The FBI: fact vs fiction

12 August 2020
We sort out reality from make-believe.
FBI S2 fact vs fiction article

We've already seen the inspiration TV makers take from the actual Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in their creative story telling. With season 2 of the TV show FBI on M-Net, we examine how these shows remain true, or differs, from real life.

According to the FAQs page on the FBI website, "some authors, television programmes, or motion picture producers offer reasonably accurate presentations of our responsibilities, investigations, and procedures in their story lines, while others present their own interpretations or introduce fictional events, persons, or places for dramatic effect".

What we see on screen:
Local law enforcement teams are often disgruntled when the FBI is called in, and there is great antagonism between them and the bureau.

In reality:


The FBI doesn't take over the investigation of a crime that violates local, state, and federal laws. "The investigative resources of the FBI and state and local agencies are often pooled in a common effort to investigate and solve the cases. In fact, many task forces composed of FBI agents and state and local officers have been formed to locate fugitives and to address serious threats like terrorism and street violence," reads the FBI website.

What we see on screen:

Throughout season 1 and 2 of FBI, we've seen Maggie Bell and Omar Adom "OA" Zidan get involved in cases where a child has been kidnapped.

In reality:


This remains true to what the organisation does, for the most part.  "The FBI will initiate a kidnapping investigation involving a missing child 'of tender years,' [12-years-old or younger] even though there is no known interstate aspect." However, if there is no evidence that there has been interstate travel in such a case, the FBI can merely monitor and offer assistance where it can.

What we see on screen:

Special Agents are always armed to be adequately prepared for the life and death situations they face.

In reality:


FBI agents do carry firearms. "Agents carry Bureau-issued or approved handguns and may be issued additional equipment as needed. Unless otherwise instructed, agents are required to be armed at all times." Certain specialised areas may carry weapons to better suit their duties.


The FBI motto is Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity to match the acronym. "Those initials also represent the three things for which the Bureau and its representatives always stand."

Source: FBI website

Watch the action-packed FBI from Tuesday, 14 July at 21:00 (CAT) on M-Net, subject to scheduling changes.

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