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Regime Change

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Every so often, the leadership of one country will decide that it doesn't like the leadership of another country. Perhaps there's a longstanding feud between the two leaders, perhaps one wants to take over the other but not look like it, or perhaps the leader of the latter country is bent on causing trouble. Whatever the reason, the first country wants the leadership gone.

Enter Regime Change. Popularized during the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, this term can be applied to any number of forms: invasions, coups, assassinations, fixing name it, it's probably happened.


Differs from The Coup chiefly by origin despite being one of the ways Regime Change can occur - coups begin from within the current governing system (often a country's own military, whereas Regime Change generally comes from outside it (propaganda and other PR, of course, will paint the picture as it suits whatever side is telling the story). The two are not mutually exclusive (for example, a general could launch a coup with help from a foreign power), but which one is predominantly portrayed can effect different reactions in the story. Both, however, are different from more drawn-out conflicts like general war in that changes are usually confined to the top levels of government and the policies it implements - wholesale annexation of land or massive, long-lasting social upheaval are usually not part of the picture.



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    Comic Books 
  • Judge Dredd:
    • One storyline, titled Regime Change, had Dredd lead a multinational "peacekeeping" task force into Ciudad Barranquilla to depose the ruling Judge Supremo under the pretence of searching for missing Mega City One citizens, the bodies of which are found in a mass burial pit along with all the other dissenters. Dredd executes the Supremo and puts a puppet dictator in his place.
    • Texas City attempts to do this to Mega City One under the guise of providing aid and replacement judges in exchange for extra living space to cope with their own overcrowding. It ends up backfiring, when Dredd confronts Texas City's Chief Judge. Moreso when the situation is essentially reversed by Hershey installing Psi-Judge Lewis as Chief Judge of Texas City.

  • Timeline-191: After the End sees foreign-backed regime changes engineered in order to end the racial Civil Wars in Rhodesia and South Africa. In the case of the former, the OSS (this timeline's CIA) merely enables a Military Coup by moderate officers sick of the radicals running the government. The latter, however, results in a full-scale invasion by the European Community to topple the remnants of the apartheid government and restore order to the country.

  • The Real Life regime change the USA has done in Central America was parodied in Woody Allen's Bananas, when the CIA soldiers already on their way in the airplane had to ask if they were being sent in for or against the current government.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Leverage episode "The San Lorenzo Job" had the team attempt to fix the presidential election in the nation of San Lorenzo. They need the current president gone so he can no longer protect a ruthless international criminal who is their real target.
  • In Season 2 of The 100, Abby is Camp Jaha's Chancellor. However, the Grounders only have respect for Clarke and treat her as the Camp's leader, and since they've got their giant army parked right outside, people inside the Camp begin deferring to her leadership instead of Abby's.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Dogbert has done this more than once in Dilbert.

    Video Games 
  • This is the ultimate goal in the Just Cause games.

    Web Original 
  • In the New Deal Coalition Retained timeline, a more proactive Soviet Union eventually inserts special forces units into Yugoslavia to assassinate Josip Tito, so that more Moscow-friendly factions of the Yugoslav government can take over and bring the country back into the Soviet sphere of influence.
  • In The Salvation War, the humans do this. To Hell. Not only that, Heaven seems to be next on the list.
  • In The Ruins of an American Party System, both the Olson and LaGuardia administrations have the State Department engineer the fall of multiple Third World right-wing governments in favor of left-leaning ones.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The Trope Namer was Iraq in 2003. Other instances abound.
  • Look at the history of Latin America, and see which change of government doesn't have CIA involvement behind it. You will be hard-pressed to make it a long list.
  • The British didn't like it that the Iranian prime minister Mossadeq nationalized their big oil, so they toppled the democratically elected government and installed the Shah. Ayatollah Khomeini didn't like it that foreign infidels are dictating the country, so he toppled the British-backed government and installed the Islamist revolutionaries. America didn't like the Islamist government, so... eh, nevermind.
  • Older Than Feudalism: The ancient Romans demanded this as a part of the peace after the Second Punic War.