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File:SOE copy 5405.jpg

SOE training in Carve Her Name with Pride


Homer: Marge, I think that guy's a spy!
Marge: Of course he's a spy! We just saw him go through spy school!

The Simpsons, "Colonel Homer"

Pretty much any training program for spies, assassins and related Cloak and Dagger types. The primary purpose is to train new spies, but some spy schools might also include further training for experienced agents. Sometimes an experienced agent might retire from the career and become a trainer, or might be invited to be a guest lecturer from time to time.

Most spy schools are for adults, although there is a growing genre of series like CHERUB and Spy High that depict schools with university age, teenage or even preteen students. Such schools may be the origin of the Teen Superspy.

The exact training program varies greatly, but most include a wide variety of espionage, commando and generally unconventional dirty trick training. Some are Mildly Military, and many programs emphasis martial arts and weapons training to equip their agents to be an Action Hero. However, most give foremost importance to the ability to think outside the box, interact with people, and be a well-rounded Guile Hero. The school might have classes oriented toward being a Master of Disguise and a Cunning Linguist.

Examples of Spy School include:

Fan Works

  • In Red Witch's Galaxy Rangers Fanfic Sins of the Father, Miss Abercrombie's Charm and Finishing School looks like a snobbish prep school, but is really a covert training academy for espionage agents from Earth's wealthiest and most well-placed families. The other three Rangers are surprised to find their team's Badass Normal had initially been assigned as The Mole, but screwed over his bosses to side with them.
  • In The Teraverse, the Shared World universe first seen in The Secret Return of Alex Mack, there are a number of these training James Bond-level agents for the Shadow War that runs on a higher level than the usual back-and-forth of international espionage. Among them are the UK's Harworts school (a non-magical Alternate Dimension version of Hogwarts) and the United States' Culpepper Academy.


  • D.E.B.S.: The heroes attend a secret academy for the title organization, a government agency.
  • Get Smart: CONTROL had a training school.
  • Carry On Spying was set, at least initially, in a spy school.
  • Carve Her Name with Pride is a movie about a female SOE agent being trained and deployed.


  • Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women in I'd Tell You I Love You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You.
  • CHERUB Campus is the training ground of the Teen Superspy James Adams in Robert Muchamore's books.
  • There is a grotesque scene, of the protagonists walking through a Medieval spy training camp, in one of Andrzej Sapkowski's non-Witcher novels. Among the highlights are propaganda shills HONING THEIR VOICES, and an old spy teaching young ones what to do if you're uncovered. Cry that the Jews have poisoned the wells and leave when everyone's gone to do some pogrom.
  • Novgorod from the The Bourne Series.
  • The temple of the Many-Faced God in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.
  • Large part of Viktor Suvorov's novel 'Aquarium' (and subsequent Polish-Russian TV miniseries) focuses on training of new GRU operatives in the secret facilities. Also counts as a Real Life example.
  • One of the B-plots from Tom Clancy's Executive Orders has veteran field agent (and resident paramilitary Badass spook extraordinare) John Clark training a new batch of agents at The Farm.
  • The Alien Investigation and Removal Agency school in Gena Showalter's Red Handed.
  • A large part of the Star Trek Expanded Universe novel A Stitch in Time is about Garak remembering his days in an elite school for future government officials, military officers, and Obsidian Order operatives. Guess which one he becomes, considering his father is the head of the Order. Much of the curriculum involves infiltration and hiding.
  • Played with in the Belisarius Series. There is no spy school as such. However the Badass Princess was trained by her body-guard and tutor in Indian, Ninja-like martial arts.

Live Action TV

  • Alias: In the backstory, Sydney went to a training school run by the SD-6.
  • I Spy: The Department has a training school on a military base in the San Francisco Bay Area, featured in the episodes "Anyplace I Hang Myself Is Home" and "Tag, You're It".
  • Marcie Ross from the early Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" gets sent to one of these by The Men in Black after she turns invisible and goes Axe Crazy.
  • Parodied on Friends. When Sean Penn's character realizes he has been deceived: "There's no such thing as the top secret school for the children of spies!"
  • The Sandbaggers are trained at the "Field School."
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. went to the "Survival School."
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Joel once claimed that all spies attend a special spy school, where they learn (among other things) post-kill puns.
  • Covert Affairs starts with the female protagonist being transferred from the training center known only as the Farm to the CIA earlier than her peers thanks to her linguistic skills. In another episode, she meets an experienced foreign operative who quickly figures out that she's too young and inexperienced to have completed full training and also deduces her skill in languages.
  • Churchill's Secret Agents: The New Recruits is a reality miniseries based on putting contestants through a condensed version of the SOE training course. While some of the stuff involved looks boy scoutish (mind you, the Scouts were founded by a former spy), others are intimidating and the interrogation drill looks brutal (though probably less so than the original training would have been). One key difference is the safety measures that have to be taken when recreating potentially lethal training methods. For instance, "The Ladder" (climbing three non-connected ladders on a cliff of insanity, forcing them to change ladders twice), is done with safety harnesses — a luxury the original trainees were not afforded.

Video Games

  • In Assassin's Creed II, Desmond uses the Animus machine to relive his ancestor Ezio's training to be an assassin, and learn the same techniques himself through the "bleeding effect". Ezio, in turn, is trained in swordfighting by his uncle, inconspicuous travel from the courtesans, etc.
    • It is stated that Desmond himself grew up in such a place and it was the training/lifestyle that caused him to leave in the first place (leading to the Templars finding him in the first game).
    • Assassins Creed: Revelations has Desmond relive some of his childhood memories at the Farm.

Tabletop Games

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • American Dad: Haley was shown to have been sent to a spy training school in her younger years. It is also implied that Steve was also in one.

Real Life