Tom Clancy

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Formerly an insurance broker, Mr. Clancy (April 12, 1947 – October 1, 2013) was best known as an American novelist specialising in techno-thrillers. His first and most famous novel is The Hunt for Red October.

Famous enough to be a brand name; the appellation "Tom Clancy's..." has been applied to a TV miniseries, several series of novels, and a number of Video Games; all meet the author's demands for research and technical realism, but most were made without much involvement from the man himself, and will definitely have no involvement now that Ubisoft has acquired the intellectual property rights to Tom Clancy's name.

The Tom Clancy franchise includes the following major series and works:


  • Red Storm Rising -- A hypothetical World War Three scenario fought in the conventional theater. Due to an energy crisis, the USSR attacks NATO in a bid for oil. Cowritten with Larry Bond, who is mentioned in the foreword but not on the cover.
  • The Jack Ryan series.
  • The Net Force series.
  • The Op Center series
  • SSN, based on a submarine simulator Video Game of the same name.

Video Games

Tom Clancy provides examples of the following tropes:

Clancy novels with their own trope pages include:

Other Clancy novels have featured the following tropes:

  • America Saves the Day: A fairly standard plot, especially in later novels.
  • Badass Army: America (and to lesser extents other good guys) are portrayed as commanding one, though America seems to get the lion's share.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Played straight, Lampshaded, subverted, discussed, and averted in several places.
  • Cash Cow Franchise: The reason for the existence of Net Force and Op Center, not to mention all the Clancy spinoff games. Heck, the entire Clancy franchise became this long ago - he sold the rights to his name and, until recently, had ghostwriters.
  • Cold Sniper: Played straight, inverted, and Deconstructed in different novels.
  • Cold War
  • Colon Cancer: Many of the games.
  • Commie Land
  • Continuity Nod: All over the novels and some of the games.
  • Contrived Coincidence: See the entry on that page. In general, lots of what gets the plot moving depends on either someone having a change of heart at the right moment, or someone making a discovery that went ignored by everyone else just in the nick of time. To be fair, much of this is justified since it's uncovered by analysts who are doing what they're paid for.
  • Cool Boat: You might think every US naval vessel was this, given the amount of loving description Clancy visits on them. Clancy is almost never pictured without a baseball cap of a US Navy ship or unit, making those his Iconic Item.
  • Crazy Prepared: The U.S. military, which makes plans for literally every conceivable military scenario. Probably Truth in Television.
  • Dirty Communists: Played more or less straight until The Cardinal of the Kremlin, but completely turned on its head afterwards.
  • Discussed Trope: Clancy loves to discuss the tropes related to Reality Is Unrealistic, largely via characters commenting on how people expect various aspects of police and spycraft to work because they saw it in a movie.
  • Doorstopper: Most of his novels, although if you can put them down before you finish them, there's something wrong with you.
  • Every Bullet Is a Tracer: Averted, unsurprisingly. When tracers are used (particularly in the miniguns on the Pave Low helicopters in Clear and Present Danger), it's specifically mentioned that only one out of X bullets is a tracer round, for the purposes of assisting with aim[1]. Given minigun rate of fire, it's also mentioned that it looks like a laser beam at full "rock and roll".
  • Follow the Leader: Clancy's work popularized the techno-thriller genre.
  • Guy in Back: Featured in several novels.
  • Hot Sub-On-Sub Action: More subs attack each other in Clancy's novels than in the entire history of naval warfare. On the other hand, most of these novels are premised on the Cold War heating up a bit, so it's entirely justified: after the '60s, that kind of sub-to-sub combat was not only possible but likely given that NATO and Warsaw Pact subs were constantly on one another's tails.
  • In Name Only: The works whose titles include "Tom Clancy's" only bears his name on the cover, other creators working off of basic setting outlines written by Clancy. In general, many of the "Tom Clancy's" novels are somewhat less well received than the works directly from his hand (or word processor), particularly in regards to the "Op-Center" book series.
  • Interservice Rivalry: All over the place. CIA vs. FBI, FBI vs. Secret Service, KGB vs. GRU, etc.
  • Mnogo Nukes
  • Moscow Centre: A majority of Clancy's fictional works involve the KGB or its successors. Until the last few Ryanverse novels, people of Moscow Centre were always cast as the antagonists, though infrequently as outright villains.
  • NSA
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Completely and often tragically averted. Gunshot wounds incapacitate and kill or nearly kill several protagonists.
  • Peace Through Superior Firepower: The American military arsenal is described in lavish, loving detail.
  • Pink Mist: Clancy, for all your realistically gory headshot descriptions.
  • Red Scare
  • Reds with Rockets
  • Reporting Names
  • Russians With Rusting Rockets
  • Science Marches On: Several books set Twenty Minutes Into the Future make use of proposed weapons systems that never went into production, or never existed in the first place.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Defied -- in several novels it's pointed out that this does not work in real life. In most cases, the shooter has to use several more bullets and messily destroy the lock mechanism to open the door.
  • Shown Their Work: Considering that Clancy was an insurance salesman with no prior military experience before becoming an author, a lot of the details included in his works (particularly the earlier books, before he started licensing his own name out to other authors).
    • Tom Clancy lived in Annapolis, Maryland -- site of the US Naval Academy. Between the staff and instructors living in town, and the fact that a nontrivial chunk of Annapolis' population are retired naval personnel and families, we can reasonably presume that at least one of his friends or neighbors was available for a professional consult.
    • In his Playboy interview, Clancy said that some detail about submarine operation that he included in Red October, that he had pieced together himself, turned out to be not only correct but classified. He got a visit from the FBI, trying to figure out how he had gotten that information. The conversation basically went:

Bureau: "How did you know about that?"
Clancy: "Know about what?"
Bureau: "We can't tell you, it's classified."

    • It was not uncommon in the USN Sub community at the time to see highlighted copies of "Hunt For Red October" with different color shading marking what level of secrecy had been breached by Clancy's sources.
  • Shrine to Self: Several military characters are shown to have this attitude.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Soviet KGB troops tend to get this treatment, as distinct from the Red Army's soldiers. Even the Red Army soldiers show their disdain for their green-shoulder-board-wearing comrades.
  • Strawman Political: Clancy makes rather blatant use of strawman liberals, pacifists, and environmentalists throughout his novels. It's a given that such people will be morally weak as well.
  • Take That: Clancy takes the opportunity in several of his novels to note that the that none of the things that happen in Ian Fleming's James Bond novels would ever pass muster in reality.
  • Tear Your Face Off: Clancy is rather fond of this. Multiple books feature somewhat graphic descriptions of a well-placed headshot plastering someone's face against a wall.
  • Techno Babble: Clancy's lengthy, loving descriptions of exactly how military technology works can occupy whole chapters.
  • Technology Porn: Lots, especially military technology.
  • Title Drop: Done in virtually all of his novels, with very few exceptions.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Clancy writes a lot of enemy plotting from their POV (as the protagonists rarely meet the antagonists directly). As said enemy plotters are frequently ideological and/or mentally unbalanced, their assessment of an operation can differ radically from what it will or could actually achieve.
  • Yellow Peril: Tom Clancy loves this. Apart from multiple Ryanvese examples, SSN has China goes to war with America over the Spratly Islands. Based on a submarine simulator Video Game.
  1. miniguns aren't equipped with sights, as they're for area denial and not precision shooting