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United Nations in popular culture

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The UN building from the trailer for the 1959 film North by Northwest

Popular culture references to the United Nations organization and its buildings have been made in film, books, video games, and other media. In many instances the United Nations, or a fictional agency based on the organization, figures in a storyline.

In film[edit]

  • The Glass Wall, a 1953 Columbia Pictures B-picture, was the first Hollywood movie filmed on location at the United Nations Headquarters Building.
  • In the 1959 Donald Duck cartoon, Donald in Mathmagic Land, the United Nations building is shown as an example of the usage of the mathematical golden rectangle in modern architecture.
  • Alfred Hitchcock, director of the 1959 film North by Northwest, wanted to film at the UN but didn't have permission. So actor Cary Grant was filmed by a hidden camera while approaching the entrance. Other UN scenes were done using a sound stage and special effects.[1]
  • In Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961), Admiral Nelson goes to the United Nations with his plan to save the world from the burning Van Allen belt.
  • In 1966's Batman, the villains dehydrate and kidnap the members of the United World Organization's Security Council, a fictionalized version of the United Nations.
  • In the alternate reality of 1971's Quest for Love World War II and the Vietnam War never happened, and there is no United Nations. Instead the League of Nations still exists. The protagonist, coming from our reality, finds that the Secretary General of the League of Nations is John F. Kennedy.
  • In A Thief in the Night (1972), the UN adds another title to its new distinction as a one-world government. It is now called UNITE, standing for "United Nations Imperium of Total Emergency."[citation needed]
  • In the 1973 film Live and Let Die, the opening shows MI6 Agent Dawes, on a mission at UN Headquarters, getting killed.
  • In Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Superman attends a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, announcing that he will rid the planet of nuclear weapons.
  • The United Nations is the setting for a mouse variation thereof called the Rescue Aid Society in The Rescuers (1977), and its sequel The Rescuers Down Under (1990).
  • The 1997 action/thriller film The Peacemaker features a terrorist nuclear bomb plot against the United Nations headquarters in the context of the Yugoslav Wars.
  • The 1998 crime thriller film U.S. Marshals features Diplomatic Security Service agents being gunned down in self defense during a briefcase exchange with a Chinese politician in the UN underground parking garage. Several scenes directly outside the UN Headquarters building are seen in the film.
  • The 2000 film The Art of War includes an agent of a fictional UN espionage agency.
  • The 2001 film Black Hawk Down shows peacekeepers aiding the US forces during the Battle of Mogadishu.
  • In the 2003 Animatrix short film The Second Renaissance, the UN rejects the machine nation Zero-One's applications for membership. The rebuff sets off a war that would later end with the defeat of the humans by the machine army. The UN headquarters is destroyed by a machine ambassador signing an armistice document.
  • In Hotel Rwanda (2004), Roméo Dallaire, a Major-General of UNAMIR, helps Paul Rusesabagina save dozens of civilians during the Rwandan Civil War.
  • The 2005 film The Interpreter was filmed on location in the UN.[citation needed]
  • The United Nations General Assembly in UN Headquarters is depicted in the 2006 horror parody Scary Movie 4. An emergency session is called, and the U.S. President (played by Leslie Nielsen) announces and unveils a new weapon designed to combat the invading alien triPods.
  • In Shake Hands with the Devil (2007) General Roméo Dallaire tries to stop the madness of the Rwandan genocide during his commission as the Major-General of UNAMIR.
  • The 2008 biopic Che shot scenes inside UN Headquarters which show Ernesto "Che" Guevara speaking to the UN General assembly.
  • In The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), a race of extraterrestrials sends a representative, Klaatu, to make contact with the human race by communicating with world leaders at the United Nations.
  • The 2009 film In the Loop extensively features the UN headquarters.
  • The 2010 political documentary film U. N. Me features footage surreptitiously shot inside the U.N. headquarters building without permission.[citation needed]
  • In the 2016 Marvel Studios film Captain America: Civil War, the United Nations building in Vienna is the site of a bombing, and the United Nations is the organization that approves and writes the Sokovia Accords.
  • The 2016 film The Siege of Jadotville portrays the Siege of Jadotville in 1961 and the role of the United Nations in the Congo Crisis including the death of United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld.
  • The 2018 political thriller film Backstabbing for Beginners follows the real life corruption scandal in the UN Oil-for-Food Programme.
  • The Galactic Republic from Star Wars films and books.
  • The 1994 film Street Fighter portrays the Allied Nations invading Shadaloo City to oust its warlord.
  • The Federated Territories from the 1997 film The Fifth Element is the World government in 2263, and consists of Earth and its space-faring territories.
  • The United Nations Godzilla Countermeasures Force appears in the Godzilla film series.
  • The United World Confederacy in the 2012 film Iron Sky, though it is still referred to in dialogue as "the UN".

In television[edit]

  • In a 1962 episode of The Twilight Zone, "To Serve Man", United Nations delegates host and interview an alien race seemingly interested only in helping humanity.
  • In the series seaQuest DSV, following the growing colonization of the world's oceans, the world is brought into conflict over underwater territories which eventually leads to the collapse of the United Nations. The United Earth Oceans is formed to take its place.
  • In the made-for-television films Death Train and Night Watch, Pierce Brosnan plays an agent of the fictional United Nations Anti-Crime Organisation (UNACO).
  • In Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, network president Jordan McDeere purchases the rights to a television show entitled Nations, to be set behind the scene in the United Nations.
  • In the 1969 movie of the week Gidget Grows Up, "Gidget" Lawrence moves to New York and becomes a UN tour guide.
  • In the 1983 science fiction miniseries V, the UN Secretary General makes first contact with the aliens known as the Visitors when their transport lands on the UN headquarters' rooftop.
  • In the science fiction series Space: Above and Beyond, the colonization of deep space and the war against an alien race called the Chigs are done under a United Nations banner.
  • The UN plays a prominent role in the eighth season of television series 24, when terrorists carry out a political assassination plot targeting a Middle Eastern leader who is signing a peace treaty at the UN Headquarters with the President of the United States.
  • The United Nations serves as the setting for most of the second half of "The Terrible Secret of Turtle Bay", the pilot episode of the animated series The Venture Bros.
  • The Australian series Answered by Fire is about 1999 East Timor conflicts and the United Nations Mission in East Timor.
  • The British series Warriors is about the British forces part of the United Nations Protection Force during the Yugoslav Wars.
  • On the animated show Animaniacs, the Warners sing a song about the UN to the tune of Down By the Riverside, referencing the building's location on the shore of the East River.
  • The United Nations exists in the Defiance universe. In 2015 the United Nations grants land in Brazil to build a Votan colony, and in 2023 the Votan diplomat is killed outside the UN building in New York. This leads to war, and the Earth Republic government established after the war is led by remnants of the United Nations.
  • In an episode of Family Guy called "E. Peterbus Unum", Peter Griffin creates his own small nation within the United States. After becoming a member of the United Nations, he asks for a seat at the front because he can't hear or see. Kofi Annan and the other member states ridicule him.
  • In the science fiction series The Expanse, the United Nations is the governing body of a united Earth, competing with the Mars-based MCR over asteroid belt resources.
  • In the political drama series House of Cards, Claire Underwood then First-Lady, becomes UN Ambassador in a recess appointment. The UN plays a large role in the third season of the show as the Underwood couple goes head-to-head with the Russian President in a peacekeeping resolution.
  • In the cyberpunk science fiction series Altered Carbon, the United Nations is the unified government of all of humanity, which has since established a hundred-light-year interstellar empire.
  • In The Blacklist season six episode, "The Corsican" (2019), Raymond "Red" Reddington arranges for a bombmaker to defuse a building-destroying bomb in the United Nations Security Council Chamber. Since the UN building has been cleared as the defusing is taking place, Remington takes the opportunity to walk into the empty General Assembly hall and give a speech from the podium to his associate, Dembe Zuma, about the actor Cary Grant and the potential medical and life-enhancing benefits of LSD.
  • The Democratic Order of Planets (DOOP) from the Futurama television series.
  • The League of Non-Aligned Worlds, Earth Alliance, and Interstellar Alliance from the Babylon 5 television series. The Babylon 5 station itself was originally created as a UN in space with a council comprising the major powers of the setting, namely the Earth Alliance, the Centauri, the Narn, the Vorlons, the Minbari and the League (whose members are individually represented but they share a single seat and vote on the council).
  • The United Forces from The Legend of Korra animated series.
  • The United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT) in Doctor Who, which was later redesignated 'Unified Intelligence Taskforce' because of UN objections to the use of 'United Nations'.[citation needed]
  • The United Federation of Planets from the Star Trek franchise.

In novels[edit]

  • Geoff Hazel's Picture a Dry Riverbed is a historical autobiography of the civilian police in the District of Ermera, East Timor as they assisted in the conduct of the Popular Consultation.
  • Scorched Earth is a 2019 novel by Tammy Pemper based on actual peacekeeping events in East Timor during the 1999 referendum. By the time the violence throughout the land reached its end, the invasion and occupation of East Timor resulted in the killing of a third of the Timorese population and the torturing of thousands.
  • Dr. Arthur M. Keppel-Jones' 1947 novel When Smuts Goes, a dystopian future history of South Africa foresaw a future when apartheid would be dismantled by a military invasion and conquest by United Nations troops. The UN troops in the book are depicted as flying a fictional "Four Freedoms Flag", as the actual United Nations flag had not yet been adopted at the time of writing.
  • In Altered Carbon, the UN governs Earth and several colonies, maintaining its own court system, military, and currency.
  • Srivijaya by Raymond G. Trombley is a novel about a terrorist group that attempts to coerce the UN Security Council into a resolution.
  • United Nations International Critical Response and Tactical Team (UNICRATT) appears in the novel Sahara by Clive Cussler.
  • United Nations Global Occult Coalition (UNGOC) or just Global Occult Coalition (GOC). A coalition of 108 organizations (such as the Illuminati and Templar Knights) formed in 1946 and under the supervision of the United Nations to destroy paranormal and supernatural objects and hostile entities. Made up of multiple divisions e;g. STRIKE team and PHYSICS division. Appears multiple times in the SCP Foundation series, sometimes as an ally and sometimes an antagonist.
  • In the Seafort Saga by David Feintuch, the United Nations is the government of Earth and its colonies, which exercises control through the |United Nations Naval Service.
  • In All-American Girl, Samantha Madison is the teen ambassador to the United Nations.
  • The United Nations appears as the governing body of Earth in The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, while its military arm is the United Nations Exploratory Force.
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space universe, the UN is the government of Earth. It is involved in a long-standing cold war with the independent Asteroid Belt, which nearly turns into a hot war in A World of Ptavvs. The Amalgamated Regional Militia began as a UN agency, and by the time of the books has become the de facto Earth government.
  • One of the novels in the Choose Your Own Adventure book series is called UN Adventure, where the reader is a Model United Nations delegate who can be tasked to handle diplomatic assignments. One task is verifying the existence of nuclear weapons inside the fictional former Soviet republic of Arkistan.
  • In Arthur C. Clarke's 1953 novel Childhood's End Rikki Stormgren of Finland, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, is chosen by the mysterious alien "Overlords" (who have taken over the Earth) as their only liaison with the human race.
  • A recurring phrase in the CHERUB book series is "Why don't you write a letter to the United Nations?", upon someone claiming unfair treatment or a breach of the rules of a training exercise.
  • In Isaac Asimov's 1951 short story, "Shah Guido G.", the United Nations becomes a tyrannical and oppressive world government run by a dynasty of hereditary Secretaries-Generals who rule Earth from a levitating island called Atlantis.
  • Poul Anderson's The Psychotechnic League starts in the aftermath of a devastating 1958 nuclear war. The United Nations, a force for good re-founded at a conference in Rio de Janeiro, creates a special corps of "Un-Men" who have superhuman powers.
  • In the Left Behind series of novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, based on the Christian eschatological viewpoint of the end of the world, a major villain is the Romanian UN Secretary General Nicolae Carpathia, who turns out to be the Antichrist. He renames the UN the Global Community, which is meant to be the one world government prophecised in the Bible.
  • The plot of Philip K. Dick's Martian Time-Slip (1964), set in a human colony on Mars, begins with a character trying to stake a claim to the seemingly worthless Franklin D. Roosevelt mountain range after receiving an insider tip that the United Nations plans to build a huge apartment complex there.
  • In the dystopian future of Philip K. Dick's 1965 The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch temperatures are so high that in most of the world it is unsafe to be outside without cooling gear. The UN is the government of Earth and has initiated a "draft" for colonizing the nearby planets.
  • Emmanuel De Paolo, UN Secretary General, is a major character in Ben Bova's Millennium. In 1999 (a future date at the time of writing) the Secretary General watches helplessly as Americans and Soviets escalate towards a seemingly inevitable nuclear war. Suddenly the American and Soviet Moon colonists join forces, and capture their respective countries' anti-ballistic missile satellites. This gives them the power to interdict missiles and thus prevent the war. The Secretary General teams up with the Moon rebels, and gets many smaller nations to join by promising them effective weather control from orbit. Angry New York mobs set the UN Headquarters on fire.
  • In Robert Van Kampen's novel The Fourth Reich, Adolf Hitler's spirit is released from Hell and enters an embryo created from his cloned DNA. He's then born in Russia and grows up to become that country's dictator. Eventually he reveals his true identity to the world before the UN Assembly General, and takes up the role of the Antichrist predicted in Christian eschatology.
  • In James S. A. Corey's science fiction series The Expanse, the United Nations is the governing body of a united Earth, competing with the Mars-based MCR over asteroid belt resources.
  • The 1986 novel The Coming of the Quantum Cats features a timeline in which World War II never happened and instead of the United Nations, the League of Nations still exists. In this world, the US and Soviet Union both developed nuclear weapons and entered a Cold War which turns hot in the course of the book. After a limited nuclear exchange in which Washington, D.C. and other places are destroyed, the League of Nations intervenes to prevent greater destruction and bloodshed, disbanding both the American and the Soviet armies and sending League troops to temporarily administer their territories.

In music[edit]

  • In the 1958 song "Summertime Blues", Eddie Cochran sings "I'm gonna take my problem to the United Nations", appealing the decisions of a school-age boy's boss and parents that interfere with his summer social life.
  • In Megadeth's 2007 album United Abominations, The United Nations is described as "a blot on the face of humanity".[citation needed] On the cover of their album Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? the band's mascot Vic Rattlehead is seen standing in front of the UN building after a devastating nuclear war, with a sign "For sale".
  • In "Operation", from Jamie T's 2007 album Panic Prevention, he repeatedly sings "Take your problem to United Nations. Tell old Kofi about the situation", referring to Kofi Annan, who was Secretary-General of the United Nations at the time Jamie T wrote the song, but not by the time the album was released.
  • In "The Words That Maketh Murder", from PJ Harvey's 2011 album Let England Shake, Harvey sings "What if I take my problem to the United Nations?", referring both to Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" and the United Nations' stated mission to promote peace.

In video games[edit]

  • The World Assembly in the online game Jennifer Government: NationStates was originally called the United Nations, until a cease-and-desist letter from the real life UN forced the creator to rename it.[citation needed]
  • In Overwatch, the UN forms the eponymous international team of heroes to combat a robot uprising.
  • The Ghosts, a fictional black ops special forces unit in Ghost Squad, are established under an organization funded by the UN.
  • In the Halo series, the United Nations Space Command is the military branch of the unified government of all humankind.
  • The Global Defense Initiative in the Command & Conquer series is a branch of the United Nations.
  • The Chimera, one of the three playable factions in the real-time strategy game Act of Aggression, is a covert multinational task force formed by the UN.
  • A large part of Deus Ex revolves around the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition, phonetically pronounced UNATCO for short.
  • The United Nations is a World Wonder in Sid Meier's Civilization series. In later games the organization activates diplomatic victory.
  • In Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, the Unity exploration mission was started by the UN, and they are one of the factions that emerges shortly before Planetfall in the form of the Peacekeepers.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the protagonist's involvement in the story is at the request of the United Nations.
  • In the fictional Strangereal setting of the Ace Combat games, the UN exists in various forms. In Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, the Independent United Nations Peackeeping Forces (IUN-PKF) engages in combat against a belligerent Erusea; Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere, a futuristic version of the IUN exists, called the Neo United Nations (NUN), with Gabriel Clarkson as Secretary-General.
  • In Ace Combat Infinity, United Nations Forces is the formal armed forces formed by the United Nations, to maintain global stability in the aftermath of an impact event called the Ulysses Disaster.
  • In Surveillance Kanshisha, the UN establishes a counter-terrorist unit called Shadow Sword in order to safeguard the Earth-Mars space travel route and the people using it from a mysterious terrorist group called Neo-Kleit.
  • In SimCity 3000, the UN building can be built as a landmark.
  • In the grand strategy science fiction game Stellaris, one of the fates of the human race is to become the United Nations of Earth, which is most likely the successor to the UN of modern times.
  • The Civilization Committee in Grand Theft Auto IV is a parody of the UN and has a headquarters identical to the UN's.
  • Tom Clancy's The Division about the aftermath of a pandemic in New York City features the United Nations Headquarters.
  • The UN was disbanded on July 27, 2052 in the Fallout series. This led to rising international tensions over the coming decades and eventually to a global nuclear war in 2077, destroying civilization across the globe.
  • The Xbox/PS2 game Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction features the Allied Nations. Their soldiers and insignia even sport similarities with real UN Peacekeepers.[citation needed]
  • The Advance Wars series of games includes the Allied Nations.
  • The United Powers League (UPL) and United Earth Directorate (UED) are successors to the United Nations in StarCraft.
  • The Systems Alliance serves as the future iteration of the United Nations in the Mass Effect video game series. The Citadel and its Council, comprising the three great powers of the Asari, Salarians and Turians, also function as an interstellar, interspecies United Nations.

In anime[edit]

  • United Nations Cosmo Force, a space military branch administrated by the UN in the anime Space Battleship Yamato 2199, in which the Yamato sails as a UNCF vessel. However this affiliation is only in the remake, and there is no mention of the UN in the original run of Space Battleship Yamato.
  • U.N. Spacy, a fictional military arm of the Earth U.N. Government (地球統合政府 Chikyuu Tougou Seifu) from the Japanese anime series Macross.
  • The Gutsy Galaxy Guard (A.K.A. "GGG"; pronounced "Three-G"), a branch of the United Nations Earth Defense Force in The King of Braves GaoGaiGar. The Secretary General of the UN in this show's universe is identified by name and visage as the character Rose Approval
  • The United Nations Special Agency NERV has a significant role in Neon Genesis Evangelion. The United Nations in the series is powerful and has a standing army (unlike in the real world, where UN Peacekeepers are small numbers of troops donated by countries). They directly control NERV, an organisation whose purpose is to defend humankind from the children of Adam.
  • FLAG, a documentary-style anime series from 2006, is about a fictional war in central Asia and the UN flag that is raised above the battlefield which may be the key to peace. United Nation peacekeepers involved in the anime are known as UNF (United Nations Forces) peacekeepers.
  • UN peacekeepers participated in the Central/South American wars and in the Second Korean War in Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, the United Nations leads a large-scale UN Peacekeeping Army formed by the World Economic Union, the Human Reform Alliance, and the Advanced European Union, to defeat the paramilitary organization Celestial Being. In the series' second season, the UN is reformed as the Earth Sphere Federation, designed to unite all countries as one real entity. The UN General Assembly hall was shown in the last episode of the first season.
  • In Muv-Luve Alternative: Total Eclipse, the fight against the human-eating BETA is conducted under the banner of the UN, which possesses its own military and military installations.
  • The Earth Sphere Unified Nation (ESUN) and other related organizations from the Gundam franchise.

In comic books[edit]

  • S.H.I.E.L.D. is a planetary defense/intelligence service often depicted as UN-affiliated in the Marvel Universe line of comic books.
  • T.H.U.N.D.E.R., the eponymous organization from Tower Comics' T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, stood for The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves.
  • During the Bronze Age of Comic Books, Wonder Woman worked for a short time as a secretary at the UN.
  • In the Wildstorm universe the UN, through its top-secret Special Security Council, takes an active role in monitoring and dealing with posthumans and formed both the superpowered Stormwatch - overseen from a satellite by their director "The Weatherman" - and the non-superpowered Team Achilles as a response. Stormwatch's leader Jackson King is often portrayed in the UN buildings in New York. When King walks out and forms The Monarchy, the UN assign special agent Morro to monitor his activities.
  • In several issues of Superman, Superman is mentioned as having coordinated his activities with the United Nations.[citation needed]
  • The UN is a recurring character in the Polandball universe, often portrayed as a teacher, a judge or as a mediator, often ignored by the other countries.
  • In issue 9 of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comic, the "Chameleon" double agent character steals top secret UN weapon plans.[citation needed]

References[edit]


Other articles of the topic Politics : Zach Dasher, Bernie Sanders' Dank Meme Stash, Mexico–Tonga relations, Ewald Max Hoyer, B. Dexter Ryland, O. E. Price, Woody Freeman
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  1. Coleman, Herbert (2007). The Man Who Knew Hitchcock: A Hollywood Memoir. Scarecrow Press. pp. 282-284. ISBN 9781461706922. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png


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