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Suicide by Assassin

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So, your character wants to die for some reason. However, they can't just commit suicide: maybe they're restricted from killing themselves, maybe they are in an important governmental position, maybe they have a plan that hinges on them being assassinated, specifically, 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, a Mercy Kill Arrangement, 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. See Suicide, Not Murder for instances where you dispense with a third party and stage the suicide as a murder yourself.

As a Death Trope, spoilers are unmarked.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • An episode of Case Closed 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 Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society, a sniper seeking revenge for a dictator's death guns for a Japanese politician he believes is responsible. When Batou captures him, he names his source for the intel he needed for the attempt, who happens to be his target too.
  • 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.
  • In Madlax, General Guen McNichol hires the titular heroine 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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • In Diabolik this is revealed to be how Gustavo Garian planned to die once he discovered he was terminally ill. In a variant, this was more of an afterthought: he, with help from other Diabolik victims, had hired the assassins to kill Diabolik, and it's implied he had set up the second hit on himself because the money they had raised was enough for two hits and he didn't want to waste it once he had seen Diabolik's death. Then, believing the assassins had succeeded in killing Diabolik before being killed by Eva in retaliation, he shoots himself.
  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Star Wars sequel trilogy fanfic The Burden of Hope, Leia hires Boba Fett to "lift the burden of hope" from her following the deaths of Han and Luke. To her surprise, he instead talks her out of it.
  • The Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles fic Fair is Foul opens with Sarah having a nightmare where John basically does this; in the dream, T-888 Cromartie baits John into exposing his position by removing Cameron's chip, and once John is in his sight, Cromartie crushes the chip. Sarah's dream then sees her Forced to Watch as John charges Cromartie and explicitly asks the Terminator to kill him as nothing matters to him now that Cameron is dead, the dream ending as Cromartie breaks John's neck while Sarah watches.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • In the Brazilian novel O canto da Sereia, it happens to the eponymous protagonist, Sereia. She is a popular singer who has a crowd of fans. She finds out that she has an inoperable brain tumor that's gonna kill her soon. Not wanting to die languishing in a hospital bed, she decides to go out at the top of her glory: she hires an assassin to shoot her while she's singing to her crowd, in an open-air concert during Carnaval.
  • In Gillian Flynn's novel Dark Places, The Angel of Debt is theorized to be this, killing off people who are so snowed in by debt so their families can collect the insurance money. He's real, and this is how Patty — and, accidentally, Debby, died. This is notably the only death that Calvin Diehl, the "angel", feels sorry about.
  • 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.
  • Girls Don't Hit: Joss and Echo kill a man near the end whom they realize put the hit on himself, as he had HIV/AIDS. She mentions a previous example of a woman with Huntington's doing it too.
  • 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.
  • Hit Man by Lawrence Block: One of the contracts involves a wealthy businessman who had a terminal illness so he decides to hire a hitman, thinking that a sudden unexpected death would be better. However the suspense of waiting for his death turns out to be worse. So the hitman tells him he will call off the hit, but secretly decides to carry it out anyway so the businessman will have the death he wanted.
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • Criminal Minds: In one episode, an unsub hires a hitman for a string of revenge killings targeting people he feels escaped justice. The last name on the list is his own, because he's dying. The team figures it out, but not in time to stop them.
  • One episode of CSI: Miami had a billionaire construct a rifle with a lock-on Roboteching ability and give it to his former business partner so he would kill him. He was already dying of cancer and 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • The Magician: In "The Illusion of the Fatal Arrow", a wealthy man suffering from a Convenient Terminal Illness hires a pair of Professional Killers to kill the three men he blames for sentencing an innocent man to death, and then to kill him, as punishment for having allowed it to happen.
  • The Millionaire: In one episode, a disgraced businessman hires someone to kill him so his family can receive a life insurance payout. Then he receives news that the titular eccentric millionaire has selected him to receive a million dollars, leaving him scrambling to find the killer and call off the deal.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "Body Parts", Quark thinks he's dying so he auctions off his own body parts according to Ferengi tradition. 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. However, all the different methods that Garak demonstrates or suggests donít appeal to Quark. Ultimately he chickens out, and he lost his business license (briefly) as a result.

    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.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, Ike's father Greil accidentally killed his wife after going berserk from touching Lehran's Medallion. He hired the assassin Volke to kill him should he ever go berserk again.
  • 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.
  • Subverted in Later Alligator: Pat, due to his paranoia, impulsiveness, and by mistaking a contract for a newspaper, turns out to have accidentally ordered a hit on himself. It would count as this trope if it wasn't for the key word being "accidentally".
  • Master Detective Archives: Rain Code: The victim of Chapter 4 is found stabbed to death inside his very secure laboratory which is protected by, among other things, a Deadly Gas chamber that nothing short of a spacesuit can protect you from. The Calling Card of an infamous assassin is left on the body, so he is assumed to be responsible. That very assassin is seen fleeing the scene after stabbing your boss, Yakou Furio, presumably for trying to stop him. Turns out Yakou is the one who killed the victim, fabricating the assassin's calling card. He went through the gas chamber knowing it would kill him, but also that it would take 30 minutes to do so. Which is why he hired the assassin to kill him before his 30 minutes were up. That way his cause of death would be recorded as stabbing rather than gas, and he wouldn't be suspected of the murder.

    Web Media 
  • Defied on the Pirates SMP; the rulebook of the Bounty Guild has a clause explicitly forbidding this.
  • 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...
  • 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 .

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 


Video Example(s):


Finding the right way to die

After being forced into a situation where he'd either have to die or lose all of his assets, Quark contracts Garak to kill him in the least painful way possible.

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Main / SuicideByAssassin

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