Conspicuously Public Assassination
"Ronnie Kray, one of the two Kray Twins who basically run organized crime in London, commits the murder he'll finally be sent away for when he walks into the Blind Beggar pub and shoots George Cornell in the head... Kray would manage to get away with this for three years by virtue of the fact that nobody was actually stupid enough to testify against a man who walked into pubs and shot people dead, this being a sort of tautological behavior."
So there's the Evil Overlord
sitting on his throne, when a figure in black suddenly appears looking like Death himself. He strikes a fatal blow and the crowd is so shocked (and/or the victim so unpopular
) that no one makes much effort to stop the assassin. As was noted by the titular assassin of Day of the Jackal
, assassination is relatively easy; getting away is the hard part. However, this is the opposite, a Refuge in Audacity
on the assassin's part, which no one minds because it is just that cool
or they're simply dumbstruck.
If the Target employs Swiss Cheese Security
, they deserve it.
There is some Truth in Television here, as oftentimes the assassin is intended to be caught or killed. This is called a "lost" assassination and is popular among terrorist groups, the insane, and groups manipulating the insane for plausible deniability.
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- Used in the final episode of Code Geass, in which Suzaku dressed as Zero kills Emperor Lelouch. In this case, it makes a lot of sense why everything occurs so neatly, as Genre Savvy Lelouch planned his death to ensure a better world, and deliberately made himself the most stereotypical, over the top Evil Overlord he could be, just so he could unite the world in their hatred of him.
- Some of the hits the ladies make in Noir are like this. One example was at a party; Kirika hurls a fork across the room into the neck (and apparently the spine) of a military target. They do use stealth in the sense of "nobody suspects the flower girls", but... really. Another hit involved taking out the target while they were still in police custody, but Chloe got to them first. Actually, it seems the most dangerous hits tended to be the ones where they tried to be sneaky, because this allowed for the would-be ambushees to ambush them.
- At one point Mireille gets the drop on one of the leading members of the Ancient Conspiracy simply by waltzing into his office and shooting the guards.
- Of course he wanted her to find him. It probably wouldn't have been that easy otherwise.
- Spiritual Successor Madlax gets away with assassinating the head of the military during a speech by sniping him from farther away than his security thought possible. (Apparently they'd never heard of Carlos Hathcock.) The elite Cold Sniper assisting with the security arrangements immediately figures out what happened, but she isn't able to stop Madlax before she gets away.
- In Naruto, assassinations seem to be composed mostly of grand, elaborate battles with huge elemental attacks that shred the landscape and are visible from several kilometers away. Appropriate for the show that practically defines Highly-Visible Ninja.
- In hindsight, this explains why a attack described as sounding like a thousand birds and is a glowing ball of lightning was developed as an assassination attack. In part one, it seemed silly. Compared to part two? Subtle.
- Justified, in part, in that many of the victims will be Glass Cannon types, or more durable than that, who are perfectly capable of wielding that much destrutive power themselves, and employ all sorts of deceptive security measures and can even sense killing intent. In other words, if you try the subtle method, you'll probably fail, and either way you better be ready for an epic, uber-violent and highly destructive battle if you truly want this person dead.
- To be fair, very few actual assassination attempts happen on-screen, and practically all the successful ones happen off. Zabuza has to defeat Kakashi and co. to kill the relatively harmless bridge builder; Orochimaru assassinated the Third Hokage in the middle of a massive invasion, but the invasion was the real plan anyway, and he wanted to humiliate his old mentor in battle; Sai was going to kill Sasuke in his sleep but decided to spare him (and Sasuke was awake anyway); Sasuke tries to kill Orochimaru and succeeds when he is seriously ill and nearly on his death bed, and still has a dangerous fight on his hands; Jiraiya has no idea what Pain looks like and is intercepted by him first... and so on. On the flip-side, Sai is carrying around a handbook of a whole list of people he has managed to kill, and is implied to have been subtle about it (at the very least, nobody knew he was the killer).
- In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, an assassin knows about the Jackal quote, so he simply decides not to worry about escaping. He smuggles a rifle into the country as a decoy, and his actual plan is to infiltrate the crowd and run up to his target with a combat knife and flower bouquet full of explosives. Fortunately, the heroes are badass enough to figure it out Justin Time and stop him.
- In Fables, Boy Blue assassinates The Adversary in front of hundreds of witnesses. The fact that memory altering charms exist and that the Adversary is a giant, easily fixed puppet make this a slightly less than successful murder, and the Empire takes the Kill All The Witnesses approach to be safe.
- Frank Castle aka the Punisher
- Averted in Preacher: Starr's right-hand man suggests killing Allfather D'Aronique, claiming that other Allfathers did the same. Starr points out that the previous Allfathers "quietly had each other garroted" instead of sudden public attacks, and that they'll be shot down by the guards if they try it. When Starr does make his move, he does so at a point where there will be no witnesses (save one he later throws into a propeller).
- Mario Greymist's assassination of The Emperor in Steven Brust's Dragaera book Five Hundred Years After. That character definitely has a link with death- grey is the in-universe color of death. (It is also associated with the Greymist Valley, which is located just above Deathgate Falls.) Justified in that Mario was allied with the prospective claimant to the throne and would have been rewarded if all went according to plan.
- In Richard Condon's The Manchurian Candidate, the assassination of the presidential nominee was planned not only to occur on live television during the convention, but at a specific point in the nominee's acceptance speech.
- In the Discworld book Night Watch, which is a sort of prequel, Lord Vetinari, then a student assassin kills one of the previous Patricians at a party. There is an explicit comparison with Death (a la Masque of the Red Death) as effort had been made to spook the Patrician beforehand, so in a Crowning Moment Of Awesome, when Vetinari appeared, the Patrician died of a heart attack before he struck the fatal blow.
- Done at multiple levels in Crown Of Slaves by David Weber. During the coronation at the end of the book, Lieutenant Governor Cassetti is killed in front of thousands of people and dozens of notables from the various political groups around Torch. Averted at one level, because Scrags are instantly found with the murder weapon, but played absolutely straight at another level because Thandi Palane planted the evidence of their guilt and had her guards kill them so they couldn't be questioned, such that she was standing in full view of everyone while she executed him.
- The Executioner. One-Man Army Mack Bolan often starts his 'blitz' on a local Mafia family this way. He turns up at several mob joints, calmly states the name of his target, whom he then kills along with their bodyguards in an impressive display of shooting. This quickly gets the Mafia 'mobbed up' in a 'hardsite' where Bolan can destroy them with overwhelming firepower without worrying about innocents getting in the way.
- In The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsythe, the Jackal plans to assassinate Charles DeGaulle at a public event — notably the award ceremony on Liberation Day, the one occasion he can be certain the President of France will turn up, no matter what threats have been made against his life.
- In The Shadow Speaker, the Rightful Queen Returns and beheads the protagonist's father, who had taken over rule of her village in Niger, in the middle of a meeting.
- Several of the components of Operation Minefield in the Star Wars novel Solo Command follow this mold. Taking the cake is probably the planned dual assassination of General Han Solo and Commander Wedge Antilles, during full military maneuvers'', by pilots ostensibly under Antilles's command ("attempted" because both are foiled by fellow pilots). Both operatives were Brainwashed and Crazy, making their survival actually a liability to Zsinj's plan and, more importantly, they didn't need to kill anyone to succeed — the public nature of the assassinations and other, simultaneous acts of terror is intended to drive up fear of specific alien minorities that Zsinj can use to divide the New Republic.
- In Elmore Leonard's Pronto mob hitmen Tommy Bucks lampshades the fact that he can walk into a crowded restaurant, shoot his target in the head and then walk out without any witnesses being able to fully identify him. It is implied that he killed people like this in the past but the one time he tries to do so in the book he is instead met by US Marshal Raylan Givens. Raylan plays out his own version of this trope since he is perfectly willing to gun down Tommy in a public place even if Tommy does not draw his gun first. Tommy murdered a man right in front of Raylan and was not charged with the crime so Raylan is determined to prove to Tommy that ultimately one cannot get away with committing a murder in front of a US Marshal.
- Masked Dog by Raymond Obstfeld. A convicted criminal is used to test an experimental drug which eliminates fear and gives him the ability to retain vast amounts of information. After using his skills to escape, he decides to become a master assassin, announcing that he will prove his skills by killing a foreign dignitary. The good guys are expecting sniper rifles, bombs, etc — instead he pulls up alongside the dignitary's car, shouting and carrying on like a road rage hoodlum. The security team, torn between watching this idiot and trying to keep an eye out for the "real" threat, get caught in a Car Fu accident which the killer arranged by memorising the traffic light patterns.
- Damar's killing of Supreme Legate Dukat in Star Trek Mirror: Rise Like Lions: walking out on the balcony Dukat is holding a speech to the public from and shooting him in the back of his head. Granted, getting to the balcony would probably have been hard if Damar, as Dukat's de-facto second-in-command and closest thing to a friend, wasn't supposed to hang out in the Legate's office while Dukat held his speeches. Exactly how this allowed Damar to take over the Cardassian Union is a bit unclear, since that's not how you're supposed to handle things in the Union. It gives people ideas they shouldn't have.
- In Harry Harrison's Stars And Stripes Alternate History trilogy, Abraham Lincoln misses the fateful play due to the illness of his son (note: this is not the point of divergence, that happens earlier). Later, Lincoln is coming out of a building in another city, and an assassin, hiding in the crowd, fires at him with a pistol but misses. After the assassin is shot, someone recognizes him as a mediocre actor named John Wilkes Booth. Guess he's only a good shot at point-blank range.
- The Fall of the Kings has this as its climax. Nicholas Galing attempts to kill Theron, who's looking like a case of Rightful King Returns, in front of a huge crowd at a public debate. Theron's lover Basil jumps in front of the knife to protect him and is killed instead.
Live Action TV
- The Master does this to the President of Gallifrey in the Doctor Who serial The Deadly Assassin, having first lured the Doctor into a position where he can take the fall for the assassination.
- The neo-Nazis who shoot at the president's entourage in The West Wing are easily shot by the Secret Service through the window of the office building they're in. Later we find out that they had no ID on them, implying they expected to die.
- Nucky Thompson suffers an assassination attempt in each season of Boardwalk Empire. In the first season, the D'Alessio brothers try to gun him down on a crowded boardwalk during a summer night; in the second one, it's his former protege, James Darmody, in an even more crowded nightclub, while heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey is giving a speech as part of an advertising campaign. Both times the killer is actually under orders of a bigger fish that wants to replace Thompson as the crime boss of Atlantic City and wants people to see his rival's demise. Every other assassination in the show happens in a more private setting and is successful more often than not.
- JAG: The female assassin in “Washington Holiday” tries to do this twice, first in Brussels and later in DC.
- On Grimm two Blutbad criminals are killed publicly in a police station in front of TV cameras. The criminals flouted a centuries old compact binding all Wesen and their actions threatened to expose the existence of Wesen to the human public. The assassination was a message from the Wesen Council that such actions would not be tolerated. At the end of the episode, the Wesen Council official mentions that such displays are necessary about once a generation in order to reinforce the rules.
- In the Wiseguy episode "New Blood", Harry Shanstra explains the three types of mob assassins to Vinnie: long, short and prima facie. After hearing the definitions for the first two types, Vinnie guesses that "prima facie" means walking up to the target and sticking a gun in his face. It doesn't, and Harry tells him that anyone who would do that is an idiot. (In this context, "prima facie" means planting a bomb in the target's immediate vicinity.)
- Mission: Impossible: In "Reprisal", a rogue IMF agent is attempting to frame Jim Phelps for murder. He disguises himself as Jim and garottes a woman in a crowded hotel lobby. He slips away from the shocked crowd long enough to strip off the Latex Perfection mask and, when Jim arrives at the hotel to try to stop him, he is immediately pursued by the police.
- In the pilot of Earth: Final Conflict, the Taelon representative Da'an is giving a public speech in Ohio, praising the cooperation between humans and Taelons, as well as the end to world hunger thanks to Taelon technology. A cop named William Boone assigned as part of the security detail spots a Laser Sight from a sniper rifle and yells for Da'an to get down. The billionaire Jonathan Doors jumps in front of Da'an and is seemingly killed by the shot. It's difficult to believe that someone like Da'an wouldn't be protected better than that. While the whole thing was revealed to be a set up by Doors to fake his death in order to secretly run La Résistance, it's difficult to believe that a sniper would be able to get into a building within shooting range of such a high profile dignitary. On the other hand, a later episode reveals that Taelons are immune to bullets, so maybe Da'an insisted that human authorities don't bother with tight security.
- In the official setting for the science fiction game Traveller, Arch-Duke Dulinor attempted to claim the Imperial Throne by shooting Emperor Strephon while the monarch sat on his throne. It didn't work out to well for him in the end.
- In Warhammer 40,000 universe Eversor temple assassins exist to kill their target in most public and brutal way possible. It is said to be the most effective against Orks and Khornate followers, since both of them ultimately respect brute force.
- In the Hitman games, you can play it two ways. Go in there guns blazing and kill everyone you see just for shits and gigs or carefully infiltrate and strike at your target unnoticed; Mass Murderer and Silent Assassin, respectively.
- Although not having to do with assassination except storyline-wise, it's possible for the player in Metal Gear Solid 4 to on lower difficulties go in guns blazing on the way to their next objective, so long as the character is tactically sensible; on Solid Normal and higher difficulties the damage taken tends to make combat (or at least use of unsuppressed weapons) out of boss fights a bad idea.
- Assassin's Creed I is a game where you play as a hashashin, almost all the assassinations here are like this, including the one in the opening credits.
- A failed attempt at one of these in the beginning of the game gets your character busted down to novice, mostly for being an overconfident and arrogant idiot.
- In the second game, the protagonist finds notes from the first game's protagonist, after he killed the traitorous hashashins' leader and took over, saying that they need to abandon flashy public assassinations (as well as their reluctance to use poison and other moral rules) in order to survive.
- Ironically, 3/4 of the assassinations that you carry out in Assassin's Creed II are still perfect examples of this trope. Heck, one of them was even carried out in broad daylight, at a social event of sorts. Ezio has the time to stab his target's corpse repeatedly and scream his own name to the heavens (with all the gusto of a man on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge) while onlookers gasp/scream and the guards began to catch on. So much for stealth...
- At this point, however, Ezio is not an assassin yet, just a guy with a blade and a grudge. He becomes much subtler after learning of his heritage (apparently, in Assassin's Creed, being an Assassin is a genetic condition).
- It's possible for anyone to become an Assassin, but only a few people possess the gift of Eagle Vision, the difference between being an Assassin and being an Assassin.
- One mission has you preventing an assassination. In this case, the Pazzi flunkies of the Templars are attempting to assassinate members of the House of Medici. They partly succeed, but Ezio manages to save Lorenzo de' Medici, who becomes his staunch ally. This assassination is also as public as they come and on holy ground during Easter Mass, no less. Then again, Templars are atheists. That attempted assassination, and the coup attempt that followed (Minus Ezio's role, naturally), actually happened in Real Life.
- If the trailer of the game is to be a trusted example of a typical assassination in-game (and prior trailers generally have), Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood will bring Ezio back more in line with his ancestor Altair - that is, in the aspect of jumping into a large crowd of onlookers, dicing guards right left and centre, and charging straight into his prospective target. Only this time, he has backup. Of the (hopefully) competent variety.
- And not just any old crowd. A crowd of gathered cardinals at the Vatican.
- The difference this time is that Ezio is actively searching for potential Assassins. Nothing quite like drumming up recruits like slaughtering the men who've been actively oppressing you for over a decade.
- Lampshaded by the Literal Trailer for the game, which keeps making note that the target is still fine despite all the time spent killing guards and acting "awesome".
- In Final Fantasy VIII Edea kills President Deling during her New Era Speech, while the entire city cheers at her wildly. Visiting the city later will reveal that she mind-controlled everyone during the act, though it isn't told why the heroes weren't affected.
- Many of the Dark Brotherhood quests in Skyrim expects you to do this (one of your Brothers actually recommend this as a tactic), particularily if you want the bonus. Executing the Emperor's cousin during her wedding is best done while she's adressing the crowd, and can be done in a number of ways that will ensure you're seen, including stabbing, fireballs, sniping her from across the yard, or dropping a stone gargoyle on her.
- Gyakuten Kenji 2 (Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth 2), features as it's first case, the attempted assassination of the President of the Republic of Zheng Fa, a fictional country, during the middle of a public speech he is giving. The assassin at first was thought to have been a member of the crowd who rose a pistol and tried shooting the president dead in front of everyone else. Subverted in that the real shooter was actually the presidents guard who was on stage at the time and hide his hand with the gun in it, while he fired the shots. Then subverted further in that the entire assassination was faked by the president himself, with his guards helping.
- Futurama's A Pharaoh to Remember. Bender (the new pharaoh) orders the slaves to build a giant statue of himself that eventually reaches up into space. Despite the slaves building it to Bender's will and him overseeing it directly, once it is complete:
Head: Does it please you, My Lord?
Bender: Hmmm...it's a good start. Ehh, yeah, it's definitely big alright. I just wonder...if it's too big...
Priest: But Sire, we made it to your exact specifications!
Bender: Too exact if you ask me! Tear it down and try again, but this time, don't embarrass yourselves.
(the designers tie Bender up like a mummy in full view of everyone)
Priest: "Ladies and gentlemen, the Pharaoh suddenly died."
(the slaves cheer)
- Truth in Television: The word assassin comes from hashashin, which may mean either "hashish user" or "follower of Hassan (ibn Sabbah)". Either way, these Islamic assassins would kill in broad daylight, anticipating that if killed, they would be rewarded in Paradise as martyrs.
- Saladin besieged their chief Syrian stronghold of Masyaf during his reconquest of Outremer in 1176. He later lifted the siege after an assassin Rashid ad-Din Sinan snuck into Saladin's tent in the heart of his camp, and left a poisoned cake and a note on Saladin's chest as he slept saying "You are in our grip" and then snuck back out of the camp unharmed.
- In Roman-occupied Judea, a group known as the Sicarii ("knife men") would assassinate their targets (Romans or Roman sympathizers) in public places and slip away by pretending to be one of the panicking crowd.
- King Henri IV of France was stabbed to death in 1610 by a Catholic fanatic (Henri was a moderate who had converted from Protestantism to Catholicism out of convenience) while his carriage was stuck in traffic during the Queen's coronation ceremony.
- Simon Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor of England at the time of the Peasant's Revolt (1381) was so unpopular that the guards at the Tower of London allowed the rebels to walk in and seize him. He was dragged to Tower Hill and beheaded.
- U.S. Presidents for 400, Alex:
- President Andrew Jackson's would-be assassin ambushed ol' Hickory while he was walking with his entourage in DC. Unfortunately for him, both of his prepared pistols misfired. What followed was an attempt by Jackson to beat the man into a paste with his cane. He had to be physically restrained to keep him from killing the man. One can only assume that Jackson was not amused by the assassin's audacity.
- Used to great effect by John Wilkes Booth when he assassinated Abraham Lincoln at a crowded theater. There were soldiers present in the audience, with sidearms. Booth managed to shoot Lincoln, jump down from the President's box onto the stage, break his leg while landing, give a Bond One-Liner, run offstage, leave the theater, get his horse, and gallop away. Nobody stopped him. From later witness interviews, reactions when it happened varied from "wait, is there a gunshot in this play? I don't think there is" to "oh, it's John Wilkes Booth, popular actor, I know that guy. Why's he jumping on stage in a play he's not in?" The act was so brazen that by the time anyone wrapped their head around what had just happened, Booth was long gone.
- James Garfield was shot in a train station. There weren't a ton of people around, but the assassin, Charles Guiteau, was a nutjob who reportedly yelled, "I did it and I want to be arrested!" afterwards, which is always helpful.
- Next was William McKinley, who was shot while gladhanding the crowd at the Pan-American Exposition. One of his bodyguards admitted at the trial that he may not have seen the assassin, Polish-American anarchist Leon Czogolsz, because he was distracted by the Scary Black Man standing behind him. (The crowd, including said Scary Black Man, did attack Czogolsz, and McKinley, who knew he was dying, asked the bodyguards to stop them.)
- In the category of "attempted assassinations," Theodore Roosevelt was shot as he was about to make a speech — which he went on to give. (See Pocket Protector.) The speech — the vast bulk of which is just ordinary campaigning — is now often identified as "I Have Just Been Shot."
- TR's namesake and relative Franklin D. Roosevelt was himself the target of an attempted assassination while President-Elect while in Florida in February 1933 (back then, the President was inaugurated in March); an Italian bricklayer and radical socialist (or something) Giuseppe Zangara shot FDR in the middle of a crowd hearing him speak from the back of a car (it was a semi-unplanned speech). Or should we say, shot at FDR, as the President-Elect was completely unharmed; the would-be assassin was so short that he had to stand on a chair to get a clear view, and even then a doctor's wife knocked into his arm, deflecting the first shot, and then pulled him down, keeping subsequent shots from going anywhere. However, some shots hit five other people. One was a local woman, who died shortly thereafter; the other eventuallynote killed Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak (who happened to be traveling with Roosevelt). The latter death fueled theories that Cermak had been the actual target and Zangara had been hired by The Mafia to kill a noted enemy of theirs: Cermak had stepped up enforcement against the Chicago Outfit.
- John F. Kennedy was sort of shot in the middle of a parade. And Lee Harvey Oswald was sort of shot on national television.
- Bobby Kennedy was shot by Sirhan Sirhan while walking through a crowd during his campaign. Sirhan claims to have been brainwashed by the CIA.
- Finally, like McKinley, Ronald Reagan was shot by an apparent admirer among the crowd he was greeting. Again, the crowd and Secret Service attacked Hinckley (reacting very quickly in this case).
- Kawakami Gensai (the basis for Himura Kenshin) assassinated Sakuma Shōzan in broad daylight.
- Ali Agca tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II in the dense crowd that usually accompanies ceremonies in Vatican.
- There really was a conspicuously public assassination attempt on Qinshihuangdi (the same emperor of Qin as depicted in the above film); Qin law prevented anyone in the court from carrying weapons in the throne room, and the emperor was, at first, in too much of a panic to draw his own sword or to call for the armed guards waiting outside.
- The conspicuously public assassination attempt on Archduke Franz Ferdinand failed, but the Archduke's driver got lost heading to the hospital so he could talk to the wounded, passing by the place where one of the assassins, Gavrilo Princip, was eating lunch. He shot him and his wife there and World War I ensued less than two months later.
- Zigzagged with the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire: some assassinations were carried out discreetly, others...not so much. And some even in-between. For specific examples, The Other Wiki is chock full of them, but those that come to mind most prominently are those of Gaius Julius Caesar and Tiberius Gracchus; the first was a halfway example (done in the Senate, and a significant portion of the conspirators were Senators, though the public didn't know what happened until immediately after), with the second being a full-on public example done on the fly (the Senate was not fond of Gracchus' Populari reform attempts, and went outside en masse during a meeting of the Tribunal to openly beat him and his immediate supporters to death with anything they could get their hands on, lead by his older cousin who claimed he was going to try and become a new King of Rome).