[[quoteright:350:[[Series/MacGyver2016 http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/pf_building.jpeg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[[TemptingFate Well it's not like the bad guys'll suspect that some glasses-wearing researcher's gonna take them down, right?]]]]

-> '''Det. Mishka''': You're not FBI. Who are you?
-> '''Darien Fawkes''': BWM.
-> '''Det. Mishka''': Which stands for...
-> '''Bobby Hobbes''': Bureau of Weights and Measures.
-->-- ''Series/TheInvisibleMan''

One problem with being a member of the GovernmentAgencyOfFiction or of a CovertGroup is that, at some point, you need to interact with the public or non-covert governmental agencies. This is where being a covert group with a mundane front comes in. A covert group has a highly mundane front and it will sometimes be commented that their funding is hidden from the public within the low funding the front group officially receives. Sometimes this will be played for laughs, as characters will either make fun of the official organ the spies are supposed to come from, or else see the front for the PaperThinDisguise that it is. As a general note, it is very common for a cultural attaché to be one of these ("travel to interesting places; [[BreadEggsMilkSquick kill interesting people]]").

Compare with the low rank/high power of the AlmightyJanitor, as well as the LegitimateBusinessmensSocialClub, which is when something similar is done by [[TheMafia gangsters]] (and not very well, at that). See also MilkmanConspiracy and OvertOperative. When surrounded by even more secrecy, it becomes a case of NoSuchAgency. While not required, the Mundane Front may have an UnusuallyUninterestingName, or one with OminousMundanity.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* The spy/assassin November 11 in ''Anime/DarkerThanBlack'' is officially supposed to be a minister of some sort.
** In the second season, two Contractor assassins, Mina and Genma [[spoiler: and Kirihara]] are officially clerks for Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, which is a front for a Black Ops group supposedly fighting against TheSyndicate. Given that the actual Ministry is involved in things like managing civil service and telecommunications, this is a perfect example of a "boring" department providing cover for nefarious schemes.
* In ''Franchise/GhostInTheShell'', Section 9 employee Togusa mentions his cover is that of working for a security firm. Maj. Kusanagi on the other hand, maintains that she works for the Military. Ishikawa actually owns a gambling hall for cover. Section 9 usually work in official capacity or undercover, so they rarely need consistent covers.
** In each of these cases they're not so much 'fronts' as side-projects: Togusa tells his family he's in securities so they won't worry (as much), the Major, mentally, never left the service, and Ishikawa's pachinko parlour is one part of his personal data network, using the elderly players' head-computers to crunch his data (They are WELL compensated through their winnings).
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion''. The Marduk Institute is a front for SEELE. It's also mentioned that Marduk itself has [[OneHundredAndEight 108]] fronts.
** Ryoji Kaji, who basically everybody knows is a spy, is officially cited as a "UN attaché" who had guardianship of Asuka.
* ''Anime/WeissKreuz'' has the four assassins working a cover job as florists, first alongside a little old lady and her cat, and later in a pink mobile trailer. In the sequel series, they're investigating suspicious suicides at prep schools, and go under cover as teachers and students.
* In ''Manga/MobileSuitCrossboneGundam'', the Crossbone Vanguard uses the cover of being a civilian freight company, Blackrow Shipping, when not flying under the banner of pirates, allowing them to move around the Earth Sphere without suspicion.
* ''Manga/GunslingerGirl''[='=]s Social Welfare Agency is an Italian government-sponsored institution that helps orphans and aids the rehabilitation of the physically injured with state-of-the-art cybernetic prosthetics. They also have a surveillance and intelligence-gathering division to help deal with the Five Republics terrorists, and some of the orphaned and injured girls they "help" have been transformed by the aforementioned cybernetic prosthetics into killer cyborgs to murder said terrorists.
* ''Anime/JokerGame'' has the spies of the D-Agency study and live in an office building labelled the "Greater East Asia Cultural Society."

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/TheAdventuresOfBarryWeenBoyGenius'': The agency that tracks down Barry Ween is the Foliage Census. Their security clearance [[UpToEleven goes to eleven]].
* The American agency devoted to looking into super-human crimes in the [[ComicBook/WildCATs WildStorm universe]] was the National Park Service, which is actually a real organization.
* It is mentioned in Comicbook/MoonKnight that a toy store is owned and operated by ComicBook/{{SHIELD}} as a cover. The classic ''Comicbook/NickFury'' stories had a barber's shop.
* The chaplains' assistants stationed at Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island in the mid-1980s were always rather wary of [[ComicBook/GIJoeARealAmericanHeroMarvel those ruffians from the motor pool]], blissfully unaware of the Joes' ElaborateUndergroundBase until Cobra came by to invade it.
** Issue 3 even dealt with Hawk and Scarlett trying to maintain their cover with the chaplains' assistants, while several Joes in the Pit were trying to stop a captured Cobra robot from escaping to the surface to broadcast their location.
* The Red Horse Garage, Suicide Slum in some ''Comicbook/{{Superman}}'' stories was a front for Project Cadmus.
* [[ComicBook/XMen Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters]] was this for decades. However, it's been blown up so many times, it probably doesn't qualify any more.
* ''ComicBook/ScoobyApocalypse'' has the Athena facility, the [[TheConspiracy Complex's]] data backup facility, which is hidden within a paper mill. Lampshaded by Shaggy commenting on the oddity of it, with Velma pointing out that they couldn't exactly advertise it as a secret facility.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* Horace and Jasper try this in Disney's ''Disney/OneHundredAndOneDalmatians'', with a briefcase labeled "Electric Co.", although Horace introduces them as being from the gas company before Jasper corrects him.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/GetSmart'' [=CONTROL=] has its headquarters in the Smithsonian.... in a display ''about'' [=CONTROL=]. The display pretends [=CONTROL=] was disbanded at the end of the UsefulNotes/ColdWar. In fact, many of CONTROL's political rivals claim that it ''should'' have been disbanded after its chief rival went defunct.
* The movie ''Film/WarGames''. In the start of the movie, two air force people walk into a small cabin, in the midst of a snowstorm. They walk up to a normal-looking mirror and show their badges. They are then buzzed into the missile silo entrance and go down to the silo in an elevator.
* ''Film/MuppetsFromSpace'': The top-secret C.O.V.N.E.T. facility is "cleverly disguised as a cement factory". (This leads to a funny bit later when Bobo suggests taking his company car.)
* ''Film/SpiesLikeUs''. The Ace Tomato company. Plus Mission Control for the military's SDI weapon was hidden under a deserted DriveInTheater.
* ''Film/UndercoverBrother''. The headquarters of the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. are located beneath a barber shop.
* ''Film/MenInBlack''. MIB headquarters is hidden in the ventilator building of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.
** Field agents also claimed to be Division 6 of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. This became a RunningGag in the cartoon where they'd claim they were from Division 6 of whatever organization vaguely applied to the jurisdiction. Which would often result in competent civil servants knowing such a division did not exist.[[note]] Important to note, the INS itself no longer exists; it was dissolved post-9/11 and its former duties are now handled by the Dept. of Homeland Security, primarily its Immigration and Customs Enforcement division.[[/note]]
* The Woody Allen movie ''Film/SmallTimeCrooks'' features a cookie shop set up as a front for a bank robbery attempt. The attempt fails, but the front business becomes wildly successful.
* ''Film/JumpinJackFlash''. At a funeral for a dead spy it's mentioned that he was in the greeting card business, presumably a ShoutOut to ''Series/GetSmart''.
* In ''Film/MissionImpossibleIII'', Tom Cruise's character claims to work for the Virginia Department of Transportation. (Later, when he escapes from IMF headquarters, it's implied that their base actually ''is'' hidden behind VDOT.)
** [[WildMassGuessing Alternatively,]] that's what '''every''' agent says, so they keep a stash of VDOT stuff to give out.
* The headquarters of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense in ''Film/{{Hellboy}}'' is located below a Sanitation Department building.
** Which also happens to neatly explain the garbage truck they drive around in where Hellboy can easily hide in.
** The location is even introduced via GilliganCut. Director Manning is on television telling the audience that there's no such thing as the B.P.R.D., immediately before the next scene shows the sanitation station with the helpful TitleIn explaining that it's the organization's headquarters.
* Film/JamesBond occasionally claims to be working for Universal Exports in a few movies. It rarely lasts long.
** ''Film/LicenceToKill''. The televangelist Professor Joe Butcher actually makes a profit from his preaching, even though it's only meant to be a cover for Franz Sanchez's drug operation. And a henchman working at a marine supply business gives himself away when he doesn't know what the Latin name for a Great White shark is.
** And finally lampshaded in ''Film/QuantumOfSolace'': James Bond mocks Felix Leiter for the CIA's evident inability to do this competently.
-->''You know, you should just answer, 'CIA,' Felix. [[PaperThinDisguise A taxi driver told me where the office was.]]''
* In ''Film/BugsyMalone'' Pop Becker's book store is the front for Fat Sam's Grand Slam Speakeasy (however this may only be in the stage version I can't remember)
* Played with in ''Film/AustinPowers'' - the front organisation Virtucom [[CutLexLuthorACheck makes more money legitimately than Dr Evil's criminal plans would bring in]].
** This becomes a running gag, where each new movie would have NumberTwo suggest they focus on a front organization, which is by far more profitable (Starbucks in the second and a talent agency in the third), only to be dismissed.
-->Dr. Evil: "Why make trillions, when we can make ''billions''?"
* The bad guys in ''Film/UnderSiege2DarkTerritory'' blow up a Chinese "fertiliser plant".
-->'''Penn:''' A fertiliser plant?
-->'''Travis Dane:''' Yeah, I'm gonna shock the world by spreading ca-ca all over the place. Guangzhou is a chemical weapons plant masquerading as a fertiliser plant. We know this. The Chinese know that we know. But we make-believe that we don't know and the Chinese make-believe that they believe that we don't know, but know that we know. Everybody knows.
* In ''Film/CharlieWilsonsWar'', Gust claims to work for Department of Agriculture's Fruit and Plant Division, specializing in apple imports, though it's mostly played as a joke because Joanne is well-aware he's with the CIA.
* The Wildfire biological research laboratory in the 1971 movie ''Film/TheAndromedaStrain'' is an underground Defense Department secret facility buried underneath a Department of Agriculture research station.
* In the film version of ''Film/StarshipTroopers'', Carl gets assigned to "Games and Theories" Division, military intelligence. More of an ExpospeakGag, as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_theory Game Theory]] is a central aspect of intelligence work, using mathematical models to predict the behavior of others.
* The film version of ''Literature/NightWatch'' has the titular organization's field operatives drive around in a City Light truck and dressed as electricians. The novels written after the film's release mention that City Light used to be a front for the Night Watch.
* ''{{Exploited}}'' in ''Film/KingsmanTheSecretService''. The Kingsmen's classic tailor front is justified by having started out as one, catering to the rich and powerful and becoming quite wealthy and influential themselves in the process. After its owners and clients lost most of their heirs to UsefulNotes/WorldWarI, they decided to use the un-inherited wealth to forge a new knightly order to ensure peace around the world. It may be the first case where the Covert Group grew out of the Mundane Front practically ''as a sideline.''
** ''Film/KingsmanTheGoldenCircle'' gives us Statesman, a (''[[{{Beergasm}} really good]]'') brand of liquor that's the mundane front for the Kingsman's American counterparts. The front is revealed to be a multi-billion dollar company, as one would expect of capitalism; Kingsman sells a few thousand $5000 suits a year, Statesman sells ''millions'' of +$100 bottles of liqueur in the same timeframe.
* In ''Film/{{Volunteers}}'', John Reynolds, the Peace Corps supervisor, is actually a member of the CIA working towards getting the bridge built so that American troops can have access to the communists. This is notably artistic license with history, as noted below, the Peace Corps would never be used as a front by any country.
* The Fraternity in ''Film/{{Wanted}}'' operates out of a working textile plant. Wesley initially thinks this is merely a front, but it turns out that one of their machines is the Loom of Fate, which gives encoded instruction directing their assassinations.

* In Creator/RudyardKipling's ''Literature/{{Kim}}'', Colonel Creighton, the head of the Ethnological Survey of British India, also directs the secret service. There is an overlap between the two organisations; for instance both Creighton and one of his top agents, Hurree Chunder Mookerjee, write and publish legitimate ethnological papers and share the ambition of being admitted to the Royal Society. Apparently this was TruthInTelevision.
* Franchise/SherlockHolmes {{Fanon}} has turned "The Diogenes Club", founded by Sherlock's brother Mycroft Holmes, into one of these while turning Mycroft Holmes from being a fat and lazy civil servant into a 19th century [[Film/JamesBond M]]. The ur-example comes from ''Film/ThePrivateLifeOfSherlockHolmes'':
-->'''Mycroft:''' It's come to my attention that you are interested in the whereabouts of a certain engineer.\\
'''Sherlock:''' Yes, I am.\\
'''Mycroft:''' Well, I can save you a lot of trouble. My suggestion is that you pursue it no further. It involves the national security. We are handling the matter.\\
'''Watson:''' We? Who are we?\\
'''Sherlock:''' The Diogenes Club.\\
'''Mycroft:''' I didn't say that.\\
'''Sherlock:''' I've long suspected some underground connection between this stodgy and seemingly calcified establishment and the foreign offices in Whitehall.\\
'''Mycroft:''' That is neither here nor there.\\
'''Sherlock:''' Your club is here, there and everywhere! When there are rumblings of revolt in the Sudan an expedition funded by your club conveniently shows up to study the source of the Nile. If there's trouble along the Indian frontier, members pop up in the Himalayas, allegedly looking for the abominable snowman.\\
'''Mycroft:''' ''[chuckles]'' What a vivid imagination my brother has.
* In the ''Literature/AubreyMaturin'' series Stephen Maturin is one of Britain's most effective spies, but uses his status as a respected natural philosopher and physician to travel in wartime.
* In Literature/{{Discworld}}, ''Discworld/TheFifthElephant'' has Inigo Skimmer, an assassin posing as a clerk, and a later book, ''Discworld/GoingPostal'' references a whole group of "dark clerks", nondescript gentlemen who appear to be ordinary clerks until you meet their eyes. Despite being mostly prize-scholarship graduates of the Guild of Assassins, the majority of their workload ''is'' apparently desk-based (TruthInTelevision for real intelligence agencies), but they're all fully trained for field operations should the need arise.
* In the ''Literature/JamesBond'' novels, the British Secret Service is based in a large office building with several cover companies, including a radio company to explain all the antennae on the roof. Field agents like 007 are supposed to work for "Universal Export". This was sometimes mentioned in the movies as well. In ''Literature/TheManWithTheGoldenGun'', it is mentioned that the field agents' cover organisation has changed its name to the nebulous-sounding "Transworld Consortium".
** In ''Literature/{{Thunderball}}'' SPECTRE uses the cover of a refugee aid agency -- "Firco" in the novels; "International Brotherhood for the Assistance of Stateless Persons" in [[Film/{{Thunderball}} the film]].
* In Creator/CharlesStross's ''Literature/TheLaundryFiles'' series, the supernatural math-magician enforcement/spy agency is fronted as, and always referred to as, "The Laundry", as it was at one time situated above (or behind) a Chinese laundry.
* ''Literature/BillTheGalacticHero'' by Creator/HarryHarrison. A frozen-food kosher ham store is literally a 'front' -- just a cardboard wall attached to the front of a tank used to ambush the revolutionaries, as Bill finds out when he tries to open the door. The [[PaperThinDisguise unconvincing cover]] of a Jewish ham store makes no difference, as it turns out [[FlockOfWolves all the 'revolutionaries' are government spies]] anyway.
* Locke Lamora of the ''Literature/GentlemanBastard'' sequence claims to be one of these in the second book... as in, he tells another character that he used to work in the weights and measures department until he was recruited as a spy by the Archon, a position he's now supposedly on the run from. (The part about weights and measures is a complete fiction, and he's actually working for the Archon, under threat of blackmail, at the time he says this.)
* Creator/MichaelKurland uses the Bureau of Weights and Measures as a cover for his two agents in ''The Whenabouts of Burr''.
* MI6 fronts as a bank office in the ''Literature/AlexRider'' series.
* Creator/TomClancy usually has super-paramilitary spy [[Literature/JackRyan John Clark]] covering himself as a specialist in a mundane job category. ''Literature/ClearAndPresentDanger'' implies that he's also knowledgeable enough to cover himself other ways as well. ''Debt Of Honor'' actually has him and his partner pretending to be ''[[{{Irony}} Russians]]'' to infiltrate Japan. When the paramilitary anti-terrorist organization Rainbow is established in ''Literature/RainbowSix'', they're listed as belonging to the Special Air Service in a case of HidingInPlainSight. "The Campus," the secret anti-terrorist investigation and assassination squad at the center of his novels starting with ''The Teeth of the Tiger'', operates completely off the government books under the cover of being a financial trading firm.
* ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear'' has the Imperial Biological Welfare Division in the Mah Dala Infirmary. Their stated purpose was, well, medicinal and they did serve that purpose to some extent, but really this was a cover for the Imperial Biological '''Warfare''' Division, tailoring {{Synthetic Plague}}s to test on the population stranded around the infirmary.
* TeenSuperSpy Christopher Cool's agency, the [[FunWithAcronyms Teen-age Educational Espionage Network]] headquarters was in a supercar dealership called, originally enough, Luxury Motors.
* In ''Literature/GeographyClub'', the characters start a Gay-Straight Alliance at their high school. They call it [[TitleDrop Geography Club]], so that people not in the know will think it seems boring and not want to join.
* ''Literature/TheRiftwarCycle'': Mara's spy network is an exaggeration. Her spies usually run small businesses as their cover, and enough of them turn a profit for the network to be largely self-financing.
* In Daniel Suarez's ''Influx'', the secretive [[GovernmentAgencyOfFiction Bureau of Technology Control]] has been tasked with suppressing and controlling [[ScaleOfScientificSins disruptive technology]] to make sure rapid change brought about by certain technologies doesn't disrupt world order. Over time they've grown into a hyptertechnological society unto itself complete with paramilitary forces, hereditary citizenship/employment, and at least one superweapon. They're stationed under their old government office building, which is practically abandoned, turning dilapidated, and is filled with technology that hasn't been updated since the 70's.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/TheAvengers'': Emma and Steed frequently infiltrate innocent sounding organisations that are a front for (admittedly goofy) dark covert operations.
* In ''Series/TheMiddleMan'', the title character and Wendy do this, such as claiming to be from Sanitation in the first episode and climatologists in the second. RuleOfFunny is the operating factor, as in another episode, the heavily [=WASPy=] Middleman claims he, and Latina Wendy, are Mossad agents. (Then again, [[FridgeBrilliance Mossad undoubtedly has agents who don't look recognizably Israeli/Jewish...]]) Also, Wendy's family and friends think she works for the Jolly Fats Weehauken Temp Agency. In fact, even the Middle Men [[CutShort claim not to know]] who they work for. They just came up with the acronym OTSTK (Organization To Secret To Know) to use when referring to the organization employing them.
* The ''Series/{{Stargate|SG1}}'' program has the official cover of "deep-space radar telemetry". When Carter claims she's doing astronomy in an ''underground'' bunker, she gets some funny looks. [[BunnyEarsLawyer O'Neill]] or [[ScaryBlackMan Teal'c]] claiming likewise elicits outright disbelief. It also serves as a MythologyGag. In the [[Film/{{Stargate}} original movie]], they mention using radar to track the end of the wormhole; you can still see the mapping device in the show a few times.
* ''Series/{{UFO}}''. SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defense Organization) operated under the cover of a film studio.
* Parodied in the ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'' "Mr. Neutron" sketch. The U.S. government had F.E.A.R. (Federal Egg Answering Room) as a front group for F.E.E.B.L.E. (the Free world Extra-Earthly Bodies Location and Extermination centre).
* ''Series/TheManFromUncle''. U.N.C.L.E. headquarters is located behind Del Floria's Tailor Shop, while another entrance is via The Masque Club. U.N.C.L.E.'s "Section VII: Public Relations and Propaganda" had a charity fundraising group as a front.
* ''Series/{{Wiseguy}}''. "Lifeguard" (Vinnie Terranova's MissionControl) answers the telephone as "Sailor Hardware", run by Vinnie's "Uncle Mike".
* ''Series/SpecialUnit2'':
** The eponymous Special Unit uses a dry cleaners for cover. The actual base is located in an abandoned subway station under the dry cleaners.
** In one episode, a guy tries to rob the place with a handgun. Cue all the undercover cops taking out their oversized guns in a scene reminiscent of ''Film/RoboCop3''.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}''. The Others recruit Juliet through Mittelos Bioscience.
* Series/ThePretender: The Centre pretends to be a think-tank as a front for their research and dubious business deals.
* ''Series/GetSmart''. Maxwell Smart pretends to be in the greeting card business.
** He also mentions that, to keep his landlord from getting suspicious about all the attempts on his life, he told him he works for the [[EvilDebtCollector IRS]].
** Max praises the Israeli spy agency "YENTA" for its cover as a delicatessen. It turns out YENTA ''is'' a delicatessen [[InvertedTrope that only does spy work in its slack season.]]
* The protagonists of the [[Creator/{{Syfy}} Sci-Fi Channel]]'s ''Series/TheInvisibleMan'' belong to "The Agency", a covert organization that due to defense budget cuts ended up being absorbed by the Department of Fish & Game. In the second season, The Agency ends up being absorbed by several similar unrelated departments, such as the Department Of Indian Affairs, the Department Of Health And Human Services and the United States Postal Service until finally settling in... the Bureau of Weights and Measures.
** Which becomes awkward in one episode where they go to a physics lab, and the scientists are actually expecting people from [=BWM=] to re-calibrate their equipment.
** On at least one occasion, they are forced to handle cases of their current parent organization, such as when they are sent to a Native American reservation to investigate a murder supposedly committed by Bigfoot while working for the Department of Indian Affairs. As it turns out, [[spoiler:not only is Bigfoot real, but it's invisible too and is suffering from Quicksilver madness]].
** When going to the Chinese embassy to rescue their agents, the Official introduces himself as from the Department of Fish & Game. The Chinese assume the second part of the name has to do with the Olympics, causing the Official to describe a different meaning of the word "game", including showing horns with his fingers.
* ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'' Three's main entrance is in the back of a Cardiff Tourist Bureau.
* The team from ''Series/TheUnit'' use the cover of being in logistics. To be fair, though, they do in fact do logistical work--in fact, one episode begins with Brown being tested in such. Subverted in that the cover is entirely believable; no one ever questions why the obviously badass soldiers are working in logistics, they simply believe, or are told by someone and ''then'' believe, that the operators have ''earned'' safe, cushy deskjobs after serving multiple tours in the Middle East as part of the regular Army.
* The eponymous artifact-collecting Warehouse from ''Series/{{Warehouse 13}}'' was officially operated by the Secret Service, and they get somebody giving them trouble over it about OnceAnEpisode. RealityIsUnrealistic in this case: protecting the President is the most well-known duty of the Secret Service, but they were originally (and still are) the enforcement arm of the US Treasury, among other things.
** In 2003, the Secret Service was moved from Treasury to Homeland Security, though they still investigate financial crimes and provide security for Treasury.
** Warehouse 13 itself is out in a remote part of South Dakota, and is officially an IRS warehouse. Good cover, except that everyone in the small town [[EvilDebtCollector hates]] the protagonists.
* ''Series/BurnNotice'': Carla uses one of these as a cover. Michael uses these occasionally, but he prefers private organizations. According to the narration, being in geological fieldwork is a good cover, getting used by multiple people in various episodes.
** When Michael gets on a semi-friendly relationship with the CIA again, the base of operations is a subsection shared with a more mundane government agency. It's more than just a front or a handy cover ID, as the real reason is simply practical business sense by sharing location costs and having a similar level of security.
* ''Series/DoctorWho''. In the first episode involving the Jon Pertwee Doctor, it's mentioned that UNIT HQ is pretending to be a branch of the Pensions Dept.
* A villainous example occurs in ''Series/{{Alias}}'' with the terrorist group SD-6 masquerading behind the name of a bank, Credit Dauphine.
* ''Series/{{Covert Affairs}}'': As far as anyone outside the CIA knows, Annie works for the Smithsonian, and she often uses this as a cover while traveling abroad. In one episode, her niece's class is supposed to take a field trip to the Smithsonian while Annie is on an overseas mission, and Auggie has to smooth things over by giving them a tour.
* ''{{Series/Chuck}}'': Chuck and Casey's jobs at the Buy More are more or less genuine, but Casey has all sorts of weapons and gadgets hidden around the store, and the ice cream parlor where Sarah works is a front for a secret CIA base. It's not clear if the owners know this; presumably the place is run by the CIA, since Sarah is always away on missions and would probably be fired if it were a real job. Chuck's excuse is that he has to leave the store to answer tech support calls.
** And as of Season 4, the Buy More has been entirely taken over by the CIA and is a full-fledged secret base. However, Morgan convinces General Beckman that people are getting suspicious about how effective the new Buy More staff is, getting her to hire the old, lazy employees back. The store, more or less, goes back to being a regular one after that, albeit with a secret underground base.
* ''Series/{{JAG}}'': In "Impact", The Bradenhurst Corporation officially handles toxic waste near Twenty Nine Palms, CA: but in reality builds UFO-like [=UAVs=] for Uncle Sam.
* In ''Series/AgentCarter'', as far as civilian acquaintances are concerned, Peggy Carter heads to work everyday in the Bell Phone Company, which is a cover for the Strategic Scientific Reserve. In Season 2, she moves to LA, and the SSR office there is disguised as a talent agency.
* The Company in ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' uses Primatech, a paper company based in Odessa, Texas. Noah Bennett outwardly seems to be a run-of-the-mill manager there.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''. The covert government demon research/fighting organisation known as The Initiative operates beneath a UC Sunnydale fraternity house, with the soldiers posing as lecturers and senior students. A couple of years after this base is shut down Buffy tries to get in contact with them by phone, only to get a flower shop on the other end. She then runs into Initiative soldiers in the ruins of their ElaborateUndergroundBase, who make it clear they got her message.
* In ''Series/TheAmericans'', the [[DeepCoverAgent Jennings]] run a travel agency. This provides them with sufficient excuse to travel and to meet different types of people.
* Delphi in ''Series/AmericanHorrorStoryCoven'' is an esteemed asset management firm that acts as a front for an ancient line of witchhunters.
* In ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'', the Federation's covert black ops group is known by the benign name 'Section 31' and its agents masquerade as working for any of Starfleet's security divisions. Slightly subverted in that this cover only fools other Federation citizens. The Romulan Tal Shiar is well aware of the agency's real name and purpose...which is exactly what Section 31 wants. [[BatmanGambit It's a long story.]] Ironically, Section 31 operates as something more akin to a rogue agency than any kind of legitimate intelligence agency, and routinely uses the Federation's legitimate intelligence service (Starfleet Intelligence) as a mundane cover.
* ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' has an organization of temporal agents from the 31st century. Their front man on ''Enterprise'', Daniels, serves as Captain Archer's personal steward because it puts him near the man he was assigned to watch while allowing him to fly under everyone else's radar.
* In ''Series/TheFlash2014'' Barry and Professor Stein approach Jefferson Jackson about being a candidate for Stein to merge with to become ComicBook/{{Firestorm}}. They aren't public officials in any sense but in an attempt to keeps things simple at first Barry [[InvokedTrope claims they are with the "Department of Safety"]] (which doesn't exist, there is a Department of Public Safety) and Stein has to clumsily add that the department is very new and they don't have a website up yet.
* The covert agency that employs the titular characters of ''Series/ScarecrowAndMrsKing'' is secreted within a film production company, reached through a closet that's actually the agency's front door.
* ''Series/{{Lexx}}'' plays this [[PlayedForLaughs for laughs]] in Season 4 with the ATF. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms exists in RealLife; it is an organization within UsefulNotes/AmericanLawEnforcement with a focused scope of authority. In the show, the bureau operates ''vastly'' beyond this scope. Among other things it negotiates FirstContact with the crew of the Lexx, it forcibly maintains the {{Masquerade}}, and even PresidentEvil is merely the puppet of its [[SatanicArchetype director]].
* In ''Series/{{Ghosted}}'' to the general public, the [[GovernmentAgencyOfFiction Bureau Underground]] base's of operations in LA is simply the Mid Valley Coat Hanger Company.

* ''Manhua/HitoriNoShitaTheOutcast'': One of the secret Outsider factions operates using a public front company: Express Delivery, a delivery service.

* ''Radio/AnotherCaseOfMiltonJones''. Inevitably, Milton suspects the National Trust of being a front. For the National Front. (They aren't, but they are sinister.)
* In ''Radio/{{Nebulous}}'', K.E.N.T.'s cover is that they're a laundry. Much to Professor Nebulous's annoyance, their sponsors in the Government seem more inclined to buy equipment for the laundry than for eco-troubleshooting operations.

* [[Roleplay/AGeeksGuideCorporationOfOccultResearchAndExtermination CORE]] hides its activities behind a variety of normal businesses, which doubles at their primary budget source.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/HunterTheVigil'' has Task Force VALKYRIE, the high-priority special ops group that deals with supernatural incursions. Like the Secret Service, they're based out of the Treasury Department.
* Every single conspiracy in ''TabletopGame/PsionicsTheNextStageInHumanEvolution'' maintains mundane fronts for their psionic super soldiers, who are waging a shadow war right under the noses of the public.

[[folder:Theme Parks]]
* In ''Ride/MenInBlackAlienAttack'' at [[Ride/UniversalStudios Universal Studios Florida]], the MIB headquarters entrance this time around is disguised as a World's Fair pavilion, called "The Universe and You".

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/MaxPayne'', the title character infiltrates the Cold Steel Foundry at the start of the third act, a facility which Max notes is "a perfect front for all kinds of illegal activities." It turns out to hide [[spoiler:a top secret military bunker called the Deep Six, which is the home of Project Valhalla and Valkyr]].
** In the second game, "Squeaky Cleaners" are a bunch of hitmen serving as the BigBad's private army. This has a further practical aspect in that [[CleanupCrew the cleaning equipment helps remove bodies, blood and otherwise clean up the aftermath of killings]].
* In ''KnightsOfTheOldRepublic II'', the Bumani Exchange Corporation in the space station above Telos is a poorly-concealed front for [[TheSyndicate the Exchange]]. It's poorly concealed in part because of, and for, being an OpenSecret among the station's leadership for when they need a friend in extralegal business; and the Exchange has worked with enough discretion to avoid an investigation by the authorities.
* RED and BLU in ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' have several of these, and might be considered to be front companies themselves since even though they claim to be demolition and construction companies respectively, they've basically turned into [=PMCs=].
* In ''VideoGame/Fallout3'', the player can search the ruins of two corporations, L.O.B. Enterprises and Mama Dolce's, in the post-nuclear war Washington, D.C. and find that they were fronts for Chinese espionage and commando operations before the war. The former was being used to manufacture a pistol that shot incediary rounds and the latter still has Chinese commandos, now ghoulified, using it as a base.
** In ''VideoGame/Fallout4'', there's an old secret [[GovernmentAgencyOfFiction DIA]] command center called the Switchboard located in the basement of a Slocum Joe's doughnut shop. The Slocum Joe's corporation itself is a legitimate company, and several other Slocum Joe's franchises can be found elsewhere in the Commonwealth which do not contain any secret government bases. At least, none that the player can find.
* ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIV'' has the United Liberty Paper which is a cover for a unrevealed government agency, headed by [[TheSpook a mysterious man]] [[ShoutOut wearing]] [[Series/{{Heroes}} horn-rimmed glasses]]. They apparently are a black-ops organisation judging by the type of assassinations they blackmail Niko into making.
** ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV'' reveals that this organization was a front company for the IAA, a government agency with an InterserviceRivalry with the FIB.
* The Milkman Conspiracy from ''VideoGame/{{Psychonauts}}'' uses a [[GirlScoutsAreEvil cookie-selling girl scout organization]] for cover.
* In ''VideoGame/VampireTheMasqueradeBloodlines'', the Ventrue prince of Los Angelos rules from a skyscraper named Venture Tower (notice that the name is a misspelling that is still easily recognizable to any newly arrived Kindred who needs to know where the local prince is based,) which hosts a number of high-class banking and corporate offices, all of which serve as a cover for him.
* In the original ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' games, the criminal organization Team Rocket runs the Rocket Game Corner and Viridian City Gym. This is played completely straight in the game, despite Team Rocket having constructed a secret base beneath the casino, through which they must enter. Considering that Team Rocket members wear all-black matching uniforms wherever they go, this may be enough to raise suspicions of corruption or willful blindness on the part of the police.
** Team Galactic in the fourth-generation games uses the cover of being a research center into alternate forms of energy production. This is a bit more plausible, as despite their nefarious goals, they don't do a whole lot of obvious crime, so mostly they just get funny looks from other people for their uniforms.
** Team Flare passes themselves off as a fashion cult who are harmless aside from the truly abhorrent amount of money you need to pay to join. Their leader Lysandre never even openly associates with Team Flare and doesn't even run his secret base near the HQ of Lysandre Labs, his legit company, instead having a hidden underground base located elsewhere. [[spoiler: Even when they are revealed to be a pokemon abusing terrorist corporation to the world, they just let that label stick for a while so they can focus on their true ([[OmnicidalManiac and much worse]]) goals.]]
* The [[StateSec secret service]] player runs in the game ''VideoGame/{{Floor 13}}'' is officially a part of the Home Office Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
* ''VideoGame/WayOfTheSamurai4'' has the Shogunate-aligned "Black Mask" covert ops/assassination group. Their front? The [[spoiler: Toasty Truth Bar]], which is also ironically the favorite haunt of the anti-government rebels Disciples of Prajna. In fact, one of the finer plot points is to discover that you've been fed false information if you play the Prajna route.
* In ''{{Videogame/Tropico}}'', in order to make the Secret Police building, you just have to designate an already built structure (bar, restaurant, theater, etc), then it will be converted into the agents' base of operations. Their job description includes lots of wiretapping, preventing assassinations and [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial swearing all the time that the place is not the Secret Police HQ.]]

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* The Order of Denderah in ''WebVideo/{{lonelygirl15}}'' uses the Hymn of One, Verdus Phamaceuticals, the Wyman Foundation, the Lullaby Project, Bio-Therapy Report LLC and Sacred Spirit.
* In ''WebVideo/KateModern'', the Order's covers are the Hymn of One and St. Grinstead Psychiatric Research Institution [[note]]Absolutely no relation to Scientology, which has its UK headquarters in the town of East Grinstead[[/note]].
* The Wiki/SCPFoundation has several [[http://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/scp-fronts front organizations]] including the ''[[FunWithAcronyms Soap from Corpses Products]] inc''.
* In the ''Roleplay/GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse'', the various special agents who make up the Damocles Directive all belong to the Federal Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control Office. And yes, that's a real-world government agency.
* In ''Podcast/AliceIsntDead,'' the {{Narrator}} now works as a long haul [[IntrepidMerchant truck driver]] for Bay & Creek Shipping, to {{Exploit|ed}} the job's mobility in her search for her missing wife Alice. That company, in particular, featured heavily in Alice's scattered documentation of TheConspiracy she'd been investigating shortly before her disappearance. According to the Narrator's alternately wry or bored audio diaries, it hauls thoroughly mundane cargo like travel-sized deodorant and paper products.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Archer}}'' The ISIS building literally has a Laundromat as a front for their office building, with the elevator to the office hidden in behind some industrial washing machines. It get's converted into a bar when the agency hits hard times.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/MenInBlack'' cartoon, the agents are officially working for the Department of Weights And Measures. The cover they give always takes the form: ", Division Six", so they've been hotel inspectors, immigration, coast guard, and a host of others.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}}'': Ben's grandad belongs to the Plumbers, an MIB-like organization. In the latter series, it's revealed they're basically the Galactic Police, with ''every government on Earth'' respecting their authority in situations involving aliens.
* Lampooned in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', with intelligence agency vans disguised as "Two Guys From Quantico Pizza" and "'''F'''lowers '''B'''y '''I'''rene".
** In another episode it is revealed that Major League Baseball is actually a secret organisation that spies on Americans using everything from satellites to miniature cameras hidden in baseball bats.
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', the secret police force of the Earth Kingdom capital, the Dai Li, is officially known as the Ministry of Cultural Heritage Preservation.
* In ''WesternAnimation/MaxSteel'', the spy agency N-Tek's building manufactures and sells sports equipment.
* ''WesternAnimation/SheepInTheBigCity'': In one story, General Specific and his soldiers disguise their so-called "Top Secret Military Base" as a bakery. They accomplish this by doing nothing more than covering up the "-se" on their sign with "-kery".
* ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'': [[BaldOfAwesome Lex Luthor]] has a secret bunker ironically located underneath a barbershop.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* ''Completely'' averted in the case of real-life MI6, whose headquarters is a very nice building on the river Thames that is actually listed in guidebooks as the headquarters of British Intelligence. However, if you ask the front desk, they will insist that they are simply part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Which they are, incidentally.
* Contrary to [[OvertOperative certain media]], most Intelligence Officers ([[InsistentTerminology "spies" work for the]] ''[[InsistentTerminology enemy]]'') take advantage of [[DiplomaticImpunity diplomatic immunity]] by officially being the "Assistant Press Attache" or a similar non-job in an embassy. They'll usually be operating under their real name, too; "cover" doesn't so much mean lying about who you are than lying about what you do (especially these days, when not appearing on Google, Facebook, etc. can seem really odd and raise red flags--best to lie about as little as possible). The largest problem of such a system is that if the embassy is closed, so too are most of the spies in the country.
** Three quarters of the people in Soviet embassies were spies with every single one in the military section being a GRU officer, and most of the remaining quarter working for KGB in their free time. The sole exception to the above was often the Military Attache himself, who was often an older man, not always in perfect sound mind, but with a chestful of medals won in World War II. He literally did nothing not secret, not open except participate in memorial ceremonies. One of the Soviet military attaches in Canada in TheEighties didn't even bother with that; he acted like his posting was a never-ending vacation. The scuttlebutt of the time was that he had something on someone, and given his standing and great age, maybe he did.
** Just before UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, [[SecretIntelligenceService British intelligence]] used passport control officers as spies as it was a position that generally wasn't very busy. [[UsefulNotes/TheHolocaust Given what was occurring in Europe at the time]], there was suddenly an influx of people wanting to emigrate from Germany at the exact same time that their services as intelligence gatherers was needed the most. As a result they created a second one of these, the Z organization: a network of business contacts throughout Europe that would operate independently of the embassy system.
** A CIA officer's cover (whether working abroad or at headquarters) might be (theoretically) assigned not only to the usual suspects (Department of State, Defense, Homeland Security) but also some weirder ones (e.g. [[Film/CharlieWilsonsWar Department of Agriculture]], Department of Commerce, and ''yes'', perhaps even the Bureau of Weights and Measures), as well as private US corporations (not naming names) that have agreed to let the CIA use them for cover. Similarly, an SIS officer might easily be assigned to a quango with business abroad (the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Council British Council]] in any country is notorious for being riddled with spies--probably even more so than even the British Embassy) or at home (if working at Vauxhall Cross).
** During the Vietnam War, the CIA ran a charter airline, Air America, to support covert CIA operations all over Southeast Asia.
*** One of the few exceptions: You will never, ''ever'' find a CIA officer under Peace Corps cover. Ever. That would detract from the legitimacy of the Peace Corps (goes the argument), and so if you want to serve in both the Peace Corps and the CIA, you have to do your two years at the Peace Corps, wait ''five whole years'', and then you can ''apply''. Applications to join the CIA take at least six months to process.
*** The only reason many countries allow the Peace Corps in is because they're emphatically ''not'' a CIA front. Ever. If they tried it and got caught, it would mean the Peace Corps would be pulled from those countries, the US would take a terrible diplomatic blow, and a bunch of innocent, skilled, and altruistic people would get hurt, arrested, and/or killed. It's just not worth it, especially when there are much more discreet alternatives.
* Israel's (only known) nuclear plant is officially a textile factory, although it's reached the point where, after the disguise stopped working in the seventies, they don't even cover it up any more.
* Subverted when the United States bombed a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory in 1999 that turned out to be ... [[NiceJobBreakingItHero a completely innocuous pharmaceutical factory]].
* The US Secret Service used to be this way. They were originally part of the United States Department of the Treasury and tasked with tracking and catching counterfeit currency. Then in 1901 the Treasury agents were given the job of protecting the President of the United States and a long list of other people in reaction to the assassination of UsefulNotes/WilliamMcKinley, which is the public image of the Secret Service these days. Since 2003 they've been shifted over to the Department of Homeland Security, so the trope no longer applies, although the job of chasing counterfeiters is still within their jurisdiction.\\
As for how the Treasury Department ended up providing body guards for the President? Well, a couple of reasons:
## At that time, it was one of only two civilian federal law-enforcement agencies, the other being the US Marshals. The Marshals, however, were tightly linked to the judiciary; though they are part of the Department of Justice (and therefore formally ultimately take orders from the President), their job revolves around the courts: guarding courtrooms and courthouses, enforcing judgments, serving process, that sort of thing. If it didn't more or less directly involve litigation, the Marshals were generally not inclined to get involved if they could help it. On the other hand, the Treasury Department had for many years routinely loaned out Secret Service agents to other federal departments for investigative tasks, the agency was really the most obvious choice.
## At the time the need was identified, their office happened to be across the street from the White House. (And still is--the Treasury Department building is at 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, and is still used as the headquarters of the Treasury.)
* Some 9/11 conspiracy theorists claim that the NIST evaluation of and whitepaper about the WTC 7 collapse was doctored by the government to obscure the evidence of explosives/thermite/nanothermite/whatever {{Unobtanium}} the theorists think was used this week. NIST is the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Their domain literally involves weights and measures.
* India's main secret intelligence agency has the innocuous-sounding title "Research and Analysis Wing."
* An acronym no doubt familiar to anyone who has played ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps'', the main wet work program in the Vietnam War was titled MACV-SOG... Military Assistance Command Vietnam, Studies and Observations Group. (This one might have renamed more than anything for greater palatability on the home front; the original official gloss for "SOG" was "Special Operations Group", and it's doubtful anyone involved was expecting the change of name to fool the North Vietnamese.)
* The US atomic bomb program began within the Bureau of Standards (predecessor of the aforementioned NIST). After it was transferred to the Army's Corps of Engineers, it was renamed the "Manhattan District", following the form of the Corps' many civil engineering divisions.
* The British Army's Special Air Service is believed to have a long-standing secret arrangement with British Airways. If the SAS wants to discreetly move uninspected cargo on BA planes anywhere in the world, or even parachute troops from cargo flights just slightly off their normal routes, the pilots and crews won't ask questions.
* An increasing number of secretive, tier-one US military special operations units are using innocuous or obscure names. The Navy SEAL counter-terrorist unit formerly known as SEAL Team Six (the one that killed Osama bin Laden) changed its name to "Naval Special Warfare Development Group" (DEVGRU) in 1987, and supposedly is operating under a different, classified name now. 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D), more popularly known as "Delta Force," has gone through a few name changes and is now "Army Compartmentalized Elements" (ACE). The folks who collect all the field intelligence these kinds of groups need before they conduct a mission is an Army unit simply called "Intelligence Support Activity," or "The Activity."
* Name of one of the, if not the, best special force units? [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Air_Service Special Air Service]], which if not for its fame would sound more like a delivery company name or a military unit that serviced aircraft.
* David Stirling, one of the founders of the SAS, also founded a television distribution company in Africa, Television International Enterprises, to not only serve as a means to keep spreading British culture (they were the [[http://doctorwhoworldwide.com/2013/11/16/the-wild-geese-david-stirling-and-the-secret-life-of-television-international-enterprises/ African distributor of]] ''Series/DoctorWho'') but also as cover for a ''mercenary company''.
* When anti-capitalist groups staged protests in London in the 1980s, hoping to disrupt the operations of the Stock Exchange, their attempts failed because much of the actual work of transferring and registering stocks and shares took place in anonymous offices in side streets.