • Europa Universalis IV: The Quantity ideas tree causes your nation to embrace conscription (despite this only becoming common military practice by the real-life end of the EU timeline). The first idea in the tree is called Levée en Masse, which was the name used for conscription by the Revolutionary government.
  • Demacia of League of Legends requires all citizens, male and female, to serve a mandatory 3 year stint in their army. After which the citizen is free to leave and return to civilian life, or continue their service.

    Web Comics 

  • In Aqua Regia, it's a vital part of the plot, that actually starts Daniel's past. On the other hand, it also is part of the plot that conscription is something that has to be done out of obligation due patriotism In-Universe; The story shows good and bad patriots, showing that there's nothing inherently wrong with loving your country, however, corruption and fanatism is treated as a very real threat to civilians. Anyone who wants otherwise is treated traitor to the fatherland and deserve to be executed.
  • In The Dementia of Magic, the King of Landis conscripts all able-bodied men to replace losses suffered when fighting a dragon.
  • In Drowtales the Vel'Sharen clan has resorted to this following a 15-year timeskip that puts them on the losing side of the war with the upstart Val'Sarghress clan, drafting commoners into a slave army by force or sending them to a surface Penal Colony. Naturally this does not help their reputation one bit.
  • S.S.D.D.:
  • In Sarilho, it is heavily implied that this is the case for most Meditans, except for those who are effectively bought by the military.
  • Unsounded: Alderode conscripts young men into the Council Army, while its Ssaelit and Gefendur armies seem to be made up of volunteers. Lemuel was conscripted to the army when he was tweleve and sent to fight the decade long rebellion in Avelpit.

    Western Animation 
  • Wartime Cartoons often featured this as a plot point. Especially in Looney Tunes shorts:
    • "Draftee Daffy" features a frightened Daffy Duck being stalked by a fairly creepy draft board worker.
    • Forward March Hare starts with Bugs Bunny accidentally getting a conscription letter intended for his neighbor.
    • During Bugs's fractured lesson on American history in "Yankee Doodle Bugs", he claims George Washington was conscripted by the colonists (via mail, no less) to fight in the Revolutionary War.
      Washington: Gadzooks! I've been drafted!
    • Popeye had the cartoon, "Seein' Red, White, and Blue", where Bluto gets a conscription notice for the Navy and protests that they can't do this to him. On the back of his notice is written "Oh yes, we can!".
    • Donald Duck appeared in a series of cartoons where he served in the army starting with the cartoon, "Donald Gets Drafted".
  • The Venture Bros.: All citizens in Ünderland are drafted into Baron Ünderbheit's infantry at the age of 12 and required to serve until they are 37. They are executed on their 38th birthday.
  • Lampshaded in Education for Death which implies Hans is drafted to Nazi army, "marching and heiling, heiling and marching", when he comes to age.
  • Wat is drafted in Wat's Pig, complete with a Ye Olde Butchered English "We Want You" poster parody.

    Real Life 
  • Conscription was almost the universal method of mustering armies all around the world during the period from The French Revolution to the end of The Vietnam War. This start was probably related to the proliferation of muskets, making a poorly-trained individual have a much better chance at killing a higher-trained one despite the disparity, as well as the Industrial-age population boom which made more bodies available for service. It later tapered off as the advancement of accurate breech-loading rifles and automatic firearms gave a distinct advantage toward defense which enforced troops to be coordinated and disciplined to hope to succeed in attacking enemy positions (if not horrifically outnumbering them), as well as the spread of democracies and their attendant dislike of mass casualties. Professional armies have more or less superseded conscription in the industrialized Western world, but many countries still make use of it. Even then, a general trend in recent decades has been towards dispensing with conscription in favor of all-volunteer militaries.
  • Similarly, during the Middle Ages, many European countries used feudal levies to supplement their armies. The exact details varied a lot but in general these levies were conscripted peasants or serfs who were required to provide military service for 40 days a year as part of their tenancy agreement. They differed from modern conscription as this was done by every lord, as part of his obligation towards his Feudal Overlord, rather than on a national level. It was also (usually) restricted by law, as the peasants were needed at their homes during planting and harvest time. Mercenaries were thus commonly used to supplement the armed forces, and in some cases (like the Italian city-states) became the main soldiery. This often backfired if the side who hired them lost, since the mercenaries would then often loot them to be paid. Later professional armies mostly replaced this until the aforementioned French Revolution.
  • Most industrialized countries retain laws which enable conscription in some form. For example, as the citizenry of the United States are de jure members of the unorganized militia, citizens of the United States may be obligated by federal, state and common law to service in the military or civilian law enforcement, as well as Jury Duty.
  • Ancient Greece had it very uniquely compared to contemporary examples for quite a while in its time: all citizens were expected to serve in military campaigns-but citizens were of the middle-class and the lack of a standing army concept in the area ensured that conflicts would be short (usually a single battle) and only took place in the summertime since it wasn't feasible for city-states to maintain an army and keep their city's lifeblood away from their day jobs for any longer. Many city-states (such as the Italian communes of the middle ages and Rome in its early days) followed their example.
    • In Ancient Rome citizens were initially classed according to their personal wealth - on which depended how well they could arm and equip themselves for military service (it took some time until someone struck upon an idea of government-issue of arms and armor - that is when the governments of the period were able to afford it economically) - which in turn decided what was their political status. Thus poverty actually freed from military obligation when someone was unable to afford even most primitive weapon - but it also severely limited political and citizenship rights of the impoverished. The situation in many Ancient Greece cities was roughly similar. It was more complicated in Athens after Periclean reforms, where lower-class citizens were needed to serve as trireme rowers, so the popular assembly - composed of every male citizen without regard to his property - gained a measure of political clout.
    • In Ancient Sparta (at least in theory), members of the ruling Spartiate class were supposed to concentrate exclusively on military training from their youth to old age to be fearless citizen-warriors trained as hoplites (armored pikemen), not allowed to engage in any craft or trade (reserved for the free but non-citizen perioikoi caste) nor manual labor (performed by the helots, a slave/serf population, chiefly working in the fields from which the Spartiates derived their incomes), under penalty of losing their citizenship - thus being simultaneously both "conscripts" obliged to serve and also the only full-time soldiers the Ancient Greece (initially) had known.
    • At least that's how Spartan propaganda (along with some of their aristocratic fanboys from other Greek cities) idealized it. More prosaic truth seems to be that a lot of day-to-day Spartan training (and the agoge communal training) was focused on molding members of the ruling class into cohesive or even compliant body of citizens, and centered upon communal banqueting (syssitia) - and actually more geared towards controlling the helots (who were the most numerous segment of population) and preventing any attempt at their uprising.
    • This still made the Spartans into the most disciplined and efficient army of the Ancient Greece in earlier periods - in which other city-states also had armies centered around a hoplite phalanx composed chiefly of limited number of their middle-to-upper-class citizens, but without the cohesion the Spartan army acquired by near constant training (or at least internal security activities and syssitia bonding) - it was an Elite Army of its time - with very small numbers (and declining in time, as it was fairly easy to lose the Spartiate status, either due to cowardice in battle or loss of income leading to inability to participate in syssitia, not to mention battle losses - and no way to gain it) - which were supplemented by limited numbers of perioikoi serving as light infantry. When the importance of light infantry in battle tactics increased (along with rise of mercenary phalangites, first supplanting numbers of citizen soldiers in other Greek city-states, and then replacing them - although they were not usually as heavily armored as classical era hoplites) the Sparta's military power suffered rather quick Badass Decay.
  • Both Sweden and Russia used conscripts as galley rowers during the Age of Enlightenment. Neither of them would have had enough volunteers, and slaves would have been too unreliable.
  • Interestingly, conscripts were rarely called upon to serve in colonies during the Age Of Imperialism. Most colonial armies were made up of long-term volunteers who were both skilled in military arts and interested in spending a long time serving under difficult circumstances in faraway lands. There is also a different reason why large armies were rarely deployed overseas: disease. Most European imperial powers quickly realized that cramming huge numbers of soldiers (who largely had never left home in their lives) into ships and sending them to exotic locales was a rather stiff challenge to the immune system.
  • Small, independent countries such as Israel and Switzerland have long practiced conscription. Upon coming of age, every citizen serves a period of time in the military, usually a couple of years. After leaving the military, there are periodic refresher training periods, usually once a year. In the event that the country is attacked, they can then call upon every single one of their citizens over a certain age to defend. There's a reason people don't usually fare well in all-out warfare with either country.note . In Israel's case, this also includes women, which is fairly unique. Most though end up in non-combat roles.
  • In Asia:
    • Both sides of the Korean Demilitarized Zone draft their men. Kind of understandable given that they are technically still at war. In South Korea, conscription is highly valued as a hallmark of nationalism, and draft dodging is a big no-no. Multiple entertainers have seen their careers crash and burn after they did it.
    • South Korean soccer star Son Heung-min had already signed a multi-million pound contract with Tottenham Hotspurs, but was supposed to do his army duty first. The law said any athlete winning a medal at the Olympics or a gold medal at the Asian Games was exempt. Luckily, Korea beat Japan to win the Asian Games.note 
    • The People's Republic of China technically requires all citizens (except residents of Hong Kong and Macau) to serve, but it's never been enforced due to a plentiful supply of volunteers.
    • All Central Asian countries have this.
    • Israel famously drafts both its male and female citizens. Aside from those who are exempt by their careers (which controversially includes the ultra-Orthodox, many of whom don't recognize the secular state), the only population group exempt from this policy is the Israeli Arabs (who constitute 20% of the population), owing to their relative apathy towards and historical lack of participation in Israeli politics.note 
    • Other than Israel, many Western Asian countries practice conscription. Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen are the ones who avert this (in Oman's case, this is because it de facto practices state neutrality). Turkey takes this particularly seriously; the society does not see you as a real man until you have the certificate proving the completion of your dues. Parents have been known to literally refuse to give a bride because service hasn't been done yet, though Turkish conscripts aren't actually sent to battle under normal circumstances, the professional core goes to peacetime operations instead.
    • India is an interesting case. Its constitution allows for a draft to be instated during wars or national emergencies, but it has never needed to. Owing to the existence of numerous communities who’ve soldiered for a living for millennia, the Indian military is already the world’s third largest by just recruiting from these communities alone.
  • Many countries of Africa and Latin America. Among the latter, Costa Rica and Panama avert this, but that is because they literally do not have armies for people to enter to.
  • Post-Soviet Ukraine and Russia:
    • While Ukraine switched from conscription to a professional army several years ago in order to be more like NATO countries, this arguably backfired in 2014, during the Russian annexation of Crimea. Unlike conscripts, contract soldiers were largely permitted to serve close to their home towns and villages. What this meant was that, during the crisis, many of the Crimean servicemen ended up siding with the Russian-backed locals rather than the government. In both Ukrainian-controlled and "Novorossian"-controlled areas of Donbas, conscription has been brought back in order to provide manpower for the conflict, with the government constantly expanding the requirements (to the point of drafting retired persons) in order to compensate for the fact that it's a largely untrained under-equipped army fighting a force backed by Russia, with a number of trained Russian soldiers helping them out.
    • When Russia launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, all Ukrainian men from 18 to 60 were forbidden to leave the country so they could be mobilized or used in local defense forces. In a reversal of the previous situation, during the 2022 invasion there was in fact such a glut of willing recruits to defend the country in serious danger that lack of equipment became a bigger problem than lack of manpower, so conscription was less necessary than it might have been.
    • On September 21, 2022, Vladimir Putin imposed a "partial mobilization" (which wasn't so partial in the end) to try changing the situation in Southern and Eastern Ukraine in Russia's favor, as Russia had been suffering from the opposite problem that Ukraine had: lots of available equipment, but insufficient numbers of trained personnel to operate and protect it. Again in contrast with the response in Ukraine, massive Draft Dodging by Russian men ensued.
  • Taiwan is changing from a conscription-based system to a professional volunteer army. As of 2020, they keep having to postpone it because of lack of people willing to enlist. This resulted in a four-month long draft, where draftees were not allowed to handle weapons for fear they might get hurt.
  • Italy is an interesting case, in that conscription is enshrined in the Constitution but is inactive since 2005. It helps the Constitution states that "Military service is obligatory in the limits and ways established by law", allowing the government to deactivate or reactivate it with ordinary laws.