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When a fictional work features a politician, or two characters running for an elected position, often the parties they represent are not identified.
If, for example, a movie features a President Evil, identifying their party might make a political statement that the writer does not intend to make. It may simply be a lack of commitment on the writer's part—the character might espouse views from both sides. In any case, it avoids unnecessarily offending a large portion of the audience.
It sometimes stretches credibility, but sometimes not. Real-life politicians in the US often say "Smith for Congress" without mentioning party affiliation, but in Britain campaigns often give the party name, e.g. "Vote Labour/Conservative — vote John Smith". Some ballot papers don't name the candidates' parties, as in Britain until 1968, and some US elections today.
- Senator Robert Kelly in the X-Men comics and related media. In the two films for example, there is evidence of siding with both parties. In the first film, he implies that he is for gun control (a Democratic position) for the same reasons he is pro-mutant registration. A deleted scene in the second film implies, by a newspaper clip about a speech that he gives and the Democrats had a response to his speech, that he is a Republican. The issue is skirted in the comics as well and it falls on the writer of the story to make a hinted alignment. However, seeing as how his stand on issues not present in our real world is his only defining political characteristic, it mostly boils down to rhetoric a party would use to justify the reason for the registration.
- However in the "Making Of" featurette of X-Men, called "Mutant Watch", he is given the suffix R-KS, which means that he is a Republican from Kansas.
- In the comics, however, he is canonically from New York, which usually elects Democrats. Add to this the fact that he supports gun control, and uses this as a reason why he also supports mutant registration ("There is no difference!" he says, "All I see is weapons in our schools!"). There's also the fact that that Mutant Watch special feature had a, um, surprise ending that was most definitely not canon in either the movie or comics.
- Transmetropolitan identifies the political parties of the future US as merely "Ruling" or "Opposition."
- Though one panel shows the Smiler in the background identified as D-Callahan, and during the presidential election Callahan is given blue as his states' background colour versus The Beast's red. Given that it's an arbitrary amount of time in the future, there's no real reason to even believe the "D" or the colour blue would still stand for "Democrat" — they may have reverted to the pre-2004 convention of "blue is us and red is the other guy."
- Ex Machina has Mitchell Hundred running as Independent candidate for Mayor of New York City. Despite his overall left-libertarian leaning, he is constantly courted by the Republicans. In the final issue, he becomes Vice President for a successful John McCain.
- In one Captain America storyline, a news report announces that a senator (who is secretly working for the Red Skull) has left his party to become an independent presidential candidate, without actually saying what his party is.
- Deliberately invoked in Ultimate Sleepwalker: The New Dreams, which specifically notes that Senator Robert Kelly got elected as an Independent candidate, bankrolled by the anti-mutant movement. J. Jonah Jameson's crusading journalism has given his Democratic and Republican opponents plenty of ammunition in their quest to regain Kelly's Senate seat.
- Black Sheep identified the party of neither Farley's brother nor the incumbent opponent.
- Likewise, speeches given by both candidates were so vague and filled with meaningless phrases that it was impossible to even guess at either one's party affiliation.
- The Chris Rock vehicle Head of State goes out of its way not to say which side has nominated Rock's character for the presidency, partly by giving his opponents traits that would work for either party. Among other things, it's mentioned his opponent has been Vice President for 8 years which, since the movie came out in 2004, clears up nothing.
- Rock's former position of being a DC Alderman would strongly imply that he's a Democrat, or an independent, since the Democrats aren't allowed by law to control every seat on DC Council. At the same time, however, his opponent being a cousin to Sharon Stone, who is a Democrat, is repeatedly mentioned as a positive trait, which would imply he's a Democrat.
- Made even harder to ascertain by the fact Lewis wins both Texas (a Republican stronghold) and Michigan (a Democratic stronghold). Of course, there's also the fact that not everyone in a political family belongs necessarily to the same party.
- In Escape from New York, the President's political party is never mentioned or indicated. There's no mention of his political positions: he's just an uncaring self-absorbed bastard.
- There are several interviews with John Carpenter in which he says the political climate in the film was based on (what he believes to be) both parties moving away from individual liberty as their core value. This interpretation is also supported by the fact that Snake Plissken is played by Kurt Russell, who is a noted Libertarian.
- In the movie adaptation of State of Play, Ben Affleck's character is a congressman whose political party is not mentioned, although he has a painting of Dwight D. Eisenhower in his office. That probably isn't as big a hint as you might think, as Affleck's character is a former military man from Pennsylvania who went into politics while Eisenhower is regarded as a very non-partisan moderate President.
- That Disney Channel movie My Date with the President's Daughter.
- The 1993 film Dave, where Kevin Kline plays both a U.S. President and an impersonator of the same, never mentions a political party. Only a cameo by known Republican Ben Stein (although not even his party is actually mentioned) as himself can allow parties to be indirectly determined.
- In Bob Roberts the title character is frequently identified as conservative, but rarely as an actual Republican.
- The unnamed and almost unseen President in In the Line of Fire doesn't identify with a political party. Signs at his campaign rallies just say "Re-Elect The President".
- President Whitmore in Independence Day has no identified political party. We know he's a Gulf War fighter ace, and a brief reference to a failed "crime bill" is made, but otherwise all we know is that he wants to kick some alien ass.
- Taxi Driver-Senator Palantine, although his comments suggest that he is a Democrat.
- The Dish has the Prime Minister mention a party, but he doesn't identify which one. The real PM of the time was John Gorton of the Liberal Party.
- The president in Buckaroo Banzai can't decide whether he's hawkish or diplomatic. The only pertinent executive decision is in how to resolve the alien crisis and prevent World War III, which would presumably be in any American party's interest. If only a Marty Stu could solve everything and save the world in 30 minutes!
- In Iron Man 2, the party of Senator Stern (PA) is never given.
- In Dan Brown's Deception Point, the almost saintly President Herney's party is never mentioned. However his opponent, Complete Monster Senator Sexton is explicitly mentioned to be a Republican.
- John Grisham doesn't usually identify the party affiliations of his politician characters. However, if you know anything about U.S. politics, it's not hard to figure it out.
- In Meg Cabot's novel All-American Girl, about a teenager who takes a bullet for the president, survives, and ends up falling for his son, the party of the president is never mentioned... though it's implied a few times, based on the president's stances, that he's a Republican.
- In 24 Season 7, President Allison Taylor is not explicitly identified by party (at least so far). Since her predecessor is presumably Democrat, she is presumably Republican — and yet her idealism tends to be more of a liberal trait, and her predecessor appears to have mostly GOP traits.
- Arguably lampshaded by the entire short-lived series "Mr. Sterling", in which Josh Brolin's character (a prison teacher) is assumed to be a Democrat when he is appointed to finish the term of a Democratic Senator, but declares himself an independent. (In real life a freshman independent, appointed to fill a term, would be a political cipher, but Sterling ends up getting appointed to key committees almost immediately, presumably because a show about a Senator with no power at all would be pretty boring.)
- Jim Hacker, in Yes Minister, had Conservative views as well as looking and acting very much like the stereotypical Conservative MP, but was not identified as such. His party HQ was called "Central House", an amalgam of Central Office and Transport House, the locations of the Conservative Party and the Labour Party in real life at that time. In fact, many of the plot points in Yes Minister are based on real incidents, but they occurred under both Conservative and Labour ministries.
- On one occasion, in fact, Hacker is heard musing on what the Conservative or Labour parties would do in a similar situation, implying he is neither.
- Hacker is also seen wearing a white rosette as the election results are read out at the start of the pilot episode Open Government, alongside others wearing blue (Conservative) and red (Labour) rosettes.
- This is actually part of the point of the show — that regardless of party and ideology, the elected leaders are hamstrung by the career bureaucrats (who, for their own part, may honestly believe that they serve the people best by preventing well-intentioned politicians from gumming up the works).
"The Opposition aren't really the Opposition. They're just called the Opposition. But in fact they are the Opposition in exile. The Civil Service are the Opposition in residence."
—Journalist Anthony Jay, paraphrased in an early episode of Yes Minister
- In the novelisation of the episode "The Skeleton In The Cupboard", Hacker refers to the opposition being in power at the time of Humphrey's mistake. The episode was made in 1982 and is set no later than 1984, setting Humphrey's mistake during Churchill's administration. This would seem to rule out the Conservative Party.
- Governor Gatling of Benson only ever refers to his party as "The Party". For that matter, we're never even told what state he's the governor of.
- Harriet Jones from Doctor Who repeatedly introduces herself as "MP for Flydale North" without ever mentioning what party she represents. Certain clues have led fans to believe she belongs to either the Labour (the reference to "the babes" in "Aliens of London") or Conservative (the Margaret Thatcher allegory in "The Christmas Invasion").
- Nicely averted with the third series with the Master, who was an "independent candidate". Didn't matter much in the end, though: he was using mind-control to get elected.
- Handled in Jack and Bobby by stating that Bobby grew up to be America's first independent party president. After brief stints in both major parties, just so no one would get pissed off.
- Although The Outer Limits episode "The Hundred Days of the Dragon" revolves around a Presidential election, we never learn the party of either candidate. Also, only one of the candidates is important to the story, so the other one is The Faceless.
- The mayor in Spin City. Some of his properties were those of a strawman Liberal, while others were that of a strawman Conservative.
- Throughout season one of Heroes, Nathan Petrelli is running for Congress. His party and political views are never discussed. The show also makes a much bigger deal out of a congressional election than is typical of real life.
- He's like the X-Men's Senator Kelly; his main opinions are to do with Differently-Powered Individual. Except, unlike Kelly, he's in a world with The Masquerade in force, so he can't have official policies based on that...
- Subtle hints indicate that he is a Republican, particularly the fact that his campaign is based on "family values", which at the time was a phrase more vocally used by Republicans.
- Tracy Strauss, a political consultant and Blonde Maybe Republican Sex Kitten would also fit this trope. She says that her boss, the governor of New York, has trouble with the far right but that does not rule out him being a Republican. She is likely of the same party as Nathan Petrelli as she helped him become a Senator.
- The party the main characters of The Hollowmen belong to is referred to merely as "The Party". Its leader is "The Prime Minister" and is never shown on camera.
- In Stargate SG-1, the political party that Robert Kinsey and Henry Hayes belong to is never specified, but can kinda be guessed to be Republican.
- It's very difficult to tell with Stargate, as politicians sometimes seem to be on both sides of the political spectrum. This also applies to the nameless president of the first seven seasons.
- It's only very difficult to tell with Hayes and the nameless president, as we don't really see them do anything public policy wise. Kinsey is probably a Republican (and a pretty heavy Christian Fundamentalist at that) and as he was Hayes' VP for a while it would imply that Hayes is also a Republican.
- In addition, a comment by Mitchell in the tenth season suggests that Kinsey, forced to resign during "Lost City", was replaced by Dick Cheney, a Republican and the real life VP when the episode first aired.
- Pretty much every politician in Law & Order, regardless of which series. While there is the occasional snide comment about certain political groups (usually, but not always, aimed at conservative groups/issues), rarely is a specific political party mentioned. There are, however, plenty of obvious knock-offs of famous politicians and pundits, thus allowing the viewer to draw what conclusions they will.
- Although it has to be said that during Fred Thompson's run as the DA, he expressed plenty of conservative points that are not unlike his actual party (GOP). For example, he parroted Scalia's view that there is no ingrained constitutional right to privacy, a very GOP/originalist view. (for those who are not American, the actor is a former took the role while in his last year as a Republican Senator from Tennessee and left the show to run for President.) Jack McCoy is more or less ambiguous and would do anything to win his case (one time he succeeded to nullify all gay marriages to try to break spousal confidentiality of a suspect, mirroring the time when the mayor of a small town upstate was issuing licenses for same sex marriage). On the other hand, Jack McCoy has, at the end of the day, expressed liberal positions on most issues not relating directly to criminal justice (and even some that do).
- A season one episode had D.A. Adam Schiff and A.D.A. Ben Stone attending a Democratic fundraiser.
- On an episode of Frasier, Marty and his sons appear in television ads for opposing congressional candidates. Though Frasier and Niles' man is a "bleeding-heart" who supports the NEA and protecting the environment, and Marty's is tough on crime and pro-military and family values, the words "Democrat" and "Republican" (or "liberal" or "conservative") are not mentioned. Of course, one or both could be an independent or third-party candidates.
- The Thick of It simply has "The Party" and "The Opposition", but it isn't hard to guess who their real-life equivalents are (Labour and the Tories, respectively).
- Vice President Selina Meyer's party on Veep is never stated. However, in the grand tradition of Armando Iannucci (who also did The Thick of It), it's pretty obvious that the Administration is something of an Expy of the one in power (i.e. that of Barack Obama, i.e. the Democrats).
- Selina isn't an expy of Joe Biden, however, as having a good-natured, gaffe-prone, unambitious elder statesman of a VP wouldn't make for good comedy, or at least not as good as an ambitious and embittered ex-Senator who had made a serious presidential run in the previous election. Hey, wait a minute....
- Irish political sitcom Val Falvey T.D. never mentioned the lead's party. His logo is green, implying Fianna Fáil, but the opening titles are blue, implying Fine Gael.
- The panel show If I Ruled the World had a Blue Team consisting of Graeme Garden and a teammate versus a Red Team consisting of Jeremy Hardy and a teammate, all playing politicians, but not corresponding to the Conservative or Labour parties, and mostly sticking to satirizing the political process in general.
- The short-lived Commander in Chief had Geena Davis' Vice President run as an Independent with suggested libertarian leanings. When she ends up assuming the presidency after the current president dies, this is brought up as a subject of disquiet more than her gender is.
- She canonically started out as a moderate, New England-style Republican (flashbacks in the Pilot episode show the Connecticut Republican Party recruiting her to run for Congress and she became the arch-conservative President Bridges's running mate because he needed a moderate Republican to balance the ticket). After this, though, she officially became an Independent.
- The Politician's party that Carrie from Sex and the City dates for a brief period is kept intentionally vague... because, hey, that's not what The Girls are about.
- In an episode of The Monkees, Mike runs for mayor in order to unseat the corrupt incumbent; neither the party of Mike nor the incumbent mayor is ever given (though Mike can possibly be assumed to be running as an Independent). As a Mayoral race it could have plausibly been non-partisan if not for a slightly awkward bit of dialogue early on where Mike threatens to take his complaint with the mayor and "dump it in the opposing party's lap".
- Sheriff Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show. However, as an elected official in a Southern state during the sixties, it's most likely that he's a conservative Democrat.
- Played with in the musical comedy Of Thee I Sing:
Throttlebottom: Excuse me, gentlemen, but what party are we?
- Solidus Snake in Metal Gear Solid 2 is the ex-President of the United States, but his party is never brought up. The two swords he uses, incidentally, are called Minshu ("democratic") and Kyowa ("republic"), just in case you thought you were getting any clues.
- The incumbent President Johnson's party isn't stated either.
- In Grand Theft Auto IV, the parties of Mayor Julio Ochoa, Deputy Mayor Bryce Dawkins and Governor candidates John Hunter and Michael Graves are never given. Judging by their political views, you can make educated guesses.
- U.S. Senator Patrick Darcy in Alpha Protocol. What little of him is revealed in the news, introducing a new bill, won't help, as it's a fictional counterpart to a Real Life bipartisan bill (McCain-Feingold). Averted with President of Taiwan Ronald Sung, who is given explicit party affiliation.
- When Shortpacked!'s Robin DeSanto gets elected to congress, this is lampshaded as a "Non-Partisan Romp!". Later, an unlabeled campaign leaflet blends caricatures of both sides with "Robin DeSanto is out of touch with core American values! Voted yes on CANCER! Voted yes on TERRORISTS!" Voted no on BABIES! Voted no on FREEDOM!"
- Dylan/USA Patriot Act and Jenny/American Eagle, two of the pupils at the PS238 School for meta-prodigies, are candidates from opposing parties to replace the aging Freedom Fighter (the PS238-verse's Captain America (comics) Expy). Their parties are, how ever, never named, and since they both sprout the same patriotic platitudes it is difficult to tell who is who.
- However, Dylan's favorite color is red and Jenny's is blue.
- The other time you can actually tell their politics apart is when they light directly into each other, when Dylan will call Jenny a pinko commie and she responds by calling him a backwards neanderthal (or something of the sort).
- When Lex Luthor runs for president during the second season of Justice League Unlimited, he is specified as being "within striking distance" of both major parties, thereby not only not associating the villain with the Republicans or Democrats, but shutting out the possibility entirely, defusing any arguments about how Luthor would (obviously, of course) be running for [insert your least favorite of the two here].
- In the comics, he represented "The Tomorrow Party".
- They were also careful in the Armageddon 2001 annuals (which came out in 1991) to not say which party President Clark Kent represented. (He beat a Supreme Court challenge over "native born American" because in 1991 they were still using the Bryne revamp origin where the ship had carried a gestation chamber rather than a baby, and Clark wasn't born from that womb until after the ship had landed on American soil.)
- In the comics, he represented "The Tomorrow Party".
- Pinky and The Brain: Pinky similarly took up stock with the "Pink Party" when he ran for President. The party's chief adviser had previously worked for Nixon, Kennedy, and Dukakis.
- In Canada, the Legislative Assemblies of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are non-partisan and all candidates run independently of whatever party they might be a member of (if they hold membership at all).
- The first President of the United States of America, George Washington, is the only president not to belong to any political party. It explains some of the president/vice-president combinations that followed...
- The mismatched president/vice-president combinations were caused by the fact that originally the two positions were determined by two separate elections. Thus, a candidate from one party could win the presidential election, but the candidate from the opposing party could win the vice presidential election. This practice was stopped when it became obvious that having the President and Vice-President opposing each other was a bad idea.
- Officially, every member of the Nebraska state legislature is non-partisan. Unofficially it is divided by party lines.
- The President in Escape From L.A. is very obviously a Republican Strawman Political, as an extreme example of the Religious Right. For example, he orders that all atheists be sent to Los Angeles, as well as all prostitutes, and any and all criminals; sex outside of marriage is outright illegal; alcohol is also illegal (teetotalism being a common position in certain Protestant denominations).
- In the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate, the political party involved is never mentioned by name, even during a scene that revolves around a strategy session involving the electoral map. However, it can sort of be inferred from the states that they are mentioned as "traditional weak" and "traditional strong" in that Senator Shaw and her son are Democrats.
- This contrasts with the original, which made them a family of Republicans.
- In Evan Almighty the title character, a newly-elected Congressman, is shown driving his new Hummer and watching MSNBC within the first few minutes of the film.
- Averted in The Avengers. The politician criticizing the Avengers for damaging Manhattan is a Democrat, though if you blink, you miss it.
- All three Presidents in My Fellow Americans are identified as either Democrat or Republican in the opening scenes.
- Every character in The Contender has his/her party and general political stances made very explicit.
- Jack Ryan, from the Tom Clancy novel series, is explicitly described as an independent, though he clearly holds policies that mark him as a very conservative Author Avatar.
- Ed Kealty comes close, but it's quite clear that he's nothing more than an amoral, conniving man who's politics only matter in which of Ryan's statements he twists to meet his needs. Durling, while obviously a liberal (as he is Fowler's VP. a character who is clearly in opposition to Ryan's conservatism) is clearly respected by Ryan and returns that respect. Fowler himself is shown as a good man, with very cogent arguments against Ryan's politics and views, his treatment of Ryan bordering on persecution is clearly shown as being caused, not by political differences, but because of misinformation and distortion of the man by Liz Elliot, who maintains a vendetta against him up until her complete breakdown after Denver got nuked. As for Ryan himself, he's very conservative, and something of a Gary Stu, but his views very much resemble real-world ones, if somewhat simplified for plot reasons.
- Rudy Rucker's novel Mathematicians in Love is a rare example of someone bothering to change the names of the parties — "Heritagist" and "Common Ground" — while still making it very, very obvious that he's talking about real-life politics. (The Heritagists are a party of closed-minded conservatives who are rampantly curtailing civil liberties and have just gotten done wrecking the country through a disastrous war in the Middle East. The Common Ground party is a party that's just gotten done running a completely uncharismatic war veteran against the Heritagists and utterly failing to unseat them, causing a wave of despair among liberals determined to abandon the country and move to Canada.)
- In 24, presidential candidate David Palmer is referred to as a Democrat in Season 1. His opponent in the general election (not the party primaries), John Keeler, is presumably a Republican, yet he is never explicitly referred to as such, is endorsed by the AFL-CIO, and had a campaign logo presciently similar to the later real-life Kerry-Edwards 2004 logo. Wayne Palmer, who becomes President in season 6, is presumably a Democrat like his brother, yet has strawman conservatives as his Vice President and Chief of Staff.
- The West Wing where Bartlet is very clearly a Democrat.
- As was Andrew Shepherd before him in The American President.
- Pretty much everyone in the West Wing is clearly of one party or the other (or at least could be classed as conservative or liberal). The sole exceptions seem to be people associated with the military or national security: when the West Wing staff are briefly considering replacing John Hoynes with Admiral Fitzwallace, either Ed or Larry asks if Fitzwallace is even a Democrat. Later in the series, Will is shocked to learn that Kate Harper, who had expressed occasional liberal values throughout her run, had voted for Vinick, the Republican candidate. Since both Fitzwallace and Kate got their jobs thanks to their experience in the Navy, their political views on nonmilitary issues are somewhat moot. Nancy McNally is similarly vague in her political persuasion.
- Sneakily averted in the Little Britain sketches featuring Anthony Stewart Head as the Prime Minister. While his party affiliation is never explicitly revealed, there are enough clues given to make it blindingly clear that he's Labour — he wears a red tie while the Leader of the Opposition wears a blue one, and his Chancellor of the Exchequer is very obviously based on Gordon Brown (the Prime Minister himself is more loosely based on Tony Blair).
- Alan B'stard in the The New Statesman just had to be a Conservative.
- To reflect Truth in Television of several Tory MPs, in the revived 2006 stage show it is revealed he "crossed the floor" in 1995.
- Likewise Francis Urquhart in House of Cards, though not in the original book.
- Averted in Irish drama The Running Mate. Corrupt politician Vincent Flynn is expelled from government party Fianna Fáil, and stands for election as an independent.
- Hybridised in The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard, where Ros Pritchard forms the Purple Democratic Alliance out of dissatisfaction with both Labour and the Conservatives after they start a fistfight outside her supermarket (purple = Labour red + Conservative blue, of course), pinching members from both parties in the process. Take That, Lib Dems! (She persuades a Lib Dem to defect, too.)
- Despite being a legal and not a political drama, Rumpole of the Bailey manages to avert this: Guthrie Featherstone is a Labour (implied) MP who later (explicitly) joins the SDP, Rumpole's third client in the series is a Labour backbencher, Charles Hearthstoke self-identifies as a Tory, and Liz Probert...well...let's just say that her father's name is "Red" Ron Probert, shall we? Rumpole himself doesn't clearly have a party affiliation, but, iconoclast and sympathizer with the poor that he is, it would appear that he's somewhere on the left (likely voting Labour at the beginning of the series in 1967 and voting Liberal Democrat by the end in 1992).
- Most of the characters in the play and movie State of the Union are Republican politicians and make no bones about it. (Though one of the party hacks explains that the essential difference between the parties is: "They're in--and we're out!")
- President Richard Nixon's Head in Futurama is not one bit less Republican than the real Richard Nixon.
- Mayor Quimby from The Simpsons is a member of the Democratic Party.
- The straw-evil Republican Party, on the other hand, counts Montgomery Burns (obviously), Sideshow Bob (for comic effect) and surprisingly Doctor Hibbert.
- Averted really hard in Mexico: While legally anyone can be elected in any elective office position, in practice only members of a political party can be elected in any position. Many NGO's have asked for years to change the laws to similar ones used in the U.S., despise it was already explained that Washington was the only American president that was not a member of a political party.