"In America, you destroy life. In Soviet Russia, life destroys you."
In a given work of fiction featuring one or two token Russians, the Russians tend to get the short end of the stick. Whenever there's suffering to be had, they take the larger ration. Quite often, this isn't played too seriously, but sometimes it can be. They also have a tendency to be The Eeyore or a Grumpy Bear, especially in combination with these other elements.
The reasons for this trope may originate from what most Westerners assume actual Russians have been through, having lived under an Evil Empirenote ; thus, any fictional suffering they might endure can't compare to what they've gotten in real life. In short, they're Acceptable Targets through being "overqualified".
Another reason for the trope's popularity in the West is some Russian classical works, particularly Fyodor Dostoevsky, who remains the best-known Russian author among Westerners, and who was really fond of religious traditionalism and the Orthodoxy-inspired idea of "redemption through suffering and penance". Other well-known writers don't exactly break the stereotype either, with works from many late-Tsarist writers (such as Nikolai Gogol or Anton Chekhov) frequently including some mixture of both Tragedy and Black Comedy. However, since collapse of the Soviet state in the 1990s (although the first years after the collapse of the USSR were not happy either), and especially with the emergence of globalization and the digital age the trend seems to be drastically changing: today's Russians have little interest in enduring hardships, preferring to enjoy the luxuries of the global world. Therefore the trope is on its way to becoming a discredited one.
It doesn't matter if the given Russian is a hero or a villain — if the plot causes them to suffer more often than not, they are an example. Russian characteristics, if not an explicit Russian background, can also merit inclusion in this trope.
- Dhomochevsky from Blame!, while not actually Russian, his obviously Eastern European based name coupled with the fact that he suffers... quite a bit during his arc certainly qualifies him.
- Hetalia: Axis Powers: Russia himself spends almost all his time tormenting his neighbors and showing Comedic Sociopathy, but a few strips show this is thanks to his brutal history, such as the building of the White Sea Canal and Bloody Sunday.
- Digimon Savers has a Quirky Miniboss Squad made up of a Blood Knight who wants to kill The Hero, an Elegant Gothic Lolita teen super-genius who wants to rule the universe with The Lancer, and a Punch-Clock Villain who subjected himself to medical experiments and commits daily genocide to support his dozen siblings, and a never-gonna-be-reciprocated-in-snowy-hell crush on the Team Mom of the group, Yoshino. The last guy's name? Ivan.
- Though everyone in Mobile Fighter G Gundam had it quite hard in their backstories, Neo-Russian Argo Gulskii stands out for being an ex Gentleman Space Pirate, now Boxed Crook with a bomb strapped to his chest, who's forced to fight by his government in exchange for his and his companions's freedom. That said, he gets a happy ending despite not being the final victor; the bomb is removed and deactivated, his crew is freed by his handler, and said handler joins him as a pirate. Played straight with Mobile Suit Gundam 00's Sergei Smirnov. Seriously, the man lost his wife and his son Andrei blames him for it. And then it got worse.
- In season 3 of Beyblade, Yuriy takes a real beating, worse than any other character besides Kai.
- Warsman, the Robo-Choujin from Kinnikuman, seems to get undergo a lot of abuse. After being defeated by Kinnikuman, he gets beaten up by the 7 Devil Choujin, has his ears blown out by Stecase King, killed by Buffaloman, a victim of Planetman's Hollywood Voodoo, turned into a fighting area by the rest of the Devil Knights, punched out by Ashuraman, killed again by Neptuneman, revived with incomplete memories by Dr. Bombe, which leads to him getting thrashed by the Manriki, and ambushed by Mammothman. And that's not counting the Training from Hell at the hands of the Wolf Room and Robin Mask. He does get beaten down during his match against Polarman, but pulls off a miraculous victory.
- Yakitate!! Japan a bunch of Russian bakers get chewed out a lot by Pierrot, because their breads are considered incomplete.
- In Cyborg 009, the Russian Ivan/001 has one of the most dramatic backstories from the series. By extension, the same happens to a guy whose country was in the Easten Bloc: Albert/004 who's from East Germany. Disturbingly, they are also the only ones even slightly justifiable in that Black Ghost saved both of their lives. 001 is a baby who never knew life outside of constant experimentation (by his own father, prior to the team's escape. 004... hard to know where to start with him.
- Seraph of the End: Poor, poor, Mika...
- None of the X-Men have it easy, but Colossus seems to get the shaft even more often than most. Between having each member of his family die horribly one by one, falling in love with an alien woman who sacrificed herself to save him, getting his brother back only to see him sentence himself to eternity in a parallel dimension to protect him from their psychotic ancestor, and seeing the love of his life put herself on a giant space bullet days after they finally consummated their relationship... There's also the time he died, but was then brought back to life so he could be experimented on for two years by a fanatic Blood Knight alien who thought Colossus was going to destroy his planet (which turned out to be a scheme implanted by ANOTHER insane alien who WANTED Colossus to destroy the planet because it was full of Ax-Crazy Absolute Xenophobe types who said second alien felt DESERVED to die, ergo Colossus suffered for the sake of being a pawn). At least he got his girlfriend back...only for her to break up with him because he accepted the powers of the Juggernaut during Fear Itself. Yeah, it sucks to be Colossus...but considering he was a superstrong mutant who ALSO possessed the literal Juggernaut powers, it sucked even MORE for whoever was in front of him should he snap. And then finding out that his little sister intentionally manipulated him into accepting the power of the Juggernaut, just to make him a monster. It's a wonder the "Gentle" part stays with this Gentle Giant at all.
- Stormwatch: Unlike most of his comrades, Nikolas Andreyvitch Kamarov aka Winter, did survive the Xenomorph-invasion of Skywatch but shortly afterwards suffered a horrible Fate Worse than Death after piloting the Xenomorph-infested Skywatch-station into the sun.
- Iosif Nichayko, head of the Russian counterpart to the B.P.R.D., the Special Science Srvices, has it bad even for a cast facing The End of the World as We Know It. Iosif was a Soviet soldier in 1946 who hoped to get married someday and have kids and grand kids. Instead he died after the submarine he was on sank and he got resurrected as a mindless zombie, guarding a magical suit of armor until his corpse is dragged by to headquarters. He regains his intelligence, imprisons his boss (a malevolent demon) in a bell jar, and takes of the SSS. Then the apocalypse happens, and he has to protect Russia from giant monsters while he former boss taunts him with threats of horrible suffering if she escapes. All the poor guy wants is to finally die but he knows he can't until Russia is safe.
- Dr. Jumba Jookiba of Lilo & Stitch is one of a Butt-Monkey duo. While an alien, he is nonetheless Russian-accented. With the voice of Cogsworth, and many many more, such as Radcliffe, and his sidekick Wiggins, no less. This is also Jumba's Crowning Moment of Funny:
Stitch: Hey! Gambooka gably!
Jumba: WHAT?! After everything you put me through, you expect me to help you- JUST LIKE THAT?!
- The Russian enforcer in Righteous Kill, whose survival sets up the climax of the movie. Quoth the doctor: "I pulled three bullets out of him from the attack, and three more that were already in there!"
- Taken to hilarious extremes with the two Russian goons in RocknRolla. A whole scene is devoted to their hideous Scar Survey. The main character shows his utter disbelief at their seeming indifference to massive physical damage.
- Snatch. has Boris the Blade, an Uzbekistanian who's captured, run over, and takes an entire Desert Eagle clip to be killed.
- Zangief in Street Fighter works hard and enthusiastically and he doesn't even get paid, then subverts it by getting a Heel Realization, switching sides, saving the heroes, and being the only one of M. Bison's Mooks not to be dead, arrested, or on the run.
- In 2012 there are several Russian characters. Let's just say the trope is played straight here. To clarify, there are 5 major Russian characters. Of them, only the two children survive, but they watch their father fall to his death.
- Boris in Balto as the long-suffering sidekick to the eponymous wolf-dog. Lampshaded at one point:
Boris: Spending days in bitter cold, facing wild animals, risking death from exposure...is like holiday in old country.
- Russian dancing instructor Kolenkhov in You Can't Take It with You when asked about what's going on back home, says "No one writes to me. They're all dead."
- This is played for laughs in Wristcutters: A Love Story. The second main protagonist, Eugene, is a Russian man who is already suffering in the limbo of the afterlife from having committed suicide. But it turns out that his entire family lives (in a house) with him, meaning every member of his family has offed him or herself. It is implied in the film that this is the only case of an entire family having committed suicide. Yes, the Russian guy suffers most.
- Armageddon features a Russian cosmonaut who has spent so much time in space alone that he has gone rather mad.
- Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol: the Russians get hit really hard when the Kremlin was destroyed, while later the team was able to stop a nuclear attack on San Francisco. In the meantime, the Russian agents after Ethan get their butts kicked by him, until they realize they're on the same side at the end.
- Pacific Rim: The Russian Jaeger pilots of Cherno Alpha, Aleksis and Sasha Kaidanovsky. While Crimson Typhoon and Striker Eureka have a quick head crush and explosion respectively, the Russian pilots are shown screaming and drowning as two Kaiju tear the Jaeger apart.
- The Punisher (2004): The Russian, endures quite the fight with the hero. The whole fight is essentially a Curb-Stomp Battle with the Russian winning. He DOES take a few hits, including a stab, but nothing fazes him until he is burned with boiling hot water and tackled down a flight of stairs.
- The film version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'s Illya has the most tragic backstory of the protagonists (father was arrested and sent to a gulag, mother...got friendly with dad's old friends), gets his father's watch stolen, and watches the woman he fell in love with betray him and Napoleon to fascists. And even when he finds out Gaby was actually a double agent and Good All Along, he's given orders to get sensitive information at any cost, even if it means killing Napoleon, a man he's come to respect. When Napoleon gives Illya back the stolen watch (that he found on a mook), they decide to burn the information together and join U.N.C.L.E.
- Dawn of the Dead: Luda is a Russian woman in the middle of the zombie apocalypse while pregnant no less. No points for guessing what happens to her: she gets bitten by a zombie, dies in labor and both her and her child turn into zombies, with the others being forced to put them down. She practically has an "imminent misery" sign written on her.
- In The Cloverfield Paradox, the most gruesome death is reserved for Russian crewmember Volkov, who gets the space station's almost head-sized gyroscope and a whole tankful of wormsnote teleported into his body when the Alternate Universe jump happens. He doesn't notice at first, but when he does it's anything but pretty... but very final.
- Says a demotivational poster: Find the Russian.
- How do you sum Russia's history in one sentence? "And then it got worse."
- A Russian joke involves a Brit, a Frenchman, and a Russian debating the definition of happiness. The Russian says true happiness is when the KGB kicks down the door of your shabby apartment ... and it turns out they're after somebody else.
- A joke involves people of various ethnicities looking at a painting of Adam and Eve and giving reasons why Adam and Eve must really have been their ethnicity. The punchline is: "No clothes, no shelter," the Russian points out, "they have only an apple to eat, and they're being told this is paradise. They are Russian."
- How do various nationalities solve a Love Triangle? In Italy, one man murders the other and marries the woman. In France, they live together in a ménage à trois. In Russia, the women loves one of the men, but marries the other and they are all unhappy.
- Investigator Arkady Renko in the Gorky Park series of books. His first wife cheats on him. He falls in love with a political dissident, ends up fleeing the country to protect her and eventually marries her, only for her to catch a bridge due to a documented penicillin allergy that the nurse at their clinic was too lazy to notice in her records. When he finally decides to end it all, he is interrupted by a would-be hitman sent to kill him and ends up using his instrument of suicide to kill the hitman in self-defense. Dude can't even catch a break when he tries to off himself. This is in addition to the various times he's been arrested, beaten, stabbed, shot at, or nearly frozen to death (more than once!).
- Redshirts has Lieutenant Anatoly Kerensky, a transparent Pavel Chekov expy who has suffered seventeen major traumas in the past three years. Oh, and caught three STDs, a fact that is brought up when one character suggests she might consider dating him.
- Dimitri Belikov in the Vampire Academy series. Nothing goes right for him at any point in the plot and even when it does, there's always something negative about the situation to focus on.
- In From Russia with Love, James Bond is of the opinion that the Russian national character is basically masochistic: "They love the knout. That's why they were so happy under Stalin."
- In Unsong, Russia gets invaded by a giant army of demons after a portal to Hell appears under lake Baikal, in Siberia.
So the Soviets mobilized their military machine, the largest in the world, and trudged to the Yenesei, which they dutifully started defending. Another country would have called it a terrible battle that made the rivers run red with blood and the piled corpses reach almost to the sky. The Russians just called it Wednesday. Hells legions stalled temporarily, caught flat-footed by Moscows ability to throw its citizens lives away defending every square meter of land.
- subverted in Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse. On the one hand, the Soviet Union has been mostly overrun by BETA, currently only holding onto the Kamchatka Peninsula, with a refugee population and Soviet Government in Exile resettled in Alaska. On the other hand, the people resettled in the United States are mostly ethnic Russians whereas it's mostly non-Russian Soviets fighting in Kamchatka, e.g. Georgians and Kazakhs, and they hate the fact that the conquered peoples of the USSR got off even worse than the Russians did.
- Stargate SG-1:
- Most Russians don't end up so well. When SG-1 went on a mission with four Russians, just one of them survived — The Final Girl.
- Colonel Chekov suffers the same fate. In its first engagement, Russia's only battle cruiser, commanded by him, gets destroyed by the Ori.
- Nearly an entire Russian base is wiped out by sentient water. You're not going to see that happen at the SGC.
- And the entirety of the all-Russian SG-4 gets killed in "Metamorphosis."
- In "Absolute Power", a power-crazed Daniel has Moscow nuked in what turns out to be a Dream Sequence.
- In "Lockdown", Russia tries to pressure newly promoted O'Neill to let a highly decorated Russian colonel join SG-1. The colonel ends up dying after being possessed by Anubis.
- Similarly, Chekov of Star Trek: The Original Series gets injured. A lot.
- In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Chekov's hand gets electrocuted by an exploding console. An early draft had him dying from this. Thankfully, they dropped that.
- Walter Koenig called Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan "Star Trek II: Chekov Screams Again", as Chekov gets a Puppeteer Parasite inserted into his ear by Khan.
- In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Chekov gets arrested by law enforcement in 1986, and suffers a near-fatal concussion while attempting to escape.
- In "The Deadly Years", Chekov is the only one of the landing party who doesn't fall prey to the aging disease, which would seem to be a good thing. However, what it really means is that he's forced to go through numerous painful and annoying tests so McCoy can figure out why he wasn't affected.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Worf, Trope Namer of The Worf Effect, was raised by Russian Slavs.
- Susan Ivanova of Babylon 5. To the point where the creator had to specify that she has NO MORE FAMILY TO KILL OFF! So after she gets involved with Talia Winters and then finds out she's a Manchurian Candidate for the PsyCorps, she gets together with Marcus! Oops, that didn't work out so well after all. On a lighter note, she also seems to be the station's go-to person for receiving Too Much Information.
- In-universe, Ivanova is perfectly aware of the trope, and has the attitude to match. She compliments people on "thinking like a Russian" when they express something pessimistic, and Sheridan refers to his becoming more and more jaded as "taking Ivanova lessons".
- In The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Illya Kuryakin tends to spend a lot of time chained up and tortured. However, in the fourth season it's downplayed as his American partner Napoleon gets tortured more instead. Hell, in one episode it's inverted: an in disguise Illya, in order to maintain his cover, has to torture Napoleon. Fanfiction revolving around this scene still tends to play it straight too.
- Mikhail of Lost was beaten up every time he appeared, but always seemed to survive until he was shot with a harpoon and blown up with a grenade. Must've been the Eyepatch of Power.
- Played for laughs in an episode of Not Going Out (albeit not technically with a Russian) where the main female character plans to marry an Eastern European car mechanic being threatened with deportation to his conflict wracked native land so he can stay in England. The woman's family and friends strenuously warn her against it but are won over by the mechanic's stories of the suffering (including his family surviving on the milk of a lactating cat when they couldn't afford a pig and his grandma being burnt alive when the fire she fuelled with her wooden leg got out of control). Even the main character and woman's flatmate Lee who has a thing for her and has been working hard to ensure she didn't go through with the marriage is moved to tears and sets up a plan B marrying the mechanic to his accident prone and incompetent cleaner (on the grounds that the mechanic is obviously used to everything he owns being destroyed)
- JAG: In "Cowboys and Cossacks", the Russian captain of a soon-to-be-scrapped destroyer decides to attack a U.S. destroyer in a final blaze of glory. Meanwhile, the gloomy crew indulge in drinking vodka and smoking cigarettes.
- In a later season, Harm's Russian half-brother ends up as a POW in Chechnya.
- In the first part of season 1 of Daredevil (2015), Russian mobsters Anatoly and Vladimir Ranskahov catch very few breathers. Their efforts to deal with Matt Murdock going after them ends up causing them to unintentionally piss off Wilson Fisk when they intrude on his private life. Fisk personally kills Anatoly by beating him unconscious then decapitating him with a car door, while Vladimir dies a slow Rasputinian Death that ends with him getting shot to death in a blaze of bullets by a corrupt ESU team.
- The recurring character of Olya Povlatsky on Saturday Night Live, played by Kate McKinnon as a Russian peasant woman who, among other things, has compared District 12 to her village's wealthy neighborhood and has described her World War III drill as running out into a field and begging for the bomb to kill her.
- Both played straight and subverted in Chernobyl. As in real life, it's the Soviet Union and there are plenty of Russians around who are dying of radiation poisoning, but the Chernobyl power station is actually in the Ukraine and there are people involved from all over Eastern Europe.
- While Croatian rather than Russian, a surgical intern in the Scrubs episode 'My Perspective' was a fully qualified surgeon in his home country, but had to start from the bottom as a resident on American soil. He talked of the tragic circumstances in which some of the surgeries he had to perform back in his war torn home took place, which Turk envied for the experience.
"I reattach child's arm once, in rusty shell of car. I can still see dead bodies that littered streets, as my country burn to ground."
- Unintentionally evoked by Russia's 2010(?) entry to the Eurovision Song Contest by Peter Nalitch and Friends: Lost and Forgotten, an anthem of Russian melancholy and despair.
- Popular Russian song Den Pobedy (Victory Day), which is always played May 9, commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany. It's at best bittersweet song, the happiness of victory mixed with the sorrow of everything lost in the war.
- Nikolai Volkoff, who is actually Croatian but played a Russian character, twice on PPV got Squashed either after singing the Soviet National Anthem or when he was attempting to sing it.
- At WWE's The Wrestling Classic PPV, which was a tournament with a Hogan-Piper match thrown in, he faced the Dynamite Kid in the first round. Volkoff sang the anthem, and Dynamite came off the top with a missile dropkick and pinned Volkoff in 8 seconds.
- At WrestleMania VI, the Bolsheviks (Volkoff and Boris Zhukov) faced the Hart Foundation. Volkoff started to sing the anthem and the Harts interrupted him and hit him with the Hart Attack for the pin in 19 seconds.
- He had turned face in 1990, significantly over a year before the fall of the Soviet Union, and stayed that way until he left in 1992. He came back in 1994, and it was explained that he was low on money due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and thus he had to become "The Million-Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase's "property."
- WWE's Aksana is, legitimately, Lithuanian, but, she seems to qualify for this as well. She doesn't win too many matches. There was a 7-on-7 WWE Divas Elimination Match on the November 25, 2013 Raw. Aksana suffered a Wardrobe Malfunction, which WWE was able to keep from airing, and was the first Diva to be eliminated from the match.
- Warhammer 40,000, unsurprisingly, turns this up to 11 with Russian Army Suffers Most. The force based on the Red Army is notable for its love of human wave attacks, mine clearance by infantry advance, and generalised pointless slaughter, even by the standards of the setting.
- That does apply for Valhalla in general, although in another way in general, since these tactics are the ones favored by Commander Chenkov of the Tundra Wolves regiment, who is notorious for these tactics. This trope in general more applies to Valhallans when on the defense (which they specialize in, pretty much), due to their unwavering stoicism and the fact that they can take even the most traumatizing losses without breaking. Indeed, they rarely ever surrender a position, and it is noted in the Imperial Guard codex that the enemy often has to wipe out the defending Valhallan forces completely in order to assure victory.
- This reputation is lifted straight from the Real Life (and not exactly justified) reputation of the Red Army in the WWII. Valhallan 597'th made a lot to change it, though.
- Other Russian-based regiments, such as Vostroyan Firstborn, show different approaches to the army's character, but no one ever loses its main side — the everlasting stoicism.
- In Warhammer, the fantasy counterpart culture of medieval Russia - the Kislevites - seem to suffer the worst of all the Old World nations when the Hordes of Chaos decide to launch one of their regular apocalyptic invasions. This is in no small part because the Hordes of Chaos normally reside to the far north of the Old World, and Kislev is the first human nation in their way as they travel south. The last Great War Against Chaos, in the early 2300s, saw the Kislevite city of Praag obliterated, its site forever after tainted, and pretty much the entire country turned into a bloody wasteland for several years. The final battle, at the gates of the capital, saw the embittered remnants of Kislev's fighting forces team up with Imperial, Dwarf and Elf armies to end the war, the Tzar of Kislev proving stoical and unwavering to the end.
- Russia is statistically the second-most likely power to be eliminated in Diplomacy, despite (or more probably because of) starting the game with one more unit than anyone else.
- They get it coming and going. They're often targetted because they start with four units, but their position is actually weak because their Baltic fleet and Black Sea fleet are separated and completely unable to support each other, which is why they get four units.
- The default Prodigy in Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine is a teenage Russian girl who spent her childhood in Training from Hell, and earns emotion XP by being a Stoic Woobie. Of course, the Russian version is only one option, and it's quite possible to run the Prodigy as "French Vampire Princess Suffers Most" or "Luchador Superhero Suffers Most".
- In BattleTech, the Tikonov Commonality (and later the Sarna March) is home to a significant percentage of the setting's Russian-descended individuals. To say that this part of space gets the short end of several sticks would be an understatement, due to its largely central location in space between numerous bitter foes. At one point, law and order broke down so badly that it got called the Chaos March instead for almost a decade...and then the Word of Blake Jihad happened, whereupon everything got even worse.
- Team Fortress 2:
- Everybody's first instinct is to shoot at the Heavy... but he can take it. Shoot the Medic First, you idiots!
- Every Valve "Meet the Team" video except his own includes poor Heavy getting it from the featured class. Headshots, facestabs, Sticky-bombs, sentry guns, mugged for his lunch... The BLU Heavy, anyway. When the RED Heavy takes center stagenote everyone else suffers.
- In "Meet the Medic", the RED Heavy does have to endure a full-awake operation that includes having the Medic's pet dove inside his organs (and the Medic telling said dove to not do that because it's filthy in there), having his extracted heart explode because it couldn't stand the ubercharge, having said heart replaced with a Mega Baboon heart and accidentally breaking off a piece of rib while keeping his ribcage open (though the results of the operation seem to have been worth it).
- Heck, there's even an achievement for getting hurt a whole lot in one life as a Heavy (and using medkits to heal), and one for being hurt in almost every way it is ''possible'' to be hurt in one life.
- "Beat me once, shame on me. Beat me twice, also shame on me. Beat me three times? I am sent to my death."
- In the BL Game Absolute Obedience, the KGB spy Zhores Barsoukova manages to have the crappiest life in a game where everyone has a crappy life. Forced to be a Honey Trap in his sister's place, he gets horribly topped, and also manages to be one of only two characters who can possibly die during the game. He also manages to have the second worse item stuck up his ass in the entire game.
- In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, both of Carlos's teammates, Nicholai and Mikhail, are Russian - the first of the two turns out to be a sociopath persistent enough to survive a small explosion and can finally either be blown up again in a helicopter or punched full of holes by Nemesis's Combat Tentacles and the second is first encountered half dead in a makeshift safehouse, finally dying via Heroic Sacrifice. Carlos lives to the end of the game without having to go through too much. However, Nicholai canonically survives, escaping in his chopper while Jill was trying to negotiate with him.
- Olga Gurlukovich in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the two members of the Cobra Unit - sans of course The Boss - with the most fleshed out and tragic backstories are The Sorrow and The Fury. Guess what nationality both those men have in common?
- Virtually every character in Singularity is Russian, and from all the tapes and audio logs and other files we find, they really get put through the wringer.
- It isn't really apparent in the Command & Conquer: Red Alert Series but the Soviets have become something of a Jerkass Woobie lately. Yes they start the wars but even their attitude in doing so is fatalistic. As the Uprising manual explains, their defeat in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 popularised a phrase that amounts to "Hey, we tried". And can you blame them? Between corrupt leaders suffering from Chronic Backstabbing Disorder and getting their asses handed to them by the Allies, they don't really have it easy.
- Mega Man
- Dr. Cossack in Mega Man 4 goes through a lot of horrible moments during the game, when you think about it. His daughter is kidnapped by Dr. Wily and he's forced to take credit for his crimes, converting his own robots for combat purposes and/or build new ones in an attempt to destroy Mega Man. Then he watches as Mega Man destroys all of his robots. Finally, he's forced to fight Mega Man himself. It's telling that when the battle with Dr. Cossack starts, there's actually a few seconds where he stands idle not doing anything, suggesting that Dr. Cossack doesn't want to go through with this.
- The Mega Man Battle Network version of Dr. Cossack, who appears in Battle Network 3, apparently lost his entire career over an experimental fully-autonomous Net Navigator that apparently went AWOL and fled containment with serious collateral damage to Sci Lab. Years later, Cossack is still struggling to restore his own good name in the software development community. His creation was Bass.EXE.
- In the thoroughly-scripted XCOM: Enemy Unknown Tutorial Mission, you have a squad of an Argentinian, an American, a Japanese and a Russian. By the end of the mission, you lose everyone except the Argentinian—but the first one to go? The Russian dude. With a point-blank shotgun blast to the chest and a grenade for a good measure.
- StarCraft: Alexei Stukov is the only explicitly Russian character among the Terrans, and yep, he has the worst luck. As he puts it:
"Let's recap. I was betrayed and killed, shot into space, captured by the zerg, resurrected and infested, cured, given to Moebius to research the protoss cure, and was instead experimented on as the cure slowly failed. Everyone up to speed? Good."
- However, he eventually gets to be the one to kill Duran/Narud, the being who caused everything bad in his life.
- Implied in World of Tanks with the food item consumable that improves morale, raising the skill level of the tank crew when used. Other countries get regionally appropriate field luxuries: a case of cola for American crews, chocolate bars for Germans, puddings and tea for the British, good coffee for the French, and so on. What do the Russians get? Extra battlefield rations, depicted as a can of Eastern Front-vintage MREs, notorious for being both unappetizing and in short supply. Even the Chinese at least get improved rations (depicted as potstickers), but the Russians don't get better food, they just get more of what they're already eating. It's still enough to motivate Russian crews to perform even better, and considering circumstances on the Eastern Front, just having more food probably counts as a luxury.
- In Paladins' champion teasers, Viktor the Russian soldier tends to be killed or seriously injured when he shows up, more than any other champion. He dies so often that fans are surprised when he doesn't die in a teaser.
- Necro and Decapre from Street Fighter are both Russian and are victims of experimentation. Decapre's Ultra Street Fighter IV ending, despite being non-canon, implies she's very close to the brink of death.
- Surviving Mars lets you add a host of optional modifiers during game creation that increase or decrease the baseline 100% challenge by a certain percentagenote . The "No Pain, No Gain" achievement (which just happens to be the only challenge-based achievement in the game) requires reaching five hundred colonists with at least 500% challenge rating while playing as, you guessed it, Russia.
- Bad Machinery: Mrs. Biscuits, an old woman that Mr. Kropotkin is trying to force out of her home to build a football stadium on the site, and also Mr. Kropotkin, a mining oligarch.
Mrs. Biscuits: I come from Russia years ago. In Soviet Russia, you have nothing! Here I have home. Will Russia take it from me? No!
Kropotkin: In Russia, I make fortune mining lithium. Initially with bare hands. Then a teaspoon. Other miners laugh! They could not break my spirit. When I feel sad, eat some lithium, feel better. After a week, I earn enough money to buy shovel. Now I own many mines. Laughing miners? Today they are broken men, too tough to cry.
- Alexi and her brother Isaac from Parallel Dementia, including both believing the other one is dead.
- In the Metal Gear Solid 3 Fan Webcomic The Cobra Days, though there are three Russians, the Sorrow, who speaks broken English for the first story arc and is most obviously Russian, suffers at the hands of the series creator who admitted herself that she enjoys seeing him get hurt. In almost every strip, he is either hurt or sporting an injury from a previous strip. This was even going to continue past where the series stopped, and during her finale video, she showed an image where the Fear had been beaten for being a Catholic Gypsy. The soldiers in the background were holding a badly-injured Sorrow, and the creator said that she couldn't remember why they'd beaten the Sorrow but assumed it was just for fun.
- Russia's fate in far too many Alternate History scenarios is even worse than in Real Life. Especially if the writer has a bone to pick and wants to "punish" it for whatever (usually political) reason.
- Pushed to a horrific degree in The Anglo/American Nazi War . The convergence point in this alternate timeline is Hitler deciding against deploying the Afrika Korps and instead sending the troops and material to Stalingrad, and while this does leave Britain in much better shape, it also results in Stalingrad ending with a Nazi victory; this breaks Russia's back and leads to their defeat by 1943. Most of the Russian population are either exterminated outright or sent into forced labour to slave away in appalling conditions for the Nazi industrial machine, and this fate really isn't very far from what the Nazis planned for the defeated Russians in Real Life. And then once the Allies win the war, things get even worse for the surviving Russians as their country fractures into several warring factions due to the Nazis decapitating their leadership.
- In Zhirinovsky's Russian Empire, Russia and the rest of the former Soviet states have to endure ten years of rule under the eponymous ultranationalist politician. Russia's economy is obliterated, political opponents are disappeared, and Chechnya is destroyed in a wave of ethnic cleansing.
- Subverted in Twilight of the Red Tsar. While the USSR does go down the toilet under a paralyzed and senile Joseph Stalin, China under Mao Zedong suffers even more. First when an earlier Sino-Soviet split pushes Mao into jump starting an earlier Great Leap Forward, causing widespread famine, and later, when a war breaks out between Russia and China, with the former unleashing bio-weapons, nukes, and massacres on the latter. Life in Russia's satellite states gets so bad, that armed revolts break out in the years after Stalin's death.
- Soviet Creepypasta pretty much took the "can't compare to what they've suffered through in real life" part of this trope and ran with it. An American would pick up and look through that stack of creepy photographs that kills you by the time you reach the last photo, while a Soviet Russian wouldn't even bother taking a glance at them, he'd just burn them for warmth. Or perhaps the American might get freaked out and wonder who was phone, while the Russian would be more concerned about being arrested and sent to a work camp just for owning the phone in the first place. Not that any of this suffering actually bothers the Russians in the slightest, though. Mother Russia Makes You Strong, after all.
- Bro Team Pill's review of Singularity says you can tell it's a good game because it's Russian, then followed by
You know how you know it's Russian? Because there's monsters, ghosts, shit's all fucked up, there's time travel, gas masks, and radiation is all over the place. TIME!
- CollegeHumor made a video, exaggerating the trope. Look at one of the lines below.
My name's Vlad and I have joke: man walk into bar and spoke "My brother's dead my son is ill". Joke is over back to field!
- Tezz Volitov of Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 got stuck on a Red Sentient Moon when he was nine years old and was in his late teens by the time he was able to return to Earth. He spent the duration of his ordeal barely scraping by, if his emaciated look is anything to go by.
- In Darkwing Duck, we have Russian S.H.U.S.H. head agent Vladimir Grizzlikof, for whom Darkwing's antics frequently result in being humiliated.
- The history of Russia in the 20th century. The collapse of the Tsarist government and of the subsequent democratic Provisional government paved way to the October Revolution, Red Terror, the bloody Civil War, post-war famine, Stalinist repressions, Iron Curtain, etc., etc. This involved not only Russia, but also Ukraine, Belarus, and most other countries that used to be a part of Russian Empire. After the collapse of USSR, all the post-Soviet states had to build democratic and capitalist institutions from scratch, which wasn't a piece of cake either.
- A much earlier example is the Mongol yoke which dated from 13th to 15th century.
- What's interesting, during the Soviet times, especially in The '70s and part of The '80s, when the economic situation was much better that in The '90s, and political oppression almost disappeared, the median life expectancy for males never exceeded 65 years, which is, in a curious coincidence, a pension age for the non-privileged professions. Some Conspiracy Theorists believe that The Government intentionally created such a situation to reduce the amount of pensions paid. Others argue that this situation occurred due to unbalanced Russian healthcare system which was developed to fight infectuous diseases but was pretty much ignorant of cardiovascular diseases. Anyway the median life expectancy dropped some five years after that and finally overcame the "65 years" figure in The New '10s.
- Re the above (1970s/80s life expectancy for males), it is worth remembering that the Soviet Union had proportionately many more workers in unsafe heavy industries that were the sort that often lead to chronic health problems. Added to this, heavy drinking was such a widespread problem that Gorbachev took major action in 1987 as part of his reforms. Realising that the USSR stood no chance of being economically successful with such a culture and attitude, he drastically increased the price and decreased the availability of vodka. This was an important factor in his subsequent national unpopularity but the measures did show immediate and significant improvements in areas of life such as traffic accidents, workplace fatalities and domestic violence.
- Also due to Gorbachev's "anti-alcohol campaign"...some people have built elaborate (in some cases even computer-controlled!) moonshine stills, others simply took to drinking everything that had some alcohol in it (Wood stain? Check. Brake fluid? Check. Glue? Check and mate!) usually after using some technique to separate ethanol from other ingredients with varying results. And this in turn caused a lot of accidents, poisonings and domestic violence. Also, vodka rationing was implemented. Perestroika sucked on many levels...
- Gorbachev's Perestroika, which first gave hope for a better future for the country, turned into an economic, political and ideological catastrophe that led to the collapse of the USSR. The collapse of the USSR is the largest geopolitical catastrophe of the century Yes, the stores were stuffed with goods, open borders and liberal freedoms, but it was given at the cost of complete destruction of the economy, the emergence of ethnic hatred between the former Soviet people, the constant political crisis and chaos in the democratic government, an always-drunk President, who seemed to have no control over the country, and if he showed his power, then the bombardment of the parliament building from tanks when parliament opposed him, this put the country on the dangerous edge of the second civil war, the army was ruled by the arbitrariness of officers who used conscripts as slaves and actively plundered everything that was not nailed down, and among the recruits dedovshchina became the norm and went to extremes, and in some military units the soldiers even died of hunger, corruption reached Up to Eleven, by the deception and theft of a handful of people in one moment became super-rich - the oligarchs, and against the backdrop of a rapidly impoverished population, former Soviet dissidents actively criticized the Soviet era without seeing in it literally anything good and even went further criticizing the whole history of Russia, it was not enough and they publicly including on television insulted the Russian nation considering them lower creatures and millions of ethnic Russians in one day turned out to be foreigners in independent former Soviet republics, some of whom began to discriminate against them. And that's all not to mention the loss of superpower status, which the Russians experienced extremely painfully. "Lihie" the 90's, indeed.
- The Soviet Union had by far and away the largest amounts of casualties in WW II . 8,800,000 soldiers having died is the lowest estimate of military casualties, and 24,000,000 civilians also died.
- During World War II, there was a black comic song sung by Russian tankers. One of the verses was "Our legs are torn off, and our faces are on fire!"
- There's also a popular old sad Russian folk song about tanks that often serves as a freakin' drinking song. It's about a tank commander who was killed in action, how they bury him and notify his next of kin. Here are some of the verses: "The tank was hit with armor-piercer / Now say goodbye to the Guards crew / Just four more corpses on the hillside / will add to fair morning view / So they'll extract us from the remains / They'll put our coffin on the clay / And rumbling fire from the main-guns / Escort us on our final way". Here's an English variant.1
- The drinking song version is sometimes converted into a Bawdy Song with exactly one changed line: "And his young bride will never know what size of cock did the guy have". Yes, that's it. A sad, funerary bawdy drinking song.
- That's not exactly it, of course... Kinda worse. The line, "kakoy tankista byl konets", is, very literally, "what was the tankman's end". So naturally it's about a manner of one's death. However, "konets" is also sometimes used for the meaning mentioned above (picture the end of the rope), in which case "what" would likely indeed mean size... Right, even Russian Double Entendre parallels cock with life's finale.
- One of the oldest and most well known drinking songs in Russia has the following plot: a mortally wounded cossack or soldier lies on a battlefield, and death (personified as a black raven) circles around him. In the finale, the soldier dies. Yes, they sing this when plastered instead of "Nellie Dean".
- Russian and Soviet armies have traditionally been based on conscription, whose Russian variety has been very little different from military slavery. The discipline was as harsh as the discipline, and even in the 'good old days' of the interwa period survival was not always a given. After the Second World War contempt for the new conscripts, who had not suffered through the extreme hardship and 300% turnover in combat forces during the war itself, manifested itself in the form of bullying. This grew exponentially worse as each new generation of bullied conscripts took out its frustration on the one that followed, until by the 1980s some estimates held that anywhere between two and five thousand conscripts were dying every year from hazing, bullying, accidents, maltreatment, suicides and outright murders. Many more became physically or emotionally crippled for life. Since Vladimir Putin and his reforms, it has gotten a lot better, and Russia is planning to abolish conscription in the future and transition in all-volunteer professional army.
- Some special operations units are known for their cunning or their high tech gear, but the Spetsnaz alone are infamous in Western media (with the emphasis on Western media) for the brutality of their selection and training. Interestingly, actual Russian Spetsnaz units, from Internal Affairs to Army to airborne, almost never advertise their training as "brutal", instead stressing their professionalism and devotion to military honor. Their selectiveness is treated as a given, since historically every elite in the Soviet union was supposed to form in a centralized fashion (i.e. by multi-level selection) - from theater and science to military, sports and even art.
- And then there were Construction Batallions a.k.a. Stroibat. You see, when you draft everyone and their uncle into the army the quality of recruits would be... variable. So you get some people fit for special forces and then you get some people who are worse than useless with anything resembling a weapon. But you can't just send them home because next draft will be full of people pretending to be useless and so the Stroibat was born. Intended to be military construction workers, they were useless in any capacity (including construction) and famous for that, as well as chock full of undesirables, misfits and outright criminals. Basically the only danger they presented was to themselves and local population. Add to that the fact that officers were often transferred to Stroibats as a form of punishment and it's no wonder the morale was non-existent.
- Which leads into a classic Russian military joke, about Stroibat being even worse than Special Forces to face in combat, as those animals aren't even issued weapons.