The Communist bloc was locked in a Cold War
with the Western world for much of the twentieth century. It's no surprise then that Western, and especially American, media tends to portray Communists as the baddies
. Sometimes, however, fiction shows Communists in a more positive light. Maybe agents or soldiers from East and West have to team up to face a greater threat
(as it happened in World War II
). Sometimes a non-Communist will find out that the Commies are Not So Different
once they get to know them. And sometimes, Western media will simply show Communists to be genuinely decent people who happen to favour a different social and economic system.
Note that this trope applies only to non-Communist media, since it's a given for works actually produced in Socialist countries. Also, when there's a political system involved and not just individual characters, the trope applies only
if the system is portrayed positively. It can also apply to Communists who live in a non-Socialist country.
Contrast Dirty Commies
, Red Scare
, Commie Nazis
, Hollywood History
. Interestingly, the Token Enemy Minority
can overlap with this trope.
- The Rocket Red Brigade from the DC Universe.
- Gu Lao, the Socialist Red Guardsman from DC's Great Ten.
- Collective Man, a Marvel Comics superhero who is China's equivalent of Captain America.
- Also, the Chinese Radioactive Man once he joins the Thunderbolts. He is genuinely more altruistic than his teammates, who are all Boxed Crooks.
- The Boys has Vas, a former superhero for the Soviet Union who is an ardent communist and deplores what the Russia of the early 2000s has become. He's also the kindest, most genuine, and most affable character in the comic, with the only possible exception being main character Wee Hughie himself. Even Billy Butcher, whose plan is to kill every person with the super compound in their blood, even his closest friends, likes Vas.
- Despite activating the Doomsday Machine in Dr. Strangelove, the Soviets did this only because the original General Ripper ordered a nuclear attack. Also, both the American and the Soviet president do their best to avoid a nuclear war.
- X-Men: First Class depicts USSR and USA as Not So Different, since both are being fooled by Big Bad Sebastian Shaw and both believe they're being threatened by the other. Also, even if Azazel, the only (supposedly) Communist mutant is an evil henchman, he's more on Pragmatic Villainy and is definitively better than Shaw.
- Mission to Moscow, an American pro-Soviet wartime film, depicting an American diplomat's visit to the USSR in a very positive light.
- The North Star (later known as Armoured Attack) is an American film from 1943 that depicts heroic Soviet resistance to the Nazis. It was recut during the Cold War to remove the pro-Soviet message.
- Goodbye Lenin takes place during and immediately after the collapse of the communist countries in Europe. Most of the characters seem to be quite okay with the change in leadership and their new freedoms, but the protagonists mother is a loyal member of the communist regime and after suffering a stroke at the beginning of the uprisings, spends the whole transition in a coma. To keep her from having another stroke after waking up, everyone tries to keep the changes secret from her and nobody seems to hold any grudges for her.
- In the James Bond films The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, and The Living Daylights, the Communist government of Russia is portrayed as a Worthy Opponent and a temporary ally against a greater threat. In For Your Eyes Only, they were antagonists, but Friendly Enemy antagonists and ultimately never come to blows with Bond. All of these films were made during the era of detente between the Soviets and the West. The novels which the films loosely adapt, however, avert this. Communists were, befitting a series written and set in the 1950s, the primary antagonist.
- The Don Camillo stories (but especially the movies) portrayed the conflict between the local parish priest and the Communist mayor in a small Italian town shortly after the end of World War 2. Despite being so different ideologically, the two men respect each other and both are shown to only want what is best for the town people. Subverted, however, in the movie about their visit to the USSR.
- In The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, the Soviets are clearly more victims of circumstance than villains.
- Greg from Sneakers was originally a spy from Soviet Union, portrayed fairly sympathetically. However, since the film was completed only after the end of Cold War, he was changed into a spy operating for the new Russian government.
- A glowing example is Red Heat, a late 80's action-comedy flick (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, no less) about a Bad Ass Soviet police officer sent to America to help capture a notorious Georgian drug baron. The film is mostly forgotten in the US, but is something of a Cult Classic in Russia.
- Russian spy Kropotkin in The President's Analyst (1967) - he's best friends with his American counterpart as they're often working on the same job on opposite sides. He's determined to get the fugitive doctor to Russia by any means, but would prefer to do it as friends, appealing to his sense of reason and self-preservation.
- The Soviet characters who show up in 2001: A Space Odyssey are friendly enough to Heywood Floyd (remember nobody thought the USSR was going anywhere in 1968). 2010: The Year We Make Contact actually centers on a joint US-Soviet mission (to recover Discovery after the previous weirdness) although in the film version, it's fraught with tension (not so much the Clarke novel, though).
- Enemy at the Gates has the Russians as Villain Protagonists of a sort, and it's okay to cheer for them because they're battling the even more despicable Nazi Germany, who are invading their homeland. The film even demystifies Russians for Western audiences by having British actors portray them.
- Isaac Asimov's Fantastic Voyage 2: Destination Brain (despite the name, it's not a sequel to his novelization of Fantastic Voyage — it's more of a remake) presents the image of a world where the Cold War has mellowed out to the point that the colours on maps are muted (the Soviet bloc is pink, the Western Allies are light blue). Despite the story starting off with the Soviets kidnapping the American protagonist, the Soviet characters are still presented in a sympathetic light (in fact, for most of the story they aren't antagonistic at all, it's just that the USSR and the USA are still rivals, so it wouldn't do to just ask a US scientist to help you with something that could bring you a significant technological advantage).
- In Harry Harrison's Invasion: Earth, the US and the USSR work together when the alien craft crash-lands in New York, the latter sending a female linguist (who, despite expectations, does not end up with the male American protagonist) to help translate the alien language. That turns out to be moot, since the aliens have learned English and Russian by listening to transmissions from Earth. During the climax, an American/Soviet team is assembled to strike at the alien base in the Antarctic made up of soldiers born in Denver and Tomsk, two of the cities destroyed by Orbital Bombardment. It's not stated if French soldiers from the also destroyed Metz are included.
- Head of the Class: In one episode the Class is up against a touring Soviet superteam in an academic trivia meet. They get to know each other a little and decide in the end to let the meet end in a draw rather than Sudden Death overtime.
- Illya Kuryakin from The Man From Uncle is a Soviet agent working for the international spy agency UNCLE. At least one episode indicates that he holds an official position in the Soviet military, so he's presumably a loyal Communist.
- A Soviet representative appears in an episode of Dad's Army. There is a discussion about whether the "Reds" can be trusted; Captain Mainwaring argues that they must be alright "otherwise they wouldn't be on our side".
- Northern Exposure: Cicely gets its annual visit from Nikoli Applanov, a famous Soviet chess player. He likes to come to Cicely to relax and get away from his adoring fans back home. Everybody loves him except Maurice, who hates him because he's a Communist.
- Pavel Chekov of Star Trek. Of course, the Soviet Union would be gone long before the twenty-third century, but no one knew that at the time and, while Chekov only refers to his home country as "Russia", he does make some Soviet-era references, such as referring to St. Petersburg as "Leningrad". If you subscribe to the theory that The Federation is communist, then everyone in the series counts.
- The Doctor Who story The Curse of Fenric featured sympathetic Russian soldiers attempting to steal a British codebreaking machine in World War II. The actual plot featured a dark god from the dawn of time manifesting, and part of the story's subtext was the unity of the little people in the face of larger tyrannical and/or destructive forces.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops portrays the former Red Army soldier Viktor Reznov in a fairly sympathetic light.
- Dr. Cossack from Mega Man 4, a Soviet scientist who turns out to have been Good All Along.
- The Heavy from Team Fortress 2. Unless you're the Soldier.
- Comrade Vasquez, the Communist representative in Tropico 4, is the most reasonable representative. He comes to you primarily to address issues regarding housing, food, and health care, though he has his weird moments (like asking you to demolish any banks in the country because he thinks they're symbols of capitalist aggression).
- The Duty faction in Stalker is preserving/recreating a strong soviet influence in their troops and strongholds. While not exactly pleasant people, they are among the most disciplined and orderly groups of the Zone and their main base is probably the safest place in the whole area.
- The Qunari in Dragon Age: Origins are a Buddhist-Communist empire in which obedience and duty are the most important aspects of all life and society. Their world-view is completely black and white, and they have no mercy for either criminals or those who oppose them, but many low-ranking people in the conquered territories are actively welcoming them and joining them voluntarily. Those born into the Qunari (or at least those who were picked to be assigned to the military) could hardly be called friendly in any way, but as long as you are getting straight to the point with them and don't show either indecision or boasting, they will treat you with respect and quite readily cooperate for the common good.
- The Oktober Guard, the Soviet counterpart to G.I. Joe, were never portrayed as villains, even when their missions put them directly against each other. In the cartoon, they even joined forces a number of times against Cobra. Both teams saw each other as rivals at the very worst.
- Similarly, the Soviets in The Transformers, like most Earth governments, are allied to the Autobots. They are often portrayed doing stereotypically Russian things (see Glorious Mother Russia), but are always depicted in a positive light.
- East-West tensions are a major plot point in the Five-Episode Pilot for Challenge of the GoBots. The Communist character, Anya Turgonova, is one of the good guys, but there's a lot of initial distrust between her and the American good guys. After they team up against Cy-Kill, she remains a friend for the rest of the series.
- Linka at the beginning of Captain Planet, before The Great Politics Mess-Up.