[[quoteright:320:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/CIA_logo_3622.jpg]]

->''"And Ye Shall Know The Truth And The Truth Shall Make You Free."''
-->--'''[[Literature/TheBible John 8:32]]''', The CIA motto.

The '''C'''entral '''I'''ntelligence '''A'''gency... ''The'' Agency.

After UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, the {{OSS}} was disbanded. With the onset of the UsefulNotes/ColdWar, it was decided that a new intelligence agency was needed. The name "Central" reflects that it was originally supposed to be a clearinghouse among various other agencies. However, it became effectively a new OSS and acquired many veterans from that previous service. Originally the agency hired people from IvyLeague agencies with agents that had a ForeignCultureFetish for England. They dressed, talked, and acted like the English. In this period of desk gathering intelligence, the pipe-smoking professor was seen as the ideal agent.

The CIA has been controversial, having at times been accused of incompetence, immoral actions, or both. In some fictional portrayals, they are often regarded as being TheMenInBlack. This portrayal, at least, is an exaggeration, as if the CIA was really that skillful, we might ask why it took us so long to win the Cold War. Of course, maybe [[ConspiracyTheory that's what they wanted]].

Nonetheless, the CIA has had its successes. For instance, a large part of the reason for the United States succeeding in the [[ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill gigantic]] DeathGlare contest during the Cuban Missile Crises was that America had [[TheMole a mole]] telling the U.S. government that the Soviets had less capacity than they claimed. Then again, said mole, Oleg Penkovsky, was later ratted out and executed[[note]]in large part because Penkovsky took crazy risks to try to get information to his CIA handlers, circumventing the normal, much slower methods that were in place. His breach of protocol, combined with his already questionable behavior, resulted in his capture, but notably, the CIA ''did not'' ask him to break procedure. He did it himself, likely knowing the risks.[[/note]], and was first discovered and contacted by MI6.

The typical depiction of the CIA in both fiction and the more speculative forms of conspiracy theory, usually portrays them as being somewhere between spies and assassins, as well as at times being allegedly responsible for the overthrow of anti-American foreign governments[[note]]In reality, CIA is prevented, by presidential order, from carrying out assassinations and government overthrows, and has been for decades. This does not, however, prevent them from hiring someone ''else'' to kill a target, or assisting a rebel group after its takeover - such as in Chile in 1973, when the CIA was aware in advance of UsefulNotes/AugustoPinochet's ''putsch'' and helped him consolidate power after it.[[/note]]. Liam Neeson's portrayal of a possible former CIA man in ''Film/{{Taken}}'' is very standard, as is Harrison Ford's portrayal in ''Film/PatriotGames''. The Agency's adventures in Nicaragua, among other places, can also make for particularly interesting reading; as can Peter Joseph's interview with John Perkins. It is at times implied that they are additionally a research organization of sorts, with an interest in experimental tactics that would usually be considered impossible by the mainstream public. (Such as MK-Ultra, the Psychic Warrior program(s), etc) The CIA, or at least many of its personnel, is also usually depicted as having a severe case of ChronicBackstabbingDisorder, with agents and administrators constantly betraying each other for various reasons, both good and bad[[note]]In reality, the CIA is fiercely loyal to their officers (the accurate name for a CIA field operative), and at least tries to keep their agents (the accurate name for a source) alive. This is mostly pragmatism: letting an agent die means that they won't be providing information anymore, and if word gets out that the CIA doesn't protect their agents, it means they'll have a much more difficult time recruiting in the future[[/note]]. [[ParanoiaFuel This of course means agents have to live with the constant fear of betrayal.]]

Although it says "The Agency" up top here, actual CIA employees (and those in the know) tend to call it "The Company;" calling it "The Agency" is acceptable, but calling it "The CIA" in anything except perhaps first reference is hitting a FandomBerserkButton. Other federal government types might call it the "[[UnusualEuphemism Other Government Agencies]]" (OGA), typically when its involvement in something or other is an [[OpenSecret open secret]]. In exceptionally double-cross-intensive stories you might see "The Company" ''and'' "The Agency" used to represent different factions of the CIA.

When they appear in fiction alongside the {{FBI}}, America's other famous intelligence agency, expect to see CIAEvilFBIGood in action.

The CIA is headquartered in Langley, Virginia just a few miles west of [[UsefulNotes/WashingtonDC Washington, D.C.]].
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!!A lot of fiction has references to the CIA. Here are just some:
[[index]]
[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime ]]

* One of the main employers of ''Manga/{{Golgo 13}}''.
* Appears in ''Manga/DetectiveConan'' investigating the Black Organization.
* [[spoiler:Eda]] from ''Manga/BlackLagoon'' is secretly a CIA agent.
* In ''GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex'', the [[BalkanizeMe American Empire]] has an identical espionage agency also called the CIA that fits all the tropes. They are most prominently featured in the episode "A Perfect Day For A Jungle Cruise" assisting Section 9 in tracking a serial killer. [[spoiler: Turns out they trained him for use in a Phoenix Program-style operation in Latin America and are only co-operating with Section 9 in the hopes they would kill him and they could cover it all up. They don't]].

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* The [[Comicbook/ThePunisherMAX Barracuda miniseries]] has several covert ops agents meeting to discuss Barracuda's actions. The CIA agents are actually represented as competent, if somewhat fixed in the past, especially compared to the NSA guy, who's a moronic Armchair General.
* The CIA created ComicBook/TheBoys to monitor superheroes, and eliminate those who have gone rogue.
* ''Fire'', an early graphic novel by BrianMichaelBendis, sits firmly on the "never trust the CIA" side of the fence.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* ''Film/CharlieWilsonsWar'': Although Gust insists he works for [[CovertGroupWithMundaneFront the Department of Agriculture]].
* ''Film/TheGoodShepherd'' chronicles the transition from the OSS to the CIA.
* ''Rendition''
* ''Film/{{Traitor}}''
* ''Film/TheRecruit'': The entire film is about the recruitment and training of a new CIA operative, seen alongside a group of other potential candidates. Just based on that premise it has plenty of twist and turns as you are never sure if you can trust the scenario you are given.
* ''BurnAfterReading'': A farce by the Coen Brothers. The CIA here isn't exactly portrayed as inept, but they have no idea what's going on. Justified in the fact that there really was nothing going on in the first place.
-->'''CIA Superior:''' Report back to me when ... I don't know ... when it makes sense.
* ''Film/ThreeDaysOfTheCondor'': Mild-mannered researcher Joe Turner (Creator/RobertRedford) works for the CIA reading book after book to review their plots to see if they either contain elements that may be similar to ongoing covert operations or else be useful ideas for the CIA to employ.
* ''Film/{{Argo}}'' is a drama/thriller directed by Creator/BenAffleck and focused on a fictionalized account of a CIA operation in 1979 to extract six employees during the height of the Iranian Hostage Crisis.
* In ''Film/MissionImpossible'', the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) is an unofficial branch of the CIA.
* The ''Company Man'' is about a man who pretends to be a CIA agent to gain the respect of his in-laws. But a high-profile Soviet dancer decides [[DefectorFromCommieLand to defect]] and approaches the the man believing his lies. The CIA actually make him an agent just so they can get the credit and send him somewhere quiet...Usefulnotes/{{Cuba}}.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* The ''Literature/BlackfordOakes'' series by William F. Buckley is a series of tales about the adventures of the CIA operative Blackford Oakes.
* Much of Creator/TomClancy's work, particularly the ''Literature/JackRyan'' series.
* In ''Literature/TheBourneSeries'', the agency is what created and ran the program that made Jason Bourne into what he is.
* The Assignment series (every book has the word assignment in the title), features CIA agent Sam Durell.
* JohnWells series.
* The "Literature/MrsPollifax" series by Creator/DorothyGilman. Mrs. Pollifax tends to refer to the CIA as "the Department".
* In Creator/TomKratman's ''Literature/{{Caliphate}}'', the agency is renamed to the Office of Strategic Intelligence after a reorganization and purge.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''Series/{{JAG}}''
* ''Series/{{NCIS}}''
* ''Series/NCISLosAngeles''.
* ''Series/{{Alias}}''
* ''BurnNotice'': Main character Michael Westen himself was a CIA agent, considering remarks made in the pilot he was under unofficial cover until he was burned. The titular "burn notice" is a document sent out to intelligence agencies that an agent is unreliable or even traitorous. The show has a retired CIA agent Michael Wilson as a consultant.
** Season 5 has Michel working with the CIA again after providing ironclad evidence of the organization that burned him existing and assisting in dismantling it. Thus after 4 seasons of [[WeHelpTheHelpless helping random people around Miami]] you see Michael and crew actually participate in matters of government security.
* ''{{Chuck}}''
* ''Series/{{Covert Affairs}}'': Actually set at a rather fictionalized version of the CIA.
* ''Series/TheAgency''
* ''Series/{{Homeland}}'': The main character is a CIA agent and intelligence and counter-terrorism is the main focus of the series.
* ''Series/{{Castle}}'' and Kate got tangled with the CIA, who shanghaied them to help them with a case of theirs which could trigger world war III.
* One episode of ''Series/DeadliestWarrior'' featured CIA agents versus those of the [[UsefulNotes/MoscowCentre KGB]].
* On ''Series/PersonOfInterest'', Reese was a CIA assassin; a couple of his old coworkers were recurring antagonists in the first two seasons.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* ''ModernWarfare 2''. They only appear on one level but that level probably was enough.
** Naturally, they play a much more prominent role in Black Ops, including a main playable character who is a CIA agent.
* They get a mention in ''VideoGame/AlphaProtocol'', though the main group is a GovernmentAgencyOfFiction.
* The CIA is heavily featured in the Big Boss prequels of the Franchise/MetalGear series. VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3 showcases Big Boss's time as a CIA agent and his eventual deserting of the organization as a protest towards its corruption, MPO and Peace Walker showcase the CIA trying to get Big Boss back on their side and when he refuses conspiracies abound.
* Rico in the ''JustCause'' series is a CIA operative who overthrows anti-American regimes. In the first game, he uses drug lords to help overthrow a Caribbean nation. In the second game, he enlists the help of DirtyCommunists, TheMafia, and a brutal ethnic gang to overthrow the local dictator of a South East Asian Island called Panau, which amusingly has a large reserve of oil.
* One of the factions in ''VideoGame/SpecOpsTheLine'', playing an AgentProvocateur role.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad!'' has its main character, Stan Smith, as a CIA agent.
[[/index]]
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