Follow TV Tropes


When Harry Met Svetlana

Go To
How I met your Mother Russia.

Wai Lin: I get to work with the decadent agent of a corrupt Western power.
James Bond: I think you've found the right decadent corrupt Western agent as a partner.
Tomorrow Never Dies trailer (paraphrased from the actual film)

Two people from opposite sides are working together. The one on "our side" is a man and the one on "the other side" is a woman. Likely reasons for this:

The name alludes to the classic Cold War combination of the American man and the Russian woman (or British man, if it's a James Bond film). Expect the Russian woman to be a Sensual Slav who talks in Poirot Speak with a thick Russian accent ("I come to your country for mission, da?") There's also a good, but not certain, chance that she'll become a Defector from Commie Land. The Soviet collapse has removed the original reason for this combination, but it still comes up from time to time.

Despite the name, this can refer to any situation where the main person on the side we relate to is male and the main person on the opposite side is female. Expect to see:

  • The man is a straightforward Everyman character. After all, we're relating to him. Alternatively, he's a badass Action Hero. Either way, he's unambiguously the primary protagonist.
  • The woman is introduced with a Samus Is a Girl reveal. She is a Mysterious Woman. She may be The Baroness or a Femme Fatale. Alternatively, she's a plain-spoken Action Girl. This increases the odds of her being a goody. If there is more than one person from her side, she will be the only female, but she'll have way more screen time than her male colleagues. She will probably also be the highest ranked.
  • Sex will become an issue at some point. Perhaps she's a Honey Trap (in which case she may fall In Love with the Mark or undergo a Sex–Face Turn). Perhaps there's Unresolved Sexual Tension. Perhaps one of them has a one-sided crush on the other. Whatever. The fact that these two people conveniently have compatible sex organs is not just going to be thrown away.


    open/close all folders 

    Film — Live Action 
  • 2010: The Year We Make Contact focuses on a joint American-Soviet space expedition. The American side is led by a man and the Soviet side is led by a woman. There's no romance, although when the expedition's ship undergoes a nerve-wracking navigational maneuver, one of the Soviet female crew-members seeks platonic comfort in the bunk of the aforementioned American male.
  • Birthday Girl: An Englishman orders a Russian mail-order bride and falls in love with her even though she doesn't speak English, though he finds out that there's a lot more going on with her than he anticipated.
  • Blade II: Blade ends up working with a team of vampires led by Princess Nyssa Damaskinos against the far greater Reaper threat. Blade (a dhampyr himself) grows closer to Nyssa during their time together, more than any other woman he's been acquainted with throughout the films. He Did Not Get the Girl. She chooses to die in Blade's arms after she's been infected.
  • Condorman features Natalia Rambova, a KGB spy who ends up falling for Woody Wilkins when the latter saves her life by accident, motivating her to defect. Woody ends up integrating her into his Condorman comics as the character "Laser Lady".
  • In The Exception, Mieke is a widowed Jew spying on behalf of the UK and Captain Brandt is a Nazi German officer.
  • On the other side of the Iron Curtain, it was reversed. In the Soviet spy comedy Good Weather On Deribasovskaya, it's the badass male hero who is Russian and his female partner/love interest who is American.
  • Subverted in the 1985 action-comedy Gotcha. A virgin UCLA college student is seduced by an older Czech woman who turns out to be a spy. At the end of the movie they have an angry confrontation and her accent slips, causing her to admit that she's actually a CIA agent from Pittsburgh.
  • The Cold War romantic comedy The Iron Petticoat featured Katharine Hepburn as a defecting Russian pilot and Bob Hope as the U.S. major assigned to introduce her to the world of capitalism.
  • James Bond examples:
    • From Russia with Love is the likely Trope Codifier, with Bond being sent to extract a sexy cryptology technician Tatiana "Tania" Romanova from the Soviet consulate in Istanbul.
    • In The Spy Who Loved Me, James Bond works with Major Anya Amasova of the KGB. Despite the fact that he killed her lover (in self defense), she naturally falls in love with him by the end of the movie.
    • The Living Daylights has Bond and Czechoslovakian cellist Kara Milovy.
    • The trope lingered on in Goldeneye with Natalya Simonova (Russian computer programmer who works on the title satellite's guidance system).
    • In Tomorrow Never Dies, Britain has James Bond investigate media baron Eliot Carver and his news media operation in order to prevent war with China. China sends Femme Fatale Wai Lin. Though in this case, Britain and China are not so much on opposite sides as trying to preserve a rather cordial relationship Carver is trying to upset.
    • The World Is Not Enough plays with this, a British woman is with the Russian man, and it's a case of A Match Made in Stockholm. They're an Outlaw Couple and the Big Bad Duumvirate.
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Illya and Gaby Teller.
  • Ninotchka has a romance between a male French aristocrat and a female Soviet "true believer", the latter being the title character. Being made before the Cold War, it's something of a proto-example and lacks the Enemy Mine aspect.
  • Happens near the end of Spies Like Us. Having resigned themselves to The End of the World as We Know It after the missile is launched, Emmett (Chevy Chase) takes Karen (Donna Dixon) aside and the two male Russians hook up with each other, leaving Austin (Dan Akroyd) with the cute Russian girl (Vanessa Angel). As she's sitting in his lap during the "peace negotiations" in the end, it seems to have lasted for a while, at least.
  • Played with in Telefon. The protagonist is a KGB agent sent to the United States to stop a Renegade Russian before he starts World War 3. He works with an American recruited by the KGB, who unknown to him is a CIA Double Agent. At the end of the movie they run off together.

  • In Summer Knight, Harry is hired by the Winter Fae to solve a case. Of course, since this is Fae business, the Summer Court assigns a representative to the investigation—who turns out to be Elaine Mallory, Harry's own Old Flame who now works for the Summer.
  • The Matt Helm series, by Donald Hamilton, has Matt frequently crossing paths with a Soviet agent he only knows as "Vadya". They're of course trying to foil each other professionally, but there's a good deal of personal respect/liking/attraction on both sides.
  • The fifth Presidential Agent novel by W.E.B. Griffin has Lt. Col. Castillo having to extract a pair of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service operatives who wish to defect, an uncle and niece. He and the niece, Svetlana Alekseeva, end up falling in love.
  • Gender-reversed in the Vorkosigan Saga, this is how Cordelia and Aral met in Shards of Honor. But here, a woman is the English-speaking hero and a man is the Russian-speaking antagonist, at least until Aral becomes a protagonist. Played With because, in the end, it is Cordelia who defects to live with Aral on Barrayar, albeit quite pushed to this by her own planet's authorities.
  • Jason Matthews's Red Sparrow has Nate Nash, a CIA officer handling a Russian mole within the SVR, and Dominika Egorova, an SVR officer trained as a Sparrow (seductress), who's assigned to Nate to try and learn from him who the mole is. Not only does Nate manage to turn Dominika and get her to spy for the Americans as well, but they end up getting into a relationship that gets massively complicated by all the responsibilities and deceptions that their chosen profession entails.
  • Gender-reversed in Behind Blue Eyes where Jake is sent to be a Honey Pot to Nephilim in order to bring down her cyberpunk corporate masters. He becomes In Love with the Mark instead.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Seven Days, the Russian representative to Operation Backstep is a female with whom Parker has Unresolved Sexual Tension.
  • In the Car 54, Where Are You? episode "Toody and Muldoon Meet the Russians", Toody and Muldoon escort some Russians, including a female general whom Muldoon gets involved with.
  • In The New Adventures of Beans Baxter, Darla was Teenage Superspy Beans' original girlfriend in Witches Creek. In Washington, he is pursued by Cake Lase-–"the most gorgeous girl on his high school campus." Beans, however, has eyes for nobody but Svetlana (played by for Miss Universe Shawn Weatherly), a beautiful Soviet defector.
  • It's almost literally a case of "When Harry Met Svetlana" on the Night Court episode "Russkie Business." Judge Harry Stone is trying to get a visa for his friend Yakov Kurulenko, so Yakov can visit his ailing mother in the Soviet Union. The Soviet consul assigned to Yakov's case turns out to be a gorgeous woman named Ludmila, who's as attracted to Harry as he is to her. They spend their time together alternately discussing Yakov's case, arguing, gazing into each other's eyes and making out.
  • Partial use in a couple episodes of Stargate SG-1. The team members sent to Russia in "Watergate" and "Full Alert" were paired with female Russian Air Force personnel, but no romance ensued.
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Our Man Bashir" has Julian Bashir's character in a holodeck scenario, a character based on James Bond, working together with a female KGB agent named Anastasia who, naturally, is head-over-heels for him. Due to an unusual set of malfunctions started when a Cardassian terrorist group sabotages a runabout containing most of the rest of Deep Space 9's senior staff, Anastasia ends up with the body of Kira Nerys. (For bonus points, actors Alexander Siddig and Nana Visitor were in a Romance on the Set at the time.)
  • In The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Two", the two survivors of a future war are (apparently) an American man and a Russian woman.

  • Inverted in Chess: Florence, who's the lead and working for the Americans, runs up against Anatoly, the Russian chess player.


    Western Animation 
  • Archer's fiancée, Katya, is one of the few "good" Russians in the show. Until she shacks up with Barry, that is.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Wheeler, the guy from North America, had UST with Linka, the girl from the Soviet Union, on the team.