The Men in Black

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    It's a party in the CIA!

    Black suit. White shirt. Black tie. Sinister Shades. Ominous and overbearing manner. Speaking in code. No indication of emotions or a personality. Ostensibly some kind of covert operative, but very conspicuous. The Man In Black is the generic intimidating agent. If he has a name, expect it to be an obvious pseudonym, one of the most common Anglo-Saxon names, such as "Mr. Smith", "Mr. Jones", "Mr. Brown", etc., or else he'll be Mister Strangenoun. He is there to loom over you and make you feel afraid, regardless of whether he's sent by The Government, The Mafia, a Corrupt Corporate Executive, or aliens from outer space. He's almost never there to help you.

    Generally, they are in the business of keeping secrets. Laser-Guided Amnesia is a pretty common tool in their arsenal, especially in more idealistic versions, wiping out a memory you're probably better off without so you can go back to a normal life. More cynical portrayals just bully you into keeping your mouth shut. Or just make you disappear. Less often, they'll make An Offer You Can't Refuse: join or forget. Or die.

    Conspiracy Theorists live in fear of the Men In Black. They know too much.

    Despite being the symbolic presence of The Oppression Of The Man, The Men in Black have the mystique of being Badass and Cool, so heroes can be associated with them. In those cases they are merely protecting panicky people by doing what's ultimately best. Watch out for Conspiracy Redemption if they go too far, though.

    The Men In Black tend to have access to vast material resources through their inclusion in budgets that never appear on the public books. They often have new super-secret weapons and devices. If The Men in Black are hunting a character, he should look over his shoulder for the Van in Black and scan the skies for the Black Helicopters.

    The term comes from fringe UFO research, where the Men In Black have become the primary boogeymen. The earliest citation comes from 1953: UFO researcher Albert Bender, who published a small newsletter called "Space Review", explained a missed issue (which he had promised would blow the lid off the secrecy about UFOs) by claiming that "three men wearing dark suits" had approached him and ordered him "emphatically" to stop publishing material about flying saucers. Years later, he would admit that he just didn't have the promised material and made up the the three men to explain why, but not before milking the story with a 1963 book called Flying Saucers and the Three Men In Black, and spawning an entire mythology.

    Or maybe that's what they told him to say...

    Usually male; Distaff Counterparts tend to be a Hot Chick in a Badass Suit.

    Compare to the media franchise named after and based upon this. Not to be confused with any other Man in Black.

    Examples of The Men in Black include:

    Anime & Manga

    • Urusei Yatsura: Shutaro Mendo has an army of Men in Black bodyguards, usually calling them "Men in Black Glasses" due to their signature shades. In a subversion, they're all incompetent idiots who frequently misunderstand his commands and are easily fooled—in one chapter of the manga, Lum, Shinobu and Ryuunosuke easily infiltrated them by putting on black suits and glasses.
      • His sister, Ryoko Mendo, is served by a team of kuroko, kabuki stagehands that officially aren't there and fulfill her every order, including playing her horse when she's feeling particularly dramatic. They pop up from the strangest places and are much more organized than her brother's minions. Of course, that does not stop the two groups having tea together when their masters are not throwing grenades at each other and complaining about their difficult life.
    • Click here to see several of the girls from Pani Poni Dash! do the MIB thing.
    • Cardcaptor Sakura: Tomoyo had her Men in Black (or should we say Womenn in Black) female bodyguards. They also show up in Tsubasa in the alternate world of Piffle.
    • Lain has several encounters with the MIB watching her in Serial Experiments Lain.
    • In Keroro Gunsou episode 9, Fuyuki theorizes that the reason Mutsumi, one of Natsumi's classmates, wants to come over is that he's secretly a MIB and wants to capture the aliens (Keroro and friends).
    • First District in My-HiME deployed MIB to "clean up" memories of encounters between the public and the monstrous "Orphans."
    • The Invaders from Gate Keepers resembled Men In Black, although they were a variant of The Heartless.
    • The Hypnos organization, and specifically Agent Yamaki, from Digimon Tamers came complete with Black Vans and Black Helicopters.
    • In Digimon Savers, the main characters are members of an MIB organization, DATS. They even get nifty mind-erasing neuralizers to go with the job. However, these Men in Black lack the Black. Seriously, everyone in DATS wears brightly colored uniforms.
    • In Noir, the "Knights" deployed by the Ancient Conspiracy.
    • NERV agents in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Unusual in its depiction, as the agents act like real agents. They're only in a couple scenes throughout the whole thing, but their influence and subtlety is implied to be enormous. They don't go Cowboy Cop. They don't need to.
    • Higurashi has the "Men In Gray". They look more like janitors, but it's the thought that counts—and, perhaps, moving men and meter readers are what the agents of a Government Conspiracy should look like.
    • The GOP in Kurau Phantom Memory is populated by Men in Black, with the one in charge being a female version, complete with cool sunglasses and bad-ass attitude, inspired by her hatred for the two protagonists and their kind.
    • The main characters of Ga-Rei Zero are essentially MIB working to protect the ignorant masses from supernatural threats.
    • Detective Conan's black-clothed organization, who are responsible for turning Shinichi into what he is now. Though they seem to be a very small criminal gang, they are extraordinarily powerful, mainly because the world at large doesn't even know they exist. They basically live off of this trope, committing crimes by blackmailing others into doing it for them, killing those who learn of their existence and anybody they might possibly have contacted, and even killing members whom they consider even a potential threat. Many of their members even wear black outfits and shades (when not in disguise)!
      • It is implied the organization is at least somewhat larger than what we see (how large is anyone's guess) and that the main foes are in fact several of the top ranking members that report directly to the boss. Also, they are always in disguise, because their very existence is a secret to the world and they want to keep it that way.
    • In chapter 214 of Mahou Sensei Negima, Kaede and Setsuna are dressed quite literally as Men in Black, though perhaps WIB would be more appropriate. Regardless, in looks they fit the part perfectly.
    • Ciel from Tsukihime usually dresses up as a teacher or a Church Militant, but she once put on fancy to retrieve her Empathic Weapon that had befriended That One Guy. Apparently she thought it would attract less attention or something. (Well, she can just use her Evil Eye to wipe people's memories, but still.)
    • Oddly, the title page for one chapter of Ai Yori Aoshi has Tina and Mayu dressed as Men in Black. This has no relationship to anything in the story.
    • In Katekyo Hitman Reborn, since it centers on the mafia world, practically everything is all about black suits and ties. The younger tenth generation kept it generic by wearing white shirts, but their older versions go with colored shirts depending on their flames and TYL Tsuna wears a pinstripped suit.
    • Saruwatari (best known as the Hair Guy) and other Industrial Illusions and Kaiba Corp employees from Yu-Gi-Oh! have this theme going on.
    • CP 9 in One Piece qualifies, given that everyone thought that the Cipher Pol divisions only went up to 8 (similar to how MI 6 exists as the super-secret extra number in the James Bond continuities), but it's different in that CP 9 has a number of very colorful characters who operate under what are presumably their real names. A number of literal "men in black" work for them as mooks, however. Another alternative would be Baroque Works, whose upper membership operated in a more conventional cloak-and-dagger scenario, with people like Mr. 2 a.k.a. Bon Clay a.k.a. Bentham.
    • Roger Smith from The Big O, emphasis on the "B": everything he wears (apart from his white shirts) has to be black, as does anything worn by his butler and android companion. Subverted, though, in that he's not a shady government agent, rather a freelance negotiator, but he is in the business of keeping secrets, like his Humongous Mecha-based vigilantism.
    • Mr. K from Crayon Shin-chan is a parody of this trope, but he's more of a Badly-Battered Babysitter to a spoiled rich kid than an actual agent.
    • The Mooks of the Kiga Group in Mawaru Penguindrum wear a more classic combination of black overcoat and fedora, but they are definitely men in black in appearance and action.
    • A bunch of these show up in Marika's cafe in the pilot of Bodacious Space Pirates. Later, Chiaki identifies them as working for various government agencies. Possibly subverted in that they were mostly there to protect her.
    • Waiting in the Summer has this as a Running Gag in the movie they're making, and then it turns out that a member of the main cast is their leader, and a relative of another one who was referred to a few times is a member of the real MIB. They even show up in the final episode as The Cavalry!
    • Tsuritama has Akira and his crew of Indians. They all appear to be a part of a mysterious organization called "Duck" (as in the aquatic fowl) that monitors alien activity on Earth, namely Haru and Coco.
    • Almost all of the Deviluke bodyguards in To LOVE-Ru at least dress the part, right down to the shades.

    Comic Books

    • Subverted in The Filth, where the secretive operatives of The Hand actually wear day-glo suits and wigs. It turns out the suits are designed to inspire psychosexual urges to make whoever looks at them want to repress them like a bad memory, in effect making them invisible but still able to excert authority.
    • In Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol run, the Men in Black are only one subgroup of a massive organization that has different suits for ostensibly different purposes (the Men in Green, for instance, are more scatterbrained, whereas the Men in Mauve are implied to be completely ruthless).

    Man In Green: There are ranks and there are orders. There are faces at every window. Just be glad they didn't send the Men In Mauve

    All have access to various suits and uniforms and unusually well-taken-care-of older model cars.
    • R-Complex from Scare Tactics.
    • In Fables, the army of wooden soldiers that attack Fabletown dress in typical MIB attire.
    • Gleefully subverted in an issue of Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in which two Men in Black show up to debrief the turtles' friend Casey Jones after an encounter with an alien robot. However, the agents are actually aliens themselves, testing human reactions to see whether Earth is ready to be contacted openly by their race.
    • Gold Digger has Agency Zero, which was a traditional Super Team that switched over to this trope to avoid the downsides of traditional superheroism (supervillains going after them or their loved ones, etc.)
    • In the universe of Little Victory, England, and several of the Commonwealth nations, employ the O.D.A., who go with a Men in Black look utilizing trench coats and bowler caps.
    • Parodied in some European Donald Duck comics with the secret bureau T.N.T. (Tamers of Non-human Threats), of which Donald and his cousin Fethry are freelance agents. Their job is to take care of supernatural or alien threats against humanity, while keeping such things hidden from the general public—though there's an almost complete lack of Laser-Guided Amnesia (they resort to making up stories about special effects or humans in disguise), no code names, and the uniform resembles a janitor's outfit more than the usual stylish suits and shades. All this, combined with the fact that they're always in a protagonist role (and their boss being a Reasonable Authority Figure) makes them much less sinister than many of the example of this trope.
    • The Maxx featured something of a parody of MI Bs, a squad of quasi-informed, dark-suited supernatural investigators who are led by psychic messages delivered from the ashes of their dead founder, which they carry around in an urn.
    • The 6-issue comic that Men in Black was originally based upon. There's a number of differences: one, threats both explicitly supernatural and mundane are also investigated; two, Kay is a lot nastier, acting more like a walking branch of the SCP Foundation; three, we don't see any other MIBs apart from Jay and Kay.


    • Men in Black, both the movies and the series, were unusual in that they presented Men in Black in a positive light; anything bad they do is usually Played for Laughs, such as the uncertainty over how much brain damage the memory eraser does.
      • The Lowell Cunningham comic series from which the movies were most directly adapted were less positive: sympathetic, maybe, but these defenders of the Earth were not noble.
    • The "Low Men" from Hearts In Atlantis.
    • The Blues Brothers: Jake and Elwood are dressed in black suits, white shirts, and shades. When they relentlessly question a woman while trying to get their band together, she says "Are you the police?" and Dan Aykroyd replies, in perfect police deadpan "No, ma'am. We're musicians." Jake and Elwood's costumes were left over from SNL skits in which they played Secret Service agents guarding Chevy Chase.
    • The Agents of The Matrix are portrayed as The Men in Black, even though they wear dark green. Police officers and other people in The Matrix naturally regard them as authority figures, though their true nature and purpose is much more sinister. The three Agents in the first movie are named "Agent Smith," "Agent Brown," and "Agent Jones," the "upgraded" ones in the sequels are called Jackson, Johnson and Thompson.
      • Additionally, there are Agents Black and Gray from the MMORPG The Matrix Online. Agent Gray is the only Agent to have prolonged contact with humans (both humans and machines are working against the Merovingian's rogue programs), and this distinction almost makes him feel... "proud".
      • When Smith is reformatted in the sequels, he does start wearing a black suit.
    • The Strangers in the film Dark City are actual aliens, which shows in the way they get details wrong: notably, their idea of common, everyday names includes "Mr. Book," "Mr. Wall," and "Mr. Hand."
    • The bleached-blond Strangers of Knowing (another Alex Proyas film) also seem to embody this trope. They're either angels or aliens, depending on your interpretation.
    • Lilo and Stitch subverts this trope with Cobra Bubbles, who dresses like a Man In Black despite being only a social worker making sure Nani takes care of Lilo. This becomes a Double Subversion at the end of the movie, when we discover that he used to be a CIA agent responsible for dealing with alien visitors. See the Other Wiki page on Phantom Social Workers for the cringe.
    • The heroes of Laputa: Castle in the Sky are pursued by a quartet of Men In Black (whom they at first call "kuromeganetachi", "the guys in dark glasses"), who indeed turn out to be shady government agents (with an even shadier hidden agenda).
    • Agent Rick Dicker from The Incredibles is older than the usual MIB, and his suit is brown. All the same, he uses bribes and Laser-Guided Amnesia to keep superhero Secret Identities secret.
    • The Hunt for Red October movie makes Men in Black of the CIA when Adm. Greer has his I Was Never Here moment.
    • Several films dating from the time of J. Edgar Hoover featured G-men as an early version of the MIB. Those steely-eyed, strait-laced, straight-jawed, two-fisted suit-and-tie and hat-wearing (to hide the stuntmen) heroes of the silver screen. Ah, the days when you didn't use Laser-Guided Amnesia, you just told people to shut up in the name of the US Government. And they did! Of course, all this came crashing down when Hoover's image got revamped into that of a power-hungry transvestite, wantonly violating the civil rights of anyone whose politics he didn't agree with.
      • The President's Analyst from 1967 defied the cultivated image of the G-man early on, showing them as suit-and-tie and hat-wearing, quick to kill, unquestioning drones, all shorter than their stunted leader whose grudge against the title character was based on moral differences. Most other spy agencies fared little better: a major scene has spies of all stripes sneaking up on the analyst in a grassy country meadow. All of them, from FBI men to African agents with tribal face scars, to a Genghis Khan-looking Asian, wearing the same regulation black suit and tie (only a Russian agent has the sense to dress like a farmer).
      • Also spoofed in the 1979 Stoner Flick J-Men Forever! where the tight-assed straights...umm straight-jawed men-in-tights fight an alien attempt to take over the world with Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll.

    Barton: "That kook said something about aliens being behind the whole thing."
    The Chief: "Aliens? Suuure. Listen, Mexicans and Canadians are always a problem. Next thing you know they're going to be blaming it on little guys in shiny suits from Outer Space!"

    • The alien-hunting organization, hidden beneath a cement factory, run by K. Edgar Singer in Muppets from Space.
    • Repo Man featured one of the most popular concept of the Men In Black before the MIB movie came out. They're all tall, pale, and have unnaturally-shaped and -colored blond hair.
    • The Brother From Another Planet is an escaped alien slave. Two alien slave-hunters are after him, dressed in black suits and posing as INS agents. They are utterly unconvincing in their oddly-affected manner. One woman angrily bawls them out in Spanish, the words "Johnny Cash" and "Roy Orbison" heard in her rapid-fire shouting.
    • Hellboy features regular human agents in suits and ties alongside the superpowered specialists. They tend to not fare particularly well.
    • Laserblast has a character who's obviously supposed to be one of these despite him wearing the clever disguise of an olive-green casual suit straight from the depths of The Seventies.
    • In Thor and possibly other Marvel Cinematic Universe films, the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. dress and act like Men In Black, even though they're portrayed as good guys once you get to know them.
      • The first Iron Man film defies this trope to an extent. S.H.I.E.L.D. fulfill many of the traditional MIB roles, but are affable, a bit goofy and not very powerful (despite their high-tech lockbreaking device).
    • The Adjusters in The Adjustment Bureau, although they seem to prefer dark grey suits.


    • Neil Gaiman's book American Gods did something similar, with the "Spookshow" taking names like Town, Wood, Stone, and World. The character of Sam commented on this by asking if they had driven here in Mr. Car, along Mr. Road, in a Mr. Lampshade Hanging. One of the titular gods comments that, like pretty much everything else in the book, "they exist because everybody believes that they exist."
      • The fact that they are, collectively, the Anthropomorphic Personification(s) of conspiracy theories takes them to the point of being a Deconstruction: when we get a POV from one of them, it notes that he is unsure whether he works for the government or went into the private sector, recalling it different ways on different days (and rationalizes this to himself by saying that "only suckers still think there's a difference"), speaks almost entirely in cliched one-liners, and has no real identity as himself. And because all the Spookshow agents are just MIB tropes without any idea what they're really doing (since none of the theories agree on that), it's easy for Mr. World to come in and take over, just by acting like the sort of person who would be running a huge conspiracy.
    • Sharpe features a subversion: Lord Pumphrey is as far from inconspicuous as it is possible to get - he wears flamboyant outfits, is a very Camp Gay, incredibly effeminate...which just makes people underestimate him. He acts as a one-man M.I.B for the British government. He can start a war with three watermelons, twenty slaves and a copy of Ovid. And end one with just the Ovid.
    • Kim Newman's Diogenes Club stories include "The Undertaking", an Edwardian British group of Men in Black, who are a rival organisation to the heroes (the Diogenes is, essentially, UNIT to the Undertaking's Torchwood). They have Code Names like Mr. Hay, Mr. Bee and Mr. Sea, which is probably a Shout-Out to the names in Men In Black.
    • The mysterious men in the Wayside School books are there mainly for surrealistic flavor. There are three of them: a bald man, a man with a black mustache, and another man with a black mustache who also carries an attaché case. Their appearance is random, but usually has a connection to a character making life decisions. In one instance, they offer an emotionally fragile boy a choice between safety or freedom. When he chooses the latter, they hand him a contract, which he signs, and then leave. No explanation is given as to what that contract means, although it's shown that that character no longer has to do anything he doesn't want to, like take tests or do homework.
    • The Ackerberg Institute in Michael Dahl's Finnegan Zwake books are these, down to the sunglasses and obvious pseudonyms.
    • The Gentlemen of Last Resort in Nation by Terry Pratchett, who owe allegiance to the British Crown but not to the actual monarch, and know the full version of the Magna Carta, which is seventy times bigger than the official version. They wear black suits, and are named Mr. Black, Mr. Brown, Mr. Red and Mr. Amber.
      • Also the 'Dark Clerk's in Discworld. The History Monks are 'Men in Saffron' in a nod to this trope.
    • Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King features the sinister "Low Men in Yellow Coats" who, in addition to their gaudy yellow outfits, drove cars that exuded a feeling of being alive (they were). They're actually aliens searching for the main character's Reality Warper friend, an old man (played by Anthony Hopkins in The Movie). They're not afraid to bribe and kill to get what they want either, though they don't so much go in for memory-suppression. This is expanded upon in The Dark Tower.
    • Ralph's initial impression of the "Little Bald Doctors" is of alien MIB's in Insomnia.
    • Subverted in Mercedes Lackey's S.E.R.R.Ated Edge universe in which her covert government elf hunting organization dress are the Men In Green. The green is because of their special suits, which make them invisible to the Sidhe they're after.
    • The Organization in Matt Ruff's Bad Monkeys, complete with NC guns (Natural Causes) which make it look like their victims died of either a heart attack or an aneurysm.
    • Played for laughs in the Kitty Norville series. The titular character notices that human employees of a vampire happen to act like Men in Black - well-dressed, mysterious, brusque and emotionless, and the normal law enforcement is at their beck and call. However, once Kitty sees behind the scenes she realizes that they are more or less normal people, and they were oblivious to their appearance until Kitty pointed it out. She uses them to intimidate someone who's being annoying and they enjoy it.
    • The Laundry Series has, well, The Laundry, the British department tasked with dealing with Cosmic Horror. Unlike most of their counterparts here, and like British Government departments in real life, funding is a main concern and middle-managers are perhaps a slightly bigger threat to national security than shoggoths. Also mentioned are the Black Chamber (the US counterpart, with far better funding and far fewer morals), the GSA (modern German Men in Black, nicknamed the Faust Force), and the Thirteenth Directorate (Russian agency, descended from certain KGB elements), among others. The "black suits and sunglasses" part is averted, though, since they are civil servants.
    • The Mothman Prophecies the book talks about MIB agents snooping around town where the sightings were going on. This book is, in fact, probably the Trope Codifier, and is based on witness testimonials from actual people author John Keel interviewed about a rash of UFO/monster sightings in rural West Virginia. The movie made no mention of them.
      • The Men in Black described were the creepiest sort as well. They had reptilian features, always sported a Slasher Smile, didn't quite seem to know how to use the correct inflections in their speech (much like the G-Man from Half Life), were completely puzzled by everyday objects, drove dated cars that were somehow brand new, and sometimes giggled unnervingly. One of them called himself "Indrid Cold".
    • Hunt For The Skin Walker the book mentions reports of men driving around in black Cadillacs in a place where seeing a car would be extremely unusual.
    • Good Omens has The Them speculate about MIB, who they reckon probably cause traffic accidents because of all the big black cars going around telling people they haven't seen aliens. Unlike most of Adam's ideas they don't show up, although it's possible that America did suddenly start swarming with them and none of the main cast heard about it.
    • Declare, by Tim Powers, features a mixture of international intrigue and the supernatural; there are several apy agencies within larger spy agencies responsible for dealing with the djinn. Since the book draws its roots from hard espionage, though, said spies do not wear black suits and sunglasses, nor are they there to cover things up from the public.

    Live Action TV

    • The X-Files occasionally had Men in Black as nameless grunts for the Ancient Conspiracy that ran the government. However, when Men in Black were specifically referred to, it was spoofed by casting Jeopardy!'s Alex Trebek and wrestler/future governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura in the roles. The Celebrity Paradox was zig zagged in that episode: the MIB played by Ventura was described as "creepy," while the one played by Trebek was described as "looked like Alex Trebek," which made those reporting them seem all the more crazy.
      • Mulder himself was referred to as an MIB when episodes had a more objective viewpoint ("Jose Chung's from Outer Space", etc.). Mulder was dropped into the body of an MIB in the episode "Dreamland" switching with Michael McKean, who complains that his job is a good deal more tedious than popular belief would have it.
    • One of the villains in Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation is a Man in Black. Bishop, from the 2003 cartoon, was also one.
    • Torchwood's members are, essentially, Men in Black who are doing the MIB equivalent of Not Wearing Tights. They wipe memories of alien encounters as well as confiscate, and reverse-engineer any alien technology which finds its way to Earth. What do they get up to behind the scenes? Well, in the case of Torchwood 3 (Cardiff) at least... lots of sex.
    • The "Hands of Blue" in Firefly acted very MIB-like. As seen in "Ariel," they deal with those who know too much by making them weep Tears of Blood with a nasty sonic weapon.
    • In Power Rangers SPD, SPD becomes an MIB organization whenever time travel becomes involved.
    • Although not fitting the "secret government entity" mold of the trope, the Sea Shepherds portrayed in Whale Wars operate black ships, a black helicopter, and in one episode, Peter Bethune wore a black "commando suit" as he put it when he boarded the Japanese whaling vessel Shonan Maru #2.
    • CSI once lampshaded this part, when one of their suspects was actually being watched by the government. Grissom calmly said, "I guess we'll be expecting some men in black suits with Ray-Bans around anytime soon."
      • A band of men in black suits once tried to steal a body from the morgue (if I recall correctly it was the son of criminally-connected hotel owner) only to be thwarted by Morpheus AKA Dr. Langston and a ton of Bullet Time shots.
    • Mr. Baxter has several of these characteristics in the mystery miniseries Oliver's Travels.
    • In the SciFi Channel's game show ChaSe, the "Hunters" are Men in Black tasked with hunting down and tagging the contestants. They move at a brisk walk, stone-faced, unless they see the runners. It can be surprisingly creepy, despite the amounts of Narm their "heads up displays" provide.
    • Warehouse 13 features two Secret Service agents who are unknowingly recruited to become MIB-like enforcers.
    • The British Series UFO shows what the Men in Black would look like if their fashions and vehicles were designed by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.
    • Lost has several creepy suited characters at certain points, such as a mysterious lawyer who demands proof that Kate is Aaron's mother, which she isn't, or Richard Alpert watching baby Locke through a hospital window (which adult Locke told him to do) and particularly Matthew Abbadon, a Scary Black Man who had posed as a physical therapist to tell Locke to go on a Walkabout (thus ending up on The Island), set up the Freighter Crew AND knew about the Oceanic Six hoax. However, the term MIB, or Man in Black, is most commonly used to refer to a mysterious, currently unnamed man wearing black clothes who appears in the fifth season finale and is the archenemy of Jacob, the "Man in White."
      • As of season 6, we now know one other longtime name for the Man in Black: the smoke monster.
    • A cooking show, Alton Brown's Good Eats, has fun by invoking this trope whenever they make note of FDA standards. There are always three Men in Black, and the only one who talks is played by Brown himself.
    • Section 31 from Star Trek, introduced in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. They are essentially the MIB for The Federation. Technically they do not exist, they have no headquarters, their agents are scattered incognito among Starfleet and other groups. They explain that whether or not you accept an invitation to join, they manage to use you to further their goals anyway. The said that they have existed since the beginning of Starfleet, and Star Trek: Enterprise revealed this to be true. Their goal is essentially to protect the Federation's interests at all costs. Their clothing isn't the black dress suit, but a comparable futuristic black leather outfit.
      • The names of the first two seen were anagrams of Mulder and Scully.
    • Babylon 5 has Men in Black with psychic powers: the PSI Corps. They'll Mind Rape you before throwing you out of the airlock.
      • Morden was Shadows' MIB. He could give you anything you wanted, for a price.
      • The ending of the episode "A Spider In The Web" attempted to set up an arc involving an MIB-esque organization called "Bureau 13". When JMS found out there was already an RPG with that name, they were never mentioned again. Except in a novel where they were renamed Department Sigma. It was mentioned that they change names semi-frequently to make tracking them harder.
    • Ocean Girl had an MIB organization called PRAXIS (Preventative Response And eXtraterritorial Intelligence Service) as antagonists in Season 4. They even had their own faux-Mulder and faux-Scully.
    • Parodied in Wizards of Waverly Place with the Emergency Wizards, agents of various magical species who dress in black suits, with the mandate to keep mortals in the dark regarding the existence of wizards.
    • One episode of Even Stevens has Louis and Twitty believing Beans is an alien, which is further reinforced when a MIB is after Beans. Turns out he works for the library and was after an overdue book.
    • Subverted with Argentine comedy show Caiga Quien Caiga and its multinational versions (Brazil, Chile, Italy and Portugal to name a few), in which the "MIB" part stays only in the presenters and reporters' attires; otherwise they are very (hyper)active and the funny-guy types, even though they deal with Serious Business from time to time (most of the staff in the Brazilian version, for example, is made up of stand-up comedians, after all).
    • In a delightful call-back to the more classical conspiracy Man in Black, the Numb3rs episode "Dreamland" featured a mysterious Pentagon agent by the name of Floyd Mayborne. Claiming to be from a nebulous "Department 44", he wore outdated clothing, spoke in outdated phrases, displayed at once incredibly in-depth knowledge of advanced technology yet was fascinated by mundane objects and confused by social norms, not to mention his inexplicably high clearance, "invisible cell phone," and ability to seemingly appear and disappear at will, the mysterious Mr. Mayborne fit all the criteria for the classical Man in Black. In subversion of the more modern interpretation of the Men in Black, he was not only a willing and helpful part of the investigation, but was also instrumental in solving the case.
    • One episode of Castle had Rick Castle call in some help from a friend who at least played the part of being in the CIA, though whether he really was or not is only useful in figuring out whether the dead guy in the case Castle and Beckett are working on was actually in the CIA. The friend comes and goes into the wind, a la Batman, has to be very secretive about everything, and, in not so many words, tells Beckett and Castle, "I can tell you, but I might have to kill you."
      • Another episode has a MIB played by Lyle Lovett.
    • The Cleaners on Charmed exist for the sole purpose of preventing magic from being exposed to the world. When magic is exposed they will either rewind time, alter reality, erase memories or in extreme cases erase people from existence to keep magic a secret.
    • Kamen Rider Dragon Knight has the No Men, a sort of No Celebrities Were Harmed version of the Men in Black. They were attempting to capture the Kamen Riders (succeeding only with the main character, until he escaped) until they were able to determine who the real bad guys were.
    • Heroes: Primatech, for most of the series. Later on, the Department of Homeland Security gets in on the action.
    • The Sarah Jane Adventures Season 4 episode "The Vault of Secrets" features the return of the Alliance of Shades from the Doctor Who episode "Dreamland". While they used to collect evidence of aliens and erase memories, they are now mostly defunct and only guard the titular vault.
    • Doctor Who had a few sinister men in black from the fifties who make people disappear they're just regular, overwhelmed government agents who have no idea what to do about faceless "zombies" other than hide them and more recently the Slender-Men in black, who look like The Greys in suits; and they can make people disappear by zapping them into dust. They're called The Silence and they've always been here.
    • The main character of Dark Skies first joins, then goes on the run from an MIB-type organization (Majestic 12).
    • Fringe has an interesting variation in the form of The Observers, strange hairless men in black suits and hats, who exist outside of normal time, have been present at virtually every important historical event, and speak with an odd, stilted inflection. They subvert the usual behavior of the MIB in that their Blue and Orange Morality dictates absolute noninterference (except when fixing an earlier interference). As such, they try not to interact directly with people at all, do not employ Laser-Guided Amnesia, and make no attempt to cover anything up. They just...observe.
    • At the very end of Community episode "Epidemiology" they show up and roofie everyone so they'll forget the zombies.
    • Honey I Shrunk the Kids: The Series had a group of these. They were involved in all sorts of conspiracies, up to and including the meaning of the pyramid on the back of one dollar bills. They are themselves aliens, and are killed by the family by tricking them into eating shrunk care tires that expand to their original size shortly afterwards.
    • Being Human (UK): Appears to have 'men in grey' who work to keep the supernatural a secret.
    • In one episode of Bones, Hodgins calls in a false criminal report to ensure that a suspect, who is protected by Diplomatic Immunity, is detained at the airport long enough for the FBI to arrive. At the end of the episode, he is seen being led away by men in black suits for interrogation. Being Hodgins, he is ecstatic.


    • True to the sci-fi nature of their songs, Blue Oyster Cult has multiple instances of MIB in their songs. Most noticeably in the song Take Me Away as well as its music video.
      • The "Agents of Fortune" mentioned in E.T.I. (and possibly depicted on the album cover) are a possible example.
    • The Stranglers have a very paranoid release called "The Gospel According to the Men in Black"
    • Frank Black's "Men In Black"
    • Will Smith's theme songs to the films, "Men In Black" and "Nod Ya Head (Black Suits Coming)"
    • Running Wild ha song "Men in Black" (Masquerade album).
    • For a while in the summer/fall of 2010 Kanye West and his whole crew started using a smart tailored aesthetic that he called "Rosewood Movement", which had the side effect of making all of them look like Men in Black

    Tabletop Games

    • MIB were a common enemy in Mage: The Ascension. The faction they belonged to, the New World Order convention of the Technocracy, also included Men in Grey (infiltrators, who rarely actually wore grey suits) and Men in White (who acted as internal police). It is noted that this is just one of many guises they have used throughout the centuries.
    • New World of Darkness:
      • The nWoD has the Men in Black, mysterious entities from beyond who show up in pristine suits, don't quite act human, go by names like "Mr. Door" and "Agent Clock" and act to... neutralize any individual who's had an encounter with the supernatural.
      • In Hunter: The Vigil, the (human) Men in Black are officially designated Task Force: VALKYRIE.
      • There's another group, Division Six, that thinks it's the Men in Black, but they're actually being used as a hitman squad by the Seers of the Throne from Mage: The Awakening. Division Six is a direct reference and possible Shout-Out to Men in Black, referring to the cover story ("(Name of Agency), Division Six") most often used by the MIB agents in the movies and especially in the animated series.
    • The Company in GURPS Black Ops.
      • Also referenced directly in GURPS Illuminati, the Third Edition supplement about worlds based on conspiracy theory.
      • In GURPS Technomancer, "Mages in Black" are part of the general lore around Seelie sightings and abductions (which may or may not actually happen).
    • Delta Green in the Call of Cthulhu (tabletop game) RPG were the official Men in Black of the setting until a giant snafu in the Seventies that resulted in massive losses and the dismantling of the organization. Now it exists as a conspiracy within several government agencies, while their arch-rivals, the MAJESTIC conspiracy, have risen to the roost with an even less moral approach to skullduggery. At times the Delta Green setting gets positively crowded with sinister guys in sunglasses, all trying to intimidate each other.
    • The Imperial Inquisition of Warhammer 40,000 can be seen as an unusually well-developed version, which does seek to keep Imperial citizens as ignorant of Chaos (among other things) as possible, and they don't hesitate to silence those who have seen too much in a rather permanent fashion. Including entire planetary populations.
      • They don't exactly wear black, but they do have black spaceships.
    • Deadlands features The Agency (an offshoot of the Pinkerton Detectives) and the Texas Rangers, organizations used by the United States and Confederate States respectively. Publicly, they are national law enforcement agents. Less well known to the public is that the two groups are employed to spy on the other group's government, but this itself is a cover for their real activities as Men and Women In Black (literally in The Agency's case, the Rangers wear gray), investigating and suppressing knowledge of the weirdness inherent to the game's setting.
    • Teenagers From Outer Space has its Alien Control Officers, who are supposed to keep the chaos caused by alien students to a minimum. Since they're equipped with black suits, black sunglasses, excessive ultra-tech firepower, and "All the tactical sense of a pithed hamster", this rarely works.
    • Bureau 13 [1] - Released long before MIB or X-Files. Players create agents of the titular government bureau and hunt down the things that go bump in the night and keep their existance secret from the nation at large. A classic setting combining supernatural horror with a touch of tongue in cheek comedy, the long awaited d20 version came out at Gen Con in 2008.
    • Many conspiracies in Over the Edge use people fitting in the description as their Mooks, but the Movers are probably the most eponymous, having presence in pretty much every government.
    • Paranoia has the Men in Infrared, whose black clothes let them hide among regular Infrareds (low-level grunts making up something like 80% to 90% of the population).
    • Dungeons & Dragons has the Keepers; mysterious, unnerving, and inhuman aberrations clad in black. They appear human at first glance, but closer inspection reveals the truth - their flesh is livid and rubbery, their joints bend in any direction, and if one removes the goggles or masks they wear, it becomes apparent that they have no eyes. As the name implies, they keep secrets. They seek out beings who know them - any kind of secret will do, as long as it is important on a large scale (or pertains to the keepers themselves). Then they appear, demanding silence and enforcing it in a tried and true manner.
    • Project Ozma in Eclipse Phase. It's even Lampshaded that they essentially break the laws of physics in this setting, since it's essentially impossible to keep secrets buried this deep without someone exposing them, but Ozma does it anyway. (Firewall, the contrasting Secret Organization, is less concerned about keeping secrets as such and more about simply ensuring that nothing becomes an existential risk to what's left of humankind.)
    • In Age of Aquarius, the Institute is this. In the first edition, the standard campaign was playing as them; in the second edition, they are one of several playable organisations. Subverted in that they are mostly plainclothes agents, but their intents and purpose are exactly this trope.
    • Hollow Earth Expedition. In the Secrets of the Surface World supplement, the Paranormal Investigator archetype works for the FBI's Special Investigations Unit, He investigates and deals with supernatural events and things and covers up the truth from the general public. He even has a, Amnesia Ray device.


    Video Games

    • The otherwise nameless G Man from the Half-Life series. Not only is he Gordon Freeman's employer, but he is also his observer: Gordon occasionally glimpses him watching from a distance.
      • He takes on a more direct role in the expansion pack, Opposing Force, where he both helps and hinders Adrian Shephard and rearms a disarmed nuke meant to destroy Black Mesa.
      • According to himself, he has a fondness for people who know how to "survive".
    • The Elite Beat Agents from the Nintendo DS game of the same name are over-the-top caricatures of this trope. Unlike many other examples, the EBA are actually out to help people by literally channeling their dancing powers to help their targets succeed in their goals. Clad in sharp black suits, they seem to be vaguely part of some secret government organization and are lead by a guy named Commander Kahn.
      • Apparently, the MIB aesthetic was selected for its similarity to the stern, black-clad male cheerleaders used in the Japanese game Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan (of which Elite Beat Agents is an Americanized adaptation of), as well as the lead developer's love of The Blues Brothers.
    • City of Heroes gives your character a "Man In Black" or "Woman In Black" badge for defeating 200 Shivans, enemies that are a combination of alien goo and human corpses that spawned from meteors. There is also the Crey faction (a mega-corporation), which has people in the same familiar attire and are assumed to have the roles of infiltrating and bullying other companies. And while the actual attire isn't in the MIB style, the Malta group has mostly the same role of silencing and subverting the general populace.
    • Men in Black and Women in Black are semi-common enemies in the video game Deus Ex. These individuals were Series P augmented agents (Physiopharmaceutical?) whose modifications had rendered them albino. To quote the game, "so far the simple addition of sunglasses and dark clothing appear to have resolved the matter in a practical fashion." Deus Ex was very fond of using tropes and memes to enforce Genre Blindness on the population in the game—it's remarkably easy to scoff at the idea of an MIB, whereas a towering albino with an automatic shotgun is so far off the conspiracy radar that people might actually start listening.
      • The game also used the conspiracy insistence than Men in Black had "electronic sounding voices".
      • Deus Ex Human Revolution has more "conventional" Men in Black seen mostly in sidequests: agents of the conspiracy dressed in black suits with common sounding names as aliases (one of them slips up and almost says Hugh Darrow's real name before switching back to "Mr. Grey").
    • One level of Psychonauts, "The Milkman Conspiracy", is infested with shady-looking "G-Men" wearing flimsy disguises consisting of a single prop and unconvincing acting (Raz can use this to his advantage: "I am on the road crew. This is my stop sign.") If they catch Raz trespassing in their territory, they drag him off to a dark room and ask him prying questions like "Who are you working for?", "What is the purpose of the goggles?", and "Who is the Milkman?" before unceremoniously dumping him back where he started.
    • In Max Payne, the Big Bad's mooks all dress in fashionable business suits and shades, and are referred to by title only in the game's credits, which name them the 'Killer Suits'.
    • Final Fantasy VII has the Turks. Well, most of them fit the bill, except they use dark blue suits with zippers, and only Rude is obsessed with the sunglasses. Tseng, Elena and Cissnei doesn't use any and Reno settles for goggles. Reno and Rude are popular for being Punch Clock Villains, and it is implied that the others are mostly the same.
    • The online Flash RPG Adventure Quest has N.O.V.A. (The Network of Vesparian Agents) that work for the Devourer Uncreator The'Galin.
    • The Destroy All Humans! series of games about an alien invasion of Earth naturally feature these as enemies. In the first game, they belong to a secret US government organization known as Project MAJESTIC.
    • There is even one in Mega Man Battle Network, however this one doesn't wear all black. Instead he wears a black undershirt with a red vest on top of it. He appears three times over the course of the series, first in the first game where he is in ACDC Town on offical government business investigating WWW, when Lan messes in his undercover work, and then in the fifth game where he is tasked with the creation of a task force to stop Dr. Regal's evil plans.
      • This actually carries over to the task force as since they are under his leadership, they become Men in Black too. It also appears in the cartoon also as Lan and Chaud both become Men in Black in the second season.
      • You mean... Chaud, as in The Rival Chaud? He's in every single game in the series at one point or another, with the exception of the Team Colonel version of 5, where ProtoMan appears only briefly. I always considered Famous more of an MIB type anyway, white coat notwithstanding. He's far more mysterious. Heck, since you can use ProtoMan in 5 and gain his Soul Unison in both 4 and 5, he's practically a main character. We don't even know what Famous actually does.
        • We know at least part of what he does. In 2 and in 4, he stated that he's in charge of training people to Netbattle. Which makes sense, as he has a different navi every game, and in 4 implied he has dozens.
    • Streets of Rage 3 has some, in the Japanese version they are named after metals (Silver, Gold, etc) and in the US release, have strange "Scottish" style names such as "Macleod." Of course, they are mooks, so they're all trying to kill you.
    • Evil Genius. The Investigator/Agent mooks from PATRIOT come without shades and in suits of various colors, but otherwise conforming to the MIB template. SABRE's equivalent MIGs may also count. The other defense organizations stick to a more military garb.
    • Superball in Telltale Games's Sam and Max series, the doorman of choice for shady organisations. In Chariot of the Dogs he is a classical, UFO-denying MIB, complete with weather-ballon quips and the ability to cause Laser-Guided Amnesia.
    • Men in Black show up in one mission of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Their lines seem to imply that they're the aliens: "Carbon-based buffon!" and "You evolved from shrews!".
    • The ultra-rich Ijuin family of the Tokimeki Memorial series has an army of MIB, ready to obey to their every wishes. But this being Tokimeki Memorial, they're always used for Hilarity Ensues purposes.
    • In Alpha Protocol, the agents in the CIA post in Rome wear outfits similar to the traditional MIB garb, though they're not actively hostile to Mike (except that he's intruding in their listening post). Also, there are Conrad Marburg's agents, Deus Vult, who often sport the sunglasses-and-suits look, though some of them prefer dark T-shirts and combat fatigues instead. The goggle-and-jumpsuit-clad G22 agents most accurately fit the role of MIB, but not the outfit.
    • Pokémon Black and White has Men in Black standing around the Unova reigion, their existence is unexplained, but they do give you items.
    • The gunmen type enemies in Streets of Rage 3 are all men in a black suit and tie with sunglasses and they use a gun as their main attack. They will also punch and throw you if you get too close to them.
    • Genya Arikado from the Castlevania series. He's got the suit, personality, and he belongs to a secret Japanese government agency that deals with the paranormal.
    • Escape From St Marys lets a couple men in black loose in a private school to hunt down an alien.
    • The Thin Men of X-COM: Enemy Unknown are alien infiltrators who look like this, in a The Slender Man Mythos sort of way.

    Web Animation

    • Zigzagged with the D.H.O.R.K.S. in Helluva Boss. They look the part, being a government agency whose members all wear black suits and sunglasses and deal with supernatural beings, but their goals seem to be the opposite of most examples of this Trope, as they want to expose evidence of the existence of such beings, not hide it.

    Web Comics

    • In El Goonish Shive Mr. Verres, Tedd's Dad, is a high ranking offical in a similar organization.
      • Eventually, a bit of (relative) realism was injected into the situation, after Mr. Verres became personally involved, and nearly killed a wizard who was attacking his niece:

    Director: Edward, your supernatural and extraterrestrial connections make you invaluable, but I have suspected for a while now that you have too much of a personal connection to much of what happens around here. Your loss of control today confirms it. As of this moment, you are no longer head of the paranormal division, and will not take part in investigations.
    Mr. Verres: You're firing me?!
    Director: Oh no, nothing of the sort. You have too may important friends who would raise hell, myself included. No, I'm doing the best thing I can do for everyone, Ed. I'm promoting you to head of Paranormal Diplomacy.
    Mr. Verres: There is no such position.
    Director: There is now.

    • The Walkyverse has exactly one MIB. He's an agent and an alien in disguise.
    • MIB Agent Turing has appeared twice in Questionable Content starting here and later here.
    • The main characters of Exterminatus Now are part of the Mobian Inquisition, though most Inquisitors prefer black trenchcoats to suits (and Eastwood recently switched to a brown one). Once they had to correct a drunken Conspiracy Theorist.
    • In Elf Blood, King, the leader of the secretive paramilitary government-sanctioned magitek-wielding unethically-experimenting Council, naturally favours a dark grey suit and a dark burgundy tie.
    • All the members of Trying Human's Majestic 12 fit very well, following the dress code (except for 3, who wears a white suit) and being an organization totally dedicated to dealing with alien activity on Earth. Unlike most examples of this trope, a good number of Majic agents are female.
    • The unnamed agency in charge of dealing with aliens in Alien Dice seems to have relaxed the dress code and is actually pretty reasonable, especially compared to one of the author's other series...
    • The Cyantian Chronicles, whose AMIB aggressively hunts down any aliens, humans modified by captured alien tech, and humans who've met aliens. Made even worse by the fact that the Cyantians actually want to help humanity. Fortunately some other countries' versions of the MIB are suggested to be more reasonable, particularly the JMIB with whom the Cyantians are preparing for formal First Contact.
    • Such a group is said to exist in Wapsi Square although they have never been seen, only talked about. They seem to be very reasonable, although they seem to have let the protagonists deal with most of the supernatural problems.
    • In Sinfest, Slick faces one.

    Web Original

    • The SCP Foundation. Its documents even specifically mention using a "standard 'Man in Black' concealment pattern" to retrieve SCPs from the UIU.
    • The Protectors of the Plot Continuum wear black uniforms and use neuralyzers (or Obliviate spells, or memory-erasing drugs, or...) to make canon characters forget that bad fan fiction ever happened. Oh, and they often assassinate Mary Sues, too.
    • In the Whateley Universe, these are likely to be members of the Mutant Commission Office, whose international task is to monitor mutants and be prepared to handle mutant threats. Since the protagonists are all mutants at the Super-Hero School Whateley Academy, this is not a good thing.
    • Anonymous likes to present itself as a Man In Black with no Man inside the suit. Because they don't exist.
      • They have question sign in place of head. It leads to different intepretation - they exists, but you do not know who is Anonymous.
    • Slender Man.

    Western Animation

    • Johnny Test spoofs this: a pair of bumbling Men in Black are recurring characters who constantly fail to save the day.
    • The Kim Possible episode "Rufus vs. Commodore Puddles" centers around Area 51. Kim's ride for the mission are a pair of Men in Black named "Agent Smith" and "Agent Smith". Kim's usual formulaic response to their "don't mention it" line, to humbly recount how simple it was to help them in the past, is interrupted by, "No, really! Don't mention it."
    • Ben 10 has the Plumbers, a secret organization to which the hero's grandfather used to belong--"used to" because in the series, we're told that the agency was shut down years ago. The sequel series Retconned that they're a still-active intergalactic police force.
    • Danny Phantom has the Guys in White, top-secret ghost hunters who work for the government.
      • What do you mean, top secret? Everyone knows about them because they won't shut up about it!
    • The Transformers mythos has several different takes on the concept in various segments of the mythos, as befits a franchise that often has an Alien Among Us story.
      • Sector Seven from the live-action movie and associated side-stories. We could tell you more, but A, that would be spoilers and B, we'd have to kill you. This site has no budget, and assassins are expensive. Save us the trouble.
      • Colonel Franklin, from Transformers Cybertron, and his people seem like bad guys at first, but Franklin turns out to be a good guy at heart. The reason he was so eagerly looking for the Transformers? When Colonel Franklin was just a young boy, a mysterious and otherworldly figure saved his life. That figure, it turns out, is none other than the Autobot hero Evac, and their reunion goes pretty nicely.
    • Code Lyoko also has its Men In Black, seen mostly in flashbacks relative to Franz Hopper and Project Carthage. Two secret agents appears in episode "False Lead" but don't seem to linked to the other MIB. Parodied when they confess that they are so secret, even the president don't know they exist, and they are not so sure who they are working for. But school directors are allowed to know what even the president must not.
    • The Fairly OddParents has MERF, the Military Extraterrestrial Response Force, whose purpose it to protect Earth from otherwordly threats. Considering that Adults Are Useless on this show, you can guess how well that works out.
    • Jackie Chan Adventures has Section 13, and while they are outclassed by the magic Jackie usually fights, they are good at transportation, are very good against technology-based threats, and have been known to slow the bad guys down long enough for Jackie and Co. to conjure up the spell needed to win. They are a very rare heroic example.
    • Venture Brothers has Cardholder and Doe, a pair of "exterminators" sent by [OSI] to deal with Jonas Jr.'s "butterfly problem". Another episode has an entire squad of Men in Black being ominously briefed for a mission, that turns out to be working security for Dr. Venture's yard sale.
    • The Doctor Who animation "Dreamland", set in Area 51, introduces Men In Black early on. They eventually turn out to be robotic agents of the Alliance of Shades, named Mr. Dread, Mr. Fear, Mr. Terror and Mr. Apprehension.
    • The S.U.M.A. (Shut Up and Move Along) agents from the Class of 3000 episode "Brotha from the Third Rock". Competence optional.

    Real Life

    • Based on the secretive government agents of the Cold War era, following the President's every footstep and whispering coded security updates at every turn.
    • J. Edgar Hoover revamped the popular image of law enforcement from a corrupt, overweight, bumbling brute wielding a blood-spattered nightstick to a handsome, tommy gun-toting, college-educated nemesis of America's Public Enemy No. 1. This public relations campaign gave rise to the "G-man" as a forerunner to the MIB — see the Film section above.
    • Apparently, the standard MIB get-up has become something of an Ascended Meme where the Secret Service and similar government agents are concerned.
    • In the British civil service they have been known as "Migs", Men in Grey Suits, for at least 40 years. Also known as "boxers" as according to the mythology the only address they give for their department is always a PO box. Box 500 and Box 850 are the most well known.
    • Part of the culture of 'Geek Squad' is a parody on this. Employees refer to themselves as 'Agent [last name or sometimes first name]', wear a uniform designed to be a nerdy version of a secret service agent's uniform, and are often portrayed as being 'super cereal' about what they're doing in both commercials and training videos. Of course, many tech illiterate people find some agents to be overbearing, dressed to kill, speaking an incomprehensible code language to mask the simplicity of their operations, and specially trained by experts to deal in matters too arcane for the normal mind to comprehend, so the parody practically writes itself.
    • Similarly, Steve Jackson Games' volunteer representatives are called the Men in Black (as part of the company's tongue-in-cheek infatuation with conspiracy and Illuminati mythoi). Individual MIB are identified by number, and a black T-shirt which reads "Man In Black - You Don't See Me" is available to them. (For Bonus Points, the first generation of these T-shirts back in the 1990s had black lettering.)
    • The Securitate was Romania's attempt at The Men in Black during the communist era. This is more of a subversion though, since most of them were nothing more that common street muscle and bar thugs, dressed in black suits.
    • The term is also used tongue-in-cheek to refer to "Revenue Protection Officers" on UK railways, the people who check tickets and issue fines for evasion. They are almost universally seen in pairs, wearing long black coats (more following the "bouncer" image than a Man in Black proper) and acting like the High Lords of the Universe.
    • Actually used by the modern Secret Service because of this trope. Although some suspect the Highly Visible Secret Service Agent is just a decoy for plainclothes agents.
    • In 1943 an American ship in a harbor was hit. The local hospital was flooded with casualties with symptoms no one recognized. While the hospital staff was working a couple of men in black walked in, swore the staff to secrecy, and told them that the ship that had been hit had contained a large supply of Mustard Gas that had been shipped to the front, "just in case". Then The Men in Black walked out.
    • The OSS was largely recruited from Ivy League students. There were(of course) accusations of Nepotism, and it is not unreasonable to assume such did happen. However the reason given was that these were people who had traveled and had experience with foreign language and customs. Also(in neutral countries at least)they might give a reasonable explanation for traveling besides, "I am a culturally clumsy American running around town talking with odd people, and looking at interesting things that by chance someone doesn't want looked at; and I am totally not a spy." Naturally they could afford good clothes which of course included black evening dress.

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    1. Release in 1983, written by Nick Pollotta of Tri Tac Games.