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Assassination Attempt

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"You come at the king, you best not miss."
Omar Little (paraphrasing Ralph Waldo Emersonnote ), The Wire

The leaders of countries — Kings, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chancellors, etc. — are the most famous, rich, and 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 political leader. Of course, for that same reason, some things a politician may do, say, or simply be may anger some people. And some people may be very angered to the point that they want to kill you with a blade, handgun, sniper rifle, or bomb.

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 Bodyguard Betrayal, The Mole has slipped into the palace, or it's 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.

Political leaders are protected by a security detail, and some may travel with an intimidating Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards and armored vehicles. As well, law enforcement agencies monitor for threats against the leader.

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. If the entire assassination is a ruse, see Fake Assassination.

As this can be a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Albegas: Mirror Zero tries to assassinate Daisaku at one point, but it backfires when she ends up seeing him without the loincloth, and she screams and covers her eyes.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: In one episode of 2nd Gig, Kuze tries to assassinate Japanese Prime Minister Yoko Kayabuki, who is meditating in a temple. Fortunately, the Major is able to save her by blocking Kuze's blade.
  • Honoo no Alpen Rose:
    • Leonhardt Aschenbach is targeted by the Nazis for openly opposing them and inciting rebellion against them, but he doesn't care and continues to oppose them no matter what.
    • Count Germont wants to plunge Switzerland into World War II, so he orders Alfred to assassinate Henri Guisan Even though Alfred is a horrible person, he's disgusted that the Count would ask him of that.
  • Snow White with the Red Hair: Prince Zen Wisteria was nearly assassinated by a group that wanted to kill him to punish his older brother and was saved by his brother and the knight Mitsuhide. He's then accidentally poisoned by "the stupid prince" Raji of the neighboring country in the first chapter, though it turns out the poison wasn't designed to kill, and later in the story, a disgruntled northern lord from his own country tries to kill him. Luckily Zen's a decent swordsman.

    Comic Books 
  • Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1968):
    • The first issue sees Scorpio make several attempts to assassinate Nick Fury himself, including a sabotaged weapons test and a straightforward sniper's bullet. Despite the title of the series, Fury is leading the titular Government Agency of Fiction, not just an agent.
    • Would-be world conqueror Supremus tries to assassinate intelligence agency leaders around the world, using Brainwashed and Crazy assassins.
  • Robin (1993): A political rival of the young head of state Tim's roommates with at Brentwood summons the demon Arrakhat to assassinate him. The attempt fails when the boy realizes the charm around his neck that he received from his father allows him to control the demon, and he leaves school to take up ruling his country instead of leaving it to advisors in the wake of the attack.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW): During the Trial By Fire arc, Doctor Starline's new minions Surge and Kit set a forest fire near the camp ground where Amy, Tangle, Jewel, and Belle are vacationing. The Imposter Syndrome miniseries would later reveal that this wasn't a coincidence; Starline specifically wanted the girls killed in a way that looked like an accident, in order to emotionally harm Sonic without giving him a reason to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith: A small clique of Imperial military officers, offended by Vader's position and authority placing him outside the traditional chain of command, attempt to have him killed, first by hiring bounty hunters and then by sabotaging his ship so that Corsucant's defense systems won't recognize it and shoot it down. Angered by this, Vader makes a show of randomly killing several officers, promising to do the same each time another attempt is made on his life; this cows the remaining conspirators into submission.
    • Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: During the Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon arc, the Rebellion reveals to Aphra their plan to use an ancient Jedi weapon she's recovered to build a miniature Death Star and blow up the Emperor from a far enough distance that he won't sense it coming. In actuality, they're counting on Aphra stealing that weapon from them and selling it to the Empire to get the law off her back, unaware that they've rigged it to blow up in Palpatine's face when she delivers it to him. Unfortunately for the Rebels, Aphra deduces what they're planning and arranges for it to fail.
  • Supergirl (1972): In the final issue, Supergirl is watching President Prez opening a mall when she spots among the crowd a man wearing a hidden gun, and she swiftly intercepts the would-be assassin by shielding Prez from the blast.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Sensation Comics: After a mayor refuses to pay the Blue Seal Gang ten thousand dollars for their "support" of her mayoral bid, the gang has her shot. While she nearly dies, she recovers, but as she's leaving the hospital, the gang abducts her. She's rescued by Wonder Woman shortly thereafter.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Julianna Sazia tried to take out Paulie Longo — the man standing in the way of her becoming the top mob boss in Boston — on multiple occasions, even hiring Cheetah, Poison Ivy and Cheshire to kill him. In the end, she catches him with a remote-activated car bomb she placed in her own car.

    Fan Works 
  • Advice and Trust: In Chapter 11, SEELE sends sniper teams to kill the Pilots and their friends, in order to eliminate them and trigger Kaworu's Angel side. Despite inflicting several serious injuries, they fail to actually kill anyone. They try again later, having an agent infiltrate NERV's medical center where Kaworu is recovering and try to kill him there, again hoping the trauma will awaken Tabris. And again, this time thanks to interference from Rei and Asuka, the attempt fails.
  • In 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 knows of Elsa's and Freya's relationship as well, but it's regarded as Malicious Slander. Later, another assassination attempt occurs against Elsa, but Freya also stops it.
  • In By the Sea, a longtime enemy of Cody's has a bunch of assassins follow Cody's younger brother Eyayah (Echo in canon) to Obi-Wan, and they try to kill both Obi-Wan and Eyayah mostly to piss off Cody. In retaliation, Cody challenges the man to a knife duel in front of the royal court for conspiracy to murder the royal consort and kills the man, and then sends a couple of his brothers to bodyguard Obi-Wan until they're reunited.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: In "Out-of-Dungeon Experiences", Ami gets shot by an assassin in the Underworld, but the attempt is foiled by her being in an ice golem body, which keeps her from dying as easily as normal.
  • Multiple in I Hope You Have Unlimited Text Messaging:
    • Howard Stark endured ten of these by HYDRA after the end of World War II, the first one being before Tony was even born and the last one being the successful attempt by the Winter Soldier. Both Ana Jarvis and Tony's mother Maria ended up being casualties of these attempts.
    • Tony endures at least two of these over the course of the story, proving himself to be his father's son in that aspect, unfortunately. Only difference is that each one was instigated by different parties.
  • Metal Gear: Green:
    • In retaliation for Sainz successfully dismantling the Los Hermanos Cartel with the help of the MSF, Madam President has Magnetic sprung out to kill Sainz, then be 'conveniently' taken down by Infini Leap after Sainz is killed. Snake successfully subdues Magnetic before Infini Leap can even make his debut, saving Sainz and pissing off Madam President even more.
    • After finding out Nowak hired the MSF to dismantle the Showstoppers because Russia, Belarus and the HPSC weren't going to do shit even after his daughter was kidnapped, combined with him cutting ties with the HPSC and establishing a trade agreement with Outer Heaven, Madam President threatens to have him killed. Nowak tells her to Bring It.
    • In Class 1A's exercise against Akatani (A disguised Izuku), they are tasked with protecting a VIP bot from assassination, and failing that, apprehending Akatani. They fail to do either as Akatani was sniping them from nearly a kilometer away and their plan expected Akatani to be a 'charge in headfirst like every villain they see on TV'.
  • Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!: So many people from the future Time Travel to Make Wrong What Once Went Right by killing Izuku before he can become his Future Badass-self Superman that the Legion of Super-Heroes has all its members watch him in shifts just to make sure they don't succeed. And even they can't catch all the attempts, forcing the intervention of other time-travel superheroes like the Legends of Tomorrow.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim: Bob's plan for the New Irken Order's attack on the Invaders' tournament involves sneaking a bomb into the Tallest's box and blowing them and their inner circle up. It only fails because they find the bomb at the last minute and toss it out of the box before it can explode.
  • The Palaververse: The post on Ovarn implies that there have been many failed attempts on Fairy Floss's life:
    Her Archons rightfully grumble — Fairy Floss's expansion of powers goes beyond any other Tyrant's in Ovarn's history, and continues in spite of every failed assassination attempt.
  • At one point in The Raven's Plan, Shae sneaks into Tyrion's solar disguised as a servant and tries to kill him. She manages to stab him a few times but is prevented from completing the job when Jaime, who learned of her presence, bursts in and subdues her.
  • The Rigel Black Chronicles: Tiberius Ogden faces two poisoning attempts, believed to be the work of his impatient heirs, but Harry and Archie narrowly save him from them, earning the gratitude of himself and his fiancee.
  • There's No Rule That Says A Wolf Can't Be A Jedi: After he inadvertently disrupts Palpatine's attempts to make Anakin fall to the dark side, Swift faces an escalating series of deniable attempts on his life. At one point, he's actually assigned to investigate the assassinations of two rulers on another world, and in the process, he becomes the next target.
  • In The Victors Project, one of these is made against Katniss.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Attack of the Clones opens with two assassination attempts on Senator Padmé Amidala because she was going to vote against the Military Creation Act, forcing her into hiding, protected by Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker.
  • In Batman: The Movie, Batman's Rogues Gallery prepares a device to turn the members of the World Council into a powder and send the world into chaos.
  • Blood Brothers (1973) tells the story of three sworn brothers who went from a bunch of nobodies until they're military leaders and generals, but the eldest of the trio, Ma, in his thirst for power, ends up plotting the death of his second brother, Huang, despite their youngest and most level-headed of the three, Chiang, trying to prevent the assassination from happening. The film then ends with Chiang attempting to assassinate Ma, which he succeeds, and gets executed for his troubles.
  • Bodyguards and Assassins is about preventing the assassination, where a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits forms an alliance to prevent the public assassination of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen by killers sent by the Manchurian government, in order for the good Doctor to attend a meeting for their revolution.
  • 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 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.
  • In all three The Godfather films, there is an assassination attempt made against the head of the Corleone family. In the first film, Vito Corleone is shot twice in the back but survives. In the next two films, assassins shoot up a room Michael Corleone is in, but neither time does he get hit. Each film also ends with a string of successful assassinations against the enemies of the Corleone family.
    Michael: Barzini is dead. So is Phillip Tattaglia. Moe Greene. Stracci. Cuneo. Today I settled all family business.
  • In the Line of Fire: An older Secret Service Agent, Frank Horrigan, has to stop potential assassin Mitch Leary (initially going by the alias "Booth") from killing the President of the United States, and redeem his previous failure to protect President Kennedy thirty years before.
  • 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 (for a Secret Service agent). The rest of the Secret Service promptly swiss-cheese The Starscream on the spot.
  • The protagonist of 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 Parallax View opens with the assassination of a Senator who's a potential Presidential candidate. In the course of the protagonist's investigation into this, two other candidates are assassinated years later as well, while he's framed for the latter and killed.
  • Planet of the Apes:
  • 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 kill 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.
  • The third Shaolin Temple movie, Martial Arts of Shaolin, has the attempted assassination on the tyrant Lord He halfway through, attempted by two parties: the Shaolin sect (which the hero, Zhi-Ming, is serving under) and a La Résistance unaffiliated with the Shaolin. Both parties fail, with Zhi-Ming's attempt at stabbing Lord He killing a Body Double instead, and they're forced on the run before a rendezvous later on.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country involves two of these. Kirk and McCoy are framed for Chancellor Gorkon's assassination; the Federation President is targeted after the peace process continues, but Kirk is able to save him.
    • 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.
  • Steel Rain: A Military Coup in North Korea commences with commandoes seizing an MLRS launcher in South Korea and firing it at a Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony where Kim Jong Un is opening a Chinese-built factory. However, before the renegade troops can move in and finish him off, a loyal North Korean operative throws his wounded leader into a van and takes him across the border to South Korea, putting a Spanner in the Works.
  • In The Three Musketeers (1993), Cardinal Richelieu, the Evil Chancellor of France, develops a plan to assassinate the king, marry the queen, and become king himself. His plan is foiled by the Musketeers.
  • 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.

  • The superhero-themed gamebook Appointment with F.E.A.R. has a scenario that re-creates the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, with the President of the United States (unnamed in the book, but the accompanying illustration looks an awful lot like JFK) making a visit to Metro City, and the powerful F.E.A.R. carrying out the assassination by planting a Body Double to distract the police, while the real assassin hides on the roof of a nearby hotel with a sniper rifle. The player, as the Silver Crusader, can collect clues to thwart the assassination, which will bag them between 2 to 6 Hero Points if they succeed (0 if they failed).

  • In The Arts of Dark and Light, the heroine Fjotra, who has Hyper-Awareness, manages to discover and foil an attempt on the Red Prince's life when he is attacked by traitors among the guards. This brings her to his attention and ensures a relatively more sympathetic hearing for her embassy.
  • In 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 plot of The Emperor's Soul concerns an emperor made comatose by a partially-successful assassination.
  • Forward the Foundation:
    • In "Cleon I", there's a Flashback to ten years ago, not long after the events of "Eto Demerzel", when the newly appointed First Minister Seldon was targeted by an attack. Since Venabili had been protecting him at the time, however, it was quickly stopped. First-class gardener Manuel Gruber, however, showed himself just as ready to defend Seldon's life.
    • "Cleon I" is mostly about an assassination attempt by the Jorumites. Their current leader, Gambol Deen Namarti, wants to kill First Minister Seldon, both in revenge for the events in "Eto Demerzel" and to replace him in the palace. His second-in-command, Gleb Andorin, wants Galactic Emperor Cleon I assassinated so that he can replace Cleon on the throne. They agree to start with Seldon, and they'll drug Raych Seldon, who has tried to become The Mole in their organization so that he can carry out the assassination. Their plot is foiled by security officer Manella, who followed them undercover. However, recently-promoted Chief Gardener Gruber takes one of the blasters and assassinates the Emperor with it because he he didn't want the job. The palace is quickly thrown into chaos with the successful assassination, and the next part, "Dors Venabili", establishes that a military junta took over afterwards.
    • In "Dors Venabili", Wanda may have dreamed or overheard someone talking about 'lemonade death'. Dors tries to investigate the possibility that people may be planning a third attempt to assassinate Seldon. She's wrong; they're targeting her because she's such an effective bodyguard that for any assassination to work, you'd have to eliminate her first.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jack Ryan:
    • 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.
    • In Executive Orders, an unnamed stand-in for Saddam Hussein is assassinated by one of his bodyguards (who's 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 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.
  • Magic, Metahumans, Martians and Mushroom Clouds: An Alternate Cold War:
    • Nazi Germany's first major outing with the paranormal involves arming an assassin with a gun that's been mystically enhanced to never miss its target and sending him after Churchill. He almost succeeds, only to run out of bullets before he can finish the job.
    • When Sabhas Bose takes over India and starts talking about retaking Kashmir and Bengal, Pakistan sends a Jinn to kill him. However, thanks to his metahuman abilities, Bose survives long enough for his own magic experts to seal the Jinn.
  • The Manchurian Candidate (and both of its film adaptations) ends with the hypnotized soldier being ordered to assassinate the presidential nominee so that the hand-picked vice-presidential can become the nominee and hopefully become elected based on national sympathy.
  • Mermaids of Eriana Kwai: In Ice Crypt, Lysi and her fellow resistance members try to assassinate the tyrannical king Adaro twice, first by setting off a mine, then by swarming him with sharks and stabbing him with iron weapons. Both attempts fail when Adaro turns out to be the only merperson who's immune to Cold Iron.
  • Murder for the Modern Girl: State attorney Jeremiah Newhouse almost gets assassinated when a pipe bomb detonates near a car as he was targeted for his goals of stopping the corruption in Chicago. He survives the assassination attempt but spends the majority of the novel in a coma.
  • The serial killer in Never Send Flowers has this as his gimmick. The climax of the book has him trying to assassinate Princess Diana at Disneyland.
  • Old Kingdom:
    • In Lirael, it's mentioned the only time Sam has seen his father go berserk was when a false ambassador from the North attempted to stab Sabriel at a banquet, prompting Touchstone to throw him the length of the banquet table.
    • Abhorsen opens with an attempted assassination on Sabriel and Touchstone while they're in Corvere, the capital of Ancelstierre. It very nearly succeeds, with only the two of them and one of the guards present surviving. It's not revealed that they survived until a third of the way into the book, and for a good chunk of the novel, other characters, most prominently Lirael and Sam, believe they're dead as a result.
  • Presidential: Connie Calvin is the victim of one while she's going to sign a gun bill into law at the US Capitol. She's shot, but survives. However, two people are killed, and others wounded.
  • Reborn begins with one of the protagonists preventing the assassination of the comatose Emperor of the gods-fearing Rezwyn. This is seen as especially troubling as the would-be assassin is of the priest caste, opening an entire political can of worms.
  • So This is Ever After: Arek is nearly killed with an arrow early in the book, but Lila saves him.
  • The Spear: Weapons dealer and displaced Nazi Edward Gant, from a missile base near his Guildford mansion, targets a plane occupied by the visiting US Secretary of State; thereby to frustrate Middle Eastern peace.
  • 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 Tercentenary Incident": The titular incident refers to when someone attempted to kill the President of America during the 300th anniversary of America's Declaration of Independence. It is foiled due to the fact that a robotic duplicate of the President, realistic enough to fool the average citizen, had been the one out in public, and the real President appears from hiding to reassure the crowd and give an incredible speech — except that Edwards thinks it really was the President who had been killed, and the one in hiding had been the robot.
  • 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.
  • Victoria: A Novel of 4th Generation War's near-future Second Civil War has one successfully carried out by the totalitarian Federal Government's special forces operators against the newly independent Confederation's beloved Governor Adams. However, this doesn't break the rebellion; instead, it not only consolidates resistance but serves to pave the way for hyper-competent and utterly ruthless revolutionist William Kraft's rise to power.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Brokenstar killed his father, ShadowClan's leader, to become leader himself. Most cats assumed that WindClan had done it since the two Clans had been fighting over the border a lot at that time.
    • Tigerclaw kills the ThunderClan deputy, Redtail, in the hope of being chosen for the role. Once he finally achieves it, he makes several attempts on the Clan leader Bluestar's life (trying to Make It Look Like an Accident) before attacking her outright and getting exiled.
    • Darktail, a villain who takes over ShadowClan for a while, has a follower who tries to suffocate him while he's injured and asleep after a battle. Darktail plays possum before jumping up and killing him in revenge.
    • In the Warrior Cats: The Broken Code book Veil of Shadows, the rebels discuss doing this to the fake Bramblestar, but decide to hold off in case they can get the real Bramblestar's spirit back in his body. A small group attempts to ambush him anyway, which is unsuccessful and ends with three of them dead.

    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.
  • Abot-Kamay na Pangarap: Moira tries to kill Lyneth with somebody else's SUV.
  • 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.
  • In 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.
  • Class of '09: Tayo is stabbed by a masked man in his house after he's investigated the corrupt banks and politicians who have gotten away with many crimes. Naturally he thinks it's an attempt to get rid of him and investigates, finding that due to his investigations there are many suspects. He's prevented from uncovering who ordered the attempt on him by his higher-ups.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • In "Condemned", Wilson Fisk attempts to have Detective Christian Blake assassinated by a corrupt police sniper because he's become a liability (in light of Matt breaking his arm and getting him to divulge information about the Ranskahovs' hideouts, which allowed Matt to find Vladimir), with the sniper also killing two uniformed cops nearby to make it look random. Blake survives the hit, forcing Fisk to arrange for his partner Carl Hoffman to poison him in the hospital when he comes out of his coma.
    • Late in Season 1, Leland Owlsley and Madame Gao believe that Fisk's girlfriend Vanessa Marianna is a bad influence on him, so they conspire to poison her at a charity gala that Fisk is hosting, also poisoning several other people so that Fisk thinks she nearly died as a result of an assassination attempt on him.
    • In "Please", Fisk pays an inmate named Jasper Evans to shank him, in order to trick the FBI into thinking he's at risk of retaliation from an Albanian crew he just sold out to them, and subsequently gets them to move him to a Manhattan hotel that he secretly owns. While Fisk is being transferred, the Albanian gang make an actual attempt of their own on Fisk's life, which is foiled when Dex kills all of the assailants.
  • 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.
  • Foundation (2021): In the Season 2 premiere, a group of assassins known as the Blind Angels break into the imperial palace to try and kill Brother Day/Cleon XVII). In the season finale, it's revealed that they were hired by Demerzel, who never intended them to succeed and just needed something to frame Queen Sareth for, in order to prevent her planned marriage to Day, which would end the Genetic Dynasty that Demerzel is programmed to protect at all costs.
  • 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.
    • In the finale of season 1, Reinhard Heydrich attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler by forcing the remorseful Rudolf Wegener, one of the few men whom Hitler still trusts, to kill him with one of the many weapons stashed around Hitler's castle. This plot is foiled by Hitler himself, who had advance knowledge thanks to the films.
    • In the finale of season 3, the new Fuehrer Heinrich Himmler is in the middle of overseeing Jahr Null, a wave of riots across the Greater Nazi Reich to destroy all non-Nazi culture, when he is shot by resistance snipers who are then able to disappear into the crowd.
  • Motherland: Fort Salem:
  • The Murdoch Mysteries episode "The Spy Who Came up to the Cold" opens with the assassination of US President William McKinley.
  • The Night Agent: The first season culminates with one on the President orchestrated by the villains using corrupt Secret Service agents, which Rose, Peter and Farr manage to stop.
  • Ordinary Joe: In the pilot, a gunman tries to shoot Congressman Bobby Diaz at a campaign rally. In Cop Joe's timeline, he's on duty at the rally and stops the shooter; in Nurse Joe's timeline, Diaz gets shot and Joe tends to him as he recovers in the hospital; and in Musician Joe's timeline, Joe has a concert in the same venue, causing Diaz to reschedule the rally and thus avoid being shot.
  • The Punisher (2017): Lewis Wilson, a deranged bomber and ex-Army veteran from Curtis Hoyle's support group, tries to assassinate Senator Stan Ori, an advocate of gun control, and Karen Page, a Bulletin journalist who denounced Lewis on the radio. The attempt is thwarted by Frank Castle, who rescues Karen from Lewis before escaping from police. In the process of stopping Lewis, he and Dinah Madani also learn that Frank's best friend Billy Russo, who is heading Senator Ori's security detail, had betrayed Frank's family and killed Madani's partner Sam Stein.
  • Scandal (2012):
    • 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:
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • In the Season 1 finale "In the Hands of the Prophets", the ultra-orthodox Vedek (equivalent to a Roman Catholic archbishop or cardinal) Winn Adami orchestrates an assassination attempt against Vedek Bareil Antos, a religious and political moderate and her rival for the title of Kai (Bajoran equivalent of the Pope). 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-backed No Such Agency Section 31 tries to use biological weapons to kill off the Founders, the shapeshifter rulers of the Dominion.
    • Star Trek: Picard:
      • Considering that Jean-Luc Picard is famous across the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, the death squad Commodore Oh sends to his chateau in "The End Is the Beginning" qualifies as an assassination attempt of a public figure. The Zhat Vash commandos fail to take out Picard because he's protected by Laris and Zhaban, who are ex-Tal Shiar (the Romulan Secret Police).
      • In "Seventeen Seconds", it's mentioned that there were at least three attempts on Picard's life in the past by various factions angry at him for the Romulan refugee relocation program that he championed.
  • A Very English Scandal has not the politician (Jeremy Thorpe) on the receiving end of an attempted assassination, but his ex-lover, Norman Josiffe. Though the would-be assassin has Norman staring down the barrel of a gun, it jams at the last second.
  • The Wire: Stringer Bell, the second-in-command of the Barksdale organisation, asks his chief muscle, Slim Charles to hit Clay Davis, a state senator, because Davis took a kickback from Bell without following through on the payoff. Charles shies away because while "murder ain't no thing" doing the hit would be "some assassination shit". The boss, Avon Barksdale points out that this would need a "Day of the Jackal" type to pull it off, and it would bring every major law enforcement organisation in the country down on their heads.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: In the backstory, Shiro Kurita, the founder of the Draconis Combine, was driving one day when he saw a particularly attractive bamboo shoot. He climbed out of the car and cut it down, intending to make it into a tea ladle. Suddenly, his car exploded. It then hit him that something as traditionally Japanese as harvesting bamboo for a tea ladle had just saved his life. Deciding this was a sign from God, he began to remodel the Draconis Combine to follow Japanese traditions and ethics.
  • Blades in the Dark: The Broken Spire playset puts the players in the role of would-be revolutionaries, conspiring to assassinate the immortal Emperor. Given his personal power and his importance to the wider world, a grim setting where ghosts cannot reach an afterlife and the sun never rises, this is not going to be easy — and even if they succeed, his absence is going to have consequences for what's left of humanity.
  • Isaac Asimov's Robots: Just before Det. Baley arrives, Dr. Han Fastolfe is nearly killed and the would-be assassin escapes. "Dr." Fastolfe is actually a robot duplicate.

  • Assassins is all about attempted assassinations of U.S. presidents, both successful and failed.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 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 bare-knuckle 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 bo 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 defuse the bombs while avoiding Firefly so he doesn't blow the bridge to 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.
  • 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).
  • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Aqua sets herself up on a mission in the Castle of Dreams to assassinate Lady Tremaine and her daughters because she sensed their extreme darkness. She's foiled by the Fairy Godmother, who tells Aqua that she shouldn't just break into people's homes and murder them, even if they're absolute sociopaths. It's only when the Tremaines attack Cinderella does Aqua finally decide to defy the Fairy Godmother and murder them... except that their demonic Unversed they created through The Power of Hate drops a firebomb on them first, turning them into Heartless.
  • 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.
  • Prayer of the Faithless: After Aeyr ventures into Purgatory, Mia is shown sleeping in a guarded room, specifically because of the unknown risk of "attempted assassinations".
  • Sniper Elite:
    • Sniper Elite III has the German Schutzvollstrecker unit making an attempt on Prime Minister Winston Churchill's life, using a combination of traps, snipers, and advanced prototype rocket launchers.
    • Sniper Elite 4: General Bohm's planned combat debut for the Ms 300 "Razor" missile is to use one such weapon on the USS Ancon, the transport ship carrying General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  • Red was almost assassinated before the start of Transistor, as the Flashback01 says:
    Four assassins confronted her

    Visual Novels 
  • Choices: Stories You Play:
    • In Perfect Match, Book 2, Chapter 12, it is revealed that Eros plans to assassinate the US president to prevent a bill about AI disclosure from being passed. The would-be assassin, who is planted by Eros to be the president's "Perfect Match", makes the move in Chapter 14, leading to the climactic battle which spans the last two chapters.
    • In Desire & Decorum, Book 3, Chapter 16, Sir Gideon makes an attempt on the Prince Regent's life, leading Viscount Harry to take the bullet.
    • Crimes of Passion, Book 2 revolves around several high-profile assassinations in Drakovia, including a countess who is Prince/ss Trystan's fiancee, a prominent lawyer and one of Trystan's half-brothers. Chapter 14 reveals the assassin to be Trystan's other half-brother, who seeks to seize the throne.
  • Gyakuten Kenji 2 features this, with the first case involving an attempted assassination of the President of Zheng Fa, and the last case beginning with the same president discovered dead. In truth, the current 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 neither as strong nor as 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 Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds Big Bad, who witnessed the assassination of the real president as a young boy and was hunted down for knowing too much.

    Web Animation 
  • This makes up the plot of the Best Fiends short "The Immortal Cockroach". The Slugs have a crack team of assassins sent out against Lapoleon, who they have mistaken for the Fiends’ leader. Unfortunately for the Slugs, he’s unkillable, being a cockroach, and only leads to the Slugs being taken down, while Lapoleon remains oblivious. However, the final attack reveals that this has been attempted on him multiple times, and he's just gone passive against them, to the point of having a bomb explosion be considered "cliche".

  • In Charby the Vampirate, the elven prince's body double and half-brother was killed in an assassination attempt. The prince himself lost an eye and was shunned by his father and kept hidden from the public following the event.
  • In Girl Genius, attempting to assassinate family members is par the course for Tarvek's family, with Violetta thinking an aunt was one of her favorites because she hardly ever tried to kill her. Tarvek is currently the target of a barrage of them from his cousin Martellus who wants the Lightning throne and will have a much more stable claim to it if Tarvek is dead.
  • Heroine Chic has two examples:
    • A sniper tries to kill famous fashion designer Dyna Cuff in Chapter 55. Unless, as Dyna posits, the gunman was actually aiming for protagonist Zoe (who was standing right beside Dyna when she was shot).
    • Season 3 (and by extension, the series) ends on a panel showing Zoe at the center of a sniper's crosshairs, followed by the Written Sound Effect "BANG!"
  • 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.
  • Unsounded: Several people attempt to assassinate Roger at Sonorie Palace after Rilursa's assassination. He's not in residence at the time, torturously having his mind disolved by venom as part of the plot he married the queen to accomplish, and the queen has the would be assassins publicly hanged.

    Web Videos 
  • In one Dream video, the goal is to kill Notch, the creator of Minecraft, while George guides and defends him.
  • SMPLive's hit systemnote  almost always has players trying to assassinate each other.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Older Than Dirt: As you might expect. Examples probably predate history, but the first documented assassination is that of the Twelfth Dynasty Pharaoh Amenemhat I, who was killed in his bed by his own guards. This also counts as a literary example, as the assassination is a key event in both the Instructions of Amenemhat and the Story of Sinuhe, two famous Middle Kingdom-era literary texts.
  • The most notorious assassination attempt on Napoléon Bonaparte happened on December 24, 1800 during the closure of The French Revolution when he was First Consul, known as the Plot of the rue Saint-Nicaise, in Paris. It was organized by a group of royalist Chouans from Brittany led by Georges Cadoudal, and carried out via an improvised bomb nicknamed the "infernal machine" (a barrel bound with iron hoops, filled with gunpowder, flammable materials and bullets). The bomb was lit to late to blow up the stagecoach of Napoleon and Joséphine de Beauharnais and instead killed five people and injured twenty-six others. The man who set up the bomb and lit it, Pierre Robinault de Saint-Régeant, was caught first and guillotined in 1801, and others, including Cadooudal, participated in further plots and were caught and guillotined in 1804.
  • Several presidents of The United States have survived assassination attempts with Andrew Jackson being the first target. The following four presidents have been assassinated successfully:
    • Abraham Lincoln was gunned down by stage actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth in the closing days of the American Civil War. Booth would be hunted for a week or so afterwards before being tracked down and killed in a farmhouse.
    • James Garfield was killed by Charles J. Guiteau as revenge for perceived failure to reward his support for Garfield's campaign. Guiteau, who many believed was insane, would be hanged months later.
    • William McKinley was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz in an incident that led to the the Secret Service's duties being expanded to protection of Presidents and other government officialsnote . As for Czolgosz, he was sent to the chair and had his corpse dissolved in acid.
    • John F. Kennedy was sniped off by Lee Harvey Oswald. Jury's still out as to why he did it, or even if he did it, because Oswald was killed two days after the assassination.
  • Some attempted and successful assassinations were even broadcasted on television.
  • The 20 July plot was when some of Adolf Hitler's own soldiers attempted to assassinate him, which resulted in him getting minor injuries and having his trousers blown off. What's really remarkable about this attempt is how narrowly it failed: if any of four or five factorsnote  didn't randomly work out in Hitler's favor, he would not have survived and the war would have ended a year early.
  • Apparently, Fidel Castro was the target of over 600 assassination attempts by the US Government, running the gamut from the directnote  to those that would not have been out of place in the playbook of a Bond villainnote , to the downright bizarre note . Castro did eventually succumb... to death by natural causes, in his 90s.


Video Example(s):


Aftermath of the Oxford attack

Queen Victoria, pregnant with her first child, has just survived an attempt on her life by a man named Edward Oxford. Victoria discusses her safety with her mother, a Doctor, and King Leopold of Belgium, while Albert and Sir Robert Peel are briefed by an Inspector about the assailant and his motives.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / ImperiledInPregnancy

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