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A common way to create a Crapsack World setting is to have the United States fall so much that it becomes much like a third world nation, with a collapsed economy, decaying infrastructure, fallen or incredibly corrupt government, and so on. Perhaps a new civil war has left the nation battered and weak; only a shell of its former self, or possibly economic collapse due to poor management, lack of an important resource, such as oil, food, or water, or because of the rise of another foreign power has lead to a weak US. An invasion by a foreign power has either conquered part of or all of the United States, or weakened it severely. Or even a natural disaster of some sort has happened.
In a worst case scenario, it is even possible for the nation to cease to exist as we know it, either being swept into anarchy, broken up into new nation states, the area as a whole being replaced by a new power. If the term "The Former United States" is said, this most likely happened.
Expect to see major cities from coast to coast become massive slums, with the poor and homeless roaming the streets, sometimes with the tarnished remains of familiar or similar staple American businesses. What remains of the wealthy will be living in fortified enclaves, separated from the common rabble, and the middle class will become all but extinct. Shanty towns become a common sight, and the only form of "reliable" rule is from organized criminal organizations who will jump on the opportunity to take advantage of the desperate situation or large corporations who can now operate above the law thanks to a weakened, corrupt, and/or apathetic government.
What is left of the government (if one even still exists) will be immensely ineffective and corrupt, with greasy politicians trying to hold onto power, or gain power by proposing solutions to regain the nation's once former glory and by claiming that prosperity is right around the corner, or by arrogantly still believing (or trying to fool the populace) that the nation is still strong, despite obvious evidence to the contrary.
The work has a huge potential to become Anvilicious if the creator is trying to preach what will happen if the Real Life United States does or doesn't do X, Y and/or Z, or as a way to create a fictional America lead by political strawmen whose political views are opposed to the creator's.
Can usually, but not always, go hand in hand with Divided States of America, Oppressive States of America, and/or Invaded States of America. Contrast with Expanded States of America, although it is also possible for the US to join with Canada and/or Mexico not because it is empowered, but because it is so weak that it needs to.
- A controversial 2010 ad ran by a conservative financial watchdog group showed the United States as a pawn of China in the year 2030, thanks to a botched financial policy.
- This ad from 1986, set in 2017, in which the younger generation is putting the older generation on trial for the United States' crushing deficit.
- The setting of the Bronze Age Marvel Comics version of Deathlok was a future United States where a limited nuclear war has left the country devastated, with roaming gangs and independent groups vying for control with factions and remnants of the CIA and the military.
- In the DC Comics series Hex, set Twenty Minutes Into the Future (from the readers' perspective), the United States seems to have fragmented into various locales ruled by warlords or, in the case of New York City, by a successor to Batman.
- Something like this is also the result of the supervillains' takeover in the Wolverine story Old Man Logan. The United States is divided into the warring fiefdoms of various major Marvel villains, so that, for example, the Red Skull controls what used to be the Eastern Seaboard.
- Soylent Green
- The Last Chase
- Implied in the Film version of V for Vendetta, which opens with Lewis Prothero claiming the 'Ulcered Sphincter of Arse-erica' has become 'the world's biggest leper colony' and its government is desperately petitioning the British government to supply it with humanitarian aid and medical supplies.
- Escape from New York and Escape From LA feature a war-ravaged USA under a dictatorship in all but name, and former great cities used as penal colonies.
- Americathon depicts an energy-starved bankrupt USA.
- The Running Man: The world's economy is in shambles, along with the United States, which has become a police state.
- Death Race 2000: A financial crisis and military coup have devastated the US, turning it into a police state.
- The remake also features this with a financial collapse in 2012.
- Idiocracy: In someways played here. The United States has become an idiotic dumbed-down society, ruined by years of mindless consumerism and pop culture, although it is Played for Laughs rather than drama, and the real focus is on the downfall of humanity.
- The Day After Tomorrow has the US becoming so endangered by a climate change superstorm bringing temperatures down that Americans had to emigrate to Mexico. There was even a speech by the president thanking Mexico for their hospitality.
- A Mind Forever Voyaging depicts a world where the US is in danger of becoming this. The player experiences several simulations of a possible future, each one set 10 years after the previous one. The situation worsens with each simulation, as the economy collapses, law enforcement becomes more brutal and corrupt, a border security force frequently searches homes (and becomes less apologetic and more harsh about it in each period), racism and religious intolerance become more overt, and dusk to dawn curfews are enforced. In the final simulation, the last vestiges of authority have collapsed, and anarchy ensues with the city streets now home to violent gangs and wild dogs killing weaker people for food. Naturally, the player's goal is to prevent these possible futures from coming to pass.
- Snow Crash
- The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick. America loses World War Two and is divvied up by the Axis powers.
- Sprawl Trilogy. Because of Gibson's love of the incredibly vague description, it's not certain, but the U.S Government has been destroyed and most of the U.S outside the Sprawl is implied to be very, very unpleasant.
- In Parable of the Sower the United States has collapsed into a dystopia filled with gangs, prostitution and slavery. (It's set in a Twenty Minutes Into the Future California)
- In Whitley Strieber's Warday And The Journey Onward, the US is hit by a nuclear attack and part of it ends up splitting off to form its own country, while what's left is poor and in shambles.
- In the Alternate History novel Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore, the US is defeated by the Confederate States of America in the civil war and subsequently spirals into poverty and political corruption.
- Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five has the United States of the future bombed "by angry Chinamen" and Balkanized into a number of heavily-militarized zones so as not to be a threat to anyone.
- The Running Man: The world's economy is in shambles, along with the United States, which has become a police state.
- The Handmaid's Tale: The Republic of Gilead that replaced the United States roughly a few decades before after an unknown disaster, a terrorist attack and military coup. For all intents and purposes, it is the United States, just under a totalitarian theocratic society.
- House of the Scorpion: Illegal immigrants escape not only to the US by the time the book takes place, but into Aztlán (what Mexico is called by the time of the book) as well. It is never detailed how bad the US is, but it is assumed it is pretty bad if people are justifying risking everything to escape into Aztlán.
- Kim Newman and Brain Craig's Dark Future novels for Games Workshop greatly expanded on the base concept of a crapsack US of A, piling economic collapse on top of a reduction in the President's status from Most Powerful Man In The World to somewhere around 138th Most Powerful Man In The World.
- Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America is set in a dystopian future where, after a series of dramatic setbacks, the United States has slid backwards into a near-Third World country. Not only technologically, but culturally as well, meaning things like Slavery have cropped up again.
- In The Long Walk, it is strongly hinted that the U.S. has become a police state.
- Happened in a few episodes of Sliders, the pilot in particular showed that this happened after the US lost the Cold War.
- The Doctor Who episode "Turn Left" suggests very strongly that this happens to the U.S. after the Adipose kill a large portion of its population. The fragmentation is used to end a Hope Spot, since the UK, beset by other alien invaders, was looking to America for much-needed aid.
- The Bad Future seen in the "Epilogue" episodes of Dollhouse shows a United States that, like much of the world, has fallen into chaos due to Rossum -- or someone else -- weaponizing the Mind Wipe technology from the Dollhouses.
- Dark Angel: After the denotation of an EMP device by terrorist groups in 2009, the United States is barely more than a third world nation.
- Jericho: The United States has been nuked to hell and back, and has been split into three nations, the Allied States of America, the United States of America, and an independent Texas.
- The 1993 TV movie The Fire Next Time has global warming turn the USA into a nation of climate refugees seeking entry into Canada.
- Games Workshop's now-defunct Dark Future had an America of the mid-90s wracked by environmental damage, essentially owned by Japanese Mega Corp GenTech in which the cities were divided into Policed Zones and No-Go Ghettos and most of the Southern States were effectively independent of Washington.
- This is basically the state of the UCAS (United Canadian and American States) in Shadowrun. It's a standard Cyberpunk dystopia, with much of the original U.S. lost to the Native American nations, extensive Mega Corp influence, and so on.
- This is the end result of the OGRE universe, though to be fair, the entire rest of the world goes first.
- The 80s action-inspired free game The Hard Way features an America much like the one from Escape from New York, with MICOM and the Yuppies controlling everything, Manhattan being turned into a state penitentiary, political dissent being considered treason under the "Freedom Act," HOMSEC goons blackbagging people at night and sending them to FEMA camps, Chinese-Americans being interned because of the current war against China, survivalists, death cults and racial supremacists thriving outside the big cities; and everyone with slave wages, potato chips and TV sets -- basically a corporate-fascist America nightmare. All this in the backdrop of a three-way conflict between the US, the Chinese and the Soviet Union for the last remaining natural resources, with the rest of the world not being much better than America.
- GURPS has a time-travel supplement that describes an alternate timeline where Germany has won World War 2 and made the U.S. a police state under it's influence after annihilating a few cities to show the who's boss.
- Dystopia: The United States in the backstory began a downward spiral as its currency collapsed as more and more nations switched over to other reserve currencies. By the time of the game, it no longer exists, now broken up into several different nations, the most powerful being the United Dominion of Canada.
- Deus Ex: The United States is in a what is the worst economical state it has ever been in its history, as implied by a conversation between two French civilians. The Grey Death has hit the nation hard, the majority of civilians encountered are homeless, many citizens are in active revolt, parts of Texas have been conquered by the Russo-Mexican alliance, and the backstory explains the United States has been in the gutter ever since a massive earthquake sank a good chunk of the West Coast twenty years before the game starts, which along with new gun control legislation about twelve years afterwards, led to a second civil war. News articles read show that politicians still act like the nation is a superpower, but this is no obviously longer the case, with that honor now taken by China.
- Deus Ex Human Revolution: Not as bad as the original game, but it is on its way there. News articles and books read mention that the economy for the United States has taken a turn for the worse, and secessionism, cities and states declaring or demanding more autonomous rule and internal fighting is starting to become a political issue. An e-book mentions that Canada is starting to become the place to be in North America.
- Assassin's Creed I: An email in the first game reads about a border conflict between Mexican soldiers and Americans trying to escape into Mexico.
- Home Front: Even before the Korean invasion, the United States was a mess, with gas prices skyrocketing, and the nation's states threatening to go to war with each other. Both Canada and Mexico closed their borders in order to stem the wave of refugees flooding in.
- The Great Depression, especially after an economic golden age in the 1920s. People were losing homes and jobs left right and centre - unemployment hit 30% at one stage - and just generally starving (rarely to death, though it's usually getting sick that kills you when you're starving). Historians have asked a rather pertinent question of this period when there were very few safety or working hour regulations, strikes and holdouts were usually crushed by force, and the (wholly private) unemployment benefit and healthcare systems were dysfunctional and far from universal: 'Why was there no socialism?' The post-WWI red-scare and subsequent crackdown may have had something to do with it, admittedly, but this still doesn't explain why there wasn't any fascism around either. Fascism really ought to have appealed to the US of American public given its emphasis on social welfare, social conservatism, religion, futurism, democracy (in the contemporary Peoples' Republic of Chinese sense of 'getting people involved in mass-politics', not 'having elected officials with real power'), and gung-ho jingoistic militarism.
- The question, however, is moot to those with a firm grasp of U.S. history, as it is quite well known that a great deal of this was in fact implemented in the 1930s and 40s under the administration of president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, albeit under different names (e.g. "New Deal") and with many of Roosevelt's more fascistic policies often being glossed over in American history classes (most notably, the forced dispossession and internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II). In fact, the 1930s were the beginning of the modern American welfare state, which may pale in comparison to European welfare states, but exists nonetheless.
- The American Civil War: The costliest war the US has fought - in relative monetary terms and in both relative and absolute numbers of casualties - in addition to actually being on US soil (the USA has waged most of its wars overseas). The US is noteworthy for having very little bad blood around despite its frequent - low-cost - wars, but the Civil and Revolutionary wars are notable exceptions to this rule as they left the country (somewhat) impoverished and exhausted. The Civil War remains a sore topic in the 'South' to this day.
- Frequently a Discussed Trope in US election campaign ads, or by anyone dissatisfied with the state of the country. This has been done for about 50 years or so at this point, but they may be right eventually.
- Recent years that the United States since after 9/11 are rumored and even theorized to completely heading this with a side of some Oppressive States of America into it, People think this due of then-recently Trump administration is being used elements of what classified as authoritarian and some see as Biggest sign that it somewhat confirmed that we are heading to becoming irrelevant in International level. And it's better to stop talking about that.
- ↑ Military-Industrial COMplex