List of fictional espionage organizations

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Fictional espionage organizations with fancy-sounding acronyms are a common theme in spy fiction.

Overview[edit]

During the 1960s trend for action-adventure spy thrillers, it was a common practice for fictional spy organizations or their nemeses to employ names that were contrived acronyms. Sometimes these acronyms' expanded meanings made sense, but most of the time they were words incongruously crammed together for the mere purpose of obtaining a catchy acronym, traditionally a heroic sounding one for the good guys and an appropriately menacing one for the bad guys. This has become one of the most commonly parodied clichés of the spy thriller genre. They were presumably inspired by SMERSH, which appeared in the James Bond stories and sounded fictional, but really was a branch of Soviet intelligence. These acronyms are often spelled with periods/points/stops to make it clear that they stand for longer terms and are not simply the usual English words that they resemble, even though the punctuation would otherwise seem to indicate that the abbreviations should be pronounced as the names of the individual letters.

Examples[edit]

Among the most popular:

  • A.C.R.O.S.T.I.C. (A Cabal Recently Organized Solely To Instigate Crimes), enemies of the Zoo Crew.
  • A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics), a fictional Marvel Comics terrorist organization, whose members are memorable for wearing yellow Hazmat or radiation suits as uniforms, which make them resemble an army of beekeepers.
  • A.N.V.I.L., a fictional agency representing China and southeast Asia in the video game Evil Genius
  • A.P.E. (Agency to Prevent Evil) and C.H.U.M.P. (Criminal Headquarters for the Underworld's Master Plan), from Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp
  • A.P.O. (Authorized Personnel Only), a fictional black-ops division of the CIA on the television series Alias
  • B.L.U. (Builder's League United), a front for one of the two warring companies in Team Fortress 2. Blue uniforms.
  • C.I.S.O. (Canadian International Security Organization), from the Captain Canuck comic book series.
  • C.L.I.T.O.R.I.S. (The Committee for the Liberation and Integration of Terrifying Organisms and their Rehabilitation Into Society), from Red Dwarf
  • C.M.D.F. (Combined Miniature Deterrent Forces), from the movie Fantastic Voyage. In the television animated cartoon series, the acronym stood for Combined Miniature Defense Force.
  • C.O.B.R.A. (Criminal Organization of Bloodiness, Revenge and Assassination), an international terrorist organization, headed by Cobra Commander, from the G.I. Joe series.
  • CONTROL, the fictional government agency in the TV Show Get Smart.
  • C.O.P.S. (Central Organization of Police Specialists), the crime-fighting organization from the 1988 animated TV series of the same name.
  • D.A.R.C., from the television series Robocop: Alpha Commando
  • E.R.I.S., from the movie Agent Cody Banks
  • F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon), in the horror-themed first-person-shooter computer game F.E.A.R..
  • F.I.R.M., from the Airwolf television series
  • F.L.A.G. (Foundation for Law And Government), from the original Knight Rider
  • F.O.W.L. (Fiendish Organization for World Larceny), in cartoon series, Darkwing Duck. This organization originated in the DuckTales episode "Double-o-Duck", but was called the Foreign Organization there.
  • G.R.A.M.P.A. (Global Reaction Agency for Mysterious Paranormal Activity), an international intelligence agency in Marvel Comics.
  • G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid Of Slimy girlS), an organization founded by Calvin from the Calvin and Hobbes comic series which seeks to exclude girls because of their inherent slimy nature.
  • H.A.M.M.E.R., a fictional agency representing former USSR territories and Cuba in the video game Evil Genius
  • H.A.R.M., from the No One Lives Forever (NOLF) series of computer games, which were released in the 1990s, but were based in 1960s pop culture. What H.A.R.M. actually stands for is never revealed, and speculation about its true meaning is the subject of several jokes in both games. (However, in the 1966 spy film Agent for H.A.R.M., it stands for Human Aetiological Relations Machine.)
  • H.E.A.T. (Harmony's Elite Assault Team), from Angel of H.E.A.T.
  • H.E.A.T. (Hemisphere Emergency Action Team) from Acapulco H.E.A.T.
  • H.I.V.E. (Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Extermination), a villainous organization that combats the Teen Titans and other DC Comics superheroes.
  • H.U.N.T. (High-risk United Nations Task-force), from Rise of the Triad
  • HYDRA is an exception in that the name is not an acronym but rather a reference to the mythical Lernaean Hydra; the name's capitalization exists per Marvel's official spelling only.
  • I.S.I.S (International Secret Intelligence Service) is the agency employing the lead characters in Archer (TV series).
  • I.C.E. (Intelligence and Counter-Espionage) is the agency that employs Matt Helm in the Matt Helm movie series starring Dean Martin.
  • I.M.F. (Impossible Missions Force) from the Mission: Impossible series and the movies that it inspired.
  • K.A.B.O.O.M. (Key Atomic Benefits Organization of Mankind), from the movie The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear.
  • KAOS, the enemy organization in the TV Show Get Smart.
  • M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand), the good mask-wearing cohort from the 1980s Saturday-morning cartoon M.A.S.K.
  • N.I.D. (National Intelligence Department), from Stargate SG-1.
  • O.W.C.A. (Organization Without a Cool Acronym), a top-secret organization that uses animals for secret agents, from Phineas and Ferb
  • P.A.T.R.I.O.T., a fictional agency representing the US and Japan in the video game Evil Genius
  • R.A.S. (Rescue Aid Society), from the movies The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under
  • R.E.D. (Reliable Excavation (and) Demolition), a front for one of the warring companies in Team Fortress 2.
  • S.A.B.R.E., a fictional agency representing the UK, Australia, and India in the video game Evil Genius
  • S.CORP.I.A (Sabotage, Corruption, Intelligence, Assassination), a fictional organization, specializing in the named fields, from the Anthony Horowitz novel of the same name
  • S.H.A.D.O. (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defense Organization) in the Gerry Anderson television series UFO.
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. (originally Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law Enforcement Division; later Strategic Hazard Intervention, Espionage and Logistics Directorate and Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division), from the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Marvel Comics.
  • S.H.U.S.H., from Darkwing Duck.
  • S.K.O.O.L. (Secret Knowledge Of Organized Lawbreakers) in the Hardy Boys book, Secret Agent of Flight 101.
  • S.M.A.S.H., a fictional agency representing Africa, South America, and Antartica in the video game Evil Genius
  • S.N.A.F.U. (Society of Nefarious And Felonious Undertakings), a terrorist organization from the short-lived Nickelodeon animated series, The X's
  • SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion), from the James Bond series.
  • S.T.E.N.C.H. (Society for the Total Extermination of Non-Conforming Humans) in the film Carry On Spying and the radio series Round the Horne.
  • S.P.I.D.E.R. (Secret People's International Directorate for Extralegal Revenue), the adversaries of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents from Tower Comics (see below).
  • S.S.S.S.S. Squad (Super Special Sonic Search and Smash Squad) from The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
  • S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Service), from the Resident Evil video game series.
  • S.T.R.I.K.E. (Special Tactical Reserve for International Key Emergencies), a fictional counter-terrorism and intelligence agency in the Marvel Comics Universe (S.T.R.I.K.E is the United Kingdom's version of S.H.I.E.L.D. and first appeared in Captain Britain Weekly #17).
  • S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department), from Marvel Comics.
  • T.H.U.N.D.E.R.(The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves), from Tower Comics.
  • T.I.A. (Técnicos Investigación Aeroterráquea) translating into "Aeroterraquatic (air, land, sea) Investigation Technicians", from the Spanish comic strip Mortadelo y Filemón.
  • U.G.L.I. (Undercover Global League of Informants) in the Hardy Boys book, Secret Agent of Flight 101.
  • U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) and T.H.R.U.S.H., from The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. (The meaning of T.H.R.U.S.H. was never revealed on the series; but, in the novelizations it was stated to be "Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity".)
  • U.N.I.T. (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) A military organization formed to investigate and combat paranormal and extraterrestrial threats to the Earth in the series Doctor Who. UNIT was rebranded as the UNified Intelligence Taskforce in 2008, after the United Nations expressed its discomfort with being associated with a fictional paramilitary organization.
  • V.E.N.O.M. (The Vicious, Evil Network Of Mayhem), the evil mask-wearing cohort from the 1980s Saturday-morning cartoon M.A.S.K.
  • V.F.D., a secret organization from the movie Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, and also in the Lemony Snicket book series of the same name.
  • V.I.L.E. (The Villains' International League of Evil), Carmen Sandiego's band of international thieves.
  • V.S.S.E. (Vital Situation, Swift Elimination), from the Time Crisis video game series.
  • W.A.S.P. (World Aquanaut Security Patrol), from the Gerry Anderson TV series, Stingray
  • W.C.P.O. (World Criminal Police Organization), from the Rolling Thunder video game series (not to be confused with the ABC TV station in Cincinnati, Ohio).
  • W.O.O.H.P. (World Organization of Human Protection), the fictitious organization from Totally Spies!, an animated series on Cartoon Network.
  • Z.O.W.I.E. (Zonal Organization for World Intelligence and Espionage), from the movies Our Man Flint and In Like Flint