Created By: JesusSaves on September 24, 2011 Last Edited By: Arivne on July 31, 2014

Heroic Communists

A heroic character that self-identifies as Communist

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Trope
The inverse of Dirty Communist, the Heroic Communist is both a Communist (although sometimes in name only) and heroic within the story being told.

This character type is mandatory in works created under Communist regimes for obvious reasons (and can lead to some Values Dissonance for non-Communists) but was rare in Western media (absent World War II, when the Soviet Union was "on our side" ) until the 1980s, with the thawing of relations between the superpowers.

Note that "reminds you of Communists" doesn't count for purposes of this trope, unless the character in question comes from an explicit Fantasy Counterpart Culture version of Communism.

Compare Chummy Commies, which is when non-Communist media treats Communists as friendly but not necessarily heroic, or Not So Different.

No Real Life Examples, please.


Examples

Comic Books
  • The Oktober Guard from G.I. Joe, who were the titular organization's Soviet counterparts.
  • Superman: Red Son is made of this trope. Well, Superman is a Type III anti hero here, but still.
  • Kilowog of the Green Lantern Corps.
    • He comes from a species with communitarianism as their Hat before they were all killed. Twice. On Earth, Communism was the closest thing humans had. So he helped Russia create the Rocket Reds.
    • Speaking of which, individual Rocket Reds have generally been heroic and at least nominally Communist. As opposed to the Rocket Reds who showed up in numbers, who were almost always Elite Mooks for either misguided government orders or the latest mind-controlling villain.
  • Gates of the Legion Of Superheroes.
  • Red Star, a sometimes member of the Teen Titans, in The DCU.
  • Still in the DC Universe, the Great Ten, China's superteam, some of whom are heroic and most of whom are at least nominally Communist.
  • Marvel Comics has the Winter Guard, a Russian version of The Avengers. Some of the members, including the current versions of Red Guardian and Crimson Dynamo, are communists.
  • The comic Den Maskerade Proggaren plays this for laughs, with the titular character being a fanatical communist superhero. His powers comes directly from the workers of the soviet union: It is implied that this is the very reason why the soviet union fell.
    • Also, he's a yuppie at day (just like Batman) and masked communist at night (also just like Batman, except for the "communist" part).
  • Marvel Comics has Collective Man, a Chinese Communist superhero who is portrayed as a decent guy. There's also Radioactive Man, another Chinese Communist who started as a villain, but is shown as one of the nicer and more altruistic members of the Thunderbolts during his tenure on that team.

Film

Literature
  • Lucifer's Hammer had a cosmonaut who was part of a joint US-USSR mission and was trapped in the US following the disaster. He helps the protagonists fight off the cannibals and maintains that he is still a communist. However, with society reverting to a feudal, pre-industrial state he concedes that communism will have to wait.
  • In Tom Kratman's Countdown books, a number of Chinese and Russians who join the mercenaries proclaim themselves to be communists. They are so disgusted with how corrupt their nations have become that they prefer to work for the capitalist Americans.
  • Early works by the Strugatsky Brothers (including the early Noon Universe novels) were all about Heroic Communists, mainly because nothing else would get past the Soviet censorship at the time. Their later characters are progressively less heroic and communist.
  • The Strugatskys and the rest of their generation of Soviet sci-fi writers were primarily inspired by Ivan Yefremov's Andromeda Nebula, likewise featuring Heroic Communists.

Live-Action TV
  • Hogan's Heroes
    • In the Pilot Episode there was a Russian - and by extension Communist - POW with Hogan et al. who was heroic, since he was part of Hogan's La Résistance group. Dropped for the series (possibly the actor didn't want to continue the role).
    • There was also a female Russian spy Hogan had a love-hate relationship with.
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. Illya Kuryakin is a Soviet Naval officer, and a good guy.

Tabletop Games
  • Champions supplement Red Doom. There are plenty of Dirty Communists in the book, but also some Communists who are true heroes, including Sputnik (Yuri Kamonov), Ivan (Dmnitri Tiomkin) and Nemesis (Constantin Kowalski). Most Western superheroes would probably like them as people and only fight them reluctantly.

Theater
  • Perchik from Fiddler on the Roof. Technically, he was never referred to as a communist, but it was pretty clear that was what he was. He argued for universal freedom and equality, and tried to fight injustice when he could. Tevye took a liking to him even though Perchik's liberalism clashed with Tevye's belief in tradition.

Unsorted, need more details

Community Feedback Replies: 59
  • September 24, 2011
    Ekuran
    Edit: Never mind.
  • September 24, 2011
    surgoshan
    Perhaps there's a trope for Non Villainous Communists? This is rare in the US, probably less so in the world at large.
  • September 25, 2011
    aurora369
    Any communist in Soviet fiction is, of course, a Non Villainous Communist.
  • September 25, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    I'd say the titular The Trotsky would qualify, however he isn't quite a communist based on the strict definition. Maybe the Useful Notes page isn't such a bad idea.
  • September 25, 2011
    fulltimeD
    Useful Notes would be appropriate but I agree with Ekuran, that this is not a trope. There's no law that says tropes need to balance each other out politically. That's taking them too seriously.
  • September 25, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    The name is too generic. Heroic Communist maybe?

    A Useful Notes page on communism would be a bad idea and attract political editing wars. Leave such things to The Other Wiki.
  • September 25, 2011
    LeeM
    Arguably most tribal societies are communist in that the tribe's wealth is shared and if anyone needs anything the entire tribe will chip in. Of course, that kind of communism has nothing to do with Marxist ideology.
  • September 25, 2011
    JesusSaves
    "Ĉommunism" is already covered under "socialism - Marxism" in Useful Notes/Politicaldeologies

    Heroic Communist sounds nice. As a first example, Ionly half-joking, suggest the Smurfs.
  • September 25, 2011
    Odile

  • September 25, 2011
    JesusSaves
  • September 25, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    Lee M, I think you are vastly oversimplifying both pre-modern economics and communism.

    At any rate, I think that such a trope should be limited to those that explicitly self identify as Communist. We should not be trying apply the Communist label to any sort of communal society, whether is be Smurfs or tribal societies.
  • September 25, 2011
    foxley
    If the trope is Heroic Communist, then the Oktober Guard from GI Joe qualify; especially in the comics.
  • September 26, 2011
    Arivne
    This is far more tropable as Heroic Communist.

    Tabletop RPG
    • Champions supplement Red Doom. There are plenty of Dirty Communists in the book, but also some Communists who are true heroes, including Sputnik (Yuri Kamonov), Ivan (Dmnitri Tiomkin) and Nemesis (Constantin Kowalski). Most Western superheroes would probably like them as people and only fight them reluctantly.
  • September 26, 2011
    JesusSaves
    • Superman Red Son is made of this trope. Well, Superman is a Type III anti hero here, but still.
  • September 26, 2011
    azmod
    • Lucifers Hammer had a cosmonaut who was part of a joint US-USSR mission and was trapped in the US following the disaster. He helps the protagonists fight off the canibals and maintains that he is still a communist. However, with society reverting to a feudal, pre-industrial state he concedes that communism will have to wait.

    • In Tom Kratman's Countdown books, a number of Chinese and Russians who join the mercenaries proclaim to be communists. They are so disgusted with how corrupt their nations have become that they prefer to work for the capitalist Americans.
  • September 26, 2011
    SKJAM
    • Kilowog of the Green Lantern Corps comes from a species with communitarianism as their Hat before they were all killed. Twice. On Earth, Communism was the closest thing humans had. So he helped Russia create the Rocket Reds.
      • Speaking of which, individual Rocket Reds have generally been heroic and at least nominally Communist. As opposed to the Rocket Reds who showed up in numbers, who were almost always Elite Mooks for either misguided government orders or the latest mind-controlling villain.
    • Gates of the Legion Of Superheroes.

  • September 26, 2011
    foxley
    Red Star, a sometimes member of the Teen Titans, in The DCU.
  • September 26, 2011
    AP
  • September 27, 2011
    SKJAM
    Still in the DC Universe, the Great Ten, China's superteam, some of whom are heroic and most of whom are nominally Communist.
  • September 27, 2011
    randomsurfer
    • In the Pilot Episode of Hogans Heroes there was a Russian - and by extension Communist - POW with Hogan et al. who was heroic, since he was part of Hogan's La Resistance group. Dropped for the series (possibly the actor didn't want to continue the role).
      • There was also a female Russian spy Hogan had a love-hate relationship with.
    • Maybe Ensign Chekov from Star Trek TOS, since it was made before The Great Politics Mess Up.
    • Northern Exposure: once a year[[hottip:*:or so they say the one time he shows up]] the great Soviet singer & chess player Nikolai Appolanov comes to Cecily for a vacation because he can just be himself. Cecily holds a Russian Day, which he helps to organize. Maurice hates him because he's a communist. Maurice accuses him of cheating at chess and they have a Duel To The Death, which is stopped by Joel Breaking The Fourth Wall.
  • September 28, 2011
    Arivne
    I'm a big fan of Star Trek The Original Series, and I can't remember Chekov ever saying anything to indicate that he was a communist or even that Russia was still communist in the 23rd century.
  • September 28, 2011
    Xzenu
    • The comic Den Maskerade Proggaren plays this for laughs, with the titular character being a fanatical communist superhero. His powers comes directly from the workers of the soviet union: It is implied that this is the very reason why the soviet union fell.
      • Also, he's a yuppie at day (just like Batman) and masked communist at night (also just like Batman, except for the "communist" part).
  • September 28, 2011
    fulltimeD
    E Ither Enisgn Chekov was not a communist (likely) or the entire Federation was (also likely)
  • September 28, 2011
    Koveras
    • Early works by the Strugatsky Brothers (including the early Noon Universe novels) were all about Heroic Communists, mainly because nothing else would get past the Soviet censorship at the time. Their later characters are progressively less heroic and communist.
    • Strugatskys and the rest of their generation of Soviet sci-fi writers were primarily inspired by Ivan Yefremov's Andromeda Nebula, likewise featuring Heroic Communists.
  • September 28, 2011
    Xzenu
    ^^ The Federation is post-capitalist: Currency has simply grown obsolete, since people can just replicate whatever they need.
  • September 28, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    The words "Communism," "socialism," "Marxism" etc are never used in Star Trek. Russian does not equal Communist. Pavel is not an example.
  • September 28, 2011
    randomsurfer
    I said "maybe." At the time it was first presented, in the USA virtually any Russain character = Communist.

  • September 28, 2011
    PacificState
    ^^Isn't the Federation communist anyways, and in the purest sense of the term?
  • October 2, 2011
    Belfagor
    I'd suggest No Real Life Examples, just to avoid a Flame War. And I'd leave Trotsky out of this, since his political program was against Marxism-Leninism (as Lenin himself denounced).
  • October 2, 2011
    Topazan
    Perchik from Fiddler On The Roof. Technically, he was never referred to as a communist, but it was pretty clear that was what he was. He argued for universal freedom and equality, and tried to fight injustice when he could. Tevye took a liking to him even though Perchik's liberalism clashed with Tevye's belief in tradition.
  • October 2, 2011
    Octagon8
    This should be limited to communists either from western or from otherwise anti-communist media, since it's otherwise too generic.
  • October 2, 2011
    SKJAM
    So, all Communists from Soviet literature should go in the Dirty Communists category, regardless of their actual behavior?
  • October 3, 2011
    Xzenu
    I think it's VERY interesting how various soviet works play this trope. Portraying communism in a positive light was mandatory, so it was more like "people forced to sit down and pretend they like it". Which is closer to Happiness Is Mandatory than it is to People Sit On Chairs. ;-)
  • October 3, 2011
    FhnuZoag
    Jesus? *Ducks inevitable shitstorm*
  • October 3, 2011
    Belfagor
    ^Jesus's existence is put 18 centuries before Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels came around, so it shouldn't be included. Plus, many of his teachings contrasted with the principles of Communism.

    ^^Yeah, much like in Western canon portraying communism in a positive light is like dividing per zero.
  • October 3, 2011
    Riddle78
    The Tau in Warhammer 40K are pretty much communists. Their goal is to unify the galaxy under the Tau Empire's banner. They're willing to negotiate,which is a FAR CRY better than EVERYONE ELSE in the setting.
  • October 3, 2011
    Xzenu
    Lets limit the trope to individuals and groups that canonically ARE communists. Don't include "examples" of the "hey, this reminds me of communism" kind.
  • May 4, 2012
    SKJAM
    Bump!
  • May 4, 2012
    jatay3
    How about Worthy Opponent s that are communists. Do they count?
  • May 4, 2012
    jatay3
    Are there any in Enemy At The Gates?
  • May 5, 2012
    katiek
    • A number of films by Jean-Luc Godard (he was a proud Maoist in the peak of his popularity - though he seems to be more of a humanist now) - especially La Chinoise

    • Reds (the Warren Beatty one) and it's positive portrayal of John Reed

    • The American, neo-realist-styled Salt of the Earth came under fire by HUAC for being pro-communist, but it was NOT explicitly, and was arguably more pro-labor/humanist than a film featuring "communist heroes".

    (side note - I am really surprised no one has started a Goddard page yet!)

  • May 5, 2012
    Dragonmouth
    • Marvel Comics has Collective Man, a Chinese Communist superhero who is portrayed as a decent guy. There's also Radioactive Man, another Chinese Communist who is shown as one of the nicer and more altruistic members of the Thunderbolts.
  • May 5, 2012
    Treblain
    Is it really Communism that's being labeled as heroic, though? I mean, we have lots of American heroes, but not a lot of "capitalist" heroes (outside Ayn Rand). You can find plenty of examples of Soviet, Chinese... et cetera... characters who are not portrayed as Dirty Communists, but that doesn't mean a Heroic Communist trope exists and all of those instances are examples of it. If you're going to make a trope called Heroic Communist, the communist element can't be incidental.
  • May 6, 2012
    SKJAM
    Edited the opening post to reflect majority opinion, added examples.
  • May 18, 2014
    SKJAM
    Anyone want to add more context to the Zero Context Examples before this is launched?

  • May 18, 2014
    DAN004
    Anyone wanna give hats?
  • May 18, 2014
    Earnest
    • B-movie Frankensteins Army has a descendant of Frankenstein create reanimated biomechanical monsters for the The Third Reich. The heroes are the communists who stumble upon his experiments and try to put a stop to them. Of course it turns out they were manipulated by their comm officer on orders by truly evil superiors to capture, not stop Frankenstein.
  • May 18, 2014
    zarpaulus
    Tabletop Games
    • In Eclipse Phase the Anarchists are anarcho-communists and appear to have the best human rights record of any of the factions.
  • May 18, 2014
    freesefan
    Film

    • Sergei Eisenstein's October, about the 1917 revolution, is naturally full of Heroic Communists, with Lenin the most prominent.
  • May 21, 2014
    Elfkaiser
    ^^^ Might wanna reconsider the Frankenstein's Army example, or at least put a put a Designated Hero or Anti Hero mention for it. While the protagonists are communists who are sent to stop Nazi Frankenstein monsters, a lot of their actions throughout the film are either very unheroic or downright repulsive. One of their actions is in the beginning of the film where they raid a German farm and apparently rape(?) a farmhand. Another is wherein they force a German kid against his will to look into a chute to make sure if there are any dangerous monsters down it. Guess what's down the chute? So yeah, everybody's pretty much a jerk in that movie, Communist or Nazi. The only ones who weren't were the genuine victims, like the kid, who were pushed by said jerks.
  • May 21, 2014
    DAN004
    Would Villain Protagonist Communist count here?
  • May 21, 2014
    freesefan
    ^ Not if they're a villain, no. Seems like this is 1) a hero, and 2) specifically identified as a Communist, not just a Russian, not just something that kind of seems Communist.
  • May 21, 2014
    Earnest
    ^^^Someone else saw that film?! I feel oddly happy and vindicated. =)

    Remember though, the kid was Hitler Youth, which while it was pretty normal at the time and not that different from being a boy scout... you have to wonder whether they did that as an intentional means of making his subsequent death less unpalatable.
  • May 21, 2014
    Dalillama
    • For Whom The Bell Tolls and Homage To Catalonia are both set in the Spanish Civil War, where, as Odile notes, the protagonists are almost invariably this. The reason being, the International Brigades (foreigners who came to Spain to fight against the Falangists) were largely composed of Anarchists, Communists, and Anarcho-Communists.
  • May 21, 2014
    Elfkaiser
    ^^Must have missed/forgot that detail of the Kid being Hitler Youth. Considering though that probably the most memorable scene with him is that particular chute scene, I guess it's kinda easy to gloss over details and just simply see a bunch of Communist bastards force a kid into a dangerous situation.

    Still might not be best to add the example for at least what the Communists forced the kid to do. I mean it's okay to consider the act of killing Nazis heroic, but harming or putting in harm's way their very children who probably had no real choice in what ideology they choose to believe in, not so heroic looking in many eyes.
  • May 22, 2014
    freesefan
    Five hats, looks ready to launch once all the examples (like mine) are included up top.
  • May 22, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Eastern Animation
    • The short film Interplanetary Revolution by Nikolai Khodataev depicts brave and stoic Russian cosmonauts journeying to Mars to overthrow their monarchy, which is a thinly veiled parody of Britain. This film is cited as early Communist propaganda, as it was produced at the state-run Mezhrabpom-Russiya in 1924.
  • May 22, 2014
    Earnest
    ^^^In hindsight, I do think you're right. My personal recollection was that they were good on balance (traitor notwithstanding, but he was blackmailed with the potential death of his parents)... but that's compared to a mad scientist who's splicing corpses together into undead cyber automatons. So the commie soldiers kinda have a hard time competing with their banal "mundane" evil like the rape, child endangerment and looting.
  • July 31, 2014
    XFllo
    Bumping.

    Needs some tweaking, but with five hats, it could get launched.
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