This government regularly saves the world from megalomaniacal super villains bent on world domination. They accomplish this through a specific branch of agents that specialize in taking on this level of criminal. These agents use numbers to identify themselves and pseudonyms to keep there true identities secret. These agents have been operating since the 1960s, and have an unrestrained licence to kill in the name of defending the government.

The individual who adopts the number and pseudonym changes when their predecessor retires or is killed on mission. They are required to perform their duties while adopting the same habits expected of their position set in place by the first of their number:

  1. They are mandated to use a specific kind of gun, the Walter PPK

  2. When on mission in an establishment serving alcohol, they can only order a dry martini, stirred not shaken.

  3. They must be womanizers who sleep with any woman they come across and leave behind kids that they take no responsibility for.

  4. When meeting someone for the first time, they absolutely must introduce themselves with their last name, then their full name.

Every agent that has adopted this role has fulfilled it with the upmost satisfaction. However, after 50 years of this, problems are bound to develop. Using the same false identity and code number will likely get that person recognized, undermining the purpose of being a secret agent. Although the individual has changed, they would still tip off the person who they are hunting, leafing to their capture and death, or at the very least, force that supervillian to go further underground.

The agent needs to perform his duties while on mission, and retain the very same habits and style of his predeccessors. How can I make this happen?

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    $\begingroup$ "stirred not shaken" - if that's not a typo, it considerably complicates things... $\endgroup$ – Alexander Jun 27 '19 at 23:37
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    $\begingroup$ You want them to be both conspicuous and inconspicuous. Can't be both. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Jun 28 '19 at 0:11
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    $\begingroup$ As a white-cat-petting villain, I usually find it fairly easy to spot the agents. However, my downfall usually occurs when I leave the agent's unnecessary and elaborate murder to incompetent or unlucky underlings. I really need a better misdirection plan...and human resources chief...and operations chief. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Jun 28 '19 at 14:57

I think the classic reasoning behind the situation you describe is that the person is supposed to be conspicuous. Their job is a "secret" only in the sense of "plausible deniability".

There are a few reasons you might want to have an obvious, known, secret agent with a track record of bringing down massively powerful antagonists to the state:

  • They serve as discouragement to people who would like to antagonize the state, and feel like they might be powerful enough to get away with it.
  • They serve as reassurance to powerful (wealthy) people who are unsure whether they should invest in the state's status quo or not.
  • They serve as a distraction from actual secret agents, who can't afford to get shot at while exfiltrating the evil warlord's financial records.
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    $\begingroup$ These agents act as camouflage for the actual competent spies? Suddenly Johnny English makes sense! $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jun 28 '19 at 16:42

I know the stereotype here is James Bond, but as it happens, there's a second very notable secret agent who fought actual megalomaniacs which was three different people using the same code name. I am referring to Tanya of the Red Alert franchise, who is the American commando in all three games, and a different person each time. The popular fan theory is that the position is just called 'Tanya' as a code name for the anti-Russian commando.

The answer to your question is that your concept works very well for a spy which isn't actually a spy. Someone like Tanya, for instance, or the type of spy that does no undercover work and just leaps from exploding buildings, has shootouts with evil-accented villains, and has slept with every woman/man within a thirty mile radius. A romanticized spy, like James Bond, who is not really a spy, and is more of a commando, or the main cast from Mission Impossible. (The movies, not the old show.)

On the other hand, these rules will kill the spy well before your fifty-year limit. Probably on the third mission. If someone undercover is known for ordering a dry martini, shaken not stirred, that's all it takes for him to blow his cover. The best way to be undercover is to have no discernible habits. Spies train to break their habits, because those get you killed. The best spy, as they say, is one you've never heard of.

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    $\begingroup$ Of course Ian Fleming was the founder of 30 Assault Unit during WW2 who were commandos more than spies. $\endgroup$ – Sarriesfan Jun 30 '19 at 1:58

I imagine that the agents would retain two or more homophone identities, that is there is James Blonde, the secret agent, and there is James Blonde, the IT professional with a passion for Cosplay and dystopian graphic novels.

The geeky IT professional is socially transparent, and his or her entire life is viewable on social media sites as a series of argumentative posts that Prince Namor is not a rip off of Aquaman, but an original and nuanced character in the Marvel Universe. This is the day to day identity for the agent, hiding in plain sight. A change in wardrobe, gait, and hairpieces -- namely male pattern baldness wigs -- and nearly anyone with the approximate build can take their place. Admittedly it is challenging when the rare numbered agent survives to die of old age, in which case a son or grandchild takes on the role.

On missions, the suave and debonair persona emerges and goes about seducing anything with tits, even if the true person is trans or gay. It doesn't matter, they are committed to the role as much as they are to king and country -- or queen and country as the time period may require. I've heard tell that numbered agents train at the Shakespeare's Globe Theater for years to learn the craft of acting before they get their first lesson in Judo or Savate.

Anyway, when duty calls the mild manner secret identity gets the flu or a disturbance of the bowels caused by eating gas station Sushi, which they share in minute detail with their social circle, but in fact they dosh the Khaki's and don the Pierre Jordan suits with cashmere underwear and baby seal fur socks. This work because of 90% of the people that witness anything spectacular end of dying in the crossfire or sleeping with the agent. In the case of the latter, the numbered agents are experts in somatic reprogramming and subtly manipulate the subject's memory to make the numbered agent even more mysterious, good looking, and taller. Then the agent is free to return to their mild manner identity.


Many other people use the same alias.

If I check into a hotel under "John Doe" the woman at the counter might smile and say "I've heard of you, Mr Doe." To which I reply "I get that a lot." With a sly smile, of course, because I am that Mr Doe.

The alias of these agents is more like "John Doe" than "Mark Wyzowski". It is an alias which a lot of people might use and so not useful for identifying anyone in particular. It is understood to be an alias by anyone who comes in contact with it. There are any number of reasons a person might wish to use a pseudonym. If nefarious types become aware that "John Doe" has checked into a hotel in their city, it might be the agent, or it might be a Lebanese jewel merchant, or some dude with many debts, or it might be Mr Wyzowski and his mistress. You can't check every single time.

The code number is a different matter. That is for internal use only.


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