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Mother Russia Makes You Strong

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One has to wonder if Mother Russia really is the reason why he isn't catching a cold.

"The physical and mental attributes of the Russian soldier are such as to make them the best people of all for war. They are long-enduring, tough, and insensitive and they find it easy to withstand the hardships of campaigning. They devour great quantities of raw and uncooked food, and their physical constitution is so hard that they bathe in rivers in the coldest weather."
— Quoted from a contemporary source in The Military Experience in the Age of Reason by Christopher Duffy

Most Russian characters in media, at least since the Cold War started, are depicted as hard fightin', heavy-drinkin', manly, boorish creatures. Even their females border on being The Baroness or the Femme Fatale (or alternatively, Brawn Hilda). The only soft and sophisticated Russian is most definitely The Sociopath.

And before the Cold War it was the Wild Communist, and even before, in the 19th century, it was a hard-fighting, heavy drinkin', boorish guy in furs, with a wild beard and a pet bear. So this trope predates television by some 150 years (it goes all the way back to 1813, in fact). And it would probably be even older if people outside the country itself before 1813 had registered Russia's existence.

One wonders about the reason for this trope: is it the cold winters of Russia, or their being raised on unsophisticated food, or something completely different? But that's rarely answered.

Sub-Trope of Had to Be Sharp and Grim Up North. Often overlaps with, if not providing an outright Justification for, Husky Russkie. Somewhat related, also, to Russian Guy Suffers Most.


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  • One commercial for Halls decongestants features a man popping one of the candies into his mouth and suddenly imagining that he's sitting in a sauna between two huge hairy Russian men, who are slapping him on the back and urging him to "Breathe, my pasty friend! Hahahah!"

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Mafiya in Black Lagoon. Especially Balalaika. Especially if the omakes are to be believed. Balalaika's sergeant Boris was once a scrawny prettyboy but Mother Russia's military training turned him into a Husky Russkie.
  • Simon Brezhnev, the kind and thoughtful but also very intimidating sushi hawker in Durarara!!
    • Subverted in that he's actually of African-American descent, it's just that his parents emigrated to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Slon, a huge and somewhat psychotic assassin introduced later, would've fit the bill better, had he been a bit smarter. His partner Vorona, on the other hand, is much brainier, though even more crazy.
    • Their rival, Egor, would be the most straightforward example in the series, being The Stoic Made of Iron Deadpan Snarker and Jack of All Trades, helping the heroes quite often in surprisingly diverse set of problems.
    • Dennis, the chef and owner of the Russian Sushi and thus the Simon's employer, is an another example. They both formerly were Drakon's men, and there is a reference of all of them being the Former Regime Personnel.
  • Team Russia from Eyeshield 21 is led by the world's strongest lifter. He gets beaten by a middle schooler just a few chapters later.
  • In Fairy Tail, though not Russian per se, the name "Makarov Dreyar" itself really sounds it, and is an in-universe Memetic Badass.
    • His old comrade Polyushka has a name that is most likely Russian or at least Eastern Slavic, and she is perhaps the only Badass Normal in the series. Bonus points for obviously being based on Slavic witches.
  • Briggs from Fullmetal Alchemist; the Easterners they keep the border on also seem to fit this, as their soldiers seem tougher than the Amestrians.
  • Girls und Panzer introduces Pravda High School, a Hokkaido-based school whose students (all Japanese) emulate Russian stereotypes, including a logo featuring a pair of scissors and a set of rulers suspiciously arranged like the Soviet emblem. Pravda is also the defending champion from last year's National High School Tankery Tournament (ending a nine-year streak by the German-themed Kuromorimine Women's College from Kumamoto) and the semifinals opponent of Ooarai (whose leader, Miho Nishizumi, was, coincidentally, the flag tank operator of Kuromorimine from last year).
  • Russia from Hetalia: Axis Powers.
    "Everyone will become one with Russia!"
  • Silver Spoon: Alexandra, Hachiken's Russian sister-in-law. A head taller than everyone else, part-Cossack, great horsewoman, thinks -20 Celsius is "a bit warm", immediately assumes the titular spoon is a warning against poisoning, can stomach Shingo's cooking.

    Comic Books 
  • Assassin's Creed: The Fall reveals the Russian tsars run on Rank Scales with Asskicking, as shown when Alexander III takes down an Assassin unarmed, after walking off his train crashing, and handing over his piece of Eden just so the fight would be fair.
  • A one-shot parody of the Superman comics called The Man of Rust has the Lex Luthor expy summon all the Men of Rust from all the alternate Earths. One of these is from Soviet Earth. When all the Men of Rust start fighting each other, and one of them uses his Freeze Breath on the Soviet Man of Rust, he just shrugs it off and says, "Bah! Your freeze breath is nothing compared to Siberian winters!"
  • The Incredible Hulk: The Abomination plays this straight.
  • This is true to an extent in Nikolai Dante, even though most of the characters are Russian. Dante himself was introduced as an aggressive, drunken lout, though he has since matured into a heroic, badass freedom fighter. Katarina's pirates have a reasonable chance of beating the navy in a sea battle and then celebrating with several bottles of cognac, Vladimir Makarov is closely based on Ivan the Terrible, and most of the Romanov men fit the trope to some extent. And then there's Lulu.
  • Bizarre example (from a bizarre character) in Nova. Richard ends up on a space station called Knowhere and ends up teaming up with Cosmo, a telepathic Russian Cosmonaut dog, against a Zombie Apocalypse. When Cosmo is fighting the zombies, he says:
    "Come on then, ugly zombies, if you think you can bite harder than Russian dog."
  • The Punisher: Villain General Nikolai Alexandrovich Zakharo A.K.A The Man Of Stone, exemplifies this trope. In fact, at one point he refers to Frank as a Russian who just happened to be born American.
  • Spider-Man villain Kraven the Hunter was a big game hunter in Africa before he moved to New York to harass the web-slinger.
  • X-Men:
    • Colossus, though deep down he's a sensitive soul with a talent for drawing.
    • Omega Red plays it straight.
    • Also, Mikhail Rasputin (Colossus' evil brother).

    Fairy Tales 
  • In Alexander Afanasyev's Russian tale "The Soldier And Death", the titular soldier intends to spend the night in a palace overrun with demons. When the tsar tries to dissuade him, the soldier replies that a Russian will not be frightened by torture or punishment.
    "Your Majesty," says he, "will you give me leave to spend one night in your empty palace?"
    "God bless you," says the Tsar, "but you don't know what you are asking. Foolhardy folk enough have tried to spend a night in that palace. They went in merry and boasting, but not one of them came walking out alive in the morning."
    "What of that?" says the soldier. "Water won't drown a Russian soldier, and fire won't burn him. I have served God and the Tsar for twenty-five years and am not dead. A single night in that palace won't be the end of me."

    Fan Works 
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, Far Überwald (A canonical region populated by people with a rather Russian aura to them) is a place of freezing cold winters, parchingly hot summers, endless Steppe, a city called Blondograd that endured a long terrible siege, and of course vodka. When witches start to come out of Far Überwald in significant numbers to train in Lancre, they demonstrate traditional dances at the Witch Trials. This includes long sharp sabres, intricate dance moves, and an element of Dual Wielding verging on Flynning. Lancre's Morris Dancers are suitably impressed.
    Bert, that's only a ladies' team! Imagine if we ever have to play an international against the men?
  • Scar Tissue: Dmitri is a Russian Child Soldier that is portrayed like a tough, extremely competent Super-Soldier and a rude smartass. Reinforced trope, since the author chose making him a Russian because he could not think of something more badass-sounding than a giant robot Russian pilot.
  • In A Scotsman in Egypt, the Highlanders under Angus the Mauler who invade Novgorod, find to their horror that no matter how much they cut or dismember their Russian attackers, they just keep coming. One Russian soldier gets the top of his skull smashed off, exposing his brain, and he still has the energy to swing a cudgel at the Highlander responsible. Too bad Angus was even tougher... and even crazier.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • From Armageddon (1998), Lev Andropov of the space station. So tough, he was on the outside of an "asteroid rover" when it jumped a chasm, and fixes the space shuttle's navigation system by assaulting it, because "This! Is how we fix things! On Russian! Space! Station!"
  • Daylight's End: Former Russian commando Vlad is good with a gun and is also one of the few people willing and able to take on zombies up close with a knife.
  • In Downfall, Adolf Hitler believes in his dying testimony that the hardy, determined Russians are the stronger and more deserving race than the Germans, and that their victory will then put them into conflict against the decadent democracies of the west where they will prevail as well.
  • The colossal blonde hitman known simply as "The Russian" from The Punisher (2004) (who is almost impervious to pain). And he was actually toned down from his appearance in the original comics, which detailed his rather... extensive backstory as a mercenary, assassin and sometime spree killer who went freelance after being deemed too Axe-Crazy for Spetznas, which takes some doing.
  • In Iron Man 2 Ivan Vanko seems to be Made of Iron thanks to having survived a lot of adversity in a Siberian prison. Technically, Natasha Romanoff also—she claims in Avengers that she "used to be" Russian.
  • Kick-Ass 2: Katryna Dubrovsky a.k.a. Mother Russia is easily the phsyically strongest and most powerfull member of Chris D'Amico's supervillain team. She's said to be a former KGB agent who spent some years in the gulags.
  • In The Northman, during the Time Skip Prince Amleth became a One-Man Army after spending two decades fighting in Kievan Rus' as The Berserker with an Army of Thieves and Whores.
  • Aleksis and Sasha Kaidonovsky, the Russian married couple that pilots Cherno Alpha in Pacific Rim, are the only people in the entire Shatterdome that don't run off in a panic when another skyscraper-sized mech accidentally powers up its building-sized Plasma Cannon and points it right at them. They do leave the premises as well, but in a calm and collected manner without any sign of fear. That's the definition of 'stoic' right there. They also go down swinging later in the movie without even considering a retreat, sacrificing their lives for the survival of Hong Kong and possibly humanity at large.
  • Seemingly aware of this trope, Rocky takes to training in the frozen Russian wilderness during Rocky IV in order to forge himself into a weapon able to stand against his boxing opponent, Russia's seemingly invincible Ivan Drago.
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows features a Cossack who simply refuses to give up.
  • The MMA fighter Koba from Warrior is based on the real MMA fighter Fedor Emelianenko, who was also a stoic, undefeated and greatly feared Russian. He borrows his nom de guerre from Stalin, who in turn borrowed it from a notorious Georgian outlaw.

  • Dirk Pitt Adventures: In Raise The Titanic, when Dana Seagram unhesitatingly complies with the Soviet sailor's demands to remove her clothes, she promptly demonstrates just how much of a strong-willed woman she is by taunting them, and when the Russians are rendered speechless, she adds: "What's the matter, Ivan? Too used to muscle-bound, hod-carrying Russian women?"
  • The Dresden Files: Sanya is both a Husky Russkie and a Scary Black Man, and one of the biggest, most muscular normal humans in the series. He is also a genuinely good person, worthy to wield Esperacchius, the Holy Sword of Hope.
  • Michael Strogoff: The titular character is able to appear stoic during his travel in Siberia and even to look and act as if he was effectively blinded by the Tartars.
  • In Neal Stephenson's REAMDE, the Russian mercenary Sokolov tangles with some Islamic terrorists. His stoic, seen-it-all personality stands in contrast to the arrogant and talkative terrorist ringleader.
  • Andrei Belyanin's Tsar Gorokh's Detective Agency series has Dmitry "Mit'ka" Lobov, a huge oaf from a village whose brain is inversely proportional to his body. As a rule, the protagonist (a modern day By-the-Book Cop stuck in fairy-tale Russia) and Baba Yaga mostly use him for manual labor and to assist in apprehending villains and forbid him from attempting to exercise his brain, as that usually leads to disaster. His enormous strength (it's frequently mentioned that he bends horseshoes with his bare hands for fun) isn't seen as that unusual for a village boy. When the protagonist decides to introduce Medieval Russia to hockey, Mit'ka is made a goalie, as his enormous bulk blocks most of the goal.
  • Barrayarans in the Vorkosigan Saga are in many ways Russia Recycled In Space. At the beginning of the series they are presented as warlike, ferocious, and superstitious, hard-bitten folk who live on a planet just entering into civilization.
  • Red Rabbit: Defied. Jack points out that as much as both the Russians and Americans like to play up this trope with various levels of jokiness, the sad and sorry truth is that the lower standards of nutrition and healthcare in the USSR mean that Ivan Conscriptovich is not going to be as strong or able to withstand adverse conditions as his US counterpart.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: Susan Ivanova is a stoic, no-nonsense soldier who even goes down in legend as Ivanova the Strong.
  • Danger 5: Spoofed with Ilsa, who shrugs off being whipped by Nazi torturers. "This is nothing compared to Siberia." Later when facing doppelgangers of the team, the fake Claire is exposed by a test that plays on her emotions, but it's noted that the test won't work on Ilsa as "Russians don't have emotions".
  • Vladimir and Anatoly Ranskahov in Daredevil (2015) do start off as this trope when it comes to dealing with the man in the mask, but they are no match for Wilson Fisk. Lampshaded when James Wesley visits their taxi company's garage on Fisk's behalf to solicit an offer.
    James Wesley: [motions to a nasty cut on Anatoly's forehead] Oof. Those look like they hurt.
    Anatoly Ranskahov: I've had worse.
    James Wesley: I know how much your people delight in extolling the amount of pain they can endure but, maybe next time you could try ducking?
  • Dr. Death has the American doctors Henderson and Kirby interviewing two Russians who were involved in a company with Duntsch and mention that so far, everyone's been scared to talk forthcomingly about him. They bluntly reply that they're not scared—they're Russian.
  • The Hogan's Heroes episode "A Russian Is Coming" featured Igor Piotkin, a downed Russian pilot who was strong but not very intelligent.
  • Invoked in an early episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit featuring a Russian Femme Fatale (and sodomy with a banana) — one character actually said that any woman who had survived for any length of time in The New Russia couldn't be anything but a self-preserving borderline sociopath.
  • Mikhail on Lost: stoic, evil, gives Sayid a run for his money in combat, and nigh unkillable. He also has Dharma vodka at the Flame (a sentence that allegedly means something).
  • Red from Orange Is the New Black is one of the most badass inmates and effectively the boss of them in season one.
  • Oz: Asserted by prisoner Nikolai Stanislofsky. After seven years in a Russian gulag, he expects no trouble from Oz. He didn't expect Ryan O'Reily.
  • The Sopranos:
    • A one-legged, stoic and hardnosed Svetlana remarks that Americans don't know what a real problem is. They live an easy existence compared to the average miserable life in Russia/USSR and yet they are wimpy complainers. When Janice, a mafia princess, steals her artificial leg and holds it hostage in a dispute over money, Svetlana simply has two Russian toughs beat her up and take the leg back. She gets away with it.
    • Valery from "Pine Barrens" is a Russian ex-Spetnaz who seemingly gets his throat crushed and his head shot, yet still manages to escape into the pine barrens, never to be seen again.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Averted: Pavel Chekov, albeit a trained Starfleet officer, is young, short, and not remarkably physically or emotionally sturdy, and needs rescuing from time to time.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation's Worf, while already strong as a Klingon, likely got the strength to survive the alien of the week from his adopted Slavic parents (exact nationality uncertain, may have been Belarusian or Ukrainian based on brief references). He even mentioned that his father took him camping in the Urals during his childhood.
  • In The West Wing episode Galileo (S 2 E 9) Bartlett berates the Russian Ambassador for being stubborn, and asks where she gets the nerve. Her reply: 'A long harsh winter, mister President'.
  • The Wire: Sergei Malatogv claims that American prisons are not real prisons as he has been a "guest" in the actually harsh Ukrainian/Soviet ones.
    In my country, I was in jail 4 years. In my country... this is not prison. This is nothing.
  • On Seven Days, the Americans launch a nation-wide search for a man tough enough to survive the rigors of time travel. When the Russians attempt to build their own time machine they proudly declare "Anyone who can survive a winter here will be fine."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • A running gag in some MMA studios is that any technique can be made to sound more badass by prepending a nationality, usually Russian (but sometimes Brazilian) to it. So a boring old armbar and triangle choke become an awesome Russian armbar and Brazilian triangle choke.
  • WWE's Vladimir Kozlov (technically, he's Ukranian, but still.)
  • NXT/WWE talent Alexander Rusev (who's actually Bulgarian). After a few years of waving the Russian flag and dedicating his victories to Vladimir Putin (in the process creating a hatedom for himself in his native Bulgaria), Rusev eventually dropped this gimmick and became "Rusev the Bulgarian Brute".
  • Years before Kolzov and Rusev were even twinkles in the eyes of their parents, the WWF had a feared Russian wrestler in Nikolai Volkoff, a Croatian, Yugoslavia native who – when he began his most famous gimmick – adopted Moscow, Russia, as his home. During the early years of his gimmick, in the mid-to-late 1970s when he was a top contender for Bruno Sammartino's WWF title, he demonstrated his brute strength by crushing apples with his bare hands during television interviews. The strength aspect was de-emphasized during his 1980s run; it was still implied that he was strong and that he gained it while a youth in his "homeland" Soviet Union, but that took a back seat to his outspoken hate for America and his infamous pre-match singing of the Soviet National Anthem.
  • Russo-German (born in Russian, but emigrated to Germany as a small child) Ilja Dragunov has a distinctly Soviet theme, and comes out to the ring in a military-style Badass Longcoat to the strains of Soviet-sounding music (Soviet March in wXw, Comrades of the Red Army in NXT UK), sometimes wears red trunks, and even wears red contact lenses.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chess: Between 1948 and mid-2000s, chess world champions represented either the Soviet Union or Russia, with the exception of 1972-75, when Bobby Fischer took the title from Boris Spassky. Even Fischer was called by some "the epitome of Soviet chess school", as he learned Russian specifically to study Soviet chess literature.
  • 7th Sea has equivalents of 17th century CE European nations. It also has each nation prioritize one of the game's basic stats. Guess what is preferred in Ussura, counterpart to Russia?
  • In the Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game RPG, Bison was given an origin as a Soviet mercenary whose unique style, Ler Drit, was based on Soviet assassination techniques supplemented with enhanced jumping techniques and Psychic Powers, because it seemed the most believable origin for him.
  • In Warhammer Fantasy Battles, Kislev, the counterpart culture to Russia, Poland, and the rest of the Slavs, is made up of hard-fighting, heavy drinkin', boorish guys in furs, with wild beards and pet bears that they ride into battle.
  • Iron Kingdoms: The people of Khador (the local Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Russia) tend to be tough-as-nails hard-fighting bearded men in fur pelts and carrying big axes.

    Video Games 
  • The Omar from Deus Ex: Invisible War. Descended from Russian scientists finding a way to survive the Collapse, they are immune to environmental hazards like fire, toxins, & radiation, although they are rather mediocre combatants.
    • In an ending where the Dentons, Templars, & Illuminati were destroyed, they inherited the Earth after humanity destroyed themselves in a nuclear war.
  • Ivan from Devil's Third is a heavily-tattooed, always-shirtless badass with a thick Russian accent.
  • The Russian Overkill plugin for Doom is made of this trope, among many others.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Russia was the only country to survive in the first Lostbelt, a world where a meteor strike caused a brutal ice age. The Arc Villains of the Lostbelt are Ivan the Terrible, who's become more giant mammoth than man, and Anastasia, who's Spirit Origin was corrupted in exchange for power. Both of them fall back on Russia's ability to survive brutal winters when it comes to boasting, with Anastasia proclaiming Chaldea's home base of Antartica being nothing compared to Lostbelt Russia.
  • The Gladiator, a game set in ancient China, have a Russian ambassador named Oleg (who changed his name to Ko Tien-Lei to blend in) as one of the playable heroes. He's The Big Guy who's easily the largest character in the game, and a Lightning Bruiser who fights with his fists and deals severe damage while unarmed.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV: Dimitri Rascalov seems quite amiable at first. Then, he bitch-slaps you and starts betraying and backstabbing every single person he comes across. Also, Rascalov's apparent calm and impassivity even in the worst circumstances fits the trope of Russian toughness. It is revealed he's actually a huge thorazine addict.
  • Vladimir Lem in the Finnish 3rd person shooter Max Payne is an example of the "cultured but evil" variety.
  • Rank 3 in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is a Soviet cosmonaut who got stuck in space until well after the Soviet Union's fall. He's notable for being the first boss in the game with a One-Hit Kill.
  • A female example is Zarya from Overwatch (overlapping with Brawn Hilda), who was a champion Russian weightlifter before becoming a soldier. Her record for the Snatch and Clean & Jerk is 512kg, which is higher than even the Men's current real-world record. She's so strong that she uses a Particle Cannon, which is normally vehicle-mounted, as a hand-held weapon. Notably has cross-universe dialogue in Heroes of the Storm when teamed up with Stukov above.
  • Punch-Out!!: Soda Popinski (originally Vodka Drunkenski), the Muscovite boxer, is very strong, considering only Mr. Sandman and presumably Super Macho Man were able to beat him until Little Mac came along.
  • Psychonauts: Mikhail Bulgakov is the only Russian kid at camp. He's possibly one of the strongest kids there and he's obsessed with wrestling. He's kind of scrawny (not at all a Husky Russkie), but he's strong enough to wrestle bears. Almost every single comment he leaves on everyone's Character Blogs involves him figuring out how he'd defeat them in a wrestling match.
    Mikhail: I fight bears because people are too easy to beat. I will wrestle everyone here all at the same time and I will win. I have a crushing move: The Telekiliminator. You do not want to see this move I am warning you.
  • In Saints Row: The Third, Female Voice 2 for the Boss is Russian. Some of her idle chatter if the controls are left untouched for a while has her hearken back to her Hilariously Abusive Childhood, claiming it made her into who she is today.
  • Alexei Stukov from StarCraft is decidedly from Russia, with the name, accent, and references to his homeland to boot, to the point where his introduction scene mentions his love of vodka. He is the only Terran in the entire franchise who retains his free will after being infested by the Zerg (even Kerrigan had to be freed from the Overmind's influence first) and gained great power in the process, to the point that he can annihilate a Xel'naga with a single blast.
  • Street Fighter: Zangief is one of the most iconic examples of this trope in video games. He is the original Mighty Glacier of the series and his playstyle revolves around high-damage throws.
  • Team Fortress 2: The Heavy's fists do the same amount of damage as a sword in game. He also carries a gun about as large as himself. He has twice the health of the other tiny baby classes, without wearing any armor. And he can kill you by pointing at you and yelling "Pow!" It's later revealed his family is just as good at it: Even the younger, less corpulent ones can go hunting for large bears for dinner and have done so for years, and the biggest of the lot, Zhanna, regularly kills men and robots with her bare hands once she joins Soldier in it.
  • Total War: Warhammer III: While Kislev is a Culture Chop Suey of Russia, Poland, and other Slavs, it definitely runs with this. One of their defining mechanics is each unit going on a Last Stand for thirty seconds when other factions' units would usually rout. Almost all of their foot troops are The Musketeer and are tough in melee combat, be it an archer or gunner. Furthermore, rather than use the same skeleton that the other human factions (the Empire, Bretonnia, and Grand Cathay) have for their soldiers, the Kislevites instead use the bulkier skeleton that the Warriors of Chaos and Norsca use (with the exception of any female soldiers and the Patriarchs).

    Web Comics 
  • Collar 6: Stella, Claire, and through them Ginger. It's also stated that even Russian subs tend to have a dominant streak.
  • Viktor Vasko from Lackadaisy: Even though he was born in Austria-Hungary, Viktor Vasko a large, stoic enforcer for a speakeasy who doesn't smile much.
  • Sandra on the Rocks: Tatiana invokes the trope, even extending it to choice of search engines. Sandra's doubts are plausible; Tatiana is in fact hell-bent on breaking Sandra.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: In one episode, Steve befriends an ex-Soviet spy who helps him build a rocket for a competition. To toughen him up, he teaches him to eat Russian turnips, which are so tough Steve's mouth begins to bleed upon biting into one.
  • "Iron Joe" (read, Stalin) from a Histeria! sketch with the WWII allies as superheroes. He was modeled after The Hulk and his favourite tactic was "Wipe out my opposition with famine and secret police!" That despite the fact that Stalin was not Russian.
  • Boris from the Samurai Jack episode "The Princess and the Bounty Hunters" is the most large and muscular of the bounty hunters.
  • Transformers: Animated: The Russian-accented Decepticon Strika is built like a titanium outhouse and turns into a futuristic tank, making her one of the largest fighters in her faction.

    Real Life 
  • Two common subvarieties within Russian culture:
    • Siberians aka "Tough/Rough Siberian guys." They are frequent characters of jokes, in which they receive a new and sophisticated device, submit it to an improbable stress test (like testing a Japanese chainsaw in succession on tough Siberian pine, tough Siberian cedar and tough Siberian rail from a nearby railroad), say their characteristic "Ah-ha!" or "A nuu" and revert to using something much simpler, but robust. Of course, this trope relates to real Siberians as much as the topic trope relates to Russians in general.
    • Nekrasovian women. Named so after a passage describing such a type of women in poem "Grandfather Frost-the Red Nose" by Nikolai Nekrasov. The two-liner that codified a trope goes approximately as follows: "... will stop a charging horse/ And enter a burning house".
      • Which was immediately changed by the people into: "...will stop a charging elephant/ And tear off its trunk".
  • It must be noted in Russia that anything within two miles is absolutely considered walking distance, regardless of weather or terrain.
  • In Moscow, how do you spot the foreigners in winter? Easy! According to the stereotype, no Russian man, other than a guard or laborer on the job, wears gloves, and nobody ever puts his hands in his pockets except to fish something out. In Real Life, most Russians tend to dress warm in the winter. Popular saying is: "A true Siberian is not the one who endures cold but the one who dresses properly". Also, it must be noted that Russian apartments are really hot in the winter thanks to cheap gas fired heating. A common complaint among Russian immigrants in the Western countries is relative cold in their apartments.
  • Tsar Ivan IV Vasilyevich, Grand Prince of Moscow (1530-1584). He's known as Ivan the Terrible in the English-speaking world, but the title is meant to convey ferocity or frightful majesty.
  • Vladimir Putin is a KGB Colonel who holds a 6th dan in judo and runs the St. Petersburg dojo.
  • This video depicts a group of Russian guys casually driving through a forest fire. What's even more mind-bendingly insane is that they encounter other vehicles during their death-defying commute. Yes, that's right, only in Russia can you get stuck in traffic in the middle of a damned forest fire. What's even better is that not only do they not seem at all scared, they seem bored or even mildly annoyed. In fact, they are really scared, but Russians apparently emote less. Moreover, most of the video is accompanied with swearing censored by the TV company.
  • The videos coming out from Russia on the 2013 Russian meteor event have reinforced this trope since to non-Russian eyes the Russian reaction seems remarkably calm and blasé, leading to jokes about Russians completely unimpressed about the prospect of The End of the World as We Know It. To Russian ears, however, the videos do show plenty of cries of alarm, but even these seem really low-key to foreign ears.
  • Spetznaz, the Russian special forces.
  • Soviet cosmonauts have a collapsible shotgun included in their equipment. Instead of landing in the ocean they come down in Siberia and one of the early crews was trapped inside their capsule overnight due to being surrounded by hungry wolves.
  • The idea of actually parachuting into remote forest fires to fight them was a Soviet invention. The people who do it are, as one might expect, as tough as nails, and the Russians even more so due to their antiquated equipment and low budget. After finishing fighting the fire they are often then stuck in the woods for up to a week while waiting for the helicopter to come and pick them back up again.
  • Mixed Martial Arts fighters from Russia in general tend to have this trope played up as part of their image.
    • Fedor Emelianenko, long-reigning PRIDE FC heavyweight champion and frequent Sambo tournament champion. Having gone undefeated for nearly ten years, he has widely been called the best fighter of all time and was certainly the most dominant fighter of his era. His personality was notably stoic, and his Dissonant Serenity in the ring was often called chilling. The Japanese fight scene made a lot out of his Russian heritage. He was given the nickname "the Last Emperor" and walked out to "The Cossack's Parable," often accompanied by graphics of falling snowflakes.
    • Dagestan, home of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Zabit Magomedsharipov and Muslim Salikhov, has become a more localized version of this; the region is home to almost 100 ethnic groups, a hotbed for Islamic insurgency (with heavy participation in The Chechnya Wars), and also known for its economically poor population. Combat sports such as wrestling are part of the culture and a way of life; it's telling that about 3/4 of the entries in the Wikipedia page for "Notable people from Dagestan" are wrestlers, sambists, judokas, kickboxers and MMA fighters.
  • In an interview in the February 2012 issue of Esquire UK, Russian supermodel Irina Shayk, who was born in Yemanzhelinsk, Russia, USSR, said, "You can't break Russian people. We're made in cold snow. We're very resistant."
  • Aleksandr Karelin, known as "The Experiment", grew up in Siberia and began his life skiing and hunting. He started wrestling at age 13 and became the dominant force in Greco-Roman wrestling, winning three Olympic gold medals, nine World Championship gold medals and twelve European Championship gold medals. He won all his matches in the 1990 Olympics in less than three minutes, the shortest in 26 seconds. He also at one point carried a refrigerator up eight flights of stairs in one go. He also, as a point of honor, agreed to every test for performance enhancers he was asked to do, and never failed any. It was all Mother Russia.
  • The book Fighting in Hell compiled by the US Army after World War II from interviews of German Generals who had served on the Eastern Front repeats this theme. Other themes included 'the Soviets only won by sheer numbers', 'we were very good at our jobs', 'Hitler was the only reason we lost', 'Hitler and the SS did all the war crimes', 'we didn't do any war crimes', and 'we weren't Nazis'. Of these claims, only the first has even a single grain of truth.
  • Russian military equipment is oftentimes far from the the most comfortable:
    • The buttplate on the Mosin rifle is 100% steel, and even a moderate shooting session can be felt for days afterwards, or if the recoil gets you, seen for more than a week afterwards. Americans, famed riflemen and lovers of 30 cal full size rifles, tend to put softer butt pads on these rifles, standard.note 
    • Russian and Soviet military longcoats called shinel' are made of heavy, rough fabric, and the only party of them that's made soft is part of the internal liner around the upper torso and most of the sleeves up until the cuffs. So your neck? Oww. Your wrists? Oww. Your hands if you tuck them in? Oww. The good news is they're they're warm as hell to the point where Viktor Suvorov wrote that it is indeed possible to sleep in them in the snow, even if it is wet. No, they aren't waterproof; they're just that heavy. How did he know this? Because the army made everyone do it to prepare them for possible field conditions!
    • Russian army footware. Almighty Allah! The old jackboots, sapogi, were heavy, stiff, came up near to the knee, and have a fit best described as 'well, the foot stays in there without too much trouble. Soldiers who wore these didn't even get socks; they got footwraps called portyanki. These are just rough rectangles of cloth about the size of a kitchen towel. They work great, provided you wrap them properly. If not, or if they come loose, or if your feet are just soft, you'll be in blister city in the first ten minutes. Kirza and botinki, which are less extreme, are generally far from comfortable and thanks to having to be able to accommodate just about anyone of a certain foot size, expect them to still be wide and tall, even if they are in your size lengthwise. Wearing any of these without at least double layer of socks is painful, and the hard soles will batter your feet and the weight will strain your legs. But once you're used to them, they make absolutely wonderful, supremely durable marching boots. In Russia, you get broken into your boots.
    • Russian army boots (albeit the modern ones, mind you) are surprisingly popular even with the general population (especially with young people), due to the mostly horrendous weather (and road) condition in Russia for roughly 7 months a year. Army boots are durable, less prone to slipping on ice, waterproof, warm and good for kicking ass should such necessity arise. Even women who prefer comfort over fashion wear them.
    • Soviet and Russian tanks are historically infamous for their lack of crew comforts. The legendary T-34 was a notoriously uncomfortable vehicle to drive, with both steering and gear changes taking quite a bit of upper body strength. The transmission was particularly unreliable in early models, and a popular urban legend states that gear shifts were so difficult, a smart driver would keep a mallet handy to help change gears. Later Russian tanks would add little in the way of crew comforts, favoring tanks with small, short turrets and low profiles, resulting in cramped crew compartments. Of particular note is the T-72, which between its short, small turret and it's signature auto-loading system, results in a turret interior that only barely allows for a commander and gunner. Russian design philosophy has long held that small size makes a tank more likely to survive in battle (it's a smaller target, harder to see clearly at a distance and harder to hit) and this is seen as far more important than crew comfort.
      • Throughout Eastern Bloc armies of the 1960-1990 period, a popular joke about very short and muscular men was "they were sent to the tanks during Army service".
    • Averted with the Su-34 fighter-bomber. It features a spacious cockpit with plenty of room for two and comes complete with a small galley and toilet. The pressurized cabin means that the pilots can fly at altitudes of up to 10,000 meters before needing to put on oxygen masks, letting the crew comfortably get up and out of their seats. There's even enough space to lie down in between the seats, should you get a little winded whilst defending glorious Mother Russia. The crew comforts were actually designed with long flight times in mind, allowing the pilots to remain fully focused on their mission. Compare this to the F-15E Strike Eagle, or the F/A-18 E/F Hornet, where the only crew luxury you get is a working ejector seat.
  • Oh, and while we're on the military topics, Russia will still retain Conscription for the conceivable future, resulting in a considerable portion of the male able-bodied population being (somewhat) trained soldiers.note 
  • Still a military one, from Soviet Russia, the Vsevobuch system which had one job : make Soviets strong, comrade.
  • Inverted: In the year 988, Vladimir I of Kiev sent an army to his ally, Byzantine emperor Basil II of Constantinople. He took the chance to get rid of his most unruly warriors (vikings), but Basil liked them so much that he ended forming the Varangian Guard and recruiting them on purpose as his personal bodyguards and elite army units. On the other hand, this is more a testament to the toughness of the Scandinavian warriors than a blow to the Russian reputation. That said, Vladimir I was himself of partially viking ancestry, as what would eventually become the royal family of Russia was founded by the viking chieftain Rurik (Vladimir's great-great-uncle).
  • Ryszard Kapuściński, a Polish journalist, describes his travels through Soviet Union in its final years in his 1993 book "Imperium" ("The Empire"). Between harsh weather and even harsher rulers before, during and after Soviet times, he argues multiple times that the Russian national character is a mixture of apathy and passivity with the will to endure anything. For example, Kapuściński recalls a conversation with an old lady trying to sweep out mud that keeps flowing in through her front door:
    "Tough work", I said, just to strike up a conversation.
    "Ah", she said, shrugging. "Spring is always horrible like this. Everything is flowing." Silence ensued.
    "How's life?", I asked the most banal and idiotic question, just to keep the conversation alive.
    The granny stood up straight, leaned on the handle of her broom and looked at me. She smiled at me and said the thing that's the very essence of the Russian philosophy of life. "Kak zhyviom?", she repeated, deep in thought. Then she added, in a voice full of pride, and determination, and suffering, and joy: "Dyshym!"
The old lady's response translates roughly as "we're breathing!" (or alternatively, "we're breathing with effort"), but can be taken to mean pretty much "we're [still] alive!".
  • The Attack of the Dead Men is what you get when you kill Russians with poison gas. They hadn't keeled over yet, so they counter-charged the German lines while coughing up their own lungs and generally looking like zombies.