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Literature

  • Accidental Aesop: Rainbow Six was intended as a screed against ecoterrorism and animal rights extremists. However, Clancy had to put the ecoterrorists in charge of a huge megacorporation to make them credible villains. The novel can instead be taken as a tract against unchecked corporate power.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Dmitriy Arkadeyevich Popov.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The horrifying Worldpark attack where 10 Marxist terrorists take 35 children hostage is pretty much a counter-terrorist's worst-case nightmare scenario. In 2004, 6 years after the book was published, an even worse incident happened in real life when over 30 Islamic terrorists attacked an elementary school in Beslan, Russia, and took over 300 children hostage. In the novel, the terrorists murder one of the children before Rainbow is able to defeat them. In real life, over half the children held hostage at Beslan died in the shootout that ensued after a 2-day siege.
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  • Magnificent Bastard: Popov, for setting things up so that if the terrorists he sponsors get defeated, he keeps the money he would have paid them. Also, at the end, he backstabs his Horizon backers and spills the beans on them to Rainbow, earning himself a full pardon. Then he uses his money to buy up the ranch of one of the deceased Horizon executives since he knows that the land there is rich in gold, as its previous owner was concerned about the environmental impact of mining operations and wouldn't pounce on the opportunity.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The woman that was picked up by the ecoterrorists for experimenting on with their human-killing virus, drugging and ultimately murdering her. The story goes to great lengths to show how isolated she was, and her gradual and painful decay into just another statistic that not a single researcher raises any moral qualms about. After she dies, that's that; only her worried family even know she was missing, and only Popov ever really finds out by accident (which helps decide his Heel–Face Turn). Not to mention she's only one of multiple test subjects that are all ultimately and callously disposed of in the search for human genocide.
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  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Multiple chapters are spent building up the ecoterrorist's American headquarters, and highlighting all the things that would make it a very tough nut to crack. It's played up as the Kilimanjaro of forced entry scenarios, a hostage taker's wet dream. And then the ecoterrorists abandon the facility and flee to a smaller outpost in the jungle. Which they then leave, in order to engage in a jungle shootout with a team made up of the deadliest special forces operators in the world, which even the protagonists recognize as a painfully lopsided scenario.

Video Games

  • Adaptation Displacement: The game series has far more public exposure than the original book. When a film adaptation of the book was announced, people had to be reminded that they weren't adapting the games' storyline.
  • Anticlimax Boss:
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    • Bastian Vanderwaal in Lockdown and Irena Morales in Vegas. Vegas 2 ends with a one-on-one quickdraw between you and Big Bad Gabriel Nowak, which might have worked, except he gives a long Motive Rant before either of you draw your pistols, and once you do he continues to rant on while you have your pistol aimed right at his head. Miguel Cabrero can be something of a Kaizo Trap though; he dropped his gun earlier, but he has another one in his holster, will pull it out once you've finished talking to him. Unlike Nowak, he wastes almost no time in actually pulling the trigger, but if you shoot him before he pulls the gun you get a game over.
    • Right before Nowak gets his head blown off, he sicced an attack helicopter on you. So yeah, the unfair quickdraw was more or less payback. To make it even more ridiculous, prior to going to face Nowak, Bishop orders the rest of his\her team to hold position. So, Bishop basically wanted a one-on-one confrontation, and got an assault helicopter for his trouble.
    • John Brightling in Shadow Vanguard. You kill all his mooks, blow up his door, and then a cutscene shows you killing his last two bodyguards before he is captured and gives a potential sequel hook.
  • Adaptation Displacement: Seemingly very few on the internet know that there was an original Rainbow Six novel.
  • Awesome Music: Lockdown is remembered as being the nadir of the franchise. Its only redeeming quality is the badass rendition of the Rainbow Six theme.
  • Broken Base:
    • Between those who like the older, more tactical games (up until Raven Shield) and those who prefer to more action oriented direction that the series has taken since Lockdownnote .
    • On the other hand, a lot of critics have actually preferred the more action-oriented Vegas games, arguing that the first three were too slow paced and unforgiving.
    • The story mode of Patriots. Parts of the public liked the idea of questioning morality in the age of terrorism especially since militaries have done questionable things in counter-terorrism, some are convinced that it's accusing patriotic citizens of being the bad guy.
  • Catharsis Factor: As mentioned on the main page the series had a budding mod community. Well in the wake of the September 11 attacks mods started popping up where you hunt down bin Laden, or the Taliban in general. As one gaming magazine hinted.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Pretty much every enemy you encounter with their auto-aiming capabilities and their "Instant Death" Radius (particularly in Vegas).
    • In the first three games, Elite difficulty makes all enemies into this (they most frequently get insta-death shots, have incredible accuracy and range, automatically aim without directly facing you, etc.) In Rogue Spear and beyond, if a crouched enemy sees you, they WILL immediately headshot you.
  • Disappointing Last Level:
    • Happens with the last few missions of the original game. Mystic Tiger, the finale, is where it really rears its ugly head, undergoing an Unexpected Gameplay Change to a sniper-filled linear gauntlet. And Yellow Knife and Deep Magic, two unexpected stealth levels in a row.
    • Any stealth level in the original games. To wit: it's Metal Gear on European Extreme. In first person, which just makes it harder.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The original game had one of its terrorist organizations — a right-wing anti-immigrant group no less — motivated by their opposition to "the integration of the United Kingdom into the European Union." Cue 2016, where the United Kingdom held a successful and very controversial vote to leave the European Union.
    • The "Vegas" games feel especially uncomfortable following the 2017 Las Vegas Strip shooting. The terrorist's plot also parallels the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2015 Paris attacks to an unsettling degree.
    • The story of "Patriots", especially if you live in a country where domestic terrorists have conducted successful terrorist attacks. Or look at modern US politics how close the country is teetering on the tip of full blown civil war.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: A scene is Rainbow Six Vegas 2 has you fight in an MLG exhibit. The MLG later become memetically successful instead of a mere niche at the time.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • While Rainbow Six was the first to do it in 3D first person, the British DOS game Deadline featured similar planning-based tactical real-time anti-terrorist gameplay a few years earlier, only from an XCOM-like isometric third-person perspective.
    • The fundamental concept originated with Ariolasoft's forgotten They Stole a Million, a heist game from 1986 in which the player carried out a series of robberies, first selecting team members and then planning their movements with the aid of stolen blueprints before acting them out in real time. With the exception of gunplay, the concept and many of the details were identical.
    • And, of course, the Police Quest: SWAT series, though few people realize this because the noticeably more popular third game in that series switched to Rainbow Six-like first-person gameplay to follow its lead.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: The fact that the Vegas series strangely doesn't have subtitles when the large bulk of the plot is delivered during gameplay including in a heavy gunfight, and most characters have thick accent.
  • That One Level:
    • The refinery level in Vegas 2, where you don't have your teammates to back you up. A control room near the end of the level is a particular spot of hell, with large windows all across every wall and five or so doorways for the enemy to flank you from, leaving you with options for cover that at best only protect from one possible ambush point, and at worst actively expose you to most of the rest. And then you've got the added bonus of more groups of bad guys spawning in every time you move up five feet, with even worse cover available outside of that control room.
    • The final level in the first game. It's really long, and there are a lot of blind corners with enemies hiding around them, as well as automatic doors that open into wide-open rooms.
    • The sixteenth level of Rogue Spear: Even with the invisibility cheat code on, screw up even slightly and the terrorists will get into their cars and escape.
  • Villain Decay: Gabriel Nowak, the Big Bad of the Rainbow Six: Vegas series, goes through this rapidly in the second game; as soon as he's revealed to be the mastermind behind the entire terrorist plot, his previously mysterious master plan and motives are rapidly revealed to be nothing more than a hissy fit thrown because he was the team screw-up.
  • Vindicated by History: Sort of happened with the PC version of Rainbow Six 3. While the game was very well received upon release, the Xbox version (released about seven months later) was much more popular and influential, with its online play being especially praised. However, thanks to the PC game's Version 2.0 mod and the shutdown of the original Xbox Live servers (meaning online play is now impossible with the Xbox version), many people retrospectively agree the PC version of 3 is the better game - as well as possibly the best tactical shooter ever made.
    • Lockdown was panned on release for being too casual and unrealistic compared to its predecessors. However, compared to its even more casualized and unrealistic successors like Vegas and Siege, it's more of a truer Rainbow Six game (in the vein of its predecessors) than those two are.
  • What an Idiot!: Gabriel Nowak, the Big Bad of the Vegas series, went to extensive and excessive lengths to exact vengeance upon Rainbow and the United States by association, causing a terror attack on Las Vegas that would easily be the most devastating terrorist strike in national history if this happened in real life (though this is a drop in the bucket for the Clancyverse). Except not only does he put himself into direct danger and potential discovery multiple times just to personally screw over Bishop, but he engages in Bond Villain Stupidity and never bothers trying to directly kill them until the very end. Even worse, his entire motivation (enough to try to sell Rainbow team's personal info and national classified secrets to the highest bidder) all stem from nearly getting kicked off of Rainbow for being a trigger-happy rookie that almost ruined an entire operation, endangered hostages, and got a negotiator killed. While Bishop could be criticized for defending him, by any realistic military standard the dumbass would've been removed from Rainbow at best, and dishonorably discharged from the military altogether at worst. Killing as many people as he can with a Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, gassing an entire auditorium of innocents, and trying to bomb several places in the city (and succeeding in at least one case along with destroying an oil refinery) are all apparently fair game to get petty payback for his own severe fuck-up, not to mention targeting the only person that stood up for him out of some mad, paranoid ramblings of being manipulated.

Film

  • WTH, Casting Agency?: As of 2018, it has been announced that Michael B. Jordan has been cast as John Clark in Rainbow Six film adaptation, which has caused an uproar among fans, since John Clark is established as a white man in both the book and the game while Jordan is black. Fans have pointed that this not only goes against the original source material, but doesn't make sense in the context of the other books since Clark's physical appearance played a critical role in undercover operations in sensitive countries like Russia. Another point of criticism is that Jordan is simply too young for the role, being 31 at the time of the casting announcement while Clark is well into his 50s when he forms Rainbow.

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