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Crushing the Populace

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"Let the enemies of the Empire take heed: those who challenge Imperial resolve will be crushed."
Emperor Palpatine, Revenge of the Sith

Finally, the rebellion is crushed and The Empire has firmly taken control of the area. All we need to do is restore the area so it becomes a meaningful piece of our empire.

Well, as soon as La Résistance have been judged, condemned, and executed, of course. And we also need to take care of all the enemies and anyone who hopes to restore the old regime. And I'm afraid those people who worked for us will wince at the atrocities that we will commit! I have no choice. I have to show an extremely iron-handed approach to anyone who shows even the slightest hint of mercy, as hearts and minds are meaningless. Oh, I am also establishing a squad of super soldiers made up entirely of brainwashed citizens to keep the people in line — Battle Thralls are so much fun to use.


This is the will of the Empire. Those who oppose it will be crushed and hanged for all to see.

This trope is for the aftermath of The Empire conquering any country where the Empire should be restoring order, but instead is more interested in plundering the place and terrifying the populace into total submission.

In Real Life, there are many examples of despotic rule ruining the lives of people. More detail is not necessary.

See Reign of Terror for the rebel version for You Rebel Scum!.



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     Anime & Manga  

  • In Code Geass, nations conquered by Britannia are called Areas. All cultural identity is extinguished, with the native people referred to by the number assigned to their Area, and citizens are completely at the mercy of the soldiers who can kill them for sport without anyone batting an eye. You can try to aim for a better life by swallowing your pride and swearing eternal loyalty as an honorary Britannian, but that's not going to protect you from the physical and verbal abuse.
  • Space Battleship Yamato 2199 has a scene in which a Gamilas intelligence officer wrecks a rebellious world with sickening thoroughness: hitting the cities with bombs so big their exploding was frankly redundancy, orbital bombardment of smaller towns and structures, and even sending fighters to strafe and bomb the caravans of people who were smart enough to evacuate.


  • In Star Wars, the Galactic Empire's Moffs follow the Tarkin Doctrine, which basically boils down to "Use fear to rule them all." That is, it's actually a variation of this: it involves ruling by fear of violence rather than by lots of direct violence, but for order to be established, some very noticeable acts of intimidation have to be conducted. In the Legends canon, Tarkin himself took it very literally — when faced with a mass protest, he landed a Star Destroyer on top of them.
  • In The Hunger Games, President Snow explains to Seneca Crane why the aforementioned games are more effective at subduing the districts than rounding up twenty-four of their children at random and simply executing them: because hope is easier to control than fear. In Mockingjay, he orders the execution of district residents for joining the rebels.


  • This trope meets Truth in Television when Don Quixote travels to Barcelona, a province of the Spanish Empire which is facing a Civil War. Sancho gets lost at night in a forest whose trees are filled with feet wearing shoes and stockings. Don Quixote calmly explains that the authorities hang outlaws by twenties and thirties when they catch them.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Boltons do this in the North, after destroying House Stark. It doesn't seem to be very effective, given their medieval feudalistic paradigm of politics; a number of feudal lords conspire against them, like the Manderlys, or outright deny them, like the Mormonts and Reeds.
    • For all her talk about her 'Breaker of Chains' title, Daenerys has a nasty habit of tormenting slavers and criminals with increasingly constricting death penalties. Examples include locking a backstabbing merchant in his own empty vault, publicly crucifying the nobles who crucified children, and pushing nobles into a cave with two very hungry dragons on suspicions of treason. Eventually, this bleeds over into her city's cultural freedoms when she executes a former slave in public for reasons that don't make sense to them, causing some of them to turn rebel at the apparent implications of 'you are all free, so that me, my armies, and my dragons may accuse you of crimes at random and enslave you to death'.
  • In Dragon Bones, high king Jakoven does this to Oranstone. The citizens are not allowed to carry weapons, which makes them defenseless against bandits, and the king doesn't do anything about the bandits that plague the country. He pretends that everything is not so bad, and it's just isolated incidents, but everyone knows that he wants the country to be overrun by bandits, as that would weaken it further. The nobles are allowed to carry weapons, but have to spend most of the year at court, where they are under the king's eyes and can't help their country.
  • Victoria depicts the aftermath of the war between Azania and the Northern Confederation this way. The Confederation, a reactionary Christian dominionist regime, deeply and thoroughly hates the principles and society of Azania's LGBT-friendly Lady Land, and does its mortal best to stamp them out. The old capital is very thoroughly burned and razed, and all the old symbols outlawed. Women who surrender are re-educated to be fit for life as subservient housewives in the Confederation, and those who resist are sold as slaves.
    • They also had most of the faculty of Dartmouth College butchered with swords while a choir sang a musical accompaniment. This was treated as an objectively good and necessary action in the story. Dartmouth is the college that the author of Victoria attended.



  • In Anne of the Thousand Days, Henry wants to divorce his Unwanted Spouse and marry Anne because he hopes Anne's unborn child will become his legitimate male heir. Henry decides to circumvent the Church's prohibition on this and Altar the Speed by making himself its leader in England, though he knows this requires making the streets of London run with blood, and asks Anne if this is the price she is willing to pay to become his queen:
    "I shall be opposed by many who are now my friends. They will be guilty of treason and I shall have to kill them. Those whom I like best — those who have some integrity of mind — will speak first against me. They must die. Parliament and the nation can then be bludgeoned into silence — but a lot of blood will run before they're quiet. Most of my people will hate me — and even more will hate you."

     Video Games  

  • Caesar's Legion in Fallout: New Vegas if Legate Lanius comes to rule; he will murder anyone and everyone who he sees as an insult to the Legion, including the Followers of the Apocalypse as he claims they have "dishonored" Caesar's reputation. The Legion also does not treat its citizens well in general.
  • Mace: The Dark Age has the evil characters doing exactly this if they win the game. This naturally causes a stagnation in technological development of the world.
  • In Homefront, the first action we see the Greater Korean Republic take is shooting several parents in front of their children before they get sent to labor camps/breeding pens.
  • In Gungnir, after Esperanza is temporarily forced to give up their rebellion, Imperial commander Regina orders all Leonica in the slums to be killed by their fellow poor if said fellow poor don't want to be executed too.
  • Many strategy games (Civilization, the Total War series) give the player a choice between integrating a newly conquered settlement or pillaging and razing it. The latter usually gives an immediate substantial cash bonus at the cost of a significant hit to foreign relations.
  • True to its film roots, the Imperial faction in Star Wars: The Old Republic indulges in some of this. Imperial players can get particularly involved on Balmorra and Corellia, which are facing planetary-scale resistance to their occupiers, while Republic players offer assistance to La Résistance.
  • You can do this once you've conquered a town in Overlord II by using magic to enslave and dominate the citizen's minds, forcing them to gather periodic tributes for you to collect. Its actually considered the nicer option over simply slaughtering the populace for a quick cash payout.


  • General Tarquin of The Order of the Stick favours these kinds of tactics. What finally convinces Elan that he's genuinely, properly Evil and not just a benevolent tyrant is when he crushes a slave revolt, crucifies the escapees, and sets them on fire. In the shape of Elan's name. As a homecoming present.
    Haley: (in flashback) What the heck is it going to take for you to see that your dad is bad news? Do you need, like, 200-foot-high flaming letters or something?


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