Greg: I gotta drive over to the next state, Keystone.
Pearl: You mean the Keystone State?
Greg: Right, the state named Keystone.
Pearl: You mean the Keystone State?
Greg: Right, the state named Keystone.
Speculative Fiction trope wherein the United States of America is significantly different from real life. Perhaps it has broken up or expanded beyond its borders, is replaced by a completely different entity, or become a dictatorship. Whatever the case, we ain't in Kansas no more. Or at least, Kansas as we know it.
If it involves changing what is already history to us, then it overlaps with Alternate History. Otherwise, it's probably a story set 20 Minutes into the Future.
- America Is Still a Colony: The United States is still a colony of the United Kingdom.
- Americasia: The United States with major Asian influences.
- Divided States of America: The United States splits apart, often due to a Second American Civil War.
- Evil States of America: The United States becomes The Empire.
- Expanded States of America: The United States gains extra states.
- America Takes Over the World: The United States rules the world.
- Fallen States of America: The United States becomes a lesser power.
- Fantasy Americana: The United States as a Standard Fantasy Setting.
- Fictional Province: America has states that don't exist in real life. Usually containing a setting's Where the Hell Is Springfield? town.
- Invaded States of America: The United States gets invaded by a foreign power.
- Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back: Mexico has regained (or never lost) control over the US state of Texas and other southwestern states.
- Russia Called; They Want Alaska Back: Russia has regained (or never lost) control over the the US state of Alaska.
- Oppressive States of America: The United States becomes a Police State or dictatorship. Usually overlaps with Evil States of America, above.
Please only list examples here that don't fit into any of the Sub Tropes above.
Compare Istanbul (Not Constantinople).
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- In the Arrowsmith series, the United States of America is known as the United States of Columbia due to the magical races choosing to reveal themselves during the signing of the Peace of Charlemagne, their version of what we call the Pax Nicephori in our world.
- Judge Dredd: Before the Dark Judges slaughtered everyone, the Alternate Universe of Deadworld used to have a state called Tuscarora, which was home to the community of Silver Creek.
- Watchmen: The United States won the Vietnam War thanks to Dr. Manhattan and made Vietnam a state, the 22nd amendment was repealed and Richard Nixon is serving his fifth term, electric cars and airships are commonplace, and non-government sanctioned vigilantism was outlawed in 1977.
Films — Live-Action
- White Man's Burden is set in an alternate United States that is very much the same as the real life version, except that race relations are reversed, with blacks as the social majority and whites as the social minority.
- In the Animorphs book Elfangor's Secret, Visser Four finds the Time Matrix and uses it to mess with history. The book actually opens in an alternate reality where the United States is some sort of empire waging wars in South America. Jake is a narcissistic tyrant instead of a reluctant leader, Cassie's family owns disabled slaves, and Rachel is in a reeducation camp to "learn her place." (And yeah, she's pissed once the group gets their Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory from the Drode.)
- An Examination of Extra-Universal Systems of Government has a couple of examples:
- The stratocratic Republic of New Sparta is the result of the American Revolution being salvaged by the more militant southern colonies after the north was crushed by the British.
- The Kingdom of America is the result of the failures of the Constitutional Convention leading to George Washington needing to seize total control with the Continental Congress, setting up a constitutional monarchy with himself as the founder of a new dynasty.
- In one timeline, Aaron Burr went through with his alleged real life plot to build a new nation in the Louisiana Purchase. The resultant Republic of Louisiana (formed from the southern half of the Purchase territory and most of Texas) has since evolved into a prosperous nation that was the last to abolish slavery and only gave full rights to black people in the 1970s (and still represses them in most places). Its government is headed by an executive triumvirate whose members are elected on alternating years by different means — one is appointed by the unicameral Congress, one is elected by the state legislatures, and one is directly elected by nationwide vote. Meanwhile, a map of this timeline shows that the Southwest is still part of Mexico, and the Pacific Northwest is part of Canada.
- The United States in Frontier Magic is one where its westward expansion was halted by the presence of dragons and other magical creatures.
- In Steven Barnes' Alternate History series Lion's Blood, where whites are enslaved by blacks, America is called Bilalistan.
- In The Ruins of an American Party System, Alaska is deemed too sparsely populated to become a state. Puerto Rico, on the other hand, does achieve statehood.
- Worm: The United States has had many changes both with and even without adding superheroes to the mix:
- Ellisberg, NY was turned into the personal fiefdom of the supervillain Nilbog following his trigger event, with his creations attacking any and all outsiders.
- Madison, WI was one of the cities that was walled off and quarantined following a Simurgh attack in 2009.
- Dollar coins are used as the primary legal tender instead of dollar bills and pennies have been phased out.
- 9/11 didn't happen because of Scion's influence.
- A side-effect of Leviathan sinking Kyushu is a much larger percentage of Japanese immigrants.
- In His Dark Materials, Lee Scoresby is from the country of Texas. Supplemental material reveals that this world doesn't even have a United States; that area is instead taken up by New France and New Denmark.
- Apart from the backstory of aliens crashing on Earth, the United States in Alien Nation is one where Puerto Rico became a state and the Equal Rights Amendment managed to pass.
- In the Alternate Universe of Fringe, the United States is quite a different place. A map is visible in Walternate's office at the Department of Defense that shows that Texas is divided into North and South Texas, the Dakotas and Carolinas have each been combined into one state, Oklahoma and Kansas are merged into a new state called Midland, Washington State is called Southern British Columbia, Michigan's upper peninsula is missing, Louisiana is a territory, Nevada is called Independent Nevada, and the two Virginias are still combined and are labeled the District of Virginia, suggesting it's not a state. The most puzzling change is that California's coastline is several hundred miles inland and fractured-looking, suggesting it might have suffered a fringe-induced seismic event that sent most of it into the ocean.
- In Power Rangers the city of Los Angeles was first settled by the British instead of the Spanish and is called Angel Grove, and a number of other cities have alternate names, indicating similar alternate histories; most prominently, Boston was named Corinth in Power Rangers RPM.
- The United States, after a series of corporate-friendly presidents and supreme court rulings, started confiscating many Native American reservations to grab their resources, a move that greatly angered their residents and lead to an escalating series of conflicts, eventually leading to Amerindians being sent to prison camps. After The Awakening, a movement known as the Native American Nations, lead by Daniel Howling Coyote, began using magic to fight back, eventually leading to the Great Ghost Dance, which spelled the end of any federal response to them and a mass redrawing of borders.
- Even before the Great Ghost Dance, the U.S. had some differences from our own. Due to a corruption scandal in 2003, the municipal government of Washington DC was dissolved, placing it under direct control of the federal government. Later, in 2024, it was transformed into the Federal District of Columbia, which grew to include several surrounding districts of Maryland and Virginia.
- Starflight: Logs you can find in the ruins of Earth mention an Emperor of the United States.
- In the Fallout universe, prior to the Great War, the United States reincorporated the 50 states into 13 Commonwealths in 1969, in emulation of the original 13 colonies, and to help the country present a more united front against Communism. They had a secondary purpose of creating an intermediate body between the state and federal governments, creating legislation that would positively affect individual blocs without interfering with others, but it ultimately ended up causing more infighting as the commonwealths fought to gain national primacy at the expense of all the others.
- The United States in Grand Theft Auto, while real world locations are often mentioned, only fictional locations are visited, and in many cases both the real location and its fictional counterpart are mentioned. (Though that duplication is probably a result of Earth Drift). It implies there's still 50 states, despite the addition of fictional states such as Liberty State, Alderney, North Yankton and San Andreas. Cities get the same treatment, with Liberty City, Alderney City, Vice City and Los Santos featuring prominently in the series, among others.
- The Divergences mod for Victoria II features a very different world, but its 1836 still has an Eastern Seaboard-centred union of republics descended from European colonisation. It is called the Belgian Confederacy (as a result of the colonists mostly coming from the Low Countries area of Burgundy), and in an earlier version was called the Seven Republics. The Arcadian Union will also be this if it is formed, being a democratic republican union covering much of North America and having the name of the country be that of the continentnote .
- The New United States of America in Cyberpunk 2077 has undergone decades of chaos and balkanization, but has reunited following the Unification War. Most of the western half of the country consists of semi-autonomous Free States, the exceptions being Night City, which seceded from North California and declared itself an autonomous city-state, and Texas, which remains independent and hostile to the NUSA. There also exists the Western Corporate States, a corporation-ruled association formed by the Free States of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. While nominally part of the NUSA, they de facto answer to the megacorporations in charge.
- The Fire Never Dies sees a Second American Revolution replace the United States of America with the American Socialist Union, an explicitly socialist (but still democratic) nation. The states are now known as commonwealths and some borders have been redrawn, with the former District of Columbia retroceded to Maryland, New York State divided into the Capital Commonwealth (Manhattan, Long Island, Bronx, and Westchester County) and the Commonwealth of Iroquois, and the Navajo Nation in the Southwest becoming the Commonwealth of Dinetah.
- In THE MONUMENT MYTHOS, supernatural entities have vastly altered American history, but nowhere is the change more pronounced than in AIRFORCEONEFALLENANGEL, where it's revealed that an anomalous attack in 2003 somehow destroyed state borders, leading to the US being renamed the United Zones of America and replacing the lower 48 with three zones named after the most prominent anomaly sites within each (Washington, Rushmore and Alcatraz). In addition, these three areas are revealed be the zone "capitals," and have been renamed after the original native names for the regions/tribes (San Francisco to Ahwaste, The Black Hills to Paha Sapa, and Washington, DC to Nacotchtank).
- Played with in Heretical Edge with the US state of DeSoto, whose existence nobody outside The Masquerade remembers because the entire peninsula where it used to be has been erased from the face of the planet. Erasing all knowledge of it was the price of a magic ritual, and if enough people find out what actually happened then the Sealed Evil in a Can that ritual got rid of will break loose.
- This shows up in the Futurama episode, "Bendin' in the Wind". As Bender's folk band tours, a map of the new United States is shown, and most of the names are rather jokey. For instance, there is a Washington AC, and Pennsylvania has split into "West Sylvania" and "the Penn Republic".
- As part of Steven Universe having the entire geography and history of Earth be different due to Gem influence, the United States has also seen some changes:
- The show takes place in the state of Delmarva, named after the Delmarva Peninsula and naturally comprised of the real-world states (Delware, Maryland, part of Virginia) that reside there.
- Other alternate names include Keystone and West Keystone (Pennsylvania), Empire State (New York), and Jersey (New Jersey); all after real life nicknames for said places.
- Jamie mentions the movie industry being focused in Kansas, and one of the show's staff specified he meant what we call Kansas City, implying there is no state called "Kansas" (because the city came first and then appended "city" to its name after the state was formed). In an interview, the show's creator stated this was a shout-out to Walt Disney's first studio. Conversely, California in this universe could be better described as "Califarmland."
- Florida south of the Panhandle has partially geologically separated from North America and has become a small archipelago. Part of it is called "Florida Island".
- The $1 bill has a diamond and the snake from Benjamin Franklin's famous "Join or Die" political cartoon instead of Washington's face, and there are also $3 dollar bills.
- In the final episode of the series, Steven talks about visiting all thirty-nine states.