American moviegoers love a good assassin. Whether we’re rooting for or against them, there’s something about seeing a steely-eyed character hell-bent on killing that we just can’t look away from.
In real life, the word “assassin” – derived from the Arabic word “hashīshīn,” used to describe members of a medieval Muslim sect that supposedly got high on hashish before murdering enemies – is closely associated with some of history’s most infamous villains. Two prime examples are John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald, who achieved notoriety by assassinating presidents. (These are the most famous assassinations in American history.)
But in the movies, the definition of “assassin” changes. Assassins in the movies are usually killers by trade, either hired guns, secret agents, or hitmen. They may also be lone wolves hell-bent on revenge who also happen to be extremely physically fit and expert marksmen. But they all have one thing in common: they’re out for blood. (Watch them in action in the best assassin movies of all time.)
To determine the best movie assassins of all time, 24/7 Tempo developed an index measuring the popularity and audience reception of the movies they’ve appeared in. Assassin characters were ranked on an index composed of average daily Wikipedia pageviews from the period January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022; average user ratings for all movies featuring the character on IMDb, an online movie and TV database owned by Amazon; and average audience and Tomatometer scores for all movies featuring the character on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator. All measures are weighted equally and are current through December 2022. Actor credits are also from IMDb.
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