The Great Politics Mess-Up

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
The Presence was, uh, absent way too long.

Basil Exposition: A lot's happened since you were frozen. The Cold War is over!
Austin Powers: Finally those capitalist pigs will pay for their crimes, eh? Eh comrades? Eh?
Basil Exposition: Austin... we won.

Austin Powers: Oh, smashing, groovy, yay capitalism!
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Many events and changes in history catch almost everyone by surprise.

One of the most notable is the end of the Cold War.

Prior to World War II, it was common to hear people claiming that the Soviet Union was about to fall in a matter of years or even months. Not only did those predictions fail to come true, but the USSR even managed to survive a massive invasion by Nazi Germany, win the war against seemingly impossible odds, and extend its influence over a country or ten. The people who predicted its imminent demise felt rather silly, and the opposite mood began to set in, with everyone assuming that the Soviet Union would last forever (or at least long into the foreseeable future); heck, maybe even winning the Cold War. It was thus assumed that the end of the USSR could only come as part of the general End Of Everything—most likely as a result of nuclear war. The (relatively) peaceful collapse that actually took place at the dawn of The Nineties was very much unexpected.

Ergo, it is rather funny to hear references to the Soviet Union, the Cold War, East/West Berlin and East/West Germany in Sci Fi shows written before 1989 but set Twenty Minutes Into the Future.

But as noted, that is not the only change to which this applies. Others include:

A lot of fiction written shortly before such unexpected events and set Twenty Minutes Into the Future can seem ridiculous in hindsight—but usually it's not the author's fault, really.

Compare Science Marches On and Society Marches On. See also I Want My Jetpack and Zeerust.

Contrast Why We're Bummed Communism Fell and History Marches On.

Examples of The Great Politics Mess-Up include:


  • British insurance company Norwich Union released an advert in 1989 which suggested the barriers between East and West might soon come down. When they did, they released a second advert, taking credit for their prescience.

Anime and Manga

  • An episode of the original Bubblegum Crisis revolved around a stolen super weapon that a minor villain had been going to sell to the East Germans.
    • On the other hand, supplemental materials references to the fall of the Soviet Union and other political changes are pretty much spot-on (though, BGC OVAs being in development in from 86 through 92, it might've just been a later addition).
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has a brief mention of the IRA declaring a ceasefire in the far future (after 2300). This already happened in real life, in 2005, 2 years before Gundam 00 was even announced, however, the organisation that declared a ceasefire was the "Real IRA", presumably some sort of spiritual successor, although there is a real "Real IRA".
    • Same with the Sri Lankan Civil War. In the series, Celestial Being did an intervention to stop the war... which basically just ended in 2009. But it's one of those wars that may or may not come back with new force after a few years, depending on whether the Sri Lankan government is magnanimous in victory and helps the Tamils get back on their feet and addresses the grievances that caused the conflict.
  • Gunbuster, made in 1988 but set in 2023, had Jung Freud one of the Soviet Union's ace pilots. Presumably she was from East Germany.
  • In the Ghost in the Shell manga, the Soviet Union is still going in 2030.
    • There was also some massive mess ups in-universe. Not much is known except that there was a World War III and a World War IV, and in addition to the United States of America there is also the American Empire, among other things.
  • The story of SPT Layzner features students from both sides of the Iron Curtain traveling to the moon together on the equivalent of a field trip. At least it actually predicts that the conflict between both sides will end, just much slower than it actually did. Also, the potential end of this Cold War is the stated reason that the aliens show up in the first place, to take over the world before the two sides work together well enough to take over their planet, which they have no idea exists in the first f-ing place. Better Than It Sounds, though.
  • Transformers Masterforce refers to Ginrai traveling in West Germany; Masterforce was made in 1989 but set some time after 2011.
  • Patlabor, created in the late 80s but taking place in the late 90s has this. The Brocken military mech that shows up to cause trouble for the Mobile Police in every continuity was said to have been commisioned by West Germany's border patrol & the OAV episode featuring it has it "accidentally" falling into the hands of Communist sympathizers as part of some kind of ill-conceived War for Fun and Profit scheme by the manufacturer. A memorable episode of the TV series involved a Soviet defector bringing an experimental mech to a Japanese seaside resort town where everybody was actually a spy of some sort. The second movie mentions the end of the cold war, but it's uncertain if this is a Retcon or if it happened sometime between 1998 & 2002 in the movie-verse.
  • Angel Cop suffers from this as it takes place under the belief that the Japanese economy would continue to grow, instead the economic bubble popped in the mid '90s.
  • GoLion started with Earth being destroyed in World War III, when the east and west finally launched their missiles at each other in 1999.
  • Zero Zero Nine One the anime takes place in an alternate world where the Cold War continues... because the original manga was made in the 1960s and used the Cold War.
  • In Otaku no Video, made in 1991, the Iron Curtain still exists and Gorbachev is still in power in 1997.

Comic Books

  • In the comic Camelot 3000 King Arthur and Merlin are resurrected and their knights reincarnated in the year 3000. Almost nothing has changed politically since the 1970s or early 80s, except that there are now four power blocs. The USA has a Reagan-esque president who dresses as a cowboy and carries authentic sixguns. The USSR is led by Comrade Yazof, a Breshnev lookalike, China is led by Chairperson Feng (a lady Mao), and Africa by The Supreme Rakma, an Idi Amin type. Apartheid also still exists, and Gawain is reincarnated as a black South African.
    • And this is after a nuclear war that blasted man back to the medieval period.
  • The Marvel Comics group called the Soviet Super-Soldiers is an unusual example because stories set in the present were affected. This happened because Comic Book Time slowly pushes forward the date of any present-day stories. Several years after the breakup of the USSR the group not only wasn't Soviet, but none of its previous adventures were either. This resulted in an embarrassing time period when it was carefully left unnamed every time it was used, until Marvel finally settled on "Winter Guard" as the name it always had.
  • American Flagg dances on the verge, but still manages to fall into this pit, though it falls very gracefully. The sight of ultra-capitalist Soviets and "Stalinland" theme parks fifty years in the future (in a mid-to-late 80s comic which ended just as the Berlin Wall fell) seems almost like a foreshadowing.
  • In early Judge Dredd comics, the Soviet Union is depicted as surviving into the 22nd century, having been renamed as the 'Sov Blok', and is depicted as the main villain in the Apocalypse War storyline. In later comics, it enters a Glasnost period, before reverting back to its previous militaristic self, although it uses the Judge System instead of being communist.
  • In IDW's Transformers: Escalation, much of the plot during the second half or so consist of the Decepticons trying to stir up conflict between the Soviet Union and a breakaway republic called Brasnya. This was written in 2006. Explanations, please.
    • They started referring to Russia instead of the Soviet Union later on, mind you.
  • Nexus, set in the 25th century, really got hit by this, since the ongoing Cold War between the Sov and the Cohesive Web was a significant plot point of the story. The writers had the good sense, though, to just say that, well, at some point between now and then, the Soviet Union was reestablished and in turn established an interstellar colonial empire to rival America's. The funny part is that the story, including the ones written back in the seventies, repeatedly refers to the Sov as being in decline and on the brink of collapse.
  • While the present day period of Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja is never established, it's suggested to be on or near 1989, when the first issue was published. Reading it in hindsight can feel rather anachronistic, given how much of the story relies on Cold War tensions and the Red Scare (particularly an exchange of warheads between the US and the USSR).
  • In Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth, the map of the Uplifted Animal-controlled post-apocalyptic Earth shows that Siberia is now the "Communi-Bear Silo State". Human civilisation has collapsed entirely, but Russia is still communist.
  • A major theme of Watchmen involves the idea that the US and USSR could be firing nukes at each other any second, causing mutually assured destruction. Veidt's entire plan revolved around avoiding this confrontation. There's just one problem. The series is set in 1985, the same year the USSR's economy failed, and began its eventual dissolution.
    • Watchmen is set in an Alternate Universe that diverged from ours in the late 30s so that argument doesn't necessarily apply.
  • Strikeforce: Morituri managed to get things wrong in both directions at once. The story is set in 2072, but the Soviet Union still exists under the "Paideia" One World Order. However, a memorial seen in one panel implies that South African apartheid collapsed in 1989, a few years too optimistic a prediction.

Films -- Live-Action

  • The plot of 2010: The Year We Make Contact revolves around the Cold War. Although not the book's, which is why a few lines about peace are tacked on to the message at the end of the film.
    • 2001: A Space Odyssey also had the Soviet Union around, obviously. Plus a USA-USSR pact opposing China, which is the opposite of what happened in real life, but was plausible in the 1960s when written due to border clashes between China and the Soviet Union (Hunter S. Thompson was writing about the possibility as late as 1974, although that's partly because of his conviction that Richard Nixon was the Devil).
    • The book 2061 not only has the Soviet Union still around, it has South African apartheid continue until the 2030s, when it is destroyed by a violent revolution that scatters the Afrikaners across the Earth and Solar System. They more or less become the new Jews.
    • The 2001 series had a sort-of double mess-up. In the first book (and movie), though the USSR is still around, it and the US are cooperating and have friendly relations (as shown by Floyd chatting casually with Soviet citizens, who are also clearly friends, on the space station. They even inform each other that they're always welcome to come by to visit whenever they just happen to be in each other's countries). When Clarke wrote 2010 (in 1982) it was obvious the real-world US and USSR were not quite being so friendly, so he decided that there should be conflict between the Soviet and American astronauts because of their respective countries' rivalry (though not as blatant as in the film, where the two countries are at the brink of war). Of course, fast forward to the real year 2001, where Soviet Union is gone, the US is supreme, and where, in fact, Russia and the US are building a joint space station, though not one as big and fancy as the one in the book.
  • Spoofed in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. The title character, after being frozen in 1967 and unfrozen in 1997, at first believes that the Cold War is still ongoing, and when he is told that it ended, he initially assumes that the Communists won.
  • Ditto in the surprisingly entertaining Brendan Fraser film Blast from the Past. After emerging from their fallout shelter after three or so decades, the father (Christopher Walken) refuses to believe that the Soviet Union collapsed without a fight.
  • In a similar way, the Serbian film Underground bases its entire premise on the characters being duped into thinking that the Second World War is still going on.
  • Robocop, set at some unclear future date after 1987, implies that the Cold War is still going on, with references to SDI and the MX missile. The latter, which became the Peacekeeper, has now been scrapped.
    • References are also made to the South African apartheid government which is not only still in power, but actively threatening to deploy a neutron bomb against insurgents, thus promoting them from racist assholes to cartoonish supervillains.
  • In the film version of Pushkin's poem Onegin, there is a throwaway line about communism, which is pretty good going for a story published 16 years before the Communist Manifesto. A less egregious example of this as regards foresight about 1917 comes in the 1990s Sean Bean/Sophie Marceau version of Anna Karenina, where Vronsky is the one making throwaway remarks about the coming of communism in the 1880s, when such fears would have been more realistic, though still slightly misplaced. It seems from historical films about Russia set in the 19th century that the whole country had nothing better to do than to muse upon its ultimate 20th century fate.
    • Note that even during the 1880s, the word "communism" was still obscure. "Socialism", "social democracy" and "populism" were the political boogeymen of the day.
  • That's what Billy Wilder's otherwise pretty good One, Two, Three suffered from. Originally a light-hearted comedy with Dirty Commies, it became a massive case of Too Soon when The Berlin Wall was built (during filming!). Before August 1961, people could cross the border between West and East Berlin quite easily - which millions of East Germans used to move to the golden west. The movie was based on this premise and suffered when the wall was built.
  • In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, during a global loss of power, Leningrad's power grid is described to have collapsed. Leningrad reverted in 1991 to its pre-revolutionary name, St. Petersburg.
    • The name of the oblast, on the other hand, is still Leningrad. If the power grid includes the entire area, the statement is technically correct.
  • Notably lampshaded in the James Bond film GoldenEye. The film starts out during the late Cold War years, and TimeSkips to a visibly post-Soviet Russia.


  • In the prototypical Cyberpunk novel Neuromancer, the Soviet Union is still alive and kicking; in fact, it's the United States that's fallen apart.

Quoth Gibson: I wrote the book so that it`s impossible to prove from internal evidence that the United States exists as a nation state. It seems to exist as some sort of congerie of city states and, possibly as the result of some semi-abortive not too bad sort of nuclear war... But I left the Soviet Union looming and rusting away, a sort of slag heap. I never imagined that it could dry up and blow up away.

    • While in Robert A. Heinlein's Friday the USSR fell only after the dissolution of the USA.
    • Neuromancer and its sequels also feature a world dominated by Japanese corporations.
  • Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears is a close one—written in early 1991, months before the breakup of the Soviet Union, and revolves around a "hoaxed" Soviet attack on the US in January 1992, by which time the USSR had been formally dissolved for a month.
    • His portrayal of the prominent Afghan viewpoint character, a mujahideen, in Cardinal of the Kremlin also uses the "tragic, noble victims of the invading Soviets" political Historical Hero Upgrade common in those times as he was stated to have been nothing but a peaceful teacher who only became a ruthless killer after the Soviets had ruined his life and killed his family and that he wouldn't have even picked up a gun if it were otherwise. Played with in that the other mujahideen viewpoint character is Axe Crazy, but it still didn't stop the novel ultimately laying the fault on the Soviet invasion and the American interference in it:

Not a trick, Ortiz [a CIA agent] noted. He called it a tactic. He wants to go after transports now, he wants to kill a hundred Russians at a time. Jesus, what have I made this man?[4]

  • In the novelization of the film Fantastic Voyage, there are two superpowers referred to simply as "Us" and "Them".
  • While not a Sci Fi novel, the Dale Brown novel Sky Masters was published in 1991 and set in 1994. It makes references to the Soviet Union (which would cease to exist at the end of 1991) and features the Strategic Air Command in a prominent role. The SAC would be abolished in 1992.
  • A major plot point of Eon, the Greg Bear novel written in 1985 and set in the early 21st century, is that the USSR still exists and the Third World War breaks out between it and the USA. On the other hand the plot makes extensive use of the concept of parallel worlds and alternate histories, which handwaves the problem away: The story is not taking place in our timeline.
  • The Pliocene Saga by Julian May takes place both in the 21st century and in the Pliocene. The Soviet Union plays a prominent, but peaceful role in psychic research. The author has had to dodge the Soviet issue in the sequels.
  • The Third Millenium, a book of future history by David Langford and Brian Stableford, written in 1985, has communism (and capitalism) collapsing in the mid 21st century, but the USSR existing as a political entity right up until 3000.
  • Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium is a world government evolving out of cooperation between the US and USSR in the 1990s. When the real 1991 came around, Pournelle retconned the timeline so the CoDominium was founded in 2000. Not to mention also adding a Soviet coup to reestablish the USSR 20 minutes into the future, which had collapsed in reality.
    • There may be an element of Truth in Television here, believe it or not. A former official of the Ford Administration says that during the Ford years, the USSR had dropped hints to the USA about an unofficial alliance, dividing the world into spheres of control and reinforcing each other in power over their respective unofficial empires. The spooky part is that he actually called it a proposed 'codominion', a word not that far from 'CoDominium'.
    • Though The Mote in God's Eye (set in the CoDominium's far future) manages to avoid this. A Russian-settled planet St. Ekaterina has a warship called the Lenin; it's implied that all of Russian culture and history (including the Communist era) is swallowed up in vague, general Russian patriotism. (The irony of Russian Orthodox icons on a warship called Lenin is specifically commented on.)
      • Orson Scott Card does a similar thing in Xenocide, where a far-future Taoist scholar refers to Mao as "the first Communist Emperor"; and in Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, Chinese Communism is called "Mao Dynasty".
      • Similarly, in Chung Kuo, the censors have edited out anything that seems unfavorable to China before the 21st century; thus, Mao was the "first Ko Ming Emperor". We will get to see more of this, presumably, in the new novels being planned.
  • The Eclipse trilogy by John Shirley happens in an early 21st century with a Third World War between NATO and Warsaw Pact. It was retconned later to a revived Soviet Union.
  • Ender's Game, which was first published in 1985, was released in a new edition in 1991 so that references to Russia would reflect the decline of the Soviet Union.
    • Also notable is the depiction of the Internet: it is quite accurate in some aspects, but woefully missed when it comes to the mind boggling size of it, nor the majority of its user base, nor how trusting the users inside, nor the general seriousness of the topics within (except for some corners, not very), etc... Especially of note is how Ender's Game handles blogs in a major side story (the blogsphere in the Ender universe tends towards user-submitted newspaper editorials).
  • The Third World War: August 1985, a 1978 mock-history book on a World War Three, has the USSR collapse in 1985... In a highly violent manner after the nuclear destruction of Minsk, now Belarus, and Birmingham, UK.
  • Jack Chalker's original Well World novels from the 1970s featured Com Worlds, generally horrific dystopian planets descended from earth's Communist nations. At the end of that series the whole universe gets rebooted. The next series reveals that human history was altered slightly by the reboot, resulting in the world as we know it and the presumption that Com Worlds will not be a big part of the new future. (Rebooting the universe allows you to Retcon everything, it seems)
  • In the Isaac Asimov short story Let's Get Together, NATO and the Warsaw Pact are at peace, and are referred to "us" and "them", "we" and "they", etc. Even the maps don't show a stark red and blue contrast any more - the USSR is a soft pink, and NATO countries were pale pastel green. The idea was that both societies had slowly drifted towards the middle, starting to resemble one another more and more.
  • The Zone World War III novels by James Rouch (written in the 1980s, though an actual year is never mentioned) are now referred to as Alternate History for this reason.
  • James Blish's Cities in Flight series involves the Western democratic government model becoming ever more intolerant, eventually resembling the Soviet model very closely, and then the Soviets winning the war (and absorbing the West) because they were better at being Soviets.
  • Mack Maloney's Wingman series, first published in 1984, had World War III take place in the 80s, and in the 90s, some time after the real-life collapse, the Soviet Union (which somehow still exists despite being bombed into oblivion in the war) uses a traitorous Vice President to let them bomb and take over the United States.
  • A Woman of the Iron People by Eleanor Arnason (copyright 1991) not only has the Soviet Union survive, it has communism as the dominant political system of Earth at the time of the First Interstellar Expedition (on which the main characters traveled).
  • Joe Haldeman's book Worlds, written in 1981, is set in roughly 2085, with a significant population living on satellite semi-independent "worlds" in space, but makes note that on Earth, most of Asia is now part of the "Supreme Socialist Union."
  • John Brunner's Stand On Zanzibar actually handles this pretty well, despite being written in 1968. The USSR isn't gone in 2010, but it's mostly defunct and implied to be Communist only in name, and the real threat is ... China. A lot of other predictions in the book are surprisingly accurate as well.
  • The short story "Fire Watch" by Connie Willis derives substantial drama from time traveller John Bartholomew's difficulty in resolving the cognitive dissonance caused by observing a 20th century British communist serving on the St. Paul's Cathedral fire watch during WWII while knowing that St. Paul's will be destroyed by the USSR during the 21st century. This point is retconned in later stories, leaving the plot of "Fire Watch" somewhat confusing.
  • In the 1990 short story "The Emperor's Return" by Harry Turtledove, the Soviet Union invades Turkey in 2003 - and not only that, Greece has gone communist as well and is allied with the USSR. Now, since Turtledove has made most of his career writing Alternate History, Fantasy or any possible combination of both[5] it's very easy to Hand Wave that.
  • In the novel The President's Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth, Cade, the eponymous vampire, assassinated Osama bin Laden on September 12, 2001. This could not be revealed to the public without breaking the Masquerade, especially after bin Laden revealed his true form as a Deep One.
  • Occurs in The Count of Monte Cristo when the Abbé Farrier (who has been locked up in prison since long before Napoleon's fall) remarks to Dante that he assumes all of Europe has now been united under Bonapartist rule. Dante replies, "The emperor is no longer in power." Then Farrier says, "Then who is? Napoleon II I assume." Dante: "Louis XVIII". A few years after the book was published, Napoleon's nephew Napoleon III was placed on the French throne, due in part to the popularity of the book which renewed interest in Bonapartism.
  • In Voyage from Yesteryear by James P. Hogan, the Soviet Union is stated to have collapsed in 2021.

Live-Action TV

  • A poster in Red Dwarf, on board on a ship that left the solar system in either the 21st, 22nd or 23rd century depending on the series, features a rather prominent Soviet flag.
  • The second episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation featured the SS Tsiolkovsky whose dedication plaque reveals that it was built and launched in the USSR in 2363.
  • While not being explicit about it, the Doctor Who story Warriors of the Deep (set circa 2084) involves two superpowers armed with nuclear weapons that highly mistrust each other. The Doctor even comments that nothing has changed: "There are still two power blocs, fingers poised to annihilate each other." To make things vaguer, Ingrid Pitt's character has an Eastern European accent (she was born in Poland).
    • The Novelization doesn't even have the half-assed aversion; the blocs are named as East and West, and the seabase residents (the "good guys") are from the West Bloc, while the East Bloc has a policy of "uniformity, obedience and central control". It was not adapted by the original writer, and shoots any subtlety in the original setup stone dead.
    • Several UNIT stories produced in both the 70s and the 80s also mention the "end of the Cold War" but still have a USSR. This combines The Great Politics Mess-Up with the UNIT dating mess-up, since UNIT stories were notoriously vague and contradictory as to whether they were Twenty Minutes Into the Future or The Present Day.
      • The "end of the Cold War but still USSR" is not too far-fetched considering the gap between the collapse of Eastern European Communist regimes in 1989 and the Soviet Union's formal dissolution on Christmas 1991.
  • The made-for-TV movie Amerika posits a U.S. that was taken over by the Soviet Union and was now Soviet-occupied territory. The reason given in the movie as to why this happens is "American apathy."
    • To contrast, there is also a novel entitled USSA: United Soviet States of America, which is a murder mystery set in American-occupied Russia.
  • Stephen Colbert insists the Cold War is still going on, and has periodic Cold War Updates whenever anything newsworthy happens in Russia.
  • The introduction to 'Kickpuncher' in Community episode Romantic Expressionism .

Kickpuncher Narrator: "It is the year 2006 A.D. and nuclear war has ravaged the planet."
Abed: "Must have missed that."

Tabletop Games

  • The second edition of the Cyberpunk game (Cyberpunk 2020) was published in 1990. The fall of the Soviet Union is mentioned in the timeline (as is Germany's reunification), but it was eventually replaced by the Neo-Soviet Union by 2020. Apparently the game's writers didn't really know how to handle a collapsed USSR.
  • The first edition of Shadowrun had references to the Soviet Union in its future history, while the second swapped these out for the Russian Federation. Later editions said to hell with it and admitted the game's timeline is an Alternate History.
  • This hit the game Twilight 2000 particularly hard, as the premise of the game was that it was set during or just after World War Three, after the Soviets had rolled over the Fulda Gap... in the year 2000. They tried a Retcon that only ended up torking off the Germans (predicating the war on Germany's invading Poland...) before reverting to the original plot, throwing up their hands and declaring it an Alternate Timeline.
  • Most of the relevant parts of the BattleTech timeline are in the middle parts of the 31st century, so it's a petty detail—but the game's timeline includes a second "Soviet Civil War" in the early 21st century, just before the first manned flight to Mars. Newer materials haven't retconned this; presumably, it's just assumed to be an alternate reality.
    • Actually similar to Shadowrun (only logical since both were created by the same company), it was at one point mentioned that an attempted retcon to the Russian Federation was made, before the creators gave up and as much as declared (Particularly joked on on the Battletech forums) that Battletech is not our future but rather the future of the mid 1980s. Which actually explains quite a bit, including the bulk of much of the computer equipment in the game in comparison to modern computers and the like.
  • Steve Jackson Games' Illuminati card game (first published in 1982) assigned groups various alignments that (mostly) came in opposing pairs; one opposing pair was "Government" and "Communist". When they adapted the concept into the Illuminati: New World Order Collectible Card Game (in 1995), "Communist" was demoted from an alignment to a secondary "attribute", and the "Corporate" alignment was introduced as the new opposite to "Government".
  • Paranoia has some kind of world-ending catastrophe in its Backstory, and though the details are vague and obscured by time, secrecy and misinformation, the main culprits that The Computer suspects are Communists, hinting at World War III. Not surprising, since the game first came out in The Eighties, but not the first people you'd blame these days. On the other hand, records of the past are so mangled and manipulated that it hasn't affected the setting.
  • GURPS Terradyne has a much-reduced (with only five republics left) USSR in the year 2120. Again, this was written in the period where it was expected that some states would peel off from the Union but not that it would break completely.


  • The musical Chess was originally released as a Concept Album in 1984, at the height of the Reagan-era Cold War tensions. Set in the "current day", the plot relied heavily on those tensions. By the time it reached Broadway in 1988, glasnost was in full swing and the impending fall of the Soviet Union was already visible on the horizon. As a result, vast swathes of the story—and several of the songs—had to be rewritten to accommodate the new political reality. (For instance: in one of the dropped songs, the civil servants of the Russian embassy complained that so many Russians defecting to the West "makes you wonder what they built the Berlin wall for"; in a newly written song, a CIA agent and a KGB agent agree to cooperate to the point where "the Berlin wall becomes a backyard fence.") Modern revivals of the show seem to be getting round this by more-or-less sticking to the plot of the album, and simply making the whole thing an early-80s period piece.


  • This is a common trope in very old sports games (especially in sport simulations like Football Manager) since you can manage teams from pre-Cold War era and control them until beyond the 90s without any changes.
  • The arcade versions of the Street Fighter II games continued to list Zangief's nationality as "USSR" well into 1994 and his ending sequence in all five games even featured a caricature of Mikhail Gorbachev, who is helicoptered in to congratulate him on his victory, espousing the greatness of the "Soviet spirit", even though the 16-bit ports (which were released after the fall of the Soviet Union) already had Zangief addressing Gorbachev as "Mr. Ex-President". It wasn't until Street Fighter IV that Zangief's nationality was officially changed to Russian (although the Alpha games released in-between were technically prequels).
  • Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, first released for the MSX2 in 1990, not only predicts that the Soviet Union will still be around in 1999, it also features a character named Natasha Marcova (Gustava Heffner in later versions) who works for the StB (the Czechoslovakian Secret Police), a real-life organization that was dissolved during the very same year the game was released.
  • The original Strider assumes that the Soviet Union will still be around by the year 2048. In fact, the first stage is set in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, a former Soviet state now known as Kazakhstan.
  • Harpoon was around before the Soviet Union collapsed. After it happened, there was a big scramble to create new scenarios that weren't obsolete. Of course, since it was a simulation the existing ones were still developed.
  • Aerobiz: The second entry in the series predicted supersonic airliners (despite being banned overland since the 1970s due to damage caused by sonic booms) and 1000+ passenger super-jumbo jets in the 2000's, missing the large scale move from regular airliners to smaller, more fuel-efficient Regional Jets for most small and medium-sized routes. It also failed to portray a large number of very prominent cities that cropped up in the late 1990's & early 2000's, such as Dubai, and the terrible economic impact that the 2000's would have on airlines around the world.
    • On a lesser scale, it also predicted the next Airbus airliner would be the A350 (which is only now being conceptualized), and that McDonnell-Douglas would produce the early concept "MD-12" (a stretched MD-11) and still be an independent manufacturer.
    • Work on a device that would eliminate the damage of supersonic flight began in 2016, a year after the game ends, and only reached air testing stages in April 2022.

Web Originals

Western Animation

  • The Soviet Union somehow exists in the third season of Transformers: G1, produced in 1986 and set in 2006. Fanon has concluded that it was re-established at some point in that universe... although a simpler assumption would probably be that it never collapsed in the first place.
  • Star Cops includes a recurring character who is generally referred to as Russian, but clearly has the Soviet flag on his uniform. The premise seems such that the major Cold War tensions have eased and the two superpowers have learned to get along...more or less. Sort of like the way it is now between the US and Russia.
  • The animated series Spiral Zone, produced in 1987 but set in 2007, assumes that the Soviet Union still exists in the early 21st century.
  • In The Simpsons episode where Homer joins the Naval reserve, during the UN conference, the Russian ambassador declares that the Soviet Union will give Homer safe haven, having absconded with a nuclear submarine. When questioned about mentioning the Soviet Union and told they had broken up, he laughs and states "That's what we wanted you to think!" Cue to a montage showing Soviet soldiers and tanks coming out of parade floats in Moscow, a new Berlin Wall popping out of the ground and Lenin rising from the dead.

Zombie Lenin: Must crush capitalism! Graagh!

Real Life

  • A Small Town in Germany, of course. Only a slight majority of the Bundestag voted affirmative to moving herself and the government from Bonn to Berlin after reunification, Germany became so used to its provisional status after the war.
  • Sergei Kirkalyov and Alexander Volkov earned the nickname of "the last Soviet citizens" because they served on the Mir space station while the Soviet Union collapsed, and returned three months later on 25 March 1992.
  • The Other Wiki gives us a list of predictions of the fall of the U.S.S.R. There were a decent amount of predictions in the Cold War era, however, it didn't seem to have much of an effect on pop culture at the time (otherwise, this trope wouldn't have been in effect). And remember that just because someone predicted the U.S.S.R. would fall, that doesn't mean they were right. Many predictions described the Soviet Union ending in ways that were completely different from what eventually happened. Some of the predictions were mutually exclusive (if one was right, the other must have been wrong).
  • For some Japanese soldiers, WWII didn't end until the 1970s.
  • If you listen to enough political talk radio, you'll occasionally hear a caller talk about the dangers of the Soviet Union and Soviet communism in the present tense.
  1. Therefore, about 100,000 out of the 500,000 Purple Hearts produced for a Japanese invasion are still left over.
  2. Barring the very clever Nikola Tesla and some very clever early Science Fiction writers like E. M. Forster
  3. Technology Marches On can turn any futuristic Science Fiction story written in the 1950's or earlier into Zeerust with the mention of punch cards, vacuum tubes or manned satellites. The opposite effect can be incurred by having manned colonies outside Earth.
  4. Later the same character snaps at his aide and demands that he shows the Afghans some respect because of all they had suffered through after said aide dismisses them as brutal, primitive "sand-niggers."
  5. The story itself features a prophecy and a time-travelling Byzantine emperor