Max: And. Loving it.
A standard television plot. An assignment is received in The Teaser. A planning session is held (Avengers Assemble). Then comes The Caper or The Con, using a Master of Disguise and an A-Team Montage. The resolution is as close to end of The Tag as possible. At about the 40-minute mark, there is a Pseudo-Crisis.
The trope takes its name from the classic Mission: Impossible television series, whose Impossible Mission Force did one of these every week. As such, note that not every impossible mission is an Impossible Mission.
For missions that actually are impossible, see Impossible Task.
- Global Frequency is an anthology of mostly self-contained stories that used this sort of plot, although not every story follows its structure perfectly. The premise owed a certain amount of inspiration to the Trope Namer, concerning a Heroes "R" Us organisation that specialised bringing together people with very unusual and specific skills to solve particularly unusual and specific problems that required those skills.
- The Midnight Verse story Diamonds in the Desert is one long example of this.
- The movie Inception has this as the "inception" itself. Dom Cobb is used to steal secrets within a person's dream, implanting an idea in a person's mind is a whole different affair.
- As with its televised source material, the Mission: Impossible film series runs on this trope.
- The National Treasure movies regularly fell into this, with plots like stealing the Declaration of Independence and kidnapping the President of the United States.
- Paths of Glory combines this with Suicide Mission.
- The League of Gentlemen may be seen as an Ur-Example.
- The heist in Les Spécialistes involves Robbing the Mob Bank and has very few chances of success. The film's tagline plays this up with "It was impossible. They did it!".
- In Series 4 of Taskmaster, Greg and Alex decide that Mel is far too positive, and decide to give her the impossible task of hiding a gigantic beach ball from Alex in only 5 minutes. It's an extra task, and she doesn't get any points for it, and it's purely in an attempt to push her to her Rage Breaking Point. It fails, and "aw heck" is just about the most they get out of her, which they note as being Mel's equivalent of an Atomic F-Bomb. They also force her to inflate the blasted thing, which took 45 minutes, and to score a goal with it, which required deflating it which took an extra 25 minutes. She didn't get points for these either, and she still refuses to get even the least bit angry even when she learns they were basically just messing with her for their own enjoyment.
Greg: I'll cop to it: she is officially nice!
- The Grandmaster of Theft series is based around this.
- As did Modesty Blaise
- Sixof Crows fits this to a T, with a group of teenagers breaking into and out of the most secure prison in the world.
- Spy Classroom defines these as a mission in which another group of spies already tried and failed - the enemy now knows that someone is actively after what they're guarding and will be ready for the next group to try. Such missions have a 90% failure rate, with casualties common. Dealing with them was the specialty of the defunct unit Inferno and is shaping up to be the specialty of their successor unit Lamplight.
- Not surprisingly, the Mission: Impossible television series featured this on a regular basis.
- Despite its few episodes, Firefly did two of these, in "Ariel" and in "Trash".
- Similarly, this occurred regularly on Alias
- Mercilessly parodied in the Whose Line Is It Anyway? game "Improbable Mission," which had agents given missions involving high stakes but ordinary tasks, such as doing laundry or mowing the lawn.
- Every mission of Breaking In seems easy at first, until complications pile up into this.
- In the South Korean television show Dating Agency: Cyrano, the case for Choi Darin seems to be like this, since the girl he likes hates him a lot. However, the Dating Agency guarantees a "100% success rate"...
- Many episodes of Dinner: Impossible fall into this pattern.
- In Borderlands 2, the task of entering the bunker where Handsome Jack is holding Angel prisoner is framed this way, with the next several story missions involving rounding up the tools and talent needed to break in.
Roland: If it was a trap, she would at least have made it sound possible.