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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, Star Wars: Episode III — 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.

A subtrope of The Purge. 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • 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 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, this is a favored tactic of the Garlean Empire. Once they've conquered a territory, its population is kept under heel with forced conscription taking any of its able-bodied to fight their wars for them and leaving the civilians helpless. Gyr Abania and Doma are shown to be especially abused by Garlean soldiers at every turn under the rulership of the grand prince Zenos yae Galvus. However, the founder of the Empire speficies that this is only the first step of properly securing rule. The second half is meant to be to show the conquered how much better their lives will be under new leadership. Conscripts can earn full citizenship for twenty years of service and leaders like Gaius van Baelsar were famous for being true believers who promoted and awarded those who proved themselves without a trace of the usual Fantastic Racism.
  • In Final Fantasy XVI, after the Grand Duchy of Rosaria was annexed by the Holy Empire of Sanbreque, the Black Shields were founded as a parody of the Shields of Rosaria. The Black Shields exist solely to enforce the rule of Empress Lesage with an iron fist and will use anything at their desposal to do so. At least two villages in Rosaria territory were put to the torch by the Black Shields to put down dissenters.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. It's actually considered the nicer option over simply slaughtering the populace for a quick cash payout.
  • 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.

  • 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. Keep in mind, Tarquin is just as Genre Savvy as his son (though unlike Elan, he's much more rigid in his beliefs about plot structure and often refuses to accept any sort of deviation from classic storytelling) and openly embraces his role as Evil Overlord with no higher goals in mind, knowing full well it will eventually lead to his death, as sooner or later, someone will arise to take him down. That this someone turned out to be his long-lost son just makes for a better story in his mind.
    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?