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List of fictional espionage organizations: Map


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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.

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 all wear canary-yellow boiler suits, complete with helmets that resemble upside-down wire wastebaskets.
  • A.P.E. and C.H.U.M.P., from Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp (probably the only spy series with an all-chimpanzee cast)
  • A.P.O. for Authorized Personnel Only, a fictional black-ops division of the CIA on the television series Alias
  • B.L.U. (Builders League United) and R.E.D. (Reliable Excavation and Demolition), the shadow corporations behind the color-distinguished teams in Team Fortress 2
  • C.I.D. (Counter Intelligence Directive), from the movie They Saved Hitler's Brain, aka Madmen of Mandoras.
  • CONTROL and KAOS, from the Get Smart television series, are often mistaken for acronyms
  • C.I.S.O (Canadian International Security Organization), from Richard Comely's Captain Canuck comic book series, originally published in 1975. One of the few fictional spy agencies with a realistic acronym, CISO predated the creation of the similarly-named real spy agency Canadian Security Intelligence Servicemarker (CSIS) by over a decade.
  • C.L.I.T.O.R.I.S, (Commitee for the Liberation and Integration of Terrifying Organisms and their Rehabilitation Into Society), an organization proposed by Arnold Rimmer whilst discussing how to deal with a Polymorph having had all of his anger removed on Red Dwarf
  • E.A.G.L.E. (Earth Guard League) from Himitsu Sentai Goranger
  • E.V.I.L. (Every Villain Is Lemons), an intentionally silly example from the SpongeBob SquarePants television series.
  • 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.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.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.
  • G.U.N. (Guardian Unit of Nations), an organization from the Sonic the Hedgehog series who opposed the creation of Shadow and the Biolizard
  • 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.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
  • I.A.D.C. (Inter-Agency Defence Command), from Wonder Woman
  • I.C.E. (Intelligence & Counter Espionage), from the Matt Helm series.
  • K.A.B.O.O.M. (Key Atomic Benefits Organization of Mankind), from The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear.
  • M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand), the good mask-wearing cohort from 1980s Saturday-morning cartoon M.A.S.K.
  • N.I.D. for National Intelligence Department in Stargate SG-1.
  • P.A.G.A.N. (People against Goodness and Normalcy) from the film Dragnet
  • R.A.S. (Rescue Aid Society) from the Disney film The Rescuers Down Under
  • S.CORP.I.A (Sabotage, Corruption, Intelligence, Assassination), a fictional organisation, specialising in the named fields, from the Anthony Horowitz novel of the same name
  • S.H.A.D.O. (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation) 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), from the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Marvel comics
  • Shlekht in the Morecambe and Wise film The Intelligence Men
  • S.M.E.L.L.Y. - (Society for Meaningless Evil, Larceny, Lying, and Yelling) - from the Spy Fox PC game series
  • S.K.O.O.L. (Secret Knowledge of Organized Lawbreakers), from Hardy Boys novel #46, The Secret on Flight 101.
  • SNOBB/S.N.O.B.B. (Stupid Nitwit Overcome By Beauty) The series Codename: Kids Next Door has used an enormous number of such acronyms.
  • SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion), from the James Bond series.
  • S.S.S.S.S. Squad (Super Special Sonic Search and Smash Squad) from The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
  • S.T.E.N.C.H. (Society for the Total Extermination of Non-Conforming Humans) in Carry On Spying.
  • S.T.R.I.K.E. (Special Tactical Reserve for International Key Emergencies) from Captain Britain Weekly, Marvel UK.
  • T.H.U.N.D.E.R. (The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves)
  • 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.
  • U.Z.Z. & T.H.E.M. (The Horrible Evil Menace) from The Secret Show
  • V.E.N.O.M. (The Vicious, Evil Network of Mayhem), the evil mask-wearing cohort from 1980s Saturday-morning cartoon M.A.S.K.
  • V.I.L.E. (the Villains' International League of Evil), Carmen Sandiego's band of international thieves.
  • 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), the ficitious organization for whon Derek Flint works in Our Man Flint and In Like Flint.

  • The television show 24 features the lives of agents of CTU, the Counter Terrorist Unit. The CTU is a fictional branch of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) working within the United States.

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