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* FamousNamedForeigner: The Hungarian Toby Esterhase shares his last name with the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esterh%C3%A1zy Esterházys]], a very prominent Hungarian noble family. It's implied the character might be related to them, or is at least pretending to be.


* ReallyGetsAround / YourCheatingHeart: Smiley's wife, Lady Ann.

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* ReallyGetsAround / YourCheatingHeart: ReallyGetsAround: Smiley's wife, Lady Ann.

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* ShroudedInMyth: Karla. It's said of him in ''Smiley's People'' that he "is too important to exist. He controls the whole of Russia, but he does not exist... He does not exist, but everyone is afraid of him."

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* SerialRomeo: Peter Guillam is in a relationship with a different woman in each book, but is genuinely and passionately devoted to each while the relationship lasts.


* BeneathTheMask: George Smiley appears to be a slightly myopic, helpless, and generally tragic old man who is genuinely sick of all the betrayals and lies that constitute his profession and that has wrecked his personal life. Only occasionally do we see why he's still in the Circus: he is brilliant and very, very good at what he does, i.e., the betrayals and lies that constitute his profession. His opponent, Karla, appears to be an iron-willed fanatic for whom taking advantage of the opposition's humanity is part of the job. It is not until ''Smiley's People'' that we see the crack in his mask: [[spoiler:his love for his illegitimate daughter, Tatiana, who is driven insane by her inability to recognize the spymaster as her father. The ending of ''Smiley's People'' implies that beneath their masks, Smiley and Karla are Not So Different -- a revelation that drives Smiley to retire for good]].



* BribeBackfire: A rather bleakly humorous version is mentioned in ''Smiley's People''. A CIA station in Switzerland tried to bribe a local professor so that they could run wires through his property to bug the Soviet embassy. The professor took the money and promptly reported everything to the local police, who were embarrassed no end. Turns out the CIA had already talked to them, and they were looking forward to their promised portion of the intelligence gathered.



* FeedTheMole: The sort of intelligence deemed suitable for leaking to moles is dubbed "Chickenfeed". [[spoiler:The cabal of high-level intelligence officials ''believe'' that they are only giving chickenfeed to their pet Soviet mole, while one of their number is in fact feeding the mole with real, vital intelligence. Similarly, they view the intelligence supplied back to them as being gold; Smiley, however, is suspicious from the get-go - "Topicality is always suspect," he remarks of the first report - and confirms in the end that it was all Karla's chickenfeed, with just a few scraps of the good stuff at the start in order to bait the hook.]]



* TheHeroDies: [[spoiler:At the end of ''The Honourable Schoolboy'', Jerry Westerby goes into a dangerous situation to try to rescue his love interest, who is tangled up with the bad guys, and is killed. It underscores his status as the "honourable schoolboy" of the title, too straightforwardly honest to survive in the murky world of espionage.]]



* HoneyTrap: Karla employs a subversion to get the upper hand on Smiley in ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'' (see ItsPersonal). [[spoiler: He knows that Smiley is the one most likely to figure out that Haydon is the mole, so he orders Haydon to seduce Smiley's wife, and makes sure that ''everyone'' in the Circus knows that he did it. He knows that Smiley's anger will cloud his judgement, and that no one at the Circus will take him seriously if he accuses Haydon of treason.]]
** HypercompetentSidekick: Haydon to Alleline in ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.''

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* HoneyTrap: HoneyTrap:
**
Karla employs a subversion to get the upper hand on Smiley in ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'' (see ItsPersonal). [[spoiler: He knows that Smiley is the one most likely to figure out that Haydon is the mole, so he orders Haydon to seduce Smiley's wife, and makes sure that ''everyone'' in the Circus knows that he did it. He knows that Smiley's anger will cloud his judgement, and that no one at the Circus will take him seriously if he accuses Haydon of treason.]]
** In ''Smiley's People'', Otto Leipzig sets a honey trap for Oleg Kirov, who, to use Connie Sachs' phrase, "walked in with his eyes wide shut."
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HypercompetentSidekick: Haydon to Alleline in ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.''



* IdTellYouButThenIdHaveToKillYou: In ''The Honourable Schoolboy'', Ricardo explains his monologuing problem to Jerry: "You confuse me, Voltaire. If I tell you too much, I have to shoot you. I'm a very talkative person, you follow me? I get lonely up here, it is my disposition always to be lonely. I like a guy, I talk to him, then I regret myself. I remember my business commitments, follow me?"



* KnightInSourArmor: George Smiley is an experienced but cynical spy. Despite the moral complications and issues of his work, Gordon always seeks to do the best job he can in his spying because he still believes it is the right thing to do. George is idealistic but also fully aware of the moral greyness of his environment.



* MandatoryUnretirement: Smiley. [[spoiler: Twice.]]

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* MandatoryUnretirement: Smiley.Smiley has been brought out of retirement, albeit in an informal or advisory capacity, to clean up various messses made by his former colleagues in the security services. [[spoiler: Twice.]]



* PoirotSpeak: Toby Esterhase.

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* PoirotSpeak: The Hungarian Toby Esterhase. Esterhase, who manages to do this in multiple languages.
--> Tiny Toby spoke no known language perfectly, but he spoke them all. In Switzerland Guillam had heard his French and it had a German accent; his German had a Slav accent and his English was full of stray flaws and stops and false vowel sounds.



* PrisonerExchange: [[spoiler: The Circus agrees with Karla to swap Haydon for their blown agents in the Soviet bloc that aren't already dead, but Haydon is killed before the exchange can take place. Oliver Lacon asks if Karla will do the deal anyway and Smiley remarks that he won't.]]
* ProfessionalButtKisser: In ''Smiley's People'', Sam Collins has become this to Circus boss Saul Enderby.



* RewatchBonus: In ''Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'', Jim Prideaux's bonding with the young outcast schoolboy Bill Roach is written to seem more poignant when you know that [[spoiler:the mole at the Circus is Prideaux's old schoolmate Bill Haydon]].
* RoomFullOfCrazy: In reaction to the various disasters befalling the Circus, Control locks himself in his room with old files stacked everywhere, including the floor. Everyone thinks Control is losing his grip, but it turns out he's tracking down TheMole who's behind it all.



* TheShortGuyWithGlasses: Smiley.

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* TheShortGuyWithGlasses: Smiley. Short, chubby, bespectacled, soft-spoken, and arguably the greatest case-officer to ever work for British intelligence.



* SpySchool: The Circus has a combination interrogation centre/training ground at Sarratt.



* SpySwap: [[spoiler: The Circus agrees with Karla to swap Haydon for their blown agents in the Soviet bloc that aren't already dead, but Haydon is killed before the exchange can take place. Oliver Lacon asks if Karla will do the deal anyway and Smiley remarks that he won't.]]


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* StraightEdgeEvil: Karla is said to have quite ascetic tastes, the only pleasure he indulges being his fondness for chain-smoking [[SmokingIsCool Camel cigarettes]].


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* TakeItToTheBridge: The climactic scene of ''Smiley's People'' is set on a bridge across divided Berlin, unnamed in the novel by implied to be the famous "Bridge of Spies", the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glienicke_Bridge Glienicke Bridge]]. The scene marks an important turning-point for Smiley, [[spoiler:the culmination of his final victory against Karla, by blackmailing him into defecting to the West]].


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* TrophyWife: Ann Smiley is often assumed to be one, because she's considerably younger than her husband and a real beauty and nobody can imagine that she married George because she was attracted to him.


* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: In the introduction to the reprint edition of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'', Le Carré notes that TheMole is partly based on Kim Philby (the Philby affair brought an end to Le Carré's own MI6 career).

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* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: In the introduction to the reprint edition of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'', Le Carré notes that TheMole is partly based on Kim Philby (the Philby affair brought an end to Le Carré's own MI6 [=MI6=] career).


One of the finest spy trilogies of all time, Creator/JohnLeCarre's The Quest for Karla (otherwise known as Smiley Versus Karla) are three spy novels set during the Cold War. It deals with [[SecretIntelligenceService British Intelligence]] officer George Smiley and his long battle with Russian spymaster Karla. Dealing with betrayal, love and the often mundane nature of spying, it asks awkward and painful questions about keeping secrets from your friends, lovers and indeed yourself.

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One of the finest spy trilogies of all time, Creator/JohnLeCarre's The Quest for Karla (otherwise known as Smiley Versus Karla) are three spy novels set during the Cold War. It deals with [[SecretIntelligenceService [[UsefulNotes/SecretIntelligenceService British Intelligence]] officer George Smiley and his long battle with Russian spymaster Karla. Dealing with betrayal, love and the often mundane nature of spying, it asks awkward and painful questions about keeping secrets from your friends, lovers and indeed yourself.


* CoolTeacher: Prideaux becomes a prep school teacher in ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' and befriends a student, Bill Roach, to whom he acts like a friendly, older brother figure. When he realizes he's training the boy to become a spy, like he was, [[TearJerker he shoos him away.]]

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* CoolTeacher: Prideaux becomes a prep school teacher in ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' and befriends a student, Bill Roach, to whom he acts like a friendly, older brother figure. When he realizes he's training the boy to become a spy, like he was, [[TearJerker he shoos him away.]]



* TrueCompanions: {{Subverted|Trope}}. Smiley's teams of spies often share a common ethic, but the very nature of their work, rife with betrayal and distrust, prevent them from forming any close bonds with each other. Consequently, when it is finally played straight in ''Smiley's People'' with Smiley, Guillam, and Esterhase's team [[spoiler:in order to blackmail Gregoriev, and then to receive Karla as he defects]], the friendship and trust forms an odd sort of [[Sugarwiki/HeartwarmingMoments heartwarming feeling]].

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* TrueCompanions: {{Subverted|Trope}}. Smiley's teams of spies often share a common ethic, but the very nature of their work, rife with betrayal and distrust, prevent them from forming any close bonds with each other. Consequently, when it is finally played straight in ''Smiley's People'' with Smiley, Guillam, and Esterhase's team [[spoiler:in order to blackmail Gregoriev, and then to receive Karla as he defects]], the friendship and trust forms an odd sort of [[Sugarwiki/HeartwarmingMoments heartwarming feeling]].feeling.


* PutOnABus: In ''The Honourable Schoolboy'', Bland, along with the Circus' resident Soviet defectors Kaspar and DeKursky, are sent on a mission that ends badly. This leads to all three getting fired.

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* PutOnABus: In ''The Honourable Schoolboy'', Bland, along with the Circus' resident Soviet defectors Kaspar and DeKursky, [=DeKursky=], are sent on a mission that ends badly. This leads to all three getting fired.



* RunningGag: Smiley's inability to talk his way out of a dinner invitation. The food is inevitably terrible and he doesn't get a decent feed in any of the books until his send off in TheSecretPilgrim.

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* RunningGag: Smiley's inability to talk his way out of a dinner invitation. The food is inevitably terrible and he doesn't get a decent feed in any of the books until his send off in TheSecretPilgrim. ''Literature/TheSecretPilgrim''.



* TwentyMinutesIntoThePast: ''The Honourable Schoolboy'' was published in 1977, two years after the Khmer Rouge seized power in Camdodia, but it takes place in 1974 at the height of the Cambodian Civil War. ''Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'' technically counts as well (it was published in 1974, but takes place in 1973), but recent historical events have little bearing on the plot.

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* TwentyMinutesIntoThePast: ''The Honourable Schoolboy'' was published in 1977, two years after the Khmer Rouge seized power in Camdodia, Cambodia, but it takes place in 1974 at the height of the Cambodian Civil War. ''Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'' technically counts as well (it was published in 1974, but takes place in 1973), but recent historical events have little bearing on the plot.


For the BAFTA-winning television adaptations of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'' and ''Smiley's People''[[note]]''The Honourable Schoolboy'' was skipped due to budget constraints[[/note]], starring AlecGuinness as George Smiley and Creator/PatrickStewart as Karla, [[Series/TinkerTailorSoldierSpy see here]]. For the 2011 [[TheFilmOfTheBook film adaptation]] of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'', starring Creator/GaryOldman as George Smiley, [[Film/TinkerTailorSoldierSpy see here]].

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For the BAFTA-winning television adaptations of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'' and ''Smiley's People''[[note]]''The Honourable Schoolboy'' was skipped due to budget constraints[[/note]], starring AlecGuinness Creator/AlecGuinness as George Smiley and Creator/PatrickStewart as Karla, [[Series/TinkerTailorSoldierSpy see here]]. For the 2011 [[TheFilmOfTheBook film adaptation]] of ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'', starring Creator/GaryOldman as George Smiley, [[Film/TinkerTailorSoldierSpy see here]].


* PutOnABus: In ''The Honourable Schoolboy'', Bland, along with the Circus' resident Soviet defectors Kaspar and DeKursky, are sent on a mission that ends badly. This leads to [[RoleEndingMisendeamour all three getting fired]].

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* PutOnABus: In ''The Honourable Schoolboy'', Bland, along with the Circus' resident Soviet defectors Kaspar and DeKursky, are sent on a mission that ends badly. This leads to [[RoleEndingMisendeamour all three getting fired]].fired.


* OutOfFocus: Smiley fades into the background for much of ''The Honourable Schoolboy'' as Jerrry Westerby steps into the spotlight.

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* OutOfFocus: Smiley fades into the background for much of ''The Honourable Schoolboy'' as Jerrry Jerry Westerby steps into the spotlight.


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* PutOnABus: In ''The Honourable Schoolboy'', Bland, along with the Circus' resident Soviet defectors Kaspar and DeKursky, are sent on a mission that ends badly. This leads to [[RoleEndingMisendeamour all three getting fired]].


* ShoutOut: Smiley's go-to alias of "Mr Standfast" - on the one hand, it's mentioned as being in reference to ''Literature/ThePilgrimsProgress'', and on the other, it's the title of one of [[Literature/TheThirtyNineSteps John Buchan's Hannay novels]].

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* ShoutOut: Smiley's go-to alias of "Mr Standfast" - on the one hand, it's mentioned as being in reference to ''Literature/ThePilgrimsProgress'', and on the other, it's the title of one of [[Literature/TheThirtyNineSteps [[Literature/MrStandfast John Buchan's Hannay novels]]. novels]] (where it's also a reference to ''The Pilgrim's Progress'').

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* HastilyHiddenMacGuffin: ''Smileys People'' has Estonian ex-patriate General Vladimir contact retired British Intelligence agent George Smiley about a "legend" operation being conducted by Soviet mastermind Karla. "I have two proofs, and can bring them with me." The General is murdered before he meets with Smiley. However, Smiley deduces from the General's footprints in the snow that the victim paused in his flight to jettison something toward a municipal park. There, Smiley finds a pack of cigarettes in a tree, which contains two compromising photo negatives.


* ForWantOfANail: In ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' Operation Testify is botched, but in such a way that TheMole is forced to construct a sloppy alibi. [[spoiler: Because Jim Prideaux was shot, rather than just captured, the confusion over whether he was dead or alive delayed MoscowCentre in getting a message to Haydon. Had it arrived a couple hours earlier, he would have learned of Jim's capture from the ticker machine at his club. When he ''did'' learn of the capture, his club had already closed for the night, and this casts suspicion on him, since he arrived already having known about what had happened.]]

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* ForWantOfANail: In ''Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,'' Operation Testify is botched, but in such a way that TheMole is forced to construct a sloppy alibi. [[spoiler: Because Jim Prideaux was shot, rather than just captured, the confusion over whether he was dead or alive delayed MoscowCentre UsefulNotes/MoscowCentre in getting a message to Haydon. Had it arrived a couple hours earlier, he would have learned of Jim's capture from the ticker machine at his club. When he ''did'' learn of the capture, his club had already closed for the night, and this casts suspicion on him, since he arrived already having known about what had happened.]]



* TheStarscream: Karla's underlings and rivals at MoscowCentre. [[spoiler: Who are looking for an excuse to deprive him of his power and have him liquidated. It is with this in mind that Karla chooses to defect.]]

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* TheStarscream: Karla's underlings and rivals at MoscowCentre.UsefulNotes/MoscowCentre. [[spoiler: Who are looking for an excuse to deprive him of his power and have him liquidated. It is with this in mind that Karla chooses to defect.]]

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