Main Professional Killer Discussion

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04:35:29 PM Jul 13th 2012
This distinction between "hitmen" and "assassins" is arbitrary and artificial. There are lots of characterizations of professional killers. Trying to lump them into two categories is self defeating. The trope should be edited to remove the distinction.
01:53:39 PM Jul 15th 2012
I agree, but we voted on it and it was kept because of the vote. So unfortunately, to change it without causing trouble we'll probably have to open a Trope Repair Shop discussion.
05:49:08 PM Aug 12th 2013
Captain Crawdad seems to have effected the change him/herself without resolving the issue in TRS. As someone who likes the distinction being there, I've restored the original description for the time being.
10:15:09 PM Aug 12th 2013
edited by
For the record, there was no vote on this subject. I started a TRS topic and it got immediately sidetracked by a Career Killer renaming discussion without anyone weighing in on this issue.

The TRS threads are perpetually clogged with threads, so I can't even start another one now. For the time being, here are a few reasons why this distinction between "hitmen" and "assassins" does not belong here:

1. The terms cause confusion. A character might be called a "hitman" in the work, but fall more in line with what the topic arbitrarily calls an "assassin." This has caused a lot of mix-ups. For example, the current trope description claims that "hitmen" are sometimes a "Hitman with a Heart." The definition of "hitman" that the trope presents doesn't fit into "Hitman with a Heart" any more or less than its definition of "assassin." The only reason it's listed in the "hitman" section is because "Hitman with a Heart" has the word "hitman" in it. That trope only uses the term "hitman" because it's alliterative with "heart," not because it fits this trope's description of a "hitman."

2. It's reductive. There aren't two kinds of professinal killers with a pre-set list of characteristics. There's an unlimited number of characterizations. According to the trope description, better-dressed and erudite professional killers are the most potent, but what about all the times when that's not correct? What about all the mooks in suits? What about all the slovenly badasses? Trying to jam each character into one of two pre-packaged definitions is basically an intra-trope version of Square Peg, Round Trope.

3. It's just other tropes bolted into this one. According to this trope's definition, "hitmen" are lowly grunts who aren't much of a threat and die quickly. That's a mook. There's no reason to build the concept of a mook into this trope, because that trope already exists. Furthermore, the trope description asserts that erudite "assassins" are sleek and cool and badass. That's Badass in a Nice Suit, Cultured Badass, Silk Hiding Steel and other tropes. The idea that high-class folks are tough belongs in other tropes, not this one.
03:39:32 PM Aug 13th 2013
I saw your thread, and can definitely empathize with you, but at any point you could have posted again to remind everybody why the thread was made in the first place. You can still post a new thread when some space opens up.

1. Both the terms and their meanings are stated in the description, so it would be quite difficult for someone to get one and not the other. The link to Hitman with a Heart isn't a mistake; it's indicating the "rare exceptions" to the general rule that Hitmen are antagonists. The sentence is there because Assassins are protagonists fairly often.

2. In real life, no. But, in the words of whoever originally wrote the description: "In Fictionland there is a distinct dichotomy among those who kill for a living." Most fictional Professional Killers are either well-spoken, graceful, and efficient, or gruff, thuggish and brutal. The trope certainly does imply that Hitmen are inherently less powerful than Assassins, which should probably be rewritten, but I'm pretty sure the idea is about the dichotomy in their characterizations and approaches to their work. Of course there are exceptions to these subtypes, but there definitely is enough of a dichotomy in the way assassins are portrayed in fiction to warrant the description.

3. It's not unheard of for a trope to have subtypes; see Anti-Hero. I think it's justified here, because there's a massive difference between the two, and the majority of assassins in fiction fit into one or the other.
11:51:31 PM Aug 13th 2013
edited by
For brevity, I'll just cut straight to the most pertinent point:

3. The subtypes of Anti-Hero have been moved to the analysis page, and the "types" are now all separate characterization tropes. This falls right in line with what I'm arguing: the types are actually tropes.

Professional Killer is a trope about a profession, not a characterization. There are many possible characterizations of Professional Killer, and many of those characterizations are common tropes. An assassin who is a well-spoken and genteel badass is an example of Professional Killer and Cultured Badass. The lowly thug whose life is short and isn't a major villain is a Professional Killer and a mook. A brutal rage-monster of a hitman might be a Professional Killer and The Brute or The Berserker. Examples of professional killers who don't fall neatly into those tropes aren't an "exception" to any rule. They're just not examples of those separate tropes.

It is true that many characters who are high-class are also efficient, well-spoken, and successful at their profession, while lower-class losers are often more gruff and unpredictable. Those are tropes independent of the trope of Professional Killer. They show up a lot in Professional Killer, but they show up a lot elsewhere, too. That's why they're separate tropes. They don't need to be built into Professional Killer.
02:04:27 PM Dec 1st 2013
For the record, I finally got around to opening a Trope Repair Shop thread on this issue and the consensus was to remove the assassin/hitman discussion in favor or a more generalized list of possible characterizations.
04:40:48 AM Jan 11th 2012
edited by SeptimusHeap
Can this Thread Mode from the Discworld example be dissected, please?
  • They do seem to have an unusually stringent set of rules. Vimes specifically says that one reason he doesn't worry about the Assassin's Guild is because they have a strict code of honor whereas he, in some areas, has none. The Guild even shows a degree of chivalry (refusing to take contracts on people who cannot defend themselves or afford to hire bodyguards), and standards (the brutal methods of Teatime and his willingness to cause collateral damage horrifies the head of the Guild). On the other hand the whole 'wearing black, looking stylish' thing seems to be purely voluntary and ego driven.
    • Not at all, it's stated on more than one occasion to be a uniform, albeit a loose one. In Night Watch, for example, Vetinari comments that being caught in dark green instead would have got him expelled from the guild. It is also said that if they could dress in any way, then what could anyone do but sit with a crossbow facing the door all day?
    • They also always target their marks at their homes or work - killing somebody on the street would be incredibly impolite.
    • Given that the senior members of the Guild fully expect to be targeted by other Assassins from time to time, having a rule that makes Guild members a little more conspicuous may have a self-preservation aspect as well.
07:30:10 AM Jan 11th 2012
Yeah, we definately don't need that on the main page.

<checks edit history> Thanks for all the Wiki Magic! Professional Killer is looking to be on its way to becoming a healthy trope page.
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