A step up (or down) from a Covert Group with Mundane Front is a government agency whose very existence is officially regarded as an Urban Legend and denied by The Government officials to maintain Plausible Deniability if their activities (often of black ops variety) become known to general public. Subtrope of Government Agency of Fiction and often a supertrope to The Men in Black. Compare Government Conspiracy.
Will go under Espionage Tropes.
Examples:Anime and Manga
- Hypnos of Digimon Tamers. Originally, it was kept secret because its signals intelligence activities could be seen as privacy violations.
- "Section 9" in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is supposed to not exist since the first season. Of course, there's a second season and The Movie.
- Played With The Men in Black in the Men in Black film series: they are independent and get their funding from royalties on alien technology, so they mind-wipe even the government officials to deny their existence.
- The movie Conspiracy Theory features an unnamed government agency, and the way one of their agents describes it could be an excellent page quote:
"If the intelligence community is a family, think of us as the uncle no one talks about."
- In Hellboy, one of Tom Manning's jobs is to deny the existence of the Bureau of Paranormal Research & Defense and cover up all evidence of their missions (which is a deviation from the original comic books, where the Bureau's existence was public knowledge). But in the sequel, Hellboy deliberately reveals the Bureau's existence by appearing on a live news broadcast.
- Division in all iterations of Nikita, including the two TV series and the Transatlantic Equivalent Point of No Return, is a black-ops program for assassination and counterintelligence that does not officially exist. Which has allowed the program's leader to turn it into a work-for-hire operation that the government can't shut down.
- Deconstructed in Transformers, when soldiers refuse to take orders from the secret agents, as their section does not officially exist.
- Red: The CIA Back Room. Lampshaded in its debut scene:
Cooper: I didn't know this place existed.Records Keeper: It doesn't.
- In the Matt Helm series of novels written by Donald Hamilton, the U.S. assassination agency with no name that Matt works for.
- The assassination agency CURE in The Destroyer novels, which was created by President John F. Kennedy to protect the U.S. by working outside the Constitution.
- In Robert A. Heinlein's The Puppet Master, the narrator explains up front that you've never heard of his organization because they do not exist.
- The Rainbow counter-terror unit in the Tom Clancy book and video game series Rainbow Six. Officially all its operations were performed by special forces units loyal to the country they occurred in. Though by the later Ryanverse novel Teeth Of The Tiger, Rainbow has apparently become an Open Secret in the government.
- Fifteen years into the project, Stargate Command remains a secret known only to cleared members of the participating militaries and the highest government officials of the 50 nations that are signatories to the Antarctic Treaty System. The latter were only read into it because there's an Ancient outpost underneath the continent. The project was supposed to go public in the third Stargate SG-1 movie, Revolution (partly because the number of people involved is in the thousands at this point, making keeping the secret increasingly difficult), but the plans for the movie were derailed by MGM's bankruptcy.
- Bureau 13 of Babylon 5, an agency so secret that even its name is rarely known. The one guy that told Captain Sheridan the Bureau's name ended up dead shortly afterwards.
- Section 31 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Not only are they officially non-existent, its actions clashed with the principles of the Federation.
- The IMF (Impossible Mission Force) in Mission: Impossible. Famous for the warning given to its leader before each mission.
"If you or any member of your IM Force are caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow all knowledge of your actions."Tabletop Games
- The Grey Knights are a curious example, as their existence is considered an urban legend in the Imperium, but there are select few chapters of Space Marines (Namely the Space Wolves and Blood Ravens) who are allowed to learn of their existence. In addition, they are considered the militant arm of the Ordo Malleus, making them soldiers of the Inquisition. However, anyone else who fights alongside them are either killed or mind-wiped after the war is over in order to preserve their secrecy.
- Bureau 13 in Bureau 13: Stalking the Night Fantastic. It's an undercover branch of the U.S. government dedicated to identifying and eliminating supernatural threats.
- Conspiracy X. The main opponent organization for the Player Characters is a secret government agency called the National Defense Directorate AKA the Black Book.
- The eponymous Delta Green was originally an official non-existent government agency. When it was disbanded, its members continued to operate covertly and illegally, becoming an unauthorized No Such Agency.
- The Third Echelon in the Splinter Cell series is a black ops and intelligence agency of the US government. Their existence is hidden even from the NSA, which they are technically part of.
- The Corsairs in the Mass Effect universe are a branch of Alliance Marines who conduct black ops for the Alliance without official orders. Their existence is unknown even to high-ranking Alliance officers such as Shepard.
- The existence of the Osean 8492nd Squadron, a.k.a. the Belkan Aggressor Squadron, in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War is denied by the Osean government, probably because of the unsavory association with the ex-Belkan military. Comes to bite them in the ass later on, when it turns out that the 8492nd remained loyal to the Belkan government the whole time.
- Section 8: Prejudice introduces a unit called the Spear which serves as the game's Big Bad. It was an elite paramilitary unit intended to exterminate any alien life that could be an obstacle to human colonies (read: all of it), but its leadership began to get mentally unstable (partly from remorse) and they were disavowed and ordered destroyed by USIF regulars. They've come back for revenge.
- The eponymous Alpha Protocol. Also, Steven Heck claims to work for a branch of the CIA that doesn't officially exist, but he could just be crazy.
- Soldier of Fortune has The Shop, a covert government organisation that conducts black operations around the globe.
Will go under Espionage Tropes.
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