Assassin's Creed

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.

Assassin's Creed is a science fiction series of video games, chronicling the experiences of Desmond Miles, a bartender, who has been caught up in ancient war between two mighty organizations, The Knights Templar, who wish for mankind to be united in peace under their enlightened control, and the Assassins, who believe that Humans Are Flawed and the desire to control other humans is the greatest flaw humans possess.

Desmond, as it turns out, has ancestors who were prominent members of the Assassin organization, and through an invention known as the Animus, he can relive their genetic memory, which contains valuable information to the efforts of both the Templars and the Assassins...

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Minor games in the series

  • Assassin's Creed: Altaïr's Chronicles
  • Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines
  • Assassin's Creed II: Discovery
  • Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy (Facebook game)
  • Assassin's Creed: Recollection (board game for iOS)
  • Assassin's Creed: Multiplayer Rearmed (for iOS)
  • Assassin's Creed III Liberation for the Playstation Vita.
  • Assassin's Creed: Pirates
  • Assassin's Creed Memories
  • Assassin's Creed Chronicles
  • Assassin's Creed Identity
  • Escape The Lost Pyramid

Expanded Universe

  • Assassin's Creed comic series:
    • Assassin's Creed: The Fall (comic)
    • The Chain
    • Brahman
    • Assassins series
      • Trial by Fire
      • The Chair
      • Setting Sun
      • Homecoming
    • Templars series
      • Black Cross
      • Great Wall
      • Cross of War
    • Last Descendants: Locus
    • Conspiracies series
      • Die Glocke
      • Project Rainbow
    • Uprising series
      • Common Ground
      • Volume 2
    • Origins
    • Reflections
  • Assassin's Creed novel series:
    • Renaissance
    • Brotherhood
    • The Secret Crusade
    • Revelations
    • Foresaken
    • Black Flag
    • Unity
    • Desert Oath
    • Heresy
    • Underworld
    • Official Movie Novelization
    • Last Descendants series
      • Tomb of the Khan
      • Fate of the Gods
  • Assassin's Creed: Lineage (short film)
  • Assassin's Creed: Ascendance (animated short film)
  • Assassin's Creed: Embers (animated short film)
  • Assassin's Creed (film)
The following tropes are common to many or all entries in the Assassin's Creed franchise.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.
  • Alternate History: The games posit that the history we know is incorrect, with all irregularities having actually been fabrications by either the Templars or Assassins.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Of the six quotes currently used to summarize this trope, three of them are from the Assassin's Creed series.
  • Animal Motifs: Eagles for the Assassins. Their symbol looks like a bird, Altaïr's cloak has a beak-like hood and slits at the back that resemble tailfeathers, eagles are seen circling View Points, and Altaïr and his descendants have a special ability called Eagle Vision. Altaïr and Ezio's names are both derived from the word for Eagle in Arabic and Greek respectively.
  • Annoying Arrows: Arrows don't do much damage to Altaïr or Ezio.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: The Assassins; "Nothing is true, everything is permitted." There is no God. There is no Devil. There are only Flawed Humans, the children of flawed Precursors. So if we wish to live in peace, prosperity and freedom, we must build a civilization that permits those things.

Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad: ...laws arise not from divinity, but reason. I understand now that our creed does not commend us to be free - it commends us to be wise.
Ezio Auditore da Firenze: ...merely an observation of the nature of reality: To say that nothing is true is to realize that the foundations of society are fragile, and that we must be the shepherds of our own civilization. To say that everything is permitted is to understand that we are the architects of our actions, and that we must live with their consequences, whether glorious or tragic.

  • Arc Number: 9 (Altaïr kills nine men for Al Mualim, Ezio assassinates Savonarola's nine lieutenants during the Bonfire of the Vanities and Brotherhood and Revelations both have nine sequences) and 72 in Brotherhood.
  • Arc Words: "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted."
  • Assimilation Plot: The ultimate goal of The Knights Templar.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance:
    • Desmond's white hooded sweatshirt. Just picture it with the hood up.
    • Altaïr, Ezio and Desmond all have a virtually identical scar on their lips. Ezio acquires his in the tutorial for the second game.
  • As You Know: After the first game, each new game opens with an As You Know narration of the events leading up to it. Particularly egregious at the beginning of AC:R, when Subject 16 is lecturing Desmond about the things he did in the past few games.
  • Audible Sharpness: The hidden blade has a very iconic "SCHWING!" sound that plays whenever you assassinate someone with it. By contrast, activating it when nobody is around just makes a slight clicking noise.
  • Aura Vision: 'Eagle Vision'
  • Awesome Yet Practical: Counters.
  • Badass Creed: "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted." "We work in the dark to serve the light. We are assassins."
  • Badass Family: Desmond's ancestors. By the time Desmond is born, the only remnant he has of his mighty ancestry is a penchant for white hoodies (this doesn't last, however).
  • Badass Long Robe: All three main characters.
  • Benevolent Architecture: Every structure that you need to climb has grab points conveniently located on it. Every rooftop path is loaded with platforms, protruding beams, and flagpoles. Every tall building has a haystack beneath it to perform a Leap of Faith into. The architecture is designed so precisely that it can only be traversed by someone with the precise free-running skills that Altaïr and Ezio possess (never mind that a tall ladder would make most of the puzzle segments trivial). As with many other gameplay elements, this is implied to be an embellishment provided by the Animus to make "playing" the memories easier for the subject.
  • Chosen One: Desmond is the ultimate Chosen One in a bloodline filled with them, all so The Ones Who Came Before can prevent The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience: All factions' guards wear clearly distinctive armor colors so you can tell them apart at a glance. Revelations goes further in that the Ottomans and Byzantines have different dot colors on the minimap, since you can lure them into fighting each other.
    • Eagle Vision paints allies, enemies and targets accordingly to make it easier to tell NPC's apart from a distance.
  • Combat Pragmatist: All Assassins are masters at dirty fighting. When they say, "Everything is permitted," they mean everything is permitted.
  • Contrasting Sequel Character: Each of the portagonist are different from their predecessor (except for the Ezio games. The few examples are: Altaïr is cold and silent but arrogant, while Ezio is the opposite and Connor is stoic and quiet (Unless one plays the homestead side quests).
  • Counter Attack: One of the highlights of the combat system is the elaborate and visually spectacular counters, to the point of having a different set of animations for each weapon type. In fact, counters are the only effective way to fight multiple opponents in Open Combat up until Brotherhood introduces kill streaks and combo kills, making it practical to go on the offensive for the first time in the series.
  • Edutainment Game: The Discovery Tour modes in recent games count as this, utilising recreations of the game's maps but substituting the swashbuckling violence and Conspiracy Thriller plots with guided educational tours interspersed with real-life photos and historical facts based on scholarly research. The mode was actually made in part from feedback by enterprising teachers who used "safe-for-school" footage of the Assassin's Creed games to be shown as educational material in classrooms by way of the series' historical settings. Ubisoft saw practical use with the extensive historical research they made and decided to release a retooled version of the Origins setting for the educational market, which is then followed by edutainment versions of Odyssey and Valhalla respectively.
  • Existentialism: "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted." The answer to an existential crisis: If no gods exist, if there is no grand design; all that remains is what you choose.
  • Eye Scream: Some of the bladed weapon counter kills go for the eyes.
  • The Fettered/The Unfettered: The Assassins strive for Freedom/Chaos, yet live by a strict moral code that defines all their actions. The Templars, in contrast, seek Order/Law, yet have absolutely no moral restrictions on their behavior and are free to use any and all means (up to and including mass murder) in pursuit of their goal. This leads to quite a few ironies, see Murder Is the Best Solution below. Ultimately, both the Assassins and Templars believe that "Nothing is true, everything is permitted". But to the Assassins the phrase is descriptive whereas to the Templars it's proscriptive.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Both the Assassins and the Templars make it to the 21st century intact, and the ancestor character survives to have a kid.
  • Framing Device: Desmond and the other subjects are looking into their Genetic Memory through a machine called the Animus, and access more of it if they complete missions as their ancestors would have. This justifies many of the Video Game Tropes present, such as 100% Completion Bonuses and "But Thou Must!" moments.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: In Eagle Vision, allies are blue, enemies are red and targets are gold.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The often incredible stupidity of the guards is justified In-Universe by the Animus not rendering memories precisely as they occurred, but rather as a VR simulation that Desmond must attempt to "play" as close to the way it really happened as possible. The assumption is that the real Assassins were much better at being inconspicuous than the player appears to be. There are also a few aversions in the second game onward, when the guards will act with surprising alertness and care, in particular by searching likely hiding spots.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The "Truth" segments and the backstory exposition across the various games reveal that Altaïr and Ezio's bloodlines are descended from "Adam and Eve", who were real people that were part of an experiment in cross-breeding humans with the Precursors. They proved to be immune to the Mind Control effects of the Pieces of Eden and stole the original Apple, giving rise to the myth of Eden. They led a revolt against their masters and eventually gave rise to the Assassin order... and the Templars, through their son Cain.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: The series' main draw is how the developers use the Rule of Cool to combine exquisite research with Historical Upgrades. If somebody in the past was awesome, they're in the series somewhere with his life examined in detail - with Hidden Depths because history was Written By The Templars, who would naturally seek to slander people who were opposed to them.
    • For starters, the Hashshashin themselves. According to history, they were Hassan-I-Sabah's private army, and brainwashed with drugs to boot. They built a reputation at the time as his enemies were Asshole Victims whom they eliminated with a minimum of collateral damage.
    • King Richard I of England gets a fairly realistic representation: he went by the title "Lionhearted" even in his own day, and it did not refer to heroism but a love of combat. So, though he's driven to conquer Jerusalem, he keeps his promise to listen to Altaïr after he beats Robert De Sable in single combat, and lets Altaïr go free afterwards. He's undeniably a jerkass, but he's still portrayed in a relatively positive manner - basically a Noble Demon.
    • Lorenzo de' Medici is portrayed as being a devout republican and a benevolent ruler. In reality, like all the noble families in the Italian city-states, the Medicis were Machiavellian schemers who committed all sorts of immoral acts to maintain their power. If you click the extra-information tab, it's at least acknowledged how he did terrible things. It's shown in the Lineage short how Lorenzo brutally tortures an agent of his enemies for information, and in Brotherhood Lucrezia Borgia claims, probably truthfully, that he quashes the families of his rivals utterly, even those who had nothing to do with the plots against him.
    • Niccolo Machiavelli's portrayal in the series is closer to his actual biography than to the Hollywood History version that most people know. In reality, he was an ardent supporter of republicanism, and many historians believe that his most famous work, The Prince, was a satire.
    • Leonardo da Vinci gets an upgrade in heroism, despite only being the sort-of deuteragonist? Notable changes include that his inventions work, are completely functional and can be used at nearly any time. Plus he's the main character's best buddy.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • Rodrigo Borgia was certainly a murderous, conniving asshole in real life and as Alexander VI, generally considered to be the worst pope in the history of the Catholic Church; it turns out he was secretly the cackling, monstrous leader of the Templars during the Renaissance. Oh, and he thought Christianity was bunk, but became Pope anyway just for the power.
    • Thomas Edison was a proven Jerkass who regularly stole ideas and performed grotesque "demonstrations" to smear his assistant-turned-rival Nikola Tesla. Turns out he was also a Templar who stole his rival's MacGuffin and gave it to Henry Ford, who in turn, gave it to Adolf Hitler for the express purpose of jumpstarting the Holocaust and World War II. Also, Hitler's conspirators? Winston Churchill, FDR and Josef Stalin.
    • Savonarola in the Bonfire of the Vanities DLC, although in fairness AC was hardly the first to come up with this portrayal. Granted he was definitely extreme by modern standards, but people forget that the reason Savonarola was able to carry out his famous Bonfire was because the people of Florence were sick and tired of watching wealthy Italian families flaunt their vast fortunes by commissioning ludicrously expensive sculptures and paintings while the rest of society was beset by plague and poverty. By the standards of the time he was practically a popular revolutionary. Hell, in the 1990s he was even nominated as a candidate for sainthood (he didn't win though, obviously). Notably however, he is not a Templar and even crossed the Borgia, so in Brotherhood one of the Borgia-aligned heralds can occasionally be heard taking a potshot at his reputation.
    • Charles Lee is rumored to be a Templar in Assassin's Creed III and may even be the Big Bad.
  • I Fought the Law and the Law Won: Averted. You can kill all the guards in a specific encounter and others in different areas won't notice.
    • In a larger, more metaphorical sense, this is why the Templars keep thriving no matter how many of them are killed by the Assassins--the Templar conspiracy uses society while the Assassins operate outside of it. You can't fight civilization itself, not very well.
  • It's All About Me: Many characters who defect to the Templars (including the Crusader, the Sentinel, and Lucy Stillman) do so not so much because they believe in the Templars' cause or methods, but to avenge some perceived betrayal against themselves, their family, or their tribe/clan.
  • The Joys of Torturing Mooks: A sizable chunk of each game can be spent exploring all of the ways to maim and incapacitate guards.
  • Leap of Faith: The trademark skill of the Assassins (along with the Hidden Blade), consisting of a swan dive down into conveniently-placed haystacks. All recruits are required to perform this as part of their initiation as full Assassins.
  • Legacy Character: The basic premise of the games is that Desmond is a convergence of the bloodlines of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, Ezio Auditore da Firenze (who are not related to each other despite the implications of the second game), and Connor/Ratohnhaké:ton.
  • Le Parkour: Nearly everyone in the games who is either an Assassin or a target of an Assassin has amazing free-running skills, even people you wouldn't expect to like overweight (and heavily dressed) Church officials. Assassin's Creed III takes it a step further by moving from urban settings to colonial and forested environments; thus the moniker "tree-running".
    • The first Assassin's Creed pretty much invented this trope in its current form for video games. Many games previously had some sort of building-scaling, but AC was the first game to have the character actually reach out to various handholds and footholds on what would otherwise be something completely impassable, even for Batman. Follow the Leader kicked in; In Famous and The Saboteur are two of the bigger ones.
  • Like Reality Unless Noted: Most of the time, it's a straight-up Historical Fiction...right up until strange, almost-alien artifacts appear. The fact that the games focus 95% of the time on the historical period helps to drive home just how wrong these artifacts are for intruding into human history.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "Altaïr" is Arabic for "the flying one" or "the flying eagle." Altaïr is also the name of the brightest star in the constellation Aquila, which is Latin for "Eagle". In full: Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad is "Flying Eagle", "Son of None".
    • "Miles" means "soldier" in Latin.
    • The Italian name "Ezio" derives from the Greek word aetos, which means "eagle".
    • Al Mualim translates literally to "The Teacher".
    • 'Animus' is Latin for "soul", and in Modern English usage it can refer to a grudge or purpose.
    • Malik Al-Sayf is Arabic for "King of Swords".
    • "Connor" means "Wolf Kin" or "Lover of Wolves" which reflects on his more predatory Assassin style.
    • "Ratohnhaké:ton" means "he hunts it" which is appropriate since much of the game will see him hunting prey.
  • Mobstacle Course: Fortunately, you can shove them away. In the second game, Ezio can create these with well-aimed money tosses. It's a pretty convenient way of blocking pursuing guards for a few seconds while you're running away. In Revelations, Ezio can use a Pyrite Bomb to scatter fake coins at a distance, distracting guards and civilians alike.
  • Multi Melee Master: All the Assassin characters are equally adept at any weapon they pick up, whether it be a knife, sword, axe, mace, etc.
  • Multinational Team:
    • The Assassins, both in the past and present. While the 1191 Assassins seem fairly close to the historical Muslim sect, the Assassin Tombs that can be visited in Assassin's Creed II house the remains of Mongol, Chinese, Egyptian, Persian, and Babylonian Assassins, among others. Assassin's Creed III' and Assassin's Creed III Liberation add Native American, British, French, and African to the mix. The Templars can also be seen as an evil version of this.
    • On start-up, the player is assured that the game was created by one of these.
  • Multi Platform
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Somewhat ironically, it's the Templars who seem to immediately default to Murder Is The Best Solution when faced with any problem, whereas the Assassins (who are defined by the fact their purpose is to murder people) appear at least to some degree to be willing to pursue alternative solutions including diplomacy or guile (Altair and Al-Mualim have a couple conversations in which it's suggested they only resort to assassination against people who are simply too stubborn or fanatically to be talked out of their harmful course of action), and only resort to murder when no other options are reasonable.
  • Non-Lethal KO:
    • The player characters never actually die; Desmond gets "desynchronized" from their memories, so the Animus re-initializes them.
    • Assassins can deliver supposedly non-lethal finishing moves when fighting unarmed.
  • Notice This: The Animus causes all useful and/or quest-related objects to glow and emit Matrix Raining Code, and they frequently emit an audio cue when you're nearby as well. Eagle Vision/Sense is the ultimate version, allowing you to identify and distinguish all important objects by color. It's implied that Those Who Came Before had this as a inborn sense, which means they built their advanced civilization by simply Solving The Soup Cans.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Having failed at it the first time around, Those Who Came Before grant this upon themselves in service of stopping humanity from being wiped out in 2012. The long struggle between the Assassins and Templars, all the wars and suffering, is part of their plan. Ezio very nearly hangs a lampshade on it in Revelations.

Ezio: Maybe you will be the one to make all this... suffering worth something in the end.

  • Once Per Episode:
  • Order Versus Chaos: The conflict between the Assassins and the Templars is a somewhat nuanced version of this. The Assassins' ultimate goal is to safeguard human freedom, even if that means performing the occasionally necessary evil (assassinating people dangerous to human freedom), and also means allowing humanity to make their own mistakes. At the same time, they live by a strict code (the titular Assassins Creed) which, among other things, prohibits the killing of innocents and encourages them to seek inner peace. In contrast, the Templars want to end human suffering by bringing an end to free will and creating a society of perfect order. At the same time, their belief that there is no afterlife and thus no higher law means that they are free to do whatever they want in pursuit of this goal, up to and including the slaughter or enslavement of millions if it will save millions more in the long term. The Templars' complete lack of any moral rules beyond their singular Utopia Justifies the Means goal seems to explain why the organization is overwhelmingly made up of Complete Monsters.
  • Professional Killer: They are called Assassins for a reason. All the games, however, explore the morality of being a person who literally kills for a living -- in Altaïr's case, the question is whether his blind allegiance to his Creed makes him Not So Different from his enemies; while in Ezio's case, the question is just how much death is justified in the service of vengeance. Notably, the characters come to very different conclusions.

Sofia: This is not your battle.
Ezio: But where does one end, and the next begin?

  • Puzzle Pan: Used extensively in the various platforming sequences, especially in the vaults/tombs/crypts that are puzzle-based rather than stealth-based. A minor version is used whenever the game wants to call attention to a particular jump you're supposed to make, frequently resulting in Stop Helping Me! as it screws up the directional controls.
  • Ragnarok Proofing: Invoked; the First Civilization designed the Pieces of Eden and the Vaults that house them specifically to withstand the ravages of the 75,000 years that have passed since the First Catastrophe.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In-Universe, when Thieves steal from people, they openly run up to them and do the deed visibly. No one protests. But when Ezio does it sneakily, the victim can somehow recognise him and try to fight back.
  • Scenery Porn: Panning over beautiful vistas of old-world cities is a series mainstay.
  • Shown Their Work: Throughout the series, Ubisoft shows a remarkable amount of detail into the various historical settings, from the people and their mode of dress to the architecture. Sometimes they use broad strokes to distort history but this is more often a case of Rule of Cool or Rule of Drama than any deliberate error (for example, all doctors in Renaissance Italy dressed up as Plague Doctors because of their freaky-cool bird masks).
  • Stop Helping Me!: In the platforming sequences, the camera will often helpfully pan over to demonstrate your intended jump, but throws off your directional controls since they are relative to the camera, not the character.
  • Story Within a Story: Desmond alternates between being the Player Character and a First-Person Peripheral Narrator to historical assassins.
  • Super Drowning Skills: In the first game, Altaïr desynchronizes if he falls into any body of water higher than his knees. This is lampshaded in the second game as a glitch in the Animus 1.0, and Ezio is a very capable swimmer no matter how much armor he wears. In none of the games, however, do civilians or guards learn to swim.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Each and every primary assassination target gets to have a Just Between You and Me conversation with the player character, regardless of the circumstances under which they were killed. Said conversation takes place in the Animus' White Void Room, implying that the VR reconstruction of the event did not precisely match the actual memory.
  • Translation Convention: This is in effect for any historical segments shown that do not take place in the Animus (such as the short films Lineage and Embers.)
  • Translator Microbes: The Animus automatically translates any foreign dialogue that takes place in it for the sake of the user (and the player). It doesn't do it perfectly, though, which gets a bit of Lampshade Hanging.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: Averted. While each game ends on a Cliff Hanger or Sequel Hook of some sort, the stories being told in each game is distinct. In fact you could consider Assassins Creed II as itself being split into three parts including Brotherhood and Revelations, linked together as Ezio's story. Supporting this is that once the series moves on to a new main protagonist it goes back to numbering the sequels.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The mindset of the Templars.
  • White Void Room: The Animus loading screen. The original Animus screen featured lots of hexagonal lines and bits of code scattered in the background, while Rebecca's Animus 2.0 had a simpler but cleaner white void with grid lines dividing up the empty space.