By the time Napoleon returned to Paris from Egypt in October, the military situation had improved due to several French victories. The Republic was bankrupt, however, and the corrupt and inefficient Directory was unpopular with the French public more than ever.
Bonaparte was approached by one of the Directors, Sieyès, seeking his support for a coup to overthrow the constitution. The plot included Bonaparte's brother Lucien, then serving as speaker of the Council of Five Hundred, Roger Ducos, another Director, and Talleyrand.
On 9 November (18 Brumaire), and the following day, troops led by Bonaparte seized control and dispersed the legislative councils, leaving a rump to name Bonaparte, Sieyès, and Ducos as provisional Consuls to administer the government. The Directory was crushed, but the coup within the coup was not yet complete.
The necessity to use military force had certainly strengthened Bonaparte's hand vis a vis Sieyès and the other plotters. With the Council routed, the plotters convened two commissions, each consisting of twenty-five deputies from the two Councils and essentially intimidated them into declaring a provisional government, the first form of the Consulate with Bonaparte, Sieyès, and Roger-Ducos as consuls, and then into drawing up what Malcolm Crook refers to as the "short and obscure Constitution of the Year VIII", the first of the constitutions since the Revolution without a Declaration of Rights.
The lack of reaction from the streets proved that the revolution was, indeed, over. In the words of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, "A shabby compound of brute force and imposture, the 18th Brumaire was nevertheless condoned, nay applauded, by the French nation. Weary of revolution, men sought no more than to be wisely and firmly governed." Resistance by Jacobin officeholders in the provinces was quickly crushed, twenty Jacobin legislators were exiled, and others were arrested.
Bonaparte completed his coup within a coup by the adoption of a constitution under which the First Consul, a position he was sure to hold, had greater power than the other two. In particular, he appointed the Senate and the Senate interpreted the constitution. The Bonapartist Senate allowed him to rule by decree, so the more independent State Council and Tribunate degenerated into the status of impotent assemblies, serving merely as window dressing.