Contract killing  

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Contract killing is a form of murder in which one party hires another party (often called a hitman) to kill a target individual or group of people. It involves an illegal agreement between two or more parties in which one party agrees to kill the target in exchange for some form of payment, monetary or otherwise. Either party may be a person, group, or an organization. In the United States, the crime is punishable by 15 years to life in a state penitentiary. Contract killing has been associated with organized crime, government conspiracies, and vendettas. For example, in the United States, the gang Murder, Inc. committed hundreds of murders on behalf of the National Crime Syndicate during the 1930s and 1940s.

Contract killing provides the hiring party with the advantage of not having to commit the actual killing, making it more difficult for law enforcement to connect said party with the murder. The likelihood that authorities will establish that party's guilt for the committed crime, especially due to lack of forensic evidence linked to the contracting party, makes the case more difficult to attribute to the hiring party.


In organized crime

Hitmen are largely linked to the world of organized crime. Hitmen are hired people who kill people for money. Notable examples include Murder, Inc.,

Other cases

These are non-Mafia killings, or attempted killings, that involved a hitman. In some of these cases the "hitman" was not necessarily a "professional" hitman, but a paid amateur.


Notable victims

  • Li Fuguo, a Tang Dynasty Eunuch killed by a hitman hired by Emperor Tang Daizong
  • Shiori Ino, a 21-year-old University student killed by hitman Yoshifumi Kubota, who served 18 years in prison for the killing. He was paid by her ex-boyfriend and his brother; the case gained some notoriety in Japan.
  • Grady Stiles, freak show performer whose family hired a hitman to kill him because of his abusiveness
  • Ji Yunqing, a Chinese Shanghai Triad boss affiliated with Wang Jingwei's puppet regime in the late 1930s murdered by BIS hitman Zhan Seng.

Notable hirings

According to America's Most Wanted, Walker County, Alabama is the #1 place in America to hire a hitman.

In fiction


  • In the anime Darker than Black, the main character often performs contract killings for various organizations.
  • In the anime and manga Dragon Ball, a mercenary named Tao Pai Pai is hired by the Red Ribbon Army to kill Goku.
  • In the anime and novel Fate/Zero, the main character is a contract hitman, and skilled mercenary.
  • In the anime Gungrave, the main character is a hitman for the Mafia.
  • The anime Reborn! contains several hitmen and women. Tsuna Sawada (the main character), along with his school friends, are trained by a hitman to succeed the previous Vongola Family.
  • In the anime Golgo 13, the main character, Duke Togo or "Golgo 13" is a reputed marksman and an unnatural quick draw. Golgo 13 prefers taking his targets with a heavily modified M-16.
  • In the manga X-kai, Kaito Yagami is a hitman by night and runs a flower shop during the day.
  • In the anime "Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom", the story is about a trained assassin, Zwei and his mentor Ein. They wish to escape from Inferno.

Comics and cartoons


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Hitmen have, at times, been a notable part of crime films.

The James Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun, features Francisco Scaramanga. Scaramanga is a high-priced hit man, supposedly the best in the world, charging one million dollars per kill. He's best known for being "The man with the golden gun", because he only uses bullets made of gold in a fictitious, 4.2 mm cartridge. All of Scaramanga's dealings go through his henchman Nick Nack, which allows Scaramanga to be anonymous.

In the mid-1990s to the 2000s, several "offbeat" portrayals of hitmen arose.

In the 2005 black comedy The Matador, Pierce Brosnan portrays the fictional hitman Julian Noble, an experienced hitman who suffers a mental breakdown, causing him to freeze during the last seconds of the job.

Romantic comedy has included assassins

A few portrayals of hitmen have earned nominations or awards.

In other countries the vision of the hitman is often one of a tragic individual with a solitary existence.

  • In the 1967 French film, Le Samouraï, Jef Costello is an example of this.
  • Furthermore, the film Ghost Dog takes inspiration from it.
  • In the aforementioned Léon: The Professional his existence outside of hits revolves around his houseplant and watching old films.
  • In the 1989 film, The Killer, the main character, Ah Jong, attempts to perform one last hit as a means of setting right an injustice that he had previously caused.

Video games

  • The main character of the video game series Hitman was genetically engineered by a man called Dr. Ort-Meyer in an insane asylum in Romania. He is known only as Agent 47. 47 is highly regarded in the criminal underworld, so much so that many consider him to be a myth. The gameplay revolves around infiltrating an area, executing a target (or targets) and escaping without apprehension. Although it isn't compulsory, the Hitman games encourage the player to use stealth and cunning maneuvers to eliminate targets, as opposed to making use of pure firepower. A film adaption which deviated widely from its source material was released in 2007. The fifth game, Hitman: Absolution was released on November 20th 2012.
  • In the Elder Scrolls series, there is a group called the Dark Brotherhood, which is a group of assassins that are akin to the nature of being a hitman. This group has appeared in all Elder Scrolls games since Daggerfall. Groups like the Morag Tong also perform contract killings in the series, and have been a playable faction in Morrowind. However, the nature of the Morag Tong is different from the Dark Brotherhood, since the Morag Tong is a legal assassination group in the province of Morrowind (till it was defunct) and played a more justice-oriented role, and the Dark Brotherhood plays a role more similar to that of hired assassins.
  • In some videogames, such as the Grand Theft Auto series, the main character is given tasks akin to acting as a Hitman. This is most obviously shown in Grand Theft Auto IV with Niko Bellic, who is frequently hired as a hitman in the game.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Contract killing" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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