"The thing about doubling anyone is that the more they do for you, the deeper they get. The deeper they get, the more you can make them do. Great if you're running them, but hard on the source. The suicide rate is... above average."
The guy who's both The Mole
and the Reverse Mole
. He works for both sides and plays them off against each other. Although often shown as a villain, he can also be a likeable rogue who just happens to have flexible loyalties, or who has problems with both sides and enjoys setting them on each other. He can even be loyal to one side, and willing to engage in the Dirty Business
of faking being an agent for the other; The Mole
who engages in Becoming the Mask
may turn into this.
Although it's possible to find a Double Agent in a crime drama
, usually as an inside man in the Mob, he's more often seen in spy dramas
. The Double Agent is often The Chessmaster
. Becomes the Double Reverse Quadruple Agent
when taken to the extreme.
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Anime & Manga
- Ryouji Kaji of Neon Genesis Evangelion is employed by NERV, SEELE, and the Japanese government to spy on and steal information from one another; NERV knows he's a double agent, SEELE suspects, and the National Security Agency is relatively clueless. Eventually, one of the factions (either SEELE or NERV, per Word of Anno) gets sick of his backstabbing and calls in a hit on him.
- Sideways, from Transformers Armada, masqueraded as an Autobot, then did a Face-Heel Turn and "revealed" he was "really" a Decepticon... only to later betray them as well. Turned out he was trying to escalate the war for his Boss. He made a return appearance in Cybertron.
- Itachi from Naruto was a double agent for Konoha while pretending to be the Uchiha clan's mole in the ANBU
- In Bleach, Gin was working with Aizen to kill him— Gin wanted to avenge the way Aizen had abused his friend Rangiku. It took him a century to obtain both the information needed, and the actual opportunity itself, to make the assassination attempt.
- Gajeel of Fairy Tail used to be one between Fairy Tail and Raven Tail, though loyal to Fairy Tail. In what could be considered an example of They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot, the information he gets from Raven Tail never really comes to use, as before Fairy Tail can find Raven Tail and stop them in their tracks, fate has them meet in the Grand Magic Games. Laxus defeats them, and they realize that Gajeel was really loyal to Fairy Tail all along, making his agent status obsolete. However, they only make a blink-and-you-miss-it comment about it, and what Gajeel did and found out as a double agent is never expanded on.
Films — Live-Action
- Harry Potter: Snape. Snape. Severus Snape. His true allegiance is one of the Big Mysteries of the first six books, and, after frantic Epileptic Trees regarding the sixth book's ending, in the seventh it at last turns out that he was good all along, and that he helped Dumbledore because he was in love with Lily and felt guilty that she died because he was a Death eater and was the one who related the prophecy to Voldemort.
- Taken to truly brain-melting levels in the book and film Where Eagles Dare: although everybodies' loyalties are eventually revealed to have been constant throughout, the loyalties they claim ping-pong back andforth like crazy. Check under Batman Gambit for details.
- On My Honor: the main character is a double agent working as The Mole in one kingdom as well as one of its ruler's most trusted assassins. Then he's assigned to murder the king of his home country, an unpopular new ruler. Obviously this makes things... complicated.
- In Mara, Daughter of the Nile, the title character finds herself going from unimportant slave girl to one of these in a battle for the crown in about a day's time. It takes her most of the book to figure out who's side she's really one. Then, it's revealed that Sahure is one as well.
- All over the Cold War works of John le Carré.
- Ryan O'Reily in the HBO series Oz, who worked rival gang leaders against each other by frequently pledging loyalty to each of them and suggesting opposing plans of attack in order to get them to murder each other. He's rather a self-interested manipulator, using one faction against another to survive.
- Piggy in Power Rangers S.P.D., who was supplying Emperor Gruumm, Broodwing and the Rangers all with the same information, and much too terrified to try crossing any of them.
- Pick a character from Alias. Any character.
- Ari in NCIS was like this. He was manipulating all sides for personal reasons.
- Ironically, the heads of both sides thought Ziva was spying on them. As it happens, both Director Vance and her father were completely wrong, but it allowed them to spend several episodes being a Jerk Ass to the conflicted Ziva.
- Sam Axe did this for a while in Burn Notice, though not by choice.
- Alex Krycek of The X-Files is this trope to a T. He's introduced as the Mole, but eventually just works for whatever side gives him the most advantage.
- JAG: Sina Kazzari in "The Black Jet", who at first is assumed to work for the Americans, but later turns out to be working for the Iranians as well.
- The instruction card for Data East's Secret Service pinball implies the player is one of these, possibly to justify why he's shooting (pinballs) at the White House and the Capitol Building.
- The roleplaying game Paranoia involves so many conflicting goals that the PCs are basically forced into this. If they aren't, you're doing it wrong. Unless they're triple or quadruple agents instead, in which case you're doing it very right. The premise of Paranoia is that mutants and members of secret societies are by definition traitors who must be executed by the Troubleshooters (they find trouble, and then they shoot it). Your character is a Troubleshooter. Your character is also a mutant. And a member of a secret society. Won't this be fun?
- Revolver Ocelot, of Metal Gear Solid fame, is probably the definition of this; the end of each game has him talking with some puppetmaster or another over the phone, making known his double, triple, and quadruple crosses but never quite explaining what they are when all is said and done. To wit, he gives an arguably false name to Big Boss at the end of the third game, is revealed to have been masterminding the entire events of it in the third-and-a-half-th game, is apparently both a Man Behind the Man and double crosser to Liquid Snake in the original Metal Gear Solid (working for the President), and is seen "working for" the same (ex) President in a conspiracy in Metal Gear Solid 2 up until the end, where it turns out he was actually working for a completely different conspiracy as well as himself.
- Gets even more complex in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots where he's an agent of said conspiracy working to destroy it from within.
- Though amazingly, he did tell Big Boss his real name.
- Basically, it seems Ocelot worked for the American CIA before transferring his allegiance to Big Boss. Everything else was him playing multiple sides for Big Boss's sake. Of course, it still fits as being out for himself, because he really respects Big Boss.
- Loads of them show up in Metal Gear Solid 3. In addition to Ocelot himself we also have The Boss and EVA.
- Kratos in Tales of Symphonia: he starts out good, then turns out to be part of Cruxis, so you fight him, then he helps out the good guys anyway for his own inscrutable purposes. There's also Zelos who is working all three sides at once and depending on game choices will either completely join your side after faking a betrayal or actually betray you, fight against you, and die.
- Not to mention Yuan, who starts out trying to kill you (and already acting as a double agent for two sides), then agrees to an alliance, then betrays you, and then finally decides to help you after all when the double agent act collapses. And then there's Mithos' mid-game Helpful NPC stint...
- Pretty much the entire point of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent, although the player can ultimately determine just who Sam is ultimately working for.
- The player character in Far Cry 2.
- The Spy in Team Fortress 2. His entire play style is based around convincing the enemy that you're one of them before backstabbing them. Described in his trading card as a "double reverse quadruple agent."
- Axel, firstly in Kingdom Hearts II. And especially him in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.
- In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, it's shown that Axel wasn't actually a double agent — he was a quintuple agent. At one point, he pretended to join in with Marluxia's conspiracy, in order to get close enough to eliminate him as a traitor on Xemnas' orders, while really working with Saix so they can overthrow Xemnas themselves. At the same time, he helped both Sora and Namine, only partially because they would destroy Marluxia for him, and wiped out two Organization members who were still loyal to Xemnas to avoid anyone else using the knowledge of the Replica Project. In the end, of course, Axel's only real loyalty is to himself (though he tends to include his friends in that, whether they like it or not).
- Harley Filben of Deus Ex works for the NSF as a mole for UNATCO, but is actually working for the NSF as part of his duties for the Illuminati. It should also be noted that every time Harley Filben reveals that he's working as a double agent for whatever organization at the time, JC Denton himself is currently allied with that faction.
- Gaea from the Noob franchise, while a self-serving Manipulative Bastard, is still nominally part of the Empire and the Noob guild thanks to game mechanics. She also works with the hacker who wants to drive players out of the game for in-game currency and other perks. Then, thanks to a Frame-Up, a bunch of Coalition players get convinced that she's a double agent loyal to the Coalition. Gaea never sets them right because extra players that can take the bullet for her are always a good thing from her point a view. This situation gets an extra level of complexity when Gaea eventually joins the Coalition, but her second gaming avatar remains an Empire and Noob guild member, but the closest she ever gets to actual spying is getting paid to give the Empire top guild information about the hacker.
- In one of the greatest intelligence success stories of all time, the British managed to turn literally every German spy in Britain to their service early in World War II, then used the German intelligence network in England as a massive puppet show to deceive Germany about Allied strength, strategy, and goals. And since they had all the current German infiltrators turned, they always knew when new ones would be snuck in, and captured them immediately. The captured spies would be given the option to join in the sending of false info, or die. Some would be kept out of circulation anyway, because the Germans obviously would have gotten suspicious if none of their spies were ever caught. Admittedly, at least in the case of the Abwehr agents, a lot of them probably switched sides willingly with the hope of bringing down the Nazis.
- Germany staged a less comprehensive show for the British in turn in Holland and other areas of occupied Europe by seizing resistance cells and their British advisers, making the British waste resources and time.
- David Coleman Headley, a Pakistani-American who helped mastermind the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, is considered this by many in India. Headley was both an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and a spy for Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), which allegedly fights proxy wars against India through Islamic terrorist groups.
- Juan Pujol Garcia, a.k.a. "GARBO," who conned his way into Nazi Intelligence, used that to get into British Intelligence (his real goal), and played a critical role in ensuring that D-Day was a success.