In spy lingo, this is a covert operative whose job is to incite rebellion, entice defectors or goad the enemy into a foolish action (sometimes to the point of skirting with the FalseFlagOperation). Even though it's a [[EverythingSoundsSexierInFrench sexy French word]], the Agent Provocateur got the short end of the [[InnocentInnuendo sexy spy stick]]. They are looked down upon by...pretty much everyone.

It may have something to do with the fact that--as a TreacherousAdvisor--they are inherently untrustworthy. One side (the Agent Provocateur's true alignment) believes they are inciting foolish, risky attacks against them, while the other side (the infiltratees) thinks they are inciting foolish, risky behavior in their friends.

Confused yet? That's probably why these guys aren't nearly as popular in fiction as they are in RealLife. In RealLife it's ''good'' if no one can figure out a covert operative's cover. In fiction, [[OvertOperative on the other hand...]]

Common conspiracy theory trope. See also {{Astroturf}}. Not necessarily one of LesCollaborateurs, though he or she may double as this. Not to be confused with a HoneyTrap.

Not to be confused with the 1984 Music/{{Foreigner}} album.

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!!Examples:

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[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]
* In ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'', the Ishval uprising is supposedly the result of a soldier accidentally shooting an Ishval boy. [[spoiler:It was actually Envy, who had posed as an Armestrian soldier and shot the child with the intent of causing the rebellion. This is pretty much the Homunculi's modus operandi: they start wars for the express purpose of [[ConnectTheMurders drawing the enormous transmutation circle]] [[BigBad Father]] needs for [[AGodAmI his master plan]].]]
** In the [[Anime/FullmetalAlchemist 2003 anime adaptation]], [[spoiler:a group of special forces had been tasked with starting the Ishbal uprising. This group of special forces is then used in experiments to create chimeras who are let loose after the 5th laboratory arc and expose the whole conspiracy. The story of the child getting shot is then spread around as a coverup.]]
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[[folder: Comic Books ]]
* ''ComicBook/JudgeDredd'': Judge Dredd crushed the Democracy march on orders of Chief Judge Silver by planting Judges in the crowd and inciting violence so they'd have an excuse to crack down hard on the protestors.
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[[folder: Film ]]
* The film ''Film/{{Matewan}}'', about labor unrest and the formation of a miner's union in 1920s West Virginia, had the Baldwin-Felts Detective Organization engaged in this activity, through [[spoiler: their [[TheMole mole]] in the union]] persuading a young miner to plant a bomb to shut down one of the mines.
* ''Dark Blue World'' (2001). One of the inmates in the post-war prison in Communist Czechoslovakia suggests they steal a tool from the doctor's office and use it to break out. Later he admits the guards put him up to it, so they could have an excuse to beat up the protagonist. According to the DVDCommentary this was TruthInTelevision.
* This is pretty much the point of ''Film/AttackOfTheClones'' mixed with a FalseFlagOperation. Count Dooku is sent to stir up the galaxy against Chancellor Palpatine in order to make it so the latter can justify seizing more power. The reason its the former and not the latter is the troops on the ground had no idea they were just cannon fodder for Palpatine's goals and the Separatist cause was never meant to succeed.
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[[folder: Literature ]]
* ''Literature/VorkosiganSaga'':
** In ''Literature/ACivilCampaign'': [[spoiler:Byerly]] is an [=ImpSec=] agent tasked with observing the politics surrounding Lord Dono's claim to the countship, who chooses to [[spoiler:actively encourage the rather [[GroinAttack extreme shenanigans]] Dono's rival attempts]].
** In ''Literature/{{Komarr}}'', frustrated by the inherently reactionary nature of his job as an Imperial Auditor, Miles briefly ponders the probability of convincing the Emperor to deploy an Auditor ''Provocateur''.
* ''Literature/TheStateCounsellor'' novel contains enough of these to make Literature/ErastFandorin swear he'll never take political cases again.
* In Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Literature/TheCatWhoWalksThroughWalls'': Gwen is falsely accused of being one.
* ''Literature/{{Sten}}'': Mercury Corps uses this as a matter of course. Sten incites rebellion on Vulcan by fulfilling the Mig folk story of "one of their own" who will get out, return, and lead them to freedom. Especially effective because he is, and does.
* Nom Anor from the Literature/NewJediOrder, several times in different disguises.
** In the Literature/HandOfThrawn Duology, this is the role of "Vengeance", supposedly a grassroots organization of citizens outraged at the political crises ''du jour'', [[spoiler: actually an Imperial infiltration team of maybe a dozen guys, posing as a massive organization]]. In addition to starting riots and otherwise stirring up trouble, they use high-tech stealth blasters and redirection crystals to make it appear that planetary forces (and in one case, Han Solo) are shooting back at protestors. In their final act on Bothawui, they go one step further, [[spoiler: arranging for the planetary shields to be shut down, and infiltrating members onto selected parts of the multispecies fleet in orbit to incite an all-out war by bombarding the planet]].
* James Mowry, the hero of Creator/EricFrankRussell's ''Literature/{{Wasp}}'', is sent down alone to an alien planet to stir up as much trouble as he possibly can.
* The backstory of Riviera in ''Literature/{{Neuromancer}}'' who has a sexual fetish out of betrayal. He enjoys seducing women, turning them towards radical causes, then handing them over to the Turkish Secret Police and assisting in their torture.
* ''Literature/DeathOnTheNile'' has one of these as the RedHerring.
* ''On Wings of Eagles'' by Ken Follett. Ross Perot and his executives are approached by a shady character who offers to get their colleagues out of an Iranian prison in exchange for a considerable amount of money to be paid into an escrow account (meaning the money isn't handed over till after the deal). After debating the matter, they decide to refuse because they suspect they're being set up for a bribery charge.
* This is G's role in ''Agent G: Infiltrator'' from the ''Literature/AgentG'' series. After TheMole is eliminated from the International Refugee Society, he is sent to infiltrate the Carnivale. From there, he plays on the prejudices and ambitions of all the characters before turning them against one another. It kicks off an EnemyCivilWar and while it's only a brief one, it allows him to accomplish his mission. He, notably, feels pretty awful about the whole thing at the end as psychotic or not, he'd befriended at least one of the Carnivale's agents.
* In ''Red Seas, Red Skies'' of the ''Literature/GentlemanBastard'' series, Locke and Jean are forcibly recruited by the Magistar of the city they're robbing to try to start a pirate uprising so he can he crush it in order to increase his personal power. Given both Locke and Jean are not only thieves but priests of thievery, this is literally against their religion--but so is dying.
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[[folder: Live Action Television ]]
* ''Series/ThePrisoner''. This trope causes the failure of the escape attempt in "Checkmate". Number Six works out how to identify the spies among the inhabitants of the Village, and thus is able to recruit a team of genuine prisoners. [[spoiler:Unfortunately on the night of the escape the prisoners become paranoid that Number Six is an agent provocateur trying to incite them, so denounce him to Number Two.]]
* ''{{Series/Guerrilla}}'': Some of the black protesters are paid by the police to start throwing stones at National Front members, giving them an excuse to break up the rally.
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[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', This is the common tactic of Genestealer cults: Their aim is to incite rebellion and civil war across the whole world they're established on, which they do by infiltrating both sides. That way they can ensure the Arbites will shoot at peaceful demonstrators, as well as ensure most demonstrators won't be peaceful to begin with, and violence will escalate.
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[[folder: Religion ]]
* [[Literature/TheBible King David]] sent one of his men to Absalom to give bad advice so that David could escape Jerusalem and prepare for war.
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[[folder: Videogames ]]
* You can take on this role in ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'' while infiltrating the Sith Academy. The protagonist can redeem a number of students back to the Light Side and also turn the head of the academy against their student [[spoiler: before eliminating them both.]] This is a good way to weaken the academy significantly if you're a Light Sider.
* Conner can do this in ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIII'' with some crowds, turning them into unruly mobs during the parts taking place near UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution.
* This is basically what Viktor Marchenko is in ''VideoGame/DeusExMankindDivided''. He's working for the Illuminati in order to goad the Augmented Rights Coalition into terrorist attacks. He believes, once they've killed a bunch of innocent people, the Illumiinati will be able to pass their Human Restoration Act.
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[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* Captain Barca from ''WesternAnimation/ExoSquad'' is one, constantly enticing younger [[SpacePirate Pirates]] to rebel against Simbacca, while on Phaeton's payroll.
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[[folder: Real Life ]]
* While police [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sting_operation sting operations]] (such as asking to buy some drugs hoping the suspected drug dealer would agree, then catching them in the act) bear a close resemblance to this trope, the police have to be careful. Crossing the line into persuading someone to commit a crime they otherwise would have been unlikely to is called entrapment, and depending on the jurisdiction can get evidence dismissed or even cause the whole case to be thrown out.
* Throughout history, Agent Provocateurs have been sent inside a few social movements with the intent to destroy them and stir up controversy to help discredit the movement. As a result, they are often used as scapegoats when protests turn ugly. Wiki/TheOtherWiki provides a list of proven and suspected cases [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_provocateur here]].
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COINTELPRO COINTELPRO]] was an American government program of Agent Provocateurs deployed between 1956 and 1971. Agents were sent to infiltrate the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, among others.
** J. Edgar Hoover's infiltration of the Communist Party is an interesting example of EpicFail with this trope to the point of RealityIsUnrealistic. It turns out the US government pumped so much money and had so many informants in the communist party, it actually kept the organization from collapsing.
* Some people have assumed that Website/{{Tumblr}} has been the targets of these - not because the government wishes to discredit the Social Justice movement(s) prevalent on the site, but because {{Troll}}s are simply bored and want to dismantle the movement(s) by invoking PoesLaw. One ''infamous'' example of this was [=#TakeDown4Chan=], which [[AwakeningTheSleepingGiant went about as well as you would expect]]. It's been both claimed and suspected that the entire farce was started by 4Chan, though [[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgment lets just leave it at that]].
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