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->''They were in St James's Park, watching ducks on the lake. Defectors, spies, tramps and shady-dealers congregated in twos on the benches. Wardens who picked up litter with spiked sticks here had a higher security clearance than the Secretary of State for Defence. Old government secrets, obsolete weapons plans and two-way mirror compromising filmstrips were always found in the grass.''
-->-- '''Moon Moon Moon''' by Creator/KimNewman

Paradoxically, [[HiddenInPlainSight the best way to hide a secret meeting is often to hold it somewhere extremely public]]. Locations like this can be selected to be unpredictable to anyone who you might want to avoid, are almost certainly bug-free, and can provide a layer of plausible deniability when the people in question aren't supposed to be meeting each other at all.

The classic situation where this occurs is meetings between members of two different secret government agencies; in that case they're not only dodging eavesdroppers, they're also making it more difficult for either agency's goons to do anything untoward.

Stock locations for this kind of meeting include:
* A park bench.
* On the banks of a river, downstream from a bridge.
* In a noisy Italian restaurant or diner.

For an extra layer of security, sometimes the two people meeting will sit back-to-back so it doesn't look like they're talking to each other -- on park benches facing in opposite directions, or at adjacent tables in a restaurant.

Of course, while this kind of meeting decreases the odds of being noticed by the specific people you're trying to avoid, it substantially increases the odds that your conversation will be overheard by random passers-by. This is generally [[PoseOfSilence glossed over]], though sometimes it's nodded at by selecting an exceptionally loud meeting place, or by having the characters speak in some way that appears innocuous: TroubleEntendre, TalkingThroughTechnique, SpySpeak, or the like. Or it's assumed that those random passers-by simply won't give a damn.

If the messenger doesn't show up for the meeting, the situation has changed into a DoomedAppointment.

Compare PublicSecretMessage. Contrast PubliclyDiscussingTheSecret.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Anime/TheBigO'', Roger always met with his street informant Big Ear in a bar.
* ''Manga/DeathNote'':
** In one interesting example, Misa is trying to find Light, so she sends a diary page to the task force saying that they should "show off their notebooks in Aoyama" on a certain day. On that day, Light goes to Aoyama with Matsuda and meets friends whom he hangs out with expecting to perform this trope. Misa, however, finds him first and leaves before he can see her.
** L first reveals himself to his prime Kira suspect at the entrance ceremony of the university, then proceeds to investigate him under the guise of talking with him about the case on campus, in a café close-by or during walks. [[HoYay Was this an investigation or a date?]]
* The first episode of ''Anime/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex'' features two park bench meetings between Chief Aramaki and an associate in another government branch who needs his help.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* {{Lampshaded}} in ''Film/HotShots'', where a conspirator mentions that he finds public places to be the ''best'' place to have secret meetings. While they're at a boxing match.
* Parodied in the made-for-TV movie ''Two on a Bench'', which is about two people who strike up a conversation on a park bench and are consequently MistakenForSpies.
* ''Film/JamesBond'':
** ''Film/YouOnlyLiveTwice'': Bond meets with his Japanese Secret Service contact at a sumo match.
** ''Film/ForYourEyesOnly'': Bond meets Luigi Ferrara in line for a ski-lift.
** ''Film/LicenceToKill'': Bond meets Pam Bouvier at a seaside bar.
** ''Film/{{Skyfall}}'': Bond meets with Q at an art museum.
** ''Film/QuantumOfSolace'': The conspirators discuss their EvilPlan via radio earpieces while sitting in the audience of an opera house. Bond exposes them by breaking into their comms and taunting them, then photographing anyone who gets up to leave. Mr White is smart enough to discreetly pocket his earpiece and continue watching the opera.
* In ''Film/FatalInstinct'', a woman meets with her lover in a park to plot the death of her husband.
* In ''Film/TheDeparted'', whenever state police [[Creator/MartinSheen Queenan]] and [[Creator/MarkWahlberg Dignam]] need to chat with [[Creator/LeonardoDiCaprio Costigan]], their mole in the mob, they meet him in some park/riverbank area. This worries Costigan, because if anyone sees him with them, he's pretty much dead.
* ''Film/TheConversation'' begins with the protagonist bugging the titular conversation between a surveillance-conscious couple in a public place. He uses a combination of rifle microphones and operatives walking by them at random intervals to assemble a complete recording of what they're saying.
* ''Film/TheBourneSeries'': A favourite tactic of Jason Bourne, who typically scouts out the area first and uses this to his advantage if his contact has been followed.
* ''Film/SherlockHolmesAGameOfShadows''. Believing Professor Moriarty [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness might have her killed]], Irene Adler arranges to meet him in a crowded restaurant. Subverted when in a chilling display of Moriarty's wealth and power, everyone else gets up and leaves at his signal. [[spoiler:Then Irene dies because the waiter has given her poisoned tea.]]
* This also happens in a meeting between Yakuza and TheMafia in ''Film/ThePunisher1989'' -- everyone in the restaurant turns out to be a HiredGun of the Yakuza.
* Likewise in ''Film/JohnWickChapter2'', Wick is meeting Winston in New York's Central Park, when at his command ''[[WeAreEverywhere every single bystander]]'' turns to face them.
* In ''Film/{{Notorious}}'', the lead couple (American agents) are seen meeting up strictly in public, at the horse races and on a park bench in the city of Rio.
* In ''Film/TheRussiaHouse'' Creator/SeanConnery's character is given some basic spy training.
-->"Crowds are good, if you keep moving. Open spaces are good. Talking in the street is OK, if you have to. Never ever talk in a car, or your hotel room except for the benefit of ''[[BluffTheEavesdropper their]]'' microphones. If you've read anything about [[CacophonyCoverUp playing the radio or running the taps]], forget it!"
* In ''Film/TheIpcressFile'', Palmer and Dalby meet with shady agents at a bandstand in a park to seal a deal regarding the proto-proton scattering device. The loud marching music indeed drowns out their talk.
* In ''Film/LayerCake'', the protagonist wants to meet Dragan in a public place rather than at a hotel room. We later learn [[ColdSniper why]].
* ''Film/TheManFromUNCLE2015''. The KGB and CIA spymasters are briefing the protagonists in a cafe, announce they're going to [[HeadbuttingHeroes leave them alone to get acquainted]], and get up to leave...along with everyone else in the cafe, as all the other customers are their agents.
* Similarly in the first ''Film/MissionImpossible'' movie. Ethan realises all the customers and staff at the cafe where he's meeting Kittridge are IMF agents, because he's seen them before.
* In ''Film/{{Mitchell}}'', James Cummings has a sit-down with mob boss Tony Gallano on a park bench in order to express his displeasure about being saddled with a hijacked heroin shipment being scheduled to come through his docks right when the eponymous cop has been assigned to stake him out. Gallano reminds Cummings of their longstanding arrangement, forcing Cummings to have to find a way to deal with Mitchell and still make the arrangements for the shipment.
* Subverted in ''Film/{{Heat}}''. The criminals meet in an open area of the docks to plan an apparent heist. When the detectives go there to work out what they might have been planning, they realise the criminals had suspected the police were on to them, and wanted to lure them out into the open to find out who they were.

* There's a duck pond in ''Literature/GoodOmens'' which is specifically ''the'' place in London where spies from different agencies (and [[NobleDemon Crowley]] and [[OurAngelsAreDifferent Aziraphale]]) go to meet. Some of the more amusing anecdotes include two members of MI6 trying to recruit what turned out to also be a member of MI6, and the ducks having learned to differentiate and appreciate the kinds of crumbs left by assorted diplomats and spies. There's also the café at the British Museum, (described as a second home for the battle-weary foot-soldiers of TheColdWar) where two agents argue over who keeps the receipt.
* In ''Literature/TheBartimaeusTrilogy'' Nathaniel is asked to meet the British agent in Prague at a cemetery at midnight. Complaining about the melodrama, he insists that their next meeting being somewhere more ordinary and they agree to meet in the main square around six -- "Harlequin" had wanted to pick the old plague pits. He does cope with the change well, and [[spoiler: Nathaniel receives his information in a hot dog bun he bought from the disguised agent.]]
* Discussed in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheOrderOfThePhoenix''. Harry, Hermione and Ron have a secret meeting in a public location, but choose the less-frequented Hog's Head over the Three Broomsticks. Both the Order and Umbridge learn what they're doing, making things that much harder. Sirius tells them should have chosen the Three Broomsticks, because while they could never know if someone was ''watching'' them, in a noisy crowded place any spies would have trouble ''hearing'' them.
* Also discussed in ''An H-Bomb for Alice'' by Ian Stewart when the British protagonist meets his ASIO counterpart in a noisy Australian pub. When he worries that someone might overhear them, the ASIO agent points out a young couple (each from rival political parties), and a businessman meeting with a trade unionist, and suggests that they may be making an illicit deal, or just sharing a friendly drink, but it's impossible to tell.
* However in ''The Specialist'' by Gayle Rivers, the mercenary protagonist complains when he has to meet a British agent in a pub as it means [[TroubleEntendre masking your conversation in ambiguous terms]], which is difficult if you're not on the same wavelength as the person you're talking to.
* Literature/{{Serpico}}'s corrupt police colleagues discover he's not been taking bribes (his partner has been pocketing the money 'for when he wants it'). They order him to turn up to a meeting, and Serpico is dumbfounded to find it's in a park across from the courthouse, with an entire squad of detectives discussing the matter while a stream of prosecutors, cops, and judges walk by.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In ''Series/TheSandbaggers'', most of Burnside's meetings with his American counterpart Jeff Ross happen while strolling in the park.
* ''Series/StargateSG1'' has a few examples.
** General Hammond has a park meeting with one of his contacts who's so paranoid that he refuses to talk even while they're sitting on a park bench; they have to be actually walking before he'll say anything.
** Sam and her NID contact Malcolm Barrett first meet in his office, where he vocally denies having any interest in what she has to say while passing him a note that says to meet in the park instead.
* In ''Series/StargateAtlantis'', Sheppard meets his ex-wife -- who works for the Department of Homeland Security -- on a park bench, in order to ask her to illegally dig up some classified information for him.
* In "[[http://abitoffryandlaurie.co.uk/sketches/spies_five Spies Five]]", an unaired sketch from ''Series/ABitOfFryAndLaurie'', Tony and Control meet on a park bench because there's a mole in their department.
* Subverted in ''Series/ThirtyRock''. Jack meets Lenny, a private investigator played by Creator/SteveBuscemi, along the banks of the river, in view of the Queensborough Bridge. Lenny thanks Jack for driving out there, Jack says he doesn't mind because discretion is important. Lenny replies "Also, my gym is right over there."
* ''Series/{{Spooks}}'': In seasons one and two, the characters frequently have meetings on the benches across from the Houses of Parliament.
* ''Series/BreakingBad'':
** Drug deals in this show tend to take place in public places, but for another reason in addition to secrecy: if negotiations go badly, people are less likely to shoot each other in public in broad daylight. Walt, in the first drug deal he participates in, sets it in an abandoned junkyard because [[JustForFun/TelevisionIsTryingToKillUs that's where drug deals take place in the movies]].
--->'''Jesse:''' This, this is like a non-criminal's idea of a meeting place. This is like, oh I saw this in a movie, look at me.\\
'''Tuco:''' What are we doing way the hell out here? What, did they close the mall or something?\\
'''Jesse:''' (meaningful look)
** In season 5, Lydia insists on meeting Walt in a coffee shop. She tries to sit back-to-back with him, but he points out that this only makes them look more conspicuous, and joins her at her table.
* ''Series/BurnNotice'':
** In [[Recap/BurnNoticeS1E3FightOrFlight "Fight or Flight"]] Michael meets Egyptian spy Akhom Thabet in the cemetery where Michael's father Frank was buried. Thabet is discomfited by this, but Michael justifies it to him: It's quiet, there's plenty of cover, and two guys in business suits don't attract much attention.
** In [[Recap/BurnNoticeS2E10DoNoHarm "Do No Harm"]] Michael and Fiona meet with a particularly GenreSavvy Mark of the Week in a hot tub at a public pool, which has the added benefit of making it more difficult for someone to wear a wire.
** In another episode, AmbiguouslyGay baddie Gilroy meets with Michael in a hot tub at a public pool pretty much for the RuleOfFunny of making Mike uncomfortable.
* In the 1990's Australian cop show ''Phoenix'' the head of Major Crime Division meets a colleague in the park to discuss an undercover operation.
-->"Look at us -- two middle-aged guys sitting in the park eating ice creams. [[NobleBigotWithABadge We look like a couple of poofs]]."
* PlayedForLaughs in an episode of ''Series/{{Hunter}}'' where a small-time crook steals a package of drugs from a crime boss, and says he'll sell it back to him. To avoid his inevitable death, the exchange takes place in the foyer of a police station.
* In Season 3 of ''Series/HouseOfCardsUS'', Doug Stamper and Gavin Orsay periodically meet in a diner to discuss the status of Gavin's search for Rachel (for which he's misappropriating FBI resources).
* In ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'', Creel meets with his HYDRA handler to hand over the [[ArtifactOfDoom Obelisk]] on a pair of back-to-back public benches. This ends up making it remarkably easy for Raina to walk away with it when the meeting goes bad.
* In ''Series/AgentCarter'', Peggy meets with Edwin Jarvis back-to-back at neighbouring tables in a diner.
* ''Series/PersonOfInterest''.
** In the pilot episode, Harold Finch does a WalkAndTalk through Central Park while revealing the existence of the Machine to John Reese. We then see them from the Machine's POV, showing the all-seeing A.I. [[ParanoiaFuel can still hear their conversation]].
** Control becomes suspicious of Samaritan and to [[BigBrotherIsWatchingYou escape its ubiquitous surveillance]] goes to the park, sits on a bench and uses a satellite phone to contact one of her men directly. However Samaritan adapts by sending a bike rider into the park with a microphone attached to his arm in the guise of a smartphone, to hear her conversation.
** Inverted when Control is interrogating a woman she suspects of being TheHandler for TheMole inside her organization. Control produces photographs showing her sitting next to TheMole in a park and a coffee shop. The woman protests that it's a coincidence, as they're both public places. So Control produces a third photograph, showing this innocuous housewife walking down a restricted corridor in the White House.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}''.
** In ''The Neo-Anarchists' Guide to Real Life'' it was recommended that runners meet with their Mr. Johnson (employer) at a public place such as a [=McHugh=]'s restaurant.
** Many of the adventures published for the game had runners meeting with their Mr. Johnson in public places such as restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/CovertAction'' PlayerCharacter can meet local informants simply in the lounge of his hotel. Not that it was necessary or alert-safe.
* In the intro to ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}} IV'''s expansion, an image of Lincoln giving the Gettysburg address {{Match Cut}}s to his memorial, where two spies are passing along photos of Soviet missile sites.
* In ''VideoGame/{{KGB}}'', the player character must bug one of these meetings. Doing anything else will result in one of the speakers getting spooked and escaping.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcommic/AutumnBay'', Felicia Kingsley, the IntrepidReporter, has an early morning meeting in Wellington Park with Frank Logan, an old spy, to discuss exactly what's going on.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Literature/PayMeBug'', getting [[spoiler:Meaghan Sythe]] out of [[spoiler:Ur Voys]] requires a meeting in a bar. Unfortunately, she is seen there by other bar patrons, which allows Mavis' agents to connect her with the ''Fool's Errand''. Since they already suspect her of being part of the [[TheHeist theft]] of the [[MacGuffin artefact]], they naturally go after her, which sets up the [[StandardStarshipScuffle climactic battle]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': In "The Trouble with Trillions", [[BoxedCrook when Homer is forced into working for the feds]], he meets his handler in a public park, referencing the example from ''Film/TheFirm''.