It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.
: Marge, I think that guy's a spy! Marge
: Of course he's a spy! We just saw him go through spy school!
Pretty much any training program for spies, assassins and related Cloak & Dagger
types. The primary purpose is to train new spies, but some spy schools might also include further training for experienced agents. Sometimes an experienced agent might retire from the career and become a trainer, or might be invited to be a guest lecturer from time to time.
Most spy schools are for adults, although there is a growing genre of series like CHERUB
and Spy High
that depict schools with university age, teenage or even preteen students. Such schools may be the origin of the Teen Super Spy
The exact training program varies greatly, but most include a wide variety of espionage, commando and generally unconventional dirty trick training. Some are Mildly Military
, and many programs emphasis martial arts and weapons training to equip their agents to be an Action Hero
. However, most give foremost importance to the ability to think outside the box, interact with people, and be a well-rounded Guile Hero
. The school might have classes oriented toward being a Master of Disguise
and a Cunning Linguist
- In Red Witch's Galaxy Rangers Fanfic Sins of the Father, Miss Abercrombie's Charm and Finishing School looks like a snobbish prep school, but is really a covert training academy for espionage agents from Earth's wealthiest and most well-placed families. The other three Rangers are surprised to find their team's Badass Normal had initially been assigned as The Mole, but screwed over his bosses to side with them.
- DEBS: The heroes attend a secret academy for the title organization, a government agency.
- Get Smart: CONTROL had a training school.
- The Recruit: The majority of the plot takes place in one of these.
- Carry On Spying was set, at least initially, in a spy school.
- Carve Her Name with Pride is a movie about a female SOE agent being trained and deployed.
- The 1993 Russian comedy Gun with a Silencer has two American spies, apparently, being trained in a mental hospital to infiltrate Russia and locate nuclear missile silos in order to prove that all those talks about nuclear disarmament are bullshit. The movie makes it ambiguous as to whether they really are spies or are merely escaped mental patients who think they're spies. On one hand, one of them clearly has a split personality and their "training" is woefully inadequate (one of them learns the wrong language); on the other, they are provided everything they need to actually get into Russia to do the mission. The ending even features a typical Prisoner Exchange on a bridge, except the two prisoners are in straightjackets and, possibly, lobotomized, and the vehicles are ambulances.
- From Russia with Love opens with a scene in the SPECTRE training academy: a spy school for bad guy spies.
- Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women in I'd Tell You I Love You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You.
- CHERUB Campus is the training ground of the Teen Super Spy James Adams in Robert Muchamore's books.
- There is a grotesque scene, of the protagonists walking through a Medieval spy training camp, in one of Andrzej Sapkowski's non-Witcher novels. Among the highlights are propaganda shills HONING THEIR VOICES, and an old spy teaching young ones what to do if you're uncovered. Cry that the Jews have poisoned the wells and leave when everyone's gone to do some pogrom.
- Novgorod from the The Bourne Series.
- The temple of the Many-Faced God in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.
- Large part of Viktor Suvorov's novel 'Aquarium' (and subsequent Polish-Russian TV miniseries) focuses on training of new GRU operatives in the secret facilities. Also counts as a Real Life example.
- One of the B-plots from Tom Clancy's Executive Orders has veteran field agent (and resident paramilitary Bad Ass spook extraordinare) John Clark training a new batch of agents at The Farm to rebuild the CIA's HUMINTnote assets (read: agents) after years of downsizing in favor of Spy Satellites and other technical intelligence gathering methods. Other books in the series explicitly state that this is his regular job: While he may be the CIA's go-to guy for 007-type missions, ops like that are not done very often.
- The Alien Investigation and Removal Agency school in Gena Showalter's Red Handed.
- A large part of the Star Trek Expanded Universe novel A Stitch in Time is about Garak remembering his days in an elite school for future government officials, military officers, and Obsidian Order operatives. Guess which one he becomes, considering his father is the head of the Order. Much of the curriculum involves infiltration and hiding.
- Played with in Belisarius Series. There is no spy school as such. However the Badass Princess was trained by her body-guard and tutor in Indian, Ninja-like martial arts.
- The Quest for Karla. The Circus has a combination interrogation centre/training ground at Sarratt.
- Discworld has the Assassins' Guild School, although it plays with the trope. Not all students actually become assassins; the school was where nobles sent their children on the principle that you had to think like an assassin if you wanted to avoid being killed by them, and then, because so many nobles were invested in it, it became the most prestigious school in Ankh-Morpork and now has graduates who "probably had a note from their mother saying they were excused from stabbing."
- Emily The Strange Stranger And Stranger: Not an official school, but Venus Fang Fang agrees to train Emily in covert operations.
- Alias: In the backstory, Sydney went to a training school run by the SD-6.
- I Spy: The Department has a training school on a military base in the San Francisco Bay Area, featured in the episodes "Anyplace I Hang Myself Is Home" and "Tag, You're It".
- Marcie Ross from the early Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" gets sent to one of these by The Men in Black after she turns invisible and goes Axe Crazy.
- Parodied on Friends. When Sean Penn's character realizes he has been deceived: "There's no such thing as the top secret school for the children of spies!"
- The Sandbaggers are trained at the "Field School."
- The Man From Uncle went to the "Survival School."
- Mystery Science Theater 3000: Joel once claimed that all spies attend a special spy school, where they learn (among other things) post-kill puns.
- Covert Affairs starts with the female protagonist being transferred from the training center known only as the Farm to the CIA earlier than her peers thanks to her linguistic skills. In another episode, she meets an experienced foreign operative who quickly figures out that she's too young and inexperienced to have completed full training and also deduces her skill in languages.
- The BBC series Spy was a Reality Series based on this trope.
- MI High is about a spy school underneath a Good Old British Comp.
- In Assassin's Creed 2, Desmond uses the Animus machine to relive his ancestor Ezio's training to be an assassin, and learn the same techniques himself through the "bleeding effect". Ezio, in turn, is trained in swordfighting by his uncle, inconspicuous travel from the courtesans, etc.
- It is stated that Desmond himself grew up in such a place and it was the training/lifestyle that caused him to leave in the first place (leading to the Templars finding him in the first game).
- Assassins Creed: Revelations has Desmond relive some of his childhood memories at the Farm.
- American Dad!: Haley was shown to have been sent to a spy training school in her younger years. It is also implied that Steve was also in one.
- The Farm: An alleged CIA training school at Camp Peary, Virginia, depicted in such works as Tom Clancy's books.
- SIS (aka MI6) has a school at Fort Monckton in Hampshire
- The British World War II era Special Operations Executive trained at a variety of locations, including Aston House, Wanborough Manor, Beaulieu in Hampshire, and the commando training at Arisaig in Scotland.
- FSB Academy in Moscow.
- The National Intelligence University in the United States, which is run by the Department of Defense and provides a graduate education in intelligence collection. To be fair, most of their students are already employed as analysts by federal government agencies, but they also offer scholarships for non-government employees looking to work for U.S. intelligence agencies.
- Several schools have begun offering degree programs or concentrations in Intelligence and Security Studies, the goal of which is to familiarize students with the workings of intelligence analysis, typically with the goal of working for their country's diplomatic corps or spy agency.