A common plot for stories set during the UsefulNotes/ColdWar. A character from CommieLand wants to get to the West and the heroes have to help them get there. (There are also what are called "defectors in place", but they're the ReverseMole... until they're blown, in which case they become one of these).

This will sometimes entail them actually traversing the UsefulNotes/IronCurtain, but it doesn't have to... they could already be in the West and have to slip their SecretPolice minders. The UsefulNotes/WarsawPact states were acutely aware of the potential for defection and those in government, entertainment or sport were usually barred from taking their families with them when going overseas i.e. so the families could be held hostage against them coming back; if they did flee, the family would be subject to some pretty intense hardship. This can add an extra complication to the plot as the heroes will also need to retrieve the defector's family.

However, the defector may actually turn out to be TheMole or a RenegadeRussian.

The defector will often bring a present with them to the West (aside from a nice chest in some cases). These can include:
* The name of or clues as to the identity of TheMole.
* Copied documents (often in microfilm form)
* Electronics, such as a coding machine.
* A full-blown piece of military tech, such as a fighter plane, helicopter or a ''ballistic missile submarine'', basically by flying it across the Iron Curtain.


[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* The plot behind one ''ComicBook/BuckDanny'' story: a Russian pilot in a brand-new fighter asks for asylum in the US.


[[folder: Film ]]

* The ''Company Man'' is about a man who pretends to be a {{CIA}} agent to gain the respect of his in-laws. But a high-profile Soviet dancer decides to defect and approaches the the man believing his lies. The CIA actually make him an agent just so they can get the credit and send him somewhere quiet...UsefulNotes/{{Cuba}}.
* ''Film/JamesBond'' has two examples:
** ''Film/FromRussiaWithLove'', although she's actually in Turkey first.
** ''Film/TheLivingDaylights'' has two: RenegadeRussian General Koskov, and later Kara Milovy. The former gets the latter (his girlfriend) to pose as a KGB sniper to make his defection look real, with every intention of having her killed by Film/JamesBond. Bond notes that she's an amateur and merely shoots the rifle from her hands. [[TitleDrop "I must have scared the living daylights out of her."]]
*** The same situation occurs in the original short story, although there isn't actually a defector: The man Bond is protecting is a British agent trying to make it back to the West, and Milovy is a real KGB sniper, albeit with an AK-47, with the Code Name "Trigger". Bond decides she's rather a looker, doesn't want to kill someone in cold blood and does the same as he does in the movie, but with more serious injuries.
** And one inversion in ''Film/GoldenEye'', in the form of ex-[=MI-6=] Alec Trevelyan.
* ''Film/{{Condorman}}'''s main plot is set off by the HighHeelFaceTurn of {{KGB}} spy Natalia, who falls for the eponymous dashing top-secret agent during a courier mission. She's unaware that he's really a comic book writer who convinced his {{CIA}} friend to let him take the mission as a way to prove that he can [[IJustWantToBeBadass actually]] ''[[IJustWantToBeBadass be]]'' [[AscendedFanboy Condorman]]. HilarityEnsues as they are chased all over Eastern Europe by Natalia's former boss and his murderous goons.
* Anton Vanko in ''Film/IronMan2'', who was sent back to the USSR after falling out with Howard Stark.
* ''Film/TheGoodShepherd'': Valentin Mironov is a former KGB agent who defects to the United States to assist Edward Wilson's counterintelligence unit in the new CIA against the Soviets.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* ''Literature/TheSpyWhoCameInFromTheCold'': in common speech beyond this wiki, Creator/JohnLeCarre is the {{Trope Namer|s}}. This is sort of thing is called "to come in from the cold".
** Also [[spoiler: Karla]] in ''Smiley's People''.
* ''Northlight'', a Literature/{{Quiller}} novel by Adam Hall. Quiller is sent to bring across TheMole who has evidence that the Soviets destroyed a British submarine outside their territorial limit. [[spoiler:It turns out that his superiors don't want this evidence made public because the outcry would halt an upcoming peace conference, so they set up Quiller and the mole to be killed.]]
* ''Literature/TheHuntForRedOctober''. With the aforementioned ''ballistic missile submarine''.
* The title character in Lawrence Block's ''Tanner's Twelve Swingers'' helped an entire Latvian ''women's gymnastic team'' defect to the US, in addition to a Russian fighter pilot ''and'' his aircraft.
* In the ''Literature/ModestyBlaise'' short story "The Giggle-Wrecker", spy chief Tarrant asks Modesty and Willie to take on the job of smuggling a Soviet defector across the Berlin Wall, as he has no agents in place except sleepers he doesn't want to activate if it can be avoided. [[spoiler:They succeed; the defector turns out to be Communist agent whose fake defection was a deliberate attempt to force Tarrant to activate the sleepers so they could be identified by the Soviets.]]
* ''The Memory Trap'' by Creator/AnthonyPrice kicks off with a Russian defector being murdered just as he makes contact with the British agents who have come to fetch him, managing to pass on a cryptic and incomplete message before dying.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* The [[Recap/MysteryScienceTheater3000S08E15AgentForHARM [=MST3K=] episode "Agent for H.A.R.M."]] has this as {{Backstory}}.
* ''Series/{{Airwolf}}'' has quite a few examples. It helped that the eponymous BlackHelicopter had stealth capability for extractions from CommieLand.
* Common in ''Series/MissionImpossible''.
* Also common in ''Series/MacGyver1985''. Notably in an early episode when Mac smuggles ''himself'' out hidden in a casket that transforms into a jet ski.
* In one episode of ''Series/TheWestWing'', a North Korean concert pianist performing in the US slips a note to the US stating his desire to defect. The administration have to reluctantly decline.
* ''Series/TheHardyBoysNancyDrewMysteries'' used this three times:
** ''Sole Survivor'' revolved around East Germans trying to stop the defection of a Chinese scientist, using a MindScrew to get Joe Hardy to spill his guts.
** ''Mystery On The Avalanche Express'' had a side plot of a ski champion wanting to defect to the West, and dragging Joe into the matter.
** ''Defection To Paradise'' had the daughter of a top Russian Official being chased down by Russian assassins, and Frank and Joe trying to help her escape.
* An episode of ''Series/{{Joe 90}}'' featured a concert pianist who defected in the middle of one of his own live radio broadcasts when Joe (who had been programmed with the pianist's own brain-pattern) took his place at the piano; and his guards never noticed a thing.


[[folder: Theatre ]]

* In ''Theatre/{{Chess}}'', Anatoly defects to the West after winning the match against Freddy. His wife implores him to reconsider in the second act.


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Nikolai Stepanovich Sokolov from ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3''.
* The very first mission of ''VideoGame/NoOneLivesForever'' involves Cate Archer breaking an East German scientist who wants to defect to Britain out of a military installation. [[spoiler: After succeeding, their plane is boarded by H.A.R.M. agents on the way back to Britain. They kidnap the scientist and blow a hole in the plane, causing Archer to fall out, leading to an action sequence in which the player has to [[SugarWiki/MomentOfAwesome fight off paratrooping Mooks and steal the parachute off one of them]] or else fall fatally into a barn.]]
* ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerRedAlert'': In the Allied campaign, one of the missions involves rescuing a Soviet general who is opposed to Stalin's methods and wishes to defect to the West. He later provides valuable intelligence on Stalin's plan to nuke the major cities of Europe.


[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* ''WesternAnimation/NeoYokio'': [[spoiler: Mila Malevich]] defected the Soviet Union to live the high life of a capitalist in Neo Yokio, rather for political reasons, so this trope partially applies.
* Inverted in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', where a ballet teacher is such a hardass that he defects ''to'' East Germany.


[[folder: Real Life ]]

* During the Cold War, the Americans acquired examples of a number of Soviet fighters via defecting pilots, from several countries. Some of these planes were returned, but others were kept. The most famous example is Viktor Belenko, who defected with a [=MiG-25=] in 1976 to Japan. He landed practically on fumes, missing another aircraft and overrunning the runway. While the Americans could only do ground tests on the thing and had to give it back to the USSR (they did so, in crates), they learned a massive amount about the "Foxbat", forced the cancellation of two Soviet aircraft carriers and forced the RedsWithRockets to completely revise their target classification systems.
* Nadia Comăneci, famous Romanian Olympic gymnast, defected to the US in 1989. A few weeks later, Romania had a revolution.
* Martina Navrátilová, world famous tennis player. Defected in 1975 while in New York for the US Open.
* Vladimir Bogdanovich Rezun, better known by his UsefulNotes/ColdWar pen name of "Viktor Suvorov", a former GRU agent who defected in 1978 and since then has written a number of controversial books on Soviet history and the RedsWithRockets. He was on the team for ''Literature/TheThirdWorldWar: The Untold Story''.
* Mikhail Baryshnikov, the ballet dancer and actor.
* A rather famous case once occurred in the DMZ between North and South Korea where a fairly important Soviet diplomat literally ran across the demarcation line asking for asylum with the NK guards shooting at him. He managed to make it and rather humiliated the Soviet Union with his actions.
* Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of Josef Stalin.
* Viktor Korchnoi, one of the strongest chess player of the world in the 1970s and 1980s.
* Two-thirds of CSKA Moscow's Mogilny/Fedorov/Bure line defected to the US to play in the NHL, while Bure left after the fall of the Soviet Union.
* In 1970, Yuri Bezmenov, a KGB agent stationed in India, decided to escape by disguising himself as an American hippie.[[note]]Hippies were a common sight in India at the time.[[/note]] It worked.
* Colonel Oleg Gordievsky is the highest-ranking [[UsefulNotes/MoscowCentre KGB]] agent to defect from the Soviet Union. He became a double agent in the 1970's and passed on information to [=MI6=] while working for the Soviet embassy in Copenhagen and later in London. He was suddenly recalled back to Moscow in May 1985, where he was interrogated for hours on suspicion of espionage. He was released but knew he had tight counter-spy surveillance and felt it was only a matter of time before he'd incriminate himself and signaled the British for help - they were able to smuggle him out to Finland and eventually the UK. He now has a death sentence on him by the Soviet government which the Russian government hasn't rescinded.
* In 1979, Peter Strelzyk and Guenter Wetzel were able to escape along with their families (eight people total) from Poessneck, Thuringia to Bavaria. How did they escape? [[http://www.ballonflucht.de/html/englisch.html With a homemade hot-air balloon.]] The two men had no experience with balloons, but were able to get a few science books for the basic function and were able to calculate how much cloth they needed (they claimed it was for a "camping club"). Their story is told in the film ''Film/NightCrossing''.
* Post-Cold War, this trope continues to be played straight by people who manage to get out of UsefulNotes/NorthKorea. One of the more famous North Korean defectors in recent years is Shin Dong-hyuk, whose experience is recounted in the book ''Escape from Camp 14''. Even after they get out of North Korea, [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKYqtKZ_8eA the struggles of North Korean defectors are not over]].
* Several Cuban baseball players have defected from their home country in order to play professionally in the United States, something which picked up in TheNineties following TheGreatPoliticsMessUp as Cuba's economy suffered greatly without Soviet help. Among the most well-known are Liván and his half-brother Orlando Hernández, Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Céspedes, and Yasiel Puig.
* After the Soviet Union suppressed the Hungarian uprising, half of Hungary's delegation to the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne did not return home.