Celebrating Women Special Agents

Part 4: Who Said It? Pop Culture’s Take on Women Special Agents

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, stars of The X-Files television show, which featured agents investigating paranormal phenomenon. Courtesy of the Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

A scene from The X-Files, which featured agents investigating paranormal phenomenon. Hint: the female agent pictured here said one of the quotes below.

08/28/12

1. “I am in a dress, I have gel in my hair, I haven’t slept all night, I’m starved, and I’m armed! Don’t mess with me!”

2. “You see a lot, doctor. But are you strong enough to point that high-powered perception at yourself? What about it? Why don’t you—why don’t you look at yourself and write down what you see? Or maybe you’re afraid to.”
 
3. “He was kinda of cute...for a sociopath.”

4. “Hey, you think it’s easy being surrounded by guys with guns all day?”
Male agent: “I thought you liked guys with guns.”
“I like the guns.”

5. “What are you doing here?”
Male scientist: “We’re trying to plug a hole in the universe. What are you doing here?”
“Apparently the same thing.”

6. “Sometimes looking for extreme possibilities makes you blind to the probable explanation right in front of you.”

7. “Journalist William D. Tammeus wrote: You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around and why his parents will always wave back.”

8. “A cup of tea, a German-English dictionary, and I’ll have it translated in a day or two.”

It took a while for Hollywood and television to notice that FBI women special agents had come on the scene in 1972—and to think how they might work into old and new storylines. At first, in the early 1990s, the focus was on training and new agents…and on comedy—women trying by hook or by crook to make it in a man’s profession. Now you find our women agents portrayed in a variety of decisive roles in team environments—trying to locate missing persons, analyzing evidence, analyzing the criminal mind, and, of course, investigating paranormal activity and worldwide conspiracies. We think it’s just a matter of time before women agents are cast as the operational leaders they are in real life.

Resources:
- Part 1: May 12, 1972,  A New Chapter is Opened
- Part 2: July 17, 1972, Two Women Blaze a Trail
- Part 3: Early Pioneers Tell Their Stories


Key to the Quiz

1. “I am in a dress, I have gel in my hair, I haven’t slept all night, I’m starved, and I’m armed! Don’t mess with me!”

Special Agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) is an FBI agent in Miss Congeniality (2000) who isn’t entirely happy about going undercover in the Miss United States beauty pageant to prevent a group from bombing the event.

2. “You see a lot, doctor. But are you strong enough to point that high-powered perception at yourself? What about it? Why don’t you—why don’t you look at yourself and write down what you see? Or maybe you’re afraid to.”

Special Agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), fresh out of new agent training, verbally spars with the perfidious Hannibal Lecter in the 1991 film Silence of the Lambs.

3. “He was kinda of cute...for a sociopath.”

New Agent Janis Zuckerman (Mary Gross) teams with Ellie DeWitt (Rebecca De Mornay) in FEDS (1988) to try to get through the hazing and hazards of FBI new agent training.

4. “Hey, you think it’s easy being surrounded by guys with guns all day?”
Male agent: “I thought you liked guys with guns.”
“I like the guns.”

Special Agent Samantha “Sam” Spade (Poppy Montgomery) works on a fictional Missing Persons Squad in New York City in the television series Without a Trace, which ran from 2002 to 2009.

5. “What are you doing here?”
Male scientist: “We’re trying to plug a hole in the universe. What are you doing here?”
“Apparently the same thing.”

In a series with parallel universes, Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) is part of a multi-agency task force investigating strange crimes with the help of an institutionalized scientist in Fringe: There’s More Than One of Everything (2009).

6. “Sometimes looking for extreme possibilities makes you blind to the probable explanation right in front of you.”

Special Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) waxes philosophical with her partner Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) in the television science fiction drama The X-Files, which ran from 1993 to 2002.

7. “Journalist William D. Tammeus wrote: You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around and why his parents will always wave back.”

In Criminal Minds: Cradle to Grave (2009), Special Agent Jennifer “JJ” Jareau gives her signature voiceover to an episode featuring the fictional casework of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

8. “A cup of tea, a German-English dictionary, and I’ll have it translated in a day or two.”

Special Agent Diana Barrigan (Marsha Thomason) sets Peter Burke straight in the “Deadline” episode of White Collar (2009).