In Chuck, a "Red test" is the name given to the final examination a trainee goes through before they are granted the rank of spy. To complete this test the trainee is ordered to kill a target picked out for them by the agency they have been training with. Evidence suggests the targets are often (believed) corrupt spies.
Known Red tests Edit
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 take the fatal shot. Instead, Perry is killed by John Casey, who was hiding close by. With Casey no longer being an agent and therefore not having a "license to kill," this act of helping Chuck would been seen as murder, and so Chuck is forced to take the credit for the kill, which results in his relationship with Sarah being strained, due to her disappointment in Chuck actually going through with it. This is resolved, however, after Casey informs her that he killed the man, not Chuck, acknowledging that Chuck is "not wired" to be a killer the way he and Sarah are. To date Chuck, Casey and Sarah (Sarah was informed by Casey in "Chuck Versus the American Hero") are the only ones that know it wasn't Chuck who killed Perry. The agency, believing that Chuck performed the hit, promoted Chuck to the rank of agent.
Sarah's red test is revisited in "Chuck Versus the Final Exam", when she discusses it with Shaw. Even though she's killed many times since the test, Sarah seems to regret, or at least has doubts over, her first kill. Sarah was assigned a then unknown female agent on a street corner, but hesitated to kill her, and stalled by walking past, it wasn't until Sarah saw the target go into her bag that Sarah took out her gun and assassinated 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.
- There is no indication that a "red test" scenario actually exists in agent training in the real-life CIA. 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, onetime Navy SEAL 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. In addition, the 2010 re-imagining of Nikita establishes that the rogue organization called Division requires its recruits to undertake a kill test in order to graduate; failure usually results in the recruit being killed. NCIS, in flashback, depicted the agency implementing red test-style missions for Jenny Shepard and Leon Vance.