United Nations in popular culture
Popular culture references to the United Nations have been made in several media, including film, books, video games, and others. In many instances, the United Nations (or a fictional agency thereof) will figure in a storyline. In the case of science fiction, for example, the humans are united under one government that is descended directly from the UN.
- The United Nations is the setting for a mouse variation thereof called the Rescue Aid Society in the Disney movie The Rescuers (1977).
- Also, in the Donald Duck cartoon, Donald in Mathmagic Land (1959), the United Nations building is used as an example of the usage of the mathematical golden rectangle in modern architecture.
- Alfred Hitchcock, director of the 1958 film North by Northwest, wanted to film at the UN but did not 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.
- The 1953 Columbia Pictures B-movie The Glass Wall was the first Hollywood movie filmed on location at the New York UN headquarters building designed by Le Corbusier and Niemeyer, and completed in 1952.
- The 1997 action/thriller film The Peacemaker starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman features a terrorist nuclear bomb plot against the United Nations headquarters in the context of the Yugoslav Wars and the fall of the Cold War.
- The 2005 film The Interpreter was filmed on location in the UN. It features Nicole Kidman as a UN interpreter who inadvertently overhears a plot to assassinate a fictional African dictator (the character appears to be based on Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe). Then-Secretary General Kofi Annan commented on The Interpreter that "the intention was really to do something dignified, something that is honest and reflects the work that this Organisation does. And it is with that spirit that the producers and the directors approached their work, and I hope you will all agree they have done that."
- The 2010 political documentary film U. N. Me features footage surreptitiously shot inside the U.N. headquarters building without permission.
- The 2008 biopic Che also shot scenes inside the UN Headquarters. Shots of Ernesto "Che" Guevara speaking at the UN General assembly were filmed before the UN underwent major renovations in 2006.
- The "United Nations Godzilla Countermeasures Force" appeared in the Godzilla film series.
- In the movie The Art of War, Wesley Snipes portrays an agent of a fictional UN espionage agency.
- The British film In the Loop starring Peter Capaldi featured the UN headquarters extensively.
- In Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Admiral Nelson goes to the United Nations with his plan to save the world from the burning Van Allen belt.
- In Russell Doughten's end-times movie A Thief in the Night, 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."
- In the 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 rout of the humans by the machine army. The UN headquarters is destroyed by a machine ambassador signing an armistice document.
- The United Nations assembly hall inside the UN Headquarters is depicted in the 2006 horror parody Scary Movie 4. An emergency session is called, where U.S. President Baxter Harris (played by Leslie Nielsen) announces and unveils a new weapon designed to combat the alien triPods to the General Assembly.
- In The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), a race of extraterrestrials sends a representative, Klaatu, the film's protagonist, to make contact with the human race by communicating with world leaders at the United Nations.
- The 2007 film Shake Hands with the Devil tells the story of General Roméo Dallaire's frustrated efforts to stop the madness of the Rwandan genocide during his commission as the Major-General of UNAMIR.
- In the 1973 film Live and Let Die, the UN Headquarters opens up the James Bond movie, with an ambassador getting killed by an ear piercing shock.
- In the alternate history timeline of the 1971 film Quest for Love, World War II and the Vietnam War never happened. There is no United Nations, but rather the League of Nations still exists. The protagonist, coming from our history, finds that the Secretary General of this surviving League of Nations is none other than John F. Kennedy.
- In the television 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 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 tour guide at the United Nations.
- Similarly, in the 1983 science fiction miniseries V, the UN Secretary-General (in this case depicted as Swedish) makes first contact with the aliens known as the Visitors inside their transport, which lands on the UN headquarters' rooftop.
- The World Council takes the place of the UN in the Centurions.
- 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 the hit thriller 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 U.N. to the tune of Down By the Riverside, referencing the building's location on the shore of the East River.
- The United Nations exist in the Defiance universe. On May 27, 2015 the United Nations granted land in Brazil to build a Votan colony and on March 8, 2023 the Votan diplomat was killed outside the UN building in New York and led to war. 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 couldn't hear or see. Kofi Annan and the other member states ridicule him. During lunch, he is approached by another ambassador, who informs him that his country faced similar ridicule by the same leaders until it invaded Kuwait.
In video games
- 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 meant it had to be renamed.
- 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.
- 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 2: Sons of Liberty the protagonist is part of an NGO officially recognized by the UN.
- 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 Ace Combat Zero, the Assembly of Nations is an organization very similar to the real world UN.
- In Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere, a futuristic version of the UN exists, called the Neo United Nations (NUN), with Gabriel Clarkson as Secretary-General.
- 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 building can be built as a landmark.
- The Civilization Committee in Grand Theft Auto IV is an obvious parody of the UN. It has a virtually identical headquarters complex and is satirically described as a "largely ineffective organization".
- 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.
- In Ace Combat Joint Assault, the UN is depicted as the International Union, although the plot is set in the real world.
In anime and comics
- S.H.I.E.L.D., 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.
- 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. However this affiliation is only in the remake, and there is no mention of the UN in the original run of Space Battleship Yamato.
- During the Bronze Age, Wonder Woman worked for a short time as a secretary at the UN.
- Checkmate began filling a similar role in the DC Universe line of comic books in 2006.
- U.N.C.L.E., the fictional organisation featured in the television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was based in New York with an international staff, and has often been presumed to be at least UN-related, in spite of objections made by the series' production company on legal grounds.
- 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 the Neon Genesis Evangelion. The United Nations in the series is extremely powerful and has a very strong standing army (unlike in the real world, where UN Peacekeepers are small numbers of troops donated by countries).They also directly control NERV, an organisation whose purpose is to defend humankind from the children of Adam.
- In the Wildstorm universe the UN, through its top-secret Special Security Council, has taken an active role in monitoring and dealing with posthumans and, to this end, formed both the superpowered Stormwatch - overseen from a satellite by their director, "The Weatherman" - and the largely unenhanced Stormwatch: Team Achilles. The on-and-off leader Jackson King is often portrayed in the UN buildings in New York and when he walks out and forms The Monarchy the UN assign special agent Morro to monitor his activities.
- 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. UN peacekeepers involved in the anime are known as UNF (United Nations Forces) peacekeepers.
- UN peacekeepers had participated in the Central/South American wars and in the Second Korean War in Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG. However, they have white ballistic helmets instead of blue helmets.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, the United Nations leads a large-scale UN Peacekeeping Army those formed by World Economic Union, Human Reform Alliance, and 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 several episodes of Superman, he is mentioned as having coordinated his activities with the United Nations and got the permission of UN member-states to fly through their airspace.
- The UN is also a recurring character in the Polandball universe, often portrayed as a teacher, a judge or as a mediator, while being often ignored by the other countries.
- Dr. Arthur M. Keppel-Jones 1947 novel When Smuts Goes, a dystopian future history of South Africa (which now can be considered a kind of retroactive alternate history), foresaw a future when Apartheid would be dismantled by a military invasion and conquest of South Africa 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 was not yet adopted at the time of writing.
- Srivijaya by Raymond G. Trombley is a novel about a terrorist group, which attempts to coerce the UN Security Council into a resolution. Their aim is to have a country declared as the sovereign over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The storyline takes place in New York City and Boston. The FBI, Secret Service, Special Forces and Scotland Yard all attempt to find the children before the deadline, but their attempts are thwarted. A controversial private investigator unwittingly gets involved…
- United Nations International Critical Response and Tactical Team (UNICRATT) in the novel Sahara by Clive Cussler.
- In the Seafort Saga by David Feintuch the United Nations is the government of Earth and its colonies, and exercises control through the United Nations Naval Service.
- In Meg Cabot's book series 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, with its military arm being the United Nations Exploratory Force.
- Also in Larry Niven's Known Space universe, the UN is the government of Earth, and is involved in a long-standing cold war with the independent Asteroid Belt, which nearly turns into 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 government of Earth.
- 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 that could be tasked to handle diplomatic assignments. One of them 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 a major character is Rikki Stormgren, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, a native of Finland who is chosen by the mysterious alien "Overlords", who took over the Earth, as their only liaison with the human race.
- A recurring phrase in the CHERUB series of books 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 "Shah Guido G.", the United Nations becomes a tyrannical and oppressive world government, with a dynasty of hereditary Secretaries-General, the title shortened to "Sekjen", acting as global absolute monarchs and ruling the Earth from a levitating island called Atlantis. The one under whose rule this tyranny is ended is Sekjen Guido Garshthavastra.
- Poul Anderson's "The Psychotechnic League" starts in the aftermath of a devastating nuclear war in 1958 (a future date at the time of writing). The United Nations is re-founded at a conference in Rio de Janeiro and sets to work to transform itself into an effective world government, so as to prevent a recurrence of war. This is violently opposed by nationalists in various countries, and all over the world politics polarize into "pro-UN" vs. "anti-UN" parties. The UN creates a special corps of "Un-Men", the name having the double connotation of their being "UN Men" and of having superhuman powers. The UN is the very clear and unequivocal "good guy" of the series, reflecting Anderson's Liberal views at the time.
- 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, quite literally, the Antichrist.
- The plot of Philip K. Dick's Martian Time-Slip (1964), taking place in a human colony on Mars, is set in motion by 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. The complex would be called "AM-WEB", a contraction of the German phrase "Alle Menschen werden Brüder" (All men become brothers) from Schiller's An die Freude (Ode to Joy).
- In the dystopian future of Philip K. Dick's The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965) global temperatures have risen so high that in most of the world it is unsafe to be outside without special cooling gear. The UN has initiated a "draft" for colonizing the nearby planets in a desperate bid to preserve humanity and ease population burdens on Earth. Under UN authority humankind has colonized every habitable planet and moon in the solar system and people are forced to serve in colonies on other planets such as Mars where conditions are so horrific and primitive that many colonists have fallen prey to a form of escapism involving the use of an illegal drug.
- In one of the alternate timelines depicted in Frederik Pohl's The Coming of the Quantum Cats, there had been no Second World War and therefore the League of Nations survived as a major international organization through the end of the 20th Century, precluding the formation of the UN. In this timeline, there was also a Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union – which eventually got hot and resulted in a nuclear exchange which came close to destroying the world; thereupon, the League of Nations took over and completely disarmed both superpowers, to prevent any future escalations.
- 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 - when suddenly the American and Soviet Moon colonists unite with each other, declare the independent new nation of Selene, and capture their respective countries' orbital stations and anti-ballistic satellites - giving them the power to interdict any launching of missiles and thus prevent the impending war. The Secretary General teams up with the Selenite rebels in order to make the UN an effective world government and gets many smaller nations to join, seduced also by the promise of effective weather control from orbit. Angry New York mobs set the UN Headquarters on fire; nevertheless, the President of the US realizes that the UN-Selenite alliance has the upper hand and agrees to cooperate in creation of the new World Government.
- 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 revealing his true identity to the world before the UN Assembly General and takes up the role of Antichrist predicted in Christian Eschatology.
- In 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 severely criticized and described as "a blot on the face of humanity." This is defended by several examples, including ambassadors using diplomatic immunity to live a tax-free life and commit crimes, the fact that the UN is never there when they are needed most, and that American and NATO forces end up doing the fighting instead of the UN. It is also expressed the opinion that "our so-called allies" are not pulling their share of the work and sometimes even work directly against the United States. This isn't the first time Megadeth portray UN in a negative manner, on the cover of their album Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? shows their mascot Vic Rattlehead 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". He is referring to Kofi Annan, who was Secretary-General of the United Nations at the time Jamie T wrote the song, but not anymore at 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 to the futility of the United Nations' stated mission to promote peace.
Similar fictional organizations
Similar-themed world or galactic bodies that model the UN in some way include:
- Allied Nations
- The movie Street Fighter has the AN invade Shadaloo City to oust the warlord M. Bison
- The Xbox/PS2 game Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction emulates the UN in many ways. Their soldiers and insignia even sport similarities with real UN Peacekeepers.
- The Advance Wars series of games includes an Allied Nations
- Democratic Order of Planets (DOOP) from Futurama
- Earth Sphere Unified Nation (ESUN) and other related organizations from the Gundam Universe
- Federated Territories, from The Fifth Element. World government in 2263. It consists of Earth and its space-faring territories.
- The Galactic Republic from Star Wars movies and books.
- Global Community, from Left Behind. In the Left Behind series of novels and films, the UN is renamed the Global Community by Nicolae Carpathia shortly after he was elected the new UN Secretary-General. The Global Community is meant to be the one world government prophecised in the Bible.
- League of Non-Aligned Worlds, Earth Alliance, and Interstellar Alliance from Babylon 5. 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).
- One Nation Earth (aka O.N.E.), from the Apocalypse film series, and headed by Franco Macalousso. As with Left Behind, O.N.E. is meant to be the one-world government as prophecised in the Bible.
- United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT) in Doctor Who – later redesignated 'Unified Intelligence Taskforce' because of UN objections to the use of 'United Nations'.
- United Federation of Planets from Star Trek. Based on the United Nations.
- United Earth Oceans (UEO) from the television series seaQuest DSV
- United Powers League (UPL) and United Earth Directorate (UED) in StarCraft
- United World Organization was one of the Batman television series' renamings of real-world organizations; UWO's security council had only nine members, not eleven or fifteen
- United World Confederacy is the international organisation shown meeting in the 2012 movie Iron Sky, though it is still referred to in dialogue as "the UN"
- Systems Alliance is the United Nations clone, representing Earth in the video game series Mass Effect. The Citadel and the Citadel Council political system also function as an interstellar, inter-species United Nations. Associate members, initially including the Systems Alliance, have limited power; the Citadel Council, comprising the three great powers of the Asari, Salarians and Turians, has near-total authority (compare real-world UNSC permanent members). The Systems Alliance has aggressively sought a seat on the council since their first contact, and finally gets it after the first game.
- "Journal of Religion & Film: Satan’s Seductress and the Apocalyptic Hero: The Body in American Apocalyptic Films at the Turn of the Century by Katherine Low". Unomaha.edu. 2009-10-02. Retrieved 2010-11-27.