So, your character wants to die for some reason. However, they can't just commit suicide, maybe they're restricted from killing themselves or maybe just because Suicide Is Shameful, whatever the case the obvious solution for them is to hire someone to do it for them.
May include I Cannot Self-Terminate, or be part of Insurance Fraud or some other Thanatos Gambit. See also Suicide by Cop. On occasion it may provide a convenient means of Faking the Dead. Fake Assisted Suicide is a subtrope where the assassin isn't really trying to kill the asker.
As a Death Trope spoilers are unmarked.
If you're thinking about killing yourself in this (or any other!) manner, we insist you get help and beg you not to do it. Please, talk to somebody. You Are Not Alone.
Anime and Manga
- The Golgo 13 movie opens with the titular hit man shooting a corporate executive's son as he was about to inherit the company, the father spends the rest of the film trying to hunt down and kill Golgo 13 in revenge. At one point someone tries to point out that it's kind of pointless to seek revenge against a hired gun, instead of whoever hired him, and even later it turns out that the father found a suicide note.
- An episode of Detective Conan deals with a man who hired a legendary sellgun to kill him after thinking he has cancer. When he finds out otherwise, he regrets it, and he asks Mouri to protect him. It's a lie: his intent from the start was to drag the killer into a trap.
- In Madlax, General Guen McNichol hires the title character to assassinate him since he's that sick of the war. He also specifies that it's to be a Conspicuously Public Assassination while he delivers a speech, in order to show the people who were controlling his entire life that he is going out on his own terms.
- Sin City: The short story, "The Customer Is Always Right" has a woman who meets a handsome stranger on a balcony and the two engage in flirtatious banter. As they kiss, he shoots her with a silenced pistol and it's indicated that she hired him to kill her, possibly to escape an even worse situation.
- The comic Dead Man's Party has the world's best assassin order an open contract on himself after he is told he has cancer and only two months to live, only to discover his doctor lied and is perfectly healthy and can't cancel the hit on himself.
- Sin City: The opening of the film is an adaptation of "The Customer Is Always Right", with a handsome assassin flirting with his mark right up until he kills her, and it's revealed that she hired him.
- Played with in Bulworth, when the titular suicidal senator hires an assassin to kill him so his life insurance payout will support his family, then finds new joy in life in his "last days" but can't manage to contact the assassin to cancel the order. Ironically, soon after he does, he's shot by a different, unrelated assassin.
- In Fletch, the title character is hired by Stanwyk, a millionaire with terminal cancer, to kill him in a "burglary gone wrong" as a Mercy Kill that would still allow his family to benefit from his life insurance. Under investigation, his motivations start to look shaky. Subverted when it's revealed that Stanwyk isn't sick, but wants to fake his death using Fletch's body.
- Inverted in The Assassination Bureau, in which Oliver Reed's character accepts a contract on himself, challenging the other members of the Bureau to complete it.
- In Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, we actually see an ad for this; it notes that people may not want to wait for the apocalypse, and that getting someone to "surprise you" can lead to a less stressful end. The trucker who helps the protagonists later has such a contract, and picked up Dodge thinking that he was the hitman. He's killed by a sniper shot while laughing about this.
- In the Hammer's Slammers story "A Death in Peacetime", set after their coup of Nieuw Friesland a mysterious masked stranger hires some former Slammers to kill Joachim Steuben, Colonel Hammer's psychopathic bodyguard who became his head of State Sec. The stranger then leaves a "good-luck charm", a coin from Newland on a chain, with the payment. After Steuben's death President Hammer notes that he wasn't wearing his lucky piece, a coin from his homeworld, Newland.
- In Ghost Story Harry Dresden discovers that the sniper who shot him in the previous book was hired by himself to prevent Mab from using him after he was done using her power to save his daughter, and after hiring him Molly erased Harry's memory.
- In Robert Sheckley's novel Immortality, Inc: a rich guy, wishing to die in style, hires hunters to hunt and kill him. He can hunt and kill them back. The catch is, there's the scientific (and very expensive!) process to ensure that someone will have an afterlife and without said process, to have one's soul survive death is almost a Million-to-One Chance. The rich guy has guaranteed afterlife and doesn't fear death, while the hunters mostly don't.
Live Action TV
- One episode of CSI: Miami had a billionaire construct a rifle with a lock-on ability and give it to his former business partner so he would kill him (he was already dying of cancer, you see, and he was concerned about what his cut-throat partners would do once he was gone. For example: that rifle, which he developed for the U.S. military, had a lot of flaws that he had never been able to solve (and that tended to make the rifle explode on the user's face when they happened)... but said partners wanted to sell it wide-spread regardless). He promised him he would inherit the company if he did it.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Quark thinks he's dying so he auctions off his own body parts. When he discovers that he'll live afterwards, he hires Garak to kill him so that he could honor his contract with the buyer, FCA Liquidator Brunt. Ultimately he chickened out, and he lost his business license (briefly) as a result.
- The Coroner: At the end of "The Fisherman's Tale", Jane discovers that the Victim of the Week had hired one of his old army buddies to shoot him in a very public fashion.
- Elementary: In the episode "You Do it to Yourself" the victim hired a hitman to kill him, to frame his assistant who was sleeping with his wife. He did this because he was dying of eye cancer, and had the hitman shoot his eyes to cover this up.
- In the Kraft Suspense Theatre episode "Kill Me on July 20th", racer Tony Camion blames himself for his brother's death on the track, so he changes his life insurance policy to benefit his brother's family, then hires an unknown hitman to, yes, kill him on July 20th. And then Tony changes his mind...
- A variant in Dollhouse—Echo is programmed to protect a famous singer who's being targeted for death by a stalker. It later turns out that she's actually in contact with him and wants him to kill her on stage, which would make her famous forever while also "freeing" her of a life that she no longer enjoys.
Myth and Legends
- According to a legend, the ancient Greek tyrant Periander, who was universally reviled toward the end of his life, was afraid of his tomb being desecrated, so he gave an order for two soldiers to kill and bury a person they would find on a particular road in a particular field, then an order to more soldiers to kill the first two, then to even more soldiers to kill the second group. He was that first person, so no one ever learned where his grave was.
- In the Shivering Isles expansion of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, there's a man in Crucible who hires you to kill him. His reason for this is that he can't stand living his depressing life anymore, and that him trying to commit suicide on his own would make him a restless spirit stuck for an eternity on the Hill of Suicides. The only order he gives you is to wait until he's unaware of your presence, so that death can come suddenly and quickly.
- This turns out to be the plot of the Cloudman chapter of killer7. When Andrei Ulmeyda gets Garcian alone, he reveals that he challenged the Smiths on national TV because he wanted Garcian to kill him if he became a Heaven Smile. Sure enough, the US Army ends up forcing your hand when they try to take him in.
- Suicide for Hire: While most of the time they just set up an elaborate means for their clients to die by their own hands (with or without Hunter's manhandling), there were a few cases where they directly killed a client who particularly annoyed them. Such as the Stalkernote , the Wife-Beaternote , the idiot on the first pagenote , and for opposite reasons the cancer patientnote .
- Played With in Something*Positive. Avigadro knows that his nephew's fiancée, Kharisma, wants to kill him for his money, so he makes a deal out of boredom—he'll change his will to make Kharisma his sole heir and then change it back in a few months; until then, she's free to try and kill him in a way that won't leave any evidence, while he deals with the challenge of staying alive. He winds up dying of natural causes just before the deadline, but either never changed his will or already changed it back. Even worse for Kharisma, the police find the evidence from her failed attempts...
- Futurama: In "The Tip of the Zoidberg," the Professor and Zoidberg made a deal in their Army days that Zoidberg would kill the Professor when he began to succumb to a disease he caught then.
- Played With in Gargoyles—Xanatos actually hires Jackal and Hyena to kill him, but naturally, it's part of a scheme that he has every intention of surviving.