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Undercover Cop Reveal

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At its simplest form, a character reveals himself to be an undercover police officer, FBI agent, what have you. Often, he's acting as a Reverse Mole, trying to get enough evidence on the villain to arrest him for Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking. It's entirely possible that we, the viewers, won't find out until the rest of the characters do as well. Depending on what side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, this may or may not end badly for the cop.

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Subtrope of The Reveal. Closely related to The Infiltration, which involves a law enforcement officer pretending to be a criminal in order to join/infiltrate the bad guys' organization.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • Happens in "Crunchie Train Robbery". When the outlaws come out carrying the box of Crunchies, a respectable looking matron leaps up and rips open "her" blouse to reveal a sheriff's star.

    Anime And Manga 
  • One Sinnoh-era Pokémon episode had one of these with an undercover Officer Jenny. There was a possible vague hint with Brock going into his usual routine when the group met her, but it was still hidden fairly well.
  • One Piece: During a flashback to Trafalgar Law's time with the Don Quixote Pirates, Doflamingo had a mute, clumsy brother serving as an officer. Later on, Corazon reveals to Law that he's an undercover agent for the Navy, and his disability (But not his clumsiness) was an act.

    Comic Books 
  • Done twice in "A Night at the Rose Petal" in The Maze Agency Annual #1. Once with Jen disguised as an old drunk, and once with Lt. Bliss disguised as a hooker.
  • Happens twice in the Chick Tracts.
    • In "Bad Bob", Bob and his cousin deal drugs, and find out their buyer is a cop when he reads them their rights.
    • In "Trust Me", the kid, to fund his drug habit, sells drugs to an undercover cop with a briefcase full of money, resulting in the cop pulling out a pistol and a badge, which is less surprising than most examples of the trope because he gets down on his knees and says "Trust me!".
  • 2000 AD:
    • Happens in The Simping Detective's pilot strip Gumshoe. Jack is working Angeltown as a Private Investigator and is coerced into a back alley by a client, where he is accosted by ninjas. When he takes them down, the client gets the drop on him. He reveals that it was a feint and pulls out his badge, as his backup arrives.
    • Subverted in a Judge Dredd story when Dredd inspects a Penal Colony in the Cursed Earth where standards under the new warden have dropped considerably and the prisoners have free rein. Their leader lies about being an undercover Judge (Wally Squad) in the warden's office, which Dredd "accepts" for the moment so he can do a background check. The prisoner knew that Dredd would inevitably find out the truth, he was just stalling for time to prepare for an attack.
  • Happened in most "Sgt. Streetwise" photo-comic strips in New Eagle, as disguises were Sgt. Wise's specialty. Sometimes the reader would know which character was Wise was the beginning, and at other times not till he revealed himself when he sprung into action.
  • Copperhead gets a short play when Sheriff Bronson infiltrates the Bastion brothel, grabs her target, and immediately takes him hostage.
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    Fanfiction 

    Films — Animated 
  • Roz in Monsters, Inc. turns out to be an undercover agent of the CDA. And not just an undercover agent, but the head of the whole freaking organization!!
  • In The Chipmunk Adventure, the mysterious Jamal, believed to be a rival criminal of Klaus and Claudia, turns out to be working for Interpol. Of course, we don't see him undercover- just working out of an office while addressing his thug-like subordinates. The siblings' butler Mario, however, is first shown telephoning intel, so Jamal's true occupation also reveals him.
  • Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island: Beau, the gardener, turns out to be an FBI agent investigating the disappearances on Moonscar Island.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Fast and the Furious (2001):
    • Brian O'Conner reveals to Mia that he is a cop at the end of the movie. The viewer has known this all along but it allows some drama between O'Conner and the girl he has been sleeping with and eventually persuades her to help him track down the truck thieves.
    • Several scenes later, it's repeated when O'Conner calls for police back-up and an ambulance after rescuing Vince. Dom, who had considered Brian his brother up to this point, has to seriously restrain himself from not beating the living shit of him. Instead, he takes off.
  • Running Scared (1986). When detectives Hughes and Costanzo try to arrest Gonzales and end up caught in an ambush, two of Gonzales' men reveal themselves as undercover cops Montoya and Sigliano and save the Heroes' lives. This is an Embarrassing Rescue from their point of view, and they even try to blame the agents for stuffing up their arrest.
  • In Black Dog, Sonny reveals to Crews that he is an FBI agent after he is mortally wounded in a truck-jacking attempt.
  • In the final ending of Clue, Mr. Green reveals himself as an FBI agent, just after shooting Wadsworth who is the real Mr. Boddy. In the first two endings, it is Wadsworth who is revealed as an FBI agent after unmasking the mastermind behind the murders that have taken place. In all three endings, the evangelist who knocked at the door just before the summary of who killed whom is also revealed as an FBI agent.
  • At the end of The Spanish Prisoner, Joe is saved by a pair of Japanese tourists who turn out to be undercover U.S. Marshals who have had Jimmy's con under observation since the start.
  • In The Whole Nine Yards the assassin the cheating wife hired to kill Oz was actually a cop recording their conversations. He wasn't outed until after being killed by Jimmy, scaring Oz's wife away.
  • In Unknown (2006), the protagonist is revealed to be a Reverse Mole, an undercover cop infiltrating a criminal gang. The point is, he doesn't know of this for most of the plot because of temporal amnesia.
  • The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. A plainclothes transit cop is believed to be one of the hostages, but no-one can find out who he is. 'He' might even be a woman, it's suggested. It turns out to be the hippie, who in a Brick Joke is mistaken for a woman by Lt. Garber because of his long hair.
  • In Breakheart Pass, Deakin reveals himself as a Secret Service agent. Rev. Peabody is his partner. However, the partner has been murdered by the time this revelation is made.
  • Das Experiment: One of the prisoners (#38) is actually an agent for the German Federal Police, who have been investigating Dr. Thon for possible human rights abuses.
  • In Getaway Plan, Victor is revealed to be an undercover officer in the gang, one who is at a risk of Becoming the Mask...

    Literature 
  • Discworld: Maskerade is set up to look like Andre might be the villain until he reveals that he is actually an undercover cop.
  • In the Tim Dorsey novel Hammerhead Ranch Motel, one room at the motel holds two different drug gangs who are secretly undercover cops each of whom is trying to bust the other gang. They only discover this when a third jurisdiction of police shows up and tries to bust both of them.
  • Hercule Poirot: Cyrus Hardman in Murder on the Orient Express is a Pinkerton Detective posing as a Traveling Salesman.
  • Timothy Zahn's not-quite-Star Wars Space Opera-Mystery-action book The Icarus Hunt. To say more would be to spoil it, though if the reader is both paying attention and actively trying to put the pieces together, it's not that hard to figure it out ahead of time.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Magic, Inc. the heroes are helped by an Undercover Cop Reveal when, essentially, fighting the literal forces of Hell. An FBI agent masquerading as a demon.
  • At the very end of Patricia C. Wrede's Mairelon the Magician, William Stuggs, Jasper Marston's apparently dim-witted henchman, calmly reveals himself to be a Bow Street Runner. This is helpful, as it means he's witnessed the entire climax and has no uncertainty about who to arrest.
  • Rivers of London: False Value begins with Peter going to a job interview for a security position at a tech firm. Since he was put on suspension from the Met at the end of Lies Sleeping, it looks like he lost his job with the police... however, several flashback chapters later, we learn that he was actually reinstated, but is making it look like he was fired as a result of the suspension for the undercover job he's on.
  • Tricky Business, a rare non-humor book by Dave Barry (although it does have its moments), is about an illegal casino ship that is also a base for drug dealers, things go wrong, etc. On of the POV characters is a pretty young lady who works as a cocktail waitress, hates her job, and her mother always tells her to quit because it's so dangerous... Makes perfect sense, until the very last part of the book when it's revealed that "cocktail waitress" was just a disguise: she is actually a badass undercover cop, and now everything suddenly sounds a lot smarter.
  • In the first Trueman Bradley novel, Trueman notices his taxi driver following him into the bank. It turns out the taxi driver is actually Detective Sam Buckley, who saw that Trueman was both extremely rich and very naïve and decided to follow him to prevent him from getting robbed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • During an episode of Adam-12, Reed and Malloy pull a car over for a traffic violation. The passenger starts getting argumentative with the cops, causing Malloy to run him and arrest him for an outstanding warrant. As they're transporting him to the station, he thanks them for not blowing his cover - he's a Narcotics detective and the driver of the car is suspected of being a supplier. He also says that Malloy "arresting" him will make it easier for him to get close to the suspect.
  • The Agency's infamous Flock of Wolves sting in which the CIA, FBI, INS, and Secret Service all attempted a sting at the same time in a post office.
  • Happens in the episode of The Bill that re-introduced Frank Burnside. Burnside was undercover with a gang of soccer hooligans that are busted by Sun Hill. Burnside headbutts one of the arresting officers to maintain his cover.
  • Breaking Bad: In the opening of "Better Call Saul" Badger, one of Jesse's friends and dealers in Walter's infant meth empire, gets arrested after being baited into selling an under cover cop meth by falling for the urban myth that undercover cops have to reveal themselves if asked about their secret directly.
  • Michael Weston planned to do this in an episode of Burn Notice. While trying to score points with the boss of a gang, he sets up The Dragon to look like an undercover cop and then be the hero when he exposes him. Since the guy had no problem destroying valuable property just to scare people, Michael didn't feel too bad for the guy. Turns out he actually was undercover. Oops.
  • This trope has been used at least once on Castle, and probably several times. The protagonists are investigating a murder and an early suspect turns out to be an agent of the FBI or ATF who was investigating the victim (or employing the victim somehow, or investigating or another suspect) for their own reasons.
    • The murder of a dog show judge leads the cops (and Castle) all over the place. Eventually, they find a warehouse, where the victim's assistant claims that the guy was trying to cross-breed dogs. After digging around, they start to suspect that the victim was involved in bringing drugs from South America. They confront the "assistant", who immediately tells them that they will, in fact, find drugs hidden in the warehouse. He's a US Customs agent. The victim was employed to train drug-sniffing dogs (hence the drugs and the $10,000/month money transfers).
    • Ryan does this in-universe in "The Wild Rover". If the audience didn't already know, that ending would've been pretty impressive.
  • In one episode of Criminal Minds Morgan and Reid spot that the friend of a kidnapped girl's father is carrying a concealed gun; he's a Federal Marshal and the family are in the Witness Protection Program while waiting to testify against the Mob.
  • In the CSI episode "Hog Heaven", the CSIs are investigating the murder of outlaw biker Joey Niagra and run his prints, finding his criminal record for drugs and necrophilia. The next scene, Ecklie shows up to ask why they're running an undercover cop's prints. Apparently the biker gang "Joey" was undercover in takes their "If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten" scenarios very seriously.
  • In episode 4 of series 1 of Death in Paradise, the Ms. Fanservice in a group of treasure hunters turns out to be an investigator from an insurance company, which had been defrauded by the leader of the group. Camille, one of the main police officer protagonists, had immediately disliked her and thought she was guilty (mainly because she caught her superior officer and potential love interest, Richard, ogling the woman), and when the woman reveals her true identity, Camille declares that she was proven correct.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Robots of Death", one of the Sandminer's crewmembers is revealed to be an undercover agent — and so is one of the robot drones, which is actually a highly advanced robot disguised as the most primitive and stupid model in use on the Sandminer.
  • Turned Up to Eleven in a sketch in Do Not Adjust Your Set. The undercover cop reveals himself to be one to a gang, now that he's got enough evidence to convict them... and then all of them turn out to be undercover cops.
    Jenkinson: Blimey...we're all coppers...
    Johnsson: ...So what do we do now?
    Leader: ...Jenkinson, can you blow up a safe?
  • In an episode of Elementary, Sherlock deduces that a member of a drug cartel is an undercover cop, who sneaks information to him under the pretense of staging a fight. Unfortunately it turns out that said cop had Become the Mask in the worst way possible.
  • An episode of The Famous Jett Jackson shows an episode of the Show Within a Show Silverstone, where all the world's bad guys are invited to a remote mansion by a mysterious new villain named Mr. Kilimanjaro. Throughout the dinner, they start arguing and trying to one-up each other, revealing all their recent and latest plots. It turns out that the whole thing was a setup by Silverstone (in disguise as Kilimanjaro) to get recorded confessions from these guys and grab them all at once.
  • Fast Lane episode "Mighty Blue". When officers Van and Deaq confront a criminal gang, one of them reveals herself as an undercover police officer to save them.
  • Father Brown: In "The Owl of Minerva", Father Brown and Inspector Sullivan are cornered by the murderer and another member of the conspiracy, only for the other member to turn out to be an inspector from Special Branch who arrests the murderer.
  • Practically Once an Episode on Hill Street Blues, usually some combination of Detectives Larue, Washington or Belker -and less frequently Sergeant Goldblum- at the climax of a sting operation.
  • House had a patient brought in who was part of a drug-smuggling gang, who refuses to tell House where the hideout is as it might cause the upcoming raid to fail, despite House needing to know what he got sick from. His buddy (who doesn't know he's a cop) eventually lets them in, but the cop's disease is fatal, and he dies without having blown his cover.
  • In one episode of The Invisible Man, Hobbes is revealed to have a history of Stalker with a Crush behavior toward his ex-wife, including suspicion of her boyfriends. He becomes suspicious of her current boyfriend, who has a criminal record, suspicions which seem to be born out when he and Fawkes catch the guy scheming with others to steal military tech and sell it on the black market. After they capture him, it turns out that he's an undercover FBI agent (and thus his criminal record is fake) and was involved in a sting operation which they nearly ruined.
  • JAG:
    • The episode "Brig Break" has Meg Austin discover that Petty Officer Quinn is an undercover agent for Navy Intelligence trying to infiltrate a group of gun runners. He ends up getting killed by Sergeant Lowell soon after Austin figures it out.
    • Played for Laughs in "Boot". After everything she has put her through, Staff Sergeant Carrington is stunned to discover that Private McEntire, a problem recruit she had been singling out, was in fact Lt. Meg Austin. Austin assures her she knew it wasn't personal.
  • In Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Amanda has a gambling problem and racks up a sizable debt with a local casino. When she's identified as a cop, a couple of guys take her to the back room and check her for a wire. They, and their boss, immediately assume she's a dirty cop and start blackmailing her in order to do things for them that only a cop can do. Throughout all this, she has to deal with an overbearing Irishman named Declan, who appears to be the casino owner's Number Two and her chief enforcer. At one point, she fails in a task and they threaten to expose her. In desperation, she offers herself to Declan, who sends his underling out of the room and turns on a camera, before seemingly pushing her down to his crotch level. At the episode's climax, he reveals that he's actually Lieutenant Declan Murphy of NYPD. We then see the recording, where he actually stops short of anything indecent and tells Rollins (without an Irish accent) that he's in Vice and working undercover, and that since she's unwittingly worked her way into a position where she can help him, he's bringing her in officially as another undercover rather than busting her.
    • In an earlier episode, the leader of a neo-Nazi group was on trial for setting up a shooting that killed a little boy. In the middle of the trial, his son and another of his followers shoot up the courtroom. The son injures Elliot and stands over him, preparing to finish him off, when he is shot by "Star Morrison" a woman who was supposedly a close friend of the defendant. In the following scene, she introduces herself properly to Munch as FBI Agent Dana Lewis.
    • In another, Stabler is arresting the dealer who's been supplying his daughter with drugs when she mutters to him that she's a narcotics detectives. They go through the motions of an arrest so as not to blow her cover.
    • In yet another episode, Olivia goes undercover as a homeless woman to catch a social worker who's been abusing his position to sexually harass women. Sure enough, he starts feeling her up while "helping" her fill out the form. Then they get to the part about most recent employer.
      Olivia: That's an easy one. Special...Victims...Unit! (Jumps up and pins the social worker on his desk to cuff him.) Did I not mention that?
    • Munch gets one in an early season episode where they're trying to catch a travel agent setting up sex tours for pedophiles. He pretends to be a prospective client, and the agent begins arranging a "special" trip for him.
      Agent: When would you like to travel, Mr. Blackman — or is there another name you prefer to use?
      Munch: Actually, there is. John Munch, but you can just call me Detective. (Pulls out his badge) Get up! Put your hands behind your back right now!
  • A mild version in Lie to Me where Foster starts dating a high school guidance councillor, only to get strange vibes from him. She then finds passports with different identities and evidence of drugs. After she confronts the guy about it, he admits that he's DEA, sent to uncover a school trafficking ring. He later reveals it to Cal as well, given that Cal can't help but stick his nose in other people's business.
  • This happened to Sawyer in the "flash-sideways" on Lost - the scene deliberately echoed a season one flashback which showed him as a con man, only this time the mark called him on it, and he revealed that he was a cop.
  • Miami Vice: Crockett and Tubbs are both undercover when they first meet. They don't realize they're both cops until Crockett tries to arrest Tubbs.
  • On NCIS: Los Angeles Eric Christian Olsen's first appearance is as an MMA fighter and suspect called Jason Wyler. It's not until halfway through the episode that Hetty reveals that he is Detective Marty Deeks, undercover.
    • All the team members are highly trained and experiences in undercover work so this happens in-universe fairly often. Since they hate burning a cover identity, they will try to delay the reveal as long as possible. One of Callan's old girlfriends spent years believing that he was her brother's criminal friend who had to leave town after the cops got too close.
  • NCIS: New Orleans. As agents Pride and LaSalle raid a phony clinic, they encounter a woman who runs as soon as she's discovered. When they catch up with her, she informs them that she herself is a federal agent (ATF) and advises them, like the above example, to continue roughing her up in order to maintain her cover.
  • On Person of Interest one PoI is a robber who seems to be planning to murder a police officer. Reese sees the criminal breaking into the cop's house and is about to intervene when the cop's wife opens the door and greets her husband. The PoI is undercover in a gang of jewel thieves and he took some time off to see his family. Later on, the cop's cover is about to be blown so Reese outs himself as The Mole instead.
  • Occurs in the first episode of Rookie Blue, even though he tries to keep his cover even after being arrested. It's finally blown when an old friend greets him heartily as he is about to be processed.
  • In Suburgatory, a student that Tessa assumed to be gay actually was an undercover narcotics agent.
  • True Blood: When Sookie first meets Eric Northman at Fangtasia, she listens in on the thoughts of other human customers in the bar and determines that one guy is an undercover cop and the place is about to be raided.
  • One episode of Veronica Mars, "Weapons of Class Destruction", involved a suspected plot to bomb the school. One of the prime suspects turned out to be an undercover ATF agentnote  who was hoping to draw out the real bomber by making himself out to be a kindred spirit.
  • Hilariously subverted in the fourth season of The Wire. Prez, formerly a cop until he accidentally shot another cop, becomes a school teacher, but Bubbles (formerly a police informant) sees him at the school, and not knowing Prez is no longer police, assumes Prez is setting himself up for this, and promises not to spill the beans. Prez, of course, has no idea what Bubbles is talking about.
  • Without a Trace. Two agents are questioning a prostitute who was the last person seen with a missing judge when she mutters under her breath, "I'm a cop, so make this look good." They promptly begin yelling at her and roughing her up to maintain the facade of her being uncooperative.
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    Music 
  • In the video of Hobastanks' "Same Direction", which is a sequel to "The Reason" where the band stole a Ruby, the singer is revealed to be an undercover cop and then arrests his band mates.

    New Media 
  • Occurred in the skits for The Egypt File VBS. The custodian turned out to be an undercover cop on the trail of a notorious artifact smuggler, who had been disguised as a cop.

    Video Games 
  • Agent Shepherd in Twisted Metal: Head On reveals himself to be FBI rather than take a wish from Calypso.
    • John Doe from Twisted Metal: Black discovers that he's an FBI agent, but not until he gets his memory back after the tournament...and standing in front of the number two most wanted man in the world.
  • Doll in SaGa Frontier, during Red's game when investigating Berva.
  • A sidequest in Fallout: New Vegas has you encounter a NCR Ranger in disguise as he runs a sting on a crooked quartermaster. He reveals himself after you run afoul of him, forcing you to either turn in the crooked quartermaster, fast-talk the ranger, or just blast him.
  • In Saints Row, Troy Bradshaw is an undercover cop who infiltrated the Third Street Saints. He reveals himself after the rest of the gangs have been taken out by arresting Julius Little.
  • In A Way Out, Vincent is revealed to be an undercover cop, using Leo as a way to find and kill Harvey. Emily, the pilot Vincent hired to take them to Mexico, was also an undercover cop working with Vincent.
  • Sleeping Dogs pulls this with the player character, starting out In Medias Res while Detective Shen is involved in a sting operation that goes awry and has to run from his uniformed colleagues to maintain his cover.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Archer episode "Smuggler's Blues", Archer travels to Colombia to seek an alliance with the beautiful and feared cartel boss La Madrina, who turns out to actually be a high-ranking officer in the Colombian national police. She has him arrested for drug trafficking, but only after a night of heated passion.
  • In one episode of Dog City, the villain is posing as a school teacher to get into a mint under the cover of a field trip. He is thwarted when it turns out that only two of his students are not undercover cops.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Almost Got 'Im", as several of Batman's villains play poker at a seedy bar and exchange stories on how they had nearly killed Batman, Joker announces that he had just kidnapped Catwoman and was holding her at an abandoned catfood factory, where he planned to have her killed. Killer Croc then punches out Joker, and the other thugs discover that Croc is really Batman in disguise. When they decide to take him out, every other patron of the bar turns out to be a cop. The gathered cops, led by Commissioner Gordon and Detective Bullock, take down the villains, leaving Batman free to save Catwoman.
  • Often happens in Scooby-Doo. They usually are working to take down the supernatural threat, but the kids usually beat them to it. Leaving the audience wondering how incompetent the officer has to be, since the target audience would be unaware of the rules of evidence required.
  • The South Park episode "Butters' Bottom Bitch" has Sergeant Yates disguise himself as a prostitute and out himself to all the people who hire him. At the end, he marries a pimp and they live a happy life for a year before he outs himself.
  • In an episode of The Cleveland Show, Cleveland talks to what appears to be a teenage boy, asking him if he wants to be friends with Cleveland Junior. Taking it the wrong way, the "teenager", in a deep voice, says the code word "Boomerang" into a hidden microphone, and several police cars show up on the spot.


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