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Persecution Flip

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"Colored people had it rough. Imagine: You've been brainwashed into believing your blood is tainted. You've spent all your time assimilating and aspiring to whiteness. Then, just as you think you're closing in on the finish line, some fucking guy named Nelson Mandela comes along and flips the country on its head. Now the finish line is back where the starting line was, and the benchmark is black. Black is in charge. Black is beautiful. Black is powerful. For centuries colored people were told: Blacks are monkeys. Don't swing from the trees like them. Learn to walk upright like the white man. Then all of the sudden it's Planet of the Apes, and the monkeys have taken over."

When most writers want to write about discrimination and oppression, they stick to real-world examples — after all, there are plenty of those. Some writers, however, wonder: "What if it were the other way around?" What if Black Africans had enslaved Europeans? What if India had colonised Britain, or the Aztecs had colonised Spain (perhaps giving rise to a Modern Mayincatec Empire)? What if women had all the power and men had to Stay in the Kitchen? And so on and so forth. There may be a semi-plausible Alternate History explanation for the switch, but just as often it simply is that way.

Often this is not just an interesting what-if, but a way of making a point, saying to the privileged group "well, how would ''you'' like it if...?" This tends to be Anvilicious, though not always in a bad way. The message may also be that power corrupts, and no matter who's on top, things will always suck for the group on the bottom, and discrimination of any kind is wrong.


On the other hand, in certain cases the barbarism of the now-powerful group can be played up too much and the whole thing can seem as though it came out of some dislike or distrust of the group in question ("Look how much worse things would be if they were in charge"). Or, alternatively, the work may be disparaging towards the now-oppressed group (which is usually an Acceptable Target due to being in power in the real world), and suggest that they deserve to be treated badly.

Compare Just the Introduction to the Opposites, Turned Against Their Masters, Black Like Me, and Color Me Black.

The Other Wiki has more information on this concept, particularly in real life.



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  • This South African ad shows white people disadvantaged and black people in positions of privilege. Essentially, it's a reverse of Apartheid.
  • A European anti-racism ad from The '90s had a white, blonde kid suffering from racism as he tried to live a day in an overwhelmingly black population. He was the only one white person in the entire piece, as even his adoptive family was black.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Yuu Watase's short manga story "Perfect Lovers," a heterosexual couple is transported into an alternate dimension where homosexuality is normal and heterosexual relationships are illegal.
  • In Ooku, after a disease kills off a large percentage of the male population, feudal Japan becomes a female-dominated society, with women as leaders and warriors and men viewed as sex objects too delicate to fight (or farm, or fish, or...).note 
  • In Jyu-Oh-Sei, the Penal Colony planet of Chimera is controlled by four "Rings" (Night, Ochre, Sun, and Blanc) which are primarily divided by skin color. When Thor and Rai are sent there, the Blanc Ring is least powerful of the four, and thus the formerly pampered twins (who are about as white as one can possibly be without having Albinism) find themselves at the bottom of the social ladder
  • Code Geass involves Japan being occupied by the harsh Holy Britannian Empire, ironically mirroring Imperial Japan's escapades during World War II.

    Comic Books 
  • In the House of M miniseries, Wanda creates a new world through her reality warping powers where mutants are the dominant species and humans are deemed second-class citizens and given the slur "Sapes." Most notably, Magneto and his family rule Genosha as an aristocracy and super-powered individuals like Spider-Man and Miss Marvel are only tentatively accepted as equals to mutants.
  • In the EC Comics story "Hate!", an all-American everyman who leads a mob to kill his Jewish neighbors by burning their house down finds out that he was adopted and that his real parents were Jewish. He then is victimized by his Jew-hating former friends.
  • Jeremiah had many Native American forming nation-states in post-apocalyptic America, who conducted raids on mostly-Caucasian settlements for slaves and resources.

    Fan Works 

  • This is the whole point of the film White Man's Burden, where blacks are the racial majority who've generally been in positions of power and privilege in America and whites are the unprivileged minority.
  • Babakiueria (Barbeque Area) is an Australian film that does this with imperial Aborigines taking over and oppressing white Australians.
  • Planet of the Apes involves apes keeping humans in cages and using them for experiments.
  • In the film Almost Normal, the gay protagonist enters a world where homosexuality is the norm - and straight people are the ones viewed as being "deviant".
  • A deleted song from Mary Poppins tells the story of the Chimpanzoo, a zoo where humans are locked up in cages for the animals to look at.
    "Laughs, laughs, nothing but laughs / But you know who's laughing at who? / It's the animals there who giggle and stare / at you in the Chimpanzoo!"
  • A variation in Cowboys & Aliens; even though it is not the Native Americans doing the oppressing, the white Americans still find out what it's like to be completely outmatched by an invading army they could not have imagined and getting their people captured/wiped out and their land ravaged. The tie-in comic makes it far less subtle by having a white American loudly saying the aliens "can't do that just because they've got better weapons", then receiving a dirty look from a Native.
  • The short film Love Is All You Need? is about a world in which homosexuality is the norm and a straight teen gets bullied by her peers. It was expanded into a full movie with the same basic plot in 2016.
  • The 2014 movie Persecuted imagines a United States where freedom of religion isn't already guaranteed under the Constitution, where the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation, where Christians are being persecuted in America, and where Evangelicals use rosaries.
  • The French short film Majorité Opprimée (Oppressed Majority) has this as its focus. It tells the story of a man going through his day in a matriarchal society, facing casual sexism, street harassment, and eventually sexual assault. Women go around bare-chested, urinate in the street and catcall passing men, who are constantly objectified, belittled, and shamed for not being ‘modest’ enough. In 2018, it was remade as a full-length movie under the title Je ne suis pas un homme facile (I Am Not an Easy Man), which revolves around an avid chauvinistic man who after getting hit on the head, wakes up and discover that in this reality women are in charge, and he falls victim to the same type of sexism he forced women to go through in his normal life.
  • Predator: An alien hunts humans like humans hunt animals, down to butchering, skinning, and taking their skulls as trophies. Not even the top training and weapons of the mercenary protagonists are a match to his superior technology.
  • In Spartacus the gladiators capture some Roman slavers and force them to fight each other for the rebellious slaves' amusement.

  • The original Planet of the Apes story is an even straighter example than the film, due to the apes having 20th century technology and attitudes. For example, the protagonists are initially hunted down by gorillas purely for sport, rather than to protect their crops.
  • Both the book and stage version of Noughts & Crosses (black people are in power; white people are victims of discrimination).
  • The novel Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo is a pseudo-Alternate History novel taking place in a world where "blak Aphrikans" enslave "whyte Europanes" for the transatlantic slave trade. The title and premise are a flip on Roots.
  • From a single Alternate History anthology (although some of these are a bit iffy):
    • "The Wandering Christian" by Eugene Byrne and Kim Newman (Judaism becomes the major world religion; Christianity all but wiped out)
    • "Hush My Mouth" by Suzette Hayden Elgin (African former slaves rise up and seize power in the United States after the Civil War; white Americans all but wiped out)
    • "The English Mutiny" by Ian R. MacLeod (India colonizes England)
    • "Islands in the Sea" by Harry Turtledove (Islam becomes the major world religion; Christianity is practiced only in a few small areas)
  • Harry Turtledove likes this kind of irony and often uses it:
    • In both his epic fantasy-retellings of the American Civil War and World War II, the slaves and the subhumans due for extermination are the white, Aryan-looking blondes.
    • In Ruled Britannia, the English Protestants must go underground after the Spanish invade and hand power over to the Catholics. Elizabeth I is imprisoned in the Tower of London and the occupying forces include many Irish. The book is clear that foreign presence aside, the situation is nothing new for England: Protestants were top dog with Henry VIII, then Catholics with Mary Tudor, then Protestants again with Elizabeth.
    • In the Southern Victory series, the Confederate Goebbels expy is a Jew. At one point, a character muses that if blacks were not scapegoated for the CSA's problems it would probably be the Jews.
      • In the same series, the rump United States joins the Central Powers during World War One and defeats Canada and Great Britain. This results in Quebec and Ireland (the whole island) becoming independent, CP-aligned republics, with Anglo-Canadians and Ulster Protestants becoming second-class, rebellion-prone citizens.
      • Further referenced in universe, when Scipio (a Black Confederate) takes delight in reading a book about the "dark skinned" Moors conquering the "blonde" Visigoths.
    • In The Disunited States of America, the states broke away into separate countries due to the Constitution never being passed, as the weaker Articles of Confederation couldn't keep them together. The southern states, as you'd expect, remain oppressive to black people, although they eventually abolished slavery. This oppression caused black rebellions, and one in Mississippi was successful. The victorious black people there then treated the whites much as they themselves had been earlier.
    • Vilcabamba rewrites the conquest of the Inca Empire as a conquest of Earth by spacefaring, centaur-like aliens who want to exploit its mineral resources. While the role of the Inca emperors is played by the Presidents of the United States, there is an off-hand reference to how the aliens' destructive mining technology has left Spain "uninhabitable".note 
    • Subverted in the World War series. Space lizard people with attitudes modeled after 19th century European colonialists invade Earth during World War II, but they are brought to a stalemate by the actual colonial empires. In the ensuing peace, the United States, Britain and Japan surrender most of their overseas colonies, but retain their own independence along with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union (who also retain nearly all of their conquests and puppets, one of the few exceptions being Poland).
    • Through Darkest Europe is set in a universe where the Muslim nations of Africa and the Middle East are the center of modern civilization, being champions of liberal and free politics. Europe, by contrast, is full of backwater countries ruled by corrupt governments, tribalism, and Christian fundamentalism.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's controversial Farnham's Freehold posits a future where the members of a white family are the slaves of cannibalistic black masters. The cannibalism is what pushes it over the edge into "Black people are worse" territory and led to a reviewer in The New Republic calling it "an anti-racism novel only a Klansman could love".
  • One Sheri S. Tepper novel, Six Moon Dance, is about a repressive matriarchal society. Tepper has a very feminist message in a lot of her work, so this is sort of like "examining demographics that would lead to men being oppressed in the same way as women".
  • Steven Barnes' Lion's Blood series is set in an alternate history world where African civilization and Islam became the dominant forces in world culture. The main story is set in an alternate American south, centering on a young (black) nobleman and his (Irish) freedman.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's story The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Feather. It involves inmates taking over an aslyum which "coddled" them and treating their former doctors, now the inmates, in a Bedlam House way. It has the message if you treat those weaker than you with kindness, they'll just take advantage of you and then do worse. One interpretation of the story is that it's a metaphor for Poe's views of American blacks (which, considering that he was a proponent of slavery, isn't terribly implausible). The film Stonehearst Asylum was based on this story, and is far more sympathetic to the patients, given the kind of "treatments" used in 19th century insane asylums.
  • Gulliver's Travels:
    • The talking horses ("Houyhnhns") domesticating humans ("Yahoos") as farm animals. Also, the horses had a strict hierarchy based on color... with the darker ones in charge.
    • Less evident case in Gulliver visiting the countries of Lilliput and Brobdingnag in succession. In the first case he is a giant among dwarfs; in the second, a dwarf among giants.
  • In Katherine Kerr's Polar City books, blancs (i.e., whites) are a lightly oppressed minority.
  • In a Fantasy Counterpart Culture version, Flora Segunda has the largely European-flavored (though apparently California-dwelling) Califans conquered and ruled by the pseudo-Aztec Huitzils.
  • In Waberi's "In the United States of Africa", Africa is the largest superpower while the Western world as we know it is plagued by the very maladies that current Africa faces, from the perspective of an adopted white French girl.
  • In Kirill Moshkov's Special Expert, Legioner Tauk is sent to a Lost Colony, whose population is predominantly black, with the whites being treated as second-class citizens. Since Tauk is himself white, he has to pass himself off as a servant, while another agent, a black woman, can freely pass herself off as a member of the societal elite. She does explain to a local man that back on Earth, it is their people that used to be subservient to the whites. The man has a hard time believing it.
  • William Tenn's story "Eastward Ho!" is set in a post-nuclear-war future where Native Americans are in power, and the oppressed whites keep fleeing further and further east. Eventually they plan to sail to the land of freedom—Europe.
  • The hero of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness ruminates on the colonial relationship by invoking the Roman invasion of Britain and wondering aloud how the Ancient Britons saw the colonial system from the other side. Later he suggests a counterfactual scenario:
    The population had cleared out a long time ago. Well, if a lot of mysterious [Africans] armed with all kinds of fearful weapons suddenly took to travelling on the road between Deal and Gravesend, catching the yokels right and left to carry heavy loads for them, I fancy every farm and cottage thereabouts would get empty very soon.
  • Many of the stories in the Chicks in Chainmail quintet, edited by Esther Friesner, deal with the male-female issues by gender flipping, or other plot device, some well-done, and some belaboring the point.
  • Black Like Me is an account of journalist John Howard Griffin's dyeing his skin black and living in an area he had visited as a white man and describing the differences.
  • Save the Pearls: Revealing Eden is a controversial dystopian novel in which the white minority ("pearls") are oppressed by the black majority ("coals") after ozone depletion kills off people with low melanin. The pearls have to wear blackface in public. The author, by-the-by, is white.
  • In the dystopian future of The Forever War, the protagonist is a relativity-time traveler, and upon one of his later returns to earth he finds that population pressure has made homosexuality the socially-acceptable choice. His subordinates—particularly the females—are creeped out, and behind his back call him "queer." He's understanding, realizing how they must feel about serving under a "sexual deviant."
  • From H. G. Wells:
    • The War of the Worlds has a variant in which the Martian attack on England is meant to parallel the real subjugation of Africa by The British Empire; the invaders have more advanced technology that makes their conquest frighteningly easy, and diseases that the defenders are largely immune to but which the invaders have never encountered before holds the invasion back. As the Trope Maker for Alien Invasion, this is what has led to similar subtext appearing in derivative works. The book specifically says that, before humans judge the Martians too harshly, they should remember events like the Tasmanian genocide (which had happened just decades earlier). Should they expect more mercy from alien beings than they gave to other humans who they colonized? The entire novel can be read as a massive Take That! against imperialism and Wells own country in particular, showing what the British Empire did overseas happening to England.
    • In The Time Machine, The Morlocks are descended from the working classes and treat the formerly sapient descendants of the upper classes as livestock.
    • In the short story "The Country of the Blind," a society of eyeless people—who have honed their other senses and can function at least as well without eyesight—treats a sighted man as a freak. They have no idea what to make of his (to them) bizarre ramblings about a sense that none of them can imagine, and they ultimately decide to remove those weird growths above his cheeks that are causing him so much distress.
  • Aliette de Bodard's "Xuya" Alternate History universe is based on the idea that the Chinese colonised the Americas from the West coast in the fifteenth century and then formed an alliance with the Aztecs against the Spanish. As a result by the twentieth century North America is divided between an independent Chinese-culture state called Xuya, a modern-Aztec-culture Mexica Empire, and a much smaller English-speaking nation centring on New England that is very much the poor underdog to the other two. A couple of stories depict white English-speakers in Xuya or Mexica in a manner that reflects this trope, although it definitely isn't the main focus of the series.
  • In Ray Bradbury's 1951 short story "The Other Foot," the population of Mars is entirely black. Because the planet was colonized within recent memory, adults have memories of segregation and lynchings, and when the news arrives that a rocket manned by whites is entering the atmosphere, a furious mob gathers, planning to institute Jim Crow laws in reverse. They are ultimately deterred when it's revealed that Earth has been bombed out after a nuclear war, and the story ends with the survivors settling on Mars and the hope of a new start for humanity.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, after Daenerys frees the slaves of Astapor the council she leaves in charge is quickly overthrown by a former slave and butcher named Cleon, who takes the highborn boys to be trained as Unsullied-i.e. eunuch slave soldiers.
  • In "When The World Is All On Fire", the trope is discussed when the Native American cop kicks the white refugees off the reservation. A woman asks him why he won't share the land; he responds, "We tried that, lady, and look where it got us."
  • In "Nontraditional Love", the world in the twenty-third century is dominated by homosexuals, and heterosexual relationships are forbidden. World history and historical literature have been altered to support that world's ideology.
  • In the Deathday and Earthrise duology, Earth is invaded by an alien race known as the Saurons. The Saurons have a Fantastic Caste System based on scale color: black-scaled Saurons (Zin) are the ruling class, brown-scaled (Kan) are the soldiers, and white-scaled (Fon) are the laborers. When the Saurons enslave humanity, they treat darker-skinned humans much better than white-skinned humans as a result, which sets the stage for racial strife among the humans even as they try to overthrow the Saurons.
  • The Goosebumps book "Awesome Ants" is about a boy who wins an ant vivaria in a contest but starts overfeeding them, which results in the ants growing to massive sizes. At the end, he wakes up to find that ants have taken over the earth and secluded humans in their own vivaria. The TV episode based on this story was even weirder; it's said that ants have *always* been the dominant species, so the boy was really dreaming about a Persecution Flip inversion.
  • Zig-zagged in Earth's Children: Ayla, a young cro-magnon girl, becomes an orphan and is adopted by a tribe of neanderthals who consider her ugly, weird, and more or less mentally challenged. She doesn't meet a member of her species until the following book, when she discovers that the cro-magnons think the same of the neanderthals. They also happen to be matriarchal and assign her a high social status from the start, in contrast to the very patriarchal neanderthals. The third book takes it Up to Eleven by making Ayla run into an Amazon Brigade who has crossed the line into gendercide territory.
  • Who Needs Men? has the white Christian men of the North struggling against an invading totalitarian Lady Land, the Republic of Anglia, in a genocidal Vietnam War-like conflict. The story is told mostly from the POV of an Anglian military officer, and also explores what it can mean to be sexually abnormal by showing the experiences of heterosexual women in a society where lesbianism is the norm.
  • In the original short story that named and inspired the To Serve Man trope, the Kanamit aliens are pig-like.
  • The Left Hand of Darkness is a story where the cis male envoy of The Federation is sent to an alien world and his permanent maleness is a source of horror and disgust to the local Gethenians, who are biologically Gender Benders. He is a stereotypical "golden age sci-fi" protagonist with a very rigid and logical way of thinking, so he is left at a loss when the locals don't see the world the same way as him.
  • A Wild Last Boss Appeared!: Ruphas, despite being gorgeous by human standards, is considered horribly ugly by Flügels because they judge beauty by how close wings are to being pure white. When she was growing up the other children constantly threw rocks at her and her father would beat her if she fought back.
  • Charles Beaumont's short story The Crooked Man takes place In a World… where somehow, homosexuality has become the norm, and straight (or "crooked") people are an oppressed minority. They used to simply be mistreated, but a rabidly heterophobic politician coming into power has resulted in them being hunted down and sent to camps for reprogramming. Which happens to the hero and his girlfriend at the end.
  • The Silerian Trilogy: The Valdani oppressed the Silerians for centuries while ruling Sileria, up to massacring entire villages. Once they withdraw, Valdani who remain behind there are then massacred in turn by Silerians.
  • Naomi Alderman's The Power is an exploration of what would happen if women suddenly became the more physically powerful gender (specifically, by gaining the power to shoot electricity from their fingers), and all the ensuing gender norms were upended by the shifted balance of power.
    • Alderman's central thesis is that patriarchy is rooted in the intersection of sexual dimorphism making the average man physically larger and more powerful than the average woman and most societies throughout history being organized on the principle of Asskicking Equals Authority, and that egalitarianism flourishes in societies where violence is not the basis of a leader's legitimacy. As such, the persecution of men at the hands of more powerful women is most pronounced in countries that were rife with violence (especially against women) beforehand, with India seeing female rape gangs attacking men in broad daylight and Moldova (a former hub of sex trafficking) subjecting men to what can only be described as "The Handmaid's Tale in reverse" and later exterminating 90% of them while keeping the remaining 10% as breeding stock.
    • In countries like the US and the UK that at least paid lip service to the principle of gender equality before the shift, the persecution is more subtle, as men see their legal rights and social status slowly undermined by casual sexism as they are pushed down to the status of what the feminist writer Simone de Beauvoir called "the second sex". The Framing Device, set in a place that resembles the modern world, shows a male writer (an Author Avatar for Alderman) making arguments that are recognizable as basic feminism, only to find himself belittled and sexually harassed by his female colleague, who dismisses his idea of a primitive world run by men as a silly novelty that she admits would be kinda hot.
    • Patriarchy refuses to go without a fight, and that fight ends with the world nuking itself back into the Stone Age. With the modern world wiped out but women still having their powers, matriarchy becomes the organizing principle of post-apocalyptic society just as patriarchy was that of Stone Age society. Civilization eventually rebuilds and a "masculinist" movement secures legal rights for men, allowing things to eventually progress to the status of modern-day sexism with the genders reversed.
    • It's also mentioned that, in the future, Africa and Europe have switched positions on the world stage, with Europe seen as a primitive backwater where male genital mutilation is still widely practiced. Given how modern civilization is portrayed as having ended with World War III, it's likely that the industrialized nations of Europe were some of the hardest hit, while Africa got off relatively lightly and had less trouble rebuilding.

    Live Action TV 
  • Sliders had one episode where women were the dominant gender. Another where Mexico won the Mexican-American war so Americans were the day laborers. And some others that get just bizarre.
    • In the first case, Arturo gets involved in politics by running for mayor. Wade is against this, as she believes his "equal rights" campaign will ultimately lead to a patriarchy. Interestingly, Arturo actually wins the election, although a miscount results in him leaving before the official results are announced.
    • The pilot episode has Quinn listening to a radio broadcast about Americans illegally crossing into Mexico in search of jobs. This is the same world where traffic lights are inverted (green means stop, red means go).
    • A mild case in the first episode involving the Kromaggs, when the heroes slide into a world where the US was largely colonized by France, and Arturo is being made fun of for being English.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In the episode "The Eye Of The Beholder", beauty is a pig nose and cleft palate while movie-star looks are a deformity. The 2000s remade it with a more realistic facial disfigurement.
  • Star Trek:
    • In "The Outcast", an androgynous race views any gender identity as an illness to be cured. When one member attempts to declare herself female and have an openly heterosexual relationship with Riker, she brings down the wrath of her society on her. Her defense of her gender identity (and corresponding heterosexual relationship) is a mirror of the arguments homosexuals were using at the time to defend their orientation. While the episode receives flak for using a heterosexual relationship between Riker and a female actress for a Gay Aesop, this was necessary for the persecution flip.
    • In another episode, a race of humanoids is ruled by women, while men are their servants and sexual playthings. They also have more diminutive bodies, just to reinforce this.
    • On still another episode, a child alien persecutes the adults on the ship for imposing rules on children.
    • In another episode, Worf travels to an alternate universe where the Bajorans are enemies of the Federation and they overpowered the Cardassians.
  • In one episode of Red Dwarf, the crew visit a parallel universe where women are the dominant gender. Their entire history is gender-flipped, so Hamlet was written by Wilma Shakespeare, Nellie Armstrong was the first person on the moon, and men organised equal rights marches and burned their jockstraps in the '60s. Oh, and it's the men who get pregnant.
  • Sexism and gender stereotypes are played with in the weird little German-UK SF series from the 1970s, Star Maidens. In this, two men escape from the planet Medusa which is ruled by women and where men are badly mistreated and head for Earth because one of the men has heard it's ruled by men. They are pursued by a couple of their female mistresses. Let's just say it wasn't subtle and leave it at that.
  • One season of The Two Ronnies had a serial called "The Worm That Turned" in which men were oppressed in a fascist female-dominated future England. It was about what you'd have expected at the time.
  • It's mentioned in Time Trax that, in the 22nd century, the One World Order has whites as a minority. Darien is once derogatorily called a "blanco" (Spanish for "white").
  • Occasionally Played for Laughs in Goodness Gracious Me, which would feature skits of white people living in India experiencing the same kind of casual racism that British Asians had to deal with. The famous "Go For An English" sketch, featuring a waiter in an English restaurant in Bombay serving a group of obnoxious drunken Indians who mock his accent and misunderstand his culture is a prime example.
  • The 2018 Heathers remake flipped the original on its head as part of its Setting Update, turning the eponymous conventionally attractive WASP Girl Posse into an overweight girl, a black girl posing as a lesbian for clout, and a biologically male genderqueer person. The three of them became the queen bees of the school by leveraging their traditional places as outcasts into social media clout — and with it, genuine power among their social media-obsessed peers.
  • The Orville: In "Deflectors" it's revealed that among Moclans, people attracted to the opposite sex are viewed as bad. This is to the point of not only prejudice but expressing it being a crime which carries a life sentence.
  • The White Queen: This happens several times throughout the story as the Yorks, Lancasters, Nevilles and Woodvilles all want to get the upper hand and lock each other out of power.
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: A mild example as when Raelle uses a quote from the Gospels as a healing spell on Pagan Abigail, Abigail reacts much the way an Evangelical might react to having a Wiccan bless them. One of Libba's girls is similarly disgusted when Raelle uses the Gospels on her during an exercise, disparagingly calling Raelle "Christo-Pagan" (as she also engages in Pagan rituals).
  • Noughts & Crosses: The series depicts an alternate world where seven hundred years ago a parallel Britain (i.e. Albion here) was conquered and colonized by the Aprican Empire. Due to this, white people (Noughts) live under the ruling black people (Crosses) as second-class citizens, suffering from segregation and police brutality.
  • Downplayed in The Wire. As Baltimore's population is overwhelmingly black, it's one of the few places in America where black people have an advantage in public service careers. A white politican, prosecutor and senior police office all complain that they likely can't rise any further in their careers due to their race (ironically all those people ended up reaching the pinnacle of their careers anyway as Mayor/gubernatorial candidate, a judge and police commissioner respectively). However, whites are still shown to enjoy a generally higher socio-economic status, wield significant power in the unions and, although many of the higher-ups are black, whites are significantly over-represented in the BPD.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street, like The Wire, is set in Baltimore, and the way the BPD responds to that city's culture bites the Italian-African-American Lt. Al Giardello pretty hard. While he's expecting to be promoted to Captain, his superiors make a nod to affirmative action by promoting the less senior Megan Russert because she's white and female. Before long she takes a Sudden Principled Stand against them and is demoted all the way back down to Detective. The brass then promote Roger Gaffney, an all-out white racist, but one who will do what he's told and who hates Gee.
  • The White Lotus: Nicole thinks that straight white males have it quite hard now, due to the cultural climate where she feels there's a backlash against them (thinking particularly about son Quinn, who fits into these categories). Paula and Olivia react with incredulity at her claims.
  • The Outer Limits (1995) has the rather prescient episode "Stream of Consciousness", where people 20 Minutes into the Future commonly wear brain implants that are connected to the internet and can look up and learn any information at any time. Studying and reading are things of the past, except for a minority of "neurologically-incompatible" people who are looked down by the rest as mentally deficient. At the end of the episode, all implants are inutilized, and the neurologically-impaired become teachers for the illiterate majority.
  • Y: The Last Man (2021): Discussed when Kimberly claims that in the US men and boys are becoming oppressed. She relates how her son was penalized over having pushed a girl at school who also did something but wasn't, then says all male instincts are being steadily repressed by social pressure.
  • The Wheel of Time: Due to how the male half (saidin) of the One Power's impossible to safely use, currently channelers are dominated by women, with all channeling men hunted down by women who openly despise them and say their using it is unnatural, very much inverting many common social dynamics (not completely, as many women don't hate them, while other people hate channelers of whatever gender, but even so).
  • The Bisexual: Leila's ex and her other lesbian friends act much like homophobes do when they learn she's slept with a man, coming out as being bisexual instead of a lesbian as they thought.

  • The Vienna Teng song "No Gringo" (poor Americans illegally cross the border to Mexico looking for work)
  • The Music video for 'King Rat' by Modest Mouse depicts this between whales and humans.
  • The background for Hypnosis Mic states that once women were in charge of the government, the men were made second-class and forced to live in towns outside of the capital.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Some accounts of the Amazons of Greek Myths are a race of warrior women where the men were lucky if they end up as slaves and aren't killed right out after they were used for sex for propagation. Other depictions range from the even more fantastical (the Amazons' society is all-woman and their only encounters by choice with men are when they meet with their Spear Counterparts the Gargareans for procreation; the Amazons keep the girls and send the boys to their fathers) to the more prosaic (the Amazons are a mirror image of Greek society where the women hold political power and go off to war and the men are expected to Stay in the Kitchen and at their looms).
  • Some religions' afterlife beliefs feature this as punishment. Jain, Buddhist and Hindu scriptures for instance say that those who harmed animals in this life will be harmed themselves the same way within one of the many hells. Lurid images show beastial demons forcing humans to drive carts, pull plows or butchering them for meat. The Bible has Jesus, on a vaguer note, saying "The first will be last and the last will be first" in the Kingdom of Heaven, although the details of what it entails aren't elaborated on.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the GURPS Alternate Earths Alternate History of Ezcalli, early exposure to Old World diseases from Carthaginian traders allowed Native Americans to develop resistance early, while the Roman Empire collapsed in infancy, leaving Europe open for Mongol-dominated Asia, Christian African kingdoms, and subsequent Aztec raiding fleets to plunder its squabbling villages for slaves.
  • Shadowrun:
    • With the resurgence of magic, various Native Americans take the initiative of their newfound Shaman powers and conquer a sizable portion of mid-northwest America, turning it into a coalition of Native American states. Unfortunately, they proceed to treat 'non-natives' as second-class citizens at best and target practice at worst. Ute in particular is extremely anti-Angelo, and has suffered economically as a direct resultnote .
    • The Philippine anti-Japanese resistance Huk seeks to liberate Imperial Japan conquered areas, especially an island ghetto dedicated to torturing as many non-humans as possible. Unfortunately, their ranks also include terrorists and gang lords, who are eager to capitalize on the liberated areas and kill any Japanese citizens on their way through.


    Video Games 
  • The conflict between the Templars and the Mages in the Dragon Age franchise is a result of this. To summarize, long ago the mages used to rule over ordinary humans and keep ordinary humans as slaves. Then a woman named Andraste inspired an uprising against them, and a new religion was formed around her after she was betrayed and killed. Unfortunately the people who founded the religion believed that all mages were like their previous mage oppressors, so to make sure that never happened again, the religion teaches mages from the time they're born that they're full of sin and must redeem themselves, and mages are given no choice but to be shipped off to "Circles" to learn to control their magic. Thus, where mages used to persecute ordinary humans, now the mages are the ones being persecuted precisely because the ordinary humans never got past their pain at their previous enslavement. And just to complicate matters even further, there are still mages around who enslave ordinary humans, namely the Tevinter Imperium, which some of the now-persecuted mages end up joining in hopes of turning the tables on the Templars, and that's not even counting the desperate mages who turn to blood magic and really do go crazy. Potentially, this cycle could go on forever.
    • Also, the series flips the traditional dichotomy in a Standard Fantasy Setting where the elves are a majestic, technologically and/or magically advanced race with far greater power than the humans. That was the case a long time ago, before the ancient elven civilization fell to Tevinter, a human empire (although Dragon Age: Inquisition challenges this account, along with many other aspects of the lore). Now the elves are a powerless, persecuted minority, akin to Jews in medieval Europe, while the humans are the dominant political power in all of Thedas.
    • On a Real Life level, the Chantry is a not-so-subtle Take That! at the Catholic Church for its failure to allow women to become priests, since the Chantry is run exclusively by women, and there's many times throughout the series than you can confront Chantry priests over their failure to include men in the priesthood. Incidentally, the arguments heard are exactly the same as what you hear in Real Life, just with the gender pronouns flipped.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, this happens a lot, both in the backstory and in the time that this game takes place. The Dunmer had previously enslaved the Argonians, but by the time of Skyrim the Argonians rose up against their masters and now the Dunmer have been driven away from the Black Marsh. The Thalmor faction of the Altmer (high elves) persecute the Nords for allegedly being a threat to the Altmer's very existence, and they got the Empire to ban Talos worship. The Nords, as revenge for Thalmor persecution, persecute all the elves, including innocent Altmer as well as the Dunmer (who had no hand in the Thalmor's behavior) and Bosmer (ditto). The Nords also persecute the Khajiit for supposedly all being sneaky thieves and won't give the Khajiit legitimate work, but in response the Khajiit all do become sneaky thieves so they can survive amongst the Nords at all. Meanwhile, when the Nords first landed in Skyrim, the Falmer (snow elves) attacked their settlement of Saarthal because the Falmer were suspicious of Nord expansion. So as revenge the Nords started persecuting the Falmer, which drove them underground where they were enslaved by the Dwemer, only now the Falmer wish to destroy the Nords right back. And then there's the fact that the Nords persecute the Argonians and Dunmer just for not helping the Stormcloaks, so now they discriminate against the Nords right back and refuse to help them. If all of that sounds like a mouthful, let's just say that the Nords tend to be on both ends of this trope a lot (either flipping the persecution they receive from others, or starting the initial persecution and then having it flipped on them).
  • This drives a great deal of the plot in Tales of Symphonia. At first glance, it looks like just a case of the Desians (who are half-elves) being assholes to the humans, since when you start the game the Desians have humans rounded up and taken to a ranch. Later in the game you discover that the reason the Desians are persecuting the humans is because previously, the humans were being assholes to them (and to complicate matters, the full-elves also treat the half-elves badly). In fact, the motivation of the Big Bad is that the Big Bad is a half-elf who finally couldn't put up with discrimination anymore, so he deliberately set up the Cruxis organization to bring forth the Age of Lifeless Beings, except that Cruxis then attracted half-elves looking for payback against the humans.
    • And then in the sequel, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, the people from Teth'ealla are still discriminating against the people from Sylvarant, so the Vanguard is formed to allegedly fight on Sylvarant's behalf, only the Vanguard ends up persecuting the people from Teth'ealla.
  • In the world of Fallout, the nuclear apocalypse occurring hundreds of years ago combined with the descendants of the current survivors mostly coming from multiethnic settlements that have long lost their previous cultural identities means that no one really identifies with prewar races and ethnicities anymore. This can lead to such situations.
    • Eulogy Jones, the leader of the Slaver faction in Fallout 3, is of African-American ancestry. Race in general seems overall irrelevant to whether one ends up as a slave or slaver in Fallout, though females seem more likely to get enslaved than males for obvious reasons.
    • Ulysses, a Legion frumentarii in Fallout: New Vegas, essentially plays the role of the Mighty Whitey (despite being black) to the White Legs, a group of primitive Caucasian tribals: he teaches them the ways of war and technology, and promises them to allow them to join his (Caucasian) boss's faction as equals. For this, as well as his exemplary skill in combat, he gets the entire tribe practically worshipping him and honoring him despite being an outsider; note that he never planned to keep his promise and was merely using them as a convenient proxy. He and his boss were always going to forcibly assimilate or destroy them.
  • My Child Lebensborn is set in post-World War II Norway, which at the time has taken to ostracizing children fathered by soldiers from Nazi Germany. In addition to the "child of a former invader" aspect, a belief that people with German blood are mentally deficient on a genetical level has emerged in the general population.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, when he goes to summer school (the real one), the protagonist, a famous jock, needs someone to rescue him from bullies. Lampshaded in the conversation that he has afterwards with his rescuer, Marco.

    Web Animation 
  • Ultra Fast Pony gets weird with its Fantastic Racism. Fluttershy is a former slave, and the institution of slavery in Equestria is clearly a reference to slavery in the US. Now that she's freed, Fluttershy is actually angry that slavery was completely abolished, because she wants to have slaves of her own. She tries to make the animals her slaves instead, but she's "just so bad with animals!"
    Fluttershy: Oh, I get it. It's okay to have Fluttershy do everything her owners say. But as soon as she gains ownership of her own farm, suddenly it's all "Equal rights" and "Slavery is not okay anymore!" In the name of the black smoke in the sky, I demand reparations!

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • There is a growing number of anti-bullying Internet videos such as this one which depict worlds in which being gay is the norm and heterosexuality is seen as deviant, forcing the (usually) straight protagonists to hide their sexuality or be bullied for it and ostracized by their families. Interestingly, and perhaps unfortunately, these shorts will sometimes depict a reversal of gender roles. For example, the video linked to shows a female-dominated Catholic Church, and there is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to American football being a girl's sport.
  • The "Man who has it all" Facebook page started as a parody of self-help guides for working mothers, but spun into a whole world where men are the victims of Housewife, Ms. Fanservice and Token Girl tropes.
  • In January 2018, Eli Rezkallah released a photo series called In A Parallel Universe, which takes sexist 1950s advertisements and reverses the gender roles.
  • Barbara Daniels's "Dominion over Man" art series reproduces different animal-human interactions with the human playing the part of the animal.
  • The Indian web series Men's World follows a man who, annoyed by what he perceives as "female privilege", prays at a temple for gender roles to be reversed. He regrets this almost as soon as it happens.
  • Piecing Together the Ashes: Reconstructing the Old World Order: In the centuries since the Deluge, the states that have emerged from the devastated Europe have become satellites and colonies of the new, more powerful nations of Africa.
  • GregCal mostly plays this for laughs, since in the alternate universe it's from the Jewish-normative society doesn't persecute Christians so much as ignore them and be misinformed about their beliefs (just as Christians are to Jews in our universe). It offers Entertainingly Wrong information about those weird Christian holidays like "Christian Purim" (Mardi Gras) and "Yom Chelm" (April Fool's Day).

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Tripping the Rift ("You Wanna Put That Where?") the crew find themselves on a gay planet where heterosexuals are condemned to die. They escape punishment by putting the community's leader as straight as a distraction, then presumably leave him to die.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), Spider-Man travels to a Gender Flipped world. Spider-Girl (real name Petra Parker) is a bit disdainful of a boy taking on her title, there's a reference to Georgia Washington, and the female Green Goblin mocks Peter, so it can be assumed that sexism went the other way in this universe. Interestingly, both of these tropes combined means that the same people still discriminated against the same people throughout history.
  • In Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, when two white government agents shoot a time-travelling Abraham Lincoln, who's covering the Teens' escape in a wooden rocket (doesn't make much sense in-context, either), they suddenly find themselves tied to a horse-cart with a black slave driver cracking a whip at them.
  • Played for Laughs in Robot Chicken (what else?):
  • Family Guy: One of Peter's many identical ancestors was an African slave, Nate Griffin. The flashback showing his enslavement reveals that Peter's friends Joe and Quagmire also have identical African ancestors that were friends with Nate and were enslaved and taken to America with him. On the other hand, the remaining friend (Token Black Cleveland) appears in the flashback as his identical white ancestor: the very man who went to Africa and enslaved them.
  • Futurama:
    • Chapek 9, the planet inhabited by robot separatists who hunt for any humans that may visit. Their movie industry includes spoofs of 50's monster films about humans coming from outer space to attack robots.
    • "Spanish Fry" reveals that "human horn" (noses) is considered an aphrodisiac by some alien races and that there are poachers who illegally abduct humans and steal their noses to sell. This is an obvious reference to the myth that rhinoceros horn is consumed in Asia as an aphrodisiac (it's actually a cure-all remedy and a status symbol, some people knowing it does nothing except show others that they have the money to buy it).

    Real Life 
  • This Not Always Right post has a customer attempting this. It comes off as head-scratchingly ridiculous.
  • This sort of thing has happened when different groups get the upper hand in a closely-divided country. Some prime examples are:
    • Protestants and Catholics taking turns persecuting each other during the European Wars of Religion (including the Thirty Years' War) whenever the ruler changed (either through succession, conversion, Klingon Promotion, or conquest). England's history is a prime example: Henry VIII was famous for persecuting Protestants mercilessly until that whole divorce thing, at which point he started persecuting Catholics; when his Catholic daughter Mary became Queen, she persecuted Protestants; and when Mary was succeeded by Elizabeth, she started persecuting Catholics again.
    • The same was more or less true when the Middle East was under Byzantine rule. Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Christians took the place of Protestants and Catholics, with the favor of the local governor being the variable.
    • In the interminable wars between the Byzantine and Sassanid Persian Empires in the 6th and 7th centuries, Jerusalem would inevitably change hands. Since the Byzantines were Christian and distrusted the Jews, every time they took over the city, Jerusalem would be purged of its Jewish population. Whenever the Persians—Zoroastrians who distrusted Christians as possibly loyal to Constantinople, but had no problem with the Jews—took the city, they slaughtered the Christians and spared the Jews. This happened several times over a relatively short period of time before the Muslim conquests put an end to that by destroying Persia completely and taking a huge bite out of Byzantium; when they took Jerusalem, they surprised everyone by slaughtering nobody.
    • In the 16th century, a naval arms race prompted Mediterranean navies to switch from free, volunteer oarsmen to almost all Slave Galley crews. Because enslaving someone of your religion was illegal, Christians would raid Muslims for slaves and Muslims would raid Christians. The Knight Hospitaller Jean Parisot de la Valette was captured by the Turks and became a slave in the galley of the Ottoman admiral, Dragut, until he was ransomed. Years later, La Valette captured Dragut and made him his slave, telling him, "Monsieur Dragut, it is the custom of war", to which Dragut replied, "And change of fortune." Dragut was also ransomed, and the two would go on to command the opposing armies during the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, when both were in their 70s.
    • Hernán Cortés was helped in his conquest of the Aztecs by the Otomis, who had been conquered after a long war 20 years prior by the Aztecs, and particularly by the Tlaxcalans, who were being constantly invaded and on the brink of defeat when the Spanish appeared, ruling only a small territory. Under the Spanish, the Tlaxcalans became the primary occupation force in the Aztec capital and later established colonies all over Mexico, Central America and Texas. Some even took part in the Spanish conquest of the Philippines. Their privileges were unmatched by any other natives under Spanish rule, and their homeland survives today as Mexico's smallest state.
  • The fact that Christians were brutally persecuted at many points in Ancient Rome is quite well known. Once Christians took power in the Empire, pagans were persecuted in turn. Pagan temples were destroyed, rituals were outlawed, property was seized, magistrates declared criminals if they refused to enforce these laws, and eventually pagan belief itself was banned under penalty of death. Individual pagans, largely priests, were put to death for practicing their religion, which was forced underground just as Christians had been. This was echoed in many countries that were then converted to Christianity in later centuries too-the choice of becoming Christian was often involuntary, with kings who had taken up the religion afterward compelling their subjects to as well.
  • The Rwandan genocide was partially a result of this. Without getting into who was persecuting who at which time, let's just say that the Tutsis used to be in elite positions, but then the Hutus engaged in revolutions, purges, etc. By the time of the genocide, the Hutus were trying to get rid of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
    • Averted with post-Apartheid South Africa. There was the fear that the new regime would actively persecute white people with violence equal to those used by the Apartheid regime. Nelson Mandela went out of his way to make sure this did not happen and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission underscores just how far his presidency went to try and appease both white and black people.
    • Unfortunately, in neighboring Zimbabwe, the formerly dominant white minority did suffer this when Robert Mugabe came to power. They were subject to attacks so they would leave their farms, that were taken without compensation. This greatly damaged the economy, as Mugabe gave the farms to cronies of his who weren't trained in farming or neglected them.
  • A study done decades ago in a real class promoted and demoted blue- and brown-eyed pupils to show the effects and issues of racism and other -isms. The children, regardless of being told about the study, stated that they came to feel superior or inferior, and had trouble re-adjusting even years later.
  • The Stanford Prison Experiment was a study done with college students which had some be jailers, and some jailed. The jailers were somewhat oppressive, but only somewhat. After a time, they switched. The once-jailed-now-jailers were much more oppressive. The experiment's validity has been questioned, though, since it had the experimenter (Philip Zimbardo) actively involved (in the role of warden) and didn't screen whether participants who became violent were already prone to this. It cannot be replicated to find out whether its results were valid, as modern ethical rules prohibit doing so.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male, The Unfair Sex, and Men Are the Expendable Gender are full of examples of situations that would be viewed as horrifying if the genders were reversed, but because the victims are men, are played for laughs (or otherwise trivialized) instead.
  • Eminem was viciously bullied as he was growing up was because he was the only white kid in an all-black neighborhood.
  • The black slaves in French Haiti hoped to receive freedom and equality after the Revolution, only to see Napoleon restoring slavery in 1802. They rebelled and nearly exterminated all whites and mulattoes in the country. Then they denied citizenship to whites for over a century, with only some (Polish, Germans) becoming "honorary black" after they married a black Haitian.note 
    • Haiti also invaded and annexed the Dominican Republic in 1822. As in the home country, the freed black slaves replaced the whites as dominant class and banned them from owning land. They also confiscated all properties of the Catholic Church and severed relations with the Vatican. The Dominicans later rebelled and secured their independence in 1844. By then, they were so fed up with Haitian black rule that "black" became synonymous with "Haitian" in the country, and black Dominicans would claim to be mixed (Trigueño) or "Indian". Nowadays, the Dominican Republic is richer than Haiti and Haitians often live there as illegal immigrants and second-class citizens.
  • Referenced by Will Smith during the promotion of Ali. He joked that, while filming in Mozambique, he felt that if he got in a fight with director Michael Mann, the police would be likelier to shoot Michael for once.
  • Nearly all the Barbarian tribes who established kingdoms on the lands of the old Western Roman Empire had been previously vassals of the Romans (Foederati).
  • The Republic of Venice, which went on to sack Constantinople and rule several Greek islands and fortresses centuries later, originated as a farflung Byzantine outpost. The Venetian leader's charge (Doge) is etymologically related to Dux (which also originated "Duke"), the Roman name for a general.
  • Jane Goodall's son Grub was born in Gombe and raised there until he was six. Sometimes, he would be placed in a large cage with his toys to keep him safe from the park's free-ranging chimps and baboons.
  • Turkish Cypriots often cited this at the hands of Greek Cypriots as justification for their establishment of North Cyprus, their own breakaway country.


Video Example(s):


Minority Takeover

Believing that minorities have taken over the world, Cartman imagines what his life is going to be like.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / PersecutionFlip

Media sources: