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Tensions have been increasing for many years, and open conflict could break out at any time. Now it seems that time has come. Angry mobs pour out onto the streets. Internal security forces gather. Armies and fleets mobilize for war. It looks like this can only end badly. But what's this? The leaders of the opposing sides are calling for passive resistance? Moments ago, it looked like only a long and bloody war could possibly end the long-simmering conflict, but change comes relatively peacefully instead. Sometimes violence does occur, but instead of thousands of bodies in the streets only a few hundred are seriously injured.

A Subversion of the Final Battle, sometimes using a Deus Ex Machina, and can be used as a Happy Ending. It can also be a Bittersweet Ending, as The Hero, The Obi-Wan, a highly sympathetic Anti-Villain, etc. may be among the relatively few casualties or may sacrifice their home, fortune, dreams, etc., for peace.

What happens after can vary:

  1. It's peaceful now, but a standoff is taking place, and violence is expected. It never comes. The conflict just... ends. At worst a few were trampled in the confusion.
  2. A bloody war is already underway, but a relatively bloodless internal coup, unexpected surrender, etc. resolves the conflict suddenly without further casualties.
  3. Violence occurs, and while it left bodies in the streets, an all-out, lengthy conflict is averted. A war that might have lasted several years and left hundreds of thousands dead is resolved in a single campaign that kills only a few percent of that number.

Contrast The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized and The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified. The Reign of Terror is what happens when it goes wrong.

Often used as an Ending Trope or major plot twist, so beware of spoilers!

Examples of Velvet Revolution include:

Examples of Case 1


  • In V for Vendetta (the movie): The government troops are understandably uneasy about firing on the populace and an order saying they must fire never comes.
    • The V for Vendetta case is probably based on the Czechoslovakia one (see Real Life, below). Both had similar amounts of people (about 100,000) advancing on a heavily-defended central government building. In both cases the defenders were police, who avoided shooting because a) they were greatly outnumbered and b) they were police, not soldiers.
  • The live-action scene closing the 2011 documentary/activist film Zeitgeist: Moving Forward depicts such a scenario.


  • In The Bible, some of Jesus' followers expect a bloody revolution; instead Jesus surrenders peacefully. The whole thing is, of course, all part of God's Xanatos Gambit plan....
  • Breaking Dawn has the Volturi leaving peacefully without any fighting whatsoever.
  • Night Watch. No more cake? However, a few dozen or so people are killed, including several policemen and at least one main character.

Live Action TV

  • On Babylon 5, the dockworkers threaten to go on strike, the senior staff has been kicked out of their own quarters due to a legal technicality, and the nightwatch is running amuck. A reallocation of funds solves the legal issues, and life returns to normal... for a few episodes.
  • In the Doctor Who episode, The Happiness Patrol, the Doctor brings down an entire Fascist regime overnight.


  • The video for Duran Duran's "New Moon On Monday" depicts the band as part of La Résistance in a city led by an oppressive regime. It culminates in a protest in the central square where fireworks, torches, and a kite are used to chase the horseback soldiers out of town.

Video Games

  • In Tropico, this is one possible way for your Presidente to rise to power. Intellectuals and the United States love it, but the people will be rather miffed if it doesn't lead to democracy.

Real Life

  • The end of the Cold War, in comparison to the nuclear cataclysm many had expected the cold war to end in, was relatively bloodless.
  • South Africa's elimination of the Apartheid system.
  • The "People Power Revolution" in the Philippines.
  • Subverted in China in Tiananmen Square: students had hoped to stage a Velvet Revolution, but the army didn't back down.
  • The early stages of the French Revolution were more or less this. Until about 1791, it seemed there would be a constitutional monarchy, somewhere between Britain and America, with guaranteed civil rights. Didn't turn out so well, though...
  • Chile's transition from dictatorship to democracy in the late 80s/early 90s. Pinochet ended up recognizing the results of the referendum on his rule (he lost) and about a year later, a new president was elected. d
  • In the Arab Spring, Tunisia's revolution played like this. Admittedly, there were several hundred dead bodies, but the anticlimactic departure of Ben Ali just hours after his official declaration that he had no intention of leaving places this a bit closer to Type 1 (the conflict just...ended. The guy just went away. No coup, no war, no angry protesters attempting to storm the presidential palace,[1] no nothing.) than Type 3.
    • It's also fair to say that this is how the revolutionaries in all the other countries wanted things to play out, but:
      • In Libya, the leadership turned against itself, allowing the protest movement to turn into all-out Civil War;
      • In Bahrain, the government went all Tiananmen on the protesters, brining out the Army plus Saudi and Emirati troops to crush the uprising; and...
      • In Syria, the government has been inching slowly in the Tiananmen direction, although it's unclear what effect that will have.
      • In several other countries, the demands weren't that great to start with, with the exception of Egypt and Yemen (for which see Case 3).
  • So far, the Occupy Wall Street movement is hoping to be this, supposedly following the examples of the Arab Spring.

Examples of Case 2

Anime & Manga

  • In Robotech, after years of bloody conflict, the Invid Regis just... left.
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch arranges things so that Britannia ends up letting the Black Knights go.
    • Later, The resistance against now Emperor Lelouch ends successfully with only one death - allowing Britannia, Japan, and China an Earn Your Happy Ending.
      • Only after several 1000 die.

Comic Books


  • The ending of The Matrix Revolutions.
    • A rather bizarre example since the heroes treat it as a victory when the machine overlords refrain from killing them all, despite the fact they were no closer to any of their goals.
      • Aren't they? The Architect said that anyone who wishes to leave the Matrix is free to do so. Of course, according to Morpheus's speech in the first film, most adults aren't likely to leave the comfortable virtual prison for the grim underground reality.
  • The crisis that sparks the events of Crimson Tide ends when Radchenko's forces in the Russian Far East surrender to loyalist Russian forces. Total casualties number less than a hundred, much lower than what could have potentially been.


  • In Tom Clancy's The Bear and the Dragon. The Chinese government starts a war with Russia over gold and oil reserves in Siberia, and conceals information about when it starts going badly. A bunch of students find out what's really going on from the internet, and eventually bring down the government.
    • The book it is largely copied from, Red Storm Rising, a bloodless coup by the Soviet army ends the war.
  • Bloodily subverted in Shatterpoint: Mace Windu hopes to end the Summertime War swiftly by capturing the Geptun, the militia leader. When he finally catches up to Geptun, he surrenders without a fight, but a rogue agent on Mace's side has already begun sacking the city.
    • Not just any rogue agent but his own clanmate.

Live Action TV

Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang defeats Fire Lord Phoenix King Ozai, Zuko and Katara take down Princess Fire Lord Azula, and the Fire Nation's war of conquest ends.
    • Of course Zuko was immediately installed as Firelord afterwards, and he had become opposed to the war.

Video Games

  • Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn (Wii) has a long and bloody battle stopped short by almost everyone being turned into stone.

Real Life

  • The surrender of Japan in World War II, when an invasion of the home islands seemed inevitable, must have seemed this way to many who would have been involved. In reality, it only occurred after (atomic) bombings and invasions of territory controlled by the Japanese by US and Soviet forces, each of which killed many thousands. Still, Emperor Hirohito and his staff had to defy their own army to declare the war actually over.
  • The fall of Venezuelan dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez in the 50's.
  • The Portuguese Carnation Revolution planned by the Armed Forces that brought an end to 60 years of dictatorship and the Colonial War was almost bloodless. The Carnation became the symbol of the revolution due to the soldiers marching the streets with those flowers on the tip of their guns. Only four people were killed by the state police before surrendering. Also, the start of the revolution was signaled by playing Portugal's Eurovision entry.

Examples of Case 3

Anime and Manga

  • One Piece: This is how the Alabasta arc ends for said kingdom. There are probably thousand of casualties, but there were about two and a half million people fighting. Kohza was trying to keep things from getting too bad the entire time, and the king was trying to avoid fighting at all.
  • In Heat Guy J, Daisuke's brother Shun takes over the city of Judoh and places it under martial law. The various Mafia factions, as well as an underground group from the Absurdly Spacious Sewer fight his forces in the streets (actually, just one, Kabuki Road, the entertainment district). Meanwhile, Antonia helps Daisuke infiltrate the government building, and he fights Shun with both words and martial arts. Yes, things got violent, but not as violent as anyone In-Universe expected, and the events appear to cover only a day or two.


  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fanfic The First Tile ends with one of these. Prime Minister Odan was aiming for a Type 1 by coming out of hiding and making a speech supporting sweeping reform of the Trill government, but it quickly escalates into a Type 3 when The Azure Guard decides to try and assassinate her and Dr. Crusher in full public view. There are still plenty of deaths and casualties, but the revolt is thankfully brief, with the monarch's son and an old general deciding enough is enough and ordering a stand-down.


  • In the Farsala Trilogy, this is one of the Hrum army's policies. After conquering a nation in a lengthy war that all but destroyed both armies, the Hrum made a law that they can only have one year to conquer another country by force. When the year is up, victory is granted to the defending country.

Video Games

  • The rebellion in Mount and Blade can become this if you have done enough deeds for all the lords of that faction to like you, so you only have to conquer the last city belonging to the king, who will never surrender to you.

Real Life

  • The end of the Cold War, as stated above.
    • In Romania, the leadership ordered the army and secret police to put down the revolution. The army commanders refused to fire on unarmed civilians. However, the Romanian Revolution did leave a lot of dead bodies, maybe not so many as might have been but still a goodly amount.
  • the October Revolution went down with very little bloodshed, later propaganda films added a lot more resistance to make the Revolution seem more effective.
    • That tends to happen when one of the sides deserts. Even in the propaganda it was barely a skirmish.
  • In the Arab Spring, Egypt's revolution played out like this, and Yemen seems to be going this way (or at least as close to this way as possible in a country where there were already not one but two unrelated insurgencies before anything started).
  • Israel has been on the verge of a civil war during the Altanela incident, and (arguably) several times since then, most notably during the Oslo Treaties’ signing and the Disengagement.
  • The Iranian Revolution played out like this. Unfortunately, the revolutionary government turned out to be little better than the monarchy before it.


  1. The Egyptian protesters would have done this a couple of weeks later, but the army forced Mubarak out literally less than twelve hours before this could happen.
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