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Operation Blank
"Begin Operation: Something-Thingy!"

The standard naming scheme for a military operation is "Operation: Some Phrase". Used in real life, and in any series involving spies, soldiers, and the government, or parodies thereof. Straight uses are too numerous to count, but some common subversions, variants, and spoofs come up. A Code Name for a plan instead of a person, and can follow the same conventions. Science uses an almost identical scheme, but their stuff starts with "Project:".

In real life, operation names are (at least American military ones), since the first Gulf War, often optimistically descriptive (Operation Restore Hope, Operation Allied Force, Operation Iraqi Freedom [an infamous Re Tool from Operation Iraqi Liberation…], Operation Enduring Freedom — which was originally Operation Infinite Justice until several nations complained that only God could dispense that), particularly if very important, US-led and heavily media-covered.

The US began using marketing people to come up with these after their earlier method (a random name generator) produced "Operation: Bolton" as the name for Desert Storm (The American contribution to The Gulf War). However there were fears about retaliation against the town of Bolton and also that troops would be embarrassed to go to war in an operation named after a dreary little town in the north of England. It became more of a brand name than a Code Name. Wartime or covert operations are more obliquely named, with security a higher consideration than sounding cool (though let's face it, Operation Anaconda was pretty cool.). The British magazine New Statesman remarked that it said a lot about the difference between American and English culture that the USA called the Iraq War "Operation Iraqi Freedom" and the UK called it "Operation Telic" (a word that means "tending to a definite end", chosen from a random list). British stuffiness in choosing operation names is only rarely subverted, usually for especially momentous moments, such as the detonation of the UK's first atom bomb, Operation Hurricane.

During World War II, some British operations were entirely arbitrarily named from a big list of possible names, others were picked from vaguely related terms (Operation Dynamo for the Dunkirk evacuation took its name from the dynamo room in the naval headquarters below Dover Castle that Vice Admiral Ramsay used to plan the operation), while American ones tended to obliquely refer to the purpose (Operation Overlord for D-Day). Operation Market Garden, the airborne assault to push inland through the Netherlands from the D-Day beaches, may have been pushing it. The current trend in Britain (and most of the Commonwealth) is to assign a random from a computer list (for example, armed intervention in Sierra Leone was called "Operation Palisser", Iraq was Operation Telic). The Soviet Union used project numbers for their naval vessels and the Russian Federation does today (many are given in Mnogo Nukes).

Winston Churchill famously cautioned his commanders against assigning "silly" or frivolous codenames to operations, on the grounds that no mother or wife ought to have to hear that their son or husband died during "Operation Bunnyhug" or "Operation Ballyhoo". Nazi Germany used some fairly obvious code names, such Operation Seelöwe ("Sealion" or "Sea-Lion") for the planned invasion of Britain, Unternehmen Grün ("Operation Green") for a hypothetical invasion of Ireland, and Barbarossa (referring to Emperor Frederick I, who died on the third Crusade) for the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, a name Hitler chose, supplanting the original Wehrmacht name Fall Blau ("Case Blue"). Others were deliberately misleading, such as Weserübung ("Weser Exercise") for the invasion of Denmark and Norway, Rheinübung for the Bismarck's cruise, Sizilien (Sicily) for an operation against Spitzbergen, and Wacht am Rhein ("Watch on the Rhine") for the battle of the Bulge. Earlier on, the General Staff had called their operations things like "Case Green", "Case White", and "Case Anton" (the Germans saw campaigns as "cases" or problems to be solved), and some of the later ones appeared fairly random, e. g. Operation Merkur ("Mercury") for the airborn landing on Crete and Zitadelle ("Citadel") for the battle of Kursk in 1943.

Most fictional Operation/Project Names fall somewhere in between. The name is non-obvious, but is obliquely related to the purpose of the operation (like American WW2 names). Our Hero is mystified until he happens upon the piece of information that clues him in... Can be an example of Arc Words.

Favorite things to fill in the blank:
  • Mythological allusions, especially common if a scientist or academic named the thing, which they often do: Phoebus, Perseus, Hercules, Gemini. These are also common examples of "hero can work it out with the right information".
  • Animal name, with attached adjective: Stone Rhino, Burning Hawk, Concrete Donkey, Iron Serpent...
  • Tool name: Crowbar, Hammer, Icepick...
  • Sports position: Usually from American football, probably influenced by the real life Operation Linebacker during Vietnam. Operation Quarterback, Running Back, Pinch Hitter...
  • Location name: Most infamously, Operation Sedan (a nuclear weapons test, named for a city in France), which would cause an international incident when the name was later mispronounced as "Sudan", leading to the question of whether the US was performing illegal tests in other countries.

Common subversions, parodies, and spoofs:

May sometimes begin after a Team Hand Stack.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Ouran High School Host Club has a poster stating that the name of their scheme is called "Operation: Haru-chan Is Absolutely, Definitely And In All Ways A Guy!"
  • In the Viz translation of the Naruto manga, the invasion of Konoha is called "Operation Destroy Konoha".
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED has ZAFT enact "Operation Spitbreak".
    • Sequel SEED Destiny has Juna Roma name Operations after Greek mythological characters because he's a putz.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam is full of these. Running the full gambit of blatantly obvious "Operation Odessa" target was Odessa. To completely obscure, "Operation Cembalo" named after an old musical instrument. "Operation British" and "Operation Star One" fall in the relevant, but you'd have to know category.
  • In Revolutionary Girl Utena, the Alpha Bitch tries a series of schemes to discredit Anthy Himemiya: Operation "Oh my gosh, Anthy Himemiya's a weirdo keeping a snail in her pencil case!", Operation "Oh my gosh, Anthy Himemiya's a weirdo keeping a snake in her drawer!", and Operation "Oh my gosh, Anthy Himemiya's a weirdo keeping a live octopus in her closet!" They don't work.
  • Episode 6 of Neon Genesis Evangelion is "Operation: Yashima", where NERV plans to defeat an angel with a disintegration beam by having an Eva snipe it with a positron rifle (also appears with minimal differences in Rebuild of Evangelion 1.0). The Battle of Yashima was a naval battle between two clans fighting for control of Japan, known for one of the most legendary feats of archery in Japanese history.
  • Yuri of Angel Beats! always gives her missions these names. Very frequently, as with Operation Tornado (using fans to steal meal tickets) and Operation Monster Stream (fishing), the names are Mundane Made Awesome.
    Yuri: Operation…START!
  • In Mai-Otome Zwei, the name of the operation to free the hostages from the bus is named "Operation Silent Sea," based on the assumption that Haruka would be excluded from it. Unfortunately, she gives Cranial Eruptions to the people who tried to knock her out with a large rock, and heads to the scene on her own.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory is partly named after Operation Stardust, which starts with Gundamjacking a Super Prototype Gundam armed with a nuclear bazooka.
  • Amazing Agent Luna was originally planned to be called Operation: High School.
  • Girls und Panzer:
    • Miho has a habit of giving her battle plans silly and/or cutesy names, like "Operation: Sneaky Sneaks", "Operation: Teasy Tease", or "Operation: More Sneaky Sneaks".
    • Anchovy and the Anzio team instead name their battle plans after food. The "set up decoys as bait to ensnare your enemy" plan is "Operation: Macaroni".

    Comic Books 
  • Operation: Rebirth is the name of the experiment that gave Steve Rogers his Super Soldier enhancements that would make him Captain America. However, the "operation" would be more accurately named "Project: Rebirth." Or Project:Weapon I/Weapon Plus.
  • Lampshaded and normally averted in Fables, when the Fabletown residents are in military mode. Normally they are very good about making sure that their operations have codenames that hold clues to their purpose, but (as Cinderella laments) the lads in charge just can't help themselves when they name their plan to isolate the Empire's capital, effectively cutting off its head, Operation Jack Ketch.
    • Although, in all fairness, by the time the operation was well underway, not only did the Empire realise what was happening, they were pretty much powerless to prevent it.

    Fan Works 
  • In Shinji And Warhammer 40 K, Ritsuko gets fed up with Misato's lousy operation codenames and comes up with a random word generator. The result? "From now on we put our faith in Blast Hard Cheese!"
  • In Ready, Sette, Go, Sette (who has been released from prison and seeks out Cinque for further orders) puts "Operation" in front of many things, including a suggestion by Wendi to act more normally and not call everything an "operation".
  • Queen Of All Oni: Jade's Batman Gambit to get one of the masks on one of the heroes and use them to infiltrate Section 13 and steal the other masks is called "Operation Steel Lightning". Her Quirky Miniboss Squad are quick to point out that the name makes no sense whatsoever and suggest more fitting alternatives, but she shoots them all down — she chose the name because it sounds cool, so she's keeping it.
    • It's revealed in a later chapter that Jade's attempts to find the location of the second tablet of the Teachings of Eternal Shadow is called "Operation Blazing Wolf"; no one comments on the name this time.
    • During the above, Jade name drops something in the works called "Operation Painted Lemur" (Tohru is stunned by the absurdity of the name, and Right agrees with him) which eventually turns out to be her plan to brainwash and transform Viper into a Shadowkhan General.
    • There's also "Operation Chirping Chipmunk", which was apparently a plan to trick the J-Team into thinking that Viper became Hebi voluntarily. However, Hak Foo's angry ranting after getting stuck with the Mini Khan includes the fact that Viper was brainwashed, which kills that plan before it can even happen.
  • Jewel Of Darkness: Midnight's master plan at the culmination of the Jump City Arc, to capture Robin and torture him into insanity in order to permanently break the Titans, is codenamed "Operation Blackfire" — not after Starfire's sister, but after Deacon Joseph Blackfire, the Big Bad of Batman: The Cult who is famous for (temporarily) successfully breaking Batman to his will via torture.
  • Examples from the Calvinverse:
  • A Brief History of Equestria: The Celestine Junta's plan for colonizing and relocating to a new homeland was codenamed Operation Withdrawal.
  • Life In Manehattan: Twilight's plan in Brag You Down to restore Trixie's reputation after the Mare-Do-Well plot backfires is called Operation Reputation Rescue.
    • The pegasi moving the water to Cloudsdale in Hurricane Blossomforth is called Operation Rainrise.
  • Worldwar: War of Equals, as it presents a realistic take on how the governments of the world would react to an alien invasion, naturally has plenty of these:
    • Operation Zeus: A joint American/Canadian operation on Race occupied Belleville which lead to several starships, including the 56th Emperor Jossano, being destroyed and Race operations in the United States being crippled.
    • Operation Halcòn: The Mexican military attacks a Race starship landing zone near Monterrey. The attack destroys one starship and damages six more.
    • Operation Marin: The first major victory for the European Coalition's air force and navy. The raid on Race starships in Bari destroys two starships and severely damages one which lands in the Adriatic Sea, with Europe collecting the remains of the ship and capturing the survivors.
    • Operation Piledriver: The United States Air Force drops three MOABs on The Race spearhead in Cotulla, Texas.
    • Operation Hermes (aka Operation Eve): Another joint American/Canadian operation, this time on Race positions between St. Louis and Jefferson City. With the enemy freezing thanks to good old mother nature, American and Canadian armored divisions and air forces strike vulnerable positions in occupied territory while ground and special forces are inserted into key positions behind enemy lines and destroy anti-armor and anti-air emplacements. The operation was a success and gives the American people the best Christmas gift they could ask for: the gift of a huge victory.
  • In Bait and Switch (and the Foundry mission it's based on) the Starfleet attack on the Orion base in the Badlands is codenamed "Operation Blue Friday". This leads to the following exchange during the Mission Briefing:
    Adm. Amnell Kree: Any questions?
    Capt. Kanril Eleya: (under her breath) Where the phekk do they get these codenames from?
    Kree: Random number generator. Any pertinent questions?

    Fan Vid 
  • One of the Higurashi Parody Fandub Series episodes had Rika declare, "Operation: Get back at this crazy bitch for killing my friends is a go!" when she was about to spray tear gas into Shion's eyes.
  • Hellsing Abridged has "Operation Kraut Control" which while entirely accurate, is far too vague to figure out (it was a directive to stop the Nazis from creating a vampire army).

    Film 
  • Inglourious Basterds has "Operation Kino." Which in hindsight was probably not the best name for their plan, seeing as Kino means 'cinema' in German. Guess where the assassination attempt is planned?
  • Commissioner Gibert from the French Taxi movies liked giving the police procedures names like this. The first movie features Operation Cobra, Operation Zen and Operation Puma, the second one has Operation Ninja and the third Operation Snow White.
  • In Mystery Men when the group went to rescue Captain Amazing, The Sphinx called the rescue: "Operation 3-Eyed, 3-Legged Eagle."
  • James Bond
  • Alice is part of Project Nemesis in Resident Evil: Apocalypse.
  • In the popular Soviet comedy Operation Y (Операция Ы), the titular operation is a mock robbery to conceal embezzlement by a warehouse administrator, named so by one of the hired thugs so that "nobody guesses why". In Russian, there are no words that start with the letter "Ы".
  • The lawman in Lady Vampire's preview segment in Monster Brawl refers to his upcoming arrest of her as "Operation Holy Water" in his notes, which was named after the claims of the nearby townsfolk about her vampirism. He should have believed them.
  • Though it wasn't named as such until Star Wars Battlefront 2, Operation: Knightfall from Revenge of the Sith was the ultimate culmination of Executive Order 66: Lord Vader and the 501st Legion's march on the Jedi Temple.
  • Operation Crossbow

    Literature 
  • Exception: David Weber's Star Kingdom of Manticore in the Honor Harrington books plays very true to its Real Life analogue, 17th/18th-century Britain, in using operation names pulled at random from a list of innocuous names. Dame Honor herself has participated in Operations Buttercup, Cutworm, Sanskrit, and Sanskrit II. The trope is played straight with the People's Republic of Haven, whose Operation Bagration shares its name with the Soviet Belorussian Offence during WWII.
    • Admiral White Haven does complain that Buttercup is a rather silly name, especially considering how successful it was in steam rolling the Havenite Navy.
    • With the exception of Bagration, most of Haven's operation names tend to be mythological or grandiose, like Scylla, Icarus, or Thunderbolt. Honor points out wistfully that Haven names sometimes give their natures away.
    • Solarians pick florid names like Operation Winter Forage and Operation East Wind.
    • Mesan cover ops tend to pick names that are kind of poor at disguising their intent, like a poison gas assassination plot called Operation Rat Poison and Operation Wooden Horse which planted bombs in the ships of their expendable pawns. Not to mention the much-foreshadowed Oyster Bay, which turned out to be a sneak attack on the home bases of the Manticoran and Grayson navies. Possibly Justified by the fact that no one knows Mesa exists in the first place, so they don't really need a Non-Indicative Name to preserve secrecy.
  • The Sixth Battle has a US amphibious landing codenamed Operation Evil Hyphen.
  • In The Hunt for Red October, Jack Ryan is told his operation's codename is "Mandolin" and his mission codename is "Magi". The names came from a list, as Ryan considers "Magi" inappropriate for him.
  • H. Beam Piper's The Edge of the Knife revealed that the U.S. prepared for the possibility of World War III in 1973 with "Operation Triple Cross": the enemy launched missile attacks on a number of vital bases — but each had a better-concealed duplicate and triplicate.
  • Operation Terror, a suspense novel by Gordon and Mildred Gordon that was adapted into the 1962 film Experiment in Terror.
  • Classified items in The Laundry Series usually use a fairly descriptive three-word codename. The End of the World, for instance, is CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, while the Higher-Tech Species that lives in the deep ocean is codenamed BLUE HADES.
  • Operation Peacock in Beauty Queens.
  • Given that it dealt with espionage, each of the do-it-yourself activities in the late-90s/early-2000s Scholastic "Spy University" book club was named like this, usually some sort of pun on the purpose or materials involved. (Disguising yourself with false teeth was "Operation Grin and Bear It", for instance.)
  • James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific and its better-known adaptation South Pacific culminates with Operation Alligator, a fictitious amphibious assault against the Japanese in World War II.
  • James Bond
    • Dr. Murik's plan to take over nuclear reactors for ransom in Licence Renewed is called Operation Meltdown.
    • The eponymous operation in Icebreaker is a joint effort by MI6, KGB, CIA and Mossad to take down the Nazi terrorist organization NSAA. The operation itself fails (since every member sans Bond is a double-agent of some kind), but the desired result is still achieved.
    • The bad guys' plan in Role of Honour is called Operation Down Escalator, a play on the word "de-escalation". Fitting, since they plan to remove the nuclear capablities of USA and Soviet Union.
    • The now-defunct Operation Cream Cake in No Deals, Mr. Bond was about MI-6 setting up a false Honey Trap campaign to secure two defectors from East Germany.
    • The operation to stop the suicide bombers and capture their leader in Scorpius is called Harvester, and the operation to stop the final one in the climax is called Last Enemy (named after a passage in The Bible, "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" from First Corinthians).
    • Win, Lose or Die opens with BAST putting the Operation WIN into action, which is just test-run for their main mission, named Operation LOSE.
    • A small sublot in Brokenclaw is about operation by Red China to crash the stock exchange in Wall Street, called Operation Jericho.
    • Operation SeaFire in the eponymous book is Max Tarn's plan to test his oilspill-cleaning craft, whether it works or not (ecological disaster is going to happen).
    • In COLD, the eponymous organization's plan to take over United States is called Operation Blizzard, while the good guys' counter-operation is called Antifreeze.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Angel episode "Ground State", Gunn asks what they'll need for "Operation Chance in Hell".
  • In 3rd Rock from the Sun, Sally and Harry determine that Mary's brother Roy, who seems to be an alien abductee, knows too much and must be done away with. Their plan to get rid of him is fittingly named "Operation: Kilroy".
  • The title character from Parker Lewis Can't Lose would occasionally do this in the middle of an episode.
    Parker: "Gentlemen! Synchronize Swatches. It's time for Operation ______."
  • Dark Angel had the pretty obvious Manticore Project, which created Super Soldier Half Human Hybrids by combining human and animal DNA.
  • Stargate Atlantis:
    Sheppard: Operation "This Will Most Likely End Badly" is a go.
  • Stargate SG-1 hid the SGC's funding under the innocuous label of "Project Blue Book", but they were apparently unable to resist calling the effort to repurpose technology stolen from alien "Gods" the Prometheus Project. Note that in real life, "Project Blue Book" was the Air Force's investigation into UFO sightings, ending in 1970.
  • The ninth chevron project in Stargate Universe is called Project Icarus. The novelization of the pilot episode implies that General O'Neill plans to tear a strip off of whoever jinxed the operation by giving it that particular name.
  • From an episode of Arrested Development:
    Buster: A hot mission. We should give it a name like Operation: Hot Mother.
    Michael: No, let's try to top that.
    Narrator: They never did and five minutes later, Operation: Hot Mother was under way.
  • The last episode of season one of Star Trek: The Original Series is called "Operation - Annihilate!".
  • Stephen Colbert was once given a flag that had been flown over the US Embassy in Afghanistan (?) during an (apparently actually real) mission known as Operation: Beef Hammer. As he noted, it doesn't get more American than that.
  • One episode of Blackadder Goes Forth has General Melchett call for volunteers to take part in a mission codenamed Operation: Certain Death.
  • Played for Laughs in Chuck. The protagonists are running a top secret operation tasked in part with protecting the Human Intersect Project, one Chuck Bartowski, and in part with using his abilities for spy business of all kinds. It's called "Operation Bartowski". Facepalm.
  • In the later seasons of Smallville, Lex Luthor had a tendency to name his secret projects this way with some straightforward classical references: the culmination of his experiments on "meteor freaks" to create a Super Soldier was called "Project Aresnote ", his attempts to clone his brother was "Project Gemininote ", his attempts to build a suit that copies Clark's powers was "Project Prometheusnote ", etc.
  • Space: Above and Beyond gives us "Operation Roundhammer", the code-name for an all-out assault on The Chig Homeworld. For bonus points, the moon that the operation is planned to be launched from is code-named "Anvil". The operation is even mentioned in foreshadowing earlier in the series, with earlier missions being stated to be in support of it, without revealing to the viewers just what Roundhammer was supposed to accomplish until the penultimate episode of the series. note 
  • Nikita: Division missions are all codenamed this way. According to Michael, the more innocent sounding the name, usually the more devastating the mission.
  • Ensign O'Toole, an early '60s sitcom set aboard a Navy destroyer, titled each of its episodes "Operation (something)".
  • The short-lived sitcom The Knights Of Prosperity titled every episode "Operation:________"
  • Ditto the '70s crime series O'Hara, U.S. Treasury.
  • Power Rangers Operation Overdrive. From the same franchise, Operation Lightspeed (the Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue) and Project Ranger (which developed the tech later used by the Power Rangers RPM).
  • The X-Files episode "Fallen Angel" has "Operation Falcon", which refers to a government procedure for covering up UFO crashes.
  • On Once Upon a Time, Henry calls his efforts to break the curse "Operation Cobra". As a tribute, Regina later calls the attempt to rescue Henry "Operation Henry".
  • Parodied by Spitting Image: At a loose end after the first Gulf War, General Schwartzkopf unveils his plan to unblock a troublesome lavatory: "Operation Get The Shit Out Of Here".

    Music 
  • The song "Operation Ground and Pound" by DragonForce.
  • The last refrain of "Super Rad!" by The Aquabats! mentions "Mission Codename Applesauce".

    Tabletop Games 
  • Played with in a piece of marginalia from 40k the Sabbat Worlds Crusade background material: Warmaster Slaydo code-names the assault plan for Balhaut "Operation Hell-Storm". On his deathbed shortly thereafter he became increasingly maudlin about the casualties incurred, believing the operational codename had condemned his men to a "storm of hell". This is snidely remarked upon by Lord Militant General Hechtor Dravere, who said that Slaydo might have been happier with the death tolls if he had named his plan "something better disposed, such as a constitutional in fine parkland, or tea on the terrace"

    Video Games 
  • Bentley names the climactic missions in the Sly Cooper game this way. He parodies himself with the climax to the Holland arc in Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves: OP: Turbo Dominant Eagle.
  • Super Robot Wars Original Generation spoofed this with Operation: SRW. We're never actually told what it stands for, but this invites several characters to speculate with amusing results, such as "Sexy Romance Weapons", and of course, "Super Robot War".
  • Part spoof and part Shout-Out, the first mission in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is code-named "Virtuous Mission." Anyone who had been annoyed by Raiden in the previous game must've been glad to know that it was not, as Snake joked, "Virtual Mission". The second mission fits as well, being code-named "Operation Snake Eater."
  • In City of Heroes, the covert paramilitary force known as the Malta Operatives uses realistically obscure codenames. For instance, the World Wide Red arc involves three groups, Kingdom, Omnivore, and Dreadnaught, with the middle group working on Project Wildflower. Kingdom was tasked with destabilizing US/China relations, which was the political end of the operation. Omnivore was responsible for deploying the nanotech weapon which would be used to kill people, mostly supers, on demand, i.e. it could eat anything. Dreadnaught's job was to prepare Kronos-class Titans, giant robots with the firepower of a battleship, which fits the name fairly obviously.
  • Each mission in Supreme Commander is named Operation _______. Generally, the mission name reflects the content of the mission in some way — Operation Metal Shark, for example, focuses heavily on naval units and strategy.
  • Ace Combat missions often have titles of this form. While the stage may have a different name, an Operation: Blank code name frequently appears in the Mission Briefing (except emergency missions which get no operation name). See examples: AC04, AC5, ACZ.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 has these for each mission. The first Soviet mission is Operation: Red Dawn.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Cerberus was responsible for the Lazarus Project, a name with such obvious implications that Commander Shepard's resurrection was not surprising in the least.
    • DLC adds Project: Overlord, an attempt to sway the loyalty of the geth by creating a new god figure to replace Sovereign, and Project: Firewalker, an archaeological mission to recover a Prothean artifact from a volcanic world.
    • And in the sequel, multiplayer events take this format as well, with Operation Goliath (kill 1 million of the appropriately-named Brutes), Operation Fortress, Operation Raptor, Operation Beachhead, Operation Resurgence (play on the new Resurgence maps), Operation Exorcist (kill 1 million Phantoms), Operation Silencer (kill 3 million Banshees), Operation Shieldwall, Operation Mastiff (complete 100,000 fetch quests), Operation Savage (kill 7 million Mooks), Operation Broadside, Operation Overwatch, Operation Olympus (extract from London; this operation was held during the London Olympics), Operation Alloy, Operation Patriot (full extraction with everyone playing the same non-human species), Operation Overdrive (full extraction in twenty minutes or less), Operation Bloodlust (score a gold melee medal with a krogan), Operation Valkyrie (the first operation after the Asari Valkyrie was made available and the N7 Valkyrie became an available reward), Operation Jackhammer (score 75,000 points with Biotic Charge), Operation Blast Furnace (score 75,000 points with fire-based powers), Operation Gearhead (score 75,000 points and extract 3 times with an engineer), Operation Detonator (score 20,000 points with biotic explosions), Operation Onslaught, Operation Alamo (survive 5 waves on a map unpopular with some because of how difficult it is), Operation Prophecy (on the weekend of December 21, 2012), Operation Genesis (extract with the default characters), Operation Geronimo, Operation Ballistic (score medals with any gun), Operation Firestorm (score 3 Killstreaks in one match), Operation Nightfall, Operation Heartbreaker (Valentine's Day challenge), Operation Tribute (in memory of Robin Sachs), Operation Impact, and Operation Lodestar.
    • The sequel's single-player gets in on it, too. The project to build a superweapon from plans found in the Prothean ruins on Mars is dubbed Project Crucible. In the assault on Earth in the endgame, the three prongs of the attack receive Arms And Armor Theme Naming: "Sword", the main thrust of the allied fleet, is meant to cut a path through to the Citadel for "Shield," the force escorting the Crucible. Meanwhile "Hammer" is an all-out ground offensive by the Resistance and allied forces to get to the teleporter to the Citadel.
    • The Leviathan DLC gives us Task Force Aurora, an Alliance team tasked with researching and following leads that can help the Alliance learn more about the Reapers. Aurora itself runs two code-named projects: Project Basilisk and Project Scarab.
  • Battalion Wars has several of these, such as Operation: Nautilus, and Operation: Reprimand
  • In Alpha Protocol, Steven Heck names all operations that occur in Taipei - even the ones that aren't his. Then again, he's not entirely there in the head.
    "I name all the operations that go down in Taipei, even the ones that aren't mine. Operation Latex Turtle, Operation Angry Bees, Operation YEEEEAAAAAHHHHHH! Heh. That was a good one."
    • The game itself names all of your missions in this fashion: Operation Desert Spear (Saudi Arabia), Operation Deus Vult (Rome), Operation True Heirs (Taipei), Operation Blood Feud (Moscow), and Operation Full Circle (the Grand Finale).
  • In Mega Man Zero 2, there's Elpizo's "Operation Righteous Strike", which is essentially an invasion by La Résistance of Neo Arcadia. The operation fails horribly, with many redshirts dead and Zero having to rescue Elpizo before he's killed by the Guardians.
    • In the drama tracks, there's "Project Elpizo", the project that instigated the creation of the "Sigma Antibody Program", Mother Elf. TK-31 (Elpizo's former codename) accidentally found the data about this project, and because it's supposed to be a secret for Neo Arcadia, he's declared a Maverick by Harpuia. Eventually, he managed to run away from the country and changed his name into... you know... As well as starting his quest for power by stealing the Baby Elves.
  • R-Type gives us Operation Last Dance from R-Type Final, and Operation Bitter Chocolate from R-Type Tactics II: Operation Bitter Chocolate.
  • Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure has "Operation Takeback."
  • Hitman: Absolution has Gulf War vet Benjamin Travis masterminding "Operation Sledgehammer", which is about as subtle as it sounds. Taking over a small town in South Dakota, setting fire to parts of it, having his goons execute most of the civilians, all to capture one bald assassin... How on earth did this guy find a job in a top-secret contract agency?
  • The Taito arcade game, Operation Wolf, and two of its sequels, Operation Thunderbolt and Operation Tiger.
  • In Persona 3, Junpei calls the guys' attempts to pick up chicks on the beach Operation Babe Hunt. It doesn't go well.
  • Used by Kozue in Snow Sakura.
  • In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, all missions get codenames of this sort. The ones for regular missions are realistically random (e.g. 'Operation Cursed Jester'), storyline missions can have more meaningful names (the final mission is named 'Operation Avenger').
  • X3: Terran Conflict has Operation Final Fury, a privately funded effort to drive the Kha'ak the rest of the way out of the Community of Planets. X3: Albion Prelude has Operation Loose Ends, during which the Terrans launch a raid into the Community of Planets to recover technologies stolen before the war, and recover stolen information on Terran deep-cover operatives.
  • Kuhga - Operation Code: Vapor Trail
  • Varth: Operation Thunderstorm
  • Operation Body Count
  • Operation C, a Game Boy installment in the Contra series.
  • Operation Darkness
  • Operation Flashpoint
  • James Pond 3: Operation Starfish
  • The subtitles of Codename: Kids Next Door Licensed Games carry on this kind of Idiosyncratic Episode Naming with Operation V.I.D.E.O.G.A.M.E. and Operation S.O.D.A.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us has Green Arrow provide us with "Operation: Thunder Eagle Lightning….whatever", the off-the-cuff name for a bout of Storming the Castle.
  • Veigues: Tactical Gladiator has "Operation Last Rally."
  • The Telenet Japan game Browning has "Operation Running Saber."

    Web Animation 
  • One of Blue Laser's plots in the Homestar Runner cartoon Cheat Commandos is "Operation: Don't Crush Ourselves". It fails.
  • A complicated hostage swap in Red vs. Blue is initially titled Operation Circle of Confusion, but…
    Tucker: I'm just saying it doesn't look like a circle. It kinda looks more like we're forming a triangle.
    Church: Okay, fine. Triangle of Confusion. Rhombus of Terror. Parabola of Mystery! Who cares?! Get the goddamn show on the road!

    Webcomics 
  • Parody: In The Order of the Stick #153, when Roy the Genius Bruiser refuses to help the others rescue Elan, they note that this eliminates "Operation: Send the Meat Shield in First" and "Operation: Wait for Roy to Come Up With a Better Plan".
  • In this Schlock Mercenary strip, one of Mercenary Captain Kaff Tagon's customers asks for a name for an operation. Following military procedure, Tagon suggests an unrelated name so as not to give away unnecessary information. The customer's suggestion is more in line with this trope...
  • In El Goonish Shive, Tedd refers to the rescue of Elliot as "Operation: Zelda".
    • Revealed by Word of God in a filler that this had been a long planned joke, but that's something else entirely.
  • Parson from Erfworld decides to experiment with a new combination of powers to create a stealth golem to test his opponent's defenses. Not really believing it will be enough, but wanting to try it out anyway, he dubs the experiment "Operation: Simply Walk Into Mordor"

    Web Original 
  • Tech Infantry plays this straight most of the time, but lampshades this at one point.
    "The plan was codenamed Operation Foliage Gear. The Federation had gone back to random computer-generated operational code names after Operation Ziggurat had failed to relieve the siege of the planet Babylon due to poor security.

    Western Animation 
  • Codename: Kids Next Door uses this for all their episode titles, with the part after Operation a silly "backronym".
  • Many on Kim Possible:
    • Project Phoebus made Rufus a genius, and Project Ray X made a ray gun, Ray X, which was to be stored at undisclosed location, Location X, for instance.
    • Also worth mentioning is Dr. Drakken's "Operation Catastrophic Doom". Which Shego renamed "Plan Too-Complicated-To-Actually-Work."
    • Drakken takes it to the point of telling Shego that he needs her for "Project Gherkin" — which turns out to be getting a stuck lid off a pickle jar.
  • The Simpsons
    • Bart tries to make the teacher's strike go longer. His plan: "Operation: Make Strike Go Longer".
    • In another episode, the family tries to make Lisa reverse her conversion to Buddhism using "Operation: X-mas, Remind Of How Good Is".
    • "Operation: Judge Get Back At"
    • "Operation: Hoyven Mayven"
    • Project Arctarus.
    • In the movie, after several days of Springfield being trapped under a transparent dome, the government prepares to enact Operation Soaring Eagle… which involves nuking Springfield.
  • Family Guy:
    Army General: Peter Griffin! Surrender immediately, or we will institute "Operation: Bomb the Crap out of Your House". The guy who makes up the name is on vacation.
  • An old Looney Tunes short had Wile E. Coyote attempt to capture Bugs Bunny with a number of complex scientific contraptions, the name of the cartoon (and each device, with an ascending number as the previous attempts fail) is "Operation: Rabbit".
  • This also occurs frequently on Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, whenever Dick Dastardly devises a new plan to Catch That Pigeon. In fact, two of the shorts were titled "Operation Anvil" and "Operation Birdbrain".
  • South Park
    • Parodied in the movie, where the U.S. Army had two different operations: The minorities were in "Operation Human Shield", part of the "all-important first attack wave, expected to have heavy casualties" while the whites were in "Operation Get Behind the Darkies", who, well...
    • Similarly, in the Imaginationland Trilogy, the army uses such operations as "Project: Imagination Doorway" and "Operation: Blow up Imaginationland with a Nuclear Missile", which are exactly what they sound like.
    • In "The List" Cartman comes up with "Operation: Cannot Possibly Fail", to steal the titular list from the girls. This involves a Groin Attack on the girl carrying The List and taking it. When that doesn't work, Cartman instigates Plan B, "Operation: Cannot Possibly Fail A Second Time."
  • In Futurama, Dwight proposes that he and Cubert leverage their paper route jobs to take over Planet Express using a ruthless business strategy titled "Strategy: Dwight Lightning". Cubert replies, "OK, but I get to name the next strategy."
  • In Transformers, Soundwave would seem to use this trope, except his speech patterns meant he was simply issuing orders.
    "Rumble: activate piledrivers. Operation: tidal wave."
    "Laserbeak: prepare for flight. Operation: assimilation."
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, "Adoptcalypse Now": To prevent his friends from being adopted, Bloo implements Operation Abe Lincoln Drop Purple Scaredy Cat Run and Scramble. It consists of scaring Eduardo with a toy spider so that he freaks out and scares everyone away.
  • Happens Once per Episode in The Penguins of Madagascar. Sometimes the operation names are clever, sometimes they're quite obvious. A lampshade is hung in "Popcorn Panic" when Kowalski points out that "Operation: Popcorn" seems "a bit on the nose". Whenever Nickelodeon promotes new episodes, promotions for it usually give it such a title, when the actual title is something entirely different. So far the only episode titles actually done this way are "Operation: Plush and Cover", "Operation: Cooties", "Operation: Good Deed", "Operation: Antarctica" and "Operation: Big Blue Marble".
  • Sheep in the Big City:
    General Specific: We will begin Operation Kidnap That Sheep That We Need For The Ray Gun And Don't Let Him Get Away Again Storm as soon as I say "Commence Operation Kidnap That Sheep That We Need For The Ray Gun And Don't Let Him Get Away Again Storm". Commence Operation Kidnap That Sheep That We Need For The Ray Gun And Don't Let Him Get Away Again Storm!
    • You could always use the acronym: Operation KtStWNftRGaDLHGAAS.
  • Invader Zim's Irken plan for galactic conquest is called "Operation Impending Doom". Well, "Operation Impending Doom Two". "Operation Impending Doom One" turned out a little differently than expected, thanks to the title character.
  • The Venture Bros. naturally has plenty of these. Brock Samson's assignment as Venture's bodyguard is the insulting, if accurate, "Operation: Rusty's Blanket."
  • DuckTales had a villain named Phantom Blot plot to steal an experimental stealth jet from the Navy under the codename of Operation: Aardvark. His henchman complains it's a stupid name, but Blot reminds him that they agreed they'd name their evil schemes alphabetically.
  • Two episodes of Recess were named as this: "Operation Field Trip", and "Operation Stuart".
  • Gravity Falls:
    Mabel: It's time to begin "Operation: Get Stan Over His Fear Of Heights"! I came up with that name.


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