CIA in fiction
Espionage and secret operations have long been a source of fiction, and the real and perceived U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a source of many books, films and video games. Some fiction may be historically based, or will refer to less action-oriented aspects, such as intelligence analysis or counterintelligence.
Adaptations of real events
The film Charlie Wilson's War, released in December 2007, gives a popular account of the efforts of U.S. Congressman Charles Wilson to secure funding for the CIA's Operation Cyclone, giving covert assistance to Afghan rebels during the Soviet–Afghan War. This film positively portrays the CIA, while finishing with a muted scolding of Congress for funding the war but not funding subsequent peacetime reconstruction. This lack of funding for reconstruction, or what are called Operations Other Than War (OOTWA) in military parlance and counter-insurgency doctrine, are mooted as an antecedent to the present War on Terrorism. According to Declan Walsh, writing in The Guardian, the support of the mujahideen by the U.S. and Pakistan backfired on the U.S. in the form of the 9/11 attacks, and is now backfiring on Pakistan. The film has its critics.
The Good Shepherd, directed by Robert De Niro and released in 2006, narrates the CIA's tumultuous early history as viewed through the prism of one man's life. While the lead character is a composite of several real people, the most important is the long-term chief of the CIA Counterintelligence Staff, James Jesus Angleton. Angleton is also the basis of William F. Buckley, Jr.'s novel Spytime: The Undoing of James Jesus Angleton The same story is told in the 2007 TNT miniseries The Company.
Hypothetical but modeled on real organizations
The character Jack Ryan in Tom Clancy's books is a CIA analyst. Ryan is never a case officer in the usual sense of the term, as opposed to characters such as John Clark and Domingo Chavez. Ryan starts as a contract consultant, becomes an analyst, and rises in responsibility. There are operations officers that play a major role in Clancy's novels, such as Idamur's mom, to say nothing of the creative and intelligent Mary Pat Foley.
Films and television
- In Three Days of the Condor, a low-level CIA employee codenamed Condor (Robert Redford) works in a small brownstone office reading books, magazines, etc., looking for enemy codes. He slips out to buy some food, and upon soon returning, finds that all his co-workers have been murdered.
- In The Hunt for Red October, Alec Baldwin plays CIA analyst Jack Ryan. The character is also played by Harrison Ford in the films Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, while Ben Affleck portrays Jack Ryan in The Sum of All Fears, Chris Pine is Ryan in the original story Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, while the actor is John Krasinski in the 2018 TV series Jack Ryan.
- The Good Shepherd, narrates the CIA's tumultuous early history as viewed through the prism of one man's life. While the lead character is a composite of several real people, including long-term chief of the CIA Counterintelligence Staff, James Jesus Angleton. Angleton is also the basis of William F. Buckley, Jr.'s novel Spytime: The Undoing of James Jesus Angleton
- In JFK, the CIA's connections to Anti-Castro Cuban freedom fighters, far right extremists, and the Mafia are portrayed, as well as the CIA's alleged participation in President John F. Kennedy's assassination, the assassination's cover-up, and the CIA's attempted sabotage of the prosecution by Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) of former CIA domestic contact agent Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones).
- In In the Line of Fire, a former CIA assassin, played by John Malkovich, informs a U.S. Secret Service agent, portrayed by Clint Eastwood, of his plans to kill the president.
- In Nixon, Richard Nixon, played by Anthony Hopkins, is shown nurturing, threatening, and paying off the CIA as he attempts to salvage his presidency.
- In Ronin, Robert De Niro portrays a former CIA officer.
- In Sicario, CIA officer Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) is in charge of an operation against the Sonora Cartel.
- In Spy Game, Brad Pitt plays a CIA field agent who is trained by a CIA officer (Robert Redford) but eventually turns rogue.
- In Bad Company, Chris Rock plays an undercover CIA officer who is buying a bomb from Russian terrorists.
- In The Recruit, Al Pacino plays a CIA training officer who recruits a young trainee (Colin Farrell).
- In Once Upon a Time in Mexico, the sequel to Desperado, Johnny Depp plays CIA officer Sheldon Jeffrey Sands, who is manipulating events in Mexico.
- In Body of Lies, Leonardo DiCaprio plays a CIA case officer tracking a terrorist called Al-Saleem in Iraq.
- In the Taken franchise, Liam Neeson plays Brian Mills, a former CIA operative.
- In the Taken prequel TV series, Brian Mills is a former U.S. Army Green Beret and newly-recruited CIA operative, portrayed by Clive Standen.
- In Law Abiding Citizen, antagonist Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) is a former CIA assassin who specialized in covert operations.
- In Salt, Angelina Jolie plays a CIA officer accused of being a Russian sleeper agent.
- In the Bourne film series, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is a former CIA SAD paramilitary officer whom the CIA wishes to terminate for disobeying orders to assassinate a political figure.
- In Safe House, Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds play CIA operatives.
- In Alias, Sydney Bristow first works for what she believes to be a black ops division of the CIA, which turns out to be an enemy organization; she subsequently becomes a double agent for the real CIA.
- In Red, Bruce Willis and Karl Urban play CIA operatives.
- In Burn Notice, Jeffrey Donovan plays a spy that was burned and tries to figure out who burned him and much of the plot and characters have links with the CIA.
- In Chuck, Sarah Walker is a CIA operative working with the NSA to protect and gain intelligence from the title character along with John Casey , an NSA operative tasked to work with Sarah and Chuck by General Beckman . series also has other CIA and NSA officers, notably Bryce Larkin, as well as a splinter or rogue element within the CIA's ranks, called Fulcrum.
- In Covert Affairs, Piper Perabo plays the role of a CIA trainee Annie Walker who suddenly gets promoted to a field operative in order to help capture her ex-boyfriend.
- In Torchwood: Miracle Day, Mekhi Phifer plays CIA officer Rex Matheson who is investigating the eponymous Torchwood Institute. Alexa Havins and Dichen Lachman also portray CIA officers.
- In Homeland, Claire Danes plays Carrie Mathison, a CIA Covert Operations Officer on the trail of a U.S. Marine suspected of becoming a terrorist after his capture by extremists.
- In Person of Interest, Jim Caviezel plays John Reese, a retired CIA operative working with a hacker to stop violent crimes in New York.
- In the James Bond film series fictional agent Felix Leiter is Bond's primary contact in the CIA.
- In The Agency the inner workings of the CIA are portrayed with field personal and technical staff interacting on missions. Notable for filming some segments at CIA headquarters.
- In the Fox event series 24: Live Another Day, the CIA is a U.S. agency operating within London that captures federal fugitive Jack Bauer. The agency takes the main governmental role over CTU in the miniseries.
- In the Narcos web television series, Eric Lange portrays CIA Station Chief in Colombia Bill Stechner.
- In Quantico, two months after the presidential election ended, Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) is approached by Matthew Keyes (Henry Czerny), the director of the CIA who provides an opportunity for her to join and work for the organization.
- In Mission: Impossible, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) infiltrates the CIA headquarters to steal a non-official cover list of CIA operatives. In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Hunt is pursued by the CIA for his attempts to prove the existence of the Syndicate, a criminal organization the CIA does not believe exists. In Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Ethan Hunt and his team track down stolen plutonium while being monitored by the CIA.
- In Zero Dark Thirty, Jessica Chastain stars as Maya, a fictional CIA intelligence analyst who is tasked with finding the Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
- In Smuggler's Run 2, the CIA gets involved with the smuggling operations.
- The CIA is a central player in the events of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell. In the game, NSA agent Sam Fisher must determine the fates of two CIA agents who disappeared while spying on the government of Georgia. Fisher must then infiltrate the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Virginia in order to track down the source of a security link within the agency. Later games in the franchise feature operatives from a fictional NSA initiative known as SHADOWNET.
- In the "No Russian" level of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Private First Class Joseph Allen, a U.S Army Ranger is attached to a CIA element in an attempt to gain antagonist Vladimir Makarov's trust. "Langley" can also be a randomly generated call sign for any of the Task Force 141 NPCs that accompanies the player throughout the campaign.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops is focused around a character named Alex Mason who is in the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group and Jason Hudson, a CIA officer, as they take part in covert activity during the Cold War. They were members of Operation 40, which conducted undercover operations in Cuba and participated in the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
- In Battlefield: Bad Company 2, the CIA's Special Activities Division is the playable faction in the campaign and is a DLC faction in multiplayer.
- Homefront a first-person shooter that challenges players to survive and impact a fictional future scenario in which America has been economically devastated and occupied by a foreign power. Game is thought to be a CIA government recruiting tool by the Iranian government. Although, the CIA did help develop the story line it has no connection to any government except Korea invading and occupying the US by means of force.
- The CIA appears again in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The CIA appears in both the 1980s section of the campaign as well as the future. The CIA also is a playable faction in the Zombie mode "Grief".
- The IAA, referred to as simply "the Agency," mimics the CIA in Grand Theft Auto: V. There are several story line missions in which the protagonists infiltrate the agency for various purposes such as extracting a person illegally held captive by the IAA, or to steal a biochemical warfare weapon being produced by the IAA at a secret government facility.
- Battlefield 3 is focused on Staff Sergeant Henry "Black" Blackburn and his marine squad. After being forced to shoot his commanding officer in an operation, he is put under investigation and is interrogated by CIA agents Gordon and Whistler. Battlefield 4 continues Blackburn's story and agent Whistler (known as "Agent W.") makes an appearance as one of the main protagonists; his real name revealed to be Laszlo W. Kovic.
- The CIA features prominently in the 2009 video game Yakuza 3. The CIA is working with the Japanese government to build a military base with a fake missile defense system in Okinawa. The idea is to lure out a secret arms smuggling ring called Black Monday (named after the stock-market crash of 1987). The base plans are symbiotic with that of a new vacation resort, whose land would require the demolition of protagonist Kazuma Kiryu's orphanage.
Tabletop Roleplaying Games
- The CIA frequently appears in Delta Green, the Program recruits CIA operatives from various sectors of the agency due their extensive operations, know-how, contacts and resources. In the 2016 edition of the game, the Player characters can be agents of the CIA, with professions ranging from Intelligence Analyst, Intelligence Case Officer, Clandestine Service agent and Special Activities Division operator, both from the Special Operations Group and Political Action Group.
- In Countdown, the CIA appears in the background of the "Tiger Transit" faction. The CIA sent funds the Tcho-Tchos during the campaign of support to anti-Vietnamese ethnic groups in Indochina during the Vietnam War, via Tiger Transit, an Air America-style front company. The Tcho-tchos would later participate in the CIA drug traffic operations in Central America and Southeast Asia via Tiger Transit, which now they control. This background is also mentioned in the d20 System version of Call of Cthulhu role-playing game.
Comedy and spoofs
- Meet the Parents film franchise is a series of comedy movies featuring Robert De Niro as CIA interrogations officer Jack Byrnes who retired shortly before the first film took place.
- American Dad! is an animated comedy series that spoofs the CIA.
- The CIA is portrayed in the NBC spy comedy television show, Chuck.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic released a song called "Party in the C.I.A.", mocking the CIA in his 2011 album Alpocalypse.
- R. J. Hillhouse – author of political fiction about the outsourcing of the CIA
- Vince Flynn – author of government fiction with major characters who work for the CIA
- DIA in popular culture
- FBI portrayal in media
- NSA in popular culture
- List of intelligence agencies
- List of intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom
- List of fictional espionage organizations
- List of police television dramas
- Chicago PD in popular culture
- LAPD in popular culture
- NYPD list of fictional portrayals
- Seattle PD in popular culture
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police # Popular awareness
- Walsh, Declan (April 16, 2008). "The Taliban blowback". The Guardian.
- Roddy, Melissa (December 21, 2007), "Tom Hanks Tells Hollywood hopper in 'Charlie Wilson's War'", AlterNet
- Buckley, William F. Jr. (2001), Spytime: The Undoing of James Jesus Angleton, Harvest Books, ISBN 0-15-601124-7
- Clancy, Tom (1984), The Hunt for Red October, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-87021-285-0
- Greene, Graham (2004), The Quiet American, Penguin Classics, ISBN 0-14-303902-4
- Tynes, Detwiller, Glancy, John, Dannis, Adam Scott (1999). Delta Green: Countdown. Pagan Publishing. ISBN 9781887797122.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Jenkins, Tricia (2009). "Get Smart: a look at the current relationship between Hollywood and the CIA". Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. 29 (2): 229–243. doi:10.1080/01439680902890704. [The author interviewed Paul Barry, who is in charge of the agency's liaison with Hollywood industry. The article also describes that CIA's image became negative when Cold War ended and when Aldrich Ames was discovered.]
- Jenkins, Tricia (2016). The CIA in Hollywood: How the Agency Shapes Film and Television (Revised and updated ed.). Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-77246-5.