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One Nation Under Copyright

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"O Buy n Large! Our home and shopping mall!"note 

"Actually, I'm Mayor in name only. The city and everything in it is really run by Shinra, Inc. My only real job is watching over Shinra's documents. Me! The Mayor! A librarian!"
Mayor of Midgar, Final Fantasy VII

A Mega-Corp is often a large, shadowy organization with a power base and structure that rivals even The Government. When you take it one step further, with the Mega Corp actually being the government during their Day of the Jackboot, you get One Nation Under Copyright, or a "corporate state."

Essentially, a corporate state is a government run and organized like a business. At the top is typically a board of executives (more likely than not corrupt in fiction, though perhaps with a few honest ones placed here and there) which makes all the decisions; for the common people, the terms "citizen" and "customer" (or perhaps "employee" is more accurate) are more or less interchangeable. Some may actually have a form of quasi-democratic government, allowing all shareholders a certain number of votes proportional to the number of shares the voter owns (the common citizen is likely defined as someone who owns only a few shares in this case). It's not uncommon for corpocracies in fiction to wield military power too; conflicts between competing corporate states can eventually spill over into Corporate Warfare of truly epic proportions.

One Nation Under Copyright may employ Law Enforcement, Inc., or even own them outright as a subsidiary.

If taken to the extreme by the government owning everything, this raises the question: "What's the difference between these and Dirty Commies?" Some might argue that this is the whole point. This idea—that "business runs government" and "government runs business" are basically the same—is at the heart of many, many populist and/or agrarian movements since at least the 19th century, e.g. G. K. Chesterton's "Distributism".

For when a corporation or other body has all the power and sway of a country without the actual country, see N.G.O. Superpower. See Company Town for a smaller-scale version where a town is owned by a single company.

Subtrope of Privately Owned Society. Very common in the Cyberpunk genre. If the story is set 20 Minutes into the Future, then it more likely than not takes place in either a Divided States of America or Japan. Not to be confused with Disney Owns This Trope, which is specifically about copyrights and trademarks (though the two may overlap). The Banana Republic trope is named after the United Fruit Company's string of puppet nations in South America (see the Real Life folder below), and many fictional examples of that will be mundane (and extremely unpleasant) examples of this trope as well.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Solid Quake Corporation from Deca-Dence has more authority over its employees than most convential governments have over their citizens, including the ability to kill them if they fail to perform up to standards. They also own the entire planet and everything on it, including the oblivious remnants of humanity.
  • Rebuild World: As an After the End Cyberpunk Dystopia, the government in the setting is The Federation of various Mega Corps. There are officially five of them in charge of the Corporate Government at any given time, and it's said that which five those are shifts over time due to shifts in power. Kugamayama City is a Company Town for Sakashita Heavy Industries, who also manage the Fictional Currency aurum. Kugamayama with its Urban Segregation is designed for a Dungeon-Based Economy of reverse-engineering Lost Technology from Neglectful Precursors known as the Old World to whom monsters are actually ancient security systems. The government takes an extremely harsh view on debt (Indentured Servitude is common, and the default punishment for crossing them). They treat slum dwellers as Cannon Fodder and serve them food that's radioactive or Mystery Meat filled with harmful Nanomachines to test if they're safe to sell. They're also frequently engaging in one Government Conspiracy after another, including the frequent False Flag Operation of each Mega-Corp attacking one another.
  • Shangri-La: The Atlas Corporation, post-worldwide carbon tax, has effectively usurped control of Japan from the government by monopolizing carbon. They run the nation through Atlas Tower while forcing the poor people to struggle in the jungles of the ruined Japan, and the Prime Minister is basically a puppet. Ryoko Naruse, the CEO, drops the charade about halfway through when she takes the position of Prime Minister from him with no election, while still keeping her ownership of the company, and the people are powerless to stop the blatant conflict-of-interest.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Buy 'n' Large from WALL•E is one of these. Dollar bills have the B&L logo on them, and the CEO broadcasts messages from the Oval Office. This is merely heavily implied in the movie; the DVD extras confirm it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The world in Overdrawn at the Memory Bank is run by these.
  • In RoboCop, Omni Consumer Products's ultimate goal is to turn the movie's gritty and dystopic Detroit into "Delta City", effectively a city-state version of this trope, complete with people exercising their representative citizenship rights via the purchase of OCP shares.
  • The Trade Federation in Star Wars seems to be a cross between this and The Federation (it even has a representative in the Galactic Senate-Expanded Universe material confirms they in fact "represent" many planetary systems that are dependent on them). It later joins the Confederacy of Independent Systems, an even larger federation of corporate states, the key members being the InterGalactic Banking Clan, the Techno Union, the Commerce Guild, and the Corporate Alliance.
  • The world in Tekken (2010) is divided into eight massive conglomerates.
  • In the future world of Idiocracy, fictitious brand "Brawndo" purchased the FDA and the FCC, and used their position to replace water with their product. If you look closely at the American flag, each of the stars is actually the logo of Carl’s Jr. Also, the red stripes are actually red text reading, “The following companies are proud sponsors of the United States of Uhmerica. Carl’s Jr., Costco, Cavalcade, Flaturin, Tarrlyton, Ronaise, Buttfuckers, Nastea, Bonerax, Brawndo, Acne Insurance.” Possibly, these companies own parts of the U.S. government in the same way that Brawndo owns the FDA and FCC.
  • Space Truckers begins with the Corrupt Corporate Executive Saggs in the middle of negotiations with the World Government to buy out the whole planet. In case the negotiations fall through, he has a backup plan in the form of killer robots to force the planet under his heel. At the end of the film, the protagonists find out that Saggs is now the President of the World after privatizing the government. He's then Hoist by His Own Petard, so we're not sure what happens to Earth after that.
  • Rollerball. The world seems to be divided into city states each of which controls a major corporate area. Houston, the protagonist team's home town is, no big surprise in charge of Energy.
  • In Brazil, Central Services functions both as (and like) a totalitarian government and a corporate monopoly. Due to its bureaucratic and grossly inefficient nature, some viewers don't get this aspect clearly, especially the Misaimed Fandom amongst the American right-wing.
  • The movie Hasta la lluvia (Even the Rain) revolves around a film crew who wanted to film a movie about Christopher Columbus, but since they decided to make the movie in Spanish, they lost the backing of a major American studio, and with the loss of this revenue, they decide to go film most of their movie in Bolivia because it will be cheaper, with the Spanish landing on the beach sequence filmed in a beach somewhere else later on. Unfortunately for the film crew, they decide to make their movie during the water war, a series of civil uprisings that protested the Bolivian government's decision to sell the copyrights to all the country's water to a muti-national. The films' title alludes to the fact that people could not collect water from a river, stream, well, or even the rain because they would have been violating some copyright law.
  • Deleted scenes and the novelization of Alien: Resurrection says that the Weyland Yutani Mega Corp from the previous movies was bought out by Wal Mart.
  • The Girl From Monday: The future US has come to be ruled by a huge corporation called Triple M, which structures everything for maximizing profit and punishes dissent harshly.

  • Vorkosigan Saga: Jackson's Whole is a territorially interlocked group of conglomerates (the top rank of which are called Great Houses), most of which would range from semi-criminal to outright monstrous amongst the rest of the galaxy, each with different specialties.
  • The Space Merchants: The transnational advertising corporation the protagonist works for got their start by incorporating the entire country of India.
  • Snow Crash has the United States being split into thousands of micronations, each one run by a different franchise company. Everything, from roads, to jails, to the Mafia, is now run like McDonald's. Neighborhoods are called burbclaves, a portmanteau of "suburban enclave", and act as autonomous nations with their own laws and currency set by the owning company. An American might encounter dozens of "Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong" neighborhoods scattered about his nearby area just like any other business chain. Of particular note is the Mafia, which now operates out in the open as a legitimate business, complete with marketing slogan ("You've got a friend in the family!") and friendly mascot (the reigning don, Uncle Enzo).
  • In Jennifer Government, not only do corporate states run America, but every citizen takes the last name of their business. The heroine is a government agent; the villain, John Nike, works for Nike, and children take the last names of the corporation that owns their school. One editor writes: "The central point of the novel was that this was where we'd be eventually headed if deregulation continued the way it was going."
  • Robert A. Heinlein:
    • In the novel Podkayne of Mars, the Venus Corporation controlled the entire planet Venus (and ran it like Las Vegas IN SPACE!).
    • In The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, the Golden Rule space habitat is run by the Golden Rule Corporation, which is the law there. The General Manager of the station can pretty much do what he wants there, although he is restrained by being a Villain with Good Publicity and feels he can't just kill someone without a good excuse. Failure to pay your air tax will, however, result in being thrown out the airlock (rumor has it that you are made into ground "pork" instead, though).
    • In Friday, the Shipstone Mega-Corp has grown so powerful in a balkanized world that the heroine starts to think of them as the only effective government.
  • In The Pendragon Adventure, Blok functions like this on Quillan. They own everything, even art.
  • In Catch-22, M&M Enterprises is set up as a way for the mess officer, Milo Minderbinder, to bilk the US Government out of quite a lot of money. He then goes on to make an absolute fortune monopolizing trade in the Mediterranean. Eventually, he has a private army and air force, and is paid quite a lot by the Germans to bomb a US air base. Milo was supposed to be tried as a criminal, but all charges were dropped as soon as the brass saw how much money there was in bombing their own men. But hey, at least everybody owns a share! The film sums it up quite well when Milo hears about the death of a brother officer killed by Milo's raid.
    Milo Minderbinder: Nately died a wealthy man, Yossarian. He had over sixty shares in the syndicate.
    Yossarian: What difference does that make? He's dead.
    Milo Minderbinder: Then his family will get it.
    Yossarian: He didn't have time to have a family.
    Milo Minderbinder: Then his parents will get it.
    Yossarian: They don't need it, they're rich.
    Milo Minderbinder: Then they'll understand.
  • In The Gap Series by Stephen Donaldson, the United Mining Companies control human space on two different levels. There are some habitats, such as ComMine, that they own outright and control the votes of in the Governing Council. Plus, their corporate police force is the only organization capable of protecting power in space, which effectively gives the UMC CEO dictatorial powers over the central government. The entire arc is driven by his chief of police's plan to pull a Heel–Face Turn and get control over the police given back to the Governing Council.
  • The Sullustan home world Sullust became this in the Star Wars Expanded Universe after the Empire was formed. The SoroSuub Corporation employed half the planet and unofficially dominated the government (its CEO also serving as President), before The Empire gave it outright control. However, the Sullustan resistance movement staged a coup to overthrow them, and Sullust became a founding member of the New Republic. Even after this SoroSuub remains nearly on par with the state.
  • Both Beowulf and Mesa in Honor Harrington are run along corporatist lines, which is hardly surprising, as Mesa was settled essentially by a group of rogue Beowulfers. Both are controlled by the board of directors, with votes arranged corresponding to professions, though Mesa muddles the water a bit, being secretly run by the Ancient Conspiracy. Manticore initially was also envisioned in the same way, though it mutated into something else entirely. It's also mentioned that such political arrangements aren't anything unusual in the galaxy.
  • In the Wild Cards series there are brief mentions of a space-faring conglomerate known as "The Network" which is described at one point as "a form of capitalism more rapacious than anything you can imagine". From the mentions, it appears that this is how The Network operates.
  • When the Empire of New Britain Isles is first encountered by the Destroyermen, they quickly find out that Governor-Emperor Gerald McDonald has long been under the thumb of the Honourable New Britain Company, with the company, essentially, running things. Not only is the company run by Corrupt Corporate Executives but the company's CEO equivalent is actually a secret follower of the Holy Dominion's Religion of Evil. This changes quickly after the company reveals its true colors, and the practice of "obligations" (the company's bread and butter) is abolished.
  • The Syndicate Worlds in The Lost Fleet series are run like a corporation. In fact, their command officers are actually called "executives". It gets to the absurdity that, when the "executive" of an obsolete "Syndic" space station is facing an entire Alliance fleet of modern (by necessity) warships, he calmly replies to the offer of surrender by citing a specific regulation that forbids surrender under any circumstances. All John Geary can do is gape at the man's stupidity and unwillingness to see the reality, showing that a good number of Syndic executives are typical bureaucrats. Their war with the Alliance is motivated by their desire to keep their own people in line, as the presence of a democratic nation is a threat to their dictatorial government.
    • Not all Syndic CEOs are bad. Some are honest and good people who care about the people under them. However, none of them are in charge of anything larger than single world. When Geary interrogates a CEO, the executive reveals that he has been Reassigned to Antarctica for daring to file a protest about his company being bought out by a rival (the rival CEO having better connections in the Executive Council).
    • Later volumes also make the point that the Alliance isn't a shining example of a healthy democracy itself after a century of all-out war.
  • Dune is an example of a feudal society where noble titles are derived from ownership of shares in Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles (CHOAM, roughly translated as "The Corporation of Honest Profit Traders"), a Mega-Corp that pretty much runs the Imperium's entire economy.
  • It is implied that the Moon in Dunno on the Moon is one. We never encounter any state official higher than a police chief, instead the very wealthy decide everything on an assembly resembling a stockholders' meeting. Of course, the Moon is a thinly-veiled satire on Western capitalism.
  • The Empire of the Star in the Eldraeverse, having evolved from mergers of private law providers in a previous Privately Owned Society. Becoming a citizen of the Empire requires buying a share in the Empire, though its' charter also prevents a citizen-shareholder from owning more than one share to prevent it from becoming a plutocratic oligarchy. Also, not uncommon in the Associated Worlds at large - most interstellar colonies start out run by a colonial corporation, and many of them never get around to replacing it.
  • In Nathan Lowell's Golden Age of the Solar Clipper universe many planets, known as "company planets", are owned by corporations. They're run much like old company towns, with housing only available to employees and their dependents. Ishmael Wong in the Trader's Tales series was born on a company planet but when his mother (a professor at the company's university) died he was given three months to leave the planet or be deported, so he found a job on a merchant ship.
  • The Han Solo Adventures: The Corporate Sector, where corporations own entire regions of space. In fact the government, the Corporate Sector Authority, is just an umbrella corporation owned by them jointly. They don't like competition from smaller business entities, perhaps unsurprisingly.
  • The galaxy in Spinward Fringe seems to be mostly fall under this. Most of space, at least in the areas the plot focuses on, is dominated by massive interstellar corporations, the larger of which can govern hundreds of planets. Some more traditional governments are encountered as well, but there seems to be little difference in practice.
  • Agent G by C.T. Phipps has this as a downplayed trope with the aftermath of the Eruption. The world's largest corporations are granted nation-state status so they can help rebuild the global economy with its facilities treated like embassies and its workers having dual citizenship. In practice, it's just to increase their power as well as protect them from liability.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Continuum has The North American Union, an oligarchy of the most powerful Mega Corps on the continent, which at some point along the line bailed out the governments of the United States and Canada, taking over management of them.
  • The Blue Sun brand is omnipresent throughout Firefly, appearing on everything from coffee cans to neuroimagers; Word of Joss says that "practically half the government was Blue Sun." They're also hinted to have backed the government's mind-shattering experiments on River; she attacks the logos on their products in two different episodes, and the mysterious blue-gloved agents that pursue her may work for them.
  • According to background materials and the official tie-in CD, the Brakiri in Babylon 5 are an example of this.
  • The Ferengi in Star Trek are a theocratic oligarchy, and while individual Ferengi own their own businesses and a High Priest named the Grand Nagus (himself appointed based on his supreme business acumen) acts as official leader of the Ferengi Alliance, their civilization is effectively run along the lines of a massive corporation. The Ferengi Commerce Authority holds immense power, can depose the Nagus if his decisions are not good for business, can strip individual Ferengi of their wealth and holdings if they act against the Rules of Acquisition (a combined list of better business practices and holy commandments which applies to every Ferengi and is still steadily being added to), and the richer a Ferengi is, the more influential they are in government.
  • In the online background material for Doctor Who, the Pete's World country of Czechoslovenia™ is apparently owned by Cybus Industries, whose website makes a point of trademarking the name.
  • Better Off Ted mentions this.
    Chet: So with the board meeting this week, our former CEO, Arthur Wells, is in town.
    Veronica: Arthur Wells? That man is a legend. Wasn't he behind Veridian acquiring ownership of the African country of Chad, and then renaming it after his nephew Chad?
  • In Killjoys the star system known as The Quad is entirely owned by the Company, the Mega-Corp that runs the system and is its government. Ownership of stock in the company is proportional to the amount of ancestral land one owns in Qresh, the central planet.
  • In Legends of Tomorrow, by the mid-22nd century, the nation-states of old will no longer hold power, their role having been taken by various corporations, the largest of which is the Kasnia Conglomerate, which uses Atom-derived Attack Drones as its police force. It's also mentioned that, at some point, S.T.A.R. Labs takes over the control of Central City, implying it becomes an economic power again, despite the whole "exploding particle accelerator" fiasco.
  • The Consortium in the series Total Recall 2070 is a conglomerate of six multi-national incredibly powerful companies that basically rule over certain colonies (like Mars), and even the government finds hard to keep them in check.
  • In the series Daas Kapital, the Shitzu Tonka corporation runs the entire world. Their motto is "Another day of global peace where nothing much happens. No war, no inflation, no violence, no rainforest. That's a Shitsu Tonka day."
  • Incorporated: By the 2060s, climate change and economic collapse have caused most governments (including the US) to all but collapse, leaving vast areas of their territory controlled by Mega-Corp NGO Superpowers, who act as nations unto themselves.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Eberron setting for Dungeons & Dragons has the Dragonmarked Houses, which are explicitly by treaty not nations, though in effect they amount to a separate set of nations that's not based on territory but on some field of commerce on which each of them holds a virtual monopoly. The treaty forbids house members from holding (traditional) titles of nobility or even owning land, though several of the houses do so in all but name, and high-ranking house members are essentially treated as nobility. In essence, fantasy Mega Corps.
  • In Classic Traveller a number of planets were controlled by corporations. Because of the way Traveller stats were set up, the corporate planets were most likely to be small, low-population planets, more of a company town or trading post than a full-fledged corporate republic.
    • The founder of the Third Imperium was originally CEO of a mercantile corporation, though he was later named Grand Duke of the Sylean Federation, and he used the company's economic might to expand it into the Imperium.
  • Naruni Enterprises in Rifts, who are considered a major political power in the Three Galaxies setting. They have been known to equip entire planets with military gear... then repossess them if they don't pay up on time.
    • Rifts features several of these, where a corporation is the replacement for a local government.
  • In Shadowrun these are incredibly common, as AA- and AAA-rated Megacorps can often become so vital to a small nation's economy that they practically take over the whole thing. Even if nominally controlled by a government, these nations have a majority of their GDP provided by a single corporate entity and thus tend to be all but Puppet States to these corporations.
    • The Pueblo Corporate Council was founded as One Nation Under Copyright. All PCC citizens are awarded one share of non-transferable stock as a birthright, and voting rights are allocated logarithmically, based on how much stock a person holds (two votes for ten shares, three for 100, etc).
    • Aztlan, what used to be Central America and parts of the former U.S., is essentially a subsidiary of the Mega-Corp Aztechnology. While Aztlan is technically its own nation, Aztechnology's rights and duties are written into Aztlan's constitution.
    • The Chinese Canton Confederation and the free city of Hong Kong are both run by Wuxing, inc in a collaboration with the Red Dragon syndicate and their dragon benefactor.
    • The Free City of Berlin, following a few decades as an anarchist commune, was eventually taken over by Saeder-Krupp after a series of hostile takeovers using private armies to eject the anarchists.
  • Most of the Terra Novan population centers in Heavy Gear have conventional governments, but the Paxton Protectorate are an unusual Good Guy version. They lay claim on and defend a majority of Terra Nova's physical territory, the Badlands, although there's not much in the way of people or resources there. The government of the Protectorate is really just the board of the military-industrial Paxton Arms corporation, and they're still a more egalitarian bunch than the polar confederacies.
  • In Fading Suns the Guilds, while they're not quite encyclopedical example of Mega-Corp, rule over several planets and own pieces of land on most of the rest.
    • The game's background mention precise examples in the game-universe's history. The Earth-based First Republic was really a governmental figure-head, with a number of MegaCorps holding the only real power. After the fall of the First Republic, both era known as The Diaspora and to a lesser extent during the Second Republic, some planets were openly owned and operated by corporate entities.
    • The Terradyne setting is named after the first off-planet Mega-Corp, founded to slip through a loophole in the Outer Space Treaty, particularly Articles II and IV: no nation can claim extraterrestrial territory, no national military can operate in space. Good part; a corporation can hold territory and defend it from theft and/or destruction. Bad part; space colonists have no political rights, as they are effectively expatriate citizens - and subject to completely arbitrary taxes and tariffs. Result: Space Cold War - the capitalist Terradyne colonists engaged in economic shenanigans and covert intrigue with an increasingly socialist United Peoples of Earth.
    • The "Stopwatch" Bad Future in GURPS Time Travel ... maybe. Government and industry are so interwound in its One World Order that it's no longer clear whether it's a communist state that nationalised everything or a free-market state where the Mega Corps took over. Basically it's whatever you don't want it to be, and may even change from one to the other as a result of actions in the past. (It's established that all timelines lead inevitably to the "Stopwatch" future or the good guys' "Timepiece" future.)
  • The Corporation RPG features a world run by five mega-corporations.
  • Blue Planet has the Incorporate, corporations who bought "failed states" after a global famine with the consent of the UN to restore governance in those areas. They are run like corporations, but have their own armies, issue their own money and sit on the GEO (UN replacement) council just like nations.
  • Much of the inner solar system in Eclipse Phase is governed by the Planetary Consortium, which is a confederation of the major inner-system corporations. Most of the major city-states and habitats have officially democratic governments, but they're really just puppets of the Consortium.
  • In the Alternity Star*Drive setting, the Stellar Nations Austrin-Ontis Unlimited, Rigonmur Star Consortium, Starmech Collective and Voidcorp are this, and Insight might be as well (it isn't outright stated, but they did begin as a division of Voidcorp [then again, they also hate Voidcorp...]). They vary in corporateness from Voidcorp, whose pursuit of profit leads them into things that are not just unethical and against the Galactic Concord, but also questionably profitable in a long-term perspective, like selling out humanity to the Externals, to Austrin-Ontis Unlimited, who is, for all intents and purposes, a bog-standard republic that just happens to call its citizens 'shareholders' and its president 'CEO'.
  • In the Mystara D&D setting, the Minrothad Guilds are essentially a Mega-Corp, with each individual island constituting a different "division" of the company and the service-guilds operating as corporatized government bureaus.
  • The Guild in Exalted is an aspiring one and in many respects a successful one. While they may not have complete legitimacy, in effect everyone may as well admit they rule the Scavenger Lands.
  • The backstory to Hc Svnt Dracones includes a war between the traditional nation-states and "Corptowns", privately built and owned cities that attracted residents by having fewer laws and better economies than nations. The war went poorly for the governments, until they decided to just nuke every Corptown on Earth and managed to set off one nuke on entirely-corporate Mars, in response someone unleashed a virus that infected Earth's nuclear silos and targeted every square inch of Earth's surface, not stopping the launches for six years. Now, the descendants of humanity on Mars, Venus, and Jupiter's moons all live in Corptowns owned by one of seven Mega Corps, even a few Corpnations.
  • The Trade Federation in Star Realms, which rules Earth and its nearby colonies. The organization itself was a development resulting from corporations supplanting traditional government institutions. In game, the Federation focuses on gaining Trade points and increasing Authority, and less on Combat like the other factions.
  • Mutant Chronicles has Mega-Corp's being the dominant force in solar system, and have replace nations as forms of governance. Each of mega corp controls entire planets save the Luna Earths moon, which maintains independence from them. Mishima controls Mercury, Bauhaus controls Venus, Capitol controls Mars, and Imperial controls the asteroid belt.
  • In Nova Praxis the Coalition is run by six Mega Corps know as the "Houses", with every citizen owing allegiance to one House.
  • In Valence, three of the major powers of the galaxy (including the largest, Genetechnologies) are megacorporations, controlling massive numbers of worlds for the profit of the shareholders.
  • Happened briefly in BattleTech between 3057 and 3081 the Word of Blake, which was a quasi-religious organization that maintained part of the Hyperpulse Generator network used for FTL communication. They drove Comstar, the organization they'd split from, off Terra, then began setting up the Word of Blake Protectorate, a region of space where they controled (directly or indirectly) all the planets. It only ended when they were destroyed at the end of the Word of Blake Jihad, a period of 14 years when they essentially declared war on everyone else.
    • Happened even earlier than that. Although rare in the grand scheme of things, some planets were completely owned and operated by corporate entities. The most major examples of this are Irian and Hesperus II, both of which were legally owned and locally governed by the corporations that were headquartered on each note . In Irian's case, the company was granted direct representation in the Free Worlds League's Parliament because of their governing of the planet, while the CEO of Defiance was the de jure and de facto noble ruler of Hesperus II. It also helps that the only worthwhile thing on Hesperus II is the Defiance factory complex and the population of the world has never topped 500,000, and all that miniscule population are employees of Defiance.
    • Also, this was the apparent de facto state of Terra since ComStar took it over in the 2700s, as the world was governed by the quasi-cult/telecommunications Mega-Corp.
  • Cyberpunk: The NUSA. Maybe. It's complicated. The rump USA that only really controlled the eastern seaboard attempted to nationalize Militech in the aftermath of the Fourth Corporate War, when the corporation was still weak. However, the corporation turned out to be Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth, and managed to insert a large number of people whose primary loyalty was to the corporation in key positions in the US federal government and civil service. The New United States of America is on the rise, but no-one on the outside is quite sure whether it's the elected officials or the Militech Board of Directors calling the shots, or if such a distinction can be meaningfully made in the first place. The fact two high level executives of Militech are named president of the NUSA by 2077, the nationalization happening under the former and with the latter retiring from Militech to replace her after 50 years in office, there's probably no need to.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere features the start of this in motion, with country-sized corporations General Resources Ltd. and Neucom engaging in a global case of Corporate Warfare.
    • Ace Combat Advance, which takes place seven years prior, has practically the entire world of Strangereal become this. Your role is to fight it off as a pilot for one of the few countries that still exist. While you ultimately don't succeed, you are able to wipe General Resources' attack dog army out and prevent them from being the sole corporation in Electrosphere.
  • Star Control II's Druuge of the Persei system take this trope to a ridiculous extent: The Crimson Corporation is not only a government substitute, but owns all the natural resources and inhabitants as well. Druuge who quit (or are fired from) the corporation are instantly found guilty of stealing "company property" (air) and are sentenced to death. Druuge who are no longer useful, cannot work, or are in debt are tossed into the reactors of the nearest power station to be used as fuel. Retirees can breathe at a reduced rate. Oh, and their religion basically amounts to a contract with their god, where they promise worship and conversion in exchange for a relatively static and good way of life and "at least one miracle".
  • Galactic Civilizations: The Korx would sell you their own mothers if they hadn't already sold them to someone else. They are replaced in the third game by the Iridium Corporation, who, while a species-wide business, are much more moral.
  • Civilization: Call to Power has a futuristic form of government called "Corporate Republic". In-game history noted that the gradual collapse of modern governments forced corporations to step in and maintain vital infrastructure and services or risk major losses.
  • In much the same vein, Morgan Industries in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri is supposed to be more or less one of these, but you can't directly make that choice in Social Engineering.
  • The Civilization V expansion Brave New World added Venice as a playable civilisation. They are unique in being unable to build or capture settlers and so can't expand normally, but are able to buy city states instead.
  • In Spore's space stage, depending on how you ended the other stages, you can achive the "trader" philosphy which changes your planet to revolve around captalistic trade. You can encounter other planets with the trader philosphy as well.
  • On the old BBC Micro there was a space-trader game called Elite. This featured some planets that were corporate states.
    • Frontier, the sequel, also has these. They vary from reasonably civilized places to pirate-infested systems which are happy to trade slaves and battlefield weapons to anyone visiting.
  • The Shinra company from Final Fantasy VII. Ostensibly, there is a mayor to the city of Midgar, but his offices are in the company building, and he does not have any real power. His only real job is managing all of Shinra's archived files.
  • In Crusader, the WEC arose from the merger of the economic bodies that themselves took over the running of the various continents from more conventional governments when they toppled or became too weak. interestingly, the WEC actually claims to not be a government, merely a steward for the powers of government, even as it goes about cheerfully tightening its grip on the ways, the means, the sources, and the consumers of production.
  • The Czerka Corporation from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, while functioning like a normal mega-corporation in Republic Space, actually has complete control over at least two known planets, Tatooine and Kashyyyk, in the first game.
    • One of the loading screens says they and other mega-corps police themselves, being too large for the Republic to control. Czerka seems to still be in the Republic's good graces in the second one despite openly dealing arms to both sides.
  • The Caldari State, one of four playable races in EVE Online, is a conglomeration of Mega Corporations. They outright call themselves a corporate state, and the company rivalries are so deep-seated the only thing that really bands them together is the fight to reclaim their homeland.
  • With the possible exception of Armored Core 2 and its successor, Another Age, the world is dominated not by one, but multiple corporate states.
  • In Mass Effect the whole planet of Noveria is a conglomerate of corporations. The planet is exempt from all but the The Citadel's most anti-catastrophic laws. Corruption is rampant and generally ignored as long as it doesn't impede regular business. Also arguably the Volus species which are like the Ferengi but with morals. A variant in the Turians, who are instead of a nation corporation are a nation military, to the point the advancement in military rank is an advancement as a citizen as well (though non-military jobs are not lesser or looked down upon).
    • Interestingly, the volus find the idea of parents "owning" their children to be absurd, which is why they associate by clan rather than family.
  • X-Universe series:
    • The Teladi are a race of anthropomorphic lizard-people with an almost religious devotion toward profit. Their government is called the "Teladi Space Company" and their ruler's official position is CEO. Their current CEO is Isemados Sibasomos Nopileos IV, or just "Nopileos" and "Nopy" for short, who inherited it the Space Company from her grandmother, Isemados.
    • In the backstory to X: Rebirth the Plutarch Mining Corporation's office in the Albion System staged a coup d'etat after the jumpgate network shut down, ousting the now-isolated Argon Federation government and military and setting themselves up as the government.
  • System Shock: The TriOptimum Corporation was de facto in charge of human civilization, until things went horribly wrong in the first game, leading to a revolution, the reinstatement of a representative government, and Tri-Op coming within a hairsbreadth of bankruptcy. The company managed to barely hang on by inventing Faster-Than-Light Travel.
  • The Vector corporation in the Xenosaga series fits this trope to a T. Almost to the degree of being ridiculous, given certain revelations in the third game such as the fact that Vector's CEO is the head of a religious organization hell-bent on Vector's destruction too.
  • Team Fortress 2: Reliable Excavation and Demolitions controls one half of the world. Builders League United controls the other half. The woman officiating the neverending war between the two companies is the CEO of both of them.
    • Or at least, that was the original premise. They've abandoned this in favor of RED and BLU being effectively worthless ventures founded by a pair of dimwitted, feuding brothers using their wealthy father's land and money. The comic "Blood Brothers" cemented the companies/brothers' status as money sinks. However, this same update also introduced the co-op map Coaltown, which bears the markings of a company town (see Real Life below). A sign above a store states that it accepts "coal tokens only."
    • The Administrator still controls the world through TF Industries, RED, BLU, and Mann Co., but RED and BLU's role has been moved away from. It may have something to do with Zepheniah Mann's will, but the will itself does not specify how the Administrator runs RED and BLU.
    • The Mann Vs. Machine update (and subsequent update) finally gives us a clear picture of why The Administrator would ever want to rule the world by turning the world's worst two companies (and dumbest CEOs) into secret rulers of the planet: Australium either enhances the user's intelligence to supernatural levels, or when refined can provide immortality instead (as seen in Redmond, Blutarch, The Administrator, and Grayson). Zepheniah Mann's inheritance of companies included a f***-ton of Australium (or at least, the means to store the largest quantities of it safely and securely). DO THE MATH. Also, Grayson is more egotistic but also much smarter than his two idiot brothers (but still an idiot) so he cuts out the middlemen and makes Mann Co. itself the NGO Superpower.
  • The little-mentioned Kel-Morian Combine in StarCraft is controlled by a bunch of mining guilds. The Combine worlds were annexed by the Confederacy (except for Moria itself, who joined up with the Dominion upon its formation) some years before the first game, but broke away from the Dominion following the Brood War. Rory Swann, the Hyperion's engineer, is from a former Combine world; he lost his arm in a rebellion against them.
    • The novel Heaven's Devils takes place during the war between the Combine and the Confederacy from the viewpoints of Jim Raynor and Tychus Findlay. Both sides are shown to be just as corrupt, and the war shows the first uses of "resocialized" criminals as Space Marines.
  • Borderlands 2 has the Hyperion corporation taking over Pandora, in the aftermath of the Atlas corporation's collapse. The Pre-Sequel mentions in a presentation that the founders of Hyperion managed to destroy the central government of humanity, which led to the other corporations to rise and become galactic empires in their own right.
  • The eponymous city in Fallout: New Vegas is run by (seemingly immortal) pre-nuclear apocalypse business executive & Howard Hughes Homage Mr. House, who describes himself as the territory's "president, CEO, and sole proprietor." House's primary goal is to bring the entire region under his control as an autocratic state capitalist society, but as concerning as that might sound to some he's actually A Lighter Shade of Grey compared to the alternatives.
  • GiganTech in Armed Police Batrider effectively has Zenovia Island as its own city-state. And testing ground for black market weapons. And power supply for the really energy-hungry weapons.
  • SimCity gives the player this option with OmegaCo in Cities of Tomorrow. The goal is to create and sell as much omega as possible to various factories and commercial businesses, and eventually have residents buy robots and subscribe for the omega deliveries. However, it just doesn't stop there, as you also get to buyout Megatowers and entire cities in hopes to improve the bottom line. This means that a player can literally take over a whole chunk of the region under OmegaCo.
    • Even the less futuristic specializations (such as drilling for oil and running casinos) work around with idea that the corporations are a part of city government, meaning the player isn't just a mayor of the city, but also CEO of their very own corporations.
  • In Tachyon: The Fringe, the GalSpan sector of space is wholly owned by the Galactic Spanning Corporation. The other corporations are not shown to be as expansive, although they may or may not own some colonies in other sectors. While the Bora are typically portrayed as La Résistance to GalSpan's encroachment, their official name is the Bora Mining Guilds, implying a corporate state.
  • In Ground Control, any world that is not Earth is, technically, under corporate control. This also applies to the worlds run by the Order of the New Dawn, since they are officially registered as a Mega-Corp (for political reasons). The Crayven Corporation is one of the biggest ones out there and owns many colonies in both the Inner and Outer Spheres. By the time of the sequel, all the old Mega Corps are gone, but the Intergalactic Trade Guild is stated to be a corporate alliance of several Outer Sphere worlds who remain neutral during the war between the Terran Empire and the Northern Star Alliance.
  • BioShock: This is what Rapture ended up becoming. Turns out the man who built it, a staunch anarcho-capitalist who claimed to love personal liberty and free enterprise and thought of the poor and less fortunate as "parasites", was actually very quick to toss his ideals aside when someone started to out-compete his business; his solution, of course, was to forcibly seize all the businesses that got too profitable for their own good. Thanks Andrew Ryan, you cheap bastard.
  • Mirror's Edge Catalyst: The nation of Cascadia is ruled by an executive board of business owners known as the Conglomerate, made up of thirteen ruling families. Those thirteen businesses run absolutely everything. The populace is placated by the promise that if they work really hard, they can be promoted to better positions, or even (in extraordinary cases) get adopted into one of the families. While this does happen, it's only to an extremely lucky few, and common citizens have essentially no personal freedoms, privacy, or rights.
  • In Stellaris, a possible government Civic for oligarchies is "Corporate Dominion", with the description stating that your empire is a Mega-Corp that has supplanted the traditional state. A DLC added actual Corporate star empires, which have their own set of civics.
  • In Subnautica, the Alterra Corporation that you work for is an interstellar "trans-gov", a transport corporation that bought out the functions of government a long time ago, and treats its citizens as employees, compensated and promoted by merit but ultimately owing everything they use back to the corporation... including, apparently, all the natural resources on 4546B that you harvest for your own survival, which you will be billed for upon your return to civilization (PDA: "Your current total stands at 3,000,000 credits")note . Several PDA's also indicate that even personal relationships are treated as business contracts, with affection and time spent together being treated as commodities to be negotiated and traded.
  • The Republic expansion for Crusader Kings II allows you to play as a merchant republic, which are modelled on the real life Hanseatic League and other merchant states such as Venice.
  • Warframe: The Corpus are a loose alliance of merchant clans and corporations united only by the pursuit of the almighty credit. They are the last legitimate government in the Origin System (the only other options are the fascist Grineer Empire and a number of primitive, unaligned tribes), but they spend more time cheating each other than actually getting things done.
  • In the universe of The Longest Journey, Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, and Dreamfall Chapters, the world of Stark is run by the Syndicate, a conglomeration of megacorporations, complete with its own military/police force called the EYE.
  • The Outer Worlds: In the Halcyon system, the setting’s Mega-Corps have effectively become governments, to the point that discrimination is based on things like which corporation you were born into. Word of God describes it as a world where the robber barons of the late 19th/early 20th century never died out and now every town is a Company Town.
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt: The Sumeragi Group is often said to be the de facto government of the country the game is set in, as it controls not only economy but also entertainment, logistics and security, particularly regarding Adepts.
  • Watch Dogs: Legion has this as its central premise. Albion and its allies in Blume and Carcani Medical have managed to suspend Parliament as well as institute a brutal police state. Their goals are also to milk the populace of as much money as possible.
  • Just Cause 4: Solís is technically a free-market economy, but the only companies that are not tied up in enough red tape and arbitrary taxation to make operating in the country unfeasible just happen to be the ones owned and operated by the dictator Oscar Espinosa, who also happens to have dissolved the Armed Forces and Police and replaced them with a PMC called the Black Hand... that he also owns.

  • In the webcomic God(tm), the intellectual property of God and all related characters is owned by a corporation. Later on, a marketing campaign is created to rebrand religion into something hip and cool.
  • The Maytec Consortium of S.S.D.D. owns the Californian government and claimed the entire planet Mars for mining (up until the anarchists showed up).
  • The Kenny Chronicles: In Ferrets vs. Lemmings, the ferret government of Dook Island was founded as effectively a company town for Guy King's meat exports business.
  • Free Mars: Mars is run by the totalitarian Combined Systems Corporations. The Martian Liberation Front is trying to change that.
  • Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger has the late, unlamented RIAA... which became so abusive in securing its alleged intellectual property that an alliance of solar systems declared war on it.
  • In Quantum Vibe, most nation-states have collapsed and "Mercorps" run most of society, even old Terra is split between two Mercorps (based in China and Brazil). Pretty much the only government still active is the Lunar Republic, and even that is beholden to Omega-Tek.
  • Unsounded: The Sharteshane King is just a figurehead bought and paid for by Jab Beadman of Beadman Industries who is the real power behind the throne and finagles its military to get rare materials and try to prevent wars that will reduce his clientele while supporting those whose fights have a chance of expanding the area where he can sell.

    Web Original 
  • Bosun's Journal: During the Corpocaste era, the ship's society is dominated by a complex patchwork of megacorporations, rising, falling, merging, splitting, and responsible for managing every part of the new civilization, and with no particular distinction between "citizens" and "employees".
  • Pay Me, Bug!: The backstory has the Free Trade Baronies starting life as this. That was so long ago that they've since evolved into essentially standard governments, but there are still a few throwbacks to their history.
  • Let's Ramble With Rae: Oligopolmart's MO is to buy entire planets.
  • An Examination of Extra-Universal Systems of Government:
    • Guatemala Incorporated is the result of United Fruit taking direct control of the country and absorbing all its government's assets into itself. Though that said, it left private property alone, and there's a limited democracy in place (all citizens are shareholders from birth, can buy and sell more shares, and have a vote-per-share in choosing the Board of Directors, who in turn elect appoint other leadership positions).
    • The Federation of Sovereign Voluntarists, on the other hand, is a dictatorial state in all but name.
    • The remnants of the Republic of South Africa, which makes up of the South African Defense Force, becomes Private Military Contractors and earned the moniker "South Africa Incorporated."
    • The French Outremer Company spearheaded its universe's French colonial empire, which has territory in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. After the French monarchy is overthrown, they flee to the Company's headquarters in the equivalent of Cape Town, where the kings became hereditary heads of the Company as well, effectively merging the colonial and corporate entities into one, which has lasted to the present.
  • Hellsing Ultimate Abridged ends with America becoming one of these, on the grounds that since the Supreme Court ruled that corporations were people, it was decided at some point that they could run for president. Apparently, President Walt-Disney-Pepsi-Comcast has done wonders for the economy, given that it IS the economy.
  • Yiffpunk takes place after the apocalypse, where corporations rule every country fully unchecked and have total control over all presidential candidates.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The word "corporation" comes from the Latin word "Corpus", which meant "a body of people". Corpi recognized by the Roman government included trade guilds, universities, religious cults, and the Roman government itself. Later on a number of governments were incorporated, such as the City of London Corporation, which has been operating since at least 1067 and is still the city's municipal government. To form a new town, city, etc. is still called "incorporating". Corporate personhood is also based on this-a business becoming a "body" (person) in its own right. While this is mostly discussed regarding businesses, it also applies to governments, which is why for instance you can have legal cases with names like The United States versus John Doe, because the government is recognized as being able to operate as an entity itself (through its agents, obviously). Naturally, this also applies to businesses suing each other, or governments, and businesses suing governments/governments suing businesses. However, the term "corporation" is now used mostly to mean "business corporation", and this older usage can confuse people, though that lives on when saying a town has "incorporated" for instance. It's also not what the trope refers to.
  • The Honourable East India Company ran the British Empire's interests in India until the Great Mutiny of 1857 and thus, by a combination of bribery, alliances and superior competence - oh, and a private army larger than that of the Empire itself - controlled a substantial part of the subcontinent. It got away with so much as every British member of Parliament owned shares.
    • The British East India Company exists today, and ironically for having ruled India so long, was recently bought by an Indian billionaire.
    • And their northern counterpart, the Hudson Bay Company, which ran much of what is now Canada and the USA.note 
    • Their Russian counterpart, the Russian-American Company, owned and ruled Alaska.
    • There were projects to create another one in modern times, called the Russian Far East Corp. The project was discontinued, and a government bureaucratic structure was created instead.
  • Going eastward: Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (known in English as the Dutch East India Company). The first stock-based, multinational corporation, it controlled parts of Indonesia for almost 200 years. They had their own military, minted their own currency, and had the right to establish colonies, negotiate treaties, and even wage wars! Their rule made an everlasting impression to locals even after they went bankrupt and the official Dutch government took over. So much that their legacy lives on to this day; the local word for colonial forces is still "Kompeni".
    • In fact, the entire nation of Indonesia is essentially the Dutch East India Company's old territory plus sovereignty. It's currently the fourth most populous country in the world, the world's most populous island country, and the world's most populous Muslim country.
  • The Dutch West India Company established New Amsterdam in 1621 on Manhattan as a trading post, and later a base for privateers. They also briefly took control of part of Brazil but nearly went bankrupt in the process, dissolving in 1674 at the end of the Third Anglo-Dutch War, where New Amsterdam became New York City.
  • The emirate of Dubai is run very much like a business enterprise based around tourism, trade, and finance.
  • The old Congo Free State. The people of Belgium were adamantly against joining the imperialism game, so King Leopold pulled some strings to have the whole thing done as a private enterprise initiative, turning the land into private grounds with a captive workforce that took in chains, ammo and mercenaries and churned out ivory, rubber, and corpses. It eventually got so bad that the Belgian government officially nationalized the Congo, bringing them into the colonial system anyway. One estimate has it that the Congolese population was reduced by half in about twenty years.
  • And long before all of these boys were even glimmers in their founders' eyes was the Hanseatic League, also known as simply The Hansa. Founded in the 1200s, it was a mercantile and defensive confederation of the merchant guilds along the northern coast of Europe that lasted well into the 17th century. There were actually multiple Hansas early on, but the North German one got so dominant that if you just referred to the Hansa everyone knew which one you meant.
  • The Reedy Creek Improvement District, the site of Walt Disney World, was the closest thing to this trope that existed in the United States. The power of the state of Florida amounted to the collection of property taxes and little else; the head of Florida's Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection admitted that he lacked the authority to even enforce ride safety laws. Beyond that, the two towns Disney created to serve as the municipal government for the resort, Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, existed mainly to provide municipal bonds and friendly regulations, their combined population of about sixty hand-picked residents comprised entirely of Disney employees. However, in 2022 the Florida state government took control of the district, renaming it the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
  • While North Korea is known for being a hellhole run by Dirty Communists, South Korea went in the complete opposite direction. The government is basically held hostage by Samsung and its 80+ subsidiaries (and to a lesser degree SK, Hyundai, and LG) as it's the nation's largest employer and controls 20% of their GDP (for reference, America's largest employer Walmart makes up only 2% of the economy). Demand for a job with Samsung is so high all the country's children spend 16 hours a day studying to try to get into top universities before getting plastic surgery as adults to be more attractive and boost their chances, and even then the company has its own standardized tests to filter applicants. On two separate occasions, Samsung executives have been pardoned by the President after corruption scandals in order to preserve the economy.
  • This idea is often used by "Reichsbürger" (literally "realm citizens") against the actual state of Germany to dismiss its legal existence. They argue that the entire German state post-1945 is invalid since, to them, it is merely a giant corporation, and every German citizen (except themselves of course) is and can only be "personnel" of that corporation. There are many different types, and almost all of them claim to represent any of a multitude of fake German exile governments who, according to them, are clearly the real and lawful rulers of the German state (this whole thing immediately falls apart by the mere fact that there are multiple exile governments all claiming rule against each other). Some of them even try to sell fake passports to gullible people, which naturally are not legally recognized by anyone, anywhere.
    • Similar odd claims are made by the American "sovereign citizen" movement, and fraudulent micro-"states" have also been set up there, which also issue "passports" etc.
    • In the New Russia, meanwhile, the "USSR citizens" also promote the notion that Russian Federation is but a commercial organzation, that the dissolution of USSR was illegitimate, and claim to be the true descendants of the Soviet authorities. Similar to their German and American counterparts, they also issue pseudo-IDs for a "fee" and refuse to pay their bills and fines on frivolous claims. Here's the most famous one.
  • Crossing over with N.G.O. Superpower, Saudi Aramco is the biggest company in the world, worth around 10 trillion dollars at sufficiently high oil prices thanks to the sheer size of proven oil reserves under Saudi Arabian (and thus Aramco) control. Owned by the Saudi royal family, 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.
  • There was a Nevada bill circulating that, should it go into law, would allow Tech Companies to create "Innovation Zones" which amount to said companies instating their own local governments.
  • In spite of the names "Universal City", Californa and "Universal Studios Hollywood", Universal City is an uncorpated area owned by Universal Pictures where Universal Studios "Hollywood" is located and has the only government-funded fire station located on private property, which was even changed from LA County Fire Department Station 60 to LACFD Station 51 in the mid 90s due to LACFD Station 51 being the setting of Emergency!, in spite of it being filmed at LACFD Station 127.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Corporatocracy


The Toxic Avenger Part II

Without the Toxic Avenger, Apocalypse Inc. has moved into Tromaville and have essentially enslaved the population.

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Main / OneNationUnderCopyright

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