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The Omniscient Council of Vagueness
aka: Omniscient Council Of Vagueness

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"Who keeps Atlantis off the maps?
Who keeps the Martians under wraps?
We do, we do!
Who holds back the electric car?
Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star?
We do, we do!"

This is the group that appears, usually early in the plot, when the Hidden Agenda Villain or the Powers That Be gather their peers or most trusted servants and talk about what's going on. Don't expect anyone to be clearly lit, though. Depending on the desired level of secrecy, all we see of the Omniscient Councillors might be their body, but not their face or only their eyes — or we might see nothing but Sinister Silhouettes. This is naturally to protect the identities of the members from the audience, but it may also be because Evil Is Not Well-Lit.

A magic ball or a giant TV screen showing the hero's every move is a required accessory.

Keep in mind that, plotwise, they should know most of the details, including spoilers that should be kept from the audience or details the writers themselves haven't decided on. This often is the setup for a Gambit Roulette. Anything that happens, even unlikely combinations of luck and choices that seem to destroy the Council's plans, are "just as planned".

The result is a lot of vague and pretentious doubletalk about how they know everything that's happening but don't actually mention what any of those things are, not even amongst themselves. Expect comments like "Everything is going according to Plan." and "Great Darkness is coming. We will see if the hero can handle it." As little detail is possible is given, except for what little tidbits the writer feels obliged to reveal. Also, as The Hero (and by extension, the audience) finds out more of "The Plan", The Omniscient Council Of Vagueness will have no problem discussing those parts directly, even when it was apparently taboo previously. (Though, of course, people tend not to talk in detail about things they all already know. Makes wiretapping a frustrating business.)

If action is demanded, the leader will insist, "We Wait", "All pieces are not yet in position in the Divine Chessboard", or "Let him grow stronger first, content in believing that his destiny is his own!" (Evil Laugh).

Do note that these councils, while usually evil, don't need to be by definition. If they're just pretending to be good, or only the head(s) of the organization are evil, then the organization may undergo a Conspiracy Redemption.

It could be that they simply believe You Have No Chance to Survive, and so permit you to Take Your Time. Expect them to be secretly displeased as the Hero approaches closer and closer to their permanent hideout. He won't ever find them: the Council is always located someplace you'd never think to look. The Council also has a penchant for the The Plan and its subtropes.

May be a Cosmopolitan Council and can serve as a Mysterious Backer. See also Vagueness Is Coming, You Know the One, He Who Must Not Be Seen.

See also The Illuminati, one of the most famous names for an Omniscient Council Of Vagueness. For the corporate version of the trope, see Nebulous Evil Organisation. Often overlaps with the Secret Circle of Secrets. Compare Sinister Silhouettes. Sub-Trope of Mysterious Stranger (an entire group of people that operate without having plain motives). Super-Trope to Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering (the council can't actually agree on their goals and therefore never affect the plot, although they could affect things if they'd only agree on what to do).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Aruosumente, the Senate, who — with the exception of Deebert outside the council meetings — all wear face-concealing masks, and have the last say in most matters concerning the country. They are mightily displeased with any hint of Legna finding out about the events of the past, or him even being on friendly terms with any military personnel.
  • Parodied in Beelzebub. Toward the end of the manga, we are introduced to the people responsible for the events of the last arc. They speak briefly about their vague plans finally coming into fruition, until it's revealed that their plans are, in fact, completely screwed. In their next appearance, they are desperately running for their lives until they're told that the day was saved when they weren't looking, at which point they act like it all went as planned.
  • Bleach has the Central 46, the Soul Society's 46-man judicial authority, who hide their identities behind signs showing just a number. They enact several Kangaroo Court decisions that shape the course of the first twenty or so volumes, but eventually it's revealed that they were all Killed Offscreen long ago by Aizen, and those decisions were actually enacted by Aizen, Gin, and Tousen masquerading as them.
  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo:
    • The show has the block leaders from the third era of the Maruhage Empire.
    • The First Hair Lion's Resolve 16.
    • There is IXEX in Shinsetsu Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo.
  • Brynhildr in the Darkness Takachiho, and the board of directors for Vingulf are all about this. Their hundred-years-long plan is specifically to "Kill the gods," but their subordinates, and the various branch directors are all left to their own interpretations of what this exactly means. The only thing we can be sure of is that it involves kidnapping children under the age of 10 by the thousands over that hundred years, performing experiments on them indistinguishable from torture for a decade, raising them to kill people and if they're not sufficiently obedient, useful, or powerful, killing them, as well as implementing a biological weapon capable of killing all life on Earth as easily as one might flip a light switch. Even an event that would set them back 10 years, is only treated as a minor inconvenience.
  • Claymore: The heads of the Organization are periodically shown as a bunch of sinister robed figures in a meeting chamber who comment on the Claymores' progress while cryptically discussing whatever they're plotting at the moment, such as an Uriah Gambit or secret weapon, while giving away as little detail as possible until the author sees fit to reveal it to the audience. In the later parts of the manga it is revealed that it was the Organization itself who was creating the Yoma and Awakened beings the whole time. The Organization creates the monsters that it should supposedly fight with its Claymores to protect humans, and both Claymores and humans are in the dark about the whole scam. It turns out that their funds and experiments are directed towards producing a living super-weapon: The home country across the sea which the organization answers to is engaged in a losing war with dragon people, and the organization is supposed to figure out how to create controllable awakened beings to turn the tide of the war.
  • DARLING in the FRANXX: The leaders of APE sit in a circle and are only seen talking about the main cast and how they are an experimental team.
  • Death Note Inverted this in the Yotsuba arc, where there is a shadowy council of eight executives at the top of a corporation, secretly killing enemies of the company — and our main characters spy on, manipulate, and use them as pawns in their own investigation while the council mostly has no idea they're being watched.
  • Whoever Enma is plotting with for whatever vague reasons he is plotting it regarding Tsuzuki in the Descendants of Darkness manga. Bonus points for their casual twist reveal that they offed Muraki's grandfather for knowing too much about Tsuzuki.
  • Ergo Proxy had a group of well, proxies taking the shape of classical statues which the "benevolent dictator" of Ramdo, Re-l's grandfather would speak through.
  • Eureka Seven has the Three Sages Council, kicking the pretentiousness of the members way up: while SEELE was actually nigh-omnipotent and omniscient, even if they severely underestimated Gendo Ikari, the Sages are in fact revealed to know much less about the world that they liked to believe, and also get completely screwed by their supposed Dragon Dewey Novak.
  • Fairy Tail has the Fiore Magic Council, and, later on, the King of Fiore himself, whose full face has yet to be shown. It's also subverted from the usual deal in that the members of the Council do their best to keep the world in balance, but were tricked and very successfully manipulated by Ultear and Jellal/Siegrain into furthering along the Tower of Heaven plan.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • The Homunculi initially appear this way, but are fleshed out more as the series progresses. Their leader Father doesn't even appear until around a third of the way through, though he is first namedropped in the first volume.
    • The Generals of the Army. Brigadier Generals, Major Generals, Lieutenant Generals, all working under the the Fuhrer towards a mysterious goal by sacrificing their own people.
  • The future Japan of Ghost in the Shell is ruled by one that is so vague, that it never makes any appearance at all, or gets defined in even the most basic way. The entire government and administration is full of their pawns, both knowing and unknowing, up to and including the prime minister. The Powers That Be put her into that position mostly because she looks good in public and lacks the ambition to interfere with their plans. Sometimes Section 9 gets ordered to capture certain people without asking for the reasons, or someone decides to send a hit squad from another agency to stop them from putting their noses into places they are not supposed to. Nobody knows what the people in charge actually want, and few people even seem to care. They just try to protect the people of Japan from harm as well as they can. However, they're not that mysterious; just party heads, industry leaders and lobbying groups with goals that sometimes coincide and sometimes not. They don't have a unified agenda or any formal structure.
  • Gintama: The Tendoshu had this role for a long time. A circle of Amanto elders hidden behind their capes, they are presented as those who make decisions behind the shogun. They only appear sporadically until the Rakuyo arc, where their goal and a lot of important plot details are revealed, then they are double-crossed by Utsuro. The purpose of thoses capes? To hide the decomposition of their bodies .
  • The Letztes Bataillon is one of these for the first 2 volumes of Hellsing.
  • In the third round and second Revival Round of Liar Game, the masked LGT officials are watching the game via videoscreens while making incredibly vague comments about the players' schemes and aptitudes. In the third round, it's Leroniro and Nearco, but Solario inexplicably takes their place in the second Revival Round.
  • In Lupin III: Part 6, there's Raven, a secret society that emerged after World War II, and whose members are hidden within and dictate British society. Its treasure, whatever it may be, is Lupin's target now. Episode 12 reveals that the organization has long since been disbanded and the few remaining members left are unaware of this, carrying out orders only out of fear of a punishment that will never happen. Raven's treasure turned out to be World War II era bombs that has long since decomposed into uselessness.
  • Macross Frontier has it in form of bodiless voices engaging in a vague, but ominous sounding dialogues inside Grace's head. Or not. It turns out to be just a Hive Mind, as the council's members had linked themselves with each other.
  • The nameless Time-Space Administration High Council of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, who are revealed to be the very founders of the Bureau themselves, complete with audio-only monoliths they're hidden behind whenever they converse with Regius and Jail. This is subverted a little later on in the series when it is revealed that they don't know nearly as much as they think they do, including that Jail had snuck a cyborg in disguised as the one who took care of them so that she could kill them at the drop of a hat. For once, it's perfectly reasonable that they're shown as monoliths only - seeing as they're brains in jars. It's a Shout-Out to Neon Genesis Evangelion.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 had one meeting of an Omniscient Council Of Vagueness with the Surveyors deciding if the Gundam Trinity should be acknowledged. Instead of silhouettes, they used various pieces of art to represent different councillors.
  • The conversations between Mashiro, Fumi and Nagi throughout My-HiME, even after the Grand Finale.
  • Initially done in Naruto with Akatsuki before they were shown at which point some of them were killed, one quit, and rest quickly fell in line with the secret leader.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has an Ancient Conspiracy doubling as a Government Conspiracy. For the first half of the episodes they meet is as the UN's secret Human Instrumentality Committee, which meets by holographic video conference with color-coded representatives. For the second half of the series they meet as SEELE, appearing as 2001-style black "sound only" monoliths to save (the animator's) money. In both forms, they are massively opaque.
    • In the Rebuild of Evangelion they've only appeared as monoliths so far, and are, if possible, even more vague about their actions and motives. Then the third movie by reveals that the monoliths are their actual bodies and that they are a really ancient conspiracy, stated to be as old as human civilization.
      • Also, Rebuild-SEELE explains absolutely nothing. As of the third movie, we have no actual clue to what their plan is except some vague explanations from Kaworu, and now it doesn't matter anyway, since Gendo and Fuyutsuki killed them all by pulling the plug.
  • The country of Lacryma in Noein is ruled by such a council, which apparently includes a doll. One of them is apparently catatonic, and most of the table is empty chairs. There are really only three people left, and their glowy ball is the interface with their Quantum Computer. All they know about our heroes is what their steadily decreasing numbers of 'birds' bring back, and they don't know anything about Noein at all. Not even his name, only the traitor knows that until the finale. But they're sure shooting for the image.
  • Les Soldats' high council in Noir shows up in this fashion in the later half of the series, though they're pretty much more worried about Altena than the main heroines.
  • The closest thing One Piece has is the Five Elders. They're just a bunch of old men who allegedly run the World Government, but between the Council of Kings handling international affairs, and Sengoku controlling the Navy, there's really no telling what they do day-to-day. The Five Elders have authority over everything and everyone under them, including the Kings and Sengoku, but most of the time they just vaguely comment on world affairs and focus more on perpetuating a conspicuous stalemate with their enemies. They have the larger goals which include ensuring that the government remains in control and continues to grow, dealing with those that seek to topple the government, and covering up their own history. And it's later revealed they don't quite have that much authority either, as they secretly bow to one person by the name of Imu, who is the true ruler of the World Government.
  • The "Book Men" of Princess Tutu are shown towards the end of the series in this way—a group of members with their faces hidden by cloaks, gathering in a torch-lit room to gasp and worry over the "awakening" of a mysterious someone. They're talking about Fakir remembering his Reality Warper powers. It turns out they're an Ancient Conspiracy that cut off Drosselmeyer's hands...and will do the same to any of his descendants who abuse their powers.
  • Nearly everybody in RahXephon other than the main character gets a shot at this, but Bähbem and anybody he's talking to at any given moment are the champs.
  • Rave Master has the Oracion Six of the Demon Card.
  • Sonic X has the Metarex Army.
  • The very first people shown in The Third: The Girl with the Blue Eye are the members of the "Council of the Third". For bonus points, they are initially shown as Sinister Silhouettes.
  • In Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, Fei Wang Reed is very fond of monologuing in this manner to his henchwoman, Xing Huo. Likewise the Dimension Witch Yuuko talks to herself this way. She's actually bound by a rule that says she cannot tell anyone valuable information unless they pay a price "of the equivalent value".
  • Zatch Bell! has the Faudo Cult.

    Comic Books 
  • Bone: The Disciples of Venu are a group of hooded monks who have dedicated themselves to the study of the Dreaming. They were once the elite warriors of the Kingdom of the Valley, but after the war they slipped into the shadows until their return was needed.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel) includes a secret Pentagon faction that directs the Joes to serve their own ends.
  • The DCU:
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Captain America: Marvel introduced the Commission on Superhuman Activities as one of these. Later we see who's in it. That doesn't stop them from meeting in a giant, not-well-lit conference room, though.
    • Nick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. gives us the S.H.I.E.L.D. Executive Council.
    • The Illuminati is a (nominally) good version, consisting of some of the MU's smartest superheroes. Norman Osborn's Cabal from Dark Reign is its Evil Counterpart.
  • Spider-Man: In an epilogue in Web of Spider-Man #100, an assembly of B- and C-list villains (Fixer, Controller, Mentallo and Mr. Fear) comment with a glasses-wearing fifth member (referred to as "Menace") that the "Outer Circle" of the New Enforcers has taken the brunt of the blame. The group never appears again during the run.
  • The Simpsons parodies this in their Radioactive Man comics with the Secret Bonfire Club, some of the richest men in the world, who gather in a darkened room to talk with a Russian scientist who looks like a crab, and includes people like Richard Nixon. They have a grudge against Radioactive Man, who keeps accidentally foiling their schemes. At one point, one of their members lampshades their tendency to meet in a dark room.
    Club member: Gee, it's pretty dark in here. You'd think with all our money, we could at least afford some lightbulbs...

    Fan Works 
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction, the alicorn princesses (particularly Luna and Celestia) are sometimes treated as such a group.
  • If Naruto Fanon has to be believed, there are three kinds of Omniscient Council in the Ficdom. One is ROOT (with some basis of canon theory), each time Danzo portrayed as some sort of Big Bad. Second is Konoha Council, while often realistically portrayed as Well-Intentioned Extremist, treatment put on titular protagonist Naruto making them a bunch of Lawful Stupid instead. The Third one is Council of Hyuuga Clan, whenever Hinata or Neji had to face internal conflict, its because of them.note 
  • Child of the Storm has Stephen Strange, a one-man version of this trope. Only see glimpses of him at first? Check. Enigmatic? Double check. Has a plan all mapped out and makes the hero (and everyone else) dance on his puppet strings? Oh, yeah.
  • In Fractured, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover, we have the "Local Cluster Council" and "Federated Cluster Union." They are supposed to be even wider-spanning governments than those that run individual galaxies, but we find out later, in Origins, that they're manufactured manifestations created by the Eridians—who were also known as "Forerunners". Origins also has the RISE Council, a shadowy group operating the Republic Intelligence Service.
  • Ordinis Sancti Gladius from Fate: Zero Sanity fit this. The narration only switches to their perspective occasionally, and most of it is spent trying to get permission from the Magus Association and the Church to go investigate the War, which they only do by the end of the fic. Hints and bits are dropped every now and then, but the only things that are really confirmed that they have a connection to Zeltrech and a problem with the other two main organizations, not to mention taking an interest in Shirou Emiya...
    • It also helps that most of their named members happen to be from different dimensions, such as Coyote Starrk, and Alexander Anderson, with no clear explanation yet as to how they got there.
  • Freeport Venture has the Council of Freeport, a group of ponies (and others, at least one griffon is on the council) who control what little government there is in Freeport, and wear silver masks that magically conceal their identity. They're a blatant Expy of the Masked Lords of Waterdeep.
  • Lampshaded in the Touhou fanfiction, Imperfect Metamorphosis. When Yukari, Mima, and Eirin gather around a table to discuss the plan to destroy the villain, Yukari mutters that, with all the powerful people in one room, she might as well break out the black hoods and smoke machines.
  • In A Man of Iron, Varys and Nikolas Fury aka Gerion Lannister both work for a group known as "the Council", and are furthering their goals in preparation for conflict with the Others. One of Varys' POV chapters notes that in addition to numerous field agents and his own current key position, the Council has always had at least one agent in the Red Keep, along with always having one in the Iron Bank and another among the Dothraki, in order to keep an eye on the world's major players.
  • The Council aka The Illuminati from Naruto Veangance Revelaitons, represents a group of people who support everything the author hates (religion, modern music, America, the list goes on...), intend to have Ronan destroy the world for their purposes, and are apparently more powerful than the President of the United States and major corporations. Unfortunately for them, they're also a Non-Action Big Bad, and don't have a chance against the God-Mode Sue protagonist.
  • The Night Unfurls: The ending of Chapter 10 of the remastered version presents the readers with a group of nobles and clergymen scheming in the darkness of an undisclosed location, only lit by the flames of a torch. Whatever they are planning seems to lean towards supporting the Black Dogs' plan to "live like kings" via restarting the slave trade and initiating a War for Fun and Profit, with the forces in the Black Fortress and Kyril himself as valuable assets. Contrary to usual depictions of this trope, they are NOT omniscient, and NOT everything is according to plan, namely: the end of the war between Celestine and Olga is not accounted for; and that Vault did successfully take over the Black Fortress, but they don't know he was Killed Off for Real by Kyril afterwards, which may or may not put a wrench in their plans.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: The not-cultists from Nightmares Yet to Come, who have a fondness of meeting up to not quite discuss whatever it is they're planning. And occasionally, complain about working during the holiday season (the curse of a double life). So far, their plan involves making / acquiring three of something, which they need done by the upcoming summer (the story begins in mid-winter), abducting Trixie and Twilight Sparkle, finding a pony who escaped them several years ago, and starting the odd fire.
  • In Savior of Demons, The Council of Arcos is ridiculously obstructive, until you realize that they are trying to help by reigning in King Kold's tendency to jump feet-first into whatever solution he thinks is best and most expedient. Queen Isa also accuses them of being Corrupt Bureaucrats.
  • The first episode of Sonic Destruction has the mayor of Station Square consulting with a group of five masked figures who seem to have planned to save the city from disaster. Knuckles, Tails, and "obviously" Eggman are a part of this group, but the other two are never identified.
  • The Fans in With Strings Attached. Except only Jeft wants to be vague; the others want to be helpful and informative. They call him out on this tendency, but he seemingly always has a rational reason for behaving as he does.
  • According to LittleKuriboh and Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, 4Kids is this. They just pop up every now and again, standing up in sync dramatically/observing everyone/making sure that nobody says Disney.
  • In Manehattan's Lone Guardian, the meeting between Cocoa Mocha's proxy, Ignition, and his agents hits some of the marks: a completely dark room (passed off by some of them as needing some new lights), the agents being referred to almost entirely by their numbers (except for a few prior antagonists that are already known to the audience), ominous discussions revolving around the protagonists, and a plan to punt Celestia off of her throne that's not entirely clear to the readers.

    Films — Animated 
  • The eponymous Time Masters are a group of strange space aliens who have vague but sinister reasons of sending a ragtag bunch of space travelers in time. They have a planet made up of Sinister Geometry, to boot.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Evil Council from Kung Pow! Enter the Fist. Their plan, according to Master Betty, is "Evil, nnng... it is so EVIL! It is a bad, bad plan... that will hurt many... people... that are good." The council turns out to be French aliens with ships shaped like pyramids, and their actual plan is to take over the world.
  • Eraserhead's Man In The Planet manages to be a one-man council of vagueness. Theories on just what he is range from Satan to God. Do keep in mind that it is a David Lynch film.
  • Mr. Roque in Mulholland Dr. fulfills a similar role. It's by David Lynch, so it's pretty mind-screwy.
  • James Bond had SPECTRE, though their Number One was the most consistently shadowy and vague. It's a bit hard to make sense of their long term goals: in Dr. No, they have the titular Doctor sabotaging rocket launches, but the only explanation we're offered is that it's to fulfill No's personal vendetta. In Thunderball they've upgraded to holding the world hostage with nukes, then in You Only Live Twice they're back to sabotaging rocket launches, this time to exacerbate Cold War tensions, but puzzlingly they're suddenly working freelance for Red China despite previous indications that their activities were part of their own initiative.
  • Early on in Zoolander, main villain Mugatu receives his instructions from some kind of Legion of Fashion Doom (Georgio Armani is apparently a member). The whole group remains cloaked in shadows.
  • Harlan Ellison's Movie (never filmed, but the script is published) subverts this beautifully. The hero explores a strange building intercut with commentary from the council, then he opens one last door and steps into the council chamber.
  • The Bellarians, in Mystery Science Theater 3000 target Space Mutiny, apparently do nothing but dance around a room, worshiping plasma globes and telepathically sexing up some of the villains, though why they do this is unknown. They also have no impact on the plot, but the lead Bellarian eventually teleports to speak to the Commander and apparently impart knowledge on him - which amounts to a great pile of nothing. The film still treats them as if they're extremely important characters even though their subplot could have been cut from the film completely and made no impact on the plot. Literally; it was added at the last second purely as padding.
  • The literally shadowy committee which appears at the beginning of The Parallax View, proclaiming that a Presidential candidate had been assassinated by a single, insane gunman (who has three names, like Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth). Somewhat familiar: not in all its details, but overall. A similar (identical?) committee appears at the end of the film, making eerily similar pronouncements that the death of the hero didn't involve any sort of conspiracy, of course.
  • In the The Matrix Trilogy, the Architect and the Oracle together form an incredibly opaque and confusing two-person Omniscient Councils of Vagueness. They actually spell out the entire plot right there, but its way too confusing for someone like Neo (or most of the audience, for that matter) to understand. And possibly even the writers.
  • Star Wars: The Jedi High Council engages in this quite frequently, to the point that other characters accuse them of being out of touch. Qui-Gon insists that Anakin be trained as a Jedi, despite the fears of the Council (and of Obi-Wan) that Anakin is older than their normal students, and therefore has an unacceptably high risk of turning to the dark side. The audience is expected to sympathise with him... except that Anakin then does turn to the dark side, proceeding to kill all the Jedi. Turns out they were right.
    • Of course, it becomes clear over the course of the prequels that the Council never really begins trusting Anakin, so he instead becomes friendly with Palpatine. Had the Council not treated Anakin as a ticking time bomb for over a decade, it's likely that he wouldn't have so much pent-up frustration and anger for Palpatine to exploit. So in a way, this is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
  • The "Feather Men" from Killer Elite are a secret society of retired SAS Operators whose self-appointed job is to protect other SAS Operators, retired or in service.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Avengers has the "World Security Council", of American, British, Chinese and Russian members, who are running S.H.I.E.L.D. They seem to know a lot about alien technology, advance weaponry and can order a nuclear strike on New York at will. Nick Fury seems to know how to handle them when they make the wrong decisions. The World Security Council could be a Fictional Counterpart of the United Nations Security Council, an international group capable of making binding executive agreements (UNSC Resolutions) enforceable by volunteered military personnel. Permanent members of the UNSC include the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Russia, (as well as France), much like the "World Security Council". And just to drive home the ominousness, they saw fit to outfit a special conference room with giant monitors so that their almost faceless silhouettes can loom over Fury in a pointless but highly symbolic manner.
    • Follow-up Captain America: The Winter Soldier does not explicitly follow those nationalities (one is implied to be Indian) but makes the council even more ominous. S.H.I.E.L.D.'s representative there is part of HYDRA, the group Red Skull founded back in WWII... Though in fairness to them, once they find out about Pierce's actions they immediately denounce him and his ideals and support Fury. So while they may have been ominous, they were definitely on the side of the heroes.
  • In Pacific Rim, the world leaders who control the Jeager program and eventually decide to phase it out in favor of the anti-kaiju wall project have something of this trope. Which is not so surprising since the film is an homage to mecha anime in general and Neon Genesis Evangelion in particular, which features one of the most famous and iconic omniscient council of vagueness ever.

  • The Council of Thirteen, the Yeerk government in the Animorphs book series. Briefly mentioned in book 2, and popping up in conversation several times after that, they are (mostly) revealed in the book Visser.
  • The Ashes Series: The first book has a scene where a cabal of military leaders gather at a hunting lodge to discuss a right-wing conspiracy to start World War III. They talk about the motives and numbers of the people involved and the odds that they'll succeed (they do), but are rather vague when discussing what they know about the plan to start the war. After the meeting, most of the members make a beeline away from major population centers and are never seen again.
  • Older Than Television: The Arisians of E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman saga may be the prototype; in several scenes, they discuss the progress of Kimball Kinnison and other major characters in terms of their "Visualization of the Cosmic All."
  • Asimov's Foundation Series: The Second Foundation (Chessmaster extraordinares) take this to an extreme. One chapter ends with two Second Foundationers summarizing everything that just happened: "Intersection point?" "Yes! May we live to see the dawn!"
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld series has a few:
    • A council of conspiring nobles in The Truth is one of these. They call themselves "The Committee To Unelect The Patrician."
    • There's another one in Feet of Clay, though their goal there is more like "Incapacitate The Patrician".
    • The Unique and Supreme Lodge of the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night in Guards! Guards! would like to think they're one. In reality, they're a flock of utterly incompetent Black Cloak mooks being guided by one villain who (sort of) knew what he was doing.
    • The Auditors Of Reality tend to play out this trope in novels where they're the antagonists, making cryptic remarks about their intentions while avoiding the first-person singular.
      • The plurality and vagueness are enforced by Cosmic Law: using the first person singular implies having a personality. Things with personalities can die. Auditors with personalities tend to have this happen extremely quickly, as in "sometimes before finishing the sentence in which they said 'I'," though a few in Thief of Time manage to last a week or so after beginning to develop a personality because they were impersonating humanity and because of this slower progression they lasted a bit longer.
    • Strategy and policies of the Guild of Assassins are decided by meetings of the Dark Council. Apart from knowing this is presided over by the Guild Master, it is unclear as to who the other members are, what their portfolios are, or indeed how many members there are. This is probably deliberate. The Fools' Guild also has its ruling Council of Mirth, but apart from the fact that it's chaired by Dr. Whiteface, nothing else is known. The Thieves' Guild has an inner inner council, which is mentioned in Going Postal (in the context of Vetinari reading a report on their secret meetings).
  • Harry Potter:
    • The Spinner's End scene, even for being based around a notoriously un-forthcoming character, is simply uncanny in not showing any details about "the plan". Interesting in that J.K. Rowling actually does have a plot based reasoning behind it: they were ordered (separately) not to discuss "the plan" with anyone, not even other Death Eaters, and Narcissa didn't even know Snape had been informed about it when she came to him for help. Opinions vary on how much Snape actually knew, and how much he simply pretended to know. Hints in the narrative suggest he was either stringing Narcissa along to learn the plan, or was already regretting what he knew he had to do.
    • Dumbledore is chairman, secretary and treasurer of the Omniscient Council all rolled into one.
  • The House In The Cerulean Sea: Subverted by the Extremely Upper Management. They certain look like it, with their room being a dark rom where they stand above their guest and the information they give Linus is often vague or incomplete, often willfully. That said, they're far from omniscient, are as prejudiced and misinformed about the magical creatures as anyone else under them.
  • The Camberian Council in the Deryni series gradually devolves into this trope. Originally founded to preserve Deryni magic and lore in the face of persecution and to take an active (if behind-the-scenes) role in the affairs of the Eleven Kingdoms, over the centuries it has become tradition-bound and priggish, just as prone to Fantastic Racism as the Deryni's human persecutors, and given to endless debates over the actions of the series heroes without taking much at all in the way of action themselves. Council of Vagueness, indeed.
  • The White Council from The Lord of the Rings is essentially this for the good guys. The White Council's vagueness seems to have ultimately hampered their effectiveness. Several decades before the story begins properly, the Council informally disbanded as an ultimate failure.
  • In Our Wives Under the Sea, Miri is never able to get a good hold on The Centre, the organization her wife Leah worked for. She tries multiple times to call it, but always gets automated messages or people who don't actually help her. Juna also recounts that she was told very little about Jelka's death. In the end, we never figure out much of the Center's goals.
  • Replica: The Omniscient Council of Vagueness was always plotting insignificant things, such as stealing from the heroine a piece of fingernail to make sure she's actually the clone. Because, yes, kidnapping some people and releasing them after cutting fingernails is the best plan not to be spotted. In the end, after being defeated for the zillionth time, they ended every action, because some government organization watched them. Duh.
  • In the sister series and, there exists the Council of Evil. We more of it in, obviously, and it's revealed in the first book that it exists to make sure the various supervillains' plots don't overlap. After all, what's the point in robbing a gold vault in Switzerland if at the same moment, some other guy's going to roast the city with a death ray? The COE issues permits to supervillains, provided that their plans are officially approved.
  • Jack Reacher: Make Me features several meetings by a group of ten scattered locals involved in the criminal enterprise. They talk about the need to stop Reacher and his ally, but dance around discussing the nature of their racket due to being too frightened about the thought of exposure to contemplate it. They are making snuff films. Similar scenarios occur with the family meetings of the main four villains in Worth Dying For and the phone calls between the Big Bad Duumvirate in Never Go Back. The former are Human Trafficking and personally raping young girls to death, and the later are using military assets to bring in opium from Afghanistan.
  • The Power of Five: Downplayed with the Nexus (who become the backers of the heroes). In Raven's Gate, they meet to discuss the signs that the Old Ones are returning. Their conversation, goals, and allegiance are initially cryptic, but are established by the end of the scene and fully explained by the end of the book.
  • The organization V.F.D. in A Series of Unfortunate Events is mysterious and splintered into noble and ignoble factions. This is played for humor in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography during the transcript of a Builder's Committee, during which the narrator was in attendance and he didn't know of some of the issues being discussed.
  • The Committee of the urban fantasy Red Room series deliberately cultivates this attitude by keeping their identities secret, meeting via astral projection, and using codenames. Derek comments that this is ridiculous and rather childish for people who control much of the world's finances and politics.
  • The Nine from Philip José Farmer's A Feast Unknown are immortals from the Stone Age who control their agents by providing them with an Elixir of Life.
  • The Ferryman Council from The Ferryman Institute is the alleged council formed by the institute's co-founders Charon and Virgil (the original ferryman and the Roman poet respectively) that rules over the Ferryman Institute, managing things under the authority of the President and Death itself. No one actually knows who is in the council, nor is anyone certain they even exist, many presuming that this was just office gossip and that the institute runs on the same handwavium magic that allows them to do their job in the first place. It turns out that the Ferryman Council is not only real, but Charon and Virgil are still members of it, Charles' manager having been the president. They even justify the secrecy of the council's existence as a noble lie to prevent disgruntled ferryman from questioning the Institute's activities, the Institute's job too important and integral to human existence to get bogged down by individual pencil-pushers who think they know better than fallible bosses.
  • The Agatha Christie novel The Seven Dials Mystery has the titular group, a mysterious septet of people who meet in a secret room in a London gambling house. They all wear masks fashioned like clocks, each with the hands set to a different time from 1:00 to 7:00 (hence the name), and meet in hushed tones to discuss the theft of major scientific discoveries and secrets. As Christie is wont to do, it ends up being a subversion: the Seven Dials are actually a group of young people determined to prevent thefts and catch criminals, making them Good All Along. It's explained by Superintendent Battle, their leader, that the members deliberately invoke the trappings of an Omniscient Council of Vagueness to seem shadowy and wicked, thus making their targets fearful and likelier to slip up.
  • Six of Crows has the Council of Tides, a group of Grishas that oversee the waters of Kerch, manipulating it to manage the maritime transport inside and outside the capital Ketterdam. Because Kerch is an island that heavily relies on commerce (by extension import and export of goods and of people), this gives them massive political power which rivals and often surpasses the Merchant Council's own rule of Ketterdam. They also haven't been seen in public over 2 decades, and each of its members has an identity so well hidden that Inej and Kaz's best efforts can't gather any data on them. Even when they do appear, they're hidden by mist, long flowing capes and masks. They reveal that they know of Kaz faking Kuwei's death, something nobody but his crew are capable of knowing.
  • In This Used To Be About Dungeons there are the Editors, a secretive group of immortals who created the dungeons to tame natural magic, codified classes, and established the criteria to determine someone's elevation. They (or their successors) continue to work and tweak the systems, but they require cooperation from multiple nations to enact their brand of magic and are heavily curtailed in what changes they can make now that the systems are in place.
  • The Witch of Knightcharm: Episode 25 reveals that the elite students at an evil Wizarding School have superiors of their own, known only as the Board. Nothing else has been revealed about them except that the elites are desperate not to get on the Board's bad side.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: Downplayed with Headmistress Esmeralda's insider group among the faculty. They have a series of secret meetings around in the series, but are all clearly identified and are as much in the dark about Oliver Horn's conspiracy to kill them all as the student body is. While their overall goals and their reason for murdering Oliver's mother Chloe Halford remain vague, they take significantly more concrete action than typical for this trope to smoke out the competing conspiracy starting in volume 6 after the conspirators fail to conceal the assassination of Enrico Forghieri.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24 loves this one: sometimes there will be multiple Omniscient Councils of Vagueness in the same season. "Loves" is an understatement. There's the so-called "Bluetooth Illuminati" in Seasons 5 and 6, the super-secret council of private military companies in Season 7... not mentioning the dozens of others. Although most of these either got scrapped, were resolved offscreen, or specific members were thrown into random storylines just to be killed off. The one involving Jack's long lost father and brother was even seemingly retconned altogether (though it was replaced by another). Despite all of these plotlines flopping, they constantly continued them. Many fans were particularly pissed by Season 7's Omniscient Council of Vagueness, because they were sick of this trope being used all the time, among various other things.
  • In the early season of Babylon 5, the Grey Council fit this to a tee, if not being outright villainous.
  • In the original Battlestar Galactica, Baltar was always reporting to an unknown 'Imperious Leader'.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): Cylons. "They have a plan..." But the writers won't tell us what. Word of God finally admitted that there was never a plan, but "they have a general set of goals, an agenda, if you will," didn't make for a very good tag line. Eventually, a movie called "The Plan" was released that was supposed to retcon the situation, but instead just ruined the vague sinister mystique of the Cylon nation. The plan in "The Plan" turned out to be kill all humans, including the remnant in the fleet. What, were you expecting something more elaborate?
  • The Blacklist has the Cabal, the seemingly international group of Corrupt Bureaucrats and Politicians that Reddington has a rivalry with. The first time we see more than just Fitch, they're meeting in a vaguely well lit room, with at least one member communicating via video conference rather than being there in person, all to discuss whether Reddington and his Secret War with Berlin are a threat to their business (whatever that might be).
    • They take more prominence in the second half of Season 2, wherein we learn a little more about them. For the past several decades, they've been manipulating world events for their own benefit, and are now working towards creating a new Cold War for the same reason. We've still only met a couple of major members, however.
  • Black Lightning (2018): During a conversation early in Season 1 between Tobias and Lady Eve, mention is made of a group the latter is part of known as the Shadow Board. The show seems to forget about this after Lady Eve's death, until near the end of Season 4, where it's revealed that Tobias' plans that season are meant to earn him a position in the organization. We learn that the Shadow Board is a Cosmopolitan Council that meets via hologram while wearing fancy robes... and that's about it, with no clarity about their goals being given prior to the end of the series.
  • Buffyverse:
    • The Powers That Be in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.
    • The mysterious, presumably government affiliated group seen in the penultimate episode of season 4 after the failure of The Initiative. They claim they will keep an eye on Buffy and her pals, but are never mentioned again. Until the comics, that is.
    • The Circle of the Black Thorn. That they're incredibly powerful and evil is made clear, what specifically their role as Wolfram & Hart's "agents on earth" entails is not. Basically, they seem to make the world progressively more unpleasant to live in.
    • Buffy implicitly states in 'Selfless' that there's "no all-knowing council" to govern her actions. There appear to be many in addition to those listed above in the Buffyverse, Buffy is even aware of some of them. The Watcher's Council is specifically there to guide her, although she had partially resigned from working with them at this point. Buffy is also presumably aware of the Powers that Be. It can be assumed she was ignoring all these examples to justify her authority.
  • The burned spies organization in Burn Notice.
  • Charmed (1998) has the Triad as the evil version and the Elders as the good.
  • The villainous organizations in Chuck are always up to evil stuff with all kinds of evil goals and... stuff. But their actual agendas are never made explicit.
  • Doctor Who: Up until "The Deadly Assassin", the Time Lords were sometimes presented as this, most blatantly in "Colony in Space". In "Assassin", they were retconned as The Blinkered Council of College Infighting, and they never really recovered. Russell T Davies decided the revived show would be better off without them... until they were brought back in "The End of Time", having become unambiguous villains under Rassilon's insane leadership. The Doctor then has to doom his entire race all over again. Although it's been revealed since then that they still exist, sealed off in a separate universe, and also that every Time Lord didn't jump off with Rassilon. We've met a perfectly sane and respectable leader known only as the General, and civilian Gallifreyans that could be the civilians of any world.
  • The Observers in Fringe.
  • Grimm has several — the Wesen Council, the Verrat, the Royals, and perhaps a few others.
  • The secret lodge in Herederos De Una Venganza.
  • The Company in Heroes. We know it was founded to protect "specials" and ended up betraying that agenda, but it still fits. It approached omniscience (and omnipotence) in its reach, which extended to politicians and gangsters, and was certainly vague, jumping from scheme to scheme with no apparent long term agenda besides capturing specials. Even then, it's unclear if they ever intended to rehabilitate them or just keep building secret prisons all over the country.
  • Jekyll and Hyde (2015) has Jekyll run into two of these, one a good monster-hunting organization and the other a sinister cult. Both sides try to use him as they see fit.
  • In Heisei era of Kamen Rider the trope is played straight by most seasons.
  • Kamen Rider 555 has one in the movie, all portrayed by veteran Celebrity Voice Actors, who've contributed to Showa-era Rider shows.
    • The Kougami Foundation in Kamen Rider OOO plays this straight. It isn't spelled out until the very end what their chairman wanted.
    • Kamen Rider Double who have Foundation X who plays this right down to the lack of any clear motive.
    • In one of the Kamen Rider Fourze movies, we have Foundation X take center stage as the bad guys...only for the guy running the operation to prove to be a rogue agent acting on his own. His goals weren't the Foundation's goals, so we still have no idea what the Foundation's goals are.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim: Yggdrasill Corporation. (With 2 Ls.) Up until the 12th ep, you know just that they rule the Zawame City and plan something sinister with Beat Riders, Inves and Helheim Forest. And possibly with the whole city. They get less vague as time goes on and the conflicting goals of their top members come into focus.
  • Latnok in Kyle XY. Played straight, complete with shadowy figures sitting around a table watching Kyle on TV screens. Later in the series, it becomes less shadowy as Kyle actually meets some of the members.
  • Lost: The Others. After 4+ seasons of lies and doublespeak, the sum total of our knowledge concerning their origins and motives is as follows: 1) they're all manipulative little bastards, 2) they claim to be the good guys, and 3) apparently some guy named Jacob gave them a list at some point.
  • Nikita: Oversight, the group of high-ranking politicians and military officials that Division nominally reports to. They're mentioned several times throughout the first season, and in one of the last scenes of the finale, we finally see them (or at least, a group of them) in a meeting; naturally, they're all sitting at a table in a half-lit room, with only the members we'd seen previously being in the light. Then halfway through season two, all of them are revealed, and then — with the exception of Senator Pearce — assassinated a couple of episodes later.
    • Seasons 3 and 4 feature "the Shop", a group of scientists using groups like Division to further their own goals (the mystery of what those are being part of the show's final Story Arc).
  • The Pretender: Holy crap. The show's protagonist Jarod is pursued by The Centre, which throughout the show's four seasons reveals itself to be a centre for moral ambiguity, betrayals, shifting alliances both within the organization and with Jarod and a whole lot of evil plotting.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness in Prison Break was named The Company. Besides being the President's puppet master, its interests seemed to be whatever was appealing at the time. Its resources were supposed to be vast, yet even it and the FBI's combined reach wasn't enough to stop two men from tearing it down. True to the trope, The General never monologued and initially communicated in handwritten notes for fear of having his voice secretly recorded, but dropped that habit once the audience knew more about The Company.
  • The Prisoner (1967) revolved around this trope, as evidenced by the eternal vagueness of No. 6's imprisonment.
  • Seven Star Fighting God Guyferd has the executive council of Crown, who oversee the organization's various research projects and send Monsters of the Week to menace Guyferd. Then at the end of the first arc we learn even they have echelons above them.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise:
    • In the third season, the Xindi Council make a rather good attempt at being one of these—when they're not busy arguing with each other.
    • The never-unmasked "Future Guy" ordering the Suliban around was a one man band version of this trope. His proclamations were far more vague than those of the Xindi.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The exact activities and official purpose of the Obsidian Order is never really explained, with the only well known operative having such a wide variety of skills (unarmed combat, marksmanship, engineering, code-breaking, intelligence gathering, interrogation, sabotage and assassination being just some of them) that it's hard to pin down exactly what agents are supposed to focus on (and it's eventually revealed that its structure was arranged to function in the same way as an organised collection of terrorist cells). While it seems to be a kind of intelligence service, in practice neither the civilian government nor the military leadership can do anything without the consent of the Order.
    • It may have been the intelligence service growing so powerful it effectively controls the rest of the government. The Romulan Tal Shiar is portrayed similarly, and the two organizations ally at one point to attack the Founders' home world. It ends badly.
  • The Black Lodge had this dramatic role in Twin Peaks.
  • True Blood initially plays this straight with The Authority and later subverts it. They're introduced in season 3 as the shadow government of vampire society, and it's stated they hold the real power. The Authority is responsible for appointing and "retiring" (i.e. killing off) vampire monarchs, they dictate the AVL's agenda (as well as the agendas of all vampire leagues across the globe), and they were the ones who decided to reveal the existence of vampires to humans several years before the start of the series. Their true agenda remains a mystery at first, and oftentimes what they claim to want is at odds with how they implement it. For example, they state they want peaceful co-existence between vampires and humans, yet they actively go out of their way to cover up any atrocities vampires commit against humans. They also claim to want equality, but Bill reveals in season 4 that vampires have had a history of infiltrating different human organizations (Catholic Church, Google, Fox News, etc) to carry out their agendas. All the while, their true motives and methods are vageuly defined. Seasons 4 reveals a few things: Part of the reason the Authority holds control is because they've hired spies and Double Agents like Bill to infiltrate and "sow the seeds of discord" within the vampire monarchies to keep them at odds with each other. On top of that, the location of the Authority remains hidden from other vampires (most likely to prevent assassination attempts), and they've accumulated massive wealth over the centuries to finance their goals as well as pay individual vampires to work for them. Season 5 eventually shows the audience what the Authority looks like, and it's revealed that the reason they have conflicting agendas is because there's a war going on between two political factions: Mainstreams (who want peaceful coexistence between vampires and humans) and Sanguinistas (religious vampires who want to enslave and farm humans and view mainstreaming as an abomination). The reason they cover up vampire atrocities against humans is because they're trying to maintain good relationships with them since humans outnumber vampires a thousand to one AND have weapons to annihilate them. Of course, the Sanguinistas don't care about this, and want to go back to the way things were. We also find out that the Authority consists of Chancellors (and a Guardian) who each oversee and represent certain parts of the globe (just as vampire monarchs do for different territories), and that they also act as the vampire church and hold the blood of Lilith (the first vampire to ever exist) to claim political and religious legitimacy.
  • The X-Files had about six of these over the course of the show. It was Agent Mulder's main goal in life: expose them and uncover the truth to public.

  • Dorothy of Oz is notable for having a total of three Omniscient Councils of Vagueness so far, them being the other three Witches and their right-hand assistants. All of them are scheming against each other, and each seems to have some sort of plan in mind for Mara.

  • The Priests of the Temples of Syrinx in the song 2112 by Rush, a strawman communist government.
  • Sarastro and the other Priests in The Magic Flute by Mozart fall under this category. Of course the whole opera is about Freemasonry, so it's no wonder there is a secret society...
  • There is a song titled "Whatever You Say, Say Nothing." The song is about a man telling the listener about you know who and you know what. Never once is any actual name give for the group that will take you to you know where if they find out you know about them.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Moirae/Fates from Classical Mythology and the Norns from Norse Mythology are both among the Ur Examples. Think about it; both the Fates and the Norns are trios of all-knowing old ladies who sit around literally weaving the thread of fate. They're also inspirations for the Three Witches from Macbeth.

  • The Federated Alliance of Mission to Zyxx is openly ruled by the Council of Seven ("Seven best friends who rule the galaxy together!") but their actual meetings are in line with this trope.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Illuminati in Paranoia, who end up giving their blackmailed minions tasks ranging from "kill this man" to "place a bucket full of paint in a dustbin in HPL Sector". It's little more than a front for High Programmer activities in secret societies that need a lot of discretion. It's not an actual secret society, more of a joke between ULTRAVIOLETs... probably.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons setting Eberron:
    • The vast human empire of Riedra is ruled by the Inspired, a caste of wise and just humans bred to perfection. Who are in fact all vessels for demonic spirits from the Dimension of Nightmares. But these spirits are but a small fraction of their race and follow the orders of the mysterious lords of their home dimension.
    • There is the more traditional Aurum, an organization of wealthy families dedicated to increasing their own wealth.
  • Delta Green is chock-full of these, since it's a Conspiracy Thriller:
    • A-Cell is this for cowboy Delta Green.
    • The 9895 ExComm (Executive Committee), the leadership of Delta Green from 1947 to 1970, many of them still kept active after Delta Green was disbanded, such as Major General Fairfield and Dr. Joseph Camp (Future Agent ALPHONSE).
    • MAJESTIC-12's Steering Committee, formed by 12 people each one a director of the 12 sub-projects of MJ-12.
    • The Transcended Masters, leaders of the Cult of Transcendence and aswering only to Nyarlathotep itself.
    • The Program's Board of Directors.
  • Warhammer's Skaven race are led by the Council of Thirteen (also called the Thirteen Lords of Decay, though there are only ever twelve of them, the thirteenth place being held for the Skaven god - The Great Horned Rat). The Skaven riff gleefully on all kinds of supervillain tropes, so their ruling council naturally epitomises this one. They sit in shadow in a chamber high atop the Skaven capital of Skavenblight, attended by mute albino guards and equipped with all the usual trapdoors-into-pits-of-mutant-monsters expected when dealing with insufficiently pleasing underlings. Their intricate plans to conquer the world, however, are comprehensively scuppered by constant politicking and infighting among the members of the council and the need to keep a lid on the ambitions of underlings aspiring to be on the council themselves.
  • Control, the ruling body for the Technocracy in Mage: The Ascension, is this, at least until the "Time of Judgment" scenario. The council is supposed to be near-omniscient, all-controlling, and extremely knowledgable about what happens in the organization (à la Big Brother). Meanwhile the identity of its members is a secret even within the Technocracy and its agenda is nebulous. Revised Edition with the Avatar Storm made this even more pronounced, since communication become even scarcer and its goals even more mysterious.

  • In Jesus Christ Superstar, the typically leather-bound Council of the High Priests get several songs.
    Annas: Good Ciaphas, the Council waits for you. The Pharisees / and priests are here for you.
    Ciaphas: Ah Gentlemen. You know why we are here. We've not much time / and quite a problem here...
    Priest #1: We dare not leave him to his own devices / His half-witted fans would get outta control.
    Priest #2: But how can we stop him / his glamor increases / by leaps every minute, he's top of the poll.
    — "This Jesus Must Die"
  • The Three Witches from Macbeth are among the Ur Examples, as they provide cryptic foreshadowing and seem to know how the plot will turn out before the action even starts.

  • BIONICLE's Brotherhood of Makuta can be considered such a council, but some of the sillier aspects of the trope were averted by not even showing the council at first. The Brotherhood got merely name-dropped for about three years (real-time) before some of them became the main villains for an arc; at which point the audience was given names, faces, the works. The fact that some parts of their plan are still left vague are justified in that they're focused on their current mission and not concerning themselves too much with what is happening elsewhere (and therefore not discussing it).
    • And why would they discuss the plan, after all? All of the Makuta know nearly every aspect of it, and the writers don't want the audience to know any more than the heroes do. Luckily, they also avoid too much Expospeak this way.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: The Consortium is headed by a council. In their brief appearance in the opening, they unanimously rejected C's proposal to reinstate the abandoned Gatekeeper Project, since their focus is on the highest echelons and that there is little need for circumstances "too costly" or "unacceptable" when it comes to protecting the world from Limen.
  • Pretty much everyone other than the three playable characters in Fahrenheit (known alternatively as Indigo Prophecy) are part of an Omniscient Council of Vagueness. Yes, including Agatha, the wheelchair bound old woman. And, she's actually a holographic robot computer virus. The Orange Clan in particular.
  • Xenogears is riddled with lengthy purposeless conversations between members of the Gazel Ministry, a group of barely visible and largely indistinguishable talking heads on video screens whose relevance to what's actually going on for the player won't be revealed until much, much later — 40 hours or more — in the game. They're extremely similar to Evangelion' SEELE.
    • It's worth noting that the Gazel Ministry isn't teleconferencing. They actually are talking heads on computer screens attached to a giant rotating sphere. They pretty much can't do anything but rotate and make evil plans, and get killed by basically hitting the "off" button.
  • Its creative descendant (not quite a sequel), the PS2 game trilogy Xenosaga, kicked it up a notch: literal hours of dialogue were dedicated to this.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails: Ouroboros is a wide-spread and enigmatic organization who serve as the overarching antagonists of the series. Their final objective is shrouded in mystery, but they are known to search for the Sept-Terrion and possess a lot of influence and connections to many powerful individuals and political powers.
  • In Assassin's Creed II, the Templars are a group of power hungry nobles involved in a conspiracy with the Assassins.
  • Danganronpa: The Steering Committee are a secular sector (implied to be comprised of former faculty) first mentioned in Danganronpa Zero that are the ones really running Hope's Peak Academy. They engineered the Kamukura Project to artificially create the perfect human being, someone who excelled at every talent known to man. They succeeded too well in that regard; Izuru was so perfect, he's utterly bored with the world and thus has no drive to be its "hope" as they'd intended. And when he is introduced to how unpredictable despair is, that kickstarts The Tragedy.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The Legion of Doom presented in the PS2 game Kingdom Hearts early on met this way as shadowy figures standard to the trope. However, their distinctive body shapes and iconic voices make easy for anyone familiar with Disney to identify them.
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, the Beta Baddies of Organization XIII form a similar omniscient council. They do avert Evil Is Not Well-Lit, as their home base and meeting place is the very bright, sterile, and white Castle That Never Was.note 
  • Throughout Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, scenes show Seraph Lamington and an obscured individual discussing their plan in this manner. However, not only is the plan not particularly evil in any way, but the other man involved is the comic relief character Mid-Boss.
  • Inazuma Eleven: El Dorado in Chrono Stone, who order Protocol Omega to erase soccer from existence.
  • The X Hunters appear this way in the beginning of Mega Man X2, complete with a "digital screen ball" thing and the three Hunters shown only as silhouettes. A Subverted Trope to some extent: the Hunters are all very unusual shapes, making their silhouette disguise relatively ineffective compared to a situation where all characters have roughly humanoid dimensions.
  • In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, The Overseers that actually lead the Genoharadan exist in total secrecy; nobody knows who they are, where they rule from, how they became Overseers, or if their motives are as pure as Hulas claims.
  • Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter had one of these in the form of the Regents. They are, however, apparently at cross-purposes with each other, and its leader is running plots so convoluted that he's trying to help you and kill you at the same time.
  • The final scene of PC game Baldur's Gate II shows one of these vaguely debating and deciding on the Player Character's doom. It's really left to be nothing but a pure Omniscient Council of Vagueness, as no group like this ever appears afterwards. Word of God is that this was an early concept for the Five, the antagonistic group of Bhaalspawn who appear in the Expansion Pack, but that the developers didn't decide that not all of the Five would be within human physical parameters until after the cutscene had been made.
  • In Half-Life, the sinister G-man makes passing references to his employers. Said employers are never revealed, but it is heavily implied that they're some sort of dark, omniscient cabal pursuing a mysterious agenda. Or not. We don't know. They didn't like Dr. Breen but the G-Man pulled Gordon out before he dealt the Combine a true deathblow.
    • Some of us just think it's Valve.
      • Some of us think it refers to the players who are literally controlling Gordon's every move.
    • According to this wiki, comment of G-Man's model states: "// Purpose: The G-Man, misunderstood servant of the people", thus making it improbable that his employers, or at least G-Man himself, isn't evil.
      • That doesn't specify which people.
    • Half-Life: Alyx, the G-Man elaborates slightly on his employers: they want to change the fate of "our worlds", and via the G-Man are capable of screwing with time to get what they want, but undoing the Combine invasion of Earth would run counter to their plans, whatever those are.
  • Subverted with the Wisemen's Committee in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, introduced as the upper legion of the conspiracy known as the Patriots, and shown as 12 mysterious faces with their eyes censored. They're not actually shown in person, though. In reality, they died a hundred years ago, and the Patriots are inhuman computer programs who don't even need to discuss anything. The Patriots (or their predecessors, the Philosophers) are never actually shown meeting in any of the Metal Gear games.
  • There's one of these in Wild ARMs 4, but it turns out that they were completely out of touch with the reality of the situation and they end up being betrayed by The Dragon.
  • Persona 2: Eternal Punishment: The New World Order started out life as a nonentity. A loose consortium of developers who owned the excavation site where Sumaru's mummy was found. Believing it to be a cursed idol, the group formed an elite circle which attracted a number of power players in Japan's political sphere until, finally, they had "the power to move this country."
  • Final Fantasy VII has the meeting of the Shinra executives where they discuss their plans for Aeris and Neo Midgar.
  • The Mass Effect series has both the Shadow Broker and Cerberus/The Illusive Man. Helping or following direct orders/requests from either group generally rewards renegade points. While both of these are powerful organizations, and their leadership is ambiguous in Mass Effect, in Mass Effect 2 we find that they are each led by individuals...
  • The Inner Circle from the Max Payne games is mostly depicted as one of these. However, when questioned about what he knows about the organization in the second game, Vlad dismisses the idea of many of the characteristics integral to this trope as being characteristic of the Inner Circle; to him, they're just the next peg up the ladder in organized crime.
  • In Two Worlds, the player character is tasked by one Omniscient Council of Vagueness to recover an artifact that will bring about the revival of a dead god. These men are invariably represented with sweeping cloaks, hooded faces, and black armor. Throughout the game, the player encounters several opposite types of men in every major city in Antaloor. These men wear white armor, wear helmets, and are all referred to as "Stranger". These fellows mention the player's destiny and the like, and the main character is noticeably disturbed by them. Only after The Reveal does this mysterious group reveal itself to the Player: The Paladins, another Omniscient Council of Vagueness, but a good one. If the player chooses the Evil Choice at the end of the game, they wind up having to fight the entire Paladin council for their final battle, which is MUCH harder than the fight if you choose the Good Choice, in which you kill the remaining member of the Evil council after spending the latter half of the game killing off the other members.
  • Subverted in Skies of Arcadia with the Valuan Admirals. They meet several times throughout the game, and no attempt is made to hide who they are -in fact, their first meeting serves to introduce the player to most of them. Other than not being faceless, however, they follow the trope pretty closely.
  • Deus Ex starts with a sequence like this, where Bob Page and Walton Simons discuss their plans in veiled terms. It contains references to most of the major plot points in the game, but they can't be appreciated until after the fact.
    • The prequel, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, begins similarly, with Bob Page and the rest of the Illuminati Council of Five discussing their latest scheme for world domination via distorted voice teleconference. None of the members' faces, except Page's are shown, and only two (Zhao Yun Ru and Hugh Darrow) can be definitively identified via their distinctive (and thus not completely distorted) accents.
  • Takamagahara from the story mode in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift fall under this.
  • So does the Conclave/Senate from Guilty Gear Xrd-SIGN-.
  • The Three Wise Men from Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, an explicit Council of Angels that acts in lieu (and, they claim, in the name of) God. The appearance of the Schwarzwelt provided them an opportunity to guide the world into a land ruled by Law, and the Protagonist and the rest of the Schwarzwelt Investigation Team are the perfect pawns to fulfill their desires. Unlike the true originator of the Schwarzwelt, however, going against their wishes doesn't set them against the Protagonist, as they're quite confident that he will fail and they, as eternal beings, can just try again with someone else.
  • In Age of Empires III, the Circle of Ossus is an antagonistic group out to find the Fountain of Youth and have some powerful connections. Everything else about them is completely unknown.
  • The Data Pads in Halo: Reach reveals that a secret council of Artificial Intelligences formed called "The Assembly", and have been secretly running many of the events in human history, including pushing forward the Spartan-II program, initiating first contact with The Covenant, and sacrificing colonies for survival in the war.
  • The Council of Nations in the XCOM series sits in the shadows and covertly funds the whole X-COM project, with close links to prominent politicians, businessmen, and military officers. In a rare subversion, the Council is a supportive Reasonable Authority Figure that goes out of its way to pat you on the back if you are doing well.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The An-Xileel, an Argonian political party with close ties to the Hist (sentient trees native to the Black Marsh who the Argonians worship), rule Argonia during the 4th Era and appear to be this. It is speculated that their close ties to the omniscient Hist give them foresight into upcoming events and allow them to act with this advance knowledge. They rose to power during the Oblivion Crisis, during which it is said the actions of the An-Xileel are the sole reason Black Marsh remained unconquered by the forces of Mehrunes Dagon. They are strong anti-Imperialists and successfully pushed for Argonia's secession in the early years of the 4th Era.
    • In Skyrim, the Psijic Order, a powerful Magical Society and the oldest monastic order in Tamriel, plays this role in the College of Winterhold storyline. They show up occasionally to tell the Dragonborn what they need to do to avert the oncoming disaster. In the end, they decide that the world is not ready for something like the Eye of Magnus and decide to take it to their island of Artaeum while also declaring that the Dragonborn is the new Arch-Mage of the College.
  • In Third Super Robot Wars Z: Jigoku-Hen, "Chrono" is an organization that exists in multiple worlds and they are the ones behind the assassinations of Heero Yuy (the original) and Zeon Zum Deikun. In fact, Chrono has been working to ensure the eponymous "time prison" is placed to protect Earth from the Ba'al. At one point in Jigoku-hen, Char attempts to weed out its members within the Earth Federation.
  • There's one such group in Strider 2, unofficially called "Light Sword Cypher" by the fans, shown in the Antarctica stage ending cutscene during a meeting to discuss Hiryu's progress, among other things. Supplemental material states the group is formed by several heads of world governments, corrupt Mega Corps and criminal syndicates, and are behind the actions of each stage's enemy force.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, there's a series of War Council missions investigating some graffiti that's been left on some Inquisition outposts. The quest line ends with a mysterious letter from "the Executors" who claim credit and say that they'll be leaving the Inquisition alone for the moment. That's the extent of what's known about the Executors.
  • The Govan Order in Three the Hard Way is a group of immortal alchemists whose existence is but a myth to many people. They operate behind the shadows and would show up without warning to interfere with the affairs of the human world and shift the events to move along the directions they have in plan. They have sent a couple of their "newer" members such as Kanna and Lucama to support the heroes in their quest, but no one really knows the reason why.
  • Within Touhou canon, when Yuyuko and Yukari along with their respective factions work together, this is guaranteed to happen. There are several instances where this trope is played with. Within human village, several people created Secret History Association with their main aim being human superiority over youkai, but Keine scoffs at their attempt precisely because they're not as omniscient compared to the youkai big fishes. On the other hand, when Kanako, Byakuren, and Miko gather in Symposium of Post Mysticism, human villagers actually call Reimu to disband the discussion because they're fearing this trope to happen even though the discussion is generally pro-human. Something that human villagers should know better, as Reimu also often scheming with various factions to keep the status quo of aggression between human and youkai.
  • The ruling government in Prismata is revealed to be one of these.
  • The Charred Council of Darksiders. They were the ones who forced the ceasefire between Heaven and Hell and preside over the Balance Between Good and Evil, as it was decreed that only by the End War when the Kingdoms of Heaven, Hell and Earth were sufficiently ready would the sides be truly allowed to fight in full for the fate of Creation by the Creator, and they have various agents throughout the universe feeding them back information on all sides as available to them. They apparently were aware of Abbadon's treachery and him becoming The Destroyer, and were well aware of and allowed, possibly even were behind, the Apocalypse and War's solo ride. All so they could set up and use War as a vengeance-seeking pawn to take down The Destroyer, due to the fact that without solid proof the Four Horsemen would have refused to ride at their demand for "justice." II and III eventually reveal the Charred Council is in fact corrupt and has been for some time, more concerned with maintaining its own power over actually maintaining The Balance while keeping up the illusion of neutrality and the like. They allowed Armageddon to occur before it was time because they wanted humanity destroyed before they were ready to properly fight the End War, apparently viewing them as a threat to said power, and ultimately chose to use War as a convenient scapegoat and tool to get rid of Abbadon once that purpose was fulfilled.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Each kingdom is run by a council whose job it is to see to the needs of their kingdom. They're not defined beyond this brief, vague description. However, they are implied to stand above the military and Huntsmen in terms of kingdom hierarchy.
  • The flash movie Shadow Government Puppet Show features an ominous council secretly running the United States government. They're an obvious parody of the Gazel Ministry from Xenogears, right down to the dialogue and the fact they're a bunch of faces on a ball of monitors. It turns out that these talking heads are just really, really bored, and they do such things as play Taboo, start the 2002 Iraqi war, go bowling, and ram the continental US into France to alleviate their boredom.
  • The Shadow Men in Broken Saints, Lear and Palmer.

    Web Comics 
  • The Eternal Council in Adventurers! functioned this way at first, complete with fire-bordered silhouettes. Later, as its members were introduced one by one, they dropped their ominous shadows (save for Eternion, who having already been introduced, didn't get one; it was explained that this was his "punishment" for his behavior earlier).
  • Anti Hero For Hire has the "council of all-consuming fire" show up in this strip to hang a lampshade on this trope.
    Brother Southeast: He has proven receptive to the idea of the power, plus he has the resources to recover the items.
    Brother Northeast: That is quite good, but can we be less vague? We could finish these meetings in half the time if we were just straightforward.
  • The Nine or Ten Guys Who Secretly Run Everything in Argon Zark. Guess what they do?
  • Awful Hospital: At one point, Dr. Phage and a gaggle of unnamed, badly-lit colleagues of his convene to examine Ms. Green's son. They don't know what to do with the kid any more than Phage does.
    ??? #3: Just fill its holes in. Or drill it some holes.
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures has one of these in the form of the Creature Council. Amongst the various ominous silhouettes, a phoenix complains about being the only source of light.
  • In Dragon Mango, the High Council appears as this.
  • The Gamer: The story occasionally cuts to a group of villains that have vague plans and objectives. That being said, they are hardly seen doing much besides planning, working with and through allies, and sending messages on their private chat group.
  • The Rabbit Council in Kevin & Kell, up until Kevin was appointed and he convinced the others to hold meetings in full light.
  • Mag IsaThey appear in almost every intro chapter of MAG-ISA. Their faces aren't seen. But they're the one pulling the strings. The Big Bad is probably among them lurking in the shadows. They cannot be seen but they see all that is happening.
  • MSF High: The newest arc as introduces a circle of students in cloaked hoods talking about Donovan's progress after the Lana arc. Time will tell if they remain as this.
  • The Order of the Stick has had a few moments of this, including Lord Shojo's chat with Miko early on, and the three fiends, although their objectives are clear enough.
  • The Conclave from Roommates, which is the closest thing to a government the Magical People have. It is True Neutral in flavor with hints of bright colors. It actually has rules to stop it from becoming a Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: Every member has the right to go against their rulings, but it has dire consequences if that member isn't victorious.
  • The Committee in Sam & Fuzzy.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • The heads of Hereti-Corp in meet this way on a regular basis. They also parody this all to hell.
    • Though the set-up is different, the Fate Spiders discussing the lines of fate getting tangled and leading to potential disaster very much fulfill the role.
  • unOrdinary: When Spectre's bosses order Sera to a meeting to test her loyalty she is annoyed to find they're all on screens with their faces hidden in shadow, ensuring she still doesn't know the identities of the greedy cowards who had her attacked in order to force her recruitment so that she could get the treatment needed to somewhat offset the effects of the drug they injected her with.
  • This xkcd strip parodies this trope with the Council of They decide which videos go viral.

    Web Original 
  • In the Whateley Universe, we've seen The Faceless group known as 'the Syndicate'. We might even know who the head guy is. But it seems like they don't even want each other to know who they are. And they do seem to be the superpowered version of the Mafia.
  • The Supreme Council of the eponymous village in The Questport Chronicles never seems to do much, despite their title.
  • SF Debris: In SF Debris's review of The X-Files episode "Blood", when Scully questions Mulder's crazy theory and wonders who would be relaying subliminal messages, telling people to go on spree killings purposely, SF Debris enlightens her: "Evil people, duh! Who else? You know, men who sit at long tables in poorly lit rooms full of cigar smoking, talk about how they're going to controool the wooorld!"
  • The Spoony Experiment: Spoony dubs them (specifically, the group from The Avengers) "The Shadowy Council of People Who Sit in Poorly-Lit Rooms and Secretly Rule the World".
  • The RPC Authority Board of Global Directors also known as The Global Directorate is the main executive body of not only the Presidium but the Authority at large, the consist of three global directors that represent the three Authority divisions,and nine that represent the continents of the world.
    • GD-SCHL representative for the Research Division.
    • GD-CMDR representative for the Protection Division.
    • GD-ARCH representative for the Containment Division.
    • GD-NORTH representative for North America.
    • GD-SOUTH representative for South America.
    • GD-WEST representative for West Europe.
    • GD-EAST representative for Eastern Europe.
    • GD-AFRI representative for Africa.
    • GD-EURA representative for Eurasia.
    • GD-ASIA representative for Asia.
    • GD-OCEA representative for Oceania.
    • GD-ANTC for Antartica.
  • The SCP Foundation is run by a group known only as "the O5 Council" (there are actually 13 of them, despite their name; the O stands for Overseer and the 5 is their security clearance level). Every one of them is a total unknown: their names, genders, locations, and occupations are all blank. Their occasional entries on SCP information pages often go so far as to censor even their ID number, so that while it can be seen that an O5 member made the entry, it is unknown which one made the entry. And due to the wiki's official "there is no canon" policy, stories that reveal their identities don't have to agree on who — or what - they truly are.
    • The Ethics Committee. Several interpretations put them as even more powerful than the O5s, and even more mysterious. Ironically, they actively want to avoid this trope by being very open about who's who and explicitly does not use euphemisms (unlike the O5s, we usually know the names of whatever member makes an appearance). Despite this, next to nothing is known about them, since their effect on the foundation is mostly limited to "you can do that, you cannot do that" and they bury themselves in Obfuscating Stupidity so the rest of the Foundation drops their guard around them.
  • In Unichat, the administrators wield immense political power towards unknown ends. The readers are coming to be regarded this way in-universe.
  • The Shadow Council in The Out Crowd. Their agenda, if any, beyond maintaining the Masquerade is vague and they're more Lawful Stupid than evil.
  • TV Tropes:
    • The admins can sure seem this way when you don't particular know or care to know about admin politics. That is; unseen, incomprehensible, usually irrelevant.
    • More plausibly, all that's happening is a combination of stand alone complex due to This Very Wiki being a group of fairly like-minded people and social interactions that no one person can be aware of.
    • It seems this way to people when random pages get locked. For good reason.
  • When editing larger Wikis, the editors who wind up peer-reviewing articles (deletion discussions as a prominent example) are an essentially arbitrary group assembled from such a large pool of motives, goals, and expertise they might as well be an Omniscient Council of Vagueness. You get the impression that a cabal of uncaring, misinformed twits is running the whole show with the sole intention of pissing you off. Really, there is no cabal. It's just the universe which hates you.

    Western Animation 
  • Invader Zim: The school principal and his staff are presented as this, meeting in a shadowy room and using brainwashing to forward their agenda.
  • Parodied in Metalocalypse. Dethklok is observed by The Tribunal, with its members continuously asserting that Dethklok is incredibly dangerous to the world, and how their latest antics could be disastrous. For almost half a season, they carefully review their tactics, and the president of the council invariably opts to do absolutely nothing, claiming that "it's too soon" or "we must observe them" or "we will let this play out".
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) has two mysterious warriors led by three even-more-mysterious Omniscient Council types who look nothing alike but all speak with the same voice. They turn out to be the good guys, more or less.
  • Gargoyles has the Illuminati, whose ultimate plans were only revealed to be somehow connected to the anticipated return of King Arthur in 2198.
  • Clone High was created by the (self-proclaimed) Secret Board of Shadowy Figures in an attempt to create Super Soldiers because Lamarck Was Right.
  • The Season 3 premiere of The Venture Bros. features the Guild of Calamitous Intent's Council of Thirteen as they interrogate the Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend, in the process parodying this trope about as far as it can go. Over the course of the episode, they trip over each other's sentences, argue about what to call themselves, make gestures that can't be seen by their subjects, and complain about their lack of Surveillance as the Plot Demands.
    • And their voices and silhouettes gave out some (most are old cartoon villains)
    • A later episode heavily implies that two of them are Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. Which seems to be a theme, as the leader of the council was revealed as a shapeshifting David Bowie.
  • In Beast Wars, Tarantulas' superiors (The Tripredacus Council) only appeared as three robots in shadows discussing about what had to be done about Megatron. Their vagueness is even the cause of the whole show - Megatron felt they'd just been sitting around on their asses too long and went rogue. The Council's plan is slowly build up a powerbase, and eventually take over Cybertron. Then the second to last episode of the series reveals they aren't actually Cybertronian themselves...
  • Futurama has the council of robot elders. Their main goal is to instill a fear of humans into the populace to distract them from the crippling lug nut shortage... and the fact that they are being ruled by incompetent robot elders.
    Silence! I concur.
  • The Observant High Council in Danny Phantom would count. Interestingly, they've only been hinted at and barely-more-than-cameod in two episodes. They have been shown as a jury of ghosts judging one ghost in particular and also have sworn to "watch but never act"...a code they've violated in a roundabout way by asking Clockwork, a Dungeon Master, to interfere. Danny is apparently aware of their existence but has only referred to them once.
  • In Young Justice (2010), The Light is a mysterious group of high-profile villains who are responsible for most of what the team has gone through. As one might guess from the name, they forgo Sinister Silhouettes in favor of being obscuringly glowy. The membership is eventually revealed as Lex Luthor, Ra's al Ghul, Vandal Savage, Queen Bee, The Brain, Klarion the Witch Boy, and Ocean Master (later Black Manta).
  • In Justice League Unlimited, Cadmus serves as one of these initially, though their membership is exposed over the course of the second season.
  • Darkwing Duck had F.O.W.L. (Fiendish Organization for World Larceny), the criminal organization whose High Command is always hidden in shadows, and their appearances throughout the entire series were never revealed.
  • The Shadow Board in Inside Job (2021) is an example of this. They're a council of 5, or sometimes 7 or 10 who are the ones which truly control Cognito Inc. and most other global conspiracies. It's hinted that they uphold the Masquerade to profit off it.

    Real Life 
  • In the Japanese education system, the PTA fills this role, being made up of mainly highly respected members of the local community (school principals, chief of police, etc) and having enormous sway with the Board of Education and individual schools. They can easily get a teacher they don't approve of fired or transferred, and their complaint about the Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo anime being "too violent" supposedly was one of the factors that caused its cancellation.
  • The American PTA can fill either example, depending on the school.
  • The Usenet Cabal. Yes, it did exist at one point, and all members had to repeatedly say that "There Is No Cabal." Of course, ironically, the Cabal's control over Usenet collapsed with the rise of the .alt hierarchy.
  • The President of the United States supposedly has a "Shadow Government" that can swing into action in event of a disaster wiping out much of the leadership of the Executive Branch, which has fed some conspiracies despite the fact that it's just a list of names to speed up the process of restaffing the offices the President has appointment authority over.
  • The Swiss Federal Council, a seven-member body that acts as Switzerland's collective President, Prime Minister and Cabinet. They are elected by Parliament, and all their meetings are secret- nobody knows who said what or who voted for what, even how the vote was split is secret, whether it's unanimous or a slim 4/3. Also known for their yearly official photographs, with the 2017 version particularly fitting this trope.
  • The Norwegian Labour Party has a catchphrase, referring to the party's inner circles, and beautifully coining this trope: "Some of us have had a talk". When that sentence popped up in a party discussion, people knew some serious shit was about to go down.
  • Happens when feedback cycles run too far beyond inside jokes into fully self-feeding content. Like in terminal cases of Fan Wank. "Some people (i don't know who they are) for some reason have something to say to someone. No, if you don't get what the hell I mean, it's not you!". When something becomes full of these "somethings", this means it's time to apply something... Something incendiary.
  • Pakistan's Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI. Officially, ISI handles and coordinates the intelligence from military branches. Unofficially, though...
  • Various decision making bodies of the United States Federal Reserve and other central banks tend to operate in total secrecy and without oversight from anybody accountable to the people.
    • This is arguably intentional, and, depending on what school of economics you follow, might be considered a good thing - if they were publicly beholden as such, central bank policy like interest-rate setting would become completely ineffective in changing the economy due to "rational expectations" (they're predictable, so all in the market know what the environment looks like and therefore will not act the way a central bank policy change would want them to act).
  • The documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated argues that the Motion Picture Association of America operated in this fashion when it came to rating movies, at least at the time of filming; secretive and quasi-anonymous but with incredible power and influence, with clear ideological motives frequently coming down in harsh and at times seemingly random judgment on those who failed to meet their standards without providing any explanation why.
    • Similarly, up until recently (starting around 2016) no one outside The Academy even knew who a single person capable of voting for the Academy Awards was.note  The list of members was kept extremely hush hush and for the past decade or so has been receiving a lot of flack over how bias towards white male leads/creators the awards are. As of 2018, in order to start combating the negative press, they've released statistics on the demographics of the voters and newly inducted voter names are made public, but the old guard names and total number of members is still shrouded in secret.
  • There is a Facebook Group for this trope, apparently.
  • The conspiracy theory/hoax revolving around the group Majestic-12 (or MJ-12) inspired many uses of this trope and Government Conspiracy in fiction, particularly in the way it listed 12 specific individuals who were supposedly holding secret meetings as a committee.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Supreme Council Of Vagueness, Omniscient Council Of Vagueness, The Supreme Council Of Vagueness


The Faculty Conspiracy

"Reversi". The circle of insiders among the faculty at Kimberly Magic Academy meet to discuss the disappearance and probable death of one of their own. Unlike most instances of this trope, the members are all clearly identified and speak in concrete terms about the disappearance, and know less about it than the audience does.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheOmniscientCouncilOfVagueness

Media sources: