Follow TV Tropes


The Purge

Go To

"First, we kill all the subversives; then their collaborators; later, those who sympathize with them; afterward, those who remain indifferent; and finally the undecided."

When a character, usually a villain, takes over The Government, The Syndicate, the Ancient Conspiracy, does The Coup or otherwise takes power in some way, often the first item on the character's agenda is ordering the deaths of many characters. Usually, these characters are key members of the old regime, or represent the only serious internal threat to the new one. These aren't just Muggles, though; these are characters we know (and possibly love) from before, usually killed off via a quick montage cutting between several locations. No big ceremony, just them dying horribly. This is an effective way to drive home the power and ruthlessness of the new regime. A Death Montage may be used.

As the Real Life sub-page attests, this is often Truth in Television. The strongest threats to an organization are often from within, and consolidation of power often includes removing those threats—rivals, opposition leaders, and prominent critics—as swiftly and permanently as possible. If the people being purged were instrumental to the regime coming to power in the first place,note  this is a mass case of You Have Outlived Your Usefulness. Ironically, extensive early purges often lead to instability later on when the loss of talent, experience, and dissenting opinion creates an incompetent Yes-Man culture and sets up a Succession Crisis because of the power vacuum. As well, the assassinations plant the seeds of La Résistance, as the grieving family members yearn to seek revenge.

As some of the other real-life examples show, though, a purge isn't necessarily lethal. New leadership may simply decide to replace existing officials with their own choices, with the old officials simply losing their jobs, rather than their lives. The officials may be transferred to Antarctica, exiled to a Bleak Border Base, or jailed on trumped-up charges.

If this is a major feature of a character's Backstory, it usually leads to the character becoming the Sole Survivor of the purge, possibly even the Last of His Kind. Compare Hunting the Rogue, in which the organization turns on members deemed subversive or dangerous. Also compare You Have Failed Me, in which individual minions are singled out for punishment. Ruling Family Massacre is a subtrope for the specific example of a monarchy being lethally purged. Variants include Crushing the Populace when done by an existing regime, and Reign of Terror when done by a victorious rebellion.

Not to be confused with the movie The Purge, although it is an example of this trope.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • The Imperial Assassination Squads in Akame ga Kill! and Akame Ga Kill Zero participate in several to help consolidate Prime Minister Honest's power over the Empire.
  • After his Memory Gambit is over, Light does this in Death Note, killing off a lot of people. Even disregarding his killing off his enemies, Light's long-term goal is to purge society of all elements he considers undesirable, starting with criminals and eventually people who just aren't as productive as they could be.
  • End of Evangelion begins with Seele sending the Japanese military to kill everyone in NERV. Also implied in the series' original Gainax Ending when several characters are seen after apparently being shot.
  • Gekko Moria from One Piece killed all his lovable Quirky Miniboss Squad zombies so he could eat their shadows (don't ask) and gain more power.
    • Following the death of Gold Roger, the World Government decided that anyone and everyone connected to the Pirate King must pay for his crimes. This goes from otherwise innocent shipwrights who were just doing business to any unborn children he might have had.
  • In Cowboy Bebop, the Red Dragon, after Vicious attempts to take over the syndicate, orders the deaths of everyone connected to him, including the crew of the Bebop, in episode 25. The crew of the Bebop escape death, along with Spike's long lost love Julia, and Vicious succeeds in his second attempt to take power, but keeps the hit on Spike and Julia active, setting up Episode 26's final showdown.
  • In Claymore, The Northern Campaign was essentially a purge of the more rebellious Claymores. The Seven who survived are, as of the present storyline, hiding to conceal the fact that they survived.
  • Happens quite a few time in Gundam:
    • Char & Sayla from the classic Mobile Suit Gundam spent most of their childhoods avoiding a purge of their father's supporters after his untimely death due to heart problems/complications of heart surgery/poisoning & the subsequent rise of the sinister Zabi dynasty.
    • In Zeta Gundam the Titans conduct a larger scale purge of their rivals in The Federation & the colonies.
    • In Gundam Wing we get to see one of these after OZ overthrows the Alliance, culminating with their leader being kicked out the back of a cargo jet AND shot in head on his way down for good measure.
    • In Gundam SEED, both the Earth Alliance and ZAFT initiated Purges — the Earth Alliance used ZAFT's "Operation Spitbreak" to eradicate the Eurasia Army and attempt to kill the Archangel crew so that the Atlantic Federation (and thus Blue Cosmos) would have power. When "Operation Spitbreak" failed, ZAFT leader Patrick Zala ordered all Moderates within their power structure killed, which included Lacus Clyne's father (and former ZAFT leader), Siegel Clyne. At that point, both groups decided to turn their Purging urges on the other group — the Bloody Valentine War would now be a war of eradication — all part of Rau Le Crueset's plan.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, the second generation ends with a Purge that is undertaken by the main character, taking out any government officials who were collaborating with Vagan.
    • The prologue of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury ends with all of those involved in the GUND Format project being systematically killed as part of a witch-hunt with the main character Ericht and her mother Elnora being forced to flee and live in hiding with new names.
  • Happens in the climax of Eureka Seven.
  • The action in Romeo X Juliet starts 14 years after the purge of the Capulet clan, when the Sole Survivor and her supporters are finally in condition to strike back.
  • Bleach:
    • The Shinigami enacted a Purge of the Quincy clan of human exorcists 200 years ago in order to prevent a disruption in the cosmic balance. The few surviving families gradually died out until only the Ishida were left.
    • Nine years before the Thousand Year Blood War Arc begins, the Quincy King Yhwach carried out the Auswählen (Holy Selection) on all impure Quincies to absorb their power. Notable victims included Masaki Kurosaki and Kanae Ishida, née Katagiri. The only impure Quincy who survived this purge was Uryuu, for unknown reasons.
    • Yhwach later does another Auswählen to every one of his minions who are not in his Elite Guard. The survivors like Liltotto and Giselle still got their powers drained. He used the absorbed power to strengthen himself and his Elite Guard. Yhwach does it again to the sole remaining member of his Elite Guard Gerard Valkyrie, as well as to his right-hand man Jugram Haschwalth, meaning the Vandenreich are gone. Yeah, Yhwach's not a very nice king.
  • Code Geass
    • In the first episode, Prince Clovis orders the Shinjuku Ghetto purged of all "Elevens" when hunting for terrorists. The Brittanian military proceeded to murder every Japanese in the ghetto they found, including the elderly and children.
    • The premiere of R2 has a similar purge taking place in Babel Tower as a Britannian black ops unit began killing everyone inside while hunting for Lelouch, putting their bodies to flame for good measure.
    • The finale has Lelouch preside over a mass execution of his former allies. Instead of going through with it, Lelouch instead arranged this so he could be publicly killed by Suzaku, taking all the hatred in the world with him.
  • Happens in Naruto, as Itachi kills all the other members of the Uchiha clan except Sasuke as he was ordered by the Konoha elders to do so. It's also mentioned that Pain hated Hanzo so much he killed everyone even remotely associated with him.
  • After Ping Yang Hou's coup in Goddess Creation System he begins eliminating threats and people who won't bend to his whims, which causes more and more ministers and even family members to turn against him. They don't feel safe.
  • Tols Angus of My Wife Is The Demon Queen purges the heads of several squads offscreen as part of his consolidation of power.
  • Rebuild World:
    • When Akira is installing Sheryl as his proxy in charge of a slum gang, instead of walking in with her as a guard when Sheryl introduces herself to the gang, Akira stalks outside of their headquarters waiting for rebellious members to try and kill her. This is because appearing as a guard would just make dissenters wait until he’s out working to kill Sheryl. Akira massacres the rebels in a hail of machinegun fire to Make an Example of Them so Sheryl will be safe while he’s absent.
    • Since the slums and its residents are treated as expendable by the One Nation Under Copyright government, there are almost no laws there. One law that is enforced, is that if the slum gangs don’t keep an area free of festering corpses, they'll purge it in a firestorm; this causes Sheryl to sell off some of her gang’s territory. The government have also cut off water supplies to slums to purge them in the past.
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs:
    • After initially being let off with warnings for their cowardice in abandoning Angelica during her Throwing Down the Gauntlet challenge, Angelica's retainers and followers proceed to Turncoat as part of a plot against her father, resulting in Duke Redgrave crushing and replacing many of his vassal families (and certain female followers facing A Fate Worse Than Death Gilbert gives a Psychotic Smirk about).
    • Due to several vassals dishonoring a call to arms or defecting when the Kingdom of Holfort is invaded proper, many such noble households get crushed, such as the family of Leon's Wicked Stepmother Zola, and Marie’s family (who were abusive and forced their debts onto her).
  • In How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, protagonist Souma Kazuya enacts a plan to gather all the corrupt nobles within Elfrieden, albeit in two stages. First, Duke Carmine pretends to rebel against him so the nobles who are openly opposing Souma will gather around him and they can be taken out in one fell swoop. After the war against Amidonia ends, Souma sets up a trial for Castor Vargas and his daughter Carla for their previous insurrection. Only two of the major heads of the noble houses vouch for them to be spared, while the other ten insist in their execution, and the latter ten are promptly executed while the remaining two are spared. Soma himself even quotes Machiavelli (see below) on how he carried this out.

    Comic Books 
  • When Baron Von Strucker made his return in the 1990's, he openly started a purge to weed Hydra of weak elements and rebuild it to its former glory.
  • Judge Dredd: After Judge Death became an undead monster and named himself Chief Judge by murdering his predecessor, he and his fellow Dark Judges had all the Judges who opposed their insane philosophy that life is the root of all crime (whom he referred to as "wets") eliminated.
  • Star Wars: Kanan: Order 66 is initiated at the end of #1, and #2 is about how Master Billaba sacrificed herself to save Caleb and how he dodged clones on the next few days, hiding on the streets of a city on Kaller.
    • The inciting incident of the Star Wars: Legacy run from the Legends continuity was the Third Jedi Purge (yes, there were three of those). This purge was a good deal less effective than the Great purge seen in the movies, as the One Sith never ruled the galaxy to the extent that Palpatine did, and Luke's Jedi Order weren't caught by surprise, but it still wiped out a large part of the Order, including enough of the senior masters that the Jedi Council were reduced to three Jedi.
  • RoboCop Versus the Terminator: At one point during the Bad Future, after the Terminators succeed in destroying all organic life on Earth, they construct spaceships so they can travel into space to destroy all organic life in the universe.

  • Ages of Shadow: After the Third Age portion of the story ends with Jade being permanently sealed, Zaben goes insane and enacts a purge of the Shadow Walkers, slaughtering most of them. And of those who survive that, most then get manipulated into sacrificing themselves in order to resurrect Boaz.
  • A Brief History of Equestria: Princess Platinum does this to the Unicorn nobility after the Hearth's Warming, as part of her plan to prevent them from ever regaining the amount of power they had. Indeed, her entire life is one planned-out purge on them, finally resulting in her suicide.
    • Some decades before, the nobility did the same to her father's family, Romanov-style. Only the youngest member of the family escaped.
  • Chasing Dragons:
    • In order to finally pacify the Ironborn, the royalist forces which invade the Iron Islands during the Greyjoy Rebellion go full throttle in retaliation. By the time the fighting is over, only the handful of loyalist Houses on the islands have avoided either having every adult male killed or having their Houses stripped of noble status and replaced by loyal bannermen from the mainland.
    • After Volantis brings Mantarys to heel, the city's warlocks and the monsters they bred are all killed in moral outrage by the Volantenes.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: A heroic and non-lethal variant begins in chapter 19, when Luna takes direct charge of cleaning house in the Equestrian Border Patrol to remove ineffective, incompetent and outright corrupt members. In this case, they aren't killed, just fired with cause.
  • Fortuna: In this Frozen AU one-shot, the king of the Southern Isles is overthrown and killed by three of his generals, all of whom despised the ruling family's avarice, while imprisoning his 12 older sons. The generals then install Prince Hans, who was imprisoned for his attempted assassination of Elsa and Anna, as a puppet ruler, who then proceeds to execute seven of the brothers he hated the most, while caging the rest in the palace dungeons. However, the generals are unaware Hans isn't content being a puppet. What the fate of the generals is unknown, but it's implied Hans replaced them with loyalist officers, and being the sociopath that he is, executed the three generals.
  • This happens at the beginning of Gensokyo 20XX: Rise of Earth and anyone of Gensokyo that resisted was met with death. Also, the invaders were exterminating youkai left and right for their power and magic. Another one also occurs in 20XXII, leaving most of the youkai that were captured dead (only nine inmates were noted to be imprisoned). It's also worth noting that the image that inspired the series was also inspired by the issue where the page image comes from.
  • In part 2 of the sequel to the RWBY Subreddit fanfiction The Great Meta Fic, the Church of Thorns executes all the nation state leaders who refuse to accept their takeover of Inferno's movement.
  • Halloween Unspectacular:
    • In the second volume, Do The Gasmask Shuffle, the Story Arc's climax is kicked off by the forces of the Big Bad Dan Phantom hunting down and killing anyone who stands in the way of the implementation of their plan.
    • The Big Bad of the second Myth Arc (Lair of the Hack Writer, Watchmeh, and Blue Alert), General Rausseman, has this as his main goal; he wants to purge the world of any and all abnormal beings (aliens, ghosts, superpowered humans of any kind, etc). He succeeds with the US at the end of Watchmeh, forcing the survivors to retreat to Wakanda. Blue Alert follows up by revealing he intends to ultimately wipe out every sapient nonhuman in the universe.
    • As the ninth volume, This is fine, reaches its climax, The Stranger kicks off his campaign to completely destroy E350's life by luring all his usual villains to one place and blowing up the building.
  • Imperium of Vader:
    • It doesn't happen onscreen, but several more troublesome Moffs are eliminated to smooth the transition of power to Vader's new regime.
    • Vader muses that he'll probably execute most of Palpatine's Advisors, since the majority are useless Sycophantic Servants.
  • Kage has several examples:
    • 200 years ago, Elyon's grandmother Queen Lysanna ordered a mass purge of the shapeshifters. More recently, Kur carried out a smaller-scale one early in Phobos's reign, and is trying to manipulate Elyon into ordering another massive one.
    • Centuries ago, Althair the Mad Sage and his followers carried out the Great Purge across the Known Worlds, killing thousands (especially children) to try and prevent the "Incoming Darkness".
    • Shortly after coming to power, Phobos had the entirety of the rest of Meridian's nobility murdered at a ball in order to prevent any rival claimants to the throne.
  • Loved and Lost: After Prince Jewelius makes himself Equestria's king and exiles the dismantled princesses, he has his chief minions examine the loyalties of the royal guards who were seriously injured in the Changeling invasion. After finding out that most of them continue swearing loyalty to the princesses, he orders them to be murdered, making them look like casualties of the Changeling invasion, and allowing him to fill the greatly decreased ranks with criminals he releases from dungeons in exchange for their loyalty. In the climax, he launches an attack on Ponyville, intending to wipe out the entire townsfolk along with the usurped heroes (though this massacre is successfully prevented).
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • The enactment of this trope is not seen, but several clues and events heavily imply that John Mandeville attempts to do this during the Hunt for Mandeville Arc, after Kyril makes his move in targeting the slavers associated with him. This is shown by the revelation that the Black Dogs are securing secret routes from Garan to Ken, together with preemptive assaults on the Lord Executioner, his band of hunters, Claudia, and presumably all the people inside Celestine's palace that are against Mandeville's efforts, courtesy of traitors masquerading as guards ready to act on his orders. Whether there are any casualties is unknown, but at the very least, all named characters within the palace are unharmed, thanks to Kyril's precautionary measures, as well as the intervention of Bergen's skeleton crew and Evetta.
    • Technically speaking, Kyril and Celestine's efforts to eliminate the Black Dogs (who stages a Military Coup against Eostia) plus any traitorous, rebellious elements count as a gradual, story-wide, non-villainous example. They may be the main characters, and anyone on the receiving end of this purge certainly deserve it, yet at the end of it all, they are consolidating power by removing threats to the country.
  • The Raven's Plan has several of these carried out following the Remembering, in retaliation for crimes enacted in the old timeline:
    • Edmure, backed by forces from the Riverlands, Vale, and North, kills every member of House Frey who was involved in the Red Wedding (which was most of them).
    • House Forrester wipes out all of House Whitehill (except for Gwyn) for siding with the Boltons.
    • Every Maester involved in the Ancient Conspiracy to manipulate and indirectly control the realm is killed by the Hightowers and every other lord they can alert to the situation.
  • Star Wars vs. Warhammer 40K: While the Imperial Navy is busy battling the Republic fleet during the first contact battle at Pzob, Orion Phatris takes advantage of the Navy being distracted by having his Skywatch Space Marines covertly board the now undefended civilian transports of the Imperial refugee fleet to assassinate various planetary governors, nobles, and anyone else who could potentially challenge his newfound claim to leadership over the Imperials.
  • White Knights and Dark Lords duology: A rare heroic version — after Umbridge attempts to force Harry into using a blood quill, Xander calls Giles to have the Council initiate one of these on the Ministry of Magic; per ancient treaties, it's actually all legal, and most of those arrested are corrupt or outright supporters of Voldemort, with the rest largely just being incompetent. In the second story, interim Minister of Magic Amelia Bones initiates a purge of a different kind: daily meetings of the Wizengamot to go through the law books and remove laws that are stupid (such as forbidding someone from not wearing a hat), outdated or contradictory; Minerva McGonagall starts doing the same thing with her staff to purge the Hogwarts rulebook of similar things, though that purge doesn't have nearly as many things to remove.
  • The Will of the Empire: In order to ensure that Vader's final orders — naming Luke as heir to the Imperial throne — are carried out, Admiral Piett and his allies take steps to eliminate as much of the card-carrying old guard as possible. They start by assembling all the most influential figures (Pestage, Isard, Lumiya and others) for a meeting on Coruscant, and launch an attack to kill them all. Then they go after all the high-ranking Moffs, bureaucrats, and military officers who might refuse to accept Luke's leadership, sending troops after those in the Core and putting out bounties for those further afield.

    Film — Animated 
  • Kung Fu Panda 2: Lord Shen attempts to genocide the entire population of Giant Pandas to avert a prophecy. At first, with the exception of Po, he seems to have been entirely successful. Then the ending reveals that some more pandas managed to make it to safety, and are hiding themselves away from the rest of the outside world.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 300: Rise of an Empire: After Xerxes becomes a God-King after his journey to the desert, Artemisia kills off all of Xerxes's former allies and councilmen to remove anyone else who could influence him besides her.
  • In Batman (1989), The Joker wipes out all the other crime bosses in Gotham, sensing that they probably won't want to go along with his "let's kill everyone just For the Evulz" scheme. (We only get to see him kill three of them, though. The others are murdered off-screen.)
  • Blood of the Tribades: The priests of Bathor are killing all lesbian vampires and others deemed sinners, whom they blame as the cause of a disease that the priests have. It's stated they've already killed all male vampires, and have exiled most of the females.
  • In The Bourne Series, Treadstone is disassembled after Jason's rampage risks exposure and reveals the dangers involved. The commander and his operatives are eliminated, leaving only two remaining Treadstone operatives by Supremacy.
    • The Bourne Legacy takes this a step further when the simple risk of Outcome being connected to Treadstone leads to the CIA killing all associated operatives and the civilian research staff. An operative and a scientist survive this initial purge, setting off the plot as they run for their lives.
  • Luchino Visconti's The Damned (1969), set in Nazi Germany, features a heavily sensationalized version of the Night of the Long Knives.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane enacts one of these against the rich and powerful of Gotham and any forces who are deemed collaborators. Or that's at least what Bane claims, in reality, this is just one step towards a much greater purge of all of Gotham.
  • G.I. Joe: Retaliation has Zartan-disguised-as-President ordering the destruction of the Joe base.
  • The Godfather has the famous baptism scene, where Michael takes power by wiping out the other Dons (and Moe Greene) during a baptism. This and the below Star Wars examples are particularly well-known.
    • This was later parodied in a similar scene in the spoof movie Mafia! that featured death by fart (no, really).
  • Goodfellas has Jimmy authorizing the murders of everyone involved in the Lufthansa heist, partly for fear that they might be caught and turn informant, but also so he can keep all the loot for himself.
  • Infernal Affairs II has the killing of the four Ngai family capos halfway through.
  • The bloody Real Life St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, which killed thousands of French Protestants in 1572, is dramatized in D.W. Griffith's silent epic Intolerance and the French film La Reine Margot.
  • Judge Dredd. Rico and Ilsa manage to massacre more than a hundred street Judges due to Griffin's knowledge of Judge procedures, security measures and scrambled radio frequencies.
  • In Lethal Weapon 2, the villain, a South African drug smuggler and diplomat orders the deaths of the LAPD detectives investigating his illegal operations. Most of them are brutally killed in their homes with Riggs and Murtaugh the only survivors.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe movies:
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Hydra agents successfully infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D., turning their Project Insight helicarriers into purging death-machines to kill everyone who could potentially be a threat to Hydra, from hobos and soccer dads to Tony Stark and the President, while at the same time triggering a crisis that would allow S.H.I.E.L.D./Hydra to take control of the country. They also try to kill as many superheroes as possible, for obvious reasons. Captain America and a small team decide to do a purge of their own by exposing Hydra's infiltration and reprogramming the helicarriers to fire on each other.
    • Avengers: Infinity War: This is Thanos's MO. He and his minions travel from world to world to indiscriminately kill off half their populations, as he believes this will prevent an Overpopulation Crisis and allow the survivors to have enough resources to live. He seeks to complete the Infinity Gauntlet so he can do this on a universal scale. Despite the heroes' best efforts, he succeeds, and with one Badass Fingersnap, half of everyone in the universe disintegrates.
  • The Purge:
    • The title event is a 12-hour period with all laws suspended, and the intent behind it is to both get rid of the undesirable parts of society and purge the nation of its violent impulses in one go.
    • The Purge: Anarchy expands the usage and meaning of this trope when it's revealed that very few Americans actually participate in The Purge, and the government has to hire thugs and killers to keep the Purge quotas up, explicitly using them to target the lower classes. The Prequel The First Purge reveals that the entire point of the Purge was to get rid of the lower classes, and that the government had to hire thugs once it became clear that the people would rather commit random acts of hedonism instead.
    • The Purge: Election Year has the government lift the exception for the upper class to get rid of a political candidate trying to end the Purge, only for them to end up being targeted by it. The anti-purge candidate wins the election, and the pro-purge population starts rioting in response.
    • The Forever Purge has the Purge reinstated, only for it to go wrong when several white supremacist groups refuse to stop once the 12 hours are over. The "Ever After Purgers" seek to purge the nation of minorities and undesirable elements of the government. This ultimately leads to the destruction of the pro-purge government and the fall of America, but others aren't letting these groups get away with taking their home.
  • In Serenity, the Operative finally resorts to ordering the deaths of practically everyone who's ever helped, sheltered, or otherwise had any sort of positive contact with Serenity's crew, rationalizing it as leaving them nowhere to hide.
  • According to the opening narration of the Christian end-times film Six: The Mark Unleashed, The Leader killed 89 million people in North America alone during the first Purge, with the death toll presumably much higher in third-world countries. One of the people killed in the event was the narrator's girlfriend.
  • Star Wars:
    • In Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine's Order 66 results in Jedi all over the galaxy being ruthlessly murdered by their own clone troopers. Though we don't see much of it, there's also Anakin/Darth Vader's leading the 501st Legion into the Jedi Temple to murder the Jedi-in-Training, down to the last child. After that, there's the massacre of the Separatist leaders by Vader, while Palpatine gives a New Era Speech reforming The Republic into The Empire. The last one was specifically shot as a Shout-Out to The Godfather (see above). In Star Wars Legends, Luke Skywalker comments that such purges later became standard Imperial procedure with planetary governors semi-regularly making dissenters disappear.
    • And decades later, six years before The Force Awakens takes place, Kylo Ren enacted a smaller-scale but no-less-devastating Jedi purge of his own — namely, all of Luke Skywalker's Jedi students.
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction: One of these happened before the start of the film, when a black-ops group begins hunting down the Autobots. By the start of the film, they've been greatly reduced, and what little that are left are in hiding. Worse, if some lines in the film are any indication, most of the Autobots didn't even realise this was happening until it was too late.
  • TRON: Legacy: This is what happened to the ISO's prior the events of the movie. Bonus points for actually being called The Purge in story.
  • Underworld: Awakening takes place after "the Purge", in which the government exterminated vampires and Lycans (werewolves). It is implied that several established characters died during this purge.
  • In Warcraft, the Frostwolf clan is purged by the rest of the Horde after their chieftain Durotan tried to secretly negotiate peace with the humans.

  • Animorphs: Late in the series, a massive campaign to reorganize the Yeerk Empire begins, headed by Visser Three. Visser Three convinces the council that Visser One is a traitor, and she is sentenced to be executed. Marco winds up doing it instead. Visser Three then usurps her position and kills everyone loyal to her, replacing them with his own subordinates.
  • Dragon's Teeth: The Night of Long Knives aka the Blood Purge, June 30, 1934, in which Hitler wipes out the left wing of the Nazi Party and basically destroys the SA. Rohm and Strasser are murdered and Lanny sees an SS man shoot Lanny's friend Hugo Behr, an SA officer, through the head.
  • The Gilded Chamber: Haman regularly has anyone who dares speak out against him, as well as those who pose a threat to his attainment of power, executed. The gallows are a consistent presence in the royal courtyard as a result.
  • Elatra’s giant war in An Outcast in Another World between all nations eventually becomes The Scouring as both The Humans and the Allied Forces commit too many atrocities against each other for either side to back down. The Humans lose, although they go out with a cataclysmic bang.
  • Older Than Feudalism: In The Bible, Solomon began his reign by having a number of people previously spared by David executed.
    • David himself told him to kill most of these people, either because they'd been involved in a recent coup attempt or in punishment for some other past sin.
    • The book of Acts tells how, after seeing that this little Christian movement failed to wither away after the death of its founder, the Jewish religious leaders tried to silence the rest of his followers by intimidation, imprisonment, or even death. Unfortunately for them, one of the guys in charge of the purge had a change of heart, and his zeal for eradicating Christianity became a zeal for spreading it: Saul of Tarsus, better known as St. Paul.
  • In The Prince Niccolò Machiavelli advises not to do this more than once. As it foments rebellion.
  • In The Diamond Chariot, when Erast Fandorin comes too close to uncovering the villain's identity, the villain sends four ninjas to assassinate him and his investigative team simultaneously. He is the only one to survive because the ninja princess has fallen in love with him and demands him to be spared.
  • Animal Farm had one based on Stalin's Great Purge.
  • Death Eaters takes over Ministry in Harry Potter, and started hunting down people they branded as "undesirables".
  • Kangaroo courts a-plenty, mass round-ups in the night followed by executions on the same scale, and probably several assassinations just for variety kicked off the takeover of the People's Republic of Haven, in Honor Harrington.
    • Rob S. Pierre officially kicks off his coup of Haven in The Short Victorious War by carpet-bombing the presidential palace while Hereditary President Harris, his wife and kids, the cabinet, and the heads of the most prominent Legislaturist families, are there for the president's birthday party. And then blames it on subversive elements in the Navy, using it as an excuse to accuse the Navy's loyalist officers of treason when they get back from their not-so-victorious conflict with Manticore.
    • Realization that the government was about to do another purge of the Navy lead directly to the Military Coup that the Committee of Public Safety had been hoping to avert via the purge. Followed by a messy period of internal strife where the restored Republic sought to purge the remaining State Sec forces from their far-flung territories.
  • Torak pulled this in The Belgariad prequels. He'd been living in isolation for centuries, so when he was ready to lead an Angarak army against the West his first step was "remind everyone who's in charge here".
  • Star Trek:
    • In the novelization of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Unification" Sela and Procounsul Neral carry out a purge in the Krocton Segment to eliminate those Romulans seeking peaceful reunification with their Vulcan cousins.
    • In the Star Trek novel series Terok Nor, Cardassian Central Command destroys the Oralian Way religion (although pockets manage to survive) in a purge of believers in the enclaves on Bajor. The Oralians had already fled persecution on Cardassia, but Central Command had its eyes on Bajor, too.
  • Inverted in The Wheel of Time: after securing her position on the Amyrlin Seat, Egwene attempts a purge on the Black Ajah, which results in more than fifty executions, although word gets out before she can attempt to capture the majority of them.
  • In Charles Stross's Iron Sunrise, Portia Hoechst has all the subordinates who were supporting her predecessor's rogue operation killed (at least temporarily).
  • A variation in The Hunger Games. After more than a few of the victors reveal themselves to be rebels in the Third Quarter Quell, secretly protecting Katniss and Peeta and helping them escape to District Thirteen, which by this time has become the base for the second rebellion, President Snow institutes a purge of all living victors in Panem who are not undyingly loyal to him. By the war's end, only seven victors are still alive out of roughly fifty when the war started, the rest having fallen to the purge, the war, or the games.
  • In The Wandering, it's what the Natasians plan to do with the populace of Neshi's homeworld, presumably through the sleep chambers.
  • In the Star Wars Legends, the Empire has regularly wiped out several alien races for defying it — and sometimes just because.
    • While Imperial discipline of its own forces is usually You Have Failed Me, for especially notorious screw-ups they're liable to spread the punishment around with a big shovel. For instance, the failure of the Avenger in The Empire Strikes Back led to its captain and his entire family being killed; the defection of Avarice in The Bacta War calls for the execution of the entire crew (if they're ever caught), their families, the captain's mistress, and her family.
    • In the X-Wing novel Isard's Revenge, the New Republic moves to liberate the Ciutric Hegemony from the control of Prince-Admiral Delak Krennel, using Krennel's murder sprees — his killing of Imperial Grand Vizier Sate Pestage and over a hundred members of his family in order to usurp control of Ciutric and its associated worlds, and later other purges committed to keep himself in power — as justification for targeting him.
    • In Darksaber, Natasi Daala effectively commits a purge when she brings together thirteen of the most powerful Warlords of the Empire, who've been mostly squabbling with one another over territory rather than acting to destroy the New Republic, for the Conference at Tsoss Beacon. When they refuse to cooperate and work together for a common cause, Daala purges them all and seizes control of their territories and resources, bringing about the Imperial Reunification and the rise of the Imperial Remnant.
  • In the BattleTech novel Heir to the Dragon after surviving an assassination attempt Coordinator Takashi Kurita orders the deaths of everyone involved in the plot and their families within one degree of separation. Including his son's fiance when it turns out her father was one of the masterminds. However, he refuses to acknowledge publicly that his own cousin Marcus Kurita was involved, as that would cut House Kurita's numbers in half.
  • In The Turner Diaries, once The Organization takes control of Southern California, they initiate what comes to be called The Day of the Rope. Not only are all non-whites ethnically cleansed from the region, but all whites who are declared "race traitors" — judges, professors, lawyers, politicians, journalists, entertainers, preachers, and anyone who's either slept with or even been friends with non-whites — are lynched and their bodies hung from streetlights, power poles, trees, street signs, and overpasses.
  • Purges were characteristic of the reign of the Dawn Empire in Shadow of the Conqueror, starting with every single aristocrat in Hamahra, then every noble in the neighboring countries, and then anyone who spoke out against the Empire or Emperor Dayless.
  • Fire & Blood: Happens a few times, especially during and after the Dance of the Dragons. Aegon II supporters kill everyone on Dragonstone who were loyal to his half-sister Rhaenyra before she gets there. Then, when Aegon II's council get fed up with his refusal to surrender, they launch a coup, starting by killing almost everyone loyal to him (except his mother, who they just lock up).
  • In Richard Weyands Empire series book Tyrant, newly crowned Emperor Trajan decides to pay back the corrupt Imperial Council for assassinating his sister and predecessor in the most destructive way possible by blowing up the council building with them inside (with the exception of the President of the council who was summoned before the purge).
  • In George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith's thoughts reference massive purges that took place during the '50s when Oceania was established and continuing until the present day if one includes people who are "vaporised".
  • Split Heirs: The Hydrangean wizards were all purged by the Gorgarians, aside from Clootie, when they tried to use magic (ineffectively) against them.
  • In Modern Villainess: It's Not Easy Building a Corporate Empire Before the Crash, this is part of the "Keika Rules" that Runa employs when she bails out a failing bank or other business. The entire upper management get thrown out on their asses for getting the company into that mess in the first place, and the board hires new managers. If illegal activity is found, she'll zealously prosecute everyone involved.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alphas: In the season 1 finale "Original Sin", The Government massacres a Red Flag meeting. Turns out Stanton Parish set it up so only Red Flag's moderate membership was there, and the government was executing a Purge for him. Whoops.
  • Angel:
    • Every 75 years, The Senior Partners conduct The Review. One of them comes to Earth in an avatar to judge Wolfram & Hart's progress. Anybody who is performing unsatisfactory is killed or maimed.
    • The Beast ended up exterminating everybody in Wolfram & Hart, but they were quickly replaced.
    • In the final episode "Not Fade Away", Team Angel (who are running Wolfram & Hart at the time) do their own purge of the Circle of the Black Thorn, the Ancient Conspiracy who run affairs for the Senior Partners. There's a definite The Godfather vibe to it, right down to the mafia-style murders of Izzy and Lindsey.
  • Babylon 5:
    • The Centauri start to undergo one behind the scenes, as those who oppose the Centauri's new militant stance are labeled as traitors and dealt with.
    • After President Clark declares martial law, he sends his elite guard out rounding up the senate, military officers who oppose him and eventually the ISN news station when they tried to expose what's happening.
  • Boardwalk Empire:
    • The season one finale sees the D'Alessio brothers get quickly assassinated by Richard Harrow, Al Capone and Jimmy Darmody once Nucky gets Arnold Rothstein (who had been backing the brothers) to withdraw his support of them.
    • The season three finale sees such a demise to Gyp Rosetti's attempt to take over Atlantic City. First, the 30-some henchmen supplied to him by Joe Masseria are called back to New York after Nucky and Rothstein arrange a deal with Masseria to get him to withdraw his backing of Rosetti. Those men never make it back, as Chalky White and Al Capone (and their respective gangs) massacre them with gatling guns as they leave Atlantic City. This leaves Gyp with just his own nine men, all but three of whom are killed by Richard Harrow when he turns up at the brothel Rosetti is basing his operation from, looking for Tommy Darmody. Gyp's right hand Tonino survives Harrow's shootout by hiding, and when found by Nucky and Eli afterwards, is told that he will be allowed to leave Atlantic City alive on the condition that he kill Rosetti. So Tonino meets up with Gyp and the other two surviving henchmen at the beach, and kills Rosetti by stabbing him first in the back, then in the chest.
  • Brave New World: In the finale the Epsilons begin slaughtering the other castes when they rise up.
  • Children of Dune: This Sci-Fi miniseries adaptation of the second and third Dune books, staged Paul's elimination of the conspirators against him much like the famous Godfather scene above. The book wasn't quite as theatrical.
  • Doctor Who dramatizes the real-life St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in "The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve".
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In the opening of The Pointy End, following Ned's arrest, the City Watch slaughter all the Northmen in King's Landing apart from Ned and his daughters, as well as Ned's staff, such as Syrio Forel.
    • The first episode of season two ends with Joffrey ordering the City Watch to kill the late King Robert's bastard children, including infants. Even Cersei seems taken aback by this. They kill most of them.
    • And in "The Rains of Castamere" King Robb, his wife, his mother, his direwolf and all his lords and soldiers are slaughtered by the Boltons and the Freys, ending his rebellion in one fell swoop.
    • In "The Winds of Winter", Cersei has all of her enemies killed, as Pycelle is murdered by Qyburn's little birds, while everyone else — the rest of the Small Council, the Sparrows, the Tyrells (Queen Margaery, Lord Paramount Mace Tyrell and the heir of Highgarden Loras Tyrell) her own uncle Kevan (Hand of the King), her cousin Lancel and presumably a significant number of courtesans and a good chunk of the city as collateral damage — are killed when the wildfire stash beneath the Sept of Baelor is set off. With Tommen being Driven to Suicide as a result of her actions, she becomes the first woman to become Queen and sit on the Iron Throne since Princess Rhaenyra.
    • The Sand Snakes apparently take over Dorne by killing Prince Doran, his son, and his bodyguard, thereby wiping out House Martell.
    • Ramsay does this to Roose Bolton in Winterfell, murdering him, his wife and newborn baby.
    • Daenerys takes over the Dothraki by purging all its great Khals in a single fireball.
    • There are also attempted purges such as Ser Alliser Thorne attempting to complete his purge of wildling sympathizers and Jon loyalists after killing the Lord Commander. Dolorous Edd and his friends, as well as Ser Davos, barely regroup in time to organize and protect themselves from Thorne. In the Iron Islands, Euron usurps the throne after murdering his brother Balon forcing Theon, Yara and their supporters to escape before he kills them.
    • In the backstory, Tywin purged the Reynes of Castamere in a single fell swoop and did a two-fer with the Sack of King's Landing where he dispatched Gregor Clegane to murder Rhaegar's children, while Jaime, albeit for entirely different reasons, murdered King Aerys II.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: Pryce has Nick and other plainclothes Eyes getting dirt on the Commanders to root out corrupt ones, including Fred.
  • I, Claudius: Upon learning of his plot to seize power, the Emperor Tiberius has Sejanus' family and supporters murdered. More purges occur with depressing regularity throughout; in the end even Claudius himself orders a purge of Messalina and her faction when she's suspected of plotting a coup.
  • The Last Ship: In the Season 3 episode "Legacy", the instigators of The Coup move to secure their power base by having all surviving senior officers of the US military assassinated, allowing them to seize control of forces on the regional level.
  • Lexx: In the first season, His Shadow eventually orders the deaths of everybody in the entire League of 20,000 Planets, and plans to do the same for the rest of the human race unless our (anti)heroes can stop him.
  • Lost: The "Hostiles" execute most members of the Dharma Initiative using poison gas.
    • Ben also hired Sayid to kill all of his enemies.
  • The Mandalorian: The entire Mandalorian culture was subject to a massive genocide at the hands of Moff Gideon, resulting in a significant number of their people being slaughtered. The details of this purge haven't been fully revealed yet, but a small covert enclave of Mandalorians managed to get away and hide underground. One of the members of this covert is Din Djarin, the titular lead, who works as a bounty hunter to provide for his clan. However, this covert is found and similarly purged save for a few when the Empire finds them. Thus far, beside Djarin and The Armorer, the only other Mandalorians that survived are Boba Fett, Bo-Katan and a few of her Night Owls, and possibly Sabine Wren.
  • The Man in the High Castle: It is implied that after their occupation of the USA, the Nazis and Japanese purged all Christian or Jewish religious literature. This results in books such as the Bible being a rarity, with Juliana even remarking that she hasn't seen one since she was a small child. Not to mention that the Nazis purged black people and Jews in their domain, though the Japanese are more lenient (at least toward the former). Helen later learns another is being planned in the Pacific States after the American Reich decides to annex them when the Japanese withdraw, finding documents with plans for camps, gas chambers, and lists of the "undesirable" people that will be sent off there. This includes not only black people or Jews but also anyone of mixed race, Roma and Native Americans. Presumably they were purged already in the American Reich.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe Netflix shows:
    • Daredevil (2015): There's a reason Fisk is so feared, why criminals are afraid to say his name: because if he finds out you squealed, he will come after you, and then he'll go after everyone you've ever cared about just to make sure the message is clear.
      • Wilson Fisk does this after Karen Page is able to get the stolen pension file from Union Allied out to the press. With James Wesley relaying orders, Fisk has everyone involved in the conspiracy killed. First to go is McClintock (the Union Allied accountant who let the file get into Karen's hands), who is force-fed pills and staged as an overdose. Next to go is Clyde Farnum (a guard in debt to a mobster Fisk had recently retired, and who Wesley had intimidated into trying to hang Karen in her jail cell by threatening his daughter), who is shot in his basement and staged to look like a suicide. Last to go is Rance (who had tried to kill Karen in her apartment after Farnum's attempt failed, but was stopped by Matt Murdock), who is hanged in his cell by his bedsheets, ironically the very fate intended for Karen in Farnum's attempt on her life. Fisk orders Wesley to leave Karen alone, reasoning that since now the public knows everything she knows, there's no point in getting rid of her. This ends up being a big mistake, since towards the end of the season, it's Karen who kills Wesley.
      • After Fisk kills Anatoly for interrupting his date with Vanessa, he immediately sets into motion plans to eliminate Anatoly's brother Vladimir and everyone in the Ranskahov brothers' organization. He does so by having some of Madame Gao's blind couriers act as suicide bombers to target all of Vladimir's bases of operations, then has the corrupt cops on his payroll go in and execute any survivors.
    • Luke Cage (2016): When Mariah is arrested near the end of Season 2, she puts a hit out on virtually all of her former employees, including her loyal aid Alex, so that they can't potentially testify against her. The only two exceptions are Ben Donovan, who is protected by lawyer-client privilege and has connections with other power criminals, and Sugar, whose wife gave her clothes after her assets were stolen and her house was burned down.
  • The Purge: Set ten years after the first Purge.
  • Revolution: Bass Monroe has been steadily purging his old comrades from the days when he and his best friend Miles Matheson founded the Monroe Republic after a series of brutal wars. After Monroe first started losing it, Miles tried to assassinate him and ever since Monroe has become extremely paranoid. This also means that most of his officers are now serving him because they are afraid of him rather than because they are loyal (This is shown in episode 13, episode 14, and episode 17). When Tom Neville is captured by Monroe's soldiers he uses this to convince a number of them to help him stage a coup rather than wait to see if they will be part of the next purge (This is shown in episode 19, and the first season finale).
  • Rome. When Octavian and Mark Antony form an Enemy Mine alliance, they're determined to avoid Julius Caesar's mistake of pardoning his enemies. So they draw up a list of people to be killed. This includes wealthy Roman citizens who aren't opposed to them, because they're short of money due to the Civil War and the assets of a traitor are forfeited to the State. Mark Antony comes up with a very long list of those he has a grudge against, and the next day comes up with more names, as he's got so many enemies it takes a while to remember them all.
  • Stargate SG-1: Upon Apophis' return to power in season 3, he attacked his former capital Chulak and killed thousands of his former Jaffa. At first SG-1 and Bra'tac theorize that it was this trope — to paraphrase Daniel, it's easier to kill everyone rather than try to figure out which ones are loyal — but then they realize that Apophis was also trying to find the baby he fathered with Sha're.
  • One episode of Star Trek: Voyager centered around B'Elanna experiencing the memories of a woman whose father helped mastermind the mass-execution of a Luddite group.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted has the Usurpation, wherein the Dragon-Blooded and the Sidereals conspired the overthrow the Solars (who'd gone a bit nuts by this point) and their Lunar mates. The Solars were wiped out down to the man, and their Exaltations gathered up and stuck in a mystical cage. The Lunars who weren't killed fled to the fringes of the world. The Dragon-Blooded set themselves up as rulers, and named the Solars and Lunars "Anathema" in their state religion. And the Sidereals wiped themselves from living memory, ruling from Heaven behind the scenes.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade had the Tremere pull this twice during the metaplot. During the Middle Ages, after Tremere diablerized Saulot to gain power on par with the other Antediluvians, the Tremere spread rumors that the Salubri were infernalists to justify purging them. In more recent history, the elders of the clan used a blood ritual to wipe out the Tremere antitribu (every Tremere who'd broken from the Pyramid to join with the Sabbat).
    • The Giovanni pulled this on the Cappadocians after Augustus Giovanni diablerized Cappadocius.
  • BattleTech the Wars of Reaving, the new ilKhan Brett Andrews of Clan Steel Viper initiated reavings on the Clans that he determined as tainted from the Inner Sphere. This has led the Clans to attacking each other for 2 years, and allow Brett to secure more power for himself. In the end the Star Adder Khan then pointed out that the Steel Vipers were one of the Clans that invaded the Inner Sphere and were likely tainted themselves. The ilKhan lashed out with a pistol killing the Khan, this dirty move has deemed the Steel Vipers as dezgra, the Star Adder saKhan killed Andrews in retaliation, and the remaining Clans call for the annihilation of the Steel Vipers.
  • In the backstory of Warhammer 40,000, the Emperor created the Thunder Warriors to help him bring order to Terra during the Age of Strife, but though powerful they were physically and psychologically unstable. He came to view them as a hindrance and so quietly got rid of them once the conquest of Terra was complete, and created the more stable Space Marine Legions to continue his conquest of the galaxy.
    • One of the first acts of the Horus Heresy was the purging of any loyalist elements from the Traitor Legions. When the governor of Isstvan III revolted, Horus and his fellow conspirators sent their untrustworthy soldiers down in Drop Pods, then hit the planet with virus bombs before igniting the resulting organic fumes with an Orbital Bombardment. Thanks to a warning some of the loyalists managed to hide in bunkers and survive, and Horus probably would've continued bombarding the holdouts had not Angron decided to lead a ground assault.
    • When Angron pledged the World Eaters to Khorne, one of the first things he did was slaughter the World Eaters' remaining psykers since Khorne Does Not Like Magic. The World Eaters no longer have any psykers.
    • After the Heresy, the Imperium proceeded to perform their own purge of all remaining traitor forces, in an event known as The Scouring. This included subjecting traitor worlds to Exterminatus so that they could never rise again. Considering just how bad the Heresy was, this was one of the few times in fiction where the purge was completely Justified.
  • Shadowrun: Right before (re)claiming the mountain as his own, Ghostwalker, a Great Dragon, took to making sweeps across the city of Denver, murdalizing numerous people and... somehow taking out a wide swath of Aztechnology's buildings, right before kicking them right out of his territory. Many of his attacks also happened to pinpoint several corrupt corporations, as though he'd planned it all along.

  • Macbeth initially averts this trope, in that Macbeth fails to prevent Duncan's sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, from getting away, which comes back to bite him; however, as he slips into madness and paranoia, he starts ordering that more of his enemies and their families (including children) be murdered — which also comes back to bite him, as it sets Macduff off on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Damned if you do, damned if you don't — and Macbeth is certainly damned.
  • In Ubu Roi, the newly named king Ubu arranges an all-out purge amongst the higher nobility of Poland.

    Video Games 
  • This was the first task that the Charred Council gave the Four Horsemen in the backstory of Darksiders II. To preserve the Balance, the Riders purged the Nephilim from Creation.
  • In Warcraft III, "purge" may be one of Arthas's favorite words. His Start of Darkness comes when he purges the plagued city of Stratholme to kill its infected citizens before they become undead monsters, then when Arthas becomes a Death Knight he purges the rest of Lordaeron. Over the course of the Undead campaign, Arthas not only kills most of his former paladin order, he kills most of Dalaran's archmagi during a raid on the city.
  • In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, General Shepherd betrays Task Force 141 and personally executes Roach and Ghost. His men then start killing off the remaining members of the force. Price, Soap, and Nikolai are the only known survivors at the end of the game.
  • The Rite of Annulment in Dragon Age is a special directive given by the Chantry to the Templars to initiate a purge of all mages in the local Circle of Magi. In theory, it's only supposed to be used when things have gotten completely beyond control (this generally involves mass Demonic Possession) and the threat to innocents outside the Circle outweighs that to any still inside. Depending on how you play the "Broken Circle" quest, the directive is given or called back. It's happened seventeen times in nine centuries over the course of the history of the Chantry.
    • Regardless of your actions, the Rite of Annulment is always invoked for an eighteenth time, and many mages of the Kirkwall Circle die, at the end of Dragon Age II.
    • Abuse of the Rite of Annulment (as well as the Rite of Tranquility) is a central grievance that led to the Mage Rebellion in southern Thedas. The Rite of Annulment has been abused as early as the third age (six hundred years before the period of the games, and a mere 25 years after the Templars were given the ability to use it), when a particularly murderous anti-mage Templar went around murdering mages, and his knight-commander covered it up by trumping up the call for an Annulment of the circle. The Seekers eventually chased the murderous templar down after he had murdered even more. Anders' intervention is implied to be the only reason the Annulment of the Gallows didn't turn into a repeat of that incident.
    • Also, if Bhelen becomes King of Orzammar, he immediately orders the execution of his rival Lord Harrowmont. In Dragon Age II, it's revealed that his purge has extended to Harrowmont's relatives.
  • This happened in the backstory of Jade Empire: To steal the power of the Water Dragon, Emperor Sun Hai and his brothers launched a genocidal assault against the Spirit Monks of Dirge. The player character is revealed to be the last survivor of the attack.
    • He had also ordered the murder of Li's family after his betrayal.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII we have a purge called... The Purge. After discovering a Fal'Cie from Pulse in some ruins, the Sanctum government decides to send everyone that was "near" that Fal'Cie to Pulse because of the irrational fear of everything coming from that planet. Several facilities were constructed for the purged population to live happily there, and a military division known as PSICOM took over and oversaw the removal of the population. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the Sanctum government neither expected nor intended for any of the Purged population to survive — when the population being shipped out began to violently resist, PSICOM used that as an excuse to simply massacre everyone.
  • In Halo 2, the Prophet of Truth orders the Brutes to do this to the Elites after the changing of the guard, which causes a massive civil war within the Covenant; this "Great Schism" eventually leads to the complete collapse of the Covenant.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Early in Tamriellic history the Falmer (Snow Elves) grew fearful of the growing Atmoran (Precursors of Mankind) population in Skyrim. Though the details of the event in question vary between different tellings, the Falmer attacked and massacred the Atmoran city of Saarthal. However, Ysgramor and his sons survived. They returned to Atmora and rallied an army of 500 of Atmora's greatest warriors. They returned to Skyrim and enacted a purge of their own, wiping out the vast majority of the Falmer population. Aside from one small population at a very remote monastery, the surviving Falmer fled to their Dwemer cousins for protection. This proved to be an even worse mistake, as the Dwemer would only protect the Falmer under the condition that they voluntarily blind themselves with a toxic mushroom and agree to become servitors of the Dwemer. The ones who agreed would eventually become the Always Chaotic Evil modern Falmer; barely sapient Morlock-like creatures who inhabit the ruins of the Dwemer cities in Skyrim to this day.
    • The Alessian Order was a rabidly anti-Elven religious sect which established a Theocracy in the 1st Era that wielded nearly as much power as the Emperor at its height. The Order was involved with a number of purges, to note:
      • They sought the elimination of the remaining Ayleids in Cyrodiil, along with destroying any of their writings and cultural items. Essentially, the Order attempted to Unperson the Ayleids.
      • Despite the status of Belharza (the son of St. Alessia and the demi-god Morihaus, believed to have been the first Minotaur) as Emperor and the Minotaur race's loyalty/devotion to the Alessian Empire, the Alessian Order demonized them as well. Minotaurs were reclassified as "monsters" and driven from civilized areas, with whatever culture they had being destroyed.
      • The Order had this done to them when Wulfharth became the High King of Skyrim. Wulfharth's first law outlawed the Order within Skyrim, and he ordered the slaughtering the members of the Order within Skyrim's borders and burning their temples to the ground.
    • The Dark Brotherhood, an illegal organization of assassins whose membership mostly takes a sadistic glee in killing and who practice a Religion of Evil, have a rule against killing other members. However, this is relaxed during a "Purification", in which all the members of a Sanctuary are killed due to betrayal or suspicions of betrayal. Despite the order's long history, this measure is noted to be extremely rare with Lucien Lachance saying it only happened three times, with the last one taking place during the Oblivion Crisis. By the time of the 4th Era, the Dark Brotherhood is reduced to a single Sanctuary in all of Tamriel and they can't afford to perform it anymore, or else they would have been extinguished. Not that it stops you from destroying them or Commander Maro from purging them at the end of their questline.
    • In Arena, Big Bad Jagar Tharn orchestrated one as soon as he had usurped the Emperor's appearance. It's relatively slow-moving, mainly because he accumulates more and more enemies as his actions key in more and more people to the fact that the Emperor isn't acting as he should (and in your case, he is constrained to frame you for a crime and throw you in prison first, as being too blatant about it would just make even more people suspicious), but also because many of his opponents were clever enough to remain hidden.
    • In the 200 year Time Skip between the events of Oblivion and Skyrim, one of the Thalmor's first acts when they took power in the re-formed Aldmeri Dominion was to purge Valenwood and the Summerset Isles of all Blades agents, then send their severed heads to the Emperor in Cyrodiil. (In Skyrim, a Bosmer (Wood Elf)) NPC is willing to help you infiltrate the Thalmor embassy because his family was killed in "one of the Thalmor's purges you never hear about." The Thalmor are good at this; shortly after they first took Valenwood, they conducted internal purges to get rid of everyone who opposed them. Given their total silence towards the rest of Tamriel, it's possible this purge bordered on a civil war. Even after it was over, Thalmor agents hunted down and slaughtered dissidents outside of Dominion territory. And now that they've forced the Empire to ban Talos worship, they're permitted by treaty to conduct their own inquisition on anyone suspected of still worshiping him.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, it's implied the Mantra Army was notoriously hard to bring in line until The Dragon Thor purged out the more reactionary elements (the Oni gang led by Ongyo-Ki).
    • For a worse example, in Shin Megami Tensei IV, a group of massed angels assaults East Mikado to execute anyone, Casualry or Luxuror, who has ever read any form of book, in preparation for the arrival of Merkabah. They justify their actions with the fact the books scattered by the Black Samurai are quite capable of transforming people into demons, but it's still a gut punch as most if not all Luxurors are killed.
  • In Assassin's Creed III, the Colonial Assassins end up getting purged by the Templars under Haytham Kenway. Assassin's Creed Rogue actually depicts the purge in question. Assassin's Creed Syndicate establishes that before going to America, Haytham had also purged the British Assassins (III begins with him killing one of the last), which was so effective that over a hundred years on, the Assassins still refuse to go near London.
    • In fact, most of Assassin's Creed has a purge as part of the main conflict: in the first game, Al-Mualim uses Altaïr to kill the Templars who know about the Apple of Eden so that he can keep it for himself; in the second game and its sequel, Ezio conducts a purge against the Templars in retribution for their killing his father and brothers, and it's implied that the Medici extended it to relatives of the Templars who weren't even involved; after Haytham purges the Colonial Assassins, Connor brings them back in III and conducts a counter-purge of the Colonial Rite; Arno does the same to his respective Templars during the French Revolution in Unity; and the Frye twins in Syndicate systematically kill all the leaders of the Templar-control Blighter gang.
    • The backstory for the modern day storyline establishes that in 2001, Daniel Cross killed the Assassin's Mentor, then led the Templars to loads of Assassin bases. By 2012, what's left of the Brotherhood is still in hiding.
  • The backstory for Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden features the Great B-Ball Purge of 2041, when the world's governments banned the sport of basketball and killed most of its players following Charles Barkley's use of the verboten Chaos Dunk.
  • Fable II had this in the backstory, where between the first and second games the Hero's Guild was wiped out due to Albion's populace thinking that Heroes weren't needed anymore, and stormed the place. The heroes were all but wiped out, unable to fight back against the people that they had sworn to protect.
  • A possible policy of your Government in Stellaris, allowing you to eliminate undesirables on your planets which ranges from your own citizens who deviate from empire ethos, alien subjects who hate being subjugated and ruled by your empire, rebellious factions who keep stirring trouble, to absolutely everyone other than your own species. Most other empires look down on Purges, and may make future Diplomacy difficult, if not impossible.
  • Library of Ruina: One of the most bizzare aspects of the City is the "Night of the Backstreets", described as an event where "all crimes are legal" just like the flim with the same name of this trope. Syndicates will be out to slaughter each other, Association Leaders can be executed out in the open and large groups of Sweepers crawl out of the woodwork to cannibalize on any poor sod who runs into them. The only thing that's not allowed is breaking into residential areas, and if you record anything during that time as evidence against a certain group, the Head will send a Claw to kill you. It's implied that all of these are sponsored by the Head to kill off the homeless.
  • Mass Effect: The Reapers regularly do this to all advanced life in the galaxy every 50,000 years. However, it's not a complete purge as they leave primitive non-spacefaring species alone, at least until they return in the next cycle when said primitives are now advanced.
    • The Quarians attempted to purge their creations, the Geth, when they began to exhibit signs of sentience, fearful that this would lead to a rebellion from their automated labor force. This backfired horrifically, as the geth, in turn, killed over 90% of the quarian population and drove the few survivors off of their homeworld and into exile. In Mass Effect 3, the conflict between the quarians and the geth reaches a head during the mission to retake the quarian homeworld from the Reapers, with Shepard forced to choose whether to allow the quarians to wipe out the geth, allow the geth to exterminate the quarians, or Take a Third Option and broker peace between them.
  • Between Knights of the Old Republic and Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, the First Jedi Purge took place, instigated by the Sith Triumvirate. While it didn't succeed in wiping the order out completely, it did manage to exploit the Order's weakness following the Jedi Civil War to wipe out the council and most of the infrastructure, causing the Jedi to fall into chaos and disarray. The Jedi attempted to combat this by meeting up and reforming on Catharr, which backfired miserably when Darth Nihilus showed up and wiped the planet of life.
  • Executed by Edelgard and Hubert in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, twice actually.
    • The first occurs on all routes after Edelgard ascends the throne of Adrestia. Some Adrestian nobles are executed, including Hubert's father, by Hubert's own hands no less, while others are stripped of their power and placed under house arrest, like Duke Aegir and Count Varley.
    • The second is unseen as it only occurs after the conclusion of the Crimson Flower route, where after having secured victory in the war Edelgard focuses on exterminating Those Who Slither in the Dark, whose help she no longer requires and whose very existence is a threat to Fodlan.
  • Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction: Emperor Tachyon and his Cragmite Army did this to the Lombax race, forcing the few remaining survivors to find refuge in a hidden dimension, and leaving Ratchet as the Last of His Kind in the known universe.

    Visual Novels 
  • A rare example of a completely heroic purge occurs in Ace Attorney. Between Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, Chief Prosecutor Edgeworth initiates a purge of all of the corrupt members of the prosecutor's office in an effort to bring the Dark Age of the Law to an end. It's confirmed that Simon Blackquill made it through unscathed, while Gaspen Payne was fired and fled to Khura'in.
    • Khura'in itself has its own purge of lawyers, due to a law stating defense of a criminal will warrant the same punishment the criminal would receive. The courts have not found a defendant innocent in over 2 decades, and distrust of defense attorneys is rather ingrained into the society. Naturally, the country is in for a shock when Phoenix arrives.

  • Given the nature of politics in the Crapsack World that is Drowtales, this is not an uncommon occurrence:
    • At the start of the story, three of Diva'ratrika's own daughters commit matricide. In order to consolidate their power, they run a purge of Diva'ratrika's loyalists, wiping out the families of their two loyalist sisters and the Dutan'vir clan that served as Diva'ratrika's enforcers.
    • The Kyorl'solenurn clan in has the word "Purge" as one of their favorite words, since they believe their Mission from God is to wipe out the "Tainted", or those who have merged with a nether being, either willingly or unwillingly. During the Nidraa'chal War they killed most of what was left of the Dutan'vir clan after most of them became tainted in the fighting. Then in chapter 42, one of the Judicators, Kyuusei, uses the assassination of their Ill'haress as an excuse to try and wipe out the portion of their clan who are descended from the Dutan'vir survivors and who he believes are less loyal. He fails and is himself purged, first by being stabbed and then thrown out the window onto the rocks below when an Order he intended to us as an Unwitting Pawn catches onto his plan.
    • For a long time, the Sarghress clan was actually very free of the backstabbing plots that afflicted other clans, but when Quain'tana is left with only days to live, a faction within them turns traitor and starts eliminating her bloodline in order to take over themselves.
  • In the backstory of Terra one of the consuls of the Asurian Empire, Argo Varus, was outed as having helped found the Resistance. Sovereign Northazul ordered him, his family, and at least one other family executed. Argo's son Agrippa, Agrippa's friend Talos Antares, and Talos' sister Rei escaped with the Resistance's help.
  • In The Order of the Stick, the spell Familicide causes everybody blood-related to the target, and everybody blood-related to any of them, in the entire world to automatically drop dead. This has massive consequences when Vaarsuvius decides to use it on the Mother Dragon as revenge. Not only does it kill off 1/4 of the Black Dragon population, but dragons frequently interbreed with humans, so the Draketooth family (who had one Black Dragon ancestor) is eliminated as well. In addition, the Draketooths kept their line going by seducing strangers and abducting the resulting children, so many random strangers who happened to be the parents of their bastard children died as well.
  • Unsounded: During the rebellion known as the Foi-Hellick Affair the entire Foi-Hellick family—the leaders and employers of Avelpit for centuries—was taken out in the street an publicly disemboweled. Their followers were all hunted down and killed even after fighting had ended. Duane only seems to start realizing he might have been taking part in something horrific by aiding in the purge years after his own death.

    Web Original 
  • In the Red Panda Adventures episode "There Will Be Rain Tonight", the Home Team, along with Col. Fitzroy are assassinated when a spy leaks the identities of the heroes to the Nazis.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • In the Season 13 premiere, Felix and Locus hijack a prison ship and invite the prisoners to work for them. They tell anybody who agrees to work for them to hold onto their cell bars. Then they open the airlock, causing the dissenters and any of the prisoners who were too weak to be sucked out into space. Locus even refers to it as The Purge.
    • From the same season is another "Purge", though this one cooked by long-gone alien Precursors. The artifacts and technology left all over Chorus were only supposed to fall into the hands of the "worthy". Whoever claims the Great Key can choose to initiate the Purge if the people on the planet are UN-worthy, and all sentient life outside the Purge temple would be exterminated. This ends up being the ultimate goal for Charon's mercs when they hear about it.
  • In The Falcon Cannot Hear, several of the factions in the Second American Civil War do this:
    • General MacArthur's military junta government rounds up left-wing politicians and several of his own commanders after another general attempts a counter-coup.
    • The Left faction of the Provisional Government/Blues, hearing a rumor that the Right faction is about to purge them, commit their own purge. Though this one is less violent than the others, less "We're throwing you in jail", more "We're not gonna let you have any real power".
    • The American Soviet Republic implement their own purge after the East Coast soviets form the Workers' Collective and ally with the Blues.
    • The Whites have one after a group of generals attempt to launch a coup against Huey Long over his regime's alliance with the Klu Klux Klan and overall fascistic nature. And again after Eisenhower defects to the ASR with several thousand soldiers and concentration-camp inmates. Among those targeted in the second purge is George Patton, who ironically enabled the first purge by selling out the conspirators.
  • The New Deal Coalition Retained timeline gives us the aftermath of the December Coup, which sees Stalinist hardliners seizing control of the USSR from the reformers in power. Following this, the coup members begin eliminating all potential enemies who might launch a counter-coup, though they rely less on violence and more on imprisonment, house arrest, and reassignment to powerless positions. On the other hand, their co-conspirators throughout the Warsaw Pact (especially in Poland) are significantly less restrained, carrying out mass executions and "disappearances". Inverted in Romania, where it's the moderates who stay in power by preemptively purging the hardliners instead.
    • Brazil undergoes one after a failed coup by a group of military officers during World War III.
    • When Vladimir Zhirinovsky decides to secede Irkutsk from the Soviet Union, he has every KGB agent and political officer in his territory massacred.
    • In early 1991, facing total defeat in WWIII, the increasingly delusional Soviet leadership enact massive purges of moderates in the governments and militaries of all Warsaw Pact nations still under Communist control in order to try and maintain control.
  • In A More Personal Union, after Red Tiger takes over China, he almost immediately starts eliminating all "enemies of the people", which he defines as nobles, bureaucrats, scholars, and people who wear shoes.
  • The Footprint of Mussolini:
    • Stalin, as per real life, carries these out in both political and military circles whenever he's feeling particularly angry or paranoid. This later expands to enacting a Second Holocaust against the Soviet Union's Jewish population.
    • After Himmler takes over Germany following Hitler's assassination in Operation Valkyrie, he emulates Stalin's policy of having anyone even remotely suspected of opposition to his regime executed.
    • After Pavelić is ousted from power in Croatia, his Ustashe loyalists are systemically eliminated to ensure there isn't a counter-coup.
    • Following Lebanon's willful annexation into the UAR, Aflaq enacts a purge of anyone suspected of supporting a restoration of Lebanese independence, starting at parliament and working his way down to the rest of the country.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the destruction of the Air Nomads by Fire Lord Sozin qualifies, making Aang The Last Airbender.
    • Fire Lord Ozai's plan during the finale, which was to burn the Earth Kingdom to the ground. It was his daughter's idea, but the man ran with it and never looked back. However, no one really died (unless there were hermits in the Wulong Forest), as Aang, Toph, Suki, and Sokka put a stop to that.
    • The Fire Nation also tried to capture all the Southern Water Tribe's waterbenders, missing only Katara.
    • They tried a similar tactic with the earthbenders in Haru's village. Boy does the Fire Nation love this trope.
  • Ben 10: Ultimate Alien: In the episode that shares its title with the trope, the immortal Old George bests and unites most of the squabbling factions of the Absolute Xenophobe Forever Knights, with his first order being to deport all aliens from Earth and kill those who refuse (with a C-List Fodder character being killed by them). Ben ends up threatening them into backing down saying he’ll kill any of the order who keep doing this.
  • The Legend of Korra the Big Bad Amon leader of the Equalists plans to depower all benders in Republic City.
  • Rick and Morty:
    • Parodied in season two, where the duo end up in a world filled with Space Amish Cat Folk about to initiate "The Festival", which is basically just a Whole-Plot Reference to The Purge film series. According to Rick, this is actually a common practice by many civilizations across the multiverse under different names and he decides to stick around to watch. By the end of the episode, he and a local end up killing the resident societal elites keeping the practice going, only for the commoners to decide to keep the tradition going for the sake of convenience.
    • Played more seriously in season three; after Evil Morty takes control of The Citadel's government, his first action is to eliminate every threat to his rule, including to the secret council of Ricks that formerly controlled The Citadel.
  • Star Wars Rebels: It's mentioned that the Empire nearly wiped out the Lasat race, and Zeb is one of the very few Lasats left.


Video Example(s):


"Execute Order 66."

Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine, a.k.a. Darth Sidious, triggers Contingency Order 66 for the Grand Army of the Republic, commanding the clone troopers to turn on and assassinate their Jedi commanders as part of his self-coup against the Galactic Republic. In a series of shots, Commander Cody has an AT-TE fire on Obi-wan Kenobi on Utapau, and Ki-Adi-Mundi, Aayla Secura, Plo Koon, and Stass Allie are gunned down from behind by their clone escorts. These are intercut with shots of Jedi Grandmaster Yoda clutching at his chest as he feels the deaths of thousands of Jedi across the galaxy through the Force. Finally his own troops on Kashyyyk get the message and prepare to attack... only for Yoda, forewarned by the deaths of the other Jedi, to turn the tables on them and escape.

How well does it match the trope?

4.88 (25 votes)

Example of:

Main / AtrocityMontage

Media sources: