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Creator / Vince Flynn

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"I'm the Angel of Death, and it's Judgement Day!"
Mitch Rapp, in one of his less patient moments.

Vince Flynn (1966-2013) was the author of the Mitch Rapp series, a series about a deep-cover agent for the CIA who goes into other countries and assassinates terrorists with extreme prejudice. When he died, there were thirteen books in the series proper:

  • Transfer of Power
  • The Third Option
  • Separation of Power
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  • Executive Power
  • Memorial Day
  • Consent to Kill
  • Act of Treason
  • Protect and Defend
  • Extreme Measures
  • Pursuit of Honor
  • American Assassin
  • Kill Shot
  • The Last Man

And his first book, Term Limits, does not feature Mitch, although some of its other characters would appear later in the series. It deals with Michael O'Rourke, an up-and-coming congressman who has to find out who is targeting extremely liberal politicians and killing them with eerie precision.

Dylan O'Brien signed on to star in a film adaptation of American Assassin, which was released in September 2017 to critical acclaim, taking the title role of Mitch Rapp.

Author Kyle Mills as of 2017 continues the series with the following novels:

  • The Survivor
  • Order to Kill
  • Enemy of the State


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This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Donnatella Rahnn, Italian/Israeli assassin. When someone was trying to kill her, she tore his ear off with her teeth.
  • Appeal to Force: Mitch, frequently. It's supposed to be what helps set up his appeal as a badass, after all.
  • Assassin Outclassin': The Third Option and The Last Man run on this troupe, but in Consent To Kill, Louie Gould comes closest to doing this with Mitch but fails.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Pretty much of necessity.
  • Black and Nerdy: Marcus Dumond.
  • Booby Trap
  • Broken Aesop: At the end of Consent to Kill, Louis Gould seems a changed man. His appearance in The Last Man breaks this. He left Claudia and the child to remain an assassin, and gets an earful from Mitch because of it.
  • The Chessmaster: Mitch becomes this, after a politician exposes his identity. Also, pretty much every Big Bad in the series (that is, the people who take more than one book to die).
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  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: The Last Man subverts this with the Jerkass Joel Wilson
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Played with. In many of the earlier installments, French intelligence is often referred to and generally plays a part in the more multilateral segments of any given book. However, in Consent to Kill, an antagonist's laments the decline of the French nation since WWII due to its supposed inability to secure its borders and sustain a strong national army.
    "In less than a century they had gone from one of the world's preeminent powers to a country incapable of putting up a fight"
  • Cold Sniper: Although he doesn't get any sniping in, Gavrilo Gazich in Act of Treason is an evil example of one these, having murdered over 50 civilians in the Bosnian War alone and renting out his skills as an assassin afterwards.
  • The Cracker: Marcus Dumond once used his hacking skills to rob some New York banks. Now he uses them to hack foreign governments' computers.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: A few.
  • Corrupt Politician: It would probably be easier to count the number of politicians in this series who are not corrupt.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Almost anything with Rapp. Justified in universe as he's been trained to use the element of surprise to prevent his victims from responding and takes no unnecessary risks, which is seen in American Assassin where he stays mostly under cover when hunting a target who is armed with a UZI and is able to think on the fly.
    • A prime example being the start of Kill Shot when armed only with his Beretta 92F, he takes out a MP5 equipped hit squad when they begin to run out of ammo.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: In Executive Power, Anna finds out Mitch was wounded in the field during the rescue of the Anderson family (in which his presence was integral to the total success of the mission). She shrieks at him and strikes him hard enough to leave a black eye. It's such a total surprise to Mitch that his ingrained defenses are only starting to spin up when she leaves. Not only does she suffer no consequences, but Irene Kennedy teams up with her to give Mitch a hard time. Imagine if she had been hurt and he had struck her for it.
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: Named as such.
  • Evil Chancellor: Pretty much every Big Bad in the series.
  • The Film of the Book: American Assassin will be the first MR book to get a big screen adaption.
  • Expy: Amatullah, for the real-life Ahmedinejad.
  • Fox News Liberal: Anna Reilly, despite ostensibly being an outspoken liberal, is a lifelong gun owner and at the end of the day is proud that her husband offs enemies of the state for a living.
    • Minister Ashani, after a fashion. Despite being the "good Iranian" present to balance the ensemble and show that not all Iranians are terrorist caricatures, this is taken to the point that from the very beginning he clearly feels affinity for the ideas and methods of the United States and resents the actions and motivations of his own superiors and countrymen. Near the end of Protect and Defend there's a scene, ostensibly for character development (the "they've gone to far so I'm switching sides" kind), where he realizes that his fellow leaders will ruin his country and the best, sensible option is to stop fighting America and do what America wants. But there's no change as he's basically been thinking that way the whole book already. Despite ostensibly being a Type IV Antivillain, he represents the good guys' (America's) interests so much it's almost as if he were one of them.
    • Barely justified as Iran's Ministry Of Intelligence is known to be more practical and less blinded by ideology than the other parts of the Iranian government.
  • Gambit Roulette: Lots, by good guys and bad guys alike.
    • Especially with Hank Clark, who goes to incredibly elaborate lengths to burn the CIA. The grand payoff? Increased publicity for himself so he can start a presidential campaign, with no guarantee he'll win it. That's about it.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Mike Nash and Mitch Rapp, respectively, in Extreme Measures.
  • Heroic BSoD: Mitch, after Anna's death.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Mitch, again, slightly diminishes over the course of the books.
    • Scott Coleman and Stan Hurley somewhat. David, the Palestinian agent provocateur in Executive Power, is a major one. He saves a maid who was going to be raped during his murder of the Iraqi secret police chief potentially putting his mission in jeopardy.
    • Louie Gould counts as he tries to make sure no civilian casualties die. Subverted when he repeatedly justifies the unintentional death of Anna Rapp. His later appearance in the Last Man subverts this, as he has not learned his lesson and is still an assassin. See Broken Aesop above.
  • It's Raining Men: The military does this to insert commandos into the White House in Transfer of Power.
  • I Work Alone
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Should be called the Mitch Rapp Interrogation Technique. In Extreme Measures, he wraps a wet prison uniform around a terrorist's head and tasers it. It spread out the shock so that it wasn't lethal, but still very painful.
  • Karma Houdini: Mitch, to the politicians. Stu Garret thinks he got this. He is very, very wrong.
    • Most of the villains, for that matter. If they escape the finale they're almost always killed in the epilogue. If the terrorist act came partway through the book, the rest of it will be spent hunting them down.
      • Arguably Scott Coleman and his team. They kill four senators, including the House Speaker, and threaten to kill the president in an attempt to intimidate the government into following their agenda. He gets off without any punishment and goes on to make tons of money as a private contractor working for...the government, of all things.
      • To clarify the last point, Coleman and his team only killed the politicians whose indiscretions and plotting directly led to the death of his friends and he never had anything in particular against the government as a whole. When caught by the CIA, they essentially blackmail him into being available as a private contractor because the alternative is a very public trial that hurts all involved parties. He only becomes a regular when he is brought in to stop a potentially rogue Mitch Rapp, and the two bond instantly. So while he still gets away with a lot, it at least makes sense in the context of the genre.
  • Killed Off for Real: Anna Reilly
  • Kill it with fire: Mitch does this to Erich Abel during Consent To Kill by tying him to a chair and dousing the latter's fireplace with a decades old cogniac
  • Military Brat: Irene Kennedy.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Understandably inverted in Transfer of Power: the Author's Note mentions that some of the included details are faked for the protection of the President and of the Secret Service.
  • Not So Stoic: Mitch finds out that the bomb blast that severely injured him has also killed his wife, immediately after he wakes up in a hospital. His boss (who already knows of the death) arrives to give him this news, but her hesitancy makes it painfully clear to him. Once she finally confirms it out loud, he takes it pretty badly and has to be restrained and tranquilized. Then, all he can do is shed a tear...
  • One Steve Limit: Played with, in Transfer of Power. The characters must consult with Mossad before they can ascertain whether a certain terrorist they've confirmed to be inside the White House is either an Iraqi vault-breaker or a zealous Palestinian youth. Played straight, however, in every other example.
  • Omniglot: Mitch speaks Arabic, Persian, French, and a little bit of Urdu and Pashto.
  • Perp Sweating
  • Prequel: American Assassin and also, Kill Shot.
  • Professional Killer: Most people with guns.
  • Properly Paranoid: Mitch. It's for a good reason as when he didn't act on it in Consent To Kill, things didn't turn out well.
  • Rabid CIA Agent: Mitch again. But only at his worst, most of the time, he's a cowboy cop which can be seen when he goes gentle on one of the terrorists in Memorial Day
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: In the first book when Mitch is holed up in a secret closet off the President's personal bedroom (It Makes Sensein Context) and is about to witness the rape of a hostage by one of the terrorists, it is stated that Mitch's anger at this violation so contorts his expression that his partner for this whole mission does not even recognize him anymore.
    • Furthermore, he knowingly jeopardizes the security of his mission to rescue the President of the United States and some fifty hostages being held captive in order to avert the rape. But that's not all—the commanders watching from the Pentagon tacitly agree that they themselves would have done the same so they don't get mad at him. It ends up working out for him anyway.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Events and issues from Real Life (9/11, Iranian nuclear ambition, etc.) form the background for the books.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Mitch, to the terrorists on what the Koran says about what they're doing.
    Mitch: You know as well as I do that you were taught the suras by some twisted Wahhabi cleric who told you only what he wanted you to know. Kill all the Jews. Kill the infidels. Cover your wives and daughters. Beat them if they disrespect you. The West is evil. We are just and good, blah...blah...fucking blah. I am so sick of the hate you pieces of shit teach each other and your children.
    Abu Haggani: You know nothing.
    Mitch: I know Allah is going to send your ass to Hell for killing his children!
  • Rescue Romance: Mitch and Anna, after Mitch rescues her from an Attempted Rape by one of the extremists holding the White House hostage in Transfer of Power.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Mitch, after Anna is killed.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: The view the CIA takes in this series.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Mitch himself as the book series progresses. Irene even comments on this in Consent to Kill when she mentions that she knows for a fact that Mitch has not been involved in all the deeds that are attributed to him. Mitch admits that though he would prefer a cloak of anonymity to operate under, if he has to have any reputation, he prefers it to be the kind that makes others less likely to jerk him around.
  • Smug Snake: Ben Friedman.
  • Spy Fiction: Stale Beer Flavored.
  • Strawman Political: At least one per book, of the liberal persuasion.
    • In a good few of his books his conservative bent leads to strawmanning of liberal politicians and their viewpoints - some are shown as wanting to shut down the CIA, believing America brings terror attacks on itself and being almost pacifist (the more moderate and sympathetic Democratic president in Protect and Defend says "there are too many in my party who believe violence is never the answer"). Flynn also takes the time to criticise Michael Moore's 'Sicko' from the perspective of an anti-American Iranian character, by noting the character's admiration for the film
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Mitch got into the black ops game to channel his rage and grief over the death of his high school sweetheart in a terrorist attack that occurs years before the events of the series proper.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Several times in the series Rapp is attacked by a politician or bureaucrat (inevitably liberal) when they learn he's been abusing prisoners or somesuch. Rapp repeatedly waits a few minutes to reveal said prisoner is clearly guilty and gave up valuable information, making said politician(s) look like an idiot. Everyone is always stunned as nobody ever considers that Rapp, with his near perfect record of success, might actually have a reason. Gets particularly silly later in the series when this subplot has played out several times already and nobody seems to remember what happened the last time Rapp was caught.
    • Most of the Big Bad's plans to embarrass the USA/CIA usually have giant holes in them that are discovered and broadcast on TV within a few days, at most.
    • In Extreme Measures, terrorist leader Karim kills a CIA spy, then, being rather Genre Savvy, decides to launch his attack immediately. Then he inexplicably leaves the body in a car and sets it on fire, ensuring it's found within hours and doing nothing to prevent the CIA from identifying it, rather then, say, leaving it in a basement to rot. This ensures that Rapp is alerted to the terrorist presence, though he knew they were in the city and the spy's disappearance should have been warning enough, making the whole sequence doubly dumb.
    • The spy himself. Who would wear a tattoo when going undercover with Islamist Terrorists?
  • Torture Always Works: Subverted; terrorists will lie under interrogation, but a fairly common topic of discussion by the book is how to see through the lies.
    • Subverted? Almost always played straight. It's one of the "two rules of torture" that are sometimes mentioned. It even works on the good guys in the case of the CIA mole in Extreme Measures.
      • "You know how they say torture never works? Well, trust me. It does." Irene Kennedy, Director, CIA.
  • Vanity Publishing: Flynn's first novel, Term Limits, is a rare example of success in this field.
  • Violence Really Is the Answer:a recurring theme, particularly prominent in Term Limits.
  • Weapon of Choice: Though Rapp makes use of whatever he can get his hands on, his preferred sidearm seems to be a Beretta 92F, which he frequently uses to great effect.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Anna green eyes so stunning, they knock Mitch off his one-track mind in the middle of a national calamity in Transfer of Power.
  • With Due Respect: To be expected. They're political thriller novels about a spy who is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Also, politicians often play the roles of bureaucrats who only want to conserve their own power so any operatives featured in the novel are often put in the position of this trope.
    • In the first book, Transfer of Power, it's used by Mitch and Lt. Commander Dan Harris in the "I respectfully disagree" flavor to their own respective superiors within a chapter of each other.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Mitch feels the main difference between him and the terrorists he hunts is that Mitch is unwilling to harm/kill innocent civilians, whereas terrorists make no such distinction.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: a major point in Term Limits. The characters spend a lot of time discussing if what the rogue Navy SEALs are engaging in counts as anti-democratic terrorism or whether, since they are not killing "civilians" and are exclusively targeting corrupt politicians (though elected, unarmed and unconvicted ones), they are noble and simply "returning power to the people". As a point of parallel with our own world, an Irish-American character in the book is explained to have had sympathy with the IRA's original mission of "liberating" Northern Ireland, but to have turned on the organisation when it started killing civilians (this character therefore supports the rogue SEALs - see Would Not Shoot a Civilian above)
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