Zangief was possibly the inspiration for Juri Karamazov, an NPC student in Rockstar Games' Bully. He uses Zangief's piledriver as well as several wrestling moves reminiscent of Zangief's fighting style. He also has a thick Eastern-European accent, similar to Zangief's.
Zangief makes an appearance in the Club Nintendo comic "Super Mario Klemp-Won-Do: Muskeln sind nicht alles!" (English translation: Super Mario: Plump-Won-Do: Muscles are not all) as Mario's first opponent. Mario defeated him by running around him in quick circles, causing Zangief to fall over dizzy.
He is mentioned when NEBU KURO states his and Mika's relationship is similar to Darkshine's and Mizuki's.
In Episode 9 of the anime series Yu Yu Hakusho, a character strongly resembling Zangief is clearly seen standing in the background at the front entrance of Genkai's temple right before the start of her personal tournament in order to find a worthy successor for her psychic and spiritual martial arts. Despite strongly resembling Zangief, the specific character has a scar on his chest instead of his signature triangular chest hair. This may have been a homage to both Zangief andSagat.
In the Season 6 episode of Regular Show, "The Real Thomas", a character resembling Zangief appears as one of the representatives of Russia in the U.N. conference.
Zangief was featured in the opening act of the 2012 Disney film Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by the film's director Rich Moore) as part of a villains support group, even though he is not a villain himself, and tells Ralph that just because he's a Bad Guy, does not make him a bad guy. According to the screenwriter, Phil Johnston, Zangief was a source of frustration for him when playing Street Fighter in his childhood.
Zangief makes another cameo in the 2018 sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet, talking to Chun-Li in Game Central Station as Ralph and Vanellope wonder how he only has hair on his chest and shins. Zangief makes another appearance near the end hosting a book club with Ralph and Sonic the Hedgehog.
Zangief is the source of an internet meme known as "Zangief Kid". A boy named Casey Heynes is a victim of bullying from another school colleague named Richard Gale. While being bullied at his school yard, Casey stands up for himself by immediately picking up Richard and smashing him painfully into the ground with a bodyslam, which is one of Zangief's moves.
Zangief was pitted against Mike Haggar in one episode of DEATH BATTLE! and won. This is due to him being younger and spends more time honing his combat skills as well as sparring with brown bears which are considered to be more dangerous than bull sharks; the animals his opponent spars with.