History Main / TheQuestForKarla

10th Feb '13 2:34:39 PM TrollBrutal
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-> "I've got a story to tell you, it's all about spies. And if it's true, which I think it is, you boys are gonna need a whole new organisation..."
->-- '''Ricki Tarr''', ''Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy''

One of the finest spy trilogies of all time, Creator/JohnLeCarre's ''The Quest for Karla'' trilogy is a thriller set during the Cold War. It deals with [[SecretIntelligenceService British Intelligence]] officer George Smiley and his long battle with Russian spymaster Karla. Dealing with betrayal, love and the often mundane nature of spying, it asks awkward and painful questions about keeping secrets from your friends, lovers and indeed yourself.

The series consists of three books published between 1974 and 1979. These are:
# ''Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy''
# ''The Honourable Schoolboy''
# ''Smiley's People''

For the BAFTA-winning television adaptations of ''Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'' and ''Smiley's People'' [[hottip:*:''The Honourable Schoolboy'' was skipped due to budget constraints]], starring [[StarWars Alec]] [[KindHeartsAndCoronets Guinness]] as George Smiley and PatrickStewart as Karla, [[Series/TheQuestForKarla see here]]. For the 2011 [[TheFilmOfTheBook film adaptation]] of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'', starring GaryOldman as George Smiley, [[Film/TinkerTailorSoldierSpy see here]].
----
!!Tropes featured include:
* AchillesHeel: Karla has one in the form of [[spoiler:his love for his daughter]], and Smiley arguably has [[spoiler:Ann, his wife]], though he overcomes this by the end of the series.
* TheAlcoholic: Connie Sachs, most notably.
* AllThereInTheManual: Some of the events of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'' come across much, ''much'' differently if you've read ''TheSpyWhoCameInFromTheCold'' and ''The Looking Glass War.'' In particular, [[spoiler: Control's]] fate starts looking like LaserGuidedKarma.
* [[TheAllegedCar The Alleged Plane]]: Jerry Westerby has to take a nail-biting flight in a tattered, rusty, and practically collapsing plane in ''The Honourable Schoolboy.''
* AsYouKnow: ''The Honourable Schoolboy'' and ''Smiley's People'' have ample doses of this, as there's usually a lot of complicated backstory without which the plot makes no sense.
* BadassBookworm[=/=]BadassBureaucrat: Smiley, who specializes in German poetry. In the office, he is typically a quiet, meek figure, whose demeanor belies the many, many successful operations that he ran. In ''Tinker Tailor'' he was the one called in to hunt down the mole; in ''Honorable Schoolboy'' he was responsible for largely rebuilding the Circus from the ground up. In ''Smiley's People,'' he's spending his retirement working on a monograph, but is again called out of retirement because his agents know that there is no one as good as he.
* BattleButler: Fawn, Smiley's factotum in the first two novels. Always on hand with a cup of tea, always quick to hold coats, open doors and deliver telegrams with brisk, quiet efficiency. Before the Fall, though, he worked with Peter Guillam as a scalphunter and is, by trade, a silent killer.
* BerlinWall: Crucial in the climactic scene of "Smiley's People".
* BerserkButton: Invoked and played with. Throughout the trilogy, characters try to goad Smiley out of being TheStoic by mentioning what they're sure will be his BerserkButton, Ann's infidelity. It never works.
* BewareTheQuietOnes: Smiley.
* BigNo: A very uncharacteristic one from Smiley in ''Smiley's People,'' when Connie Sachs mentions that many people in the Circus thought that he and Karla were NotSoDifferent.
* BilingualBonus: There's a fair amount of untranslated French in ''The Honourable Schoolboy.''
* BittersweetEnding:''Smiley's people'' [[spoiler:Smiley defeats his nemesis Karla. But in order to do so, Smiley breaks his code of conduct and has to exploit Karla's love for his mentally ill daughter.]]
** ''The Honourable Schoolboy.'' [[spoiler: Hooray, Operation Dolphin has succeeded. But the Americans have made off with Nelson Ko instead of sharing him with the Circus. Drake Ko's schemes to reunite himself with his brother have come to naught. Fawn assassinates Jerry Westerby in retaliation for his FaceHeelTurn. And George Smiley has been forced out...again.]]
* {{Blackmail}}: Extremely important in ''The Honourable Schoolboy'' [[spoiler: where it leads to disaster]] and ''Smiley's People'' [[spoiler: where it works as planned]].
* BrokenBird: Hilary in ''Smiley's People,'' who had some sort of mental breakdown while working for the Circus. It's not clear what prompted it, though.
** Elizabeth Worthington in ''The Honourable Schoolboy.''
*** [[spoiler: Karla's daughter, Tatiana, in ''Smiley's People''.]]
* BunnyEarsLawyer: Connie Sachs in ''Tinker, Tailor ...''
* CharacterTics: Whenever he's thinking, Smiley polishes his glasses on his tie.
* ChekhovsGun / ChekhovsSkill: Jim Prideaux handily dispatches an owl by breaking its neck. [[spoiler: He'll do the same to Bill Haydon at the end of the novel.]]
* CodeName (Karla in particular, whose real name we never find out.)
** In ''Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'', the mole suspects are allocated code names by "Control" based on the nursery rhyme "Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor; rich man, poor man, beggarman thief". when he sends Jim Prideaux to find out from a Czechoslovak general: "Tinker" for Percy Alleline, "Tailor" for Bill Haydon, "Soldier" for Roy Bland, "Sailor" and "Rich Man" are skipped as the former sounds too similar to "Tailor" and the latter seemed inappropriate, "Poor Man" for Toby Esterhase and "Beggarman" for George Smiley.
* CrazyCatLady: By ''Smiley's People,'' Connie Sachs, [[spoiler: who is dying]], has started taking in all sorts of random, and frequently decrepit, animals.
* CreatorBacklash: In the prefaces to the republished novels, le Carré argues that Smiley had outlived his potential as a character by the end of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' in large part because of real-life changes in the political climate.
* CunningLinguist: Simultaneously played straight ''and'' subverted with Toby Esterhase.
--> ...Tiny Toby spoke no known language perfectly, but he spoke them all.
* DepravedBisexual: Bill Haydon
* DoubleAgent: [[spoiler:Bill Haydon]] in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy".
* DrivesLikeCrazy:
** Fearful of kidnappers having snatched his wife, Peter Guillam in ''Smiley's People'' blitzes through the streets of Paris from the embassy, turning what should be a forty-minute drive through rush hour traffic into eighteen. Police reports placed him jumping through three sets of lights and touching 140 km/h near the home stretch. It turns out to be Smiley paying a surprise visit [[spoiler:with Madame Ostrakova in tow]] instead of kidnappers.
** On a lighter note, the surveillance team in Switzerland pegs Grigorieva as an enthusiastic but terrifyingly unskilled driver. On one occasion she hauled her husband out of the driver's seat, climbed in, and promptly clipped the post of their driveway, sending the watchers into uncontrollable laughter.
* FaceHeelTurn: Deconstructed, thanks to the GreyAndGrayMorality, in ''The Honourable Schoolboy.''
* FoeYay: Connie Sachs deliberately [[InvokedTrope invokes]] this with the Russian agents she tracks; in many cases she'd know them so intimately that she'd refer to them as her lovers, occasionally mentioning one's beautiful voice, for instance.
* [[GenderBlenderName Gender Bender Codename]]: Karla is male, but he is only known by the name of the first agent he recruited.
* GloryDays: All of the older characters have outlasted the British Empire, and don't quite know what to do with themselves.
* GrailQuest: The quest for Karla itself. [[{{Lampshade}} Lampshaded]] in ''Smiley's People'', where Smiley refers to Karla as his "black Grail."
* GreyAndGreyMorality: Both the British and Russian intelligence agencies are perfectly happy to do terrible things.
* HappilyMarried: Guillam by the third book, in contrast to the disappointing conclusion of George's marriage to Ann.
* HenpeckedHusband: Grigoriev of ''Smiley's People'', with the added fun that he is having an affair with his secretary. [[spoiler:It makes for prime blackmail material: losing his post is bad enough, but living in Siberia facing the wrath of Grigorieva twenty-four hours a day would be a FateWorseThanDeath.]]
* HeroicBSOD: After [[spoiler: he finds his friend Luke murdered]], Jerry Westerby spends the rest of ''The Honourable Schoolboy'' in this state.
* HiddenInPlainSight: The Circus doesn't go very far to hide Jim Prideaux, since he takes up his new job as a French teacher ''using his own name.''
* HoYay: Bill Haydon and Jim Prideaux; [[InvokedTrope invoked]] by the narration in ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy''. (Given [[DepravedBisexual Haydon]]'s proclivities, background documents are rather coy about the two of them.)
* IdiotBall: In ''The Honourable Schoolboy,'' there's extensive in-universe discussion of whether or not Smiley is carrying one when it comes to Jerry Westerby's obsession with Elizabeth Worthington.
* ItsPersonal: Karla deliberately takes advantage of this by [[spoiler:ordering Haydon to sleep with Ann,]] thereby making Smiley unable to truly suspect him in a cold, detached way. In the end, Smiley's only way to retaliate is to [[spoiler:threaten Karla's illegitimate daughter with exposure.]] In a profession rife with DirtyBusiness, these are the incidents that trouble Smiley the most.
* InTheBack: Where Prideaux gets shot.
* LetMeGetThisStraight: the plots of the books tend to be so convoluted that explanations tend to be necessary, particularly for ''Smiley's People'', where Saul Enderby has to confirm via George Smiley [[spoiler:just how all the events that had happened so far tie together and lead to Karla.]]
* MandatoryUnretirement: Smiley. [[spoiler: Twice.]]
* ManlyTears: Smiley in ''The Honourable Schoolboy'', after two informants are killed during a rescue attempt.
* TheMasochismTango: Smiley's relationship with his wife, which persists despite her chronic inability to remain faithful to him. [[spoiler: He finally puts an end to it in ''Smiley's People,'' although without explicitly asking for a divorce.]]
* MarriedToTheJob: The series implies that the duplicity necessary to maintain a career in Intelligence torpedoes any possibility of maintaining a healthy marriage.
* MayDecemberRomance: Smiley and Lady Ann; Jerry Westerby and Liz Worthington; Guillam and Marie-Claire.
* TheMatchmaker: Peter Guillam has appointed himself the designated go-between in the Smileys' regular breakups. Smiley finally chews him out for it in ''Smiley's People.''
* MementoMacguffin: The lighter that Lady Ann gave Smiley, which Karla steals during a flashback in ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.'' [[spoiler: Karla drops it in front of Smiley when he finally defects in ''Smiley's People,'' but Smiley decides not to pick it up.]]
* MoleInCharge: Control realizes that one of the very top agents in the Circus must be TheMole.
* TheMole: the main plot of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'' is finding the mole. The novel is also the TropeNamer for the term, [[NewerThanTheyThink believe it or not]].
** More like the TropeCodifier; it popularised a term that has been around since at least the 17th century, though it was a very obscure one. Le Carré though claimed it was a [=KGB=] term.
* MurderByMistake: [[spoiler: Luke]] for Jerry Westerby in ''The Honourable Schoolboy.''
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: In the introduction to the reprint edition of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' Le Carré notes that TheMole is partly based on Kim Philby (Side note: Rumor has it that the Philby affair brought an end to Le Carré's own MI6 carreer).
* NoNameGiven: Control and Karla. Control's success in keeping his real name secret gets [[{{Lampshade}} lampshaded]] in ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.''
** Outside the Circus, Control has two different names (and two different "wives"), neither of which appears to be the real one.
* NotNowBernard: In ''The Honourable Schoolboy,'' Peter Guillam keeps having this problem when he tries to explain to George Smiley that [[spoiler: Sam Collins and Martello]] are probably conspiring against him. At the end of the novel, Guillam begins to wonder if [[spoiler: Smiley knew all along, and allowed himself to be done in.]]
* NotSoDifferent: by the end, Smiley and Karla. [[spoiler:Karla has shown himself to have Smiley's compassion, and Smiley has to use Karla's ruthlessness to exploit it.]] The realization forms the emotional climax of the trilogy.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: One of Smiley's tactics.
* ThePlan: Karla's [[spoiler: plot to discredit Control and Smiley and the Witchcraft scheme]] and how Smiley exposes the Mole. There are examples in each book in the trilogy.
* PoirotSpeak: Toby Esterhase.
* PosthumousCharacter: Control.
* ProperlyParanoid: Technically, everyone, but Control is ''most'' properly paranoid. In his case, it reaches the point of CassandraTruth.
-->'''Control''': There were three men, and Alleline...
* PyrrhicVictory: The ending of every novel.
* PsychopathicManchild: Fawn, who starts out as a quietly lethal take on [[LordPeterWimsey Bunter]], then turns out to be childishly dependent on George Smiley, and finally tips over into viciousness so glaring that Peter Guillam is horrified.
* ReallyGetsAround / YourCheatingHeart: Smiley's wife, Lady Ann.
** Both Ricki Tarr and Jerry Westerby.
** Control apparently did this as a matter of policy.
* SelfHarm: Peter Guillam catches Fawn deliberately harming himself when he's temporarily abandoned by Smiley.
* TheShortGuyWithGlasses: Smiley.
* SpySpeak: One of the most famous examples, with the trilogy's influence leading to some {{Defictionalization}}.
* TheStarscream: Karla's underlings and rivals at MoscowCentre. [[spoiler: Who are looking for an excuse to deprive him of his power and have him liquidated. It is with this in mind that Karla chooses to defect.]]
* StealthHiBye: Smiley is good at this, much to Fawn's fury.
* SupervillainLair: Pointedly inverted and [[{{Lampshade}} lampshaded]] in ''Smiley's People.'' When [[spoiler: Grigoriev]] meets Karla, he is astonished to find him in a virtually bare room, instead of the luxury he was expecting.
* SurprisinglyGoodEnglish: Jerry Westerby is astonished when the Thai colonel he's interviewing turns out to speak perfect English with a strong American accent.
* SuperIntelligence: Connie Sachs, former head of Research, is virtually a living repository of knowledge on Soviet intelligence, and was affectionately nicknamed "Mother Russia" for it. Her specialty was tracking the movement of Soviet moles [[spoiler:until she came dangerously close to the truth about Polyakov, and "Gerald" had her pensioned off.]]
* ThatOneCase ("Smiley's People", an espionage example.)
* ThemeNaming: In addition to the code names taken from the "tinker, tailor" rhyme in ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' there's also Drake and Nelson Ko from ''The Honourable Schoolboy.''
* ToKnowHimIMustBecomeHim: This is Smiley's arc during ''Smiley's People,'' despite the BigNo (see above).
* TrueCompanions: [[SubvertedTrope subverted]]. Smiley's teams of spies often share a common ethic, but the very nature of their work, rife with betrayal and distrust, prevent them from forming any close bonds with each other. Consequently, when it is finally played straight in ''Smiley's People'' with Smiley, Guillam, and Esterhase's team [[spoiler:in order to blackmail Gregoriev, and then to receive Karla as he defects]], the friendship and trust forms an odd sort of [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming heartwarming feeling]].
* TwoferTokenMinority: Connie, who by the time of ''Smiley's People'' is both disabled and [[spoiler: in a relationship with a woman]].
* UglyGuyHotWife: George Smiley and Lady Ann, with unromantic results.
* {{Ukefication}}: In the novels, Peter Guillam has more of a James Bond feel than the soft-spoken Smiley. He's a very competent spy in his forties and sleeps with numerous women, while acting as Smiley's right-hand man. Nothing really changes in the movie, except he's a StraightGay, but somehow this change causes countless fanfictions and fanart to depict him as far more bishounen and a sort of fandom bicycle.
* VerbalTic: Jerry Westerby's "Super" (with optional "Gosh") and Martello's "ah" in ''The Honourable Schoolboy.''
* TheVietnamWar: Forms part of the backdrop for ''The Honourable Schoolboy'' - Jerry Westerby is travelling around Indochina as Saigon falls, and he witnesses Thai troops repelling Communist attackers in the process.
* TheWatson: Peter Guilliam in ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy''.
* [[WhatDoesSheSeeInHim What Does He See In Her]]: George Smiley and Lady Ann.
** Jerry Westerby and Elizabeth Worthington. Jerry is upfront with himself about the attraction: he has fallen for her ''because'' she's a "loser."
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: In "The Honourable Schoolboy" Elizabeth Worthington [[spoiler: Westerby sends her away before his final meeting on the beach. He promises to meet her afterwards, but The prologue mentions the fates of all the characters but her. ]]
** Although she is almost certainly the [[spoiler: "English adventuress" prosecuted in Hong Kong for transporting heroin, probably as retaliation for helping Jerry Westerby warn Drake Ko]].
** There's an in-universe example with Fawn, who simply disappears without a trace after [[spoiler: killing Jerry Westerby.]]
*** Ricki Tarr disappears between ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'' and ''The Honourable Schoolboy''.

to:

-> "I've got a story to tell you, it's all about spies. And if it's true, which I think it is, you boys are gonna need a whole new organisation..."
->-- '''Ricki Tarr''', ''Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy''

One of the finest spy trilogies of all time, Creator/JohnLeCarre's ''The Quest for Karla'' trilogy is a thriller set during the Cold War. It deals with [[SecretIntelligenceService British Intelligence]] officer George Smiley and his long battle with Russian spymaster Karla. Dealing with betrayal, love and the often mundane nature of spying, it asks awkward and painful questions about keeping secrets from your friends, lovers and indeed yourself.

The series consists of three books published between 1974 and 1979. These are:
# ''Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy''
# ''The Honourable Schoolboy''
# ''Smiley's People''

For the BAFTA-winning television adaptations of ''Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'' and ''Smiley's People'' [[hottip:*:''The Honourable Schoolboy'' was skipped due to budget constraints]], starring [[StarWars Alec]] [[KindHeartsAndCoronets Guinness]] as George Smiley and PatrickStewart as Karla, [[Series/TheQuestForKarla see here]]. For the 2011 [[TheFilmOfTheBook film adaptation]] of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'', starring GaryOldman as George Smiley, [[Film/TinkerTailorSoldierSpy see here]].
----
!!Tropes featured include:
* AchillesHeel: Karla has one in the form of [[spoiler:his love for his daughter]], and Smiley arguably has [[spoiler:Ann, his wife]], though he overcomes this by the end of the series.
* TheAlcoholic: Connie Sachs, most notably.
* AllThereInTheManual: Some of the events of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'' come across much, ''much'' differently if you've read ''TheSpyWhoCameInFromTheCold'' and ''The Looking Glass War.'' In particular, [[spoiler: Control's]] fate starts looking like LaserGuidedKarma.
* [[TheAllegedCar The Alleged Plane]]: Jerry Westerby has to take a nail-biting flight in a tattered, rusty, and practically collapsing plane in ''The Honourable Schoolboy.''
* AsYouKnow: ''The Honourable Schoolboy'' and ''Smiley's People'' have ample doses of this, as there's usually a lot of complicated backstory without which the plot makes no sense.
* BadassBookworm[=/=]BadassBureaucrat: Smiley, who specializes in German poetry. In the office, he is typically a quiet, meek figure, whose demeanor belies the many, many successful operations that he ran. In ''Tinker Tailor'' he was the one called in to hunt down the mole; in ''Honorable Schoolboy'' he was responsible for largely rebuilding the Circus from the ground up. In ''Smiley's People,'' he's spending his retirement working on a monograph, but is again called out of retirement because his agents know that there is no one as good as he.
* BattleButler: Fawn, Smiley's factotum in the first two novels. Always on hand with a cup of tea, always quick to hold coats, open doors and deliver telegrams with brisk, quiet efficiency. Before the Fall, though, he worked with Peter Guillam as a scalphunter and is, by trade, a silent killer.
* BerlinWall: Crucial in the climactic scene of "Smiley's People".
* BerserkButton: Invoked and played with. Throughout the trilogy, characters try to goad Smiley out of being TheStoic by mentioning what they're sure will be his BerserkButton, Ann's infidelity. It never works.
* BewareTheQuietOnes: Smiley.
* BigNo: A very uncharacteristic one from Smiley in ''Smiley's People,'' when Connie Sachs mentions that many people in the Circus thought that he and Karla were NotSoDifferent.
* BilingualBonus: There's a fair amount of untranslated French in ''The Honourable Schoolboy.''
* BittersweetEnding:''Smiley's people'' [[spoiler:Smiley defeats his nemesis Karla. But in order to do so, Smiley breaks his code of conduct and has to exploit Karla's love for his mentally ill daughter.]]
** ''The Honourable Schoolboy.'' [[spoiler: Hooray, Operation Dolphin has succeeded. But the Americans have made off with Nelson Ko instead of sharing him with the Circus. Drake Ko's schemes to reunite himself with his brother have come to naught. Fawn assassinates Jerry Westerby in retaliation for his FaceHeelTurn. And George Smiley has been forced out...again.]]
* {{Blackmail}}: Extremely important in ''The Honourable Schoolboy'' [[spoiler: where it leads to disaster]] and ''Smiley's People'' [[spoiler: where it works as planned]].
* BrokenBird: Hilary in ''Smiley's People,'' who had some sort of mental breakdown while working for the Circus. It's not clear what prompted it, though.
** Elizabeth Worthington in ''The Honourable Schoolboy.''
*** [[spoiler: Karla's daughter, Tatiana, in ''Smiley's People''.]]
* BunnyEarsLawyer: Connie Sachs in ''Tinker, Tailor ...''
* CharacterTics: Whenever he's thinking, Smiley polishes his glasses on his tie.
* ChekhovsGun / ChekhovsSkill: Jim Prideaux handily dispatches an owl by breaking its neck. [[spoiler: He'll do the same to Bill Haydon at the end of the novel.]]
* CodeName (Karla in particular, whose real name we never find out.)
** In ''Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'', the mole suspects are allocated code names by "Control" based on the nursery rhyme "Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor; rich man, poor man, beggarman thief". when he sends Jim Prideaux to find out from a Czechoslovak general: "Tinker" for Percy Alleline, "Tailor" for Bill Haydon, "Soldier" for Roy Bland, "Sailor" and "Rich Man" are skipped as the former sounds too similar to "Tailor" and the latter seemed inappropriate, "Poor Man" for Toby Esterhase and "Beggarman" for George Smiley.
* CrazyCatLady: By ''Smiley's People,'' Connie Sachs, [[spoiler: who is dying]], has started taking in all sorts of random, and frequently decrepit, animals.
* CreatorBacklash: In the prefaces to the republished novels, le Carré argues that Smiley had outlived his potential as a character by the end of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' in large part because of real-life changes in the political climate.
* CunningLinguist: Simultaneously played straight ''and'' subverted with Toby Esterhase.
--> ...Tiny Toby spoke no known language perfectly, but he spoke them all.
* DepravedBisexual: Bill Haydon
* DoubleAgent: [[spoiler:Bill Haydon]] in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy".
* DrivesLikeCrazy:
** Fearful of kidnappers having snatched his wife, Peter Guillam in ''Smiley's People'' blitzes through the streets of Paris from the embassy, turning what should be a forty-minute drive through rush hour traffic into eighteen. Police reports placed him jumping through three sets of lights and touching 140 km/h near the home stretch. It turns out to be Smiley paying a surprise visit [[spoiler:with Madame Ostrakova in tow]] instead of kidnappers.
** On a lighter note, the surveillance team in Switzerland pegs Grigorieva as an enthusiastic but terrifyingly unskilled driver. On one occasion she hauled her husband out of the driver's seat, climbed in, and promptly clipped the post of their driveway, sending the watchers into uncontrollable laughter.
* FaceHeelTurn: Deconstructed, thanks to the GreyAndGrayMorality, in ''The Honourable Schoolboy.''
* FoeYay: Connie Sachs deliberately [[InvokedTrope invokes]] this with the Russian agents she tracks; in many cases she'd know them so intimately that she'd refer to them as her lovers, occasionally mentioning one's beautiful voice, for instance.
* [[GenderBlenderName Gender Bender Codename]]: Karla is male, but he is only known by the name of the first agent he recruited.
* GloryDays: All of the older characters have outlasted the British Empire, and don't quite know what to do with themselves.
* GrailQuest: The quest for Karla itself. [[{{Lampshade}} Lampshaded]] in ''Smiley's People'', where Smiley refers to Karla as his "black Grail."
* GreyAndGreyMorality: Both the British and Russian intelligence agencies are perfectly happy to do terrible things.
* HappilyMarried: Guillam by the third book, in contrast to the disappointing conclusion of George's marriage to Ann.
* HenpeckedHusband: Grigoriev of ''Smiley's People'', with the added fun that he is having an affair with his secretary. [[spoiler:It makes for prime blackmail material: losing his post is bad enough, but living in Siberia facing the wrath of Grigorieva twenty-four hours a day would be a FateWorseThanDeath.]]
* HeroicBSOD: After [[spoiler: he finds his friend Luke murdered]], Jerry Westerby spends the rest of ''The Honourable Schoolboy'' in this state.
* HiddenInPlainSight: The Circus doesn't go very far to hide Jim Prideaux, since he takes up his new job as a French teacher ''using his own name.''
* HoYay: Bill Haydon and Jim Prideaux; [[InvokedTrope invoked]] by the narration in ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy''. (Given [[DepravedBisexual Haydon]]'s proclivities, background documents are rather coy about the two of them.)
* IdiotBall: In ''The Honourable Schoolboy,'' there's extensive in-universe discussion of whether or not Smiley is carrying one when it comes to Jerry Westerby's obsession with Elizabeth Worthington.
* ItsPersonal: Karla deliberately takes advantage of this by [[spoiler:ordering Haydon to sleep with Ann,]] thereby making Smiley unable to truly suspect him in a cold, detached way. In the end, Smiley's only way to retaliate is to [[spoiler:threaten Karla's illegitimate daughter with exposure.]] In a profession rife with DirtyBusiness, these are the incidents that trouble Smiley the most.
* InTheBack: Where Prideaux gets shot.
* LetMeGetThisStraight: the plots of the books tend to be so convoluted that explanations tend to be necessary, particularly for ''Smiley's People'', where Saul Enderby has to confirm via George Smiley [[spoiler:just how all the events that had happened so far tie together and lead to Karla.]]
* MandatoryUnretirement: Smiley. [[spoiler: Twice.]]
* ManlyTears: Smiley in ''The Honourable Schoolboy'', after two informants are killed during a rescue attempt.
* TheMasochismTango: Smiley's relationship with his wife, which persists despite her chronic inability to remain faithful to him. [[spoiler: He finally puts an end to it in ''Smiley's People,'' although without explicitly asking for a divorce.]]
* MarriedToTheJob: The series implies that the duplicity necessary to maintain a career in Intelligence torpedoes any possibility of maintaining a healthy marriage.
* MayDecemberRomance: Smiley and Lady Ann; Jerry Westerby and Liz Worthington; Guillam and Marie-Claire.
* TheMatchmaker: Peter Guillam has appointed himself the designated go-between in the Smileys' regular breakups. Smiley finally chews him out for it in ''Smiley's People.''
* MementoMacguffin: The lighter that Lady Ann gave Smiley, which Karla steals during a flashback in ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.'' [[spoiler: Karla drops it in front of Smiley when he finally defects in ''Smiley's People,'' but Smiley decides not to pick it up.]]
* MoleInCharge: Control realizes that one of the very top agents in the Circus must be TheMole.
* TheMole: the main plot of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'' is finding the mole. The novel is also the TropeNamer for the term, [[NewerThanTheyThink believe it or not]].
** More like the TropeCodifier; it popularised a term that has been around since at least the 17th century, though it was a very obscure one. Le Carré though claimed it was a [=KGB=] term.
* MurderByMistake: [[spoiler: Luke]] for Jerry Westerby in ''The Honourable Schoolboy.''
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: In the introduction to the reprint edition of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' Le Carré notes that TheMole is partly based on Kim Philby (Side note: Rumor has it that the Philby affair brought an end to Le Carré's own MI6 carreer).
* NoNameGiven: Control and Karla. Control's success in keeping his real name secret gets [[{{Lampshade}} lampshaded]] in ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.''
** Outside the Circus, Control has two different names (and two different "wives"), neither of which appears to be the real one.
* NotNowBernard: In ''The Honourable Schoolboy,'' Peter Guillam keeps having this problem when he tries to explain to George Smiley that [[spoiler: Sam Collins and Martello]] are probably conspiring against him. At the end of the novel, Guillam begins to wonder if [[spoiler: Smiley knew all along, and allowed himself to be done in.]]
* NotSoDifferent: by the end, Smiley and Karla. [[spoiler:Karla has shown himself to have Smiley's compassion, and Smiley has to use Karla's ruthlessness to exploit it.]] The realization forms the emotional climax of the trilogy.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: One of Smiley's tactics.
* ThePlan: Karla's [[spoiler: plot to discredit Control and Smiley and the Witchcraft scheme]] and how Smiley exposes the Mole. There are examples in each book in the trilogy.
* PoirotSpeak: Toby Esterhase.
* PosthumousCharacter: Control.
* ProperlyParanoid: Technically, everyone, but Control is ''most'' properly paranoid. In his case, it reaches the point of CassandraTruth.
-->'''Control''': There were three men, and Alleline...
* PyrrhicVictory: The ending of every novel.
* PsychopathicManchild: Fawn, who starts out as a quietly lethal take on [[LordPeterWimsey Bunter]], then turns out to be childishly dependent on George Smiley, and finally tips over into viciousness so glaring that Peter Guillam is horrified.
* ReallyGetsAround / YourCheatingHeart: Smiley's wife, Lady Ann.
** Both Ricki Tarr and Jerry Westerby.
** Control apparently did this as a matter of policy.
* SelfHarm: Peter Guillam catches Fawn deliberately harming himself when he's temporarily abandoned by Smiley.
* TheShortGuyWithGlasses: Smiley.
* SpySpeak: One of the most famous examples, with the trilogy's influence leading to some {{Defictionalization}}.
* TheStarscream: Karla's underlings and rivals at MoscowCentre. [[spoiler: Who are looking for an excuse to deprive him of his power and have him liquidated. It is with this in mind that Karla chooses to defect.]]
* StealthHiBye: Smiley is good at this, much to Fawn's fury.
* SupervillainLair: Pointedly inverted and [[{{Lampshade}} lampshaded]] in ''Smiley's People.'' When [[spoiler: Grigoriev]] meets Karla, he is astonished to find him in a virtually bare room, instead of the luxury he was expecting.
* SurprisinglyGoodEnglish: Jerry Westerby is astonished when the Thai colonel he's interviewing turns out to speak perfect English with a strong American accent.
* SuperIntelligence: Connie Sachs, former head of Research, is virtually a living repository of knowledge on Soviet intelligence, and was affectionately nicknamed "Mother Russia" for it. Her specialty was tracking the movement of Soviet moles [[spoiler:until she came dangerously close to the truth about Polyakov, and "Gerald" had her pensioned off.]]
* ThatOneCase ("Smiley's People", an espionage example.)
* ThemeNaming: In addition to the code names taken from the "tinker, tailor" rhyme in ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' there's also Drake and Nelson Ko from ''The Honourable Schoolboy.''
* ToKnowHimIMustBecomeHim: This is Smiley's arc during ''Smiley's People,'' despite the BigNo (see above).
* TrueCompanions: [[SubvertedTrope subverted]]. Smiley's teams of spies often share a common ethic, but the very nature of their work, rife with betrayal and distrust, prevent them from forming any close bonds with each other. Consequently, when it is finally played straight in ''Smiley's People'' with Smiley, Guillam, and Esterhase's team [[spoiler:in order to blackmail Gregoriev, and then to receive Karla as he defects]], the friendship and trust forms an odd sort of [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming heartwarming feeling]].
* TwoferTokenMinority: Connie, who by the time of ''Smiley's People'' is both disabled and [[spoiler: in a relationship with a woman]].
* UglyGuyHotWife: George Smiley and Lady Ann, with unromantic results.
* {{Ukefication}}: In the novels, Peter Guillam has more of a James Bond feel than the soft-spoken Smiley. He's a very competent spy in his forties and sleeps with numerous women, while acting as Smiley's right-hand man. Nothing really changes in the movie, except he's a StraightGay, but somehow this change causes countless fanfictions and fanart to depict him as far more bishounen and a sort of fandom bicycle.
* VerbalTic: Jerry Westerby's "Super" (with optional "Gosh") and Martello's "ah" in ''The Honourable Schoolboy.''
* TheVietnamWar: Forms part of the backdrop for ''The Honourable Schoolboy'' - Jerry Westerby is travelling around Indochina as Saigon falls, and he witnesses Thai troops repelling Communist attackers in the process.
* TheWatson: Peter Guilliam in ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy''.
* [[WhatDoesSheSeeInHim What Does He See In Her]]: George Smiley and Lady Ann.
** Jerry Westerby and Elizabeth Worthington. Jerry is upfront with himself about the attraction: he has fallen for her ''because'' she's a "loser."
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: In "The Honourable Schoolboy" Elizabeth Worthington [[spoiler: Westerby sends her away before his final meeting on the beach. He promises to meet her afterwards, but The prologue mentions the fates of all the characters but her. ]]
** Although she is almost certainly the [[spoiler: "English adventuress" prosecuted in Hong Kong for transporting heroin, probably as retaliation for helping Jerry Westerby warn Drake Ko]].
** There's an in-universe example with Fawn, who simply disappears without a trace after [[spoiler: killing Jerry Westerby.]]
*** Ricki Tarr disappears between ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'' and ''The Honourable Schoolboy''.
[[redirect:Literature/TheQuestForKarla]]
16th Jan '13 4:54:51 PM andy_ypsilon
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* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: In the introduction to the reprint edition of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' Le Carré notes that TheMole is partly based on Kim Philby (Rumor has it that the Philby affair brought an end to Le Carré's own MI6 carreer).

to:

* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: In the introduction to the reprint edition of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' Le Carré notes that TheMole is partly based on Kim Philby (Rumor (Side note: Rumor has it that the Philby affair brought an end to Le Carré's own MI6 carreer).
16th Jan '13 4:53:36 PM andy_ypsilon
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* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: In the introduction to the reprint edition of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' Le Carré notes that TheMole is partly based on Kim Philby (Rumor has it that the Philby affair brought an end to Le Carré's MI6 carrer).

to:

* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: In the introduction to the reprint edition of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' Le Carré notes that TheMole is partly based on Kim Philby (Rumor has it that the Philby affair brought an end to Le Carré's own MI6 carrer).carreer).
16th Jan '13 4:40:23 PM andy_ypsilon
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* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: In the introduction to the reprint edition of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' Le Carré notes that TheMole is partly based on Kim Philby.

to:

* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: In the introduction to the reprint edition of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' Le Carré notes that TheMole is partly based on Kim Philby.Philby (Rumor has it that the Philby affair brought an end to Le Carré's MI6 carrer).
16th Jan '13 8:30:50 AM korpse_man
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Added DiffLines:

* TheStarscream: Karla's underlings and rivals at MoscowCentre. [[spoiler: Who are looking for an excuse to deprive him of his power and have him liquidated. It is with this in mind that Karla chooses to defect.]]
28th Dec '12 12:34:20 PM Stoneshop
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** In ''Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'', the mole suspects are allocated code names by "Control" based on the nursery rhyme "Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor; rich man, poor man, beggarman thief". when he sends Jim Prideaux to find out from a Czechoslovak general: "Tinker" for Percy Alleine, "Tailor" for Bill Haydon, "Soldier" for Roy Bland, "Sailor" and "Rich Man" are skipped as the former sounds too similar to "Tailor" and the latter seemed inappropriate, "Poor Man" for Toby Esterhase and "Beggarman" for George Smiley.

to:

** In ''Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'', the mole suspects are allocated code names by "Control" based on the nursery rhyme "Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor; rich man, poor man, beggarman thief". when he sends Jim Prideaux to find out from a Czechoslovak general: "Tinker" for Percy Alleine, Alleline, "Tailor" for Bill Haydon, "Soldier" for Roy Bland, "Sailor" and "Rich Man" are skipped as the former sounds too similar to "Tailor" and the latter seemed inappropriate, "Poor Man" for Toby Esterhase and "Beggarman" for George Smiley.
20th Dec '12 5:51:46 PM Noraneko
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Added DiffLines:

* HappilyMarried: Guillam by the third book, in contrast to the disappointing conclusion of George's marriage to Ann.
2nd Oct '12 7:23:51 AM johnnye
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->-- '''Ricki Tarr''', ''Tinker,Tailor, Soldier, Spy''

to:

->-- '''Ricki Tarr''', ''Tinker,Tailor, ''Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy''



Two BAFTA-winning television adaptations were made of ''Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'' and ''Smiley's People'' [[hottip:*:''The Honourable Schoolboy'' was skipped due to budget constraints]], starring [[StarWars Alec]] [[KindHeartsAndCoronets Guinness]] as George Smiley and PatrickStewart as Karla; the page for them is [[Series/TheQuestForKarla here]]. A [[TheFilmOfTheBook film adaptation]] of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'', starring GaryOldman as George Smiley, was released in September 2011; for more info, go [[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1340800/ here]] or visit [[Film/TinkerTailorSoldierSpy the trope page]].

to:

Two For the BAFTA-winning television adaptations were made of ''Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'' and ''Smiley's People'' [[hottip:*:''The Honourable Schoolboy'' was skipped due to budget constraints]], starring [[StarWars Alec]] [[KindHeartsAndCoronets Guinness]] as George Smiley and PatrickStewart as Karla; the page for them is Karla, [[Series/TheQuestForKarla see here]]. A For the 2011 [[TheFilmOfTheBook film adaptation]] of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'', starring GaryOldman as George Smiley, was released in September 2011; for more info, go [[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1340800/ here]] or visit [[Film/TinkerTailorSoldierSpy the trope page]].see here]].
5th Sep '12 12:48:25 PM Noraneko
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Added DiffLines:

* {{Ukefication}}: In the novels, Peter Guillam has more of a James Bond feel than the soft-spoken Smiley. He's a very competent spy in his forties and sleeps with numerous women, while acting as Smiley's right-hand man. Nothing really changes in the movie, except he's a StraightGay, but somehow this change causes countless fanfictions and fanart to depict him as far more bishounen and a sort of fandom bicycle.
12th Aug '12 7:54:18 PM PaulA
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One of the finest spy trilogies of all time, JohnLeCarre's ''The Quest for Karla'' trilogy is a thriller set during the Cold War. It deals with [[SecretIntelligenceService British Intelligence]] officer George Smiley and his long battle with Russian spymaster Karla. Dealing with betrayal, love and the often mundane nature of spying, it asks awkward and painful questions about keeping secrets from your friends, lovers and indeed yourself.

to:

One of the finest spy trilogies of all time, JohnLeCarre's Creator/JohnLeCarre's ''The Quest for Karla'' trilogy is a thriller set during the Cold War. It deals with [[SecretIntelligenceService British Intelligence]] officer George Smiley and his long battle with Russian spymaster Karla. Dealing with betrayal, love and the often mundane nature of spying, it asks awkward and painful questions about keeping secrets from your friends, lovers and indeed yourself.



* CreatorBacklash: In the prefaces to the republished novels, JohnLeCarre argues that Smiley had outlived his potential as a character by the end of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' in large part because of real-life changes in the political climate.

to:

* CreatorBacklash: In the prefaces to the republished novels, JohnLeCarre le Carré argues that Smiley had outlived his potential as a character by the end of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' in large part because of real-life changes in the political climate.



** More like the TropeCodifier; it popularised a term that has been around since at least the 17th century, though it was a very obscure one. Le Carre though claimed it was a [=KGB=] term.

to:

** More like the TropeCodifier; it popularised a term that has been around since at least the 17th century, though it was a very obscure one. Le Carre Carré though claimed it was a [=KGB=] term.



* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: In the introduction to the reprint edition of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' Le Carre notes that TheMole is partly based on Kim Philby.

to:

* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: In the introduction to the reprint edition of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' Le Carre Carré notes that TheMole is partly based on Kim Philby. Philby.
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