When something is generally implied to be more
important or special because someone went out of their way to make the name as uninteresting and nondescriptive as possible. This might be because they want to avoid drawing attention to the unit
, hiding it in the sea of boring names for various unimportant agencies, or just because the sort of Bad Ass
who works there finds the bravado-filled names of many elite units
to be distasteful. For various reasons, very common in many modern Western armed forces.
A savvy character might try to bluff his way
past an obstacle by identifying themselves as a member of some completely fictional agency, as long as the name is intimidatingly vague enough to make the other person think better than to investigate.
Of course, sometimes an agency has such a bland name because it really isn't
all that important, and nobody involved could be bothered to try and come up with a good name for it.
A Super Trope
and The Group
; Related to Maximum Fun Chamber
. Often overlaps with Covert Group with Mundane Front
, Covert Group
and No Such Agency
. For individual characters with names less interesting than the role, see Special Person, Normal Name
- The Ankh-Morpork government department whose job is to deal with situations that Lord Vetinari would like ... dealt with ... are simply called "the clerks". Only when they need to be distinguished from the normal sort of clerks in the Palace are they called "the dark clerks".
- Liaden Universe: the organization behind most of the plot is called the Department of the Interior.
- The evil, world-threatening group in That Hideous Strength is named the "National Institute for Coordinated Experiments" (NICE).
- In Rivers of London the department of the London Police that enforces law in the magical community is merely mentioned as being "The Economic and Specialist Crime Team, Unit 9", no mention of Vagina Dentata, Body Horror, or throwing fireballs at all.
- In the Diogenes Club short story "Kentish Glory in the Secret of Drearcliff Grange School", lepidoptery enthusiast Amy suggests that her classmates' detective organisation be called the Moth Club. When her friends ask what kind of name that is for a secret society, she says it's one that would cause most people to instantly lose interest.
- In the prologue of Men In Black, Agent K flashes an ID at a pair of Border Patrol officers, identifying himself and his partner as being from "INS, Division Six" so that he can talk to an Illegal Alien in private. Subverted, because one of the Border Patrol agents, a moment later, states "There is no Division Six" before following after K to see what he's up to. Just in time to end up Covered in Gunge and experiencing Laser-Guided Amnesia.
- The first Transformers movie features Sector 7, a secret government organization which researches Cybertronian technology, and which for some reason also has custom vehicles and uniforms, exactly the sort of thing you'd expect a secret organization to avoid.
- Throughout the first Iron Man movie, we're told about Agent Coulson's work at the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division in a way that makes them seem like government bureaucrats. It's only at the end that it's first referred to by its more common Marvel name, SHIELD.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: While the Cardassians had the Obsidian Order, and the Romulans had the Tal Shiar, the Federation was eventually revealed to have Section 31, a covert operations agency so secretive that not only did nobody know about it (including effectively everybody within the Federation who was not already a member — though it probably helps that the Federation has an official counterpart to the Tal Shiar and the Obsidian Order in Starfleet Intelligence), but that what passed for its name was simply the title of the portion of the Federation Charter that allowed for the possibility of forming such an agency.
- The SCP Foundation. Even knowing that it stands for "Secure, Contain, Protect" doesn't give an insight into their work of dealing with bizarre reality-defying objects, many with lethal potential ranging from a person's slow, hideous death to reducing the Earth to gravel. Their reports include many other blandly-named terrors, some carried out by the Foundation to prevent worse things, such as the mysterious but horrific "Procedure 231-Montauk".
- The Office of Strategic Services was the World War II forerunner to the modern Central Intelligence Agency.
- The Special Activities Division, more-or-less the Central Intelligence Agency's special-ops organization.
- United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group: Better known as SEAL Team Six.
- Sweden's military HUMINT department is "Kontoret för Särskild Inhämtning" ('the Office for Special Collection'. Särskild can also be translated as 'Specific').
- The Texas Railroad Commission regulates that state's enormous petroleum industry, making it one of the planet's major powers in the energy world. It doesn't actually have anything to do with railroads any more.