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Russian Guy Suffers Most
"“Freddie experienced the sort of abysmal soul-sadness which afflicts one of Tolstoy's Russian peasants when, after putting in a heavy day's work strangling his father, beating his wife, and dropping the baby into the city's reservoir, he turns to the cupboards, only to find the vodka bottle empty.”
—-P. G. Wodehouse

"In America, you destroy life. In Russia, life destroys you."

In a given work of fiction featuring one or two token Russians, the Russians tend to get the short end of the stick. Whenever there's suffering to be had, they take the larger ration. Quite often, this isn't played too seriously, but sometimes it can be. They also have a tendency to be The Eeyore, especially in combination with these other elements.

The reasons for this trope may originate from what most Westerners assume actual Russians have been through, having lived under an Evil Empirenote ; thus, any fictional suffering they might endure can't compare to what they've gotten in real life. In short, they're Acceptable Targets through being "overqualified".

It doesn't matter if the given Russian is a hero or a villain - if the plot causes them to suffer more often than not, they are an example. Russian characteristics, if not an explicit Russian background, can also merit inclusion in this trope.

However, this can end up a life's equivalent of The Spartan Way, meaning Mother Russia Makes You Strong.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Dhomochevsky from Blame!, while not actually Russian, his obviously Eastern European based name coupled with the fact that he suffers... quite a bit during his arc certainly qualifies him.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia: Russia himself spends almost all his time tormenting his neighbors and showing Comedic Sociopathy, but a few strips show this is thanks to his brutal history, such as the building of the White Sea Canal and Bloody Sunday.
  • Digimon Savers has a Quirky Miniboss Squad made up of a Blood Knight who wants to kill The Hero, an Elegant Gothic Lolita teen super-genius who wants to rule the universe with The Lancer, and a Punch Clock Villain who subjected himself to medical experiments and commits daily genocide to support his dozen siblings, and a never-gonna-be-reciprocated-in-snowy-hell crush on the Team Mom of the group, Yoshino. The last guy's name? Ivan.
  • Though everyone in Mobile Fighter G Gundam had it quite hard in their backstories, Neo-Russian Argo Gulskii stands out for being an ex Gentleman Space Pirate, now Boxed Crook with a bomb strapped to his chest, who's forced to fight by his government in exchange for his and his companions's freedom. That said, he gets a happy ending despite not being the final victor; the bomb is removed and deactivated, his crew is freed by his handler, and said handler joins him as a pirate.
  • In season 3 of Beyblade, Yuriy takes a real beating, worse than any other character besides Kai.
  • Warsman, the Robo-Choujin from Kinnikuman, seems to get undergo a lot of abuse. After being defeated by Kinnikuman, he gets beaten up by the 7 Devil Choujin, has his ears blown out by Stecase King, killed by Buffaloman, a victim of Planetman's Hollywood Voodoo, turned into a fighting area by the rest of the Devil Knights, punched out by Ashuraman, killed again by Neptuneman, revived with incomplete memories by Dr. Bombe, which leads to him getting thrashed by the Manriki, and ambushed by Mammothman. And that's not counting the whippings he got from his Training from Hell at the hands of Robin Mask.
  • Yakitate!! Japan a bunch of Russian bakers get chewed out a lot by Pierrot, because their breads are considered incomplete.
  • In Cyborg 009, the Russian Ivan/001 has one of the most dramatic backstories from the series. By extension, the same happens to a guy whose country was in the Easten Bloc: Albert/004 who's from East Germany. Disturbingly, they are also the only ones even slightly justifiable in that Black Ghost saved both of their lives. 001 is a baby who never knew life outside of constant experimentation (by his own father, prior to the team's escape. 004... hard to know where to start with him.

    Comicbooks 

    Film 
  • The Russian enforcer in Righteous Kill, whose survival sets up the climax of the movie. Quoth the doctor: "I pulled three bullets out of him from the attack, and three more that were already in there!"
  • Taken to hilarious extremes with the two Russian goons in Rock N Rolla. A whole scene is devoted to their trying to outdo each other in the hideousness of their scars. The main character shows his utter disbelief at their seeming indifference to massive physical damage.
  • Snatch has Boris the Blade, an Uzbekistanian who's captured, run over, and takes an entire Desert Eagle clip to be killed.
  • Zangief in Street Fighter works hard and enthusiastically and he doesn't even get paid, then subverts the hell out of it by getting a Heel Realization, switching sides, saving the heroes, and being the only one of M. Bison's Mooks not to be dead, arrested, or on the run.
  • In 2012 there are several Russian characters. Let's just say the trope is played straight here.
    • To clarify, there are 5 major russian characters. Of them, only the two children survive, but they watch their father fall to his death.
  • Boris in Balto as the long-suffering sidekick to the eponymous wolf-dog. Lampshaded at one point:
    Boris: Spending days in bitter cold, facing wild animals, risking death from exposure...is like holiday in old country.
  • Russian dancing instructor Kolenkhov in You Can't Take It With You when asked about what's going on back home, says "No one writes to me. They're all dead."
  • This is played for laughs in the film Wristcutters: A Love Story. The second main protagonist, Eugene, is a Russian man who is already suffering in the limbo of the afterlife from having committed suicide. But it turns out that his entire family lives (in a house) with him, meaning every member of his family has offed him or herself. It is implied in the film that this is the only case of an entire family having committed suicide. Yes, the Russian guy suffers most.
  • Armageddon features a Russian cosmonaut who has spent so much time in space alone that he has gone rather mad.
  • Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol, the Russians get hit really hard when the Kremlin was destroyed, while later the team was able to stop a nuclear attack on San Francisco. In the meantime, the Russian agents after Ethan get their butts kicked by him, until they realize they're on the same side at the end.
  • Pacific Rim: The Russian Jaeger pilots. While Crimson Typhoon and Striker Eureka have a quick head crush and explosion respectively, Cherno Alpha's pilots are shown screaming and drowning as two Kaiju tear the Jaeger apart.
  • The Punisher (2004): The Russian, endures quite the fight with the hero. The whole fight is essentially a curb stomp battle with the Russian winning. He DOES take a few hits, including a stab, but nothing fazes him until he is burned with boiling hot water and tackled down a flight of stairs.

    Literature 
  • Investigator Arkady Renko in the Gorky Park series of books. His first wife cheats on him. He falls in love with a political dissident, ends up fleeing the country to protect her and eventually marries her, only for her to catch a bridge due to a documented penicillin allergy that the nurse at their clinic was too lazy to notice in her records. When he finally decides to end it all, he is interrupted by a would-be hitman sent to kill him and ends up using his instrument of suicide to kill the hitman in self-defense. Dude can't even catch a break when he tries to off himself. This is in addition to the various times he's been arrested, beaten, stabbed, shot at, or nearly frozen to death (more than once!).
  • The 39 Clues: Irina Spasky.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Stargate SG-1, most Russians don't end up so well. When SG-1 went on a mission with four Russians, just one of them survived — The Final Girl.
    • Colonel Chekov suffers the same fate. In the end, Russia's only battle cruiser, commanded by him, gets destroyed by the Ori.
    • And let's not forget about an entire Russian base wiped out by sentient water. You're not going to see that happen at the SGC.
    • And the entirety of the all-Russian SG-4 gets killed in "Metamorphosis."
    • In "Absolute Power", a power-crazed Daniel has Moscow nuked in what turns out to be a Dream Sequence.
  • Similarly, Chekov of Star Trek gets injured. A lot.
    • Walter Koenig called Wrath of Khan "Star Trek II: Chekov Screams Again."
    • In "The Deadly Years", Chekov is the only one of the landing party who doesn't fall prey to the aging disease, which would seem to be a good thing. However, what it really means is that he's forced to go through numerous painful and annoying tests so McCoy can figure out why he wasn't affected.
    • Worf, namer of The Worf Effect, was raised by Russian Slavs.
  • Susan Ivanova of Babylon 5. To the point where the creator had to specify that she has NO MORE FAMILY TO KILL OFF! So after she gets involved with Talia Winters and then finds out she's a Manchurian Candidate for the PsyCorps, she gets together with Marcus! Oops, that didn't work out so well after all. On a lighter note, she also seems to be the station's go-to person for receiving Too Much Information.
  • In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Illya Kuryakin seemed to spend a lot of time chained up and tortured.
  • Mikhail of LOST was beaten up every time he appeared, but always seemed to survive until he was shot with a harpoon and blown up with a grenade. Must've been the Eyepatch of Power.
  • In the Doctor Who story "The Waters of Mars", the Russian guy is one of only two survivors from Bowie Base One.
  • Played for laughs in an episode of Not Going Out (albiet not technically with a Russian) where the main female character plans to marry an eastern european car mechanic being threatened with deportation to his conflict wracked native land so he can stay in England. The woman's family and friends strenuously warn her against it but are won over by the mechanic's stories of the suffering (including his family surviving on the milk of a lactating cat when they couldn't afford a pig and his grandma being burnt alive when the fire she fuelled with her wooden leg got out of control). Even the main character and woman's flatmate Lee who has a thing for her and has been working hard to ensure she didn't go through with the marriage is moved to tears and sets up a plan B marrying the mechanic to his accident prone and incompetent cleaner (on the grounds that the mechanic is obviously used to everything he owns being destroyed)
  • JAG: In "Cowboys and Cossacks", the Russian captain of a soon-to-be-scrapped destroyer decides to attack a U.S. destroyer in a final blaze of glory. Meanwhile, the gloomy crew indulge in drinking vodka and smoking cigarettes.
    • In a later season, Harm's Russian half-brother ends up as a POW in Chechnya.

     Music 
  • Unintentionally evoked by Russia's 2010(?) entry to the eurovision song contest by Peter Nalitch and Friends: Lost and Forgotten, an anthem of Russian melancholy and despair.
  • Popular Russian song Den Pobedy (Victory Day). Nowadays, it is played with much martial pomp on May 9, commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany that doesn't quite recapture how sad the original lyrics are, which are about old veterans of World War II commiserating about how few of them came back from the miserable war, not about the glory of victory.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • Nikolai Volkoff, who is actually Croatian but played a Russian character, twice on PPV got Squashed either after singing the Soviet National Anthem or when he was attempting to sing it.
    • At WWE's The Wrestling Classic PPV, which was a meaningless tournament with a Hogan-Piper match thrown in, he faced the Dynamite Kid in the first round. Volkoff sang the anthem, and Dynamite came off the top with a missile dropkick and pinned Volkoff in 8 seconds.
    • At WrestleMania VI, the Bolsheviks (Volkoff and Boris Zhukov) faced the Hart Foundation. Volkoff started to sing the anthem and the Harts interrupted him and hit him with the Hart Attack for the pin in 19 seconds.
    • He had turned face in 1990, significantly over a year before the fall of the Soviet Union, and stayed that way until he left in 1992. He came back in 1994, and it was explained that he was low on money due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and thus he had to become "The Million-Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase's "property."
  • WWE's Aksana is, legitimately, Lithuanian, but, she seems to qualify for this as well. She doesn't win too many matches. There was a 7-on-7 WWE Divas Elimination Match on the November 25, 2013 Raw. Aksana suffered a Wardrobe Malfunction, which WWE was able to keep from airing, and was the first Diva to be eliminated from the match.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000, unsurprisingly, turns this up to 11 with Russian Army Suffers Most. The force based on the Red Army is notable for its love of human wave attacks, mine clearance by infantry advance, and generalised pointless slaughter, even by the standards of the setting.
    • That does apply for Valhalla in general, although in another way in general, since these tactics are the ones favored by Commander Chenkov of the Tundra Wolves regiment, who is notorious for these tactics. This trope in general more applies to Valhallans when on the defense (which they specialize in, pretty much), due to their unwavering stoicism and the fact that they can take even the most traumatizing losses without breaking. Indeed, they rarely ever surrender a position, and it is noted in the Imperial Guard codex that the enemy often has to wipe out the defending Valhallan forces completely in order to assure victory.
    • This reputation is lifted straight from the Real Life (and not exactly justified) reputation of the Red Army in the WWII. Valhallan 597'th made a lot to change it, though.
    • Other Russian-based regiments, such as Vostroyan Firstborn, show different approaches to the army's character, but no one ever loses its main side — the everlasting stoicism.
  • In Warhammer the fantasy counterpart culture of medieval Russia - the Kislevites - seem to suffer the worst of all the Old World nations when the Hordes of Chaos decide to launch one of their regular apocalyptic invasions. This is in no small part because the Hordes of Chaos normally reside to the far north of the Old World, and Kislev is the first human nation in their way as they travel south. The last Great War Against Chaos, in the early 2300s, saw the Kislevite city of Praag obliterated, its site forever after tainted, and pretty much the entire country turned into a bloody wasteland for several years. The final battle, at the gates of the capital, saw the embittered remnants of Kislev's fighting forces team up with Imperial, Dwarf and Elf armies to end the war, the Tzar of Kislev proving stoical and unwavering to the end.
  • Russia is statistically the second-most likely power to be eliminated in Diplomacy, despite starting the game with one more unit than anyone else.

    Video Games 
  • Team Fortress 2: Everybody's first instinct is to shoot at the Heavy... but he can take it. Shoot the Medic First, you idiots!
  • In the BL Game Absolute Obedience, the KGB spy Zhores Barsoukova manages to have the crappiest life in a game where everyone has a crappy life. Forced to be a Honey Trap in his sister's place, he gets horribly topped, and also manages to be one of only two characters who can possibly die during the game. He also manages to have the second worse item stuck up his ass in the entire game.
  • In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, both of Carlos's teammates, Nicholai and Mikhail, are Russian - the first of the two turns out to be a sociopath persistent enough to survive a small explosion and is finally either blown up again in a helicopter or punched full of holes by Nemesis's Combat Tentacles and the second is first encountered half dead in a makeshift safehouse, finally dying via Heroic Sacrifice. Carlos lives to the end of the game without having to go through too much. Officially, Nicholai survived.
  • Olga Gurlukovich in Metal Gear Solid 2.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3, the two members of the Cobra Unit - sans of course The Boss - with the most fleshed out and tragic backstories are The Sorrow and The Fury. Guess what nationality both those men have in common?
  • Virtually every character in Singularity is Russian, and from all the tapes and audio logs and other files we find, they really get put through the wringer.
  • We don't really see the rest of the world, but the inhabitants of Metro 2033 certainly don't have it easy.
  • It isn't really apparent in the Command & Conquer: Red Alert series but the Soviets have become something of a Jerkass Woobie lately. Yes they start the wars but even their attitude in doing so is fatalistic. As the Uprising manual explains, their defeat in Red Alert 3 popularised a phrase that amounts to "Hey, we tried".
    • And can you blame them? Between corrupt leaders suffering from Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and getting their asses handed to them by the Allies, they don't really have it easy.
  • The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series...three games about sad Russians being shot to death or turning into mutants, and every ending involves you getting a Hope Spot then dying horribly. Great advertising for the tourist industry!
    • Subverted, in that the game takes place in the Ukraine, not Russia, but it's a meta-assumption by the player much larger than STALKER itself. The Chernobyl Disaster, and nuclear horror in general, is so synonymous with the Soviet Union that most people outside the former Eastern Bloc have no idea that Pripyat isn't actually in Russia.
  • Dr. Cossack in Mega Man 4 goes through a lot of horrible moments during the game, when you think about it. His daughter is kidnapped by Dr. Wily and he's forced to take credit for his crimes, converting his own robots for combat purposes and/or build new ones in an attempt to destroy Mega Man. Then he watches as Mega Man destroys all of his robots. Finally, he's forced to fight Mega Man himself. It's telling that when the battle with Dr. Cossack starts, there's actually a few seconds where he stands idle not doing anything, suggesting that Dr. Cossack doesn't want to go through with this.
  • In the thoroughly-scripted XCOM: Enemy Unknown Tutorial Mission, you have a squad of an Argentinian, an American, a Japanese and a Russian. By the end of the mission, you lose everyone except the Argentinian—but the first one to go? The Russian dude. With a point-blank shotgun blast to the chest and a grenade for a good measure.

    Webcomics 
  • Bad Machinery: Mrs. Biscuits, an old woman that Mr. Kropotkin is trying to force out of her home to build a football stadium on the site, and also Mr. Kropotkin, a mining oligarch.
    Mrs. Biscuits: I come from Russia years ago. In Soviet Russia, you have nothing! Here I have home. Will Russia take it from me? No!

    Kropotkin: In Russia, I make fortune mining lithium. Initially with bare hands. Then a teaspoon. Other miners laugh! They could not break my spirit. When I feel sad, eat some lithium, feel better. After a week, I earn enough money to buy shovel. Now I own many mines. Laughing miners? Today they are broken men, too tough to cry.
  • Alexi and her brother Isaac from Parallel Dementia, including both believing the other one is dead.
  • In the Metal Gear Solid 3 Fan Web Comic The Cobra Days, though there are three Russians, the Sorrow, who speaks broken English for the first story arc and is most obviously Russian, suffers at the hands of the series creator who admitted herself that she enjoys seeing him get hurt. In almost every strip, he is either hurt or sporting an injury from a previous strip. This was even going to continue past where the series stopped, and during her finale video, she showed an image where the Fear had been beaten for being a Catholic Gypsy. The soldiers in the background were holding a badly-injured Sorrow, and the creator said that she couldn't remember why they'd beaten the Sorrow but assumed it was just for fun.

    Web Originals 
  • Russia's fate in far too many Alternate History scenarios is even worse than in Real Life. Especially if the writer has a bone to pick and wants to "punish" it for whatever (usually political) reason.

    Web Video 
  • Bro Team Pill's review of Singularity says you can tell it's a good game because it's Russian, then followed by
    You know how you know it's Russian? Because there's monsters, ghosts, shit's all fucked up, there's time travel, gas masks, and radiation is all over the place. TIME!

    Western Animation 
  • Tezz Volitov of Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 got stuck on a Red Sentient Moon when he was nine years old and was in his late teens by the time he was able to return to Earth. He spent the duration of his ordeal barely scraping by, if his emaciated look is anything to go by.
  • Dr. Jumba Jookiba of Lilo & Stitch is one of a Butt Monkey duo. While an alien, he is nonetheless Russian-accented.
    • With the voice of Cogsworth, and many many more, such as Pocahontas' Radcliffe, and his sidekick Wiggims, no less.
    • This is also Jumba's Crowning Moment of Funny:
      Stitch: Hey! Gambooka gably!
      Jumba: WHAAAAAAT?! After everything you put me through, you expect me to help you- Just like that? JUUUSSST LIIIIKE THAAAAAT?!
      Stitch: Ih.
      Jumba': Fine.
  • Darkwing Duck's Grizzlikof.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: As noted above, Russia itself. Napoleonic Wars, Crimean War, WW1, WW2 ...
    • And the Ögodei Khan's conquest of Europe as well.
    • For Russians themselves, there's the communist years, the tsarist years, the Mongol years, and so on, and so on, and so on — although each is the subject of Broken Base in the country. The communist era is not inherently better or worse than any of the others, just as nasty, brutish and long.
    • Many historians have argued that Russian culture and mentality were irreparably damaged (in a He Who Fights Monsters sort of way) during the oppressive rule of Mongol conquerors in The High Middle Ages, when Russians lived in a constantly violent and wary symbiosis with them. The post-Genghis Khan "Golden Horde" empire turned Russians from conquered territories into bullied subjects, while the few Russian principalities that managed to hold on to independence became locked in a never-ending Cycle of Revenge with the empire. After the Battle of Kulikovo Field in the late 14. century, the Russians finally managed to liberate their territories and kicked out the remaining Mongol overlords. This eventually paved the road to the bloody unification of the principalities into a single tsardom and the highly expansionist nature of the future Russian empire.
    • Their suffering continues to the present day. Right now, there's about a 12 year difference in the life expectancy of male and female Russians, largely because the Russian male response to the country's sorry state of affairs is to drink copious amounts of anything alcoholic as a socially acceptable means of suicide.
      • What's interesting, during the Soviet times, especially in The Seventies and part of The Eighties, when the economic situation was much better that in The Nineties, and political oppression almost disappeared, the median life expectancy for males never exceeded 65 years, which is, in a curious coincidence, a pension age for the non-privileged professions. Some Conspiracy Theorists believe that The Government intentionally created such a situation to reduce the amount of pensions paid. It dropped some five years after that and finally overcame the "65 years" figure in The New Tens.
    • When the From Bad to Worse page has an entry under Real Life that says the history of Russia can be summed up as "Somehow, things got worse", you know luck isn't on their side.
    • They have long history of having some the nastiest leaders running their country, Ivan the Terrible, Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin...
      • In all honesty, Lenin himself had a good idea on where to lead the country. Unfortunately, the whole rest of the party just carried on the Russian tradition of being a massive tumor on everything they control. And there was a Civil War going on, which is not exactly the thing you fight in white kid gloves.
      • And once again in all honesty, Ivan IV, Peter the Great and Stalin were undoubtedly cruel and did not care about how many subjects would die in their projects, but at least these deaths were not in vain: the country accomplished a lot during their rules. What's worse than a competent but uncaring tyrant is an incompetent, uncaring nitwit and nincompoop, and Russia has had more than enough of them. Yeltsin. Nicholas II. Peter III. Pseudo-Demetrius. The list goes on.
  • A Russian joke involves a Brit, a Frenchman, and a Russian debating the definition of happiness. The Russian says true happiness is when the KGB kicks down the door of your shabby apartment ... and it turns out they're after somebody else.
    • There are many more like this. Grim and self-deprecating humor is a Russian staple.
      • During World War II, there was a black comic song sung by Russian tankers. One of the verses was "Our legs are torn off, and our faces are on fire!"
      • There's also a popular old sad Russian folk song about tanks that often serves as a freakin' drinking song. It's about a tank commander who was killed in action, how they bury him and notify his next of kin. Here are some of the verses: "The tank was hit with armor-piercer / Now say goodbye to the Guards crew / Just four more corpses on the hillside / will add to fair morning view / So they'll extract us from the remains / They'll put our coffin on the clay / And rumbling fire from the main-guns / Escort us on our final way". Here's an English variant.1
      • The drinking song version is sometimes converted into a Bawdy Song with exactly one changed line: "And his young bride will never know what size of cock did the guy have". Yes, that's it. A sad, funerary bawdy drinking song.
    • A similar joke involves people of various ethnicities looking at a painting of Adam and Eve and giving reasons why Adam and Eve must really have been their ethnicity. The punchline is, "No clothes, no shelter," the Russian points out, "they have only an apple to eat, and they're being told this is paradise. They are Russian."
  • In Mandarin Chinese, Russia is  ("Éguó"). The Chinese word for "Hungry" is  ("È"). Thus, in spoken Chinese, Russia is literally called "Hungry Kingdom/Country". A curious designation with at least some accuracy.
  • Some special operations units are known for their cunning or their high tech gear, but the Spetsnaz alone are infamous in Western media (with the emphasis on Western media) for the brutality of their selection and training. Interestingly, actual Russian Spetsnaz units, from Internal Affairs to Army to airborne, almost never advertise their training as "brutal", instead stressing their professionalism and devotion to military honor. Their selectiveness is treated as a given, since historically every elite in the Soviet union was supposed to form in a centralized fashion (i.e. by multi-level selection) - from theater and science to military, sports and even art.


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