[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/samurai.jpg]]

Members of the feudal military class, they had considerable social status, and after the end of the 16th century until the mid-19th century they were the only Japanese legally allowed to own swords (with the exception of swords having blades less than 24 inches, which were legally considered ''wakizashi'' and legal for non-samurai to own).

Theoretically, samurai were supposed to follow the ''bushido'' code of honor, which stressed loyalty to one's master, self discipline and respectful, ethical behavior. However, the degree to which individual samurai actually adhered to ''bushido'' (which as a formal concept may be NewerThanTheyThink, according to historians) varied about as much as the degree to which individual knights in Europe adhered to the code of chivalry -- which is to say, you could find everything from bandits in armor to saints of the battlefield. Although women could be and frequently were warriors, the social and military rules for them were somewhat different than for men (and the word samurai itself, being inherently linguistically masculine, was/is not technically used for females).

A popular misconception holds that the samurai were the counter-culture to the {{ninja}}; that is, whereas samurai tend to came from the upper classes and were [[KnightInShiningArmor honorable warriors who fight face to face and use no "dirty" tricks]], ninjas tend to be from the lower classes, were skilled at [[TryingToCatchMeFightingDirty unorthodox warfare]] and would not hesitate to use backstabbing, poison, or spying to gain the upper hand. This is commonly seen in works featuring ninjas, [[SamuraiInNinjaTown in which samurai and ninja were either depicted as mortal enemies, or ninjas being mercenaries hired by the samurai to do the unsavory wetwork honorable samurai would not do]]. However, the aforementioned depiction is not historically accurate. In RealLife, while some ninjas were mercenaries, most ninjas were actually samurai themselves. The idea that the ninja were something separate from the rest of Japanese society came about during the Edo period (a 250 year long period of ''peace''), after Tokugawa Ieyasu became shogun and unified the country. Edo-period samurai started assuming the values of the court-aristocracy, while simultaneously resurrecting centuries-disused aspects of the samurai honor code from before the Mongol invasion, and didn't like to talk about ''actual'' warfare--they also pretended they were primarily swordsmen, while the main role of the samurai was actually [[HorseArcher Horse Archers]] (and warfare in the century before the Edo Period involved extensive use of gunpowder weapons, another useful implement of war the samurai distanced themselves from during the Edo Period). Many modern historians believe the entire concept of ninjas being the counter-culture to the samurai was invented by Edo-period novelists to avoid showing recently gentrified samurai involved in anything remotely dishonorable.

Subtypes of the samurai commonly seen in anime include the KidSamurai and the {{Ronin}}, a samurai without a master to serve whose 'low class' status is sometimes designed to be more identifiable.

One thing you won't hear a lot about in samurai fiction is the practice of ''shudo'', which means "[[{{Shotacon}} the way of the young.]]" ''Shudo'' was a form of pederasty that was commonly practiced by the samurai class, and was considered a very high and noble form of love. The practice fell out of favor during the Meiji Restoration due to cultural influence from Europe (which preferred its boys to be prostitutes [facilitating plausible deniability] rather than publicly-acknowledged lovers), and has often been the victim of omission and whitewashing in both fiction and historical accounts, though it occasionally crops up in the BoysLoveGenre.

Samurai are popular heroes in period stories, and no few {{anime}} feature them. Such heroes, naturally enough, tend to be paragons. Outright subversions tend to be for specific characters and even then usually criticizing the upper class as a whole. Samurai and their code of ethics were featured heavily in Japanese military propaganda during the [[WorldWarTwo early twentieth century]]. For [[WarIsHell obvious reasons]], they are much less popular in [[UsefulNotes/SouthKorea certain Asian countries]].

When samurai are presented negatively, expect them to be wearing their [[TinTyrant full armor, including an elaborately designed and intimidating helmet.]] When they're being presented as paragons, expect them to at least be [[HelmetsAreHardlyHeroic helmet-less]], or sometimes wearing nothing but a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hakama Hakama]]. Speaking of samurai armor, it was usually made of leather-backed iron scales laced with silk, or later on, iron or steel lames riveted together. While it was often coated with lacquer to prevent moisture from rusting the metal, [[DeadUnicornTrope it was never made of wood like some sources claim]].

Not to be confused with the CyberPunk "StreetSamurai" character type. A more modern take is the CorporateSamurai, who takes the general ethos of the samurai and applies it to a modern setting. The DistaffCounterpart is YamatoNadeshiko, a Japanese woman expected to be loyal, respectable and capable of fighting.

See also JidaiGeki. JapaneseSpirit also incorporates a lot of old samurai tropes and virtues into modern manga.
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!!Examples
[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* The band of brothers who make up ''The Hakkenden''.
* One episode of ''[[Anime/JungleWaItsumoHaleNochiGuu Haré+Guu]]'' started showing samurai fighting a war in feudal Japan. Turns out Guu was just watching TV.
* Himura Kenshin in ''Manga/RurouniKenshin''. He plays with this trope a little as he seems to fully obey Bushido while acting as Battousai and disobey it when in his less violent state of mind, preventing many fellow Samurai from committing Seppuku, dishonoring them.
** Quite a lot of other cast members are also Samurai. A major part of the story centers around the last generation of Samurai dealing with the fact that their society was trying to phase them out.
* ''Manga/HouseOfFiveLeaves'': The main character and a few others.
* Jin in ''Anime/SamuraiChamploo'' is the most prominent example, as is anyone in the show related to his past. There's also the "Samurai who smells of sunflowers" who Fuu convinces Jin and Mugen to help her track down [[spoiler: he's her father, and a JapaneseChristian]]. Also worth noting is that while serving as the narrator, [[CluelessDetective Manzo the Saw]] comments explicitly on the homosexual practices of samurai noted above.
* Ryoko Mitsurugi in ''Manga/RealBoutHighSchool''.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'': Soul Society is modeled on medieval Japan. With the Soul Reapers filling the role of the samurai class, emphasis is placed on courage, loyalty and obedience. Particular examples include Byakuya and Komamura, whose zanpakutous sometimes manifest as warriors wearing traditional armour.
* Manji and a number of other characters in ''Manga/BladeOfTheImmortal'' most however are just "thugs that just happen to be born into nobility" (like most were during the 18th-century).
* While not an ''actual'' samurai, Juubei from ''Manga/GetBackers'' seems to follow the same basic honor code, to the point where characters will actually use the word when describing himboth flatteringly and not-so-flatteringly.
* Hatsu from ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod''. Even though he is Korean, he follows a strict code of honor similar to that of a samurai. Also, he wields katana.
* Ohgami Itto from ''Manga/LoneWolfAndCub'', along with many other characters.
* [[Creator/KenAkamatsu Ken Akamatsu's]] use of the ''Shinmeiryuu'' sword school in his stories (''Manga/LoveHina'', ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'') is a way for him to bring samurai into the setting, because EverythingsBetterWithSamurai. That and to depict ImplausibleFencingPowers.
* ''Manga/{{Gintama}}'' in all its wacky glory.
* ''Franchise/{{Naruto}}''
** The Kage Summit arc introduces the Land of Iron, which is a neutral country with no ties to any ninja villages, defended by samurai, who wear armor similar to [[StarWars stormtroopers]]. The samurai are [[InformedAbility stated to be a powerful military]] and even the regular samurai are able to use LaserBlade and SwordBeam techniques to destructive effects. Of the samurai, only three are named: Mifune, the leader of the samurai and a master of [[IaijutsuPractitioner Iai]]; Okisuke, Mifune's bodyguard who is a [[ScarsAreForever scarred]] and [[BaldOfAwesome bald]] man wielding [[DualWielding two swords]]; and Urakaku, who is Mifune's other bodyguard, though few details are known about him. As might be expected, all of them but Mifune instantly lose any fight against a named character.
** Gato's henchmen are referred to as Samurai. While technically, they could be samurai (but are more likely to be a pair of bandits who [[InNameOnly only carry that name because they serve one of the world's richest men]]), their adherence to the Bushido code leaves much to be desired.
* Greatshot in ''Anime/TransformersVictory'' is modelled on a samurai - in the Japanese version, he even has the appropriate speech pattern.
* In ''Manga/SchoolRumble'', Harry (the American) is freaked out when he first sees Harima's partially shaven head, mistakenly assuming that it is a "Samurai haircut." He later refers to Harima as "the one with the Samurai haircut," and seems to be under the impression that Harima is some sort of super warrior for awhile.
* Amidamaru from ''Manga/ShamanKing''.
* Mifune of ''Manga/SoulEater'', arguably the strongest character with no [[TimeToUnlockMoreTruePotential special]] [[BadassNormal powers]] to swing a blade.
* ''Characters/LupinIII'': Goemon Ishikawa XIII, descendant of the real historical figure/folk hero of the same name. The historical Goemon was closer to a {{Ninja}} version of Robin Hood than a Samurai, though he may have been born into a Samurai family. XIII himself is actually what we call a {{Ronin}}, but is never called that InUniverse.
* Micaiah Chevelle of ''Manga/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaViVid''
* In addtion to sharing the surname of a Japanese UsefulNotes/WorldWarII ace, [[ActionGirl Major Mio]] Sakamoto from ''Anime/StrikeWitches'' is modeled after the historical image of a samurai--she [[HonorBeforeReason puts honor above everything]], [[AFatherToHisMen is protective of her subordinates]], and [[BloodKnight lives to fight]]. [[KatanasAreJustBetter Plus, she has a katana]].
* ''Anime/HanaukyoMaidTai''. Chief Security maid Konoe Tsurugi, in demeanor and military training.
* Graham Aker of ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundam00 Gundam 00]]'' adopts the way of bushido in the second season, despite being American. His idea of the code of bushido was also rather skewed, considering he only cared about fighting his WorthyOpponent and was extremely disrespectful to his superiors. This got played up to such an extent that his InSeriesNickname became "Mr. Bushido". He even dolls up his personal mobile suits with armor and weaponry designed to evoke samurai imagery. It is subverted in that many people, in universe and out, consider him a total idiot for these actions, which he drops in time for TheMovie.
* In ''Manga/ThePrinceOfTennis'', Rikkaidai sub-captain Genichirou Sanada follows ''several'' of the stereotypes associated with the samurais. He's TallDarkAndHandsome, extremely stern and proud ([[NotSoStoic or tries to be]], does NOT tolerate anything similar to indiscipline, is a HeirToTheDojo specialized in ''kendo'', etc.
* In ''Anime/YuGiOh5Ds'', Sherry's BattleButler Mizoguchi uses a deck based on the concept. While hardly a Samurai himself, Mizoguchi follows a code he believes is similar to ''bushido'', comparing it to his desire and willingness to protect Sherry at all costs.
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[[folder:Comics]]
* Western example: ''{{ComicBook/Katana}}'' (Tatsu Yamashiro) of the various [[ComicBook/BatmanAndTheOutsiders Outsiders]] teams in Franchise/TheDCU.
* Hondo-Cit Judges in ''ComicBook/JudgeDredd'' are modeled on samurai. Their equivalent of the chief judge is even called the Shogun.
* Silver Samurai of Creator/MarvelComics.
* Many characters in ''ComicBook/UsagiYojimbo''.
* The appropriately named ''ComicBook/{{Ronin}}'' series by Creator/FrankMiller.
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[[folder:Fan Work]]
* In the ''TroperWorks/WALLEForumRoleplay'', the Japanese Autopilot KATANA.
** JAXA, another Japanese Auto, [[HeelFaceTurn also started out as a Samurai,]] [[TheStarscream but later became a]] {{ronin}}, in the worst possible meaning of the term.
* Fanfic/OnePieceParallelWorks has Mikuri, one of the last samurai to leave Wano Country. Kazuma also qualifies as a younger version of this trope.
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[[folder:Film]]
* The other wiki has a page on [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samurai_cinema Samurai Cinema.]], this very wiki has JidaiGeki.
* Most of Creator/AkiraKurosawa's filmography have samurais as the main characters:
** ''Film/SevenSamurai'', which spawned a SciFi {{anime}} based off it, ''[[SamuraiSeven Samurai 7]]''. Also, ''Film/TheMagnificentSeven'' was a ForeignRemake of it.
** ''TheHiddenFortress'', Makabe, Hyoe and bunches of bit players.
** ''Film/ThroneOfBlood''
** ''Film/{{Sanjuro}}''
** ''Film/{{Kagemusha}}''
** ''Film/{{Ran}}''
* ''Film/TheLastSamurai''
* ''Film/GhostDogTheWayOfTheSamurai'' is a film about a modern samurai (Forrest Whitaker) serving a mob boss on the streets of Jersey City. He reads passages from ''The Hagakure'', a Samurai code, throughout the movie.
* ''{{Zatoichi}}'', the blind swordsman, is ''not'' technically a samurai - he's actually a low-class masseur and gambler - but the films are still considered codifiers of the Samurai genre. Zatoichi has all the traits of the typical {{Ronin}}; wandering from [[AdventureTowns town to town]] and [[WeHelpTheHelpless helping the helpless.]] There have been twenty seven films, including a crossover with Yojimbo, and a 100-episode TV series.
* ''Anime/SwordOfTheStranger''
* Almost all the male characters in Creator/YojiYamada's film ''TheTwilightSamurai'' are samurai. Technically. But it's set in the period right before the MeijiRestoration, by which time most samurai were essentially bureaucrats.
* The Jedi of ''Franchise/StarWars'' are directly based on samurai. Darth Vaders armor is based off samurai armor.
* {{Gackt}}'s character Yoshi is a samurai in the film ''Film/{{Bunraku}}''.
* All the main characters of ''[[ThirteenAssassins 13 Assassins]]'', except for Kiga.
* ''Film/GateOfHell'' is an interesting example, as the main character is a samurai, but the story is about unrequited love and obsession.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* Several characters in ''Literature/CloudOfSparrows''.
* ''Literature/TheHagakure: The Book of Bushido''.
* The ''Literature/SanoIchiro'' series by Laura Joh Rowland, set in [[JidaiGeki 17th-century Edo]].
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[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Franchise/SuperSentai'' finally got around to using a samurai theme in 2009 with ''Series/SamuraiSentaiShinkenger''.
** ''Shinkenger'' inevietably got its American counterpart as ''Series/PowerRangersSamurai''; but even before then, ''Series/PowerRangersNinjaStorm'' had a Green Samurai Ranger, even though the ''Sentai'' character he was based on was a ninja rather than a samurai.
** In ''Series/MightyMorphinPowerRangers'' there was a MonsterOfTheWeek called the Samurai Fanman, who likely fit the Trope InNameOnly.
* After his appearance in the drama ''Fuurin Kazan'', {{Gackt}} started getting cast in roles as a Samurai. Since then he has been cast as a Samurai in the upcoming movie Bunraku, as Nemuri Kyoshiro in a theater play, and was one of the main features of Koei's Samurai Festival.
* The recurring sketch on ''[[Series/SaturdayNightLive SNL]]'' where John Belushi plays a samurai dressed like ''Film/{{Yojimbo}}'' speaking pidgin Japanese in various jobs like "Samurai Delicatessen" or "Samurai Hotel" with Buck Henry always as a customer.
* ''Series/{{Highlander}}'' had an episode entitled 'The Samurai', where Duncan washes up in Japan during its isolationist period. Samurai Hideo Koto helps him even though it's illegal and he should kill him. Eventually, he gives Duncan his signature katana and when he's told the Emperor's men are coming, he commits seppuku with Duncan as his second. Duncan much later helps his descendant because of a promise he made to the family.
* All of the Riders in ''Series/KamenRiderGaim'' are based on different kinds of warriors, but the samurai motif gets special treatment as being that of both TheHero and the AntiVillain that serves as the main antagonist.
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[[folder:Pinball]]
* This is the theme of the "Dragon Showdown" table in ''VideoGame/LastGladiators''.
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[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The Samurai class in ''TabletobGame/DungeonsAndDragons 3.5'' (while seen as possibly the worst basic class in the game if one doesn't count NPC classes like Commoner [[note]]And even then, Adepts and Magewrights are better ''out of the box'', and Experts has ''some'' ways to optimize more effectively. Even Commoners have at least one GameBreaker obtainable with Dragon Magazine material[[/note]]) is contrasted with the Paladin in the text, with it being noted that the Paladin might ask if an order given by one's superior is just, while a Samurai would say to that Paladin "You dishonor the lord by questioning his orders".
* ''TableTopGames/LegendOfTheFiveRings'' plays the trope ''very'' straight, and actually gets a fair number of the societal details right as well - although Bushido is a somewhat [[SeriousBusiness bigger deal]] than it was in real life, primarily for dramatic purposes.
* In ''TableTopGames/{{Pathfinder}}'', the samurai is a sub-class of the [[KnightInShiningArmor cavalier]]. Ironically, despite the fact that the samurai is perhaps an iconic Lawful-requiring class, the Pathfinder samurai has no alignment restriction, nor does its parent the cavalier. This is particularly noteworthy when contrasted with D&D, where they both had to be Lawful, and especially since Pathfinder does retain many of the classic alignment-restrictions on classes (ThePaladin must be LawfulGood, bards and barbarians must be Chaotic, druids must be Neutral, monks must be Lawful).
* The samurai creature type in ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'', introduced in ''Kamigawa''. All of them have Bushido as a keyword ability. Notable examples are [[{{Ronin}} Toshiro Umezawa]] and [[TheEmperor Daimyo Konda]].
* In the ''TabletopGame/YuGiOh'' card game, there are the Six Samurai, and the forbearers, the Legendary Six Samurai.
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[[folder:Video Games]]
* The ''VideoGame/{{Onimusha}}'' franchise stars a samurai in each iteration, with varying degrees of historical accuracy.
* Sakura Shinguuji in ''SakuraTaisen'' is a true samurai and not a KidSamurai, despite her youth.
* Ryuuya in ''VisualNovel/{{AIR}}''.
* There's a Samurai class in several ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' games, including ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyV'', ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX2'', and ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics''. There's also a [[SummonMagic summon]] named Yojimbo ("bodyguard") in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'' which is obviously based off of a samurai.
** ''Yojimbo'' happens to be the name of a samurai movie directed by Creator/AkiraKurosawa.
** As far as individual characters go, Cyan from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' fits this character type completely, with his use of formal speech (YeOldeButcheredeEnglishe in the NA translations) and [[KatanasAreJustBetter a wide array of katanas]]/[[EveryJapaneseSwordIsAKatana Eastern-style swords]].
** Also, Auron from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX''. A lot of his appearance is due to traditional depictions of {{ronin}}, including the arm being kept inside his robe and the jug of sake hanging from his belt. Also, Auron starts that game with a {{BFS}} that is called a katana, (although it looks more like a cross between a katana and [[http://toppera-tpr.deviantart.com/art/Sanosuke-82575370?offset=30 Sanosuke's zanbato]] from RurouniKenshin) and most of his other weapons are named after famous Japanese sword smiths, although not all of them look much like traditional blades.
** From ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' we have Sephiroth, who's also got a Samurai theme going on. [[{{BFS}} Big Fucking Katana]] included.
*** By WordOfGod, Cloud and Sephiroth were inspired by UsefulNotes/MiyamotoMusashi and UsefulNotes/SasakiKojiro respectively - in legend, Musashi beat his rival Kojiro to death using a sword carved from a boat oar. Cloud's sword resembles an exaggeratedly huge traditional Japanese boat oar, but sharpened down one side. Sephiroth uses an exaggeratedly long nodachi, as Kojiro's signature weapon was an unusually long nodachi.
* Minamoto no Yorihisa from the game and manga/anime ''{{Harukanaru Toki no Naka de}}''.
* Kamui of ''VideoGame/ArcanaHeart''.
* Sanger Zonvolt of ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsAlpha'' is one, insofar as that it's possible for an ethnically German SuperRobot pilot. In the same series, Brookyln "Bullet" Luckfield is also one, but he doesn't adhere to ''bushido'' that Sanger does; in effect, it makes Bullet more of the KidSamurai trope. The straighter example occurs in ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsOriginalGeneration'' with Rishu Togo, a master of the "Jigen" sword-style, to which Sanger and Bullet are his pupils.
* Most characters in the ''SamuraiWarriors'' series are Samurai; they also appear in the ''WarriorsOrochi'' crossover series.
* ''VideoGame/SamuraiGunn'', which pairs up a combination of said warriors with [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin firearms]].
* The ''AceAttorney'' games have a franchise of samurai-themed tokusatsu series- ''The Steel Samurai'', ''The Pink Princess'', and ''The Nickel Samurai''.
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'': According to her own word, Samara's warrior code is based on a mix of this and KnightErrant.
* Imperial warriors from ''[[CommandAndConquerRedAlert Red Alert 3]]'' are high-tech Samurai, with rifles and beam katanas.
* The Dragon Clan's third tier unit in ''VideoGame/BattleRealms'' is the Samurai. At least one of their [[HeroUnit Zen Masters]], Otomo, is one as well.
* Samurott from ''{{Pokemon}}'', an odd combination of this and a ''sea lion''.
* ''WayOfTheSamurai'', though the PC and most [=NPCes=] are Ronin.
* The cast of ''{{Hakuouki}}'' are mostly {{Shinsengumi}}.
* TotalWar brings us Shogun and Shogun 2, both set in the Sengoku Jidai (excepting the [[ExpansionPack Expansion Packs]] Rise of the Samurai and Fall of the Samurai). They come in many verities, from samurai [[BowandSwordinAccord Archers]] and [[SwordandGun Gunners]], and various types of cavalry, to the StoneWall [[BladeonaStick Naginata]] wielders.
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[[folder:Webcomic]]
* The Webcomic ''Webcomic/{{Harkovast}}'' features a samurai called Shogun as one of its main protagonists.
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[[folder:Web Original]]
* Hashimoto Daichi from ''GreekNinja'' is one.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Ironically in ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated'', Prowl was a noble ninja, which is technically impossible. But when he put on an upgrade that looked just like Samurai Armour, he turned into an arrogant, callous jackass. He later gets it back. At which point he learns not to be a jackass while using it, and uses the armor for the rest of the season.
* ''WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack'': Jack, naturally. (Many fans, however, have pointed out that Jack fits the title of "ronin" better, at least according to traditional terms, as he is a Samurai with no liege.)
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[[folder:Other]]
* ''{{Vocaloid}}'': Gackupo ({{Gackt}}) is portrayed as a stereotypical samurai, complete with [[KatanasAreJustBetter a katana]].
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[[folder:Real Life]]
* YagyuJubei
* MiyamotoMusashi
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