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In Chuck, a red test is the accepted designation for an initial wet-work assignment given a trainee. To complete this test, the trainee is ordered to kill a target designated by the agency; evidence suggests that the targets are often proven or suspected corrupt spies or double agents.

Chuck[]

In Chuck Versus the Final Exam, Chuck is ordered to kill Hunter Perry, a spy who has been leaking information to The Ring. Chuck pursues the target, but in the end, is unable to make the shot. Instead, Perry is killed by John Casey, who, knowing Chuck, was waiting close by.

Chuckred

Chuck during his red test

With Casey no longer an agent, and therefore not having a "license to kill," this act would been seen as murder, and so Chuck is forced to take the credit for the kill. This results in his relationship with Sarah being strained, due to her dismay that Chuck had changed enough to be capable assassinating someone. This is resolved, however, after Casey informs her that he killed the target, not Chuck, acknowledging that Chuck is "not wired" to be a killer the way he and Sarah are. To date, Chuck, Casey, and Sarah are the only ones who know it wasn't Chuck who killed Perry. The agency, believing that Chuck performed the hit, promoted Chuck to agent.

Sarah[]

Sarah's red test is revisited in Chuck Versus the Final Exam, when she discusses it with Shaw. Even though she has killed many times since the test, Sarah seems to regret, or at least have doubts about her first kill; she calls it the worst night of her life.

During her red test, Sarah was assigned a then-unknown female agent on a street corner in Paris, but hesitated to kill her, stalling by walking past her. It wasn't until Sarah saw the target go into her bag and assumed she was going for a weapon that Sarah took out her gun and shot her.

In Chuck Versus the American Hero, when Shaw has his meeting with the Ring director, footage of Sarah's red test is shown to Shaw and it's revealed that Sarah had unwittingly killed Shaw's wife, Evelyn, for her Red Test.

Trivia[]

  • There is no such thing as a "red test" in agent training in the real-world CIA. In addition, in the CIA-based series Covert Affairs, the lead character Annie Walker is already an established field agent long before she's forced to make her first kill, and even then only in self-defense.
  • The red test in Chuck resembles the two kills that James Bond had to commit in order to get his double-0 status, as described by Ian Fleming in his novels and shown in the 2006 film version of Casino Royale. Similarly, Richard Marchenko's Rogue Warrior novels, which began as a non-fiction series and segued into a more fictionalized action-adventure format, describe similar "red test" like scenarios.
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