Jack Ryan (character)
|Dr. Jack Ryan|
Alec Baldwin portraying Dr. Jack Ryan
|First appearance||The Hunt for Red October (1984)|
|Created by||Tom Clancy|
|Spouse(s)||Caroline Muller "Cathy" Ryan|
John Patrick "Jack" Ryan, Sr., KCVO, (Hon) is a fictional character by Tom Clancy who appears in many of his novels and their respective film adaptations. The character is born in Baltimore in 1950 and grows up there. He earns an NROTC commission in the Marines at Boston College. Medically retired following a helicopter crash, he works as an investment broker. He meets and marries Caroline "Cathy" Mueller, a medical student and later an ophthalmic surgeon, with whom he has four children. He returns to academia eventually accepting a position at the U.S. Naval Academy. Later he is recommended to the CIA, eventually spending a short period there writing a position paper as well as developing a counter-espionage mechanism. He returns to the Academy and while on a history research trip to London, he interrupts an assassination attempt on the Royal Family. After his return to the States, he eventually accepts a position with the CIA. He rises rapidly through the ranks in a variety of covert operations against the USSR, eventually becoming the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. As DDI, he begins having political battles which eventually lead to him becoming President in two separate terms where the international confrontations are now from the Pacific area.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Novels
- 3 Films
- 4 Video games
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
Ryan had his background established in Patriot Games and Red Rabbit. He was born in 1950, the son of Emmet William Ryan (1922–1974), a Baltimore Police Department homicide lieutenant, and World War II veteran. The elder Ryan had served with the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division at the Battle of the Bulge. His mother, Catherine Burke Ryan, (1923–1974) was a nurse. Without Remorse mentioned that he had a sister, who lived in Seattle.
After graduating from Loyola Blakefield prep school in Towson, Maryland, Ryan attended Boston College, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics (with a strong minor in history) and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps (via NROTC). While waiting for the Corps to assign him, he passed the Certified Public Accountant exam.
After officer training at Marine Corps Base Quantico, he went on to serve as a platoon commander. However, his military career was cut short at the age of 23 when his platoon's helicopter, a CH-46 Sea Knight, crashed during a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) exercise over the Greek island of Crete. The crash badly injured Ryan's back. U.S. Navy surgeons, at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, inadequately repaired his back. This led to a lengthy recovery process (during which he nearly became addicted to pain medications) after which, complete with a permanent disability and wearing a back brace, he left the Marines. He passed his stockbroker's exam and took a position with Wall Street investment firm Merrill Lynch's Baltimore office.
His parents died in a plane crash at Chicago Midway International Airport, 19 months after his crash in Crete. He developed a fear of flying that persisted for years.
(The film adaptation of The Hunt for Red October tells Ryan's story differently: Admiral Joshua Painter states that he attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and that in the "summer of his third year, he went down in a chopper accident in the Med. Bad. Pilot and crew killed. That kid spent 10 months in traction and another year learning to walk again. He did his fourth year from the hospital." The film is inconsistent with the novels, which are generally considered canonical, not least in their depiction of Ryan's first meeting with Admiral James Greer.)
There are also other changes to Ryan's background in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. This version of the character joins the United States Marine Corps after the 9/11 attacks (likely graduating from its Officer Candidate School) and commissions as a Second Lieutenant. In his first tour as platoon commander in Afghanistan, Ryan's helicopter is shot down by an enemy rocket and crashes. Ryan is able to save the lives of his two marines from the wreckage while also sustaining serious injury to his spinal vertebrae. He makes a full recovery thanks to the help of his future wife, Cathy Muller, and attracts the attention of the CIA due to his unique ability to recognize unusual patterns. Ryan is recruited into the agency and subsequently completes his Ph.D. in economics at the London School of Economics. After three weeks of training at the Farm, he is assigned to work as a cover job as analyst and compliance officer for a major Wall Street firm, where he can watch for suspicious financial transactions that could indicate terrorist activity.
Ryan's story starts in Patriot Games and continues in Red Rabbit. While managing clients' portfolios, he began to invest his own money, banking on a tip he had received from an uncle about the workers' takeover of the Chicago and North Western Railway, making approximately $6 million off his $100,000 initial investment. He did so well that one of Merrill Lynch's senior vice presidents, Joe Muller, came to Baltimore to have dinner with him, with the objective of inviting him to the firm's New York City headquarters. Also present is Muller's daughter Caroline, nicknamed Cathy, then a senior medical student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. They immediately fall in love and get engaged. One night, while having dinner with his fiancée, Ryan throws out his back. Cathy takes him directly to Doctor Stanley Rabinowitz, professor of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, to be evaluated. Rabinowitz later operates on Ryan's back and cures his chronic pain in relatively short order (in a later novel the surgeon is credited as Sam Rosen, a doctor introduced in Without Remorse.) Ryan subsequently persuades the government to terminate his disability checks. Cathy later becomes an ophthalmic surgeon at the Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a Professor of Surgery at Johns Hopkins.
After creating a net worth of $8 million, Ryan left the firm after four years and enrolled at Georgetown University for doctorate courses in history. He does a brief stint at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, then accepts a position at the U.S. Naval Academy as a civilian professor of history.
First CIA work
Following a recommendation from Father Tim O'Riley, a Jesuit priest and Georgetown University professor, to a Central Intelligence Agency contact, Ryan is asked to work as a consultant for the Agency, although officially employed by MITRE Corporation. He agrees and spends several months at Langley, Virginia, where he writes a paper entitled "Agents and Agencies", in which he maintains that state-sponsored terrorism is an act of war. He also invents the canary trap, a method for exposing an information leak, which involves giving different versions of a sensitive document to each of a group of suspects and seeing which version is leaked. By ensuring that each copy of the document differs slightly in its wording, if any copy is leaked then it's possible to determine the informant's identity.
These accomplishments come to the attention of U.S. Navy Vice Admiral James Greer, the CIA's Deputy Director for Intelligence. The expertise of Ryan's report, plus the application, persuades Greer to offer him a permanent job in the CIA, but Ryan declines.
While Ryan is still teaching at the Naval Academy, he and his family (wife and daughter Sally) take a trip to London for research and vacationing. After spending the day sifting through Royal Navy archives doing research for a book on the British naval war in the Indian Ocean during World War II, Ryan walks to meet his family at a park. As he joins them, members of the Ulster Liberation Army (ULA), an ultra-violent Maoist offshoot of the Marxist Provisional Irish Republican Army, led by Kevin O'Donnell, attack a car containing the Prince of Wales and his family right in front of the Ryans. Ryan is wounded while intervening in the attack and foils their plan, killing one of the gunmen and capturing another. Ryan is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II as an honorary Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, in the books some British characters call him "Sir John" but honorary knights are not permitted to use the style of "Sir".
Sean Miller, the man he captured, vows revenge on Ryan and his family (only in the movie, not the book), but since he is going to Albany Prison on the Isle of Wight, the threat seems unrealistic. Ryan returns to the U.S. and the Naval Academy. When O'Donnell and the ULA liberate Miller on his way to prison (killing both police officers and civilians in the process), the Ryans become the target of their revenge—particularly Miller's.
In Patriot Games, Greer comes to Ryan and asks him to rejoin the CIA permanently as an analyst to help track down the terrorists. He declines initially, only to accept it after a failed ULA attack on the Ryans mildly wounds his pregnant wife, but severely injures his daughter. Later, while Ryan hosts the Prince and Princess of Wales at his home in Maryland, the ULA conducts another attack against him, which Ryan, the Prince, and U.S Navy Commander Robert Jackson foil. Following the incident and arrests of the ULA members and Miller (whom Ryan nearly executes with his Browning Hi Power), Ryan is taken to the Naval Academy hospital, where he arrives just in time for the birth of Jack Ryan, Jr..
In Red Rabbit, Ryan's first CIA assignment is to London as a member of a liaison group to the British Secret Intelligence Service. The first order of business focuses on a mission to assist the defection of a KGB communications-center officer who has discovered that KGB director Yuri Andropov had ordered Pope John Paul II's attempted assassination. Although Ryan and a small team of British agents helps the "Rabbit" and his family get to the West, they fail to prevent the attack on the Pope. Nevertheless, the Pope is only wounded and his would-be assassin captured, while the British agents execute his Bulgarian handler. "Rabbit's" defection proves to be a major coup for both the American and British intelligence communities. Ryan soon afterward suggests a non-military strategy to help hasten the USSR's collapse.
In The Hunt for Red October, Captain First Rank Marko Ramius, the Soviet Navy's top submarine commander, takes command of the Красный Октябрь (Krasny Oktyabr, or in English, Red October), the newest Typhoon class submarine, with which he plans to defect. Ryan recognizes this and works to welcome him to the U.S., eventually succeeding.
In The Cardinal of the Kremlin, Ryan is reassigned to Langley. He becomes Greer's assistant with the official title of Special Assistant to the Deputy Director for Intelligence. Greer is grooming him for bigger and better positions, maybe even his own job when the veteran spy finally retires. Ryan is sent to Moscow as part of the American strategic nuclear weapons reduction negotiation team. There he meets Sergey Golovko, a rising star in the KGB hierarchy, and becomes entangled in a complex web related to both the race to develop "Star Wars" space-based defensive technology and engineer another defection, this time compromising the KGB director to save the CIA's highest informant in the USSR, Agent CARDINAL, better known as Colonel Misha Filitov. Although they initially meet as adversaries—at one time literally at gunpoint—Golovko respects him as a worthy adversary and in later books befriends him, whom he calls "Ivan Emmetovich," giving him a Russian-style patronymic based on his father's name, Emmet.
In Clear and Present Danger, Ryan is promoted to acting DDI when Greer is hospitalized with cancer. Despite this, he isn't made aware of a highly covert and illegal CIA operation approved by corrupt National Security Advisor Admiral Cutter. This operation targets Colombian drug lords using military assets, in what is usually considered a law enforcement area. Ryan works with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to rescue a small group of American soldiers cut off in Colombia, forcing him to miss Greer's funeral. Around this time Ryan also runs afoul of Elizabeth Elliott, international affairs advisor to then presidential candidate Governor of Ohio J. Robert Fowler, and one of Cathy Ryan's former professors.
In The Sum of All Fears, Ryan reaches his highest post at the CIA; Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. His career is jeopardized when Fowler becomes President and Elizabeth Elliott, Fowler's lover/manipulator, becomes National Security Advisor. They not only deny Ryan any credit for an innovative Middle East peace plan(basically turning Jerusalem into a Vatican-like city co-ruled by three Christian, Jewish, and Arab mayors), but also panic when Iranian and former East German terrorists detonate a nuclear bomb in Denver during the Super Bowl and nearly plunge the world into a Soviet-American nuclear war. Ryan defuses the nuclear crisis by commandeering the Washington-Moscow hot line and convincing the Soviet premier (through his friend Golovko) that the crisis is a setup. He then refuses to confirm Fowler's order to launch a nuclear missile at Qom (thus preventing the attack), where the Iranian Ayatollah lived. The crisis and Elliot scandal drives Fowler to resign (with Elliot arrested) and, on this note, Ryan retires from the CIA after he and his CIA friends fly to Riyadh and witness the execution of the terrorists, then being honored by the U.S.'s Middle Eastern allies. (The film version again departs from the printed version, by presenting a younger, unmarried Ryan, an intelligent mistress-free Fowler, a Greer-like Cabot, and the nuclear bomb is detonated in Baltimore, not Denver.)
First Ryan Administration
In Debt of Honor, Ryan returns to government service as the National Security Advisor, restoring honor to the job that Cutter and Elliot disgraced. It has been two and a half years since Fowler resigned and his Vice-President Roger Durling is now well into his own term. Jack and the administration must deal with a second war between the U.S. and Japan, as well as an attack on America's economic infrastructure. After a clean sweep of Japan's forces in the South Pacific, Vice President Ed Kealty is forced to resign after a sex scandal, President Durling taps him for the job. Ryan accepts the job on the condition that he'll only serve until the end of Durling's term. He sees this as a way of ending his public life. But only minutes after Congress confirms Ryan, a Japanese airline pilot deliberately crashes a 747 into the U.S. Capitol building during Congress' joint session, killing most of the people inside, decapitating the U.S. government and elevating Ryan to the Presidency.
The reluctant yet determined Ryan Administration emerges in Executive Orders as Ryan slowly rebuilds the government. He is faced with Kealty's political trickery, China's growing military antagonizing of Taiwan, and a deadly plague initiated by the newly formed United Islamic Republic, resulting in two major military conflicts far from American shores (but one will not take place until the next Ryan novel).
In The Bear and the Dragon, it's established that Ryan has completed Durling's term as President and has campaigned for—and won—the next election. He retains most of his emergency Cabinet and has Robby Jackson as Vice President.
Ryan has to deal with the attempted assassination of Golovko, head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (formerly the KGB). This turns out to be an attempt to sow confusion in the Russian government because of China's designs to annex(invade) Eastern Siberia, where geologists had recently discovered a large amount of oil and gold. These events lead to the inclusion of Russia into NATO and the assistance of U.S. forces in the Sino-Russian conflict. When the Chinese begin losing the war, U.S. forces target their strategic assets. A U.S. submarine sinks a Chinese ballistic missile submarine, causing China's Politburo to panic and increase the readiness of their 12 land-based ICBMs. U.S. forces don't have the ability to destroy the silos, as they could only use deep penetrating bombs, which had all been used to destroy Chinese bridges to disrupt the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) logistical support. This causes the U.S. and Russia to send a joint RAINBOW-Spetsnaz team to destroy the silos. They destroy 11 of the 12 ICBMs but one of them manages to launch. The warhead heads towards Washington, D.C.; and with Ryan taking a command initiative at an Aegis missile cruiser, the ICBM is intercepted by ABMs from the USS Gettysburg. With the PLA's looming defeat in Siberia, which they were about to learn about via live UAV broadcasts from the CIA through the Internet, student demonstrators in Beijing raid the Politburo, causing a conservative minister to take control and arrest the war's perpetrators and surrender to the U.S. and Russia.
At the end of Executive Orders, Ryan, in the tradition of Presidents Monroe, Truman, Carter and Reagan, issues a foreign policy doctrine which largely defines his administration's international perspective. The Ryan Doctrine states that the U.S. will no longer tolerate attacks on "our territory, our possessions, or our citizens," and will hold whoever orders such attacks accountable.
This statement comes soon after the Ebola attack on the U.S. ordered by Mahmoud Haji Daryaei, the dictator of the new United Islamic Republic. Ryan announces the new doctrine on television, momentarily cutting away to show Daryaei and his UIR advisors being incinerated by laser guided bombs launched from two F-117s, on Ryan's orders. Therefore, the Ryan Doctrine supersedes the executive order put in place by President Ford, which forbids the assassination of foreign heads of state. Ryan, however, believes it's a more ethical alternative than total war, since it punishes the person responsible for the attack instead of the people he rules.
Within the books, the Ryan Doctrine is not officially invoked after Daryaei's death (although Ryan threatens to use it on the Chinese leadership in The Bear and the Dragon, should anything happen to American citizens living in China as a consequence of the Siberian War).
Following this, Ryan apparently completes his term and refuses to run for a second elected term. Robby Jackson thus campaigns to become the first African American President, but is assassinated on a trip to the South, which enables Kealty to become the next President. (It is also possible from what Jack Ryan Jr. says in Teeth of the Tiger that Jack Sr. resigned, feeling he has done what he needed to as President, and encouraged Robby Jackson to run for the Presidency.) Before Ryan leaves office, he creates "The Campus," a covert counter-terrorism organization that fronts as Hendley Associates, a financial trading firm. He also writes one hundred presidential pardons for its members, with Attorney General Pat Martin's assistance.
Second Ryan Administration
In his retirement, Ryan is living easy with a net worth of over $80 million. He is working on two versions of his memoirs, one for immediate release, and another detailing his CIA career, to be published posthumously.
However, in Dead or Alive, he becomes increasingly frustrated with the direction in which President Kealty is taking the country, although he is initially publicly silent. Ultimately, he announces that he will come out of retirement to run for a second full term as President as a Republican candidate. Despite having originally not being involved in the Campus's activities due to his high-profile status, he gradually becomes more directly linked to the Campus's operations, aiding them from behind the scenes on occasion. It is here Ryan learns his elder son, Jack Jr., is a field operative of the Campus.
Ryan campaigns against Kealty in Locked On, facing off against him in various televised debates. It quickly becomes apparent that Ryan will win the election, as the majority of Americans had never entirely accepted Kealty. Despite the efforts of Paul Laska; a high-profile Czech-American billionaire and a devout enemy of Ryan, and key members of the Kealty administration who labelled Ryan's longtime friend John Clark a fugitive in an effort to expose the Campus (as well as tying Ryan to it by association), Ryan narrowly wins the election, overcoming all of Kealty's efforts to harm him. The President-elect now prepares to undo the damage the Kealty administration has done.
Ryan initially finds his return to the presidency easy and without struggle following his re-election, but things quickly start to take a turn for the worse. Angered by a contraction in economic growth, the majority of the People's Republic of China Politburo Standing Committee members turn against their pro-capitalist President Wei Zhen Lin. Wei attempts to commit suicide when a coup is undertaken by other committee members. It is only when Chairman Su Ke Qiang orders PLA tanks to defend Wei, that he agrees to promote and support Su's expansionist policies, in exchange for Su's ongoing protection. The expansionist policies - which include the annexation of Taiwan and the expansion of China's territory into the South China Sea - are finally revealed to the world after several months. The Ryan administration is vehemently against the new policies, and President Ryan himself decides to take action by supporting Taiwan, along with India, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines, which would also be affected by an expansion of China's territory.
A devastating series of cyber-attacks on American infrastructure occurs, enacted by the "Ghost Ship" - a Chinese state sponsored version of the Campus, using assets of the Chinese MSS and Divine Sword Special Forces. The attacks serve to compromise the nation's national security apparatus and weaken the United States' resolve. The Campus helps track the attacks to China, and local investigation pinpoints the exact building the Ghost Ship is currently quartered in. President Ryan orders the destruction of the building, decapitating China's cyberwarfare abilities.
Ryan makes contact with Wei and warns him that the cyber-attacks are considered an act of war on China's part. Wei repeatedly denies the claim, and reiterates he is supporting Su, though Ryan guesses correctly Su is controlling Wei since saving him from the attempted coup. Ryan appeals to Wei as a businessman to understand what he is doing will destroy China. After a lengthy, unusual pause, Wei responds that he must discuss Ryan's claims with Su, providing exact details of when and where Su will be travelling to address the Politburo in regards to the war effort. Ryan takes the information as a request from Wei to have the United States assassinate Su. A team from The Campus, with support from the Russian FSB, and working with a local rebel force in China, stage an attack on Su while he is traveling in a motorcade. Su is assassinated by a U.S. sniper, but the event is made to look like Su's own men turned on him. Ryan announces a blockade of China's oil supplies until the war effort is abandoned, calling upon Wei and the Politburo to accept defeat.
President Wei accepts that the expansionist movement has failed and the United States has won its second war with China, and decides to take his own life after realizing the Politburo will move against him without Su's protection. Wei botches the suicide by accidentally shooting himself in the cheek, but ends up choking to death on his own blood. Wei and Su's deaths mark the end of the war in the South China Sea, and Ryan emerges the clear victor in the conflict.
Ryan is featured prominently in Command Authority; Ryan and his administration contend with the Russian Federation, currently led by their new President; Valeri Volodin. Volodin is established as a dedicated communist opposed to the West, seeking to restore Russia as a strengthened Soviet Union. Volodin moves to establish ties with Iran and China, reunify the nation's state security services under the FSB, and most notably annex the Ukraine. Those opposed to his actions are replaced or assassinated by Russian government forces or elements of the "Seven Strong Men"; a Mafia group that is now the easily the most powerful and dangerous criminal underworld faction in Russia. Volodin later makes the announcement that FSB director Roman Romanovich Talanov, Volodin's enigmatic enforcer, is the nation's new intelligence chief.
One of those assassinated is Sergey Golovko - Ryan's old friend and retired SVR director, now exiled from Russia for speaking out against Volodin and his policies and acting as a high-profile Kremlin dissident. At a private lunch at the White House, Golovko succumbs to poisoning from a radioactive agent and dies the next day. On his deathbed, Golovko explains what he knows of Talanov to Ryan. A following investigation implicates the SSM working the FSB. Ryan and his staff, and operational assets of the Campus, work to decipher Talanov's history and work out his mysterious connection to Volodin, hopeful to get answers behind his swift rise to power and use it as leverage against Volodin, as armed conflict becomes increasingly likely. Ryan then refocuses on an armed standoff in the Ukraine and absorption of the Crimea, with the rest of the Ukraine facing imminent Russian invasion.
It is ultimately revealed Talanov operated as an ex-GRU assassin during the Cold War, code-named "Zenith", and Volodin, a senior KGB officer at the time, is his control officer. As young men, they were employed by members of the KGB and GRU leadership knew the Soviet Union would eventually fall, but made a plan to survive and prosper in the chaotic aftermath so they could seize control of the nation and turn it back to communism stronger than ever. After siphoning billions from Soviet programs to achieve it, Volodin double-crossed his co-conspirators and had Talanov kill them all so it would be theirs alone and others to remain undiscovered. The two men also enacted another operation to send Talanov undercover with the SSM - placed in a gulag, Talanov worked his way up to become a charter member and leader of the Seven Strong Men, and through them become FSB director for the SSM's benefit and control of the government, when in actuality the SSM was a tool for Volodin's policies.
Ryan is personally alarmed by these discoveries - he had an encounter with Zenith during his time with the CIA as a MI6 liaison officer, facing him during an investigation into a string of deaths in Germany. The mystery of Zenith was left unsolved 30 years ago, and remained the sole remaining mystery of Ryan's intelligence career, until now. The Campus, who took the lead into looking into Talanov, find an old reference to "Bedrock" - who is found to be former MI5 officer Victor Oxley, who operated as an assassin during the Cold War in similar fashion to Talanov. Oxley's final mission before his disappearance was to hunt down and kill Zenith, but instead found Ryan about to be killed by a German Stasi team working with Zenith. Oxley interfered and saved Ryan's life, but was captured, driven away to Russian, brutally tortured and then imprisoned as the same gulag as Talanov ultimately was placed in, discovering by accident he was Zenith. Oxley works with the Campus to confront his traitorous control officer Hugh Castor over the fact he protected Volodin and Talanov's secret in exchange for a cut of their stolen billions. A Spetsnaz team attacks and kills Castor, and Oxley, who sacrifices himself for Jack Ryan, Jr.
As the Russian invasion force pushes into the Ukraine, Ryan makes contact with Volodin and confronts him with implications he could be politically destroyed by what he has learned about Zenith and Talanov's ties to the SSM: claiming (falsely) to have suitable evidence gathered that will ruin his government and the invasion, and he must distance himself from Talanov as the Campus has exposed him as a government spy who has been using them all along. Volodin pulls back his troops, in exchange the United States keeps what evidence it has secret. Volodin also forces Talanov to resign from the FSB after his criminal dealings are made public and the SSM turns on him. Despite promises of government protection, Volodin allows Talanov to be stabbed and killed by a civilian member of his guard force, who secretly aspired to great things with the Seven Strong Men.
Ryan, at this time, is in his mid-sixties and world-famous; and is looking forward to retirement back to the shores of Chesapeake Bay once and for all.
Ryan is mentioned by title only in Support and Defend; when a National Security Council staff member, Ethan Ross, is exposed by the FBI as a traitor responsible for leaking classified government information so as to weaken the administration's connections with friendly governments, he proceeds to flee as a fugitive to Venezuela, with an intelligence scrape with enough information to ruin the CIA. Ryan is said to have made Ross's capture or death the government's top priority, establishing him as America's Most Wanted. Ryan's nephew, FBI special agent and Campus operative Dominic Caruso, ultimately succeeds in killing Ross and securing the scrape for the CIA, despite attempts by the Russian FSB and Iranian Quds Force to acquire it.
The first published book to feature Jack Ryan was The Hunt for Red October.
Jack Ryan Series
- The Hunt for Red October (1984)
- Patriot Games (1987)
- The Cardinal of the Kremlin (1988)
- Clear and Present Danger (1989)
- The Sum of All Fears (1991)
- Debt of Honor (1994)
- Executive Orders (1996)
- The Bear and the Dragon (2000)
- Red Rabbit (2002)
John Clark Series
Jack Ryan Jr Series
- The Teeth of the Tiger (2003)
- Dead or Alive (2010)
- Locked On (2011)
- Threat Vector (2012)
- Command Authority (2013)
In the order in which they occur in the storyline (and when they occur):
- Without Remorse (1970–71, 1973) - Starts late 1970, during clean-up of Hurricane Camille's aftermath. Continues the following spring, in 1971. This time frame is based on past-tense references to Operation KINGPIN, the real-life rescue attempt at the Song Tay POW camp in Vietnam (November 1970) and by recurring references to the 1971 Major League Baseball season, in which Pittsburgh defeated Baltimore in the World Series. Jack Ryan's father, Emmet Ryan a Baltimore police detective, is a prominent character. The Epilogue is titled "February 12, 1973. Jack appears briefly in this novel.
- Patriot Games (1981, based on a reference to Ryan's age, which is 31 at the novel's beginning. This roughly fits with a reference to the Princess of Wales expecting a baby (Prince William was born in summer 1982). Similarly, there is a specific reference to both 1985 and 1986 in the past tense, suggesting the events of the novel took place after these dates.)
- Red Rabbit (1982), summer, the KGB operation reference is 15 8 1982 - 666 and it's mentioned that this is the date the first message was sent about killing the Pope, also there is an inconsistency since Suslov is alive in the book, but he died in January 1982. However, the book also makes references to the Baltimore Orioles winning the World Series with their "new shortstop Ripken", which occurred in 1983.
- The Hunt for Red October (1984)
- The Cardinal of the Kremlin (1986) - The first chapter is set in January and states that Ryan is 35 years old. It also has references to the other books set earlier. For example, the Foleys have been in Moscow for almost four years. The book must begin (not including a prologue set at the end of the previous year) in January 1986.
Starting with the following novel, the series becomes distinctly different from real history as noted below.
- Clear and Present Danger (1988) - This novel, like all previous novels, refers to POTUS as "the President" instead of giving a name, allowing the materials in the novel to be "inserted" into history. But, by the end of the novel, the nameless president has been replaced by someone with a name: Governor of Ohio Bob Fowler.
- The Sum of All Fears (1990–91) – Israel partially cedes sovereignty over Jerusalem to the Vatican and Saudi Arabia, and the city becomes a UN protectorate policed by Swiss Guards. Jerusalem's residents can choose between either Vatican, Israeli or Islamic judicial law. Denver is devastated by a terrorist nuclear explosion. The book occurs after the Persian Gulf War and before the USSR's dissolution. While it's implied that both events occur at the same time in the Ryanverse as in actual history, 1991, in the earlier chapters it states that it had almost been two Novembers since President Fowler had been elected, making the beginning set in 1990. Complicating the issue though is that the novels refer to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush as past Presidents even though the nameless President and Fowler appear to serve during the time of these two Presidents.
- Debt of Honor (1995–96) – The U.S. and Russia destroy all of their ballistic missiles. After crippling the U.S. economy and becoming a nuclear power, Japan invades and takes the Marianas Islands; the U.S. and Japan fight a brief war, which the Japanese lose (they are subsequently denuclearized); an embittered Japanese pilot and proponent of the war crashes a 747 into the U.S. Capitol Building immediately after Ryan's confirmation as Vice President, killing most of Congress, the President, all nine Supreme Court justices, the senior military establishment (including the JCS), and most of the Cabinet. Ryan is left in charge of a gutted government. The end of the book occurs eleven months before the 1997 presidential inauguration. Of interest, but not crucial to the plot of this or further books, is that North and South Korea were said to be unified at some point between The Sum of All Fears and this book. However, a major inconsistency is that Domingo "Ding" Chavez is expressly stated to be 31 years old in this book, and also that he was in fifth grade during the Iranian Hostage Crisis of 1979. Assuming Chavez was approximately 10 years old in 1979, that places the events of Debt of Honor to be in or near 2000, although the overall technology presented in the novel and its successive novels Executive Orders and Rainbow Six (especially in regards to the sophistication of internet technology) are more consistent with the mid-1990s.
- Executive Orders (1996) – The leader of Iraq is assassinated; Iran and Iraq merge, forming the United Islamic Republic; the UIR launches a biological attack on the U.S. using the Ebola virus; the U.S. launches the Second Persian Gulf War against the UIR, defeats them, and uses a smart-bomb to kill the Ayatollah. (Contradiction: In The Bear and the Dragon it states Ryan has been President for 15 months and that book occurs after Rainbow Six which must occur 1999-2000 due to the Olympics in Sydney. This makes Executive Orders (and Debt of Honor) around 1999 but this makes the gap with the previous books too large).
- Rainbow Six (1999–2000) - events are based on the Sydney Olympics held in 2000, RAINBOW - an elite counter-terrorist force - is created and engages terrorists across Europe. Ecoterrorists plan to create a genetically-enhanced virus based on Ebola and cancer cells, which they plan to use to wipe out much of the world's population.
- The Bear and the Dragon (2002) – Russia is admitted to NATO; China and Russia fight a major war, in which the U.S. intervenes on Russia's side. It implies that the British Prime Minister is Tony Blair. Ryan has won re-election as president (2001). He refuses to run in the 2004 election, endorsing his vice-president Robby Jackson as their party's candidate.
- The Teeth of the Tiger (Late Spring 2006, based on the age of Jack Ryan Jr., and summer approaching at one point) The U.S. is now engaged in a global war on terrorism, in response to the September 11th attacks which occurred in the Ryanverse as they did in the real world. It's mentioned that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq occurred in the Ryanverse continuity, and that the Jerusalem Treaty signed in The Sum of All Fears has failed as Israelis and Palestinians went back to fighting each other.
- Dead or Alive (2007), A character also explicitly refers to the date as May 2010, in the process of decoding encrypted messages, but this must be seen as a contradiction, as Ed Kealty is president and is only president for one term. In accordance with the Jack Ryan continuity, Kealty must be president in the term 2005-2009.
- Locked On (2008) Jack Ryan is running for president again. Since it is only possible for Kealty to serve one term per the rules of the Constitution, that term must be from 2005 to 2009. The election happens in this book, too, making it only possible that the events take place in 2008.
- Threat Vector (2009) Ryan has been sworn in as president of the United States after having been elected the previous year. It is also mentioned that the Siberian War with China happened "seven years" prior, thus making the Bear and the Dragon around 2002, not 2000 as originally thought.
- Command Authority
Five films based on Clancy novels featuring Jack Ryan have been produced. The movie portraying the earliest incarnation of Ryan (fifth film chronologically) is entitled Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit which was released on January 17, 2014 with Chris Pine in the which Ryan moves from his accident in the Marines into his CIA career involvement. Other Jack Ryan based films are portrayed by Alec Baldwin in the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October, Harrison Ford in Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994), and Ben Affleck in the 2002 film The Sum of All Fears.
In the novels, Patriot Games occurs before The Hunt for Red October, though the order was reversed in the film versions. Additionally, The Sum of All Fears is not part of Baldwin/Ford series, but rather an intended reboot of the franchise which departs significantly from the chronology of the novels. It takes place in 2002 whereas the novel takes place in 1991/1992. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a second reboot of the franchise and departs from all previous films.
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Many video games based on the series have been made, some based on the novels, some on the films, some on the spin-offs.
- The Hunt for Red October (1987)
- The 1987 video game is based on the book
- The Hunt for Red October (1990)
- The 1990 video game is based on the film
- The Sum of All Fears (2002)
- The 2002 video game is based on the film
In addition there is the Rainbow Six video game universe, see Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six
- Clancy, Tom (1984). Hunt for Red October, The. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-285-0.
- Clancy, Tom (1987). Patriot Games. G.P. Putnam & Son. ISBN 0-399-13241-4.
- Clancy, Tom (1988). Cardinal of the Kremlin, The. G.P. Putnam & Son. ISBN 0-399-13345-3.
- Clancy, Tom (1989). Clear and Present Danger. G.P. Putnam & Son. ISBN 0-399-13440-9.
- Clancy, Tom (1991). Sum of All Fears, The. G.P. Putnam & Son. ISBN 0-399-13615-0.
- Clancy, Tom (1993). Without Remorse. G.P. Putnam & Son. ISBN 0-399-13825-0.
- Clancy, Tom (1994). Debt of Honor. G.P. Putnam & Son. ISBN 0-399-13954-0.
- Clancy, Tom (1996). Executive Orders. G.P. Putnam & Son. ISBN 0-399-14218-5.
- Clancy, Tom (1998). Rainbow Six. G.P. Putnam & Son. ISBN 0-399-14390-4.
- Clancy, Tom (2000). Bear and the Dragon, The. G.P. Putnam & Son. ISBN 0-399-14563-X.
- Clancy, Tom (2002). Red Rabbit. G.P. Putnam & Son. ISBN 0-399-14870-1.
- Clancy, Tom (2003). Teeth of the Tiger, The. G.P. Putnam & Son. ISBN 0-399-15079-X.