Assassinations in fiction

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Assassinations have formed a major plot element in various works of fiction. This article provides a list of fictional stories in which assassination features as an important plot element. Passing mentions are omitted.

Assassination can be regarded as the murder of a prominent person for a motive which is broadly public and political rather than merely personal or financial.[1]

Assassinations in fiction have attracted scholarly attention. In Assassinations and Murder in Modern Italy: Transformations in Society and Culture, as well as analyzing Italian assassinations in their historical and cultural contexts Stephen Gundle and Lucia Rinaldi explore the films, plays, other works of fiction, and art that the art of assassination has inspired.[2] Nick Cullather has discussed "The Movie Version" of John F. Kennedy's assassination.[3] This list prefers to highlight less familiar cultural artifacts, while trying not to itemize every Ian Fleming or Agatha Christie title, or every Mafia film. The historical–historically based or historically inspired–takes precedence over the purely fictional and sensational.

Novels[edit]

Short stories[edit]

Plays and operas[edit]

Films[edit]

Mark Wahlberg at 2007 Shooter premiere

The list is organized chronologically by year of release, rather than year of production.
Within each year, films based on genuine historical events are listed first, followed by any purely fictional entries.

1890s[edit]

1900s[edit]

Assassination of President McKinley, 1901
The Duke of Guise, assassinated nobleman

1910s[edit]

Judith of Bethulia, heroine, assassin

1920s[edit]

"Sissi", Empress of Austria 
Assassination of Elisabeth, 1898 

1930s[edit]

1940s[edit]

1950s[edit]

Marlon Brando as Emiliano Zapata, assassinated revolutionary

1960s[edit]

Jozef Gabčík, c. 1942 
Jan Kubiš, c. 1942 
Czech SOE agents who eliminated Reinhard Heydrich     
Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat, 1793

1970s[edit]

1970–1974[edit]

1975–1979[edit]

Attempted assassin Robert-François Damiens on trial, 1757
Gabriel Narutowicz, assassinated 1922

1980s[edit]

1980–1984[edit]

1985–1989[edit]

Funeral of Jerzy Popiełuszko, assassinated 1984

1990s[edit]

1990–1994[edit]

1995–1999[edit]

2000s[edit]

2000–2002[edit]

2003–2005[edit]

Aldo Moro before his murder, 1978

2006–2007[edit]

Procession for D'Arcy McGee, assassinated 1868

2008–2009[edit]

Adham Khan, executed 1562
Assassination of Henry IV, 1610

2010s[edit]

Mary Surratt, executed 1865

In development[edit]

Assassinated filmmakers[edit]

One direct and one indirect victim of terrorism.

Television[edit]

Assassination of Spencer Perceval, 1812
  • On Trial (1960) — a series of dramatizations of important UK legal cases, including the case of Governor Joseph Wall. In that episode, Spencer Perceval appears as a character. Perceval is the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated (in 1812).
  • The Time Tunnel (1966–1967) — The episode "The Death Trap" involves both the 1865 assassination of President Lincoln and the 1861 conspiracy against him, known as the "Baltimore Plot".
  • Red Dwarf (1988–1999) — The episode "Tikka to Ride" features an elaborate plot which takes place in an alternate timeline where JFK survives due to accidental interference by the Red Dwarf crew. After witnessing the negative result of his survival the crew enlist Kennedy to go back in time to carry out the assassination. The plan works: Kennedy shoots his past self and the timeline is restored. Kennedy grimly thanks the gang for the chance to restore himself to his proper place in history, and fades away as a result of the resetting timeline.
  • Babylon 5 (1993–1998) — features several assassinations (meaning the targeted killing of a significant political figure, rather than the many other deaths or murders that occur in the show). One of the earliest assassinations is of Earth's President Santiago, in a spectacular scene showing the explosion of the Presidential Spaceship, Earth Force One. The same episode shows his Vice-President Clark being sworn in. The scene is shot as a replica of the swearing in of LBJ, following the JFK assassination, complete with Santiago's widow posed in the background. Clark's assumption of power begins Earth's slow decline into fascism, and it was discovered his faction arranged the assassination of President Santiago.
  • La Femme Nikita (1997–2001) — a television spy drama, based on the French film Nikita, starring Peta Wilson and Roy Dupuis as assassins who work in a secret government counter-terrorist organization, "Section One". Section One's operatives (assassins) work not for monetary gain nor from ideological devotion, but out of a fear of being cancelled (executed) for sub-standard performance. La Femme Nikita had a run of five seasons and a total of 96 episodes; during its first two seasons, it was the highest-rated drama on American basic cable. Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran, who created and produced La Femme Nikita, later went on to create 24.
  • Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000) — Episode 15, "Noshing and Moshing", is set at the time of the assassination attempt on President Reagan. One character believes that it was the result of a conspiracy organized by Vice-President Bush.
  • The West Wing (1999–2006) — In the first season finale, in the episode "What Kind of Day Has It Been" there is an assassination attempt on President Bartlet's personal aide, Charlie Young. It is, however, thwarted by the Secret Service. In the following episodes the assassins are discovered to have been members of an organization called Virginia White Pride, a group of racists and white supremacists. In the third season, President Bartlet orders the assassination of Qumari Defence Minister Abdul Ibn Shareef, after it comes to light that the latter has ordered a group of terrorists to blow up the Golden Gate Bridge and is plotting other terrorist acts.
  • Alias (2001–2006) — Numerous assassinations, real and simulated, take place over the course of Sydney Bristow's odyssey through the underworld of covert intelligence and international organized crime.
  • 24 (2001–2010) — Assassination plots have featured prominently throughout: Season 1 revolves around Counter-Terrorist Unit agent Jack Bauer's attempts to stop the assassination of Democratic presidential candidate David Palmer. Season 2 ends with the attempted assassination of now-President Palmer. Season 3 involves the assassination by Jack Bauer of his superior Ryan Chappelle at the behest of terrorist Stephen Saunders. Season 4 features an attempt to assassinate President Keeler by shooting down Air Force One (and subsequently the assassination of the president's son). Season 5's plot begins with a hired killer assassinating former president David Palmer at the beginning of the first episode, along with the assassination of CTU employee Michelle Dessler. Later in the 13th episode, Christopher Henderson attempts to assassinate Michelle's husband Tony Almeida. Season 6 involves the attempted assassinations of President Wayne Palmer and former President Charles Logan.
  • Monk (2002–2009) — The pilot episode centres on the failed assassination of a mayoral candidate, while the first episode of Season 3 involves the murder of the Latvian ambassador in New York City. In Season 3 Episode 12, Monk the detective himself becomes the target of Chinatown hitmen.
  • Stargate Atlantis (2004–2009) — Several assassination attempts are featured through the series, the most extreme of them being the coup when Ladon Radim assassinates Chief Cowen and his Elite Guard with a hidden nuclear device, taking over as the new Genii leader. On another occasion, the protagonists narrowly protect the 13-year-old Harmony from an attempt on her life ordered by one of her sisters (in order to usurp her position as would-be queen). In yet another incident, Teyla (disguised as a Wraith Queen) and Todd infiltrate a Hive Ship under the guise of negotiations. However, Todd stabs the Queen to death and blames Teyla for it, resulting in her becoming the new Queen.
  • House (2004–2012) — In Season 6 episode "The Tyrant", a hospitalized African dictator (James Earl Jones) avoids one assassination attempt before being murdered by a doctor
  • Heroes (2006–2010) — In the finale of the second volume of Heroes, "Generations", former New York Congressman Nathan Petrelli gives a nationally televised speech to the media in Odessa, Texas, regarding the successful stopping of an outbreak of a deadly virus. About to reveal that he has the ability to fly, he is shot in the chest twice, mid-sentence, by an unknown assassin who quickly leaves the scene. Nathan falls into the arms of his brother, Peter, and uses his last breath to whisper his name.
  • The Tudors (2007–2010) — There is an assassination attempt against Anne Boleyn on the way to her coronation, in Episode 3 of Season 2.
  • IRIS (2009) — The South Korean TV series details a black ops agency named the National Security Service or NSS, an agency created by Park Chung-Hee that protected South Korea by operations including assassination. One of its agents, Kim Hyun-Jun, goes rogue after completing his assassination assignment in Hungary after being betrayed by NSS Director Baek San and threatened with assassination himself by his friend and fellow NSS operative Jin Sa-Woo. An arms-dealing terrorist group called IRIS also uses assassination to kill off anyone trying to rout out the group and prevent the Koreas from reuniting under peace talks.
  • Warehouse 13 (2009–2014) — The pilot episode features an attempted assassination of the US president at a Washington museum.
  • The Event (2010–2011) — The story involves a US presidential assassination attempt.
  • Nikita (2010–2013) — An updating of the 1990s series, once again focusing on the exploits of a female assassin and her section.

Animation[edit]

  • Golgo 13: The Professional — Directed by Osamu Dezaki, the anime is about a professional assassin. Only two anime installments were made.
  • Golgo 13 — The TV series details more on Duke Togo's assassination missions.
  • Noir — Anime TV series that follows two female assassins' search to understand their past.
  • Darker than Black — Anime TV series about ordinary people inexplicably changed into Contractors with extraordinary abilities who typically become cold-blooded killers.

Board games[edit]

Video games[edit]

  • Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (1983) — Adventure game focusing on a murder case in Kobe, Japan.
  • Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode (1988) and Golgo 13: The Mafat Conspiracy (1990) — two NES games based on the Anime/Manga.
  • Grand Theft Auto series (1997–2013) — features numerous missions which involve assassination.
  • Tenchu (1998–2008) — Same as above, the originator of the next-generation ninja subterfuge gaming genre. Released earlier, more story-driven and somewhat less political, assassination is a trademark feature of the series.
  • Hitman: Codename 47 (2000) — Tactical stealth game which involves the assassination of various targets. It was followed by a number of sequels.
  • Ragnarok Online (2001) — An MMORPG where the player can choose to become an assassin as a second job class.
  • Splinter Cell (2002) — Stealth action game which ends with an assassination of a powerful political leader.
  • Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002) — role-playing video game with numerous assassinations and even a guild dedicated to assassinations called the Morag Tong.
  • XIII (2003) — about an amnesiac and the assassination of a US President.
  • Grand Chase (2003) — Lass, the Thief and the fourth character, is an assassin as a second job using a curved sword called Scimitar.
  • JFK: Reloaded (2004) — The game's sole objective is to recreate the John F. Kennedy assassination.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines (2004) — Several assignments (some mandatory, some optional) involving assassination are included in this game, and the endgame involves the player deciding whether to assassinate one or both of the game's vampire clan leader antagonists.
  • Shinobido (2005) — Heavily stealth-based video game centred around feudal-era Japan and its inhabitants. The protagonist is a ninja, who is given contact killing missons among others, and becomes a politically heavily involved reconnaissance agent, thief and mostly, assassin.
  • Total War (2006) — a strategy game series where the player can send assassins against opponents.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006) — role-playing video game in which one may join an assassins' guild, the Dark Brotherhood. Also, the main storyline opens with an emperor being assassinated; the entire game hinges on this event.
  • The Godfather: The Game (2006) — the game features several missions with the goal to assassinating high-ranking members of the Five Families, including the Dons.
  • Assassin's Creed (2007) — Game in which one plays a member of the Hashshashin sect during the Third Crusade.
  • Team Fortress 2 (2007) — features one class, the spy, whose purpose is to assassinate other players. He features a knife among his weaponry that will kill instantly if it is a stab to the back of a character.
  • No More Heroes (2007) — The player is an assassin called Travis Touchdown who is the 11th ranked assassin of an organization called the UAA. The game leads the player to fight against the top 10 assassins of the UAA.
  • Call of Duty 4 (2007) — In two missions, the player plays as a sniper on a failed assassination attempt.
  • Star Wars: Force Unleashed (2008) — The four first levels are a mission where the player attempts to assassinate Jedi masters.
  • Fable II (2008) — This player can be an assassin.
  • Call of Duty: World at War (2008) — In the first level of the Russian campaign, the player participates in the assassination of a Nazi general responsible for Stalingrad atrocities.
  • Fallout 3 (2008) - The player is tasked by an organization known as the Brotherhood of Steel to assassinate John Henry Eden, the self-proclaimed President of the United States.
  • MadWorld (2009) — The gameplay revolves around how creatively you murder other contestants in a game called "Deathwatch".
  • Assassin's Creed II (2009) — The player assumes the role of a young nobleman-turned-assassin named Ezio Auditore da Firenze. The plot takes place in Renaissance Italy.
  • Assassin's Creed Brotherhood (2010) — Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze returns.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010) — Operatives Mason and Woods are sent to Cuba to assassinate Fidel Castro, but later find out that he had a look-alike. Another instance is when the player finds out that Mason was a conspirator in the John F. Kennedy assassination at the end of the game.
  • Just Cause 2 (2010) - United States agent Rico travels to the fictional island-nation of Panau to kill the regime's corrupt dictator.
  • Fallout: New Vegas (2010) - The player can assassinate three major political leaders then cannibalize them to receive a special in-game bonus, called a Perk.
  • Assassin's Creed: Revelations (2011) — Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze returns for the final time.
  • Batman: Arkham City (2011) — The secondary mission "Shot in the Dark" involves contract killings. The League Of Assassins are also part of the main plot.
  • Assassin's Creed III (2012) — A new Assassin arises to the creed.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Murders within families are often termed assassinations if the family members are very prominent. This would be true of Roman Empire poisonings, or the 2001 slaughter of the royal family in Nepal. The murder of the well-known actor Phil Hartman by his wife in 1998 does not qualify.
    Is the 1978 murder of actor Bob Crane assassination? No. Is the 1987 murder of singer Peter Tosh by robbers assassination? If the motive is extortion, no. If an author writes a novel proposing a broad conspiracy, then yes. Is the 1948 death of actor Solomon Mikhoels assassination? Yes. It was orchestrated by Stalin.
    King Charles I? No. Executed publicly, after a trial. Tsar Nicholas II? Yes. Executed secretly, with his children, without a trial.
    There will always be a problem with a precise definition and applying that definition to specific cases.
  2. ^ Assassinations and Murder in Modern Italy: Transformations in Society and Culture, edited by Stephen Gundle and Lucia Rinaldi (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)
  3. ^ Nicholas Cullather, "History, Conspiracy, and the Kennedy Assassination", Retrieving the American Past, ed. Marc Horger (New York: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2005), 301–330
  4. ^ Quo Vadis. Chapter LXX.
  5. ^ Quo Vadis. Chapter LXXI.
  6. ^ Quo Vadis. Epilogue. Mercy killing by Epaphroditus.
  7. ^ London authored pp. 1-121. Fish wrote p. 122-179 based on London's notes (pp. 181-184).
  8. ^ Recipient of the Edgar Award in 1972.
  9. ^ ISBN 0-690-01790-1
  10. ^ The story's manuscript reads Camorra. Conan Doyle changed the story as published to read Carbonari, a group no longer active at the time.
  11. ^ Recipient of the Evening Standard Award for Best Play in 1961.
  12. ^ Recipient of the Tony Award in 1961.
  13. ^ Recipient of the Tony Award in 1966.
  14. ^ Publication details for this title have been confirmed by the catalogue of the German National Library.
    Source: Katalog der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek
  15. ^ Source: IMDb review by "Cineanalyst", 2009.
  16. ^ Source: Cousins (q.v.), p. 40.
  17. ^ Director Dudley Murphy was a friend of failed Trotsky assassin and artist David Alfaro Siqueiros. Siqueiros painted a mural inside Murphy's L.A. house which was relocated in 2002 to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
  18. ^ The first Dutch sound film.
  19. ^ Source: 1965 BBC documentary The Epic That Never Was on the making of I, Claudius.
  20. ^ At present (March 2009), the amount of information on this film at the IMDb is modest. A fuller plot summary was available in the distributor's catalogue, reprinted in Hartley (q.v.), page 68. This is an early example of Lincoln conspiracy theory.
  21. ^ Clips of battle scenes of the Great Northern War were excerpted from this film and used in the Oscar-nominated The Battle of Russia, a 1943 documentary in Frank Capra's Why We Fight propaganda series, to illustrate the history of the Soviet people resisting foreign aggression.
  22. ^ Source: IMDb reviews by "Theo Winthrop", 2005, and the late Fisher "Fish" Forrest, 2000. This is the original IMDb review of Sirk's film.
  23. ^ Notable as the first postwar German film, it was made before the formal split of Germany into West Germany and East Germany.
  24. ^ The detective who prevents the assassination of President-elect Lincoln is named "John Kennedy".
  25. ^ The performer portraying the "Sarkhanese" prime minister in the film was a Thai politician who later became Prime Minister.
  26. ^ Director Lee Yong-min is otherwise known for his horror films, A Flower of Evil (1961) and A Devilish Homicide (1965).
  27. ^ Shanghai Bombing Incident, 1932, Shanghai Evening Post & Mercury
  28. ^ Prior to the final attack on Trotsky in August 1940, there had been an earlier one in May. This original attack had been carried out, on behalf of Stalin, by Iosif Grigulevich and Vittorio Vidali, NKVD assassins who had probably been involved in the death of POUM leader Andrés Nin in Spain in 1937. (See George Orwell's memoir Homage to Catalonia, a source for Ken Loach's 1995 film Land and Freedom.) In Mexico City, they were joined by David Siqueiros, Mexican Stalinist and renowned mural painter.
    Bullet holes from the first attempt may be seen in Trotsky's bedroom at the Trotsky House Museum in Coyoacán.
    A revolutionary image by Siqueiros, familiar outside of Mexico, appears on the cover of the Rage Against the Machine concert video, The Battle of Mexico City. The image forms part of a large mural in Chapultepec Castle.
  29. ^ Source: IMDb review by "Fuzon", 2008.
  30. ^ The movie was the subject of a nude pictorial in Playboy magazine.
  31. ^ Sources: IMDb, TV Guide, Answers.com.
  32. ^ Ruth First appears as a minor character in the 2006 film Catch a Fire, about the ANC, where she is portrayed by her daughter, producer Robyn Slovo.
  33. ^ Recipient of the Ariel Award for Best Picture (Ariel de Mejor Película) in 1991.
  34. ^ Several of the 638 different ways employed by the USA to kill Castro, at least according to Cuban Intelligence.
  35. ^ The extended version of Nixon includes a conversation between Pres. Nixon and CIA Director Richard Helms (Sam Waterston). During the conversation, Salvador Allende († 1974) is shown; Ngo Dinh Diem († 1963), Rafael Trujillo († 1961), and Patrice Lumumba († 1961) are mentioned; Jacobo Árbenz (overthrown) and Mohammed Mosaddeq (overthrown) are alluded to.
  36. ^ Nixon mentions other important incidents of the era, including the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert F. Kennedy, and the attempt on George Wallace.
  37. ^ Official site: O Processo dos Távoras.
  38. ^ Lynn Compton, later the prosecutor of Kennedy's assassin, is a lieutenant in the 2001 HBO paratrooper miniseries Band of Brothers.
  39. ^ The film mistakenly refers to the assassination of General Dyer following the Amritsar Massacre. In fact, it was Governor O'Dwyer who was murdered, in London in 1940. Dyer had died of natural causes in 1927.
  40. ^ Director Andy Cheng is second unit director and stunt co-ordinator on Twilight, the noirish teen vampire romance.
  41. ^ Source: Wikipedia article List of films based on actual events. The IMDb currently (as of February 2010) has no listing for this film.
  42. ^ Henri 4 is the title of the DVD release.
  43. ^ The Kennedys, Hour Seven.
  44. ^ The Kennedys, Hour Eight.
  45. ^ a b c d e f g Source: IMDb. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  46. ^ The Plot To Kill Stalin can be viewed at the Internet Archive.

Sources[edit]


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