Two agents (often times being secret agents) may or may have not romantic/sexual feelings for each other. Nonetheless, they go on one or more dates. There are two contexts to this:
- The context of a mission/investigation. They often go undercover in order to find out the bad guy's intentions or to scout places where he hangs out. It is a great way to go unnoticed or, alternatively, to engage in flirting and seduction with others to get information (most of the times, it's a female that does such a thing). If they're in an emergency or tight spot, Fake-Out Make-Out will probably ensue.
- Non-professional contexts. Here, there is a higher chance of them being genuinely attracted to each other (as opposed to the previous context, when there's deception and/or illusion at play). They also feel an interest in relaxing from the job and a need to have a good time. There's some chances of conversations getting directed towards their missions, their rivals and/or their colleagues or bosses.
This trope may lead to the fact that two people dating or in a relationship who share the same profession may clash and compete on a professional level. Spies do tend to outdo each other, because they're taught to do so.
There are bonus points if conflicting loyalties are discussed or shown. Agents swear their loyalty to their country, they keep secrets (and yet have to talk to each other), and they are married to the job. So there is a whole set of issues that a normal couple or potential couple does not have. When in a couple both characters are spies or on similar undertakings, the relationship dynamic is affected (for example, if one partner goes amiss) and the spywork is also affected. That's the reason why, for example, two police officers (or detectives/spies from an agency) dating is generally frowned upon.
In both cases, expect lots of double entendres, possibly some Spy Speak and a lot of chemistry. There's also a good possibility of a romance or sex ensuing either right after or at the end of a film or episode.
This trope is a regular part of spy dramas and other kinds of shows where a mission or an investigation is supposed to take place before, during or after the event.
When at least one of them gets a bit more...obvious and careless, they can become overt operatives.
Besides secret agents and spies, this trope also covers police agents and detectives. The former tend to have the most chances to date, since they don't need to be as secret or as deceitful as spies or detectives. They can also show themselves to be part of the police, through the use of uniform or badges.
In cases where this goes or might go wrong (since there are also agents with...questionable motives), see also Honey Trap. The agent who engages in this is very likely to be a Femme Fatale Spy. A SexFace Turn might happen in cases like this. When two opposite sides work together or have a date together (or both), it's a case of this and When Harry Met Svetlana.
There are also cases where one is a spy and the other is not...at first sight. The latter is a Deep Cover Agent.
- In the Double Duck story "Hong Island", while in Bangkok, Thailand, Donald Duck and Kay K, before going to search for their Gadgeteer Genius, Gizmo, have dinner. At the end of the dinner, they get the restaurant check, which includes an envelope with two plane tickets to go to Krabi, in the southern part of Thailand.
- In the short-lived Hawkeye & Mockingbird, the two go on a date, after making arrangements for it during the course of one of their missions together. It's notable because, despite being married for a good few years, this is one of the first times they're actually on a date, since they got married less than ten days after meeting each other and spent most of their marriage fighting evil, so 'dates' for them mostly consisted of punching things in the face (though, they had been shown previously going on dates occasionally). Of course, the date shown doesn't go well as Clint decides to surprise her by tracking down her mother...having not realized that Bobbi had faked her death to keep her family out of danger, and that by dragging her mother back into her life, it ultimately gets her mother shot.
- This is the crux of the relationship between the post-2005 version of Bucky Barnes and Black Widow. They go back to their time training in the Soviet Union in the 1950s.
- The Spy Who Came In from the Cold has this as an important plot point. Although Liz Gold is not an agent (she's a secretary of a local cell of the Communist Party of Great Britain), her relationship with the head of the West Berlin office of the British Secret Intelligence Service, Alec Leamas, is noteworthy in the context of this trope due to the conflict between love and loyalty from the couple, to the point of Leamas telling all the information in exchange for her freedom. They manage to overcome the issues, albeit at a high price.
- In C.T. Phipps' urban fantasy Red Room series, Derek Hawthorne and Shannon O'Reilly have an immediate attraction which later leads to them becoming sexually involved. Complicated by the fact Shannon was ordered to seduce him, which Derek knows, and that agents are expected to marry in order to continue the Conspiracy—which neither member wants to involve any offspring in.
- The entire premise for the Cut and Run series, at least after the first book. Unless they're alone, they tend to keep it separate from work because they have to hide their relationship on the job. Except when they get put Undercover as Lovers and take advantage of getting to portray a married couple, giving an example of both instances of Agents Dating simultaneously.
- Quiller mentions that the Bureau tries to steer women in security-cleared government positions towards their shadow executives, one of whom gets a roasting from his superiors when he describes the set-up as the best-run call girl system in London.
- Happens many, many, many times in the James Bond series, if you're willing to be sufficiently loose with the term "date".
James Bond:"Just keeping the British end up, sir."
- In From Russia with Love, the Soviets cook up a plan to kill Bond with Tatiana Romanova, a low-level member of their intelligence department. He knows it's a trap but goes along with it, because (aside from the obvious reasons) it comes with a chance to steal a valuable encoding device.
- In You Only Live Twice, Bond has a dinner with his "wife" Kissy (an agent who works for Tanaka) in which Kissy informs him that they're sleeping in separate rooms. Bond protests "But we're supposed to be married. We're on our honeymoon!", but Kissy replies "Not honeymoon. This is business."
- In Live and Let Die, Bond and Foxy Brown Expy Rose Carver pretend to be husband and wife on vacation. Turns out she's The Mole
- The Spy Who Loved Me is a possible Trope Codifier. Bond and Soviet agent XXX (No, not that one) flip flop between working together and working against each other before they finally hookup at the end:
- In Licence to Kill, Bond resolves the Love Triangle by choosing CIA agent Pam Bouvier. During the course of the film, she poses as his "Executive Secretary", with all the implications that come with that.
- In Casino Royale (2006) Bond and Vesper Lynn break the tension between the Absurdly High-Stakes Game of Texas Hold'Em. By the end, he's ready to retire and stay with her. Turns out she's The Mole.
- In Quantum of Solace, after Bond seduces agent Fields, they attend a party Dominic Greene holds that night. There, she helps Bond escape by causing Dominic's second in command, Elvis, to fall down the stairs.
- Narrowly averted for a change of pace in Sky Fall with Bond and Eve Moneypenny:
- Spy Kids starts with their mother telling the story of the two spies who fell in love, with several dates...in which they are some distance from each other since they're on opposing sides.
- In Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, gun nut Tackleberry goes on a date with fellow officer Kirkland, which culminates in them going back to her place for nookie — but before that can happen, they must (seductively) remove the large number of guns they have hidden on their respective bodies.
- This Means War (2012) is pretty much centered around this. Lauren decides to have sex with two different spies who are pursuing her, to see which one of them is better in bed. After they found they've been sleeping with the same woman, they wage an epic battle against one another.
- The two main characters of Allied fall for each other while Undercover as Lovers and begin a relationship for real.
- In The Debt, Rachel and Stephan portray a couple while on a mission in East Berlin in The '60s. They eventually get married - and get divorced.
- Get Smart is one of the most iconic cases (and possibly the Trope Maker), with Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 dating from a certain point onwards (which is referenced with some regularity), and falling in love with each other at a certain point. Everybody in the Agency seems to know this:
Maxwell Smart: [Agent 99 leans to kiss him] 99 please, nobody here knows we're dating.
The Chief: [walks by] Yes, they do.
Maxwell Smart: On the cheek.
[Agent 99 kisses his cheek]
Agent 99: [as they walk off] Give me a little one.
[Max kisses her on the lips]
- Chuck begins with CIA agent Sarah Walker going on a date with typical everyman Chuck, trying to get close to him and find out where the Intersect is. Over the course of the series they go on a number of dates, both as part of their cover and sometimes for real. Eventually, they begin dating officially, before marrying at the end of season 4. Sarah also dated Bryce Larkin, her former partner, shortly before he seemingly went rogue.
- In Torchwood, Captain Jack Harkness has been known to create sexual tension with anyone he so much as says "hello" to, but it's even worse with his Torchwood agents. His gun use demonstration with Gwen was full coddling, he makes innuendo out of just about everything they come across, he officially asks out Ianto while they're on a mission, Ianto's recruitment involved getting very turned on after the two erotically fall all over each other while attempting to catch the eventual Team Pet, Gwen's caught them playing "naked hide and seek" in the hub at least once, Martha kissed at a missions' end just because "everyone else has had a go", and Jack's fond of handing out overly sexual kisses of life on the job. And that's not even scratching the surface...
- Bones: After their Relationship Upgrade, Booth and Bones will often discuss domestic relationship stuff while doing their respective jobs (they're partners on the field that are a forensic anthropologist and FBI field agent respectively) or they'll talk about the job while cuddling in bed together. Other times their date nights/lunches together will be interrupted by a call from The FBI/forensic team at the same time for the same case they'll be working on.
- Midsomer Murders has a Running Gag around this: every time Sergeant Jones goes out for dinner with his officer girlfriend, Barnaby (either the old one or the new one) calls him because there's been a development in the case, usually another murder. Apparently the Running Gag of Tom Barnaby's Eureka Moment striking whenever he's out with his wife is contagious.
- MacGruder and Loud was about police partners who hid that they were secretly married (and lived in adjoining apartments with a secret door connecting them) so they wouldn't be reassigned to work with other officers. Regulations stated that if two cops were married, they could not be partners, so they kept this thing a secret from the rest of the department.
- Joan and Arthur are another well-known version of this on Covert Affairs being a spymaster couple that is together all the time despite their marital troubles. Annie seems to attract the affections of a whole bunch of men but Auggie is an on again-off again, and a close friend in between "on" times. Eyal would be a lover except he is from a rival agency.
- The Game (2014): Has two married agents, one a field agent, one a technical expert.
- And the short-lived 1991 series Under Cover, about two married (with children) US agents for a Government Agency of Fiction.
- UFO. One of the SHADO pilots is dating Lt. Ellis from Mission Control, so computer-psych tests are run to see if it will affect their performance. The test suggests that a recent tactical decision by Ellis was overly protective of her boyfriend, so she deliberately sends him into a dangerous situation to prove otherwise. He survives, but isn't bothered by her decision because it gave him a chance to see some action.
- In Spooks, Zoe is asked to give her view on the subject to some new recruits. They're a bit confused by her enthusiastic endorsement of the idea, as she's just started dating a colleague. When the CIA liaison officer starts aggressively moving in on Tom Quinn, there's a cynical comment by another agent over whether the relationship will be more useful to the CIA or MI5, depending on who reveals what in the bedroom.
- Played pretty much straight throughout The Avengers, with John Steed and his various female partners Cathy Gale, Emma Peel and Tara King in a state of perpetual UST, and often seen in romantic or dating-esque scenarios, though, in keeping with the tone of the series, rarely more than hints were offered, with Steed and Peel (a Mind Swap scenario notwithstanding) kissing only once. The relationship between Steed and Tara, despite its MayDecember Romance aspects, was allowed to be somewhat more suggestive, with the final line of the final episode featuring a character expressing concern about Steed and Tara being unchaperoned while riding a rocket ship into earth's orbit.
- Queen's Gambit has this if you romance your partner Emmett.