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Top 10 People Who Survived the Most Assassination Attempts

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Nick Roffey.

Who’s been the victim of the most assassination attempts on a single person? Is it someone like Queen Victoria? President Abraham Lincoln? Or what about Adolf Hitler? All of these people survived multiple assassination attempts. WatchMojo counts down ten people who’ve been the victims of the most failed assassination attempts.

Special thanks to our users Jason Scorch, Muppet_Face, MikeMJPMUNCH, Jake Massey, Daniel Fong, Kasel Lasam, urbanwatch69 and Scotty Arbour for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%20Ten%20People%20Who%20Survived%20the%20Most%20Assassination%20Attempts


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Script written by Nick Roffey.

Top 10 People Who Survived the MOST Assassination Attempts

These men and women had a knack for attracting the attention of professional killers. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 people who survived the most assassination attempts.

For this list, we’re looking at people who were put in immediate danger more than once by those who would do them harm, but repeatedly survived such attempts. So although there were numerous plots to kill President Barack Obama, for example, the would-be killers never came close.

#10: Yasser Arafat

A freedom fighter to some and a terrorist to others, Arafat had powerful enemies. His leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian National Authority put him in the crosshairs of many would-be assassins. In 1985, Israeli fighter planes bombed his headquarters in Tunis, killing many. But Arafat survived, having stepped out for a morning jog. He later claimed that he never slept in the same place on two consecutive nights in order to avoid assassins, who reportedly made a number of attempts on his life over the years. After Arafat’s death, many claimed he’d been poisoned by polonium, but forensic teams provided conflicting reports.

#9: Josip Broz Tito

As a soldier, communist revolutionary, and resistance fighter against the Nazis, Tito defied death innumerable times. Later, as Prime Minister and then President of Yugoslavia, he refused to submit to Soviet control, creating friction with one-time ally Joseph Stalin. “I will shake my little finger,” Stalin declared, “and there will be no more Tito.” He backed that statement up by sending assassins after the Yugoslavian leader, prompting Tito to write to Stalin: “Stop sending people to kill me. We’ve already captured five of them.” Tito threatened that he would send a killer to Moscow if Stalin’s attempts didn’t cease. A few years after the exchange, in 1953, Stalin died, 27 years before Tito.

#8: Alexander II of Russia

During his reign, Emperor Alexander II instituted many modernizing reforms, including the emancipation of Russian serfs, which saw some 23 million people receive full citizenship rights. But his rule faced increasing opposition from revolutionaries and Polish nationalists, who tried to shoot or blow him up at least six times. These attempts began with revolutionary Dmitry Karakozov, who tried to gun him down outside the Summer Garden in St. Petersburg. Miraculously, someone in the crowd bumped his elbow and the shot missed. After surviving four more attempts, Alexander’s luck finally ran out: he was blown up in the street by members of the revolutionary socialist organization Narodnaya Volya.

#7: Abraham Lincoln

Before being fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth in 1865, the 16th U.S. President and hero of the Civil War survived at least five assassination plots. The plans included anything from schemes in Baltimore to knife him down, another to send him yellow fever and smallpox-infected clothing, two attempts by shooters, and a plot to blow up the White House. On one occasion, while out riding alone, Honest Abe lost his hat when a gunshot spooked his horse. The hat was later found with a bullet hole through it.

#6: Queen Victoria

There are some serious downsides to being royalty. Sure, you get to lead a life of luxury but people often try to shoot you whenever you leave the palace. Queen Victoria survived many assassination attempts, an estimated 8 in total, most which took place while she rode about in horse-drawn carriages. Her would-be assassins included mad men, a hunchback by the name of John William Bean, and a disgruntled poet, just to name a few. Fortunately for the Queen, these shooters either had guns with powder but no bullets, or terrible aim, and her reign lasted for over 63 years.

#5: Pope John Paul II

Someone was watching out for this Pope. In 1981, he was shot four times and critically wounded in St. Peter’s Square by a member of Turkish nationalist organization Grey Wolves. Some speculated that the KGB had ordered the attempt. The Pope later forgave and befriended the gunman. The next year, he survived another attempt when a former priest tried to stab him with a bayonet, but was stopped by security guards. It seems like everyone wanted their turn - in 1995, Islamic terrorists funded by Osama bin Laden plotted to dress a suicide bomber as a priest and blow up the Pope. However, they foiled their own plan by starting a chemical fire, alerting police.

#4: Adolf Hitler

Both in the lead-up to WWII and during it, killing Hitler was a very real mission. In fact, many of Hitler’s would-be assassins were actually Germans who believed he was leading the country to disaster. Though there were dozens of attempts made on his life, the most famous was the 20 July plot in 1944, part of Operation Valkyrie. One-eyed war veteran Lieutenant Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg tried to kill the Nazi leader using a bomb hidden in a briefcase. Unfortunately, the leg of the conference table shielded Hitler from the blast, and it only singed his trousers.

#3: Charles de Gaulle

De Gaulle is remembered for his heroic defiance of the Nazis as the French leader of the government-in-exile during WWII. A soldier who fought the Germans in both world wars, De Gaulle was eventually elected President of France, an office he held for a decade. However, he was targeted by the Organisation armée secrète, or OAS; a French terrorist group that opposed his decision to grant Algeria independence from colonial rule. In 1962, the OAS raked his car with machine gun car. He survived, and is said to have remarked: “They shoot like pigs!” All in all, he reportedly survived some 31 attempts on his life.

#2: Zog I of Albania

Rising from Prime Minister, to President, to King, Zog I allegedly survived a staggering 55 attempts on his life. During his rule, he tried to unite the country, but in so doing severely suppressed civil liberties, making plenty of enemies in the process. He was once shot inside the Albanian Parliament, and again on a separate occasion when leaving the opera, prompting him to fire back and drive off his attackers. Despite these attempts, and smoking 200 cigarettes a day, Zog somehow managed to die of an unspecified condition in a French hospital at age 65. His resilience must have run in the family: his son Leka once saw off attackers surrounding his plane by brandishing a bazooka.

#1: Fidel Castro

Castro wins this one by a mile. He survived not ten plots to kill him... not one hundred…. but an estimated 638! In the 1960s, the CIA tried to kill the Cuban revolutionary and leader by every means imaginable, including poison cigars, an exploding seashell, and even a femme fatale, Castro’s lover Marita Lorenz. According to Lorenz, Castro figured out the plot when she arrived back in Havana, and handed her his pistol, saying “You can’t kill me. Nobody can kill me.” Then… they made love. Despite continued assassination attempts in the ensuing decades, Castro lived to the ripe old age of 90.

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