Page-bottom layout change on the way. Details here.
Causes no change to editing/formatting of articles. This is just FYI.
: The report exists? Leo McGarry
: Well I can't tell you that, Joe; it was classified. But I can tell you it was classified by the Defense Department.
A trope common in espionage and military fiction.
It often materializes as red tape used by characters in order to withhold certain information from others. Truth in Television
. This occasionally leads to Poor Communication Kills
Compare I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You
. See also Over-The-Top Secret
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Haruhi Suzumiya: this is Mikuru's Catch Phrase (kinsoku jikou, in Japanese). She's actually an interesting variant; the reason she says "classified information" is because of an information censor that was placed inside her that is always monitoring her speech to make sure she doesn't spill any futuristic time-breaking Info Dumps. She's surprised that when the restriction is lowered she can speak normally about things she couldn't say before.
Mikuru: I used classified information to contact the future or for classified information... But when I hadn't heard from classified information for a week I thought something was wrong. And then classified information... I was so shocked that I classified information, but there was no classified information... What should I do?
- The above Haruhi example is later referenced in Lucky Star by Patricia Martin.
- A variation in Slayers has Xellos and his Catch Phrase "This is a secret!" (Sore wa himitsu desu!)
- Subverted in The Walking Dead; the scientist for the Center for Disease Control who's carrying the cure for the Zombie Apocalypse refuses to reveal any further details because they're classified. Turns out he's actually a school teacher making up stories so people will protect him.
- Resident Evil: the team leader is giving an Info Dump about the Umbrella research lab under Raccoon City.
A top-secret research facility owned and operated by the Umbrella Corporation. The Hive houses over 500 technicians, scientists and support staff. They live and work underground. Their research is of the highest importance. Its nature is...classified.
- Short Circuit: when Stephanie first meets Ben and Newton, she asks them what the purpose of these advanced robots is (prototype weapons).
Ben: It's top-secret crap.
Stephanie: Yeah, I figured.
- My Favorite Martian has an example when a Man in Black investigating the site of a crashed ship complains that they're not going to get anything out of this... just like "that Roswell fiasco". His boss immediately reprimands him, reminding him that "not only is that incident classified, but it never happened!"
- In Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, at the end a couple of SPARTANS take off their helmets, revealing surprisingly young faces. One of the cadets asks how old they are, to which Kelly replies "That's classified". At the time, the SPARTANS were roughly 15 or 16 years old, and their existence had not yet been made public.
- Percy's reasoning for not telling Ron, Harry and the others about the Triwizard Tournament's coming to Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
"It's classified information until such time as the Ministry sees fit to release it," said Percy stiffly. "Mr. Crouch was quite right not to disclose it."
"Oh, shut up Weatherby," said Fred.
- Galaxy of Fear once has Tash given free rein at a computer in an Imperial research facility because she's logged in as a guest and can only get at public data. She quickly runs up against classified things... and manages to log in as someone with clearance to see them, because she guesses the amazingly obvious password. Later in the series there's an Un Reveal related to classified information.
- The Laundry operates on a complicated codeword system. Things aren't simply classified into levels like "Secret" and "Top Secret", but each particular secret thing one might need to know about is assigned its own codeword, and you need to be cleared for it individually. For instance (and an illustration of just how impenetrable it gets), just being cleared for ANNING BLUE SKULL and CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN doesn't mean you get to know anything about DEEP SEVEN, BLUE HADES, or CASE BROCCOLI GOLDENEYE. The Laundry being on occult intelligence agency, it's literally impossible to deliberately spill the beans on a codeword to anyone not briefed on it.
- As mentioned below, Truth in Television: having a security clearance doesn't mean you instantly have access to all the information classified at that security level. It's why the phrase "Need To Know" exists.
- The War Against the Chtorr. A robot is sent into an alien dome to flash it with EMP, hopefully killing any man-eating alien worms before The Squad follows. A footnote helpfully informs us that an EMP-grenade will cook or curdle any living matter within a radius of (CLASSIFIED). A single charge will yield as many as (CLASSIFIED) useable pulses. There is also the tendency of the flash to destroy any unshielded electronic gear within the larger radius of (CLASSIFIED). One could argue this is a good writer's technique to explain what EMP is while Black Boxing the actual technology involved.
Live Action TV
- Primarch Victus uses this in a rare out-of-character moment to avoid having to explain the Turian fail-safe planet-destroying bomb on Tuchanka in Mass Effect 3.
- Subverted in Every Button Hurts the Other Guy in that much of the information that Fang Mao-Yin deals with is classified, but this doesn't stop her from absent-mindedly letting most of it slip.
- The SCP Foundation does this with [REDACTED] and [DATA EXPUNGED] and ███████, making a situation report read like a list of Noodle Incidents.
- Redvs Blue: CT really doesn't want to share his information. It classified.
Sarge: Classified as what?
CT: Classified as something I can't tell you, now stop fishing for information!
Grif: You can't tell us, or you won't tell us?
CT: I can't tell you... which is convenient, because I don't want to tell you.