Template:Cleanup Espionage and secret operations have long been a source of fiction, and the real and perceived United States Central Intelligence Agency is a source of many books, movies and video games. Some fiction may be historically based, or will refer to less action-oriented aspects, such as intelligence analysis (e.g., the main character of several of Tom Clancy's books is Jack Ryan, or counterintelligence (e.g., several works involving characters modeled after James Jesus Angleton).

Adaptations of real eventsEdit

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 CIA's Operation Cyclone giving covert assistance to Afghan rebels during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. This film gives the CIA a positive portrayal, 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 our 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.[1] The film has its critics.[2][3]

The Good Shepherd, directed by Robert De Niro in 2006 narrate the tumultuous early history of the Central Intelligence Agency 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[4] The same story is told in the 2007 TNT miniseries The Company.

Hypothetical but modeled on real organizationsEdit

The character Jack Ryan in Tom Clancy books is a CIA agent.[5] Ryan is never an "agent" or 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 novel, such as John Clark and Domingo Chavez, to say nothing of the creative and intelligent Mary Pat Foley.

Graham Greene's The Quiet American, which has been issued in two editions and made into a movie, is based on an amoral CIA agent operating in Southeast Asia.[6] This book, whose protagonist is less than ideal, is often confused with The Ugly American, in which the title character is neither an intelligence officer nor anything but helpful to the resident of the fictional country in which he is a volunteer.

Movies and TV seriesEdit

Bryan Mills (character)(Taken(2009)) former CIA operative whose daughter is kidnapped in France. Specialties in Attention to detail, Mind Analyists, and Krav Maga specialist.

Jason Bourne is a former CIA Agent whom the CIA wishes to terminate for disobeying their orders to assassinate certain political figures.

Bad Company, Chris Rock plays an undercover CIA Agent who is buying a bomb from Russian Terrorists

The Recruit, Al Pacino plays a CIA trainer who recruits a young Colin Farrell for CIA

Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Johnny Depp plays a corrupt CIA agent, Sheldon Jeffrey Sands, who is manipulating events in Mexico. Sequel to Desperado.

Sydney Bristow in the Alias first works for a fake CIA branch, then the real CIA.

Sarah Walker in Chuck is a CIA Agent working with the NSA to protect and gain intelligence from the title character. The TV series also has other CIA Agents, notably Bryce Larkin, as well as a splinter or rogue element within the CIA ranks, called Fulcrum.

Spy Game, Brad Pitt is trained by Robert Redford but eventually goes rogue and is captured--to rescue the one he loves-- as Redford plots a daring sub-rogue rescue mission on the last day of his career.

True Lies, Arnold Schwarznegger works for the Omega Section fighting terrorists.

Spies Like Us, comedy starring Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd as two recruit rejects who unbeknown to themselves are deployed as decoys to the Soviet Union.

Ronin, Robert DeNiro leads an all star cast through the underbelly of Europe immediately following the demise of the Eastern Bloc.

Mission Impossible, Tom Cruise fights to salvage his CIA career after being compromised by his mentor.

Nixon, Anthony Hopkins is shown nurturing, threatening, and paying off the CIA as he attempts to salvage his Presidency and protect the secrets of the Bay of Pigs and all that it touched.

JFK Oliver Stone's other presidential biopic also highlights the CIA's role in both the days leading up to Dallas, the Castro/mob connection and the cover-up.

Clear and Present Danger & Patriot Games Harrison Ford stars as a CIA analyst thrust into history in these action packed films.

The Sum of All Fears

The Hunt for Red October


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 Headquarters in Langley in order to track down the source of a security link within the agency. Later games in the franchise features operatives from a fictional NSA initiative known as SHADOWNET.

Comedy and spoofsEdit

American Dad! is an animated comedy series that spoofs the C.I.A.

The CIA has most recently been portrayed in the new spy comedy television show on NBC called Chuck.

Meet the Fockers is a comedy that features Robert De Niro as a retired CIA agent.

See alsoEdit

  • Vince Flynn - author of government fiction with major characters who work for the CIA
  • R J Hillhouse - author of political fiction about the outsourcing of the CIA
  • The Agency, a CBS television series about the CIA
  • Alias, an ABC television series about the CIA


Further readingEdit

  • Jenkins, Tricia, Get smart: a look at the current relationship between Hollywood and the CIA, Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television, 29(2) (2009), pp. 229–243. [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.]

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