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N.G.O. Superpower

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"A popular parlour game among historians is debating when the modern world began. Was it when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, in 1440? Or when Christopher Columbus discovered America, in 1492? Or when Martin Luther published his 95 theses, in 1517? All popular choices. But there is a strong case to be made for a less conventional answer: the modern world began on a freezing New Year's Eve, in 1600, when Elizabeth I granted a company of 218 merchants a monopoly of trade to the east of the Cape of Good Hope."

This is a Non-Governmental Organization Superpower — an organization which is on the same power tier as the most powerful nations and yet is not itself a nation.

In fiction, we often see terrorist groups and various anti-state groups capable of going toe to toe with a regular army of the state. They may be able to field aircraft, tanks, even warships... almost as if they had billions in tax revenue and massive installed infrastructure themselves. On occasion, these groups are shown fighting battles against modern Great Powers like the USA, Russia, the EU, China, or India.

NGO Superpowers usually hold a Privately Owned Society, and Mega-Corp can be a subtrope with Corporate Warfare, as can The Syndicate. If and when the corp graduates to owning their own sovereign soil, they become One Nation Under Copyright. The Church can be this especially if Catholic and in a medieval society. An Ancient Conspiracy may be funding it. They can run the gamut from only striking nation-states when provoked to outright initiating large-scale conventional warfare and land grabs. May also be Private Military Contractors. United Nations Is a Superpower is a specific subtrope involving the UN.


The size of the membership roster doesn't matter; they can be very large, but some are Oddly Small Organizations.

Often overlaps with Nebulous Evil Organisation and may have an Omniscient Council of Vagueness. Compare to Fiction 500 and Absurdly Powerful Student Council. Contrast with Non-Governmental Organization. State Sec is a Sister Trope of also being an influential entity with a vast paramilitary corps that isn't part of a formal army, only that it's a governmental agency rather than non-governmental.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Gundam:
    • The "Three Ships Alliance" of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is made up of defectors from three of the show's feuding superpowers and possesses enough military (and eventually political) clout to effectively end up beating both sides of the major conflict the show centers around. Even though it effectively breaks up following this, enough of its members go underground as part of the Terminal organization (consisting of the original group's titular three ships, most of the original members and a bunch of new recruits) to allow the TSA to resurface two years later in Destiny and pull a repeat performance.
    • On the villainous side, Blue Cosmos, which is a terrorist organization within the Earth Alliance, having great influence over its government and military. Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny later reveals its just a catspaw to LOGOS.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam 00:
      • Celestial Being has the resources and infrastructure to build and deploy a small but powerful army of Gundams that hold their own against the superpowers.
      • There is also the PMC Trust, a very powerful organization that essentially owns some smaller nations with their corporate power and military threat.
      • Expanded Universe explains that those orbital elevators themselves are indirectly controlled by Celestial Being and that its AI supercomputer Veda (housed in a massive starship that later serves as the flagship of all Earth forces) controls literally every piece of electronic information in the world, and is able to photoshop real-time video. The global conspiracy that includes the orbital elevators, Veda, and the GN drives sort of subvert this trope, as the nations of the world are unwittingly part of Aeolia's plan.
    • Gjallerhorn in Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans was originally created to be a peace-keeping force between the four ruling blocs of Earth, but by the time of the anime, they're so powerful that they are the de facto rulers of Earth and the entire solar system, often interfering in internal affairs of the four unions and being the main ruling power on Mars. They are also powerful to influence people to turn against cybernetic implants for humanity, so that said implants can never be used against them.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing:
      • The terrestrial Romefeller Foundation, a cabal of rich aristocrats/industrialists who secretly plot to take over the world. They have so much clout to sponsor the Alliance's elite Specials, who were in reality a front for OZ. Which they use to stage a coup over the Alliance.
      • Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz has the outer-space Barton Foundation, who funds two attempts to conquer the Earth Sphere. The first was in the form of the five Gundams from the original series, until the Gundam Scientists hijacked their plan into a fight for colonial independence.
      • Frozen Teardrop continues the theme with the Noinheim Concern and their takeover of Mars.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam F91, the antagonists are the very rich and influential Ronah family, who fund an entire army (the Crossbone Vanguard) which manages to give the EFSF a bloody nose and conquers a colony cluster. Although Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam reveals that they were receiving assistance from the Jupiter Empire. Unusually for Gundam, they're taken down not through military force, but economic pressure from the Federation and political subterfuge by one of their own.
    • Also in the Mobile Suit Gundam timeline is the original superpower in the franchise: Anaheim Electronics. Not only is it a powerful Mega-Corp that all but holds a monopoly on mobile suit development after the One Year War. But it also has fingers in a lot of assets in the Earth Sphere, effectively runs the Lunar settlements in all but name, and can play both sides in a conflict while keeping a strong influence in The Federation's government not to mention having close connections to the Vist Foundation and Laplace's Box. Not even being overshadowed by SNRI in F91 stops them from pulling the strings in Mobile Suit Victory Gundam as the League Militaire's true backers.
    • The Titans in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam are nominally just an elite State Sec for the Earth Federation, but in practice they're basically a private army for Jamitov Hymen and later Paptimus Scirocco, acting as their own autonomous faction and paying little regard to the Federation government, whom they outright plot to usurp.
  • Nergal in Martian Successor Nadesico. While it constructs battleships for the government, The Nadesico is just a prototype they decided to use to rescue their personnel on Mars, recruiting a Ragtag Band of Misfits to crew.
  • The Searrs Group in My-HiME. Run by an Ancient Conspiracy, and able to field troops, tanks, and a Kill Sat. They even have a fleet, complete with carrier, though no helicopter or planes are ever shown. As an extra kicker, everything but the Kill Sat was used as expendable bait, implying that They Had Reserves.
  • Mithril in Full Metal Panic! at first seems like this, but later novels and parts of the story reveals they're little more than a well-funded group of Private Military Contractors with a permanent UN contract. While more technologically advanced than the U.S. and the USSR, their entire 'Pacific Fleet' consists of a single (very advanced) submarine and they depend on small-scale surgical strikes to get the job done.
    • Even more so Amalgam, that can wipe out Mithril in single day
  • Akatsuki from Naruto initially seems to be this, until we find out that its figurehead leader also has a small country under his control. It is played straight in the Fourth Shinobi World War, where an alliance of the five strongest ninja villages goes up against... two people. Admittedly, two people commanding a massive clone army, a bunch of legendary ninjas resurrected as nigh-immortal zombies, and all but two of the world's most powerful Eldritch Abominations.
  • The Hunter's Association from Hunter × Hunter. Understandable considering it's a gathering of the most powerful people on the planet.
  • One Piece:
    • The Revolutionaries are strongly implied to the this. In a Flash Back meeting between the world's kings reviewed that their leader, Dragon was a potentially major threat to the World Government, and accurately predicted a massive increase in his power base in six years. During that time, they've spread rebellions across the globe, slowly but surely gaining speed, as their ideals are spread. As it stands, Dragon "The Revolutionary" is titled by the World Government "The World's Worst Criminal", and the organization has become so powerful that they installed a mole into the Government's official privateers, and are believed to have the potential to unbalance the Balance of Power the between the Marines, The Seven Warlords of the Sea, and four powerful and very influential pirate lords, the Four Emperors.
    • Some of the pirate lords themselves can also count. Despite being put together under a single title, the Four Emperors, they are not a cohesive whole. Each Emperor operates independently of the other three. This trope would best apply to Whitebeard and Shanks, who don't really rule their territories and just defend them from attack. Kaido fits to some degree, since he uses a Puppet King on his main island but otherwise calls the shots. Big Mom doesn't fit at all, due to explicitly being the queen of her own country.
      • When the Marines decided to pick a fight with the most powerful of them, they brought out every single soldier and weapon they had and the Seven Warlords besides and still barely achieve victory.
      • When the World Government learned that two of the Emperors were going to have a face-to-face meeting, they were terrified by the prospect that this would result in an alliance which would be too powerful for the Marines to defeat. And a war between two Emperors is seen by the World Government as being almost as bad; while their enemies would be destroying each other, the collateral damage of a war between the pirate superpowers would still be devastating.
  • SEELE (who controls NERV) in Neon Genesis Evangelion is a small organization, but since they are the only ones who know how to avoid the End of the World as We Know It or so they claim, both the UN and the governments of sovereign countries give them pretty much anything they demand and sacrifice most of their armed forces when NERV requests it. They also control the EVAs, which could wipe out entire armies if they wanted to.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Fairy Tale has the resources and manpower to completely conquer and subjugate Mizore's homeland by themselves, as well as an entire "diplomatic branch" dedicated to infiltrating the human world's financial and political aspects, and their primary base of operations is a massive flying fortress.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The Red Ribbon Army has vast resources and technology, having such things as tanks, aircraft, submarines, androids, and Mini-Mecha. At one point, Bulma outright says that Earth's actual military doesn't stand a chance against them.
    • On a galactic scale is the Frieza Force. Much like the Red Ribbon Army, the Galactic Patrol pales in comparison to their might, owing to both its size and the strongest people in the universe forming its ranks (such as the Saiyans and the Ginyu Force). Frieza himself, meanwhile, is a monstrously strong being who can destroy planets with barely any effort.
  • Lyrical Nanoha doesn't play this trope in the first two installments, but the organization for the Big Bad in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS could come close to qualifying as this. He may not have the infrastructure, but he definitely has the firepower, from a set of combat cyborgs for the basic operations of a single nation to entire armies of Insect and Mecha-Mooks (though the former is done by another member). He also has access to some Lost Technology such as planet-busting relics and a massive ancient flagship that can absorb almost all magic. Oh, and his source of funds are the exact enemies he is fighting.
  • In Blue Exorcist the True Cross Order appears to be this, abet with only a focus on exorcisms and demon hunting. They also appear to be Church Militants at the same time. It's downplayed since the audience doesn't see them field particularly special weapons or their equivalent to tanks, though Japanese teenagers (and Japan has strict gun control laws) are seen using guns and, in one case, a bazooka! Also, when you can summon demons you technically have the magical equivalent of high powered weapons.
    • The Illuminati (yes really) that later show up as enemies play this more straight as not only are they mysteriously funded (speculated to be by some countries), they have a freaking helicarrier knock-off as their main base!
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Doma from the post-Battle City Tournament Filler Arc, the cult run by Dartz and the Seal of Orichalcos that owns Paradius, a company which in turn owns shares in every company in the world in order to finance its operations.
    • Kaibacorp certainly comes close to this a lot of the time, being a Mega-Corp with very advanced technology and enough revenue to casually pull off insane feats. They're definitely well into this point by Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, where Kaiba has built a space station with accompanying space elevator and a full-dive VR network that uses the minds of its users as computational power, and one scene suggests that he owns Domino City and has made owning a Deck and Duel Disk mandatory.
  • The Death Weapon Meister Academy in Soul Eater apparently governs a whole city (if there's a mayor or city council, we never see them), and can field considerable military forces across the world, plus the elite Death Weapons in charge of each continentnote . In the battle for Brew, Arachnophobia shows itself to have an army at least as big as the DWMA's.
  • Rebuild World: While the setting is Cyberpunk within One Nation Under Copyright (an Enemy Mine alliance of several Mega-Corp), there are two examples of this within the setting’s logic: The Ezont Family and Hauritas, two slum gangs that became Kagumayama’s equivalent to The Mafia families. The two are locked in a Lensman Arms Race with one another, with mercenary armies of ex-hunters in high-quality Powered Armor, with tanks and Mini-Mecha at their disposal. They get a lot of their money from a Protection Racket and extortion racket that goes beyond the slums, something which disturbs the government. This prompts a Government Conspiracy to take them down by triggering a Mob War, with the slum residents being acceptable collateral damage, and then delivering a secret Decapitation Strike to both gangs in the chaos.
  • Black Ghost of Cyborg 009 are a consortium of Arms Dealers looking to provoke a World War III so they can profit off of it. They have dozens of the world's leading scientists and researchers in their employ, are influential enough to kickstart or escalate proxy wars between different countries, own a private army bigger than most standing armies, and control an entire underground kingdom, which they conquered from a race of lizard men. Not to mention the lineup of cyborg assassins in their employ, each of which is effectively a One-Man Army.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Universe:
    • HYDRA et al. Although it started out as a governmental organization in Nazi Germany, and only became an N.G.O. after being (unsuccessfully) shut down. Usually.
    • Also A.I.M. ("Advanced Idea Mechanics", originally an offshoot of HYDRA known as T.H.E.M.) and the Maggia.
    • The Avengers, sometimes. While at times they answer to the US government, the United Nations or S.H.I.E.L.D., at other times "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" refuse to take orders from anyone but themselves.
  • The DCU:
  • Obscurantis Order in Enki Bilal's Le Sommeil du monstre (The Dormant Beast) is an extremely powerful sect created by the Big Bad to make the world less stable.
  • The Grail in Preacher possesses a secret headquarters with a vast private army and many world leaders owe it their positions. At one point they are able to "persuade" a limited nuclear release against the Saint of Killers. This is also played with to an extent. As their actions become less covert, beginning with the nuclear strike in fact, the Grail's influence and hold on the world leaders begins to weaken. It gets to the point where even deep cover agents abandon the Grail in favour of their cushy lives "shadowing" politicians and the like.
  • G.I. Joe: COOBRAAA!
    • Actually averted in the Marvel comics series after Cobra had taken control of an island in the Caribbean, and so was acting as a nation-state. They even have a consulate in New York City at one point.
  • Matt Fraction's Casanova has W.A.S.T.E, XSM and M.O.T.T all of whom have vast logistical resources.
  • Monstress: Maika's father, the Lord Doctor, is served by a personal cult known as the Blood Court which is large enough to qualify as an army, and which has extensive resources thanks to the Doctor's centuries of life. On top of this, many Arcanic pirates and warlords from both the Dawn and Dusk courts end up defecting to his service, eventually making his forces the most powerful faction on the planet.

    Fan Works 
  • In All-American Girl, the Republic of Pirates is a far greater military threat than the real world Somali pirates ever were.
  • Ambience: A Fleet Symphony:
    • The Inner Circle is another of those nominal terrorist groups with international reach and way more resources than they should have. During Operation London they deploy enough mooks to give the British Army trouble. In chapter 51 they're briefly mentioned among a list of major power holders, the rest of which are nations.
    • Lukenstor is a Mega-Corp formed by merging many of the old aerospace companies. It has vast numbers of mercenaries on retainer, an air force, and builds Kill Sats. Its CEO Eagle Clinton plans to take the "N" out of "NGO" and is preparing for a coup against President Blackwood, which he successfully pulls off come chapter 250.
    • The Combined Fleet is starting to edge into this territory. As of the Fleet Logs there are 78 girls present, on par with some countries' navies, and its size continues growing as the story progresses.
  • Child of the Storm has SHIELD, HYDRA, and the Red Room.
    • SHIELD are, well, SHIELD, and function as a somewhat more international version of NATO (albeit primarily for the supernatural/superhuman/super-tech) and have multiple helicarriers, a fleet of Quinjets and thousands of troops, including occasional superhumans as their 'Special Agents'. The strongest was Alan Scott a.k.a. Green Lantern, who went toe to toe with a pre Heel–Face Turn Magneto, a Physical God in his own right. Even without him, they can throw their weight around, though to a lesser extent in the sequel.
    • HYDRA are not only a major power outside of SHIELD, but have infested it during the first book (approximately 1/3 of SHIELD's members were HYDRA Agents), all but destroys MI6 and MI13, and by combining the efforts of the internal and external HYDRA, end up successfully taking over the world in the finale of the first book, taking down the Avengers in the process. However, it's demonstrated that they have drastically over-extended, with SHIELD and the Avengers having slaughtered most of their forces, and their power is reliant on a mixture of smoke, mirrors, and the Darkhold. At this point, the Darkhold quickly demonstrates that Evil Is Not a Toy, just as Doctor Strange points of lot of very vengeful people at their last stronghold.
    • The Red Room was the Soviet Union's counterpart to SHIELD and HYDRA, and scares the pants off of both of them. After its resurrection in the sequel, it has a number of super-agents, including the so-called 'Winter Guard', led by the new (and psychotic) Black Widow. Leaning more on subtle superhuman power than HYDRA, they rapidly construct what's later referred to as 'the Twelve Day Empire', reconquering the full extent of the old Tsarist and Soviet Empires. However, as the Russian President furiously points out, they've just made a lot of very powerful people extremely angry, especially since they Mind Raped Harry into the Red Son, the Winter Soldier's Superior Successor, to do it. They don't care, killing him and taking over the country when he tries to stop them - though he is later proven right.
  • In Communication after the Incubators are defeated and the invasion reveals the existence of Magical Girls to the world at large, the International Meguca Sisterhood is formed in order help manage the massive fallout.
  • Depending on the Writer, the Human Liberation Front from The Conversion Bureau can have resources more akin to those of a country rather than a paramilitary group. In those stories, it is not uncommon for the HLF to have Super Soldiers in Powered Armor or even doomsday weapons.
  • Earth's Alien History has the Conspiracy of Light, an alliance of powerful individuals with some government support but mostly private backing, whose shared goal is eliminating threats to all life in the galaxy before they can make their move, or failing that help bolster defenses for when they do come. To this end, among other things they have their own fleets and conduct their own weapons research, with results trickling back to the governments of the galaxy when necessary.
  • The Company™ in the crossover fanfic Event Horizon: Storm of Magic is determined to use their futuristic science, technology, and business to dominate all of the worlds of the Epsilon Eridani System. Only time will tell if they succeed...
  • In Fallen Kingdom, Seven Stars is an incredibly powerful criminal organization that has been manipulating history for over fifty years. They have the most advanced tech in the world, and are actually more powerful than the world-spanning Koopa Empire!
  • For All Nails, a fan continuation timeline of For Want of a Nail (see Literature below), deconstructs that book's use of this trope in regards to Kramer Associates. While the company is one the largest in the world, does practically own Taiwan, and still have their own nuclear arsenal, it's established that they've overextended themselves to the point that they're verging on financial collapse.
  • The Templar Order in Mass Effect: Human Revolution has technology at least on par with the Systems Alliance, three supercarrier battlegroups, and millions of reserve devotees to supplement the at least 10,000 active duty troopers. Udina thinks a war between the two would be a bad idea for the Alliance.
  • Team Rocket and Silph Co. both fall under this trope in the Pokémon fan fic The Mewtwo Project. Team Rocket is apparently able to field an entire fleet of various warships (including an aircraft carrier), helicopter gunships and apparently several hundred troops to take over an island. In turn, Silph Co. owns the entire island that Team Rocket is trying to take and they defend the island with autonomous autocannon turrets, helicopter gunships, patrol boats, Humvees, snipers and a shitload of heavily armed soldiers.
  • The Night Unfurls: There is a reason why the Black Dogs find staging a military coup to take the South to be a viable option. By the time Olga is defeated, the military of the Black Dogs consists of not only a band of mercenaries, but also the legion of orcs and other fantasy "monsters" in the north. They also have the Black Fortress, its resources so many that it can presumably sustain said army, so logistics are not a concern. Then Shamuhaza comes to the picture, enhancing the Black Dogs' military power further via delving into the Eldritch Truth. Being the most famous mercenary group in Eostia, the Black Dogs, Vault especially, exploit this to the fullest to amass much political clout, enough for many prominent members of Eostian nobility to sponsor their actions of conquest. Combine the above factors altogether, and you have a PMC capable of going toe to toe with, or even overpowering regular armies of the Seven Shields Alliance (Eostia is assumed to be a medieval fantasy state, of course). Needless to say, they'd probably succeed just like in Kuroinu canon if the Outside Context Monstrosity that is Kyril Sutherland weren't here.
  • The Valkoran Empire in Star Wars: Paranormalities subverts this. The first few chapters of Episode I initially have Zolph and co. assume them to be an anti-New Republic/Galactic Alliance terrorist group that have a surplus of military-grade weapons, vehicles and warships that haven't been seen anywhere else, military installations and a powerful Force user leading them. Then it turns out that not only are the Valkoran a cult in service to the Forceless Collective (an extra-galactic group of body-possessing Eldritch Abominations plotting to conquer the galaxy), they have their own government that's been operating in the Unknown Regions for nearly four-thousand years, pulling them out of this trope (appropriately enough, they are not referred to in-story as the "Valkoran Empire" until the last chapters of Episode I). However, aside from Emperor Valkor himself, the bulk of the Empire was built from former Jedi, Republic and Sith Empire citizens/soldiers who were disillusioned with their respective governments, and it most likely took centuries to get to where they are now. With the splintering of the Valkoran Empire into two factions at the end of Episode II and the destruction of their capital on Ockla Prime, those loyal to Valkor have dropped all pretense of being an independent government and now are just their galaxy's main Forceless cult, and they now have direct assistance from Valkor's Collective.
  • Willard International Consulting from The Return. It funds archeological digs, can dictate to governments, has a huge R&D department which can produce superweapons upon demand, unlimited armoury inventory, has an army of special agents, several Cool Bases around the globe, is capable of producing new identities for anyone at a moment's notice, maintains a fleet of Black Hawk stealth helicopters and has a front of being just a government consultancy.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: Fairy Tale has vast funds and resources, able to do such things as perform genetic research and Super Soldier projects, and all manner of technology and weapons, enough to produce three dozen cases of Blackheart for the sake of just one of Kiria's Evil Plans; Dark implies in Act II that they even have access to nuclear missiles. In Act III, Kiria personally sends an entire armada of soldiers and powerful monsters to Yokai Academy purely to capture Tsukune, Moka, and Kokoa; said armada includes multiple attack helicopters, and even a few wyverns. Beforehand, it's stated in Act II that as powerful as the Dark Lords, such as Issa Shuzen, are, given Fairy Tale's vast resources and technology, a fight between the two could easily go both ways.
  • In To the Stars, before it dropped the Masquerade, the MSY was this for centuries, with vast wealth, political influence and magic. How much it has shaped the setting history is one of the story mysteries.
  • In Undocumented Features, the Wedge Defense Force is not a government, but has its own space fleet, as does it arch-nemesis GENOM (which it keeps even after it stops being their nemesis).
  • In Weaver Nine, Weaver's Society is all but legally a nation unto itself as it claims, holds, administers and maintains territory, infrastructure, population, and a standing army with nuclear arsenal. Most obvious when Weaver offers forty citizens to the defense of Brockton Bay, more than half the number of capes the local Protectorate could gather.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • James Bond faced off with a number of NGOs:
    • SPECTRE had enough resources to manipulate the superpowers into going to war, conduct nuclear blackmail, have their own private army, and even create a space program located in a secret volcano base. At that, a space program rather more advanced than the US and Soviet ones, with reusable launch vehicles in the mid-1960s.
    • Moonraker: Hugo Drax also had his own personal space program, with a highly-advanced space station. Though somewhat implausible at the time, commercial space operations are not uncommon nowadays. Drax's operations were at least partially funded by selling equipment to governmental space agencies.
    • Tomorrow Never Dies: The Carver Media Group Network already had great influence due to its media prowess. But its megalomaniacal leader wanted more, so he influenced a war between China and Britain for his gambit. To help, Carver funds a small army and builds a stealth boat.
    • Quantum of Solace: Quantum is a shadowy group with connections to several powerful businessmen and politicians. They can manipulate nations, and they have people everywhere. Spectre reveals that Quantum was only a subsidiary of an even bigger Illuminati-esque organization — SPECTRE.
  • Star Wars offers several different flavors:
    • The Sith are all over this, even when one of them is not Supreme Chancellor or Galactic Emperor.
    • Averted with the Rebel Alliance, who present themselves as a legitimate government — in fact, the only legitimate government. For instance, Leia Organa was officially the Alliance Minister of State.
    • Jabba's crime empire and, in the Expanded Universe, Black Sun whose underworld influence is vast. The Zann Consortium in Empire at War is so powerful it could take on both the Empire and the Rebels in battle.
    • Darth Maul's Shadow Collective introduced in The Clone Wars is a deconstruction of this trope. Darth Maul formed this organization in Season 5 as a means of building a power base and rising to the top of the criminal underworld, starting by forming an alliance with the Mandalorian terrorist group, Death Watch. However, the crime syndicates he recruits (themselves already being N.G.O. Superpowers on their own) don't take him seriously and have to be strong-armed into joining (only the Pyke Syndicate came directly to Maul and joined without a fight, but likely because they heard what happened to Black Sun). It's during the events of Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir that Maul's Collective starts to show its flaws. With Maul briefly imprisoned by Darth Sidious following his takeover of Mandalore, the Hutt Clans abandoned the Collective as soon as possible, and every engagement his Collective has with both the Republic and Separatists (the actual superpowers in the Clone Wars) shows that his organization is ultimately outclassed militarily (and his one victory against the Separatists nearly ends with his forces getting executed). Once the Separatists start attacking the Collective on three different fronts, the Collective temporarily fragments after Black Sun and the Pykes decide to bail, and the only allies Maul has left are the Mandalorian supercommandos. He seems to have reformed it by Season 7, but he's actively pitting the syndicates against one another, including the newcomer Crimson Dawn. Come the Siege of Mandalore, Maul's Mandalorian forces are ultimately outmatched by the Republic's newly formed 332nd clone battalion (who also had help from Mandalorian resistance fighters). In Solo, Maul is shown to still be running Crimson Dawn from the shadows (and indirectly influencing the Empire in turn), but given Maul's become an insane hermit by Rebels and there's no mention of Crimson Dawn then, it's not quite clear how long his influence in it lasted.
    • The Commerce Guilds probably used to be like this before they acquired enough power to actually be governments. The Trade Federation even has its own Senate representative.
    • The Jedi Order. Capable of fielding one of the most powerful militaries at extremely short notice, automatically given officer status in the Republic's forces, granted full law enforcement rights and immune from prosecution themselves, they none the less do not feel they answer to the Government and are keen to stress their independence in their internal affairs. Fortunately they are normally savvy enough to keep their shit in order, though Palpatine's ultimate plan hinged on the Jedi order's naïveté in taking this status for granted. The Jedi feel that they do serve the Republic - but not necessarily the Republic's current government. This is indeed exactly what happens in Revenge of the Sith - the Jedi Council are growing more and more concerned that Chancellor Palpatine is not only amassing too much power to himself and turning the Republic into a de facto dictatorship, but that he may be under the influence of the mysterious Sith Lord, Darth Sidious (they fail to realize he is the Sith Lord in question until it's too late), and debate whether it would be justified to remove him in a coup and rule by decree until democracy can be restored. Anakin is against the idea and calls it treasonous, and even the other Council members have serious misgivings.
      Obi-Wan: We are loyal to the Senate, not to its leader, who has managed to stay in office long after his term has expired.
      Anakin: The Senate demanded that he stay longer.
      Obi-Wan: Yes, but use your feelings, Anakin. Something is out of place.
    • The Hutt Cartel waver between this and being an actual government (pretty much an argentocracy) but when it all comes down to it they're a group of gangsters and merchants with no clear leader yet capable of fielding significant numbers of troops and warships, and controlling an area of space sometimes large enough to rival the republic.
  • The RDA from Avatar appears an example but is actually more of a subversion. Although they can construct interstellar space vehicles and manage a mining operation in another solar system, they are not a straight example as they are still reasonably limited in their power and actions, with what can only really be gained from there through corruption and secrecy - they'd still be no match for a real government in terms of military.
  • In Inception, Fischer's company is vying to become this (via de facto monopolizing the global energy market), which is what kicks off the plot.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Stark Enterprises seems to be one.
    • This is backed up after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Maria Hill is hired by Stark after S.H.I.E.L.D. is dissolved due to corruption, and she explains her decision in an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. by saying A) Stark is in the best position to protect people (even referring to his above boast) and B) the US government wants to force answers out of her but even its officials think twice before messing with Stark's legal team.
    • The Avengers morph into one as the films progress. In the first movie, they're essentially a S.H.I.E.L.D. task force overseen by Nick Fury, with the organization providing the team with a base of operations (the Helicarrier), uniforms, and vehicles. After S.H.I.E.L.D. disbands in The Winter Soldier, the Avengers are left without any sort of government ties, so in Avengers: Age of Ultron, they've become a fully autonomous organization funded by Tony Stark. This is then hit with a bit of Surprisingly Realistic Outcome in Captain America: Civil War, where it's revealed that the governments of the world are not happy that the Avengers operate without any sort of oversight and accountability, resulting in the Sokovia Accords being drafted to keep the heroes in line. In Avengers: Endgame, the Avengers are the closest thing we see to a government at all. Natasha coordinates their various allies to react to emergencies both on- and off-world, and no mention is made of any legal issues such as with the Accords. Possibly justified given that any government body that could have any authority over the Avengers might have been significantly reduced in number and power from Thanos' Snap, so the Avengers, with Natasha reluctantly in charge, are literally the only thing keeping the post-Snap world together. That and other issues would probably render the Accords moot.
  • The organization in 12:00, with resources enough to turn a part of the Ghana into cyborgs. And they have UFOs and a secret base inside a mountain.
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: McCullen is able to afford his own personal army and outfit them with technology surpassing every other army on Earth. Given that he basically supplies every other army on Earth, that part at least is sensible.
  • The titular organization from the Men in Black series. They're a top-secret, international law-enforcement agency which does not serve nor answer to any national government; and yet, they're somehow responsible for policing a fairly large population of disguised extraterrestrial immigrants on Earth, and defending the planet from any potential alien invaders. Though they often pretend to be agents of the (US) federal government, as part of their efforts to conceal the truth about aliens.
  • Traffic (2000): Judge Wakefield (Michael Douglas), in preparation for his new job as America's "Drug Czar," speaks with various politicians and drug enforcement officials. One official tells him that The Cartels have an "unlimited budget." Wakefield asks for clarification; does he mean that these cartels can actually compete with a nation like the U.S., with all its power and resources? The official responds, "No. They're way beyond us." (The filmmakers went to great lengths to ensure authenticity in these scenes, so this is very much Truth in Television.)

  • The Illuminati in Duumvirate has evolved from a more traditional conspiracy into one of these, but still secret. They're technologically superior, so they intend to drop The Masquerade and start ruling openly once their internal problems are settled. They do.
  • Dale Brown books have the Night Stalkers/Scion/Sky Masters/Whatever-They're-Calling-Themselves-Now, who if not a per se superpower, nevertheless maintain air and ground commando forces capable of doing a number on proportionally much larger units from conventional militaries. They're staffed mainly by former members of and use the technology of Dreamland, which was a State Sec. In A Time for Patriots, the Knights of the True Republic are a Right-Wing Militia Fanatic group with resources at least on par with the FBI.
  • The Transnational/Metanational Corporations from the Red Mars Trilogy, which grow to be more powerful than actual terrestrial nations by the time of the successful Martian revolution in Green Mars.
  • Kramer Associates from the novel For Want of a Nail. At one point they virtually control the government of the United States of Mexico (founded by American settlers fleeing after losing the Revolutionary War; the USM is a mish-mash of Mexican and American culture, extending from Alaska to Belize), before it becomes so corrupt they leave for Japanese Formosa. At which point they detonate a nuclear bomb (the only one in the entire world as of 1971) to safeguard their corporate interests. It was written by an economist.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Line of Delirium, the Family is a criminal organization masquerading as a legitimate business. Their influence spreads far and wide throughout the Human Empire, and they have access to some of the best military hardware available, partly due to them employing the services of one of the best weapons designer in the Empire. In fact, they are so powerful that The Emperor himself names the Mother (basically, the female godfather) one of the confidantes in his will. Interestingly enough, the aTan Corporation, which is constantly described as an "empire within the Empire" and holds the key to immortality, has no private army of any kind. The Emperor, however, has to tread carefully with aTan, if he wants to keep his immortality.
  • Several Frontier corporations in Andrey Livadniy's The History of the Galaxy series have their own fleets, which they use to protect their worlds from pirates and rival corporations. One notable conflict involves a Corrupt Corporate Executive ambush a Confederacy of Suns fleet in order to capture two prototype ships, after he finds out that he is under investigation. His plan is to use the ships to threaten the entire Confederacy. While his fleet is no match for the full might of the Confederacy, this full might is usually unavailable given the need to protect many other worlds from pirates and the like. This fact is even mentioned in another novel, where the Confederacy leadership is worried that their fleets are spread too thin to reliable protect themselves.
  • Manpower, Incorporated of the Honor Harrington series thinks it is a superpower, but it is just a group of slavers and generic criminals that are the big fish in a small pond. The Star Kingdom of Manticore, their most frequent enemies in the main storyline and players in a much bigger pond, regard them as little more than a nuisance, a dime-a-dozen organization with delusions of grandeur. The Mesan Alignment, however, is an actual superpower, and has been using the public facade of Manpower, Incorporated as a front for centuries, maneuvering everybody into underestimating their true strength and goals.
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo's organization, the crew of the Nautilus: The Nautilus lets him loot enough submarine treasures to put him in Fiction 500, he can finance political insurrections like the Cretan rebellion, he claims the South Pole in his name, he destroys the ships of an unnamed Imperialistic Nation with total impunity. His crew is composed of men who have not place in earth and they have invented their own language.
  • The Mega Corps of Robert Asprin's Cold Cash Wars are this. They take on the world and win! Because money.
  • The nameless corporation from Iain Banks' The Business at one point controlled the Roman Empire (though their puppet emperor only held onto it for a few months) and the novel largely revolves around its attempts to buy up a small third-world country so its senior executives can get diplomatic immunity. Not to avoid prosecution for crimes (in fact, the organization seems pretty ethical as corporations go); it's just that, once you've got your ten mansions and private helicopter, there isn't much left to buy except sovereign status.
  • In the supernatural world of The Dresden Files, nations of magical creatures such as Summer and Winter (fairies) or the vampire Courts maintain the peace among themselves through a treaty known as the Unseelie Accords. In addition to these nation-equivalents, organizations such as the wizards' White Council are also signatories, as are Monoc Industries, a supernaturally-owned corporation, and a select few powerful individuals such as the Archive. This effectively makes them "nations" by the terms of the supernatural realm.
    • And a few of the signatories are individuals and about as N.G.O. as you can get. Notable figures include a few dragons, a "semi-immortal shapeshifter guru" in Ukraine, and Gentleman Johnny Marcone, the only plain ol' vanilla mortal freeholding lord, who has balls that drag to the ground when he walks.
    • House Raith of the White Court is also edging into the same territory as Marcone and Monoc, thanks to Lara Raith's exceptional managing of the family empire, to the point where she can, with minimal effort, pull the strings to get US military hardware deployed to Mexico for an extraction. Of course, the Raiths had a lot of power to begin with, but her more conservative and baroque father was not using those resources to their fullest. Plus Lara managed to remove the Raith family's two biggest rivals, House Malvora and Skavis, in one night.
  • Implicit in Daemon. The Private Military Contractors and other corporations leading the charge against the eponymous entity have enough power that at one point they have the NSA director put away on trumped-up charges.
  • The CHOAM Corporation in Dune. The power of the galactic nobility is mostly measured by how many shares of the company they is only natural for a company that has a monopoly on a substance that extends lifespans and makes interstellar travel possible. Likewise, the Spacing Guild, who has a legal monopoly on interstellar travel.
  • Isaac Asimov's "The Mayors": Terminus has been sharing science and technology with the four neighboring Kingdoms under the guise of religion. The rulers of Anacreon, being the largest of the four Kingdoms and benefiting the most from the technology and science, believe that they can simply use their overwhelming force to annex Terminus and reduce it to a vassal planet. However, the priests of the Galactic Spirit revolt, demonstrating the Foundation could not only protect itself from being taken over, but also take de facto control of the Kingdoms.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Friday, the Shipstone Corporation has a monopoly on high capacity power storage which they are later revealed to have secretly parlayed into near total control over all commercial activity on Earth. The Black Thursday incident that occurs in the novel involves hundreds of high-profile assassinations and is revealed to have been the visible end of corporate infighting. Corporations also have been known to use nuclear weapons on countries that piss them off.
  • The Newsman's Guild in Soldier, Ask Not. Interstellar economics are based on the exchange of skilled professionals. Thanks to this system, and the need for collected news, the Guild is rich. Full members have access to funds that "might have made a government leader envious."
  • The Revolutionary Agorist Cadre in Alongside Night is capable of overthrowing the United States government. Granted, a government weakened by hyperinflation and without any popular support, but still... By the end of the novel, they've become a nuclear power.
  • In Arctic Rising Gaia Inc. goes toe to toe with a multinational blockading fleet.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The Night's Watch is equivalent to a Great House in that it answers directly to the king, owns lands which belong to them only and not to any House, and not just has an army: it is an army. It is bound by law not to interfere in the game of thrones, however. Downplayed in that, at least for most of the books, the Watch has comparatively few men (the vast majority of whom are undertrained) and not that many resources. What land they do have is directly South of the Wall, and therefore extremely cold and not overly fertile; any resources they can't make, grow, or find they have to either trade for or buy with the funds the Houses provide.
    • Essos has several.
    When princes defaulted on their debts to lesser banks, ruined bankers sold their wives and children into slavery and opened their own veins. When princes failed to repay the Iron Bank, new princes sprang up from nowhere and took their thrones
  • The Nemesis Saga:
    • Zoomb started out as a Google-like Internet search engine company, but grew to have its hooks in practically everything, and now has more advanced technology that most nations. They also answer to no one, and are easily able to engineer coverups of anything illicit they're involved in.
    • GOD, the Genetic Offensive Directive. Originally a program within DARPA, they've grown beyond any government control, and operate fully at their own discretion. They have their own black ops teams and military personnel, and will work with anyone who will fund and cover their work.
  • In Leviathan Rises, the first The Expanse novel, Big Bad Protogen has impressive power and resources at their disposal, including a fleet of stealth ships, multiple outposts and the planning and resources to turn Eros colony into a testing facility for the Protomolecule. Subverted in that once the cat is out of the bag, the actual governments of Earth and Mars tear their operation down in less than a day.
    • In Caliban's War, the second novel, this is averted. The Big Bad is incredibly influential, but most of his actual power comes from the U.N. faction he's allied himself with and not from his own company. Meanwhile, Venus is technically 'non-governmental', but describing it as a 'superpower' (as opposed to, say, 'slumbering deity') is somewhat selling it short.
  • In Atlas Shrugged, the pirate Ragnar Danneskjold wages a private war against the corrupt socialist government. Not only does he manage to evade capture by the British and US navies despite sinking numerous ships of their merchant marine, he also sinks enough to seriously damage the global economy, and late in the story, he actually bombards coastal cities from his battleship before once again vanishing out of reach to one of his secret bases. His vast resources and superior technology make him almost impossible to pin down; for the government forces it's like fighting a ghost.
  • In The Arts of Dark and Light, The Church effectively has all the powers of the historical Roman Catholic Church at its height and then some, including an anti-magic police with wide-ranging enforcement powers and sizeable armed forces under its own flag. However, the Church also has a (complicated) formal relationship with the government, so it's not a pure NGO, but rather a quango.
  • The Han Solo Trilogy: The Hutt kajidics (crime syndicates) control entire planets (if not always openly). Black Sun dwarfs them though, since Xizor comments that Besadii's Ylesian operation (that also controls a whole planet) is minor compared with theirs, though still impressive. He also has entire mercenary companies at his command, making him able to rustle a small army up at short notice. Shadows of the Empire shows he's the third most powerful man in the Empire after the Emperor and Darth Vader (whom he seeks to usurp), with a spy network which is turmped only by the Bothans'. He also has a private fleet to with the ground troops.
  • A !Tangled Web (1981): Hartford keeps an absolute lock on the tachyon drive, and Hartford shares are the universal currency, equal to $10,000 each.
  • Event Horizon in the Greg Mandel trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton. Not only do they have hardliner security forces with Powered Armor and hypersonic aircraft to deploy them anywhere in the world, by the third novel their CEO Julia Evans has hacked the top secret design of electron-compression warheads. Fortunately she just wants to use them for asteroid mining, but people are understandably nervous when she blasts an asteroid into Earth orbit to mine it.
  • Encryption Straffe: Overmind is a creation between the internal security organs of many NATO countries that evolved to control two cities, multiple front companies, and pretty much all of the private armies in the world.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andromeda: After the fall of the Commonwealth, the MegaCorps came together to form the Free Trade Alliance to ensure safe interstellar commerce and self-regulate commercial practices (squash the competition). Their hired armies are big enough that superpower entities try to avoid direct conflicts with them.
  • Altrucell of How I Met Your Mother.
    Marshall: So, I've been looking over these contracts, and I gotta say, I think this might be a little out of my league. For one thing, it seems like if these contracts are not executed precisely, we will be at war with Portugal.
  • Veridian Dynamics of Better Off Ted.
    "And we never part with money unless a more powerful nation forces us to, and there are only three of those left."
  • THRUSH of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E" and KAOS of Get Smart.
    • Interestingly subverted in the fact that the first episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. has Thrush's intended conquest of a small African country to be a huge deal, potentially changing the whole nature of the organization.
    • KAOS is mentioned to have a gross income of $980 million. After taxes, they're left with a net income of $980 million.
  • Massive Dynamic lurks as one of these in Fringe. In the second episode, Nina Sharp tells Olivia that the corporation is technically one of the ten biggest economic entities in the world. And given its research divisions, it could easily create an army if it so wished.
  • The Blue Sun Corporation in Firefly (not to be confused with the Blue Suns of Mass Effect was implied to be one of these, though they may have simply been an arm of the totalitarian government. The series didn't last long enough to make it clear.
  • The Lucian Alliance of Stargate-verse, a galaxy-spanning criminal organization with enough resources stolen from the Goa'uld after their collapse to make them a dangerous force to even the Tau'ri, the most powerful race in at least two galaxies (though this is largely attributable to the severely limited scope of the Tau'ri space navy, which has only a half-dozen ships). By Stargate Universe, they are bold enough to attack Earth directly, albeit using suicide bomber cargo ships.
  • The Peacekeepers of Farscape are basically Private Military Contractors crossed with Law Enforcement, Inc. with a 12,000 cycle history of intimidating governments both planetary and interstellar.
  • Defied in House of Cards (US). The billionaire industrialist Xander Feng tries to browbeat Frank Underwood with the vastness of his fortune, but Frank replies that Feng's net worth amounts to the GDP of Slovakia. With Frank in control of America's economy and military might, he's on a completely different level.
  • Kamen Rider Build has Nanba Heavy Industries, a weapons manufacturer that wants to start a Japanesse civil war so that it can sell to all sides of the war. Justified because Japan has been split into three regions by a disaster and they are all struggling as a result, and it's later revealed that one of the regions is a puppet state with Nanba running everything in secret especially after the president kills the Prime Minister and impersonates him to run the country himself.
  • Primatech in Heroes had literally (thanks to Bob's power) unlimited money, the ability to rig elections, and an army of superpowered soldiers and Badass Normal agents who could keep up with them.
  • On Person of Interest, Decima Technologies starts out as a private intelligence agency on par with the intelligence agencies of superpower nations. After Samaritan came online, they set out to Take Over the World.
  • Foundation (2021) has the Church of Luminism, one of the major religions of the Empire. Its reach is great enough that a power struggle over its next Proxima and future doctrine warrants a visit from Brother Day in person.

  • Wolf 359 features Goddard Futuristics, the corporation funding the Hephaestus mission. Over time, it's slowly revealed that not only is Goddard well-funded enough to compete against NASA in terms of deep space exploration, they also have their own military force with an airborne division, a black ops/wetwork team, and artificial intelligences that are decades more advanced than anything else on Earth. All of this goes quite a long way toward making Director of Communcations Marcus Cutter's long-term plan of wiping out all life on Earth a lot more feasible.

  • The titular organisation in Mass Effect: G.U.A.R.D.I.A.N. started out as an elite task force under the jurisdiction of the Citadel Council, but, it eventually broke out and became independent from any kind of government authority. Currently it is a galaxy-spanning military organization with multiple combat ships and a small, but highly elite ground force, fulfilling this trope to the letter.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Ashcroft Foundation of CthulhuTech embodies this trope. A globe-spanning, super-wealthy research institute and multinational, not only is it a pillar of the New Earth Government, but it invented many key inventions that define the age, from the D-engine to A-cells.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The traitor forces. Justified in that the traitor forces do possess their own hidden arsenals, manufacturing facilities, and raid the Imperium pretty frequently for equipment, resources, and slaves. They did also start as a huge number of troops mutinying against the God-Emperor so it would make sense to have at least some equipment lying around.
    • The Adeptus Mechanicus have a complicated relationship with the rest of The Imperium of Man, having a form of quasi-independence that does not fall under the standard imperial rules, their own standing army, and practical monopoly on the trade, research and creation of technology. They also technically worship a heathen god, which is Hand Waved as being 'an aspect of the Emperor' by the rest of the Imperium because standing on principle and provoking a crusade would effectively tear the Imperium apart.
    • Rogue traders have the legal framework from the Imperium to operate pretty much with impunity. Warrants of trade permit them to trade with xenos, travel outside Imperial space at will, and amass as much material wealth and temporal power as they can get, and the only limits the Adeptus Terra can enforce on them are those written into the warrant. Well-established rogue trader dynasties have private security whose quality rivals the best the Imperial Guard can offer (well connected ones get actual Guard regiments seconded to them), fleets of Warp-capable transport and combat ships, and are the government of many planets beyond Imperial space. They are states-within-states in all but name, and are allowed to pursue policy that would get core Imperial leaders executed, such as openly allying with and living alongside aliens and rebellious humans. The Rogue Trader RPG sourcebook notes that some of these dynasties go so far as to openly wage war on the Imperium or declare their independence, with mixed results.
    • The entire Imperium is a very fractured organization with separate branches having very limited influence on each other. Pretty half of Imperium-wide organizations are separated from the rest of the government, being relatively independent and being in held in check more by military power than legal obligations. Houses of Navigators, Ecclesiarchy, Inquisition are more obvious examples.
    • Adeptus Astartes chapters don't have the power to impact the entire Imperium note , but they are vastly powerful military organizations that answer to no one except the Emperor, who can't really deal with them right now. Other Imperial organizations can request their cooperation, but without large military force to back their claims upnote , it is up to a Chapter Master's good will alone. Most chapters also run their own planets.
    • The Ultramarines rule over the realm of Ultramar, which is an entire sector rather than a single planet as most Space Marine chapters are allowed. This is because the world they rule over is Macragge, the capital of the entire Ultramar sector, giving them de-facto kingship over the entire area.
  • VIPER in the Champions universe, as well as Doctor Destroyer's organization.
  • Most of the Mega Corps in Cyberpunk 2020 have private armies at their disposalnote , the most noteworthy being Arasaka and Militech, who basically supply corporate security and soldiers to everybody else. There have even been a few all-out Corporate Wars in the canonical setting.
  • The Hypercorps of Eclipse Phase go back and forth between this and Mega Corps. The nominally democratic Planetary Consortium (Mars and Luna) is run by them, but they also act independently, with enough resources and staff to do anything if they really wanted.
  • The Zhentarim of the Dungeons & Dragons world Forgotten Realms are officially a trade organization, but have become effectively the sole government in the area surrounding their headquarters at Zhentil Keep. They have their own private army and for a time the leader of the organization was also the highest ranking priest of Bane, one of, if not the, most powerful evil gods.
    • The Harpers are a loose decentralized organization of rangers, bards, and other people who get around a lot, who keep track of the activities of dangerous evil organizations and churches. Their network of spies and informants in the Heartlands and the North is very extensive and they often warn local rulers of any threats that are too big for the agents to handle themselves in a quiet fashion. In addition, they count among their numbers many of the most powerful mages in the entire world and there is quite a number of formerly active agents in the courts and high ranking positions of many nations.
  • In the Eberron setting of Dungeons & Dragons, the dragonmarked houses probably qualify. They're explictly forbidden from owning land or titles of nobility, but each house has a near-monopoly on some aspect of the magitech the world runs on (the dwarven House Kundarak controls banking, the gnomish House Sivis controls communication, the human House Cannith controls manufacturing, etc.). The result is a kind of McDonaldization of the world: people prefer predictable House-approved merchants and services over taking a chance on an independent that might be better, but could equally likely be worse.
    • The Order of the Emerald Claw is a terrorist organization of self-proclaimed Karrnathi patriots who are everywhere and have their fingers in everything. Since it's run by Erandis "Blood Of" d'Vol, who also runs the religion that bears her name, this probably puts Vol as one of the mightiest non-government authority figures in the entire setting even without factoring in her status as a high-level wizard and lich; a level 1 commoner with the amount of support Vol can call on would be able to shake the pillars of the world.
  • Most AA and all AAA-rating Mega Corps in Shadowrun outstrip governments in power and one, Aztechnology, is effectively a megacorp with a country, Aztlan (Mexico/Central America), rather than the other way around. The UN, while still existent and quite relevant on the political scene, has been effectively displaced in actual power by the Corporate Court, where the AAA megacorps (initially seven, now ten) are the equivalent of permanent security council seats.
  • Comstar in BattleTech, with its monopoly on FTL communication. It officially holds to a strict code of neutrality, and its members are banned from taking part in the politics of the successor states (unofficially, things are rather different). Somewhat subverted in that they are the governing authority of Terra. During the Clan Invasion, ComStar's militia - using ancient battlemechs preserved for hundreds of years in vaults on Planet Terra - routed several armies of Clan warriors at the Battle of Tukayyid, giving the rest of the Inner Sphere 15 years to prepare for the next Clan invasion before the Truce of Tukayyid expired.
    • Later on Comstars splinter group the Word of Blake took things to the next level. The WoB overthrew Comstar's hold on Terra, and set themselves as a major player in interstellar politics. When the Great Houses disbanded the Second Star League, the WoB's knee-jerk reaction was to start the apocalyptic Jihad which would engulf the Inner Sphere.
    • A few of the largest mercenary units can also count; some of them own entire worlds and can change the course of an entire front by deploying whole regiments of well-trained and -equipped troops. The Allied Mercenary Command became a minor power which tried to go head-to-head with the aforementioned Word of Blake before the Jihad.
  • Implied in Strike Legion; one of the suggested missions in the rulebook involves taking care of gangs, which suggests some seriously powerful gangs if they're deserving of Legionnaire attention. A single Legion team is considered more dangerous than a full battlefleet, in a setting where the starships making up said fleet regularly take and deal out Earth Shattering Kabooms.
  • The Guild of Exalted is a network of merchants and manufacturers that spans almost all of Creation, and spent centuries as the only entity with wealth and power comparable to the Realm (albeit applied purely to the goals of increasing its own profits, rather than the cultural manipulations and conquest of the Realm). The collective actions of its factors could cripple nations, and its leaders are individually wealthy enough to compare to mighty trade-nations.
  • In Rifts, these are common, with the industrial giant Triax having massive sway over the New German Republic, H-Brand in the Otomo Shogunate having not only a similar partnership but its own separate army, Armatech being a major power in the Republic of Japan, and the nation of Ishpeming is referred to by the name of the weapon's manufacturer Northern Gun more than by its own proper name!
    • All of those in turn are small fry next to the interdimensional arms dealer Naruni Enterprises, who is so big and powerful that only galactic powers like the Coalition of Civilized Worlds in the Three Galaxies could stand up to them in any kind of real conflict and win.
  • There are two in Bleak World the first is The Blackwood Company which apparently owns a private vigilante army, the Catholic Church, The U.S. Military, a group of demonically altered slashers rented out to them by the Executive Branch, and the Media. those are the ones you can root for. The other superpower is The Dark Skies Corporation who oppress their employees with armed and supernaturally powered ordinators and are lead by a group of lawyers who cheated Satan into giving them immortality and the knowledge of all laws.
  • In Rocket Age the Red Scorpion is a powerful criminal syndicate engaged in smuggling, piracy, slavery and pretty much every other criminal activity throughout the solar system. Their sheer size is notable, but what makes them stand out is their access to world ending weapons, standing military, customised fleet of ships and advanced R&D department.
  • Several organizations in the Old World of Darkness could apply.
    • In Vampire: The Masquerade, the Camarilla and the Sabbat both effectively qualified. Both were globe-spanning organizations with massive amounts of resources, controlled territory, and access to super-powerful blood-sucking monsters for when combat became necessary. While not necessarily as big as those two, most of the independent clans were suggested to have the resources and military strength of a small nation. There's also the more loosely organized Anarch Free State, which has a presence all over the American West and directly controls southern California (although canonically it mostly collapsed in the late 90's after a Kuei-Jinnote  invasion took over LA).
    • Werewolf: The Apocalypse has Pentex, a Mega-Corp that has its own private army (that's trained to deal with werewolves) and controls a decent chunk of the world's economy.
    • The Technocracy in Mage: The Ascension are basically the architects of the modern world, and not coincidentally they have control over good chunks of it. They're probably the preeminent example in the setting - the aforementioned Pentex was a wholly-owned subsidiary of just one part of The Technocracy (albeit one that, depending on who you talk to, either was generally granted its independence or slipped the leash), and one "Time of Judgment" scenario has them take over Australia. The kickoff to the "Time of Judgment" (meant to be the endgame for the entire oWoD gameline) involved them using a spiritually-infused nuclear weapon and orbital satellites focusing concentrated sun on a near-godlike ancient vampire... and had other supernaturals not killed said vampire by then, it's suggested that was only their opening move.

    Video Games 
  • In System Shock 2, laws allow a corporation to own any place where 60% of the population is employed by said corporation; TriOptimum owns almost the entire United States. Furthermore, TriOptimum controls the world's governing body (which was created specifically to regulate megacorporations), has a massive private army, manufactures almost all the world's goods, and has a monopoly on space travel.
  • The Shinra Electric Power Corporation in Final Fantasy VII started out as an arms manufacturer and discovered a fantastic new source of energy for an industrial world, and by the time the game begins, it is not only a Mega-Corp, but also the closest thing the world seems to have to anything resembling government on more than a local scale, complete with a huge and well-provisioned military, public works, and a (defunct) space program.
  • Both of the main factions in the Command & Conquer series:
    • The Global Defense Initiative became this trope at some point over its evolution. In Tiberian Dawn it was still the UNGDI and was explicitly reliant on the Security Council for funding and leadership, but when the world's governments collapsed from the Tiberium crisis, GDI was able to stand on its own, so by Tiberium Wars it had replaced the UN as a global superpower, with control over the remaining safe "Blue Zones."
    • Its rival, the Brotherhood of Nod, was once considered just another terrorist organization until Interpol uncovered how extensive its secret dealings with major US defense contractors were. Nod was also remarkably quick to capitalize upon Tiberium's arrival, so that they enjoyed a monopoly on the market for a few years after the alien substance came to Earth. As a result, in the first game's backstory the Brotherhood of Nod's net worth was estimated at over 250 billion dollars, giving them the financial backing, infrastructure and advanced technology to battle GDI for control of the world. Despite its defeats, by Tiberium Wars, the Brotherhood has grown into an actual state by offering humanitarian aid, governance and protection to the inhabitants of the Tiberium-ravaged "Yellow Zones."
  • The GLA from Command & Conquer: Generals also averts this for the most part and justifies it when it occurs. They have no air or naval power at all, while their ground forces are either converted civilian vehicles or obsolete Soviet surplus. But the trope is played straight in Zero Hour when they kick out the Americans from Europe by capturing and using their own weapons against them, from attack helicopters, spy satellites, heavy tanks to their Particle Cannon.
  • The Private Military Contractors in Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., who invade the USA. As Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation puts it, "Where were they hiding all this material? The fucking Moon?"
  • The two largest factions in Honkai Impact 3rd are Schicksal and Anti-Entropy, which are rival organizations despite sharing the same goal of defeating the Honkai because the latter was originally the North American branch of the former that defected. Both organizations transcend all existing nation-states and are effectively giant governments in themselves each with their own militaries, laws, and even nuclear weapons. Schicksal controls Afro-Eurasia while Anti-Entropy controls North and South America. Only a handful of countries are neutral between them, one of them being Singapore.
  • The Mass Effect universe has a plethora of organizations like this. While appropriately tiny and weak compared to states in Council Space, their resources are so disproportionate in the much poorer Terminus systems that it is normal for corporations run entire planets as governments in all but name.
    • The independent planet of Garvug had its government overthrown when it was invaded by a military alliance of Binary Helix, Guanghui Solutions, and Sonax Industries, who attacked with their large modern army and space fleet. The kicker? None of these are military organizations. Guanghui and Binary Helix are biotech companies, and Sonax is a mining company. They aren't Terminus organizations either, they're based in Citadel Space (Garvug is a Terminus world). They're just rich enough to have fleets and armies on hand for just such an occasion.
    • Mass Effect 2 has Cerberus, a human supremacist terrorist organization which, due to generous covert funding from major human organizations, owns multiple deep-space habitats (some, like Cronos Station, being around 10 km long and should easily mass over a hundred million tons), funds multibillion-credit resurrection projects, builds bleeding-edge spacecraft, and decks its people out in spiffy uniforms. Notably, they managed to rebuild the Normandy, which Admiral Mikhailovich said costed as much as a heavy cruiser (read: multi-million ton capital ship that spits out kilotons per second in its main gun alone) or 12,000 fighter craft. The multi-billion credit initiative to revive Shepard was pocket change by comparison, and even that was enough to build and outfit an army, per Shepard himself.
      • Mass Effect: Invasion: They invade Omega with a small army of elite soldiers, a fleet of heavy cruisers, and a battleship/dreadnought. Said battleship/dreadnought is basically a super weapon platform that can depopulate an entire planet in a day.note 
      • They pretty much abandon all subtlety in Mass Effect 3 and deploy a few mechanized and airborne infantry divisions to locations they are interested in. You also encounter at least a few cruisers (with an appropriate number of fighters) and a fleet of shuttles and gunships supporting these troops. At first this seems like a strange jump in resources from one game to the next but its revealed that they are forcibly converting people into Husks and using advanced jamming technology to wrestle control of them from the Reapers. So in essence they can kidnap people and forcibly convert them into loyal mooks. Where they got the fleets and other materiel at short notice is never explained, though.
      • When you get to their main bases, you see easily thirty heavy cruisers, and at Omega, there's at least three dozen visible in one particular shot. Note that the cruiser models they use are over 700 meters long and not much different from dreadnoughts. Background material and later stories imply that this isn't really inexplicable, rather it's just that ships are so cheap relative to the size of the galactic economy that even private corporations with mere fractions of the resources of the interstellar empires they serve can still build entire fleets. Cerberus got 66+ heavy cruisers and a dreadnought just by skimming off the top of shell companies.
    • The soft drink company Tupari claims to sell over 12 trillion bottles of their signature product per day. That means, assuming the drink costs a mere 1 credit, Tupari's revenue for one product alone is 4.38 quadrillion credits annually. So it's not exactly surprising that a few dozen heavy cruisers (as noted, stated to cost around 120 billion credits each) can just be skimmed off the budget of similarly-sized companies with no one really noticing.
    • Also in Mass Effect 2, the various mercenary organizations like the Blue Suns and Eclipse have their own private armies and navies; there's even one system in the game where you can read the history of a major revolution that involved Eclipse's private navy engaging in open war with the system's fleets. The Eclipse and Suns, while stateless, have vast holdings across the Terminus systems and fingers in criminal ventures throughout both Terminus and Citadel space. In particular, the Eclipse alone hold a major presence on the Asari world of Illium (they appear to virtually own the docks in the city where most of the action takes place); the Blood Pack have political clout in the krogan homeworld; and the Blue Suns control at least three whole planets. All three run a lot of the crime on Omega, including slave trading, element zero smuggling, and red sand trade. In Mass Effect 3, you can recruit these three organizations' fleets to the cause. They give 200 war asset points collectively, while a standard Alliance fleet (consisting of over a hundred to several thousand modern warships each including at least one dreadnought and multiple carriers) gives 90.
    • While nowhere near the raw economic power of any of the above, Shadow Broker has his own small army of well equipped and highly experienced troops who rival special forces units of the most powerful military powers and he has is base on a custom built ship that permanently hides within a storm too violent for most ships to get close to. However, his trade is the gathering and selling of information and anything ever recorded by his dozens if not hundreds of opperatives and their uncountable masses of agents and informants goes over his desk and ends in his databases, giving him the power to decide essentially any war, election, investigation, or contract competition, if the customer can pay. And it also serves his own goals. His power is such that the fact that he manages to keep the information he gives out from causing serious and/or catastrophic imbalances in power from occurring is in of itself impressive to his agents. Or her.
    • To a lesser extent, the Nos Astra Stock Exchange, judging from the horrified reaction of the Asari investor talking with the Volus moving his assets callously to profit on a humanitarian disaster.
      • Speaking of Nos Astra, if you investigate Illium in Mass Effect 3 you will discover that the tycoons and merchant-princes who rule it have decided to fight back against the Reapers... by using their unimaginably immense wealth to finance a mercenary fleet of incredible proportions, plus lots of nukes. They don't really succeed in doing any damage to even the minor Reaper force that arrived on their worlds (the battle was referred to as quick, and the Reaper capital ships as "near-impervious" to their weapons), but did destroy a decent number of support ships and husks, and still have enough resources left over to make a notable impact on the Crucible's construction.
    • Aria T'Loak's syndicate on Omega. With control of the trade capital of the Terminus Systems, a scarily good espionage net and Aria's playing everyone off against each other, Aria has Vetinari Job Security. How powerful is Aria? In Mass Effect 3, even after being deposed from her power base in Omega, she can provide enough troops and ships to rival the fleet contributions of the entire Salarian Union. Even better, once she reclaims Omega, she reveals the existence of an eezo hoard so immense it has the same military value as an entire army of geth or krogan. It is also worth noting that one of the reasons why Cerberus is able to afford to field all its aforementioned gear and manpower in Mass Effect 3 is directly due to them seizing Omega from Aria and using its massive resource stockpiles.
    • The 4th game gives us the Andromeda Initiative - a multi-billion credit colonization Initiative dispatched to a different galaxy to establish a foothold for further expansion. While they don’t have fleets of warships, they do have the cash to (despite explicitly being a vanity project by a single billionaire) build four ships each massing over 17 million tons and an FTL-capable space station massing several billion tons, all in less than a decade. The space station is meant to act as a capital city with its own military production facilities, capable of sustainably and comfortably housing nearly three million people. Besides that, they have the 'employees' and industrial capacity to establish a self-sufficient proto-state after arriving in the Heleus Cluster, complete with their own security forces consisting of several thousand soldiers and militia equipped with military-grade small arms, fighter craft, artillery, and armored vehicles, and the capability to manufacture more. Plus the Pathfinders. It turns out that the Initiative's founder, Jien Garson ran out of her own money very quickly, and had to turn to a shadowy backer with nebulous goals in order to get the funding needed.
  • Vector Industries in Xenosaga definitely counts. Not only are they the wealthiest corporation in the galaxy, they maintain the entire galactic infrustructure through the U.M.N., they make up roughly half of the galaxy's equivalent of the military industrial complex, they are responsible for production of Realians, and their corporate headquarters is a ship so massive that it can qualify as an artificial planet. The kicker? Their CEO, Wilhelm, is not only The Chessmaster to such a degree that he controls Vector's top corporate competitor, Ormus (the majority religious organization in the galaxy), as well as being the former head of one of The Federation's top subcommittees, effectively making him "The Man", he's also a freaking Cosmic Entity with godlike powers that has been using an Artifact of Doom that allows him to see the future. If he wasn't too busy trying to avert The End of the World as We Know It (albeit through very questionable means), he might as well just crown himself God Emperor For All Eternity and be done with it.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X: The Ganglion are a crime syndicate originating from the Samaar Federation, which controls around six million light years of space. Aside from simply technologically outclassing humanity, the Ganglion have an army and fleet comparable to (if not larger than) Earth's largest nations, have enlisted entire species as slaves or enforcers, built a flight-capable Humongous Mecha that can double as a carrier, and destroyed Earth. They are also implied to have some political influence in the Samaar Federation. The humans are a bit embarrassed when they discover that by the standards of the Samaar Federation, the Ganglion are just a small gang that nobody has gotten around to squashing yet.
  • The Metal Gear series features these types of organizations quite often. Non-state players in the game of international military espionage and secret warfare include various terrorist groups, renegade ex-government special-forces units, private military contractors, and mysterious international secret societies. Almost all of these groups have access to cutting-edge technology (such as nanomachines, LEGO Genetics, and of course the Metal Gears); and so are capable of military actions that threaten those of actual nation-states. The most important examples include Militaires Sans Frontieres, Diamond Dogs, Outer Heaven, Liquid's version of Outer Heaven, and World Marshall, Incorporated.
    • Averted, however, with Philanthropy: it consists of, at most, five people and an airplane.
    • The Patriots from Metal Gear Solid also count as this. They are a secret organization that runs the U.S. government from behind the scenes, deciding everything from who gets elected into Congress to who gets to be the President of the United States, and have a firm control of the CIA and the Pentagon who conduct their secret military operations and projects funded with massive stashes of secret cash that can't be tracked by the legal government. They control all the media that the American people consume, everything from literature, TV, movies, and Internet is all filtered by them for your enjoyment and have all the major corporations in their back pockets which influence the government and the average citizen. They are also implied to have international reach, as they have secret bases which are mentioned in the story in China and Russia. Plus all the technological achievements they have accomplished, they have engineered clones from Big Boss's DNA which Solid Snake and his two brothers are the result of, have conducted genetic engineering which is capable of improving a human being into a Super Soldier, created super-powered exoskeleton suits that are akin to Iron Man that can give a man superhuman strength and speed, and massive bipedal, walking, nuclear-launch capable battle tanks known as Metal Gears. Stuff like this would run the U.S. government's economy into the ground, but the Patriots seem to have no trouble funding these projects.
  • Several appear in the Call of Duty games.
    • In the Modern Warfare series, the Ultranationalists under Zakhaev and later Makarov are able to go toe-to-toe with the national government of Russia and win, though since it's a civil war they're mostly using existing Russian hardware. After the Ultranationalist takeover, there's Makarov's splinter faction within the Ultranationalists, which manages to have a tremendous amount of influence within the Ultranationalist government, to the point that he is effectively able to declare war on Europe and the United States once the existing, moderate Ultranationalist Russian president is removed from power and his advisers are killed. In multiplayer, the Taliba- err, OpFor and Brazilian favela militias can somehow call down a wide variety of air support, from relatively small time UAV-launched missiles to stealth bombers, AC-130s and even a nuke.
    • Cordis Die, Raul Menendez's terrorist syndicate from Call of Duty: Black Ops II, makes use of the billions of dollars Menendez himself made off of decades of drug and gun-running to fund a massive mercenary army, backed up by various terrorist and anti-government organizations, capable of challenging both the US and Chinese armies, as well as huge amounts of state-of-the-art weapons, vehicles, and combat drones. The contributions from his followers - think Occupy Wall Street with roughly two billion people - must help as well. It only gets worse once he successfully hacks the US military's entire drone force to do his bidding, allowing him to launch simultaneous attacks on the major cities of both superpower nations.
    • Atlas Corporation from Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare are the largest Private Military Contractors on Earth, so powerful and influential that it has a seat on the United Nations Security Council. In an mission briefing, it was explicitly stated that Atlas had the full control of the entire world's critical infrastructure, all except the USA. And Atlas was powerful enough that they could declare war on the ENTIRE FREE WORLD, during an UN Security Council meeting.
    • The 54 Immortals in Call of Duty: Black Ops III are a criminal organization that, in the wake of a disaster that renders about half of Singapore almost uninhabitable, proceeded to take over the entire quarantined area and rule over it with an iron fist. Backed up by the Common Defence Pact (aka, Russia), they're able to expand into what the game itself describes as a "heavily-militarized criminal combine" that can field hundreds of well-armed soldiers equipped with state-of-the-art weapons and vehicles, which can easily overwhelm the legitimate armed forces of Singapore and pose a significant challenge to Winslow Accord black ops soldiers.
    • The Settlement Defense Front from Call Of Duty Infinite Warfare counts as well. Despite being a militant faction that had just seceded from UNSA for 31 years, the SDF has built a fleet on Mars that could easily rival the UNSA's, and was led by the biggest and the most powerful warship in the entire Solar System, the Olympus Mons.
  • The story's a bit of a hash, but the Mantel Corporation of Haze has apparently replaced the armed forces of every country in the world.
  • Armacham Technology Corporation in FEAR has no fewer than four major underground bunkers/facilities, an army of thousands of mercenaries, and the equipment and technology to create and arm a thousands-strong force of cloned supersoldiers.
    • The first levels of the DLC of F.E.A.R 2, Reborn consists of a massive battle between Armacham and Replica forces. This includes dozens of elite operatives on both sides, fifth-generation fighter jets (think things on par with the F-22 Raptor), helicopter gunships and Powered Armor dropped from orbit. All of it—including the Replica slaughtering them—is the property of the Armacham Corporation.
    • The first game's Perseus Mandate expansion includes the Nightcrawlers, a mercenary group out to steal material from Armacham. One of your allies who goes digging for info on them actually refers to them as a "free-standing private army", noting that there's next to nothing about them but they know everything about the FEAR organization. Even after you personally kill two- to three-hundred of them, up to and including the guy commanding the whole operation, The Stinger reveals that they considered those losses "acceptable".
  • Goldeneye Rogue Agent has both Dr. No's and Goldfinger's criminal organisations. Both sides have access to vast numbers of soldiers, military vehicles and munitions. Goldfinger is capable of manufacturing a weapon of mass destruction, and No has enough troops and munitions to occupy Hoover dam (which he is apparently able to base in a tiny Caribbean island, and arm from a few small factories hidden in Hong Kong).
  • Various evil organizations in both superhero games Champions Online and City of Heroes, such as the aforementioned Viper and Argent in Champions Online, and Nemesis, the Council, and Arachnos in City of Heroes.
  • Ace Combat games have a distressing number of these. In the first game and Joint Assault, the enemies are nominally a terrorist group; in 2 they are rebels; in 3 and Advance they are a Mega-Corp and in the second part of Zero they are a mishmash of disgruntled former soldiers, but all feature some mix of WMDs, Airborne Aircraft Carriers/supermassive bombers and entire units of conventional forces.
    • Ace Combat 5 also has North Osea Gründer Industries. They display they have the power and means to fund covert coups in both Osea and Yuktobania and get moles in both militaries to prolong the conflict and ratchet up its intensity. They also have access to a Kill Sat and nuclear weapons. However, the leadership is made up of former members of the Belkan high-command and all of the above are former Belkan resources, including their double agents, so it makes more sense.
    • The Valahia, an Eastern European terrorist group, in Ace Combat: Joint Assault are particularly bad about it. Attacking several countries worldwide is no stranger for terrorist groups, but carrying the attack with what is basically an alien ship against modern day military is another thing. Even when it is revealed that they're backed by a rival security company with the final goal of obliterating the US military, it's still very ridiculous. What makes this particularly laughable is that Joint Assault is explicitly said to take place in Real Life, as opposed to the main continuity's setting of Strangereal where even small countries regularly field large, modern air forces and superweapons like aforementioned "alien ship" are a dime a dozen. As a result, said goal is in of itself a silly Voodoo Shark; the largest private security company in the world, G4S, has a revenue of GBP 7.7 billion (about US$10 billion) and 570,000 personnel, whereas the US military has over US$700 billion budget - almost 100 times that - and 1.4 million active plus over 800,000 reserve personnel, triple that.
  • While not explicitly stated to be so, the Gas Miners' Guild of Freelancer must be one, given that they fought the Eighty Year War with Rhineland... and won.
    • Justifiable as the GMG received financial backing from Kusari who was waging a proxy war against Rheinland at the time. It is also mentioned Rheinland lost more ships to the Crow Nebula rather than combat. Effectively, the GMG was using the space equivalent of guerilla warfare to fight against Rheinland.
    • The Outcasts and Corsairs are a subversion. At first, they seem to be incredibly powerful Space Pirates, fielding ships that can go toe-to-toe with first-line military equipment. But if you explore the Edge Worlds, you find out that they are really nation-states in their own right, complete with their own planets.
  • The Mega Corps in Tachyon: The Fringe have their own private fleets. GalSpan (short for the Galactic Spanning Corporation) is the largest one, having their own sector of space. The only true government only has power in the Sol sector, enforced by Star Patrol. GalSpan's fleet includes carriers, cruisers, frigates, minelayers, fighters, bombers, etc. The Bora Mining Guilds are also not a true government, but their fleet is a match for GalSpan in brute force if not technology. However, most of these are hastily-converted cargo haulers.
  • The Backstory for Nexus: The Jupiter Incident describes a war between IASA and several Mega Corps. The latter win, leaving Earth the only place where IASA has power. The most powerful of these is the Kissaki Syndicate, although this is due to them using Imported Alien Phlebotinum. Several early missions involve the Player Character in command of a corporation-owned corvette forced to fight much heavier ships of rival corporations. In fact, one of these battles involves saving a sister ship of the player's, which is flying an IASA banner and is openly attacked by two OSEC heavy corvettes.
  • The Twilight's Hammer Cult from World of Warcraft fits this. Other similar entities such as the Shadow Council and the Cult of the Damned are parts of larger organizations and often act as a State Sec for them. The Twilight Hammer is not. While it is under the control of the Old Gods, its structure is otherwise independent from a larger entity. Despite this, Twilight has shown itself to be capable of taking on the armies of the Alliance, the Horde, the Dragonflights (with some support), the Guardians of Hyjal and the Burning Legion.
  • Morgan Industries from Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, though it could be considered a government.
  • Any Mega-Corp in Ground Control, but especially the Crayven Corporation and the Order of the New Dawn. Both have their own interstellar warships and huge armies, as well as colonies, but are not considered official governmentsnote . The sequel averts this, as the game is about two governments duking it out (well, one being Curb Stomp Battled by another).
  • In Team Fortress 2, two feuding Mega Corps, RED and BLU, each secretly control half of the world's governments. To add to the intrigue, the woman overseeing the feud is the CEO of both companies, as well as the CEO of a Weapons Supply Company...
    • The Mann Vs. Machine update introduced Gray Mann, who succeeds in assassinating his brothers and proves he has the resources to take on Mann Co. and the people running it. With a whole lot of robots.
  • The Trails Series has Ouroboros, a hidden organization with a massive amount of power over the continent of Zemuria. While they lack any specific territory and a standing army of humans, they more than make up for it with their army of Archaisms, automated mechanical weapons, which are produced en-masse by hidden factories. Most of their human members, and especially the Enforcers, are all extremely powerful. They're more than capable of giving trouble to any of the countries in the continent through subterfuge and political manipulation too, all in service of the Orpheus Final Plan.
  • The original Army of Two had the mercenary Strategy and Security Corporation, which hired the players and intended to (through an elaborate plan which involved killing a lot of American troops) take over as the military of the United States (the players eventually stop them).
    • And then the sequel introduced the mysterious 40th Day Initiative, which more or less blew the hell out of Shanghai because their leader Jonah wanted to prove that when all order in society collapses, humans are nothing but animals which will do anything to survive. It didn't work. The 40th Day Initiative evidently had literally thousands of troops, some of whom were wearing extremely heavy and advanced armour, along with tanks, jet aircraft and hundreds of cruise missiles. They evidently stood toe-to-toe with the Chinese Military and actually fought them off for several days (until their leader was killed, anyway).
  • In the Armored Core series, the world is entirely ruled by Mega Corps, with no trace of any governments.
    • In the 4-FA continuity, before the events of the game, these Mega Corps destroyed the world's governments and took over the world in under a month using a small number of extremely advanced mechs. And they're still in control at the end of FA, unless the ORCA Path is chosen, in which case the revolutionary ORCA Brigade (also an NGO Superpower) take over the world instead, then let humanity out into space.
  • Resident Evil: The Umbrella Corporation has access to what must be billions in research equipment, a highly qualified scientific staff that they can dispose of without a thought, numerous installations all across the globe that they either hide from their host governments or operate with their permission and not just a private army but a private black-ops special forces group with helicopter and fighter jet support. And that is not counting The Virus that can turn people into zombies or giant clawed monsters. The movies take this even further, suggesting that the corporation has access to a powerful satellite network, stealth bombers and nuclear weapons.
  • In Culpa Innata NGOs have gotten so powerful that they disbanded the UN. That may or may not be a bad thing...
  • Earth Control of Martian Gothic Unification has literally taken over the world. The company can even punish "disloyalty to the company" with a death penalty.
  • The Kurvasz, a Hunter Guild in Solatorobo, had (Red destroyed one) four battleships including the Golden Roar and used them and legions of infantry with Mini-Mecha to intimidate local governments.
  • In Jungle Strike, the Player Character (a lone helicopter pilot) takes on a drug lord with enough money to build a private army and purchase top-of-the-line aircraft and nuclear submarines.
  • The X-Universe games have many of these:
    • The Space Pirates field battleships, carriers, frigates, and fighter wings, despite having no government, no taxes, and no (known) ship production facilities. However, they do "own" several minimally populated lawless systems, and the Teladi Corporation most certainly doesn't supply them with starships.
    • The Yaki space yakuza are somewhat more organized than the pirates, owning a massive and fairly advanced shipyard, allowing them to field custom-made capital ships.
    • Beginning with X3: Reunion, the player can effectively become one after acquiring the Player Headquarters, which allows them to reverse engineer and build ships, allowing almost total autonomy from the major factions.
    • In the Litcube's Universe Game Mod for X3: Albion Prelude, the Phanon Corporation uses a number of shell companies to make money. They start out with a carrier and a few dozen fighters, plus a small amount of universe Space Trucker traders, and will steadily grow in power by trading and starting up new factories. The Phanon Corporation is designed to behave like the player, and will oppose the player. Defeat Phanon's current shell company, and they will come back a few hours later with a new shell company with even more venture capital.
    • The major Mega Corps all purchase capital ships for protecting their headquarters. The Optimized Technology And Shielding corporation designs their own bespoke attack vessels and owns a custom shipyard. In X: Rebirth, the Plutarch Mining Corporation sheds the NGO part and seizes control of Albion in a coup during the chaos of the Portal Network collapse.
  • Tekken: The Mishima Zaibatsu originally started as a mere weapons firm, but under Heihachi and later leaders, it's grown to include its own personal army, a Kill Sat, highly advanced battle robots, and a private school. By the time of Tekken 6, the Zaibatsu has begun invading other countries and seizing their resources (which include oil fields and space colonies, according to Jin's story in said game), which they proceeded to use to declare World War 3 and secede from national control entirely, finally abandoning this trope.
    • Their only significant opposition, G Corp, also counts, though they have access to far less resources than their rivals and struggled to gain any ground in the war, as they'd been focused exclusively in genetic research prior to Kazuya taking control and creating a brand-new military division. But even then, they still managed to challenge the Zaibatsu for control of the world where actual countries had failed.
  • Treasures of the Deep's Simon Black. At first, he seems like a pretty run-of-the-mill arms dealer/black marketeer. But as the game progresses, he manages to reveal that he has resources that are outside the bounds of all reason. Along the way, you discover he has built nuclear reactors in the Great Barrier Reef, shot down a space shuttle in orbit and sent a heavily armed recovery team to destroy it before the U.S Navy could recover it. What takes the cake are the final two missions. Simon's military capabilities are such that he can take on a U.S Navy Carrier Battlegroup and has a Seawolf-class attack sub, which in all likelihood his organization built itself.
  • It's unclear what its exact role is, but this is a possible explanation for the Pokémon League. Since there are regions without Pokémon Leagues (Orre, the Orange Islands in the anime, Alola), there's strong evidence to suggest that it may not be their equivalent to a world government, but it definitely has some sort of high influence over the Pokémon world. In some cases, like Unova, the Pokémon League directly exhibits a clear level of control over the region, with Gym Leaders being some of the most powerful members of their communities, and the Elite Four and Champion seemingly serving as watchmen over the region as a whole.
  • The Consortium from Act of War is basically this. Lots of money and lots of fancy weapons to wage war against America and give players an excuse to blow stuff up.
  • The Henry Stickmin Series:
    • The Toppat Clan. As if having a gigantic airship that is only one division isn't enough, they are rich enough to build an entire orbital station and get a launch site, and set it up so nicely the Government can attack only an hour before the launch, and even then, the Toppat Leader speeds up the process to five minutes. And if they do launch their orbital station, they are unstopabble. Said orbital station makes the ISS look like garbage.
    • The Center for Chaos Containment. The CCC owns a lot of nukes, a gigantic mecha, are aware of the entire multiverse and have weapons powerful enough to stop time itself.
  • Warframe: The Corpus are a collection of trade guilds, MegaCorps, and merchant princes with enough military might to stalemate the Grineer. Individual Corpus CEOs are in charge of entire planets (or at least Corpus operations on that planet). Unfortunately, they're no friends of yours either.
  • The Carrington Institute from Perfect Dark, an R&D company that manufactures weapons and develops new alien technologies, has its own soldiers and carries out Corporate Warfare with its rival, dataDyne, is one of the few non-villainous examples of this trope.
  • The Space Pirates in Sins of a Solar Empire, though they start off as minor irritants, can eventually grow to deploy armadas large enough to hold players' forces at bay while killing off whole planetary populations.
  • In Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, the Universal Petroleum Corporation and guerrilla People's Liberation Army of Venezuela are both able to deploy enormous armies while neither of them are non-government entities. Their armies include tanks, armored personnel carriers, helicopters, and a number of fixed-wing aircraft able to drop airstrikes for you, and they're both more than willing to sell you all of the above. UP has massive oil revenues (they own all the oil rigs in Venezuela) used to support their troops, who are all part of an American PMC called Tactical Solutions, while the PLAV's troops are supplied by both a massive swing of counter-revolutionary reaction to Ramon Solano's takeover of the country, and many of their weapons and supplies are given to them covertly by China. There's also the Jamacian pirates, who don't have quite as much weaponry but do have access to enough black-market firepower that they've become firmly entrenched in the northern islands and none of the military forces in the region have been able to dislodge them.
  • The Grey Wardens of the Dragon Age setting are this in spades. An elite military organization with thousands of members in every country across the continent, they are the only ones willing and indeed able to protect the world from the darkspawn, near-mindless creatures whose only purpose is to destroy all life. Consequently, they command a great deal of respect from the people, and are given a lot of leeway when it comes to things like the law. The Wardens do what they must.
    • As a note, however, the Wardens are typically not capable of going toe to toe with large national governments. While it would be reasonable to expect them to be capable of slowly conquering the Free Marches city state by city state, their major strength when projecting military force is that the majority of Wardens end up collecting a large amount of favours within a few years, to say nothing of various treaties signed by nations and other NGOs. Wardens are powerful, but they cannot spread their power over a large area.
    • The Inquisition in Dragon Age: Inquisition eventually becomes this over the course of the game. The Inquisitor can have mixed feelings about their newfound power and responsibility. The Trespasser DLC then shows that both Ferelden and Orlais were unhappy with the Inquisition hoarding that much power without supervision and thus demanded it to be disbanded or significantly downsized.
  • Borderlands:
    • Borderlands: Before the events of the game, the planet Pandora was largely owned by the Dahl Corporation. They were for all intents and purposes the government; they brought in workers and tried to "tame" the planet. But when they gave up, they just abandoned all their people. During the game itself, there is no government whatsoever until the Atlas Corporation shows up as an invading force. The DLC shows that they are trying to create some sort of government, but it's hampered both by their own cartoonish villainy and Pandora just being so terrible. By later games, Atlas has largely collapsed because they stretched too far.
    • Borderlands 2: The Hyperion Corporation has taken the role. It is the biggest and wealthiest business in the galaxy, and gained even more power due to taking advantage of the events of the first game. Hyperion's CEO Handsome Jack bought the entire planet, and he is hell-bent on turning it into his perfect paradise, no matter how many people he has to kill along the way with his corporate army of robots and human soldiers. He also wants to revive an ancient alien warrior so he can use it to take over everything. Part of the reason he was able to do this is because for the most part there is no centralized government on the planet to oppose him, just a scattered collection of small settlements. The Crimson Raiders, an organization made up of the remnants of Atlas and Pandoran citizens and led by the Vault Hunters who defeated Atlas last time, are the closest thing to a legitimate government left.
    • According to some backstory revealed in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, one of the co-founders of Hyperion took part in "The Last Corporate War" that led to the collapse of the central government of the six galaxies and becoming essentially political factions in their own right. Armed conflicts between the corporations remain common, and they are all mentioned or shown to have massive armies.
    • Borderlands 3: Several corporations show up. Atlas has been revived and is the government of Promethea, but is much less evil this time around. Playable character Moze was a member of the Vladof Corporation's elite Ursa Corp, though Vladof itself doesn't show up besides their guns. Jakobs shows up as well, in complete control of the planet Eden-6, but it's mentioned that they stayed out of the Corporate War, and they mostly make do with mercenaries instead of a standing army. Maliwan takes the role of the evil corporation, invading multiple planets with ridiculously Sociopathic Soldiers and trying to "merge" with (read: conquer) Atlas. Apparently Maliwan was pretty tame for a corporation for a long time, but shortly before the events of the game one of the heirs, Katagawa Jr., decided that they weren't expanding enough, so he killed all his siblings and started his conquests.
  • In Civilization: Beyond Earth, the American Reclamation Corporation is the Mega-Corp and is sending out expeditions to colonize other planets; the rival playable factions are all supranational blocs.
  • The Harway family in Fate/EXTRA controls 30% of the world's real estate, 60% of its wealth, and owns their own private army. Leo casually says that his family essentially has Take Over the World as their endgame, though in a more Utopia Justifies the Means way.
  • In Splinter Cell Blacklist, the Engineers are a powerful terrorist group with great infiltration in the United States and sufficiently skilled personnel to deal a Curb-Stomp Battle to Delta Force.
  • In From the Depths, all of the factions besides the Steel Striders planetary government and the Scarlet Dawn alien invasion remnant are technically NGOs or at least not recognizable as governments; the Onyx Watch is a breakaway merchant navy, the Lightning Hoods are a conglomerate of corporations, and so on. The player is one robot bent on taking all eight factions down — with the help of a fleet of automated player-designed ships, of course
  • In Metroid, the Space Pirates wield enough military, scientific, and financial power to pose a serious threat to the Galactic Federation. How well they fit this trope is debatable given their secrecy, as they may be an actual government in the areas they control. The so-called Pirate Homeworld from Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, for instance, is depicted as a City Planet.
  • The gigacorps in Evolve serve as this. Through economic manipulation, they essentially run the Far Arm through corporate feudalism. This grants them access to the rich resources of the region, allowing them to rival Hub in power.
  • EVE Online has player corporations, which can form alliances, which then form coalitions and even super-coalitions. In the lawless area of nullsec, the law comes from whoever can bring in the largest fleet or holds the stations.The largest coalitions hold as much area as one of the empires, but much richer in resources.
  • The Future Foundation from Danganronpa is described as the spearhead against the Ultimate Despair after various governments collapsed or massacred. As the alumni of Hope's Peak Academy, their branch leaders are people who stood on the highest of humanity's hierarchy, has resource and manpower to create armies complete with their ordinances, and still has the remaining resource to bring the world back to its feet after the Tragedy.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight:
    • In one city alone, Batman has several bases with weapons and state-of-the-art computers, a multi-utility tank with weapons capabilities, a private plane that provides supplies anywhere in the city and is pretty much given carte blanche by the GCPD. At one point, Aaron Cash is bemused at Batman commandeering a police workstation so that Oracle can work for him in the GCPD, considering that Batman's been giving them orders all night, especially after Gordon left.
      Aaron Cash: Guess we all work for you now? What am I saying, of course we do.
    • One of the Arkham Knight's militia notes how overpowered Batman's arsenal and technology really is:
      Militia: If our gear's top-of-the-line then what's the Bat's? Over the line? On-top-of-the-line? Is that even a thing?
    • The Arkham Knight's personal militia is no slouch in this department either, having such things as unmanned tanks, roadblocks, mines, flying drones, anti-aircraft weaponry, and being big and powerful enough to effortlessly take over all of Gotham City by themselves. Early in the game, some mooks lampshade it, declaring that the Knight would have to be richer than even Bruce Wayne to be able to amass such a massive army. Regarding that at least, the money actually isn't his, but a collective pot that various super-villains (Lex Luthor is implied to be one of them) funded with their money (leaving most broke in the process). By the end of the game the militia's forces and leaders have been arrested, and all their drones destroyed, so they no longer qualify.
  • In Ketsui, EVAC Industry has a massive foothold on the weapons industry, selling weapons to various countries' militaries to keep World War III going in order to line their pockets, and even managing to own cities and a private military.
  • The Orochi Group of The Secret World. On top of possessing a daughter corporation in just about every field with branches on just about every country in the globe, the group also possesses enough political influence to hold significant sway in the US senate and direct the course of elections throughout the world, enough resources to run multiple high-cost experiments from New England to Transylvania, and even the clout to run its own military - one that included thousands of highly-trained soldiers, a battalion or two of robotic drone warriors, a unit of tanks, and a city-sized manufactory hidden under their headquarters. Plus, given the amount of leeway they have in Kaidan district, it's possible that they're even considered a substitute for local government.
  • Zigzagged in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. The Church of Seiros is the primary religious center of all of Fódlan and holds great influence over the continent; it monopolizes the education of all three nations, its military arm consists of the most elite soldiers on the continent, it has the authority to deploy troops to said nations and execute war criminals, and there's a serious argument to be made that its archbishop is a shadow dictator in all but name, especially since said archbishop is secretly a millennia-old dragon who has been deliberately keeping herself in a position of power ever since the church's founding. However, when the Adrestian Empire declares war on it at the end of the first half of the game, it proves unable to overcome the Empire's territorial and numerical advantages; the Church is forced to either resort to guerilla tactics (Silver Snow) or use Faerghus (Azure Moon and Crimson Flower) or Leicester (Verdant Wind) as its beatstick.
  • Downplayed in the Yakuza games. The biggest Yakuza groups like the Tojo Clan or Omi Alliance have tens of thousands of soldiers - the Real Life largest, Yamaguchi-gumi, "only" has thousands - the 10 billion Yen at stake in Yakuza is as much as what the Japanese government gave Morocco as aid the year the game was set, and the Yomei Alliance that both the Tojo and Omi are wary of outright have as its Dark Secret an abandoned old battleship, but they aren't exactly being a shadow government or otherwise calling the shots in Japan.
  • In Super Robot Wars 30, Excellent Incorporated ends up supplementing Anaheim as the big Mega-Corp-turned-this trope. In the past, when the Earth Federation was stronger, they couldn't touch the group, but in the present with both the Federation and Anaheim in a tailspin due to the opening of Laplace's Box, their power is even greater, working with criminals such as Doktor Gauss and BioNet without being touched.

  • Hereti-Corp from Sluggy Freelance. Even if you take away all their Mad Scientist gadgets, they were still able to send hundreds of heavily armed soldiers to capture Oasis.
  • The Wolhaiksong from Tower of God can rival Jahad's government in strength and influence, especially since two of the strongest active residents, Urek Mazino and Baek Ryun are its founders and leaders, but they are on good terms with both the government as well as the terrorist group F.U.G.
  • Ecosystems Unlimited is the major player in Freefall, with a force of 450 million robots Terraforming the planet Jean and running its colony, executive power and security clearance on par with the highest military and civil authorities, and a CFO with huge discretionary power to make sure that the colony can't go independent until its loans are paid off.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation, an international secret society that hides paranormal/supernatural phenomena from the whole world, is an absurdly powerful organization that operates beyond any national government. They have nearly limitless resources, including a fully-equipped paramilitary force, several trillion dollars' worth of assets including heavily-secured facilities, access to magical (and otherwise) artifacts allowing them control over time and space, the ability to essentially bend the world's governments to their ends, and even their own ship prefix. Considering they're responsible for securing and studying thousands upon thousands of anomalous artifacts and eldritch entities, many of which can easily destroy the world, trying to stop them would be a bad idea; save for some rival Groups of Interestnote , no one opposes the Foundation.
  • "The Syndicate" in the Whateley Universe. It has an army of mooks, an elite cadre of trained killers, robot soldiers, cyborg warriors, dropships, you name it.
  • The Watchtower Conglomerate from Outliers. They don't have armies and gunships, but being the only legal way to become a superhero due to some shady law finagling more than makes up for it.

    Western Animation 
  • G.I. Joe: Cobra Industries in G.I. Joe: Renegades is a major military contractor and has numerous research and development facilities that the Joes need to break into. One of their subsidiaries is a Wal-Mart expy.
  • In Metalocalypse, Dethklok has a fleet of helicopters the size of jumbo jets, a bus that easily dwarfs small apartment buildings, an army of fanatically loyal roadies called the Kloketeers who have the authority to use lethal force anywhere in the world, Mordhaus (Which means "murder house" in German) which is shown being held aloft in the third season by a massive bank of rocket boosters that are active 24/7/365, and in the season two finale perform a concert in a capsule launched by a multistage rocket very similar to the ones used in the Apollo Program. The absurdity of this doesn't go unnoticed, as the band is described as the world's seventh-largest economy.
  • In Justice League, Amanda Waller outright states that the Justice League is easily the most powerful force on the planet. In an alternate universe, they took over the world after the death of their Flash. And in that alternate universe they only had six members. In the main DCAU universe, they'd expanded to include pretty much every superhero on Earth, and had an orbital Kill Sat in their possession.
    Batman: Whatever you think you're doing, if you present a threat to the world, the Justice League will take you down.
    Waller: If we present a threat? You've got a spaceship floating over our heads with a laser weapon pointing down. In another dimension, seven of you overthrew the government and assassinated the President! We're the good guys, protecting our country from a very real threat: you.
  • In one episode of Gargoyles, Xanatos is called on for referring to an attack on his home an "invasion", since he's a private citizen, not a country. He replies that he's head of a major multinational corporation, and has more money and resources than many countries.
    • Xanatos is a bottom-tier member of the Illuminati, whose power and influence extends to organized crime and the American government.
  • In The Legend of Korra, the Equalists are a pretty textbook example of one of these. By season's end, they've built a large enough military force to not only completely take over Republic City within a day, but also to single-handedly fight off the United Forces' subsequent counterattack with minimal effort. They're able to field airships, motorcycles, armoured cars, Mini-Mecha, and even an entire air force, and have huge hidden factories and airfields to manufacture, store, and maintain them all.
    • Which is pretty much due to Future Industries being an N.G.O. Superpower in and of itself... And the C.E.O., Hiroshi Sato, being an Equalist himself.

    Real Life 
  • Al Qaeda, and powerful terrorist groups in general, are essentially these. They generally receive their funding and equipment via organized crime or foreign governments, and wield significant political power in certain areas of the world (in some cases, more than the actual local government). A growing school of thought amongst some political scientists and sociologists is that, due to globalization and the imbalance of power and technology between the first and third worlds, these kind of powerful, non-state entities can be expected to become increasingly more prevalent as the 21st century goes on.
  • The Lebanese political party and terrorist group Hezbollah holds the top spot today, after the below-mentioned Islamic State's brief run was ended. To quote the Wikipedia page: "Hezbollah has the armed strength of a medium-sized army. Hezbollah is generally considered the most powerful non-state actor in the world, and to be stronger than the Lebanese Army." They have an internal economy worth over a billion dollars, a global network that has enabled them to launch terrorist attacks everywhere from Israel to Argentina, and an estimated 60,000 fighters who are considered superbly trained and armed by Middle Eastern standards. They have de facto control over large portions of Lebanon and a frightening amount of military power that, partly due to competence compared to the competitions, exceeds that of several actual Arab states. They get considerable funding from Iran, but also make money off of the drug trade, extortion rackets, and donations from sympathetic Lebanese businesses and persons.
    • To wit, Hezbollah was able to effectively defeat Israel in the South Lebanon War, and again in the 2006 Lebanon War. Most recently Hezbollah has become a major player in the Syrian Civil War, where they've occupied swathes of Syrian territory and acted as shock troops for Assad's government and their Iranian allies.
  • The Islamic State was at one time the most powerful NGO on Earth, being less non-governmental and more an unrecognized State (hence the name). Controlling territory around the world, but primarily centered on the "main" branch in eastern Syria and western Iraq, the organization was an unrecognized proto-state which at its peak had over a hundred thousand soldiers (complete with hundreds of tanks), 8 million citizens, and an area of land the size of Romania under their control. They had their own currency, police forces, internal multi-billion dollar economy (primarily sustained through its tax base and its captured oil fields, plus of course the drug trade), civil services, all the hallmarks of a primitive nation-state, and the military power to not only openly contest the governments of Iraq and Syria during their respective civil wars, but inflict embarrassing defeats repeatedly on both the Iraqi Security Forces and Syrian Arab Army even when the latter two were supported heavily by foreign actors. It took large foreign intervention (primarily by the United States, but dozens of other countries got involved, most notably Iran, Russia, Turkey, France, and Britain) to stamp them out and keep them from conquering even more territory and possibly causing the collapse of at least Syria's government. By the end of 2017 their status as an NGO capable of going toe-to-toe with its neighbors is largely a thing of the past, although it continues to exist as a global Islamist insurgency organization and as of late 2020, IS-affiliated groups have become a major problem for the governments of Central Africa, including the takeover of the major port town of Mocimboa da Praia in Mozambique.
    • Note that the Islamic State's propaganda campaigns and identity as a franchise also gave it global influence. The large and notorious Nigerian insurgent group Boko Haram declared themselves an ally of ISIL, and ISIL affiliates controlling territory popped up in Libya, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Yemen. Attacks by Islamic State operatives, either radicalized 'lone wolves' or trained agents straight from the Levant, also occurred all across Europe (most notably in Turkish Thrace and France), killing several hundred people, and tens of thousands of Sunni Muslims from around the world (but predominantly the Middle East/North Africa region) made the trek to Iraq/Syria to join them, including former high-ranking military officers such as Tajik Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov. It got to the point that Iraq's Prime Minister declared the "War on ISIL" to be equivalent to a third world war due to its reach, though just about everyone else called him out for exaggerating there.
  • The British East India Company once effectively ruled the entirety of the Indian sub-continent, Maharajas and princes surrendered their realms before its board of directors, it had armies and fleets in its name to "Protect the outposts of the Empire".
    • Its role in the Opium Wars (making the British Empire beat down on China so it could peddle opium there at their leisure) also lend it major supervillain cred.
    • Ultimately, the East India Company is a good deconstruction of the trope. While they managed to set up shop and continue for a long time, the corporation depended on alliances with local powers and client states. When they started annexing and neutralizing these client states, they had to draw soldiers from the ranks of their armies. Their Greed for acquiring territory via the plainly robber baron law of the "Doctrine of Lapse" pissed off its own supporters and ultimately sparked the 1857 Mutiny. Their incompetence was made clear to the Parliament in the wake of this crisis and the British Government stepped in and sent them back to England, administering India fully until its Independence.
    • The British Empire had several other similar "trading companies" who fit the bill, too. Take, for example, the British South Africa Company, which basically went to war with the neighboring Transvaal, with admittedly disastrous (for them) results. A major executive in the company was Cecil Rhodes, also noted for owning the De Beers company, whose monopoly on diamond mining made them an example in themselves (even today they're estimated to control about 35% of the diamond trade).
    • Several other countries had these too, with roughly the same freedoms to exercise power. During the 17th century, the British company regularly got its ass kicked by the Dutch, and the actions of that company were such that the idea of locating the International Criminal Court in The Hague would have seemed ludicrous.
  • Let's discuss "that company" which kicked the Right Honourable East India Company in the derrière on a regular basis when it was a relatively tiny, idea-pinching start-up some more. De Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (aka "the VOC" aka "the Dutch East India Company") not only invented modern corporate branding and serial rebranding as we currently know it (see that snazzy "VOC" logo they plastered on just about everything, the variants of which are handy for trade route mapping and dating purposes) out of suitably secularised and Dutchified Jesuit principles (definitely not Iberian Catholic ideas — just business ideas for efficient business people). They, uh... also industrialised slavery in ways that previous slave traders and owners had never dreamed of in their push for early, cheap mass-market appeal — which incidentally also paved the way for many, many of the bad ideas when it came to the unethical practice of colonisation and the deliberate social building of inequality around the globe as it rolled out. Also, you might have heard of the C15th-C17th Spice Wars that kind of got spaced-up and turned into a series of books, yes? This is these guys: casually stomping all over the English, Portuguese, Khoekhoe, Indian, Indonesian, Malagasy, Chinese and Japanese concerns. Until they both overextended themselves and ignored their homebase's internal and international mistakes until everything imploded on them. Spectacularly. On the plus-side: they funded gorgeous architecture and art millions still enjoy today. As well as broke ground in modern accountancy practices and organising financial principles that our global economy still depends on (despite *cough*early teething difficulties*cough*).
  • The modern Russian East Siberia and Far East Development Corporation, was said to be the modern East India Company. Then the project was scrapped and replaced with a government ministry.
  • The Hanseatic League is perhaps one of the earliest examples. An alliance of merchant guilds that joined together for greater profit dominated the Baltic Sea and the North Sea for a few centuries. Although they were a loose and ill-defined group, they managed to force a lot of local rulers to grant them tax and toll exemptions for their trading posts and home cities. Major achievements include forcing the King of England to allow them to build an outpost in London and declaring war on Denmark.
    • Within the Holy Roman Empire, which was a confederation of several electors, dukes, and dozens of lesser princes that were united by their allegiance to the emperor, many wealthy cities were autonomous territories that did not have any lord and bowed only to the emperor himself. The cities of Hamburg, Bremen, Lübeck, and Cologne were governed by a council of merchants, which in reality meant by the Hanseatic League. For a time, Lübeck and Cologne were the largest cities of the entire empire and even today the modern federal states of Hamburg and Bremen are officially named "Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg" and "Free Hanseatic City of Bremen", even though the organization has ceased to exist over 300 years ago.
  • Several modern companies are larger than small nation states [1].
  • Google. They are our primary source of online information, can control our web browsers, and now our phones; Google Electric and Google Space do not seem entirely implausible. The company went (verbally) toe-to-toe with the Chinese government in 2010 and fought it to a draw, pretty much deciding that China - the world's most populous country and thus one of their largest potential markets - wasn't worth it.
    • Not to mention that they've sued... the USA.
    • Google Space might not be that far off, for they are at least influencing it: Google Lunar X-Prize.
    • One of its recent acquisitions is Boston Dynamics, a company that designs military robots. If that doesn't make Google look like Omni Consumer Products, we don't know what will.
  • The International Red Cross and Red Crescent is a peaceful example. Members displaying their symbols are protected under international law and the Geneva Conventions, and it has resources and personnel rivaling just about any nation.
  • The old United Fruit Company. When they came calling, you paid up your protection money and did as they ordered, or else...
  • The Roman Catholic Church influences the religious - and sometimes even political - beliefs of people all over the world and its leader also runs a tiny country.
    • For centuries it was more powerful than any government in Europe. Starting at around 1050, kings and emperors needed their permission to take the throne, and excommunication would have all your neighbors attacking you along with a good chunk of your nobles rebelling. Serfs often paid as much in tithe to the church as to their lord and sometimes the lord was the church.
    • A huge part of the early history of the Church was the power struggle (sometimes an outright Cold War) between the Holy Roman Emperor (later the King of France too) and the Pope. The conflict basically boiled down to: the Pope can offer me prestige, but the Emperor can offer me land, allegiance, and money. Of course, given that France and the HRE were essentially the superpowers of the time, whilst the Papal States were anarchic, shockingly-run, and economically backwards, the temporal power of the Pope was severely curtailed, especially by the time the House of Hohenstaufen were done with him.
    • Complicating matters further was the fact that various monarchies would attempt to install a Pope that would be friendly to their nation, eventually leading to the Papal Schism, a 40-year period in which there were two Popes at once, with a third coming into power near the end.
  • The Knights Templar were one of the most powerful organizations in Crusades-era Europe and the Middle East. They were the best Christian military force during the Crusades and established a financial empire that stretched across the Christian world. They were, in theory, exempt from any law in Christian land, which was everywhere they operated and answered only to the Pope himself. They invented one of the earliest forms of modern banking. They had entire fleets of ships, built numerous fortresses in the Middle East and Europe and, for a year, owned the whole of the island of Cyprus (they sold it because it was too much of a pain to run). However, after the Crusades, their influence waned and this came back to bite them in the ass. King Philip IV of France decided to take advantage of this by having their leaders tortured into confessing to heresy and burnt at the stake. Despite the heresy accusations, it was really so Philip could avoid having to pay a gigantic debt owed to the Templars. They were then arrested and had their assets seized. The sheer power and size of the organization has led a few to suggest they still survive as a secret society to this day. These theories are supposedly supported by the fact that Philip apparently found the Templars' treasure vaults empty, leading to speculation that the the Templars took it elsewhere beforehand. One popular - if unlikely - theory is that the surviving Templars helped Switzerland (conveniently located just outside of France) achieve independence, and went on to found the famously secretive Swiss banking system.
    • The Templars, despite being the most famous of the Military Orders, were arguably still in the nursery compared to the other two of the biggest Orders (there were a lot of them): the Knights Hospitaller a.k.a. the Order of St. John a.k.a. St John's Ambulance (yes, they're still around, but long demilitarised), and the Knights Teutonic - particularly after they grudgingly incorporated the Livonian Brothers of the Sword. Both Orders dabbled in the same kind of international banking as the Templars, but were more heavily focused on gaining and holding land. All the Orders had lands in the Middle East and in Spain, on the frontiers of Christendom (monarchs, particularly in the Middle East, tended to have a shortage of professional troops, so subcontracted the problematic bits of border defence to the various Orders), but both the Hospitallers and Teutons sought a state of their own.
      • The Hospitallers eventually conquered the island of Rhodes in 1310, and after they received many of the Templars' holdings, developed an Empire divided into 8 'Langues' (tongues) spread across Western and Central Europe, and held Rhodes through multiple sieges in which they were ridiculously outnumbered, spending most of their spare time as a major naval power in the Mediterranean, harassing the Ottoman navy and Barbary Corsairs, until the Ottomans finally forced them to leave after a six month siege in 1522 - and even then, they were allowed to withdraw to Sicily. Then, Charles V gave them Malta, Gozo, and Tripoli for a very nominal fee of a single Maltese falcon a year, and they resumed their pirate hunting, and hunting of Muslim shipping, which made them a tidy profit - they also tended to subcontract themselves to the French navy, and their vows rather slipped. They stayed on Malta until Napoleon turfed them off in 1798, and the residents of Malta firmly refused an offer to return to the Knights' rule after the Napoleonic Wars, instead opting to become part of the British Empire (considering how the Knights treated them, and how they were prone to treating the young women of the island, this is hardly surprising). Today, they are considered an micro-state with permanent observant status in the UN, have their own monarch and are recognized as an nation by several countries (most of them Catholic majority), but their physical possessions are only two buildings in Rome and a fort borrowed from Malta.
      • The Knights Teutonic started out as a specifically German Order, which migrated to Hungary in the 13th century to administer the 'Saxon March', full of Germans who the Hungarian King had encouraged to settle there, before being turfed out by said King a few years later. It is unclear whether they were trying to secede and the King was responding, or whether the King had only intended to use them to pacify difficult lands and then boot them out afterwards, or both, but that was the way it turned out. They went to Prussia in Northern Germany, seeking to expand Christendom, German Christendom, eastwards, no matter what the pagan Prusai and Lithuanians and, indeed, Russians, had to say about it - and if you're getting a familiar feeling, then don't be surprised. The Nazis and the Soviets both used the Knights extensively in their propaganda, the former championing them as early advocates of lebensraum, the latter as savage fascist German aggressors, immortalised by Alexander Nevsky in The Battle on the Ice. In any case, when founding the Ordenstaat ('State of the Holy Order') they took much greater care to establish their independence, and steadily expanded eastwards, taking control of the Baltic amber trade (among many other things), absorbing other Orders such as the Brothers of the Sword (whose treatment of pagans made even the Knights, no strangers to brutality, blanch), and becoming a major power in Northern Europe. When the Crusades started dying down, they responded by turning Crusading into a package tour, allowing young noblemen to come, enjoy the atmosphere, slaughter a few possible pagans, and go home able to claim they'd gone on Crusade. And when the Reformation came round, the Grandmaster of the time decided to become a Protestant and secularised the Ordenstaat (or the Prussian bits of it, at least), and became Duke of Prussia. The rest of the Order continued, the Grandmaster being accorded the rank of a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, taking Protestant and Lutheran adherents, sticking around as a military force until 1805 (and unofficially until 1810, when, again, Napoleon dissolved their territories).
  • Serco, the Biggest Company You've Never Heard of is in control of state schools, prisons and air traffic worldwide. They're also responsible for nuclear weapons in the UK along with other military contracts.
  • The Hudson's Bay Company, in the 1600s and 1700s, effectively ruled a large part of the modern-day Canadian landmass. Today, it exists as a major public listed retail company with stores under various brands in Canada and the US.
  • The Mafia - its income is supposed to be over 100 billion US dollars/year.
    • The Mafiya, especially in the early 90's after the l fall of Communism. There was a time when entire nations were armed by the black market weapons deals that Russian criminals made with Russian military suppliers. One U.S Federal operation exposed a Miami-based Mafia boss named Animal and his attempts to purchase a nuclear submarine for drug-running purposes. Animal reported that the man selling it to him asked "do you want that with, or without missiles?" Animal thought he was joking, but he was evidently dead serious.
    • The power of the Mafia was even larger during the Prohibition era. With the outlawing of alcohol came one of the most lucrative and profitable illegal trades in history, as mafia bosses like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano imported premium alcohols on the cheap and sold for immense profits or sold local-brewed liquors in addition to their already-extensive drug rings. Couple this with the fact that the United States was undergoing an economic boom following the end of World War I, and you've got a perfect storm wherein the private armies of the country's biggest mafia bosses were numerous and well-equipped enough to be able to take on the might of the United States Army (granted, this US army was heavily cutback following WWI).
    • In modern times however, federal agencies have largely crippled the Italian Mafia through RICO statutes in the 70s-80s. They did regain a little strength after 9/11 when the feds were distracted elsewhere, but they're still a shadow of their mid-20th century heyday when they controlled entire cities.
  • This list attempts to track and rank the 175 biggest "economic entities" in the world as measured by GDP and total revenue. According to that, in 2010, the biggest NGO was Wal-Mart. It's 24th in the list, behind all the most powerful countries in the world, but ahead of Norway, Venezuela, and many more countries you've probably heard of. More entities on that list are corporations than are countries, and not every country in the world made the list. In fact, there are colleges out there (Harvard is among them) whose annual budget is greater than the GDP of some small countries.
    • The list was updated in 2011. Not much changed.
  • Pick any of the great statesmen of the later Roman Republic (Julius Caesar, Pompey, Crassus, Augustus, etc.). Although they were formally assigned military command by the government, their real power came from personally raised armies of loyal troops built out of vast personal fortunes. It's not surprising that the situation that allowed this eventually degenerated into civil wars. The ultimate example is Augustus: the entire Roman Empire was a formalization of his own personal authority massively outstripping that of the state to the point that it overtook and became the state.
  • Whilst how "non-governmental" they really are is debatable, the emerging Chinese energy companies Sinopec and PetroChina are considered by some to be the latter day successors to the East India Company and the United Fruit Company.
  • It's commonly claimed that Apple is the world's most valuable company. This is entirely false. It is the most valuable company whose shares you can actually buy, and more generally, the most valuable company that isn't state-owned. It is assumed to be worth around seven hundred billion US dollars. The world's most valuable company, period, laughs at that: Owned by the Saudi royal family, Saudi Aramco is estimated to be worth ten trillion dollars. It has the world's largest oil reserves. It owns the world's largest oilfields. It produces almost four trillion barrels of oil every year, and has a revenue of three hundred and eleven billion dollars. It has diversified its assets into manufacturing, services, defense, and mining. In some ways, Saudi Arabia is not so much a country with an oil company, but an oil company with a country. An 2019 IPO (Initial Public Offering) which saw the Saudi state earn $25.6 billion was seen as a failure since it amounted to a valuation of $1.87 trillion instead of $2 trillion.
  • The Eliot Management Corporation, run by Paul Singer, has managed to successfully sue several nations over payment of sovereign debt. A dispute with Argentina led them to nearly requisition an entire warship. No, seriously.
  • Drug Cartels are still around despite governmental efforts. Cracked has articles on them, but this quote gives a succinct summary of their power.
    The next time you see a movie about a renegade cop going off on his own to take down the cartels single-handedly, Punisher style, keep that in mind. These organizations are formidable enough that entire countries have failed to take them down.
    • The Medellin Cartel led by Pablo Escobar may be the most infamous. During its heyday in the 80-90s, they put a bounty on every police officer in Colombia, assassinated multiple government officials including a presidential candidate, and more. A specialized task force was formed to bring Escobar down, only to have Escobar murder 30 of them in just 15 days. In the end, it was the Los Pepes (a backronym of 'persecuted by Pablo Escobar'), hinted to be receiving support from various groups including the government, who fought fire with fire, launching a campaign of terror against Pablo's supporters and slowly dismantling his cocaine empire. Los Pepes were themselves formed by an NGO, an anti-communist militia formed to fight leftist guerrillas.
    • Mexican drug cartels are today what the Medellin Cartel used to be, in particular the Sinaloa cartel, Los Zetas, and CJNG. They make an estimated $60 billion dollars a year and they can stand toe-to-toe with the Mexican military, in several cases matching them for firepower.
  • The Bank of the Welser family of Ausburg was very widespread throughout the 16th century. They financed entire countries, including the Holy Roman Empire under Charles V (who, just to be clear, was king of more territory than any European monarch who preceded him). At one time they owned and governed Venezuela.
  • The cult Aum Shinrikyo used to have a political wing running as candidates and a huge fortune ($1 billion) accrued from donations and their business units such as hospitals, electronic businesses, selling the drugs they fabricated and restaurants, which they used to fund a bioweapons program (members went to Zaire to get Ebola strains and anthrax was actually manufactured and used), chemical weapons developement, even renting a sheep station in Australia to test the sarin gas they manufactured, with rumors about how they planned to use the uranium deposits on their property to create nuclear weapons; they also attempted to manufacture more mundane weapons. Their targets were some of the most educated persons in Japan, and they managed to infiltrate the Kaiju Defense Force and the police, creating their own private militias and intelligence service, ready to strike against the enemies of the cult and to put in power the parallel government Aum created.
  • In one of those strange turns of history, Pepsi Co was once, for a brief moment, the sixth largest navy in the world: The Soviet Union and Pepsi had a longstanding agreement for the distribution of Pepsi in the USSR, which originally gave Pepsi exclusivity on selling genuine Russian vodka outside the USSR. When production of Pepsi needed to be stepped up in 1989 due to demand, the USSR, having no other drink deals to offer, gave Pepsi seventeen decomissioned submarines, three decomissioned warships and a few oil tankers instead. Perhaps wisely, Pepsi promptly (and as intended by the USSR) sold the warships for scrap and leased out the civilian ships to the shipping industries instead of using this new navy to stage a hostile takeover of Coca Cola.
  • Facebook. 845 million active monthly users at the time of its 2012 IPO - if it were a country, it would have had the third highest population behind only India and China. US$85 billion revenue in 2020, more than some countries' GDP. It banned Australian news websites in 2021 after the Australian government tried to get it to pay for using the news content, causing a loss of over 100,000 referrals, and actually got said government to make concessions in exchange for undoing the ban. There's almost certainly more power it wields.
    • While the exact affect of their power is still being analyzed and debated, research has already shown that Facebook can have significant impacts on elections. In short, that Facebook is able to run targeted ads. This in and of itself is nothing new, however thanks to the amount of data available, Facebook has proven to be particularly effective with certain communities.
    • The exact nature of this affect is still contested, whether Facebook has abused their power to help elect allies to power, or their basic ads software proved to be simply too effective for its good. Since then, they have made some efforts towards patching their reputation accordingly, but it remains a worthwhile lesson regardless on the effectiveness of basic advertisements, and the ability of superpowers to use even basic information to track you.