Sometimes a nation undergoes a major revolution, and completely changes its style of government. Sometimes people lose faith in the new style of government, and have another revolution soon after. Sometimes this happens over and over and over again, and that's the Revolving Door Revolution.
The reasons for this can be complex. Maybe the nation in question is extremely polarized in popular opinion? Maybe the successive governments aren't stable, or effective enough to last? Maybe the writers just think it makes for better drama (or better laughs, depending)?
These sorts of turnovers are particularly common in your stereotypical Banana Republic.
See also Full-Circle Revolution, where the new government is run by different people but policy-wise winds up being no different than the old. In a Revolving Door Revolution situation, successive governments may well be polar opposites (but see also The Horseshoe Effect).
- The French comic Benoit Brisefer features a Banana Republic with three quarreling generals, each of which is so spectacularly inept they can't stay in power for more than a week. The inhabitants have grown so used to it (and the soldiers so bad at aiming) they barely pay attention to who's in charge at the moment, charging extra for food that doesn't have bullet holes in it.
- In Tintin, General Tapioca and General Alcazar take turns deposing each other as dictator of San Theodoros (another Banana Republic). The government changes hands at least five times over the course of the series. They also fall under Full-Circle Revolution since, aside from slightly different uniforms and different names on the signs, their regimes aren't very different from each other.
Tapioca: Ah, an idealist, is he? Young chaps nowadays have absolutely no respect for anything... not even the oldest traditions!
- Played for Black Comedy in "The Broken Ear" where Tintin has been framed as a revolutionary and gets sent to the Firing Squad, then gets a Last-Minute Reprieve because the rebels have launched a coup, then gets sent to the firing squad again because there's been a counter-coup, only to be saved again when the rebels win after all.
- And in Tintin and the Picaros, Alcazar finally has Tapioca cornered... but in exchange for Tintin's help, has to spare Tapioca. Tapioca is just as horrified by the break in tradition as Alcazar is.
Alcazar: We live in sad times!
- In Robin Series the small fictional country of Transbelvia was once part of the soviet block, then had some chaos getting a government in place, and once that government was in place it proved to be ruthless and tyrannical causing another revolution that Tim gets caught in the middle of briefly when he goes to stop Lady Shiva from killing a young revolutionary who has been learning one-hit techniques from various martial arts schools.
- Wonder Woman Vol 1: The Masters of Neptunia were deposed by revolutionaries among their own people and earth heroes after they tried to enslave humanity. A few years later the new democratic government was overthrown by the Masters in a Military Coup.
- In Equestria: A History Revealed, the Griffon's homeland is said to fit this trope well, much to the LemonyNarrator's chagrin. Their Kingdom was overthrown by a Republic, which was then transformed into an Empire, and was overthrown itself. The leadership keeps changing so much that the Lemony Narrator just gives up and ceases further discussion on the topic.
- The Star Wars Legends continuity tells us that although the Old Galactic Republic lasted for thousands of years, after the Clone Wars the Galaxy went through a period of this. First the Galactic Empire, then the New Republic, then the Yuuzhan Vong Empire, then the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances, then the Fel Empire, then the Krayt empire...all in the span of about a century and a half.
- Referenced in Quantum of Solace regarding Central and South America:
Felix Leiter: Regimes change once a week around here. Medrano'll be no dirtier than the next guy
- The Avengers: Natasha Romanov claims this of her old country.
Natasha: Regimes fall every day. I tend not to weep over them; I'm Russian. Or rather, I used to be.
- In the mexican movie ''Su Excelencia", the ambassador of the bananian republic of Los Cocos, named Lopitos, became that after three coups on the same night. The last dictator is a relative of Lopitos.
- Congo. A group of armed and apparently agitated soldiers runs past the protagonists on the airport tarmac.
Eddie Ventro: Hiya, fellas!
Karen Ross: Who are they?
Eddie Ventro: Fucked if I know, and it don't pay to ask. We're on our third government in two years.
- In It Can't Happen Here, Buzz Windrip is elected president and quickly institutes a fascist regime in America. Several years later, his right-hand man Lee Saranson forces him into exile and seizes power. Saranson is later assassinated by Haik, who seizes power for himself. None of the coups result in any real changes for the American people.
- In the Chaos Timeline by Max Sinister, "Chaos" is the name given to the mess of failed states that cover much of the globe, where governments change every few months and borders every few years, so nobody tries to keep track of it all.
- William Butler Yeats' poem "The Great Day": "Hurrah for revolution and more cannon shot!/A beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot./Hurrah for revolution, and cannon come again!/The beggars have changed places, but the lash goes on."
- Growing up in a tumultuous era of Ankh-Morpork's history, Sam Vimes has this opinion of revolution. As he says in Night Watch:
Sam: Don't put your trust in revolutions. People die and nothing changes; that's why they're called revolutions. They always come round again.
- David Drake's RCN:
- The planet Kostroma in With the Lightnings is a client state of the Republic of Cinnabar that goes through coup d'etats every few years. The Cinnabar government pointedly could care less exactly who is on the throne as long as each new ruler maintains fealty to Cinnabar, but the conflict of the book stems from the latest coup being backed by Cinnabar's rival the Alliance of Free Stars in a proxy war.
- In The Way to Glory, the planet Yang is essentially Kostroma on steroids. Yang's natural state is civil war: no sooner does a warlord become a ruler than other warlords as bad as he is rise up to knock him off. The only exception was during a period when they were occupied by the Alliance and the Yangs ganged up to force them out (apparently the only time in recent history they've ever agreed on anything). The Alliance makes another try during the book, backing a rival to the current ruler in exchange for a military base against Cinnabar on Yang, but Daniel Leary royally screws that plan after coming to Yang to extract Cinnabar citizens from the current conflict.
- Eldraeverse has the Whatever of Kameqo, which in the past century alone has been everything from various forms of monarchy to socialist democracy and corporate states. At one point it was taken over by an NPC from a popular galactic MMO.
- Lampshaded in Spaceship Medic by Harry Harrison. While launching The Mutiny the villain enlists the help of a Mexican scientist on board, apparently thinking of his country's reputation for revolutions. However the scientist is just playing along and launches a counter-mutiny to put The Captain back in charge, whereupon he quips that the villain should have remembered his country's reputation for counter-revolutions as well.
- Blake's 7. Supreme Commander Servalan takes over the Federation in a Military Coup at the end of Season B, gets briefly deposed in coup d'état led by one of her Secret Police agents, then permanently deposed at the end of Season C by supporters of the previous system who quickly move to reconquer the planets the Federation lost during the Civil War. She continues to scheme to reacquire her power through the final season.
- At the start of Deep Space Nine, the Cardassians have just ended their fifty-year occupation of Bajor and left the planet drained of resources and on the verge of Civil War. The trope is lampshaded by the Ferengi merchant Quark. (Things don't turn out that way thanks to a Deus ex Machina at the end of the episode, but even then it's a near thing for the first few seasons).
Quark: Commander, I've made a career out of knowing when to leave, and this Bajoran Provisional Government is far too provisional for my taste. And when governments fall, people like me are lined up and shot.
- The Stinger of the video for Battle Beast's "King for a Day" depicts the new king doing one of the same publicity stunts that the old king had, with the former king being the prop for it, no less—thus implying the previous prop disabled person had been the king before him. The second pre-chorus has it, too:
The time has come
To dethrone him but there's a new clone stepping in
Just more scum
Another greedy, rotten puppet on a string
- Famously the Who in "We Won't Get Fooled Again"
Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss
- This trope is the theme of the Tim Pool song Will of the People. A fascist dictator crushes anyone who opposes his rule. A man whose parents were killed by the fascist regime gets his revenge by leading a successful communist revolution but soon becomes a dictator just a bad himself and is overthrown by a third political group. Before his execution, he has a Heel Realization and warns his successor that the cycle will continue. Sure enough, his successor is overthrown and executed by a fourth political group. The music video even includes a scene similar to the page image.
- In The Bible, the Northern Kingdom of Israel suffered from this. The second king, Nadab, was deposed by Baasha, whose successor Elah was deposed by Zimri, who was himself deposed seven days into his reign by Omri. The longest-lasting dynasty lasted five kings (Jehu's dynasty).
- The Border Kingdoms region in the Forgotten Realms setting is composed of a slew of small baronies ruled by powerful adventurers, each seeking to carve out a scrap of land and rule it as they see fit. Then another adventurer comes along, bumps them off, and sets himself up as the new baron, et cetera. A fluff piece titled "Master Tactician" has a cleric of the Red Knightnote working on conquering the baronies to stabilize the region, but we never find out if she succeeded.
- In the board game Junta, set in The Most Serene Republic of Los Bananas, it's rare to see a turn go by without someone trying to assassinate El Presidente, overthrow him in a military coup, or both. Of course, when the next Presidente is elected or appointed, the cycle of revolving-door presidents continues.
- In Pathfinder, the country of Galt is an obvious analogue for France—specifically France during the Reign of Terror, which it has been undergoing for 40+ years now, with no signs of stopping. During that time, it has seen over a dozen different governments, each new revolutionary council guillotining their predecessors, only to be overthrown themselves within five years. The only consistent power structure in Galt is the Weird Trade Union that maintains the magical guillotines themselves.
- The flying city of Columbia in Bioshock Infinite. It was founded by the United States in 1893, but eventually seceded from the Union in 1901. After the Secession, it became a Theocratic Dictatorship under Father Comstock. Then in 1912 the Anarcho-Communist Vox Populi launch a bloody revolution, and in one possible future Elizabeth, after being brainwashed by Comstock takes over and founds an even worse Theocratic Dictatorship that by 1983 leads Columbia to attack New York City.
- Sometimes in Crusader Kings II, you get a situation where there's multiple strong claimants to the throne of a kingdom and no single faction is strong enough to reliably hold the kingdom; this problem is compounded by the fact that new rulers face an opinion penalty from vassals that decreases over time, but is very large at the start. Accordingly, due in part to Artificial Stupidity there's often a merry-go-round where factions rise up and depose the old king, only for the new king to face another revolution. The cycle continues until either one king is finally strong enough to hold things together, or the kingdom splinters under the strain. In the 2.7 patch the devs added code to make AI faction members more willing to stay loyal to the claimant they originally backed, alleviating the problem somewhat.
- The Romulans went through several governments in a span of thirty years in the backstory of Star Trek Online. Power struggles went on throughout the 2380s in the wake of Shinzon's brief tenure as Praetor, with the Empire breaking in two at one point (one part seceded and crowned Commander Donatra their empress, then reunified with the rest). Then Praetor Chulan was murdered by Nero right after the Hobus supernova and a couple years of no government at all followed. Admiral Taris eventually came out on top and became Praetor, but got embroiled in a power struggle with the Senate and the military and was eventually forced out in a Military Coup that installed Sela as Praetor. Sela then crowned herself Empress and announced that the Senate would now serve at her pleasure. And then she got kidnapped by the Iconians in "Cutting the Cord", plunging the Empire into chaos again. Word of God said that as of the Delta Rising expansion, there's almost nothing left of what was formerly one of the three great powers of the Star Trek franchise. Meanwhile a mix of refugees, Reman rebels, Spock's Unificationist followers, and disaffected Imperials formed a democratic successor state, the Romulan Republic, which serves as the Romulan player faction, while the Tal Shiar control several planets in their own right.
- In Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg, if the Combined Syndicalists of America win the Second American Civil War and then the Totalists seize power, then Smedley Butler might march his army on Washington to force them out. If the war started because of MacArthur's knee-jerk Military Coup response to Jack Reed winning the presidency, it doubly counts (with Bookends thrown in to boot).
- The New Order Last Days Of Europe: Komi, one of Russia's warlord states and the only representative democracy at the start, is especially prone to these, because they were too open and welcomed everyone from every end of the political spectrum, even those that got kicked out of their cliques. As a result, the government tends to rapidly loop between representatives of nearly every segment of the political spectrum as influence wanes and grows, until someone manages to stay for more than two months.
- In The Republia Times, if you successfully support the rebels in Republia, it becomes "Democria." Your family is killed in the revolution, but the rebels set you up with a new wife and child and make you the editor-in-chief of the Democria Times. Democria is exactly the same as Republia, and soon a new rebellion asks for your support. Support that, and it's back to Republia...
- In The Order of the Stick, the Western Continent's empires rarely last a year, constantly getting overthrown by someone who sets up their own empire. Tarquin, after witnessing all this, decided to take advantage of it. He and his allies act as "advisors" to the rulers of the three largest territories, happily jumping ship whenever they get overthrown. Thus, the entire Continent is slowly being absorbed by three nations, but because their names are constantly changing, almost no one has noticed.
- In Imperium Nova this was the norm in Capricorn for a long time until an alliance of houses made the galaxy an Elective Monarchy.
- Homestar Runner: Discussed in the Strong Bad Email "licensed". One of Strong Bad's requirements for being a "licensed unlicensed seller" of bootleg Strong Bad merchandise is that "The country of manufacture has changed names five times since I was in seventh grade."
- The Byzantine Empire, where dynasties could last as much as two or three, or even one, emperors before being overthrown. Its predecessor the Roman Empire has it just the same with some emperors lasting no more than a year or two.
- For about 80 years from 1789, to 1870, the French underwent repeated revolutions and counter revolutions as Republicans and Monarchists (divided into three factions, each supporting a different dynasty, and a different style of monarchy) battled for control of the government. First came the Ancien Regime, then the First Republic (including the Reign of Terror, the Directorate and the Consulate as distinct phases inaugured through violent means), then the First Empire under Napoleon (1804-1814), then the First Bourbon Restoration, (1814-1815) then the 100 days, (1815) then the Second Bourbon Restoration, (1815-1830) then the July Monarchy, (1830-1848) then the Second Republic, (1848-1852) then the Second Empire, (1853-1870) before finally settling on the Third Republic in 1870, which was the first relatively stable French democracy (still prone to short-lived, unstable government), lasting 70 years (longer than any other government in France since the first revolution - interestingly, it was originally intended to just be a placeholder government until the monarchy was restored, but that fell apart when nobody could agree on which monarchy was to be restored) until 1940 when it was destroyed by the Nazis and replaced with the collaborationist regime based in Vichy. The Fourth Republic was established following WWII and had twenty-four successive cabinets in twelve years, with only one lasting over a year. The shortest-lived one only lasted two days. Then it collapsed in 1958 as France lost control of its colonies.note It was replaced by the Fifth Republic which has remained in power ever since, although there was still a threat of a student-organized revolution in 1968; it fell apart because the more wary industrial workers refused to side with them.
- In 1822 the Haitians invaded what is now the Dominican Republic and drove out the Spanish colonizers. Initially popular, the Dominicans eventually became fed up with the Haitian rule and drove them out, establishing the First Dominican Republic. Later, the Dominican leader made the unpopular move of requesting the Spanish to re-colonize the Dominican Republic, resulting in another civil war where Haitians fought alongside the very Dominicans the fought years earlier, to drive out the Spanish again.
- Several of the tiny states that made up Germany in the 19th century had small scale examples of Revolving Door Revolution, most famously the Revolutions of 1848, most of which where crushed by the monarchist establishment. In the 19th century, the most powerful of those tiny states, Prussia, reunited all the German speaking states (with the exceptions of Austria, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein) into a new "German Empire" in 1871. In 1914, the German Empire fights in World War One. In 1918, the German Empire is overthrown by the Weimar Republic. Part of Germany is given to the new nation of Poland, cutting off East Prussia from the rest of Germany. In 1933 Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany, and proceeds to overthrow the democratic Weimar Republic and conquer vast tracts of land. Losing World War II, Germany is again divided, this time into a Democratic West Germany, and a Communist East Germany. Following the collapse of Communism, the two Germanies reunite in 1990.
- China has a long history of old dynasties falling and another taking control. In the early 20th century, China went from being an Empire under the Qing dynasty, to a Republic following the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, which fell into civil war between the Nationalist Party and the Communist Party in 1927, resulting in a period of regional "war lords". This was complicated further by the Japanese invassion and occupation in 1937 that was later merged into the larger Second World War. Following the war, the Communist party seized total control of the mainland, with Taiwan being the sole surviving outpost of the Nationalist party, thus giving rise to a rivalry between the two nations that lasts to this day.
- Korea has a long history of being sometimes united, sometimes divided, sometimes independent, sometimes under foreign occupation. Due to it's location, it has, at various times, been under the influence of Japan, Russia, China, the Mongols, and the Manchurians. A "shrimp between rampaging whales" as one Korean historian put it. Between 1894 and 1895, China and Japan fought the first Sino-Japanese war over Korea. Ten years later between 1904 and 1905 Japan fought another war over Korea, this time with the Russian Empire. In 1910, Japan forced Korea to sign the JapanKorea Annexation Treaty, which made Korea a part of the Japanese Empire. The Korean people then suffered under Japanese Occupation until the end of the Second World War, when it was split between the Communist North, and the Pro-Western South. Between 1950 and 1953 the North and South fought the Korean war, with the Americans and their allies intervening on behalf of the South, and with the Soviets, Chinese, and their allies intervening on behalf of the North. The peace that ended the war established a new border at the "DMZ", and formed an uneasy peace that has lasted more of less intact for 60 years. South Korea has had it's own cases of Revolving Door Revolution, with the First Republic lasting from 1948-1960, until President Syngman Rhee, who was becoming increasingly more corrupt and dictatorial was overthrown in the "April Revolution" of 1960. The Second Republic lasted from 1960-1961, until it was overthrown by a military Junta called the "Supreme Council for National Reconstruction" that held power from 1961-1963. This was followed by the Third Republic, which lasted from 1963-1972. In 1972 a new Constitution was adopted, creating the Fourth Republic, which lasted until the assassination of President Park Chung-hee. The so called "Fifth Republic" wasn't really a Republic at all, but another military dictatorship under the rule of Chun Doo-hwan from 1979-1987. The Sixth republic was put in place in 1987, and remains in place to this day.
- From the way things are going Egypt is becoming this trope, after then-president Mubarak was kicked from power in 2011, Mohamed Morsi quickly won the seat of the presidency, made moves towards islamist-style rule, and within two years and with another wave of civil dissidence he was thrown out of office and arrested by a military coup. The military's leader, General Sisi, has since become President and is now another strongman.
- The English Reformation under Henry VIII seemed like this. On one hand, his severing of the English church's ties to Rome meant that Protestant lawyers, theologians, and government ministers who would have otherwise met with ostracism or persecution were rewarded with high posts in his government. On the other hand, because he was not particularly radical in his own theology, Henry would often give patronage to Catholic conservatives and counter-reformers when he felt his church was going too far towards Lutheranism. The result was a rather frightening political scene in England, where a man could end up losing everything because the royal policy on religion did an about-face overnight.
- Burkina Faso is in one of these as we speak. It started in 1987 with a coup against President Thomas Sankara (who had ruled since independence from France) by his associate Blaise Compaoré. An attempt by him in 2014 to amend the constitution to make him President for Life (he already effectively was but the amendment would make it official) resulted in a popular uprising ending in his ouster and an interim government promising free elections. This government was then overthrown in a September 2015 Military Coup by Compaoré's Presidential Guard. The interim government briefly created a Government in Exile, but the Presidential Guard were then forced out by the regular military, which handed power back to the interim government.