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Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell

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Gorby is bummed.

"The first half of The Nineties largely reflected this realization that the world was no longer what we thought it'd be, from the decline of the military industrial complex, to who should be the default bad guys in fiction."

Any work that deals with the So What Do We Do Now? environment after the Cold War. Everything seemed to shift. What was relevant now? What was irrelevant? These works either asked those questions or focused on how people dealt with them.

And it can often be discussed in relation to modern conditions, such as comparing life back then and now, or military policy then and now.

Just to clarify, mentioning in passing that communism fell isn't enough. There has to be a sense that, well, someone was bummed.

This is somewhat Truth in Television — many people from the Eastern Bloc regret the fall of state-socialism. For more on this, see the Real Life section.

May result in Russia Is Western.

Compare Make the Bear Angry Again, The New Russia. Contrast Red Scare, The Great Politics Mess-Up.



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  • An ad for some company highlighted one of the hazards of the crumbling of the Soviet Bloc on a corporation with international business interests: it seemed that every second a new country was being formed (or unformed), necessitating new market update reports.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Lagoon:
    • Ex-Japanese Red Army member Takenaka is sad that he didn't get his revolution, and now allies with Muslim extremists he first met when collaborating with PFLP in Lebanon because he's become a Terrorist Without a Cause. Can be a Shout-Out to how the actual JRA operated for a time in the ME during the Cold War.
    • Furthermore, Hansel and Gretel are products of Ceauşescu's rule of Romania. With the country unable to take care of them after his death at the end of the Cold War, they were sold to the Sicilian mafia, and... it goes From Bad to Worse.
    • The series also features a criminal organization known as Hotel Moscow, which is composed of veterans of the Afghan War. It's leader, Balalaika, is a disillusioned former Soviet Special Forces commander who turned to a life of crime after being screwed over by the government in the wake of the war. OTOH, the end of Fujiyama Gangsta's Paradise arc could be explained only by her being, you know,.. deep in the loop. Just undercover.
  • Monster includes a number of ex-GDR officers and scientists who have tried to create new lives and identities for themselves, with varying degrees of success. Includes mildly sympathetic portrayals of, among others, a disgruntled worker-turned-terrorist who was upset at the layoffs of various labor and business policy shifts in the power company he worked for in post-reunification Germany and a former high-ranking StB figure who was prominent in the world of organized crime but was just trying to find his long-lost nephew.
  • The plot of the second Patlabor (a series which previously suffered quite heavily from The Great Politics Mess-Up) movie revolves around a terrorist plot intended to show the world how vulnerable the military budget cuts brought about by the end of the Cold War have made people (at least it was before Tsuge hijacked the plan for his own personal vendetta against the apathetic citizenry and the people who hung him out to dry when his attempts to develop a Humongous Mecha school of combat fell apart).

    Comic Books 
  • Many former Soviet superheroes in the Marvel Universe, especially Iron Man specific enemies created during the Cold War — Titanium Man, The Crimson Dynamo. (A few of them tried forming teams of good guys like the People's Protectorate and later the Winter's Guard, but as heroes, they just couldn't garner much Popularity Power.) Even DC Comics gets into it with former teams such as the Rocket Red Brigade.
  • In The Boys former Soviet superhero Vas bemoans the end of communism particularly in respect to the end of an alternative to corporate run and owned heroes that make up the antagonists of the series.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a 1991 Bloom County strip, a passerby is flabbergasted to see Opus the Penguin playing "cowboys and Indians" with his friends. "You're fighting Indians in 1991?" the stranger asks. Opus concedes the point and then declares "Let's fight Commie spies!" No way, declares the stranger; they're too busy slaving away at the fryer in the new McDonald's in Moscow. Opus tries again: "Arab terrorists!" Sorry, comes the reply; they're now our allies. "Klingons," begins Opus, getting desperate now — but he's quickly informed that a Klingon warrior is now serving on the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Let's face it, the stranger concludes; it's the "end of history," and there are simply no more bad guys.
  • There's a political cartoon that shows two maps: one for the Cold War era, one post-Cold War. The Cold War map simply shows the US labeled as "Us" and the Soviet Union as "Them," whereas the post-Cold War one has a lot more labels for various countries like "A Little Bit of Them," "No Longer Them," "Fast Becoming Them," "Sometimes Them," and "Big-Time Them." One of the men examining the maps laments, "What's happening to me? I'm starting to MISS the Cold War!"
  • Piranha Club: Parodied in one storyline where the fall of communism has reduced the entire CIA to following the world's last practicing Communist around, a Russian immigrant named Boris who relocated to Bayonne when the USSR collapsed. They desperately try to keep him alive and Communist, because if he dies, the CIA will be forced to resort to massive layoffs.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • James Bond: The Central Theme of films made after 1991 deal with the relevance of 007 in a post-Cold War era.
    • GoldenEye wondered if James Bond was even relevant now. M and 006 in particular bluntly tell Bond he was "a relic of the Cold War".
      Alec Trevelyan: Did you ever ask why? Why we toppled all those dictators, undermined all those regimes, only to come home — "Good job! Well done! But, sorry, old boy, everything you risked your life and limb for has changed!"?
    • Casino Royale (2006) has a throwaway line where M grouses about the new political scene, ending with, "Christ, I miss the Cold War!"
    • By the time Skyfall comes around, M seems to have come to terms with this. When she's Hauled Before a Government Inquiry to answer precisely this question, she responds that espionage is even more relevant now, as modern enemies are much more nebulous and elusive than they used to be.
    • Spectre: The main dilemma presented here is whether an Attack Drone can do the job of field agents like 007. It's later proven that yes, Bond is still indeed relevant even in an era of WikiLeaks and mass surveillance.
  • Ronin. In fact the title is based on the notion that former Cold War agents are now like the Ronin samurai.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country does a metaphorical version of this by having the Klingon Empire sue for peace, ending the Space Cold War which had been raging since the original TV show. The bad guys are conspirators on both sides trying to sabotage the peace process because they don't want the familiar world of Federation vs. Klingons to end. Kirk himself feels somewhat this way at first ("No more Neutral Zone. I was used to hating Klingons."), but he comes around. The film went into production when the Iron Curtain was falling and it ended up being released just nineteen days before the Soviet Union was officially dissolved. In fact, Star Trek VI actually predicted the August Coup. The film's plot is set in motion when Mikhail Gorbachev's expy character is assassinated by hard-liners in his own government. The real coup occurred while the movie was being edited and, with Gorbachev's survival unclear, the filmmakers were left to wonder how much life would be imitating art.
  • A plot to kill Gorbachev and keep the Cold War going was the subject of The Package.
  • Parodied in Hudson Hawk with a CIA agent.
    George Kaplan: I did my first bare-handed strangulation here. A Communist politician. I miss Communism! The Red Threat. People were scared, the Agency had some respect, and I got laid every night!
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight: The bad guys turn out to be Rogue CIA agents trying to drum up funding.
  • The first Mission: Impossible movie: "No one to keep secrets from but yourself."
  • The main character of Falling Down is a defense engineer that was laid off presumably due to defense budget cuts made after the end of the Cold War. He does not take it well. Short of the Roaring Rampage of Revenge, this was a sad Truth in Television for many men and women who obtained degrees in rocket and aerospace engineering and had jobs developing bigger and better weapons, because "Uncle Sam needed them." When the Cold War ended, Uncle Sam no longer needed them, and left many of them out of a job for years while defense budgets were cut, the entire military was restructured, bases were closed, etc, while the world just generally said So What Do We Do Now?... Falling Down is that generation's Easy Rider. So it wasn't just Russians, survivalists, and militia groups that were upset the Cold War ended.
  • Sneakers has Greg, a Russian "cultural attaché", who makes several comments along these lines.
    (The) last few years have been very confusing for people in my line of work.
  • The characters in Good Bye, Lenin! try to hide the fall of communism from their mother who just woke from a long coma after a stroke, as they fear with her weak heart condition, she might die when the truth is revealed to her. The film is part of a larger East German art movement called Ostalgie, which is based around nostalgia for the old communist years of the GDR. You'll note the presence of old East German cartoons throughout, the idolization of Sigmund Jähn, the protagonists' consternation over the loss of their favorite brand of pickles, and the general malaise that sets in with the city's mad rush toward the worst aspects of materialistic capitalism. Economically the 20-ish protagonist lands on his feet, going from apprentice TV repairman to satellite dish installer. Meanwhile his sister who had been at a prestigious university finds the degree in Marxist-Leninist economics she had been pursuing would now only be useful if printed on toilet paper and goes to work at Burger King, and several neighbors in their 50s remain unemployed throughout the film.
  • Canadian Bacon centers on the US President trying to start a Cold War with Canada, now that the Cold War with the Soviet Union is over. There's a very funny scene where a general says the missiles are still pointed at Moscow, because "We couldn't find anybody new to point them at."
  • In The Man Who Knew Too Little, this is the motivation of the villains Sir Roger and Sergai. They were heads of British and Russian intelligence (respectively) and now they're collaborating to restart hostilities between their nations, because they have nothing else to do.
  • In Tremors 2: Aftershocks, Crazy-Prepared and Heavily-armed Survivalist Burt Gummer apparently became so unable to cope with the fall of the Soviet Union that even his equally gun-crazy wife left him.
    Burt: Did you know Heather blames our problems on the collapse of the Soviet Union?
    Earl: Well, you did take that kinda hard, Burt.
    Burt: Said I was getting too hard to live with. Said I couldn't handle life without the threat of global war! (beat) What kind of thing is that to say to a man?
  • Lord of War:
    • Inverted by Yuri, who kisses the screen and is completely oblivious to his son's first steps when Gorbachev announces the official fall of the USSR. This means tons of unwanted and unused Soviet arms lying around ripe for the taking and selling.
    • Yuri's rival, Simeon Weisz, plays it straight though. A traditional man with an ideological motivation for selling arms, he had trouble adapting to the moral greyness of the Post-Cold War world. His attempt to adapt by trying to sell in Yuri's turf in Liberia doesn't turn well for him.
  • Brother deals with it. It's in the background, but it's there.
  • In Burn After Reading, John Malkovich's character Osbourne Cox is fired from his position as an analyst for the CIA due to his alcoholism. He later lies to his father, who himself worked for the CIA, that he quit because the end of the Cold War marked the CIA's transformation into nothing more than a bureaucracy. Played with elsewhere in the movie, when nobody from the CIA can understand why Linda would think to sell Cox's memoirs to the Russians.
    Oswald Cox: "The Russians? Why the fuck would she go to the Russians? Why the fuck!?!"
  • In Man with the Screaming Brain, we are introduced to Yegor, a KGB agent who got laid off after the collapse, and now has to work as a cab driver.
  • In the spy movie Company Business (1991) Gene Hackman's character gushes about the luxurious house of an Arab Arms Dealer with its gold-plated doorknobs etc, only to find the place has been stripped bare; the owner has fallen on hard times as no-one wants to buy weapons anymore. Presumably the script was written before Yugoslavia fell to pieces.
  • The protagonist of Hedwig and the Angry Inch had every reason to be bummed by Communism's fall. Born a wispy little gay boy in East Germany, he was mangled in a sex change operation so that he could marry an American G.I. and escape to the west. A year later to the day, his husband abandons him and the Berlin Wall falls. Ouch.
  • This is a major point in Severance, as the area the main characters are camping in happens to be an ex-compound where Soviet commandos were imprisoned when they couldn't be de-programmed after the Soviet fall. It's supposed there might be one left that escaped into the woods. They're wrong. There are several.
  • In Toys this apparently Leland Zevo's Start of Darkness:
    The Old General: (mumble) change sides.
    Leland: I can't change sides, you silly old fart! There's no side to change sides to!
  • In The Peacemaker, a White House official says it outright - "Russia, what a fucking mess! God, I miss the Cold War."
  • The Italian comedy Occhio Alla Perestrojka tells of three businessmen who had casual romances with Bulgarian girls, promising to one day return and marry them, fully confident the Iron Curtain will be sufficient excuse to ignore the promises. Two years pass, no more Iron Curtain, and the girls are coming for them...

  • Lee Child's books, especially The Enemy and The Affair, deal with the rapid reduction of US armed forces after the end of the Cold War, and how it affected the soldiers, including Jack Reacher, the main character.
  • One could include thriller writers of the late 80's/early 90's under this trope. While the entire world changed around them, it seemed that for years the only plot they could come up with was: "Hardliners conspire to bring back the Good Old Days of the Cold War."
  • The Negotiator, a novel by Frederick Forsyth, has some American arms manufacturers rather upset that the end of the Cold War means their weapon to destroy Soviet tanks isn't going to be a big seller. Time to stir the pot.
  • Hell, this was the whole point of Archangel by Robert Harris. Thus the euphoria when they find Stalin's son and bring him to Moscow.
  • Tom Clancy makes frequent use of this trope. Fully justified, since almost all of his characters are government agents and this trope affected (or still affects) them personally. John Clark comments at one point that he spent much of his CIA career working against the USSR, and now he's friends with the new Russian Prime Minister.
  • John LeCarre's spy fiction tends to invoke this as well, especially prominent in Single & Single, where the crux of the plot is a Georgian family who fell in power after the fall of Communism.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played for Laughs on Saturday Night Live. The Trope Namer sketch was a Wayne's World Top Ten List for "Why We're Bummed Communism Fell". Their list is as follows:
    • #10: New maps.
      Wayne: We're used to Russia being just this pink blob.
    • #9: Is Yakov Smirnoff out of a job?note 
    • #8: Now they'll never find out what the thing on Gorby's head is.
    • #7: Katarina Witt no longer has Forbidden Fruit appeal.
    • #6: "The fall of Communism will deal a major blow to the trade union movement. Labor relations will revert to industrial revolutionary social Darwinism." [beat] "Okay."
    • #5: Will the Beatles song be changed? ("Back in the Commonwealth of Independent, Back in the Commonwealth of Independent, Back in the Commonwealth of Independent Staaates.")
    • #4: Soviets can no longer be the go-to bad guys in spy movies. ("In the future, spy stuff is gonna suck. Who's James Bond gonna spy on now, the Guatemalans?")
    • #3: Playboy will no longer have "Girls of the Soviet Union" issues. Denied."
    • #2: No more bogus Soviet rock bands to make fun of.
      Wayne: Remember Live Aid, that band Autograph? I mean, ex-squeeze me, baking powder (Wayne-speak for "Excuse me, I beg your pardon")?
      Garth: I kinda liked them.
      Both: Nyet! (Subtitle: "Not!")
    • #1: They won't be the first ones to say on Russian television, "Live! From New York! It's Saturday Night!"
  • Used again in a more recent Saturday Night Live where they are discussing a Russian spy and are nostalgic and hopeful to fight a war they can understand again.
  • In Burn Notice, Sam mentions that one of the reasons he got out of the spy game was because "Now it's all about religion and oil; it's no fun anymore."
  • In a sketch on The Ben Stiller Show, Stiller pretends to be Russian comedian Yakov Smirnoff trying to keep his career going after the fall of communism. It doesn't go well. The real Smirnoff is actually doing pretty well, with a year-round show in Branson, Missouri and teaching gigs at various universities.
  • An early episode of Boy Meets World has Cory studying for a geography bee, commenting that all the new little countries have made it a real pain.
    Cory: In the old days, things used to be so simple. You had Russia, you had Moscow — one country, one capital. Now you've got your Latvia, your Estonia, your Ukraine, and each one's got its own capital. What were these people thinking?!
  • Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? had to stop airing repeats of its entire first season after it was rendered obsolete by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Episodes in later seasons concluded with The Chief reading a disclaimer: "All geographic information was accurate as of the date this program was recorded!" and the production date, just in case a new country cropped up before the episode was aired. (Such as Eritrea, the former Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia...) The worst part was the breakup of Czech Republic/Slovakia, since Czechoslovakia is referenced in the theme song. The worked around it by changing the lyric from Czechoslovakia to Czech-and-Slovakia. One almost has to wonder if part of the reason the show's focus switched from geography to history for Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego had something to do with this, since history, being history, is much less vulnerable to stuff like this.
  • A late-night talk show host making quips about how badly American high school students had performed on a globally-administered geography test. "Slovakia, which had been a country since, like, Tuesday, kicked our butts!"
  • The Kids in the Hall had a sketch where Dave Foley plays a "rightwing paranoid reactionary" seriously bummed that communism fell because "People used to listen to me. I fit in".
  • The Golden Girls had an interesting case. In one episode Dorothy's ex-husband Stan had a cousin named Magda who was visiting from Czechoslovakia. She didn't really seem bummed as much as worried. While in a bookstore, she mentions how if her people read all those different books and different ideas, they'd get confused, and it would lead to anarchy. She felt that Communism was more fair, saying "When there's only one road, no one gets lost." Dorothy convinced her to read Thomas Paine's Common Sense, and she seemed to come around. Though what truly brought her around was reading Vanna White's Autobiography.
  • Diagnosis: Murder played with this trope in the episode "Discards". Jesse Travis' father, played by Robert Culp, was a former spy dealing with obsolescence after the Cold War, while facing assassins hired by the son of his late partner, who blamed him and his fellow spies (played by Barbara Bain, Robert Vaughn and Patrick McNee) for his father's death. At one point, Jesse's dad, who had been estranged from his family due to his job keeping him away for so long, learned that the mission that killed his partner, arranging for the Soviets to "acquire" Western technology that the CIA had bugged so they could monitor the Kremlin, was all for nothing; the only thing the Soviets used the tech for was to maintain the Minsk subways. By the end of the episode, the older agents were offered new assignments in a new anti-terrorism unit, but Jesse's father insisted on taking an assignment in Los Angeles so he could spend more time with his son.
  • Lampshaded in The X-Files: After a member of The Conspiracy gets a phone call informing him the Cold War is officially over, he looks distinctly surprised and dismayed as he tells his associates, "Gorbachev has resigned. There are no more enemies."
  • The pilot episode of the X-Files spinoff The Lone Gunmen has the fall of Communism as motivation for a Government Conspiracy to manufacture a war against terrorism, a plot that proved to be shockingly prophetic.
  • On Homeland, enigmatic black-ops spymaster Dar Adul echoes M's line from Casino Royale (2006) in a conversation with Saul; "Christ, I miss the Cold War."
    Saul: Prefer the daily threat of nuclear annihilation?
    Adal: No, I miss the rules. The Soviets didn't shoot us, we didn't shoot them. Boy, this bunch...
  • In the revived Get Smart series, Max's old nemesis Siegfried, his occupation gone, plots to re-ignite the Cold War by hitting Moscow with a missile which was itself bought at "a Soviet Union garage sale."
  • One of the subplots of The West Wing episode "The Lame-Duck Congress" deals with a Ukrainian government official named Konanov who comes to D.C. because he wants to speak to President Bartlet. Bartlet and his staff don't want to speak with Konanov, but he shows up anyway, drunk. After Josh hides Konanov in an office until he finds out what to do, Josh exclaims, "Oh, how I miss the Cold War."
  • In an episode of Law & Order an assistant district attorney is able interpret a dead John Doe's Russian prison tattoos, explaining that she majored in Russian studies because she thought the Cold War would keep her employed for life. She then chose a career in law.
  • In the final season of The Americans, Gorbachev's reforms start to take effect, sending ripples through the Illegals program, with certain factions within the KGB plotting to use the remaining Illegals to try and sabotage Gorbachev's efforts to end the Cold War.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Fundamentalist Christians had to rewrite their interpretation of the End Times, the Biblically-extrapolated sequence of events leading to the end of the world and the return of Jesus Christ. Whole shelves of books and pamphlets had been written predicated on the God-revealed fact that somehow, the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact were the mechanism the Antichrist would use to work his dastardly Godless plan for world domination. When the USSR imploded, those Christians doggedly awaiting Rapture and Apocalypse were bereft of an obvious Antichrist. Until 9/11.....

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Tabletop RPG Spycraft has a setting, "World on Fire", that has this as part of its setup. The main conspirators are top agents from both sides.


    Video Games 
  • This was a major plot point in the background of Metal Gear Solid. The titular Metal Gear was designed primarily as a mobile launch platform for nuclear missiles. When the Cold War ended, there was no longer any need to develop this kind of weapon, budgets were cut, so the corporations and scientists behind it went to the black market.
    • The mercenary army of Sergei and Olga Gurlukovich was created from former Soviet soldiers as a response to their dissatisfaction with the new Russian government and military, to restore the glory of Russia.
  • The leaders of the Ultranationalists in Modern Warfare believe that Russian glory was lost after the fall of the USSR. Notably, they don't want to bring back the USSR, but rather are interested in bringing back the "glory" of those days.
  • Mike Toreno from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a government agent who fondly regards the Cold War days as "good times". Nevermind that the things he gets up to these days are much the same as back then, only set in other countries.
    • However there is a scene he has with CJ where he implies that the current situation causes a lot of Paranoia Fuel since America won't know where the next attack will come from.
  • The Big Bad of Phantom of Inferno used to brainwash people for the Stasi and KGB. When the Cold War ended, he picked up the protagonists and brainwashed them to be hired guns.
  • Halbech, inc from Alpha Protocol derived a major source of income from cold war-related arms sales. With the cold war now gone, they decide to heat up global tensions in key areas to increase demand for their products.
  • The plight of the fictional country of Novistrana from Republic: The Revolution started because of this and only increased when unscrupolous president Karasov cemented his power. The very idea behind the game is the overthrowing of Karasov's regime and trying to set a new course for Novistrana in the post-Soviet world.

    Web Animation 
  • On Zero Punctuation, Yahtzee has often accused developers of modern first person shooters of feeling this way, given the number of game involving the Russians as the bad guys.
    Yahtzee: So why in the name of bollock burgers do we keep coming back to the same alternate history where the Cold War escalated? I know how disappointing it was that we didn't get to have another big fancy war like in the forties, but if you're fine with rewriting history so that Americans are actually heroic underdogs rather than both sides being dicks to a precisely equal degree, why don't we ever see games where the Viet Cong have laser guns or the Taliban have giant robot snakes?

    Web Comics 
  • Patrick Mulcahy from A Girl and Her Fed yearns for simpler times.
    The Fed (with his head in his hands): ...Born twenty years earlier, it'd be so much easier. "Agent Mulcahy," they'd say, "Go shoot Russians." And I'd ask, "Russians from an alternate future that no longer exists?" And they'd say, "They are your average Russians. Go shoot them."
  • This subject is bit of a recurring theme in Polandball.

    Web Original 
  • Defied in Zhirinovsky's Russian Empire, a story on in which, after The Great Politics Mess-Up, the infamous Russian far-right gadfly Vladimir Zhirinovsky (nowadays little more than Putin's court jester) becomes President of The New Russia and turns it into a fascist dictatorship. The Bear only gets angrier after the fall of the Soviet Union, meaning that communism is simply replaced by neo-fascism and the Cold War still goes on up to at least 2003 (the year when he's finally overthrown). Whether there's a "Why We're Bummed Zhirinovsky Fell" moment afterwards remains to be seen.

    Western Animation 
  • General Eiling explains that his war with the Justice League in Justice League Unlimited was because we didn't have a clear threat like the Commies for the military to fight. It should be pointed out that Eiling is not a character to be liked, and his former co-conspirator even says that the idea is stupid.
  • From American Dad!, Sergei the former-KGB agent lost his wife and son to capitalism when communism fell, so he went to America to "steal away Stan Smith's son... FOR COMMUNISM!" He failed, so he decided to plant his seeds of revenge, to grow some plants of revenge (which could also be used in a stew of revenge) and keep cultivating revenge until "the time was right."
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers does this with Commander Clash, an American agent stationed on a remote island. For some reason, his superiors forgot to tell him that the war was over for a year or two, and when the Planeteers told him, he is rather upset. He eventually finds new meaning by dedicating his life to (what else?) environmental protection. Appropriate, since the Soviets probably did more damage to wilderness areas (just check out the rivers in Central and Eastern Europe) than any other people in history.
    • Incidentally, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the opening changed Linka's land of origin from the Soviet Union to Eastern Europe.
  • One episode of The Simpsons has Bart and Lisa watching a pro wrestling match with "Rasputin the Friendly Russian". He had formerly been called "Rasputin the Mad Russian", but his name was changed following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It didn't help his popularity at all, it seemed; his much anticipated "wrestling match of the century" ended rather quickly with his opponent hitting him over the head with a wrench.
  • There is a short film in which a chimpanzee, dressed as a cosmonaut, wanders around in a space station/satellite that's decorated with pictures of Lenin, bored out of his mind. He keeps returning to his radio set to try to contact home, but no one answers, presumably because Russia has downsized its own military and the chimp's satellite was part of a discontinued orbital-observation program.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar has some fun with this in the "Red Squirrel" episode. For 47 years, Special Agent Buck Rockgut has the single-minded purpose of waiting for escaped Penguin Enemy #1 the Red Squirrel to surface and recapture him. The penguins join in on the hunt but eventually they realize that after decades of waiting, with not having seen hide nor hair of the villain, Buck has gone paranoid, accusing every animal of being secret agents for things that really don't have anything to do with the Red Squirrel. They conclude that the Red Squirrel probably no longer exists and Buck Rockgut just couldn't accept that. Then it turns out that the Red Squirrel really has been hiding in his secret lair, and he is spying with satisfaction on how his arch-nemesis is being discredited and disposed of.

    Real Life 
  • A common quote misattributed to Vladimir Putin: "Whoever doesn't miss the Soviet Union has no heart. Whoever wants it back has no brain." In the original context, he was actually criticizing that joke for having such a romanticized view of politics.
  • The book Revolution 1989 describes Mikhail Gorbachev as a man who did "the right thing for the wrong reasons". Gorbachev did not relax the Soviet grip on Eastern Europe because he wanted to see the Soviet bloc go capitalist. He did it because the Eastern Bloc countries had become a serious economic drain on the Soviet Union. Gorbachev was, in fact, a committed Communist, and his program was quite similar to Alexander Dubcek's "socialism with a human face" in Czechoslovakia a generation before. He believed that political repression was not necessary to maintain communism; he believed that his own country and the USSR's satellites would choose communism of their own free will. He was wrong.
  • Many people in the former Yugoslavia will, understandably, be nostalgic for the rule of Josip Broz Tito after the bloody race wars and economic stagnation of the 90s.
  • As mentioned above, former citizens of East Germany have begun a trend of Ostalgie, a neologism combining Ost (east) and Nostalgie (nostalgia). The rather sad economic state of what was once East Germany in the decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall has led to many romanticizing the previous Soviet establishment. In Berlin, many people make a living by selling relics of the Soviet past such as Social Realist art, Soviet war medals, hats, and there is even a restaurant that specializes in selling East German food.
    • Although a distinction should be drawn between those who miss the food/books/music of the old days, and those who mourn the old system. The latter is virtually nonexistent as even DDR hardliners agree at some point the regime strayed somewhere (the original protests in East Germany were in fact about reforming the DDR, with reunification being a pleasant but obvious surprise). For what it's worth, the successors of the SED ruling party, Die Linke, still get a lot of votes in ex East Germany with their more moderate platform, making them one of the few still relevant far left parties in the ex Eastern Bloc.
    • Bitterness towards the unification and its aftermath is rather widespread in East Germany. It's not that people miss Stasi and a one-party system, but many citizens of the old DDR feel that their entire world up until 1989 have been written off as a oppressive failure by a new ruling elite that insists that they are supposed to be thankful for being let in again.
    • The mascots of Ostalgie are the Ampelmännchen, the little red and green men on pedestrian crossing lights. A post-reunification attempt to standardise crossing signals across Germany resulted in widespread protests, such that the plan had to be stopped, and the little be-hatted figure has become a symbol of the old East Germany. On the other hand, he's also a reason for West Germans to be glad that communism fell, because he's spread onto crossing lights there.
  • When the USSR secured their hold on all the land previously owned by the Russian Empire, they decided to divide the country along ethnic lines, giving each major people group their own "Soviet Socialist Republic". Due to the fact that the areas inhabited by traditional Arch Enemies the Azeris and Armenians overlapped somewhat, this resulted in an exclave of the Azerbaijan SSR being placed on the other side of the Armenian SSR, and the majority Armenian "Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast" being placed in the middle of Azeri territory. As long as everyone could move between the four areas and the Red Army and KGB were around to keep an eye on everyone, the ethnic tensions were kept quiet. When the central government collapsed, suddenly all those internal administrative boundaries became international borders, and war broke out over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, as Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence, Azerbaijan tried to assert control and Armenia tried to annex it. The conflict is still going on in some form to this day.
  • When the Cold War ended, most of the world's major military forces were outfitted for armored warfare and strategic bombing in anticipation of a massive East vs. West conflict. When that threat disappeared, these military forces were forced to undergo (and in many cases, are still undergoing) expensive reorganization programs in order to face more modern threats. Several planned platforms were curtailed or canceled as a result, while others were retired early.
    • During the late 1990's and the early 2000's, it was not at all uncommon to find active-duty US military personnel who served a good part of their careers during the cold war of the 70's and 80's, and these comparatively young people often found themselves recalling the Cold War with an almost nostalgic fondness. Things were so much simpler back then. The mission was to keep the Russians on their side of the fence. No threat of worldwide terrorism, no Homeland Security alerts, no downsizing of the military, no endless series of "peacekeeping" missions in the Middle East...
    • Bill Clinton's central role in the Northern Ireland peace talks was a part of this — without communism to fight, America had to find something to do on the world stage.
  • The few places Communism didn't fall was more because they didn't practice it to begin with, or at least not to the letter. Post-Mao mainland China and 1990s Vietnam are the more successful examples of ideology bending to reality — Deng Xiaoping, leader of the CCP was proud to proclaim words to the effect that "It doesn't matter whether 'the cat' is black or white; as long as it catches mice, it's a good cat".
    • North Korea, the world's only Communist hereditary monarchy, is a spectacular failure of something, but it's not entirely clear of what. (Beginning with most of the peninsula's Japanese-built industrial infrastructure, enjoying a higher standard of living than South Korea in the late 1940s and early 1950s, North Korea now has a Human Development Index rating comparable to Somalia and Afghanistan — while South Korea, under Park Jung-Hee and his successors, implemented a long series of Five-Year Plans that worked, rose to First World levels of economic development, and even hosted the Olympic Games in 1988.) North Korean government has many Communist elements, but it's probably more like Imperial Japan than it is like anything else; B.R. Myers discusses this exhaustively in The Cleanest Race. (As of 2016, though, the propaganda Myers describes has failed; even in North Korea, no one, except for those who are paid to believe it and those who are exceptionally gullible, can possibly mistake Kim Jong Un for a maternal Great Marshal on a white horse, a exemplar of moral purity and racial virtue sheltering his people from a corrupt and violent world.)
    • That said, the DPRK isn't actually frozen in the times, and the reforms initiated by the Kim Jong Un in 2012 seem to start bearing fruit. A limited market reform along the lines of China and Vietnam has led to the boom in the North Korean economy. So while the political controls remain as tight as ever, it has liberalized its economy quite a bit.
  • Many citizens of old Soviet bloc countries miss Communism: because it's what they knew; because they were important back then; or, indeed — surprisingly enough for a Western reader — because they were more prosperous then than they are now.
    • Communism, like modern mixed economies in the West, provided reliable sources of jobs and food; and it kept corruption more or less under control. Many post-Communist countries no longer have a social safety net at all; nor do they have the accumulated fiscal capital to establish and maintain industries, nor the high tariffs that would allow local industry to develop and eventually compete with the West.
    • This also means that there is a high proportion of beggars and vagrants in former Communist cities. Most of these beggars are men in their thirties to fifties, who grew up with the expectation that the state would provide for them and find them a stable job, and they were unable to cope when things fell apart.
    • Also, the Soviet Union was big on subsidies of oil, cash and machinery to its client states. (Cuba is a famous example; North Korea, which was economically fragile even when it was being subsidized by the Warsaw Pact, actually fell into famine when the subsidies ended in the 1990s.) The end of the system also meant yawning gaps in the economy that the countries had no means of addressing, particularly in the recessions that followed.
    • This is in part due to the fact that most communist countries, particularly those that broke off from the Soviet Union suffered a major depression after the overthrow of their communist governments (caused partly by disruption of the formerly established economic ties — for Cuba, for example, much of its revenue was due to export of sugar and tobacco to the USSR). While many (Poland, Hungary, the Baltics) saw some modest-to-decent improvements following the turn of the century, others (Ukraine, Moldova, Central Asia) still haven't reached the GDP they had in the Soviet era — even now, twenty years later.
  • R. James Woosley, who was about to become Director of Central Intelligence, testified to Congress in 1993 about the downside of the end of Soviet Russia, at least so far as intelligence gathering was concerned (with a subtext of "so please don't cut our budget"):
    Woosley: We have slain a large dragon. But we live now in a jungle filled with a bewildering variety of poisonous snakes. And in many ways, the dragon was easier to keep track of.
  • In the Robert D. Kaplan book Eastward to Tartary, he discusses what the fall of Communism meant to the former Eastern Bloc countries and he found that, not exactly surprisingly, the further West the country was the easier they took the transition. (This book dates to the late 1990s - ca. 2000 so things might be different today.) In places such as Romania and Georgia, there's a huge struggle to cope with life in the post-Communist era; older Romanians are considered unemployable by Western firms who find their secrecy and lack of teamwork antithetical to the capitalist way, and Georgians are regularly intimidated by ex-Olympic wrestlers who are employed by former members of the Soviet KGB to form corrupt corporations that exist as little more than gangs with offices. Georgia is also the home of Stalin's birthplace, a heartbreakingly poor town that lives off the Stalin legacy and with a high concentration of residents whom Kaplan found were exceptionally nostalgic for Communism and had nothing but good things to say about their native son. On the inverse, most of the ex-Soviet nations that border present-day Russia have come off rather well in the post-Soviet era.
    • "Ex-Soviet nations that border Russia" includes most of the "-stans", Georgia, Belarus and Ukraine, that have pretty much been fluctuating degrees of political and economic disaster. The only real successes from the USSR proper are the Baltics, and even then only Estonia can really be labeled as "prospering". Lithuania can't keep inflation down or get enough jobs to keep their population from fleeing to the rest of Europe. Latvia had no choice but to take an IMF loan after 2008 took its toll and is the poorest EU nation besides Romania. Sure they fare a bit better than their Eastern neighbors, but no former Soviet nation has quite 'made it'. In fact, even the relatively successful Estonia is depopulating like crazy, and as of the others… well, half of Riga seems to be boarded up, not mentioning smaller towns.
      • On the other hand, from the perspective of politics and freedom, the ex-Communist states of Europe are way nicer to live than the Central Asian ex-republics. The Caucasus is more of a mixed bag, with Armenia and Georgia being not unlike their neighbor (and age-old enemy) Turkey in many senses (including politics, albeit without the military's political role), while Azerbaijan is an economically-successful political clusterfuck (that's what happens when you're a main battleground between Turkey and Iran for influence.)
    • Half of the economical problems of the Baltics stem from their own sometimes boneheaded decisions. Miffed at being unceremoniously grabbed by the Soviet Union in The '30s, they fostered a kind of militant nationalism that led them to believe that they'll be the true darlings of the West forever, and not just a useful thorn in the side of Russia. All three of them continued to antagonize Russia, discriminate against their large Russian minorities and generally be the pain in the ass, despite much of their post-Soviet economies hanging on being the transit points of Russian exports like metals and fuels — much of their Russian-built industry was bought up and then dismantled by the Western Mega Corps to avoid unnecessary competition. After Russia found its feet again in the The New '10s, it understandably withdrew that transit, moving it to its own ports and newly built pipelines, leaving Baltics out in the cold.
  • A lot of scientists feel this way. NASA's funding was at its high point, and anyone with a physics degree was basically guaranteed an awesome high-paying job right out of college. After the Cold War ended, funding for a lot of these programs was cut drastically. That, coupled with the fact that there was an influx of immigrant scientists from Eastern Europe, including many who were Nobel laureates, meant a drastic decrease in the number of available science jobs.
    • The same goes as much, if not even more, for those that stayed in the formerly-Soviet countries. Science had been huge there for the past several generations before the USSR fell, and has been one of the main things to suffer as the economy weakened post-Fall.
    • Academia in general suffered from this. There has now been a move away from the arts, humanities, social sciences, and hard sciences—and towards engineering, business, and medical school—coinciding with the fall of the USSR. One of the most telling bits of information is that, for a while, 9 different engineering professions were in the top 10 for the most demand in the 2000s and are still up there in the 2010s. Ironically, arts, humanities and social sciences were discredited in the USSR because of their associations with intellectualism. Josef Stalin didn't want anyone as smart as him around and considering he had a standardized IQ of 160, it was difficult to find anyone that smart. Furthermore, the CIA actually used Art as a weapon against the USSR. While Soviet artists stuck to "safe" realist art, the CIA promoted more abstract art as kind of a "this is why freedom is better" sort of tactic in the "Cultural Cold War". A senior CIA member, Thomas Braden, has gone on record saying, "The Boston Symphony Orchestra won more acclaim for the US in Paris than John Foster Dulles or Dwight D. Eisenhower could have brought with a hundred speeches". Indeed many Soviet artists started to sneak in more abstract themes in their art. Others outright defected to the West for greener pastures.
  • Many engineers from the Soviet Union have faced difficulties adapting to the post-Soviet economy. Due to the organizational structure of Soviet engineering, with its concentration of most R&D in huge centralized Research Institutes, a lot of fresh engineers had found a cushy position where they could do essentially the same thing for all of their career, gradually losing any semblance of flexibility. Adapting to the more general nature of engineering outside of the Soviet Union was difficult.
  • During the Cold War, competition between the United States-led West and the Soviet-led Eastern Bloc at the Olympic Games was incredibly intense, with heated patriotism on both sides of the Iron Curtain generating a great deal of the excitement. The Olympics literally became an ideological battlefield and a direct extension of the conflict. As a result, performances such as the Miracle On Ice at the 1980 Winter Games have a lasting impact on popular culture today. However while in the immediate post-collapse era the lingering influence of the Soviets intensified many of the competitions (such as the "Magnificent Seven" US women's gymnastics team winning Gold at the 1996 Games), the Olympics today have lost much of their relevance without the Cold War driving the rivalries.
    • Russia still remains a strong contender in the Olympics in these days, but for Americans, the new "Enemy" has become China. Since 2000, Russia usually comes in third place (based on total medal count), with the United States and China coming in first and second, respectively.note  Russia, on the other hand, has come to accept the spirit of the games once more: Only competing for the pride and love of their nation, and not so much to prove themselves "better" than others.
      • However the doping scandal allegedly involving the Russian Government and the Sochi Winter and Rio Summer Games has returned the Russia vs The West that existed in the past.
  • Many Americans miss the days when they had a clear enemy, versus the more nebulous, decentralized threat of modern terrorism.
    • Some people honestly believe that a nation like the Soviet Union is necessary to fight terrorism because they would be willing to go to extremes that democracies wouldn't. Though the Soviet Union had extreme trouble in Afghanistan, and indeed sponsored left-wing terrorism from The '70s to The '80s, backing Carlos the Jackal, RAF, RZ and other groups as they conducted attacks and hijackings in the West.
  • This article describes how the National Geographic Society struggled to keep its maps updated as the Soviet Union unraveled.
  • Even though the USSR/Eastern Europe and post-1990 China has stopped supporting pro-Communist rebel groups in Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa and the Middle East, some of them still exist due to other factors such as government corruption or poor living standards.
  • Despite the fact that even when the Union was around every rebel seemed to have an AKM rifle, it was nothing compared to today. The bunkers and storage facilities owned by Russia but outside of its territory that had to be abandoned with the collapse (and apparently no one bothering to lock the door on the way out) caused an explosive proliferation of small arms in the 3rd world.
  • And the most telling result of the fall of Communism, for the West, has been a dramatic shift towards liberal capitalism and a narrowing of the political landscape; "socialist" and "labor" parties now stand for centrist free-market policy, and governments that think to institute policies of wealth redistribution or fund social welfare are branded as "radical". Such a lack of pluralism can be considered to have weakened post-cold war democracy.
  • An interesting variation, many Easter Europeans are glad that communist rule ended but wish it haden't fallen like it did. These people would have understandably preferred if the USSR and its satellites had liberalized and eventually allowed for multi party democracy rather than the whole system imploding. This would have avoided the economic troubles of the nineties and given communism a meaningful legacy as well a voice in modern Eastern Europe.
  • Many women's artistic gymnastics fans long for the days when, as they see it, artistry and grace dominated the sport. The Soviets won an unheard-of nine back-to-back team Olympic gold medals,note  and on any list of the greatest gymnasts of all time, a minimum of seventy percent are guaranteed to be Soviet.note  The Soviets, with their national training center, massive government funding, thousands of aspiring athletes, and in-house choreographer, emphasized line, artistry, dance, and grace in their gymnastics, and no one will dispute that their routines, and floor exercises in particular, are of a standard that may never be reached again. There is a reason why the Golden Age of Women's Gymnastics is said to have ended with the 1992 Olympics. But because the government demanded success at any price, the system's Training from Hell means that dark brutality lurked in the shadows behind the blazing lights of the Soviet greats, and many of the stories hidden in that darkness would give any parent nightmares.
  • In the years between the end of the cold war and The War on Terror, the FBI's counterterrorism and counterintelligence operations were as muddled as America's foreign policy. Where in previous years the FBI concentrated on rooting out Soviet spies, The '90s saw FBI agents focusing on ecoterrorists, Animal Wrongs Groups, and Right Wing Militia Fanatics. (The agency is also rumoured to have been behind the bombing that severely injured Judi Bari.) 9/11 gave the FBI a clear focus, though the fixation on Islamic extremism has allegedly let domestic terrorists slip through the cracks.
  • As described in this article, part of the reason the Republican and Democratic parties have become so polarized in the 21st century is because the collapse of the Soviet Union left the government without a common enemy to fight, so the two parties began to turn on each other.
  • Nicaragua (a country many only dimly recall as the "Contra" half in "Iran Contra") had a leftist, Cuban/Soviet aligned government from 1979 (when it overthrew the Somoza dynasty) to 1990 when - as part of a peace settlement brokered by Costa Rica - free elections resulted in the loss of the Sandinista party under Daniel Ortega to a center-right led "anything but Ortega" coalition. Whatever the next sixteen years brought, apparently enough Nicaraguans were bummed enough by it that in 2006 they elected Ortega to the Presidency once more, when the center/right split the vote (Ortega won with just 34% of the vote, ironically his lowest percentage to date). Ortega's propaganda milks both the nostalgia and their - perceived or real - successes since 2006 for all they're worth and the old man (born 1946) shows no sign of letting go of power as of 2018.

Alternative Title(s): Why Were Bummed Communism Fell