A character, for one reason
, kill the King, the Emperor, the President, that one powerful guy whose position has massive mystique and glamor and charisma attached to it, no matter how badly
they chose to use it
. Usually the one to kill him is of the Praetorian Guard
or someone equally close and trusted. However, it doesn't need to be a betrayal: it could perfectly be an absolutely lawful execution after a fair trial. It won't matter to the people. He or she has slain
The reason why killing a monarch has always been such a big deal (well, as at least in the Western culture) is twofold: one aspect of it is that before the rise of nationalism, the monarch was the carrier of the state's sovereignty (afterwards, it were the people)—in simpler terms, the king was his country
, so anyone attacking him automatically put himself against the entire state institutions. The other aspect was that kings are usually anointed by The Church
, thus ruling with God
's approval—and anyone attacking an anointed king automatically infringed upon God's
domain of deciding who is a suitable king and who should go.
This is also why killing a president (while a serious crime and probably high treason—as is the murder of any high-ranking state official) does not pack the same punch in modern days (except to people who see their presidents as king-like figures).
Expect them to Never Live It Down
, and carry this moniker or a variation thereof for all their lives, if they don't get executed
for it. In some instances this is an attempt to get a Klingon Promotion
, possibly involving The Coup
. May overlap with Hero Killer
As a Death Trope, spoilers will be unmarked on this page.
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Anime and Manga
- Code Geass: Lelouch killed his father, King Charles, by geassing "god" to erase the king from existence.
- In Star Trek Countdown, Nero kills the Praetor of the Romulan Star Empire and the survivors of the Imperial Senate as they flee Romulus' destruction in the Hobus supernova in revenge for the Senate not listening to his and Spock's warnings earlier, costing the lives of billions.
- Averted in A Scotsman In Egypt. There's a guy running around with the name of Niels "Tyrantslayer" Ebbesen, but his title is never explained, and he dies in battle against ordinary soldiers instead of the king.
- The main premise of Twilight Sparkle, Ace Attorney: The Royal Turnabout is that apparently Rarity tried to kill Prince Blueblood, and is therefore seen as a kingslayer. Subverted once Princess Twilight reveals that Prince Blueblood was actually assaulted.
Film — Live-Action
- The Trope Namer is Jaime Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire. He killed an evil, mad king, through Back Stab. He did a lot of good to the realm. No-one will let him forget it, though.
- Discworld. "Old Stoneface" Vimes, ancestor of the current Vimes, chopped the King's head after he was sentenced to death by a tribunal for his horrific crimes. He was the only one with the balls to do it. He was later executed, his body getting the Osiris treatment. His bad reputation was so powerful, his descendants many generations later are still being bugged about it.
- Tolkien's Legendarium:
- In The Silmarillion, the dwarven jewelsmiths who killed the great elven king Thingol. It started the whole Elves Versus Dwarves shtick in the whole of Middle-Earth (and, after that, in many other fantasy universes that ripped the Elves Versus Dwarves shtick from Professor Tolkien). Now that is a regicide with repercussions!
- It takes a king, Isildur, to slay Sauron, the Sorcerous Overlord of the dark forces in the backstory of The Lord of the Rings. However, Sauron's One Ring of Power acts as a Soul Jar, keeping him kind-of-sort-of alive until Frodo Baggins goes on a journey to Mount Doom to destroy the Ring. Ultimately, though, it's Gollum who destroys the Ring and Sauron—and he does it completely by accident.
- Kvothe, the protagonist of The Kingkiller Chronicle, alludes in the telling of his story that this happened (but as a trilogy in progress, we won't find out how until the third book comes out.) Some regard him as a hero. some as a miscreant, but whatever public opinion, he had a role in starting a war and is living under a false identity.
- The Powder Mage Trilogy kicks off with Field Marshal Tamas organizing a revolution and executing the King and most of the aristocracy. The King's surviving court mage is under a magical obligation to avenge the King's death by killing his killer, but doesn't want to kill Tamas, who is among other things the father of his best friend. So he finds the actual headsman and kills him, fulfilling the technical requirements of the geas.
- Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle:
- In the Star Trek Novelverse Federation President Nanietta Bacco survives one attempt on her life by a Breen assassin in Cold Equations: Silent Weapons, which proves to be part of a ruse to divert Starfleet. She's then successfully assassinated in The Fall: Revelation and Dust at the new Deep Space 9's opening ceremony. The Tzenkethi are initially fingered (like the Breen, they're members of the rival alliance the Typhon Pact), but in fact it was done by the True Way (a Cardassian terrorist group) with the connivance of Councillor Ishan Anjar of Bajor who was trying to bring about a more militaristic Federation regime (ironically to protect Bajor from the Cardassians).
- Honor Harrington:
- King Roger III of Manticore officially died in a grav-skiing accident, but Manticore's security agencies are privately well aware that it was an assassination by the People's Republic of Haven in hopes that Queen Elizabeth III would be more pliable. This backfired, resulting in Elizabeth openly hating Haven. Haven's next attempt to annex Manticore, during the main series, is a straight-up invasion and a miserable failure.
- At the end of The Short Victorious War the Citizens' Rights Union led by Robert Pierre executes a coup d'etat against the government of Haven, killing Hereditary President Harris and most of his family with an airstrike at the outset and taking out the rest of the Legislaturalist class in the following purges. They then frame the People's Navy for the whole shebang as having attempted a Military Coup.
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay first subverts his then plays it straight, by having Katniss refuse to kill President Snow... and the killing President Coin.
- At the end of Dragon Blood, Garranon kills high king Jakoven, the man who killed his father, was responsible for the soldiers who raped Garranon and his younger brother, and took the teenage Garranon as his "beloved". We never learn whether he lives it down, as all characters present when it happens concur that Jakoven needed killing.
- The renegade officers from the disbanded French Foreign Legion hire an English assassin in Frederick Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal specifically because he is known to have killed some prominent targets. Although one of these was a tin-pot dictator, he maintained a cadre of bodyguards and took many precautions against assassination. "The Jackal" nevertheless managed to waste the despot. This kingslayer reputation lets The Jackal command a half-million dollars as his fee, which the renegades pay in full.
- Babylon 5:
- "The Coming of Shadows": As the Centauri Emperor Turhan was making a state visit to Babylon 5, G'Kar was making plans to kill him at the reception held in his honor in revenge for the prior Centauri occupation of Narn, but Turhan, already near death, collapsed on his way there and died shortly thereafter.
G'Kar: I was ready. I had prepared myself, I had made my peace with the Universe, I had the dagger in my hand! And he has the indecency to start dying on his own. Never in my life have I seen a worse case of timing!
- In Season 4 Londo Mollari conspires with G'Kar and several members of the Centauri court to assassinate the insane Emperor Cartagia. In the end it's his aide Vir Cotto who delivers the killing blow in "Into the Fire"; he feels considerable anguish about it afterwards. Later, when it looks like the Vorlons are going to destroy Centauri Prime because the emperor-in-waiting, Londo, was a former associate of the Shadows, Londo tries to convince Vir to kill him, but the Vorlon planet killer is recalled to join the battle with the Alliance at Coriana VI in the nick of time.
- In a Bad Future seen in "War Without End", Emperor Londo arranges to have G'Kar kill him to free the Centauri Republic of the Drakh keeper controlling his actions. Londo has drunk enough alcohol to put the keeper into as stupor for this, but it wakes up partway through and strangles G'Kar in a Mutual Kill. This is also implied to have happened in the prime timeline during the Time Skip between season 5 and the Distant Finale "Sleeping in Light", as Vir has succeeded Londo as Emperor by that time.
- President Clark and Mr. Morden both participated in the death of President Santiago, who dies when EarthForce One explodes. The proof came from a transmission that Ivanova managed to capture with the Great Machine. Only Clark is seen, commenting how he's wanted Santiago dead for a long time, but Morden's voice is heard assuring him that EarthForce One will not return and that the power is now Clark's.
- Traveller edition MegaTraveller. Archduke Dulinor personally murders Emperor Strephon in an attempt to seize the Iridium Throne, which causes the Third Imperium to dissolve into civil war.
- Older Than Feudalism. In Oedipus Rex Oedipus the King of Thebes has to find out who killed the previous king in order to stop a famine. Turns out it was Oedipus himself, though he didn't know it.
- William Shakespeare
- Macbeth. Macbeth murders King Duncan in order to become king himself.
- Hamlet. Hamlet's father King Hamlet is murdered by Claudius, and Hamlet later murders King Claudius.
- Julius Caesar. Caesar is assassinated by Brutus, Cassius and the other conspirators.
- Warcraft III's human campaign ends with Arthas, post-Face-Heel Turn, murdering his father the king of Lordaeron to cement the Undead Scourge's takeover of that part of Azeroth.
- Kingslayer is a title which can be earned in World of Warcraft for killing the Lich King. Wait, is that even possible?
- The Elder Scrolls:
- The Elder Scrolls In-Universe Books: The In-Game Novel 2920: The Last Year of the First Era ends with the assassination of Emperor Reman Cyrodiil by the sister of his ex-mistress in revenge for her unjust execution for treason. This happens with the backing of the Dunmer assassins' guild the Morag Tong, with the tacit support of the Akaviri ambassador who then takes over rulership of the Empire.
- In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the main antagonists are the Mythic Dawn Apocalypse Cult, who become notorious in the opening for successfully assassinating Emperor Uriel Septim VII, along with his three publicly known sons, as part of their plan to allow a daedric prince to invade Nirn. This notoriety lasts for hundreds of years (as you find out if you do a particular sidequest in Skyrim).
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
- In the game's backstory Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak set off the Civil War by killing Torygg, the High King of Skyrim. Skyrim is fiercely divided on whether this was a lawful duel for the High King's throne in the old way (as the Stormcloaks under his banner see it) or a murder and usurpation of the throne due to Ulfric's use of the Thu'um against Torygg (as the Empire sees it).
- The climax of the Dark Brotherhood questline has the player contracted to assassinate Emperor Titus Mede II during a state visit. Titus chooses to Face Death with Dignity, requesting only that the player next turn their blade on the person who requested his death.
- Star Trek Online: Chancellor J'mpok of the Klingon Empire attained his current post by killing Chancellor Martok under questionable circumstances in 2393. To wit, the two went into a closed-door meeting to try and avert a civil war in the Empire after a long power struggle between the pro-Federation moderates led by the House of Martok and the traditionalist Klingon hardliners under J'mpok. Three hours later J'mpok emerged saying Martok was dead and that he was now chancellor. This did absolutely nothing to end the power struggle: J'mpok's supporters naturally claim that he killed Martok in honorable combat, but Martok's widow Sirella has sworn revenge.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Jedi Knight's story ends with them confronting and killing the Sith Emperor himself. Come The Shadow of Revan, though, it turns out he's not quite dead, and now his spirit has escaped into the galaxy to get up to who knows what sort of mischief.
- In Crusader Kings ascension by assassination is a regular occurrence. Getting caught at it significantly impacts your relations with other rulers and vassals. And if the victim was a relative and you get caught you gain the Kinslayer trait that permanently lowers your Diplomacy rating by 3.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: It's not shown but implied that Ganondorf killed the King of Hyrule when he took over, given how Impa took Zelda and bolted out of Hyrule Castle with Ganondorf hot on their heels and in the future no mention is made of the king at all, only the princess.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: During Zant's takeover he has the ruler of the Zoras, Queen Rutela, executed as an example to her people prior to freezing the Zora's Domain over. She appears as a spirit to Link, asking him to help her son, who is now the last member of the Zora royal family.
- Prior to the events of Diablo King Leoric was killed by his own Knights, specifically Lachdanan, when they realized the depth of his madness and that he had become a threat to his own people. It did not end there, however. After he was risen as the Skeleton King he was killed again by his own son, Prince Aidan. He rose again when the Fallen Star caused the dead to stir and this time was killed by the Nephelem, for good this time. Or so the prophecy says.
- Zigzagged in Tales of Xillia. At various points in the story, the Kings of both major nations, Gaius and Nachtigal, find themselves aligned against the player, and both show up as bosses (Gaius actually ends up being the Final Boss). However, the player doesn't actually kill either of them—Nachtigal appears to be undergoing a Heel-Face Turn after his boss battle, but is then assassinated by a third party. Gaius, on the other hand, does undergo a Heel-Face Turn after surviving the Final Boss Battle, and he becomes the protagonists' most influential ally in the epilogue.
- U.S. Presidents and the man who assassinated them
- Abraham Lincoln: John Wilkes Booth, over anger at the South losing The American Civil War.
- James Garfield: Charles Guiteau, over being passed over for a government position. At that time the president was responsible for appointing all federal jobs. Garfield's assassination prompted the creation of the modern civil service.
- William McKinley: Leon Czolgosz
- John F. Kennedy: Lee Harvey Oswald
- Narrowly averted with Ronald Reagan, who was shot three times over the course of his presidency but survived in part due to improvements in trauma surgery since the Kennedy assassination. There's also an anecdotal subversion where Reagan was at a press conference after these attempts on his live and a photographer's flash bulb burst; he visibly flinched.
- Special mention to James Earl Ray who shot Martin Luther King Jr. He was a King literally In Name Only but still a powerful guy with charisma.
- Red October. Yakov Yurovsky and his firing squad, who executed Emperor Nicholas II and the rest of the Russian royal family.
- Charles I of England was sentenced to death and executed in 1649. The executioner was masked and disguised, and there is still debate over his identity. After the Restoration in 1660, a list was made of the 59 judges who signed Charles' death warrant. Some were executed, others were imprisoned, others fled the country and some who were already dead had their bodies desecrated.
- The French Revolution. Off with their heads!
- The War of the Roses had this twice..