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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.

This is a Sub-Trope of Creator Provincialism and Invaded States of America. Related to Monumental Damage. See also the trope image for Dirty Communists.

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!

Examples of Washington DC Invasion include:

Comic Books

Fan Fiction

  • 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.


  • Earth vs. the Flying Saucers: The final battle takes place in Washington D.C.
  • Inverted in The War of the Worlds (1953), where Washington is the only major capital not to be attacked by the Martians.
  • The most famous scene in Independence Day has the aliens destroying the White House.
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still starts with a spaceship landing on the National Mall. Not an invasion, but no one told the National Guard.
  • Invasion U.S.A. (the one on Mystery Science Theater 3000, not the one with Chuck Norris) 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 (Film), 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.
  • 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


  • 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. 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.

Video Games

  • 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.
  • In a fairly early mission briefing for the first Command and Conquer'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 and 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.
    • Utterly bizarre version in the Red Alert 3 Paradox mod, where the Americans are invading the city, held by the Allied Nations.
    • In 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 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.
  • Subverted in the first Metal Gear Solid, where the original plan of FOXHOUND is to attack Washington. However, Liquid changes the target to an uninhabited nuclear test site in China, to demonstrate their power and persuade the Government to agree with their demands, which is what Liquid was really after.
  • Tom Clancy's HAWX 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Pulling off one of these is the ultimate goal of the Confederate player in the Civil War Generals series.
  • Ace Combat Assault Horizon culminates in DC, where the Big Bad tries to nuke the White House.

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.
  • Dr. Wily tries this in one episode of the Ruby-Spears Megaman cartoon.
  • The DC Universe Original Animated Movies film Wonder Woman had Ares invading Washington DC with an army of monsters and zombie Amazons. When the army can't beat them, an army of Amazons arrive to defend the city. Notable for coming out shortly after the controversial Amazons Attack, where the Amazons are the ones invading DC.
  • The episode "Atlantis, Arise!" from Transformers Generation 1. 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.
  • Similarly, 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.)

Real Life

  • War of 1812. The British famously burned down the White House, the Capitol, and Treasury among other public buildings as part of the Chesapeake campaign. The overall campaign was a failure, however, due to the British failure to take Baltimore's Fort McHenry (later memorialized in 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!"
  • DC traffic, bad enough at the best of times, is routinely disrupted by rallies on the National Mall, conferences attended by multiple heads of state, and a thriving tourism industry.
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