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Hitman is a stealth video game series developed by the Danish company IO Interactive, previously published by Eidos Interactive and Square Enix. IO Interactive remained a subsidiary of Square Enix until 2017, when Square Enix started seeking sellers for the studio, IO Interactive completed a management buyout, regaining their independent status and retaining the rights for Hitman, in June 2017. The series is available on Microsoft Windows as well as several video game consoles, including the PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The franchise also includes two novels and a graphic novel: Hitman: Enemy Within written by William C. Dietz, followed by Hitman: Damnation written by Raymond Benson, as well as a comic prequel Agent 47: Birth Of A Hitman.

A film adaptation in 2007, which is loosely based on the storyline of the games, was negatively received, but became a financial success. Another film, Hitman: Agent 47 was released in 2015, to negative reviews.

The story revolves around Agent 47, a cloned assassin-for-hire, whose flawless record places him in high demand among the wealthy and elite. The first original scriptwriter was Morten Iversen, who wrote the scripts for Hitman: Codename 47 and Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. He also contributed to Hitman: Contracts and Hitman: Blood Money. The games feature a mix of orchestral and electronica musical scores, composed by Jesper Kyd. A fifth installment of the series, Hitman: Absolution, was released on 20 November 2012. With it, a spin-off has been released for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 called Hitman: Sniper Challenge. For mobile and tablet, a spin-off game developed by Square Enix Montreal was released as a turn-based strategy game, titled Hitman Go. Another game released for mobile, Hitman: Sniper, consists of first-person sniping gameplay. The sixth game, titled Hitman, was released episodically, the first episode of which released in March 2016, and the last in December 2016. The seventh game, Hitman 2, was released in November 2018.

The Hitman series permits the player to kill targets (or non-targets) in a variety of ways, using firearms, melee weapons, or conventional objects that 47 picks up (such as shovels, fireplace pokers, pool cues, etc.). In Hitman: Contracts, melee weapons such as knives can be used to kill in more than one method, including forward stabs, horizontal throat slitting, frontal slashes, repeated stabs under the ribcage, or thrusting the blade into the carotid artery.

47 also has a garrote, or fiber wire. The fiber wire is specially made for strangulation, with reinforced handles. He carries it with him on every mission, even those in which he is stripped of all other weaponry. It is also one of the few weapons which can bypass metal detectors.

To achieve the ideal 'Silent Assassin' rank, it is required that 47 only kills his assigned targets, and few or no other NPCs. The sedative syringes, or chloroform in Hitman 2: Silent Assassin (which only has a temporary, dose-dependent effect, unlike syringes), exist for this purpose, so that 47 may incapacitate an innocent person to take items or clothing from their body without harming them, so it does not count against the player in the final ranking. In Blood Money, the ability to add sedatives to food and drink was added, to avoid direct confrontation. Blood Money also introduced the option to hold any NPC hostage using smaller arms and use them as a human shield, and allows the player to knock the hostage unconscious with the gun, saving the player sedatives for food items or any impeding characters that are seated in chairs. In some missions, if a murder can be made to look like accidental death (using the accident system introduced in Blood Money), some kills will not be counted as hits, but as accidents. Any civilians or armed personnel who witness a kill will count as witnesses, and will harm the player's rank if they remain alive or alert nearby guards. If however, someone (target or civilian) dies because of an accident, it will not matter if there are witnesses. 47 has the option of killing witnesses before they reach a guard, but the unnecessary murder will still count against his rank, unless he kills them with an accident. Witnesses also include anybody who sees 47 changing disguises or holding a weapon. In the games prior to Blood Money, the only consequence of having witnesses to a crime is that they will seek out police/guards and trigger an alert.

There are mission-specific options for killing a target in certain levels. Notable examples include locking a target in a sauna to stimulate a heart condition and cause cardiac arrest, poisoning a target's meal (this becomes more widespread in Blood Money), disguising 47 as a doctor and sabotaging a surgical operation, replacing a prop Mauser C96 handgun with a real one at an opera rehearsal, causing an actor to unwittingly kill the target, and causing stage pyrotechnics to explode and set the target on fire.

In most cases, it is required that 47 also hide the body of killed or unconscious victims, in order to avoid any unwanted alarm or if this is the desired effect 47 can leave the victims body in a wide open space for all to see.

Agent 47: A genetically-engineered assassin created from the recombinant DNA of five of the world's most dangerous criminals. The fact that the DNA came from multiple ethnicities allows 47 to blend in to a certain degree in most places in the world, or at least not look immediately suspicious and out-of-place. His name comes from the last two digits of a bar code on the back of his head – 640509-040147. According to Jacob Andersen, lead designer of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Agent 47 went from being "a mean old hairy guy" to having "hi-tech glasses" before getting to his current design. More inspiration came from "comic books, Hong Kong movies," and other similar media. According to game director Rasmus H?jengaard, the idea of a clone whose future is decided by the people that created him, intrigued the Hitman team. H?jengaard felt the idea of creating the "ultimate assassin" by cloning "evolved with the character before the first Hitman game was done". David Bateson has voiced 47 in every Hitman game to date.

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