Created By: ZhongHui on May 13, 2012 Last Edited By: jormis29 on May 20, 2014

Fake Assassination Gambit

A character hires a killer to fake an assassination attempt.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Do We Have This One??

X is giving a huge speech in front of the entire nation, in order to promote his campaign against criminality, when he is shot by a hidden sniper. Luckily for him, the shot misses. After the failed assassination attempt, his popularity goes Up to Eleven, and he is seen as a hero by the masses. The problem is, he is the one who hired the assassin from the start.

Similar to Faked Kidnapping. If the killer actually kills him, either unwillingly, or because someone made him a better offer, it's a case of Karmic Death. If subverted, so that the assassination is not fake, but the character wants to be killed, then it's probably a Thanatos Gambit.

If the employer is particularly clever, he will likely avoid the implications of this scheme, such as unwanted leaking of information, or simply the assassin's bill, and kill or have the hitman killed.

May overlap with Wounded Gazelle Gambit. If the character is a very important politician like above, he probably is a President Target. Also, he could be trying to be seen as a Red Herring, while he actually is pretty important.


Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • 20th Century Boys: An important part of the second part of the manga is Friend's plot to assassinate the Pope; though the Pope wasn't in on it, Friend (who is assumed to be dead by the entire world) wants to use it as an opportunity to "come back from the dead" to save him and be hailed as The Messiah.
  • Subverted in Code Geass, since Lelouch's last plan involves Suzaku, dressed as Zero, killing him in order to obtain worldwide peace. The whole murder attempt is acted so that it seems genuine to the public.

Comic Books
  • Ozymandias in Watchmen. After overpowering his would-be killer, he forces a cyanide pill down his throat to make him look like a suicide attacker. What's more, Ozy was the man who really killed the Comedian.

Film
  • The first F/X: Murder By Illusion film had this as a major subplot: it also had the Contract on the Hitman after the fake attempt in question.
  • Zig-Zagged in Machete: at first it seems Machete's hired to kill the governor, but it turns out it's this trope when he's interrupted by another sniper, the plan being to wound the senator and kill Machete. Unfortunately, he survives.
  • Played straight in the movie adaption of Tom Clancy's FBI: Net Force.
  • Penn & Teller Get Killed: Penn hires someone to pretend to try to kill him, just to fuck with Teller.

Live Action TV:
  • In Lie to Me, the governor is suspected of attempting to ride a "Bullet Bump" to re-election, when an assassin who seemed to be aiming at him pretends to miss and kills a staffer. It was actually his wife who ordered the hit, and the hitman did not miss his intended target: the staffer knew too much.
  • In an episode of Angel, Angel is hired by an actress to protect her from a dangerous stalker. It turns out that the stalker was hired by the actress' agent to help her gain publicity and boost her career, and she was never in real danger. Well, until she releases Angelus by mistake, that is.
  • NCIS had one of these moments, though it's rather inverted. They have the man, who was trained by the government for counter-terrorist purposes, be the one to get shot, acting as though he was getting out of hand. All of this is a ploy to rescue the man's granddaughter, and once he's "dead," the one who was after his blood gives away her location. They make sure she's safe, and suddenly the trained killer gets up an runs to hug his granddaughter, leaving the would-be survivor absolutely flabbergasted.

Video Games:
  • The Dark Brotherhood quest "The Assassinated Man" in The Elderscrolls IV Oblivion involves faking a client's assassination to help him escape from Loan Sharks.
  • The first victim in Gyakuten Kenji 2, Teikun , impostor of the president of Zheng Fa, is pretty much alive, as he faked his assassination attempt to gain popularity. Sadly for him, he ends up being killed in the last case.
  • ourMileageMayVary, but can be found in Professor Layton and the Unwound Future: after Layton and Luke meet Future Luke 10 years in the future (or so they think), they're attacked by a huge number of Family henchmen. However, since Future Luke, a.k.a Clive, is their boss, it's probable that they actually never intended to kill him.

Western Animation
  • Played all over the place in the Archer episode "Killing Utne". Mallory hires fake assassins to fake an attempt on the life of UN delegate Torvald Utne, so that her agents can "pretend" to kill the fake assassins and save Utne's life, thereby earning a lucrative UN contract. What the fake assassins don't know is that the ISIS agents aren't firing blanks as Mallory plans to kill them to tie up loose ends. What Mallory doesn't know is that the "fake" assassins are real assassins sent by the KGB to kill Utne for other reasons. What the head of the KGB doesn't know is that one of the assassins plans to kill Mallory instead of/in addition to Utne. What the fake assassins don't know is that the head of the KGB sent another assassin to ensure that the job gets done properly. I'll let you work out who dies in that scenario.
  • In Young Justice, Lex Luthor orchestrates a series of attempted assassinations with fellow Light member Ra's Al Ghul.
  • David Xanatos of stages an assassination attempt on himself in the Gargoyles episode "Her Brother's Keeper". For added effect, the assassins weren't actually told that the assassination had to be fake.


Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • May 13, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    Ozymandius in Watchmen. After overpowering his would-be killer, he forces a cyanide pill down his throat to make him look like a suicide attacker. What's more, Ozy was the man who really killed the Comedian.
  • May 13, 2012
    Koveras
  • May 13, 2012
    reub2000
    • In Lie To Me, the Governor is suspected of attempting to ride a "Bullet Bump" to re-election, when an assasain who seemed to be aiming at the governor pretends to miss and kills a staffer. It was actually his wife who ordered the hit, and the hitman did not miss his intended target, the staffer knew too much.
  • May 13, 2012
    Chabal2
    Zig Zagged in Machete: at first it seems Machete's hired to kill the governor, but it turns out it's this trope when he's interrupted by another sniper, the plan being to wound the senator and kill Machete. Unfortunately, he survives.

  • May 14, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In the I Robot short story "Evidence" Stephen Byerley, running for Mayor of an unnamed large city, is suspected/accused of being a humaniform robot in part because he's never hurt anyone (thus following the First Law). During a protest at one of his speeches a heckler is brought up from the crowd and dares Byerley to hit him; if he's a robot, he can't. Byerley punches him in the face. This seems to prove once and for all that Byerley is human...but What If the other man was also a robot Byerley had had constructed in order to hit?
  • May 14, 2012
    ZhongHui
    ^ Not sure if this can be used as an example, as there is no killing involved.
  • May 14, 2012
    Omeganian
  • May 15, 2012
    Nithael
    In an episode of Angel, Angel is hired by an actress to protect her from a dangerous stalker. It turns out that the stalker was hired by the actress' agent to help her gain publicity and boost her career, and she was never in real danger. Well, until she releases Angelus by mistake, that is.
  • May 15, 2012
    DrDougsh
    • David Xanatos of stages an assassination attempt on himself in the Gargoyles episode "Her Brother's Keeper". For added effect, the assassins weren't actually told that the assassination should be fake.
  • May 15, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Penn And Teller Get Killed: Penn hires someone to pretend to try to kill him, just to fuck with Teller.
  • May 15, 2012
    ZhongHui
    ^^^ May overlap with. In a Wounded Gazelle Gambit, there is nobody who pretends to attack you, and you are not necessarily in risk of dying. But that was a good point, and helped a lot, thank you! I guess the Conan example was just wrong.
  • May 15, 2012
    Unknown Troper
    Wouldn't it be more 'correct' sounding to call it a Faux Thanatos Gambit instead? or am I missing something? Also: Played straight in the movie Tom Clancy's FBI: Netforce.
  • May 15, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    The first fX film had this as a major subplot: it also had the Contract On The Hitman after the fake attempt in question.
  • May 16, 2012
    ZhongHui
    ^^ No, It would not. A Faux Thanatos Gambit would imply that the character fakes his own death. Here, he pretends to risk his life, but actually never dies. But again, I am just terrible with names, so any help is welcome.
  • May 21, 2012
    TBeholder
  • May 21, 2012
    Nithael
    • Twentieth Century Boys: An important part of the second part of the manga is Friend's plot to assassinate the Pope; though the Pope wasn't in on it, Friend (who is assumed to be dead by the entire world) wants to use it as an opportunity to "come back from the dead" to save him and be hailed as The Messiah.
  • May 22, 2012
    Shrikesnest
    Played all over the place in the Archer episode "Killing Utne". Mallory hires fake assassins to fake an attempt on the life of UN delegate Torvald Utne, so that her agents can "pretend" to kill the fake assassins and save Utne's life, thereby earning a lucrative UN contract. What the fake assassins don't know is that the ISIS agents aren't firing blanks as Mallory plans to kill them to tie up loose ends. What Mallory doesn't know is that the "fake" assassins are real assassins sent by the KGB to kill Utne for other reasons. What the head of the KGB doesn't know is that one of the assassins plans to kill Mallory instead of/in addition to Utne. What the fake assassins don't know is that the head of the KGB sent another assassin to ensure that the job gets done properly. I'll let you work out who dies in that scenario.
  • May 22, 2012
    Poprocks311
    In the Animated show Young Justice The Light pulls one of these by sending Cheshire to kill Lex Luthor, knowing she would be stopped by Red Arrow. This ended up not only giving Luthor some positive lime light but it also ended up setting up the rest of the main plot of the series.
  • May 22, 2012
    Poprocks311
    sorry just noticed thats already in the examples
  • May 22, 2012
    Rytex
    NCIS had one of these moments, though it's rather inverted. They have the man, who was trained by the government for counter-terrorist purposes, be the one to get shot, acting as though he was getting out of hand. All of this is a ploy to rescue the man's granddaughter, and once he's "dead," the one who was after his blood gives away her location. They make sure she's safe, and suddenly the trained killer gets up an runs to hug his granddaughter, leaving the would-be survivor absolutely flabbergasted.
  • June 3, 2012
    captainsandwich
    I recall a Real Life example. the politician was an israeli and he faked getting injured in the assassination attempt. then on his way to the hospital (in a car not an ambulance) to treat his fake injury he was killed for real.
  • June 3, 2012
    foxley
    In the novel Favorite Son by Steve Sohmer, and the television mini-series based on the novel, Senator Terry Fallon arranges for the assassination of contra leader Colonel Martinez and for himself to be wounded in the same attempt in order to secure the nomination for vice-president.
  • October 14, 2012
    TBeholder
    Wounded Elephant Gambit?
  • October 14, 2012
    MiinU

    Film

    • Zig-zagged in The Art of War, which first appears to play this straight, by having David Chan arrange a fake assassination attempt on himself, at a UN summit, during which he takes a bullet in his arm. But it's later revealed that, 1.) Chan wasn't the actual target, it was Chinese ambassador, Chin Xi Wu. The only reason Chan was shot, was to make it appear they were both being targeted. 2.) The shot that hit Chan was fake. When Shaw corners him, and removes the bandage, there wasn't a wound. 3.) Then Chan gets Killed Off For Real, seconds later, by the assassin he hired: Shaw's former teammate, Bly.
  • October 20, 2012
    MiinU
    bump
  • May 20, 2014
    DAN004
    Often one way for Faking The Dead.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=ohjncpq8yml9u6rm41s53zg3