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Unusually Uninteresting Name

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The new project went by a deliberately bland and uninformative name: the Security Studies Group (SSG). That name would frequently change. [...] The Security Studies Group. Yellow Combine. Petrel Hill. Threshold Curve. Silver See. The name changed eighteen times between 2002 and 2017. Every time it changes, the paper trail leading to its activities becomes more muddled. With each change, a new, Top Secret special-access program grants continuing clearance to activities and intelligence that no American employee can confess or confirm. Insiders call it “the Program.”
Delta Green — Handler's Guide

When something is generally implied to be more important or special because someone went out of their way to make the name as uninteresting and nondescriptive as possible. This might be because they want to avoid drawing attention to the unit, hiding it in the sea of boring names for various unimportant agencies, or just because the sort of badass who works there finds the bravado-filled names of many elite units to be distasteful. For various reasons, very common in many modern Western armed forces.

A savvy character might try to bluff his way past an obstacle by identifying themselves as a member of some completely fictional agency, as long as the name is intimidatingly vague enough to make the other person think better than to investigate.

Of course, sometimes an agency has such a bland name because it really isn't all that important, and nobody involved could be bothered to try and come up with a good name for it.

A Super-Trope to Room 101 and The Group; Related to Maximum Fun Chamber. Often overlaps with Covert Group with Mundane Front, Covert Group and No Such Agency. For individual characters with names less interesting than the role, see Special Person, Normal Name.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In all versions of Ghost in the Shell, the heroes work for the blandly named Public Security Section Nine. It's also shown that there are other Sections in Public Security with different specializations from Section Nine.

  • Throughout the first Iron Man movie, we're told about Agent Coulson's work at the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division in a way that makes them seem like government bureaucrats. It's only at the end that it's first referred to by its more common Marvel name, SHIELD.
  • In the prologue of Men in Black, Agent K flashes an ID at a pair of Border Patrol officers, identifying himself and his partner as being from "INS, Division Six" so that he can talk to an Illegal Alien in private. Subverted, because one of the Border Patrol agents, a moment later, states "There is no Division Six" before following after K to see what he's up to. Just in time to end up Covered in Gunge and experiencing Laser-Guided Amnesia.
  • The first Transformers movie features Sector 7, a secret government organization which researches Cybertronian technology, and which for some reason also has custom vehicles and uniforms, exactly the sort of thing you'd expect a secret organization to avoid.

  • In Alternate Routes, the villains operate out of an organization vaguely, and misleadingly, named the Transportation Utility Agency.
  • Discworld: The Ankh-Morpork government department whose job is to deal with situations that Lord Vetinari would like ... dealt with ... are simply called "the clerks". Only when they need to be distinguished from the normal sort of clerks in the Palace are they called "the dark clerks".
    • There's also Mr. John "Not-A-Vampire-At-All" Smith, who tries just a little too hard not to draw attention to himself.
  • Liaden Universe: the organization behind most of the plot is called the Department of the Interior.
  • In Rivers of London the department of the London Police that enforces law in the magical community is merely mentioned as being "The Economic and Specialist Crime Team, Unit 9", no mention of Vagina Dentata, Body Horror, or throwing fireballs at all.
  • In The Secrets of Drearcliff Grange School, lepidoptery enthusiast Amy suggests that her classmates' detective organisation be called the Moth Club. When her friends ask what kind of name that is for a secret society, she says it's one that would cause most people to instantly lose interest.
  • The evil, world-threatening group in That Hideous Strength is named the "National Institute for Coordinated Experiments" (NICE).

    Live Action TV 
  • Inverted by Kamen Rider Drive, where the main character works for the Metropolitan Police Department's Special Investigations Unitnote , which certainly sounds important, but is treated poorly by other divisions who see it as the dumping ground for all the freaks and weirdos in the PD. This is mainly because SI's job (investigating incidents relating to the time-warping Roidmudes) is seen as a Snipe Hunt by "regular" cops when it actually makes them one of humanity's only lines of defense against the monsters.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: While the Cardassians had the Obsidian Order, and the Romulans had the Tal Shiar, the Federation was eventually revealed to have Section 31, a covert operations agency so secretive that not only did nobody know about it (including effectively everybody within the Federation who was not already a member — though it probably helps that the Federation has an official counterpart to the Tal Shiar and the Obsidian Order in Starfleet Intelligence), but that what passed for its name was simply the title of the portion of the Federation Charter that allowed for the possibility of forming such an agency.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Delta Green
    • After Delta Green was officially reactivated in 2002, it held the official codename "DELTA GREEN" for two months before switching to the deliberately bland and uninformative "Security Studies Group", which was then switched to much more generic codenames like "Yellow Combine", "Petrel Hill", "Threshold Curve" or "Silver See" every few months or years to muddle the paper trail. Insiders eventually just nicknamed it "The Program".
    • M-EPIC, a secret anti-occult government agency, stands for "Environment Policy Impact Commission", and it's oficially part of the Department of Environment attached Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It's a deliberate name to mask their operations under the guise of environmental investigations and easily secure any rubber stamps from the Parliament without any questions.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation. Even knowing that it stands for "Secure, Contain, Protect" doesn't give an insight into their work of dealing with bizarre reality-defying objects, many with lethal potential ranging from a person's slow, hideous death to reducing the Earth to gravel. Their reports include many other blandly-named terrors, some carried out by the Foundation to prevent worse things, such as the mysterious but horiffic "Procedure 110-Montauk" that reads as a version of the Prometheus Curse with the Foundation in the role of the eagle targeting a girl between █ and ██ years old, because the first six innocent victims have already released their Evil Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can, generally through their death or going for too long without being 'forcibly reset', so the seventh could spell the end of the world.

    Real Life 
  • The Office of Strategic Services was the World War II forerunner to the modern Central Intelligence Agency.
  • The Special Activities Division, more-or-less the Central Intelligence Agency's special-ops organization.
  • United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group: Better known as SEAL Team Six.
    • Or their Army counterparts, the Combat Applications Group: Better known as the Delta Force.
  • The Indian foreign intelligence agency is known by the deceptive name of Research and Analysis Wing.
  • Sweden's military HUMINT department is "Kontoret för Särskild Inhämtning" ('the Office for Special Collection'. Särskild can also be translated as 'Specific').
  • The Texas Railroad Commission regulates that state's enormous petroleum industry, making it one of the planet's major powers in the energy world. It doesn't actually have anything to do with railroads any more.
  • The British Naval Intelligence cryptoanalysis team that deciphered the Zimmermann Telegram during World War I was known by their location, Room 40 (Old Building). Even after they had moved to a larger space to accommodate the support staff busily deciphering the copious German transmissions, they continued to be referred to as Room 40 to preserve their low profile.