I was looking at the synopsis for The Brother from Another Planet (1984), and part of the plot involved Men in Black trying to track down the titular Brother.

I wondered, what was the first depiction of Men in Black in television or cinema?

I don't mean G-men that were simply some Federal Agent, like dapper FBI agents fighting the mafia. Rather I mean those mysterious men, dressed like government agents, who tried to track down witnesses of something the government was trying to cover up, such as supernatural or extraterrestrial activity-- like Will Smith's and Tommy Lee Jones' characters in Men in Black.

  • So, specialized G-Men? That's all men in black tropes are in Sci fi
    – cde
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 4:03
  • @cde I suppose yes, 'specialized' in intimidating witnesses and government coverups.
    – user151841
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 4:05
  • Like regular government agents. Have you by chance looked at the men in black tv trope page?
    – cde
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 4:15
  • @cde No I haven't.
    – user151841
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 17:06

3 Answers 3


According to Wikipedia, the first appearance of the Men in Black as we recognize the trope today was in Hangar 18 (1980). So, not that far off from the movie you were watching (which is also mentioned there.)

The first film appearance of men in black was in Hangar 18 (1980), which had four credits for MIBs, who chase the film's protagonists and try to prevent them from learning the truth.

Of course, the MiBs had been circulating in UFO conspiracy theories for many years before that. It looks like they first started to appear in people's stories of alien abductions some time in the 50's. Hangar 18 appears to be the first (credited) appearance in film, though.


TV tropes lists one of the first as J-Men Forever, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/J-Men_Forever a spoof film from 1979. In it government agents are tasked in protect the public from a shape shifting villain from the moon, and keeping it a secret.


There was an Italian made-for-TV miniseries titled Extra, which featured men in black trying to cover an episode of alien abduction.

  • 1
    Welcome to Movies.SE! When was this mini-series made? Was it earlier than the existing examples (i.e. before 1979)?
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 12:09
  • 1
    @F1Krazy According to IMDB it is from 1976: imdb.com/title/tt0475579
    – mattiav27
    Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 13:27

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