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"In America, you destroy life. In 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, 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 Empire[1]; 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".

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.

However, this can end up a life's equivalent of The Spartan Way, meaning Mother Russia Makes You Strong.

Compare Black Dude Dies First.

Examples of Russian Guy Suffers Most include:


Anime & Manga

  • 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.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia -- Inverted and played straight -- Russia himself spends almost all his time tormenting his neighbors and showing Comedic Sociopathy, but a few strips show this is thanks to Bloody Sunday and the White Sea Canal and his history of suffering.
  • 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 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 Hot Amazon handler, and said handler joins him as a pirate.
  • 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 whippings he got from his Training From Hell at the hands of Robin Mask.


Comicbooks


Film

  • The Russian enforcer in Righteous Kill, whose survival sets up the climax of the movie. Quote 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 Rock N Rolla. A whole scene is devoted to them trying to outdo each other in the hideousness of their scars. 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!
  • In 2012 there are several Russian characters. Let's just say the trope is played straight here.
  • 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 the film "Wristcutters: A Love Story". The second main protagonist, Eugene, is a Russian man who is already suffering in the limbo of afterlife from having committed suicide. But it turns out that his entire family lives (in a house) with him, meaning every family of his family has offed themselves. It is implied in the film that this is only case of an entire family having committed suicide. Yes, Russian guy suffer most.
  • Armageddon features a Russian cosmonaut who has spent so much time in space alone that he has gone rather mad.


Literature

  • Averted by Sanya in The Dresden Files. Of the first three Knights of the Cross we see (one American, one Japanese, and one Russian); he's the only one still alive and in good health.
    • Not altogether averted. He's the only one not to suffer onscreen, thus far, but he has by far the darkest backstory of the three. Part of which is directly related to being black in Russia.
  • Investigator Arkady Renko in the Gorky Park series of books. His first wife cheats on him, he falls in love with a political dissident and ends up fleeing the country to protect her, 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, and when he finally decides to end it all by committing suicide, 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!).
  • This trope is essentially the focus of every single work of classical Russian literature.
  • The 39 Clues: Irina Spasky.


Live-Action TV

  • On 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 the end, Russia's only battle cruiser, commanded by him, gets destroyed by the Ori.
    • And let's not forget about an entire Russian base wiped out by sentient water. You're not going to see that happen at the SGC.
  • Similarly, Chekov of Star Trek gets injured. A lot.
    • Walter Koenig called Wrath of Khan "Star Trek II: Chekov Screams Again."
    • 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.
    • Worf, named 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 she gets together with Marcus! Oops. And don't forget Talia.
    • Thankfully. She earns her happy ending...through a clone in the future.
      • Some people think that was a happy ending. Others think that story is dubcon Dark Fic that JMS didn't notice the creepiness in and that Marcus comes across as a deranged, manipulative stalker and abuser in it.
    • On a lighter note, she seems to be the station's go-to-person for receiving Too Much Information.
  • In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Illya Kuryakin seemed to spend a lot of time chained up and tortured.
  • 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.
  • In the Doctor Who story "The Waters of Mars", The Russian guy is one of only two survivors from Bowie Base One.


Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40000, 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 approacher to the army's character, but no one ever loses its main side -- the everlasting stoicism.


Videogames

  • Team Fortress 2: Everybody's first instinct is to shoot at the Heavy... but he can take it. Shoot the Medic First, you idiots!
  • 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 is finally either 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. Officially, Nicholai survived.
  • Olga Gurlukovich in Metal Gear Solid 2.
  • 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.
  • We don't really see the rest of the world, but the inhabitants of Metro 2033 certainly don't have it easy.
  • It isn't really apparent in the Command and 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 and 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.
  • The STALKER series...three games about sad Russians being shot to death or turning into mutants, and every ending involves you getting a Hope Spot then dying horribly. Great advertising for the tourist industry!
    • Subverted, in that the game takes place in the Ukraine, not Russia, but it's a meta-assumption by the player much larger than STALKER itself. The Chernobyl Disaster, and nuclear horror in general, is so synonymous with the Soviet Union that most people outside the former Eastern Bloc have no idea that Pripyat isn't actually in Russia.


Webcomics

  • 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 Snake Eater 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.


Web Originals


Western Animation

  • 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.
  • Dr. Jumba Jookiba of Lilo and Stitch is one of a Butt Monkey duo. While an alien, he is nonetheless Russian-accented.

 Stitch: Hey! Gambooka gably!

Jumba: WHAAAAAAT?! After everything you put me through, you expect me to help you- Just like that? JUUUSSST LIIIIKE THAAAAAT?!

Stitch: Ih.

Jumba': Fine.


Real Life

  • Truth in Television: As noted above, Russia itself. WW 2, WW 1, Crimean War, Napoleonic Wars...
    • And the Ögodei Khan's conquest of Europe as well.
    • For Russians themselves, there's the communist years -- although the matter is a subject of truly epic Broken Base in the country.
    • Many historians have argued that Russian culture and mentality were irreparably damaged (in a He Who Fights Monsters sort of way) during the oppressive rule of Mongol conquerors in The High Middle Ages, when Russians lived in a constantly violent and wary symbiosis with them. The post-Genghis Khan "Golden Horde" empire turned Russians from conquered territories into bullied subjects, while the few Russian principalities that managed to hold on to independence became locked in a never-ending Cycle of Revenge with the empire. After the Battle of Kulikovo Field in the late 14. century, the Russians finally managed to liberate their territories and kicked out the remaining Mongol overlords. This eventually paved the road to the bloody unification of the principalities into a single tsardom and the highly expansionist nature of the future Russian empire.
    • Their suffering continues to the present day. Right now, there's about a 12 year difference in the life expectancy of male and female Russians, largely because the Russian male response to the country's sorry state of affairs is to drink copious amounts of anything alcoholic as a socially acceptable way of suicide.
      • What's interesting, during the Soviet times, especially in The Seventies and part of The Eighties, when the economic situation was much better that in The Nineties, 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. It dropped some five years after that and finally overcame the "65 years" figure in The New Tens.
    • When the It Got Worse page has an entry under Real Life that says the history of Russia can be summed up as "Somehow, things got worse.", you know luck isn't on their side.
  • 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.
    • There are many more like this. Grim and self-deprecating humor is a Russian staple.
      • 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 modern, 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
    • A similar 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, "The Russian says, 'They are sleeping outside, with no clothes, and have only an apple to eat, and they think they're in paradise. They are Russian!'"
  • In Mandarin Chinese, Russia is 俄国 ("Éguó"). The Chinese word for "Hungry" is 饿 ("È"). Thus, in spoken Chinese, Russia is literally called "Hungry Kingdom/Country". A curious designation with at least some accuracy.
  • Some special operations units are known for their cunning or their high tech gear, but the Spetsnaz alone are infamous in Western media for the brutality of their selection and training.

Notes

  1. which is in practice at least two Evil Empires, since Tsarist Russia did not resemble a Heaven on Earth even remotely
  2. Meet the Heavy, Meet the Sandvich, Meet the Medic
  3. Especially if the writer has a bone to pick and wants to "punish" it for whatever (usually political) reason
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