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Covert Group

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Secrets and things done secretly are interesting. Thus, many fictional groups—both heroes and villains—act as covert groups: groups that act undercover and aren't known to many outsiders.

Often, a covert group is engaged in controversial or outright illegal activity, as otherwise there would not be any reason for secrecy. In a Government Procedural, these groups also act in sensitive matters such as national security.

Part of many a conspiracy theory, The Conspiracy and Government Conspiracy. Often employs The Men in Black, No Such Agency, Unusually Uninteresting Name, Resignations Not Accepted, The Masquerade or the Covert Group with Mundane Front to keep itself undercover.

Related to Government Agency of Fiction. Frequently utilize Fun with Acronyms in their names.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Moriarty the Patriot:
    • William's criminal organization under the name of the Lord of Crime is rumored about, but no one has any actual details.
    • Of course, William's crew also functions as MI6, the British government's secret service as a Covert Group with Mundane Front.
  • In One Piece, the Wano arc introduces SWORD, a group of Marines who have turned in their resignations, but still operate as part of the navy. Unlike regular Marines, they can disregard orders and take on missions without needing clearance in exchange for the Marines taking no responsibility for their safety and being allowed to cut ties with them at any time. SWORD is officially more secret than Cipher Pol, since only a handful of marines outside of it know about its existence. Their secrecy is helped along by the World Government disavowing all knowledge of their existence and the activities of their members if they're caught. Current members are Coby, Luffy's friend introduced from the first arc, and X Drake, a member of the Worst Generation which Luffy is part of.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 
  • In Back to the Outback, the "Ugly Secret Society", or "U.S.S" for short, is an international rescue organization of "misunderstood" animals, who help other animals in need, but their agents will only do so if their secret password is spoken.

    Films — Live Action 
  • MONARCH, a top-secret government organization from Godzilla (2014). Their original purpose was to keep the existence of Godzilla and the M.U.T.O.s a secret to the public.
  • James Bond: SPECTRE and its mysterious leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld is behind many criminal schemes involving Evil Plans of the Take Over the World variety. Its ruling council is a behind-the-scenes cabal of corrupt officials, politicians, terrorists and businesspersons — SPECTRE is essentially a shadow government whose members choose to operate in the dark.

  • Area 51 deals heavily with these. In the first book there is Majestic-12 (alias Majic-12) and its security/black ops Nightscape. Later books soon introduce more, like Section Four (Majic-12's equivalent in the Soviet Union, then Russian Federation), STAAR, the Mission and more. Most are nefarious, others not entirely.
  • The Book of Eve: Soon after she obtains the mysterious book, Beatrice comes into contact with a widespread network who secretly worship the Mother, including Tomis, Ortolana, and certain sisters of the convent. The cult even reaches the daughter of the dominant religion's leader! Once Beatrice starts looking, she seems to find Mother-worshippers everywhere.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry is part of the White Council, a covert organization of wizards that contends with other covert groups of faeries, vampires, and demon-possessed sociopaths.
  • "The Evitable Conflict": The Society of Humanity is a semi-public group who sees the control given to the A.I.s as creating a Vichy Earth where humans are enslaved to machines. The machines prove capable of predicting and compensating for the discrepancies their small acts of defiance produce.
  • In Qualia the Purple, JAUNT is exactly this. A mysterious group that nobody knows about, apparently backed by the American government, which has no qualms with stealthy blowing up airplanes to keep their secrets... secret.
  • Various covert groups wage the titular conflict of the The Silent War. The Brotherhood of the Pit are the remnants of a nation of evil sorcerers, the Night Hand is a cult devoted to the slumbering Death Lords, and the Shades are a remnant of the fallen nation that opposed both of them. Since the last great, open war three centuries earlier the fight has stayed in the shadows.
  • There's a covert group of wicked witches in The Witches; it exists expressly for the purpose of wiping out every single child on Earth.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is replete with covert groups, starting with S.H.I.E.L.D. itself, which somehow manages to stay covert despite having logos on their vehicles and frequently taking action in crowded public places. That is, until another covert group, HYDRA, reveals itself after being embedded within S.H.I.E.L.D. since its creation, and all hell breaks loose.
  • By Any Means is about a covert group whose job it is to find legal means to punish those who have escaped justice for their crimes. A Running Gag is that whenever they are asked if they're cops, the response is always "It's a grey area".
  • The Watchers in Highlander probably count. They’re a secret society which observes and records the battles of immortals and helps to hide the headless bodies so the immortals stay hidden. They take an oath not to interfere, although a couple broke the oath. Joe Dawson became good, if sometimes rocky, friends with Mac and interfered a few times to stop something bad from happening, and another watcher was in love with his assignment and helping him win.
  • La Femme Nikita has Section One, where the main character works.
  • The Impossible Mission Force from Mission: Impossible routinely takes on covert operations while shielding Washington from culpability. "Should you or any of your I.M. Force be captured or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions."
  • The New Avengers: In "House of Cards", Soviet spymaster Ivanov plants many undercover agents in Great Britain, where they worm close to tactically important persons, ready to assassinate them on cue. This covert network is called "the House of Cards" because select playing cards will activate the moles. British Avengers John Steed, Purdey and Mike Gambit thwart Ivanov and neutralize his moles.
  • In Nikita, a secretive U.S. government agency known as "Division" has for years been recruiting young adult convicts by faking their deaths and forcing them to train as spies and assassins.
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Deacon Jones", Miss Brooks, Mr. Boynton and Walter Denton meet secretly to rehearse for a job with the hillbilly troupe led by the eponymous deacon.
  • Star Trek: Picard: The existence of the Zhat Vash is kept secret not just from the general public, but the Tal Shiar as well. Zhaban, who was once a member of the Romulan Secret Police, dismisses the ancient cabal as just a myth to frighten new recruits. However, Picard later discovers with Laris' help that the Zhat Vash is indeed real, and this shadowy group is The Unfettered to an even greater degree than the Tal Shiar.


    Video Games 
  • The eponymous Alpha Protocol, as well as the G22.
  • Assassin's Creed features many covert groups. Besides the Templars and Assassins, there are also the Hermeticists/Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, hacker collective Erudito, and the Initiates.
  • Criminal Case: The Conspiracy has Ad Astra. Originally conceived by Rozetta Pierre as a philosophical study group in Grimsborough's University, the group soon became obsessed with the concept of selective superiority and how a certain elite should be given the right to rule over the weaker "sheeple" for the good of society. The hunt for the original members of Ad Astra then becomes the main focus of the story upon learning about their plan of developing a Fantastic Drug and eventually a superhuman serum that would allow them to brainwash and control the population while being genetically superior.
  • Evolve has Counter Intelligence Group 9, a government organization within Hub. While they still have a layer of sci-fi to them, they take part in actions reminiscent of real-life groups, such as using deep cover agents to begin a war in another nation so they could take advantage of it.
  • Fortnite: Battle Royale features the Imagined Order, which monitors not only the Island, but also the people on it and the Storm. Prior to Chapter 2 Season 5, their operations were kept a secret from the Islanders.
  • The eponymous XCOM and (in the remake, at least) the Council of Nations supporting the project. The remake also has the opposition E.X.A.L.T.

    Visual Novels 
  • Double Homework has the group behind the Zeta program in the background the whole time.


    Western Animation 
  • Inside Job (2021) is a Work Com set in a Conspiracy Kitchen Sink and focusing on the employees who keep the conspiracies secret.
  • The titular organization in M.A.S.K. zigzags this tope. They are a group of secret agents funded and led by multimillionaire Matt Tracker, who battle the terrorist group known as V.E.N.O.M. While nobody knows who they are, people do know that Matt has ties with them and call him whenever something fishy is going on. They also wear masks to hide their faces, but operate with easily recognized vehicles. The second season even throws the covertness out of the window, retooling the show to be about M.A.S.K. and V.E.N.O.M. being famous racing teams.