Evil empire

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An evil empire is a speculative fiction trope in which a major antagonist of the story is a technologically advanced nation, typically ruled by an evil emperor or empress, that aims to control the world or conquer some specific group. They are opposed by a hero from more common origins who uses their guile or the help of an underground resistance to fight them. Well-known examples are the Galactic Empire in Star Wars, which forms upon the collapse of the more benevolent Galactic Republic and is opposed by Luke Skywalker,[1] as well as the Galactic Empire in Dune, whose Emperor plots the downfall of House Atreides, and is opposed by Paul Atreides.[2]

The theme also often appears in video games. A recurring element of the Final Fantasy series is an evil empire as the primary antagonistic faction, starting with Final Fantasy II, which was itself inspired by Star Wars. It is a major aspect of the story of Final Fantasy VI in the form of the Gestahl Empire,[3] proceeding onward to Final Fantasy XV, in which the empire of Niflheim conquers the kingdom of Lucis, forcing its heir, Noctis Lucis Caelum, to fight back and reclaim his homeland.[4] In Mother 3, the protagonist Lucas has his home attacked by the villainous Pigmask Army, which seeks to turn animals into robotic Chimeras and brainwash the land's agrarian inhabitants via Happy Boxes.[5]


Fantastical evil empires typically make heavy use of technology and mechanization, refusing to coexist with nature and destroying or exploiting it instead. The hero or heroes of the story often make use of these natural elements to fight the empire, such as the Ewoks of Endor or the Sandworms of Arrakis. When the empire is defeated, the world returns to its natural state. This is often a metaphor for modern environmental problems caused by the negligence of global superpowers.[6]

Use in politics[edit]

The concept of an "evil empire" was appropriated from Star Wars by Ronald Reagan, who used it in his 1983 Evil Empire speech to describe the Soviet Union, dramatically raising the stakes in the arms race between it and the United States.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ C. McDowell, John (2 July 2014). The Politics of Big Fantasy : the Ideologies of Star Wars, The Matrix and The Avengers. Jefferson, North Carolina. p. 86. ISBN 9780786474882. OCLC 878813081.
  2. ^ Final Frontier (ABDO Digital Hosted e-Book) . New York: ABDO Digital. September 2010. p. 22. ISBN 978-1617843532. OCLC 1003700847.
  3. ^ Kohler, Chris (2015). Power-Up : How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life. Yoshida, Shuhei. New York: Dover Publications. pp. 94–109. ISBN 9780486816425. OCLC 960760137.
  4. ^ Caswell, Tom (2016-12-05). "Review: Final Fantasy XV is a tale of two games". GameZone. Retrieved 2022-03-08.
  5. ^ Oxford, Nadia (2018-10-18). "What Mother 3 Taught Me About Death, Grieving, and Two-by-Fours". USgamer. Retrieved 2022-03-08.
  6. ^ Gust, John (2007). Adventures in fantasy : lessons and activities in narrative and descriptive writing, grades 5–9 (1st ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. p. 19. ISBN 9780470639870. OCLC 607554530.
  7. ^ Brode, Douglas; Deyneka, Leah (2012). Sex, Politics, and Religion in Star Wars: An Anthology. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. p. 63. ISBN 9780810885158. OCLC 802261869.