[[caption-width-right:320:Well, fuck them. Make it personal. [[note]]This is actually a quote from Quellcrist Falconer but Kovacs tends to take it to heart[[/note]] ]]

->''"Pull on the new flesh like borrowed gloves/And burn your fingers once again."''

The ''Takeshi Kovacs'' series (also called the ''Altered Carbon'' series, after the first book) is a {{Cyberpunk}} trilogy by British writer Creator/RichardKMorgan.

The series takes place some 500 years into the future, in the UN Protectorate, a totalitarian government spread over several different planets that enforces its rule with the use of 'Envoys,' mentally-conditioned [[SuperSoldier Shock Troopers]] who specialise in covert deployment and bringing down rebel governments.

In the series Mars has been discovered to have once been part of a galaxy-spanning alien civilisation, which collapsed for reasons unknown millennia ago.

All three books follow the SociopathicHero Takeshi Kovacs, an ex-Envoy turned [=criminal/mercenary/bodyguard/detective=], who uses his talents for problem solving coupled with insane violence to earn a buck. Takeshi is not without his psychological problems, however, many of them received in service with the Envoys and a fair few picked up afterwards.

The first book, ''Altered Carbon'', sees Kovacs brought out of digitised storage (used as punishment for crimes) and sent to Earth to work as a private detective for a super-wealthy 'Meth' (from 'Methuselah'); someone rich and powerful enough to afford to live for several lifetimes, repeatedly downloading themselves into fresh bodies. The Meth, Laurens Bancroft, has recently returned from the dead (thanks to a personality backup) after an apparent suicide, but maintains that he would never kill himself. Due to the backup schedule he is missing the 48 hours prior to his death. He hires Kovacs to find out who killed him and why.

The second book, ''Broken Angels'', is a war story set on the planet Sanction IV. Kovacs is now serving in a mercenary unit fighting for the UN against the native rebels of the planet, when he encounters a pilot named Jan Schneider, who is looking for protection for an expedition to exploit a Martian artifact discovered just before the war broke out. Kovacs helps Schneider break out the archeologist who led the initial expedition from a POW camp, and the trio them embark on a mission to find a corporate sponsor to finance their mission.

The third book, ''Woken Furies'', finds Kovacs back on his homeworld of Harlan's World, a largely aquatic planet colonised by Japanese and Slavs. The book begins as a RoaringRampageOfRevenge as Kovacs hunts down members of a Church who sentenced a former partner of his to death, but he soon becomes involved in a growing revolutionary plot to overthrow the UN-backed government.

It was announced in January of 2016 that Creator/{{Netflix}} will be streaming a 10-episode series based on ''Altered Carbon'' starring Creator/JoelKinnaman, which will be written and executive produced by Laeta Kalogridis for Skydance Television. She will also serve as showrunner. No airdate has been announced.

!!This series provides examples of:


[[folder: The series as a whole]]
* ACupAngst: Mari Ado from ''Woken Furies''. Kovacs notes that her bust isn't actually that small; she just has a complex about it.
* ActionBomb: People can be fitted with internal explosives, allowing them to explode at will (Though there is a significant risk of accidental detonation). There are also examples where the explosives are [[DeadManSwitch set to go off upon the user's death]].
* TheAlcatraz: Rila Crags, the prison where Sylvie is taken in ''Woken Furies''. Only one person has ever broken in, Nikolai Natsume, so the Little Blue Bugs seek his advice for their rescue attempt. [[spoiler:They still end up getting caught on the way in; however, it was actually just a diversion for their real plan]].
* AlienGeometries: Anything the Martians have built tends to have a negative effect on the mental well-being of people exposed to it for long unless they have some sort of appropriate conditioning. It is less a problem of violating the laws of physics and more simply because they are literally ''alien'' geometries, as the Martians were avian and followed a different logic to their construction.
* AndIMustScream: Virtual pain feels just as awful as real pain, and since time in-virtual can be elongated at will there's nothing stopping you from hooking up someone to a virtual torture chamber, setting it on full speed and just... forgetting about it. The subject will be tortured in the most painful ways imaginable to within an inch of their life, at which point the whole thing resets. Notably this doesn't reset the memories, just the virtual body - so it can go through it again, and again, and again. It takes someone with extensive training and an iron will - i.e. Kovacs - to resist this even in small doses. Eventually, it will all but destroy the mind of the subject.
* AncientAstronauts: Martians are said to have visited Earth centuries ago, but only spoke to the Whales.
* AntiHero: Kovacs, UnscrupulousHero subtype.
* ArtificialIntelligence: There are many of them around, and some even have rights under UN law.
* BadassArmy: The Envoys
* BecomingTheMask: Micky Serendipity.
* BerserkButton:
** Don't go talking about religious aversion to re-sleeving to Takeshi Kovacs if you value your life. Also, a milder version occurs if you mispronounce his name as "kovaks" instead of the original Hungarian "kovach". If you do that, he won't like you. If he doesn't like you, he'll have much less restraint in doing nasty things to you.
** In general he goes nuts whenever someone abuses or takes advantage of women. Surprise, it's all about [[spoiler:his abusive father]]
* BioAugmentation: Combat and sport sleeves tend to be enhanced in all the ways you'd expect (like the ubiquitous [[BulletTime neurachem]].)
* BlackAndGrayMorality: Kovacs has a tendency to do horrible, horrible things to people who either get in his way or are associated with people who tried to do horrible things to him.
* BloodSport: Due to the ability to swap damaged bodies for new ones, several kinds of blood sport are now common entertainment.
* BodyBackupDrive: Everyone is implanted with a cortical stack that essentially acts as a hard drive for the brain and allows people to be "resleeved" in a new body when they die. However most people can't afford to be resleeved more than once and unless they shell out a lot of cash they have to go through the whole aging process again. Many wealthy "Methuselahs" also have external storage that updates every couple days in case their stack is fried (like in the client from the first book's case).
* BodySurf: Not so impossible in a world with BrainUploading, although in most cases the body in question is already vacant - most probably because its previous owner is "on stack" - in mind prison.
* BrainUploading: The whole concept of the setting.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Common as dirt in all three books. Matthias Hand from Broken Angels is a surprisingly sympathetic example.
* CrapsackWorld: Both Earth and Sanction IV would seem to qualify in different ways. Harlan's World is a crapsack swamp.
* CryoPrison: Not only frozen, their brain is uploaded and stored separately. Earth's super-rich have a habit of buying the frozen bodies and using them for their own amusement. Kovacs notes that Envoys are similarly stored between deployments, so they're used to the worst most planets' justice systems can do to them.
* CyberPunk: Its a tossup between this and {{Post Cyberpunk}}.
* DaChief: Isaac Carrera in the second book and Shigeo Kuramaya in ''Woken Furies''.
* DeadPersonConversation: When Kovacs is under severe stress, or lost deep in thought, he tends to hallucinate friends and mentors from his past. They usually gives him some useful hunch, or the resolve he needs to break through the current problem.
* DisappearedDad: As alluded to in the earlier books and fully expounded upon in "Woken Furies," most of Kovacs' rage stems from his father abandoning the family and [[spoiler:repeatedly abusing his mother]]
* EarnYourHappyEnding: The world is pretty shitty but there are many people who are trying to better things.
* EarthThatUsedToBeBetter: It's the capital of the UN Protectorate, but general opinion off-world is that it's a shithole. At one point Kovacs flashes back to Jimmy De Soto, who was from Earth, advising him never to go there.
* ElectricInstantGratification: People addicted to it are called "wireheads".
* EnergyWeapon: Several energy weapons exist, such as the 'Sunjet' rifle (which might be either plasma, or a particle beam, depending on the book).
* {{Expositron 9000}}: Dig 301 helped Kovacs (and the readers) understand a lot about the revolution and [[spoiler:Nadia Makita]] in "Woken Furies" [[spoiler:and also helps Kovacs escape]].
* EyeScream:
** The protagonist has memories about a soldier mate of his who ripped out his eye with his own fingers during a hallucination caused by a mind virus.
** In the first book, a micro-recorder is surgically implanted under an eye. The intended victim of the recording doesn't like the item's presence there, and her idea of surgical removal involves very little finesse and a pair of pliers.
** In "Woken Furies" Kovacs rips out the eyeball of [[spoiler:one of his oldest friends]]
* FantasticSlurs: "Meth", which comes from "Methuselah" and refers to a very old person.
* FantasyCounterpartCulture: Harlan's World = Japan mixed in with several Eastern European cultures (predominantly Slavic ones). Sharya = Islamic culture, particularly in its more militant forms. It's Shariat law enforced planet-wide, essentially.
* FateWorseThanDeath: Now that everyone's consciousness is housed in cortical stacks, one can inflict a variety of virtual hells on someone you have captured, either to gain information or just for kicks. This can lead to an AndIMustScream fate.
** BrainUploading and Virtual Environments can allow you to upload people into torture programs. They'll feel days of torture every hour you leave them in the program, and there's nothing stopping you from just leaving them in there and forgetting about them.
** Can be inflicted without the aid of virtual using a machine called the anatomiser. Co-opted medical equipment keeps you alive whilst slowly dismantling your body a layer at a time. It scans you to ensure it is constantly delivering maximum pain whilst minimisng risk of death. You can't even escape into unconsciousness; if it looks like you're about to pass out the machine pumps you full of stimulants and backs off just enough to keep you awake before continuing. The whole process lasts for days.
** Kovacs has the stacks of some priests used in animal fights. They're basically torn limb from limb on a constant basis, quickly going feral and insane.
** The Rawling virus corrupts digital information - it is shown to brutally annihilate an AI, and it can be used as a way of killing people equipped with stacks (which is only virtually ''everybody'') through self-destructive insanity.
* FinalDeath: "Real Death" or RD, when your stack is destroyed, erased or irreparably damaged. Less of a fear for those who have a BodyBackupDrive somewhere, but these too can be destroyed with enough effort.
* FullNameBasis: When doing internal monologue, Kovacs tends to refer to most people (aside from those he grew up with, fought with or had sex with) by their full names almost exclusively.
* TheFutureIsNoir: the first book borrows noticeably from noir investigation dramas.
* GenderBender: People commonly swap sexes in virtual, and it's heavily implied that those who can afford it have fun with this in real life. In the first book Kovacs impersonates a woman by claiming to have been sleeved in a male body. In the second, Kovacs jokingly questions whether [[spoiler:Wardani]] is a man sleeved in a woman's body because of [[spoiler:her actions during sex]]. And at one point Kovacs is virtual-sleeved into a woman on her period so he can be more efficiently tortured.
* GenerationShips: How the Protectorate gets around when Needlecast isn't an option. It's hinted that several are still on route to distant stars, and that a number 'went wrong' on some planets, with [[NightmareFuel messy results]].
* GeneticMemory: The third book explores the viability of weaponizing it.
* GrandTheftMe:
** Not literally, but if you're "on stack" (which is futurespeak for being mentally jailed), someone might rent out - or buy out - your sleeve while you're not using it. You might have some problems getting it back if it was bought out, as several characters in the first book discover.
** Also, invoked literally in the third book, with the theoretized Personality Bombs which would inject chunks of someone's stored personality into the stack of whoever's affected. [[spoiler: They remain pure conspiracy theories, however, as Nadia Makita did not enter the mind of Sylvie Oshima that way.]]
* GreyGoo: "Nanobes" that are programmed to do nothing but reproduce extremely quickly and survive, if attacked with energy weapons they develop electromagnetic shielding.
* HatePlague: In ''Broken Angels'', the characters discuss a hate plague as one of the possibilities for a Martian weapon of mass destruction, though it remains mere speculation. ''Woken Furies'' introduces an actual hate plague in the form of the Qualgrist Protocol, [[spoiler:a Quellist weapon which causes people to become violent specifically towards members of the First Families]].
* HeWhoMustNotBeSeen: Elias Ryker. Frequently referenced, Ryker is currently "on stack"- imprisoned in a digital environment- for murder and fraud. [[spoiler: In a unique twist, his ''body'' is actually present the whole time, it being the sleeve into which Kovacs' mind is implanted.]]
* HeelFaceTurn: [[spoiler:Trepp]] starts off as one of the thugs who [[spoiler:capture Kovacs and give him to his torturers]], but at the end comes back with the cavalry and saves his ass.
* HumanPopsicle: Cryo-capsules, used by those who wish to physically travel between planets rather than just transmitting their minds into new bodies at the destination.
* HumanShield: In ''Woken Furies'', Anton uses an ally as a human shield when he comes under fire.
* IHaveManyNames: Kovacs has also been known as Mamba Lev, One Hand Rending, the Icepick...
* IOweYouMyLife: Kovacs became friends with Radul Segesvar by saving his life back when they were both in a gang; Radul felt he owed Kovacs a debt and spent the next 200 years paying him back in the form of favors. [[spoiler:After he betrays Kovacs, Kovacs realizes that the two of them never actually liked each other that much, and it was only the debt that had kept their friendship together for so long]].
* ImmortalProcreationClause: Not in effect - Laurens and Miriam Bancroft, for instance, have had either 61 or 63 children (Laurens mentions having 61 children and also that two of his children have [[KilledOffForReal Really Died]], and since none of them really affect the story at all it's never made clear if 61 is the total or just the ones still alive). Their youngest daughter is only in her early twenties, meaning she was born when Laurens was over 330 years old, and Laurens seems open to having even more in the future. There's no technical reason that ordinary people can't have a couple of kids every time they're resleeved in a younger body. It seems that most people don't, though, possibly because this is an enormous expense or maybe just because they don't want to continually raise infants.
* InsufficientlyAdvancedAlien: Human development of FTL communications and significant colonization were pretty much all bootstrapped from what the Martians left behind. At least one character openly wonders whether or not humanity should even be out in the galaxy at all.
* InvisibleAliens: No one knows where the Martians went, or why.
* IWillPunishYourFriendForYourFailure: How [[spoiler:Kawahara]] compels Kovacs to do as [[spoiler:she]] asks, in regards to the Bancroft case.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Kovacs can be a ''serious'' jerk, and he'll beat, kill and torture into insanity anyone who goes against him. But underneath all the cynicism, the bloodthirstiness and the gruff manners he's essentially a good guy - as he so clearly shows in the ending of the first book, when he [[spoiler:gives a family almost the entirety of his reward money, no strings attached, so they can re-sleeve their murdered daughter. "I wanted something clean to come from all of this," he explains to the disbelieving mother.]]
* KillSat: Harlan's World has the Orbitals, large geostationary space platforms left by the aliens before they disappeared. They rain "angelfire" on every hi-tech device that gets above a certain fixed altitude. Nobody knows why they do this, but the only way to elude them is to keep low and use old-tech vehicles such as gas-powered helicopters. There are a few gaps in the shield though, such as the one through which the original colonists travelled. Orbitals are also known for making very rare exceptions for reasons unknown, letting advanced craft pass through or blowing up antiquated, low-flying craft. This also provides various people with a novel alternative to CementShoes... attaching someone to a suitable lifting device and letting them fly skywards means the Angels will get them quickly enough, disposing of all evidence but giving the victim a brief period to contemplate their fate.
* KilledOffForReal: Generally averted, as anyone who gets killed can later be resurrected. A few people, however, do end up very old-fashioned dead due to disintegration of the mind-recording chip, viral infection of the same, or a variety of other entertaining methods. Takeshi Kovacs tends to inflict Real Death on anyone who makes him mad enough, by physical destruction of the cortical stacks. He also uses it as a very effective way of showing his badassitude to people he needs to rattle into talking.
* KnightInSourArmor: Kovacs, although he masks it behind a SnarkKnight persona. Kristan Ortega and the Organic Damage division of the Bay City Police seem to fulfill this role.
* LongevityTreatment: People are implanted with "cortical stacks" at birth that record one's brain state so that when they die, they can be "resleeved" in a new body.
* LostTechnology: the sleeves that Kovacs and Jadwiga uses after their previous sleeves are too heavily damaged is an example of this. It was found in an abandoned sleeving facility in a centuries-old, mimint-filled warzone. As Jack Soul Brasil states, Eishundo Organics (the designers) was centuries ahead of their time. Eishundo were later blacklisted or outright executed by the Harlanites after openly supporting the Quellists during the Unsettlement.
* MasterOfYourDomain: One of the skills that every Envoy possesses.
* MechaMooks: the mimints were designed to be this, but they got out of hand and became independent. There is a variety of them, ranging from gigantic scorpion tanks to ''karukari''. They form co-ops that fight against deCom crews and also fight each other.
* MemoryJar: The series introduces the "stack", a cigarette-filter-sized implant at the base of the brain. It contains a complete record of the user's personality and memories, which can be backed up, sent elsewhere, or installed in a new body (aka "sleeve"). If your body dies but the stack is not destroyed, you can be revived. As an added bonus, a human brain is the only thing that can readily make use of the information in a stack, so even if others get access to your backups, they can't view/edit your mind in cut-and-paste fashion. Your memories can only be recovered by creating another "you" in the process. The novels come complete with a very large and well-thought-out list of the technology's consequences.
* MentalSpaceTravel: the only form of "FTL travel" is to "needlecast" your Ego from one system to another and buy or rent a sleeve on the other end.
* MesACrowd: Very illegal, but that doesn't stop people from doing it. [[MeaningfulName Dimi the Twin]] gets called that because he only trusts himself to watch his back, and Kovacs himself does it in the first book to throw off the bad guys' attention. Happens again to Kovacs in the third book, but without his approval. Leads to a rather destructive MirrorMatch.
* TheMetaverse: Virtual environments, some with the option to have time sped up or slowed down relative to the amount of time passing outside.
* MildlyMilitary: The De-Com crews have a somewhat loose command structure. Proven troops have a great deal of operational latitude.
* MilitaryScienceFiction: ''Broken Angels'' and, to a lesser extent, ''Woken Furies''.
* TheMindIsAPlaythingOfTheBody: The first and third books explore how love and other forms of affection are mostly caused by (and therefore restricted to) specific sleeves, not the minds that inhabit them.
** Re-sleeving ruins (or, due to GrandTheftMe, incites) relationships because some bodies are apparently more compatible than others on a hormonal or pheromonal level. [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] when Kovacs [[spoiler:double-sleeves himself. The Ryker Kovacs is still attracted to Ortega. The Synth Kovacs... not so much.]]
** In ''Woken Furies'', Kovacs and Jadwiga (a member of Sylvie's Slipins) both sleeve into Eishundo Organics sleeves. Because they're descended from the same genetic stock, Kovacs feels a sibling-like bond between them. Kovacs is so attuned to this genetic relation because of his Envoy hyper-awareness. [[spoiler: It may even explain why he didn't ice Jad after she killed the second Kovacs]].
* MistakenForPedophile: Kovacs in ''Woken Furies'', due to fifteen-year-old Isa hanging out around him while wearing very {{Stripperiffic}} clothing.
* TheMole:
** [[spoiler: Tanya Wardani]] was behind the sabotages during the Martian Gate operation, mainly because [[spoiler:she was a Kempist sympathizer]]
** [[spoiler: Takeshi, at the end of ''Broken Angels'', reveals himself to be a Mole on Sanction IV for the Quellists.]]
* MultiethnicName: Takeshi Kovacs himself. Almost everyone born on Harlan's World is subject to this to some extent, being melting pot of Japanese and Slavic culture.
* NanoMachines: Including some [[NightmareFuel weaponized versions]]
* OhCrap:
** Almost unnoticeable in the rollercoaster of events towards the second book's finale.
--> [[spoiler:"That other ship was not Martian."]]
** Near the end of ''Woken Furies'', Kovacs realizes that [[spoiler: Todor Murakami is really not on furlough and doing him a favor by helping him storm Radul Segesvar's compound to rescue Sylvie, Virginia Vidaura, and the others, but is actually part of a covertly deployed Envoy team tasked with keeping an eye on/neutralizing the Quellists]] right after he hits Kovacs over the head and then shoots him with a stun gun.
* OlderThanTheyLook: Pretty much everyone who has been through a few sleeves.
* OtherMeAnnoysMe: The younger copy of Kovacs from ''Woken Furies'' drives the older Kovacs nuts for many reasons, not limited to his attitude, the fact that he's working for the Harlan family, the way he disrespects the older Kovacs... The fact that he's literally a copy of Kovacs from 200 or so years ago when he was a young Envoy gives this shades of IHatePastMe as well.
* PayEvilUntoEvil: What Kovacs tends to do to people who mess with him or anyone he cares about. Essentially the basis for the entire trilogy - in between revenge and plain hatred, Kovacs pays a ''lot'' of evil on ''many'' evil people.
* PeopleJars: Sleeves have to be kept somewhere when no one's using them, right?
* PhotographicMemory: Envoys are conditioned to have perfect recall of everything they experience. This comes in handy for Kovacs plenty of times over the course of the novels.
* PoliceAreUseless: If you have the right contacts you can get away with just about anything.
* PoweredArmor
-->"Hospital mob suits are designed and programmed to approximate normal human strength and motion while cushioning areas of trauma and ensuring that no part of the body is strained beyond its convalescent limits. In most cases the parameters are hardwired in to stop stupid little fucks from overriding what's good for them. Military custom doesn't work like that."
* {{Precursors}}: The Martians who aren't actually from Mars.
* PrivateDetective: Tak in the first book.
* PrivateEyeMonologue: The entire first book is narrated this way.
* PrivateMilitaryContractors: Carrera's Wedge in the second book. Mercenaries in general are pretty common in-universe.
* PsychicLink:
** There's a drug called "empathin" that creates a PsychicLink between the user anyone in close proximity that also happens to be on the drug. It also leaves the user with a mean hangover.
** One character has her sleeve bioengineered so she secretes an aphrodisiac, psychically-linking drug in her fluids when she's excited. The sexual experience deriving from that is highly addictive and quite mind-blowing - a non-envoy would most likely require many hours just to be able to reason properly after the hangover, let alone be productive.
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized: Harlan's World long-past Unsettlement, the major war between the U.N.-backed Harlan Oligarchy and the revolutionary Quellists.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: Kovacs goes on at least one per book.
* RobotWar: The first third or so of ''Woken Furies'' is the small-scale mercenary equivalent of this. Sylvie's Slipins and the other De-Com crews are paid very well to keep the self-replicating/self-repairing war machines from escaping old battlefields.
* ScrewYourself: Miriam Bancroft mentions that she'll sometimes downloads copies of her mind into cloned bodies to "play".
* ShopliftAndDie: Automated small arms protecting business establishments are quite common. Anti-armor cannons aren't, but that doesn't stop the AI in the Hendrix hotel from using them anyway, with [[LudicrousGibs predictably messy]] results.
* SleeperStarship: In the first book it's mentioned that the Catholic Church deployed a couple of these. Since they are opposed to uploading.
* SociopathicSoldier: A subversion. The Envoy corps looks for soldiers who have an almost oxymoronic combination of psychopathic and loyal tenancies. While Kovacs sometimes refers to feeling a joy when killing, it can be inferred that this was brought on Envoy conditioning and training. While Kovacs has no problem killing anyone who gets in his way, he also develops a distaste for war and will sometimes go out of his way to help (or at least not kill) someone.
--> When they make an Envoy, do you want to know what they do? They burn out every evolved violence limitation instinct in the human psyche. Submission signal recognition, pecking-order dynamics, pack loyalties. It all goes, tuned out a neuron at a time; and they replace it with a conscious will to do harm.\\

* SuperSoldier: The Envoy corps are mentally conditioned badasses who are trained to destroy rebel governments in relatively small numbers. Ostensibly, anyone with combat training can be a super-soldier in the right sleeve.
* TechnologyMarchesOn: Apparently, doing this in-universe is one of Morgan's favourite tropes. Weapons, viruses and sleeves that were cutting-edge in the first book are outdated by the third. The detailed evolution of neurachem throughout the trilogy is a great example. In ''Altered Carbon'', it just jacks up Kovacs' reflexes. By the second (set over a century after the first book) and third (around fifty years after the second) books, neurachem can jack up the users' vision to see over large distances.
** Taken so far that the entire plot of the first book (involving a mind backup every 48 hours, which is exotic technology) would be impossible by the third, where remote backups are routinely made every second.
* TitleDrop: Happens multiple times in common speech in the first and third books, and only a few in the second.
* TrainingFromHell: Physical training is made practically irrelevant by the various chems and synthetic improvements one can have for his sleeve, but mental training is incredibly important for the Envoys. Kovacs' mental training has made him such an ''incredible'' badass that he shrugs off torture sessions that would leave any normal person scarred for life and/or insane beyond any hope of cure.
* WeakButSkilled:
** Kovacs' fight with Kadmin. While Kovacs' is sleeved in the body of a middle-aged chain-smoking cop, Kadmin has an enormously [[LightningBruiser strong and fast]] Hand of God 'freak fighter' sleeve. Kovacs still loses but gives an excellent accounting of himself.
** Also describes Kovacs in ''Broken Angels'' as his sleeve, which wasn't in particularly good shape at the start of the book, [[spoiler:is slowly dying of radiation poisoning. Because of this, Kovacs becomes effectively immobile if not for the [[PoweredArmor hospital mob suits]] and drugs, and yet he manages to wipe out Carrera and his army]].
* WhatCouldPossiblyGoWrong: Weaponized semisentient nanomachine colony that can basically fight everything that's thrown at it and adapt to what it can't fight. The inventors are actually ''surprised'' that it goes haywire.
* WhatTheHellHero: Kovacs' employers and associates, typically no shrinking violets themselves, often express shock or astonishment at the number of people Kovacs kills or maims in each novel.
* WhoWantsToLiveForever: Examined. Everyone gets fitted with a cortical stack at birth and they're pretty difficult to destroy, so barring severe misfortune or deliberate attack there's the opportunity to live more or less indefinitely. Most people don't, though, either because they can't afford to get a new sleeve, don't want to go through the aging process more than two or three times, or just get bored of life. People that choose to keep going year after year are widely considered to have a screw loose, although since they are wealthy as a rule and have had lifetimes to accumulate power and influence they tend not to care what the little folks think about them.
* YearInsideHourOutside: Simulations are frequently run at several times faster than the real world. This allows psychotherapy courses, or interrogations, to be finished in mere hours of real time. ''Broken Angels'' features the [[YearOutsideHourInside inverse]] with a starship whose passengers are in a simulation that's actually slowed down so their decades-long trip feels like a month.[[/folder]]

[[folder: Altered Carbon]]
* AccentRelapse: Reileen Kawahara spends most of the book speaking in a very formal, cultured accent in order to project an air of respectability. When she's under great stress and her facade cracks, however, she reverts to speaking in a vulgar Fission City accent.
* BigBad: [[spoiler: Reileen Kawahara]] is this. [[spoiler: She arranged for Lauren Bancroft to be drugged so he accidentally killed a prostitute, which led to his suicide, which was all part of an attempt to get him to support legislation preventing Catholics from being interrogated post-mortem.]]
* [[spoiler: BodyguardBetrayal]]: At the climax, [[spoiler:Trepp ends up turning on Kawahara]].
* BoxedCrook: Takeshi is in this situation with Lauren Bancroft. He can't get off Earth without serving a massive sentence if he doesn't do his bidding.
* CowboyCop: Ryker was, by all accounts, one of these. He specifically joined the Organic Damage Division because of their reputation for flexibility. He then became a DirtyCop. [[spoiler: Actually, he didn't.]]
* DrivenToSuicide: The police in the first book are convinced Laurens Bancroft's prior incarnation vaporized himself, his backup believes his will to live would be too strong for that. [[spoiler: It turns out he did do it, his wife and a rival conspired to make him accidentally kill a Catholic prostitute, and he knew his backup would have none of the guilt if he acted quickly.]]
* GoKartingWithBowser: Kovacs and Trepp end up going on a nearly daylong pub crawl / drug binge and discover they get along pretty well. [[spoiler: So well, she ends up saving his life twice, the second time betraying her boss to do so.]]
* GrandmaWhatMassiveHotnessYouHave: Miriam Bancroft is one of the beautiful women in the world. She's also as old as Laurens.
* LoopholeAbuse: Cops and criminals both take advantage of Catholic aversion to re-sleeves to get away with murder.
* MagneticWeapons: Examples are mentioned, such as the Philips Thin Gun.
* PunchClockVillain: Trepp is a pretty decent person who happens to work as an enforcer for a rather awful person. Kovacs acknowledges himself that they are NotSoDifferent.
* PreMortemOneLiner: Right before Kovacs [[KilledOffForReal kills]] [[spoiler: Reileen Kawahara]] with a grenade he quotes a Quellist Black Brigade guerilla who blew herself up while being interrogated:
--> That's fucking enough.\\

* ReallySevenHundredYearsOld: Both Bancrofts and most other "meths" (slang for very old people) are examples of this.
* ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney: Laurens Bancroft has this attitude and he's (largely) correct. Unusually, for FilmNoir, Takeshi has the same attitude since Laurens is his patron.
* YourCheatingHeart: Discussed at length when you have new bodies all the time or someone new is inhabiting your old body.
** Laurens Bancroft constantly cheats on his wife due to his MadonnaWhoreComplex.

[[folder: Broken Angels]]
* ArmiesAreEvil: Takeshi has this sort of attitude, which goes over like a ton of bricks with all the soldiers around him.
* ArtifactOfDoom: The Martian [[spoiler: war]]ship turns out to be this.
* BenevolentPrecursors: Tanya Wardani has this view of the Martians. [[spoiler: They're not.]]
* BlackAndGrayMorality: The war between the Kempists and Wedge has resulted in atrocities on both sides.
* BloodyMurder: Some sleeves have blood loaded with deterrent-toxins. In ''Broken Angels'', Luc Deprez recounts how he successfully assassinated a target, only to die afterwards because the target's blood turned out to be a slow-acting poison.
* DirtyCommunists: Kemp's followers are a 26th century variant.
* DisproportionateRetribution: [[spoiler: Takeshi massacres an entire troop of Wedge soldiers to avenge a friend despite none of them having anything to do with it.]]
** Kemp drops a nuclear bomb on Sauberville [[spoiler: due to Hand's manipulation.]]
* DoubleAgent: The epilogue to ''Broken Angels'' reveals that [[spoiler: Kovacs was originally hired by the Quellists to bring Kemp closer to their ideology, but he changed sides a couple times during the war.]]
* DwindlingParty: The membership of the Mandrake expedition to Dangrek dwindles over time, and many of their ends are anything but pleasant.
* HollywoodVoodoo: Averted. Voodoo is treated as any other religion in the setting.
* JerkassHasAPoint: Takeshi gets called out on his StrawNihilist attitude several times in the book by others who point out it's only made him alone and a murderer for hire.
* NominalHero: Takeshi's motivation in this book is purely financial. He betrays, murders, and worse to achieve his goal with no remorse.
* ThePoliticalOfficer: Stated to be rife on Sanction Four in ''Broken Angels''. One we meet is Lamont, whose platoon forcibly addicted him to ElectricInstantGratification and use it to ensure he gives them consistently glowing reviews.
* PrisonRape: Tanya Wardani was raped while in an internment camp in ''Broken Angels''.
* PrivateMilitaryContractors: The Wedge serves as this.
* PutOnABus: The entirety of the cast from ''Altered Carbon'' but Takeshi fails to make a return.
* RagtagBandOfMisfits: Takeshi and Hand assemble one of these to retrieve the Martian ship.
* RecycledInSpace: The entirety of the war is "Vietnam in Space" with a bit of ''Film/ApocalypseNow'' and ''Film/ThreeKings.''
* RestrainingBolt: The inhibitor units used on prisoners in ''Broken Angels''. They punish signs of stress and physical action by the wearer using an electric shock. This usually ''increases'' the stress and physical activity of the person, with the result that they can and do kill people.
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized: The Kempist Revolutionaries are less than pleasant in their use of force.
* WarForFunAndProfit: What many accuse the corporations of.
* WeAreStrugglingTogether: Everyone in Takeshi's group has their own agenda.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: It's not entirely clear what happened to [[spoiler: Matthias Hand]], but it probably wasn't anything good.
* YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters: The Kempist Revolutionaries are an absolutely bunch of these.

[[folder: Woken Furies]]
* TheLostLenore: Sarah Sachilowska seems to be this for Kovacs during. [[spoiler:Her execution [[note]] She is also killed at the beginning of ''Altered Carbon'' but her [[BodyBackupDrive cortical stack]] is intact so she is sentenced to storage. While she is not technically KilledOffForReal when she is executed, her sleeve is destroyed and her cortical stack is thrown into the middle of the ocean, making her consciousness essentially unrecoverable and making her as good as dead.[[/note]] at the hands of religious extremists after she flouted their rules in an attempt to re-sleeve her daughter sent him on a ''year-long'' RoaringRampageOfRevenge whose ferocity astonishes even [[SociopathicSoldier Virginia Vidaura]].]] After Sarah's death, Kovacs grows even more cynical than before and focuses on nothing beyond his revenge. The fact that ''Woken Furies'' (and therefore the trilogy as a whole) ends [[spoiler: on a hopeful note, with Kovacs seeming to give up on his vendetta and privately hoping that the ultra-advanced Martian technology that Sylvie Oshima can communicate with will one day be able to locate the cortical stacks belonging to Sarah and her daughter so they can be re-sleeved]] would seem to provide more evidence for this. It is also revealed that the fact that she became involved with another man after getting out of storage was one of the main reasons why he left Harlan's World for Sanction IV, although she was alive for at least part of his time there.