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Balkan Bastard

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People from Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and the ex-Yugoslav countries of Southeastern Europe in fiction tend to be bloodthirsty gangsters, mercenaries, and/or war criminals. If they aren't any of those things, they'll be uncouth, rude, slovenly, thieving and/or corrupt. They'll be absolutely ruthless, pick fights with anyone who looks at them funny, revel in chaos, and have no qualms about massacring innocent civilians. While Greece are also a part of the region, they are usually the exception to this stereotype, despite their long history of warfare.

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Today, this stereotype stems from The Yugoslav Wars, and the atrocities and war crimes committed by the factions involved in those conflicts. Before that, though, Yugoslavia was known as the place where World War I started, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a Serb revolutionary in Sarajevo, and in previous centuries, "Balkan banditry" was something of a trope; notably, in the days of the Ottoman Empire, Balkan hajduci were peasant outlaws who were either bandits or freedom fighters, depending who you asked. The mountains of the region were plenty rugged enough to shelter a Bandit Clan or two. Even today, the Balkans remains a powder keg of ethnic tensions, with the issue of Kosovo still being an ongoing sore spot of the region. That part of the world doesn't have the luckiest history.

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Compare to Rambunctious Italian, which is another hot-blooded Southern European stereotype that is sometimes also associated with organized crime, Renegade Russian, for a similar Slavic villain archetype from a former communist country, and Spicy Latina, which is a similar Latin American stereotype. Balkan Bastards are often an element of a Generic Ethnic Crime Gang or The Mafia or are among a story's Ruthless Foreign Gangsters.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Assassination Classroom: Irina Jelavic, a South Slavic professional assassin and Class 3-E's foreign language teacher, is a rather benign example (she's not evil, just somewhat bitchy and temperamental) whose career began when she was orphaned and traumatized during the Yugoslav Wars.
  • Black Lagoon: "Hansel and Gretel", the "Vampire Twins", are a pair of ambiguously-aged (early-teen, at their oldest) mercenaries that are horrifying psychopaths who torture and kill for fun, even killing their employer when he doesn't lets them "play". Their backstory involves them being orphans of the Ceaucesçu regime who were driven crazy by being forced to work in snuff films.
  • Jormungand has it's "Dragon Shooter" arc set in a thinly disguised Serbia know as Republic T, with the Koko's attempting to muscle in on the arms market of a local war criminal that is an Expy of Željko Ražnatović.

    Comic Books 
  • Played with in The 99, where Serbian ex-soldier Zoran is initially mistaken for The Dragon because his metal prosthetic arm and leg make him look monstrous, but he turns out to be working for the good guys.
  • In "The Slavers" arc of The Punisher MAX, Frank Castle faces off against a Balkan sex trafficking ring composed of hardened soldiers/war criminals from the Yugoslav Wars. Their horrible treatment of their victims instills a white-hot hatred within Castle that leads to one of Frank's deadliest moments of paying evil unto evil.

    Fan Works 
  • Despair Island has Zolkoff, a Serbian mafia thug and Chris's main helper who enjoys brutally killing and taunting his victims.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Behind Enemy Lines is set in Bosnia during the Yugoslav Wars, and has a Serb force hunting down the protagonist for inadvertently photographing mass graves during a recon mission.
  • In the 2008 Get Smart movie, part of the plot revolves around Max and Agent 99 following Kristic, a Bosnian national, and one of CHAOS' top operatives, to Russia where he is running a secret nuclear weapons factory.
  • I Spit on Your Grave: The second movie has a girl wind up in Bulgaria and fall victim to two rapist brothers and their mother. Her reaction to finding out she's in the country is a Big "NO!".
  • In Order of Disappearance has a Serbian crime syndicate in Norway, who get into a mob war with the local Norwegian crime organization when the son of the former's boss is assassinated.
  • Layer Cake has the Serbian mafia, who are former war criminals and have an operation so vast that when one of their deals goes bad, their only real concern is killing everyone responsible as a "never fuck with us" message rather than recovering their merchandise.
  • French action movie The Nest is about a multinational special forces team besieged inside a warehouse by Albanian mafia thugs.
  • No Man's Land has the Serbs deliberately lay down the protagonist, a Bosnian Muslim, on an anti-personnel mine.
  • Pusher has a ruthless Serbian drug lord in Denmark named Milo. Milo himself runs afoul of even more ruthless Albanians in the third movie.
  • A Serbian Film, which features extreme Torture Porn, has been described by its director Srđan Spasojević, as an allegorical of the experience of the Balkans War.
  • Taken features an Albanian crime organization as the main antagonists, who run a sex trafficking operation and who kidnap the protagonist's daughter.

    Literature 
  • Bai Ganyo: The titular character, Ganyo Balkanski, is specifically a satire of the Balkan stereotype of being uncouth, scummy and an all-around jerk, especially compared to Westerners. While travelling around Western Europe (and Tsarist Russia), Bai Ganyo is a mostly harmless, if sleazy, Funny Foreigner. Back in Bulgaria, he quickly rises in society and becomes a power-hungry Corrupt Politician.
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula can be considered an Ur-Example of sorts of this trope. Dracula is from broadly the right part of the world, and is a deadly killer who travels west to carry out his evil schemes. And if he is correctly identified with the historical Vlad the Impaler, his ruthless personality was shaped by the brutal wars of that region...
  • Harry Potter: The fourth book introduces the Bulgarian national quidditch team. The beaters in particular, Vulchanov and Volkov, are portrayed as rude and thuggish, yelling and swinging their bats at the referee at the slightest provocation and later even hitting players with them. One of the chasers, Dimitrov, also plays dirty, trying to knock an Irish player off her broom. Word of God states that Rowling based those characters on the Bulgarian football team when they made it to the 1994 World Cup 1/4 finals,who were then infamous for such behaviors.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24 has a Serbian war criminal named Viktor Drazen, who Jack Bauer and his squad killed the wife and daughter of two years before the events of the first season.
  • Bones, :
    • Brennan and Booth discover that a murdered girl had come from South Central Europe, and when they track down the place where she had been staying, they discover a den filled with sex slaves who were smuggled in from Eastern Europe and the Balkan region. They soon arrest her pimp, an Albanian human trafficker.
    • Mark Kovac,the main villain of season 12, is the son of a Balkan warlord who Booth killed as a sniper. Kovac seeks revenge by torturing people to find Booth, attacking Brennan’s dad and kids at a safe house, which kills Brennan’s dad, and blowing up the lab.
  • In the Community episode "Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy", Troy and Abed's Balkan friend Lukka turns out to have been involved in genocidal cleansing back in his home country.
  • In Daredevil (2015), there are various gangs and crime groups divided by ethnicity. One of these groups are the Albanians. Matt Murdock, when he's assaulted by Dirty Cops during a visit to a client, makes a deal with their leader to help him escape the prison by invoking an Enemy Mine against Fisk.
  • Law & Order:
    • In "Enemy", a stash-house massacre leads Fontana and Green to a heroin ring that includes an old Albanian gangster.
    • In "Securitate", a Romanian secret police torturer turned gangster is killed by his son, who's never been enough of a bastard to gain the old man's approval.
    • In "Angelgrove", one of the initial suspects in the murder of a controversial filmmaker is an Albanian gangster (played by the same actor who played the Albanian gangster in "Enemy", in fact.)
    • In "Kingmaker", the murder of an undercover police officer by the Albanian mob kicks off an investigation into a rising politician.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent has delved into this trope a few times:
    • In "Homo Homini Lupis", a criminal is hired to kidnap the family of corporate executive who's been embezzling money. Much to the loan shark's horror, the kidnapper turns out to be a former member of the Serb Volunteer Guard who repeatedly rapes the embezzler's daughter.
    • In "Blasters", an investigation into the death of a Former Child Star leads Logan and Wheeler into a bootleg DVD ring run by the Albanian Mob.
  • The pilot episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit involves the SVU investigating the murder and mutilation of a Serbian war criminal who had fled to the US and started a new life as a taxi driver.
  • New Tricks has a Serbian war criminal hiding as a monk in an addiction clinic, and killing a man who recognized him.
  • SEAL Team has Bravo Team going to capture a Serbian arms dealer who has been linked to multiple bombings targeting U.S. military personnel in the premier of it's third season, and has a scene of Bosnian Serb forces executing Bosniak civilians in "Ghost of Christmas Future".
  • Sleeper Cell has a Bosnian terrorist in its first season.
  • Pod Prikritie is centered around Bulgarian crime groups, which are this by default, but later an Albanian gang is introduced as even more violent. Even Ivo Andonov, one of the most ruthless mob bosses, has had it with Balkan petty brutality and wants to work with more "civilised" gangsters, like Italians.
    Ivo: I've had it with those Macedonian, Serbian, Greek, Turkish dumbasses!

    Video Games 
  • Grand Theft Auto IV has protagonist Niko Bellic and his cousin Roman, who are Serbian immigrants and the former a war criminal of the Yugoslav Wars, and features Albanians as a major gang.
  • A Hat in Time has a comedic example in the Mafia of Cooks, a criminal organization of chefs who speak in Slavic accents, live in a Mediterranean-like city, and enjoy punching things, especially old ladies.
  • Dragan from PAYDAY 2 is a corrupt Croatian Interpol agent who works with the Payday Gang.
  • Resident Evil 6 has the J'avo, C-Virus infectees whose' name is Serbian for devil, speak Serbo-Croatian, have no problem killing civilians or taking them hostage and are the main combat force of Neo-Umbrella. The game also has a rare heroic example in Jake Muller, a Blood Knight mercenary from a fictional Serbo-Croatian speaking country known as Edonia who has the antibodies for the C-Virus in his blood due to being Albert Wesker's son.
  • Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 has Merinov, a powerful Serbian weapons dealer, conspirator and one of the most personal enemies of the protagonist Cole Anderson, and a genocidal leader of the Serbian military, Marko Vladic.
  • SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs has the Sesseri, an Albanian black market syndicate.
  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory has Milos Nowak, AKA Milan Nedich, a suspected war criminal from the Bosnian conflict known as the Barber of Bosnia, who allegedly scalped some of his prisoners. He's one of the only mandatory kills in the game, and killing him does not effect your mission statistics.
  • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves has its Big Bad Zoran Lazarević, an infamous Serbian war criminal, and his mercenary company.

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