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When Harry Met Svetlana
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.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Film 
  • James Bond examples:
    • From Russia with Love is the likely Trope Codifier, with Bond being sent to extract a sexy cryptology technician from the Soviet embassy in Istanbul.
    • 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.
    • The Living Daylights has Bond and Czechoslovak cellist Kara Milovy.
    • In Tomorrow 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.
  • 2010: 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 Iron Curtain, it was reversed. In the Soviet spy comedy Good Weather on Deribasovskaya, it's the badass male hero who is Russian and his female partner/love interest who is American.
  • The Cold War romantic comedy The Iron Petticoat featured Katharine Hepburn as a defecting Russian pilot and Bob Hope as the U.S. major assigned to introduce her to the world of capitalism.
  • Subverted in the 1985 action-comedy Gotcha. A virgin UCLA college student is seduced by an older Czech woman who turns out to be a spy. At the end of the movie they have an angry confrontation and her accent slips, causing her to admit that she's actually a CIA agent from Pittsburgh.
  • Ninotchka has a romance between a male French aristocrat and a female Soviet "true believer", the latter being the title character. Being made before the Cold War, it's something of a proto-example and lacks the Enemy Mine aspect.

    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.
  • Gender-reversed in the Vorkosigan Saga, this is how Cordelia and Aral met in Shards Of Honor. But here, a woman is the english-speaking hero and a man is the russian-speaking antagonist, at least until Aral becomes a protagonist. Played With because, at the ends, this is Cordelia who defect to live with Aral on Barrayar, albeit quite pushed to this by her own planet authorities.
  • The Matt Helm series, by Donald Hamilton, has Matt frequently crossing paths with a Soviet agent he only knows as "Vadya". They're of course trying to foil each other professionally, but there's a good deal of personal respect/liking/attraction on both sides.

    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 7Days, the Russian representative to Operation Backstep is a female with whom Parker has Unresolved Sexual Tension.
  • 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.
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Our Man Bashir" has Julian Bashir's character in a holodeck scenario, a James Bond expy, working together with a female KGB agent named Anastasia who, naturally, is head-over-heels for him. Due to an unusual set of malfunctions started when a Cardassian terrorist group sabotages a runabout containing most of the rest of Deep Space 9's senior staff, Anastasia ends up with the body of Kira Nerys.

    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, Katya. One of the few "good" Russians in the show. Until she shacks up with Barry, that is.


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