Since the dawn of the Cold War, spies and comedy have gone hand-in-hand -- probably to ease the tension of knowing there are people out there looking to destroy your way of life -- and television has developed a long tradition of wacky spy shows. Currently in its fourth season, Chuck is a shining example of the genre, making great use of famous TV and movie spies in guest roles, and the animated Archer takes the James Bond type down a new, hilarious road. But the newest comedic spy series on TV is Chaos, about a team of misfit CIA agents who fight their superiors and departmental bureaucracy as much as they fight terrorists, and so far it looks like it splits the difference pretty evenly between comedy and action. While some series are funnier than others -- both intentionally and unintentionally -- these are some of our favorites from the genre.
Get Smart (1965-70)
The quintessential spy comedy, Get Smart was created by Mel Brooks, and took the world of James Bond to an even more ludicrous extreme. It also pitted bumbling Agent 86 against the evil forces of KAOS -- we're assuming Chaos isn't trying to make a reference to the show, but it would be pretty neat if it was. While the movie adaptation left a little to be desired, we can at least be thankful that the 1995 Andy Dick TV reboot never took off.
Jack of All Trades (2000)
In this period comedy, Bruce Campbell played American secret agent Jack Stiles, keeping on eye on international movers and shakers on the island of Pulau-Pulau and occasionally disguising himself as the hero The Daring Dragoon. Campbell brings a little bit of his cocky-spy persona to Burn Notice, where he currently plays an ex-CIA spook in Miami. No superhero alter-ego, though.
Danger Mouse (1981-92)
You know Danger Mouse means business because he wears an eyepatch. With a hamster sidekick, a flying sportscar and a Blofeld-esque frog nemesis (Silas Greenback), he was a rodent James Bond, and his missions satirized pop culture as well as politics. It also satirized the show's small animation budget, as some scenes took place in the dark, or at the North Pole. Why has this show not been remade yet?
While mostly a serious spy series, this J.J. Abrams-created show's gravitas was balanced by tech geek/comic relief Marshall Flinkman, who regularly helped Jennifer Garner's Sydney Bristow with her missions. Also, there were a lot of fluorescent-colored wigs and tacky Eurotrash disguises.
This Abrams-created spy show focused on a married couple, which led to a lot of "humor" revolving around their bickering and their jealousy. But it was fellow spy Leo Nash and his cockiness that got some of the biggest and most-deserved laughs.
I Spy (1965-68)
While this buddy-spy series tackled a lot of serious storylines, including drug addiction, co-star Bill Cosby was a comedian first, and he and Robert Culp had some great banter during their globe-trotting missions. There were also several entirely comedic episodes, as well as one not-at-all funny movie starring Owen Wilson and Eddie Murphy.
Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp (1970-72)
Only in the early 1970s would a show about monkey spies get greenlit and make it to television. At least it eased the passage of Get Smart that same year, since it's basically a simian version. Maybe more shows should switch to monkey versions when they get cancelled...
My Own Worst Enemy (2008)
Funnier than it was probably intended to be, Christian Slater played secret agent Edward Albright as well as his mentally implanted alter ego Henry Spivey. The two eventually butt heads when the wall between their personalities begins to malfunction and Edward sleeps with Henry's wife. We cannot make this up.
What's your favorite spy comedy show? Let us know in the comments, then check out our guide to our favorite spy couples! And see what our vlogger thinks of Chaos, below!
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