Keith: But there are only five divisions of Military Intelligence. There is no MI6.
Menzies: That's the spirit!
The Secret Intelligence Service, almost always referred to in media by the term "MI6" (''Military Intelligence, Branch 6'), is the external intelligence agency for the United Kingdom, roughly equivalent to the United States' CIA. Only older.
Formed as the Secret Service Bureau in 1909 under the leadership of Captain Sir George Mansfield Smith-Cumming* , its existence was not officially acknowledged until 1994, although it now has a website. It's still considered to be bad form for politicians and other public officials to openly discuss MI6 and MI5's activities. Mitt Romney caused a minor scandal when he publicly divulged that he met with representatives of British intelligence while running for president.
Its reputation in media is inextricably linked to the James Bond mythos, and the agency's appearances in media tend to either play to, or directly contradict such notions.
Also note that in British intelligence, operatives directly employed by the various agencies are known as 'Intelligence Officers'. Agents are those who have been turned/bribed/intimidated/etc. into doing the actual dirty work and providing information to officers, who normally have official cover and are protected under diplomatic rules. MI6 won't divulge if it has intelligence officers who get into Bond-style shenanigans.
MI-6 has a rather cool base, namely its headquarters at Vauxhall Cross on the River Thames. Many actual employees, however, consider it to be a massive security risk due to its location and some have bluntly said that if there was a sufficiently large and discreet building somewhere else in London, they'd relocate there with immediate effect. Additionally, quite a few consider it to be a rather ugly design. Tellingly, many British spies actually cheered when they saw the building blow up in both The World Is Not Enough and Skyfall. MI5, MI6's domestic counterpart, also has a cool base at Thames House, on the opposite side of the river, a little further down.
Works Involving The Secret Intelligence Service include:
- Several characters in Darker Than Black work for the SIS. One of the agents, April, gets annoyed when it's called MI6.
- The assassin Golgo 13 is employed by them on occasion.
- SIS agents serve as the main antagonists of Joker Game Episode 5, having arrested Kaminaga only 2 weeks after he arrives in London in spring 1939.
- Queen and Country is entirely based around the work of MI6. (It's also an acknowledged Ascended Fanfic of The Sandbaggers, the TV series mentioned below.)
- Alfred Pennyworth, butler to Batman is usually depicted as having been an MI6 agent in his backstory. The exception is in The Dark Knight Saga, where it appears that he was a member of the Special Air Service.
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen were originally MI6 operatives, the "Black Dossier" also details the founding and history of the agency in that world.
- Shang Chi and various characters from his comic book work for MI6.
- MI6 and other agencies appear in Excalibur and its successor, Captain Britain and MI13.
- Plays a role in Kira Is Justice by sending sixteen agents to Chicago to try to find the new Kira. Unlike most media, who are too lazy to look up the proper name, it is referred to by the SIS instead of the MI6. Take That!!
- In the Girl Genius fic On Her Undying Majesty's Secret Service Wooster is explicitly working for the SIS (including a chief known as "Lord M___".)
- In Child of the Storm, MI6 appears and is wiped out by the veidrdraugar in chapter 21 as part of a test of the Darkhold's capabilities.
- James Bond appears, briefly, a few chapters earlier, in which he is swiftly dispatched by the Winter Soldier. When you get the drop on the deadliest assassin in the Nine Realms, you don't stop for a Pre-Mortem One-Liner.
- As of chapter 61, it transpires that M is alive and well and dispensing advice to Nick Fury. As she bitterly notes, that's pretty much all she's good for right now, as the remains of her agency are effectively subsumed by the resurgent MI13.
- In chapter 80, James Bond reappears at Porton Down, (in Real Life, Britain's equivalent of Area 51, with a much creepier reputation - for instance, it is legally established fact that there have been human experiments there). As it turns out, Wisdom's resurrected him in an all-new LMD as a sort of techno-zombie.
- James Bond in all his various incarnations,note although the movie of Dr. No stated the agency to be MI-7 instead.note In The World Is Not Enough, the actual MI6 headquarters on Vauxhall Cross is shown. The government initially tried to block the showing of the building in the film, citing national security. Foreign Secretary Robin Cook overruled them, stating, "After all that Bond has done for Britain, it was the least we could do for Bond."
- Alex Rider: The title character's uncle was a James Bond expy working for MI-6. He is killed in action and his death covered up by the agency, but Alex penetrates the masquerade and ends up getting recruited. He turns out to be an excellent spy, but the Black and Grey Morality of the spy world wears on him eventually.
- The works of John le Carré. As matters were still classified when he wrote, he changed some things, such as using "Control" rather than "C" and having MI6 nicknamed "the Circus" because its headquarters were said to be on Cambridge Circus (in reality it wasn't). Le Carré himself was an MI-6 operative in real life until his cover was blown to the KGB by Kim Philby.
- Len Deighton's Bernard Samson series also focus on the work and exploits of the SIS.
- The Laundry Files by Charles Stross, although only in passing. The Laundry itself is the sole surviving section of the WW2 Special Operations Executive. MI6 do not have a very high opinion of them, and the feeling is mutual.
- The protagonist of Declare by Tim Powers works for an intelligence cell left over from the SOE. The rivalry between SIS and SOE is mentioned, but SOE cell is so secret that the SIS does not know about it.
- In the novel (but not The Movie) The Hunt for Red October, British and US cooperation in tracking down the titular submarine includes interaction between MI6 and the CIA, as do many other Tom Clancy novels.
- Some works during the 1960s and '70s referred to the name being changed to DI6 (MI5 was also renamed DI5). How accurate this was is uncertain — the SIS website doesn't seem to mention it at all — but more than one author used the new names (examples include Michael Gilbert's "Mr. Calder and Mr. Behrens" stories and Martin Woodhouse's "Giles Yeoman" series).
- Charles Cumming was scouted by them (he never joined up), and now writes SIS spy novels.
- The Sandbaggers. Throughout the series, the organization is referred to as S.I.S., never MI6.
- It is not certain, but it is usually assumed that Number 6 from The Prisoner (1967) is a former MI6 agent.
- Lie to Me: Cal Lightman is former MI6, as we find out in "Secret Santa", and was in the Yugoslavia Wars.
- Spooks is about MI5 (the domestic intelligence counterpart to MI6), but many episodes also include MI6. The team has something of an Interservice Rivalry with them, but Adam, Fiona, Zaf and Ros all came over from MI6.
- Danger Man
- The Piglet Files is a comedy about MI5.
- In one episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Bashir plays a James Bond-esque spy in the holodeck. His Cardassian friend Garak, an actual spy, quips that he joined the wrong intelligence service upon seeing the luxurious perks that fictional MI6 agents receive.
- Section 20 in Strike Back is initially portrayed as being run by MI6, though beginning from Project Dawn it was portrayed as being British military intelligence instead. A former MI6 officer is pursued in Shadow Warfare, believed to be responsible for betraying the organisation.
- It's revealed on Elementary that their version of Mycroft Holmes is in fact, an MI6 agent.
- Chuck: Team Bartowski have, on more than one occasion, unintentionally crossed paths with MI6 agents while Working the Same Case, the most notable time was when they met and teamed up with Cole Barker, an MI6 operative they mistook for a typical Evil Brit badguy, who became a Secret Keeper for Chuck being the Intersect, even though he only just met the guy. After a rough first meeting, he turned out to be a pretty cool guy.
- During Season 4, when its found out that Chuck's mom is working for Volkoff Industries and her claim that she was under deep cover for the CIA was proven false, she claimed to have defected to MI6 in order to keep working the case after Alexi Volkoff found out she was CIA. However, after they meet her bumbling Non-Action Guy handler, it soon gets revealed that this is a ruse and the handler is actually Alexi Volkoff himself, Obfuscating Stupidity. It then gets even more confusing after that.
- NCIS now has Clayton Reeves, a liaison from MI6.
- The Dracula Dossier: Operation Edom was originally part of Britain's Naval Intelligence Division, but became part of MI6 when that organization was formed.
- British bombshell Cammy White, of Street Fighter fame, is part of a team operating within the UK's MI6. She was actually more or less "adopted" by the Service after the Alpha series.
- The title character of Blake Stone, a futuristic FPS series of games by Apogee, is an MI6 agent.
- An expository loading screen in Modern Warfare 3 has MI6, MI5, and the SAS working in tandem to stop a suspected terrorist plot in London.
- The Republic's Strategic Information Service in Star Wars: The Old Republic is almost certainly a reference to MI6. Their rival organization, Imperial Intelligence, cover the more intense view of MI6. They are a universal network of invisible, amoral monsters protecting the Sith Empire by any means necessary. And with the very finest of English accents as standard.
- In World of Warcraft, the Stormwind spy network is known as SI:7.
- In Splinter Cell Blacklist, Majid Sadiq, the main antagonist is a former MI6 agent who went rogue.
- In Saints Row IV Asha Odekar, one of your homies, is an MI6 agent whom you help in the first mission in the game.
- It's also revealed that after you thrashed Matt Miller in his VR world then spared him in the previous game, he took the lesson to heart. He apparently joined MI6 after fleeing back to England to atone for his black hat hacker days and became Asha's handler, with the official cover story being that he swore off technology altogether and instead joined a Luddite group.
- In Akatsuki Blitzkampf, the MI6 is said to be one of the organizations after the Blitz Engines. The Knowledge Broker Sai turns out to be one of their secret agents, and in his ending he manages to claim the biggest Engines for the Service.
- In Beware the Batman Alfred is a former MI6 agent, and used to work with Katana's parents, with the rank of Major.
- Spycatcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer is the autobiography of Peter Wright, a lifelong SIS operative who, after a faithful working life spent in Intelligence, was incensed to discover he'd been shafted with regard to his pension. His book blows the lid on British Intelligence and its practices between 1945 and approximately 1985, and was so incendiary that the British government banned its publication in the UK. Unfortunately for the government, it only brought the case in an English court, which meant that the ban only applied in England and Wales. The book was published in Scotland, and everywhere else in the English-speaking world; the British government tried and failed to get the book banned in Australia, and didn't even bother trying to ban it in the States, knowing that it would lose on First Amendment grounds. Eventually, the book was cleared for sale in England and Wales in 1988.