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Literature / Jack Ryan

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Tom Clancy's most famous series of novels, which focus mainly on CIA analyst Jack Ryan and —to a lesser extent— CIA field operative John Clark. Four of them have been adapted into movies, one inspired series of video games, while a film (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) and a series (Jack Ryan) are reboots of the universe not based on any specific novel. Among fans, this continuity is often referred to as the "Ryanverse."

The Jack Ryan series (arranged by publication order)

  • The Hunt for Red October — Clancy's first published novel, featuring a rogue prototype Soviet nuclear missile submarine. Ryan is the man on the spot to assist its officers with their plan to defect to the United States. Made into a feature film with Alec Baldwin as Ryan.
  • Patriot Games — Ex-Marine Jack Ryan, an American tourist in London, rescues the Prince of Wales from Irish terrorists and comes to the attention of both the IRA and the CIA. This was the second book to be filmed, with Harrison Ford as Ryan.
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  • The Cardinal of the Kremlin — America's top agent in the Soviet Union is compromised, just as he comes into possession of plans for a system that could change the Cold War nuclear stalemate forever. Ryan must play a dangerous mind game against the head of the KGB to rescue the agent, with the balance of power in the Soviet government at stake.
  • Clear and Present Danger — A rogue adviser to the President launches a covert and illegal war on the Columbian narcotics industry, and Ryan must rescue the soldiers before they are abandoned to their fate. The third film from the series and the second to star Harrison Ford.
  • The Sum of All Fears — Arab terrorists get their hands on a nuclear bomb and try to set it off within the United States, and a burned out Ryan is the Only Sane Man in a dangerously paranoid U.S. administration. Loosely adapted into the fourth film as a sort of reboot, featuring Ben Affleck as a newbie Ryan, with the Arabs swapped for Neo-Nazis.
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  • Without Remorse — The Backstory of badass CIA operative John Clark, who goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against a vicious drug gang following the murder of his girlfriend.
  • Debt of Honor — After an economic crisis, Japan decides to launch a new war of territorial acquisition. Ryan must help his country figure out how to fight back on two fronts: economic and military, with a navy dangerously drawn down by past presidents.
  • Executive Orders — The war with Japan is over, at a terrible cost. Meanwhile, Iran, sensing weakness in the badly damaged U.S. government, embarks on a campaign of terrorism and biological warfare in an attempt to unify the Muslim world by force. Not only is Ryan's leadership ability called into question like never before, but he and his family have once again become targets of a ruthless and powerful enemy.
  • Rainbow Six — Clark forms an international paramilitary counterterrorism force, with his future son-in-law and Junior Badass Domingo "Ding" Chavez tapped to lead it into action. Little do they suspect that they'll be facing an enemy within their own country. Adapted into a series of video games.
  • The Bear and the Dragon — China, facing an economic and political crisis, decides to invade Russia. The U.S. must cement a friendship with its once-greatest foe to fight off the aggressor. But what will Ryan do when the threat turns nuclear?
  • Red Rabbit — Ryan, a new CIA analyst, must assist in locating a Soviet defector with information about a KGB plot to assassinate The Pope.
  • Teeth Of The Tiger — In the world after Ryan's departure from government, there are new terrorist threats. Ryan's son, also named Jack, joins a Black Ops group dedicated to attacking them on their own turf.
  • Dead or Alive — The further adventures of Jack Ryan Jr. and his fellow counterterrorists of "The Campus". Also, the elder Ryan comes to the reluctant decision to run for office again.
  • Locked On — Jack Ryan Junior and the Campus continue their anti-terrorist mission as Jack Ryan Senior runs for President again.
  • Threat Vector — Jack Ryan Junior and the Campus realize someone is on to them as Jack Ryan Senior faces the Chinese once again.
  • Command Authority — A new strongman has arisen in Russia, and his rise to power is based on a decades-old dark secret—with President Jack Ryan holding the key. This was the last novel completed by Clancy before he passed away on October 1st, 2013. It was released posthumously in December 2013.
  • Support And Defend — The first book released after Clancy's passing, it is focused on Dom Caruso and his mission to find the people responsible for killing his friend. That mission leads him to a man with enough information to destroy American intelligence efforts hunted by the FBI, Hezbollah, the Iranians, and the Russians.
  • Full Force And Effect — The North Koreans have discovered valuable minerals in the Hermit Kingdom, and their new leader sees it as a way to finally succeed in giving North Korea The Bomb, and by extension, a chance at becoming a major power.
  • Under Fire — Unlike the first two post-Clancy novels, this is written by Grant Blackwood, who collaborated with Tom in Dead or Alive. This focuses on Jack Junior as he digs deeper into an old friend's cryptic message.
  • Commander In Chief — Written by Mark Greaney, who authored Support and Defend and Full Force and Effect, this focuses on Jack Senior as he finds himself isolated from the international community through the machinations of Russian President Volodin.
  • Duty And Honor — Jack Junior, suspended from his position at the Campus after the events of Commander in Chief, discovers the brutal truth about a world-renowned philanthropist and human rights advocate who set up a long-running false-flag war of terror that has claimed thousands of lives.
  • True Faith And Allegiance — A massive information breach has compromised US intelligence agencies; spies are burnt, ship captains are targeted, and the Campus has to track the leak to its source.
  • Point Of Contact — Written by Mike Maden, a seemingly ordinary audit job turns deadly when hidden agendas force Jack Junior and a colleague to fend off assassins amid a cyclone in Singapore.
  • Power And Empire — Written by Marc Cameron, Jack Senior faces the shadow games of the Chinese with the G20 negotiations on the way.
  • Line Of Sight — Written by Mike Maden, Jack Junior tracks down the Bosnian girl whose eyesight his mother saved twenty years ago. He finds a self-possessed beauty who runs a refugee agency that helps the children of her native Bosnia and has to rescue her after she is kidnapped in Sarajevo.
  • Oath Of Office — Written by Marc Cameron, Jack Senior has a lot on his plate: protests in Iran, a deadly flu outbreak in the US with spring floods in the Southeast, an unethical senator hellbent on bringing his presidency down with the help of bot-planted stories, and two hijacked Russian nuclear missiles.
  • Enemy Contact — Written by Mike Maden, Jack Senior faces an intelligence breach connected to his mission in Poland.
  • Code Of Honor — Written by Marc Cameron, Jack Senior needs to discreetly rescue an old friend framed in Indonesia for a serious crime there. To top things off, that old friend sends a text warning about an upcoming attack on America.

Other Works

These novels provide examples of:

  • Action Duo: Clark and Chavez.
  • America Saves the Day: A fairly standard plot, especially in later novels, although semi averted in Commander in Chief and very explicitly averted in Clear and Present Danger, The Sum of all Fears, and Rainbow Six.
  • Anonymous Ringer:
    • The American President prior to 1988 is never identified by name until Clancy manages to clear the backlog of Real Life Presidents and starts dropping in his own, starting with Bob Fowler. In later novels, however, Reagan and George H. W. Bush are referred to by name, and Bill Clinton's Monica Lewinsky sex scandal is alluded to.
    • On the British side, Prince Charles and Margaret Thatcher are also referred to only referred to by title, though Tony Blair does get first-named in The Bear and the Dragon.
    • While Clancy had admitted that his books are something of an allegory to real life, this tendency does cause some of his books to contain some considerable continuity errors, such as the assassination attempt on John Paul II being in 1982 instead of 1981 in Red Rabbit, or Ronald Reagan running for reelection in 1988 in Clear and Present Danger (though in the second case it may well be Walter Mondale who defeated Reagan in 1984).
  • Anti-Villain: Depending on context, the KGB or the whole U.S.S.R. before their becoming the Russian Federation and the resultant Heel–Face Turn.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • At one point Cliff Rutledge says that the USA has the longest continual stable government in the world, which is a fairly dubious statement. Whilst the various criteria can be subjectively defined for various ends, many would argue that there are several "continual stable governments" that have existed for longer - the UK has maintained a constitutional monarchy, with various constitutional revisions down the years, since 1707, for example. That said, what Rutledge means is slightly unclear, he could be talking about the USA being the oldest Republic or democracy, both of which are slightly more defensible positions
    • Given the time between publications of his novels, "time" for the characters gets stretched out as events in Real Life occur. For instance, Ryan leaves government service around 1992 in The Sum of All Fears, but somehow spends only two years on vacation until Debt of Honor, which takes places in 1996, and serves as President for another year or two up until 2001-ish between Executive Orders and The Bear and the Dragon.
    • More conventionally, Clancy sometimes uses up-and-coming data/speculation when discussing weapons that are going to be fielded in the near-future, which ends up falling flat when it turns out incorrectly. For instance, in Debt of Honor it is mentioned that the next ship in line after John Stennis is going to be the United States, which was the name for Harry S. Truman when she was laid down, but changed afterwards.
    • The F-22, whose first production models are rolled out for Debt of Honor is referred to as the Rapier. The nickname was later changed to Raptor.
  • Artistic License – Law: The Teeth of the Tiger has the protagonists running a privately funded assassination squad against terrorism suspects. This includes a stack of fill-form presidential pardons pre-signed by former President Jack Ryan (naturally throwing in a contrast with the Fox News Liberal administration that succeeded him). Besides the dubious legality of such a concept in the first place, this does absolutely nothing for an operator arrested by a foreign government or even by a US state government: the President can only pardon federal offenses.
  • Author Filibuster: Dotted about the series, generally reflecting a conservative position — for example, reducing the military budget is never presented as a good idea, America has "the best healthcare system in the world", Good Girls Avoid Abortion, the death penalty and sometimes downright vigilantism are presented positively, and economic cooperation with China is strategically unsound. The series generally doesn't suffer from it however.
  • Badass Army: America (and to lesser extents other good guys) are portrayed as commanding one, though America seems to get the lion's share.
  • Badass Bookworm: Jack Ryan, especially in the movies.
  • Berserk Button: Most of the central characters have one.
    • For John Clark it's drugs. Anything and everything about them pisses him off to no end. After reading Without Remorse it's not hard to understand why.
    • For Jack Ryan, it's harming his family or insulting his integrity. After he becomes president, harming Americans can be added to the list.
  • Cold Sniper: Played straight, inverted, and deconstructed in different novels.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Consistently present throughout all of the novels. In the words of several of the commanders in various books, "'Fair' means that I bring all of my men back home alive. Fuck the others."
  • Commie Land:
    • The USSR itself serves as the setting for some scenes, with a significant focus in The Cardinal in the Kremlin. Some other scenes throughout the series occur in Soviet client states.
    • The Peoples Republic of China, in The Bear and the Dragon, gets a good bit of focus, as the main antagonists of the book.
  • Continuity Nod: All over the novels and some of the games.
  • Cool Boat: You might think every US naval vessel was this, given the amount of loving description Clancy visits on them.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The U.S. military, which makes plans for literally every conceivable military scenario. Probably Truth in Television. To keep things interesting, a spanner is usually thrown in the works to keep them from being overpowering (The Navy is too drawn down to effectively fight Japan, a biological attack renders most of the US Army unable to deploy, their own supply line to the front is a single train-track, etc).
  • Crushing Handshake: Skip Tyler, Jack Ryan's good friend, was described as giving overly powerful handshakes of the Does Not Know His Own Strength variety.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: American military forces versus just about anybody else, from Debt of Honor onwards. Clark and Chavez versus their various opponents.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: It's mentioned a few times that Cathy Ryan's father has never forgiven Jack for quitting his financial sector job to become a teacher (and later a CIA analyst).
  • Defeat Means Friendship: One of the rare examples of this trope occurring on a national level, as the post-Cold War period eventually ends up with America's foremost strategic partner being Russia.
  • Dirty Communists: Played more or less straight until The Cardinal of the Kremlin, but completely turned on its head afterwards, to the point where the Russian Federation actually becomes a NATO member nation in The Bear and the Dragon.
  • Discussed Trope: Clancy loves to discuss the tropes related to Reality Is Unrealistic, largely via characters commenting on how people expect various aspects of police and spycraft to work because they saw it in a movie.
  • Doorstopper: With a few exceptions like The Hunt for Red October and Red Rabbit, Ryanverse novels tend to be on the long side.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Robby Jackson has a tendency to handle his car with the same... panache, you might say, as he does his F-14.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him:
    • In The Teeth of the Tiger, Robby Jackson is said to have become president in his own right and then been assassinated by a member of the KKK. This happens between books and is only barely mentioned in passing. Some of the newer books have tried to make this more meaningful by having it be one of the primary motivations for Jack running for president again, but still...
    • Also applies to Bob Ritter, who was an important character in the early Jack Ryan novels until he resigned from the CIA at the end of Clear and Present Danger. In Dead or Alive it's mentioned that Bob Ritter died of cancer a few years prior.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Played straight when Ryan asks for a Presidential pardon for Clark and as soon as he mentions that the people Clark murdered were drug dealers, it's a slam dunk.
  • Dumb Muscle: Occasionally invoked by government officials regarding their bodyguards/SPOs. They (and the Marines) are usually characterized as "knuckle draggers," though in the case of the Secret Service, most if not all of them have at least a college degree and, in the case of Andrea Price, a Masters.
  • Eagleland: The first flavor, although both versions are discussed frequently. More specifically, Clancy generally differentiates between the types, generally casting the 'good guys' as Type 1, and Type 2s are generally frowned upon, to say the least.
  • Elite Agents Above the Law:
    • Clear and Present Danger refers to the explosive growth of Colombian narcotics trafficking within the United States, which President Bob Ritter deems a threat to national security. As such, he has his NSA man, James Cutter, cherrypick an elite team to conduct covert sabotage operations against the cocaine cartel. When actions escalate into an airstrike that obliterates one kingpin's compound (wives, mistresses and children included), that's United States military killing foreign nationals on their home soil, which is an act of war. Once this indiscretion starts unraveling, the politicos leave their underlings to be killed or captured.
    • The Teeth Of The Tiger revolves around a private counterterrorism hit squad secretly established by former President Jack Ryan. Ryan supplied the group with a stack of pre-signed presidential pardons to shield its operatives from prosecution.
  • Elite Army: Generally invoked regarding the United States armed forces.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Ghost Ship is this to The Campus.
  • Expy:
    • Gennady Iosefovich Bondarenko, who, in an inversion from the other examples from Red Storm Rising, is an expy of General Alekseyev.
    • Although Tom Clancy has never confirmed it, most readers believe that the character of Ed Kealty is an expy of real life US Senator Ted Kennedy. Both of them are Democratic senators from New England, both of them have liberal political views, both come from wealthy families, and both have been involved in sex scandals.
    • General Secretary of the CPSU Andrey Ily'ch Narmonov is a very obvious expy of Mikhail Gorbachev.
    • The Emir is an obvious expy of Osama bin Laden.
    • Valeri Volodin from Command Authority is Vladimir Putin in all but name.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Scott Adler's negotiation sessions with America's enemies always inevitably fail despite his skill; they have to, otherwise the United States military wouldn't get the chance to strut their stuff.
  • Feed the Mole: Used in several of the novels. In particular, the "canary trap" is a tool used by CIA to identify possible leakers by producing several slightly different copies of the same document, and using that to identify which copy is being leaked and narrow down the possible suspects.
  • Generation Xerox: Jack Ryan, Jr. joins the CIA like his father, while Sally goes to medical school like her mother.
  • Genius Bruiser: John Kelly is, by most standards, a physically imposing man, and has demonstrated his strength multiple times, but, despite having only a high-school level education, has impressive analytical ability and can think on his feet (which is what prompted Ritter to hire him). During his tour in Vietnam, he was nominated for Officer Candidate School on at least three separate occasions, and has since then garnered enough knowledge to discuss subjects with college professors in their areas of expertise. He also speaks at least four languages fluently enough to pass as a native speaker. By Rainbow Six, he holds the rank of a simulated Major General.
  • "Get out of Jail Free" Card:
    • John Clark gets one when the President of the United States pardons him.
    • It goes Up to Eleven in The Teeth of the Tiger, in which the ex-President has issued preemptive pardons to all of the Black Ops operatives with blanks for names, dates, and offenses committed. The dubious legality of this is lampshaded by the man in charge.
  • Gilded Cage: The White House, and more metaphorically the presidency itself, is identified as one by President Ryan after he realizes the full implications of the place.
  • Happily Married: Jack and Cathy Ryan, Robbie and Cecilia Jackson, John and Sandra Clark.
  • Hot Sub-on-Sub Action: More subs attack each other in Clancy's novels than in the entire history of naval warfare. On the other hand, most of these novels are premised on the Cold War heating up a bit, so it's entirely justified: after the '60s, that kind of sub-to-sub combat was not only possible but likely given that NATO and Warsaw Pact subs were constantly on one another's tails.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick:
    • Jack Ryan made a career our of this, serving as deputy director (intelligence), and later Central Intelligence, in the CIA, National Security Adviser, and Vice President of the United States. It becomes something of a minor plot point in Executive Orders when other world leaders don't respect him as the new American president because they don't believe he has what it takes to actually lead. They are proven to be oh so wrong by the end.
    • Arnie Van Damm is this to Presidents Fowler, Durling, and Ryan.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: When the North Carolina National Guard goes to the NTC for training exercises against the 11th ACR, they don't let on that they have IVIS training. Regular Army units go to the NTC and get their asses handed to them in engagement after engagement (that's the point). The National Guard detachment completely decimates the 11th in their first engagement. The General in charge of the NTC is not happy with his men.
  • Interservice Rivalry: All over the place. CIA vs. FBI, FBI vs. Secret Service, KGB vs. GRU, etc.
  • Issue Drift: The RyanVerse novels have grown more politically focused over time, reflecting Clancy's conservative (and occasionally libertarian) viewpoints.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Fashionable: In Patriot Games, Cathy Ryan has Jack buy some rather nice English suits. It's extended on and commented on throughout many of the subsequent novels.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Just look at how many books there are in the series. Each one introduces more into the mix.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: The magic assassination drug used by The Campus agents in Teeth of the Tiger is supposed to make it look like the victim died of natural causes. Later, after being hit with this drug one poor sap gets run over by a streetcar, further disguising that it was a hit and not an accident.
  • Manly Tears: Both Ryan and Clark aren't afraid to cry when they need to; Ryan when he promises to take care of Zimmer's family for him, Kelly upon realization that Pam lied to protect him to the very end, Clark upon meeting Oreza twenty years after faking his own death, both Clark and Chavez upon the birth of John Conor Chavez.
  • No Name Given: The U.S. President in the early novels is never given a name, instead being referred to simply as 'the President'. It gets rather ridiculous in later novels after the election of Bob Fowler when characters refer to him but still just call him 'the one Fowler beat'.
  • No Party Given:
    • Trent and Fellows's parties are not explicitly named, even though it's quite obvious that Trent is a liberal and Fellows is a conservative. Ditto for Fowler and Durling, who belong to the same party as Fellows.
    • Ryan himself claims no particular party, until he runs again for the Presidency as a Republican in Locked On.
  • A Nuclear Error: Averted; Clancy's discussion of the political conditions surrounding the deployment of nuclear weapons is very accurate.
  • Odd Friendship: Representatives Alan Trent (a gay Democrat from Massachusetts) and Sam Fellows (a Mormon Republican from Arizona), both members of the House Select Intelligence Committee, who were introduced in The Cardinal of the Kremlin. Later in the series, the oddness of the friendship is explicitly commented upon.
  • Official Presidential Transport: The series occasionally has scenes set aboard the real Air Force One. Being a techno-thriller series, Clancy goes into more technical detail than most depictions of the aircraft.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Often averted. Gunshot wounds incapacitate and kill or nearly kill several protagonists.
  • Only Sane Man - Arnold van Damm seems to serve as one for Jack Ryan, especially in regards to toning down Jack's idealism by tempering it with knowledge the real world is not nearly as ideal. May even serve as a meta example by lampshading how Clancy's own views, even in his own literary universe, don't completely work out as they were intended.
  • Our Presidents Are Different - Jack Ryan seems to be a mix of President Iron and Personable, whereas Ed Kealty is shown as President Playboy, Scheming, and Strawman. Incidentally, between Executive Orders and The Bear and the Dragon, Ryan's election platform largely comes off as selling himself as Jack Ryan, Regular Guy.
  • Past Experience Nightmare: Ryan's no James Bond. He's not the "kill-the-bad-guy, never-look-back" type; rather his experiences have a lasting effect on him, particularly the Colombian Incident. According to Cathy, there were some nights where she'd be woken up from Jack crying in his sleep.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Teeth of the Tiger.
  • Perfect Poison: The succinylcholine used in Teeth of the Tiger. It kills by simulating a heart attack via muscular paralysis, and is rapidly eliminated from the bloodstream, leaving no traces of what killed its victim.
  • Pretty in Mink: Cathy Ryan has a mink coat she wears to some political galas.
  • Qurac: Surprisingly, given the subject matter, Averted. Clancy seems fairly cognizant of the region and its people. In Debt of Honor, he mentions that Iraq can get pretty cold in the winter.
  • Red Scare: Until the collapse of the Soviet Union and the events in The Sum of All Fears, Cold War tensions between the US and its allies and the Soviet Union are a significant part of the overall plot.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: Done with both Clark and Ryan (and to a lesser extent, Ding Chavez). For Ryan, few will ever pass up the opportunity to remark upon the time he dealt with the ULA invasion of his home in Patriot Games. Clark's list is rather longer, ranging from picking up KGB Chairman Gerasimov's family in Cardinal of the Kremlin, to rescuing former Japanese Prime Minister Koga in Debt of Honor, to guiding the bombs to kill Ayatollah Daryaei in Executive Orders.
  • Reporting Names: While their more formal designations are usually given at least once, generally Soviet hardware is usually referred to by its NATO reporting name.
  • Reset Button: This appears to have been pushed, as noted above in the Arab–Israeli Conflict entry, in the two most recent Ryanverse books, Teeth of the Tiger and Dead or Alive (much more obviously so in the latter case, since in order to be able to incorporate 9/11 and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars into his plot, Clancy pretty much had to do away with the events of Executive Orders. This also applies to the US/Russian relationship.)
  • Right Man in the Wrong Place: Jack Ryan on several occasions — as he points out, he's an intelligence analyst, not a spy, but keeps getting forced into the role by being on the spot.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Defied — in several novels it's pointed out that this does not work in real life. In most cases, the shooter has to use several more bullets and messily destroy the lock mechanism to open the door.
  • Shown Their Work: Considering that Clancy was an insurance salesman with no prior military experience before becoming an author (his poor eyesight prevented him from becoming an officer in the United States Navy like he dreamed), a lot of the details included in his works (particularly the earlier books, before he started licensing his own name out to other authors), gained from purely open sources, occasionally to the discomfort of government agencies whose job is to protect classified information that he inadvertently managed to derive from publicly available information. In fact, the descriptions of submarine warfare in The Hunt For Red October are so realistic that it has become one of the only fictional works to appear on the U.S. Naval Academy's recommended reading list.
  • Shrine to Self: Several military characters are shown to have this attitude. Clancy calles it the "I Love Me Wall".
  • The Smart Guy: Ron Jones, from his first appearance in Red October, is characterized as one of these; by Sum of All Fears has a doctorate from Caltech, and continues to prove his smartness well into Debt of Honor.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Largely averted. While Ryan was a former smoker (and occasionally fell back into the habit after becoming President), most of the actual badasses don't smoke, with the US Army Rangers and Rainbow being specifically singled out at various times. The occasional military personnel does smoke, but Clancy makes it fairly clear that they do so as a stress reliever.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Soviet KGB troops tend to get this treatment, as distinct from the Red Army's soldiers. Even the Red Army soldiers show their disdain for their green-shoulder-board-wearing comrades. This is Truth in Television; following Stalin's use of the KGB to purge the ranks of the Red Army, many soldiers in the Red Army viewed the KGB with distrust and suspicion.
  • The Spymaster: Bob Ritter is the CIA's Deputy Director (Operations), meaning that he is the man who oversees all of the CIA's human intelligence assets and field operations.
  • Spy Fiction: The Stale Beer variety. Given a Lampshade Hanging on multiple occasions by John Clark. "Larson, if this were a movie, you'd be a blonde with big tits and a loose blouse." In The Film of the Book, the above is averted.
  • Spy School: Several references are made throughout the series to "The Farm", a CIA training facility in Virginianote . In some of the latter books Clark is shown teaching some classes there.
  • Status Quo Is God: Fought tooth and nail, but ultimately victorious in favor of real world progression. Many of Jack Ryan's, and others', accomplishments are undone or nullified within the next book or two.
    • In Executive Orders, Saddam Hussein is assassinated and his top generals tuck tail and run, allowing Iran to take over and form the United Islamic Republic. By the time the inevitable war rolls around, the UIR is forming ties with many other would-be member states. But at the conclusion of the novel, Iran and Iraq split perfectly into their pre-union borders and no mention of Islamic unification is ever made again.
    • In Debt of Honor, Japan and America go from traditional allies to being at war, ending with America victorious and both countries back to being BFF in the next book. After Jack Ryan ascends to the presidency, he makes several changes to policy, including how to prosecute the War on Drugs, simplifying the tax code, encouraging common people to aspire to Congress as opposed to traditional politician, and so on. By The Bear and the Dragon, those common people he helped elect are becoming more and more influenced by the Washington power culture and forgetting their roots. And by Teeth of the Tiger, almost all of his revolutionary policies have either been nullified or blunted by the next president, despite their overwhelming popularity.
    • A good chunk of the plot of A Sum of All Fears is devoted to a plan to achieve peace in the Middle East. Jack Ryan devises a plan that brings together many of the world's foremost Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders to form the Jerusalem Treaty, which holds even through the largest Islamic terrorist event in history. However, a few throwaway lines in Teeth of the Tiger mention that the treaty eventually fell apart and things went back to the status quo.
    • The whole point of Cardinal of the Kremlin is America's efforts to get a hold of the Russian plans for an anti-ballistic missile laser weapon while keeping the Russians from getting the American plans for a similar system (and vice versa from the perspective of the Russians). In The Bear and the Dragon, it gets mentioned that despite the info the CIA provided on the Russian system, they were never able to build a laser powerful enough to shoot down ICBMs, allowing the Chinese nuclear arsenal to remain a threat.
    • A major plot point in The Bear and the Dragon is the CIA was able to get access to the private records of a Chinese Politboro member about what went on in their meetings, allowing them to know what China's leadership decided on in their meetings within a day of them making the decisions. In Threat Vector it gets mentioned that the Politboro member in question died a few months after the events of that book, rendering their source useless and leaving the US government in the dark as to what the new Chinese Politboro is up to.
    • In The Bear and the Dragon Russia becomes a NATO member and has acquired the resources to attempt to revitalize their economy and bring their nation into the 21st century. In Command Authority, Russia is still a mess, and Grushavoy's successor withdraws from NATO and starts on a plan to revert Russia back into the USSR.
  • Strawman Political: Clancy makes regular use of strawman liberals, pacifists, and environmentalists throughout his novels. The rare aversions (such as Arnie van Damm) are generally refreshingly honest and as even-handed as one might expect.
  • Take That!: Clancy takes the opportunity in several of his novels to note that none of the things that happen in Ian Fleming's James Bond novels would ever pass muster in reality; in Clancy's own words, Fleming was a failed British spy. Pot shots are also taken at NBC and environmentalists in Executive Orders and Rainbow Six. Occasionally, Clancy's author filibusters (see above) can veer into this territory.
  • Tear Your Face Off: Multiple books feature somewhat graphic descriptions of a well-placed headshot plastering someone's face against a wall.
  • Technobabble: Clancy's lengthy, loving descriptions of exactly how military technology works can occupy whole chapters. A typical example can be found in Sum of All Fears, where a chapter is given over to describing how a thermonuclear bomb detonates. However, the process is plot-relevant, as the engineer who designed it didn't complete a step needed to ensure the detonation was as powerful as intended, providing a crucial clue that prevents all-out war.
  • Technology Porn: Lots of equipment, especially military technology, gets long, lovingly detailed descriptions.
  • Title Drop: Done in most of his novels, with a few exceptionsnote .
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Almost all of Clancy's villains do this at one point or another in most of his books after The Sum Of All Fears.
  • Tranquil Fury: John Clark is master of this. He makes a CIA deputy director damn near piss his pants in fear without even raising his voice and while still speaking respectfully.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Clancy writes a lot of enemy plotting from their POV (as the protagonists rarely meet the antagonists directly). As said enemy plotters are frequently ideological and/or mentally unbalanced, their assessment of an operation can differ radically from what it will or could actually achieve.
  • Yellow Peril: His portrayal of Japan in Debt of Honor and China in The Bear And The Dragon.

Film adaptations with their own trope pages include:

Film based on the series, but not an adaptation of any specific work:

The other film adaptations provide examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the books Cathy Ryan is a blue-eyed blonde, while nearly all the actresses who've played her have been brunettes.
  • Badass Bookworm: Jack Ryan, even more than in the books.


How well does it match the trope?

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