Assassination Attempt

The leaders of countries — Kings, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chancellors, etc. — are the most famous, rich and as a result powerful people in the world. Everybody from their home country at least knows about them because the fate of their nation may sometime depend on them (no stress!) and that goes for any politician. Of course, for that same reason, some things a politician may do, say, or simply be may anger some residents. And some residents may be very angered to the point that they want to threaten your life and therefore attempt to.

Just as any character getting shot on TV is, assassinations are no less dramatic (of course, they do bear some Truth in Television—a public figure getting shot doesn't happen on a day-to-day basis). They have a shock value. On TV, if it's a political drama, it's probably a Wham Episode and though any public figure can be a target of one, it's almost always against the President.

Note that it isn't done by some angry commoner all the time. Sometimes, it may be a part of a Government Conspiracy. Maybe it was the CIA, or the Mafia, or the Vice President or the Russians, because you found out something you weren't supposed to or the VP is jealous.

Tragically, this is a Truth in Television, as there are various real-life examples of assassination attempts against public figures, some of which have emerged successful. Sister trope to The Kingslayer. Compare with Conspicuously Public Assassination. And because assassinations may result in death, spoilers may be unmarked. And no real-life examples!


Examples:

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    Anime 
  • In one episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig, Kuze tries to assassinate Japanese Prime Minister Yoko Kayabuki, who is meditating in a temple. Fortunately, the Major was able to save her by blocking Kuze's blade.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Frozen fanfic Becoming Free a spy disguises himself as a guard and tries to kill Elsa. Freya gets shot instead and loses her ability to work as a horse farrier. The assassin knew of Elsa's and Freya's relationship as well but it was regarded as Malicious Slander. Later, another assassination attempt occurs against Elsa but Freya also stops it.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Believe it or not, the Adam West and Burt Ward picture Batman: The Movie revolves around assassination. Specifically, Batman's Rogues Gallery prepares a device to turn the members of the World Council into a powder and send the world into chaos.
  • Harvey Dent dodges this throughout The Dark Knight as a result of his war on the mobs of Gotham. Less focal characters like the police commissioner and a local judge deal with this without Dent's luck.
  • Death of a President is a 2006 Mockumentary positing the fall-out of the assassination of George W. Bush by a disgruntled Syrian-American man. President Cheney authorizes PATRIOT Act II authorizing even more extensive invasions of privacy and sending the U.S. on the way to becoming a police state. However, the end of the film reveals that the real assassin was the father of a U.S. soldier who was killed in Iraq.
  • The Jackal is a remake of the French movie (and book) The Day of the Jackal, but here the Jackal is hired by Russian mobsters to assassinate the Director of the FBI because they dealt their organization a blow in a joint operation with the FSB. In fact, his real target is the First Lady of the United States.
  • The Madness of King George has an early scene where the King descends from a podium, and is set upon by a madwoman, who attempts to stab him. His Majesty is remarkably composed during this affront, and is unhurt by it. He mentions to a minister that a butter knife is a poor weapon, which is what the dotty widow used. The scene establishes that King George was observant and rational during the early stages of his affliction; this lucidity is slowly eroded as his condition worsens.
  • When a White House intern is found dead in Murder At 1600, President Neil is implicated, and vilified by the press. However, once Detective Regis deduces the culprit and the motive, The Starscream sees his effort to sunder national policy crumble, and grabs a pistol. The Villain fires one sloppy shot at the President, which results in Only a Flesh Wound. The Secret Service promptly swiss-cheese The Starscream on the spot.
  • The protagonist from Nick of Time is "recruited" to assassinate Governor Grant by a cabal of disgruntled underlings. If he refuses, or fails, or otherwise disappoints the conspirators, they will kill the protagonist's young daughter in cold blood.
  • The Mole from Salt succeeds in moving the President and his retinue into the subterranean bunker below the White House. There, he is able to wrest away a pistol from a treasury agent, and massacres almost everyone, including the President. Using the corpse's thumbprint, The Mole is able to initiate the nuclear launch protocol. It's up to Double Reverse Quadruple Agent Evelyn Salt to regain control of the command bunker and issue a stand-down order.
  • Shooter: The major driving point in the film is the assassination attempt at the US President during a public speech with the priest from Ethiopia, and our hero Bob Swagger is thought as responsible. It turns out to be the machinations of an Army veteran senator whose goons conveniently kills the Ethiopian bishop (because he's going to uncover the war crime that said senator had committed in Ethiopia) while making it look like an attempt at the president and pulling our hero to help "guard" the president.
  • John Harrison of Star Trek Into Darkness sets up a terrorist attack on a government facility in order to get all of the Galactic Federation's leaders in one room. Once they're all assembled, Harrison flies by the meeting in his ship and guns down anyone he can before making his escape to the other side of the galaxy.
  • Star Wars: Attack of the Clones opens with two assassination attempts on Senator Padmé Amidala, forcing her into hiding, protected by Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker.
  • Valkyrie centers on a dramatized depiction of the Thursday 20 July 1944 attempt by Colonel von Stauffenberg and others to plant a bomb in the Nazis' Wolf's Lair headquarters to kill Adolf Hitler and his generals. They almost succeed.

    Literature 
  • The plot of The Emperor's Soul concerns an emperor made comatose by a partially-successful assassination.
  • The serial killer in the James Bond novel Never Send Flowers has this as his gimmick. The climax of the book has him trying to assassinate Princess Diana at Disneyland.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince sees a cursed necklace and poisoned mead nearly kill regular students instead of figures of greater importance at Hogwarts the items were clearly meant for. Figures like, for instance, Professor Dumbledore.
  • The ambush and assassination of the FBI director during his trip to Colombia in Clear and Present Danger infuriates the President and leads to an escalation in the covert actions the CIA is taking against the cartel.
  • Executive Orders: An unnamed Expy of Saddam Hussein is assassinated by one of his bodyguards - who was a sleeper agent from Iran - and a second sleeper agent is given orders to assassinate Jack Ryan, the President of the United States. He isn't successful.
  • In the recent novel Commander In Chief, the North Korean intelligence agency hires a bomb maker from the Middle East to build a large bomb near the route the Presidential motorcade would take in Mexico City, in order to attempt to kill President Ryan.
  • The Day of the Jackal centres on an assassination attempt on French President Charles De Gaulle by the OAS, carried out by a professional assassin known only as The Jackal. It fails.
  • In the Star Trek: Cold Equations novel Silent Weapons, Federation President Nanietta Bacco survives an assassination attempt by the Breen, one of the members of the rival alliance the Typhon Pact.
  • The Discworld novels Jingo and Men at Arms both revolve around assassination attempts, one on a contender for the leadership of the state of Klatch, and one on Patrician Vetinari, ruler of Ankh-Morpork. Vetinari is also attacked with poison in Feet of Clay.
  • The Three Musketeers. Milady de Winter is sent to England to kill the Duke of Buckingham. The Duke imprisons her and assigns his servant Felton to guard her. Milady convinces Felton to free her and kill the Duke for her, which he does.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Friday. While passing through the California Confederacy, Friday foils an assassination attempt on the Chief Confederate, John "Warwhoop" Tumbril.
  • In multiple Hammer's Slammers stories Joachim Steuben, Colonel Hammer's sociopathic and utterly loyal bodyguard, assassinates political figures who are inconvenient to the mercenary commander's plans. Then in "A Death in Peacetime", set after Hammer's coup of New Friesland, then head of State Sec Steuben is apparently killed by a sniper, possibly hired by him.
  • In his thinly-disguised Author Tract, Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End - The Story of a Crime (Mellan sommarens längtan och vinterns köld), Swedish author Leif G.W. Persson uses 'the novel as a fictionalisation of his theory that Olof Palme was murdered by dissident right-wing elements in the police and security services. The reason why the crime remains unsolved is that the police officers involved staged a big cover-up. Persson worked at a high level for the Swedish Police and was sacked for whistle-blowing on incompetent cops. It is very possible he is telling something of what he knows here. The novel is about the real-life Palme assassination in every detail except name.
  • There's quite a few in the Honor Harrington series. A few examples that stand out:
    • Honor and Nimitz establish their reputation with the people of Grayson by saving their head of state from an assassination attempt by religious fanatics in The Honor of the Queen.
    • The plot of Crown Of Slaves is kicked off by the assassination of a well-known public figure. By the end of the massive Gambit Pileup that ensues, two more assassinations have taken place (including the death of the man who ordered the first murder).
    • A series of assassination attempts (one successful, the rest failed with significant collateral damage) is used by the Mesans to sabotage a potential truce in At All Costs.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24
    • Mandy infects President David Palmer with a poisonous toxin.
    • President Omar Hassan is assassinated.
    • Members of the Palmer Administration conspire to assassinate the President.
    • Aaron Pierce foils an assassination attempt on the Russian President Yuri Suvarov and his wife Anya.
    • Audrey Raines was close to assassinating Christopher Henderson, but her morality got the best of her.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Earth Alliance: At the end of the first season President Santiago's ship explodes under mysterious circumstances. In the next couple seasons considerable evidence that Vice President Clark was behind it is uncovered.
    • Centauri Republic: Lord Refa has Londo's mistress poisoned (actually, it was Morden, who framed Refa for the murder to drive Londo back to the Shadows' side), Londo arranges for Refa to be beaten to death by a group of Narn rebels, and a couple episodes after his introduction Londo and Vir decide that Emperor Cartagia needs to die for the good of the galaxy. Vir ends up sticking a poisoned needle between Cartagia's hearts.
  • Blackadder the Third: Prince George attends a play that's interrupted by a Bomb Throwing Anarchist. He has some difficulty in understanding that he's the target, not his butler.
  • Designated Survivor
    • The series opens with a massive terrorist attack blowing up the Capitol Building during the State of the Union Address, killing the President, Vice-President, most of the Cabinet and most of Congress.
    • In the Season 1 mid-season finale, Catalan attempts to shoot President Kirkman during Vice-President MacLeish's swearing-in ceremony. The following episode reveals that, due to Agent Wells' interference, the shot went wild, and only non-seriously wounded Kirkman.
  • In House of Cards (US), Lucas Goodwin seeks revenge against President Frank Underwood by killing him. He only succeeds in wounding him (albeit severely; Underwood spends several episodes in the hospital needing a liver transplant), before suffering a Mutual Kill with Underwood's chief Secret Service agent, Edward Meechum.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Anton Gorev from Madam Secretary is assassinated in "The Long Shot", just as he announced his intention to run for the presidency in Russia.
  • The Man in the High Castle:
    • A plot involves the attempted assassination of the Japanese Crown Prince.
    • At the end of the first season, Wegener is sent on a mission to kill Adolf Hitler. Hitler gives Wegener the choice of completing his mission, or killing himself and allowing Hitler to prevent rogue elements of his government from inciting a war with Japan. Wegener chooses the latter.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: The episode "The Spy Who Came up to the Cold" opens with the assassination of US President William McKinley.
  • Scandal
    • President Fitzgerald Grant is shot en route to his fiftieth birthday party.
    • The President's son Jerry is poisoned with a bacterial strain of meningitis which kills him.
    • The 40th President Edward Cooper was shot in the head, which finally managed to kill him around thirty years later when he suffers from an aneurysm.
    • VP Andrew Nichols stages an assassination attempt to get Fitz to declare war on West Angola.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In the season 1 finale "In the Hands of the Prophets", the ultra-orthodox Vedeknote  Winn Adami orchestrates an assassination attempt against Vedek Bareil Antos, a religious and political moderate and her rival for the title of Kainote . The attempt is foiled but Winn isn't implicated, and the religious/political conflict continues for some time (including the opening three-parter of the next season where Winn secretly backs a coup attempt against the Bajoran provisional government).
    • In the later seasons the Federation-supporting No Such Agency Section 31 tries to use biological weapons to kill off the Founders, the shapeshifter rulers of the Dominion.

    Theatre 
  • Macbeth revolves around Macbeth's cold murder of King Duncan and the downward spiral Macbeth falls into trying to ensure his continued rule by killing anyone else of political significance.
  • Assassins is all about attempted assassinations of U.S. presidents, both successful and failed.

    Video Games 
  • Crusader Kings II has a plot system that allows any character to plan the assassination of any character in diplomatic range. This requires you to gather at least one co-conspirator to help out, with a variety of possible methods (e.g. poisoned wine, Disney Villain Death, ambush with a Rain of Arrows, blowing up their house with manure) and outcomes (e.g. plot leaks and other people blackmail you to keep the secret, target survives but isn't alerted, target dies but you're implicated). You can also order an assassination using the Intrigue focus with the Way of Life DLC, and earlier versions had an option to try to kill somebody with the diplomatic menu (an option that returned in version 2.6 as part of the new toggle-able game rules system).
  • Assassin's Creed allows the player relive dozens of historical assassinations as carried out by members of the fictional Assassin's Brotherhood. Targets range from Crusaders like Robert de Sable to American Revolutionaries like Charles Lee.
  • The plot of Batman: Arkham Origins comes down to a young Batman surviving eight of these while catching the man who put a price on his head, Black Mask, a mob boss who has an interest in keeping crime high in Gotham.
    • Killer Croc happens to meet Batman in Blackgate prison and fails to beat him in a bearknuckle brawl.
    • The Electrocutioner boastfully confronts Batman in Penguin's base while showing off his electrical gloves. Batman kicks him in the face and he goes down in that one blow.
    • Deathstroke attacks Batman in the Penguin's base and engages him in a three-phase duel using his Bow Staff, katana and grappling hook to no avail.
    • Lady Shiva turns out to have no interest in assassination, and only seeks to test Batman's abilities for her master.
    • Copperhead catches Batman off-guard and injects him with a toxic hallucinogen. She waits a few minutes for it to really kick before engaging him, but he manages to cure himself and take her down in one blow.
    • Deadshot holds a man hostage in the Gotham Bank, and orders Batman to confront him or have blood on his plan. Batman sneaks around the bank, and silently takes down Deadshot and his goons.
    • Firefly is one of the last assassins to confront Batman. That's because he spent the night setting bombs up along the Pioneer's Bridge, forcing Batman to work with the GCPD to diffuse the bombs while avoiding Firefly so he doesn't blow the bridge the hell as soon as he sees Batman on it.
    • And lastly, there's the most dangerous of the assassins, Bane. He tries to take Batman head on at the Royal Hotel before the fight gets broken up by the GCPD. Later, Bane forces Batman in a situation where he either has to die or kill one of his enemies, hoping to play on his "Thou Shalt Not Kill" policy. Batman tricks the Joker to get out of that, prompting Bane to take an extreme dose of his strength enhancing drug, turning him into a snarling monster. Even then, Batman manages to fight Bane and defeat the final assassin.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain:
    • The game opens with one on Big Boss, having just awoken from a nine year coma, courtesy of a fully equipped military kill squad. One assassin in particular is set on fire while choking Boss to death; she comes back later with impeccable aim, supernatural speed and a score to settle with the Boss. Needless to say, she joins his team after they fight.
    • A frequent mission template in the game involves eliminating enemy commanders for whoever hired the hit. Generally, they want the commander assassinated, but Miller often advises recruiting them to Mother Base so as not to waste good talent. Missions that follow this include Episode 3: "A Hero's Way," Episode 7: "Red Brass," Episode 8: "Occupation Forces," Episode 19: "On The Trail," Episode 21: "The War Economy," Episode 22: "Retake the Platform," Episode 26: "Hunting Down," Episode 41: "Proxy War Without End," and most significantly, Episode 30: "Skull Face."
      • Episode 18: "Blood Runs Deep" appears to function like the above mission; Venom Snake has been hired to eliminate six rebel soldiers that are currently imprisoned to make sure they don't leak any information to the enemy. It turns out five of them are child soldiers, so Snake goes against the mission in order to bring them safely to Mother Base.

    Visual Novel 
  • The Japan-only sequel to Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth features this, with the first case involving an attempted assassination of the President of Zheng Fa, and the last case begging with the same president discovered dead. In truth, the present president was a fake. He was a Body Double who plotted the murder and replacement of the real president 12 years prior in a fit of jealousy. However, he wasn't strong nor courageous as the real president. The assassination attempt in the first case was in fact faked in order to make him more popular. As for the fake's murder, he was killed by the game's Big Bad, who witnessed the assassination of the real president as a young boy, and was hunted down for knowing too much.

    Webcomic 
  • In The Order of the Stick, it's apparently common in Azure City for nobles to attempt to murder the Lord of the city over decisions they disagree with. Shojo recalls surviving an attack from someone unhappy with the decision to implement meatloaf day, which led him to practice Obfuscating Insanity to let the nobles think he was a less effective ruler than he actually was. Starting very shortly after taking the throne, Hinjo suffered a series of assassination attempts from Daimyo Kubota until Kubota's death.

    Western Animation 
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • "Night of A Thousand Stars" sees a group of Waterbenders attempt to attack President Raiko, coinciding with his neutrality in the face of the Water Tribe Civil War. It turns out the whole thing was staged by shady industrialist Varrick to anger Raiko into entering the war.
    • Zaheer rejects political leadership and his team have no qualms with casually killing a head of state. They pull this off in "Long Live the Queen" by suffocating the Earth Queen on-screen and sending her ancient monarchy into anarchy; the finale sees them try the same trick again on Korra herself with only slightly less success.
    • The Earth Queen's spoiled nephew, Prince Wu, is constantly under-threat of this as the next-in-line for the Earth Kingdom throne. His bodyguard, Officer Mako, sometimes wishes the attempts were successful.
  • Star Wars Rebels: In "Through Imperial Eyes", the Reverse Mole reprograms Grand Admiral Thrawn's assassin droids to get rid of the Override Command and sics them on Thrawn in his office. Although the attempt fails, it does succeed in the other goal of giving Ezra and Chopper the opportunity to escape from Thrawn's office, where they'd been forced to hide when he came in.
  • Parodied in Steven Universe. One scene has Steven targeting the mayor and shooting him with t-shirts.
  • A later arc in X-Men forces the team to protect Senator Robert Kennedy from death, or be forced to endure a Bad Future (thanks to him becoming a martyr and inspiring a Superhero Registration Act/genocide).


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AssassinationAttempt