An agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or one of its fictional counterparts.
The FBI is the investigative branch of the United States of America's Department of Justice. See American Law Enforcement
for information about the agency. This is about the agents in fiction.
From the late 1920s through the 1950s; "G-Men" were seen in fiction as incorruptible forces for law and America, with very rare exceptions. However, J. Edgar Hoover's suspicion of the politics and motivations of prominent civil rights activists, and growing paranoia about the social changes in America, caused the FBI's activities to become increasingly out of step with the times. Mishandled cases and other scandals, some decades old, were talked about more publicly. After Hoover died in 1972, a law previously passed to limit the tenure of FBI directors came into effect. Scurrilous rumors of J. Edgar's sexual peccadillos or connection to organized crime figures got a lot more play once he couldn't sic his agents on those reporting them.
Media portrayals of the FBI since then have generally depicted a flawed but usually well-meaning organization, some of whose agents are corrupt or evil. Works of fiction will often use a No Celebrities Were Harmed
version of the FBI and Hoover. They have a better public image than the CIA
, of course, Hoover's machinations notwithstanding.
FBI agents during the majority of the Hoover period were Always Male
(there had been female agents before he took office, but he felt that women were unsuited for the work) and agents of color were rare to non-existent, which made working in certain communities, especially infiltration of them, difficult. Indeed, during the Hoover years the FBI rarely had its agents infiltrate the organizations they investigated, preferring to recruit paid informants who were already on the inside. Special agents must have a 4-year ("bachelor's") college degree, with a preference given to Law and Accounting.
Sometimes overlaps with The Men in Black
. If the FBI isn't the only law enforcement agency involved, there may be Jurisdiction Friction
. For agents of other government agencies without their own entry, including fictional ones, see Government Agency of Fiction
Works that feature the FBI or its agents include:
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Anime & Manga
- Baccano!'s Victor Talbot is part of the FBI, head of a special division dealing with immortal affairs.
- Appears in Death Note, where they are trying to find Kira. The FBI were brought in because the Japanese police were having no luck in tracking Kira down, plus L correctly susses that Kira was related to one of the investigating officers and thus the investigation itself may have been compromised (which it was, since Light was spying on his dad, the leader of said investigation). Besides that, L was hired by the United Nations because Kira was killing on a global scale and the only reason the Japanese were assigned to the case was that L just figured out that Kira was based in Japan.
- The James Cagney movie G-Men, was released in 1935, and was the first movie about the renamed FBI.
- Will Graham and Clarice Starling of The Silence of the Lambs.
- Dog Day Afternoon. FBI Agent Sheldon is portrayed as being tough, unflappable and in charge, and the bank robber Sonny clearly respects him. Agent Murphy is chosen to drive the getaway car, and he cleverly asks Sal (the other bank robber) to point his gun up so he won't accidentally shoot anyone. When they arrive at the airport Murphy uses a gun stashed in a hidden compartment to kill Sal while Agent Sheldon captures Sonny.
- Die Hard. Two FBI agents take over the law enforcement response to the takeover and, as Al Powell says, "They've got the universal terrorist playbook and they're running it step by step." This plays right into the hands of Hans Gruber, who takes advantage of their tactics to break into the vault. The agents then try to slaughter the terrorists while risking the hostages' lives and get blown up by a terrorist trap.
- Zeke Kelso and assorted other agents in That Darn Cat!.
- Once upon a Time in Mexico features Jorge Ramirez, a retired FBI agent living in Mexico. After being recruited by Agent Sands, he ends up dusting off his old skills and tools to find out what Barillo is up to.
- Rush Hour has FBI agents and Detective Carter (Chris Tucker) apparently wants to join the FBI early in the film. He decides to stick with the LAPD in the end.
- Mississippi Burning is all about two (Played by Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe) FBI agents investigating the murder of several civil rights workers in Mississippi during the civil rights movement of the 60s.
- J. Edgar, the biopic of J. Edgar Hoover, naturally. Portrayal of Hoover's influence on the kind of people who are accepted into the F.B.I. over the years is shown.
- The FBI Story, a 1959 movie starring James Stewart that depicts the history of the organisation from the mid 20's until the late 50's through the life of FBI Agent Chip Hardesty. As Hoover had approval over every shot and had a pair of special agents stick with the director during filming the movie shows the FBI in a rather idealised light.
- The protagonist of The Rock, Dr. Stanley Goodspeed, is an FBI scientist who, along with a former Alcatraz inmate John Mason (played by Sean Connery) must infiltrate Alcatraz to defeat a group of rogue Marines, defuse missiles loaded with VX gas, and rescue the hostages.
- Sean Archer, The Hero of Face/Off, is an FBI agent who is looking to get revenge on a notorious terrorist named Castor Troy, who was responsible for the death of his son years ago. The two eventually switch faces when Castor and his brother Pollux refuse to give the location of the bomb.
- FBI agent Lemmy Caution appeared in Peter Chaney's novels This Man Is Dangerous (1936) and Can Ladies Kill? (1938).
- Will Graham and Clarice Starling of The Silence of the Lambs.
- The FBI is an important part of the plot in the Nero Wolfe novel The Doorbell Rang. Rex Stout (the author) really hated J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, so the novel is pretty much entirely a Take That against them.
- The FBI are all over the place in Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels. Several FBI agents are major characters, including one who saves the life of Ryan's daughter during a terrorist attack in Executive Orders.
- In Kim Newman's Diogenes Club stories, the heroes' American counterparts are FBI agents. "Moon Moon Moon" explains that they're agents of a federal bureau of investigation, which is not the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
- In the Dresden Files book Fool Moon, the FBI shows up to investigate a series of killings with a wolf element. One of Murphy's exes is also an FBI agent.
- John Ringo's Special Circumstances group is a secret group of agents within the FBI that deal in crimes involving the supernatural/paranormal, and are often paired up with "mundane" agents to assist with the non-supernatural tasks.
- FBI agents frequently appear in the Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee series by Tony Hillerman, which is about the Navajo Tribal Police. Homicides committed on Indian Reservations are FBI jurisdiction, so expect Jurisdiction Friction whenever a murder occurs.
- The plot of Elmore Leonard's Pronto starts off because an FBI agent wants to build a racketeering case against a Miami mobster. He tries to pressure a local bookie into testifying against the mobster by making it seem like the bookie was stealing from the mob. However, by the time people start getting killed because of this scheme, the FBI agent had decided that the mobster is too small-time and abandons the investigation. It is up to US Marshal Raylan Givens to clean up the mess the FBI has created.
- In The Leonard Regime, the Department of Economic Regulation and Social Order is the result of the FBI's merge with the IRS. This makes every DERSO agent an FBI agent as well.
- In Relic (Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child) Margo Green teams up with S.A. Pendergast, the only one with knowledge of the mysterious being killing people in the NY Museum of Natural History.
- In The Genesis Code, FBI agent Tom Drabowski is brought in to investigate a carjacking linked to a murderer and help the murderer escape.
- The F.B.I., a television show with fictionalized versions of real FBI cases, starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
- Twin Peaks featured FBI agent Dale Cooper.
- The X-Files has a fictitious two-person "department" of the FBI that investigates possibly paranormal connections to federal cases.
- The final season of Charmed featured FBI Agent Murphy.
- The FBI is highly prominent in the seventh season of 24, at least the Washington D.C. branch. Agents include Love Interest Renee Walker and her boss Larry Moss. Eventually, the D.C. branch is overrun by the events of the day (not to mention the nationwide inteligence infiltration by African militia no less) and has to be saved by merging with "CTU Lite" (ie.: Chloe O'Brian).
- Agents of the FBI are also featured in the show NCIS with Tobias Fornell being somewhat a regular in the show. They even get to play Internal Affairs on the NCIS Main Yard in one episode.
- Veronica Mars:
- In "Donut Run", Two FBI agents come to Neptune to investigate Duncan's disappearance, but they spend most of their time snarking about backwater Neptune and belittling Sheriff Lamb.
- The Season Four teaser showed that, had the series continued, it would have portrayed Veronica's FBI Academy career.
- Also Deputy Director Cullen, Director Hacker, and for a while, Anget Sullivan. A guy named Agent Kenton was a corrupt one in one episode.
- In Castle, Beckett has an ex in the FBI who she occasionally hits up for favors.
- Fitz from The Wire. He's friendly with McNulty; as a rule, he genuinely wants to help the Baltimore police department with whatever problem they have that needs federal resources, but is constrained by the department's post-9/11 focus on counterterrorism.
- Leverage has FBI Special Agents Taggart and McSweeten as recurring characters. They believe that Parker and Hardison are also FBI agents specializing in secret undercover assignments and thus more than willing to help them out. In exchange they get all the credit for catching the bad guys at the end of an episode. They're portrayed as well-meaning but incompetent; it's a Running Gag that the scams in all their episodes have the side effect of giving them a gift-wrapped high-profile arrest (in one case literally — Parker tapes a bow on the guy before locking him in McSweeten's trunk).
- The Inside: The FBI allows Special Agent Virgil Webster to operate an elite team out of the Los Angeles field office, called the VCU.
- Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye: Based on a real deaf FBI employee.
- Fringe focuses on the fictional Fringe Division of the FBI, which is tasked with investigating paranormal criminal cases.
- Dollhouse has Paul Ballard who gets kicked out and ends up working for the company he was investigating.
- Special Agent In Charge Seeley Booth is the FBI agent assigned to the Jeffersonian.
- And in one episode, Adam Baldwin plays a fellow FBI agent who helps Booth investigate a gruesome murder and agrees to protect Bones when Booth is injured. He is secretly working for the Mafia.
- Burn Notice: In the first season, Sam informs on Michael to the FBI (though Michael knows he's doing it), who are curious as to why a known spook has washed up in Miami. In later seasons, Agents Lane and Harris pop up from time to time to reluctantly help Team Westen.
- White Collar: All but two major characters are based in the White Collar Crime division of the FBI's New York office.
- Criminal Minds: The main characters are Special Agents from the FBI Behavorial Analysis Unit.
- Its spinoff, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, also involves characters from the FBI, but with a slight twist- they're a rogue unit that operates covertly as a "quick response" unit, answering directly to the Director of the FBI.
- In Justified the US Marshals are shown to be getting along fine with the FBI until season 3 when a serious case of Jurisdiction Friction occurs when Raylan interferes in their investigation into the Theo Tonin mob family. The FBI agent in charge goes as far as trying to have Raylan arrested on corruption charges. Season 4 reveals that the FBI agent was actually working for Theo Tonin all along.
- Season 4 of Boardwalk Empire introduces the Bureau of Investigation (the "Federal" part would be added a decade later) with J. Edgar Hoover just beginning his tenure as director. It takes over illegal liquor investigations from the corrupt Bureau of Internal Revenue and quickly poses a significant threat to Nucky Thompson and the other gangsters. However, Hoover decides to instead refocus the BoI's resources into investigating and prosecuting civil rights advocates and prominent socialists since he sees them as a bigger threat to America.
- The Blacklist centres around a wanted criminal turning himself in to the FBI in order to help them track down other criminals that the FBI wasn't even aware of.
- In Dead End, gangster "Baby-Face" Martin is finally caught by three G-Men. Martin shoots one of them, but receives twelve bullets from the other two.
- J. Edgar Hoover and the Bureau of Investigation (as the game takes place before the name change) show up (and torture the player character) in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth.
- Heavy Rain: Norman Jayden is an FBI profiler who also has access to technology that lets him be a one-man CSI team.
- Francis York Morgan from Deadly Premonition. He's pretty strongly influenced by Dale Cooper.
- Agent Edgar Ross from the "Bureau" in Red Dead Redemption, who uses the protagonist to wipe out a group of outlaws stifling government progress.
- As the boys from South Park are playing detectives they get trumped by another group of boys playing FBI who take over their "kidnapping" case.
- Becomes a Brick Joke later in the episode, when, at an actual crime scene, the actual South Park Police Dept. have control of the scene taken over by the actual FBI almost exactly the way the boys game was taken over, complete with both cops and agents whining like 10-year olds.