The IMF has many great agents, but great agents need greater leaders. These are the leaders throughout all Mission: Impossible films.
The chief of the IMF in the first film.
- Hero Antagonist: He genuinely believes that Ethan is the mole. Upon learning that Ethan was framed and that Phelps is the real mole, Kittridge works with Ethan to take Phelps down.
- Inspector Javert: Accuses Ethan of killing the team and pursues him everywhere he goes.
- The Mole: Suspected to be one but is proven not to be.
- Properly Paranoid: Being an IMF Leader, it may be natural to assume that the only one guy not killed in a botch mission will be the mole.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Played with. Initially suspects Ethan of being the mole, but after Ethan proves Phelps is the mole, helps to take him down.
- Red Herring: Kittridge's rather snide behavior at the restaurant and accusing Ethan of being the mole leads the audience to believe that he might be a villain working to frame Ethan. And when Ethan finds Phelps still alive, Phelps tells him exactly that, that Kittridge is the mole. However, Ethan sees through it and figures out that Kittridge is innocent while Phelps is the real mole.
- Smug Snake: A Hero Antagonist example, as seems pretty pleased with himself as he accuses Ethan of being the mole, clearly satisfied that he has who seems to be the traitor right in his clutches. But Ethan manages to escape pretty easily with the help of some explosive chewing gum, and while Kittridge makes a good effort of trying to catch him, Ethan is always one step ahead. He gets a straightforward heroic example when he contacts the real mole, Phelps, and smugly makes it clear that the gig is up.
Mission Commander Swanbeck
Swanbeck: Well, Mr. Hunt, this is not 'Mission: Difficult', it's 'Mission: Impossible'. 'Difficult' should be a walk in the park for you.
Ethan's IMF superior during the second film.
- Benevolent Boss: Is generally a nice guy, and even lives up to his promise that Nyah's criminal record will be erased.
- The Cameo: From Sir Anthony Hopkins.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Disappears in the third film with no explanation as to why this is so.
- Cool Old Guy: Courtesy of being played by Anthony Hopkins.
- Deadpan Snarker: His quote about Mission: Difficult.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: His comment about Nyah indicates him having a less than flattering opinion about women.Ethan: She's got no training for this kind of thing.Swanbeck: What? To go to bed with a man and lie to him? She's a woman, she's got all the training she needs.
- Put on a Bus: Per usual Mission: Impossible fare, that is the first and last time we see Swanbeck.
An old friend of Ethan and an IMF veteran agent.
- Alas, Poor Villain: He's an evil and smug man, but Musgrave's death is a bit tragic due to how shocked he looks and how squeaky his voice becomes. It can also be interpretated as him accepting death, as he doesn't get angry at Hunt or try killing him as he dies, he just looks shocked at him while he dies.
- Big Bad Friend: He teams up with Davian to release the "Rabbit's Foot".
- Dragon with an Agenda: He considers Davian to be a disposable criminal (referring to him as "a cockroach"), and is only using him to create chaos with the rabbit's foot as a pretense to start a war in the Middle East.
- Faux Affably Evil: Pretends to be one of the only IMF supervisors that believes Ethan isn't The Mole, when in fact he's the mole himself.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Helps Davian kidnap Julia, who later kills him.
- The Mole: In the IMF itself.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: He calls Brassel, who's African-American, an "affirmative action poster-boy" and implies that's the only reason he's in his position as IMF director.
- Walking Spoiler: As evidenced by the spoiler marks.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: He doesn't see himself as a traitor or rogue agent like Jim Phelps, Ambrose, Solomon Lane, or John Lark. He's just carrying out a False Flag Operation he feels his superiors lack the spine to approve, all to pave the way for "democracy to win" in the Middle East.
Ethan's superior during the third film.
- Benevolent Boss: Yes. He tells Ethan to enjoy his honeymoon.
- Good Is Not Nice: He really means well and isn't one of the corrupt agents but he's quite abrasive to Ethan considering the circumstances in the third movie he's involved in. After Ethan founds out who the 'mole' is, Brassel eventually mellows out and becomes completely friendly to him at the end of the movie.
- Inspector Javert: Once again, he is in the list of people who thinks that Ethan betrayed the IMF.
- The Mole: Initially suspected to be such but is actually not. Kind of reminds us of Kittridge.
- Put on a Bus: Sadly never seen again after III.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: This despite butting heads with Ethan throughout. He chews out Ethan and Musgrave but justifably so considering the operation resulted in a dead agent and little information gained; when the team successfully grabs Davian at the Vatican, he congratulates them despite the job being pulled behind his back, and when Ethan's name is cleared, he offers him a promotion and best wishes on his honeymoon.
- Scary Black Man: Averted. He's quite an affable, friendly boss, but his multiple implied death threats and Badass Boast moments make him this until the end of the film when everything is done.
The IMF Secretary
The boss of the IMF.
- Benevolent Boss: Despite having to follow orders from the President, he deeply cares for his operatives.
- Big Good: The closest person to one. As the Secretary in charge of the IMF, he has an even higher rank than Kittridge, Swanbeck, and Brassel. He's also the only other IMF leader besides Swanbeck who never antagonizes Ethan in any way.
- Boom, Headshot!: How he meets his end, courtesy of a Russian policeman.
- Cool Old Guy: He seems very stern, yet he knows how to deal with critical situations with some brain.
- No Name Given: His real name hasn't been revealed.
- Plot-Triggering Death: His demise heavily impacts into Rogue Nation.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He tells Ethan that the IMF has been dissolved because of the Kremlin terrorist attack... then he explains him how the fake the runaway.
- Retirony: He was planning to go to Washington to announce his resignation. The Russian police fatally put an end to that.
Hunley: Desperate times, desperate measures, Mr. Chairman.
Former Director of the CIA. He strongly disapproves of the IMF and tries to shut it down and merge all employees with the CIA itself. However, after Ethan goes to great lengths to prove that the IMF is still needed and they are indeed effective in what they do, Hunley relents and shows full support to the IMF, becoming the new Secretary in charge of the organization after the previous one is killed in Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol.
- Badass Bureaucrat: Despite being neither a young man nor a field agent, he proves himself to be no slouch in combat. Unfortunately, he's no match for Walker.
- Benevolent Boss: Once he becomes the IMF secretary, he shows himself to be completely supportive of Ethan and his team, having seen firsthand the need for what they do, and even pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to save Ethan's life. Doesn't get more benevolent than that.
- Big Good: The successor to the previous Secretary who's killed in Ghost Protocol.
- Cool Old Guy: He's 60 years old and not in great shape but able to fight Walker on equal terms in hand-to-hand combat, forcing Walker to use a hidden knife to stab him.
- Death by Irony: Hunley told Ethan that Ethans noble qualities is the reason he can always trust Ethan to have his back. He ends up getting killed to protect Ethan when Walker tries to shoot him in the back instead.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Upon seeing Walker trying to shoot Ethan in the back, Hunley rushes to stop him and gets into a fistfight. He ends up getting stabbed by Walker and left to die, though not before giving some encouragement to Ethan to finish the mission.
- Inspector Javert: Like Kittridge and Brassel before him, he believes Ethan has gone rogue and organizes a manhunt for him in Rogue Nation.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: In Rogue Nation as the CIA Director. He strongly disapproves of the IMF and tries to disband it and merge all assets with the CIA itself. When Ethan refuses to fall in line, he sends task forces to find and either capture or kill him with extreme prejudice. After Ethan proves the existence of the Syndicate to him and clears his name, Hunley finally drops this attitude and becomes his ally. He's later appointed to be the new IMF Secretary, averting this trope in full.
- Nice Guy: In Fallout, he proves himself to be this, and declares to Ethan out loud he can "trust him to have (his) back".
- Not So Above It All: He's part of the plan Ethan cooks up to expose August Walker as John Lark. He gets to be the one to hold Walker at gunpoint after he fakes being tasered by Ethan. He then admits to the team that he finally knows why Ethan and his IMF Team enjoy their Kansas City Shuffle gambits so much.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: His characterization in Fallout after he Took a Level in Kindness. Even if Ethan screws up or plots some extremely risky schemes that he did not approve of, he still believes in Ethan and his team's capabilities to get the job done.
- Sacrificial Lion: The sixth film needed a good guy to die to show how serious the villain is.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Killed by Lark in the sixth film.
- Took a Level in Kindness: He's noticeably nicer to the IMF in Fallout, probably because he had seen firsthand what they're capable of and the fact that he's now the new Secretary in charge of the organization. He may not approve of Ethan's methods, but he can always trust him to have a good judgment. In the end, he dies protecting his subordinates and entrusts them to finish the mission.