For most characters, killing people is not something they do on a regular basis. For an Affably Evil Big Bad who believes Utopia Justifies the Means or an Action Hero on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, killing a few mooks or Red Shirts just comes with the job. Cops and spies might need to pull the trigger occasionally, but this aspect is not the prime focus of their work. But for a Professional Killer, it is the work. Whether you call him an assassin, a hitman, a contract killer, or a hired gun, it means the same. Killing is his job.
While soldiers, mercenaries, Private Military Contractors, snipers, or professional terrorists typically have to kill someone to accomplish their mission, that mission typically involves something other than just killing — protecting a VIP, destroying or capturing an objective, spreading fear amongst the local population, etc. A Professional Killer's job typically is to kill one specific person, and nothing else.
A wide range of colorful characters can become drawn to the trade of killing for cash. Some might be Wicked Cultured and tend to wear nice suits. Others might be psychotic killers who are more drawn to the carnage and combat than the money. Some might be Punch Clock Villains who pull shifts at Murder, Inc. or belong to a Weird Trade Union to pay the bills. They might be a Consummate Professional or a snarky jerk. A Hitman with a Heart might follow a code of honor, such as not harming women, children or innocents. Sometimes, they might be raised from birth just for killing marks, or even one mark, in their entire life. If they live in the past, they might be a Ninja or a Hashshashin. Whatever their style or personality, their employers are typically only interested in the results.
See Assassin Outclassin' for when the Professional Killer fails drastically, Murder, Inc. for when a group of professional killers form a guild, and Assassination Sidequest for a type of sidequest that requires you to kill a specific target stealthily. If whoever hired the hitman decides to try to get rid of him, you have a Contract on the Hitman.
If a contract is open to whoever accomplishes the hit first, then they're also Bounty Hunters; although some bounties require live delivery, and are not this trope. There's also The Executioner, another kind of professional who kills people for a living, though they typically dispatch victims who've already been captured instead of seeking them out like assassins do.
- Shanin from Angel Heart is an assassin trained from early childhood for the job. She develops a heart, kills herself, and is resurrected with a donor heart which carries with it the memories and soul of the dead woman it belonged to.
- The students of the titular Assassination Classroom are mere middle school students with no prior experience in the killing arts. They have only one target: Koro-sensei, their nigh-invulnerable homeroom teacher who's bent on destroying the world at the end of the year. Irina, a professional Honey Trap assassin, becomes the students' foreign language teacher after her initial attempt on Koro-sensei's life fails miserably.
- While the Assassination Classroom increasingly become better in assassinations, none of students are actual professional assassins (except maybe Ritsu who is a robot) and never become as such. The series introduces several actual professional assassins who are much more skilled than the class, with each of them having particular quirks. The only reason why they far worse than Class 3-E is because they are too unfamiliar with Koro-sensei and lack combined teamwork of 28 people to do the job right.
- Among all professional assassins, the best is the legendary assassin nicknamed God of Death, who has ever successfully killed their target. While the God of Death introduced in the series failed to kill any of his targets on-screen (as the first two are revealed to be alive), it turns out that he was merely the apprentice of the first God of Death and stole his title after betraying him. The original God of Death was none other than Koro-sensei in his human life.
- Both Claire Stanfield and Ladd Russo from Baccano! are assassins by trade. Ladd is an Ax-Crazy Psycho for Hire for the Russo family, while Claire is a freelancer with a strange sense of justice.
- In the anime Black Cat, Train Heartnet is an assassin after being forcibly raised by the Professional Killer that killed his family.
- In Black Lagoon, the entire city of Roanapur is composed of either hitmen or people who cater services for hitmen, anyone who has worked in the trade long enough gets really pissed off when they have someone running around messing up potential profitable contracts or clients. It's one of the reasons nearly the entire city gets behind trying to clear off Hansel and Gretel, who are themselves hired killers who know no other way of life. Anarchy just ain't good for business. The series is notable for de-romanticizing the idea of the assassin: Roanapur is filled with people who kill other people for a living, and Revy points out several times that the act itself isn't very hard, it just takes the will to do it. While all of the hitmen on Roanapur (and beyond it) are certainly badass and in several cases impossibly skilled at what they do, they are neither wealthy nor especially mentally healthy for the most part, and seem to be a mix of broke or living a lower-middle class lifestyle at the very best. The somber message fits given the tone of the series.
- In Bleach, Soi Fon, leader of squad 2 and supreme commander of the Onmitsukido. While she excels in mastery of shunpo and hakuda, her two-hit kill shikai is her signature skill.
- Most Contractors in Darker than Black are either career killers by profession or kill in the course of carrying out missions. The British agents are probably the most professional and potent. Hei, the protagonist, is badass and stylish looking with his Badass Longcoat, but he doesn't live a particularly glamorous private life, and a Running Gag is that most of his missions start with him infiltrating somewhere by getting a menial job there.
- In the manga Dead End by Shihoei Manabe, the (warning! major spoiler!) former lives of all the main characters consisted of running contract jobs for their creators. It was implied from their uniforms and methods of execution that they had some military backing, but it's never fully disclosed. Oh, and then you have all the Enemies who have one purpose...
- Dragon Ball:
- Tao Pai Pai, known in the English dub simply as Mercenary Tao, an assassin who wears a pink outfit with "Kill You!" written on the back. When we first meet him, he's been in the assassination business for 20 years and has never failed to eliminate a target. He is hired by Commander Red to kill Son Goku and take his Dragon Balls to the Red Ribbon HQ...but he fails in both parts. However, he is the first antagonist to have defeated Goku.
- Dragon Ball Super introduces Hit, a legendary assassin from Universe 6 who uses a combination of Pressure Point attacks and the ability to stop time briefly to kill his targets. He first appears as Universe 6's ringer in their tournament against Universe 7, where he's able to go toe-to-toe with Goku even when the latter fights at full power by combining Super Saiyan Blue with the Kaioken. In a two-episode mini-arc, someone hires Hit to assassinate Goku. He does land a fatal blow, but Goku used a timed ki blast to restart his own heart. At the end of the arc it's revealed that Goku himself hired Hit, wanting to be able to fight him at his best since, during the tournament, he wasn't allowed to use his assassination techniques.
- In Fate/Zero, Kiritsugu Emiya becomes one of these after, as a child, witnessing the kind of horrific effects experiments carried out by magi can have. He became known as "The Magus Killer", known for combining magic and mundane weapons and specializing in killing magi, though he would target anyone who was causing harm to others. Interestingly, he became a killer out of a desire to be a hero... his idealism clashes rather heavily with his job, a fact that is central to his characterization.
- Golgo 13: The title character is a Consummate Professional assassin. He is a Trope Maker of the modern serious hitman (as opposed to the more playful James Bond). Golgo 13 was originally a manga that debuted in 1968. Its 1983 anime film adaptation, Golgo 13: The Professional, influenced films like Leon, the Professional and games like Hitman.
- The members of Weiss in Knight Hunters are assassins, and also the heroes of the peace, although they consider themselves Necessarily Evil.
- Kirika and Mirielle in Noir are assassins and their enemies are also professional killers. The most dangerous ones seem to always be women.
- The titular protagonist of Happy Kanako’s Killer Life accidentally stumbles into applying for an assassination agency after quitting her old job. Her conscience initially feels nervous about the job and only takes solace in the fact her first targets are Asshole Victims like the Bad Boss from her last job. Then she turns out to be an Instant Expert at murder and the praise and benefits she gets for her work does wonders for her Heroic Self-Deprecation, so she stays at the agency and eventually dreads the prospect of losing her job there.
- For the Zoldycks from Hunter × Hunter, assassination is the family business. Even their gender-ambiguous 10-year-old kid can kill you. With confetti and a paper fan, no less. On top of all that, they're badass enough that they can give out business cards with their phone number and home address on them. They live in a Big Fancy House hidden somewhere on their mountain estate (their mountain estate encompassing the mountain), and anyone who wants to get to them has to get past both the fuck-off massive
Angry Guard Dogpitiless machine wearing a dog's body and a small army of Battle Butlers, the weakest of whom once singlehandedly took down a group of 100 Blacklist Hunters with ease. Yeah....
- Magi: Labyrinth of Magic: As a child, Jafar was an assassin. He grows up to become a parliamentary official of the kingdom of the man he was supposed to kill. Doesn't keep him from kicking ass, though.
- In Monster, Mr. Rosso reveals to have been one long before the events of the story, correctly deducing that Nina had originally agreed to work at his restaurant to either hire him or have him teach her how to kill, only changing her mind once she realized he was a changed man.
- While most shinobi carry out specified missions in teams on the order of their leader, hunter-nin stand apart. It is not uncommon for them to hunt criminals solo and they likely bring in large bounties for disposing of traitors and worse.
- Some missing-nin take up this career after leaving their villages. Likely due to the stigma of being from another village or having committed criminal acts, they have difficulty getting honest work. However, a black market exists for bounty hunters who locate, kill, and retrieve targets for interested parties.
- All ninja in Naruto are de facto career killers and are expected to be ready to kill on command, and all ninja villages accept contracts on someone's life, though this is only one of a range of jobs they might do. ANBU Black Op's may assassinate on direct orders of the Kage when more discretion is required, such as against a friendly village — ANBU's ROOT will do this without the Kage's permission. Hunter-Nin are not bounty hunters but ninja tasked with tracking and eliminating known missing-nin, which are ninja who have went AWOL and usually committed a serious crime against the village, though they may be wanted by other village's apart from their native one. The storyline doesn't gloss over this as assassination plans against characters like Orochimaru and Sasuke are both addressed.
- The Akatsuki Organization forged their infamous reputation, for having members who are more than capable of killing someone, but also take down Jinchuriki single-handedly. To put it simply they are "The Ninja of other Ninjas" possessing abilities that are unique or significantly rare.
- One Piece:
- Members of Crocodile's crew, Baroque Works.
- The members of the World Government's secret agents, Cipher Pol 9.
- The whole Vinsmoke Family members (except for Vinsmoke Sanji) are assassins, including the entire army they command, Germa 66.
- Laura from Mnemosyne is an assassin who sports all sorts of firearms and explosives. The problem is, Rin is just that badass (and immortal) that she beats her almost every single time.
- The MacDougall brothers from Outlaw Star are both assassins. Ron is a badass while Harry starts out as a bit of a loser before Character Development improves him.
- In Queen's Blade, Irma is the leader of the Fang Assassins guild The position was formerly held by her mentor and ex-lover Echidna.
- Reborn! (2004):
- The Varia are elite, if somewhat eccentric, assassins. They're certainly well dressed, and have no problem killing anyone (or each other). They prefer to remain independent from the more peace-loving Vongola however, as Benevolent Boss Tsuna is too nice for their liking. Though their own boss served as the Big Bad for a time, now they're more antiheroes than anything.
- Reborn: The title character is a self-described "Hitman," never an "Assassin." There seems to be a clear distinction between the two in the Vongola Family, and the title "Hitman" appears to command the utmost respect. Reborn himself is highly honorable and wise, if a bit of a prankster. Although we're repeatedly told he's the best Hitman alive, we never actually see him kill anyone (but we do see that he is an uncannily good shot.)
- In Slayers, Zuuma is an incredibly badass assassin who is hired to kill Lina Inverse. He follows a strict code, only revealing his name to his employer and his target, and always completing a job even if the person who hired him has died in the meantime. In the novel version, he became an assassin simply because he felt a psychological compulsion to kill; the anime version gives him a bit more of an origin story.
- Spy X Family: Yor became an assassin to support herself and her brother after her Promotion to Parent, and has continued doing it as an adult, possibly because she's not good at most other jobs. She's of the Hitman with a Heart variety, and her targets are all Asshole Victims.
- A guild of them exists in Stealth Symphony, and a member among them is Soya, the Vice-Chief of the Assassin's Guild. How good of an assassin is Soya? When Jig is rampaging as the Black Dragon and about to raise the Ark, he pops up behind him and cuts off his head.
- Tokyo Ghoul:
- Big Good Yoshimura eventually confesses to Kaneki that he was once hired as a "Cleaner" for a Covert Group. He left the organization and retired into a quiet life running a cafe, after his final "job" — killing his lover to protect his superiors' secrets.
- During the battle in the 11th Ward, Marude theorizes that the sniper pinning them down is probably a professional, as ghoul mercenaries are popular in war-torn parts of the world.
- The Eye of Michael, an organization of contract killers who appear to have their corporate origins in some kind of plant-worshiping cult. They fill three slots in the Gung-Ho Guns, something Knives doubtless finds very useful since if one of these three is killed the Eye sends in a replacement without his having to go to the trouble of another recruitment drive.
- This is what netted him Wolfwood, an Eye member previously known as Nicholas The Punisher, who shot his mentor Chapel to take his place so as to get closer to Knives in hopes of killing him to save the world. This plan did not work, but hey.
- As implied above, in both adaptations Wolfwood is a Professional Killer, taken under Chapel's wing as an orphan boy. The manga version is just more explicit and detailed, and includes some Strapped to an Operating Table. Legato isn't the only one to get Bowdlerized.
- 2000 AD:
- The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael: The eponymous Ichabod Azrael is, in the very first strip, assassinated by a gang of notorious outlaws led by Bloody Bill Sterling.
- Shakara: Valentine D'Eath is an assassin with all the exaggeration inherent to a gonzo Space Opera scifi setting.
- Button Man: Button Men are trained to take part in "The Game", a Blood Sport where they take on other Button Men on behalf of their sponsors.
- Black Widow. Although her origins have varied over the years, this tends to be a common element of most of her backstories. A controversial issue of The Avengers (#11) strongly implies that SHIELD has assigned her to assassinate a group of war criminals, or she chose to do so of her own accord, suggesting she remains an assassin, even though she is also a member of the Avengers.
- The DCU:
- There is a League of Assassins that seems to encompass nearly every highly-skilled killer-for-hire in that particular universe, led by Ra's Al Ghul with his daughter Talia Al Ghul as his Number Two. Members of the League include Bronze Tiger, Cheshire, and Lady Shiva, canonically the premier hand-to-hand killer of the DC Universe. See also Marvel Comics' Assassins Guild.
- Characters not affiliated with the League would be Deathstroke, Deadshot, and David Cain.
- In Supergirl/Batgirl story Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl, Lex Luthor hired Joe Chill to murder the Wayne family. However he was so incompetent that he murdered the wrong family and was arrested by a child.
- Robin introduced Scarab, a highly competent female assassin with Powered Armor. Red Robin revealed she was part of a small organization of professional killers called the Covenant of Ka.
- In Dead Mans Party: the enigmatic hitman known only as Ghost is an incredibly lethal assassin who is forced to put a contract out on himself.
- The French com(ed)ic series "L'Effaceur" (the Eraser) is about a hitman who runs his operation like an actual business (including hiring a secretary to keep track of his contracts and making promotional offers and discounts).
- There's also Elektra, Daredevil's adversary and one-time girlfriend. Typhoid Mary probably counts too. (In fact, Daredevil seems to have a thing for this...)
- Empowered offers the curiously downbeat Thugboy. Rarely seen without some sort of gun-themed t-shirt, he is known (although not by his present circle) to have taken part in a cape-killing spree and is occasionally seen exercising dispassionate lethal violence — when Ninjette is ambushed by another clan in the park, he methodically goes around shooting them all in the head afterwards, just to be sure. He also takes over Single Action’s plasma pistols in the “Capeys” fight, which are presumably lethal.
- Fire, a DC Comics superheroine, is revealed to be a former assassin. Her talent for killing is one reason why she is recruited into the secret organization Checkmate in the post-Infinite Crisis continuity. Most of the comedy comes from the bizarre last requests his targets make of him, his increasingly-innovative methods for Disposing of a Body (he's an amateur sculptor and always knows of a building under construction) or his bumbling assistant (his adoptive son, due to one of the aforementioned last requests).
- Hitman (1993): Tommy Monaghan, is the eponymous hitman. His life is hard, dirty, bleak, and short, but he's not really the villain.
- The main character of I Killed Adolf Hitler, living in a world where murder is legal. His last contract is the Fuhrer.
- The aptly titled Le Tueur (The Killer) centers around one. He's characterized as a stoic, reflective sort of person with deeply misanthropic tendencies, although he does object to killing people for any reason other than money.
- Most of the Marvel Universe's Mercs probably fit. Taskmaster, Bullseye, Crossbones, Daken and Deadpool at times, messing with the heroes because the heroes are their intended targets, or simply because the hero gets in the way.
- Supposedly, the best assassin in Marvel continuity is the man known as the Foreigner, who formerly headed an organization of hired guns called the 1400 Club until it was shanghaied by Justin Hammer. Virtually nothing is known of his past (although Silver Sable is his ex-wife) but it is believed his skills are second to none other, and that he has never been identified, much less convicted or incarcerated. Primarily a foe of Spider-Man, his most notorious act was using mercenaries to kill Spidey's friend Ned Leeds after being hired to do so by the mercenary Jason Macendale (who thought Ned was the Hobgoblin; Macendale would later become the second Hobgoblin).
- The Punisher runs into hitmen and assassins on an almost daily basis. Predictably, none of them have managed to actually kill him (he once got rid of a Carnival of Killers by killing each of them in a single panel). Special mention must be made of The Russian from The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank, who earned special notoriety for going to warzones on vacation, and eating a man, whole, on a bet.
- The title character in Ramba is a female assassin.
- Sin City features quite a few hitman, owing to its Film Noir roots.
- Shlubb and Klump are two particularly colorful two low-rent hitmen with Delusions of Eloquence.
- Marvin encounters a few hitman and notes in his interior monologue that he loves hitmen because he never feels guilty about what he does to them.
- The Salesman is a particularly interesting assassin who starts the whole series off by sympathizing with his target and turning his job into a Mercy Kill.
- Ultimate Daredevil & Elektra: Trey did not burn the shop of Elektra's father himself. He sent people hired for that.
- Laura "X-23" Kinney, the Opposite-Sex Clone of Wolverine created by The Facility to be a emotionless, merciless assassin whose services would be sold to the highest bidder. They succeeded, but she got away and joined the X-Men and X-Force. She's begun trying to leave her training behind and bring her actions more in line with X-family practices, but her complete ruthlessness makes her at times even a more efficient killer than Wolverine.
- In Amazing Fantasy, Mysterio has his personal squad of assassins, the Enforcers, deal with anyone who fails to pay him for using his equipment.
- Child of the Storm has a number:
- Black Widow and the Winter Soldier were both professional killers for the Red Room (and in the latter's case, later HYDRA).
- Clint also functions as one of these for SHIELD, specifically, a Friendly Sniper.
- The Good Hunter: In simple terms, this trope is what becoming an agent of the Wild Hunt entails: They sign a contract that includes the agreement between the agent and the employer of said agent. The agent fulfils the duty given to them by the employer. The duty is to sabotage and subvert both Order and Monster interests... which most certainly is 100% homicide. If they succeed, then the contract will be returned, and they will get paid. If they die, they get buried in a grave. Nothing glamorous.
- The WWE alternate universe story, The Horsewomen Of Las Vegas has "The Lethal Weapon" Steve Blackman as one, as well as being Charlotte Flair's personal fight trainer. The story also has a Murder, Inc. group in the form of the Bullet Club.
- In Pokémon: The Lost Child Aegislash's main role in The Brotherhood is acting as their personal assassin willing to carry out any kills he is given without question.
- Power Rider Citrus Slasher’s Claudia Balduina was this at one point before resigning to become a pattisier.
- Subverted in Risk It All. Ren is nearly killed by a homeless man with a gun, who Ren lampshades as looking nothing like the assassins he expected. According to the GCPD, this is Black Mask's standard MO for getting rid of loose ends, as the desperate are easily convinced to kill others for a thousand bucks. The fact that the assailant is a random hobo means that it's impossible to prove decisively that Black Mask is responsible as the payment was made in cash.
- Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: A squad of NERV agents specialises in "target removal" and take care of people who knows too much. His chief, Chiron tried to assassinate Kaji personally.
- In TheNamelessDoll's video "Sail", Helga is an assassin who targets politicians. Her boyfriend Dean also used to work with her but has quit to lead a normal life.
- The Discworld of A.A. Pessimal develops the Assassins' Guild and its School from its roots in canon. Pessimal points out that with school numbers greatly increasing after going co-educational, the number of Assassins graduating from the School every year has increased and they can't all become professional killers. He suggests that if perhaps ninety to a hundred Assassins now graduate every year, the vast majority of them will never inhume even once. Merely passing out of the toughest school on the Disc is acheivement enough, and most will forge worthwhile careers in other areas. motivations vary: one student is there simply because the Assassins' music department is massively well resourced, with gifted teachers, and he wants a career in music. Being an Assassin is a sideline. The Guild's focus is also shifting: the "soft skills" that do not involve killing people are valued, as they create bomb disposal officers, zoologists, bodyguards, politicians, career civil servants, and Teachers. A new possibility is that really good shots who don't get airsick might make good aircrew and air-gunners for the Air Watch. Careful negotiations are proceeding.
- Shrek: This seemed to be Puss in Boots' job, as he was originally hired by King Harold to "take out" Shrek and Donkey. However, despite initial success, he fails to eliminate them, and soon joins the good guys.
- Accident is about a crew of professional killers who specialize in killing their victims using elaborate schemes that mask the murders as if they were accidents.
- The American features several, including Jack, an old professional killer and skilled gunsmith whose lifestyle of constant travel and paranoia is beginning to wear down on him, and Mathilde, a young but ruthless and experienced assassin.
- Andy Warhol's Bad is about a woman who makes extra money who runs a beauty salon out of her house and makes extra money by providing ruthless women to do hit jobs.
- In Apocalypse Now, this is Willard's shtick in the military. He has a history of at least three assassinations, but is uneasy about having to terminate an American, an unprecedented task.
- In The Assassination Bureau Ltd., the titular bureau is filled with the former.
- Assassination Games has at least two. Brazil is a professional killer who uses a combination of audacity and bizarre methods to take out his targets at close range. Flint is a retired killer brought out of retirement for revenge who prefers to kill his targets from a distance. They wind up with the same target.
- Assassins features a conflict between Rath, a former Cold War Hitman with a Heart, and Bain — a psychopathic Young Gun who is entirely willing to kill cops and Innocent Bystanders.
- The Assignment (2016): Frank Kitchen is a hitman, and the plot is sparked by him murdering Dr. Rachel Jane's brother over an unpaid debt he owed to criminals.
- The Unnamed hitman from the short film made of the Stephen King story Battleground lives a visibly high-class lifestyle. He ruthlessly shoots dead the unarmed CEO of a toymaking company, but uses a tranquilizer gun against his two security guards. Other techniques include using a rubber facemask to conceal his features (it appears to be a real face to a casual observer), a fake bomb to get the guard to open the security door, and wearing a headset so people won't engage him in casual conversation. Unfortunately he has a habit of taking trophies from his victims, which isn't a good idea when the victim's mother is a witch.
- Best Seller, the 1987 thriller starring James Woods and Brian Dennehy. A hitman for a Corrupt Corporate Executive approaches a detective turned crime novelist, wanting to sell his story.
- Blind Horizon: Three of them are hired to kill the President in a small New Mexican town when he's diverted there. "Frank" is one of them, though he doesn't know that right away.
- Blood Father: The sicario, a heavily tattooed hitman working for the cartel. It turns out that he's not just there to hunt down John and his daughter, but also to keep on eye on Jonah on behalf of his higher-ranking uncle.
- The Boondock Saints have to deal with two hitmen in the course of the movie. One of them is a "sick fuck" who their colleague Rocco drove to his job one time, who "takes out a whole family — wife, kids, everyone — like he's ordering a fucking pizza." The other hitman, Il Duce, shows up shortly after the three finish off the "sick fuck," and was sprung from prison by the Big Bad in order to kill Rocco, who he believes is responsible for the Saints' killings. He turns out to have a Leon-esque code about "no women, no kids," shows himself to be a consummate badass who gives all three saints the fight of their lives, and eventually turns out to be the McManus brothers' long lost father.
- In Brass Target, the cabal of corrupt American officers hire Webber (played by Max von Sydow), a professional assassin, to kill Patton in the hope of halting the inquiry.
- Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman is about a professional killer (the Machine Gun Woman) who attracts a Carnival of Killers after a gang lord places a 300 million peso price on her head. None of the other professional killers who try to claim the bounty are as good as the Machine Gun Woman.
- Bullet Train follows a group of competing assassins fighting over a MacGuffin on a Japanese bullet train.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier has the titular villain. It isn't so much for money as it is brainwashing. Nonetheless, the man is a killing machine with ruthless efficiency that will use any means necessary to finish the mission assigned to him — the mission in the movie being Nick Fury, and eventually Black Widow and Captain America himself. Black Widow herself was an assassin before joining SHIELD (and it is implied has worked in that capacity for SHIELD as well, but the film spends very little time dwelling on it).
- Vincent from Collateral is a Wicked Cultured contract killer with a nice suit, a detailed knowledge of jazz, and military training. He never shows his face to his employers and always leaves a dead patsy behind to take the fall for a job.
- Chev Chelios in Crank is a professional killer with a girlfriend who thinks that he's a video game designer. He's a one-man army during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge that makes up the whole film.
- Cut To The Chase: Nola turns out to be a hitwoman who worked for the Man, not just a drug runner as she had falsely claimed. She'd been returning from a job when she was caught while carrying the payment the Man gave her for it.
- Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness: Seith is a trained assassin who did that work previously, though when this story starts he's after more ambitious objectives.
- End of Watch: The "Curbside" gang are a foursome of Latino gangbangers who do hits ordered by the Sinaloa Cartel in South Central LA.
- "J" is the hitman who is commissioned to Get Carter (1971). He's a Cold Sniper and never heard speaking. He's so above the muck of the plot that we never even learn his name. He's identified only by the letter on his signet ring.
- Willi Cicci in The Godfather parts I and II. As he tells the Senate subcommittee in Part II he was a soldier or "button" for the Corleone family. "When the boss says push a button on a guy, I push a BUTTON."
- Golgo 13: There was a 1977 live-action film based on the manga (see Anime & Manga above), starring Sonny Chiba, called Golgo 13: Operation Kowloon.
- Angel Eyes in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a soulless mercenary who hunts down and executes targets for the money. He's portrayed as an utterly cold-blooded sociopath who doesn't so much as bat an eye while having a man tortured in front of him, extorts money from prisoners of war, and always sees a job through to the end once he's been paid.
- Grosse Pointe Blank: Martin Q. Blank is a Hitman with a Heart who suffers an existential crisis over his chosen profession. The villains of the film are Jeremy Grocer and his hitmen, who try to form a Weird Trade Union for hitmen and won't suffer a scab to live.
"They all have husbands and wives and children and houses and dogs, and, you know, they've all made themselves a part of something and they can talk about what they do. What am I gonna say? 'I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How've you been?'"
- The Cowboy, The Indian and The Blonde are all professional killers working for different factions seeking the mask in Guns, Girls and Gambling.
- Jet Li's character in Hitman lives an extremely unglamorous life. He rooms with three other bottom-feeder hitmen/thugs, dorm style. To get a job, they essentially have to find an agent to essentially advertise them as skillful. Even Jet Li's agent is a bottom feeder. The only character with the style of an assassin is the "Killing Angel" who starts the mess of the movie to begin with, and he's not even doing it for the money. He's a vigilante cop.
- Hotel Artemis features professional assassin Nice who has a cybernetic optic implant that lets her livestream her kills to her clients.
Nice: I only kill important people.
- Ichi the Killer has the titular Ichi, a deadly assassin, and Kaneko, a rather unsuccessful hitman.
- In Bruges, Ken and Ray are hitmen, though Ray has only one job under his belt and he bungled it. They're both Punch Clock Villains. Ken is an even-tempered man with an appreciation of art.
- James Bond:
- Strictly speaking, he's a spy, but he is part of the elite "Double-O" branch of MI6 permitted to kill presumably in the interest of international security or intelligence gathering. The kills are usually only carried out if that is the objective or if they're absolutely necessary to complete the mission at hand. He's directly referenced occasionally as a professional killer, such as by Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun as well as an "assassin" by General Moon in Die Another Day. Despite this, in the 60+ year history of the Bond films, he has only been shown committing outright assassinations a handful of times, with the majority of his kills either occurring in the heat of battle or as self-defense. And for someone who considers murder as part of his "job", 007 sometimes doubts the morality of what he does and fears the potential of becoming just as evil and monstrous as his enemies. But despite these self-doubts, he refuses to let that shake his incredible loyalty to queen and country.
- Francisco Scaramanga, the Big Bad of The Man with the Golden Gun, is the world's best and highest paid (one million dollars per victim) assassin who uses a gun loaded with gold-plated bullets to make hits. (He has much bigger plans over the course of the film, however.) And he also invokes the "Not So Different" Remark card on Bond, but 007 shuts him down on this.
- Alec Trevelyan and Raoul Silva were former MI6 operatives and co-workers of 007 who became Rogue Agents after their Face–Heel Turn.
- Many of the Elite Mooks Bond faces off against tend to be some flavour of this, with the Three Blind Mice, Red Grant, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, Whisper, Jaws, Necros, Dr. Kaufman and Mr. Hinx being some of the most notable examples.
- John Wick was once one of the deadliest men of the Continental, a hotel that caters to professional assassins, has a strict code that every assassin is expected to follow (with dire consequences should that code be broken), and uses its own currency to pay for services rendered. When the asshole son of the biggest mob boss in New York makes the mistake of getting on his bad side by beating him half to death, stealing his classic Mustang, and killing his dog, John puts all his skills to work in hunting him down and making him pay.
- Kate's protagonist is a professional assassin, though she has no apparent agency over which jobs she takes or what she does with her personal life.
- Danny from Killer Elite is a hitman who dresses in ordinary clothing and lives in an R.V. However, he is the protagonist of the story and looks down anyone who kills civilians or children.
- Killers: Spencer worked as one before quitting. Additionally, many more of them are hired to kill him.
- The two main characters in Kill List are former soldiers turned professional killers.
- Kimi: Antonio Rivas, plus his two henchmen, are assassins whom Brad hired to kill his mistress Samantha, and then Angela as she discovered evidence of this.
- Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life, which reworks Lara from her original Adventurer Archaeologist persona into a female James Bond, strongly suggests this is part of her background when she tells a colleague she cannot become involved with him because she might have to kill him.
- Brighton Beach's youth in Little Odessa are all either hitmen or hitmen wannabes. They live in a sucky neighbourhood, wear leather jackets, have slicked-back hair, and are generally unrefined and not too bright.
- Julian Noble in The Matador is a deconstruction of a James Bond style assassin, played by Pierce Brosnan, a former Bond actor. He is handsome, often charming, highly skilled and a world traveler. However while off the job he's tacky, lonely and suffers guilt-induced panic attacks.
- Ben of Man Bites Dog is a well-paid, Faux Affably Evil hitman with pretensions of being Wicked Cultured (he discourses knowledgeably on such subjects as poetry and architecture); he clearly styles himself as a glamorous and erudite assassin from fiction.
- Masked Avengers:The villains are a gang of masked men who kill for money.
- In The Mechanic (1972), Charles Bronson's character trains a young man to also become an assassin.
"Murder is only killing without a license."
- Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005): The title characters are married assassins working for rival companies who don't know that the other is also an assassin.
- The Muppet Movie: Doc hires a frog killer called Snake Walker to give Kermit an ultimatum; either become Doc's spokesperson or die.
- Leon in The Professional. The title character is a professional assassin for the local Italian mafia, known as the Italian Lion. He's an unholy killing machine, but he barely spends any money, lives a monastic existence, and has an almost childlike personality.
- Jules and Vincent of Pulp Fiction are hitmen and Hired Guns for the local mob boss. They wear nice suits to their jobs and are so blasé about killing that they breezily shoot the shit right up to the moment they go on the clock.
- In Road to Perdition, Tom Hanks' Anti-Hero character is his mob family's designated hitman. He eventually must content with an independent Psycho for Hire played by Jude Law.
- Jef Costello, lead character of Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samouraï is a Badass in a Nice Suit, extremely suave, highly disciplined and cunning. He's vert reticent, barely speaking except when necessary; he lives in a two-room dump of an apartment with the paint peeling off the walls and only his pet bird (who also doesn't talk) for company. His only concerns are practicing his craft with the utmost professionalism and perfection, and maintaining an exacting sense of honor... especially when his employers try to have him killed.
- In Six Reasons Why, The Criminal is a killer-for-hire who murders The Entrepreneur's father in such a way that it guarantees that The Entrepreneur will pursue him out into The Badlands.
- Smokin' Aces sees a whole parade of professional killers converge on a hotel casino in Lake Tahoe in order to collect the contract on the head of magician and mob informer Buddy Israel.
- The prequel Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball revisits the premise, this time with an even wackier group of assassins going after a retiring FBI agent.
- In The Star Chamber, the hitman who carries out the secret court's death sentences against murderers who got Off on a Technicality, though its hard to say if he falls in the first or second category.
- Joubert, the freelance Alsatian killer in Three Days of the Condor. Always polite, even to the extent of giving the protagonist a lift to the train station when he no longer has a contract against him.
Joubert: Well, the fact is, what I do is not a bad occupation. Someone is always willing to pay.Turner: I would find it... tiring.Joubert: Oh, no. It's quite restful. It's almost peaceful. No need to believe in either side, or any side. There is no cause. There's only yourself. The belief is in your own precision.
- The Tournament is about a tournament where Professional Killers and soldiers fight each other to the death to win a lot of money, all for the amusement of decadent, rich people. The movie portrays both sympathetic killers who genuinely want to quit their business as well as Ax-Crazy ones.
- The movie 2 Days in the Valley has contrasting hitmen. Dosmo is balding, aging, overweight, and down-on-his-luck, while Lee Woods is successful, young, smooth, and intelligent. However, Dosmo has the Jerk with a Heart of Gold thing going on, (along with a somewhat rough code of honor) while Woods is an utterly ruthless killer who likes to play mental games with his victims beforehand, and will kill anyone who gets in his way.
- Violet & Daisy: Violet, Daisy, the hitmen of a rival gang and the organization that they're in.
- In The Walking Dead (1936), Trigger Smith is a high-priced hitman brought in by The Syndicate to murder Judge Shaw and frame John Ellman for the crime.
- Brand Hauser, John Cusack's character in War, Inc.. (which has been described as "an informal sequel to Grosse Pointe Blank") is an expy of Martin Blank.
- Alamut: Written in 1938, this novel popularized The Hashshashin in Western popular culture. The Assassin's Creed series of games was greatly influenced by this book.
- Konrad, from William Gibson's All Tomorrow's Parties is a rather philosophical Assassin who is a rather dedicated follower of Taoism.
- Artemis Fowl: Butler might have been one while waiting for a new Fowl child to bodyguard, although the narration doesn't really go into detail about it (it mentions that he was about to blow up a South American druglord's house, but an earthquake handled it for him).
- Belisarius Series: Range from thugs-for-hire to martial arts experts comparable to Ninja.
- Best Served Cold is a showcase of various types (often hired by or allies ofour heroes) ranging from common thugs who will do anything for cash, a slightly better class of thug with some kind of defining quirk, the Master Poisoner Morveer (who thinks of himself as a "gentleman of leisure"), to Shenkt, a Consummate Professional Immortal Assassin.
- Book of the Ancestor: The Noi-Guin are a sect of secretive, extremely competent killers that can be hired for money. Starting from the first book, they periodically try to kill/imprison Nona on behalf of the Tacsis family.
- The Bourne Series: Carlos the Jackal as a 'Master Assassin' as the primary antagonist for the first and third books, though he was also something of a hired terrorist as well as a hired killer.
- Damon Runyon's "Broadway" stories often featured these, including Asleep in "Situation Wanted," Don Pep in "Too Much Pep," and Ropes McGonnigle in "Sense of Humor."
- Jyan and Chen in Robert Wingrove's Chung Kuo series are hitman.
- Confessions of a Thug: Written in 1839, this novel popularized the term "thug", which originally referred to an Indian cult of assassins called the Thuggee, who were India's equivalent to the Middle East's Hashshashin and Japan's Ninja.
- The Mongols go up against the historical Assassins in the third Conqueror book. They're certainly stylish and cool, but still come off as evil.
- The se-Tufi Who Walks In Humility, of the Liethe clan, in Courtship Rite. Most Liethe are courtesans and entertainers to the rich and powerful, but Humility is one of their secret assassins who is called in when seduction alone isn't enough to further Leithe goals.
- Lainya Vantrik in The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids is an interdimensional assassin-for-fire. She is proficient in the use of most weapons, can travel from universe to universe at will thanks to a device she wears on her wrist, and is also capable of erasing specific timelines of an individual's life, rather than physically killing them. She is grimly professional but with a strict code of "off-limits" targets, including children.
- The title character in The Day of the Jackal is an assassin.
- Hugh the Hand from The Death Gate Cycle. He's crude, unsophisticated, and ugly, but he when things get tough he demonstrates intellect and deadly skill, and he always exudes an impressive aura of badass. He's considered the second deadliest killer in the world... and the first is way past her prime.
- Master Chiun and Remo Williams from the Destroyer series are both assassins.
Master Chiun: Professional assassination. It's the highest form of public service.
- In Discworld, the City-State of Ankh-Morpork has an Assassins' Guild which is not just tolerated but actively acknowledged by the government (the benevolent dictator of the city happens to be a former graduate).
- Inigo Skimmer from The Fifth Elephant is a Scholarship Student and therefore is more of a craftsman than artist at his job.
- Despite being stylish, the Assassins of Discworld tend to be mostly unsympathetic with some notable exceptions, such as Pteppic, who decides he can't kill anyone, and Vetinari, who notably subverts and breaks a number of Guild rules.
- And then there are people like "Snowy" Slopes, who appears in Jingo: "He's an Assassin?" "No no. He just kills people for money."
- Making Money has a guild member who was implied to be another scholarship boy and was a "cleaner" for the villain.
- Also, most of Ankh-Morpork's prominent families send their children to be educated at the Assassin's Guild, making it an important political force and that most of those who went there are not technically assassins. The Guild even has a sense of civil responsibility, refusing to take on contracts they feel would harm the city or its interests in an unacceptable fashion. Vetinari and Vimes have both been taken off the register as it was felt their removal would 'not only spoil the game but smash the board'. Though that Vimes survived 9 attempts may have contributed.
- The teachers at the Guild sometimes send students after Vimes to teach them humility. Most of the traps that Vimes has set to them are potentially very lethal — for example, loose roof-tiles on greased rails, placed where a hapless Assassin will fall onto an spiky, ornamental, but more importantly, spiky fence; bear-traps; water pits that you can't climb out of; precarious beams above the dragons' cages, etc. He generally sets things up so they'll survive with the loss of dignity, though. According to the Assassins' Guild Diary, this is part of why the Assassins dislike him (but conversely, think he's a good lesson for arrogant students); being killed by a sufficiently paranoid client is seen as part of the game, but Vimes doesn't play by those rules.
- Sorta-subverted in the series Doctrine of Labyrinths by Sarah Monette. One of the main characters, Mildmay, was, in his teens, the most feared and competent assassin in the entire city. However, he didn't even get money for his jobs — it all went to his Keeper (a woman he was subservient to and abused by). And the after-effects of his past continue to haunt him, though he says he "doesn't feel guilty".
- Dragaera: The House of the Jhereg is the organized crime house of the fantasy world. They draw clear distinctions between members who are merely muscle and those who are assassins who have "done work." Vlad Taltos starts out as an assassin in the House and gradually develops a heart. He first meets his wife, one of the Jhereg's top killers, when she and her partner are hired to kill him. There are a number of the Jhereg assassins throughout the stories, including the legendary Mario.
- The Dresden Files has the allegedly human, actually half-demon, mercenary Jared Kincaid, sometimes known as the Hellhound. He's does a variety of jobs in the series, but primarily acts as the bodyguard/chauffeur to The Archive (aka Ivy), a young girl who is the living collection of all human knowledge. He does his job with a combination of heavy ordinance, superhuman speed and reactions, and heavy dose of practical combat strategies. In a world full of dramatic villains and supernatural monsters, he shows up well equipped and does his job in the fastest, safest, most efficient way possible, and as a result he's been able to hold his own against any supernatural threat he's had to deal with. When the subject of killing Wizards comes up, and particularly the risk of their death curse killing a would be assassin in return, Kincaid simply replies he would shoot the wizard from a thousand yards away with a rifle, and Harry has no doubt that he could (and would) do so if needed. Harry later hires him to do exactly that, and he is unsurprisingly quite successful.
- In The Executioner series of action-adventure novels, Vietnam veteran turned vigilante Mack Bolan is alternatively pursued by, or poses as (to infiltrate various Mafia factions) a 'Black Ace', one of the elite contract killers employed by the New York Commission. They are held in awe by the average Mafia foot soldier and are often described as radiating 'class' and charisma.
- In the Foreigner (1994) series the alien atevi have a government sanctioned Assassin's Guild, and consider assassination an acceptable means of settling grievances. Although most licensed assassins work entirely for their clannote , there are some freelance assassins you can hire if you don't have any clan affiliated assassins to call on.
- Girls Don't Hit: Joss is a seasoned, efficient assassin. She trains Echo in the same trade. The company which they work for also has many others on the payroll.
- Guardians of the Flame: Assassins are sent for the heroes by Pandathaway or other villains multiple times.
- The Hellequin Chronicles has a few examples:
- Nate Garrett, also known as Merlin's Assassin, and the titular Hellequin (though by the start of the series, he'd retired the name for 230 years, and only resurrects when he needs to draw on his old reputation as The Dreaded). He notes that from an early age he showed signs of ruthless pragmatism, and a knack for going cold and killing without a qualm, even by the standards of the era he was born in (c. 400 AD). He spent nearly 1500 years as Merlin's spy and assassin, and occasional Torture Technician, and remains excellent at all of these, being lethal with both modern and archaic weaponry. While he doesn't especially like those skills, and explicitly states that they are nothing to aspire to, he finds they come in useful.
- Emily Rowe, enforcer for Mara Range's coven of witches, who favors a sniper rifle. Among other things, she successfully kills Gilgamesh, which is no mean feat.
- The Heritage of Shannara: Pe Ell is an assassin for the Federation. He's the only one with sufficiently powerful magic to bypass Quickening's protection. Turns out her death is a Thanatos Gambit by the King of the Silver River to defeat Uhl Belk and the Maw Grint.
- David Baldacci's The Innocent and The Hit
- Will Robie is a CIA assassin, and currently considered the best in the business. He is extremely pragmatic about his job and approaches it in a logical, almost disturbingly detached manner — he is given orders to kill, and so he does. However, he is also a Hitman with a Heart and has put himself and his career in jeopardy in favour of doing the right thing.
- Jessica Reel, introduced in The Hit, was the only active CIA assassin who could match Robie in skill, although the plot kicks off with her going rogue and murdering her handler. Also like Robie, she is a Hitman with a Heart and turned against her employers in order to stop a Take Over the World plot that they'd engineered despite knowing that she would almost certainly end up dead herself by the end of it, or — at best — constantly on the run for the rest of her life.
- James Bond
- Bond himself is an secret agent with a License to Kill. He's sometimes characterized as simply a glorified government assassin. In both the novels and the films, however, pains are taken to reduce the "cold-blooded" aspect of his work. Ian Fleming, on several occasions, devotes ink to Bond brooding over the fact he's had to kill someone, and in the short story "The Living Daylights", Bond puts his career in jeopardy to avoid doing so. The 007 of the novels kills far less frequently than his cinematic counterpart; indeed, there are a number of Bond stories by Fleming in which he kills no one.
- Francisco Scaramanga from Ian Fleming's The Man with the Golden Gun uses an actual golden gun. he developed his marksmen skill as a child trick shot circus act. In his career, he's worked for the Spangled Mob, US drug runners, Cuba's secret police and freelance. In both the novel and the film, he is depicted as what Bond could have become if he did not have a strong moral center.
- Joe's World: The central character of the first book is Greyboar, a professional strangler famed for his exquisite fingerwork.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars stories, every Red Martian city seems to have an assassins' guild. While not exactly legal, assassination is common enough that most people of means take measures against it. Everyone knows who the assassins are, but no one (well, no one but John Carter) wants to take them on for fear of being, well, assassinated.
- In Johnny Mnemonic, a Yakuza assassin comes after Johnny. He looks like a humble little Japanese tourist, but he's actually a vat-grown super-assassin who ultimately tangles with Action Girl Molly Millions.
- H. Beam Piper's short story "The Last Enemy" is set in a culture with a Society of Assassins that operates openly and under a rigid code of ethics.
- The Legend of Drizzt: Artemis Entreri is one of these, known as the king of assassins in his home city of Calimport. He's also, not coincidentally, the best human swordfighter outside of epic-level characters, capable of going toe-to-toe with practically any non-magical opponent in the books. The fact that he also seems to be intelligent and refined (outside of battle, anyway: see Combat Pragmatist) doesn't hurt, either. However, despite his professionalism, he is painted as unsympathetic and rather hollow, devoting his life to killing Drizzt early on because he has nothing else in his life to look forward too. During his later series with Jarlaxale, we see just how empty he feels most of the time, and how little pleasure his craft really gives him.
- Parodied in The Liquidator by John Gardner (made into a movie in 1965), about an Accidental Hero who's recruited into British Intelligence in the mistaken belief that he's a cold-blooded killer. As he's actually a Dirty Coward, but is unwilling to give up his James Bond lifestyle, he has to subcontract out his assignments to a genuine killer.
- In Lullaby, the middle-aged realtor Helen uses the culling song, which kills whomever you're thinking about, to run a side business as an assassin. She simply gets the names, thinks for a few seconds, and her target dies. She spends the money on antique furniture.
- Malazan Book of the Fallen: In addition to having several instances of Murder, Inc., there are various characters in the series which are professional killers, some belonging to one of the aforementioned organisations and some not:
- Empress Laseen, formerly known as Surly, is the founder of the Claw, which serves as both the Malazan Empire's Secret Police and Assassin's Guild. Becoming Empress has not diminished her ability at her former job.
- There is, in fact, a deity known as the the Rope, the Patron God of Assassins. Also known as Cotillion, he used to be Dancer, the old Emperor's personal right-hand man and founder of the Empire's other Secret Police, the Talon.
- Kalam Mekhar used to serve as a Dagger for one of the Seven Holy Falah'dan on Seven Cities, then was recruited into the Claw, where he commanded a Hand. Even after leaving the Claw, Kalam's reputation remains. He is unusual in that as a Lightning Bruiser, described like a hulking bear and Scary Black Man, he looks nothing like an assassin would be expected to, but can move his bulk around like it's nothing.
- A girl named Sorry, later renamed Apsalar, works as an assassin for High House Shadow, a collection of shadow-aspected beings and deities, one of which is the aforementioned Patron of Assassins. In fact, he used to possess her, leaving behind a big chunk of his own skills and memories and effectively turning what used to be an innocent fisher girl into a Psycho for Hire.
- Rallick Nom is a member of Darujhistan's Guild of Assassins, a Badass Normal who — unlike a majority of his fellow guild members who use sorcery — relies entirely on his own skill (and a little magic-negating dust).
- There is also Clip. Udinaas notices immediately, Seren Pedac needs having it pointed out to her: Clip's shiny swirling chain accessory is a garrotte. He gets an opportunity to demonstrate he knows how to use it, and it's heavily implied he means to go against the god he used to worship as well, in his self-appointed quest to avenge the Andara.
- The ninth volume, Dust of Dreams, introduces the Shi'Gal Assassins of the K'Chain Che'Malle (best described as telepathically communicating intelligent dinosaurs). They are the hive Matron's personal executives. There are up to three of them at any one time, and they are bred to have anathema mindsets, so that they would under no circumstances form an alliance and turn on the Matron.
- Vin, heroine of Mistborn is an Assassin, though she kills out of loyalty to La Résistance and later, the kingdom it morphs into rather than for money.
- The titular character of Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp series is a completely unapologetic CIA assassin, worst nightmare of terrorists and slimy thugs the world over. He prides himself on never having killed an innocent bystander. Also, what seems to be his preferred method of killing doesn't involve a cut throat or a broken neck.
- In the Modesty Blaise novel The Night of Morningstar, the Polish Twins are a Sibling Team of hired killers. They take full payment upfront and guarantee that once they've been paid for a target they will not give up until the target is dead.
- Mordant's Need: In the duology, Gart was the Royal assassin of Cadwal (The High-King's Monomach). He was trained from childhood for the role, and maintained his own stable of apprentices.
- In Neuromancer, Molly remembers the two assassins the Yakuza sent after Johnny. She describes the first assassin, from the original short story, as all speed and flash, a rather typical affair. The second killer the Yakuza sent, however, was like a monk who walked right through all of Johnny's traps and defenses like they were air.
- The Night Angel Trilogy "Assassins" are brutish hitmen who have targets. "Wetboys" are suave assassins with magic powers that have deaders, because their target's death is assured as soon as they accept the contract. "Assassins have targets because they sometimes miss."
- Oliver Twisted: Bill Sikes would usually be paid to kill people as the Wolfman. However, work has dried up with more people preferring to take murder into their own hands. As a result, he moves into Fagin's place because he's run out of money.
- On the Genealogy of Morality: Philosophical non-fiction literature written in 1887 by Friedrich Nietzsche, who references The Hashshashin, praising them and referring to them as a fine example of his philosophy.
- The Phantom of the Opera: In the original book by Gaston Leroux, according to the Persian, Erik, the titular phantom, did this as part of his work for the Sha-in-Sha:
He took part calmly in a number of political assassinations;
- The Radix: Erich Metzger, is not only the world's most dangeors and expensive killer, but also a kind of poet, always trying not to just kill his victim, but to deliver a Karmic Death.
- In River of Teeth, Adelia Reyes is known as the deadliest, most ruthless contract killer of the day. She has no code of honor, taking contracts on everyone as long as the money is right. At the end, however, it is implied that she missed vital organs on purpose when she knifed Hero, though her reasons remain unclear.
- "American Harry" in The Sacred Art of Stealing has few real principles, can be casually violent towards people who try to mess him around and, although he is smarter and more level-headed than some of the people he kills for, he is a somewhat jaded character who seems to have a fairly dull and unglamorous lifestyle.
- A Song of Ice and Fire has a number:
- The Faceless Men are a priesthood of death-worshiping monks who accept cash donations to deliver the gift of death to anyone in the world. Jaqen H'ghar is the most notable.
- The Sorrowful Men are assassins who always apologize to their victims before killing them.
- Bronn is a sellsword by trade, but also acts as a hired knife for Tyrion, executing several people whom Tyrion finds bothersome.
- The bitter and irreverent Sandor argues that all warriors, from the meanest thugs of Flea Bottom all the way up to the chivalrous knights, are really just hired killers for their master, whoever their master happens to be. Whether they are paid cash-in-hand per head or indirectly through rent from properties they are given to take part in wars — they get paid to kill.
- Mara Jade Skywalker from the Star Wars Expanded Universe fits this trope perfectly, sexy clothing and all — she's actually one of the best assassins in The Empire (yes, that Empire), and by extension, the galaxy. Being a Jedi Master hasn't hurt her abilities either. Her son, Ben Skywalker, is explicitly described as one in Sacrifice, but he doesn't really fit the trope, despite actually carrying out an assassination mission — he has too much compassion from his parents, especially Luke. Many fans were angered when she was killed off.
- From The Stormlight Archive, Szeth is a reluctant but incredibly effective Assassin — his people, the Shin, are an inversion of the Proud Warrior Race who value pacifism above all else and treat violence as hideously dishonorable, and consequently they treat their warriors as little more than slaves who have to obey whoever holds their "oathstone". Szeth, a particularly deadly Magic Knight, got traded to outsiders, and because of his deadliness and skill at stealth, he normally gets used as an assassin by his masters. He hates himself for it, but his honor won't let him disobey.
- Hasan the Assassin in This Immortal, reportedly the last mercenary on Earth and a Consummate Professional at his job. He takes pride in never leaving a job unfinished and being very subtle about it.
- Cindy Stoker in the Thursday Next series.
- In the last two books of the Time Scout series, a small horde of these follow a few of our heroes through a number of time strings.
- Villains by Necessity: Sam, though he isn't that bad of a person. There used to be an entire guild of them in his home city.
- John Clark in Tom Clancy novels is a government assassin, a highly trained Cold Sniper. In Without Remorse, he decides to apply his skills on a free agent basis to a vendetta against several local criminals, both the criminals and the police comment on the differences between the way he commits a murder and the way Mafia hit men would carry it out.
- Agent G by C.T. Phipps is about the titular Agent G AKA Case Gordon who has no memories and is a Hollywood Cyborg. He exists for the purposes of eliminating the world's most difficult targets for the International Refugee Society, a Murder, Inc. organization that provides billionairs with untraceable murders.
- Quarters: Bannon and Vree are assassins attached to the Havalkeen Army, making them something like commandos in modern terminology.
- A Discussed Trope in Vengeance by George Jonas. A Mossad team is being recruited to hunt down and kill the terrorists responsible for the Munich Massacre. They recruit someone who's good at organising, someone who's good at forging documents, someone who knows explosives, but when this trope is raised their trainer points out that all they have are spies or ex-soldiers who know how to handle firearms. "How do you train people to do a hit anyway? Practice on dogs first, then say, 'See that old guy crossing Dizengoff Street, now you go ahead and shoot him?'"
- The titular Villain Protagonist of Barry is a hitman who attempts to quit his job and become an actor, much to the consternation of his handler Fuches.
- Breaking Bad has Mike Ehrmantraut, who carries out hits on behalf of Gus Fring.
- Burn Notice has had its share of both, but the recurring one is Larry (yes, dead Larry). Larry used to be in the US Special Forces and later was Michael's Evil Mentor when Michael first joined the CIA. When Larry decided it was time to stop working for Uncle Sam, he faked his death and put the skills he'd learned over the years to work as an assassin for hire.
- The licensed-to-kill British agents in Callan are on the "flat beer" end of Spy Fiction rather than the "martini" end.
- Caprica has Bill Adama's uncle Sam, a hitman for the Ha'la'tha, the Tauron Mafia.
- On Castle one was featured in a relatively minor role but with a strong emotional impact as a professional killer murdered Beckett's mom on orders from a former DA who is now a US Senator. Beckett was forced to shoot him before figuring out who hired him to save Castle.
- Charmed based a story around this in the Season 2 episode "Ms. Hellfire". After the sisters killed her, Prue had to impersonate the assassin to discover who had taken the hit out on them and the thing she regretted having to give up at the end was the wardrobe.
- Sarah and Casey on Chuck are both assassins with different personalities and methods. Several episodes touch on Sarah's concern about Chuck becoming a professional killer.
- The first killer the team brings in turns out to be one of these, a hitman hired to kill women whose children were all born with developmental disorders due to an experimental migraine treatment.
- An efficient team later makes it appear that Joe Hudlin killed himself.
- Condor: Joubert is a former Mossad agent who now works as a CIA hitwoman.
- Counterpart: Baldwin's a skilled hitwoman who explicitly doesn't care about ideology, killing people on both sides of the war if paid for it.
- Criminal Minds had these in "Natural-Born Killer" and "Reckoner". In the former, the guy was actually a Serial Killer (as in, he kills to satisfy an inner desire as opposed to for money) who was working as a mob hitman so he could get paid for his murders. In the latter, it was a common hitman, and he wasn't the primary antagonist, it was his employer.
- Day Break (2006): Miguel Dominguez aka "El Llorón" ("The Crying Man") is the contract killer who murdered Assistant District Attorney Alberto Garza, for which Hopper is framed. He's normally incarcerated, but he has an agreement with the corrupt authorities to release him occasionally so he can take out people whenever his employers want him to.
- Elementary: During the first season, Holmes and Watson investigate Sebastian Moran and Daniel Gottlieb who intially appear to be serial killers but eventually turn out to be assassins working for Moriarty. The serial killer trappings are meant to throw off the police and disguise their connections to the criminal mastermind.
- John Mercer from the British series The Fixer is an assassin who lives on a Council Estate.
- Game of Thrones:
- Karl Tanner of Gin Alley, the leader of the Night's Watch mutineers, reveals that he was once a cutthroat who earned seven silvers per hit.
- The Faceless Men, a guild of hired killers from Braavos capable of completely altering their faces (hence their name) are considered the best, and Arya meets one, who gives her three free kills in return for saving him and the two prisoners he was with. She later trains at their headquarters to be one.
- Bronn admits that for the right money he'd kill anyone.
- House Clegane serve no other purpose than killing. Sandor makes numerous speeches that it is what knights are at the core and Gregor shows it. They are regularly used by the Lannisters to kill specific targets such as a butcher's son and former heirs to the throne.
- Hightown: Osito is a hitman for Frankie Cuevas Jr., a drug kingpin.
- Homeland: In Season 4, Quinn effectively becomes one after the CIA cease official operations in Germany. He's given targets and paid operation funds with confirmation of each kill.
- In From the Cold: Jenny, then Anya, was once a notorious, highly skilled Russian assassin known as “the Whisper” in the 1990s.
- JAG: The eponymous Hemlock in “Hemlock” who’s out to kill Russian President Boris Yeltsin while in Washington, D.C. is not just a professional killer, but also a Master of Disguise.
- The Accountant, from the short-lived Kidnapped, is an assassin.
- Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire: Dongalor interviews many of them to murder Kröd and Aneka.
- L.A.'s Finest: Several veterans are recruited to be assassins by a corrupt fellow veteran turned therapist.
- MacGyver (1985): A Master of Disguise features in "The Assassin." There was also Axminster in Season 1, and Deborah later on in the series. And there's the Big Bad of the series, Murdoc, who eventually turns out to be part of a fraternity of assassins named HIT ("Homicide International Trust").
- Marco Polo: An enemy of Kubla Khan hires The Hashshashin to kill him. Marco Polo must journey to their mountain lair to negotiate with them.
- Steven Matrix in Matrix started out as a Mafia hitman.
- The Argentinian assassin from the first season of Miami Vice, sent to clean out a list of targets for mob boss Calderone. He looks like a holdover from the 70's, has a small afro, and has one of the quickest draws humanly possible (he was played by a real-life trained marksman). In fact, he kills Sonny Crockett's boss and most of the targets before being taken down, and that's only because more than five police officers (including Tubbs, Valerie and vice officers) shoot at him at the same time.
- Mr. Lucky: If you're a corrupt dictator struggling against La Résistance, don't let Andamo pick your dinner date. She may be a literal femme fatale.
- Murder in the First: Bruja Blanca (White Witch, in Spanish), a woman who works for a Mexican cartel and murders a dirty police captain in custody by pretending to be his lawyer.
- Ziva David in NCIS was an assassin prior to joining the team. Although the series reveals that an early version of NCIS did partake in such missions, Ziva is never given one after joining Gibbs' team, and at one point refers to this as being in her past.
- Helena on Orphan Black is a more sympathetic example, raised by the Prolethean cult as a Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb to assassinate clones.
- The Outer Limits (1995):
- Subverted in "I Hear You Calling". Carter Jones believes that the strange man who has been causing people to disappear, leaving only a pile of purple ash in their wake, is an alien hitman. He explains to Carter that, like her, these people have contracted a disease which is fatal to humans and that he in fact teleported them to his planet, a veritable paradise where the disease is harmless. The purple ash is a byproduct of the teleportation process.
- In "The Gun", the alien calling himself Donald Finley came to Earth in order to recruit mercenaries to fight in the war which his people are fighting.
- On Person of Interest Shaw was this going after targets on the relevant list, Northern Lights has several on the payroll. Root was one. Reese was something of this, though he had more doubts about it, which annoyed his CIA partner, Kara, who was a serial killer in all but name.
- Resurrection: Ertuğrul:
- During the third series, a Catalonian mercenary named Francisco is hired by Ural Bey to ambush a carriage full of women and children, then is slain by Ural in order to cover up his involvement in the event.
- Later that same season, Ural hires a Greek man named Karakoncalos to head over to the river to interrupt the Kayis’ gold-mining operation and murder his could-have-been servant Hacaturyan (Who revealed the gold deposit to the Kayis).
- There's the Russian sniper Yuri in The Sentinel, who leaves Russian coins as his calling card.
- Sneaky Pete: Otto hires a hitman to kill himself. In the world of the show, hitmen are euphemistically called "house painters" to ward off self-incrimination when hiring them.
- Too Old to Die Young:
- Martin and Larry are both Dirty Cops who perform assassinations for a local Caribbean gang.
- Viggo is apparently halfway between a Vigilante Man and a professional killer. He kills horrible criminals for Diana, but seems to do it for the satisfaction of it rather than money. It's not clear whether he gets any payments from Diana, who receives ceremonial "offerings" from the victims' families.
- True Lies (2023): The Wolf is an assassin whom Omega Sector has hired to do wet work in the past, but also consult on preventing assassinations by him thinking about how he would do this, uncovering the plans this way.
- The Twilight Zone (1959): In "The Jeopardy Room", both Commissar Vassiloff and his assistant Boris are professional assassins. Vassiloff, who claims to have killed 800 people, likes to kill his victims with artistry and subtlety to prevent himself from becoming bored. He considers himself the last of the imaginative executioners. On the other hand, Boris prefers to kill as quickly and efficiently as possible. As such, he simply wants to shoot the defector Major Ivan Kuchenko in the head at the earliest opportunity. Vassiloff regards this less imaginative approach as the impatience of the bourgeois.
- What with the Commission, The Umbrella Academy has several:
- Hazel and Cha-Cha, the duo sent after Five. They have quite a list of kills racked up between the two of them.
- Five himself, though he ditches the Commission and returns to his siblings at the start of the series. He's shown to be quite skilled (including killing someone with a pencil and slaughtering a room of people with an axe), and Hazel and Cha-Cha mention that he is legendary among the Commission agents.
- Lila turns out to be an agent of the Commission, having been raised from a young age by the Handler.
- The Handler seems to have been a very good assassin (or rather an efficient member of the Corrections department) before becoming management. She has a display of weapons she's collected over the years, including the gun Hitler supposedly committed suicide with. It's implied that she may have actually been the one to pull the trigger.
- Wild Bill: Frank McGill in "Nothing Behind the Curtain" is an Irish hitman who had been put into witness protection to give testimony that took his gang down instead of serving three life sentences. However, he's suspected of committing further murders since after five burned bodies are found murdered with his signature method.
- The Wire has quite a few, since it deals with the various drug empires operating in the city of Baltimore. Standouts include:
- In the first season, the Barksdale empire frequently and violently expands by either driving off other dealers by force or killing them outright. This is possible due to them having a number of talented and ruthless hitmen working for them. An example is Wee-bey Brice, a street savvy and ruthless (but surprisingly fun loving and personable) killer who has been "soldiering" for Big Bad Avon Barksdale for close to twenty years.
- The second season introduces Brother Mouzone, a Holy Hitman with a fearsome reputation on loan from New York. Drug kingpins effectively consider him a One-Man Army, and his mere presence immediately makes several powerful drug gangs halt their plans.
Prop Joe: You think I'm going to send any of my people up against Brother? Shit, that man got more bodies on him than a Chinese cemetery.
- A few seasons later, Chris Partlow is Marlo's designated hitman and he is so feared that the hoppers tell ghost stories about him. He has another notable professional killer, Snoop, as his sidekick.
- Word of Honor has Zhou Zishu, former head of the Window to Heaven and Xie, head of the Scorpions, both being leaders of two powerful and deadly assassin groups. Zhou Zishu genuinely regrets his actions taken during his service to Prince Jin and purposefully put the Nails of Seven Torments in himself to torture and slowly kill him as a means of penace.
- The X-Files. The shapeshifting alien 'bounty hunter' fits this trope. He's ruthless, but not without standards; he shows his true alien face to another alien he's been sent to kill so he can die with honor. And there's the various Men In Black types who are often highly-trained government assassins, though not of the Hitman with a Heart type. The Cigarette Smoking Man is himself one of these, though he has graduated to management level.
- "Silent Killer" by 3 Inches of Blood, focusing on the kind of professional killer who's "never seen, never heard," calling him "a special breed of hunter [who] can be summoned for a price."
- "Payback" by Dreamtale
- "Assassins of Ankh Morpork" by Scavanger, actively invoking the original's stylish side for a Black Comedy.
- "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" by AC/DC.
- "Killing Is My Business..." by Megadeth.
- "Sick, Dirty and Mean" by Accept is about hitmen and The Mafia in general.
- "Professional Killer" by KMFDM, though the dialogue bits indicate that it could also be about an executioner for the state carrying out the death penalty.
- "Just a Job to Do" by Genesis is about a hitman who's so accustomed to his work that he just sees it as a daily grind.
- Dick Tracy: That is the job of Tracy's greatest enemy, Flattop Jones. In fact, he had a reputation as an "Ace Killer" since he was suspected in five murders. Unfortunately, Flattop got greedy when he was paid five times his usual rate to kill Tracy, and while the killer was extorting his employers for more before he really killed the detective, Tracy had enough time to prepare his escape and call for help.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- The Assassin class was introduced in Blackmoor. The class also appeared in the first edition of AD&D. It was omitted from second edition core, but appeared in The Complete Thief's Handbook and Player's Option as a kit. Third edition reintroduced the class, and it also appears in the fourth edition. In addition, there are several other classes that could perform a similar role.
- Epic Level Handbook introduced The Garrote, a multiplanar Assassin Guild. Members are expected to have very high standards, in particular in getting the job done and make sure it stays done. This helps in giving them a name for themselves, but they know enough not to take just any contract willy-nilly, lest their enemies muster enough courage and supporters to put and end to them.
- Killer characters in Feng Shui are usually either Assassins or Hitmen With A Heart.
- In Hero Realms, The Guild offers these as part of their criminal services. One Champion in particular is Rake, Master Assassin. Despite knowing little about him or her, the professional is infamous.
His name keeps men of power awake at night.
- New World of Darkness:
- It has a "Professional Training: Hitman" for Hunters.
- Another New World of Darkness example is the Tolltaker Knighthood from Changeling: The Lost. The Tolltakers are, to the last, thugs and hitmen whose special powers rely on designating a target via a contracted hit. Some Knight Bannerets try to only take jobs that deal with "necessary targets" (such as the Gentry, Loyalists and Privateers, and other threats to the freehold), whereas others will just take any job that pays.
- Old World of Darkness:
- The Banu Haqim (aka Assamites) of Vampire: The Masquerade, a vampiric clan with close ties to The Hashshashin (to the point that the original Mount Alamut is their home base). The face they present to the rest of the Kindred is that of assassins and brokers of war, but their numbers also include scholars and sorcerors. Unfortunately, one of their castes has a flaw that means they find vampire blood especially delicious...
- The Euthanatos from Mage: The Ascension are often stereotyped as this, but it's more a matter for the Golden Chalice faction. Even then, their actions aren't entirely about killing for pay; as they view themselves of agents of "the Wheel" of life and death, they make it their business to target those whose actions unbalance the Wheel towards death.
- Rifts and several other Palladium Books games have a variety of close-combat training called "Hand-To-Hand: Assassin,"which is typically only allowed to characters of an outright evil alignment. It offers increased accuracy and lethality, but no automatic dodge and fewer raw attacks a round, making it better for surprise attacks rather than pitched combat.
- Shadowrun has several examples in its lore. The Smoker's Club is a guild of high-status assassins who kill targets for money, and the assassin Quietus posted a manifesto on his life and work on Jackpoint that makes up the sourcebook The Assassin's Primer for 4th edition. Assassination missions are one of the standard types of run for Player Characters.
- Talislanta features the Revenants, a widely-feared cult of assassins whom the Arimites hire to enact vengeance on each other, up to and including murder. So pervasive is their influence that the ruler of Arim cannot leave the palace for fear of being assassinated.
- In Trinity Continuum: Assassins, the titular Assassins Pay Evil unto Evil, taking down those in power who are involved in crime, corruption, and cruelty, aided by their Masteries, powers that enhance their ability to hunt and kill their targets.
- Warhammer: While they also provide scouts, spies and light skirmishing troops, the most notable service provided by the stealthy Ninjas of Clan Eshin is the use of its assassins. Eshin assassins have a very well-earned reputation for being stealthy, ruthless and efficient killers, and will mercilessly hunt down and execute anyone whom their current employers wish dead, to the point where one of their special characters can be hidden in an enemy's formation. Not bad for Rat Men.
- Warhammer 40,000: Most agents of the Officio Assassinorum generally off a person in a clean yet horrifically painful way (snipers, shapeshifters, Anti-Magic guys). An Eversor assassin, on the other hand, kills everyone in a straight path between him and his target. Then maybe explodes from the combat drugs.
- The opera Rigoletto features the killer-for-hire Sparafucile, who treats his work as an ordinary job and prides himself on a job well done. He has an unusual modus operandi wherein his sister flirts with targets and lures them to her home for an assignation. Once they get there, Sparafucile stabs them to death and then puts them in a sack to be presented to whoever paid him for the hit.
- Lieselotte of Arcana Heart. German Little Miss Snarker assassin dressed in an Elegant Gothic Lolita outfit.
- Assassin's Creed: The protagonists typically have this as their way of life. There are exceptions, but in general, most of them are professional killers that you control to do their work. While they're functionally more vigilantes, they are not above putting actual contracts on their Templar targets.
- First was Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad from Assassin's Creed, who is a Hashashin, the Ur-Example and the etymological origin of the word "assassin".
- Ezio Auditore in Assassin's Creed II is very suave and gentlemanly, in contrast to the resolute and focused Altaïr.
- Connor Kenway (AKA Ratonhnhaké:ton) in Assassin's Creed III, a half-Mohawk assassin whose main goal is to fight the Templars and protect his people. Interestingly, compared with his predecessors, he tends to draw more attention to himself on the job due to his strong principles and more open interaction with major political factions, but not to the extent that he can't have a life outside his work, too.
- Battle Arena Toshinden: Vermilion, who does this job For the Evulz.
- Eileen of Bloodborne. Most hunters target beasts, but Eileen, a member of the Hunters of Hunters covenant, specifically goes after other hunters.
- Brador is an assassin for the Healing Church. The Church sends him after those who discover too much.
- In Bloody Roar, both Long and Bakuryu are former assassins of the Tylon Corporation. Each quit for their own reasons: Long gave up his career to atone for the lives he took while working for Tylon. Bakuryu was taken in by Yugo and unofficially adopted. Of the two, Long remains a target of his former employer due to having been one of their top assassins and knowing far too many of their secrets.
- Zer0 from Borderlands 2 is the Assassin Class character, and though he doesn't take on any unique assassination missions in-game that the other characters don't, his wanted poster has a $32 billion price on his head for "political assassination".
- Christie and Bayman in the Dead or Alive series.
- Demon's Souls
- Yurt, The Silent Chief is an assassin of Boletaria who serves Mephistopheles. Killing isn't just his job, it's his whole life. For Yurt, his life is to kill every surviving human. Should you send him to Nexus, he proves it.
- Mephistopheles is an androgynous assassin who tasks you to murder the people in Nexus in order to keep the Soul Arts as a secret. Should you finished his tasks, he kills you to clean up the messes.
- The Whalers from Dishonored. They are led by the Knife of Dunwall, Daud, a born killer who received The Outsider's Mark. Daud uses the Mark to share his powers with the other Whalers, making them very good at their job. The main character himself, Corvo Attano, is a strange example in that despite being an assassin, he doesn't have to actually assassinate anyone. But if you're in his crosshairs, pray to The Outsider that he's in a killing mood: if you've really pissed him off, he can do so much worse than just take your life.
- Numerous in Divinity: Original Sin II. In fact two of your selectable origins/potential party members (Sebille and Ifan) are both assassins, and the latter works for an organization of assassins (the Lone Wolves). You also encounter a few assassins trying to kill one of your party members, and the most common target, by far, is The Red Prince.
- Zevran from Dragon Age: Origins belongs to a notorious assassin's guild, the Antivan Crows.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- The series has two prominent Murder, Inc. groups who are fierce rivals:
- The Morag Tong is a guild of assassins officially sanctioned by the Dunmer (Dark Elf) government. To put it lightly, the Dunmer Great Houses don't get along very well, and since open warring between the Great Houses would weaken the Dunmer overall, the Morag Tong was sanctioned as the solution. Whenever someone with a enough wealth to hire the Morag Tong wants someone dead, an "Honorable Writ of Execution" will be created for that person and a Tong assassin will be dispatched to kill them. They follow a strict code of honor and are highly professional in regards to their work.
- The Dark Brotherhood is a fully criminal offshoot of the Morag Tong who operate throughout the rest of Tamriel. The Brotherhood's membership mostly is much closer to a Psycho for Hire group, taking a sadistic glee in killing while practicing a Religion of Evil dedicated to Sithis. Despite this, they typically tend to encourage stealth and subtlety, and do offer bonuses to assassins willing to fulfill contracts in a specific manner, often at the behest of the client.
- Aside from the two major assassin guilds, the Mythic Dawn is notorius for having assassins disguised as citizens as undercover agents. One of them was responsible for the assassination of Emperor Uriel Septim VII to launch the Oblivion Crisis.
- The Thalmor, the ruling party of the Aldmeri Dominion also have their own assassin squads. They're typically used to silence dissenters and eliminate threats to the Dominion. In Skyrim, they see heavy use hunting down the remaining Blades and eliminating Talos worshipers.
- The series has two prominent Murder, Inc. groups who are fierce rivals:
- Shadow from Final Fantasy VI is described as this during his introduction. During the game, he functions much more like a mercenary.
- Assassins are commonly hired to kill your party in Fire Emblem. Assassin is also a class you can get, and party members with this class commonly fit type 1.
- Golgo 13: There was a 1988 NES game based on the manga and anime (see Anime & Manga above), called Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode.
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto IV all feature main characters that take contracts to assassinate people.
- Hitman has one as the Player Character; Agent 47, a clone bred to be the world's best assassin by Mad Scientist Dr. Otto Wolfgang Ort-Meyer. He takes prestigious contracts for the ICA, and operates in exotic locations taking on contracts his handler, Diana, chooses for him.
- There's often a Contract on the Hitman, such as in Silent Assassin, where another clone used by the game's main contractor tries to kill 47 in St. Petersburg. Also happens in Absolution as 47 has become a Rogue Agent.
- Another assassin is Mark Parchezzi III from Blood Money; One of his kills you can read about has him emerge from a car in broad daylight, gun down the president of some nation, and then run.
- Absolution introduces "The Saints", a group of women working for ICA Director Travis, who wear fetish-ey nun costumes.
- The protagonist from Hotline Miami. The game gives bonuses for being reckless and downright Ax-Crazy.
- Killer7 includes a rogue's gallery of them, including Mask DeSmith, Dan Smith, Kevin Smith, Kaede Smith, Con Smith, Coyote Smith, and Garcian Smith.
- Mafia II: The Betrayal of Jimmy has the titular character, a hitman and enforcer for The Mafia and The Irish Mob, who gets tossed aside by them for being a loose end. In response, he goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, becoming an Anti-Hero in the process.
- Mass Effect:
- Thane Krios in Mass Effect 2 is the most feared and deadly assassin in the galaxy (his training began at six and he made his first kill when he was twelve). He also has something to say about all those other "professionals" you've fought: "You've spent too much time fighting thugs who think custom-painted armor makes them professionals."
- Mass Effect 3 has Kai Leng, an evil cyber-enhanced assassin who works for Cerberus, and is a Hero Killer who offs several fan-favorites (including Thane, if he's still alive in that game) with a shirasaya blade. It is immensely satisfying when you finally kill him with your own omni-blade.
- Max Payne:
- Mona Sax. She's implied to have come out of the mob and calls a decrepit funhouse home).
- Rico Muerte, Frankie Niagara and the Punchinello Trio from the first game are all hitmen villains.
- In the second game, Kaufman and the Cleaners working for Vladimir Lem have military level training.
- No More Heroes:
- Travis Touchdown is a bit of both. His weapon of choice (a Beam Katana), impressive feats of physical skill and endurance, occasional displays of chivalry and honor, and overall competence are very assassin-like. But his Perpetual Poverty, complete lack of stealth or subtlety, and overall tastelessness push him more towards the hitman category.
- In addition, being an assassin seems to be the occupation of choice in Travis's world. It's a highly glamorized job with lots of good publicity; most of the people Travis meets are either assassins, trying to be assassins, or working directly with one. Considering the sheer numbers of these guys and the impressive hits they accomplish (the moment someone acquires any sort of fame, a rival will send an assassin to kill him or her, unless that someone is an assassin or has hired one as a bodyguard), it's a wonder there's anyone left.
- The Bounty Hunter class from Star Wars: The Old Republic is aligned with the Empire and, well, hunts down bounties and wanted individuals. Individual players can decide to be motivated by cruelty or patriotism, but the default assumption is that they're only in it for the money, and possibly a bit of glory. This is in contrast to the Imperial Agent, which is generically considered patriotic, and the Sith classes, which are usually Obviously Evil.
- In Suikoden V, Lyon and the members of the Oboro Detective Agency are all former members of Nether Gate, an assassins guild that used to serve the queendom of Falena. The guild was disbanded by Queen Arshtat and her husband, Ferid, sometime after the bloody succession war that took place between Arshtat and Haswar's mothers.
- The Sniper in Team Fortress 2. "Snipin's a good job, mate. It's challengin' work, out of doors...I'll guarantee you'll not go hungry, 'cause at the end of the day, long as there's two people left on the planet, someone is gonna want someone dead." He also resents the idea that he's just some loon with a gun: He is a professional, and professionals have standards.
- Anna and Nina Williams from Tekken.
- Virtua Fighter:
- Goh Hinogami is an assassin. He's a creepy-looking albino and a relentless killing machine. Still, he does work for and was trained by J6.
- Jean Kujo is a less unusual assassin who also works for J6.
- In Watch Dogs: Legion, you can recruit one of these into DedSec, and they get all manner of awesome combat abilities and powerful weapons for it. The trailer showing off the game's "play as anyone" feature showed off one such hitman, complete with plentiful Shout-Outs to John Wick.
- Lao Gui from Yakuza 0 is the most expensive hitman in Asia and kept on retainer by Sohei Dojima to do his dirty work. Ugly and quiet, he kills or seriously wounds a number of named characters and serves as Majima's final boss.
- Ace Attorney:
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All: Shelly de Killer is an assassin who calls himself a "gentleman killer". It's hard to deny that he has some of the best manners of any killer in the series. This is probably why most people don't mind his Karma Houdini despite the fact that he kidnapped Maya Fey and was willing to kill her if Phoenix didn't get Matt Engarde acquitted.
- Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth:
- Victim Mack Rell was described as a "hitman" who was brought down to the precinct numerous times. Unlike de Killer, though, Rell was reckless, unrefined and unprepared (hence why he was caught easily).
- Gyakuten Kenji 2 (Ace Attorney Investigations 2) has Ryōken Hōinbō (or Sirhan Dogen in the Fan Translation), a blind assassin who used knives and his large dog to carry out hits before getting imprisoned.
- The Great Ace Attorney: One of the killers from Adventures, Jezaille Brett, is revealed in Resolve to have been Asa Shinn, an infamous assassin hired by the Big Bad to tie up the loose ends of a Government Conspiracy and murder Dr. John H. Wilson.
- Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony has the Ultimate Assassin, whose identity is unmasked at the end of the second chapter after spending the beginning of the game claiming to be the Ultimate Child Caregiver, Maki Harukawa.
- The Black Cat's Lair: Amelia is an trained assassin who specializes in revenge killing.
- Helluva Boss revolves around a company called I.M.P., for Immediate Murder Professionals. More specifically, they are demons living in Hell (mostly imps) who can access the living world to assassinate targets on behalf of clients in Hell.
- The titular Ashface of Ashface's Daughter is described as the most notorious assassin in the empire. He does rather dote on his daughter, and threatens unspeakable horrors on a couple of bandits who dared threaten her.
- Death Brigade: The titular Death Brigade.
- Dogfight has Baskerville acting as a professional assassin in the protagonist's first mission.
- The Green-Eyed Sniper's main character, Shanti, is an assassin who only targets bad guys.
- Griefer Belt's story centers around employees The Belt, a company that gets its money from taking hits and harvesting organs for black market deals. Needless to say, they kill people for their money all the time.
- Harry the Dagger is a hapless hired killer. He goes by the classy name Assassin, but he's a low-level hitman barely above a mook.
- Seven of Hexenringe is the newest member of Lucky Seven, a group of assassins that specialize in killing and capturing comic characters.
- Most of the cast of Knights Errant are mercenaries in a fantasy setting reminiscent of Renaissance Italy. The mercenary group the story focuses on, the Errant Knights, are noted in-story for having a code of honor. The protagonist Wilfrid also spent some time as a freelance assassin before joining the Errant Knights.
- Mordecai Heller from Lackadaisy. Has OCD.
- Marilith Millions, main character of Marilith, is an assassin.
- In Monsieur Charlatan, the count hires an assassin to kill his wife.
- Jack Friday from Rock–Paper–Scissors is one of the two main characters of the story and is a somewhat skilled assassin working for The Doctor, leader of the Cavellos.
- Sluggy Freelance:
- Kusari is a badass Assassin.
- The "Phoenix Rising" storyline contains several types. In (very) brief flashbacks we see that the Canadian mafia sent over a hundred "hitmen, criminals, and thugs" to take control of the town of Podunkton. All were killed by Oasis. After a new boss took over the syndicate, he decided to send down a much more badass assassin with a cool costume, lots of guns, and in-battle quips.
- One of the big twists in Danganronpa Re:Birth is that Seishi Yodogawa is one of these. And he's been sent after Ayumu Fujimori's head.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, The Three are a group of three ruthless elven mercenaries who assassinate people for the right price.
- Ato from The Questport Chronicles, in addition to The King of Thieves and Assassins. The Queen of Rogues and Robbers might be, as well.
- The assassins of Protectors of the Plot Continuum may or may not fall into this category, depending on whether one counts a Sue as a person. If not, they're closer to demon hunters, or possibly pest control. They might have a lot of departments that deal with a lot of different things, but the one that kills Sues is one of the biggest and best-developed.
- Snow White and Rose Red of Super Stories are hitmen. They'll accept mercenary jobs where they don't kill anyone, if paid enough, but they think it's sloppy.
- Tinsnip, in the Whateley Universe. We haven't learned enough about him to know if he's an Assassin or a Hitman.
- Scorcher from Adventure Time; a hitman who will NOT quit until his targets are killed, and negotiation is not an option.
- Combustion Man from Avatar: The Last Airbender. He's freaking humongous, with a metal arm and leg. He's also an intimidating, silent badass who can blow crap up with his mind using Frickin' Energy Beams.
- From Batman Beyond, there was Curaré, the best (supposedly) member of the Society of Assassins, a group who themselves who were notorious for being the best. Accepting an assignment to assassinate DA Sam Young brought her perfect record to an end at the hands of Batman and Barbara Gordon, and made her a target of the rest of the Society... which in turn led to the destruction of the whole organization.
- In The Dragon Prince, many moonshadow elves are trained as assassins, and sent out to kill those who have attacked the elven lands. Rayla, one of the main characters, was an assassin on her first mission when she discovered that the egg of the dragon prince still lived and ended up defecting to the heroes' side with a kill count of zero. She finally gets her first kill at the end of book 3, when she sends Lord Viren plunging off a cliff.
- In The Simpsons, Mr. Burns actually keeps the numbers of assassins in his rolodex, and in the episode "Curse of the Flying Hellfish", hired one to kill Grandpa. (Fortunately for Grandpa, the guy wasn't a very good one.)
- The Spectacular Spider-Man's Enforcers are well-regarded assassins commissioned by the Big Bad to eliminate Spider-Man. They fail miserably, but one, Montana, escapes and adopts the supervillain identity of Shocker to complete his job. Throughout his battle with Spider-Man, he expresses a fondness for his work as a killer.
- Young Justice has the League of Shadows, an organzation of assassins founded and run by Ra's Al Ghul. Its assassins include Cheshire, Black Spider, The Hook, and Professor Ojo.
- The Hashshashin are the source of the word "assassin."
- The Ninja are popularly portrayed as assassins, though it was only one of several activities they could be hired to do. Their main occupations were actually spying and sabotage, and occasionally pretending to be samurai and fighting in direct battles.
- The real-life Murder, Inc.; That Other Wiki has details here.
- In Victorian Britain, anatomy murderers or "burkers" were Serial Killers who committed murders solely to sell the corpses to universities after the law began to crack down on Grave Robbing. The most infamous case was the Burke & Hare murders in which the eponymous serial killers (and their wives) killed and sold sixteen people, with their Villainous Legacy creating copycat killers and subsequently the Anatomy Act of 1832 to reduce demand.
- Existed in droves in the first two decades of The New Russia as a by-product of the overall turmoil. In romanticized popular imagination, a killer (Russians adopted the English word) was a lone wolf who would fulfill contracts on unruly businessmen and politicians while hiding their identity behind intricate communication channels. In reality, such independent subcontractors rarely lived long, because they tended to be killed by their own clients who feared that the hitman might start talking if eventually caught. Much more widespread were killers who were affiliated with some group of The Mafiya, akin to employees on a salary, and used primarily against rival bosses in gang wars. As the country stabilized, many were caught and sentenced to long prison terms, while some ended up killed in retaliation. Among the latter was the legendary Alexander Solonik, noted for his lavish lifestyle and his Guns Akimbo skills.
- A 2014 paper looked at a wide sample of convicted hitmen (and one hitwoman) from 1974-2013. While the vast majority fell into the "novice" and "journeymen" categories, with comptency ranging from incompetent to skilled, the authors noted that there was strong evidence of a "master" class composed of professional criminals and ex-military who were adept at killing without getting caught. Rather than the result of ornate disguises and elaborate planning, this was largely attributed to the "master" hitmen traveling to their targets’ areas, killing them, and then promptly leaving afterwards and not bragging about their work, depriving police of the local intelligence and forensic evidence necessary to pin the murder on a specific suspect.