[[quoteright:194:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lt/syd15.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:194:Don't be fooled by the wig that she's got, she's still Jenny with a Glock...]]
->''"My name is Sydney Bristow. Seven years ago I was recruited by a secret branch of the CIA called SD-6. I was sworn to secrecy, but I couldn't keep it from my fiancÚ. And when the head of SD-6 found out, he had him killed. That's when I learned the truth: SD-6 is not part of the CIA. I've been working for the very people I thought I was fighting against."''
-->-- '''Sydney Bristow''', ''opening narration''

''Alias'' is a ClicheStorm / {{Troperiffic}} SpyDrama (2001-2006) by Creator/JJAbrams about Sydney Bristow (Creator/JenniferGarner), an agent for SD-6, black-ops division of the CIA, who discovers that, whoops, it wasn't a black-ops division of the CIA so much as a faction of a powerful [[WesternTerrorists terrorist group]] called The Alliance; so she becomes a [[ReverseMole double agent]]. She then discovers her father, a supposed salesman, is also a double agent for the CIA. Sydney then has to divide her loyalties between a team of good men at SD-6 who simply don't know their boss is the devil, and a team of mostly good men and a few pricks at the real CIA.

Pretty much a show full of ImpossibleMission episodes, with a twist -- Sydney must perform her mission for the CIA, while appearing to be performing her mission for SD-6. There's also a large element of soap opera though, as she learns all kinds of secrets about her parents and their MysteriousPast.

Unusual for its willingness to embrace a fanciful StoryArc about a centuries-old prophecy. The first four seasons all featured a subtle, never explained MythArc about an [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything Italian inventor with a penchant for odd drawings and fanciful words]]. Somehow this 15th century prophet is still relevant today. His designs have been implemented and his writings dissected. And apparently the global intelligence community has nothing better to do than go to war over every piece of technology he might have even glanced at.

Also notable for the fact that the show was {{ReTool}}ed three separate times. Each time, character relationships and roles changed in fundamental ways.

One of the leaders in WigDressAccent.
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!!This show provides examples of:

* ATeamFiring: For the first season. Sydney does not kill anyone until this point, apart from a rather contrived situation in which an assassin falls on a knife and in the second episode where she breaks a guard's neck. After the start of the second season, she's frequently shown shooting people to death.
* AbortedArc: Originally Irina was supposed to have more of a role in Season 4, but the actress left for contractual reasons.
* ActionGirl: Mainly Sydney, but also Irina, Lauren, Nadia, Rachel, Anna Espinosa and Allison Dorren.
* ActionSurvivor: Many of the one-shot characters, such as Neil Caplan.
** [[CulturedBadass Sark]]. Is a deal going down? Or perhaps a Mexican standoff? If Sark is there, and it turns out a shootout, '''''he will escape.'''''
* AllGirlsWantBadBoys: Averted. The suave international terrorist Sark clearly has eyes for Sydney, but she'll have none of it.
* AmbiguouslyBrown: So Elena is supposed to be Russian??
* AndIMustScream [[spoiler: Sloane's ultimate fate]].
* ApocalypseMaiden: Sydney according to Rambaldi's prophecy: "Unless prevented, at vulgar cost, this woman will render the greatest power unto utter desolation."
* ArcNumber: 47
* ArcWords: "Truth takes time". "The Passenger".
* AttendingYourOwnFuneral: The Covenant forces Sydney to do this as part of their brainwashing.
* BackFromTheDead: [[spoiler: In the series finale Sloane is shot and killed by Sydney. Luckily, his body fell into a vat of special Rambaldi liquid that healed his wounds and brought him back to life]].
** Bigger problem though. [[spoiler: He was stuck under a collapsed pillar when Jack blew himself up]].
* BadAss: A basic requirement for being a regular character on this show.
** Especially true of Jack Bristow.
* BadassBookworm: Jack, a game theorist [[TheChessmaster chessmaster]] who will nonetheless disarm you in .5 seconds and shoot you between the eyes.
* BadAssFamily: Almost . the characters are related somehow, and sometimes they even go on missions together. It's dangerous enough to mess with Sydney, but if you mess with Sydney ''and'' Jack at the same time, you're just asking for trouble. Also, the two-part episode in season 2, "Passage", where [[spoiler: Irina goes undercover with Jack and Sydney to India as a family of tourists to recover six stolen nuclear warheads]], is a badass family vacation if there ever was one.
* BadGuyBar: A staple trope in ''Alias''.
* BaitAndSwitchGunshot
* BeardOfSorrow: Jack grows one during [[spoiler: the year that he was held in solitary confinement for working with unsanctioned sources to learn the truth behind his daughter's apparent death]].
* BecauseDestinySaysSo: Sydney is TheChosenOne according to [[PropheciesAreAlwaysRight prophecies]] of Milo Rambaldi and [[RefusalOfTheCall try as she might]] [[YouCantFightFate she can't escape her destiny]]. [[ProphecyTwist Ah well, at least it's not predictable]].
* BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy: JosephStalin apparently tried to unravel the Rambaldi mystery.
* BlackBestFriend: Sydney gets two, Francie and Dixon.
* BlondesAreEvil / BlondGuysAreEvil: Sark and Lauren. Both also qualify for EvilBrit!
* BodyBagTrick: How Sydney Bristow once sneaked into a Uzbek military base
* BookEnds: The first season begins and ends with Sydney wearing a garish wig, beaten bloody, and bound to a chair.
* BoundAndGagged: See AttendingYourOwnFuneral.
* BoxedCrook: Inverted. [[spoiler: Sydney works for the government, but is abducted by criminals to perform certain high-risk jobs for them in Season 2]].
** Played straight with [[spoiler: Irena]], who spends the entirety of season 2 in a literal box.
* BreakTheCutie: Sydney's life as we see it begins with [[spoiler: her fiancÚ's murder]], and gets progressively worse from there
* BulletproofVest
* BusCrash: In the Season 4 premiere, we learn that [[spoiler: Jack killed Irina offscreen]] at some point between the Season 2 and Season 3 finales. See AbortedArc. [[spoiler: Of course, this being ''Series/{{Alias}}'', it later turns out that Jack actually killed [[OpeningACanOfClones a ''double'' of Irina]].]]
* ChangelingFantasy: Nadia, who discovers her parents are actually [[spoiler: Irina and Sloane]].
* CharacterDevelopment: Everyone, mostly.
* TheChessmaster: Arvin Sloane.
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: Irina, Sloane and Sark.
* CityOfSpies: Los Angeles is home to both SD-6 and the CIA. It also attracts a few other freelancers, such as Sark.
* CliffHanger: Several examples, of which one classic must be Sydney trapped under ice.
* ClipShow: 1x17, "Q & A," is a ClipShow and RecapEpisode, consisting mostly of flashbacks. Sydney is interrogated by the FBI and tells her story up to that point in the series. A couple of the flashbacks have never-before-seen backstory, but most are from the previous 16 episodes. There's actually a good bit of present-day story as well. But a good 75% of the episode is flashbacks.
* ComeWithMeIfYouWantToLive: Jack does this to Sydney in the pilot.
* {{Clockpunk}}: The technology of the Rambaldi artifacts.
* ContinuityNod / BookEnds: Jack in a car in "Truth Be Told", saving Sydney from an SD-6 assassination attempt, and Sydney in a car from "The Getaway", saving Jack from an SD-6 assassination attempt. Both with "_______, GET IN!" from the driver and a shocked look from the passenger.
* ConvenientlyTimedGuard: This trope is particularly favoured by the series, which does it almost OnceAnEpisode.
* CovertGroupWithMundaneFront: While working for SD-6, Sydney and associates ostensibly work for Credit Dauphine Bank.
** Except Jack, who allegedly manufactured airplane parts for Jennings Aerospace.
* CutApart: In "The Horizon", when a pregnant Sydney is kidnapped, her father tracks her down while she's simultaneously making an escape attempt. It seems like he found the right place, but he hasn't, of course; instead he finds something ''incredibly creepy''.
* DarkerAndEdgier: Basically describes the direction of Sydney's character development between Seasons 1 and 2 and onwards.
* DeadlyRotaryFan: One episode ended on a {{Cliffhanger}} with Sydney struggling not to get pulled upwards through an [[AirVentPassageway air vent]] into a huge fan.
* DeathByMaterialism: [[spoiler: Irina]] had the option of being saved [[spoiler: by her daughter]], or grabbing the Horizon. She grabs the Horizon, completely ignoring the fact that ''she's on an unstable and steadily cracking glass pane''. It subsequently breaks, [[DisneyVillainDeath and she falls to her death]].
* DeathByOriginStory: Syd was perfectly happy with her job(s) and life and had no interest in digging up dirt on SD-6 -- until she told her fiance she was a spy for the CIA. He lived maybe 5 microseconds after that.
** He was fine until he left a message on her answering machine using a wiretapped line. If he'd only paid attention...
* DeathBySex: [[spoiler: Francie]].
* DeepCoverAgent: Sydney becomes one of these in the Pilot, after learning SD-6 is ''not'' the CIA. Also, ''both'' her parents - Jack as a heroic example, Irina as a villainous.
** As well as [[spoiler: Lauren]] in season 3, a villainous example.
* DieHardOnAnX: The season one two-parter, "The Box" featured spooks taking over SD-6 while Sydney and her father were just arriving. They immediately start a Die Hard plan to eliminate the enemy spies.
* DiminishedVillainThreat: One of the saddest things about season five is how it reduces Irina from a woman with complex loyalties and even more complex motivations to a simple WellIntentionedExtremist EvilMatriarch. Most definitely a point of FanonDiscontinuity; Irina's storyline ''really'' ends when Jack lets her walk away at the end of "Before the Flood".
* DisneyVillainDeath: [[spoiler: Irina]]. She easily could've avoided it though...
* DoubleAgent: Most of the cast, at some point
** Sydney and her father worked for the CIA, posed as SD-6 agents
** [[spoiler: Lauren]] worked for the Covenant, but posed as an NSA agent
** Sark is always claiming to work for someone or other, but is usually just out for himself
* DuelingHackers: Marshall (the resident Omnidisciplinary Nerd) was in a hacking duel at least once, as someone tried to break into SD6's system.
* DysfunctionJunction: There's dysfunctional and then there's the Bristow family. The dysfunctionality certainly extends past the Bristows though. Most of the characters lives a marred by the death and/or betrayal of loved ones. It certainly doesn't help when our heroes are forced to work with the bad guys and double-crossers or the people they thought were dead but actually weren't.
* ElaborateUndergroundBase: APO.
* EveryoneIsRelated: At one point six of [[ElaborateUndergroundBase APO]]'s top eight spies (and two of it's main villains) were biologically or romantically involved.
* {{Fauxreigner}}: The show's characters imitate a bewildering array of nationalities while undercover. This is sometimes PlayedForLaughs, as when Will attempts a cool British accent that ends up sounding vaguely Australian.
* FailureIsTheOnlyOption: Goal: Take Down Sloane.
* FakeDefector: [[spoiler: Sloane.]]
* FakingTheDead: Nearly every character does this at least twice.
* {{Fanservice}}: Done, very much with a wink, in "Phase One"- the opening shot of the episode is Sydney in her black underwear and holding a riding crop. immediately after the obligatory slow-mo shot, the guy tells her to put on the other one. . . cut to her in just as scanty RED lingerie. This episode, by the way, was right after the Super Bowl. However, there are many a straight example.
* FinalSeasonCasting
* FingerInTheMail: Sloane receives his wife's ring finger through the post as proof she's alive and being held hostage. Zig-zagged in that [[spoiler: Sloane himself is the mastermind. His wife cut off her own finger and posted it to him to help his {{plan}}]]
* FirstEpisodeSpoiler: To the point where NothingIsTheSameAnymore after the ''pilot''.
* FoeRomanceSubtext: A rare, ''married couple'' example - Jack and Irina. Syd/Sark and Syd/Anna also fall under this category.
* FourEyesZeroSoul: Season one's BigBad, "Suit-and-Glasses".
* TheGenericGuy: Rachel Gibson and Thomas Grace were two characters added in the 5th season to fill in while Jennifer Garner was pregnant (which meant she wasn't up to full Action Girl speed). They were both fine and action-y, but neither one was equal to Sydney.
* GeniusBruiser: Dixon, an excellent guy to have as backup and whose brains are well-balanced with his brawn.
* GoodAllAlong
* GuileHero: Jack Bristow.
* TheHandler: Vaughn entered the scene as Sydney's handler. Eventually, they become more like partners.
** Dixon often took the role of handler, too
* HeelFaceMole: Irina at first.
* HeelFaceRevolvingDoor: Sloane and Irina both qualify.
** And Sark has self-stated "flexible loyalties".
* HelloBoys: "Phase One"
* HilariousOuttakes
* {{Homage}}: There's one to the famous fight scene from ''Film/RaidersOfTheLostArk'' in "A Free Agent", complete with a fistfight on an airfield and a {{mook}} going into the propeller of a plane.
* HowsYourBritishAccent: Happens a few times. Sark uses [[FakeBrit David Anders's]] natural American accent once or twice, for example. There is also an episode where Sydney and Vaughn are undercover as Russian spies, and when a real Russian spymaster asks them how their English is, Sydney says a few words in heavily-accented English in order to avoid undertaking a mission. However, as elite {{Deep Cover Agent}}s, they ''should'' have flawless American accents, and the spy calls their bluff.
* HowWeGotHere: Done several times, by necessity.
* IGotYouADrawer: Sydney makes Vaughn very happy.
* IHaveComeTooFar
* IHaveYourWife: Played with in respect to Emily Sloane, though ultimately [[spoiler: subverted, as Sloane was pulling this on ''himself'' and Emily was in on the con]].
* ImpossibleMission
* IncrediblyObviousBug: Averted. Marshall loves to show off bugs that look like paper clips or pens, or in once case an actual cockroach.
* InSeriesNickname: "Arvin Clone."
* InstantSedation: Happens a ''lot''.
* IronicNurseryTune: "Pop Goes the Weasel" in Season Two's "Double Agent".
* JigsawPuzzlePlot: The show juggles with its Rambaldi devices, ancient conspiracies, modern spy dramas, and family problems. There's an overarching MythArc, but by the fifth season there are too many pieces and they don't all fit it in the same puzzle.
* JustFriends: Will and Sydney start out this way, complete with an ambiguous (drunken) kiss whose meaning neither of them can quite figure out...
* KilledOffForReal: Very few people, surprisingly. Danny, in the very first episode, then later the Iceman, [[spoiler: Francie]], [[spoiler: Lauren Reed]], [[spoiler: Emily Sloane]] and [[spoiler: Diane Dixon]]. Being a love interest other than Vaughn seems to be deadly. But for almost everyone else, DeathIsCheap.
** Except for [[spoiler: [[KillEmAll a large number]] in the last season - Jack, Irina, Thomas, Nadia, and Sloane all bite the big one]].
* KudzuPlot
* LateArrivalSpoiler: Oh yes. Everything from the pilot, with its NothingIsTheSameAnymore plot -- Sydney's father is a double agent, her fiance is killed by Sloane, and Sydney becoming a double agent herself -- but there are a few other things that you ''will'' find yourself spoiled for by looking at just about any press for the show:
** Sydney's mother is NotQuiteDead, and she's an ex-KGB operative.
** Sydney has a long-lost sister named Nadia.
** There are [[CloningBlues doubles of characters]] running around.
* LatexPerfection: Twice in one episode.
* LaymansTerms: [[TwoWordsObviousTrope Three Words]]: "IN ENGLISH, MARSHALL!"
* LettingHerHairDown: Sydney.
* LingerieScene:
** "Phase One," Notable in that this aired literally seconds after the ''Super Bowl'', but a year before the Janet Jackson incident so the MoralGuardians didn't make too much noise. It also was actually the lowest-rated posts Super Bowl shows on record - you have to go back to 1975 for a worse performer.
** Sydney is quite often shown in lingerie when getting dressed or getting undressed.
** Passage I/II: Jack (and the audience) gets to see Irina Derevko in bra and panties, and she gives her 'husband' a good, long look. Just to established that Irina is still smokin' hot, which she is, and to remind us that Jack isn't over her, which is probably true.
*** More like ''unquestionably'' true. The question was what did he (and their daughter) mean to her?
* LoveTriangle: Sydney, Vaughn and Lauren.
** Implied at times: Jack, Irina, Katya.
* TheLabRat: Marshall.
* MacGuffin: What exactly was Rambaldi trying to achieve again?
* MagicalDefibrillator: At the end of the season 3 episode ''Facade''.
* MartialArtsDoNotWorkThatWay: Mostly seen with the female characters, who occasionally use high-flying kicks, backflips and the like. The male characters' fighting styles are generally less flamboyant.
* TheMasqueradeWillKillYourDatingLife: ''Literally'', in many cases, and the first major event in the show.
* MataHari: Most of the cast.
** Not to mention one of TWOP's [[FanNickname favorite nicknames for Irina]], "Mama Hari".
* TheManBehindTheMan: Literally named, "The Man". Played with, though, because [[spoiler: "The Man" is actually Irina, a woman]].
* MeaninglessVillainVictory: The final episode has [[spoiler: Sloane finally achieving immortality...only for Jack to sacrifice himself in an effort to seal Sloane beneath a mountain for all eternity. And since there's no reason for anyone to believe Sloane's alive, we can assume the effort was successful.]]
* MemoryGambit
* MindScrew
* TheMole: Hoo boy. Sydney and Jack, double agents in SD-6 really working for the CIA. Irina in the CIA for whatever side she was supporting. Sloane in SD-6 and APO for the Covenant and for himself.
* MoleInCharge: Jack, occasionally. Sloane, in season four.
* MoscowCentre: Irina Derevko was originally a KGB agent, posing as an American to gain the trust and confidence of Jack Bristow and steal secrets from the CIA.
* {{Motifs}}: A number of them, running throughout the series.
** AnimalMotifs: One of Sydney's call signs [[spoiler: after she returned from the "dead"]] was [[ThePhoenix "Phoenix"]]; Jack's call signs are all birds ("Blackbird" with SD-6, "Raptor" with the CIA).
** EsotericMotifs: The Rambaldi sign, which looks like this: ''''''
** The recurring image of a red ball, suspended in midair, which is revealed to be the Mueller Device, a plague carrier. In "Truth Be Told", Sydney steals one from Taipei. In "Almost Thirty Years", she and Vaughn find a room-sized one in Taipei as well. And in "Search and Rescue", it's revealed that [[spoiler: Arvin Sloane and Elena Derevko]] have built a ''city-sized'' one over Svogda, Russia. It's been dubbed by fans "the HappyFunBall". No, you should not taunt it.
* MyGrandsonMyself: "Time Will Tell" features an unnaturally long-lived Renaissance clockmaker who, in the present day, pretends to be his own distant descendant.
* MysteriousParent: Both of Sydney's and Nadia's count.
* MysteriousPast: Pretty much everyone's got one.
* NoHoldsBarredBeatdown
* NotEvenBotheringWithTheAccent: Melissa George as Lauren Reed. They wrote the character as American, cast an Australian who can do a serviceable American accent, and make her an American raised in England. The result was an Australian accent jumbled in with vague attempts at sounding American and English at different points. Inexplicably her parents, played by Raymond J. Barry and Peggy Lipton, Americans who were supposed to be doing American accents, would randomly use British inflections for no apparent reason. ''Even by the standards of a show where the accents were questionable much of the time'', the Reeds' accents were awful.
* ObstacleExposition
* OceanicAirlines: An Oceanic Airlines flight to Sydney was mentioned in passing.
* OpeningACanOfClones: Rule of thumb on ''Series/{{Alias}}'' - even if we've seen a body, they're probably [[NotQuiteDead not dead]].
* OutOfCharacterAlert: This how Sydney knows that [[spoiler: Francie]] is an imposter. Sydney offers her some coffee ice cream, something the real [[spoiler: Francie]] hated, and she accepts.
* PairTheSpares: Will Tippin and Francie. Also, much later, Weiss and Sydney's dead sister Nadia.
* PapaWolf: '''Do not''' mess with Sydney or you'll be dealing with Jack, and you will '''not''' be in good shape after.
* ParentalAbandonment: During the first season we learn that Sydney's mother apparently died in a car accident when she was six. However, at the end of the Season 1 finale, we learn that she faked her own death and now leads a criminal organization. Upon meeting Sydney for the first time as an adult, she proclaims, "You must have known this day would come. I could have prevented all this, of course. You were so small when you were born. It would have been so easy."
** Repeatedly. One thing is consistent through all the reboots and changes is that Irina is not trustworthy and won't be there when Sydney needs her. Sydney, of course, repeatedly trusts her over and over and over in spite of this.
** Jack also counts, considering in the first season, Sydney seems to have no personal relationship with him whatsoever. She describes Jack as cold and emotionally distant, having never been there when she really needed him.
* PartTimeHero: Sydney tries this for a few seasons, but over the course of the show all of her non-Spy friends have either also become spies/gone into witness protection, or they are murdered, cloned, or cloned and then murdered, so she's pretty much forced to go all-in.
* PluckyComicRelief: Marshall
** Weiss, too, to an extent.
* PrettyInMink: Sydney, in a few undercover missions.
* RansackedRoom: Sydney comes home to one of these after she tells her fiance what she does for a living. Turns out SD-6 staged a break-in and had him killed.
* TheRashomon
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: Sydney delivers one to [[spoiler: Vaughn]] after she recovers from her kidnapping/brainwashing, only to discover that [[spoiler: Vaughn [[AbsenceMakesTheHeartGoYonder has married someone else in her absence]]]].
-->'''Sydney:''' Don't use rational thought as a defense with me, not after all you and I have seen. [[spoiler: Vaughn]], you and I live and breathe madness every day on the job. There is no rational thought. I can't pretend to have a conversation about anything else with you. What it comes down to is faith. What I was hoping you'd say was, "I gave up on us, I lost faith." But what you came here for was closure, and there is not a chance you are getting that from me. I'm not gonna say I understand. I'm not gonna sympathize with you, and tell you how hard this must be for you. But you wanna know how I am? I am horrible! [[spoiler: Vaughn]], I am ripped apart. And not because I lost you, but because if it had been me, [[IWillWaitForYou I would've waited]]. I would've found the truth. I wouldn't have given up on you. And now I realize what an absolute waste that would've been.
* RecapEpisode: see the entry for ClipShow above.
* RenegadeSplinterFaction: SD-6, due to [[spoiler: Sloane having his own agenda from the rest of the Alliance]].
* ReTool: The show was {{ReTool}}ed several times. By nature, of course, this contains several spoilers.
** In Season 2, halfway through, [[spoiler: Sydney and the CIA bring down the entire Alliance, including SD-6, Sydney starts to work for the ''real'' CIA in the open, and]] her relationships with Vaughn, Sloane, Sark, and Dixon all change, and her relationships with her father and Marshall remain basically the same. Her relationships with Will and Francie both [[spoiler: end]] as a result of this change.
** In Season 3, [[spoiler: after Sydney's 2-year memory hole, faked death, etc.]] Sydney finds that Vaughn is [[spoiler: married]], her dad [[spoiler: is in jail]], Dixon [[spoiler: is the director of the LA office of the CIA]], Sloane is [[spoiler: living in Europe as a philanthropist,]] and other things.
** In Season 4, Sydney works for a branch of the CIA called "APO," or Authorized Personnel Only, which is a lot like SD-6. Here, the official team relationships are the same as at the start of the pilot (minus the double-agent part), with the original team of Sydney, Dixon, Sloane, and Marshall back together in their original team roles, along with Jack and Vaughn. However, after three seasons of betrayal and general evil by Sloane, all the personal relationships are extremely frayed.
** There are other, more minor {{ReTool}}s, but these are the major ones. Season 5 is sort of a ReTool, but it's constantly changing and never settles. The interesting thing is that all of the original characters are maintained (minus [[spoiler: Will and Francie]]) despite all of the changes in the show. The same might be said of any show, but in ''Alias'' all of the characters completely change teams at least once and repeatedly betray one another, some of them over and over, in ways that would destroy most real (and even most TV) relationships.
* RiddleForTheAges: The show never attempts to explain how Rambaldi managed to predict future events, grant eternal life, and so on.
* SheFu: One of the {{Trope Codifier}}s.
* SherlockScan: This happens frequently, done by almost all protagonists and villains alike.. In ''Detente'', an op is almost aborted when they realise the mark they have very little intel on is staying in to watch his football team on the telly. Nadia and Sydney come up with an infiltration plan from a single glance at his hotel room through a surveillance camera, which gives them all the clues they need to immediately conclude the man has a long-term girlfriend who lives off his money, likes to party, is bored and angry with him, and is currently in the hotel bar looking for some fun at her boyfriend's expense.
* ShoutOut: One of Marshall's passwords is "[[TheElricSaga Moonglum of Elwher]]."
* SignificantMonogram: Sydney's dad Jack is a Cold War relic of a superspy with the initials "JB." [[Franchise/JamesBond Hmmm...]]
* SinisterSurveillance
* SpecialGuest: Many.
* SpotTheImposter: Via [[CloningBlues Project Helix]].
* SpottingTheThread: Happens several times, given the villains' tendency to clone people close to Sydney and send them in as spies.
* SpyDrama: Kind of self-explanatory.
* SpyVersusSpy: This show is one of the few non-intentional uses of the trope. In the beginning, it was CIA versus SD-6. And SD-6 also had enemies in K-Directorate. Then it became CIA versus the Covenant. And then CIA versus... well, that's when it started getting complicated.
* StormingTheCastle: Bringing down SD-6.
* TheStoic: Jack Bristow, ladies and gentlemen.
** NotSoStoic: Any time his family is threatened, and most of the time Irina is around.
* StoryArc
* StrappedToABomb: An episode had a captured spy tied to a bomb and forced to sing "Pop Goes the Weasel." It explodes when she gets to "pop!"
* StuffedIntoTheFridge: Danny, her fiance in the pilot. Kind of subverted, because it actually ''is'' her fault.
* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute: Katya Derevko for Irina, because they could get Isabella Rosselini and couldn't afford Creator/LenaOlin. Katya has all of Irina's attributes and was rather obviously interchangeable. Extra cool because [[spoiler: Jack gets to hook up with her]].
* TakingYouWithMe: Jack Bristow's final CrowningMomentOfAwesome in a long line of them.
-->'''Jack Bristow:''' [[spoiler: Goodbye, Arvin. You beat death, but you couldn't beat me. [[BuriedAlive (activates bomb)]]]]
* TheTeaser: at times long enough to have their own commercial breaks.
* TerroristsWithoutACause: Sark routinely changes his alliances, and his true allegiance seems to be only to himself.
** The same can be said of Irina.
* TechnoWizard: Marshall. His wife and DistaffCounterpart Carrie, in her brief appearances.
* ThereAreNoTherapists: Subverted. Dr. Barnett is even a RecurringCharacter.
* TimeForPlanB
* TimeSkip: One of the biggest {{WhamLine}}s in the show - [[spoiler: "Syd, you've been missing for almost two years."]]
* ATorturedIndex: Just about ''everything'', usually more than once. This element is used more than fight sequences, as torture sequences involve less choreography.
* TrappedInASinkingCar: In the BackStory Sidney's mother died when she drowned in her car.
* TrashTheSet
* {{Trickster}}: Arvin Sloane.
* TriggerPhrase: In season one, there was a ManchurianAgent who could be activated by reading a specific poem. He turned from sweet, mild mental patient to master-assassin upon completion of the piece.
* VirtualRealityInterrogation: At one point, Sidney's father suffered from a TapOnTheHead and now thinks he's back in the 1970s with his wife and young daughter. So Sidney has to pretend to be her own mother, married to her father, in order to get her father to give up some secret codes.
* WasJustLeaving: "Authorized Personnel Only: Part 2".
* WeAreEverywhere: Both the Covenant and Prophet Five seem to have people everywhere.
* WesternTerrorists: Sark.
* WhamEpisode: ''Every'' season finale.
** And the episode "Phase One."
* WhamLine: There are a number:
** "I've waited almost thirty years for this." [[spoiler: "MOM?!"]]
** "Syd... since that night... [[spoiler: you were missing. You've been missing for almost two years]]."
** "Well, for starters, my name's not [[spoiler: Michael Vaughn]]."
* WigDressAccent: Sydney's favorite method of disguise, occasionally used by other agents.
** Lampshaded by the TWOP [[FanNickname nickname]] for her - "Spy Barbie".
* WorldOfSnark: This is a Creator/JJAbrams show. 'Nuff said.
* YouCantFightFate: The prophecies Rambaldi dreamed up cannot be averted, but they can be [[ProphecyTwist misinterpreted]].
** But they can change in fundamental ways for no obvious reason and with nobody noticing. See Season Four.
* YouCantGoHomeAgain
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