For reasons to do with the spread and intensity of armed conflicts since the early 1990s and the increased visibility of translators and interpreters that accompanied this development, scholars both within and outside translation studies have begun to engage with various aspects of the role and positioning of translators and interpreters in war zones. Drawing on available studies and recent media reports on contemporary conflicts, and adopting a narrative perspective to make sense of the findings, this article focuses on two issues. The first is how translators and interpreters are narrated by other participants in the war zone, including military personnel, war correspondents, mainstream media, alternative media and local populations. The second is how they themselves participate in elaborating the range of public narratives of the conflict that become available to us, and, in so doing, influence the course of the war in ways that are subtle, often invisible, but nevertheless extremely significant. The discussion is set within the broader context of recurrent, stock political narratives that constrain and define relationships and identities in all war contexts, and demonstrates that despite attempts to contain them within those narratives, translators and interpreters retain their agency and exercise their power in diverse ways. © St Jerome Publishing Manchester.