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A dictatorship is an undemocratic government, typically under the control of a singular leader or a group, that controls a country through repression of dissent and alternative political factions. Dictatorships are always authoritarian and sometimes outright totalitarian, demanding the obedience of the citizenry, controlling how the people can express themselves, promoting support through propaganda, and persecuting anyone who refuses to play ball. Other methods may include keeping the masses pacified through Bread and Circuses, encouraging citizens to spy on each other, or giving the people enemies to rail against. They may justify the measures they take by claiming to be promoting internal stability, saying they're protecting the citizens from threats, or using any number of other explanations. Whether they believe these explanations or not varies.

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There are multiple varieties a dictatorship can come in, not all of them necessarily mutually exclusive. Here are some common forms that have been identified by political scientists:

  • Military dictatorship: When the government is run by the head of the military or a group of top military officers. When it's the former, the leader either is or becomes The Generalissimo. These dictatorships have a tendency to view or at least present themselves as saving a country from being governed by corrupt or ineffective civilian politicians that will inevitably lead it to disaster. A military dictatorship will generally try to justify its existence by claiming to be saving a country from instability and/or "dangerous ideologies", and will frequently claim to be non-partisan. Expect them to keep the country in a permanent state of martial law. They will often come to power through a Military Coup.
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  • Personalist dictatorship: In a personalist dictatorship, all power rests in the hands of a single individual. While a personalist dictator may derive power from an institution, said institution does not exercise power independently from the dictator. These leaders tend to assign positions based on loyalty rather than merit; as a result, nepotism is frequently rampant. Expect a personalist dictator to choose subordinates who would never have acquired a position of power without them, so them maintaining their status depends entirely on staying in the dictator's good graces. These dictators will often use divide-and-rule tactics to prevent members of their inner circle from coordinating against them. A personalist dictatorship will often be depicted as especially repressive, which has a good deal of basis in reality.
  • Single-party dictatorship: Regimes in which one political party is in control of the government. Under these dictatorships, the line between party and government is generally nonexistent. Other parties may be outright banned, or they may be restricted to a controlled and limited role in politics. Within the countries they govern, these parties are typically referred to as just "the Party". Dictatorships of this type will often be committed to a particular ideology, at least publicly; the most common ones are communism and fascism (or facsimiles thereof), but others are not unheard of.
  • Hybrid dictatorship: Dictatorships that combine two or more of the above are known by this term. The most common combinations are between personalist and military or single-party dictatorships, though dictatorships that combine elements of military and single-party dictatorships are not unheard of. When a dictatorship contains elements of all three types, it's commonly called a "triple threat".

The term "dictatorship" didn't always have the pejorative connotations of illegitimate and excessive authority it does today. In the days of The Roman Republic, a dictator referred to a politician or magistrate who was temporarily entrusted with the full authority of the state during a time of crisis. By law, a Roman dictator could only act within the mandate appointed to him, and he had to surrender his authority either once the crisis was resolved or once six months had passed; whichever came first. However, when the office was revived under Sulla and later Julius Caesar after falling out of use for over a century, the position of dictator became closer to how the term is seen today: dictators could rule for much longer, and they had the power to unilaterally modify the Roman constitution and appoint people to high-ranking magistracies and the Senate.

While there's not exactly a clear line between a dictatorship and a monarchy, the two forms of government are generally considered distinct, even when it comes to monarchies that hold significant power in both theory and practice. Generally, a monarchy is an established hereditary system, where the monarch has to share power with the court, the aristocracy and/or an elected legislature. There are also generally traditions limiting how far the monarch can go. A dictatorship, on the other hand, generally has no checks on its power. Another difference is that a monarchy is usually an established hereditary system with the weight of tradition behind it, whereas a dictatorship's power is usually considered illegitimate, often at least partly because it came to power through underhanded or extralegal means. That being said, there can be overlap, especially when the monarch is an absolute monarch with no respect for the rule of law. Some monarchies can become dictatorial if the monarch gathers all power to themself. On the other hand, a dictator may attempt to obtain legitimacy and/or cement their rule by proclaiming themself a monarch. There's even a term for a government that is both a monarchy and a dictatorship: a monarchic dictatorship. Before the term "monarchic dictatorship" was coined, dictatorial monarchs were typically referred to as despots. Or, if they were particularly forward-thinking, enlightened despots.

Dictatorships are of course very much Truth in Television. However, if you want to add Real Life examples, please follow the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement and include well-documented, objective examples.

Super-Trope to Banana Republic, Commie Land, Intellectually Supported Tyranny, Regent for Life, and Police State. The Theocracy will often be this. When the United States is portrayed like this, see Oppressive States of America. Should a dictatorship try to present itself as democratic, you may have a People's Republic of Tyranny. Day of the Jackboot is when people attempt to impose a dictatorship. If The Republic, Monarchy, or similiarly democratic nation is taken over by a despot, that's also Tyrant Takes the Helm and/or The Usurper. Frequently overlaps with The Empire, though not all dictatorships are imperialistic. Very prone to being an outright Crapsack World or Crapsaccharine World, especially if The Dictatorship tries to present itself as a paradise. See also Dystopia.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Pop up frequently in Gundam.
    • The codifier for the franchise is the Principality of Zeon in Mobile Suit Gundam, a personalist dictatorship where power primarily rests in the hands of the Zabi Family, more specifically the first son Gihren Zabi. Supplementary materials flesh them out into a hybrid, one-party dictatorship, with the Zeon Party headed by the Zabis as the dominant, ruling faction.
    • Axis Zeon/Neo Zeon in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam are a militarist dictatorship, founded by surviving Zeon military forces with the goal of restoring the Zabi family to power. They eventually transition into more of a personalist dictatorship as Haman Karn's image becomes more prominent.
    • Char Aznable's "Newborn Neo Zeon" in Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack are very much a personalist dictatorship, with Char's primary claim to legitimacy being that he's the son of the guy who founded the Zeon movement, Zeon Zum Deikun.

    Comic Books 
  • Doctor Doom rules the Balkan nation of Latveria as an absolute monarch, though he disdains any crown or title. He deposed the hereditary monarchs of that nation and transformed Latveria from a backward feudal monarchy into a thriving dictatorship that's the crown jewel of Europe. Among his people, especially the Romani, he's hailed as a redeemer, while the rest of the world regards him as a dangerous megalomaniac.
  • SFSX (Safe Sex): The Party is an organization that had overthrown America's Democratic system with a quasi-fascist regime that seeks to eradicate sexual expression in all of its forms. The reasons for its anti-sex politics are both extremely right-wing and radically feminist, as the party reasons that sex and sexual desire that deviates from monogamous sex between married couples is a form of degeneracy that promotes suffering for both men and women in a "love the sinner, hate the sin" sort of way, framing them as "victims" of their own desires and each other. All "approved" sexual activity is monitored by the government via the Pleasure Center, and anyone who deviates from their laws (this ranging from BDSM and polyamory to owning high-heels) are to be taken to the 13th Floor of the Pleasure Center where they are subjected to aversion therapy indistinguishable from rape and torture, rendering them Brainwashed and Crazy. By the end of the first arc, it is revealed that they have plans to put chips in the brains of everyone in America that robs them of the ability to feel pleasure, as well as inflicting pain and pleasure onto them at the push of a button.
  • In Superman: Red Son, Kal-L lands in the Ukraine in the 1920s instead of Kansas, and becomes a Soviet superweapon during the Cold War. After Stalin's death, Superman becomes the new Premier of the Soviet Union, turning what was already a totalitarian dictatorship but barely livable into a prison camp ruled by an all-seeing, all-powerful alien god who thinks free will is quaint.
  • V for Vendetta: In an alternate 1990s, Britain has fallen under the rule of the neo-fascist and Nordic supremacist Norsefire regime that took power in the aftermath of World War III. Under their rule, political dissidents — along with LGBT people and religious and ethnic minorities — are brutally persecuted.

    Fan Works 
  • Codex Equus: In addition to democratic republics and constitutional monarchies, there are also many undemocratic/unconstitutional regimes that exist throughout the setting.
    • Moki Sunbright, a character whom Bright Eyes met and befriended in MLP Tales, received a minor Adaptational Angst Upgrade with her homeland, Tropika, being ruled by a dictatorship which ruthlessly suppressed dissent and tried to turn her into an asset and weapon of the regime as soon as they found out she became a superheroine, forcing her to fight them off and flee to Ponyland with her parents to seek asylum. And since they had backing from a superpower at the time, nobody can do anything to overthrow it without sparking off a global conflict.
    • Reichist Germaney and many of its Axis Powers allies are One-Party Dictatorship versions of this trope during the Second Great War in the Great Wars Era of the Second Age. Their Fourth Age counterparts, the Autorists and Tribalists, are also this, though many of them are more the Personal Dictatorship types in the form of autocratic monarchies aligned with Autorism and Tribalism.
    • Some are found even among the good guys (nominal or actual): the regime founded by Gilded Pleasantries, a follower of the morally/judicially-hardline Poenan Pantheon, in his home country of Amber Plains is a Theocratic Dictatorship which worships the Poenans as their state religion and is dedicated to fighting evil in all forms, even if it means crushing dissent and deviance within the nation and preparing for war with more hostile and malicious countries. They are still considered on the side of righteousness due to their foreign enemies such as the Autorists and Tribalists being worse and the Poenans in general still dedicated to the side of good and righteous.

    Films — Animation 
  • Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension: The second dimension counterpart of Dr. Doofenshmirtz rules the Tri-State Area of the second dimension with an iron fist. His Norm Bots are continuously patrolling the streets ready to destroy anyone breaking any of his highly oppressive laws, such as being out without proper authorization papers or past the early-afternoon curfew.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Republic of Wadiya in The Dictator is a North African nation that is under the undemocratic rule of Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen. He is presented as a narcissistic and buffoonish madman with complete unchecked power over his nation. He constantly gives himself titles and awards he didn't earn, has had his people unpersoned at his leisure (though they are usually sent to America as immigrants without him knowing), is racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic to the point where he uses giving women and minorities the right to vote as points against democracy, has aspirations of eliminating Israel because he hates Jews so much and has an odd habit of changing random words in the Wadiyan dictionary to "Aladeen". Even when he is convinced to make his country into a democracy in the end by his love interest, he has his military "convince" the unwashed masses to vote for him as their President-Prime Minister.
  • The government of Libria from Equilibrium is ruled by a mysterious figure known as Father, who has outlawed emotion as a result of a cataclysmic war. Everyone is required to take an emotion-suppressing drug known as Prozium. "Sense offenders", those who don't take the drug and choose to feel, are hunted by the motorcycle-helmeted Sweepers and the Badass Longcoated Grammaton Clerics.
  • The Great Dictator:
  • The Galactic Empire from Star Wars is probably the most well-known sci-fi example. Its predecessor, the late Galactic Republic, had already become a People's Republic of Tyranny before the change in name was made official. It is ruled with an iron fist by Emperor Palpatine, his Moffs who act as regional governors, his powerful subordinate (and heir apparent) Darth Vader, and his army of stormtroopers and powerful starfleet. The Empire primarily rules by fear, as laid down in the Tarkin Doctrine, prescribing overwhelming punishment by means of Earth-Shattering Kaboom for any planets that have gotten too far out of line, and using the fear of being next to bring other systems in line. Unfortunately for the Empire, their strong-arm tactics have tended to backfire more often than not; the destruction of Alderaan proved only to galvanize the Rebellion by proving what monsters they truly were.
  • The Suicide Squad: For 90 years prior to the start of the movie, the South American island nation of Corto Maltese was a personalist dictatorship headed by the Herrara family. By the timeframe of the movie, the Herraras have been overthrown in an anti-American Military Coup (the Herraras having been pro-American) and replaced by a hybrid personalist/militarist dictatorship in the form of a junta headed by General Silvio Luna, who takes the title of President. By the end of the movie, the junta's been wiped out by a combination of the Suicide Squad's actions, Starro's rampage, and pro-democracy rebels, who take over in the aftermath.
  • Moronica in the The Three Stooges shorts You Nazty Spy! and I'll Never Heil Again, both of which see the Moronican people under the less-than-competent thumb of Moe Hailstone, Dictator! Like The Great Dictator above, the Stooges were very pointedly lampooning the Third Reich.

    Literature 
  • 1984: Oceania is under the control of a political party called English Socialism (known as "Ingsoc" in Newspeak), led by Big Brother, the omnipresent but shadowy dictator who nobody seems to ever see in the flesh and may or may not actually exist as a person. It's implied that its geopolitical rivals Eurasia and Eastasia practice the same style of government, if they exist at all and aren't just made up by the Party.
  • Xeelee Sequence: The Interim Coalition of Governance from the Xeelee Sequence is Oceania's equal in terms of sheer tyranny. Imagine the Khmer Rouge on steroids and jacked up to galactic levels with time-travel. Surveillance is extreme on a time-travelling basis. Cruelty and child abuse is weaponized. And its ideology is neck deep in human supremacy and genocide. Indoctrination is beyond extreme and omnipresent. Dissidents effectively cease to exist due to the combination of strategic foreknowledge and the heavy presence of both the Guardians and the Office of Doctrinal Responsibility. If there is a dissident, there is no escape, for the Coalition controls 99% of the galaxy and the whole universe is in a perpetual state of war. For the Coalition, human suffering is THE point in staying 'human' and therefore, there will be no moments where the child soldiers of the Coalition would know peace.
  • Laconia from the later The Expanse novels is an authoritarian colony founded by a rogue wing of Martian Congressional Republic Navy, led by an incredibly ambitious admiral seeking complete dominion over humanity and shifting political power away from Earth. After 30 years of self-isolation, Laconia rolled its first Magnetar-class spaceship made using Lost Technology out into the slowzone to declare all humanity to be part of the new Laconian empire, then fired left and right at anyone who didn't surrender. After near-effortlessly subjugating humanity, Laconia turned all existing interplanetary organizations into puppets of Winston Duarte — the aforesaid admiral — acting out stageplays pretending to be democratic processes and took complete control of interplanetary communications to root out any criticism of Laconia or anything that might make Laconia look vulnerable, and push narrative painting Laconia as a noble party "forced" to take drastic measures against restless "separatists" threatening humanity. Laconia claims they won't interfere in any colony's internal politics, but they clearly stated that any colony not playing ball with Duarte will be annihilated (and it will be the colony's fault, of course) and they use dissenting individuals as protomolecule fodder for Duarte's immortality and his growing fleet, if they aren't lucky to be "simply" tortured in some dank place by his cultists. The empire didn't even last 5 years before Duarte's ill-advised action against eldritch aliens (responsible for killing the protomolecule makers far more advanced than Laconia) led to these aliens eating the slowzone infrastructure (which gave Laconia tight grip over colonies) and actively threatening all humanity. With one Magnetar ship destroyed miraculously by La Résistance, another lost in slowzone, the orbital shipyards used to make them destroyed by rebels too, protomolecule-treated Duarte himself in a vegetative state of sorts and his only backup ruler fleeing from all the control freaks and mad scientists surrounding her all life, Laconia is reduced to one hysterical planet protected by one Nigh-Invulnerable but irreplaceable ship.
  • In A Frozen Heart, a Broad Strokes Tie-In Novel to Frozen, Prince Hans of the Southern Isles describes his home as such. The kingdom is led by a corrupt, greedy man who squeezes every penny from his subjects with high taxes while brutally suppressing dissent and reacting to every problem with outright violence, supported by most of his 13 sons.
  • The Hunger Games: Panem, built in the ashes of a post-apocalyptic United States, is a totalitarian police state. Centered around the Capitol, whose citizens have surrendered their civic responsibilities and right to self-government in exchange for lives of decadence, it also rules over twelve (formerly thirteen) districts that provide the Capitol with resources in exchange for protection from the Peacekeepers, who also suppress dissent and publicly punish lawbreakers. As punishment for a previous rebellion, each of the districts is required to send two tributes (one male, the other female) to compete in the annual Hunger Games.
  • The Left Behind series: The Global Community (GC) is created after the Rapture by Nicolae Carpathia, The Antichrist. Interestingly, it's a more-or-less worthless regime; even though the GC gives him total control over all governments and media, God spends seven years kicking the crap out of them and causing millions of deaths. Plus, since the books' events are based on the authors' interpretation of Revelation, it leads to nonsensical events like Carpathia launching a nuclear war against himself.
  • The Man in the High Castle and its series adaptation have the entire globe controlled by one of two military dictatorships: The Empire of Japan and Nazi Germany, who in this timeline have beaten the Allies during the Second World War and implemented their authoritarian policies onto all their occupied territories, including the former United States of America.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Most, if not all, of the neighbors of the United Federation of Planets are authoritarian to some degree.
    • The Klingon Empire was described by Kirk as a military dictatorship. Power is concentrated in the hands of the Chancellor and the Klingon Defense Forces. However, this would eventually subside as the Federation and the Klingons signed a peace treaty and became close allies.
    • The Romulan Star Empire is ruled by the Praetor and the Senate. The Tal Shiar is the Secret Police, keeping the population in fear.
    • The Cardassian Union didn't have a single leader, but was collectively ruled by the military. A civilian government existed on paper, but all policy decisions were decided by the Cardassian brass. The Obsidian Order served as the State Sec. Eventually, a popular uprising overthrew the military and restored power to the civilian government. However, Gul Dukat later used the Dominion to depose the government and install himself as leader of Cardassia, though in truth he was little more than a puppet ruler.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: The Star League under Amaris the Usurper qualifies, as he and his clique took complete dictatorial control over the Terran Hegemony, complete with State Sec (the dreaded Krypteia) and suppression of any alternate power centers (obviously, massacring the entirety of the ruling Cameron dynasty, but even extending to the assassination of the Pope). Amaris is so associated with tyrannical dictatorship that he's the go-to for invoking Godwin's Law in-universe rather than Hitler.
  • Paranoia: The game takes place in Alpha Complex, an isolated city under the authoritarian rule of Friend Computer, an insane, self-righteous AI.
  • In Traveller, planetary governments can be generated with an undemocratic Power Source.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Being a Crapsack Galaxy, all the main factions are this in one way or another. Craftworlders, especially Saim-Hann, and T'au are likely the less brutal given they don't treat their own species as expendable crap every day but they still have absolute rulers, the Farseer Councils and the Ethereal, whose orders must be obeyed without hesitation.
    • Interestingly, the most obvious faction to bear this title (the Imperium of Man) is more of a confederation of mutually-aligned human conglomerations than a single, directly dominated polity. This is mainly because it's far, far too vast for centralized control. As long as a planet or colony is paying the Imperial Tithe and following something close to the Imperial Cult (and, unofficially, sending all psykers to the Black Ships), the High Lords of Terra don't care what they're up to, nor who rules them or how. This state of affairs is maintained by the fact pretty much every other faction wants to conquer/devour/burn/enslave/psychically-violate humanity, so they're better off banding together, whatever their political differences. Roboute Guilliman returning has meant that a strong, central (and, y'know, conscious) dictator-figure has been restored, but he's savvy enough to understand that he has far too much to do as a war-leader to bother drowning in the minutiae of a million-planet empire, so things are status quo... for now.
    • Conversely, a clear-cut example would be Humanity during the Great Crusade, directly led by the God-Emperor of Mankind. It's referred to several times in novels and fluff as a "military dictatorship", with all decisions of any real significance being made by the Emperor (or, maybe, Malcador).

    Video Games 
  • BioShock:
  • Final Fantasy XIV has Eulmore, a city-state in Norvandt that formed a cult of personality around its psychotic despot Vauthry. A highly class-segregated society, the upper crust of Eulmore is made up of decadent nobles that don't care at all that the world is slowly crumbling around them, while at the bottom there are commoners whose only hope of getting to the upper parts of Eulmore is by becoming an indentured servant of a noble. Vauthry himself is a narcissist who only desires to be worshipped, even if that means allowing The End of the World as We Know It to happen. Eulmore wasn't always like this though, and was actually a democratic city-state at the forefront in the fight against the Sin Eaters, though this means that by the time Shadowbringers starts, Eulmore's army is completely under Vauthry's control.
  • Genshin Impact:
    • Throughout most of Mondstadt's history, before it became the haven of freedom that the Anemo Archon Barbatos envisioned, it was ruled by two types of dictatorships. First was a personalist dictatorship by the previous Anemo Archon Decarabian, who was a ruthless tyrant enacting his will on the people with an iron fist. He was eventually dethroned and usurped by Barbatos (then a simple wind spirit) with the help of a La Résistance group, but shortly after the revolution, Mondstadt came under control of a single-party dictatorship by the aristocracy, who viewed commoners as nothing but "filth" and treated them as slaves. A second revolution was sparked by the legendary hero Vannessa, overthrowing the aristocracy and setting up the Knights of Favonius in order to maintain freedom and peace throughout the nation under Barbatos' will.
    • Inazuma is under a personalist dictatorship by the Electro Archon Raiden Shogun, who has become a Control Freak seeking to seize and confiscate any Visions that people in the nation have received in her pursuit for "Eternity". Many Inazumans either try to flee from their country or seek refuge in the remote Watatsumi Island for a chance to overthrow their god.
    • While little is known about Snezhnaya currently, according to Flavor Text, it's implied to be in a combination of a personalist dictatorship by the Cryo Archon; the Tsaritsa, and a military dictatorship by the leading governing body; the Fatui. Dainsleif mentions in the Travail trailer that the Tsaritsa has no love for her people, nor do they have any love for her, and the reason Snezhnayans put up with her is that they hope she'll eventually lead the charge against the current divine order ruling all of Teyvat.
  • Hidden City has a rare benevolent example: the Upper City is practically ruled by the Security Service, and their leader, Mr. Black, has imposed heavy restrictions on the people—known as the Law of Black—including but not limited to: setting a curfew after sundown, keeping most of the City's anti-fog crystal supplies in their possessions, and forcibly evacuating and then barricading entire areas that might possibly affected by the fog. However, it is established that Mr. Black makes most of his decisions for the sake of the people's safety (even if some of them are actually counterproductive and he's too proud/stubborn to listen to others), and while the player's character occasionally have to work against his orders behind his back, the game is for the most part on his side when threats against his power arise.
  • In the Injustice franchise, after the Superman of an alternate universe loses Lois and his city to a horrific scheme set up by the Joker, he kills the Monster Clown and resorts to increasingly harsher measures to prevent another tragedy from ever happening again. As the new High Councilor, he sets up the One Earth Regime, a planetwide dictatorship which includes members of the former Justice League who now support him, along with villains such as Bane, Sinestro, and Black Adam. Instead of following truth, justice, and the American Way, Regime Superman now believes in lies, injustice, and the authoritarian way, thinking that the traditional model of superheroics is outdated. Batman is the only hero who opposes Superman's increasingly dictatorial ways and only wins because he teleported an alternate Superman who didn't go rogue.
  • The New Order Last Days Of Europe has numerous examples such as Nazi Germany and the Italian Empire. But the most notable one is Ordeenstaat Burgund, led by Heinrich Himmler. It is an isolated, closed-off state run by the SS that practices an extreme form of National Socialism known as the Burgundian System, which emphasizes full-on cruelty to make the German people "stronger", ethnic cleansing of non-Aryan groups, and outright subjugation.
  • In Tropico, your island can become this if you chose so, by not holding elections or by rigging them.
  • In the Alternate History setting of Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, the world has been overrun and occupied by Nazism. In Europe, giant robots terrorise the population, and dissidents are sent to concentration camps to perform slave labour. In the United States, a puppet government run by the Ku Klux Klan in service of the Third Reich locks minorities and troublemakers into ghettos, and plans to make it illegal (on penalty of death) to speak any language other than German. What little we hear about Asia and Africa paints a grim picture as well.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: In Volume 4, Jacques and Ironwood clash over Ironwood's authority. When Ironwood speaks of council authority, Jacques observes that what the general really means is his authority; Ironwood confirms his de facto control by warning Jacques that means staying on his good side. In Volume 7, Pietro confirms to the heroes that Ironwood is sliding into paranoia and the Council is too scared to oppose him. He is also exploiting a loophole by declaring anything he doesn't want voted on as classified by the military. When the Big Bad threatens Atlas at the end of Volume 7, he declares martial law and cements the dictatorship in the Volume 8 premier by shooting dead an objecting councillor.

    Webcomics 
  • Aurora (2019): Zuurith, the god of the city he embodies, imposes a strict code of laws on his citizens he enforces with a small army of soldiers. Those arrested are sent either to a hollowed-out mountain to make the city's exports or to an arena to fight for the entertainment of law-abiding citizens.

    Western Animation 
  • Justice League:
    • In the three-parter "The Savage Time", Vandal Savage sends a laptop to his past self with a video message and a lot of helpful information. With this, his past self deposes Hitler in a coup, takes over Germany, and uses the advanced technology of the future to impose his rule over the entire world.
    • In "A Better World", an Alternate Universe version of the Justice League has changed its name to the Justice Lords and imposed a Knight Templar-style dictatorship over their Earth. The root cause for their tyranny is revealed to be their version of the Flash dying at the hands of their universe's Lex Luthor, leading their Superman to give up all pretenses of restraint and kill him.
  • The Legend of Korra: in the fourth Book, Kuvira became the "Grand Unifier", the equivalent of Supreme Leader, thanks to her subduing the bandits, and then overthrew the decadent Earth Kingdom to proclaim the Earth Empire, where she had absolute power.
  • The Owl House: The Boiling Isles is on the verge of being a dictatorship under Emperor Belos, if it isn't already there. Fifty years ago, Belos rose to power and began to force all witches outside of those he chooses to be part of his own personal coven to only practice one form of magic each. All their other magic is permanently sealed away, and those who refuse to fall in line and join a coven are branded criminals and hunted down. This keeps the population from embracing their full magical potential and makes a rebellion unlikely if not impossible. Those considered undesirable (often for harmless things, like believing in conspiracy theories or writing fanfiction) are imprisoned in the Conformatorium, and people who are considered an actual threat to Belos' power are turned to stone in a particularly twisted form of public execution. Belos claims to be following the will of the Titan, but it's heavily implied that he's delusional or lying, and either way, he is the sole authority in the Isles in practice, since all law enforcement reports to him and there's no form of checks and balances in place to keep him from abusing his position. And, he gives a lot of discretionary power to coven officials like Lilith or Warden Wrath. Perhaps the creepiest part is that, thanks to a steady stream of propaganda and a focus on indoctrinating children from a young age, most of the citizens see Belos' rule as a good thing. And, he’s also had statues of himself erected after Season 1 to remind everyone who’s boss.

    Real Life 
  • Nazi Germany is the Trope Codifier for modern dictatorships: A one-party state built around a fanatical Cult of Personality that worships the dictator in question (Adolf Hitler), lavish displays of military might and sending political/religious/racial dissidents to concentration camps for permanent imprisonment or execution (particularly Jews). Hitler gradually eliminated any rival sources of power, to the point where his word superseded any law according to Führerprinzip.
  • Fascist Italy can be considered the Trope Maker since it shares many of the same traits as Nazi Germany (one-party rule, persecution of certain groups, etc). Unlike Germany, Italy's government was still a monarchy led by Victor Emmanuel III though the real power was vested in the hands of the Fascists until 1943.
  • The Soviet Union especially under Josef Stalin was a place where political dissidents and other perceived "enemies of the state" (i.e. kulaks) were sent to the gulags or outright executed after a sham trial held by a Kangaroo Court of party loyalists and outright ethnic cleansing of specific groups. His successors attempted a somewhat more humane strategy, but were still highly totalitarian until Glasnost in the 1980s.
  • The Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin has become increasingly dictatorial since he first came to power in 2000. When his term originally expired in 2008, he became prime minister while Dmitry Medvedev became president, and used the office to be the real power until he was able to run for president again in 2012. Afterwards, he's slowly made amendments to extend his term indefinitely, curtailed freedom of speech, and in February 2022, launched a massive invasion of Ukraine.
  • North Korea is one of the most infamous dictatorships in the modern day, a totalitarian state built around the personal image of the Kim family, whose citizens are subject to strict and arbitrary laws. With its citizens and often foreign visitors disappearing for the most minor of offenses, it has been described as Oceania of George Orwell's 1984 made real. In fact, Christopher Hitchens once theorized that the nation's founder, Kim Il-Sung, was given a copy of the book when it was published, and decided to put its nightmarish vision of the future into practice.
  • The Islamic Republic of Iran is also one of the worst contemporary dictatorships. It's also The Theocracy, with power residing not in the President of Iran but in the Supreme Leader and his council of elders, who vet political candidates and can and will veto anything they don't like. It's also a totalitarian police state with numerous human rights violations, whose disproportionately large military is essentially being used to occupy itself. The previous regime was a monarchical dictatorship with its own abuses, but wasn't quite as constricting as the current one.
  • Saudi Arabia is modern-day example of a monarchic dictatorship. They are ruled by a royal family, but they have more in common with a family dictatorship than a traditional absolute monarchy. Media is heavily censored to be pro-government, curtailing free speech. Unlike North Korea, Iran, and Russia, they’re very overt of the fact that they’re not a democracy as well as their lack of elections.

 
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One Earth Regime

The Atlantis archivist explains how the One Earth Regime rose to power and what they do.

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