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The Coup

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"I've seen coups from Angola to Zanzibar, and this is how it ends: in the trunk of a taxi to the airport, your belly full of diamonds and vodka, praying your driver doesn't rat you out to the Reds at the last checkpoint because then the last thing you'll ever hear, besides a pistol cocking behind your head, is Ivan's laugh."
Malory Archer, Archer

A coup is essentially a seizure of power by force, blackmail, or other illegal manners. In fiction, it is usually done by the military, or an Evil Chancellor at the head of a Decadent Court; in some cases, uncivilized bands of revolutionaries will also take power for themselves. It is a very risky gambit, and often includes plotting, securing alliances, and keeping it in the dark until the coup happens. Alternatively, guy walks into the throne room waving a sword around telling everyone he's king. Often leads to The Purge. If the one carrying out the coup is in turn overthrown himself, you may have a Revolving Door Revolution. If it happens in your own country and results in a dictatorial fascist/communist regime arising, it's a Day of the Jackboot.

Short for coup d'état, or "stroke of state" (which in practice means "blow against the state"), this is a very useful trope to exemplify a significant change or instability of a nation or region, stable countries tend to not be as susceptible to coups and power grabs, while unstable (in modern day terms, third-world also works), and relatively new countries are vulnerable to power struggles and coups.

Different from a Revolution, whether it will not be vilified or civilized, in that it typically happens from inside the government or military of the country whose power is being seized, while revolutions typically come out of the common folk. Coups tend to not have large battles or start a war, but are an isolated event that will, at most, kill dozens of leaders. Also different from an invasion for similar reasons; invasions come from outside the country, coups happen inside of it, even if the initial plot comes from, or is aided by, the outside.

When the coup is led by a military officer with the backing of the army and institutes martial rule, it's a Military Coup. Many coups in Real Life tend to be of this type, but note that a coup need not be led by a military officer. Sometimes, even the actual ruler can pull off a coup if it involves seizing power he doesn't normally have — this is known as an autogolpe, or "self-coup" (for example if a President isn't re-elected, but decides to disregard this and try to keep himself in power illegally). Compare Regime Change, when the leadership of a foreign country is removed against its will at the behest of one of their neighbors. If it happens within the military only, see The Mutiny.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the first Appleseed film General Edward Uranus, the CO of Olympus' regular army, attempts a coup out of Fantastic Racism against Bioroids. The coup falls apart after Deunan Boom Headshots his second-in-command, and Uranus surrenders.
  • Area 88: Nadato Balla Homme loses power due to a coup and his forced to flee Bambara with his wife Lydia and his children Layla and Rodhe.
  • Attack on Titan: During the Uprising Arc, the shadow conspiracy in charge of the government attempts to do The Purge against the Survey Corp and capture Eren for sinister purposes. When Erwin is taken for a trial, he manages a ploy with Commander Pixis to do a Engineered Public Confession by convicing the nobles that Wall Rose has fallen. When they make clear their intentions to abandon more than half of humanity to die this convinces Commander-in-Chief Zackly and the rest of the military to defect and install Historia Reiss as the queen. Since Historia had a valid claim (she was the daughter of the "true" king Rod Reiss).
    • Later in the series the Yeagerists stage a coup against the military junta, killing Zackly and taking over the military, using it for their plans to wage war against Marley.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ: Glemmy Toto attempts to launch one against Haman Khan, using his claims to Zabi lineage to get the people and the military behind him. The only thing this really accomplishes is to split Zeon's forces on the eve of battle against Federation aligned forces, weakening both factions to the point where they could be defeated, resulting in the death of both leaders and a Federation victory.
  • Murder Princess: Dr. Akamashi's coup forms the premise.
  • Naruto: Itachi killed the entire Uchiha clan as a mission from the elders of Konoha because they were planning a coup.
  • In One Piece, the Vinsmoke family took over the North Blue region several years ago, killing its previous leaders, and ruled over it with its military might. This is what made the Vinsmoke family and by extension their Germa 66 armies so infamous. It's currently unknown how and why they stopped ruling the North Blue, but Judge, the Vinsmoke patriarch, wants to rule it again, implying they were eventually overthrown.
  • Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle:
    • Five years before the start of the story, Count Atismata gathered people of The Resistance and staged an uprising against the Arcadia Empire with an army of 12,000 soldiers and 207 Drag-Knights they marched to the Imperial Capital. Even with those numbers they would have lost if not for the "Black Hero": the seventh prince of the Empire, Lux, who singlehandedly defeated the Empire's army of 1,200 Drag-Rides. In the end the coup was successful but Count Atismata and his youngest daughter died, leaving his relative Raffi to become the Queen of the New Kingdom and his elder daughter Lizsharte, who was captured by the Empire early in the coup, to become the Princess. Further complicating things, the coup was actually a plan arranged between Lux and his older half-brother Fugil, First Prince of the Empire. Lux wanted to bring a peaceful end to the Empire, but Fugil betrayed him by murdering the entire Imperial Court and the Empire's Drag-Knights whom Lux had defeated without killing.
    • Centuries ago, the Arcadia Empire itself was formed after a coup against the tyrannical Holy Arcadia Empire, and they also had Fugil's help in doing so. Unfortunately, they were on their way to becoming just as corrupt as their predecessors, leading to the above-mentioned coup.
  • Monster Musume: This is played for laughs during the Farm Arc. Main character Kimihito is forced to work off a debt owed to a corporation by aiding them on this farm of only monster ladies filled with minotaurs, fauns, and satyrs. Originally not all the ladies were active participants in the work and maintenance of the facility. One of his many jobs includes attaching the women's breasts up to milk-pumping machines. One of minotaurs he knew from a previous arc is also present and asks him to milk her by hand, as his touch is far nicer and pleasurable than the cold machine. This starts making every woman present interested in his touch and technique, the Satyrs most of all. In order to allow him more time to milk them, the fauns start working on cleaning the communal house and making food while the minotaurs work a bit harder on the field. On the eve of what is supposed to be his final night at the farm he is grabbed by a horde of minotaurs and fauns who are under the effects of the full moon and expressing their desires to have him stay. It is then he is saved by the satyrs. Due to their natural horniness, they are not affected by the full moon. The satyrs reveal they had been studying his techniques for milking breasts and can replicate them on the other women. Their skills are so good, it allows Kimihito to be set free and the satyrs now run the place because of their new skills in milking. The satyrs enjoy their new place on the ladder because they are still being paid, don't have to work like they did before, and they love touching other women's breasts.
  • Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles: The Kingdom of Beltrum goes through one when the disgruntled noble, Duke Arbor, takes advantage public dissatisfaction over a war with Proxia to overthrow the royal family as well as Duke Huguenot's faction.

    Comic Books 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): The coup performed by Dr. Robotnik. It's also pulled off in the Cosmic Retcon-changed universe by Dr. Eggman. The details of what exactly happened change from continuity to continuity, but certain events remain the same - the mad scientist taking over Mobotropolis by casting King Acorn into another dimension and having his robotic army capture others.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • The Judges got into power by staging a coup against the President Evil who plunged the world into nuclear war, justifying it as a necessary action to overthrow a tyrant. Then they absorbed the army as well for siding with the President in the civil war, and disbanded Congress for their inaction, leaving Justice Department as the sole remaining government apparatus.
    • Judge Bachman, the head of black ops, tries to stage a coup against Chief Judge Hershey in Trifecta. Her plan involved brainwashing people to follow a bogus cult so they would be willing to sacrifice themselves, and building a new Mega City on the moon to replace the old one.
    • Judge Death and his Dark Judges got into power by staging a coup of their own in their home dimension. There was a bloody insurrection for a while when they started to consolidate their control over Justice Department. Not every Judge was exactly onboard with the whole "life is illegal" new course.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): The Earth-One Hippolyta is dethroned and the monarchy abolished in a successful coup headed by her advisor Antiope.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Athena plots and carries out a careful plan to usurp Zeus's throne where she carefully followed the flexible rules of Olympus to make herself legitimate, however since Zeus is the one with the final say over whether or not someone has broken the rules he proclaims her an illegitimate usurper and tries to retake the throne with his brothers' support. He finally admits defeat and proclaims Athena's method of taking the throne legitimate after Ares kills Hades.
  • Star Trek: Early Voyages: In "Our Dearest Blood", Rigellian extremists staged a coup against the government of Rigel VII as they were opposed to their planet's admittance to the Federation, the resulting abandonment of the centuries old policy of isolation and the impending disbandment of the Kaylar warrior elite. They attacked the Enterprise crewmembers who were enjoying shore leave on Rigel VII, resulting in three of them being killed (including Yeoman Dermot Cusack) and seven being injured (including Nano and Sita Mohindas). As a result, Rigel VII's admission was denied. However, in "Nor Iron Bars a Cage", Yeoman Colt mentions that the sacrifice of the Enterprise crewmembers inspired many Rigellians to expunge the barbaric elements of their society and that it was possible that Rigel VII could still join the Federation one day.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: During the climax of the Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon arc, it's revealed that Pitina Voor, the Empire's Minister of Propaganda, has grown disgusted with Palpatine's For the Evulz style of rule, seeing it as a threat to the true peace that the Empire can bring. So, she's enabled a plot by the Rebellion to assassinate the Emperor, so that she can then swoop in, eliminate the Rebels when they try to claim victory after the assassination, and then seize control of the Empire in the resulting power vacuum. Unfortunately for her, Aphra deduces that the "raiders" that killed her mother when she was a child were actually part of one of Voor's False Flag Operations, and in revenge, she arranges an Engineered Public Confession that ruins Voor's plans and leads to her death by Vader.
    • Star Wars: Bounty Hunters: In Issue #20, Vukorah assassinates the Grand Leader of the Unbroken Clan and purges all his loyalists so that she can assume control of the syndicate and pledge its services to Crimson Dawn.
  • Subverted in Nexus. Tyrone was originally just another refugee on Ylum, but angry at Nexus for not returning to Tyrone's planet to overthrow its whole corrupt government. While Nexus was away from Ylum for a while, Tyrone organized an election among the refugees to choose a president (Ylum had no government at this point) and won. In truth, he was really just doing it to annoy Nexus; it never even occurred to him that Horatio would be fine with it and let him keep the job since he never viewed himself as the planet's leader anyway. And, as much to Tyrone's own surprise as anyone's, he turned out to be good at the job.
  • Superman:
    • In Supergirl storyline Crucible, Roho stages a coup against the king and queen of planet Ngo in revenge for being disowned. During the revolt, he kills his parents off while his partisans raze the capital city to the ground.
    • The Phantom Zone: Believing that Krypton has become ripe for conquest after experiencing long years of peace, Dru-Zod raises a clone army and launches a coup. He is defeated, caught and sent into the Phantom Zone.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender - Smoke and Shadow: The New Ozai Society finally acts, preparing an ambush for Prince Zuko when he returns home from The Search.
  • DIE: At the end of the second arc, Ash takes control of the magical mechanisms that keeps all the Dictators in Angria in line, then has them use their powers on the aristocracy, making them crown Ash as Queen.
  • Tintin was fond of this:
    • Coups are basically the totality of the political process in the Republic of San Theodoros: two factions, led by General Alcazar and General Tapioca, are at each other's throats for the entire length of the series, with one faction seizing power and the other going into opposition, until such time as it can take back power and drive its rival into opposition, and so forth. The story is generally told from Alcazar's point of view, but only because Tintin is a friend of his and can therefore exert some appeal on his better angels: otherwise, it's made pretty clear that there's no real difference between his government and Tapioca's.
    • A similar though not quite as unstable situation exists in the Kingdom of Khemedi Arabia, between the ruling Emir Mohammed bin Kalish Ezab, and his enemy Sheikh Bab El Ehr. Once again, Tintin has personal ties to one of the two, but the story makes it clear that both of them are cruel, capricious, and generally tyrannical rulers.
  • Happens a few times in Buck Danny:
    • The "oil gangsters" plot line revolves around an attempt by an unscrupulous oil company to overthrow the Sheikh of the Oulai in order to exploit the oil resources on his territory. The heroes, recently demobilized after World War II, start out as pilots for the oil company, but quickly switch sides to warn the Sheikh and ultimately prevent the coup when they realize what their employers are planning.
    • The Vien Tan story arc straddles the line between this and a revolution. It's loosely based on The Vietnam War, but instead of a communist revolution, the power struggle is between an American-friendly king and his rebellious nephew, who's being bought off by a Nebulous Evil Organization and their Hired Guns to seize power and grant them the rights to the minerals in his country's soil.
    • The fictional country of Managua is especially prone to this. During the "nuclear alert" story arc set in The '80s, it's portrayed as a fragile democracy, whose chief of staff, General Sanchez, is plotting to seize power and install a dictatorship (unwittingly allying himself with the story's main villains, who pretend to be supporters of his new government). When we return to it in The '90s, Sanchez has succeeded in taking power: however, The Cartel he's in league with is now plotting a coup of its own to replace him with a more pliable partner. In order to prevent this, the heroes ally with yet another officer, General Ortega, to launch his own coup first, overthrowing Sanchez and then rallying the military to stop the Cartel's takeover.

    Fan Works 

  • In the Better Bones AU, the cleric Pearnose overthrows his leader Morningstar and becomes leader herself out of frustration about Morningstar's pacifism.
  • Blind Courage ends with a coup against Zelda's father so that Zelda can be crowned queen. It ends easily after everyone learns about what happened seven years ago.
  • Chasing Dragons:
    • After a pragmatic faction takes over Norvos and starts negotiating with Braavos to end slavery, reactionary forces seize power and purge the abolitionists.
    • Following Stannis' death from The Plague, Renly becomes convinced that Cersei poisoned him in order to seize power and turn Prince Lyonel into a Puppet King. In response, Renly arrests her and her supporters, taking control of the Red Keep and putting King's Landing under martial law until such time that Lyonel can return from his governorship of the Iron Islands to take the throne.
  • A Dragon's Roar:
    • Rhaegar effectively stages one when his Civil War with Daeron begins, as he puts Aerys under house arrest and replaces the whole Small Council (except for Varys) with men he knows to be personally loyal to him rather than his father. And then he finalizes it by allowing Rhaella to kill Aerys in his sleep.
    • Another one ends the war. After Rhaegar's death in battle, his wife Laela takes over his court in their son Aegon's name and tries to fight on. In response, Rhaella and her own loyalists seize control of the Red Keep and imprison or kill all of Rhaegar's remaining followers, handing the capital over to Daeron.
  • Erika the Radical: Karen Nakahashi pulls one off against the entire Nishizumi school, by threatening to leak (doctored) compromising photos of Vice-Commander Erika if the Kuromorimine team cannot beat her and her rebels in an impromptu tankery match within 3 hours. She even tricks the Maintenance team the night before into prepping most of the heavy tanks for her rebels by forging Maho's signature.
  • A Jade Dragon:
    • Princess Khiara manipulates her half-brother Yujin into killing the Emperor and starting a civil war that her faction is quick to take the upper hand in, allowing her to take the throne.
    • Eventually getting sick of Joffrey's terrible rule, and needing a scapegoat to appease the Reach and Dorne for their losses in the war against Stannis, Tywin and the rest of the Small Council (save for Jaime and Cersei) remove him from power and execute him, propping up Myrcella as a new Puppet Queen.
    • Following the revelation that the "Aegon" they were supporting was an imposter, Arianne and Oberyn stage a soft coup, convincing Sunspear's guards to side with them and placing Doran and Trystane under house arrest while Arianne takes over running Dorne.
  • In Kara of Rokyn, Faora Hu-Ul rallies the Phantom Zoners and stages a coup against the Science Council in order to take over planet Rokyn.
  • Loved and Lost: In the fifth chapter, Twilight Sparkle stops the Changeling invasion herself with the spell Prince Jewelius showed her earlier. Immediately after this, Jewelius calls all the other heroes — Princess Celestia, Shining Armor and Twilight's friends — out of their canon mistakesnote , telling everyone in Canterlot half-truths which the shocked heroes are unable to refute out of hand. When the heroes make the mistake of trying to flee, everyone turns against them, allowing Jewelius to exile them and proclaim himself "Holy King Jewelius I". The 11th chapter reveals that he originally intended to overthrow the princesses by convincing Chrysalis to commit her invasion and helping her infiltrate Canterlot, but after he met Twilight and witnessed the canon Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure, he altered his plans and betrayed Chrysalis, effectively turning the failed invasion into a successful coup.
  • More Than Human: It's heavily implied that Brick's 5-year plan involves staging a coup to take over JS, Inc. Reinforced by the fact that Mrs. Morbucks is counting on him to forge a business partnership with PRM. It seems inevitable at this point, seeing as how Darius is the new John Smith.
  • Spoofed in Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!. Izuku's overwhelming combat performance makes him a shoe-in to be elected class president even though he doesn't want the position or the extra attention. But during the panic caused by the alarms going off, Tenya manages to show his stuff as a leader while Izuku was busy sparring with Mirio. When Izuku manages to catch up to his friends, they cheerfully tell him that there's been a coup and he's no longer class president, which he's totally fine with.
  • The Night Unfurls: During a time before the events of the fanfic, The Leader of the Black Dogs, Vault, has secured alliances with a section of the Eostian noble houses, plotting to achieve his dream of taking over the country, betraying the Seven Shields Alliance, and creating a Sex Slave empire. The plot has been kept in dark until the Black Dogs manage to achieve victory against the Dark Elf Queen, and Vault, winning the support of the Always Chaotic Evil orcs, starts his attack. The rest of the story involves dealing with the elements of this coup.
  • In Origins, the Republic Intelligence Service institutes a coup against the incompetent, corrupt, and ineffective Trans-Galactic Republic under the guise of fighting off an Alien Invasion. Citizen reactions range from apathetic to supportive since the existing government doesn't seem to to be able to fight the new menace.
  • The Petriculture Cycle: In Inscape: A variation: The Nightmare possesses Twilight Sparkle and tries to use her to usurp Celestia and Luna as ruler of Equestria. Twilight, logical and by-the-book as always, goes about this by holding a forum and offering logical arguments for why the royal sisters should cede the throne to her. It later turns out that The Nightmare still wants a violent coup, and she’s manipulating Twilight to that end. However, Twilight is freed from the possession before anything can come of this.
  • The Raven's Plan sees a number of people sent back in time to try and avert the Second Long Night. To this end, many of them end up taking control of various locations to attempt preventions of the power struggles which weakened Westeros beforehand:
    • Sam takes control of Horn Hill from his father, backed by those soldiers who fought the Others with him, and the rest of his family when they realize how cruelly Randyll treated Sam.
    • Yara overthrows Balon as ruler of the Iron Islands, backed by all the major captains who remember how moronic his ambitions turned out to be.
    • Tyrion removes Tywin as ruler of Casterly Rock, backed by his family members who remember how Tywin's ruthlessness enabled Cersei's rise to power (which in turn ruined their House).
    • Daenerys seizes control of Pentos, backed by the rebelling slaves and Dothraki who remember her as the Breaker of Chains and Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea.
    • The overall goal of the first part of the fic is to depose Robert and have Jon take his rightful place on the throne so Westeros can properly prepare for the Others' return. In fact, an argument can be made that it's already happened: as of this writing, the North, the Riverlands, the Vale, and the Westerlands have all pledged themselves to House Targaryen, with the Reach and the Iron Islands soon to follow. With Dorne torn apart by their own Civil War and not inclined to side with either side due to Elia Martell, and the Crownlands divided, only the Stormlands actually follow Robert. At this point, Jon is not just the rightful king, but also the actual king in all but name.
  • The W.I.T.C.H. fanfic Ripples has the Darkest Winter Night at its climax, wherein Allora attempts to regain power by killing Weira and pinning the blame on Phobos, so that she and her traditionalist allies can remove Weira's progressive court and establish Allora as regent for the newborn Elyon, who would grow into a Puppet Queen. While the coup fails with Allora's death, the misinformation campaign is more successful, triggering a Civil War which leads to the canonical Rebellion.
  • The Naruto fanfic Son of the Sannin has the Uchiha Clan going through with their coup from canon. While it's ultimately unsuccessful, the attack leaves lasting effects for the rest of the story, at it cuts Konoha's military manpower over a third, and forces the ninja academy to up their standards for the genin.
  • This Bites!: During the Sabaody Revolution Arc, the Straw Hats coordinate with the few non-corrupt political and law enforcement officials in the Sabaody Archipelago to oust the corrupt ones, in order to better enable the crew's plan to completely dismantle the islands' slave trade.
  • To Hell and Back (Arrowverse): The main plot of Act II of Arc IV is Talia's attempt to usurp control of the League of Assassins from her father and sister.
  • White Sheep (RWBY): During the negotiations with Atlas, Jaune eventually gives up on being nice and summons a bunch of Grimm in the council chambers, then escapes with all his allies and everything he wanted from the start. As they are leaving, Jaune fights General Ironwood, who nearly manages to kill him in single combat. Except it turns out that was all staged. When Jaune finally realized the politicians could not capitulate to his perfectly reasonable demands, he and Ironwood cooked up a plan to fake a war, which puts the country under martial law and makes Ironwood the only person with any authority. Then they can just fake fighting for a few weeks until Ironwood "forces" Jaune to "accept" peace. Salem decides to make a scrapbook of her son's first coup, while Cinder jumps up and down while watching the broadcast, laughing like a kid.
    Cinder: That's my little brother! I taught him that!
  • In Ghosts of the Past, General Lukin pulls this in Chapter 12 when President Volodya tries to shut down the Red Room for pissing off Asgard. Lukin has the Red Son wipe out the soldiers he brought with him to the meeting, then shoots Volodya himself. This allows Lukin, through his patsies, to become de facto ruler of Russia and their sphere of influence.

    Film — Animated 
  • The Lion King (1994). Mufasa is killed by Scar so he can become king. Simba eventually launches a countercoup to regain his throne. The basic story is inspired by Hamlet.
  • My Little Pony: A New Generation: The pegasus royals ends up on the receiving end of this after the pegasi discover that none of the royal family can actually fly, and merely pretend to be able to by wires, leading to them being overthrown by their outraged subjects. Queen Haven's own guards arrest her and chase her all the way to Bridlewood when she escapes her cell, while the princesses flee the city.

    Film — Live Action 
  • 6 Underground: The entire plot of the film is about a billionaire's private team of special operatives engineering an uprising against Rochav Alimov, the brutal dictator of Turgistan in favor of his democracy-loving brother Murat. They accomplish this by first assassinating his loyalist generals, then breaking Murat out of his Gilded Cage prison and hijacking Turgistan's airwaves so that he can broadcast a message to the people, calling on them to rise up. With the officers now in charge of the military unwilling to follow Rochav's orders to brutally suppress the revolting population, Murat is easily able to convince them to put him in charge. Rochav, meanwhile, is captured by the protagonists and left at the mercy of his people.
  • The Death of Stalin depicts the coup against NKVD Chief Levrenty Beria, primarily lead by Nikita Khrushchev. Later in the film, Khrushchev pushes aside Stalin's Number Two Georgy Malenkov, though this time it doesn't end with a bullet in his head.
  • December Heat: The whole film is about a failed communist coup in Estonia.
  • Hellraiser: Bloodline: It's implied that this or a kind of purist revolution happened sometime in Hell itself, turning Hell from its "traditional" form (represented by Angelique) into what the Cenobites represent.
  • If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do??: This is how the communists will take over the United States. It will happen "within fifteen minutes after zero hour", improving from the supposed week it took them to take over China.
  • James Bond runs into this a few times:
    • In Tomorrow Never Dies, Elliot Carver plots to incite a war between Britain and China. The war is supposed to culminate in the Chinese Politburo being wiped out (ostensibly in a British cruise missile strike), enabling Carver's Chinese partner, General Chang, to take over the government and negotiate a cease fire. (And then granting Carver exclusive broadcasting rights in China for the next hundred years).
    • Die Another Day portrays a North Korean government divided between moderates like General Moon and hard-liners like his son and several other generals. Towards the end of the movie, the hard-liners stage a coup, take over the government, and attempt to invade and conquer South Korea. (Borders on Artistic License – Politics, as North Korea is one of the most personalistic regimes in the world: it would be very difficult for factions as distinct and powerful as these to develop given how tightly the ruler — Kim Jong Il at the time of the movie, and Kim Jong Un today — controls politics).
    • Quantum of Solace revolves around a plot by the renegade General Medrano to overthrow the elected government of Bolivia, with assistance from the CIA and the shadowy organization Quantum. It's stated that this isn't the first time Quantum has done this, with their representative taking credit for the (real life) overthrow of President Aristide of Haiti in similar circumstances. It isn't the first time for Medrano either, as allusions are made to his having participated in the violent overthrow of the junta Camille's father was a part of.
  • The Man in the Iron Mask: The plot centers around a group of musketeers who want to substitute their tyrannical king Louis XIV with his more compassionate twin brother Phillippe, who was kept prisoner to prevent him from taking the throne. They break him out of prison to perform a Coup.
    Aramis: This is the perfect solution! A revolution without bloodshed. Or treason, for Phillippe is also a king's son.
  • In Man of Steel, Zod, some of his officers and loyal henchmen storm Krypton's high council and gun down a few of its members. They then declare that they would execute the remaining leaders for treason by reason of incompetent leadership and then assume control of Krypton. The coup fails due to Jor-El intervening and the surviving loyalist forces rallying after the initial shock.
  • October: The successful Bolshevik takeover in Red October.
  • In Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Barillo and General Marquez try to pull off one of these on Mexico in a plan cooked up by Agent Sands that spirals out of his control. They fail due to the combined efforts of the Mariachi (who Sands had hired to kill Marquez once the coup was complete), his allies, Sands himself after losing his eyes and pulling a Heel–Face Turn, and the people of Culiacan.
  • Twice in the Star Trek movie universe:
    • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country revolves around a peace overture between the Federation and Klingon Empire that terrify the hard line militarists in their governments. This culminates in a conspiracy in which renegade officers on both sides murder the Klingon Chancellor and nearly manage to murder his successor and the Federation President, in order to kill the peace process and install governments more sympathetic to their interests.
    • At the start of Star Trek: Nemesis a cadre of Romulan military officers and a disgruntled senator assassinate the rest of the Romulan Senate so they can install Shinzon as Praetor. They eventually realize he's a total nutbar and turn on him.
  • Notably downplayed in Star Wars. When the original trilogy came out, we knew only that The Empire was a dictatorship that had replaced a democratic Republic at some point in the recent past, with no details given as to how. The prequel trilogy eventually revealed that while the future Emperor incited a ton of crimes (even a revolution) to bring about this result, the Republic ultimately turned into an Empire entirely legally, with the Senate voting its Chancellor more and more Emergency Authority that made him a de-facto dictator until he could simply proclaim himself The Emperor with no pushback. There was a coup involved, but it was the Jedi's attempt to overthrow him when they finally realized what he was doing. He's delighted to point out that this would have been completely illegal, especially since the Jedi planned to summarily execute him without any pretense of a trial and didn't even consult with the Senate, the Courts, or the military (admittedly all institutions that he already controlled) beforehand. Palpatine does eventually launch a coup, but it happens during the original trilogy and falls in the self-coup category: his unilateral dissolution of the Senate in favor of direct military rule.
  • In the first Sukeban Deka-movie, the Big Bad Hattori was considered death after a failed coup d'etat against the Japanese government. The movie's plot is about his preparations for a second try.
  • Thirteen Days:
    • Comes up when the Kennedy White House receives two letters from the Soviets, one from Nikita Khrushchev himself, and later one, which is much for hardline, from someone else. U.S. officials come to the conclusion that the Soviet Union has had a a coup and Khrushchev's administration has been replaced with a far more militant government. Eventually they figure out that there wasn't one, Khrushchev is just trying to appease the warmongers and General Rippers in his own government.
    • Also invoked as to why, following President Kennedy's huge verbal spat with Generals Powell and LeMay over DEFCON status, the administration can't just fire them as Bobby suggests - it risks looking like there had been an attempted coup (it's not made clear who would be couping whom, but it would look really bad either way) and in any case would seriously weaken the US's bargaining position by making its military strength look compromised.
  • This is a key moment of TRON: Legacy canon, depicted in the film, animated series, and TRON: Evolution. Clu, backed up with the System Guard (and Dyson) ambush Flynn and Tron to usurp control iof the system. The former flees and lives on in self-imposed exile while The Grid burns around him. The latter ends up with a few fates worse than de-rez.
  • The Year of Living Dangerously: Attempted by the PKI, thwarted by Suharto, who then stole power from Sukarno. This is all explained by Kumar after Guy's eye is hurt.

  • The 1982 novel A Very British Coup, later adapted into a 1988 TV movie under that title and a 2012 TV miniseries called Secret State, is about the election of a socialist Labour party prime minister, and the right wing plots to dispose of him.
  • Alouette: When Roban refuses to cooperate, Richard tells him he has just been pensioned, and has his son Dunark take the throne immediately.
  • The Book of Mormon:
    • In the Book of Alma, Amalickiah attempts one in Zarahemla but is rebuffed and goes over to the Lamanites. There he engineers a string of coups that puts him, first, in charge of all the Lamanite armies, and then over the Lamanite kingdom.
    • Later in that book, the chief judge Pahoran is briefly driven out of Zarahemla by the king-men. He calls Captain Moroni to put down the usurpers.
    • In the Book of Helaman, a coup is attempted against the newly elected Chief Judge by one of his opponents, but he is quickly caught and executed. Then his followers assassinate the new judge anyway.
    • Later Nephi, son of Helaman, prophetically identifies the murderer of another chief judge, who killed him in an attempt to claim the position for himself.
    • Another one occurs in 3 Nephi when a conspiracy overthrows the government but any attempt to take over quickly devolves into chaos.
  • Childe Cycle: Dorsai! and Soldier, Ask Not has these as part of background events, usually part of some larger plan.
  • "The Encyclopedists": Salvor Hardin, mayor of Terminus City on the planet Terminus, starts a coup against the Board of Trustees to take over the Foundation. The next story, "The Mayors", starts some time after the coup has succeeded.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's The Fall of Númenor: At the beginning of the Second Age, Sauron poses as a Maia called Annatar to trick the Elves into forge the rings of power which will let him dominate them. Galadriel and Celeborn, though, do not trust him and will not let him enter Eregion even though the Elven smiths are very interested in Annatar's teachings. Eventually, Annatar ends up convincing the Elves of Eregion that Galadriel and Celeborn are bad rulers which are hindering their realm by keeping him and his gifts out of it, and his pupil -and Galadriel's second cousin- Celebrimbor stages a coup, ousting Celeborn and Galadriel and seizing power in Eregion.
  • The Footprint of Mussolini:
    • Unlike in OTL, Hitler is successfully killed in Operation Valkyrie. Though circumstances keep the coup plotters from seizing control of the Reich government before Himmler can, they're able to set up a provisional rival government in Hamburg, which gets backing from the Allies by means of supporting a defecting Rommel's "Free German Army" against the SS and the factions of the Wehrmacht staying loyal to Himmler.
    • After Pavelić leads Croatia into a war of extermination against Serbia over protests from the rest of the Roman Alliance (threatening to split the power bloc and/or start World War III by pissing off the Soviets), the other Fascist powers enable King Timoslav and the exiled Dido Kvaternik to overthrow Pavelić, purging him and his loyalists in order to install a government that will tow the Alliance's company line.
    • As in real life, Bey Muhammad VIII al-Amin of Tunisia is overthrown. In this timeline, however, it's assassination at the hands of his own bodyguards, for the purpose of swearing allegiance to the UAR at the start of the Second Arabian War.
    • In an act of desperation at the end of the Second Arabian War, Sadat poisons the completely delusional Nasser so that he can take over leadership of what's left of Egypt and surrender to Israel and the Roman Alliance while there's still a chance.
    • Due to the perception of having bungled his duties as leader, especially after the Second Arabian War, Suslov is able to convince Molotov and Malenkov to turn on Khrushchev, executing him and arresting his loyalists, allowing Suslov to take his place.
    • With the Soviet populace hitting their breaking point with the government after learning about Suslov's Moon-Landing Hoax and Yuri Gagaran's defection to the West as a result, Malenkov uses the public outcry to oust Suslov from power and take over as premier. And when he enacts liberalizing reforms, Communist hardliners headed by Molotov and Andropov place him under house arrest to take power for themselves and undo his work. This results in a general uprising, aided by the army against the KGB, which forces the hardliners to stand down and restore Malenkov to power.
  • Frederick Forsyth has done this a few times:
    • The Day of the Jackal, his most famous work, is about a coup attempt by French ex-military terrorists disgruntled at France's imminent withdrawal from Algeria, who hire a Professional Killer to assassinate President Charles De Gaulle so that they can seize power.
    • The Dogs of War is about a team of mercenaries hired by a British industrialist to overthrow the communist dictator of a West African nation. It works, but instead of installing the puppet the industrialist wanted, the mercenaries simply give power to a more honorable general they'd met in a previous African campaign, leaving him without the monopoly he'd been hoping for over the nation's resources.
    • Icon plays with this. It concerns the rise to power of a fascist party in The New Russia, but the main concern is the fascists seizing power not through coup, but through democratic elections. So the heroes are forced to partially fake and partially incite a coup attempt, making the Russian military and police - not to mention the public - believe that a fascist coup is in the works in order to provoke the crackdown needed to crush the fascists.
  • Going Clear: David Miscavige's rise to power. He started out as an auditing prodigy who Hubbard took under his wing. When he was in his twenties, he was appointed as an intermediary between Hubbard (who was living in hiding) and the rest of Scientology. This allowed Miscavige to control any information that reached Hubbard and thereby manipulate him into eliminating his rivals in Scientology management. After Hubbard died, Miscavige used strong-arm tactics and garish punishments to force competing executives out of Scientology and install his own regime.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Death Eaters launch a coup against the Ministry of Magic, seizing control of the wizard government in the United Kingdom so they can use its powers of magical law enforcement against Voldemort's enemies.
  • Twice, in the Honor Harrington universe's Haven system: First, the People's Republic of Haven's corrupt democracy is overthrown by a Committee of Public Safety modeled explicitly on the French Revolution, and then that's overthrown by the military when it's had enough.
  • Icarus Falls:
    • One major arc of the timeline features Richard Helms, the director of the CIA, attempting to pull a behind-the-scenes coup against President Bush. It fails when Bush goes public with what happened.
    • Andropov tries one against Leonid Brezhnev, but it's defeated by Brezhnev's men, with the help of some military officers who happened to be passing through.
    • A group of fascist terrorists launch one in Italy, but only succeed in having the parliament building blow up with them and a large number of Italian policians being held hostage inside.
    • Rumsfeld tries to launch one against President Bush, but ends up getting each other blown up by a car bomb.
  • A recurring feature of the Jack Ryan series. In order of publication:
    • Not featured, but mentioned as part of the background of The Hunt for Red October: the (fictional) Soviet leader, Andrey Narmonov, is implied to have come to power in a coup against his (real life) predecessor, Mikhail Andropov, with the support of the military, which resented Andropov's KGB ties, and the Communist Party hard-liners, who resented Andropov's efforts at reform. (Ironically, Narmonov would go on to become the series' expy of Mikhail Gorbachev, whose reforms dwarfed anything Andropov ever did).
    • The villains in Patriot Games are a Renegade Splinter Faction of the Provisional Wing of the IRA, which they find too moderate for their tastes. They've kept their moles within the PIRA, and they ultimately plan to assassinate its leadership and step into the power vacuum to take over the organization. However, they're all killed or captured by the heroes before they can get to that point.
    • The Cardinal of the Kremlin revolves around an attempt to stop a coup in the Soviet Union, this time against Narmonov, by the KGB allied with the Communist Party hard-liners, who are angry that Narmonov has turned out to be an even bigger reformer than his predecessor. The coup fails, but it's a very close thing.
    • Clear and Present Danger revolves around the U.S. goverment's attempt to use military force to bring down the Medellin Cartel in Colombia. Halfway through the book, the Cartel's Dragon, Felix Cortez, realizes what's going on and decides to use it to his advantage, promising to help the Americans overthrow the Cartel's leadership so that he can take over the organization himself. He ultimately fails.
    • Averted in The Sum of All Fears. The CIA and U.S. goverment spend much of the book under the misapprehension that there's yet another coup in the works against Narmonov, this time by the military and KGB. It turns out to be disinformation, spread by a CIA asset in the Soviet government who was trying to mislead them for his own reasons, but nearly leads to World War III when the U.S. goverment mistakes a nuclear explosion in Denver (actually a terrorist attack) for an act of aggression by a new Soviet government. Narmonov finds it almost impossible to calm down the situation, because the Americans are convinced it's not actually him but his hard-line successors on the other end of the Red Line.
    • The end of the novel in The Bear and the Dragon. China's disastrous invasion of Siberia has already caused a lot of public unrest, but when it's revealed that it nearly degenerated into a nuclear war with the United States, the unrest turns into a riot, with student protesters storming the Politburo. Fang Gan, a moderate Politburo member, seizes the opportunity to essentially crown himself the new leader of China and orders the arrest of the previous leadership.
  • Frequently discussed in The Lost Fleet. Captain John Geary is a legendary hero of The Alliance who spent the last 100 years as a Human Popsicle after his You Shall Not Pass! moment at the onset of the Forever War. He is forced by fate to take command of a fleet trapped behind enemy lines. Some time later, his genius tactics (actually, fairly standard for his time but completely forgotten by this point) result in the fleet getting close to returning to Alliance space, while dealing heavy damage to the enemy. Many ship commanders begin to hope that the legendary "Black Jack" Geary will pull a Caesar and take power from the incompetent and corrupt Alliance politicians. Geary, for his part, is vehemently opposed to the idea but is afraid that his "followers" may attempt to pull off a coup in his name no matter what he says. He manages to defuse the situation by convincing them that this would only play into the hands of the "corrupt politicians" who would have a freer reign under a dictatorship than a democratic government (Geary points out that he would still need them to help run things, as he doesn't have any political or governing skills). Many politicians are likewise afraid that Geary will attempt to seize power and try to get rid of him without causing a public outcry.
  • The Mark of the Horse Lord: The pro-Midir tribesmen attend the ceremony in the Royal Dun in which Conory is scheduled to become the New King by fighting to the death with Logiore, the Old King. Instead Conory attacks Liadhan and Phaedrus takes on Logiore, but the timing is screwed For Want Of A Nail, so Liadhan escapes to the Caledones and starts the war against the Dalriadain.
  • Morgenregen: The Black Forest Fairy: Morgenregen attempts this against her mother. It doesn't go well.
  • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion: In the end the new global authority is to usurp power from all existing lesser authorities in a single day.
    "When we at last definitely come into our kingdom by the aid of coups d etat prepared everywhere for one and the same day, after definitely acknowledged (and not a little time will pass before that comes about, perhaps even a whole century) we shall make it our task to see that against us such things as plots shall no longer exist."
  • Featured in Red Storm Rising. When their ground war against NATO turns badly, the Soviet Politburo begins planning to use "tactical" nuclear weapons on the battlefield to turn the war back in their favor. Realizing that this is utter madness and will end with both sides annihilating each other, the KGB director, a couple of moderate members of the Politburo, and one of the war's most successful battlefield commanders overthrow the government and sue for peace.
  • Star Wars Legends has a few examples.
    • Quite a few of the Emperor's own Moffs have plotted to overthrow him. It never ends well though.
    • The Galactic Alliance (successor to the New Republic) actually has had a big problem with this lately. Usually with the Sith or Empire involved.
      • In the Legacy of the Force series, Jacen Solo and Alliance Admiral Chia Niathal arrest GA Chief of State Cal Omas during a civil war that broke out with some rebellious systems. While Admiral Niathal is portrayed as (despite her part in the coup) a Reasonable Authority Figure who just wanted to save the Alliance from destruction and has no intention of staying in office after the crisis is over, Jacen Solo is secretly on his way to becoming a full-blown Sith Lord. By the time Niathal realizes her mistake, it's too late and she soon finds herself teaming up with the rebellious systems and the Jedi and even Mandalorians to stop him.
      • Fate of the Jedi: In this series, former Imperial Admiral Daala, a Big Bad from some previous Star Wars novels, gets elected Chief of State because she helped stop Jacen's rampage in the previous series. She wastes no time abusing her office, purging anyone who from the government and military who once fought against her. She even starts arresting several Jedi, including Luke Skywalker. The Jedi and the Senate both eventually decide that she is becoming too much like a dictator, so they arrest her. Unfortunately, the Senate and the Jedi are unaware that a small group of Senators and Imperial Moffs have been secretly plotting to restore the Empire, or that the Lost Tribe of the Sith have actually infiltrated the government (including the Senate) and are plotting their own coup.
  • Happens a couple times in the Warrior Cats series:
    • In the first series, Tigerclaw, the second-in-command of ThunderClan, plots to kill his Clan leader (as Clan law states that deputy succeeds leader) by inviting some rogues to attack the camp and passing off her death as part of the battle. Fireheart jumps in and rescues her during the attempt.
    • In the second series, the WindClan leader Tallstar, in his dying breaths, names Onewhisker as his successor instead of Mudclaw. As the only cats who witnessed this are Onewhisker himself and two of his friends, Mudclaw doesn't believe Onewhisker should be leader, and leads a rebellion against him before the younger cat can receive his nine leader's lives. ThunderClan helps out Onewhisker and he wins.
    • Also in the second series, Tigerstar and Hawkfrost set up a plan for Brambleclaw and Hawkfrost to kill the other leaders at a Gathering and forcibly take control of all the Clans. Brambleclaw disagrees with it, and it is never attempted.
  • In the novel Barrayar, the War of the Vordarian Pretendership is an unsuccessful attempt at this.
  • In The Widow of Desire Wallace Nevsky is murdered for betraying a group of people in the USSR wanting to overthrow Gorbachev and his progressive government. His American wife Natalie foils it after she finds evidence that Wallace hid in a white lynx coat he bought her.
  • City of Light: Each of Palidia's competing political factions accuses the other of plotting one. Eventually Ravidel Shand eventually overthrows the senate, before a counter-coup by Senator Michal undoes this.
  • The Dinosaur Lords: Falk challanges and slays the commander of Emperor's Praetorian Guard and then proceeds to kill or arrest everyone whom the Emperor would listen to, leaving himself as the only power behind the throne.
  • Age of Fire: Near the end of the fifth book, Dragon Rule, NiVom engineers a bloodless coup against his former friend, RuGaard, by uniting all the most influential dragons in the empire against him and in support of the twins SiHazathant and Regalia (who, being blood-related to one of the previous Tyrs, have a more legitimate claim to the throne than the adopted RuGaard). This results in RuGaard being exiled, and the twins being set up as puppet rulers for NiVom. And then, a few years in-verse and another book later, he has SiHazathant killed in a False Flag Operation, so that he can quietly remove Regalia from power and seize the throne himself (only to then in turn be assassinated by his own mate).
  • Banco is set during a turbulent Banana Republic period in Venezuela's history, and the government forcefully changes hands multiple times during the twenty-plus years of Papillon's adventures and honest living. At one point, despite knowing better, Papillon gets involved in a coup attempt to oust Betancourt and restore Medina Angarita to power. At first he doesn't realize who he's involved with, believing he's doing some underworld machine shop work, until he discovers that he's helping manufacture bombs for the coup. Eventually his desire to finance his revenge gets him directly involved in a disastrously bad attack on the palace and he's lucky to escape without being arrested. He hides out doing construction work until the heat from his failed plot disappears as the police uncover a new plot to thwart.
  • In Victoria, one is attempted by Governor Bowen in the Northern Confederation, where he tries to overthrow the lawful government and seize total power together with Deep Green militants. The coup is resisted by Captain John Rumford and Colonel William Kraft.
  • The villain in Dreadnought! is a high-ranking Admiral who intends to stage a coup that will overthrow the Federation and install him as the leader of an empire that will use a fleet of highly advanced dreadnoughts to batter competing races into line. He has installed his associates and cronies in several leadership positions and important committees throughout Starfleet's bureaucracy, and has secured starships for several captains loyal to him. The overarching plot of the book is the effort to reveal his plans to the main characters and the crew of Enterprise so they can figure out a means to stop him.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: After discovering Joffery is an illegitimate heir born of incest and suspecting that Robert was murdered, Ned Stark attempts a coup to remove Queen Cersei and install Stannis as the true King to prevent Joffery from taking the throne. His coup fails when he underestimates Littlefinger's ambitions and insists on taking the throne in an honorable manner, thereby refusing to resort to dirty tactics that his enemies are more than willing to exploit, resulting in his failure.
  • The Oleander Sword: When she agrees to sacrifice herself in the future so the mothers will beat the yaksa in their coming war, the Parajati priests switch sides, joining Malini and overthrowing Chandra so she becomes the empress.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • During the second half of Season 2, Coulson is briefly ousted as Director of SHIELD by the renegade "real SHIELD" faction, which doesn't recognize his authority as Fury's successor. However, both groups later reconcile peacefully.
    • The Season 3 episode "Parting Shot" features Malick and his allies in the Russian government trying to have the Inhuman General Androvich assassinate the Prime Minister, so that he can take over and further their goals. Fortunately, the team stops them.
  • Arrow: In the Season 5 episode "Kapiushon", the flashback storyline's Big Bad Konstantin Kovar attempts to use sarin gas to kill the entirety of Russia's political and military leadership, so that he can step into the void. However, Oliver and the Bratva manage to stop him.
  • Babylon 5:
    • At the end of the first season, Earth Alliance Vice President Clark orchestrates the assassination of President Santiago and gradually sets himself up as a Hitler-esque dictator.
    • During the second season, as the Centauri emperor is dying, Lord Refa has the Prime minister killed to allow his choice, Cartagia, to be put on the throne.
    • Later, after determining that Emperor Cartagia is a threat to the Centauri Republic, Londo and Vir manage to assassinate him, allowing Londo to become Prime Minister and eventually Emperor himself.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): In Season 4, Tom Zarek and Felix Gaeta stage a coup (with some military cooperation) against President Roslin and Adama's command, over the issue of cooperation with the dissenting faction of Cylons (which the coup opposed). The coup is temporarily successful, with the Quorum of Twelve massacred and Admiral Adama facing a firing squad, before the countercoup succeeds.
  • Becoming Elizabeth:
    • Thomas Seymour attempts a coup against his brother, Edward but is caught.
    • Shortly afterward, John Dudley is successful in forcibly replacing Edward as the Lord Protector.
  • The episode of Chuck "Chuck vs. the Coup D'état" has a...coup d'état.
  • Community: Chang becomes the head of campus security after all the other security guards quit. He recruits a bunch of vicious kids to act as his henchmen and starts turning the school into a Police State. When the Study Group tries to get the Dean to fire Chang, Chang has the Dean kidnapped and replaced with an impersonator who then expels the Study Group. With all opposition quashed, Chang then rules Greendale College with an iron fist.
  • The Crown. In "Coup," Lord Mountbatten is approached by a number of bankers and businessmen alarmed at Harold Wilson's socialist policies. Their plan is to overthrow the elected British government, take it over themselves, and install Mountbatten as a figurehead ruler. Despite lecturing them on exactly why such a coup would be impossible in a long-established First World democracy like Britain, he takes the idea seriously enough to approach the Queen for her blessing and is only dissuaded when Elizabeth tells him in no uncertain terms to knock it off.
  • House of the Dragon: Towards the end of Season 1, as soon as King Viserys I Targaryen The Peaceful dies, the Targaryen-Hightower side (very much a Heir Club for Men) wastes no time putting Aegon (the firstborn son of Viserys and Alicent) on the throne, going against the will of Viserys to have his daughter Rhaenyra succeed him. They try their best not to have news travel to Rhaenyra while Aegon is hastily crowned, but Rhaenys Velaryon escapes on the back of her dragon right in the middle of the crowning at the Dragonpit.
  • Intergalactic: At the end of season one, Rebecca seizes control of Commonworld as an energy crisis grips them and protests/riots erupt as a new election is staged.
  • Leverage:
  • Several attempted coups appear in MacGyver (1985), usually headed off by the hero:
    • "The Gauntlet" has the head of the secret police in a Central American regime plotting a coup against his government, with the help of brand new weapons supplied to his loyalists by the American mob. Mac and the reporter he's been sent to rescue manage to expose him before he has a chance.
    • "Blind Faith" is an inversion: the villains (a Central American death squad and rogue elements of U.S. intelligence) already control their home nation, and are trying to kill a popular candidate before she has a chance to win the upcoming elections they've been pressured to agree to.
    • "Obsessed" features, yet again, a coup in a fictional Central American nation. This time it's a deposed dictator who wants to return to power, again with the help of rogue U.S. intelligence elements (and Mac's longtime nemesis Murdoc).
    • The TV movie "Train To Doomsday" involves rogue former KGB members trying to overthrow The New Russia and restore the Soviet Union.
  • Merlin: Had was Morgana and Morgause teaming with Cenred to take over Camelot, and next season, Morgana seized power again.
  • Revolution: Tom Neville successfully leads one, takes over the Monroe Republic, and reduces Monroe to a fugitive in "Children of Men" and "The Dark Tower".
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • "Jolinar's Memories"/"The Devil You Know": Sokar is overthrown by his First Prime, Nao'nak (actually Apophis in disguise).
    • "The Other Guys": Her'ak overthrows Khonsu after finding out that he's actually a Tok'ra and declares himself in charge until Anubis returns.
    • "Birthright": Neith attempts to overthrow Ishta, believing that she has been compromised by her feelings for Teal'c. It ends badly for her.
    • "Icon": Soren's forces take advantage of the unrest that follows SG-1's arrival on the planet to seize control from the Rand government.
    • "Full Alert": An aversion. The American and Russian leaders each suspect the other of having been overthrown and replaced by a Goa'uld infiltrator. It's not true (though some of their senior government officials have indeed been taken over): the Goa'uld are just trying to play them off against each other in the hopes of driving them into a nuclear war with each other, effectively destroying the Earth in the process.
    • "Reckoning, Parts 1 and 2": A borderline example. Ba'al, now The Dragon to Anubis, deliberately stalls the forces Anubis sent to confront the Earth, Tok'ra, and Free Jaffa forces while helping those forces to find and program the Dakara superweapon that can kill Anubis, leaving him in full control of his former master's forces. (Also a case of Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal and Evil Versus Oblivion, since Anubis was planning to exterminate all life in the galaxy - Ba'al and all of his other servants included - to repopulate it to his specifications).
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation had the Klingon Civil War, in which the House of Duras attempted to gain control of the Klingon High Council from Chancellor Gowron. Picard suspects Romulan treachery and is able to get Starfleet to set up a means to expose the Romulans and effectively kill the attempt.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • The three-parter that opens season two concerns an attempt by a Bajoran extremist group called the Alliance for Global Unity, informally "the Circle", to overthrow the Bajoran Provisional Government and kick out the Federation. The team discovers that the Cardassians are covertly supplying the Circle, and publicly discredits the entire movement.
      • In "The Way of the Warrior" a Cardassian dissident movement executes a coup against the longtime military dictatorship, restoring the Cardassian civilian government to its full authority. This was only possible because of the Obsidian Order's destruction by the Dominion in "The Die Is Cast". Unfortunately the Klingons don't believe this was possible at all—they think the Dominion's changeling leaders suborned the entire Cardassian government—so they invade the Cardassian Union and eventually drive them right into the arms of the Dominion.
      • The same season also features a coup attempt by senior leaders of Starfleet, who believe that only a military dictatorship can keep the Federation safe through the impending threat with the Dominion. The heroes are initially drawn into this coup when the plotters claim to need their help fighting Dominion shapeshifters on Earth, only to eventually realize what's really going on.
  • The Myth Arc for season 1 of Madam Secretary revolves around a coup attempt against the ayatollahs in Iran to install an exiled moderate, aided and abetted by rogue members of the CIA. Even Liz admits it's a good plan, but there's a Spanner in the Works: the would-be president of Iran is dying of brain cancer and is the only person who could plausibly hold the country together post-coup. Liz is forced to blow the whistle on the plot to the Iranian government.
  • The 100 has several:
    • Diana Sydney attempted to seize control of the Ark with a bomb that was supposed to kill the Chancellor and most of the Council at a public gathering. Fails when the Chancellor ends his speech early and walks away before the bomb can go off.
    • Cage overthrows his father, Dante, as President of Mount Weather. It's a bloodless coup, since Cage doesn't actually want to hurt his dad, and the official line for the public is that Dante simply retired and Cage inherited his position.
    • Clarke doesn't make herself Chancellor or take any official title for herself, but she does eventually declare herself to be Camp Jaha's real leader, using her influence over the Grounder army to make the camp's official leader accede to her commands.
  • The Last Ship: In the late Season 3 episode "Paradise", Chief of Staff Shaw and the regional governors place the President under house arrest, reducing the weak post-apocalyptic federal government to puppet status, so that they can run the country as an oligarchy. A few episodes later in "Legacy", they take further steps to secure their control of things by having all senior US military leaders assassinated, so that they can take regional control of their forces.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: The regime which created Gilead seized control of the US by false flag attacks that quickly brought down the government, which they blamed on Muslim terrorists. This was used as an excuse to suspend the Constitution, declare martial law and then much more...
  • Blake's 7. In "Rumours of Death", Servalan is briefly deposed to a coup d'état organised by one of her top Secret Police agents. Servalan herself comes to power (and is later deposed) in a Military Coup that takes place off-screen.
  • The Man in the High Castle: Near the end of season 4, John Smith, realizing that he is about to be removed from his position as Reichsmarshall and likely eliminated for his faltering loyalty, stages a coup against Himmler and his Berlin inner circle in alliance with an ambitious German general, creating two Nazi empires in America and Europe.
  • Motherland: Fort Salem: In "Coup" Adler takes over the President's mind by magic, making her do as she wishes.
  • Vagrant Queen: Midway through the first season, after he gets ahold of the Steerzad, Lazaro decides that he's sick of taking orders from the Admiralty, so he quickly overthrows them (killing most of the members and reducing the Sole Survivor to his lackey), declaring himself the new leader of the Republic.


    Myths & Religion 
  • Happens twice among the gods in Classical Mythology, first when Kronos overthrows his father Ouranos, and then again when Zeus overthrows him.
  • In Egyptian Mythology, Isis forces Ra to give up his throne.
  • Hittite Mythology: First Anu overthrew Alalu, then Kumarbi overthrew Anu, then the storm-god Teshup overthrew Anu.
  • Mesopotamian Mythology: Happens when the younger gods (led by Marduk in the Babylonian version) overthrow Tiamat and Apsu making this Older Than Dirt.

  • BZPB: TPK becomes leader of the Great Beings by forcing Angonce at gunpoint to pass the position onto him, exiling him, and calling a meeting of the Council. Once all the council members have arrived, he puts forward a deliberately inflammatory motion to check who's loyal to him, and summons troops to chase the others out. Then, just to add insult to injury, his allies pass a motion to kick the dissenters out of the Council permanently.

    Tabletop Game 
  • Twilight Struggle: An action a superpower can initiate with ops or with certain events. Coups count towards military operationsnote  (to placate the hawks in one's camp that want to stand tough against those communists/capitalists), and coups in battlegrounds degrade the DEFCON meter and push the world closer to nuclear war.
  • In many Martian principalities in Rocket Age there is an almost constant danger of a coup, a side effect of the ruling sub-caste being large enough to have several claimants to the thrown, with most claimants having sections of the army loyal to them. Many adventures hooks in Rocket Age feature the players either roped into a plot, caught in the middle or attempting to foil one.

  • William Shakespeare:
    • Hamlet: Hamlet's father, King Hamlet was killed by his brother, Hamlet's uncle, Claudius so he could seize the throne.
    • Macbeth: The main plot is Macbeth's killing of King Duncan and seizing the throne for himself.
    • A coup forms the main plot of Richard II. The plot of Henry IV, Part 1 features an attempted one, which is thwarted.

    Video Games 
  • Choice of Games: Possible in 'Til Death Do Us Part. More specifically, you can murder the Monarch and her closest allies in a palace coup and seize power for yourself.
  • Civilization V: You can order your spies to stage coups in city-states that are allied with other civilizations. If they're successful, then they'll replace the old leaders with new ones that are supportive of you, and you'll instantly become their ally. Unsuccessful coups, however, result in your spy's death.
  • Crusader Kings: Unruly vassals can create or back factions to depose their current liege and install another.
  • Deus Ex: Enemy Chatter onboard the supertanker reveals that Simons is trying to enact a bloodless coup by enacting several executive orders at once.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: In the human noble origin story, Arl Howe betrays his liege lord, Teyrn Bryce Cousland, while all the Cousland's armed forces are away fighting the darkspawn, and declares himself teyrn.
  • Final Fantasy VIII has a squared coup. First, the Sorceress Edea kills President Deling and grabs power, second, the much more decent General Caraway hires our heroes to off her; both happen more or less simultaneously. The first coup succeeds, the other one fails.
  • Galaxy Angel:
    • The first game of the original trilogy begins with the coup perpetrated by the exiled Prince Eonia, who returns five years to get revenge on the Transbaal Empire and seize the throne, starting with killing his own father and the rest of the royal family in an Orbital Bombardment. The rest of the plot has the heroes trying to protect the last legitimate heir as they prepare for the counterattack.
    • The Galaxy Angel II trilogy has a coup in the first and second games, both times perpetrated against planet Seldar in the NEUE universe. In Zettai Ryouiki no Tobira, Forte Stollen leads a coup allegedly because the NEUE universe is taking too long to integrate the Lost Technology into their culture, but later is revealed to have been blackmailed by the real villains who are holding Milfeulle and the Seldar royal family hostage to force her to comply. In Mugen Kairou no Kagi, the Three Marquis of the Arms Alliance take over planet Seldar and threaten to bombard it in order to force the Luxiole and the Rune Angel Wing to fight them.
  • Exit Fate: Later in the game, the Highland rebels led by Rock launch a sucessfull coup that puts an end to decades of exploitation and repression by the State Union of Zelmony. After executing the horribly corrupt governor Banks, Rock joyfully declares the birth of the independant Republic of Highland.
  • In the backstory of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the ruling noble families of the Adrestian Empire enacted a non-hostile takeover and stripped the ruling emperor of his authority in protest of what they viewed as an abuse of power. The incident is known in history books as the Insurrection of the Seven, but only six nobles were directly involved, with the seventh being the catalyst for the coup after having his house destroyed in a failed attempt to secede from the Empire to the Leicester Alliance.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Agahnim seizes power by mind-controlling the castle guards shortly before the game.
  • In Mass Effect 3 Udina helps Cerberus in an attempt to oust the Council and take over the Citadel.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: According to series mythology, Volgin was the puppeteer behind the movement to depose Khrushchev. Sokolov holds that the Colonel won't be satisfied with that, and will leverage the confusion of a third World War to take over the USSR.
  • The second mission of the first Modern Warfare, aside from literally being named "The Coup", features a (somewhat) playable version, with you as the deposed president of an unnamed Middle Eastern country; Controllable Helplessness ensues as you're driven to a stadium, tied to a post, and executed on live television by your successor.
  • In The New Order Last Days Of Europe, Brazil can suffer from several types of coups, be they military coups, Lacerda's imperial presidency and Goulart's potential countercoup in response to Lacerda's own attempted coup.
  • Rulers of Nations: This leads to your character's death and a Game Over.
  • Seedship: A random event will have a dictator be found within the colonists. If the player chooses to not remove the dictator, or is unsuccessful in doing so, the dictator will end up taking over the colony at the end of the game.
  • Suikoden V: Gizel Godwin rigs the Sacred Games so he would be the future bridegroom of Princess Lymsleia. According to tradition, he was to be sworn in a week later, but Gizel arrives ahead of time and launches a covert attack on Sol Falena's capital under the cover of darkness. During which, he intended to assassinate the royal family, with the exception of Lymsleia, herself - whom he intended to use as his puppet, once he seized power.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: Darth Malgus pulls one when attempts to disband the Dark Council and declares himself Emperor.
  • TIE Fighter: Grand Admiral Zaarin stages a coup against Emperor Palpatine and even manages to hijack his shuttle until he's defeated. The Expanded Universe reveals that Zaarin's betrayal is how Grand Admiral Thrawn gets his promotion, setting the stage for the Thrawn Trilogy novels.
  • In the backstory to X: Rebirth the Plutarch Mining Corporation overthrew the Argon Federation government in the Albion System during the chaos caused by the jumpgate network shutdown and set itself up as the system's absolute ruler.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: In Volume 5, Adam uses his extreme popularity among the White Fang to stage a coup against Sienna Khan, killing her and taking her place while blaming her death upon a human Huntsman.

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: The Vice President and King Radical work together to launch one against the US President in A Bad Enough Dude. The Vice President gets caught and is summarily executed by the President, but King Radical ultimately succeeds and wipes out congress for good measure when they try to impeach him.
  • In Drow Tales:
    • Sil'lice supposedly attempted this against her mother, Diva'ratrika, but failed. In actuality, Sil'lice was the victim of a Frameup, and the Sharen clan coup was a complete success. Three of the Sharen sisters, Snadhya'rune, Sarv'swati, and Zala'ess were tired of Diva'ratrika's total control over their lives and wanted to seize power for themselves. Since their other two sisters, Sil'lice and Nishi'kanta, had a strong sense of honor and loyalty, the trio had to get rid of them. Nishi'kanta surrendered and toed the party line, while Sil'lice was forced to run. The traitors proceeded to pretend Diva'ratrika was still alive, but didn't want to be seen by anyone, so that they could use her image as a figurehead.
    • It has long been foreshadowed that there are elements within the Sarghress clan, such as Suu'be, who plan to usurp the clan when Quain'tana inevitably dies. When Quain'tana is poisoned and left with only days to live, her loyalists attempt to secure her bloodline while traitors launch The Purge against it. In the end, Suu'be and Quain'tana score a Mutual Kill, resulting in Ariel becoming the new leader of the clan. But even that doesn't stick, and it doesn't take long until another coup sides a majority of the Sarghress clan against Ariel.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, several coups have taken place in the story. One of the more notable ones is when Countess Nina, who has been posing as Duke Hepnaz's lieutenant, takes over the Southern Horde by stabbing Hepnaz in the back just as Hepnaz is about to triumph over the Northern Horde and is too busy to notice treachery from within his own ranks.
  • The Falcon Cannot Hear: Done several times among the factions, with varying degrees of success.
    • Douglas MacArthur leads one after the Bonus Army kill the President and Vice-President. At first, it's mostly successful, with a good amount of state governments acknowledging his authority. But then General George Moseley leads a counter-coup. It fails, and he defects to the Whites, but he brings a good amount of the army with him. This causes the Khakis to lose much of their national support, and they're reduced to D.C., the Rockies, and overseas possessions.
    • Happens to the Reds when General-Secretary Earl Browder puts Premier William Z. Foster under arrest after the east coast soviets split and form the Popular Front with the Blues and again after Browder orders the arrest of the newly defected Eisenhower. This causes the Red Guard, fed up with Browder's concern for "ideological purity" over actually winning the war, to arrest him and put Fosterite John Williamson in charge, who promptly organizes a truce with the Popular Front and Red Oak Pact.
    • Happens to the Whites as well when a group of generals, worried about the amount of control fascist paramilitaries have over the government, try to take control. It fails when one of the generals, George S. Patton, betrays the coup due to fears that it will weaken the Whites overall and embolden the Reds and Blues. All the generals are promptly executed, with the exception of Eisenhower, who Patton was able to protect. This causes Ike to defect to the Reds.
    • Omar Bradley convinces General Humphrey to resign, and takes control of the Khaki forces in the Rockies. He allows Red Oak Pact forces to cross his territory so they can fight the Japanese.
  • The Fire Never Dies
    • After Woodrow Wilson's stroke, Vice President Thomas Marshall announces that he will be seeking surrender terms from the Reds. In response, KKK leader William Joseph Simmons overthrows Marshall's administration, declaring himself acting chief executive. This destroys what legitimacy the White government still had, leading to Texas and the Pacific Fleet surrendering, while also subjecting Virginia, Maryland, and DC itself to a brutal military campaign.
    • In 1921, Haitian officer Jean-Baptiste Conzé launches a coup against the pro-ASU Péralte government, backed by a force of American and Mexican Former Regime Personnel. The coup ultimately fails, with the Haitian military backing Péralte, while some of the Mexican mercenaries betray Conzé and hand him over in exchange for their own freedom.
  • In No W, a group of military officers remove Hugo Chavez from power and cause him to go into exile in Cuba. This causes a Civil War between the new junta and Chavez's loyalists.
  • The New Deal Coalition Retained timeline has a few examples:
    • The more successful counterrevolutionary invasion of Cuba carried out by Nixon causes Fidel Castro to have a nervous breakdown, so Che Guvera kills him and seizes power.
    • After Khrushchev fails to counter the Prague Spring, KGB chief Vladimir Semichastny ousts him from power and takes over.
    • After Mao's death, his widow Jiang Qing allies with his former rivals to eliminate the Gang of Four and take power for herself.
    • In response to East Germany's increasing liberalization in the late 80s, Markus Wolf uses his personal stash of blackmail to gain the support of the military and the Stasi in quickly seizing control of the country.
    • Because of his attempts at reforming the USSR, Alexander Yakovlev is forcibly removed as General-Secretary by KGB director Vladimir Kryuchkov, who proceeds to take over, backed by several other hardline Stalinists in key military and government positions. This is known as the December Coup or Christmas Putsch, and also happens to be timed to coincide with several others throughout the Warsaw Pact designed to eliminate all the reformers.
    • Pakistan has a bloodless one in 1986. With more and more of the country rising up in protest against Aslam Beg's authoritarian rule, and fearing it leading to an open rebellion, a group of army officers backed by the Muslim League confront Beg and demand he resign. Seeing the writing on the wall, Beg steps down, allowing Army Chief of Staff Tikka Khan to assume the Presidency and negotiate a peaceful conclusion to things with the opposition.
    • When Colombian and American forces overwhelm Ecuador during World War III, the ruling Communist government makes plans to retreat to the jungles to wage guerrilla warfare. But seeing the folly of this, Interior Minister Rodrigo Borja Cevallos works with the military to seize power, arresting all Communist Party officials, declaring himself interim President and promptly surrendering the country.
    • When the war in South America continues to go bad for the Communist members, a group of Brazilian military officers tries to take over. They fail, and become the first victims of the subsequent retaliatory purge.
    • Fear of encroaching Soviet power in Europe causes a military junta to overthrow Turkey's left-leaning government, abandon neutrality, and join the war on the Allied side.
    • When Syria is overwhelmed by Allied forces and Hafez Assad decides to fight to the last man, Mustafa Tlass and a group of officers loyal to him respond by marching into Assad's bunker and executing him. Tlass then takes over and promptly surrenders.
    • For fear that she'll break India's neutrality and drag them into the war, Sanjay Gandhi kills his mother, before he and his followers begin working to seize total power.
    • Two of these happen close together to wrap up the Central African War/African front of WWIII. First, when Sudan is overrun by the Allies and the government is about to go for a Last Stand, Omar al-Bashir executes all his leaders in order to take power and sign an unconditional surrender. Shortly after, the increasingly harsh measures that Ethiopia's government is undertaking to maintain control in light of Allied advances lead to a group of military officers seizing power in order to surrender.
    • While much detail isn't given, it's mentioned that the collapse of Communist lines in South America leads to coups in Bolivia and Uruguay, allowing new governments to seize power and surrender to the Allies.
    • With Iran being overrun by Allied forces, a cadre of intelligence and military officers march into a meeting of the parliament and seize power. Interestingly, given that the General-Secretary of the time was being blamed for Iran's failings, this is welcomed by many in the government.
    • With the Balkans falling totally to the Allies and Romania next on the chopping block, General Vasile Milea ignores orders to prepare futile defensive measures and instead overruns the capital, arresting all the key government officials and taking over so that he can then sue for peace.
    • With Moscow itself overrun and Kryuchkov and his hardliner allies planning to invoke the Nuclear Option out of desperation, the few reformers allowed to stay in positions of authority following the December Coup (primarily Semichastny and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn) finally launch their own counter-coup, arresting Kryuchkov's group and taking back power.
    • Due to Li Peng's failures as Premier of China, the PLA — led by Marshal Chi Haotian — rebels against and topples the Communist Party.
    • During the 90s, the CIA backs coups in Colombia and Ecuador to remove narco-friendly governments that had been fueling the drug crisis in America.
    • With Nigeria clearly starting to lose the Great Southern War, several military commanders take advantage of President Shonekan being at a summit out of the country to seize power and sue for peace.
  • The timeline Washington Burns sees Britain suffer from one of these at the turn of the 20th century. When Queen Victoria is killed by an Irish assassin, the changes she made to the laws of inheritance mean that the throne should pass to her daughter, Princess Victoria. But at the time, Victoria II is in Scotland recovering from a severe case of flu, so it's decided that her son Prince Victor should act as regent until she recovers. The only problem is that Victor quickly becomes a puppet of his uncle Prince Edward (who had long been envious of his sister "stealing" his role as heir) and Prime Minister Jonathan Bradley (who, like many Conservatives, hated the progressive reforms both Victorias were making). The pair surround Victoria with loyal guards to keep her under house arrest and doctors paid to keep her sedated even when she's recovered from her illness, while feeding Victor and the country propaganda. Eventually, Victoria's husband Prince William breaks her out and they rally loyalists, triggering a brief civil war that ends with Bradley and other conspirators arrested, and Edward killing Victor and himself. And on top of all that, it's revealed after all this is over that the Irish assassin who killed Victoria I really worked for the conspiracy.

    Western Animation 


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Alternative Title(s): Coup D Etat


Darth Imperius Enthroned

Knights of the Eternal Throne Chapter IX: "The Eternal Throne". Having slain Emperor Valkorion when he attempted to hijack her body, and with the support of his widow Senya and son Arcann, Darth Imperius takes the Eternal Throne to take control of the Eternal Fleet, and declares herself Empress of the Galaxy. (Video by Troper/StarSword.)

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