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Heard about Houston?
Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?—Life During Wartime, Talking Heads (band)
A plot device that depicts the United States as a target of foreign occupation by another nation or nations. The work will usually focus on the efforts of either or both the US Armed Forces and the The Resistance as they try to defend their homeland.
The background of the invasion usually varies on when the work is set. If it is set pre-1991, it is usually a Cold War that stopped being so cold, or some other form of Alternate History, such as Imperial Japan or Nazi Germany making it to America. Twenty Minutes Into the Future will sometimes depict a dystopian US that has become so weak that other nations can now safely take shots at the States. An alternate version features the US still a superpower, or at least with some strength, but is no longer the biggest kid on the block, and other nations are able to attack it without fear of being overwhelmed by America's military might. Next Sunday AD settings will usually be very similar to the second possibility with Twenty Minutes, usually featuring a Russian or Chinese invasion. Surprisingly, the US's nuclear arsenal almost never gets employed during these stories, despite defense against invasion being one of its main purposes .
If done right, can make for an interesting plot. However, can also be Anvilicious if it makes too many references to any actual invasion either current or historical by the US. One of the major difficulties of pulling off this trope is that the invaders inevitably look really bad, the story is bound to offend some group of people, and for good reason.
See also, Mexico Called They Want Texas Back for a more specific example of this trope. Divided States of America sometimes goes hand-in-hand, as other nations come into the country to act as peacekeepers, to secure international interests, or to conquer the splintered US. Goes hand-in-hand with Occupiers Out of Our Country!, Fallen States of America and Day of the Jackboot. May or may not involve a Washington DC Invasion.
Note that the trope only counts for human invasions on US soil, not alien invasions.
- Red Dawn: A classic example, in which the USSR invades the Western United States and a group of high schoolers' efforts to stop it. The remake is going to have North Korean invaders (originally Chinese, but changed in order to have it marketable there, along with North Korea being a more hated enemy).
- Parodied in Canadian Bacon: three random schlubs thinks that the US is being invaded by Canada. Hilarity Ensues.
- Somewhat obviously, Invasion U.S.A. (1952) and to a lesser extent Invasion U.S.A. (1985).
- The Philadelphia Experiment 2. David Herdeg is sent to an Alternate History where the Nazis won World War II and occupied the U.S.
- Six String Samurai.
- In Escape From L.A., a united, Shining Path-led Latin America is on the verge of invading the US.
- Conversed in Hot Tub Time Machine. Blaine's gang thinks that the time traveling main characters are actually Soviet spies, due to their odd behavior, and the modern-day gadgets that he found in their bags. He mentions the film Red Dawn, which he owns a poster of in his room.
- The Man in the High Castle: Set after the fact, this book depicts an alternate 1960s in which the US was taken over by Japan and Germany from the West and East coasts respectively. The Rocky Mountain States is a Japanese puppet.
- The Fall Of A Nation by Thomas Dixon (author of The Klansman, aka The Birth of a Nation). Written prior to US involvement in World War One, it has the United States refusing to intervene in the Great War, which stalls to a stalemate. Peace is declared, but it's actually a ruse to allow the combined armies of Europe to invade America.
- The Mouse That Roared: The Duchy of Grand Fenwick declares war on the U.S. with the intent of losing immediately and raking in the reparation money. So they send over a small army in Medieval armor and spears, expecting to surrender upon reaching American soil. It doesn't quite work out that way.
- Happens as a Noodle Incident in The War Against the Chtorr. A Fourth World "army of econcomic liberation" lands in the southern United States and promptly gets massacred due to the US secret Robot War technology. Not to mention they US has rigged the computer chips in the weapons they've been selling internationally for the past few decades to detonate upon command.
- C.M. Kornbluth's novel Not This August begins with the surrender of the U.S. to Soviet and Chinese forces. The novel itself is about the resistance movement.
- Gloriously depicted in Floyd Gibbons' THE RED NAPOLEON, where the US and Canada make a last stand against Hordes From the East led by a Communist dictator and alleged descendant of Genghis Khan who has already conquered the rest of the world -- and the Americans win.
- Robert Conroy's Alternate History novel 1901 concerns a relatively limited invasion of the Northeast in the title year by the forces of Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Kaiser's objective here is not to conquer the United States outright, but to force the U.S. to turn over its newly-won colonial possessions of Puerto Rico and the Philippines by essentially holding New York City and surrounding areas for ransom. He also intended to confiscate the U.S. Navy, which America wouldn't need once it had no overseas territory. Unfortunately (for the Germans), the Kaiser didn't reckon with Theodore Roosevelt...
- Lightning In The Night, a novel by Fred Allhoff originally serialized in Liberty magazine during 1940, recounts, in pulp-magazine style, an invasion of the United States by a grand alliance of Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and the Soviet Union circa 1945.
- Star Trek: Enterprise: Several episodes featured an alternate 1940s in which the Nazis, equipped with alien technology, were able to capture portions of the East Coast.
- The second episode of Sliders featured a Soviet-occupied USA.
- Another episode showed a Mexican-occupied California, after the US lost the Mexican-American War.
- An America which lost the Mexican-American War would never have gained California. Remember, Mexico was the one who was invaded, not the USA.
- A sort-of example: One episode features a world where the US lost the Revolution and never existed, so the country is all part of England.
- Another episode showed a Mexican-occupied California, after the US lost the Mexican-American War.
- The miniseries Amerika shows a Soviet-occupied US ten years after the invasion. Subverted though in that the US surrendered without much of a fight after an EMP pulse took out most communications. Most Americans are more interested in getting on with life than resisting.
- Amerika was a work that was developed in response to The Day After. The latter showed how terrible a nuclear war would be for the (many) survivors; the former argued how a Soviet victory would also be unacceptable.
- As the storm clouds gathered over Europe and the Far East, Pulp Magazine hero Secret Service Operator #5 (1934 - 1939) fought attempts by various foreign armies from South America, Europe and the Orient to conquer the United States. The events are completely over-the-top as befits the pulp genre, except for the time the Japs destroy an entire city (Philadelphia) with their evil atomic bomb. Only Orientals would do such a dastardly deed...
- The Price of Freedom RPG from West End Games, inspired by the film Red Dawn. After the Soviets develop an orbital defense system that neutralizes America's strategic nuclear weapons, Soviet occupation forces enter and take over the U.S. The PCs are American freedom fighters who wage a guerrilla war against the invaders.
- Invasion America (1976) board wargame by SPI (Simulations Publications Inc.). The U.S. is invaded by three international coalitions: the European Socialist Coalition, the South American Union and the Pan Asiatic League. The popularity of this game spawned a companion piece the next year, Objective: Moscow, detailing invasions of the Soviet Union by various coalitions of the Western Allies and China from the 1970's to the end of the 20th Century.
- Fortress America (1986), a Milton Bradley board game. The U.S. is invaded by three international coalitions: the Euro-Socialist Pact, the Central American Federation and the Asian Peoples Alliance. Hey, wait a minute...
- The box cover for the first edition of this game contains a portrait of none other than Saddam Hussein (changed for later editions). This edition of the game is now a collector's item. Also, there are some significant differences between Invasion: America and Fortress America; among other things, the former game covers the whole North American continent from the Arctic to the Panama Canal, done in typical hexagonal-map-and-paper-counter SPI/Avalon Hill, and the MB game covers only the continental United States and is done in the general style of Axis And Allies.
- Shadowrun. After the U.S. was split up into the Divided States of America, Aztlan invaded both the southern part of California Free State and the Confederated American States.
- The Freedom City setting for Mutants and Masterminds includes the "Erde" setting where the Axis powers won World War II and used a combination of brain-powered war machines, nuclear weapons, and mystic cataclysms to shatter the backbone of the U.S. resistance. The Time of Crisis adventure involves the heroes helping La Résistance to neutralize the war machines in the process of fighting a cosmic threat.
- SS Amerika by 3W Games presents an invasion of North America (like Invasion: America, covering the entire continent) by various Axis forces during the World War Two era. This is, aside from Objective: Moscow, the largest and most detailed tabletop game of this particular subgenre (four full-sized standard wargame maps), with units at the division level including the entire U.S. Army and Marine Corps WWII order of battle, plus British Commonwealth, German, Italian and Japanese units, and even contingents from various Latin American nations which can come in on either the Allied or Axis side depending on various in-game events or scenario preconditions.
- Deadlands: In 1877, the British invade from Canada and capture Detroit in retaliation for American military adventurism along the Canadian border.
- Axis & Allies is a World War II simulation. Invading the US is possible but pretty unlikely.
- Battlefield series: The Armored Fury booster pack for Battlefield 2 depicted maps set in Alaska and Pennsylvania as US forces defended their homeland against Chinese and Middle Eastern Collation Forces. Bad Company 2 has several multiplayer maps set in Alaska, and the ending depicts Russian forces advancing on the northern border of the US. Averted in Battlefield 3, as the levels that take place in New York are about stopping a terrorist attack, not an invasion.
- Modern Warfare: The second game in the series has several levels set in Northern Virgina and D.C. The invaders are not the actual Soviet Union, since the game takes place long after the end of the Cold War, but the Ultranationalist party which has taken over Russia in the game's timeline is a pretty effective substitute. The third game has them fighting in New York city as well, before finally being pushed off US soil after their defeat there.
- Homefront: The basic plot of the game is the United States under occupation by a resurgent North Korea.
- World in Conflict: Set during an alternate 1980s, in which the USSR launched an invasion of the US instead of collapsing as in Real Life.
- Turning Point: Fall of Liberty: Set in an alternate 1950s in which the US stayed neutral in World War II and in which Churchill was killed in an accident prior to the war, causing Britain to fall to Germany, the game features an invasion of the United States by Nazi Germany.
- Deus Ex: Never actually seen in-game, but background information, along with some side info that you may or may not run into mention the Russian-Mexican War, in which they attempted to take back territories captured in the Mexican-American War. By the time the game starts, southern Texas is under Mexican control.
- End War: Battles can take place in the United States.
- Rise of Nations: In the Cold War campaign, besides starting a nuclear war with them, the Soviets can also stage a conventional invasion of the United States.
- Shattered Union: The European Union sends peacekeeping forces to the Washington DC area to secure international interests, whereas the Russian Federation invades and annexes Alaska during the Second American Civil War.
- Took place in Fallout backstory just prior to the nuclear war, when the Chinese forces invaded Anchorage. It was eventually repulsed.
- Descendants from a beached Chinese submarine crew can be found around what is left of San Francisco.
- Ghoulified Chinese infiltrators can be found in a factory in Washington D.C. in 3.
- Red Alert 2 has an ostensibly puppet Soviet government invade the United States with the aid of psychic powers to neutralize the American nuclear arsenal.
- Red Alert 3 is more global, but both the Imperial and Soviet campaigns feature invasions of the United States at some point. Going after President Ackerman at Mt. Rushmore in the Allied campaign after he goes rogue may or may not count.
- Eventual end result of the Soviets developing the atomic bomb first and dropping it on Berlin in the back story of Freedom Fighters.
- The basis of Roadwar 2000 from 1986, but first the invaders released A Bioengineered Plague.
- One trailer for Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor depicts an American invasion of Manhattan in 2080. The opposing force is implied to be related to the United Nations in some way.
- Family Guy: When Peter founded Petoria, he annexed Joe's pool (Johio).
- This is the premise of Invasion America. The aliens reason start their takeover of Earth with the United States is that as the strongest military power taking them out first would make conquering the rest of the planet much easier.
- To date, there have been four attempted invasions of the United States. The first and most successful one was by the British during the War of 1812, which saw the burning of Washington DC and invasions of Maine, New York state, and New Orleans after the United States invaded Canada and burned its capital to the ground. The second was by the Confederate States of America, when Robert E. Lee led his army into Maryland and Pennsylvania (or alternately the Northern invasion of the South which has continued to this day). The third time was during the Mexican Revolution, when Pancho Villa led a raid on the border town of Columbus, New Mexico. The fourth and final attempt was by Imperial Japan during World War II, who seized some of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska as well as numerous American possessions in the Pacific (Guam, the Philippines). In modern times, the mainland United States has never come under direct invasion.
It should be noted that in all these instances there was no serious intention of trying to permanently conquer mainland American territory. The British weren't really focused on the US in 1812 because they had Napoleonic France to deal with and they considered (and still consider) it a sideshow. The South was where nearly all the fighting in the Civil War was taking place, and General Lee figured if he could defeat the Union on Northern turf the Northern public and Congress would push for a peace settlement and grant the South independence. Pancho Villa's army was so starved of supplies that he was willing to trespass into the US to get them. The invasion of the Aleutians was mainly to deny the US the opportunity to use them as bases and to divert attention away from their real objective, the US Naval base at Midway (it failed in this because the US had cracked Japan's Cyphers and knew where the real attack was coming).
- At the end of the 19th century, the German General Staff drew up a planned invasion of the US eastern seaboard. (See the entry on 1901 in "Literature" above.)
- Nazi Germany (or more specifically, Hitler) was also gaming for this goal in the long-term. And in the even longer-term betrayal of their ally Japan, going for outright world conquest. The attempted take-over of Soviet resources during the war was to partly feed the future construction of a massive Atlantic surface fleet.
- According to a 1987 Department of Defense plan that projected the path of a Soviet invasion in case of World War III Alaska would have been invaded from across the Bering Sea in order to draw American forces away from Japan and the rest of Asia.
- In 1917, Germany offered Venustiano Carranza aid to invade the U.S.A. with the promise that Mexico would take back the land that was taken in 1848 after the Mexican-American War (read: half of Mexico). This wasn't the case because by then there was this little something called the Mexican Revolution. It didn't help that the British leaked the telegram to the U.S.A.
- An invasion of the US as things stand now at the time of typing would be very difficult, as the US has the second-largest military in the world, with 1.5 million active personnel, including the largest air force and navy (fairly important when its main rivals are overseas), and spends more on its military than any other nation on the planet. Add in the fact that you have plenty of armed citizens in the country due to its liberal gun laws, and you would have one hell of a fight on your hands.
- It is usually said that conquering an area, as long as you have a decent army, can be easily done. It's holding onto the area that is difficult. Imagine trying to hold onto an area where many of the citizens are armed and angry, like a rural area or a crime-ridden inner city.
- During World War II, Admiral Yamamoto of Imperial Japan thought war with the US was going to end in disaster for this very reason. A couple of quotes from him on the issue:
"You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass." (Note that this quote may be a case of Beam Me Up, Scotty, as there is no record of him saying it, but regardless, it still makes a good point.)
"Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it is not enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. We would have to march into Washington and sign the treaty in the White House. I wonder if our politicians (who speak so lightly of a Japanese-American war) have confidence as to the outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices?"
- Yamamoto's second quote was used to help foster aggression against the Japanese during WWII. The last sentence is dropped, making it look like an actual plan to invade the States, instead of him just pointing out the fact that invading the United States would be a very costly and difficult effort.
- While the above mentioned makes it close to impossible to invade directly (which is kind of a point), it also makes it easier to weaken the territory significantly before invasion. Civil war, if used properly, could make this trope possible, though in a different way. The fact Americans can be pesky in their "never give up even when it would probably be for the best" policy, on the other hand...
- Religious war could be used for that. There some fanaticly religiously people. They have little chance of being able to up a decent fight, but they might create enough chaos. But it would be a lot easier to attack the powergrid. It's shown to be weak in the past. If you can put the country wihtout power for say a month, it will tear itself apart. Any country would be a mess but not every country has a massive prison population and a ludicrous amount of guns.
- Along with much of the above, there's also the fact that the United States is a vast, urbanized, geographically diverse country flanked by two major oceans and superior interior lines. Above all else, any potential invasion is a logistical nightmare for anybody trying to attempt it, even without the world's most powerful military able to bear down rapidly from land, sea, and air at any time. In other words: Invading the continental United States would be slightly more forgiving than invading Russia. Slightly.
- And, to top it all off, the United States is not only a NATO member, has a number of unilateral defense treaties with other nations, and is in general much more popular than China and Russia, which are the only two countries that could even pretend to fight the US on even footing. Anyone looking to invade would have to simultaneously fight the US, Canada, most of Western Europe, a large chunk of Central and Eastern Europe, and probably Japan, Australia, Israel, South Korea, and more. In essence, without an utterly massive shift in the geopolitical world, it would be a total pipe dream.
- Not to mention that going through either the Atlantic or the Pacific is nearly completely impossible for Russia or China respectively. China has a very small navy with only one functional aircraft carrier, and couldn't do much to protect their forces from air strikes and naval engagements. Russia would have to go through Europe or Turkey to get to the Atlantic, which are allies of the US. This isn't even getting into the fact that the United States has twice as many people as Russia and a much more modern and organized military force, or that America is China's largest trading partner. It also doesn't take into account that the US economy is over twice as large as its closest competitor (China, and Russia isn't even in the top ten) or that the United States spends more money on defense than the other top ten combined.
- As well as its largest debtor. And why would you attack someone when you can just milk him just as good without invading him? Not to mention that China's economy isn't at all stable itself...
- ↑ Though, for the record, for a country to even threaten to use nukes constitutes a war crime--though when a country is threatened with massive invasion by a force that will commit many war crimes against its citizens...