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Washington D.C. Invasion

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"This is insane! You can't possibly hold Washington, much less conquer the entire United States. I know. I've TRIED!"
Cobra Commander to Serpentor, G.I. Joe

So, you've got your villain, and his evil army. You've assured they're evil, but you're not sure whether the audience finds him threatening. Or, you're trying to reverse years of Villain Decay. One way or another, you need to give your baddie some serious villain cred. So what do you do?

Invade Washington, D.C., of course!

It seems that every villain, whether they be Russkies with a grudge or a nutty supervillainess, has their crosshairs aimed firmly at the center of American political power. While this is often justified, just as often (or possibly more often) the villain has no reason to attack Washington more than any other city, and may often be setting his evil plan back a step by attempting to kill off the only people who can surrender to him.

A Sub-Trope of Invaded States of America, and sometimes Creator Provincialism. Related to Monumental Damage. See also the trope image for Dirty Communists. Contrast with Aliens in Cardiff.


In Real Life DC traffic is so bad that any invasion would be quickly stalled by the circles and roundabouts, which was their original intended purpose. Also note that no such fictional invasion ever took place under the term of Theodore Roosevelt. Coincidence? We think not!


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Amazons Attack! primarily took place in DC, although the Amazons invaded other parts of the US as well.
  • Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! saw Waspington, DC (Washington's Earth-C counterpart) attacked on several occasions by villains.
  • In the sequel to Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, the US government gives us possibly the most suicidal example of the "we can exploit this dangerous creature's powers" trope in all fiction - resurrecting Freddy and Jason. The result? Freddy declares himself President Evil, with a Deadite army (that they'd also had on hand) led by Jason storming Washington.
  • Supreme: Prior to his escape, Korgo the Space Tyrant appeared in front of The White House, challenged Bill Clinton for a duel (aghast at the poor combat capabilities of "William Clint's Son" compared to those of his father, the High Plains Drifter), defeated him and declared himself next president of USA and Hillary Clinton his wife. Don't worry, Hillary scared him off.
  • The climax of Superman: Red Son has Superman lead the invasion into Washington personally.
  • Wonder Woman Volume 1: While the Saturnian Empire's initial invasion plans were not directed at D.C. when those are called off and the Empire forms a treaty with the US. Instead Eviless' own little invasion targets D.C. She's framing the Saturnian ambassador for it in an attempt to destroy the new alliance.

  • Coreline Operation Endgame: The second act of the story follows the heroes as they try their best to stem a massive invasion of DC by CHIMERA (an epic Villain Team-Up army composed of groups like COBRA, SPECTRE, the Decepticons and the Legion Of Doom. Think the Great Offscreen War of Old Man Logan). Even with multiple reinforcements requested and several of the heroes being a veritable One-Man Army, the best they can do is Hold the Line long enough for the President to be safely evacuated (and deny CHIMERA one of its biggest targets).
  • In The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum, the PER working in collusion with the Solar Empire launched an all-out assault on Washington DC to take out the heads of America's military (as the USA was one of the few countries that hasn't been too seriously affected by the barrier and provides much of the backbone of earth's military response to the empire's xenocidal campaign). The end result has the American president take the Nuclear Option.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, ProtoMan plans this in episode 9, but it doesn't happen due to Wily's interference. Wily then steals his idea to use in episode 11.
  • Like its canon namesake, Tiberium Wars features a Nod invasion of GDI-held DC, centered around the (unsuccessful) attack on the Pentagon. Unlike in canon, the fic stretches this into a fifteen-chapter epic involving massive-scale urban warfare, thousands of tanks, and super-commandos on each side — including Renegade's Havoc.
    • Of course, "super-commando" fails to measure up to Havoc's level of awesome when he retakes the occupied White House with nothing but a few GDI soldiers he picked up in the chaos and a couple of stolen Nod vehicles. And a large quantity of explosives.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live Action 
  • The original The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) starts with a spaceship landing on the National Mall. Not an invasion, but no one told the Army. The remake moves the film to New York.
  • Earth vs. the Flying Saucers: The final battle takes place in Washington D.C.
  • The most famous scene in Independence Day has the aliens destroying the White House, though they were simultaneously attacking many other cities as well.
  • Invasion U.S.A. (1952) has "The Enemy" raid D.C. near the end to try to decapitate the United States' leadership; they're driven back, but not before killing the Senator character in the film.
  • In Mars Attacks!, Washington DC suffers Monumental Damage, including the classic "tipping the Monument over" gag. Hilariously, they filmed what appears to be an actual tenement whose front wall had been demolished in one of the less salubrious parts of town, making the residents appear to be living in a dollhouse when the invasion ends.
  • The 2013 film Olympus Has Fallen features an invading terrorist force sympathetic to North Korea overthrowing the White House and kidnapping the president.
  • In Rampage: President Down, Bill Williamson 400 feet from the White House uses a sniper rifle to kill the President, Vice President and Secretary of Defense. In the ending, it's implied that anarchists who sympathize with Bill killed off everyone else in the White House in order to fulfill Bill's plan of cleansing and regaining control of the nation.
  • DC is hit in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and there are a few nods given to the last time a Transformers series showed the Decepticons attacking the capital of the USA
  • Inverted in The War Of The Worlds (1953), where Washington is the only major capital not to be attacked by the Martians.



  • Shows up in Harry Turtledove's Alternate History works a few times.
    • In The Guns of the South, Robert E. Lee captures Washington DC to effectively end the "Second American Revolution" (this timeline's American Civil War).
    • In Timeline-191, Washington DC is surrounded and threatened by Confederates in the "War of Secession" (this timeline's American Civil War), then shelled in the Second Mexican War in 1881, and shelled and captured again during the Great War. Unsurprisingly, the Union government has long since decamped to Philadelphia out of artillery range, and Washington is described as a cold city of monuments only kept in place to prove a point.
    • The Race in Worldwar don't bother invading Washington DC—they just nuke it. This is considered a Moral Event Horizon for many who had previously collaborated with the Race (whose only other nuking to this point was an attack on Nazi Germany's capital Berlin). The Race themselves didn't see how it was any different, as objectively speaking it wasn't, but of course, Americans are going to care much more about an American city. Propaganda films made much of a horror-inducing scene of the city turned to glass and panning to reveal the melted stub of the Washington Monument.
    • The Nazis of In the Presence of Mine Enemies likewise nuke Washington DC during World War III, after the U.S. stayed neutral through World War II.

Individual Works

  • Dave Barry's review of Independence Day notes that the aliens' first mistake is attacking DC, as they seem to think attacking political centers will somehow make the government less effective. Similarly, millions of Americans take to the streets to celebrate that there are no more income taxes to pay.
  • As in the Real Life War of 1812, the British forces in The Rivers of Warnote  attack Washington, DC in a punitive raid. However, in this Alternate History Sam Houston was present to help rally the troops to defend the Capitol Building, effectively turning the British attack from a major propaganda victory to petty arson when they settle for torching other buildings after being bloodied badly and driven away in their attempt to assault the Capitol Building.

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat: Assault Horizon culminates in DC, where the Big Bad tries to nuke the White House.
  • In the Backstory of City of Heroes, Nemesis attacked Washington DC near the end of World War II, and even managed to stage a ceremony where he was sworn in as Emperor of the Americas before heroes drove him out.
  • Pulling off one of these is the ultimate goal of the Confederate player in the Civil War Generals series.
  • Command & Conquer:
    • In a fairly early mission briefing for the first Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn's NOD campaign, Kane's right-hand man sends your forces to Washington DC to attack the Pentagon, against Kane's wishes. He doesn't get enough time to regret this, and the attack is called off.
    • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, the first Soviet mission has you destroying the Pentagon. This contradicts the Allied (canon) side, where you actually have to defend and attack with a lot more than just basic grunts. Naturally, RA2 was when the series started to get campy and Troperiffic, so the triteness of the premise can be excused. The eighth Soviet mission involves attacking General Vladimir's base near and capturing the White House.
    • In Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars, the first act of the Nod campaign is a multi-stage invasion of DC and the environs, with special attention paid to the White House and Langley AFB. The first act of the GDI campaign is kicking the aforesaid invasion back out of the city, starting with the Siege of the Pentagon.
  • The Conduit takes place almost entirely in Washington D.C. at the start of such an invasion. The sequel, Conduit 2, has a level where you return to the city at the peak of the invasion.
  • D.C. is one of the cities you can attack in Crush, Crumble, and Chomp!!
  • While the whole USA was pounded pretty hard in the Fallout universe, D.C. was deliberately invaded. And indeed still is, the Wanderer can discover a ghoulified unit of Chinese soldiers still awaiting orders from home. And, of course, the Enclave return en masse shortly after you find the Purifier. While you may have encountered the odd soldier or Eye-Bot, this is when you'll be ducking for cover.
  • The first missions of Jungle Strike are set in Washington DC, and the bad guys send tanks and missile trucks to destroy the famous landmarks and invade the White House. You are the only person doing anything at all about it.
  • Metal Wolf Chaos: In the first mission, President Michael Wilson fights his way out of The White House and through a secret bunker to launch Air Force One through the Washington Monument's moon pool as Vice President RICHAAARD! Hawk invades the city, though Washington D.C. is one of the last major cities Michael retakes.
  • Modern Warfare 2 plays with this trope. The Russian invasion encompasses all of the East Coast states (starting with Northeastern Virginia), and Washington is only assaulted relatively late into the invasion, persumably after the Russians managed to break through the other states in their way. Either that or the Player Character simply wasn't sent there yet. Fittingly, the final battle of it is you storming the White House. America winning it was the turning point in the invasion, but prior to it things were so bad the military was going to level the entire city.
  • The final level of Octogeddon involves the titular giant octopus destroying Washington D.C. and The White House.
  • An invasion of Washington is the best possible ending of Panzer General.
  • The intro of Shattered Union shows DC suffering a nuclear attack by terrorists backed by a hostile Russia. Afterwards, when America falls into a second Civil War, the European Union expeditionary force seizes the ruins of the city and the surrounding Chesapeake Bay region in order to restore order. You yourself, of course, can fight in and around the city.
  • Tom Clancy:
    • H.A.W.X.'' features a PMC launching a multi-pronged attack on the USA. One of their main goals is to kidnap/kill the President, so of course, they invade Washington DC. Good thing the HAWX Squadron are there to repel them!
      • They actually do manage to blow up the White House, but the First Family was currently on Air Force One. Which Artemis quickly tries to shoot down, and whom the HAWX have to defend.
    • In EndWar, since it's the American capital, Washington DC can be invaded.

     Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the teaser for the episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold "The Siege of Starro" (part one) we see a the would-be conqueror Per Degaton and his army of robots attacking Washington. They are defeated by the Justice Society of America.
    • Much of "Darkseid Descending!" takes place in an occupied Washington, D.C., which Kalibak is using as a beachhead for Darkseid's invasion of Earth.
  • This happens quite frequently in Futurama, so that President Nixon and Captain Brannigan have gotten so used to surrendering that they will sometimes do so at inappropriate occasions on accident.
  • The episode "Arise, Serpentor, Arise" from G.I. Joe, which featured Cobra seizing the capitol, and Serpentor using the Lincoln Memorial as a throne room. (He brought in a gold throne, and sat it in the statue of Lincoln's lap.)
  • Dr. Wily tries this in one episode of the Ruby-Spears Mega Man (Ruby-Spears) cartoon.
  • The episode "Atlantis, Arise!" from The Transformers. Featuring highlights such as the Autobots having to melt the masonry of the Washington Monument back together (somehow), and Megatron ripping the Abe Lincoln part of the Lincoln Memorial off the chair so that he can use the chair as a throne.
  • South Park's third season episode, "The Red Badge Of Gayness" has Cartman attempt to pull this off by playing the role of Robert E. Lee in a historical re-enactment and riling up the Confederacy re-enactors just so he can win a bet with Stan and Kyle. He almost has Bill Clinton ready to surrender until Stan and Kyle come in dressed as Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln in order to end the re-enactment as a Union victory.

    Real Life 
  • The War of 1812. The British burned down the White House, the Capitol, and the Treasury among other public buildings in retaliation for the American destruction of the Canadian capital, Upper York. The overall campaign was a failure, however, due to the British failure to take Baltimore's Fort McHenry (memorialized in poem and later song with The Star-Spangled Banner.)
  • In The American Civil War, the Confederacy wanted to do this, but the closest they got was General Jubal Early, whose army reached the outskirts of Washington before being repelled at the Battle of Fort Stevens, where Abraham Lincoln watched the fighting with his top-hat on and was famously told "Get down, you fool!" — by future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, no less! As the war went on, Washington was said to have become one of the most fortified cities in the world, owing to both its importance as the seat of government and its location close to the front lines in Virginia. The war, in fact, was a major catalyst for its growth from a minor city into a major metropolis, appropriately enough given how the war ended with a far more centralized nation than before.
  • That joke above about how DC traffic would thwart any invasion is actually the basis of an urban legend about the L'Enfant Plan, the master plan for the city that produced its unique layout. The legend goes that Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the engineer who designed the city, laid out the streets with the intention of confounding any army that tried to attack it, leading them down avenues that didn't bring them to their targets. In truth, the squares and circles that the city was built around were originally supposed to be the home of "embassies" for each of the states, an idea that, in practice, was soon abandoned as the states were uninterested. (Washington, D.C., like most master-planned cities, was actually built to be fairly open and easy to navigate... by the standards of its day, anyway.)
  • A minor example, but still qualifies — on January 6th, 2021, egged on by Donald Trump and other Republican politicians, a mob of several thousand people attacked the U.S. Capitol building in a bid to stop the Electoral Vote count and attack Democratic politicians, due to Trump's disproven allegations of electoral fraud. They were eventually repelled when the National Guard arrived hours later, and the National Guard remained in the Capitol for several weeks. Still, a few people were killed as a result, including one supporter who was trampled by her colleagues, and a policeman who died from injuries sustained during the assault, ultimately the casualties amounted to 5, though the mob came very close to various prominent politicians, including the Vice-President. 4 other police officers were so unnerved by the experience that they subsequently committed suicide.
  • In aoother relatively minor action, a "truck" convoy of protesters (hoping to duplicate the success of one in Canada) in April, 2022 became hopelessly mired in traffic around the beltway, split apart by the traffic and forced to withdraw. An examole of the 'circles' doing their job.