Contract killing in popular culture
Hitmen in crime films:
- Lee Marvin plays a hitman in the 1964 film The Killers.
- A rise in hitman characters began in the 1970s due to Mafia films like The Godfather.
- Charles Bronson plays a hitman in the 1972 film The Mechanic
- Edward Fox methodically plans a hit on Charles de Gaulle, President of France, in the 1973 film The Day of the Jackal.
- The character played by Max Von Sydow is a hired hitman in the 1974 film Three Days of the Condor
- Henry Silva plays a hitman in the 1981 film Sharky's Machine.
- The James Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun, features Francisco Scaramanga, a high-priced hitman, supposedly the best in the world, who uses bullets made of gold in a fictitious, 4.2 mm cartridge.
- The finale of Scarface features an small army of hitmen to kill the protagonist, Tony Montana.
- The 1989 film Crimes and Misdemeanors has a moral dilemma of an ophthalmologist who hires a hitman to kill his mistress.
- In the early 1990s, Jean Reno gained some attention as a hitman in Léon: The Professional.
- In the 1995 Desperado (film) Antonio Banderas plays a gunslinger who also works as a hitman.
- Tom Hanks plays a mob hitman in 1930s Chicago and Jude Law plays a rival hitman in the 2002 film Road to Perdition
- The film Killer Elite starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro is based on a group of hitmen with Statham and De Niro portraying the main hitmen.
- Timothy Olyphant's 2007 movie, Hitman, is based on the eponymous video game.
- In the film Collateral, Tom Cruise plays a hitman who takes a cabbie (Jamie Foxx) hostage for five stops to assassinate five witnesses.
- In 2012's Killing Them Softly, Brad Pitt plays assassin Jackie Cogan who is hired to kill the robbers of a mob-controlled poker game.
"Offbeat" portrayals from the mid-1990s to the 2000s:
- John Cusack plays a hitman named Martin Blank who attends his high school reunion in the comedy film Grosse Pointe Blank.
- In the 2008 political satire film War, Inc., Cusack plays Brand Hauser, a hitman posing as a trade show producer.
- Forest Whitaker portrayed a hitman influenced by Bushidō in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.
- In the 2005 black comedy The Matador, Pierce Brosnan portrays an experienced hitman who suffers a mental breakdown, causing him to freeze during the last seconds of the job.
Romantic comedy has included assassins:
- Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt star as assassins in the 2005 film Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
- Ashton Kutcher plays one in the 2010 film Killers.
Portrayals of hitmen that have earned nominations or awards:
- In 1985, Jack Nicholson was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for playing a hitman named Charley Partanna in Prizzi's Honor.
- In 1994, both John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson were nominated for Academy Awards for Best actor and Best Actor in a Supporting Role respectively for their portrayals of two hitmen in the award winning film Pulp Fiction.
- Javier Bardem played a ruthless assassin named Anton Chigurh in search of a lost cache of money in the Coen Brothers' 2008 Academy Award-winning film, No Country for Old Men.
In other countries the vision of the hitman is often one of a tragic individual with a solitary existence:
- In the 1967 French film, Le Samouraï, Jef Costello is an example of this.
- The film Ghost Dog takes inspiration from it.
- In the French film Léon: The Professional his existence outside of hits revolves around his houseplant and watching old films.
- In the 1989 film, The Killer, the main character, Ah Jong, attempts to perform one last hit as a means of setting right an injustice that he had previously caused.
- In the anime Darker than Black, the main character often performs contract killings for various organizations.
- In the anime and manga Dragon Ball, a mercenary named Tao Pai Pai is hired by the Red Ribbon Army to kill Goku.
- In the anime and novel Fate/Zero, the main character is a contract hitman, and skilled mercenary.
- In the anime Gungrave, the main character is a hitman for the Mafia.
- The anime Reborn! contains several hitmen, including Reborn, "Lambo" and others. Tsuna Sawada (the main character), along with his school friends, are trained by a hitman to succeed the previous Vongola Family.
- In the anime Golgo 13, the main character, Duke Togo or "Golgo 13" is a reputed marksman and an unnatural quick draw. Golgo 13 prefers taking his targets with a heavily modified M-16.
- In the manga X-kai, Kaito Yagami is a hitman by night and runs a flower shop during the day.
- In the anime "Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom", the story is about a trained assassin, Zwei and his mentor Ein. They wish to escape from Inferno.
- In the anime and manga Monster, one of the main antagonists, Roberto, is a professional hitman and the loyalist of Johan Liebert.
Comics and cartoons
- In Adventure Time, the Ice King hires a Hitman thinking that a Hitman only "hits" people and doesn't kill them. Throughout that episode, the Ice King prevents the Hitman from killing Finn and Jake (who think that the Ice King was the one trying to kill them.)
- Hitman (Tommy Monaghan) is a fictional character, a super powered hitman in the DC Comics Universe. The character was created by Garth Ennis and John McCrea and first appeared in The Demon Annual No. 2 and then received his own series by Ennis and McCrea lasting 60 issues.
- In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Sheldon J. Plankton hires a hitman named Dennis to kill SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star to stop them from retrieving the crown of King Neptune.
- In the South Park episode "Follow That Egg!", Mrs. Garrison hires a hitman to "kill" an egg because she fears it will lead the governor to legalize same-sex marriage in the state after being rejected by his ex-lover following a sex-change operation.
- The main character of the video game series Hitman was genetically engineered by a man called Dr. Ort-Meyer in an insane asylum in Romania. He is known only as Agent 47. 47 is highly regarded in the criminal underworld, so much so that many consider him to be a myth. The gameplay revolves around infiltrating an area, executing a target (or targets) and escaping without apprehension. Although it isn't compulsory, the Hitman games encourage the player to use stealth and cunning maneuvers to eliminate targets, as opposed to making use of pure firepower. A film adaption which deviated widely from its source material was released in 2007. The fifth game, Hitman: Absolution was released on November 20, 2012.
- In the Elder Scrolls series, there is a group called the Dark Brotherhood, which is a group of assassins that are akin to the nature of being a hitman. This group has appeared in all Elder Scrolls games since Daggerfall. Groups like the Morag Tong also perform contract killings in the series, and have been a playable faction in Morrowind. However, the nature of the Morag Tong is different from the Dark Brotherhood, since the Morag Tong is a legal assassination group in the province of Morrowind, and played a more justice-oriented role. Conversely, the Dark Brotherhood plays a role more similar to that of hired assassins.
- In some videogames, such as the Grand Theft Auto series, the main character is given tasks akin to acting as a Hitman. This is most obviously shown in Grand Theft Auto IV with Niko Bellic, who is frequently hired as a hitman in the game.
- In Cause of Death, several characters -- most notably The Ghost (featured in Volumes 2, 8 and 13) -- are assassins (often also acting as bodyguards).
- Two assassins (Shelly De Killer and Ryoken Hoinbo) are featured in the Ace Attorney series, specifically in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All and Gyakuten Kenji 2.
- In Killer is Dead the main character Mondo Zappa works for Brian's Execution Firm and is hired to kill several strange targets for money.