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Invading Refugees

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Our heroes' hometown is invaded or simply attacked suddenly by enemies, so they fight the invaders off. Later, they find out the invaders weren't actually invading, but actually fleeing from something far more terrible that drove them from their homes. This typically takes one of two forms, with somewhat different implications for the story: in one case the Invading Refugees are fleeing from an intelligent enemy, while in the other they are driven out by a natural (or unnatural) catastrophe.

In the former case, the implicit or explicit threat is that whatever terrible army, empire, or villain drove out the original tide of refugees is still out there and still powerful enough to cause a mass migration away from themselves — and, if the fleeing masses could reach the main setting, their foes could do so just as well. This can result in an Enemy Mine in order to deal with the bigger threat. It can also result in a Mêlée à Trois if none of the sides can put away their differences.

Alternatively, if the invaders' home may have been or about to be lost to a disaster, the question will be whether this was a localized, global, or expanding disaster, and whether it's a temporary or fixable things or something more permanent. Depending on the specifics, the heroes may help the refugees in restoring their home, finding a new one, or preparing for the disaster when it reaches their home.

This may result in a variation of Planet Looters. See also Foreboding Fleeing Flock, where herds, flocks, or swarms of animals flee ahead of a catastrophe or threat. Depending on the severity of the danger, the invaders may simply ignore whoever they run into. Contrast Stranded Invader.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters has a downplayed version with the Bilusalodo, who turned up fleeing the destruction of their world and asked Earth for refuge in exchange for using their superior technology to defeat Godzilla. However, their Mecha-Godzilla failed to work and so they had to join the humans in their Homeworld Evacuation. Metphies suggests that the Bilusalodo would have used Mecha-Godzilla as a weapon against the humans once Godzilla was dead. Galu-Gu doesn't deny the accusation, just saying it's a moot point now anyway.
  • Gundam 00 Awakening Of The Trailblazer: The ELS are only attempting to invade the Earth because their original home planet was destroyed and now they travel around the galaxy, assimilating with other celestial bodies to gain and share their knowledge. And they aren't even malicious, either; they don't have any means of communication that humanity understands, and they don't realize that the assimilation process is extremely painful.
  • Last Exile: Disith invades Anatoray because an imbalance in their artificial planet is causing their land to freeze over. Inverted in Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing, as the invading Ades Federation wants to retake the land stolen from them by the descendants of invading refugees, mostly to deal with their overpopulation and give the descendants of the refugees who were ousted by the invaders their homelands back.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: On the plane of Ixalan, one the groups attacking the borders of the Sun Empire is the Brazen Coalition, a loose alliance of pirates and raiders. These were originally native to a collection of coastal city-states on the continent of Torrezon. When the Legion of Dusk's conquests reached these cities, their natives were forced to flee across the Stormwreck Sea, eventually reaching Ixalan's shores and coming in contact with the Sun Empire. It's noteworthy that, unlike the Legion, the pirates don't really want to be in Ixalan — their main end goal is to find a way to go back home and reclaim their old homes on Torrezon.


    Fan Works 
  • A Champion in Earth-Bet: Garzor and the Gashrens, an alien race that invade Earth, are revealed to be fleeing the Berserkers. Garzor's plan is to use Earth as bait and turn the Solar System into a supernova, just to slow the Berserkers down.
  • Distorted Reality:
    • Si Wong Sandbenders, many of whom displaced by the Water Tribes and other refugees fleeing into the desert, have encroached on areas as far as Ba Sing Se.
    • Wan Shi Tong is displaced by the chaos in the Spirit World and forced to set up shop in Ba Sing Se. He is deliberately reckless regarding Collateral Damage.
  • Earth's Alien History: Omni-Man tries to conquer Earth for the Viltrumites because they need to get far away from the Dominion. When Earth's heroes are giving him a beatdown, they call him out on the stupidity of this, as not only could he have just asked for help, but his plans failed to accommodate for the rest of TeTO. Also, it turns out that while he was carrying out his Long Game on Earth, the Viltrumites were annexed by the Planet Trade Organization.
  • Mutants And Monsters: The Millenian managed to flee the destruction of its world and entire species, then crash-landed on Earth millions of years ago. After waking up, it judges that the Earth is a suitable planet to settle, and mankind can be used, repurposed and/or molded to rebuild its species, even if he finds them aesthetically unpleasant. Attempts to communicate and negotiate with it failed in either the first or both accounts. Not surprising when the military also happened to fire it first unprovoked.
  • Star Wars Vs Warhammer 40 K: What the Imperials essentially are. The Xek-Tek Sector they hail from was about to come under siege from a Tyranid Hive Fleet tendril, and, after Roboute Guilliman discovered that the Dark Eldar were lying in wait and had arranged for a large number of Imperial forces to gather in one place so that the two enemies could destroy each other and leave the Imperial civilian populations virtually undefended and ripe for harvesting, he gave the order for them to evacuate. All of the people and resources in the Sector that could be withdrawn were loaded onto the ships, the planets were razed to deny the enemy what resources remained, and the combined armada of Battlefleet Xek-Tek, the three Astartes chapter fleets, and the other assorted military and civilian craft attempted to escape before the Tyranids and Drukhari could arrive, but were caught in a Warp Storm and were forced to make a risky jump into the Cicatrix Maledictum; thus being hurled through time and space to the Star Wars galaxy.
  • Thy Good Neighbor: Lord Fairchild, when talking history with Maester Luwin, asks if the Andal incursion into Westeros had anything to do with the rise of the Valyrian Freehold in Essos. While the Maester laughs and comments the Faith of the Seven teaches that it was only in response to the locals' poor reception of their missionaries, it's made clear this is thinly veiled sarcasm, and fully agrees with Lord Fairchild, noting his education is well beyond that of a Maester, and in fact is much closer to an Archmaester.

    Films — Animated 
  • Home (2015): The Boov take over Earth because the Gorg destroyed their homeworld.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Godzilla:
    • The Mysterians: The titular alien race are desperate to conquer the Earth because they destroyed their original homeworld in a nuclear war and their Martian colonies are running out of resources.
    • Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Terror of Mechagodzilla: The Simeons are motivated by the fact their own world is gradually being sucked into a black hole.
    • Godzilla vs. Gigan: The Space Hunter Nebula M aliens are giant alien cockroaches which want to take over the Earth because their own planet is being polluted beyond habitation, even for cockroach people, and Earth is similar enough to their original planet before the over-pollution.
  • Man of Steel: After he and his followers escaped from the Phantom Zone, General Zod plans to take over and terraform Earth because their planet Krypton exploded. However, terraforming Earth to make it habitable to Kryptonians would kill the entire human race. And despite that one Kryptonian (Kal-El a.k.a. Superman) managed to live on Earth for a long time without any problems asides from having superpower abilities powered by the yellow sun, Zod still goes on with his plan that would kill humanity because he finds as a necessity for his people.
  • Ultraman Cosmos: The First Contact: The Baltans, having lost their home planet as result of a nuclear war, now targets our planet. Besides making Earth their new home, the Baltanian leader, Dark Baltan, is also a Well-Intentioned Extremist who believe humans will destroy Earth with their own weapons, therefore having Earth suffer the same fate as Planet Baltan, and intends to prevent humanity from doing further damage -via saving the Earth by conquering it.

  • Animorphs: Crayak is said to be fleeing something even worse than him (or at least much more powerful. We don't know all the details). However, he did not achieve the godlike power that enables him to rival the Ellimist until after arriving.
  • The Beast Arises: The Imperial Fists chapter deploys to Ardamantua to destroy an alien fleet that is moving into Imperial territory, only to discover that the xenos are in fact fleeing something much nastier: a massive ork WAAAGH! led by a warboss called the Beast, which turns into the bloodiest period of human history since the Horus Heresy.
  • The City Who Fought: Simeon, the titular city-Space Station, notices an ancient Colony Ship barreling directly at him. The ship is able to make a few very minor course adjustments but is in truly terrible condition and is unable to stop or turn aside. Station personnel have to scramble to prevent a catastrophic collision, and when the ship stops they have to tug it away before it detonates, in the meantime going through and rescuing the Human Popsicles on board, those who haven't already died. Just from the condition of the ship, which had been converted to an orbital station long ago, and the fact that its ramshackle crew fled in it, Simeon and company quickly deduce that they're fleeing something bad.
  • Codex Alera: The Canim, who launch a mass invasion of Alera in the first few books, are eventually shown to be fleeing from something worse in their homeland. The protagonists later go to Canea and see what chased them away and discover it to have been completely overrun by a Horde of Alien Locusts.
  • Cthulhu Mythos: The Insects From Shaggai (AKA Shan) in Ramsey Campbell's stories. When their home planet was destroyed by a Mythos abomination, some of them fled to a succession of other planets, finally ending up on Earth. They're still pretty evil by human standards.
  • Deverry: In the backstory, the Gel Da'Thae hordes that destroyed the Seven Cities of the Elves back in the first century had been driven out of their homelands into the Elven Kingdoms by the onslaught of the Gaulish tribes who later became the Deverrians. They in turn had fled to what would become Deverry to escape the legions of Rome.
  • Dragonlance: During The Dwarfgate War has Raistlin/Fistdantalius leading one of these consisting of people who are barely surviving after the Cataclysm. It doesn't take much to convince them they should take their chances trying to seize Thorbardin for themselves.
  • Dune: The Honored Matres (who appear in the last two Frank Herbert novels of the series, Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune) are aggressors who attack many worlds and wreak havok in the old Empire — but it is stated that they are fleeing an even more powerful and terrible mysterious enemy, which according to the (much-maligned) sequel by Brian Herbert is the Thinking Machines.
  • A Fly Went By starts with a young boy enjoying his solitude when a fly passes by. He asks where it's going, and it replies that it's fleeing the frog that's chasing it. So begins a conga-line of (t)error in which increasingly large animals that are the natural predators of their predecessors tell the boy they're not chasing anything but rather running from something they (justifiably) perceive as a threat, concluding with a man with a gun who himself is fleeing a nameless, clanking beast. This turns out to be a sheep with its leg trapped in a tin can which had initially approached the man wanting help, but he got spooked by the noise.
  • Green Antarctica: The Tsalal live in a Crapsack World, so when things get slightly worse, they usually respond by migrating to a different part of Antarctica and making war on the people there.
    • The Zhu's ethnogenesis was their invasion by the Qys, who forced them to flee in boats on and become the Sea Peoples/Vikings of Antarctica. The "Suffering Path" became an integral part of their religion, and the Qys (by then extinct) were mythologized into demons sent by god to destroy the Zhu.
    • Iskr, the King in Yellow, united hordes of refugees fleeing the Zhu to overthrow the settled Hali and found the kingdom of Carcosa.
    • The Starvation Army was formed by an alliance of Dragon Islanders fleeing famine in their home islands, and laid waste to pretty much everyone else, all while constantly starving and culling their own forces. The combination of wars, famine, and societal collapse eventually led to the death of at least 75% of the population of Antarctica.
    • After learning about the outside world, the 1816 eruption of Mount Tambora disrupted Tsalal society profoundly, as they felt like the world was ending a second time — but this time they had somewhere to flee to. The refugees ended up conquering Chile and Argentina, the Southern Island of New Zealand, and part of Western Australia (and settling in large numbers in South Africa).
  • The Laundry Files: The alfär went through their own CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN in their Alternate Universe Earth. The ones who show up to invade Britain are a few thousand soldiers who tried to sleep out the apocalypse in an isolated bunker until dwindling resources forced them to find a new home (read: our Earth).
  • Martín Fierro: In 1870, The Austrian empire invaded Italy and began a repression so cruel that millions emigrated to other countries, Argentina being one of them. The Gauchos in this Narrative Poem despised those Italian inmigrants because they didn’t know how to tend to cattle on a ranch, they didn’t know how to speak Spanish correctly (they were called Gringos, literally “someone who cannot speak properly and only babbles”) and the Gauchos feared The Government was trying to replace them with Gringos. That last part was Truth in Television.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The Wildlings — a tribal society living beyond the Wall that marks the realm's Northern border — have been raiding the southern lands for as long as anyone can remember, and the Night's Watch has all-but forgotten its original mission as they focus all their resources on fighting back Wildling raiding parties. As the books begin, the Watch is getting worrying reports that the wildlings are massing together into a single horde intent on smashing their way through the Wall. What the Watch and the Seven Kingdoms are slower to come to terms with is that the reason for this sudden determination to move south is the re-emergence of the old enemy the Watch was created to hold back: the zombie-raising, icy Humanoid Abominations known only as "the Others".
    • In backstory history, both the Andals and the Rhoynar came to Westeros fleeing Valyrian conquest. The Andals retreated across eastern Essos in front of the advancing Valyrian empire until they were driven to sea, at which point they fled en masse to the western continent. The Rhoynar instead tried to fight the dragonlords, and succeeded for a time, but were ultimately defeated; their last queen, Nymeria, fled from the destruction of her kingdom with a refugee fleet that eventually made its way to Dorne.
    • The Targaryens descend from the last dragonlords fleeing the Doom of Valyria. Their rag-tag fleet found that the land they sought safety in was also ripe for conquest.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The Abominor, a villainous robot species that turns up in a couple novels (along with their enemies, the much nicer Silentium), is known to be from another galaxy and fled from an organic species, heavily implied to have been the Yuuzhan Vong.
    • Interestingly, the Yuuzhan Vong themselves are refugees, but not because they found someone even nastier than them. Instead, after kicking the droids out of their galaxy, they proceed to conquer their galaxy for themselves. Then they wreck most of it in a bloody and devastating civil war. After this the whole species loads up on their ships and leaves their galaxy looking for a new home to invade and conquer. That's when they stumble on the Star Wars galaxy we all know and love. Carnage ensues.
    • Also interestingly, the Abominor and Silentium might be Asshole Victims. The Yuuzhan Vong version of the story involves them begging their gods for the means to defend themselves from the two races of Humongous Mecha tearing the galaxy apart in a Forever War (sounds familiar). The gods responded by giving them biotech, which they used to evict the Abominor and Silentium—and then to become just as bad.
  • The Stormlight Archive: It is eventually revealed that all of humanity are this. The humans on Roshar are actually the descendants of colonists from Ashyn, another world in The Cosmere, who fled to Roshar after accidentally turning Ashyn into the Death World it is now. Once they got there, they displaced and oppressed the Parshendi (the real natives of Roshar) and took control of their lands, rewriting history afterwards to portray themselves as the victims provoked into action.
  • The Supervillainy Saga: In The Future of Supervillainy, Gary is a bit worried about the inhabitants from John and Mercury's world becoming this. They're hardened survivors of a post-apocalypse Death World that have nothing to lose. In the end, they just settle on the land already devastated by P.H.A.N.T.O.M.
  • The Three-Body Problem: This is ultimate fate of the Trisolarans, who must conquer Earth because their own planet is doomed to fall into a star and Earth is the only habitable planet they have found. Thus begins a centuries-long proxy war to prevent humans from developing technology powerful enough to fight off the invasion force.
  • Victoria, a dystopian far-right propaganda piece, describes large-scale breakdowns in government services and public order as part of an economic doomsday scenario. When food disappears in the big cities, great hordes of gangsters, looters and simple people just trying to survive migrate out into the countryside to plunder farmers and small towns. They in turn are met by local police, militias and ad-hoc self-defense groups that shoot to kill with extreme prejudice, and the near-urban regions become savage battlefields before the swarming locusts exhaust themselves, succumbing to hunger and plagues.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5 provides a very dark example with the Dilgar: always an isolationist and xenophobic race even before detecting an Abbai probe in their homeworld's orbit (the Abbai planning to actually invite them in the League of Non-Aligned Worlds once they had developed space travel technology), when they discovered their sun was about to go nova their first move was to try and develop planets in three solar systems as colonies... And when that failed they did not ask for the League help but built up a warfleet and launched a genocidal invasion, bringing the League to its knees before the intervention of the Earth Alliance (that had its own defense pact with the Markab, a League race) drove them back and blocked them on their homeworld. As they apparently never told anyone why they had done what they did, they hadn't been evacuated when their sun turned nova, so the species is wiped out (bar one surviving Mad Doctor).
  • Colony: In Season Three, a captured Host reveals that its people are colonizing Earth because they were driven from their original homeworld by a second, even more vicious alien species. The Hosts shared this information with the governments of the world during First Contact in the late 1960s, which is why they formed the Authority and became Les Collaborateurs for the incoming Hosts to help lay the groundwork for their Arrival and subsequent occupation of Earth.
  • Defiance: The Votans came to Earth after the sun in their solar system went nova, with plans to terraform the planet when they got hear. Unfortunately, they left sixty-five million years ago and spent the entire trip in stasis, so they were surprised to learn that their desired planet had evolved an entire sapient, technologically advanced species in the time it took them to get here. There were attempts at peaceful settlement, but hardliners on both the alien and human sides eventually pushed it into an open war.
  • Doctor Who: Several races in the revived series tried to colonise Earth because their home worlds were destroyed by some greater threat. The way things usually shake out is that the Doctor tries to extend an olive branch, only for the aliens to Kick the Dog in some way that convinces him to destroy them instead. To whit:
    • In series 1, the Nestene Consciousness in "Rose" and the Gelth in "The Unquiet Dead" were fleeing the great Time War.
    • In series 4, the Pyroviles in "The Fires of Pompeii" had their planet taken by the Daleks as revealed in the series finale.
    • In series 5, the fish-aliens in "The Vampires of Venice" fled from the cracks in the universe. In the next episode, "Amy's Choice", the Doctor is so used to this trope that he finishes an alien's sentence when it starts to explain the situation.
    • In the anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor", the Zygons are preparing an invasion of Earth because their home planet was lost in the crossfire of the Time War.
    • In Series 13 a large part of the Universe is destroyed by the Flux, but Earth survives intact. The Doctor warns her companions that this will only make it a target for those seeking a haven or an empire to replace what they lost. Sure enough the Sontarans form an alliance with the Grand Serpent, who infiltrates UNIT to prevent it interfering in the upcoming Alien Invasion.
  • The Event: In later episodes, it's revealed that the Human Aliens' own planet is dying, so their plan is to transport their entire 2-billion-strong population to Earth.
  • Falling Skies: The Big Bad Espehni invade planets, including Earth, because they were forced to flee from their original galaxy by a "great enemy" and chose to enslaving other aliens as the means to fighting against this threat. Said "great enemy" never appears in the story and the queen later gives an entirely different reason for coming to Earth, so either that plotline was simply dropped or it was a lie.
  • First Wave: according to Joshua, the Gua are infiltrating Earth in preparation for an Alien Invasion because their homeworld is dying. This justification gets forgotten in later seasons, when it's revealed that the Gua have successfully invaded at least one habitable planet, exterminating its population. Nostradamus was a refugee from that planet.
  • Ocean Girl: The villains of the final season are refugees from the ocean planet, looking to Earth's ocean as a new home because their own planet has been ravaged by the red virus. Their ultimate plan is to melt the polar ice caps and flood the Earth to give themselves more territory to live in, uncaring of Earth's terrestrial creatures.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition, supplement Oriental Adventures: In the section on randomly rolling up yearly events, one example of a Major Incursion was a barbarian horde that had been driven from its homeland.
    • Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition: The Critical Role-inspired sourcebook "Explorer's guide to Wildemount" suggests a plot hook in which a group of migrating giants start causing a nuisance in Copia Wildwood, and a timber company foreman offers to pay a bounty for giant heads. When the party faces the giants, their sallow figures and haunted eyes hint at the fact that they're fleeing something much worse.
    • In the third-party setting The Delver's Guide to Beast World humanity arrived in the Beast World as refugees fleeing Another Dimension where the laws of physics were breaking down. Initially they attempted a military invasion but morale broke after they figured out that the native Beasts were as sapient as themselves and most of their forces turned on their leaders, afterwards the Goddess of Life herself invited the remaining humans to the Beast World and the invading soldiers were sentenced to seven years of Indentured Servitude as "reparators."
  • Delta Green: The Greys are these. They are actually not, this is a Invoked Trope by the Mi-Go. They deliberately made the Greys to pretend to hide that they are Invading Refugees, so when MAJESTIC-12 or Delta Green discovered their deception, they wouldn't look for the real one: that the Greys are disguises of the Mi-Go, who have their own agenda.
  • RuneQuest: During the Lesser Darkness, trolls and other creatures of night swarmed over the Surface World. This was viewed as an invasion by the surface inhabitants, but the trolls had actually been driven forth from Hell by Yelm, whose death had sent him there, and whose bright light was unendurable to the creatures of Hell who had adapted to life in the cold darkness of the Underworld.
  • Symbaroum has this as a major part of the backstory. After a twenty-year war against the necromantic Dark Lord, the human kingdom of Alberetor can barely support any life. The remaining population invades North, conquering the local barbarian tribes, and founding the new kingdom of Ambria on the edge of the gigantic forest Davokar.
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: The Beastclaw Raiders are ogors that roam the Mortal Realms in great nomadic hordes made up of both foot-sloggers and beast-riders that descend on settlements to slaughter, plunder and pillage before moving on fast as they arrived. Unlike their cousins in the Mawtribes, however, the Beastclaws have no choice but to live this way; the entire subrace is cursed with the malign attention of the Everwinter, a magical, mobile, supernaturally intense eternal blizzard that chases their tribes endlessly. Beastclaw Raiders know they have to stay on the move from birth, because if they slow down too much, then the Everwinter will catch them. And if it does, death is least of their worries; ogor tales talk of those caught by the Everwinter being frozen into a state of semi-suspended animation, too frozen to move, but still alive enough to feel the pain of starvation for all eternity.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • While this plot thread seems to have been dropped, it was implied by some older fluff that something even worse than the tyranids is chasing them into the Milky Way.
    • During the shift to 8th edition, the forces of Chaos were able to create a catastrophic series of Warp rifts that tore the galaxy in two, swallowing entire sectors and star systems as it went. This was most pronounced in the galactic core, which was almost entirely consumed. As a result, the civilizations of the core stars, including both numerous alien species and the posthuman Leagues of Votann, have been forced to flee into the wider galaxy after millennia of isolation, coming into conflict with the cultures already inhabiting those regions and adding a series of invasions and counter-invasions to the setting's growing chaos.
    • Dark Heresy: It is speculated that many of the larger Ork attacks that periodically enter the Askellon Sector from the wilderness space beyond it are being displaced by some more terrible threat still out in the beyond, but most Inquisitors dismiss such claims.

  • Westeros: An American Musical: During "Sword in the Darkness", Mance Rayder and his army of unified wildling tribes turn out to be trying to get past the Wall protecting Westeros because they're running away from the wights, who have already reached the Wildling territory.

    • As the Toa Metru journeyed through the Maze of Shadows, they were frequently attacked by Rahi running in their direction. After a few battles they realize these Rahi were fleeing something away from where they were heading towards. That something turned out to be the Visorak horde, and it further turns out that the reason many of those Rahi originally ended up in Metru Nui was because they were fleeing the advance of the horde until they could go no farther (Metru Nui is at the very tip of the Matoran Universe) until the path to Mata Nui was opened.
    • The Rock Tribe from the north initially partake in the Glatorian system before straight up invading other tribes for resources. It turns out they were only doing this because the Baterra drove them out of their old home and killed a significant portion of the tribe.

    Video Games 
  • The Banner Saga: The humans and Varl are shocked when they discover a dead female Dredge and her newly orphaned baby. As they ponder why women and children are part of the invasion, they realize that the Dredge aren't invading — they're fleeing.
  • Chrono Cross: This is how the dwarves' invasion of Water Dragon Isle is portrayed. Enraged at humans driving their sacred hydras to extinction (even if Serge only killed the last one to harvest a life-saving medicine), the demihumans of the Hydra Marshes decide to make a new home for themselves on a nearby island… by killing all the native fairies. It's supposed to be a Humans Are Bastards Green Aesop, but when the dwarves spout lines like "You do not cherish the treasures of nature as we do" while committing genocide with Steampunk tanks, and you might have finished the hydra quest in a way that ensured that the beast's young survived, it instead becomes an annoying Broken Aesop.
  • Disciples: In the backstory, the conflict between the elves and the dwarves started when the Legions of the Damned started appearing in the elven forests, setting them on fire. Fleeing, the elves happen to rush into the mountains, the land of the dwarves. The dwarves assume it's an invasion and strike back at the refugees. The misunderstanding is further exacerbated by the respective races' gods. Gallean and Solonielle go to the dwarves' god Wotan and demand that he discipline his "children" for this act. Wotan gets angry and kills Gallean by ripping out his heart and throwing it into the sun. Solonielle manages to catch it, but is horribly burned by the sun, eventually becoming the fleshless goddess of death called Mortis. Things only go downhill from there.
  • Dragon Age: This is one in-universe theory regarding the Qunari (or the race of horned humanoids who make up most of the Qun's followers). Not even they know why they left their homeland — all they know is that they had to.
  • Destiny: The Fallen are not simply fleeing the cataclysm that destroyed their homeworld, but also chasing after the Traveler, the Big Dumb Object that guided them into a golden age and then fled when the apocalypse hit. When, centuries later, they found (the remnants of) humanity being sheltered by the Traveler, they assumed the humans had somehow stolen it from them and launched a campaign of extermination to reclaim it.
  • Gears of War: The Locust Horde only emerged from their underground lairs and fought humanity because their homes were overrun by another, even more dangerous entity.
  • Half-Life: The Vortigaunts and other Nihilanth's soldiers are revealed to have been fleeing from the Combine.
  • Halo 4: In the backstory, we find out that Halo's Forerunners have had a history of conflict with humans, leading to the Didact's current hatred of them. In reality, humanity was just trying to wipe out the Flood, and were fleeing from infected planets to inhabited ones which happened to be in Forerunner-controlled space.
  • Horizon Forbidden West: Aloy and the others are led to believe that Far Zenith — a group of wealthy elites who, after escaping the Faro Plague and using technology to become immortal — intended on using GAIA to wipe out the Earth's biosphere and make it anew for their liking because their original colony had been destroyed in a natural disaster. By the very end of the game however, the real reason is given: Far Zenith were stealing GAIA so that they could terraform a far-off planet, their original colony destroyed by a Digital Abomination of their own making. This same Digital Abomination attempted to scour the Earth by granting self-awareness to the first game's antagonist — HADES — and will most likely try again once it makes it to the Earth, so with or without GAIA chances of the Earth remaining habitable are slim.
  • Homeworld: The original game plays with this trope: your Mothership is the refugees, escaping the destruction of their second homeworld of Kharak, and the place they're invading is The Empire that destroyed Kharak and happens to be in control of your ancestral homeworld of Hiigara. And to reach the place you have to transit through the Great Nebula, where the locals treat you as an invader in spite of being just passing through and willing to leave without damaging anything.
    • The locals' main concern is not that you're simply passing through but that you're gathering resources from their "sacred nebula" while you're doing that. As far as they're concerned, only those who worship and live in the nebula have the right to do that.
    • The other reason they're hostile to you is that the Kadeshi are also refugees from Hiigara who were driven into the nebula by the aforementioned Empire, and are worried you'll draw the Empire's attention to them.
    • Just to take it full circle, the Taiidan were this, as the ancient Hiigarans devastated their homeworld and their fleet only to have their entire fleet annihilated by the Bentusi, at which point the still powerful remnants of the Taiidan fleet attacked with the express purpose of claiming Higaara as their new homeworld and annihilate the Hiigarans, and letting the Hiigarans leave for Kharak without much of their technology only when the rest of the galaxy begged them for mercy.
  • Iji: The Tasen bombarded Earth to make place for them running away from Komato that want to annihilate them completely.
  • Mass Effect 3: This happens with the batarians, who begin fleeing their home systems en masse when the Reapers invade. They did so in such numbers that at first the human-majority Systems Alliance, which has a history of conflict with the batarians over their practice of slavery, thought the batarians were launching an invasion, but they fortunately figured out the batarians were just refugees quickly enough.
  • Rogue State Revolution: If neighboring countries become unstable for whatever reason, illegal immigrants and refugees will start crossing into Basenji, potentially causing civil unrest if not addressed quickly.
  • Sacred: The orcs aren't launching an invasion of the human kingdoms, they've been displaced from their homeland by the arrival of a horde of undead.
  • The Sinking City: The Innsmouthers are fleeing persecution from the government due to the events of The Shadow Over Innsmouth but are still led by the Esoteric Order of Dagon (EOD). This means they're neck deep in evil plots and criminal activity that are contributing to Oakmont's collapse. Played with as it was the chilly reception they received from the locals that contributed to their radicalization.
  • Sins of a Solar Empire: The Vasari have been running across space from "something" that enveloped their empire for several centuries. And now they've reached the TEC's territory.
  • Splatoon: The Octarians lost the Great Turf War one hundred years ago against the Inklings and were forced to retreat into underground cities. In the present day, the Octarians have been covertly attacking the surface cities to steal Zap Fish, the energy sources of the Inklings, to power their own cities due to a growing energy crisis.
  • Starflight: This is the overarching plot, as sung by the Minstrels. Something is causing stars to flare from core to rimward and sterilizing life across the galaxy, and, as that "something" reaches each area of the galaxy, the strongest races in the region can make alliances, bug out and settle rimward, usually attempting to eliminate the races already there. The Old Empire of Earth managed to defeat the First Wave of this (the Numlox and Phlegmak), but Sol flared while they were fighting the Second Wave. They managed to send a few ark ships out, however. Arth is a world seeded by one such ship, but averts this trope by refusing to colonize inhabited worlds, and the Arth civilization is the one to solve the flares and end the cycle — but this won't fix their enmity with the Uhlek and Gazurtoid of the Second Wave.
  • Star Ruler 2: In the Expansion Pack, the Heralds are fleeing something that is devouring their civilization in a nearby galaxy, and they have done so for eons. Their method of colonization frequently puts them in conflict with other empires, as they have no control over the refugee ships that Blind Jump into the galaxy and pick random worlds to land on.
  • Stellaris:
    • As of the Utopia update, if your empire has decided to become psychic, you can talk to the Prethoryn Scourge and reveal that they fled their own galaxy and are survivors of something called The Hunters. They're only here to feed on the planets in the galaxy and will return to inter galactic space once that's over, dashing away any hope of peaceful teaming up against The Hunters.
    • 1.5 also introduced Refugee mechanics to the game, where species from an empire that doesn't normally make migration treaties if the species is being mistreated. Slavery and Purging tactics tend to do this. Purging by deporting every member of a race is also a viable tactic.
    • You can use this as a tactic to destabilize empires by allowing migration and having a rapid breeding, nonconformist, repugnant species. This is more of a slow tactic, but Nonconformist works on the Empire they exist in, not yours. Some even gift an entire system with these guys, rather than actually risk that they may come back.
  • In Touhou Kanjuden ~ Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom, Gensokyo is beset by Lunarians, who begin "purifying" the land; the process of which involves destroying all life in it (if the land has no life, it has no death either). When the heroines start tracking the motives of the invasion, they are informed by the invading general that the Lunarians, normally a race of Space Elves with fearsome tech, have been backed against a wall by the appearance of lifeforce in the Moon, which has introduced the alien concept of death into the satellite. As the invaders are fairies composed of pure lifeforce, their purifying weaponry is worse than useless — forcing them to begin preparations to evacuate to Gensokyo — which they at the time consider enemy territory.
  • Total War: Attila depicts the Migration Period during the fourth and fifth centuries, mentioned below in the Real Life folder. Many of its factions, and plenty of the playable ones, are the Invading Refugees in question. This entry in the series introduced a new "horde" mechanic to portray this where a faction's people can pack up (or start packed up) and follow at its armies' heels, and it is pretty much inevitable any hordes will have to sack a few towns and slaughter its defenders to economically hope they can go off to permanently settle down somewhere else (if they do so). The Huns are permanently hordes that are generally an antagonist to all the other factions with their warriors looting and razing any civilization they come across, and things will only get worse when the titular Attila the Hun comes to power.
  • Ultima VI: The Gargoyles are presented as demonic invaders at first but are eventually revealed to be fleeing to Britannia from the collapse of their homeworld, inadvertently caused by the Avatar's own actions in the two previous games.
  • Warcraft:
    • One of the reasons the orcs invaded the world of Azeroth in the first place is because they made their own world of Draenor almost uninhabitable through their use of fel magic.
    • Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos: The night elves of Northern Kalimdor initially take a dim view of the orcs and humans who have arrived on their continent and despoiled their forests, even when it becomes clear that they are refugees fleeing from The Scourge and The Burning Legion. But they eventually join an Enemy Mine alliance once it becomes clear that The Legion poses a much bigger threat to them and their beloved forests than the refugees. This alliance breaks in two by World of Warcraft—the Night Elves remain on good terms with the few human settlers on Kalimdor, but are hostile to the new orcish nation of Orgrimmar right on their border.
  • Wild ARMs: Zeikfried's main motivation. He believes the Demon Race are originally from the planet Hiades, which was destroyed long ago, and he needs to conquer Filgaia as a new home for them. Unfortunately, it turns out his own mother was the one who destroyed Hiades and she intends to do the same to Filgaia so he forms a temporary alliance with the heroes (albeit disguised) in order to destroy her. Once she's defeated, he goes right back to conquest.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Mor Ardain is an unusual example. They seem to be at the top of their game, with a thriving economy, a sprawling capital city, and the world's largest and most technologically advanced army. But in reality, the Titan they live on is dying of old age, and everyone knows it. This drives them to conquer other Titans in the hopes of finding somewhere to live after the coming ecological catastrophe.
  • Yes, Your Grace: The bulk of the Radovian army turns out to actually be a band of refugees. Those who have been raiding villages were actually a minority with very broad definition of "making a new living in a new land".

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The Sea Peoples who attacked and raided the Eastern Mediterranean in 1200-900 BC causing great destruction. Although contemporary Egyptian inscriptions stating that "No land could stand before their arms," may be exaggerated to increase the glory of their own victory, the collapse of several kingdoms during this period (including Egypt's main rival, the Hittite Empire) hints that the Sea Peoples may have been responsible or at least a contributing factor. Nobody knows exactly who they were or where they came from (given that the two main Egyptian inscriptions lists several groups as having united with only partly overlapping lists for the two attacks against Egypt, there may not be any one answernote ), but historians theorize that they were part of a mass migrations of peoples caused by some unknown disturbance.
    • Some historians have suggested that the disturbance in question was a colossal famine that started in southeast Europe and consequently caused the peoples of the region to flee eastwards, where they came into conflict with the civilisations of the fertile crescent.
  • The most popular theory regarding the ancestors of the Japanese people is that they originally lived in the Korean peninsula and were driven off the coast by the proto-Koreans, who probably originated from somewhere in Manchuria (the oldest known Korean state, Gojoseon, was centered in China's Liaoning province). The Japanese archipelago was already extensively inhabited at the time, so the newly arrived migrants ended up assimilating them in the centuries after, leaving the Ainu as the sole remnant of the archipelago's pre-Japonic people. There were evidences suggesting that Japonic languages were still spoken to some extent in the Korean peninsula until the early 1st millennium CE.
  • The Germanic peoples who invaded Roman territory in the fourth and fifth centuries were fleeing from Hunnic expansion, during the The Migration Period. And many that weren't from continental Europe, such as the Burgundians and the Lombards, were fleeing the climate change and accompanying famine that was coming over Scandinavia at that time. Those who stayed behind became the Vikings.
    • Initially though, the Goths were allowed to settle in Roman territories by the Emperor in exchange for military service, however they were repeatedly screwed over by corrupt Roman officials until they rebelled.
    • Some of the Viking raiders of the 9th and 10th centuries may have been seeking new land to escape over population and/or displaced by aggressive warlords in Scandinavia that would eventually establish the future states of Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
      • Certainly the case with the settlers of Iceland. Prior to the arrival of the Norwegians, only a few dozen Irish monks lived on the island until refugees from Harald Fairhair's conquest of Norway came knocking. No one really knew what became of the monks.
  • Similarly, various factions of Cumans fled into Eastern Europe from what is now Ukraine ahead of the Mongol invasions. They became an important political force in Hungary and provided royal houses for Bulgaria and Wallachia during the 14th century.
  • While the Sioux are probably the most iconic native tribes of the Great Plains, they weren't originally from there. After they were driven from their ancestral homeland along the Upper Mississippi by the Ojibwe, they moved westward to the plains, displacing many tribes who were already there such as the Pawnee and Cheyenne. The name "Sioux" is not what they call themselves (they refer to themselves by "Lakota" and "Dakota"), but a French corruption of other tribes' word for "enemy".
  • This was triggered in South Africa by the conquests of Shaka Zulu in the late 18th-early 19th centuries. His conquest of one tribe would drive the survivors further away from him, towards the territory of another tribe; sometimes they would clash violently, other times the influx of refugees would simply strain the resources of the native tribe. Either way, the result was that the region ahead of him was pre-weakened by the time Shaka actually arrived. The havoc of the events known as the Mfecane continued for some time after the death of Shaka and would not end until the 1840s.
  • Displaced by European encroachment and incessant warfare with rival tribes, the allied Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama Maori invaded the Chatham Islands. On arrival, they murdered hundreds of the native Moriori (who were pacifists and infamously refused to fight back) and enslaved the survivors. After decades of enslavement, the Moriori were so assimilated into the Maoris, that they nearly ceased to be an independent ethnicity altogether. Fortunately, Moriori culture has since experience a renaissance, and they were formally recognized by New Zealand's government in 2021.
  • The Yuezhi (an Iranic nomadic confederation) were expelled from what is now the Xinjiang and Gansu provinces of China, by the Xiongnu and their Wunsun (another Iranic tribal confederation) allies. With what was left of their military strength, the Yuezhi émigrés invaded India. They conquered the ruling Greece-Bactrian kingdoms, and eventually founded the Kushan Empire.
  • After the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) toppled the Rwandan government, remnants of ex-government loyalists and Génocidaires fled into neighboring Zaire. In the refugee camps on the Zairean border, the ex-government loyalists organized themselves into rebel groups to raid the now RPF held Rwanda. Mobutu, the then president of Zaire, refused RPF demands to stop the attacks. Outraged by his inaction, the RPF government created a proxy rebel group, the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDL), to overthrow Mobutu and stamp out Génocidaire remnant refugee bases. A Zairean dissident Laurent Kabila was installed as its' leader. The joint AFDL-Rwandan army captured all of Zaire and killed tens of thousands of Hutu refugees in just 6 months. Even after Mobutu's fall, Kabila had a falling out with his Rwandan backers, and still continued to sponsor the Génocidaire remnants. The RPF tried forming another rebel group to remove Kabila and the still remaining ex government loyalists the following year, but this only resulted in a long and grueling stalemate.
  • When the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom was defeated by the Qing Dynasty, various other loosely affiliated rebel groups fled from Southern China to escape government reprisals. They entered neighboring Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos, and formed several competing bandit gangs known as the "Flag Armies." The Flag Armies used their experiences in guerilla warfare to fight against the local authorities and each other. However, some of the Flag Armies, the Black Flag Army in particular, came to ally with their host states. In exchange for sponsorship, the Black Flag Army assisted the Vietnamese government in suppressing Hmong uprisings, cracking down on rival Flag Armies, and fighting the French invasion.
  • After fleeing from the Dutch plantations in what is now Suriname, many escaped African slaves, known as "Maroons", retreated into the jungles for sanctuary. The Maroons established their own tribes and kingdoms in the cover of the inaccessible jungle strongholds. Although relations with the indigenous tribes varied considerably from group to group, the Saramaka maroons had an especially vicious blood feud with the native Caribs. Saramaka warriors frequently abducted Carib women from their villages, and killed every Carib man that entered their territory on the spot. In return, the Caribs serviced themselves as slave hunters, and sold every Saramaka they captured back to the Dutch plantations.
  • The Liwa Fatemiyoun militia active in the Syrian Civil War is a complicated inversion example. They technically aren't "invaders" in the traditional sense of the term, as they are fighting under the banner of the Syrian government. However, their numbers consist entirely of Shia Hazaras that have been driven out of Afghanistan by the Taliban and other jihadist insurgents, and sought refugee in Iran. In exchange for payment and other social benefits, the Iranian government organized the Hazara refugees into the Liwa Fatemiyoun militias, and deployed them to fight for Assad in Syria. A possibly more straight example in the Syrian Civil War are the Chechen and Uyghur fighters that have been pushed out by Russian and Chinese crackdowns at home, and joined several of the local rebel and jihadist groups.