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Military Coup

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Faced with intractable national problems on one hand, and an energetic and capable military on the other, it can be all too seductive to start viewing the military as a cost-effective solution.
Charles J. Dunlap, The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012

Want to know how unpopular a leader of a country is? Usually, it goes no further than if even the leader's own military forces can't stand him and proceed to attempt to overthrow the ruler. At worst, expect the country to become a military junta (a state run by the military) afterwards, which is when the military plans to take over the existing government, ushering in a new empire under martial law.


Often, this is led by a power hungry General Ripper who believes the current administration is soft, and that their nation should eliminate all their enemies and suppress dissent with an iron fist. Expect the general's dream to be a new government based on "efficiency," where citizens are conscripted into manual labor to build for the new expansionist government, with any protesters being shot on sight or at least jailed.

Cue a threat that's got numbers, technology, and high power weaponry - these can range from just the leader and a few groups of soldiers covertly trying to take over to the entire armed force of the country going on full-scale attack.

On the flipside, this can occur due to genuine concern for the well-being of the empire, especially if their commander-in-chief and the nation's leader also turns out to be The Caligula. Given what Real Life leaders of military coups mostly end up doing, this isn't usually the case in Real Life.


Note that a military official beating a politician out of office by political means like the ballot box, even if said box was stuffed, does not qualify as a military coup. A military coup requires that the military force a change in who wields what power by militaristic or otherwise explicitly extralegal means, such as assassinations or fighting directly against them — modern constitutions do not legally sanction the Klingon Promotion. Military coups committed by the recognized leader already in power are also possible, provided the military is used by said leader for a power grab he shouldn't legally have; such "auto-coups" or "self-coups" might involve, say, a head of state unilaterally dissolving a legislative assembly that was meant to serve as a check on his power.

This can be Truth in Television. Most coup attempts in Real Life are either led by a military officer or someone with their backing—in unstable countries the military is often the only entity that has the organization, discipline, speed, and access to arms necessary to pull off a coup. All this is needed for a coup to work, as the more time that is needed to secure strategic points the more time a coup's opponents have to organize a response.


Subtrope of The Coup, which is the trope you want if it's not the military leading the charge. If this takes place in your country, it's Day of the Jackboot.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • AKIRA. When Colonel Shikishima, who already has his hands full in trying to stop the rampaging Tetsuo from destroying Neo-Tokyo, learns that the civilian government plans to arrest him, he declares a state of emergency and orders the military to overthrow the government. In the manga, the Colonel, desperate to find Akira, initiates the military coup in response to the government's tepid response to the crisis.
  • Attack on Titan: During the Uprising Arc, the shadow conspiracy in charge of the government attempts to do The Purge against the Survey Corps and capture Eren for sinister purposes. When Erwin is taken for a trial, he manages a ploy with Commander Pixis to do a Engineered Public Confession by convicing the nobles that Wall Rose has fallen. When they make clear their intentions to abandon more than half of humanity to die this convinces Commander-in-Chief Zackly and the rest of the military to defect and install Historia Reiss as the queen.
    • Later in the series there's the Yeagerists, a faction of the military hoping to support Eren's plan to wage war against Marley. They stage a coup against the military junta, killing Zackly and taking over the military.
  • Episode 38 of Eureka Seven. Colonel Dewey Novak of the U.F. Forces leads a coup to overthrow the U.F. Sage Council.
  • An early episode of Noir had the title characters targeting key members of a 'security firm' that specialized in helping military units set these up.
  • In the flashback chapters in Gunka No Baltzar, Rudolph launched a coup in Weissen in order to increase the military's influence over the country's policies. The coup failed and the conspirators committed suicide, but the media's favorable portrayal of the conspirators won over civilian support to give the military more autonomy.
  • Megazone 23 has BD's faction in the military launch a coup against top officials and other military officer who are complacent to keep the masquerade that everyone's on a moving spaceship and not on Earth.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, Glemmy Toto attempts to launch one of these against resident Big Bad Haman Khan. The coup fails to achieve its objectives, and instead succeeds in splitting Axis-Zeon's forces, resulting in a devastating Enemy Civil War that, ironically enough, saves The Federation from an Axis invasion.
  • Patlabor 2: The Movie. A series of terrorist attacks give the appearance of a military coup.

    Board Games 
  • This is pretty much the whole objective in Junta, which is set in a South American Banana Republic. At some point one or more of the Generals will conspire to depose the ruling Presidente and put one of their own in his position.

    Comic Books 
  • In an arc of one of the Star Wars comic books, a number of Imperial military officers (and a couple of civilian politicians) attempt to stage a military coup against Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, due to their desire to overthrow the Sith-controlled government, being evidently unhappy with the fact that the Empire was essentially led by a two-man cult. Palpatine and Vader basically wiped the floor with them.
    • A Military Coup was also part of the plotline of the arc "Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison," as several graduates of the Imperial Academy, led by Headmaster Gentis, attempted to overthrow Palpatine and Vader, although they were somewhat successful in poisoning Palpatine with the biological weapon Aorth-6. Ironically, one of the people involved in putting down the coup was Grand Moff Trachta, who was the instigator of the (chronologically later) military coup listed above. Gentis' coup, however, was intended to end Palpatine's rule so that no more Imperial officers will be sent to their deaths by him, as Palpatine evidentially did not live up to his promise of there being peace after the Clone Wars, so Gentis was completely justified in committing it.
  • San Theodoros from the Tintin series is in a perpetual state of two different military coups struggling for control of the country, with one side being led by General Tapioca, and the other by Tintin's "friend" General Alcazar. The two sides constantly switch between ruling the country, the Running Gag being that there is absolutely no difference between either side, other than their names and the color of their uniforms, and the misery and poverty of the common man remains unchanged.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: After the military dictatorship of Neptunia is overthrown when they try to fight and enslave humanity they were replaced by a more democratic government... which only lasted about a year and a half before being taken out in a military coup by the military "masters" of the old government.
  • In the volume 19 of Malaysian comic book Profession (Chinese: 职业人气王 Zhíyè rénqì wáng), General Damon was this. When the ruler of the W-country were fallen ill, he take control of the country and trying to eradicating those who were oppose him, and he was the cause of the disappearances of a few officers, and teamed up with terrorist to cause the country in the midst of civil unrest, destroying (almost) any communications stations in the country, and blaming the innocent peoples of W-country for the terrorist attacks. (Look at this double-page if you're interested) When the main character Ivan (the reporter) and his friends travel to the country to aid the residents of the W-country, they get Attap (known as Yata in the original Chinese version), the leader of an neighboring country, to overthrow Damon and stopped the terrorist attack in the final chapter.

    Fan Works 
  • A Brief History of Equestria:
    • At the height of the Lake Trot Crisis, General Wind Whistler stages one of these, leading roughly two-thirds of the Celestine Junta's military against Commander Sullamander, aided by a simultaneous Gladiator Revolt by her lover, Hurricane. Sullamander and Wind Whistler are both killed during the coup, leaving Hurricane to take over.
    • A few years later, Sullamander's remaining loyalists, led by Hurricane's mother Star Saber, attempt to stage a counter-coup. Unfortunately for them, Star Saber is a total idiot, and the coup fails before it can even really start.
  • The Frozen Dark Fic By the Hands of the People revolves around this. In 1848 a revolution breaks out in Arendelle to dethrone the royal family. Elsa and Anna are imprisoned and then executed.
  • In the first chapter of Man of Steel fanfiction Daughter of Fire and Steel, General Zod stages a military coup, dissolves the Kryptonian Science Council and assumes total authority.
  • Earth's Alien History:
    • Following the conclusion of the Reaper War, Marshal Daena T'Drak exposes the Matriarchs' corruption (most pointedly their undermining of her war effort just to make themselves look better) to the public and arrests them, taking over and declaring herself Empress, reunifying the declining Asari Republics as a unified Empire. A very unique example, in that due to the exact circumstances, this is all essentially voted for by the public.
    • General Rahm Tak, backed by conservative elements in the Votanis Collective military and civilian government, overthrows and executes the Chancellor and most of his ministers for the "treason" of joining TeTO. In response, Vice-Chancellor Silora Voske (who escaped the coup and subsequent purge by sheer luck) takes asylum in TeTO's colony on New Votanis and declares herself the acting head of a Government in Exile, backed militarily by TeTO.
  • In Empire at the World's End, a more realistic take on The Peshawar Lancers, Washington (along with most of the other major East Coast cities) is wiped out by tsunamis created by the Fall. Afterwards, the state governments convene a Constitutional Convention in St. Louis to try and create a new federal government, but it fails, due to differing agendas and preexisting tensions between the different regions. Just when it looks like the convention will fail altogether and maybe even start a Second American Civil War, in marches General William Sherman, who proceeds (with the full backing of the Army) to arrest the whole convention for treason, establishing himself as Acting President for the duration of the emergency situation. He's hailed as a hero for this.
  • In Fractured, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover, a small government department called the United Defense Command grabs more and more power, eventually turning the Citadel Council into a government In Name Only. Of course, the rationale is galactic security since the Reapers have arrived.
  • The notorious Nanoha doujinshi Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha BetrayerS is set in an Alternate Timeline wherein the eponymous "Betrayers" (led by Hayate and including Nanoha, Teana, and the Wolkenritter) staged a coup to take over the TSAB.
  • Played With in The Night Unfurls. It's not the country's own military per se that intends to overthrow the current regime, but rather the most renowned mercenary group (the Black Dogs) with close ties with said country (Eostia) that does so. Moreover, said mercenary group decide to invoke the trope after heading the Grim Up North, taking over the Black Fortress, and attaining N.G.O. Superpower status as a result of making full use of the orcs and the resources of the fortress.
  • This Bites!: While it hasn't happened yet, this is the end goal of the New World Masons, a Benevolent Conspiracy of pirate crews and a splinter sect of Marines led by Smoker, Tashigi and Hina, which is aiming at allowing the latter group to overthrow the World Government in order to free the world from its corruption.
  • In crossover Zero Requiem, Lashare stages a successful one when his sellsword company is hired protect Myr from the Jolly Fellows and the Golden Company.

    Films — Animated 
  • The villain in Antz is the leader of the ant army attempting to do away with the queen's power, kill off all the workers, and create a soldier run colony. Knowing ant society, this is incredibly ill advised, but he is fairly crazy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • It's implied that this trope occurred in the beginning of Super Mario Bros.., when Koopa, wearing what was evidently a top General's uniform, demands to know the meteorite shard's location from Daisy's (soon to be dead) mom when ambushing her in the tunnel leading to the dimensional portal. Not to mention that his former boss and Daisy's father, King Bowser, was de-evolved into Fungus.
  • Power Play (1978) is a British-Canadian film inspired by the non-fiction strategy book Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook by Edward N. Luttwak. A group of military officers angry at the corruption and repression of an unnamed European government plan to take over the country and restore civilian government, but one of the plotters assumes power instead.
  • A few appear or are attempted in the Star Wars movies:
    • In Revenge of the Sith the Jedi High Council, having discovered that Chancellor Palpatine was actually Darth Sidious, the Sith who had orchestrated the Clone Wars to put himself in power, attempt a coup, planning to kill him and overthrow the Senate to eliminate the corruption and his control over the Republic... Just as Planned: Palpatine had already in place measures to eliminate the Jedi and turn the Republic in the Galactic Empire but needed a legal excuse to do so, thus he revealed himself to Anakin knowing he'd report him to the Council and how they'd react.
    • Revealed in From a Certain Point of View, that Grand Moff Tarkin planned to use the Death Star to stage one against Palpatine. Differently from Grand Moff Trachta above he had properly planned to deal with the Sith, with Darth Vader implied to be part of the conspiracy and the supreme commander of the Navy being confirmed as a member.
  • Star Trek: Nemesis: The entire Romulan Senate is assassinated by Shinzon and a group of Romulan generals who were promised that he would invade the Federation.
  • Valkyrie is about an attempted coup against Hitler by Wehrmacht officers with some help from minor German politicians. See the Real Life section for more details.
  • xXx: State of the Union features an attempt by the U.S. Secretary of Defense and rogue members of the military to overthrow the sitting President during a State of the Union address in a False Flag Operation. Specifically, his reasons for such is that the President is closing down overseas bases and in the Secretary's opinion, putting the U.S. in jeopardy through appeasement.

  • The titular mercenaries of the Hammer's Slammers series have been hired by many factions either starting or defending against a military coup. Eventually, a presidential candidate on Colonel Hammer's homeworld hires them to eliminate his competition, but the Colonel decides the planet would be better off with himself in charge.
  • Honorverse:
    • Esther McQueen attempts a military coup against the Havenite regime herself, entirely in line with the series' tendency to parallel the French Revolutionary Wars (with Esther "Admiral Cluster Bomb" McQueen in the Napoleon role) — only for the series to go Off the Rails when Esther's Coup fails.
    • The next such coup is a subversion: Thomas Theisman seizes power from the Committee of Public Safety in a textbook military coup, then proceeds to get rid of said power just as fast as he can possibly manage, instead setting up a Cabinet with an acting President under the rules of Haven's first Constitution (with a few strategic tweaks to ensure that there won't need to be another coup any time within the next several millennia). In the end he takes the job of Secretary of War and Chief of Naval Operations, but only agrees to become Secretary of War so he can make sure the Navy can't do to his government what he just did to the CPS.
    • Near the end of Uncompromising Honor, the Mandarins, the five unelected bureaucrats who control the Solarian League, are arrested and overthrown by the military, which sues for peace with the Grand Alliance of Manticore and Haven.
  • In Insurgent, Evelyn ensures that the Factionless are armed and leads an insurrection, becoming the de facto new leader of the Chicago walled community.
  • James Bond
    • Landsea '89 naval exercise in Win, Lose or Die is based on a fictitious scenario where the military of Soviet Union, unhappy with the then-president Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost-policy, takes over and shows off their power in several skirmishes in the sea. The next item would see something like that almost happening for real.
    • The bad guys in The Man from Barbarossa are Russian army officials who plan to overthrow their current government and start a global war.
  • Star Wars Legends: Legacy of the Force: At the height of the Second Galactic Civil War, Admiral Niathal (head of the Galactic Alliance military) and Jacen Solo (head of the Galactic Alliance Guard) exploit a legal loophole that allows them to oust and arrest Chief of State Cal Omas (on the grounds that his ineffective leadership was weakening the war effort) and establish a junta to handle the war directly. To her credit, Niathal intended this to be a temporary emergency measure, and had no idea at the time that Solo had become a Sith Lord who intended to turn the Alliance into his own empire; when she realized she'd been played, she immediately switched sides to support the Jedi rebels.
  • Timeline-191: Settling Accounts: In at the Death: Attempted in an Alternate History universe Confederate States of America in 1944. Sadly, it fails, and Jake Featherston, the local Hitler Expy, stays in power for the remainder of the war, bringing the Confederacy to ruin.
  • U.S.S.A. A military coup overthrows the U.S. government. The country's name is changed to the "United Secure States of America".
  • Victoria features one as part of the speculative future decline and fall of the United States. The last elected head of the increasingly decaying and corrupt Republic, Sam Warner, is a well-meaning but ineffective man, and unable to maintain national unity as a crippling economic crisis strikes, the federal government weakens and states begin to secede. After Warner and most of his cabinet are killed in an improbably successful lone-wolf suicide attack, General Wesley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, overrides the constitutional line of succession and establishes an outright military dictatorship, trying to hold the country together with naked force.
  • Seven Days in May. The book (and later movie) has this planned against an unpopular President of the US by the very popular Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the plot being it getting discovered and then the President's men trying to prevent it.
  • Happens by default in the Alternate History novel Resurrection Day, where the Cuban Missile Crisis lead to nuclear war for which the late President Kennedy is blamed. As the Democrats have been totally discredited the United States has become a one-party state, and there's a permanent State of Emergency to run the devastated country which means the military is running everything anyway. This proves quite convenient for the General Ripper running the US as he can cover up the fact that the war started due to his own actions.
  • Prophecy Approved Companion: Qube questions how the Evil Emperor rose to power as told in the first chapter:
    “Why didn’t the other members of government dispute his claim as Emperor? Surely killing their leaders would have been illegal?” a tiny Qube had asked. “Was this like a coup thing, where he had the military behind him or something?”
  • The Lost Fleet:
    • The fear of one of these drives more than one subplot in the second story arc, because the Alliance's Space Navy has a charismatic leader to rally around in the form of Captain Geary, whose reputation they'd built up to King in the Mountain levels as wartime propaganda only to discover that a) he wasn't technically dead and b) he lived up to that reputation. The civilian leadership are only slightly reassured to learn that Geary is far too much of a loyal and honourable officer to even entertain the idea, because that the officer who Geary abruptly replaced had been under suspicion of planning one. These suspicions turn out to be well-founded.
    • Several of these kick off in the Syndicate Worlds as a result of the titular Lost Fleet's fighting withdrawal inflicting such heavy losses that public confidence in the Executive Council and their ability to put down rebellion both fall apart. One particularly notable example is the Midway system, which was the focus of spinoff series The Lost Stars.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5 has a heroic example, with General Hague leading an attempted coup against the increasingly oppressive President Clark. General Hague catches a bridge a few episode later, and Captain Sheridan eventually takes charge of the rebelling forces. It is mentioned by several officers who refused to support the coup later on that it wasn't because they thought Clark was a good guy or anything, but rather because they felt it was wrong for the military to oppose the government, nothing less than treason. These officers at least made a point to try and avoid situations where they'd have to fire on civilians or do any of the nastier things that Clark ordered. This didn't mean that many of them were unwilling to fight the rebel forces, however. At the end Clark's own Vice President is about to remove him with the help of the military, but he shoots himself before they arrive. Soon after a new president who actually respects the Earth Alliance Constitution is installed, Sheridan is forced to resign from Earthforce, and he accepts so long as his followers are given amnesty, since what he did was the product of an extreme Godzilla Threshold and absolutely must be seen as such for the Earth Alliance's restored democracy to last.
  • Babylon Berlin features an attempted one by ultra-nationalist, proto-fascist, monarchist military officers calling themselves the "Black Reichswehr". The plan is Very Loosely Based on a True Story, as there were a lot of coup attempts during the Weimar era in Germany.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003). After President Laura Roslin interferes with Commander Adama's authority over his own people, Adama stages a military coup and assumes total authority. Unlike other examples however, he eventually realizes the situation has gone too far and willingly hands power back to the President.
  • At the end of season two of Blake's 7, Supreme Commander Servalan uses the chaos caused by sabotage of the Federation Master Computer as both a pretext and opportunity to seize control of the Federation. Unfortunately the sabotage causes permanent damage to the Federation and she finds herself The Generalissimo of a Vestigial Empire.
  • A Discussed Trope in The Crown (2016). Lord Mountbatten is approached by a number of bankers and businessmen alarmed at Harold Wilson's socialist policies. Their plan is to overthrow the elected British government, take it over themselves, and install Mountbatten as a figurehead ruler. He points out that overthrowing an established First World democracy like Great Britain would require the unquestioning loyalty of tens of thousands of troops, which he didn't have even in his heyday.
  • The Mini Series Kung Mawawala Ka (If You're Gone). The Philippine military overthrows the regime of President Leandro Montemayor.
  • Last Resort has another heroic example, as the military and Secret Service plan to lockdown Washington, DC and take over the White House to arrest the current President. The President was in the midst of being impeached when he ordered a nuclear attack on Pakistan based on false evidence and then began turning America into a Police State. The coup members take great care to ensure the Constitution will otherwise remain intact as they plan to hand the presidency over to the Speaker of the House and the Secret Service chief makes it clear that when the Marines arrive to arrest the President, they must show him the respect due his office.
  • Madam Secretary: How Liz solves the A-plot of "The Linchpin". After the ambassador who negotiated a peaceful transition of power in Algeria abruptly drops dead of a heart attack before the deal can go through, the Algerian president hangs his agreed-upon successor and marches to war. At the climax, Liz convinces the more moderate head of the Algerian military to place him under arrest and take over, with a carrot of the rebels accepting the original peace deal and promise of elections, and the stick of NATO using his ground forces for target practice.
  • Napoléon: Napoleon attempts to sweet-talk the Directorate into granting him and two other consuls Emergency Authority, but when the body proves too unruly (and one representative attempts to assassinate him), he instead uses his soldiers to disband the assembly and force them to pass power onto him.
  • And in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, we have Starfleet Admiral Leyton convincing the government to enact martial law on Earth, secretly in preparation for him to launch a coup and put in a government that will be able to protect Earth from the Dominion. Amusingly enough, both Admiral Leyton and General Hague were played by the same actor. The reason General Hague had a bridge dropped on him in B5 was because the actor was unavailable for a key episode... he was filming this episode of Deep Space Nine.
  • The end of A Very British Coup implies this after Britain's socialist Prime Minister defies a plot to blackmail him into resigning.

  • Nomeansno's song "Rich Guns" depicts a coup in an unspecified Latin American country staged by a bloodthirsty, plutocratic regime.
  • Canadian singer-songwriter Bob Wiseman's song "Rock and Tree" off the album In Her Dream is the story of General Augusto Pinochet's coup against the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende in Chile, told to a tree by a rock who has observed humanity for centuries.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Bible has an early example in Jehu's coup against Jehoram, King of Israel.

    Video Games 
  • The plotline of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater dealt with the GRU trying to dispose of Khrushchev, with Volgin masterminding the entire coup against Khrushchev. Sokolov also implies that the coup was occurring quite a while before, but Khrushchev managed to put down any resistance until Kennedy's assassination. Naked Snake (an American agent) was called in to stop Volgin and the Boss from continuing with the coup, as it would have otherwise led to World War III.
  • The military in Tropico will be annoyed if you don't constantly build new military buildings and increase your military power, and your soldiers will grumble if you don't constantly increase their wages. Eventually they'll get tired of it and take over. You basically have to spend tons of money to keep them happy, rule the island with an iron fist, or just fire all your soldiers at the beginning of the game and ignore the thus powerless militarists altogether, saving yourself a lot of grief.
    • In Tropico 4, the state of your soldiers' needs influences how they feel about their commander-in-chief: if they're unhappy with their lot, General Rodriguez will warn you of their dissatisfaction and to address their needs before they rise up against you. Along with the needs of everyday citizens, the military has to be big enough for the island's population and have enough generals to maintain discipline.
  • Mercenaries 2: World In Flames. Venezuelan businessman and technocrat Ramon Solano backs a military coup lead by his stooge General Carrera to take over the country. After Carrera takes power, he repays Solano by naming him Venezuela's new president.
  • This is one of the three endings in Republic: The Revolution, if you choose Force as your primary policy.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare begins with one.
  • COD 2 Spanish Civil War Mod: The early missions take place during the rebellion of the military garrison in Spanish Morrocco.
  • The South American rebels in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots were strongly implied to be waging one of these against the new regime.
  • The War Minister from Varicella is trying to do this.
  • This actually happens in story midway through the second game of Super Robot Wars: Original Generation when the Jerkass Kenneth Garret leads a Coup to toss out the main squadrons former boss Laker, and impose a harsher military rule, and unlike many examples you are basically forced to accept this and allow Kenneth to become your new boss while Laker is "on vacation". Fortunately almost immediately afterwards things spiral out of control to force Kenneth to give you free rein to do as you please and save the Earth, but at the end of the story Kenneth's faction is still in control. In the next game they are still in control but once again an unexpected disaster forces Kenneth to allow the heroes to do as they please without him micromanaging to save the earth, however in the ending Kenneth is STILL in control and getting fed up with having to rely on the "soft" heroes is making plans for a new task force to protect the earth. They debut in the next game, and soon after your team is forced into a position where you accidentally kill an important politician and are declared terrorists, allowing you to finally actively resist them. In a twist however, it turns out Kenneth was just the pawn of another character all along.
  • In Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, a coup d'etat takes place after Belka surrenders, with several high-ranking Belkan officers refusing to accept defeat and pushing for a rematch.
  • The Xbox version of Ghost Recon 2 has the Korean People's Army launch a coup due to the military budget being allocated to civic project instead of the KPA to maintain combat readiness.
  • The plot of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter has the player character assisting Mexican loyalists in fighting off a coup by a rogue general opposed to the signing of a security agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico.
  • In Hitman (2016), 47 is sent to Marrakesh to eliminate Moroccan General Reza Zaydan, who intends on using the unrest caused by large-scale con artist Claus Strandberg's escape from custody as a pretext to perform one.
  • The story for Front Mission 2 takes place in Alordesh (future Bangladesh) when pro-coup factions in the Alordeshi security forces attempt to overthrow the pro-OCU government and OCU troops stationed in the country.
  • Metal Wolf Chaos starts with US Vice President Richard Hawk seizing power with the help of the military and starting a totalitarian regime. President Michael Wilson has to fight his way out of the White House grounds with his personal suit of Powered Armor to start taking the country back.
  • The Imperial Ilum storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic has Darth Malgus declare himself Sith Emperor (believing Emperor Vitiate, who hasn't been seen in public for years, to be dead) and lead Imperial splinter forces and alien rebels in a coup attempt against the Dark Council (the de facto rulers of the Empire and especially the Sith religious order).
  • Star Trek Online: In the backstory, a political dispute between then-Praetornote  Taris and Imperial Fleet supreme commander General Velal led to Velal starting an uprising to install the exiled Sela in her place. Taris vanished into thin air when the fleet reached the new capital Rator III, and Sela ascended. She later declared herself Empress.

    Web Original 
  • In The Ruins of an American Party System, the Troika ruling the Soviet Union come to fear that Grand Marshal Tukhachevsky might stage one of these thanks to his immense popularity with, and control of, the Red Army. He doesn't intend to initially, but when they try to preempt this by ousting him from the Party, he and his enraged followers do stage a successful one.
  • RWBY: With Penny loose with the Winter Maiden's powers, the Relic of Knowledge in Salem's hands, and his few loyal forces weakened, Ironwood declares martial law across Atlas. When the remaining councilmen come to him to protest, he shoots Sleet in cold blood to remove him as an obstacle.
  • "A Very British Transition" - A Post-Junta Britain TL is an alternate history timeline that diverges from reality in 1968 when the British military — disgruntled by Harold Wilson's socialist-friendly government and with the implicit backing of the social establishment (including from the Queen) — seizes control of the country and establishes a junta that runs things with an iron fist for decades, lightening slightly in the 90s and eventually giving into populist pressure and reestablishing democracy with free elections in 2005. This, incidentally, is all backstory, as the timeline follows the attempts by the new British government transition back to a free culture and rejoin a world that had long shunned its dictatorship.
    • In 2009, there's an attempted second coup by reactionary elements in the army (including a few holdovers from the junta) after the Social Democratic Party manages to cling to power by forming a broad coalition with other left-wing and separatist parties, despite the right-wing Nationalist Party having a larger plurality. They storm Parliament as it's swearing in the new government and take everyone hostage, trying to threaten Prime Minister Alan Johnson and his supporters into standing down in their favor. Unfortunately, not only do the politicians refuse to play ball, but aside from Northern Ireland, attempts by the coup's allies across the country to likewise seize power mostly fall flat, due to loyalty to the democratically-elected government by the rest of the military. When the Queen publicly denounces the coup, it collapses altogether, and the government retakes power when the plotters all surrender.

    Western Animation 
  • 3Below: The main plot of the show is kicked off by General Morando leading his forces in an attack on the capital of Arkidion-V, killing the king and queen and forcing their children to flee to Earth. He proceeds to then set himself up as the new absolute ruler of the planet until La Résistance manages to launch a revolution against him at the end of the series.
  • The Legend of Korra: Kuvira, formerly of Zaofu, leads a military unit that forces every state in the splintered Earth Kingdom into submission, ostensibly so Prince Wu, the legal heir to the throne, can take over the newly reunited land. Instead, at his coronation, she declares herself leader of the new Earth Empire.
  • The Simpsons: In Cape Feare, Lisa's pen pal Anya writes that the president of her country has been overthrown and replaced by General Krull.

    Real Life 
  • During the times of the Roman Empire, if their Emperor was showing signs of Caligula-like behaviour (like the man himself, or Domitian, or Commodus), the Praetorian Guard tended to orchestrate a military coup against him and then kill him and his family off in order to prevent the chance of any of his descendants from potentially becoming another Caligula, and then installing someone into the position who is a bit more stable and controllable...or, as it turned out in practice, just bump off any guy they didn't like because he was harming their or the military's interest (e.g. Pertinax, Claudius Gothicus, Aurelian). Alternatively, popular generals could try and install themselves, sometimes staging a civil war depending on their ability to bribe the Praetorians.
    • 69 AD is known as the Year of the Four Emperors due having a total of seven coups, some simultaneous, four of which installed their emperor on the throne. The Praetorians were involved in three of the successful ones, killing Nero and joining forces with Galba in exchange for a future reward, killing Galba and installing Otho when the former refused to pay them off (in his defense, the promise had been made by Otho in his name and Rome's coffers were empty due Nero's antics. On the other hand he could have paid them from his own pocket, as Otho did), and after Otho's death they joined forces with Vespasianus, helping him win, in retaliation for Otho's defeater Vitellius firing them all.
    • 193 AD, the Year of the Five Emperors, managed to be even worse. Following the assassination of Commodus (a Caligula arguably even worse than the Trope Namer) on New Year's Eve 192 by the Praetorian Guard, the Guard and Senate installed a competent senator and general named Pertinax on the throne. Pertinax did his best to reign in Commodus's insane spending that had bankrupted the Empire, including the massive unsustainable donatives paid to the legions and the Guard to keep them loyal, and the legions and the Guard didn't take kindly to this. The Guard ended up assassinating Pertinax, and then, in one of the most infamous episodes of their history, auctioned off the Imperial throne, with the top bid going to a man named Didius Julianus. This managed to piss off everyone in the Empire who wasn't the Praetorian Guard, and the legions stationed in Syria, Britannia, and Pannonia each declared their respective generals (respectively Pescennius Niger, Clodius Albinus, and Septimius Severus) to be the new Emperor, setting off a four-way civil war that ended with Severus on top instituting a brutal military dictatorship that would last into the Crisis of the Third Century.
  • Much like the Praetorian Guard in Rome, the Janissary Corps in the Ottoman Empire played the role of kingmaker (or sultan maker) throughout the empire's history. Originally started as an elite fighting force, during its early years it was far more powerful than contemporary military units. As time went by, the Janissaries focused less on fighting and more on establishing and maintaining their power, especially once the sons of Janissaries were allowed to essentially inherit the position without all the intensive training that used to be involved. The Janissary Corps came to expect a bonus and pay raise every time a new Sultan came to the throne, to the point where they would storm the palace and kill the new Sultan. They also rioted if the Sultan attempted to modernize the Ottoman army (while formidable in the 15th century, by the 18th century they were obsolete and outclassed in every way). Eventually they were goaded into a riot in which the entire Empire rose up and destroyed them in what is known as The Auspicious Incident.
  • The Newburgh Conspiracy of 1783 was an attempted coup led by rogue officers in the Continental Army with the backing of members in the Continental Congress at the end of The American Revolution. Disgruntled at not being paid for some time, the conspirators urged George Washington to overthrow the Continental Congress and install himself as dictator. The coup fizzled out when Washington denounced the coup attempt and Congress offered a compromise on military pensions.
    • In the previous year, there was an attempt by Colonel Lewis Nicola to install Washington as a possible king of the United States, but the latter felt it would rattle the country, which had just won its independence from Britain. Anti-monarchial beliefs also played a role.
  • The Business Plot of 1933 was a coup attempt by wealthy bankers who wanted to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt and establish a fascist corporatocracy, fearing that he would turn America into a socialist country. Under the ploy of Roosevelt being in ill health, they wanted 500,000 veterans to storm the Capitolnote  with retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler at the helm to rally support. But being dead-set on the oath he swore to protect the country, Butler instead blew the whistle and secured enough evidence to bring it before Congress. Had the coup worked out, Butler was to assume emergency powers as the "Secretary of General Affairs" with FDR being reduced to a figurehead role. While it was initially dismissed as hearsay, many historians now agree some sort of scheme was contemplated and discussed.
  • General Napoléon Bonaparte rose to power through a coup on 18 Brumaire Year VIIInote . France was at that point ruled by the Directorate, a legislative body that was more stable than the bloodthirsty revolutionary ruling bodies that preceded it, but still prone to indecision and infighting. After secluding the deputies to an estate outside of Paris under the excuse of an impending Jacobin revolt, Napoleon unsuccessfully demanded Emergency Authority before convincing the soldiers of General Murat to disperse the violent assembly and have himself declared First Consul of the French Republic, paving the way for him to later name himself Emperor of the French.
  • His nephew Louis Napoleon Bonaparte followed in footsteps similar to his uncle via auto-coup, taking over the Second French Republic with the military's help in December 1851. After this he first gave himself absolute power, then became actual Emperor of France and establishing the Second French Empire. Karl Marx who hated Louis Napoleon's breathing guts pointed out the differences and similarities between nephew and uncle and gave us the immortal line "first as tragedy then as farce" for how History Repeats in his "18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon".
  • Much of the early part of the Showa Era in Imperial Japan was racked with military coups and coup attempts.
    • So many were attempted during the 1930s by the army against civilian leaders that were against their interests. While none of the coups ever succeeded they successfully assassinated most of their political opposition and the period is often referred to as government by assassination.
    • An attempted coup nearly scuttled Japan's surrender even after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with the intent to stop the intended announcement of surrender by the Emperor and get the country to fight to the bitter end.
    • Two more coups were attempted during the Cold War. There was the "Sanmu Incident", where at least 13 suspects, some of them JSDF officers, were arrested for trying to stockpile weapons for a coup attempt on December 12, 1961. One of the suspects was Taku Mikami, who was detained for being involved in the May 15 incident back in 1932. The suspects justified their plan to save Japan from being dominated by Communists after they plan to assassinate the Prime Minister and the rest of the cabinet. The other was on November 25, 1970, known as the "Mishima Incident", after Yukio Mishima, at that time Japan's most famous author, who was also a right-wing extremist who led a small group of like-minded people that attempted to incite a military revolt among the JSDF. When this failed - Mishima was booed and jeered down by the soldiers summoned to hear his speech urging them to rise up - Mishima committed seppuku. Both of these incidents made some parts of Japanese society very nervous.
  • This happens with shocking regularity in Thailand. As in multiple times a decade, making jokes about the periodicity of revolutions the most applicable of any country in Southeast Asia. There have been over 20 coups since 1932. Here's a listing of some of the more notable ones.
  • The Spanish coup of July 1936 by right-wing military leaders, aided by various other right-wing groups, was only partially successful - military units in the north and west of Spain succeeded in displacing control from the left-wing (of many varying types) government of the Second Spanish Republic, but those in the south and east of the country, as well as Madrid itself, could not. The result was a two and a half year civil war that became a prelude to World War II. Spain stared down two more attempted military coups in 1981 and 1982, while the country was transitioning to democracy. On February 23, 1981, troops occupied the Spanish parliament building while several generals called on the rest of the army to rise in revolt. However, the generals were confronted by a speech by the king ordering them to stand down and the entire episode ended the day after. The attempt in October, 1982, did not progress beyond conspiracy by some generals (including those involved in the 1981 attempt).
  • During World War II, a conspiracy of high-ranking German officers attempted to eliminate Adolf Hitler and the other Nazi leaders in 1944, when the war had irrevocably turned against Germany. Their own more specific political aims are somewhat disputed, but in any case they sought to soften Germany's imminent defeat by installing a pro-Western government and negotiating a peace treaty with the Western Allies. This culminated in the 20 July Plot, in which a briefcase bomb was planted in the same room as the Fuehrer, but failed to kill him when it detonated. The plotters did succeed in briefly taking over much of Berlin through the Valkyrie contingency plan, though they were then deserted by their followers once it became clear that Hitler still lived. Most of the leaders of the plot were subsequently hunted down and executed.
  • After losing his bid for reelection after being president of Cuba in 1940 and spending some time in the US, Fulgencio Batista seized power this way in 1952, taking over the Cuban government with military backing and becoming a quite brutal dictator. He would later be overthrown himself in 1959 during the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro.
  • The political scientist and strategic analyst Edward Luttwak published a book called Coup D'Etat: A Practical Handbook in 1968. His introduction states that coups had become such a common method of changing governments (especially in the Third World) that he wanted to let people know how to do it efficiently and with a minimum of bloodshed.
  • Secular states in the Middle East have had a long history of military coups to protect against Islamist encroachments. Turkey has had multiple successful and attempted coup d'états since the founding of the Republic, and the Egyptian military has also stepped in several times to remove the monarchy (1952), and later, Mohammad Morsi's regime (2013). Saddam Hussein executed a self-coup in Iraq with military help in 1979, already being Prime Minister before he usurped the Presidency. Depressingly, the typical result is a Full-Circle Revolution.
  • The Algerian Civil War was triggered when the army pulled one in the 1991 elections to prevent the victory of an Islamist party while at the same time forcing the serving President to step down and form a junta.
  • A disturbingly recent and western example, France 1958. The French armed forces, dissatisfied with government policy in Algeria, occupied the island of Corsica and threatened to seize Paris and take power though force if Charles de Gaulle, WW2 President-in-Exile and war hero, wasn't brought back as prime minister. The parliament relented but fortunately De Gaulle had no plans to institute a military dictatorship. Further conflicts between the military and the civilian government continued through the following years, including attempted coups aimed at de Gaulle by far-right military elements, who were enraged by his recognition of Algeria's independence. (This would form the basis of the novel The Day of the Jackal, in which one of these failed coups cause the leaders to try the subtler means of assassination.)
  • A popular method by the two main powers during the Cold War was to support these as a way to replace a government they disliked with one who proved more cooperative. On the US side, see Brazil in 1964, Chile in 1973; on the Soviet side, see Ethiopia in 1974, Afghanistan in 1979. Africa in particular has been plagued by coups, counter-coups, and revolutions since decolonization began in the later 1950's, with both major superpowers playing roles. It seems that imposing a modern democracy on a population unused to it while surrounded by powers willing to send military aid does not produce a stable political environment.
  • Happened twice in South Korea, both in Seoul, before it was democraticized, firstly in May 16, 1961, when general major Park Chung-hee, a highly controversial and polarizing figure in Korea still to this date, ousted the government of the Second Republic of Korea and succeeded. He eventually became a dictator and reigned for 19 years before being assassinated by his intelligence chief in 1979, which lead to the second coup. On December 12, 1979, general Chun Doo-hwan seized the government in the midst of the political unrest after the president's assassination, effectively shutting all discussions about a democratic government for the time being.
  • The Kingdom of Libya under its only King Idris was overthrown in 1969 by a cadre of the Free Officers Movement led by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
  • Attempted in Italy with the 1970 Golpe Borghese (golpe being a Spanish word Italian media normally use for a coup), with the Corpo forestale dello Stato (basically, the park rangers: at the time they were considered part of the military) providing the manpower. The coup was aborted at the last moment when, to his horror, the ringleader found out that the government had manipulated the conspiracy to get an excuse to proclaim martial law (had they tried with the coup, the rest of the military was already mobilized to suppress them).
  • Uganda has had two of these.
    • Idi Amin took over with one of these in 1971. While Milton Obote, the country's president, was attending a Commonwealth conference in Singapore, Amin and his forces seized control over the country. Most Ugandans were happy at first, since Obote was increasingly brutal and authoritarian, and his regime was marked by widespread corruption. Unfortunately, Amin did not honor his promise to hold free and fair elections, and turned out to be even worse than Obote. Amin would successfully fend off multiple attempts to remove him from power until he was ousted in 1979 by an alliance between various rebel groups and the Tanzanian military.
    • Obote returned to power in the controversial 1980 elections, which were widely accused of having been rigged in favor of Obote and his political party. During the Ugandan Bush War that followed, Obote was deposed again, this time in a plot led by Tito Okello. Okello's rule would only last a few months before the National Resistance Army took control of the country and he was replaced as president by Yoweri Museveni.
  • In 1987, there was an attempted coup by a faction in the Armed Forces of the Philippines known as the Reform the Armed Forces Movement, made up of soldiers and officers that didn't like Marco's presidency during martial law. Later on, they tried for another one against Cory Aquino, who made news worldwide for being the first democratically elected president after some small plots to seize Manila International Airport, the GMA TV compound and some military bases failed. They blamed President Aquino for how the anti-communist insurgency was handled, followed by corruption and bureaucratic red tape. American forces stationed in the Philippines provided support in terms of intimidation by flying over their positions with F-4 Phantoms. There was also an attempted coup in 1986 due to Marcos supporters with some support from pro-Marcos forces in the AFP. It ended since it failed to gain support.
  • On July 15, 2016, rogue elements of the Turkish military attempted to seize control of the country, but were ultimately defeated by loyalist forces in the same night. To which degree this was a genuine coup is still subject to debate, however.
  • In 2017, factions of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces enacted a coup by detaining President Robert Mugabe and his cabinet, including First Lady Grace Mugabe under "Operation Restore Legacy" due to the Mugabes unnecessarily purging the ranks of the ZANU-PF of their allies, especially Emmerson Mnangagwa, when they accused them of being involved in a potential coup. This started to be the main event that pissed off every Zimbabwean since Mugabe became president, becoming very distant and then relying on the military to crush dissent. Even his friends and allies who fought with him in the independence war were also frustrated with him and thus threw their support behind the coup.
  • Mali has been unfortunate enough to have five of these since achieving independence in 1960, three of them in the same decade:
    • On November 19, 1968, a cadre of young officers led by Lieutenant Moussa Traoré took President Modibo Keïta prisoner on the grounds of a poor economy, suspending parliament, and other unpopular policies.
    • On March 26, 1991, Traoré (who had been running a one-party state since the '68 coup) would himself be ousted when Colonel Amadou Touré (the commander of Traoré's presidential guard) removed him from office and arrested him for corruption and other authoritarian acts.
    • On March 21, 2012, a large group of soldiers dissatisfied by Touré's handling of the Tuareg rebellion staged a mutiny against his government, establishing a junta to run the country until international negotiators convinced them to stand down and Touré to resign in favor of new elections.
    • On August 18, 2020, elements of the Malian military rebelled against President Ibrahim Keïta's government on grounds of a poor economy and corruption, arresting Keïta, his Prime Minister, and other government officials. A month later, the mutineers agreed to an 18-month transition back to democracy.
    • On May 24, 2021, the joint civilian/military transitional government set up after the above was overthrown by the same junta as in 2020, in response to interim President Bah N'daw shuffling his cabinet to remove several of the military members. By the end of the day, N'daw and several other civilian leaders had been detained, with junta leader Colonel Assimi Goïta taking over as the new interim President.
  • On February 1, 2021, the military of Myanmar arrested vast swathes of the civilian government and declared a state of martial law to last for a year, claiming that the pro-democracy faction in power at the time had only won its landslide victory due to fraud. They first seized power in Myanmar's post-WWII history in 1962 when the Union Revolutionary Council took down Prime Minister U Nu and President Win Maung.
  • On October 25, 2021, the Sudanese military forcibly dissolved the Sovereignty Council, the joint civilian/military transitional government that had been running the county ever since the revolution that overthrew Omar al-Bashir in 2019, detaining the civilian members while the army assumed total control.


Video Example(s):


Operation Prangertag

Babylon Berlin explores a hypothetical scenario in which Weimar Germany is toppled by a reactionary, anti-democratic Reichswehr coup in 1929, leading to the restoration of the German monarchy.

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Main / MilitaryCoup

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