31

I'd be interested in a number (or at least an estimate) of how many field agents Men In Black (MIB) agency has.

I'm specifically referring to field agents, as opposed to guys on cleanup crews/headquarters workers/lab guys etc...

This can be something from an in-universe source (movies, comics, cartoons), or official out-of-universe source (DVD commentary, interviews etc...) or a detailed well reasoned logical estimate (in the vein of the recent answers about crew size of SG1 spaceships or # of people who know about StarGate).

To aid in the latter type of estimate, one possibly helpful fact is the quote from the movie:

At any given time there are approximately 1500 aliens on the planet

For the purposes of estimates, I am OK with only counting people based in NYC office if your starting data involves logistical data/details from NYC headquarters building (e.g. size of locker room, armory details etc...).


One of the possible answers may be "25" - based on the agent naming convention (A-Z, with Z of course taken up by no-longer-an-agent agency boss Zed). But realistically speaking, I don't see how that'd be even remotely enough to deal with 1500 aliens PLUS uncountable "happening every day" threats/emergencies. If you can show why the latter "too little" objection can be overcome, feel free to run away with 31 as the basis for your answer.


The impetus for the question is Xantec's answer which posed the limited amount of available agents as possible reason for Agent J being chosen as a senior partner in the pair of agents at the end of MIB1 despite being a rookie.

  • 1
    1. Why 31? There are 26 letters in the English alphabet. 2. If comparing it to police per capita statistics, 25 agents could cover the 1500 aliens. – HuBeZa Apr 13 '11 at 11:42
  • @hubeza - I believe the official medial term is brain hiccup (mixed up 2 alphabets :) DUH. Fixed - thanks! Re: #2, please add it as an answer - it is the kind of thing I was looking for. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 13 '11 at 13:39
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    I can't think about naming people after letters without thinking of The 21 Balloons and its discussion of the problem of naming someone U. – Martha F. Apr 16 '11 at 15:04
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    @Martha: Are you, R, U & I, going to see C? – HuBeZa Apr 17 '11 at 6:39
21

My comment rephrased as an answer, as requested:

I can't tell exactly how many MiB field agents there are, but, as you said, if MiB stick to the alphabet aliases policy, they can have up to 25 agents at a time + 1 Zed boss.

The movie states that they have around 1500 aliens on the planet at a given time, which means (at best) 1 agent per 60 aliens. It's a reasonable ratio, especially when comparing it to police per capita statistics, that stand at 1 cop per ~125-2700 civilians (with an avg of 1 to 333) - and I think that's including all type of police assignments.

Unlike the local police force, the MiB agents have to cover a huge territory, and that's when their awesome hover car comes in handy.

  • re: territory, that's certainly true - the start of MIB has K and his partner somewhere near Mexican border. Waaaaay off from NYC :) +1 for plausible approach – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 13 '11 at 16:02
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    I gotta assume there's more bosses - 1 to 25 is waaaay too flat, especially if you consider that Zed manages ENTIRE MIB, which has a lot more personnel than just agents. But it's possible that Zed only retained the letter moniker as a historical/special exception and the rest of personnel lose their 1-letter IDs when promoted from agent to desk jokey. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 13 '11 at 16:05
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    @DVK, every couple of agents are actually a team, with the senior being the team leader. So we have room for 12 teams and one MiB Ninja that operates alone of curse. Besides, MiB is a very efficient organization. Chain of command lead to too many paperwork and boring and useless meetings. Read some Dilbert comics if you don't believe me. – HuBeZa Apr 13 '11 at 16:18
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    I live in Dilbert universe :) But based on mass-media view of police, it seems they have just as much paperwork and meetings. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Apr 13 '11 at 16:33
  • @DVK more actually. Less than 10% of police staff do actual police work, and that only for less than 10% of the time :( – jwenting Apr 19 '11 at 7:25
4

Based on the third movie,

which features an agent AA in an alternate timeline, there may be up to 52 including the boss. However, the movie also indicates that letters are retired when the agents die in service, as both Zed and K (the latter in the alternate timeline) appear to be retired after they die. This is especially apparent in the case of K being dead, with responses like "K died 40 years ago," and "Who's K?" indicating that letters are not reused.

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    How are you getting the 52? I'm guessing you're just allowing single characters and "A" followed by another character. I haven't seen the third movie but if they're allowed to have two characters you can get a lot more than 52. – Dason Jun 16 '12 at 19:23
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    I would assume trekkie was assuming the additional agents would be AA, BB, CC, DD...not AA, AB, AC.. – Oldcat Jul 3 '14 at 22:12
  • α, β, γ, δ, etc… – o0'. Jun 20 '15 at 19:29

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