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Enforced Cold War

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When two hostile parties are at the edge of a direct conflict that would undermine the series or make it unacceptably violent for the premise, a higher power (ranging from parents or school officials up to god-like beings) will often intervene to maintain the status quo.

This can have the effect of forcing two groups of enemies into regular contact with each other, while preventing the fight from escalating, driving the plot into other forms of conflict (e.g., school contests, supporting opposing factions of minor groups, etc.) and not coincidentally mimicking the sort of uneasy peace that typified the Cold War between the US and the USSR during the late 20th century (where the threat of total nuclear annihilation was the higher power keeping the peace between the US and Russia). If characters are trying to recreate the actual Cold War , this is Make the Bear Angry Again and motivated by Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell.

Often allows the Bad Guys to taunt the heroes with impunity. If so, there will almost certainly be at least one scene where one of the heroes has to be held back by their teammates, usually while they shout something like "Let me at em!"

It's common for there to be a pair of Star-Crossed Lovers separated from each other by being on different sides of the fight.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In To Love Ru, Rito is forced to go to school with Yami, the infamous alien assassin known throughout the galaxy who wants to kill Rito, but doesn't because she's best friends with his sister. She will however try if he does anything ecchi towards her which has Rito narrowly escaping death on a daily basis.
  • In Last Exile, the countries of Anatoray and Disith are engaged in a long and bloody war under the supervision of the mysterious Guild, which directs the official battles which take place in the air between the country's respective air forces. The enforcement comes into play when one side gains too much of an advantage and is stopped forcefully by the forces of the Guild, in order to maintain the status quo.
  • In the Ah! My Goddess universe, actual battle between the gods and demons is prevented by the Doublet System. Kill someone from either side and someone else from the opposite side would literally drop dead on the spot. As no one (save one notable exception) knows who their doublet is, this prevents the saner ones from simply starting Ragnarok early. For the insane ones there's always the direct intervention of the Daimakaichou or the Almighty.
  • One Piece:
    • On a broad scale, the men in charge of the World Government spend most of their screen time worrying about the balance of power between the Marines, the Seven Warlords of the Sea, and the Four Emperors.
    • The Whitebeard War ends this way, as Shanks intervenes and threatens to take on any side if they don't stop the senseless violence. In this case, this is likely a short-term solution, as Shanks and his crew are about equal in power to the other factions. The only reason the threat held weight is because all the factions (Luffy's allies, the Whitebeard Pirates, the Blackbeard Pirates, and the World Government) were too weakened from the fighting up till that point.
  • Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure utilized a very literal example of this trope. The two warring mecha factions in the show only fought at pre-scheduled places and times, and the pilots were allowed to tap out when it looked like were going to lose. As in the real life Cold War, the point of this was to keep the world from being wrecked by the weapons of mass destruction possessed by both sides.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Many of the individual novel plots revolve around some radical person or group trying to upset the balance of power between Magic and Science, often in a rather public manner. This results in both sides dispatching agents to stop them, since while Academy City and the various Churches around the world are at odds with one another, they do not want the conflict to spill over into the public eye. In fact, the one time the conflict actually does get big enough that the public notices it, it starts World War III. It isn't entirely clear how the Magic side got the masquerade going again after that debacle.
  • Episode 9 of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's has a cross with this and Chance Meeting Between Antagonists when Nanoha and Fate plan a surprise hospital visit to Hayate on Christmas Eve while the Wolkenritter were there. They're allowed to complete the visit, but as soon as all the Muggles were gone...

    Comic Books 
  • The planets Apokolips and New Genesis in The DCU. The explanation was given in New Gods #7 in the story "The Pact", which resulted in the characters of Orion and Mister Miracle.
    • For the record, it was doomed not to work. New Genesis wanted to end the war, but Darkseid just wanted to buy himself some time to make better weapons. From the start, he had a Batman Gambit planned so that his hostage would eventually voluntarily flee Apokolips and the Pact would be null and void.

    Fan Works 
  • In fandoms where Ship-to-Ship Combat is prevalent, many of the major message boards have rules against flaming other members or ships, preventing the ship wars from becoming too terribly violent. The major Avatar: The Last Airbender boards in particular are known to clamp down heavily hard on flame wars between Kataang and Zutara shippers.
  • The Great Joel vs Mike Flamewar that broke out in MST3K fandom when the latter took over hosting duties for the former in 1994 pitted MSTie against MSTie and very nearly wiped out all life as we know it. These days on MST3K message boards, it's generally a topic discussed in only the most coldly logical, unemotional terms lest ancient hatreds come to the fore. Flaming people over it is swiftly and brutally punished by moderators.


  • Famously used as a tool of control in Nineteen Eighty-Four. O'Brien more or less says that the three superpowers have an unofficial pact to keep the conflict between them going because the patriotism stirred up is yet another tool to control their citizens' thoughts and behaviour. The war isn't entirely cold, but the actual fighting seems to be mostly confined to clashes over territories they don't care that much about and is just an excuse for the governments to announce stirring victories over their opponents and inspiring maps of how much territory was captured in the last offensive (resulting in Africa apparently being constantly traded back and forth in chunks), as well as imposing ever-stricter wartime rationing. Of course, just because these victories are announced doesn't mean they actually happened; in fact, we can't even be certain that the fighting is happening.
  • Dungeon Crawler Carl: Officially, the Butcher's Masquerade is an attempt to promote peace, by bringing together a collection of people who do not get along and trying to have them enjoy an evening together without attacking each other. Any violence will be met with immediate retribution from Queen Imogen. Unofficially, everyone knows that something will inevitably happen to break the truce, and it's just an excuse for the showrunners to toss all the most popular and spectacular Crawlers into an epic boss battle.
  • The Gryffindor/Slytherin conflict in Harry Potter.
    • Including one specific scene in Chamber of Secrets with the "Let me at 'em!" mentality, in which three of the Gryffindor boys have to physically restrain Ron from hitting Draco Malfoy. (To be fair to Ron, Draco has just said he was sorry Hermione didn't get killed by the Basilisk.)
    • Comes out in full force around Quidditch matches, where Gryffindors and Slytherins usually end up in the hospital wing with antlers and leeks in their body. During the third book Harry had to walk with a protective guard of Gryffindors because the Slytherins kept trying to sabotage him.
  • The treaty between Watches in the Night Watch (Series) 'verse, which is openly inspired (bordering on the Anvilicious actually) by the actual Cold War. Add two millennia-old Chessmasters with magic powers enough to make the most absurd Gambit Roulette seem timid. The Inquisition is the higher power here. Technically, the Inquisition doesn't have a lot of magical power, most of which comes from artifacts and amulets anyway. The idea is that, should either of the sides break the Treaty, they would throw their support behind the other side, tipping the balance. Thus, their power is mostly political.
  • In The Dresden Files, the White Council and the vampire Courts start the series in an uneasy peace, enforced by the terms of the Unseelie Accords. Eventually Dresden is forced to choose between letting his lover die and starting the magical equivalent of World War III; this is of course a classic setup for Take a Third Option. Only not in this case. Dresden chooses World War III, with enormous repercussions in later books. He later says that the vamps were probably just looking for an excuse anyway and all he did was set it off a little earlier.
  • Isaac Asimov's "The Gentle Vultures": The Cold War has been going on for over fifteen years, and the aliens telling this story are confused. Normally, large primates will destroy their world in nuclear war, but Earth has somehow avoided this inevitable end. The Hurrians consider inverting this trope by exploding a nuclear bomb over a populated area to provoke open warfare.
    "it seems they are having a war; not a real war, but a war." — Captain Devi-en
  • In the Star Trek: New Frontier novel Cold Wars, the Aeron and the Markanians had a long drawn-out war over the Holy Site on their world. The Thallonian Empire forcibly relocated them to separate planets with no space travel. Unfortunately for everyone, Sufficiently Advanced Aliens decide to supply them with portal devices.
    • Meanwhile, in How Much for Just the Planet?, both Klingon and Starfleet crews make references to the Organian Treaty, with neither side being particularly enthusiastic about the idea of incurring the Organians' wrath. This being a rather farcical tale, the Klingons also refer to the Organians as "Light Bulbs".
  • Discworld a very comedic example in the Feuding Families Venturi and Selachii. They are forbidden by law to talk about any topics on whch they can disagree, leading to them having conversations consisting entirely of Captain Obvious statements like "I see we are both standing."
  • A likely interpretation of the situation in the Land of Oz. The King and Queen of Oz died (or disappeared) suddenly, with only an infant heir left behind. The four most powerful magic users in the land were looking to start trouble (the Witches of North and South allied against the Witches of East and West). Then in comes Oscar Diggs, a third-rate con artist and Magnificent Bastard, who lands in Oz by accident and uses a combination of mistaken identity, carnival tricks, stage magic, and Steampunk technology to trick the four Witches into thinking he's more powerful than they are! He sets himself up as God-Emperor in the Emerald City, makes the infant heir vanish (by sending her into slavery, bespelled as the wrong gender), and things more or less stabilize...until some girl from Kansas shows up, squishes the East Witch flat on accident, and throws the whole balance off.
  • Worldwar: Explores an alternate history in which aliens invade the earth during World War II. Although the aliens weren't even aware of the war, their appearance causes hostilities between the belligerents to halt almost immediately as they enter uneasy truces in order to face the new threat to humanity.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek:
    • The Organian Peace Treaty, forced on the Federation and the Klingons by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who found war in their backyard distasteful. This lead to a series of more direct Cold War metaphors, such as both sides intervening in a border planet's war.
    • Deep Space Nine also had the sixth season opening arc in which the Dominion was in control of the station. To avoid collateral damage, Bajor did not ally with the Federation, so the main characters affiliated with the Bajoran government stayed on-board and worked side by side with the occupation forces (then again, they did eventually form an active resistance cell). Generally though the show subverted this, as the Dominion and the Federation, who were hostile toward each other since they met in season 2, eventually did go to war at the end of season 5.
    • The franchise is filled with Cold War metaphors — the Romulans, the Cardassians, the Klingons and the Federation are all more-or-less in a state of this throughout the series to various degrees, punctuated by moments of Enemy Mine alliances and outright conflict. Several storylines involve attempts to cause or avoid outright war.
  • In the 1970s Battlestar Galactica, the fleet encounters a planet named Terra, occupied by two factions on the brink of nuclear war with one another. In this instance, the Galactica plays the role of the sufficiently advanced being, shooting down both factions' missiles as they attempt to launch and intimidating them into pursuing peaceful negotiation.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Most drow live like that, in the framework of Lolth theocracy: otherwise infighting turns into Ax-Crazy all-out war and then genocide — and she needs them alive.
    • In Forgotten Realms setting: enforced in the House wars of Menzoberranzan: espionage, conspiracy and secret raids against rival houses are permitted, even encouraged, but woe be to those who get caught. Failures to enforce it caused whole cities to be utterly destroyed (Golothaer, Bhaerynden aka Telantiwar aka Great Rift), ruined and taken by external force (Ched Nasad) or weakened and massacred by neighbours (Maerimydra). Menzoberranzan barely escaped the same fate twice during Silence of Lolth (seven months) alone. And Baenre rule Menzoberranzan because it was their matron who said "stop the madness" when all-out fight began, Menzoberra was killed and the cavern itself seriously reshaped. They are that aggressive.
    • In the Eberron setting, the Last War dragged on for around 100 years and only fizzled out because one of the five major nations involved was wiped out overnight and no one knows how or why. The source material makes it pretty clear that if one of the other nations involved ever became sure what happened and specifically that it wouldn't happen to them, the Last War would need a new name ... perhaps the Next-to-Last War.
    • The 2nd ed Planescape setting had the city of Sigil, home to fifteen feuding factions perpetually scheming against each other, not to mention a compact Portal Crossroad World where all sorts of beings from all over the multiverse travel and engage in intrigue. The city's ruler, a godlike being known as the Lady of Pain, generally has a hands-off attitude and doesn't take sides in anyone's squabbles... but if anyone Too Dumb to Live engages in mass slaughter, large-scale destruction, or threatens the city itself (or her) they'll learn firsthand why she got her name. She doesn't even have stats; even the most munchkined-out PC will be instantly flayed alive by her shadow.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Oddly enough, given that in the forty-first millennium there is only war, this occurs for varying stretches of time between the Imperium of Man and various alien empires simply due to the fact that while the Imperium or said alien empire is tied up elsewhere a hostile peace exists between them. This occurs mostly with races such as the Tau Empire, which has on-off peaces with the Imperium on its border, rather than Ax-Crazy races like the Orks or all-devouring galactic munchers like the Tyranids.
    • The Kryptmann gambit: an Inquisitor successfully diverted a tyranid Hive Fleet directly into the massive ork empire of Octavius where both forces are equally matched. Now orks are flocking to join the Forever War (and their dead release spores that grow into more orks) while the Tyranids are continuously replenishing their strength from all the biomatter. The problem, of course, is that whichever side wins will be near unstoppable...
  • In Magic: The Gathering's Ravnica Block, the different guilds keep the peace using the Guildpact. It sets statutes and ordinances for each guild so that each of the ten guilds has its own place. Of course, this doesn't stop the various guild leaders from trying to find as many loopholes as possible.
  • In the Star Fleet Universe, which is based on Star Trek: The Original Series (and veers sharply from the canon Star Trek universe from there) had the Organian Peace Treaty, that is until they up and vanish right as Federation-Klingon tensions are at their highest, leading the Second Four Powers War to evolve into The General War. After the General War, the Interstellar Concordium tried to do this by forcibly separating the exhausted former combatants.
  • The setting of Age of Steel, in which the Great War was ended by super-genius Professor Ansler vaporising one city on each side of the war with his 'Peace Ray' and threatening to do so again unless everyone immediately ceased fighting. Ansler then promptly vanished; the peace is maintained by the various governments out of fear of Ansler's return.
  • This is the effect of Spring's Bargain in Changeling: The Lost. Neither the Keepers nor any of their servants can attack any place or changeling under Spring's authority, unless to do so is their heart's greatest desire.

  • Older Than Steam: At the beginning of Romeo and Juliet the feuding between the Montagues and Capulets gets so violent that the Prince steps in and forces an uneasy truce, decreeing that if another fight breaks out between them whoever started it will be put to death.

    Video Games 
  • An interesting variant shows up in Knights of the Old Republic: the Republic and the Sith are very much openly at war with each other, but both sides are dependent on trade with the neutral planet of Manaan, which supplies a unique and very valuable organic compound used in medical supplies that neither army can do without. Thus, both the Republic and the Sith maintain a military presence and an embassy on Manaan, but have to avoid direct conflict lest the government cut off trade with the aggressor, and many of the quests on the planet are outright illegal acts of espionage against the Sith. Low level conflicts sometimes occur (such as a "Let me at them!" type Bar Brawl) which do not go condoned, but punishment is usually limited to minor trade sanctions as long as the conflict does not escalate.
    • Kolto (the compound supplied by Manaan) is eventually pushed out by the much more effective and widely-available bacta. Say good-bye to neutrality.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Republic and the Sith Empire are this state due to the Treaty of Coruscant. While neither side is willing to openly break the treaty, border skirmishes are common and both sides support proxy rebellions to seize control over various worlds. To a small degree, this also has lead to both sides employing Smugglers and Bounty Hunters so they can claim deniability that they weren't doing anything officially sanctioned. Over the course of the game, the peace eventually dissolves into open war.
    • Not all Sith were happy with the Treaty. In fact, the original diplomatic mission was merely a diversion while a Sith fleet assaulted Coruscant itself. It was expected that the planet would undergo orbital bombardment, crippling the Republic. The Emperor then suddenly decides to make the fake diplomatic mission a real one and offers a trade: Coruscant for a number of Republic worlds.
    • Seeing as one walkthrough of the capital planets of both factions proves that the Empire's manpower, infrastructure, industrial capability, and scientific development is miles behind the Republic (their capitol city is the size of a Republic core world military base, they don't have a paved road to their spaceport, meaning anything coming from the spaceport to their capitol is marching through mud trails through beast-infested jungle), coupled with boneheaded Fantastic Racism, an untenable reliance on slave labor that wastes at least half of their manpower (they have the slaves building monuments to the Darths' egos, not roads or outposts), constant infighting, and Klingon Promotion being not only acceptable but accepted practice (leaving them with even fewer experienced Force Users, officers, and administrators while their replacement's only real qualification is being quicker on the draw), one could argue that the Treaty of Coruscant saved the Empire's bacon. Unfortunately, it plays right into the Emperor's hands, since he doesn't care about his own Empire and just wants to kill off everything in the universe except himself.
  • Heavily implied to be the sole purpose of Ravens' NEST in Armored Core (and its later incarnations: Nerves Concord, Global Cortex and Raven's Ark). When Companies are strong enough to wield walker mechs, floating battleships and everything in-between, only skilled, non-affiliated Ravens can keep or even enforce a level playing field between feuding Companies. This is subverted in later incarnations of Armored Core 3 timeline, where the then Raven organization, Ravens' Ark, was, in essence, "bought" by Companies, triggering the conflict in Last Raven.
  • A large part of the Escape Velocity Override galaxy is inhabited by a loose confederation of alien races called the Crescent. Three of them, the Adzgari, Zidagar, and Igadzra, are in a perpetual state of Mle Trois managed by a group called the Council who intervene to make sure none of them grow too powerful. In the planned sequel (a Fan Sequel, but the project was started and the original design made by the developer of the original Override, even if he technically still counted as a fan), this would have been abandoned — the Council's primary (indeed, for most purposes sole — for the thing to work it was critically important that the Council's interference not be known to the Strands) method of keeping the war going and balanced was its extensive network of operatives amongst the three. The problem was that the Council had no human operatives, so when humans start showing up and taking sides, the Strand War is nearly fatally destabilized. Instead, the Council opts for something that's arguably closer to this trope — just directly taking control of the three Strands. The Strands still don't like each other, but under the Council and its agents they're forced to remain at peace and start assimilating into each-other.
  • This is (or rather, was) the premise of League of Legends. The nation-states nearly destroyed their homeworld, Runeterra, in a catastrophic series of Rune Wars, so the Institute of War was formed by a band of powerful mages to suppress all open violence. Campaigns are conducted by Champion, chosen from a pool of individuals who are in the titular League for various reasons. The nation-states are still scheming, but they have to do it quietly.
  • This is a key element of the little-known campy 90s RTS game Gene Wars. The world has been decimated by war, now you and the other warring factions have been tasked to rebuild it together by a superior peaceful alien race called The Ethereals. Of course the real aim of the game is conquest, wiping the other factions out. However, the Ethereals come to check on you every now and then so you have to watch the clock and fight your battles in between visits or they'll punish you for your insolence by wiping you from the planet.
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the Imperially sanctioned Mages Guild and the native Dunmeri Great House Telvanni find themselves in this situation. The Mages Guild has a monopoly on magical services and training throughout Tamriel, though the independence of the Great Houses, which was maintained as part of Morrowind's Armistice with the Empire, means that the Telvanni are permitted to offer these services to their members. This results in no shortage of friction, which must be dealt with in the questlines for each faction. Moles and spies are common, both parties appeal to neutral mages to get them to join their side (by force, if need be), and sabotage is not out of the question. One option toward the end of the Mages Guild questline has you break the "cold war" part of the trope by outright murdering all of the Telvanni councilors.
  • Mass Effect: An enforced Space Cold War existed between the Human Systems Alliance and the Batarian Hegemony ever since humanity first joined the Galactic Community. The root cause being a territorial dispute over a sector of space the Alliance began colonizing that the batarians claim rightfully belongs to them, despite the fact they did not have a physical presence anywhere in the area. When the Alliance pointed out the flaw in their logic, the batarians went and complained to the Citadel Council who agreed with the Alliance and granted them sole colonization rights to the sector. Enraged over this turn of events, the batarians promptly withdrew from the Galactic Community and became an isolationist state. From there, the batarians began waging a Proxy War against the Alliance by taking control of various criminal groups (pirates, mercenaries, etc.) and directing them to attack human colonies while remaining anonymous on paper with Plausible Deniability, at least until the Reapers showed up in the third game and wiped out the batarians as their first target. The primary reason that war never broke out was because both sides knew that the batarians had no real chance of winning against humanity. The other reason was because both sides were equally afraid of interference from the Citadel Council, since the combined military of the three Council races was much more powerful than either of them. The Alliance was also concerned over the fact that even if they could win a war against the batarians, said war could have unforeseen long-term consequences depending on what exactly happens in the war and how long it lasts. Of particular concern were the unavoidable casualties of the war, along with the impact the war would have on their economy.

  • "The Baron's Peace" in Girl Genius is one of these, keeping most of Europe's factions and noble houses in line via the principle of "Don't make me come over there." Said Baron is an Unfettered Well-Intentioned Extremist who will do anything to maintain peace, and he controls an unequaled superpower that lets him do so. He is an old and very experienced mad scientist, in a setting where most of them tend to die quite young. He leads the continent's largest military force, overwhelming air superiority, and the most advanced military hardware/clockwork troops/mutant brigades. After a Zombie Apocalypse he was personally responsible for rebuilding European society through willpower and force, and for sectioning off the parts of it which are toxic or infested. He doesn't care how much the nobility squabble over land or ancestry, but if a battle ever breaks out, he shuts down both sides with complete overkill. That is The Baron's Peace.
    • Unfortunately, the consequences become all-too-apparent once the baron is out of commission for two and a half years: sparks and nobles prove themselves to be the harbingers of chaos, tearing apart the empire in a matter of months, years of tension finally snapping and forcing out a huge explosion. Everyone starts begging for the empire to come back because constant, unregulated warfare made everything WORSE.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: Officially speaking, the Universal War ended many millennia ago and the seven surviving Demiurges are at peace. Unofficially, the situation is far closer to this trope; most of the Seven still hate and plot against each other for power, but are pretty much forced to work together and keep the armistice going because the seventh member of the group, Jagganoth, is an ultra-powerful Omnicidal Maniac as strong as all six of the others combined and would very gladly kill them all if they didn't stand united against him. Unfortunately, one of them (Incubus) has grown quite disillusioned with this status quo and is now plotting with Jagganoth to try and make this Cold War go supernova again...

    Web Original 
  • Red vs. Blue revolves around two ostensibly warring factions who rarely attack each other and never do it effectively, with the only medic blatantly working for both armies. This should have been a bigger tip-off that Red and Blue were in fact commanded by the same government, and the war was a construct. Of course, the teams are also idiots.
  • In Worm, while supervillains and superheroes fight constantly, the existence of the Endbringers has precipitated the allowance of some basic rules, to avoid weakening humanity as a whole in the face of annihilation. Unless they get caught too many times, cause too much mayhem, or are truly monstrous, most supervillains are placed in weak custody from which they inevitably break out before their trials, and their identities are not revealed. By the same token, the villains refrain from targeting civilian identities and try to avoid killing superheroes.

    Western Animation 
  • In X-Men: Evolution, the Xavier Institute students and the Brotherhood boys attend the same high school, at least keeping them civil on campus. Magneto also kept the latter party from accidentally exposing the existence of mutants (he wanted to do that on his terms, not theirs).
  • In the late second season of W.I.T.C.H., the heroines are unable to defeat Big Bad Nerissa because she possesses the Heart of Meridian. Only two people can take it from her, and one of them is imprisoned inside of it. The other? Season one Big Bad Phobos, whom the girls must free from imprisonment so he can take the Heart from Nerissa. They disguise him as a student at their school, and for a brief time, Hilarity Ensues as Fish out of Water Phobos stumbles through the trials and tribulations of high-school life. However, the alliance lasts all of one and a half episodes, as Phobos decides to screw over the heroines once getting the Heart away from Nerissa.
  • On The Venture Bros., the Guild of Calamitous Intent (a Weird Trade Union for supervillains) and the Office of Secret Intelligence (a government agency charged with protecting those people loosely classified as "heroes") have an incredibly complicated series of treaties and compromises with each other. The gist of these agreements is that the villains get to terrorize their heroic archenemies, but while henchmen and sidekicks can be killed by the dozens, the heroes and villains are mostly prohibited from actually killing each other or otherwise doing anything that would bring their perpetual conflict to an end. There are also a huge number of health exemptions and other loopholes that let people essentially call a "time out" on the hero vs. villain battles so they can deal with actually important shit.
  • Code Lyoko: The Supercomputer is the team's main resource, and Aelita's survival is dependent on it. It also happens to house their enemy XANA — until the end of Season 2.

     Real Life 
  • Arguably, the original Cold War was enforced as well, not by God or Sufficiently Advanced Aliens but by fear of the consequences - best-case scenario was a body count to rival the First World War, worst-case was the extinction of all life on earth if it went hot.
  • The American Civil War was pretty much the culmination of a cold war which the free states and slave states had been waging against each other since about the War of 1812. The Civil War wasn't even the first time this conflict turned hot (hello Bleeding Kansas). It was enforced by the federal government, which generally tried to maintain peace between the two sides without ever addressing the real issue.
  • This was pretty much the state of Europe for most of the 19th Century and the early 20th up until the outbreak of the First World War. Following the end of The Napoleonic Wars, the great powers agreed at the Congress of Vienna to maintain a Balance of Power among themselves to ensure that no one nation ever got more powerful than the others and to prevent another war on the scale of Napoleon. This resulted in numerous interventions during this period, such as Britain and France intervening in The Crimean War between Russia and the Ottoman Empire as they feared the Russians would become too powerful if they won.