Created By: Random888January 17, 2013 Last Edited By: Random888February 6, 2013
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When Harry Met Svetlana

If a male hero on "our side" is working with someone from "the other side", it's always a woman.

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Wai Lin: I get to work with the decadent agent of a corrupt Western power.
James Bond: I think you've found the right decadent corrupt Western agent as a partner.
-- Tomorrow Never Dies trailer (paraphrased from the actual film)

Two people from opposite sides are working together. The one on "our side" is a man and the one on "the other side" is a woman. Likely reasons for this:

The name alludes to the classic Cold War combination of the American man and the Russian woman (or British man, if it's a James Bond film). Expect the Russian woman to be a Sensual Slav who talks in Poirot Speak with a thick Russian accent ("I come to your country for mission, da?") There's also a good, but not certain, chance that she'll become a Defector From Commie Land. The Great Politics Mess Up has removed the original reason for this combination, but it still comes up from time to time.

Despite the name, this can refer to any situation where the main person on the side we relate to is male and the main person on the opposite side is female. Expect to see:

  • The man is a straightforward Everyman character. After all, we're relating to him. Alternatively, he's a Badass action hero. Either way, he's unambiguously the primary protagonist.
  • The woman is introduced with a Samus Is A Girl reveal. She is a Mysterious Woman. She may be The Baroness or a Femme Fatale. Alternatively, she's a plain-spoken Action Girl. This increases the odds of her being a goody. If there is more than one person from her side, she will be the only female, but she'll have way more screen time than her male colleagues. She will probably also be the highest ranked.
  • Sex will become an issue at some point. Perhaps she's a Honey Trap (in which case she may fall In Love With The Mark). Perhaps there's Unresolved Sexual Tension. Perhaps one of them has a one-sided crush on the other. Whatever. The fact that these two people conveniently have compatible sex organs is not just going to be thrown away.

Film
  • James Bond examples:
    • In The Spy Who Loved Me, James Bond works with Major Anya Amasova of the KGB. Despite the fact that he killed her lover (in self defense), she naturally falls in love with him by the end of the movie.
    • InTomorrow Never Dies, England has James Bond investigate the rather dubious Eliot Carver and his news media operation in order to prevent war with China. China sends Femme Fatale Wai Lin.
  • Two Thousand Ten The Year We Make Contact focuses on a joint American-Soviet space expedition. The American side is led by a man and the Soviet side is led by a woman. There's no romance, however.
  • On the other side of the curtain, it was reversed. In the Soviet spy comedy Good Weather on Deribasovskaya, it's the Bad Ass male hero who is Russian and his female partner/love interest who is American.

Literature
  • In Summer Knight, Harry is hired by the Winter Fae to solve a case. Of course, since this is Fae business, the Summer Court assigns a representative to the investigation--who turns out to be Elaine Mallory, Harry's own Old Flame who now works for the Summer.
  • The fifth Presidential Agent novel by W.E.B. Griffin has Lt. Col. Castillo having to extract a pair of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service operatives who wish to defect, an uncle and niece. He and the niece, Svetlana Alekseeva, end up falling in love.

Live Action TV
  • In the Twilight Zone episode "Two", the two survivors of a future war are (apparently) an American man and a Russian woman.
  • On Seven Days, the Russian representative to Operation Backstep is a female with whom Parker has UST.
  • Partial use in a couple episodes of Stargate SG 1. The team members sent to Russia in "Watergate" and "Full Alert" were paired with female Russian Air Force personnel, but no romance ensued.

Theatre
  • Inverted in Chess: Florence, who's the lead and working for the Americans, runs up against Anatoly, the Russian chess player.

Western Animation
  • Archer's fiance, who's the only "good" Russian in the show.
Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • January 18, 2013
    aurora369
    On the other side of the curtain, it was reversed. In the Soviet spy comedy Good Weather on Deribasovskaya, it's the Bad Ass male hero who is Russian and his female partner/love interest who is American.
  • January 18, 2013
    Arivne
    The following example doesn't fit the trope as written. Perhaps this could be expanded to cover any male spy for a Western country?

    Film
    • In The Spy Who Loved Me James Bond works with Major Anya Amasova of the KGB. Despite the fact that he killed her lover (in self defense), she naturally falls in love with him by the end of the movie.
  • January 18, 2013
    Larkmarn
    All instances of this would be covered by the Sensual Slavs trope, and I don't think this is a significant enough subtrope to qualify. If it is... Archer's fiance would count, as she's the only "good" Russian in the show and Archer's basically an Eagleland version of James Bond.
  • January 18, 2013
    Megaptera
    With regards to Aurora's example, this may just be a regional-specific example of ... I can't find the trope here but I would want to call it Exotic Is Sexy. Essentially the hero is "from here" so the male audience can identify with him, and the Fan Service woman is foreign because, well, Exotic Is Sexy.
  • January 18, 2013
    Random888
    • In the Twilight Zone episode "Two", the two survivors of a future war are (apparently) an American man and a Russian woman.
    • Two Thousand Ten The Year We Make Contact focuses on a joint American-Soviet space expedition. The American side is led by a man and the Soviet side is led by a woman. There's no romance, however.
  • January 21, 2013
    randomsurfer
    On Seven Days the Russian representative to Operation Backstep is a female with whom Parker has UST.
  • January 28, 2013
    Larkmarn
    This is an excellent revamping, I must say.
  • January 28, 2013
    Koveras
    I am pretty sure I left a comment here with an example, but I cannot find it anymore. :-|
  • January 28, 2013
    Rytex
    Another James Bond example.

    • InTomorrow Never Dies England has James Bond investigate the rather dubious Eliot Carver and his news media operation in order to prevent war with China. China sends Femme Fatale Wai Lin.
  • January 28, 2013
    Telcontar
    Male American Female Russian was too specific as a description, yes. However, as a name it's better than the current (which is very long); names do sometimes refer to a specific case with the understanding that that case isn't the whole trope or the only example, e.g. Call A Rabbit A Smeerp or Beam Me Up Scotty. I reckon the name should be changed back to that.
  • January 28, 2013
    Random888
    The following comments were lost and are now restored:

    reply: Related to (possibly a subtrope of) They Fight Crime.

    I like the broadening.

    reply:
    • Happens so often in James Bond movies that it gets subverted:
      • Die Another Day - it turns out that Miranda Frost is the mole in MI6 and she slept with Bond to relieve him of his gun.
      • Casino Royale - Zig Zagged Trope. Sure, Vesper is the mole, but she also fell in love with Bond, despite believing that her own boyfriend was being held hostage to ensure her cooperation.

    reply: Not A Subversion. And those are just instances of The Mole.

    reply:
    • In Summer Knight, Harry is hired by the Winter Fae to solve a case. Of course, since this is Fae business, the Summer Court assigns a representative to the investigation--who turns out to be Elaine Mallory, Harry's own Old Flame who now works for the Summer.
  • January 28, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ Ah, there it was (my comment is the last one). :)
  • January 28, 2013
    Duncan
    Inverted in Chess: Florence, who's the lead and working for the Americans, runs up against Anatoly, the Russian chess player.
  • January 30, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Oh my god, back to this name again? The trope and description is improved, but the name is just awful.
  • January 30, 2013
    Desertopa
    Agreed. I'd hesitate to say that the previous name was good enough, but the original definitely isn't
  • January 31, 2013
    Random888
    How about When Harry Met Svetlana? (If anyone else has other suggestions, please... suggest them.)
  • February 4, 2013
    StarSword
    ^That's actually not bad.

    Literature:
    • The fifth Presidential Agent novel by W.E.B. Griffin has Lt. Col. Castillo having to extract a pair of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service operatives who wish to defect, an uncle and niece. He and the niece, Svetlana Alekseeva, end up falling in love.

    TV:
    • Partial use in a couple episodes of Stargate SG 1. The team members sent to Russia in "Watergate" and "Full Alert" were paired with female Russian Air Force personnel, but no romance ensued.
  • February 6, 2013
    StarSword
    Hat.
  • February 6, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    Hat from me, and I'm curious as to how to pronounce Svetlana. (I had a classmate named that once, and she simply had us call her "Lana".)
  • February 6, 2013
    StarSword
    ^I've always heard it pronounced exactly the way it's spelled.

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