- February 14 - Kenneth Parnell abducts 5-year old Timothy White from his home in Ukiah, California.
- March 1 - Steven Stayner, now 14, takes Timothy White and escapes from captivity, eventually arriving at a police station in Ukiah. Police capture and arrest Kenneth Parnell the following day.
- March 22 - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is founded.
- April 12 - William Tolbert, President of Liberia, is deposed in a military coup lead by Master Sergeant Samuel Doe, who subsequently forms a military junta known as the People's Redemption Council to govern the country.
- April 18 - Robert Mugabe is named Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.
- May 17 - In Peru, Shining Path start its armed struggle in Ayacucho. Beginning of the internal conflict in Peru.
- May 18 to 27 - The Gwangju Uprising takes place in Gwangju, South Korea, in response to protests against the martial law. An estimated 2000 people are killed.
- June 23 - Italian magistrate Mario Amato is assassinated in Rome by members of Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari.
- June 28 - Tadmor Prison massacre: Syrian Army soldiers under command of Rifaat al-Assad enter Tadmor Prison in Palmyra, killing close to a thousand inmates. The massacre was a response to a failed assassination attempt on President Hafez al-Assad the day before.
- July 17 - Luis García Meza seizes control of Bolivia in a violent military coup, known as the Cocaine coup.
- August 2 - The Bologna Massacre: Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari bombs a railway station in Bologna, Italy, killing 85 people and injuring over 200.
- September 1 - Chun Doo-hwan is elected President of South Korea.
- September 12 - Kenan Evren takes in power in Turkey after a coup. He subsequently establishes a military dictatorship.
- September 20 - Saddam Hussein invades Iran in an attempt to annex Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan Province and the east bank of the Shatt al-Arab, beginning the Iran-Iraq War.
- October 3 - The 1980 Paris synagogue bombing takes place. Four people are killed and 46 are injured. The Federation of National and European Action claims responsibility.
- October 6 - Beginning of the Ugandan Bush War.
- October 23 - Siad Barre restores the Supreme Revolutionary Council.
- November 14 - Nino Vieira takes power in Guinea-Bissau following a bloodless military coup, and declares himself President of Guinea-Bissau.
- December 4 - Sultan Ibraimov, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Kyrgyz SSR, is assassinated at his home in Cholpon-Ata on Lake Issyk-Kul under mysterious circumstances. It is believed that the KGB were behind the assassination.
- December 8 - English singer-songwriter and former member of The Beatles John Lennon is assassinated by Mark David Chapman.
- December 17 - Milton Obote is restored as President of Uganda.
- March 3 - Ashley Auzenne
- June 12 - Omar Maute
- June 26 - Michael Vick
- August 26 - Steven Kazmierczak
- September 19 - Michael McLendon & Nathan Larson
- November 21 - Christopher Cantwell
- Unknown - Tou Thao
- March 4 - Nicole Carol Miller
- August 4 - Isaiah Shoels
- January 9 - Juhayman al-Otaybi
- April 12 - William Tolbert
- May 4 - Josip Broz Tito
- May 24 - Kim Jae-gyu
- July 27 - Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
- August 10 - Yahya Khan
- August 14 - Paul Snider
- August 22 - Gabriel González Videla
- September 17 - Anastasio Somoza Deybale
- October 21 - Hans Asperger
- December 3 - Oswald Mosley
- December 24 - Karl Dönitz
- December 26 - Richard Trenton Chase
- March 24 - Óscar Romero
- June 23 - Mario Amato
- August 14 - Dorothy Stratten
- December 4 - Sultan Ibraimov
- December 8 - John Lennon