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Deep Cover Agent

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They seem perfectly trustworthy. The all-American housewife, the happy-go-lucky office worker, or the fresh-faced agency recruit. They've got friends, jobs, and sometimes even families, barring their parents who died in a tragic bus accident.

Deep down, however, they've got a dark secret: they're agents from another country or a rival organization, sent on a long-term secret mission, spending their free time (or even work hours) involved in Cloak and Dagger business. In extreme cases, the agent might have been planted as a ''child'' and have lived their entire adult life in their host country, brainwashed into having total loyalty to their homeland.

They're not immune to the charms of their enemies' homeland, though, and are sometimes in danger of Becoming the Mask, though oftentimes, their training makes them resistant to the temptation.

This is often times Truth in Television, even in a post-Cold War world. This is known as "non-official cover." Typically, however, non-oficial cover doesn't mean you have an elaborate fake backstory complete with faked photos, mysteriously deceased parents, annoyingly vague work history, etcetera - it usually means you're just you, only with a secret second job that might put you at risk of death if it's ever discovered. Theoretically, non-official cover means you only actually tell one lie - that being "I am not a spy."

Subtrope of Living a Double Life and Undercover as Lovers. Add a sprinkle of Neuro-Vault, and you get the Manchurian Agent. Compare with Copied the Morals, Too, where a copy of a heroic character is created (often to be a spy on the heroes) but is unable to complete its mission because it received the heroic character's morals as well as their appearance. Contrast the Diplomatic Cover Spy, who work in the sending country's embassy and don't need this much elaborate backstory to do their work because they have Diplomatic Impunity. (That's Official Cover, as in, you are a government official and entitled to the diplomatic protections that are afforded to such persons - but have correspondingly less freedom to do human intelligence work, because the other side have almost certainly worked out what you really are long before you entered their country.)


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Mitsuko's mother in Android Kikaider: The Animation, who was hired to spy on Dr. Komiyoji, and only gave birth to her as a means to appear like a normal happy family.
  • In Death Note, Light Yagami joins the task force looking for Kira to throw off suspicion as he himself is Kira. At one point, he erases his own memory, and becomes such a great example that even he doesn't know he's undercover! He's practically a Manchurian Agent, except that he isn't being manipulated by anyone other than himself. Everything goes exactly as planned.
  • In Dr. STONE, Senku has his friends Taiju and Yuzuriha go undercover as spies in Tsukasa's empire after Tsukasa believes he has killed Senku. Tsukasa knows who they are and that they haven't forgiven him for killing Senku, but allows them enough freedom that they're able to play their role.
  • Medaka Box: In order to oppose "Not Equal" Ajimu Najimi, Medaka decides to raise successors for the Student Council and begin generations of students that would continuously keep the school safe. After five visiting middle schoolers survive Kumagawa's "Cruel Selection", Najimi herself reveals that a "Not Equal" was hidden among those five, and would assure the success of the Flask Plan (the project to create a perfect human) by becoming the successor of the "perfect human" Medaka. The Student Council members interview each candidate alone and make no real progress in rooting out the "Not Equal"... and then the audience learns that ALL FIVE are "Not Equal".
  • In Lone Wolf and Cub, the "Grass" are a large network of deep-cover ninja employed by the Big Bad; the recall of the entire remaining network (Itto had sliced through a good deal of them already) to stop the protagonist in the last volume underlines how dire the situation is for Retsudo.
  • In SPY×FAMILY, agent Twilight's latest mission to investigate an enemy politician requires him to get married and have a child, who is to attend the same school as his mark's son, Eden Academy. He takes the identity of Loid Forger, a psychiatrist, adopts an orphan named Anya, and marries a civil servant named Yor in order to keep up the cover.

    Comic Books 
  • Blake and Mortimer: "The Voronov Conspiracy" shows that the Soviet Union (or at least the Stalin-nostalgic scientist using it) maintains a large network of ordinary families in the West, using them or rather their children to launch bacterial attacks against specific targets.
  • Captain America:
    • Bucky Barnes, during his time as the Winter Soldier, often served this role during the Cold War, given that he was an American brainwashed into serving as a Soviet assassin.
    • Cap himself was revealed in 2016 to be a HYDRA agent and always has been. Word of God claimed that this is the real Captain America and not a clone, copy, mind-control, The Mole, etc... and then the very next issue revealed that his memories had been altered.
  • In Judge Dredd, Wally Squad Judges are heroic... well, Mega-City One justice... versions. They're plainclothes judges who live entire lives as ordinary citizens and are notably the only plainclothes officers on the force. They're called the Wally Squad because being an "ordinary" Mega-City One citizen means being insane, and most of them have become the mask to some extent. Two strips have focussed on Wally Squad members: Low-Life and The Simping Detective.
  • Civil War (2006) involves Namor the Sub-Mariner having multiple sleeper cells in the USA. Of course, seeing as this was the B-story, this didn't go anywhere.
  • Appears frequently in Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja , usually as deep-cover Soviets impersonating American citizens and soldiers.
  • Preacher: The Grail apparently has at least one deep cover agent in every country's government, to make sure they don't get out of line. However, Hoover notes that these agents have become accustomed to a life of riches and comforts, so when The Grail is falling apart and Herr Starr attempts to mobilize all the Grail's resources, most of these agents just ignore the summons.
  • Jessica Priest from the earlier Spawn comics. By day she's an average all-American wife with two beautiful children, by night she's a brutal, enthusiastic killer. The contrast between being a loving mother and a merciless child killer is heavy, made worse by the fact that she absolutely loves spreading suffering.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight had a case of this, but Charlie's Deep Cover situation (which fractured at inopportune moments) was more a case of amnesia (which resulted in sweet, cute housewife displaying mad skills) based on a sudden betrayal.
  • In Traitor, the hero is one, to the point that it appears to the viewer that he's willing to help organize a terror attack killing hundreds just so he can gain a shot at the Big Bad.
  • In Salt, the main character is accused of being this. It's true. But then she turns out to be a Double Agent... Sort of.
  • The Debt: The main characters are undercover as Germans who recently moved to Berlin from Argentina. Two are Undercover as Lovers.
  • In No Way Out (1987), a Pentagon Witch Hunt for a supposed Soviet mole is used as a cover story to frame someone for a murder committed by the Secretary of Defense. Of course, it turns out that there really is a mole, who was inserted into the country as a child and managed to work himself up through the military until he was in a position of absolute trust.
  • In Inglourious Basterds, Hans Landa demands to be retconned into one when negotiating a change of sides.
  • In the 1971 TV Movie "The Death of Me Yet" we're introduced to Doug McClure and Meg Foster as a young couple in a typical American town until he's "called up". It seems he's been drafted but the entire town is a training facility in the Soviet Union for deep cover agents. The story jumps ahead to years later when he's used the crash of a plane he was supposed to be on to escape and create a new identity. Unfortunately it turns out they have caught up with him. He sets a trap for his old commander (Richard Basehart as "Robert Barnes") only to find out that he's his American wife's boss who he's heard of but never met, which means they have her hostage.
  • The Cold War-era movie The Experts has John Travolta's character and his friend being hired to manage a club in a quiet suburban town. They are drugged and secretly transported to a town in the USSR designed to perfectly mimic American suburbia (they even found a black guy). Of course, their data is a little off, and the town looks more like it came from the 1950s. The purpose of the town is to train whole families of deep cover agents. Travolta's character's girlfriend turns out to fall in love with him, while his friend's girlfriend betrays them as soon as they reveal that they know the truth. However, the whole town ends up Becoming the Mask and opts to defect to the US when they get the chance.
  • Yelena, Asia Argento's character in xXx, is a Russian deep cover agent forgotten and/or abandoned by her agency.
  • An extreme example occurs in Face/Off, in which Sean Archer takes on the appearance and identity of Castor Troy to glean information from Castor's brother Pollux about the location of a bomb Castor had planted before he was caught and put into a coma. When Castor wakes up from his coma and finds out what's happened to him, he makes the surgeons give him Archer's face and identity, and abuses Archer's job for his own personal gain.
  • Order No. 027 is a North Korean film in which a group of NK commandos infiltrate South Korea to take out an enemy command center. Their contact in South Korea is Un Ha, a Deep Cover Agent who has worked herself into a high position in the South Korean army.
  • Black Widow (2021) reveals that in her adolescent years, the title character and another recruit spent three years living in Ohio posing as the daughters of the true sleeper agents, who were there to investigate a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. Well, HYDRA posing as S.H.I.E.L.D. And one researching brain functions and such that would really help the Red Room create very compliant Black Widows.
  • Secretly, Greatly is about North Korean spies who are instructed to blend in within a South Korean village. They have totally innocuous covers: the village idiot, a wannabe rockstar, and a high school student.

  • Alex Rider has Alex's father, John Rider, working undercover for MI6 as a Scorpia operative. He was so good at his job that nobody in Scorpia suspected a thing...until he and his wife try to get out of the business and raise Alex, leading to them both being killed.
  • Isaac Asimov's "Search by the Foundation": The Second Foundation uses layers of deception, as well as agents across the galaxy:
    • Arcadia Darell, the first agent we meet, was converted to being an agent of the Second Foundation at a young age so young that the changes made by the Second Foundation are disguised by her natural personality growth. When Dr Darell uses the EEG machine on them, it shows no evidence of Second Foundation tampering, and they have no memory of ever working with the organization.
    • Pelleas Anthor, the second agent we meet, has been a member for many years, and whose job it was to infiltrate the First Foundation's attempt at rebellion to prevent harm to the Seldon Plan, he actually agreed to a Thanatos Gambit where he and fifty others would die to convince the First Foundation that they had eliminated the Second Foundation. When Dr Darell uses the EEG machine on them, it shows no evidence of Second Foundation tampering, because they were knowingly working for them, which made him vulnerable to the Mind Static device.
    • Lady Callia, the third agent we meet, has been a member for many years, and whose job it was to arrange the Proxy War between Kalgan and the First Foundation. Dr Darell never uses the EEG machine on them.
    • Preem Palver, the fourth agent we meet, has been a member for many years and is actually the First Speaker of the Second Foundation. His role is to teach a student who wishes to join the Speakers and to take care of Arkady while she's on Trantor. Dr Darell never uses the EEG machine on them.
  • In the BattleTech novel Bred for War, it's a DNA test performed by a (mostly unwitting) deep cover agent that leads to the discovery that the son of Thomas Marik, Captain-General of the Free Worlds League, has died of his leukemia and been replaced by a double while undergoing treatment in the Federated Commonwealth. This does not go over well (it starts a war, in fact), but in the end also clues the Commonwealth's ruler in to the fact that 'Thomas Marik' is himself a deep-cover agent — his son was in fact his son, but 'his' older daughter's DNA doesn't match his at all. It's noted with irony in a later novel that he's also the best leader the Free Worlds League had had in at least a century.
  • The Bourne Ultimatum novel features another such facility, where Carlos the Jackal was trained (until he got thrown out). There's also a character who's trained to be an American. His mother (another Deep Cover Agent) has been captured by the Americans and he wants her freedom.
  • The titular Charm School of the Nelson DeMille novel of the same name is a school for Soviet recruits to learn to behave like Americans before being sent on deep cover assignments.
  • In Colonel Butler's Wolf by Anthony Price, a Russian deep cover agent reveals himself to British intelligence after Becoming the Mask but is killed by his former colleagues before he can explain what his mission was. The protagonists have to figure that out, and also whether there were any more deep cover agents sent on the same mission.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Day of the Cheetah, one infiltrates Dreamland to steal a highly secret prototype fighter.
  • In Executive Orders, the Iranian religious leader placed deep cover agents in several countries with orders to become part of their respective leaders' security details. The first use of one of these agents is to assassinate the president of Iraq, starting the book's major conflict. Naturally, there's another agent, in the U.S. Secret Service.
  • Jacob Kelling from Emma Bull's Falcon, who was planted years ago to bring down a whole planet's government.
  • Honor Harrington takes this to extremes; the Mesan Alignment has deep-cover families that have been in place for generations, waiting patiently for the time to be right for Mesa to call on one of them. As lampshaded by one character...
    President Pritchart: There's got to be at least some contact if they aren't going to lose their assets simply because someone dies before she gets around to telling her son or daughter "Oh, by the way. We're actually secret agents for the Mesan Alignment. Here's your secret decoder kit. Be ready to be contacted by the Galactic Evil Overlord on Frequency X with orders to betray the society you've been raised all your life to think of as your own."
    • In the final book, it's revealed that the Harringtons were originally deep-cover Mesan moles, who severed contact with their control after emigrating to Manticore and eventually forgot their origins. Their modern-day descendants never even find out about it.
  • Protagonist Trystin Desoll of L.E. Modesitt Jr.'s The Parafaith War, though his infiltration didn't actually last that long. Because he looks a lot like the vaguely-Aryan "revs", he gets put through heavy training to learn how to infiltrate their home planet. His training would've allowed him to stay indefinitely, but he carried out his assassination mission in about a week.
  • The Romulan Way has Arrhae ir-Mnaeha t'Khellian, outwardly the household manager of a relatively minor Romulan nobleman. Inwardly, she's Lieutenant Commander Terise Haleakala-LoBrutto, a Federation Starfleet officer who underwent Magic Plastic Surgery and was inserted onto Romulus. However, rather than having a mission of sabotage, she's an anthropologist tasked to covertly study the secretive Romulans so that the Federation can hopefully have more amicable dealings with them in the future.
  • In The Spirit Thief, the Immortal Empress has sent people into the Council Kingdoms following her first defeat twenty years prior with instructions to make themselves as powerful and trustworthy as possible so that they might act as saboteurs during the next invasion. In some cases, even the original infiltrators' children are utterly loyal to her.
  • Space Case: Daphne is revealed to be spying on Moon Base Alpha for a company called Maximum Adventure, who want to make vacation spots on the moon for rich people to enjoy. She decides to come clean after being found out by Dash and Kira.
  • Star Wars Legends: In the X-Wing Series, Gara Petothel, after being disgusted by her superior's willingness to sacrifice the crew of a Star Destroyer, arranges for his death to come a little sooner and sends out the evacuation order that he had been unwilling to make. Then she implements her backup plan, taking an identity as her superior's drugged-up unwilling mistress, and gets into an escape capsule. The New Republic gets her over an addiction to various drugs and sets her up with a modest job and apartment on Coruscant, where she secretly sends a message to Warlord Zsinj, her boss's boss, saying that she's in position and will keep doing what she's been ordered to do. She's a professional mole and has joined, served for long periods, and betrayed the New Republic before. This time, Wraith Squadron recruits her in a complicated scheme, and although she joins the squadron with the intent to betray it and bring down the Rebel hero Wedge Antilles, she gets sucked in by The Power of Trust and how Good Feels Good, and becomes the mask. And for added awkwardness, falls in love with a pilot who she'd betrayed in one of her previous infiltrations. Unfortunately, the Wraiths eventually find out about the Awful Truth. She's forced to flee to Zsinj and, since he thinks she was loyal to him all along she's able to infiltrate and sabotage his flagship, ultimately leading to his downfall. She then creates a new, civilian, identity for herself and retires to it.
  • The movie and book Telefon have this as the primary plot driver. Communists wanted to cause havoc in America immediately prior to an invasion, so they took a few dozen people, hypnotized them extensively so they actually became average American citizens, living perfectly normal lives, until they heard the code phrase which activated them to go destroy some defense facility. The only problem was that they had been forgotten about for a while, so all of the defense facilities were obsolete and/or not being used, which confused the heck out of the American agencies who were wondering why perfectly normal Americans attacked things of absolutely no strategic or military value.
  • In John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, (forcibly) retired agent George Smiley must investigate his former service to discover which of the top five men is actually a Soviet mole.
  • Jos Musey from the Warchild Series goes into deep cover aboard the starship Macedon. He learns a new accent and slang for the part, and acts the part of a soldier perfectly, even fighting against his own people.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has Bobbi Morse who happens to be HYDRA's head of security. She has been there for a while prior to the second season. Being a head of security means that double-crossing her organization would mean instant doom to any mole within it. Turns out that she was sent there by S.H.I.E.L.D. to watch over Jemma Simmons in case things go south.
  • Irina Derevko/Laura Bristow from Alias, a KGB agent tasked to marry an American CIA agent. The show also features a training facility in Russia where people are trained to blend into American Suburbia.
    • A minor character in the second season and Lauren Reed from the third season also turn out to be examples of this trope.
  • In Allegiance, Katya O'Connor, her husband, and their eldest daughter Natalie are all secretly Russian spies. The O'Connors' two younger children, one of whom is a CIA analyst, have no idea.
  • The FX series The Americans is based around the Jennings, a married couple of deep-cover KGB agents living in suburban America in 1981, at the start of the Ronald Reagan administration, with an FBI agent moving in next door. Series writer Joseph Weisberg, who worked for the CIA in the early '90s, has said that the 2010 FBI bust of a Russian spy ring (see top) was a direct inspiration for him. Both of them seduce Americans for information.
    • In Season 2 the KGB decides to recruit the US-born children of S-Directorate agents like the Jennings since these second-generation agents would be able to pass high-level security checks that their parents could not. Thus they would be able to infiltrate organizations like the FBI or CIA. The Jennings are divided on the issue with Philip being vehemently opposed to the idea while Elisabeth thinks that it is their patriotic duty to support the plan.
  • Le Bureau des Légendes: The "clandestines", for whom the legends of the title are created, are expected to spend years under their assumed identity in locations strategically important to France.
  • In one episode of Castle the bad guy turned out to be a Soviet Deep Cover Agent in the CIA who had gone rogue after the fall of the Soviet Union.
  • In Chuck, the episode "Chuck Versus The Suburbs" shows Chuck and Sarah going undercover in a sunny suburban neighborhood to find a sleeper cell. It turns out that a married couple living on the street are agents of Fulcrum.
    • Then Chuck discovers that the whole neighborhood is one big front for Fulcrum and its residents are all agents.
  • Used as a punchline to the Comedy Playhouse episode "Lunch in the Park" (later remade as an episode of Paul Merton in Galton and Simpson's). Two office workers (Stanley Baxter and Daphne Anderson in the original; Merton and Josie Lawrence in The Remake) meet for lunch once every week and have a rather clipped conversation, mostly small talk, but also with a suggestion they'd like to see each other more often but have to be careful of appearances. It looks like a Brief Encounter sort of situation until he hands her a microfilm, and Special Branch swoop in on the pair of them...
  • The Elementary episode "Dirty Laundry" has Sherlock Holmes figure out that the murdered hotel manager and her husband are in fact Russian spies and a friend of their family is their handler (and the killer). Completely averts the Accent Relapse trope, as none of the agents or their handler drop their American accents (makes sense, considering they have lived in the country for decades). In fact, the husband and the wife didn't love each other but were ordered to conceive a child in order to allow him or her to grow up as a native-born American and a second-generation agent. However, the father refused to let his daughter get mixed up in this. One of the clues that led to Holmes discovering this is that the husband quit his job shortly before the company signed a government contract. The only reason someone would do this is to avoid a deep background check all government contractors must go through, which would quickly reveal the truth.
    • Another clue was the father completely stepping out of the house to shake his hand instead of doing it over the threshold, a big no-no in Russian culture.
  • A flashback in The Event reveals that Sterling's wife was one. His superior found out the truth but wants to let Sterling redeem himself by shooting her. Sterling, however, decides to run away with her. He tells her that he knows and offers to run away. She tries to bolt but is shot by Sterling's superior.
  • Fringe has the Shapeshifters, who first appear in the second season and are able to assume the physical form of any human being. In the third season episode "Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?", it is shown that some of them have even assumed the lives of the people they've shapeshifted into and grown close to their families and loved ones.
  • An episode of Human Target has Chance being hired by a man who claims his wife wants to kill him. Chance does a bit of investigating and realizes that his wife is a deep-cover Russian spy. He instructs the client to pretend that nothing is wrong and invite him to dinner. At dinner, Chance nonchalantly comments on the meal in Russian, and the client's wife unconsciously answers in the same language before realizing what happened. However, it turns out that she has grown to genuinely love her husband and wants to break ties with her handlers. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as it sounds. In the end, Chance helps her by shooting her in a non-vital area (but looks vital to an onlooker) in front of the handlers and helps the couple start anew somewhere else.
  • JAG: Harm's new neighbor, Meghan O'Hara, in "Washington Holiday" turned out to be a trained assassin, whose mission was to kill the Romanian king while in DC.
  • In Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, the reporter Michelle Walsh turns out to have been working for the No Men all along, helping them squash the rumours that other reporters were stirring up.
  • In the Lois & Clark episode "Super Mann", a star quarterback, country singer, and model are revealed to be deep cover agents from Nazi Germany.
  • Ingrid Bannister in the MacGyver (1985) episode "The Enemy Within". She hypnotises her husband into telling her secrets on a frequent basis. Played by Lynn Holly Johnson, in case you're interested.
  • Rather common on Mission: Impossible when they faced foreign agents. A first season episode even showed the training facility.
  • NCIS has had at least two of these, both of whom had married sailors. One was a former North Korean agent who did a Heel–Face Turn after falling in love with her husband and having a baby. The other was a terrorist who murdered her husband.
  • One episode of NCIS: Los Angeles has the team uncover a network of eight couples who were inserted into the United States by the Soviet Union to detonate nuclear bombs in the event of a war. However, the agent they speak with tells Callen that while, at first, they would have obeyed the order without question, after a while he and his now-dementia-stricken wife Became the Mask of a normal suburban American couple, and they even have an adult son who doesn't have a clue. Also an In-Universe example of a Stereotype Flip: The couple in question is black (recruited as children in Africa) since a black guy is the last person American counterintelligence would suspect as a Soviet agent.
  • The New Avengers episode "House of Cards" features a rogue Russian agent activating an old cold war project of deep, deep cover agents, two of whom are old friends of Steed.
  • On Orphan Black, Beth's boyfriend Paul, as Sarah finds out soon after taking over her life, is secretly a monitor for the DYAD Institute which created the clones. He turns out to be a Double Reverse Quadruple Agent for the military. In season 3, the Prolethian Mark is revealed to also be an agent for the Project CASTOR military conspiracy.
  • In an episode of Secret Agent John Drake is assigned to follow an escape route of British Communists being recruited by the USSR. He finds himself in a "British Town" in the Soviet Union where the Britons are used to train infiltration agents. He manages to tape pictures of the agents who will be sent to Britain and then escapes after promising one of the British women that he'll deliver a message to her mother because she regrets her decision and knows they will never let her go. However in one of the many betrayals that leads (I believe) Drake to resign from the service and get abducted to become Number 6 in The Village his superiors refuse to do anything to help the woman because "She doesn't exist".
  • On Seven Days, an NSA office is bombed with one female agent named Rebecca who vanishes and is considered the suspect. Sent back, Frank arrests her but the place is bombed a day earlier. Soon on the run, Frank and Rebecca must face a traitor within the NSA. After he's defeated, Rebecca vanishes again. Back at the base, Frank learns that "Rebecca" is actually a deep-cover Russian agent, which was the reason she fled in the first timeline. She does leave behind a goodbye video to Frank in her true accent that still thanks him for his help and he has to accept it.
  • Soviet agent Stirlitz, aka Maxim Issayev aka Vsevolod Vladimirov from Soviet TV show Seventeen Moments of Spring. He infiltrated the Nazis in the 1930s and is a high-ranking security official who interacts regularly with top German leaders.
  • The 1991 BBC series Sleepers was about two KGB agents who had been in Deep Cover for 25 years - when they're finally activated, they don't wanna do it. When it was aired on Masterpiece Theater it was advertised as "the first Masterpiece Theater Comedy".
  • A number of Obsidian Order agents (with even their own memories of home wiped from their heads) pop up in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Sloan also tries to convince Bashir that he is one working for the Dominion, in order to test his loyalty as a potential Section 31 recruit.
  • The protagonists in Travelers are time travelers from a post-apocalyptic future whose ultimate goal is to set history on a better path. They use Mental Time Travel in order to take over the bodies of people who were historically supposed to die preventable deaths. Among the rules they have to follow is Protocol 5: while not on a mission, live as your host would live.
  • Daredevil (2015): It turns out in season 3 that Fisk has been able to compromise the FBI for years before manipulating them into letting him out of prison. Tammy Hattley, the SAC in charge of the organized crime division at the New York field office, has secretly been in Fisk's back pocket for at least three years.

  • 'My Neighbour Mr Normanton' in the poem by Charles Causley. Outwardly as British as can be ('He keeps a British bulldog, and British Summer Time'), he is observed by the narrator hiding microfilm and meeting with foreign gentlemen.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, White-Eyes-ikthya is a former Uktena who joined the Black Spiral Dancers and now serves as a respected elder of the Trinity Hive. Caerns: Places of Power leaves it up to the storyteller whether White-Eyes-ikthya serves the Wyrm or is actually an Uktena deep cover agent.

    Video Games 
  • The Division has the titular group itself. They are operatives with the description that fit the above; on the surface, they have everyday lives, have jobs, have families, and friends. Underneath said surface though, they are well-equipped, possess hi-tech gear, and are activated under a national emergency to deal with national level threats.
  • Possibly the most iconic in gaming is the Metal Gear series' Revolver Ocelot, AKA Major Ocelot, AKA Shalashaska, AKA Adamska, AKA Liquid Ocelot. He's so good at convincing people that he's on a given group's side that it doesn't become entirely clear who he really is working for (if anyone) until after his death.
    • The manual to Metal Gear 2 reveals that Snake used to be one of these in the CIA. Nothing is revealed about what he actually did (leading a lot of fangirls to jump to the sexiest possible conclusion), but at one point Campbell threatens to blackmail him with records of the things he did, so it was probably extremely dubious.
  • Need for Speed Undercover features the player, as a Cowboy Cop, going into deep cover to disguise as a reckless criminal, doing crazy stuff like street racing, car thefts, and high-speed police pursuits just to get in good with the syndicate. Turns out a Double Agent Dirty Cop is backstabbing both the player, the law enforcement, and the syndicate.
  • Hobbes, in Wing Commander III, specifically of the Manchurian Agent variety.
  • Modern Warfare 2 has the infamous airport level where the player has to take part in a massacre to maintain their cover. It doesn't work.
  • In Call of Duty: Black Ops II, you play as another deep-cover agent for the first half of a level taking place in Yemen, again acting as a spy against the Big Bad. Unlike in Modern Warfare, though, you aren't forced into a massacre and, on lower difficulties, can get through that entire part of the level without killing any Yemeni soldiers. Depending on your actions, you can even prevent the agent's death. Until the next level, that is...
  • Michelle in Grand Theft Auto IV appears to be your average Broker resident who Niko quickly forms a relationship with, but is secretly gathering information about him and Roman to give to her organisation, the ULP, which in turn is just a cover for the HD Universe's version of the CIA, the IAA.
  • In Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Sam Fisher is sent to infiltrate a terrorist group named John Brown's Army, and actually has to help them get materials for a nuclear weapon.
  • In Alpha Protocol, Omen Deng was raised from birth to be a double agent for Taiwan.
  • The Imperial Agent class storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic features several such examples, but the most memorable of all might be "Bas-Ton", an imperial human agent who has been surgically altered to impersonate a Voss alien for several years. The original's wife, brother, and two children don't seem to suspect a thing. To top it off, when talking to the agent, Bas-Ton is openly xenophobic against the aliens he lives with. Now that's some dedication to your cover story.
  • In The Silent Age there's Frank, who's been sent to the US in his early twenties and doesn't even have any accent, but who in fact is a Russian spy.
  • In Xenogears there's two of them.
    • Citan is Hyuga Ricdeau, one of the two Solaris Guardian Angels and once a Mad Scientist, assigned by Emperor Cain to attack and infiltrate Shevat and, later on, to observe Fei and his capacities as the Contact and determine whether Fei should be protected or eliminated. Becoming the Mask and Heel–Face Turn eventually happen as a result of both of these events - he falls in love with and marries Yui of Shevat and becomes close friends with Fei, eventually deciding to throw away his loyalties to Solaris to help protect humanity from its planned fate.
    • The NPC Hammer is recruited to spy on and betray your party by Krelian somewhere near the end of disc one, resulting in the death of Elly's mother as you escape Solaris and eventually his own death later on as Krelian convinces him to become one of the Wel-Gears.

  • In Jupiter-Men, Lavani believes Arrio is this, as she can't fathom the idea that a Magite would be allowed on Prime wihout authorization from the Star Guardian. She starts needling Arrio with questions in an attempt to prove that he's lying in convoluted attempt to take the Star Seed, but her prejudices refuse to let her believe he's telling the truth about being born on Prime.
  • Girl Genius: Wulfenbach Airman Higgs lives as an average laid-back member of the military, but is actually the "sneaky" Jager General and is loyal to House Heterodyne. He has changed even his name to fly under the radar and while he's been focused on spying on Wulfenbach is enrolled in half the armies of Europa in places where him being missing for long periods of time will go unnoticed.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Hawkgirl in the Justice League animated series, who in the "Starcrossed" story arc at the end of the second season was revealed to have been a spy for the planet Thanagar, in preparation for its invasion of Earth. She justified her actions because she thought she was helping Earth, but defected when she learned that Earth would be destroyed in the process.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Perry the Platypus, aka Agent P, has an impenetrable cover identity as the boys' harmless pet, and everyone knows a platypus doesn't do much. Even his evil nemesis Dr. Doofenshmirtz doesn't recognize him if he's not wearing his Fedora of Asskicking, though that could be at least partly due to Doofenshmirtz being a Ditzy Genius.
  • Shockwave, of Transformers: Animated, who, as Longarm, was the head of Autobot intelligence. He even has two robot modes and two vehicle modes, to further disguise himself.

    Real Life 
  • FBI agent Joseph Dominick Pistone, best known for his deep long-term infiltration of the New York City mafia as Donnie Brasco, the events of which were made into a movie. Being from Paterson, New Jersey, fluent in Italian, and having a Sicilian background, he agreed to an assignment in the fall of 1976 to infiltrate the Bonnano crime family, and later on the Colombos. He spent six years as a seemingly low-level jewel thief named Donnie Brasco. It was a very deep cover operation; the FBI completely erased Pistone's name on office rolls and his personnel file, anyone who made inquiries would be told that no one by that name was employed there. His co-workers, friends, and informants were told nothing about what had happened to him. Only a few trusted handlers knew the truth about Pistone's assignment, so active ongoing FBI and NYPD investigations into the New York mafia were convinced that there actually was an associate named Donnie Brasco. The operation was ordered shut down after six years, Pistone gathering enough evidence for 200 mafiosos to be indicted and 100 of them convicted. Pistone had actually wanted to go a step further, wanting to continue at least until he became a made man so that the FBI could humiliate the Mafia with the idea that they had inducted an agent into their inner circles, but his bosses felt that was too dangerous a risk and set an end date to the infiltration in 1981.
  • As a link in the intro notes, a 2010 prisoner exchange between Russia and the United States revealed ten Russian agents that had been living undercover for years if not decades posing as ordinary American citizens, trying to build contacts with academics, industrialists, and policymakers to gain access to intelligence.


Video Example(s):


Perry the Platypus

Perry is a secret agent assigned to foil Doofenshmirtz's plans. He is also a platypus.

How well does it match the trope?

4 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / CivilizedAnimal

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