Created By: Quag15 on May 9, 2014 Last Edited By: Quag15 on July 26, 2014
Troped

Agents Dating

When agents (secret agents, police agents, etc.) go on a date.

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Trope
Two agents (often times being secret agents) may or may have not romantic/sexual feelings for each other. Nonetheless, they go on one or more dates. There are two contexts to this:

  • The context of a mission/investigation. They often go undercover in order to find out the bad guy's intentions or to scout places where he hangs out. It is a great way to go unnoticed or, alternatively, to engage in flirting and seduction with others to get information (most of the times, it's a female that does such a thing). If they're in an emergency or tight spot, Fake-Out Make-Out will probably ensue.
  • Non-professional contexts. Here, there is a higher chance of them being genuinely attracted to each other (as opposed to the previous context, when there's deception and/or illusion at play). They also feel an interest in relaxing from the job and a need to have a good time. There's some chances of conversations getting directed towards their missions, their rivals and/or their colleagues or bosses.

This trope may lead to the fact that two people dating or in a relationship who share the same profession may clash and compete on a professional level. Spies do tend to outdo each other, because they're taught to do so.

There are bonus points if conflicting loyalties are discussed or shown. Agents swear their loyalty to their country, they keep secrets (and yet have to talk to each other), and they are married to the job. So there is a whole set of issues that a normal couple or potential couple does not have. When in a couple both characters are spies or on similar undertakings, the relationship dynamic is affected (for example, if one partner goes amiss) and the spywork is also affected. That's the reason why, for example, two police officers (or detectives/spies from an agency) dating is generally frowned upon.

In both cases, expect lots of double entendres, possibly some Spy Speak and a lot of chemistry. There's also a good possibility of a romance or sex ensuing either right after or at the end of a film or episode.

This trope is a regular part of spy dramas and other kinds of shows where a mission or an investigation is supposed to take place before, during or after the event.

When at least one of them gets a bit more...obvious and careless, they can become overt operatives.

Besides secret agents and spies, this trope also covers police agents and detectives. The former tend to have the most chances to date, since they don't need to be as secret or as deceitful as spies or detectives. They can also show themselves to be part of the police, through the use of uniform or badges.

In cases where this goes or might go wrong (since there are also agents with...questionable motives), see also Honey Trap. The agent who engages in this is very likely to be a Mata Hari. A Sex–Face Turn might happen in cases like this. When two opposite sides work together or have a date together (or both), it's a case of this and When Harry Met Svetlana.

There are also cases where one is a spy and the other is not...at first sight. The latter is a Deep Cover Agent.

Compare/contrast Duel of Seduction.


Examples

Anime and Manga

Comic Books
  • In the Double Duck story "Hong Island", while in Bangkok, Thailand, Donald and Kay K, before going to search for their Gadgeteer Genius, Gizmo, have dinner. At the end of the dinner, they get the restaurant check, which includes an envelope with two plane tickets to go to Krabi, in the southern part of Thailand.

Literature
  • The Spy Who Came In from the Cold has this as an important plot point. Although Liz Gold is not an agent (she's a secretary of a local cell of the Communist Party of Great Britain), her relationship with the head of the West Berlin office of the British Secret Intelligence Service, Alec Leamas, is noteworthy in the context of this trope due to the conflict between love and loyalty from the couple, to the point of Leamas telling all the information in exchange for her freedom. They manage to overcome the issues, albeit at a high price.

Live-Action Film
  • Happens many, many, many times in the James Bond series, if you're willing to be sufficiently loose with the term "date".
    • In ''From Russia with Love, the Soviets cook up a plan to kill Bond with a low-level member of their intelligence department. He knows it's a trap but goes along with it, because (aside from the obvious reasons it comes with a chance to steal a valuable encoding device.
    • In You Only Live Twice, Bond has a dinner with his "wife" Kissy (an agent who works for Tanaka) in which Kissy informs him that they're sleeping in separate rooms. Bond protests "But we're supposed to be married. We're on our honeymoon!", but Kissy replies "Not honeymoon. This is business."
    • In Live and Let Die, Bond and Foxy Brown Expy Rose Carver pretend to be husband and wife on vacation. Turns out she's The Mole
    • The Spy Who Loved Me is, at least, a Trope Codifier. Bond and Soviet agent XXX (No, not that one) flip flop between working together and working against each other before they finally hookup at the end:
    Eve Moneypenny: "I'm sure we'll have one or two close shaves."
  • Spy Kids starts with their mother telling the story of the two spies who fell in love, with several dates...in which they are some distance from each other since they're on opposing sides.
  • In Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, gun nut Tackleberry goes on a date with fellow officer Kirkland, which culminates in them going back to her place for nookie — but before that can happen, they must (seductively) remove the large number of guns they have hidden on their respective bodies.
  • This Means War! is pretty much centered around this. Reese Witherspoon's character decides to have sex with two different spies who are pursuing her, to see which one of them is better in bed. After they found they've been sleeping with the same woman, they wage an epic battle against one another.

Live-Action TV
  • Get Smart is one of the most iconic cases (and possibly the Trope Maker), with Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 dating from a certain point onwards (which is referenced with some regularity), and falling in love with each other at a certain point. Everybody in the Agency seems to know this:
    Maxwell Smart: [Agent 99 leans to kiss him] 99 please, nobody here knows we're dating.
    The Chief: [walks by] Yes, they do.
    Maxwell Smart: On the cheek.
    [Agent 99 kisses his cheek]
    Agent 99: [as they walk off] Give me a little one.
    [Max kisses her on the lips]
  • Chuck begins with CIA agent Sarah Walker going on a date with typical everyman Chuck, trying to get close to him and find out where the Intersect is. Over the course of the series they go on a number of dates, both as part of their cover and some real ones as well.
  • In Torchwood, Captain Jack Harkness has been known to create sexual tension with anyone he so much as says "hello" to, but it's even worse with his Torchwood agents. His gun use demonstration with Gwen was full coddling, he makes innuendo out of just about everything they come across, he officially asks out Ianto while they're on a mission, Ianto's recruitment involved getting very turned on after the two erotically fall all over each other while attempting to catch the eventual Team Pet, Gwen's caught them playing "naked hide and seek" in the hub at least once, Martha kissed at a missions' end just because "everyone else has had a go", and Jack's fond of handing out overly sexual kisses of life on the job. And that's not even scratching the surface...
  • Bones: After their Relationship Upgrade, Booth and Bones will often discuss domestic relationship stuff while doing their respective jobs (they're partners on the field that are a forensic anthropologist and FBI field agent respectively) or they'll talk about the job while cuddling in bed together. Other times their date nights/lunches together will be interrupted by a call from The FBI/forensic team at the same time for the same case they'll be working on.
  • Midsomer Murders has a Running Gag around this: every time Sergeant Jones goes out for dinner with his officer girlfriend, Barnaby (either the old one or the new one) calls him because there's been a development in the case, usually another murder. Apparently the Running Gag of Tom Barnaby's Eureka Moment striking whenever he's out with his wife is contagious.
  • MacGruder and Loud was about police partners who hid that they were secretly married (and lived in adjoining apartments with a secret door connecting them) so they wouldn't be reassigned to work with other officers. Regulations stated that if two cops were married, they could not be partners, so they kept this thing a secret from the rest of the department.

Real Life
Community Feedback Replies: 40
  • May 9, 2014
    MorganWick
    The non-professional version needs to explain why it's not just "a date or Shipping BETWEEN AGENTS!"
  • May 10, 2014
    Arivne
    Created Examples section.
  • May 10, 2014
    bulmabriefs144
    I like this. Needs More Examples tho.

    Real Life
    • If wikipedia has correct information, this is one of the methods of recruitment as a spy. The spy-to-be is seduced and trained by another agent. Sometimes the agent in question falls for the trainee and vice versa (results may vary, as these romances themselves are classified).
      • It's also the process that some current agents are converted from enemy to ally agents. This is true
      • That said, it likely happens between two friendly agents, because, well, agents are human. And humans have certain needs.
  • May 10, 2014
    Tallens
    • Spy Kids starts with their mother telling the story of the two spies who fell in love, with several dates...in which they are some distance from each other since they're on opposing sides.

    • Chuck begins with CIA agent Sarah Walker going on a date with typical everyman Chuck, trying to get close to him and find out where the Intersect is. Over the course of the series they go on a number of dates, both as part of their cover and some real ones as well.
  • May 11, 2014
    Tuckerscreator
    That wikipedia link is either broke or inaccurate. There is no section in the article called "Recruitment through friendship or romance".
  • May 11, 2014
    Quag15
    Saw the article in Wikipedia. Maybe I'll delete the Real Life entry until something can be confirmed.
  • May 11, 2014
    Koveras
  • May 12, 2014
    Daefaroth
    ^^Is this the article you were looking for? Love, honeypots, and recruitment
  • May 12, 2014
    paycheckgurl
    • On Torchwood Captain Jack Harkness has been known to create sexual tension with anyone he so much as says "hello" to, but it's even worse with his Torchwood agents. His gun use demonstration with Gwen was full coddling, he makes innuendo out of just about everything they come across, he officially asks out Ianto while they're on a mission, Ianto's recruitment involved getting very turned on after the two erotically fall all over each other while attempting to catch the eventual Team Pet, Gwen's caught them playing "naked hide and seek" in the hub at least once, Martha kissed at a missions' end just because "everyone else has had a go", and Jack's fond of handing out overly sexual kisses of life on the job. And that's not even scratching the surface...
    • Bones: After their Relationship Upgrade, Booth and Bones will often discuss domestic relationship stuff while doing their respective jobs (they're partners on the field that are a forensic anthropologist and FBI field agent respectively) or they'll talk about the job while cuddling in bed together. Other times their date nights/lunches together will interrupted by a call from The FBI/forensic team at the same time for the same case they'll be working on.
  • May 12, 2014
    Quag15
    ^^ That's the one. Thank you.

    ^ Amazing how I missed those examples.
  • May 12, 2014
    bulmabriefs144
    "That wikipedia link is either broke or inaccurate. There is no section in the article called "Recruitment through friendship or romance". "

    Weird. When I looked at it last, a few days ago, that link worked. Removed by CIA, dun dun dun! Pffft.
  • May 13, 2014
    Quag15
    ^ That would be odd, considering quite a few people know those kind of strategies recruited. Unless the information there written was leaked and the agency didn't like it.

    Also, bump.
  • May 14, 2014
    JonnyB
    Pretty sure there were a few cases in Get Smart with Smart and 99, before they got married, but I can't think of any specific cases.
  • May 14, 2014
    Quag15
    ^ I was thinking about that as well, but I haven't seen the show in a long time.
  • May 17, 2014
    Quatic
    In Police Academy II, gun nut Tackleberry goes on a date with fellow officer Kirkland, which culminates in them going back to her place for nookie — but before that can happen, they must (seductively) remove the large number of guns they have hidden on their respective bodies.
  • May 19, 2014
    Quag15
    Bump.
  • May 28, 2014
    Quag15
    Bump again.
  • June 6, 2014
    captainsandwich
  • June 6, 2014
    surgoshan
    Taken to its extreme in Mr And Mrs Smith, in which two super-assassins marry each other, not realizing the other is an assassin, and are then married for 5 years (6 years) without realizing it.
  • June 7, 2014
    Chabal2
    A Running Gag in Midsomer Murders: every time Sergeant Jones goes out for dinner with his officer girlfriend, Barnaby (either the old one or the new one) calls him because there's been a development in the case, usually another murder. Apparently the Running Gag of Tom Barnaby's Eureka Moment striking whenever he's out with his wife is contagious.
  • June 7, 2014
    Quag15
    @surgoshan: Not sure if that one counts. I'll think about it.
  • June 7, 2014
    Quag15
    Can someone explain to me why two hats were dropped? Is there something I need to correct or clarify?
  • June 10, 2014
    Quag15
    Bump.
  • June 22, 2014
    Larkmarn
    So... for the professional bit, I feel like that's covered by Undercover As Lovers. For the non-professional bit, I fail to see how people dating that happen to be agents is a trope any more than two doctors dating, or two architects.
  • Film
    • This Means War. Reese Witherspoon's character decides to have sex with two different spies who are pursuing her, to see which one of them is better in bed.
  • June 24, 2014
    Quag15
    ^^ Well, I can always add a few things about how two people dating or in a relationship who share the same profession can clash and compete on a professional level. Spies do tend to outdo each other, because they're taught to do so. I'll change my description in a couple of hours.
  • July 6, 2014
    bulmabriefs144
    "The non-professional version needs to explain why it's not just "a date or Shipping BETWEEN AGENTS!""

    Because the fact that they're agents makes it another trope.

    Agents swear their loyalty to their country, they keep secrets (and yet have to talk to each other), and they are married to the job. So there is a whole set of issues that a normal couple does not have. For the same reason, Mayfly December Romance isn't shipping between immortals/near-immortals and non immortals, the relationship has a twist vs a regular romance.
  • July 7, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    Very poor description.

    What do policemen and spies have in common to see them fall under the same trope? They both have the same inhibitions about personal lives? I don't feel so at all.

    When at least one of them gets a bit more...obvious and careless, they can become an Overt Operative.
    They, plural, become an operative, singular. Like templars become archons in Starcraft.

    Here, there is a higher chance of them being attracted to each other.
    *facepalm* What is this even about? What does it mean? They're dating, but are not mutually attractive in some way or another?
  • July 7, 2014
    Larkmarn
    While I still don't think this is tropeable, it's also somehow already something we have, albeit with a comically anemic/borderline non-existent description as Spy Couple.

    EDIT: ^^ I think that is a trope. That's just... not this trope as defined. None of the examples mention the conflicting loyalty or questioning trust.
  • July 9, 2014
    Quag15
    @bulmabriefs144: Good point. I'll add that.

    @NemuruMaeNI: 1 - Policemen, spies, detectives and others. It's a big umbrella. And yes, plenty of them (particularly spies and policemen on 'delicate' matters) feel those inhibitions.

    2 - Nitpicky.

    3 - I'll correct. Here (the second bullet/point/context) there's a higher chance of feeling genuinely mutual attraction, as opposed to the first point, where deception and illusion are important.

    @Larkmarn: I'll add what bulmabriefs144 said. As for the examples, if I find any examples with that, I'll add them, of course. If anyone can help me with these, I'll be grateful.
  • July 10, 2014
    TheShadow
    I've expanded the James Bond section.
  • July 10, 2014
    Larkmarn
    ^^ If you want to change this to bulmabriefs' description, then you really have to change the description entirely.

    Spy Couple is currently in the TRS for tropeworthiness issues. This is the exact same thing, as-is, except inexplicably throwing in police officers for some reason. If you can find examples that fit the trust/lying issues, then that's tropeable and that definition might be transplanted into the definition of Spy Couple.
  • July 10, 2014
    SeptimusHeap
    Reposting something I said in the thread:

    This YKTTW makes a much better claim to tropeworthiness than that trope. When in a couple both characters are spies or on similar undertakings, the relationship dynamic is affected (for example, if one partner goes amiss) and the spywork is also affected. That's the reason why (at least in several crime shows I've seen; didn't check Real Life) two police officers dating is frowned upon.

    Also, Undercover As Lovers is a trope about when a cover involves pretending to be a couple. Not just about any couple.
  • July 10, 2014
    Madrugada
    Spy Couple is currently in TRS as possibly untropeworthy because it's simply "Two spys form a couple." There's nothing about how their relationship is affected by or affects the relationship; why "two spys" is any different from "two doctors"" or "two lawyers" or "two teachers". That's what this has that makes it more of a trope.
  • July 10, 2014
    Quag15
    @TheShadow: Thank you very much. I might remove or alter one or another example, but it looks good on a first reading.

    @Larkmarn: No, I don't have to change the description entirely. I will remove the reference to the Spy Couple, but, to be honest, I don't see what's the big problem elsewhere. I carefully defined two contexts. I added police agents because they're agents. Detectives (who may be part of an agency) are also there in case anyone wants to add. And, most importantly, I said some of the things that might cause issues and/or chemistry between two agents, since relationship dynamics are important in stuff like crime shows.

    @SeptimusHeap: I'll add what you said to the description. I'll also see if I can find more examples from crime shows and spy films. Thanks.
  • July 10, 2014
    SpiderRider3
    Film
    • In Despicable Me 2, Gru spends most of the movie trying to work up the courage to ask his Anti-Vilain League partner Lucy out, oblivious to her obvious crush on him. Eventually, Gru asks her out, and after many dates, they are married.
  • July 10, 2014
    TheShadow
    @Quag: Yeah, some could probably afford to be cut without losing too much.
  • July 10, 2014
    Lumpenprole
    Television: the series Macgruder And Loud was about police partners who hid that they were secretly married (and lived in adjoining apartments with a secret door connecting them) so they wouldn't be reassigned to work with other officers.
  • July 10, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    This might count as an Invoked Aversion; judge for yourself:

    Live Action TV
    • One episode of 2003's The Threat Matrix had a Cold War-era Soviet agent activating Soviet moles to unleash poisoned currency on the American public. When captured, the man refused to name his accomplice. The CIA senior agent assigned to shadow the Soviet agent was brought in, but neither he nor his female junior agent were able to determine the Soviet spy's contact. Ultimately, a woman investigator determined that the accomplice was the junior CIA agent, as they both shared a passion for grand opera. Their careful separation was very much love in a vacuum, dating by remaining incommunicado.
  • July 19, 2014
    Quag15
    @SpiderRider3 and oneuglybunny: I'm not sure yet whether to put your examples or not.

    If anyone else can help me decide, that'd be great.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=bckb3xib1sfbwxvwj4tox7fy&trope=AgentsDating