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"The business of When the Tide Rises is taken largely from real events in Chile, Peru, and Brazil. The major naval action, however, is based on the 1811 Battle of Lissa. (The 1866 Battle of Lissa is fascinating, but in fiction you couldn't make one side as incompetent as the historical losing side was. As one example, the gun crews of the defeated flagship forgot to load shells and therefore fought the battle firing blank charges.)"
David Drake, foreword to RCN: When the Tide Rises
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This trope deals with a story that features some sort of analogue of a real-world historical conflict in a fantasy or science fiction context in a different world from ours.

This is especially popular in Japan, since it allows them to tell stories utilizing the era of World War II without actively mentioning the war. Other common variations:

See also Recycled IN SPACE!, Fantasy Counterpart Culture, and Does This Remind You of Anything? Supertrope to Space Cold War. Compare and contrast Weird Historical War, which depicts a Real Life historical war, but with added fantastical elements.

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Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk
    • The Golden Age Arc draws some inspiration from The Hundred Years War, with the long-running conflict between the Kingdom of Midland and the Tudor Empire specifically being called the Hundred-Year War. Mercenaries like the Band of the Hawk were historically a significant part of European armies from late Rome through the mid-19th century. Somewhat uniquely, the story seems to be told from the French perspective rather than the English POV, with Tudor eventually being diverted from prosecuting the war by an Enemy Civil War sparked by a Succession Crisis, mirroring the concurrent Wars of the Roses.
    • The post-Eclipse invasion of the Kushan Empire seems to parallel the Islamic invasions of southern Europe, particularly the rise of the Ottoman Empire (through conquest of a weakened Eastern Roman Empire, much as Kushan invades Midland in a time of internal weakness following the King's betrayal of the Band of the Hawk), though Kushan is visually patterned more after Mughal India.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • The persecution of the Ishvallan people is said to be a parallel to the Japanese treatment of the Ainu. The author was familiar with this conflict due to growing up in Hokkaido, where most of the Ainu people live.
    • There's another parallel that Western eyes will see even if they're unaware of its true inspiration: the Nazis' treatment of the Jews, Amestris being a militaristic European-like military dictatorship—led by a Fuhrer, no less—who committed genocide against a religious minority of monotheists. Though the Ishvallans share more in common with Middle Eastern Muslims than Jews, or any of the other groups the Nazis targetted.
  • The events of Howl's Moving Castle take place against a Steampunk fantasy equivalent of the Great War, complete with steampunk airships, pre-dreadnought battleships, and French-esque uniforms. Fought over the disappearance of a Prince.
  • In One Piece, the New Fishman Pirates threaten the people of Fishman Island to commit Fumi-e on the late Queen Otohime's image, to shed out their loyalty to Queen Otohime (who has the exact opposite view of the Big Bad Hody Jones') which is a reference on feudal Japan's practice of purging Christians (they have their people step on a Christian imagery to prove that they're not Christian).
  • It's only seen through flashback, but the war between Thracia and Persia in Pluto is heavily based on the Iraq War (with robots). The United States of Thracia accuses the Middle East nation of Persia of making Robots of Mass Destruction, but before other countries can complete their investigation into whether it's true, Thracia sends troops in and starts a horrific, wasteful war that devastates the country. And this is all just a ploy to make Thracia the world's main superpower.
  • The shadow conflict between Westalia and Ostania in SPY×FAMILY is inspired by West and East Germany during the Cold War. The city where most of the story takes place is even named "Berlint".

    Comics 
  • In 2019, to avoid Refugee from Time problems, the comic series The History of the Marvel Universe retconned several well-known characters with histories related to the real-world Vietnam War as having fought in a decades-long conflict in Siancong, a Fictional Country in South-East Asia which had made a few previous appearances in the comics (sometimes instead Romanised as "Sin-Cong"). This also included Mister Fantastic and The Thing's original backstories of being involved in World War II.
  • Micronauts opens with a bloody uprising against the ruling monarch of Homeworld, a bit like the French Revolution or the Russian Revolution (particularly the latter, if you see Mari as an Anastasia analogue).
  • An issue of What If? depicted an alternate world in which Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos fought World War Two... In SPACE! due to earth's technological development being accelerated during the fifteenth century. The Solar System has become divided into Alpha and Beta sectors, one on each side of the sun. The Beta side is populated by the hated Empire of Beta, which are analogous to Imperial Japan in the story, and Earth joins the conflict when the Defense Station Pearl is unexpectedly attacked by them.

    Fan Works 
  • The titular conflict of The Dilgar War presents more than a few similarities to World War II.
  • Don't Say Goodbye, Farewell makes a subtle reference to the Battle off Samar with the naming of Kanril Eleya's task force as TF 34. The sequence has them and Moabite ships drawn elsewhere while Fek-Day happens in the Moab system itself, leaving them unable to respond to help.
  • Jurassic World 2020: The conflict between Isla Nublar's feral carnivores and Ingen's troops that took place during the construction of Jurassic World draws inspiration from the Indian Wars, the Vietnam War, the Roman conquest of Britain, and some episodes of the French Resistance.
  • In Order in Chaos the war is practically the Western Front of World War I IN SPACE.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines has a conflict between the Trainer and Ranger nations that's clearly an analogue for the Cold War.
  • Racer and the Geek has one of the main characters a Shell-Shocked Veteran of a war in "Afgneighistan".
  • Scootertrix the Abridged introduces a war reminiscent of World War I, with Equestria being the German analog. They have enemies on both sides, and their grand strategy for a quick, decisive victory in a two-front war is the Schlieffenpony Plan. To the surprise of no one who remembers history, this plan fails, and Equestria gets bogged down in a war of attrition instead.
  • "Shortest War Ever" is directly inspired by the Cuban Missile Crisis, with two alien blocs on a pre-warp planet engaged in a nuclear standoff over an island nation that has undergone a revolution and switched sides. Unlike the real incident, the Space Cold War goes hot (due apparently to a false alarm being taken seriously), but is stopped by the orbiting USS Bajor before any serious damage can be done.
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    Film — Live-Action 
  • In-Universe example in Argo: A group of American diplomats pretend to be a Canadian film crew to escape Iran. When questioned about the (fake) movie by the Revolutionary Guard at the airport, they describe the plot as the Iranian Revolution as a space opera.
  • Avatar resembles the Indian Wars in the US, with human colonists on Pandora battling Stone Age indigenous tribes for control of lands currently occupied by the natives. The movie has been described as Dances with Wolves IN SPACE! The Corporate Warfare and No Blood for Phlebotinum angles (the human soldiers are Private Military Contractors trying to gain control of mineral resources) also gives it a resemblance to the then-current US occupation of Iraq, although the film was originally conceptualized several years before that war started (James Cameron didn't think the special effects technology of the time was capable of creating the film he wanted).
  • Star Wars
    • The wars against the Galactic Empire in the original trilogy-and as a result, its retread in sequel trilogy's war against the First Order-have shades of WWII, with the Empire/First Order playing the part of Nazi Germany, with German-style uniforms and stormtroopers' helmets resembling both Gas Mask Mooks and the death's head insignia commonly used by German elite units. (The term "stormtrooper" actually originates in the previous war) Probably especially fitting given that a major influence on the series was old WWII-era serials: the operation against the Death Star in A New Hope was inspired by The Dam Busters, which was about Operation Chastise.
    • The prequel trilogy, in a more low-key manner, draws on aspects of both the American Civil War, with the antagonists' side being a separatist Confederacy, and World War I, with a long period of peace and prosperity being dramatically ended by a ruinous war that utterly devastates both inadequately prepared sides. Senator-cum-Chancellor-cum-Emperor Sheev Palpatine references a number of despots who rose to power in times of crisis, but most strongly resembles Adolf Hitler's rise to power through democratic means before being granted absolute power by his government and then arranging a self-coup to keep that power permanently.
  • Police example: S.W.A.T.'s opening sequence is based on the North Hollywood shootout, where a duo of heavily armed bank robbers engaged in an hour-long gun battle with the LAPD before they were finally killed by a SWAT Team. The film adds two additional robbers who start a Hostage Situation inside the bank, but uses clips of radio chatter from the real event to establish the scene.

    Literature 
  • Alexis Carew:
    • Despite the Horatio Hornblower IN SPACE! stylings of the series, the main conflict between New London and Hanover is more reminiscent of World War II than The Napoleonic Wars, with culturally British and trade-oriented New London opposing the culturally German and militarily expansionist Republic of Hanover mostly by itself for an extended period, and trying to get friendly but militarily neutral powers into the war on their side.
    • The mutiny in Mutineer is based on the historical mutiny aboard HMS Hermione, down to the name of the ship.
    • The Little Ships takes its name from the evacuation of Dunkirk. New London lands an army on Giron in the Berry March and for a while nothing happens (the so-called "Sitzkrieg"). Then Hanover draws away the fleet and counter-lands a much larger army that begins to Rape, Pillage, and Burn. Midshipman Artley marshals a small fleet of civilian ships to get the troops and as many civilians as can be carried back off of Giron (Dunkirk). The author furthers the homage by naming several of the civilian ships after real-life ones that took part in the operation.
    • In Privateer, the Marchant Company galleon Hind attempts to navigate a dangerous passage into a system used as a pirate nest, runs aground on a dark matter shoal, and is captured and put to use by the pirates. This mirrors the fate of USS Philadelphia during the Barbary Wars, with Alexis playing the role of Stephen Decatur Jr. and destroying it after infiltrating the system.
  • The annexation of Cadiz by the Commonwealth in Angel in the Whirlwind is a very disparaging allegory to the American occupation of Iraq in the 2000s (still ongoing at the books' publication): a politically controversial long-running occupation of a neutral power begun for reasons of realpolitik, that has by now become mired in a bloody and expensive insurgency and is riven with corruption and incompetence on the part of the occupiers.
  • In keeping with the allegory of Animal Farm, the animal revolt against Farmer Jones is the Russian Revolution, the Battle of the Cowshed is the Russian Civil War, and the Battle of the Windmill is the Eastern Front of World War II, with Mr Frederick and Pinchfield Farm as Nazi Germany.
  • The second duology of Arcia Chronicles is a fantasy retelling of the Wars of the Roses, dubbed "War of the Daffodils".
  • Older Than Radio: In The Begum's Millions by Jules Verne, two competing cities are expies for France and Germany. Verne the Frenchman made no bones on where his sympathies were.
  • Some claim that Fred Saberhagen's Berserker Fury - where our heroes recover from the sneak attack on Port Diamond to win the battle of 50/50 - was somehow influenced by real World War II events. Apart from all the places and ships being thesaurus equivalents, and the battle tactics being exactly those of the Battle of Midway, it's difficult to see why that is.
  • Codex Alera: The campaign fought in the Amaranth Vale between the invading Narashan Canim and the First Aleran Legion has many parallels to the Second Punic War, with Nasaug painted as an analogue to Hannibal Barca and his forces as the Carthagians invading the Italian Peninsula. It's also likely not a coincidence that he's matching wits with a foe named "Rufus Scipio" — as in, Scipio Africanus, the legendary Roman general who ultimately defeated Hannibal.
  • The Combat Baker and Automaton Waitress is set shortly after the end of "The Great European War", an alternate World War I which took place on a slightly smaller scale, and was ultimately won by Wiltia (Germany) after they developed the Hunter Units. However, Wiltia's struggles to remain stable as they transition to peacetime also take many cues from Japan's Meiji Restoration.
  • Discworld has a few of these:
    • The historical wars between Ephebe and Tsort resemble the mythical Trojan War. In Pyramids, when there's a threat of the war re-erupting, both sides build wooden horses along the border.
    • Jingo combines elements of the Gulf War (the enemy is the Arabian Fantasy Counterpart Culture, it's mentioned that Ankh-Morpork (i.e. the West) actually sold the Klatchians their weapons for use in "pacifying" their own people, and jingoism leads to racism against Klatchian-Morporkians) and the Falklands War (the conflict is over an island that is of no real significance except that the other lot aren't getting their hands on it).
    • In the later novels, the terrorist actions of the fundamentalist "deep dwarfs" (who cover themselves from head to foot because they consider it a sin to look on sunlight) are reminiscent of The War on Terror.
  • The Four Horsemen Universe: The Short Story "Unto the Last—Stand Fast" is based on the Stand of the Swiss Guard, with a group of 189 human mercenaries, outnumbered and outgunned, making a Last Stand against an invader to allow local religious leaders sought for heresy to escape. The twist is that the story is also a Whole-Plot Reference to Sabaton's song about the same incident, "The Last Stand", with lyrics from the song quoted by the characters and even used as a Trust Password.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • The series draws a lot of inspiration for its setting and events from The Napoleonic Wars, but with the land battles ported to Space Navy battles. The comparison goes Off the Rails around book nine, at least partly due to the fact that their Napoleon analogue fails in her coup attempt.
    • Naval tactics and architecture, however, are heavily influenced by World War I. "Battleships" in the series are analogous to pre-Dreadnought models, outgunned by, well, dreadnought- and superdreadnought-class vessels, while being too slow to take on battlecruisers. In turn, Admiral Sonja "Horrible" Hemphill seems to be inspired by British Admiral Jackie Fisher, whose brainchild HMS Dreadnought largely was: both were motivated to use new weapons technology to break the stalemates that naval battles tended to devolve to because it was so difficult to force a decisive battle. Assuming competent leadership, either side usually retained the option to withdraw if they were losing, as the Germans did at Jutland, while at the Battle of the Chesapeake Bay the French avoided a direct engagement because they only needed to delay the British from reinforcing Cornwallis at Yorktown. Similar issues are in play at the start of the series, as described during the naval exercises in On Basilisk Station: until Manticore introduced the missile pod (roughly analogous to the introduction of effective naval airpower), it was difficult for either side to do enough damage to win decisively.
    • Honor's actions in The Short Victorious War, assuming command of the fleet after her admiral is incapacitated, rather than having an admiral aboard another ship assume command during a key moment in the pitched battle, is likely based on the actions of US Navy Lieutenant Commander Bruce McCandless aboard the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco (CA-38) during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Like Honor, Commander McCandless was decorated for his actions rather than court martialled. With the death of Admiral Dan Callaghan, Captain Cassin Young, and San Francisco's XO (as well as Admiral Norman Scott aboard USS Atlanta, accidentally struck down by friendly fire from San Francisco, nobody was immediately aware of it in the confusion except a the men who found Scott's body), the US fleet was in disarray. He was not the seniormost surviving officer aboard San Francisco. The senior surviving officer aboard was Lieutenant Commander Herbert Schonland, the ship's Damage Control Officer. Schonland was far too busy keeping the crippled cruiser afloat, and told McCandless to "carry out the Admiral's orders," effectively giving command to McCandless (though necessary, this could have been interpreted as Dereliction of Duty and/or Deserting his Post In the Face of the Enemy for Schonland). When the fighting subsided, Captain Gil Hoover of the light cruiser USS Helena took command of the remaining ships as the senior surviving officer afloat. Though costly, the battle was a victory for the Americans, and McCandless and Schonland's actions saved San Francisco, with both men receiving the Medal of Honor.
    • The Havenite revolution with all its purges and internal struggles is a clear reference to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror, with the eventual Military Coup and restoration of the pre-People's Republic of Tyranny constitution referencing the Bourbon Restoration (Napoleon's reign having been skipped over).
  • How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom provides an In-Universe example in volume 3 when Kazuya narrates to the Gran Chaos Empire's negotiator Jeanne Euphoria a parable about a conflict between a God of the East who believed all mankind should be made equal, and a God of the West who believed all mankind should be made free. It should be clear to the reader that the parable is meant to metaphorically explain the Cold War in broad terms.
  • Into the Hinterlands and its sequel Into the Maelstrom by David Drake and John Lambshead is the wars of early America IN SPACE!, with viewpoint character Allen Allenson standing in for George Washington in respectively the French and Indian War (Brasilian colonies versus Terran soldiers and "Riders") and the American Revolution (Brasilian colonies seeking independence from Brasilia).
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Shortly after the trilogy's original release in 1954-55, audiences began drawing parallels between it and World War II. J. R. R. Tolkien disliked this interpretation strongly enough that subsequent releases included a foreword that discusses at length all the ways in which the War of the Ring is not like World War II.
    • On the flipside, the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in The Return of the King shows many similarities to the 1683 Battle of Vienna between the Ottoman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire: a siege of a fortified city that ended in the Turks' rout by the largest cavalry charge in history, led by King Jan III Sobieski of Poland. Meanwhile, Tolkien himself in The History of the Lord of the Rings pointed to an account of the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains by the late Roman historian Jordanes, in which Theodoric, King of the Visigoths, was slain in a nevertheless tactically successful battle against the Huns, invaders from the East.
  • Just to be different John G. Hemry based the first arc of The Lost Fleet series very loosely on Xenophon's Anabasis. Other aspects of the setting take inspiration from the late 20th century US Navy, which was also a case of Write What You Know.
  • Short story "Lynortis Reprise" from Kane Series is set in a fantasy equivalent of World War I Western front - complete with trench warfare, (magical) poisonous gases and tragic fate of numerous young men crippled in combat.
  • RCN: David Drake usually notes in the foreword to the book the sources of inspiration (normally 19th century naval battles).
    • Like a certain other long-running space opera, the novels are loosely based on the Napoleonic Wars, with the literary inspiration being the Aubrey-Maturin novels instead of Horatio Hornblower. The Republic of Cinnabar stands in for Britain (with bits of the Roman Republic thrown in), both good and bad (it's noted they favor dictatorships to democracies for their client states because they only have to control one guy, not the whole population), while the Alliance of Free Stars stands in for Napoleonic France, with elements of Prussia and the Soviet Union. Unlike the Napoleonic Wars, however, the Cinnabar-Alliance War ends in a negotiated peace after book seven, as both countries, by far the most powerful human states in The 'Verse, were on the verge of complete economic collapse after roughly forty years of fighting and would probably take most of human civilization with them.
    • The foreword to When the Tide Rises states that the book's conflicts, both military and political, are based on Lord Cochrane's memoirs from his time serving as commander of the Chilean Navy during its war of independence, and the major battle on the 1811 Battle of Lissa (not to be confused with the 1866 Battle of Lissa, which Drake comments was so farcical you couldn't use it as a basis for fiction: the Italian flagship's crew somehow forgot to load shells in their cannons and spent the entire battle shooting blanks).
  • In Reign of the Seven Spellblades volume 3, the test to enter the the third level of the labyrinth from the second consists of the "Battle of Hell's Armies": two undead armies eternally reenacting a historical battle between "Rumoa" and "Kurtago" involving "swordrhinos", the "Battle of Diama". It's the Battle of Zama (the "swordrhinos" are war elephants), and the point of the test is to help the side representing Carthage to win instead of Rome. The protagonists use "toolplants" created by Guy to conjure fences of trees that foil the "Rumoan" cavalry charge against the infantry's flanks, allowing Nanao to make a literal Decapitation Strike against the enemy general.
  • The Saga of Tanya the Evil has various countries as analogues of World war 1 countries: The Empire being Germany, The Republic being France, Dacia being Romania, The Allied Kingdom being the UK, and so on.
  • In Second Apocalypse, the Holy War has very clear parallels to the Crusades, with the Inrithi as the Christians, the Fanim as the Muslims, and the holy city of Shimeh as Jerusalem.
  • Matt Stover's Mace Windu-centric Star Wars Legends novel Shatterpoint has a two-part example in the conflict over Haruun Kal.
    • The Summertime War is your average colonial war between Europeans wanting to exploit the land for profit, and the indigenous tribes who are in the way. Matt Stover was specifically inspired by Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness, an anti-colonialist novel set in the 1890s Belgian Congo.
    • The larger context turns the Summertime War into a Proxy War between the Republic and the Confederacy over the strategically important jungle world, much like the Vietnam War, which Stover's other main inspiration Apocalypse Now was set within (and was itself a Setting Update of Heart of Darkness). The Confederacy backs the Balawai (offworlder settlers) with financing and weapons (South Vietnam), while the Republic inserted Jedi Master Depa Billaba to assist the native Korunnai (Vietcong).
  • Siobhan Dunmoore: When the Guns Roar: Captain Dunmoore commands a Q-ship in a commerce raiding task force, and adapts U-boat wolfpack tactics from the Battle of the Atlantic to the situation. She later commands the task force in a reenactment of the Doolittle Raid.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire is based heavily on Western European wars of the Middle Ages.
    • The names of the Feuding Families Stark and Lannister (York and Lancaster) are less than subtle clues to inspiration from the Wars of the Roses. Even more directly, brief mentions are made of the Red and Green "Apple" Fossoways, who appear to have their own squabbles over titles and are two branches of a house. The symbol of House Tyrell, one of the major power players in the series, is depicted in the TV adaptation Game of Thrones as a dead ringer for the Tudor double rose.
    • The civil war between Aegon and Rhaenyra, is very similar - except for the dragons, of course - to the conflict between Stephen of Blois and Empress Matilda, cousins who vied over the English throne in the 12th century. Aegon is even persuaded to take the throne by his wife and mother, much as Stephen was. The Purple Wedding was also inspired by the death of Eustace (Stephen de Blois' son) at the the end of the Anarchy. Like the result of the Anarchy, Rhaenyra's claim is vindicated by her son Aegon III, a counterpart to Matilda's son Henry II Plantagenet.
    • Likewise, The Red Wedding is based on real-life violations of Sacred Hospitality such as the Glencoe Massacre and the Black Dinner.
    • The Reyne-Tarbeck revolt is one to the Second Barons' War, with Tywin Lannister being based on Edward I of England.
    • Cersei's (who is also inspired by Isabelle of France) convoluted "Fawlty Towers" Plot to frame Margaery for adultery was inspired by the Tour de Nesle affair, where the daughters-in-law of King Philip the Fair allegedly committed adultery.
    • The Blackfyre Rebellion is a reworking of the Jacobite Rebellion.
    • Cersei's situation in A Clash of Kings resembles that of the Bulgarian Empress regent known only as Smiltsena (named after her husband, Emperor Smilets) who ruled in 1298-1300: after her husband's death, she supports her infant son (Ivan IV Smilets) against her late husband's two brothers (boyars Voysil and Radoslav), and two other claimants (Theodor Svetoslav Terter, the son of a previously abdicated emperor, and Chaka, the son of a renegade Golden Horde warlord), with marrying her daughter off to secure an alliance with another nobleman (despot Aldimir).
    • Some aspects of the War of the Five Kings, namely the Brave Companions pillaging the countryside, the religious frenzy and the burning of whole villages as part of a terror campaign comes from The Hundred Years War.
    • In the series' more ancient backstory, the Andal invasion of Westeros was probably meant to parallel the Anglo-Saxon conquest of England. However, some archaeologists now dispute whether such an invasion ever actually took place: mounting evidence suggests a slower, mostly peaceful migration by Angle, Jute, and Saxon tribes after the Western Roman Empire released control of Britain.
  • Books by Harry Turtledove:
  • In Violet Evergarden, the Continental War is distinctly similar to the First World War, with Lee Enfields, G98 rifles, and other weapons of the time in use by the two opposing sides, who are formed out of alliances of several countries each. The war lasted four years, with much devastation wrought on both sides. The series' focus is on the Post-War world, where many families have lost sons and fathers to battle, and those who do manage to return often don't come back in one piece, either physically or mentally. Violet herself is a veteran of the war.
  • Tanya Huff stated in the afterword of Valor's Choice that she based the book's major battle on Rorke's Drift. The fight involves hordes of adolescent Silsviss (standing in for the Zulus) trying to kill a small force of Confederation Marines (standing in for the Brits) in a dug-in position, with the battle finally being won by the Marines because the Silsviss leader was killed by his second-in-command, who then withdrew after offering a show of respect (mirroring the Zulus quitting the field).
  • The Nilfgaard Empire's conquest of the Aedirn Kingdom in The Witcher series, is intended by author Andrzej Sapkowski as a parallel to the Nazi invasion of Poland that led to World War II. Nilfgaard itself is a totalitarian state with visions of world domination and disdain for any nation it regards as less civilised, and tactics it employs against Aedirn include False Flag Operations, Blitzkrieg raids deep into the heart of their territory (with cavalry instead of tanks), and forming pacts with Aedirn's old allies, who betray it in exchange for a share of the conquered lands. Ironically, the Polish Sapkowski's Czech fans reportedly tend to interpret the same events as the Nazis' annexation of the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia, with Poland getting Silesia in a similar secret deal (both real situations were similar, so this is not surprising).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andor: The Empire has displaced thousands of Aldhani natives from the planet's highlands, driving them south to more industrialized locations. It strongly parallels the real-life Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries, during which tenants were forcibly evicted and relocated from the Scottish highlands (where the Aldhani-set episodes were shot).
  • Dinosaurs: The two-parter "Nuts to War", filmed shortly after the first Gulf War, had the two-legged dinosaurs go to war with the four-leggers over pistachio nuts in "Operation We Are Right."
  • Firefly was partially inspired by journals of Confederate soldiers on the frontier from The American Civil War, and the Unification War and aftermath has its similarities (Alliance occupation troops in the series' present = Union occupation troops during Reconstruction, for instance). However the comparison isn't perfect, as the Independent Faction started out independent instead of trying to secede and failing, and while it's left vague exactly what freedoms the independents were fighting to protect, it pretty obviously wasn't the freedom to own slaves.
  • Game of Thrones: The War of Five Kings is loosely inspired by the Wars of the Roses, Aegon's Conquest has obvious parallels to the Norman Conquest of England and the historical period the dance of the dragons was clearly based on the English Anarchy of 1135-1154.
  • Many battles in Space: Above and Beyond are directly based on parts of the Pacific and Normandy campaigns in World War II, with the similarities directly called out in the episodes.
    • The Pilot Movie largely parallels the Japanese advance after Pearl Harbor, up to the UN forces scoring a significant defensive victory at the climax that they're able to follow up with a counteroffensive (Midway).
    • In "Hostile Visit", the USS Saratoga captures a Chig bomber, which the 58th attempts to use in a reenactment of the Doolittle Raid. It Goes Horribly Wrong: due to heavy anti-aircraft fire and inexperience with their ship, they miss their intended target completely and are shot down and captured.
    • "Stardust" = a disinformation op in the leadup to D-Day. Also referenced are the code talkers, with the Marines using missives written in Navajo and attached to corpses to mislead the Chigs.
    • "Sugar Dirt" = Guadalcanal, with a landing force scoring an initial easy victory, then being abandoned to fend for themselves in the face of superior forces for months in favor of taking advantage of a more strategic position elsewhere (New Guinea in real life, the planet Ixion near the Chig homeworld in the episode). Complete with a Vanity Plate dedicating the episode to Guadalcanal veterans.
    • Round Hammer itself is inspired by the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands. But unlike the real one that never happened because the Japanese surrendered after the American nuclear attacks, Round Hammer is called off in the finale because the Wild Cards screw up and give away the battle plan to the Chigsnote , who offer to open peace negotiations instead of taking advantage. The negotiations go badly awry and the war restarts, but the UN has lost the initiative.
  • Star Trek:
    • Many conflicts in Star Trek: The Original Series take cues from conflicts of the time or the past. Throughout the series the United Federation of Planets typically stood in for the United States, while the Klingon Empire stood for the USSR. Consequently, the plot of "A Private Little War" draws from the various "brushfire wars" where the Americans and Soviets exported the Cold War to local proxies. One of the most lasting legacies of this series, the Prime Directive, was created as a reaction to such European and American imperial practices with the intent of keeping the Federation from repeating the mistakes of humanity's past.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • The Occupation of Bajor drew most of its cues from the Nazi occupation of Europe in World War II (and to a lesser extent the Japanese occupation of Pacific nations in the same period), with the Cardassians using concentration camps, forced labor, and sex slavery on the native Bajorans and pillaging their art and cultural resources, while the Bajorans themselves had both La Résistance and Les Collaborateurs. However, the Cardassians withdraw right before the series mostly due to their own internal politics.
      • The situation in "Rules of Engagement" where Worf accidentally destroys a passenger ship while defending a convoy against Klingon raiders (not really: it was a Klingon Frame-Up and the liner was unmanned) was inspired by the Iran Air Flight 655 incident during the Iran–Iraq War.
      • Much of the Dominion War story arc is based on World War II. The fall of Deep Space 9 in "Call to Arms" references US possessions falling to Japan, while "Favor the Bold" and "Sacrifice of Angels" parallel D-Day in part. "The Siege of AR-558" was primarily inspired by Guadalcanal, but director Winrich Kolbe also drew on his experiences in The Vietnam War, feeling the scenario was similar to Khe Sanh.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise's Xindi plot got started with a sudden raid by a Xindi superweapon against the southeastern United States that pulls United Earth into war. This was intended as an analogy to the September 11 terrorist attacks. In a notable aversion, however, the Suliban were not supposed to be a stand-in for the Taliban: they were named after them while the show was in preproduction simply because Brannon Braga thought the word "Taliban" sounded exotic, then the show premiered two weeks after the attacks.
    • Star Trek: Picard: Discussed in "Remembrance". In a TV interview, Jean-Luc Picard disputes the interviewer's comparison of the Homeworld Evacuation of Romulus to the construction of the great pyramids. He prefers to compare it to the Dunkirk evacuation.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Given that BattleTech takes many inspirations from real-life military history in its setting, characters and war machines, this trope was pretty much inevitable.
    • The Amaris Civil War has many similarities to the Russian Civil War, kicking off with the ruling family being shot to death and unceremoniously left to rot. The leader of one of the factions is even said to be a descendant of the chairman of the Russian Provisional Government.
    • The first three Succession Wars bear a strong resemblance to the Thirty Years' War, being bloody, wasteful, large-scale conflicts between numerous feuding noble houses and nation states in the wake of the decline of a larger empire that saw widespread use of mercenary armies and largely devolved into constant looting by said mercenaries.
    • The Kentares Massacre during the First Succession War, meanwhile, draws heavily on The Rape of Nanking, right down to the excessive use of beheadings by katana.
    • The Clan Invasion(s) come off as a cross between The Crusades and Genghis Khan's conquests in Asia and Eastern Europe (unsurprisingly, as the Clans' founder deliberately based elements of their culture on the Mongol Hordes).
    • The author's note at the beginning of the Battletech Expanded Universe novel Ideal War states that the Gibson Uprising, a relatively minor conflict involving the pre-Jihad Word Of Blake, was explicitly based on The Vietnam War.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
  • The central concept of Flintloque: The Mordredian Wars are The Napoleonic Wars, only the French are elves (under Emperor Mordred and Marshal Sault), the British are orcsnote  (under King Gorge and the Duke of Wheeling-Turn), the Prussians are dwarves, the Russians are undead, and so on. There's an expansion called Slaughterloo.
  • Pathfinder:
    • The entire nation of Galt is copied directly from the Reign of Terror period during the French Revolution: demagoguery and infighting turned the Red Revolution on itself after the noble class was bloodily overthrown, and Galt has become a failed state, with the only consistent power center being the Grey Gardeners, the secretive order of executioners that mans the magical guillotines.
    • Andoran's independence war, on the other hand, mashes up the French 1848 revolution with the American Revolution: having learned the lessons of Galt, the Andoren revolutionaries overthrew their noble class with the minimum possible bloodshed (France) and then wore out the willingness of Cheliax to hold onto its eastern province (United States), thus successfully establishing the first large representative democracy in the Inner Sea region (both).
    • The Mendevian Crusades are, well, meant to be analogues to the Crusades, with the difference being that they're against demons boiling out of an interplanar breach called the Worldwound. The First Crusade was a notable success story, but the three subsequent Crusades were at best barely able to hold onto its gains due to infighting. The Wrath of the Righteous adventure path (and its CRPG adaptation) deals with the Fifth Crusade.
    • The conflict between the Keleshite and Taldan Empires references both the Islamic expansion into Europe and the subdivision and collapse of the Roman Empire, albeit with the order of events reversed: Perso-Arabic-coded Kelesh's invasion of Roman-coded Taldor provided an opening for the western half of the latter empire to declare independence under the rule of Cheliax.
  • Warhammer features an analogue to the Umayyad conquest of Spain when Sultan Jaffar of Araby invades and takes over the Kingdom of Estalia, which ends up triggering the equivalent of The Crusades when Bretonnia, the Empire and Tilea join forces to strike back at the Arabyans and liberate Estalia. Unlike the Crusades, this started when a daemon of Tzeentch manipulated the Sultan into attacking. Jaffar was a hated tyrant and many forces rose in uprising against him by allying with Imperials and Bretonnians. The aftermath of the war saw two cities, Antoch and Sudenburg, founded by the crusaders near the southern edge of the desert. The Imperial knights stuck around for decades more, hunting down Jaffar loyalists and Chaos cults supporting him. The Imperial forces explicitly stuck around as an excuse to rotate members around between the Empire and Araby as the Empire was going through a combination of a three-way Hundred Years War and Thirty Years War with on again off again conflict for nearly a thousand years in a divided state during the Age of the Three Emperors (initially starting as two and at one point becoming four before two claims reuinified) and the Knights were sick of alternating between killing fellow Imperials and the usual foes of Greenskins and Beastmen. Eventually all left except for the Sudenburger and Antochan colonists, who remain to the present day of the world as colonial subjects and major trading ports for Araby. The Age of the Three Emperors ended centuries after the anti-Jaffar coalition returned home in the Great War Against Chaos, marking the start of the settings modern age.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat:
  • Arknights: Its world of Terra is filled with Fantasy Counterpart Culture nations to real life Earth and are approximately currently sometime in the late 1800s if compared to real life history. The existence of these two wars informs a major part of realpolitik for even observer nations, who have been building up their militaries and other means of defending themselves out of fear they will be next to be annexed.
    • This is demonstrated by the most recent known war of Higashi (fantasy Japan) winning over Ursus (fantasy Russia) in a reflection of the Russo-Japanese war. Said war has caused massive demoralization to Ursus and calls for aggressive remilitarization to reclaim the empire's former glory. This is in actuality what drives the plot of the first storyline as Ursus' Patron Deity conspires with various military officials to create a False Flag Operation and instigate war against Yan (fantasy China), only for the protagonists to put a stop to it.
    • The other Great Offscreen War often spoken about is the Battle of the Four Emperors. Gaul (fantasy France) waged aggressive expansion on Victorian (fantasy Britain) and Leithanian (fantasy Austria-Hungary) territory. Victoria and Leithania made a coalition with Ursus to bring Gaul down, reflecting the European coalition of nations against an expanding Napoleonic France. Unlike real history, Gaul was utterly annihilated and completely annexed by the three empires that defeated it, with Gallic culture being completely suppressed as a result.
  • The ARMA games are typically set in fictional locations to avoid offending anyone or hitting too close to real-world politics. Never-the-less, the maps used are often based on real locations, and the conflicts are inspired by real counterparts.
    • The first ARMA features a mix between The Korean War and the Turkish Occupation of Cyprus. With the former, a nation is split in half, with the more militarized, communist North eyeing up the wealthier South. For the latter, it is the Mediterranean setting and the vague Middle Eastern and Greek influences that the island of Sahrani exhibits.
    • The second game is the most blatant, with the main campaign being based upon the Russo-Georgian War that was making headline news at the same time that it was in development. It also retroactively became a counterpart conflict for the War in Ukraine. It features a break-away state rebelling against a former Soviet state and drawing the intervention of Russian forces.
      • The expansion, Operation Arrowhead, is the most blatant of them all. It is set in Takistan, a nation that is quite clearly a pastiche of Iraq and Afghanistan. For the former, the US and co. invade to stop a dictator who reportedly has weapons of mass destruction, while for the latter, the occupiers must fight a local tribal insurgency in the mountains.
    • ARMA III is the only title to subvert this. The main conflict involves a minor clash between NATO and the military of a small Mediterranean island being supported by a coalition of countries led by Iran and China. This is deliberate, though, as the original plot for the game was set following what was essentially World War III and took place in Greece proper, specifically the island of Lemnos that the in-game map is based on. After two location scouts were arrested on counts of espionage by the Greek government, the developers reworked the plot to avoid any mention of Greece and to distance itself from real-world events.
  • One of Battle Brothers late game crisis, the "Holy War" (addition of the Blazing Deserts DLC) is a fantasy version of The Crusades, consisting in the northern noble houses and the southern city-states (respectively a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of medieval Holy Roman Empire and medieval Arabia/Persia) fighting each others for the control of several holy sites.
  • The developers of the FreeSpace 2 mod Blue Planet: War in Heaven have stated that the war between the United Earth Federation and the Galactic Terran-Vasudan Alliance is meant to be the Vietnam War in space. In both cases we have one side being far more powerful than the other but forced to fight a limited and conservative war due to political divisions and murky objectives while the much less powerful but more ideologically convinced side is simply trying to hold its own and ultimately push the other side out by costing them enough blood. Similarly to the Vietnam War, there is no clear-cut good guy.
  • The backstory of the world of Disco Elysium has several examples:
    • The Commune of Revachol hearkens to the Paris Commune, particularly in respect to its bloody repression and its formation as a socialist workers' government after the fall of the French Second Empire.
    • The World Revolution has aspects of most of the real-world wars of the 20th Century. Most directly it's a combination of the the rise of nationalism and fascism throughout Europe, Red October, and World War II, with Moralintern representing the Allies/burgeoning UN clamping down on Revachol's Germany and father of communism Kras Mazov as a stand-in for both Hitler and Lenin. The conflict between Commune and Capital, however, gives it a distinct post-Cold War flavour as well.
    • The Señorita Pineapple company being willing to go to war with other countries cuts out the middleman of the US's various "police actions" throughout Central America and the Caribbean from 1898 into the 1930s, in countries in which American corporations so happened to have interest — also known as the Banana Wars, in part due to those companies including the likes of the United Fruit Company.
      Half-Light: Those Señorita Pineapple people are scary motherfuckers, decimating your state if you don't give them your pineapples.
  • Dragon Age:
    • As the Andrastian Chantry is a religion more or less cloned from medieval Roman Catholicism, the concept of the "Exalted March" is clearly meant to be equivalent to a Crusade.
    • While culturally the Qunari practice something more akin to an extremist brand of Confucianism, in the setting their arrival by sea and conflicts with the humans of Thedas in the Backstory are clearly meant as an analogy to the Islamic expansion into mainland Europe in the Middle Ages (wherein they ruled most of modern-day Spain for hundreds of years before being driven out).
  • The general plot of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance seems has some parallels with World War II, particularly in the roles of many of the countries. Daein/Germany is a bigoted, militaristic aggressor nation, Crimea/France is a cultured nation invaded by said aggressor state, Begnion/Britain is a powerful, aristocratic empire to whom Crimea/France appeals to for help and the Laguz/United States are isolationists who come to join the Allies when they realize Daein/Germany threaten them. To top it all off, the leader of the allied force is called Ike (although he's actually from the France stand-in). note  The sequel didn't keep these parallels up; if anything, Daein in Radiant Dawn more closely resembled post-WWI Germany.
  • Far Cry 2 features a central African conflict that has a few parallels with the Sierra Leone Civil War (severe human rights violations, blood diamond funding) and the Angolan Civil War (outside profiteers, including at least some from Cuba and South Africa).
  • You can't get any more obvious when your title is Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, with even a black lion and white lion standing in for the red rose and white rose. And there's even a 2-for-1 special in that the major event that shaped the game's backstory was the Fifty Years' War, an obvious analogue of the real life Hundred Years' War.
  • Gemfire, by Koei, is best described as Romance of the Three Kingdoms in a Standard Fantasy Setting version of the Wars of the Roses," down to the king being from House Lankshire. And Ishmeria being shaped like England and Wales (including the Isle of Man) and the king's bastard heading up House Tudoria.
  • The first Modern Warfare features a very blatant pastiche of the invasion of Iraq, with an American-led coalition invading an unnamed Middle Eastern country. The main difference is that the invasion is prompted by a Military Coup against the previous pro-US regime, not because of the possibility of WMDs.
  • Pillars of Eternity:
    • The Broken Stone War, the War of Black Trees and really the whole relationship between Aedyr (and later, Dyrwood) and Glanfathans resembles the European colonization of North America.
    • War of Defiance, where now Free Palatinate of Dyrwood gained independence from Aedyr Empire, is The American Revolution.
    • The Saint's War is a more ambiguous example, but has some notable familiarities with The American Civil War: agrarian, traditionalist Readceras and industrial, more liberal Dyrwood resemble the sides pretty well, though the reasons for war were different.
  • Mount & Blade mod The Red Wars is set in the 20th century equivalent of the original gamenote  and is inspired by World War 2 (with some World War 1 and Russian Civil War elements in it), three of the major factions involved being obvious expies of URSS, Nazi Germany, and Sweden/Finland.
  • Star Trek Online has a fantasy postwar counterpart in the Cardassians, whose treaty with the Federation following the Dominion War reduced their military to a defensive organization of considerably smaller size, rather like what happened to Japan after World War II. The rest of the picture looks like post-invasion Iraq, with many former Cardassian Guard officers joining the True Way, a reactionary terrorist organization.
    • What little we see of Postwar Cardassian politics shows that there are some nostalgic movements in the government that wish that the defense force were allowed to be expanded to a full military force again. Coupled with said politician wishing to have a particular blend of Kanar that was made on Bajor during the occupation and that it's rare because most Bajorans see it as a sign of the occupation, it can be a nice blend of Postwar Iraq, Japan, and WWI Germany.
    • The introduction of Carrier ships into the game has led to many comparisons to WWII, especially with their growing prominence pushing out previously battle ship style capitol ships.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the backstory features an series of military campaigns carried out by the Republic under the control of an fanatical cult known as Pius Dea to exterminate aliens that are pretty much The Crusades. Their forces' Battle Cry is "The Goddess wills it", which is an clear parallel to "Deus Vult" which is Latin for "God wills it".
  • Tactics Ogre, written by the same mind behind Final Fantasy Tactics, features the nation of Valeria torn apart between three ethnic groups after the last great unifier died. It's a huge analogue of The Yugoslav Wars, even moreso given that the game originally released in 1995 when the wars were in full swing. It also qualifies as a Space Cold War, given that the conflict on Valeria is being influenced by agents from Xenobia (analagous to CIA operatives) and the Holy Lodis Empire is supporting one of the factions with a significant military presence (analogous to Soviet "advisers" propping up a local friendly government).
  • Valkyria Chronicles:
    • The First Europan War appears to be based on World War I, as it was started by the assassination of the crown prince of the East Europan Imperial Alliance (equivalent to Archduke Frank Ferdinand) featured the first use of tanks, and became bogged down in trench warfare. However, as this conflict didn't have an equivalent of the United States to join in and tip the balancenote , the trench warfare became so inconclusive that the Empire and the Atlantic Federation basically gave up and signed a ceasefire.
    • The Second Europan War that forms the backdrop to the series is based on World War II.
      • Like the Entente and Central Powers of World War I, The Atlantic Federation and the Imperial Alliance were both unsatisfied with the postwar balance of power and began to rearm as the resumption of hostilities came to be seen as increasingly inevitable. Thus, a new continent-wide war breaks out some twenty years after the first. The Empire invades three of the Federation's border republics, an act of aggression equivalent to Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939, using new combined arms forces and rapid maneuver to quickly overwhelm everything in its path.
      • Emperor Maximilian takes the place of Adolf Hitler, a charismatic leader with ambitions of world domination who takes advantage of the climate of ethnic nationalism and racism that was allowed to fester during the interwar period.
      • The Darcsen people take the place of the Jews and Roma, who are distrusted by people on all sides and find themselves subjected to ethnic cleansing and genocide as a scapegoat to justify the Empire's conquest.
      • The ancient Valkyrur serve as a counterpart to Nazi Germany's idea of the superior Aryan race, and their investigation of Valkyrur sites and artifacts is comparable to SS leader Heinrich Himmler’s interest in archaeology and the occult.
      • The powers of the Valkyria and their ragnite lances take on the same strategic importance as weapons of mass destruction such as the atomic bomb did in World War II, with the major powers racing to obtain them first in order to gain an overwhelming advantage.
      • The main thing for which there is not a direct comparison is the protagonists' homeland of Gallia, which serves as a Fantasy Counterpart Culture for Switzerland by its policy of armed neutrality, but is invaded by the Empire for its ragnite in much the same way Nazi Germany invaded Norway in 1940 to secure its access to iron resources.note  Gallia is also located in roughly the real-life location of Lithuania (part of the USSR during World War II), rather than in central "Europa".
      • Operation Northern Cross is basically Operation Barbarossa, right down to why it eventually failed (at least part of why in real life): early snow in October.
      • Operation Cygnus doesn't quite have direct parallel due to some technology in real life that didn't exist in the game, with the closest thing would be extremely grueling, land/sea-based due to lack of heavier-than-air flight that is way more capable than Isara's prototype, version of Nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Thankfully, the bomb didn't end up destroying the target city in the game due to Last-Minute Reprieve.
    • The Gallian Civil War shares similarities with the American Civil War as the country erupts into inner conflict between the loyalist and the rebels from the southern region of the country. The Rebels were also motivated by racist ideology as their hatred of the Darscen lead to a systematic purge of the population.
  • The Wing Commander series was conceived as a sci-fi version of World War II aircraft carrier operations in the Pacific Theatre (with some Top Gun mixed in).
  • The Game Within a Game of The Writer Will Do Something is like this, though no one wants to admit it; creative director Josh insists on referring to an "early, self-consciously studied war-is-bad desert battle — the second major combat encounter — as 'Afghanistan' so indefatigably that a panicked PR flack made him undergo emergency deprogramming right before E3 last year, lest he slip and actually say such a thing out loud to the press."

    Western Animation 
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Over a Barrel" deals with a scenario much like early America's Indian Wars, settlers taking over the natives' ancestral land for their own purposes, without native consent, which in turn cranks off the natives. Due to the nature of the show, things get resolved before they...escalate too far. Specifically, it's a Lighter and Softer fantasy version of the Black Hills conflict, wherein the Lakota regarded the area as Sacred Ground (in the episode, a Buffalo Stampede Trail) whereas the settlers found a big mess of precious minerals (in the episode, the only place a farm could be planted).

 
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"Dunkirk, not the pyramids"

"Remembrance". A reporter compares the Federation's effort to evacuate the Romulan core worlds against the 2387 supernova to the construction of the pyramids of Giza. Admiral (retired) Jean-Luc Picard disputes that comparison, calling the pyramids monuments to the vanity of kings, and instead points to the summer 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk.

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